Bryan Asbury ~ Author Interview

Bryan Asbury was born and raised in Pueblo, Colorado. Growing up, he was heavily inspired by Stephen King, as well as “Tales From the Crypt” and “The Twilight Zone.” He is currently a regular contributor for “The Chilling Tales For Dark Nights Network” and has had five of his stories adapted into podcast productions. He’s been featured in the Pueblo Chieftain, a local southern Colorado newspaper, as well as local bookstores and libraries, and recently his book can be found on the shelves of Barnes and Noble in Colorado. His writing style is distinctive and often strays from traditional horror by also combining comedy and suspense with a focus on twisted endings. He continues to try and expand his portfolio and aspires to eventually adapt his stories into movies or television shows.

Check out our interview on YouTube:

NOTE: The Correct Spelling of Bryan’s last name is ASBURY not ASHBURY!

Check out His books below!

(Click on the cover images to order your copy)

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Bryan Asbury’s first collection of short stories features four of his best “spine-chilling tales” (The Pueblo Chieftain). He often combines suspense, thriller, horror and comedy into one, that truly delivers a unique writing style that is all his own. His stories have even been adapted into full-scale podcast productions that have been aired globally. These tales will leave you with an unsettling feeling long after the last page.

After a successful attorney has a chance encounter with a homeless man outside of a grocery store, his life takes a tragic and disturbing turn. A terrifying tale about the darkside of giving and receiving.

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Fateful Justice by Sara Vinduska #giveaway

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Fateful Justice Box Set: Books 1-3 by Sara Vinduska

Genre: Romantic Suspense

This box set contains the first three books in the romantic suspense series, Fateful Justice.


It wasn’t the first time Lash Brogan had aimed a gun at another man and pulled the trigger. It wasn’t the first time he’d watched a man fall to the ground bleeding. As an actor, he’d done just that countless times. But this time it was not a scene from one of his movies. This time it was for real.

When Lash Brogan, an Irish immigrant and one of America’s most popular movie stars, is kidnapped and held hostage in the mountains of Colorado, it will take all of his strength and determination as well as help from a beautiful stranger to help him escape.

Justine McBride is a reclusive physical therapist trying to escape the painful memories of her family’s death. After helping Lash recover, she falls hard for him without considering the ramifications of such a public relationship.

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After barely surviving the death of the woman he was going to marry, Irish actor Lash Brogan has accepted his first leading role in two years.

But someone doesn’t want the movie to be made. The set is plagued by accidents and deaths. The arrival of an FBI agent with a past connection to Lash, and the appearance of an intriguing woman he would like to get to know better, further tilts his world.

Lash refuses to run from the danger or the painful reminders of his past. He will stay and see the movie through to the end. No matter what the cost to him.

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As a former Navy SEAL and bodyguard to one of the world’s top Hollywood actors, John Hoyt thought joining the FBI was a logical next step. He never imagined his first case would nearly cost him his life and put him face to face with the one woman he was willing to die for.

Angelina Nobles has spent her career in the FBI living up to the legend of her father. Now, on her most highly publicized case, she’s partnered with a man who infuriates and intrigues her like no other has done before.

Can the two put aside their differences long enough to stay alive and solve a complicated case involving a corrupt politician, arson, murder and drugs? And find love in the process?

Danger and intrigue make a powerful aphrodisiac in Retribution.

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Originally from Kansas, Sara Vinduska is a romantic suspense author and aspiring farmer in Wyoming. Her other passions include yoga, soap making, good red wine, and K-State football.

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Would you like a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you! 

My husband and I got married in a wine cellar in France.

What can we expect from you in the future? 

I’m currently working on the fifth book in the Fateful Justice series and hope to have it done by the end of the year! I am also finishing a romance story for the new Kindle Vella launch titled His Protector about a widowed president and the beautiful Secret Service agent protecting him.

If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during the day? 

It would be Lash Brogan for sure! Though books in the series feature different couples, Lash is the heart and soul of the series and has a cameo in each book. I guess you could say, he’s basically my muse!

We would go horseback riding on his ranch in Jackson Hole, then break out the whiskey for some day drinking. Mostly, I’d just listen to him talk in his sexy Irish brogue.

If your book had a candle, what would the scent be? 

Whiskey, sex, and gunpowder. : )

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time? 

Maybe it’s because I’m a total pantser, but I always have several books going at a time! I find that if I get stuck on one book, switching to another helps unlock the creativity. And since I’m writing a series, they all tie together.

Meet Larion Wills, author of Deadly Precious

Larion Wills, a multi-genre author, also writes under the name of Larriane Wills. From the present, to the past in historical westerns, to far in the future with science fiction, she holds up to her tag given to her by one of her publishers of ‘two names, one author, thousands of stories’, although not all of them are in print, yet. Born in Oklahoma but raised in Arizona she feels a native to the state and has settled in the high desert country. In a quiet, rural area with a family who tolerates her writer’s single-mindedness, she presents us with a collection of unique contemporary romances, many laced with paranormal settings, all with strong characterizations and suspenseful plots, capable of dragging you into a story in a genre you thought you didn’t care for. Under her other pen of Larriane she writes science fiction and fantasy. At her website, , you can keep abreast of releases under both pen names, keep up with new releases through various publishers.

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Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

I have always been a storyteller, to myself, from the time I was a child. I talked the stories out making my mother think I was conversing with an invisible friend. I started putting the stories on paper at about 21, really terrible writing, btw. I keep it just to look at once in a while and see how much better I’ve gotten. I did not, until about 15 years ago get serious about pursuing publishing. I had played around with the idea a couple of times but never followed through. It was easy to discourage me. One of the first ones I tried was one of those sucker you in for editing and having no intention of ever publishing for you. I didn’t learn about those until later. My problem then was cost. I told him my ego didn’t match my finances to take advantage of his offer. His response was it was after all it was only commercial, not literature. Spiteful or what?

It was years before I tried again after the kids—all grown and no longer one of my excuses–and my husband who had shared time with my writing for years, all insisted I do something. By then I had a computer so could no longer use I’m a lousy typist as an excuse. I no longer worked outside of the home. Another excuse shot down. I discovered everything is done online, so the cost of printing and postage for hard copies, etc, although minor, wasn’t a good excuse anymore, either. The only reason that held me back was plain old fear of rejection. My skin had gotten a little thicker through the years, enough I thought I could take it.

My first efforts, hard copies to agents, made me doubt that. I’d read, you see, that publishers didn’t want anyone who didn’t have an agent, and agents didn’t want anyone who hadn’t already been published. Another of my don’t bother you’ll never be accepted excuses. One agent, bless her heart, edited three pages for me. I took one glancing look at all those red marks, tossed to pages away, and told my husband I was too old to learn all of that. Highschool English didn’t cover it. The pages laid there for three days, waiting for me to get brave again. The first thing I noticed was the reoccurring symbols. I was doing the same things over and over. I took the first one, looked up what it was for and what I needed to do to change it and went through the entire manuscript. I made corrections for that one, then the second, then the third until I had everyone of those red marks cleared. That manuscript was accepted by the first publisher I sent it to and I’ve had only rejection since then and only because of a content conflict. My first publisher gave me the tag of Two names, one author, thousands of stories. I got off track for several years doing editing for others, not giving myself enough time to work on my own. I’m back. I’ve missed it, and Deadly Precious is just the beginning.

What is something unique/quirky about you?

I’ve been told I have a strange sense of humor. Would that count?

What’s strange about your humor?

I think things are funny that no one else seems to. I think it’s because I think of the results of what I see or hear, and that’s what I laugh at. The one person who out and out told me I had a strange sense of humor was telling me how sad it was that her boyfriend had flown in from Mexico and the airlines had lost his suitcase—full of marijuana. I told her he couldn’t very well go file a claim to have it found and laughed. See, this is one of those if you have to explain, it isn’t funny, at least not to others. What I pictured was him dumb enough to go in and fill out a claim, listing a suitcase full of illegal drugs as the contents and what would happen to him. Funny to me, but it wasn’t to her. She was offended that I wasn’t sympathetic to his financial loss. Sometimes, life just bites you on the butt. *Lol.

Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!

How not to celebrate the first contract attached.

What are some of your pet peeves?

My hair, (see attached) my hearing and why people insist on talking to you when you tell them you can’t understand them, people that insist on driving the speed limit in a no passing zone when I’m in a hurry, people that cut in line, rude people, people that are mean to animals, etc

Where were you born/grew up at?

I was born in Oklahoma and the family moved to Arizona when I was three. I still live in Arizona, although as a family we did try Oregon and Montana. Loved both states, but we followed the work and the last go round, settled here to stay. We live in the high desert, almost at a mile high, in a rural area with a 15-minute drive to the nearest store and post office.

If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?

Probably not any different than today. I mean, how much can you do in a day.

What kind of world ruler would you be?

Horrible. I’m too much of a soft touch.

Do you have a favorite movie?

You may find this odd, but my favorites, currently, are the Star Wars and Marvels. When I watch a movie or read a book, I want a happy ever after ending. There’s all the heartache and violence I want on the news. I like some humor mixed in, no matter how serious, and I don’t want it so complicated if someone interrupts me—I won’t even tell you his name but he’s a master at it—and a miss a few minutes, I’ve lost what’s going on. During this paragraph he’s interrupted me twice. *lol.

Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?

Deadly Precious, of course, with Daisy Ridley as Letitia. I don’t know about Drew. There are so many good looking tall, dark, and handsome actors, but she has that childlike quality of Letitia.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I like humming birds, but I doubt they have anything to do with my writing although I do flutter around a lot.

How long have you been writing?

I started putting stories on paper at when I was about 21. They went into a drawer until the drawers wouldn’t hold more. Then into a closet. I into digging some of those out to freshen and publish and at the same time, write more. Deadly Precious in a new one. Before that, Die, Sweet Di was one I wrote several years ago. Bringing those up to date is what I mean by freshening. Some were written before cell phones. I can’t have my readers wondering why the hero wasn’t called for help when the car broke down in the forest, or at least mention they don’t have a signal. Maybe I shouldn’t have told you that. *lol

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?

 I usually start with one or two characters then add as I need for the growing story.

What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?

I research before, during, and after, especially for historicals. I make sure they aren’t shooting a gun that hasn’t been invented yet or wearing a style that is not right for the time I have them in. Like freshening some of those manuscripts in the closet, what I wrote even ten years ago has to be updated or a date stated so the reader knows clearly what time period it’s in.

What do you think about the current publishing market?

It’s tough to get any kind of special recognition with so many ebook publishers flooding the market and–not to make enemies–with many of them of such poor quality. No writer can depend on just good writing to get the attention. You have to promo, and I’ll be blunt and honest when I say it is not one of my favorite things to do. That’s my second get back on track objective, doing it anyway to let people know what I have to offer.

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?

I used to be an avid reader. Friday was my shopping day and included the purchase or 4 or 5 books. I say used to be. Anymore, I shop when I can’t avoid the trip any longer. As to what I read, I read the same way I write, in a variety of genres. I spend the weekend reading and started my Monday off working again. The last few years my reading has been limited to what I’ve edited for others. However, this year I’ve cut back on editing for others devoted more time to myself and my own work. That’s why I’m here today. Reading for pleasure again is on my to do list.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?

Again, I have to chuckle. I have an extreme hearing loss, not deaf, but there’s not that much I hear anymore. either. My husband runs the tv and most of the time, I don’t hear it at all. When I watch, I read captions. I have a hearing assist device I have to plug into my ear to hear him clearly enough when he speaks to me to know what he’s saying which makes the tv too loud, and I take the plug out as soon as he’s finished. Noise, which I’m not used to hearing anymore, is annoying, because it’s only partial. I can hear the dog bark, though, and the smoke alarm go off. Without the hearing assist, speech is just noise. So is music. Even with the device it’s difficult to have a conversation and takes a lot of repeating for me to get it all. Since my loss isn’t symmetric, hearing aids don’t work well for me at all.

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?

Only one at a time, and it gets my full attention.

If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?

For the money, Lord of the Rings. Loved the movies.

Pen or type writer or computer?

I really prefer pen and paper but for convenience’s sake I am working on doing it on the computer. Once I have something in a hard copy, it takes me nearly as long to type into the computer as it did to write it. Doing it once would save a lot of time, but the words don’t flow from my brain to the keyboard as smoothly as they do through my arm for some reason.

Tell us about a favorite character from a book.

If you mean one of my books, I have so many. I think Sarah from It’s Still Tomorrow. She makes me laugh, but she’s tough when you cross her. I can remember what inspired that one, too. *hehe

What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?

 I really think becoming an author, meaning write down the stories running through your head, isn’t really a choice. You do it whether you intend to publish or not. If you’re giving author the definition of a published writer, then that is a choice. I pursued publishing both because my family and friends kept urging me to do so and because I wanted to share my stories. It’s right for me.

Do you have any advice to offer for new authors?

I’m going to steal a line. Just do it. I procrastinated for years over tackling publishing. Once I admitted to myself it was based on simple fear of rejection, rejections telling me I was no good at writing, and I decided I could take it, it didn’t take much to get my foot in the door. I owed a lot to one agent who took the time to edit three pages of the manuscript I sent to her in hopes of finding someone to do the work of submitting for me. Those corrections provided me with the information I needed, showed me what I was doing wrong, and the first submit afterward, to a publisher, was my first acceptance. Don’t give up because of setbacks. The only way you will ever succeed is to keep trying and accept that there will be disappointments along the way. When you hold that first book in your hands, you’ll feel like it was all worth it.

What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?

No, chapters, no outline. Sometimes I start in the middle, sometimes the end, and sometimes even the beginning. It all depends on what that first instead of or what if hits me and takes me from there. I work either way, back to the front to get my characters where I started or foreward to get them where I want to go. Works for me even if it sounds scattered to others.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Talking too much. *lol. I say that as an editor. New authors have tendency to want to tell everything, making a sentence 4 or 5 lines long with tmi. I have a hard time convincing some that one or two descriptions of a room are more than enough for a reader to picture in their minds, and it’s never is going to be what the writer sees anyway. Learn the difference between telling and showing and understand pov. Study the suggestions and corrections so you don’t keep making the same mistakes. Most important, self-edit. It is not an editor’s job to rewrite or correct what you’re too lazy to do yourself.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Someone disrupting my train of thought. My family all know what it means when I hold one finger up. Wait a minute until I finish this sentence. Okay, sometimes it’s a paragraph, but they wait. Bless them for their patience.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I hope what they want is what I deliver. I’m not fond of formulas, and I don’t think any of mine fit nicely into any one category, but they’re interesting, not boring, and when I’m on, you don’t guess the ending.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Don’t wait so long to get brave.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from other genders?

It’s no secret men don’t think the way women do. I have to base my characters on what I see around me and watch in movies and tv, and read, analysis it, and go from there.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Generally speaking, a couple of weeks for the first draft. I edit and revise after that until I feel it’s clean enough to submit, a process that probably takes a couple of months because it does me good to take a few days away from it off and on before I go at it again. Longer than many other authors, I know, but part of my working process is seeking perfection even though I know it’s impossible. One other little tidbit here, ebooks have a bad rep for being poor quality. I’d like to build that up by starting with better work and not depending on hurry up editing. What’s saddens me is the growing poor quality that’s coming from the big publishers now. I’ve seen work that would never have made it through any of the independent companies I edit for and I’m not talking about the story. One time half a paragraph was missing and then repeated. No excuse for that. A simple proofread would have caught it.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Not block, exactly. I’m more a mood person. If I’m not in the mood, nothing flows. If I am, nothing else interferes or if anything does, I get cranky. I read Stephen Kings’ how to write book. I couldn’t write the way he does, on a nine to five schedule. I go to bed with the story the last thing on my mind and wake up to the first thing on my mind. There’s no shutting my head off because of what time the clock says. If I’m in the mood, it flows, but on the other hand, if something else is nagging at me, there’s no sense wasting my time sitting at the computer.

Do you get inspiration to write each different story?

Oh, yes, from everything, everywhere.

What inspired you to write this book?

Her home was based on where I lived in Oregon. One of the characters was based on a thoughtless, arrogant group of prominent members of the town in Oregon and how cruel there were to a friend. They invited her to share a lunch with them and then tore her apart, telling her everything that was wrong with her when she had never down anything to harm any of them. They were like those ugly, teenage girls in high school. In Deadly Precious, Letitia was a victim of that town’s uglies and hearing them gossip in the café affected the relationship between her and Drew more than once. I’m not going to tell you if they were right or wrong though, and of course, the incident that started my tale had nothing to do with where I ended up.

What can we expect from you in the future?

More and more. Working on a three part, sweet romance now.

Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?

Not in this one.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Deadly Precious?

 The two main characters are Drew and Letitia. Drew is consumed with hatred and seeking revenge against his father, who claims Drew is a bastard resulting from his wife being unfaithful. She wasn’t. A severe reaction to a drug, administered by a doctor, causes him to hallucinate. He wandered into Letitia’s house, thought she someone else, someone he once loved, and he, in his mind, makes love to her. In reality, he stumbled, knocked her down, and stunned her too badly for her to fight him off. This is not described in the book, just referred to.

How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?

I sort of answered this above in what inspired it, but that was the little kernel that started it. Why it went the direction it did afterward, I don’t know.

Where did you come up with the names in the story?

Picked them out of thin air.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Getting back into writing after too long editing for others and not working my own stories.

Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?

Hate drives Drew, but Letitia keeps interfering with that. She’s pregnant as a result of his attention—nicely put—and refuses to let him pay for it. That’s his conscious excuse for going back again and again, to force her to accept. To begin, Drew thinks she’s a personality blank, that she a bit slow minded, and despite a warning he gets from her ex-husband refuses to believe she’s a threat to him.

How did you come up with the title of the book?

He refuses to believe she’s a threat to him, but is there more under that bland personality driven by her desire for revenge or has she discovered how rich he is and wants more than he’s willing to give her?

Who designed your book covers?

Ashley Redbird Designs. She did a beautiful job. I love it. I need him to star in the movie with Daisey in answer to the question below.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Have to laugh with that question. I’ve had publishers tell me to stop. I still edit books I wrote years ago in my head.

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

Daisey Ridley for Letitia She is the lead character, and she has a child-like, naïve quality that nearly drives Drew crazy, thinking to begin with that she was simple minded for taking his attack on her so casually.

How did you come up with name of this book?

Title choosing is hard. I wanted to catch the reader’s attention, at the same time give an indication of what the story is about. If the title caught them and then they read the blurb, they know there are contradictions in Letitia—Precious—that could be deadly. That’s what I was aiming for, anyway.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

 Both, although some of the characteristics are amped for effect. In Deadly Precious a minor character is from a life experience, the gossiping neighbor. I used to live in a very small, farm village in Oregon. A friend had been invited to lunch with some of the elite. She was happy about it, feeling she’d been accepted. They spend the entire time telling her everything she did wrong, from talking to strangers to a friendship with me because I was ten years younger. I really dislike that kind of thing and made the examples in Deadly Precious as offensive as possible to pass on a don’t be like that message, I hoped.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

Occasionally the story gets away from me and I have to backtrack. It hurts to discard what I’ve written but if it doesn’t fit where the story is going, it doesn’t fit.

Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.

 I can’t do that. Reading Deadly Precious isn’t a must read. Nothing is going to fall apart or not work right. You aren’t going to miss something that will change your life. That isn’t what would sell it. You’re just going to enjoy it. It has to be a wanna read. If you’d like to read something that isn’t a formula, isn’t the same basic plots you’ve read over and over, is some what out of the box, then you want to read Deadly Precious. I want all those things when I read, and I write that way.

Have you written any other books that are not published?

Oh, heavens yes. I still have a closet full and a dozen or so that have been lost. I started writing a long time ago. I’ve only been publishing for about 15 years now.

If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?

Something spicy to remind you of Drew.

What did you edit out of this book?

Some violent scenes. They weren’t necessary to move the story or add to the plot.

Writer’s Block… Thoughts by Author Kristen Illarmo

QUESTION: Do You Believe in Writer’s Block?

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Writer’s block. The fear of staring at a blank page and the words just won’t come. I once abandoned an entire novel due to writer’s block. I put it aside for years, but I never stopped thinking about it and wondering what it could become. I was able to pick it back up when I realized I had been scared of where the book might be going instead of just writing each scene. I eventually finished a 90,000 word first draft for that book, and when I finish the Kirasu Rising series, I can’t wait to plow into drafts 2 through 1 million. Here are a few lessons I learned through that journey that may help you through your writer’s block. 

  1. Your first draft will be messy and rough, but your job is to get it written. 
  2. You may not be a pantser. 
  3. You don’t have to start with a blank page. 

Just get it written 

You’ve heard you need to buckle down and get the first draft written, but do you believe it? If you find yourself editing previous scenes before writing the next scene, you are likely stopping yourself from just getting it written (i.e., completing the first draft). If you stop yourself from writing a scene because you think it might not be the right scene for the finished product but don’t know what other scene is better, you are definitely stopping yourself from finishing the first draft (and this is what I did in spades). You have to put aside the notion that any human besides you will read this draft and write through the rough spots. The second draft is for working out the plot details and plugging the holes. The first draft is for laying out a complete (and likely messy) draft. Drafts 3 through 15 (or more) are for polishing and getting it perfect. 

You may not be a pantser

I thought I was a pantser, or discovery writer if you prefer, a writer who does not use an outline and lets the story grow on the page with no idea of what will happen at the end. It sounds romantic, doesn’t it? Twenty thousand words into Without A World, I had no more story, and I needed a new plan. Through much research into other people’s writing methods, I learned that I am a hybrid discovery and outline writer. Now I write an outline at the beginning of a new project that includes as much detail as I can, and I map out the overarching details for each scene, like who is it in it and the high-level gist of what happens. In this scene map, I pay special attention to the rise and fall of emotions, ensuring that the beginning of the scene has a different feeling for the main character than the end. Once I have the scene map and sketch of each act, I give myself permission to change it as much as I like or to ignore pieces as the real writing begins. Having that sketch of the entire story is essential to keep me moving along through that first draft. I don’t have to stick to the script, but the fact that I have an outline (or detailed sketch) helps take some pressure off. 

You don’t have to start with a blank page 

I write in Scrivener, and I start each scene as a new page (new text) as they recommend. That can result in staring at a blank screen, but I have a shortcut way to ensure that never happens because, for all the reasons listed above, I don’t like to start with a blank screen. When I finish a scene, I start the new text doc right away and add two or three sentences telling me what to write in the next scene. If the upcoming scene is tricky, I will also paste in the last sentence from my previous scene. I may get the upcoming scene idea from my scene map, or, if I’ve gone off-script, I’ll still write a few lines about what needs to come next. When I next sit down to write, I start from the document that includes these scene notes. If I still can’t get the scene started, I will write a few trash lines or stage directions (this would not be in a final novel, of course) to better let me visualize where the characters are and what is happening. 

I hope some of these ideas help you get past the blank page fear and into the messy first draft.

Until next time-

Kristen Illarmo (

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means, when you purchase a book using an Amazon link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.

How Do You Name A Book?

As an author, coming up with the title of you book can be extremely easy or extremely hard. Its like naming a child, you don’t want to pick just any name. You want it to be the right name. When I asked Kristen Illarmo, author of Without A World, how she came up with the title, this is what she had to say:

QUESTION: How did you come up with the name of your book Without A World?

Without A World always had a name, just not that one

From the very beginning, Without A World had a name; it was called A Place Between. All of my drafts are labeled APB. That title made sense because Miranda, the main character, is caught between two worlds, and for a portion of the book, is suspended between them both. About a year ago, when I thought I had a final draft ready (I’ve done so much revision since then!), I finally decided to google the title to see if it was available.

Google it before you fall in love

A word on this. As far as I know, authors can use any title you’d like, even if it has already been used. This is not a wise approach, however, because if another work is using your name and it is well known (or they put money behind their SEO), then your book will not rank on the first page of google, and as my sister says, bodies are buried on Google’s second page.

In my case, a documentary from 2007 lands most of the first page spots, and there appeared to be no room. I could have fought for space, but it’s a crowded field. Instead, I decided to find a new title.

Just pick a new title… right

Well, that turned out to be quite a challenge. My sister and my editor dove in to help, and we created a shared document with no less than 100 possible titles. There were more titles if I count the ones that only made it to texts. I would pick a title, sit on it for a week, and then hate it. This happened over and over for weeks. I finally decided my top 5 and put together a poll to ask for opinions. I did not get many responses (maybe 15?), but the responses did point to a clear favorite. Readers liked Without A World. It works for me, and it still speaks to Miranda being between two worlds without a home. You can read more about the title search and see the runners up here []

My book Without A World doesn’t rank on the first page of google without my name included, but maybe it will one day. Perhaps I could have stuck with my original title for the same reasons, but these are the things we learn.

Until next time-

Kristen Illarmo (

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Laurisa White Reyes ~ Author Interview

Laurisa is the author of the SCBWI Spark Award winning novel The Storytellers and the Spark Honor recipient Petals. She is also the Senior Editor at Skyrocket Press and an English instructor at College of the Canyons in Southern California.

Check out our interview on YouTube:

Check out HER book below!

(Click on the cover images to order your copy)

(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means, when you purchase a book using an Amazon link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.)

SAND AND SHADOW by Laurisa White Reyes

even survivors.

One monster.

Nowhere to hide.

Mission Specialist Adán Fuentes awakes from cryo-hibernation to discover that most of his fellow crewmates are dead and the shuttle Carpathia is not where it’s supposed to be. Surrounded by a vast barren landscape, he and the other survivors wonder how they can accomplish their mission, to establish a home for future colonists.

When an unseen creature attacks them, the Carpathia’s crew must turn their attention to surviving and solving the true purpose behind their mission.

Inspired by the 50’s sci-fi flick Forbidden Planet, Sand and Shadow plumbs the depths of the human psyche and the power of its influence. As the Carpathia’s crew’s secrets and flaws are revealed, readers may find themselves compelled to examine their own dark places.

★Winner of the Houston Writer’s House Competition★

Buy Sand and Shadow now and experience this exhilarating new horror tale for yourself!

Follow her on Social Media here:

Meet Author Carmilla Voiez #giveaway

Carmilla Voiez is proudly pansexual, and an autistic introvert who finds writing much easier than verbal communication. A lifelong Goth, she is passionate about horror, the alt scene, intersectional feminism, art, nature and animals. She lives by the sea in North Scotland and is studying an Arts and Humanities (Creating Writing) BA(Hons) degree.

Carmilla grew up on a varied diet of horror. Her earliest influences as a teenage reader were Graham Masterton, Brian Lumley and Clive Barker mixed with the romance of Hammer Horror and the visceral violence of the first wave of Video Nasties. Fascinated by the Goth aesthetic and enchanted by threnodies of eighties Goth and post-punk music she evolved into the creature of darkness we find today.

Her books are both extraordinarily personal and universally challenging. As Jef Withonef of Houston Press once said – “You do not read her books, you survive them.”

Carmilla’s bibliography includes The Venus Virus, The Starblood (four book) Series, Starblood the graphic novel, Psychonaut the graphic novel, The Ballerina and the Revolutionary, Broken Mirror and Other Morbid Tales. Her short stories have been included in Zombie Punks Fuck Off, Another Beautiful Nightmare, Elements of Horror: Water, D is for Demons, Trembling With Fear, and Sirens Call Magazine.

To find out more, visit her website at

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An interview with Carmilla Voiez

Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!

I used to run a Gothic Clothing company and we decided that a disused asylum would be the perfect place for a photo shoot. Having obtained permission, we camped out there for a day, but it was very spooky and the wind howled through windows and made zombie noises that were just a little too atmospheric at times. There was an old bathtub which was due to be scrapped, and we had made fake blood to drip down it. I was doing this while one of the models was getting changed. She came in wearing a distressed black dress and yellow contact lenses. I saw her from the corner of my eye, thought she was the living dead and screamed. Afterwards, she told me that my reaction inspired her to rock that outfit in the photos, and they were incredible. 

What are some of your pet peeves?

Writers who refuse to read books. You’d be surprised how many writers are proud that they don’t read. I cannot fathom why someone would want to create in a medium that they don’t love or at least appreciate.

How to find time to write as a parent?

It’s easier now I have teenagers. Mum is the last person they want to hang out with. When they were younger, I would wake up around 5 am and write for a couple of hours before they started their day.

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

Gothic, feminist, thoughtful, empathetic, socialist.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I am currently writing an urban fantasy set in a women’s prison, while my artist is painting the pages for our third graphic novel.

Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

You are the most important part of writing and if you take the time to review a book, you are a hero. Thank you.

What are your top 10 favorite authors?

Clive Barker, Toni Morrison, Iain Banks, Victor Lavalle, Sarah Waters, Arundhati Roy, Storm Constantine, Douglas Adams, Thomas Ligotti and Adam Nevill.

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?

I love reading. I read across a wide range of genres including non-fiction, but Horror and Fantasy are my favourites.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?

Silence, so I can hear the voices clearly.

Would you like a chance to win a $10 Amazon giftcard + ebook of Starblood by Carmilla Voiez? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means, when you purchase a book using an Amazon link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.

Meet Author Faith Marlow #giveaway

Faith Marlow is a USA Today best selling author of dark fantasy/ paranormal/ horror. Her stories stir emotions and explore the thin veil between human and the inhuman. Dark, yet inviting and familiar, Faith seeks to deliver chills with a sense of class, and sometimes a bit of heat. With each story, she hopes to build exposure for fellow women authors and artists who create horror.

Her debut, “Being Mrs. Dracula“, chronicles the lives of Count Dracula’s three beautiful, yet very different wives, Valeria, Ilona, and Fleur. The story continues with “Being Dracula’s Widow” and the third installment of the series “Being Dracula’s Heir“. The fourth book is currently in development.

Faith’s latest project, the “Scorned Women” series launched in 2020 with its first book, a retelling of the story of Medusa. Each book in this series will focus on a different woman in and seek to give them a second chance.

Faith is also proud to be featured in multiple short story anthologies. When she isn’t writing or reading, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching a horror movie, online shopping for Funko Pop! figures, at a rock show, or entertaining her house panther, Teddy. She lives in Tennessee with her husband, Scottie, and son, Avery.

To find out more, visit her website at

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An interview with Faith Marlow

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

My name is Faith. I live in East Tennessee, born and raised. My first writing experience was in the fifth grade. Our teacher, Mr. Archer, encouraged my class to write poetry about various subjects. Along with our illustrations, we created little booklets called Visions. This was the first time I saw my name in print, but not the first time I saw myself as an author.

When I was very young, I wrote the date inside of my favorite book, The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, like someone had checked it out at the library. May 30, 1986. I had also marked out the author’s name, and wrote my name over it instead. My one and only act of plagiarism was committed in my bedroom when I was eight years old because I loved that book so much I wish I had wrote it.

I found I had a knack in for fiction and short stories in my English Lit classes in High School and college, but I didn’t pursue novel writing until years later. Movies and stories about Dracula and his brides had always been interesting to me. I had also heard (although debated) that Bram Stoker had drawn inspiration from stories of Vlad the Impaler. The movies I’d watched about Dracula until then always had the “brides” but they were little more than eye candy. Sensual, obedient, beautiful women who only existed to assist Dracula with his agenda. I decided to find out more about these overlooked characters.

I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula and was shocked to find that little more was said about these “weird sisters” than what was depicted in the movies I had watched. It was my assumption that if Bram Stoker had drawn inspiration from Vlad the Impaler for Dracula, then perhaps there would be evidence of the brides in his story. What I discovered was tragic. Little more was known about either of them aside from how they intersected with Vlad’s life and conquests. I thought it was such a disservice to these women, and later the fictional characters, that collectively, they were seen and not heard. I wasn’t able to change history, but I could give these fictional women more. Inspired by these fictional characters and the real women of history, I set to writing my first novel, Being Mrs. Dracula. My main character, Vlad Dracula’s first wife, was named Valeria- which means “to be strong” in her native Romanian. Valeria’s story continues in Being Dracula’s Widow and Being Dracula’s Heir. A fourth book in the series is currently being written.

You can read more about the true “Brides of Dracula” here

After my experience writing Being Mrs. Dracula, my soft spot for “monsters” was sealed and has become a reoccurring theme in my stories. Ghosts with unfinished business, a woman who chooses to be a werewolf instead being of trapped by her ignored women’s health issues, and most recently, a retelling of the story of Medusa in my new Scorned Women series.  I am currently working on the next book in that series, a retelling of the bride of Frankenstien’s monster.

A day in the life of the author?

A day in my life as an author is probably not what most people would expect. It’s not what I thought it would be from films and television shows I watched growing up. I work a full 40 hour week in Information Technology. I only get to focus on writing on the afternoons and weekends. I also have to make time for family, and just living life outside of work. The most ironic part of all is how little of an author’s writing time is spent writing. I often spend more time with promo and the logistic side of writing that I do creating. And I am far from being a unique case. Almost every author I know has a similar situation, which is why it can take us a while to get the next book out.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I really don’t have much relaxation time, which is why I picked this question as one to answer. I am a workaholic by nature, so setting aside time to rest is something I have to consciously do because I will go until I’m exhausted if I don’t make an effort to have a break. When I do, it is usually watching a movie, typically horror or sci-fi, a documentary, or a music venue if Covid-19 guidelines are being followed at the location.

What inspired you to write this book?,

I think Carmilla and I were inspired by many things. Of course, I can’t truly speak for her but it started with us wanting to work on a project together. I think I mentioned I had always wanted to write a straight up ghost story. Then we starting talking about possible locations, and of course the American south is a hotbed of ghost stories and legends. Combine that with the numerous examples of civil and racial tensions and protests, and how that intersects with the south, Our Fearful Roots bloomed from that place. I feel we both try to be socially aware and respectful of other people’s experiences and we both strongly support equality. This story allowed us to explore these ideas, but through a lens of horror, which is a genre we both enjoy working in. I think Our Fearful Roots is most certainly a horror story, not just a ghost story, and not all of the horror it discusses is paranormal.

Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.

I think Our Fearful Roots is a must read because it is a perfect ghost story for creepy season. It has slow burn tension, legitimate bone chilling scares, and characters that are relatable, so the reader will be able to vicariously have these experiences. I sincerely believe that we have used some elements in Our Fearful Roots that readers will not have encountered in any other story, book or film. It’s a sincere story, thick with emotions, a healthy dose of horror to get hearts pumping just in time for Halloween.

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?

I typically have multiple projects started, but I tend to either finish the project I am on, or at least make some significant progress on one project before moving to another. When the idea of Our Fearful Roots was developed, I put my personal projects on the back burner because we were excited to dive into this story. I think Carmilla has a much stronger skill for working on multiple projects at one time.

What makes a good story?

I think strong, relatable characters are probably the most important part of any story. You could have an iron clad plot, a totally unique story, with a perfect ending, but if readers do not connect to the characters, they will have no incentive to finish the story. Of course, a strong plot and engaging story is very important, but I think it hinges on the richness of the characters.

Would you like a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card + ebook of Being Mrs. Dracula by Faith Marlow? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means, when you purchase a book using an Amazon link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.

Meet Author Lea Falls

Author Interview w/ Lea Falls!

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

My head has always been full of stories. I feel like I process the world through storytelling. As a kid, I used to sit in front of this beautiful porcelain doll my grandma owned. It was bigger than me back then. I just sat there for hours, thinking up stories about her, and honestly, I don’t think that ever really changed. My heart always belonged to stories and performing. As a teenager, I joined my first acting group. I loved being on stage, but I also wanted to tell my own tales, so I channeled my 2009 vampire craze into writing a play about a lone hunter at a vampire banquet, where they recounted the ways they influenced history. We performed it at our local theatre and it was so much fun. Later in college, when I studied acting, improv theatre changed the way I look at stories. My friend and I founded a long-form improv group and we performed full-length plays that were made up on the spot. It taught me what elements any good story needed and how to feel when a scene is working or requires a change. In an improv group, everyone has a specialty, and I was the “fixer”, the one that ran on stage when the story was getting off track or details weren’t connecting properly. I became really good at spotting plotholes and adding the right kinds of conflict to keep us going. I don’t think I’d be the writer I am today without improv.

What is something unique/quirky about you?

I absolutely adore lemons. I need lemon juice on most savory things I eat and I love drinking it straight without diluting it. I’ve even infected my wife with this quirk. Now she’s the one who eats a bite of dinner and says “Needs more lemon”.

What are some of your pet peeves?

 I feel like this is more of a full-grown elephant peeve, but I can’t stand people talking during movies or TV shows. It’s okay if they do that on their own, but if I’m there, please please please, pause the dang film! The moment two people talk at once, I just can’t hear anything anymore and it overwhelms me immediately. I also have a slight snob streak, so I tend to be the “Respect the art!!” type.

Where were you born/grew up at?

 I was born in the Rhineland of Germany, an hour away from Cologne. It’s a beautiful area with fortresses and mountains. When I brought my wife there two decades later, she loved it for its fairytale-esque nature.

Then, right before I turned ten, we moved to the North Sea. Our house was just a thirty-minute walk from the water, which was lovely, although I didnÄt go as often as I wished I had. Both places were small towns, and while they have their perks, I was very eager to explore the big city, when I moved to San Francisco at eighteen. I’m a city lady at heart!

If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?

I’m not that scared of dying, to be honest. I have so many plans, so it’d be quite frustrating not to be able to execute them, but I wouldn’t want to try to squeeze them all in one day. I’m most scared of what I’d leave behind. So I would choose to spend the day with my wife, maybe in a favorite cafe of ours, writing a lot of letters to my loved ones, something they can hold on to. Then, when I felt like I’ve written an adequate amount, I’d want to briefly outline as many of my book ideas as possible and hand all of those over to my wife. She obviously wouldn’t have to write them all, but she’s a fantastic writer, and this way at least some of my stories would still get birthed. Then, at the end of the day, I’d like to dress up in an extravagant gown and see a Broadway show.

What kind of world ruler would you be?

 A stressed one. I have no interest in going into politics. I don’t think I could handle disagreements over things that are so obvious to me, and I don’t know how I’d deal with the slow speed of change, especially when people’s livelihoods are at stake. I have so much respect for people like Cori Bush and AOC, who throw themselves into the fight every single day, but I don’t think my temperament could handle it.

If I were, however, a world leader, I’d want to establish some kind of compassion/self-reflection/anti-propaganda course or test for everyone in my cabinet, and I’d want my advisors to be as diverse as possible, because that’s what democracy should be about, in opinion. It should represent everyone. I’d also start by having a reckoning with our history because reflecting on where we’ve come from, the mistakes we’ve made, the darkness we don’t want to repeat is an important part of self-growth and I believe it’s required for societal growth as well. So I do have a lot of ideas on what I’d want to implement, but I’m not confident I could convince people to listen. I’m better suited for the arts.

What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?

This is How You Lose the Time War, A Little Princess, Fragile Wings, Les Miserables, Into the Drowning Deep, The Gilded Ones, Less, Kindred (in no particular order except for the first one)

What book do you think everyone should read?

 Kindred!! Octavia Butler’s writing is fantastic, gripping, and so important. It’s such a great exploration of how the time you live in shapes you.

How long have you been writing?

I wrote my first short story in elementary school, but I barely remember it. Apparently, it was about an elvish princess trying to get rid of a wall, or something like that? Clearly, that was my character Ally Verdain in the making! At age 11, I wrote my first screenplay and I remember absolutely loving it. It felt wonderful to get lost in the storytelling. In it, a princess gets swapped at birth and grows up with a sweet peasant family until the truth is revealed. Then she fights to reclaim her throne. I’m proud of the story, though I did think that if you want to write a dramatic scene, you just have to use a lot of exclamation marks!!!!

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?

Usually, two characters come to me first. I’m very relationship-oriented when I write. It doesn’t have to be romantic–my current project is about platonic love–but there’s always some strong connection that draws me to a story. After that, characters come to me while writing. So far, my first drafts have been very messy and explorative. But I usually sense when a newly appeared character is going to hijack the story. In my current project, a guy walked in, spoke once, and I immediately knew he’d be important. I hadn’t planned for a specific love interest but that’s exactly what he is now. It’s an exciting part of the journey to discover who you’ll meet along the way.

What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?

 That depends on the project, but I usually research as I go. GODDESS OF LIMBO took a lot of research–everything from names to cultures to idiosyncrasies of a specific time period. When I’m on a roll with a scene, I usually write “BLOB” or “insert description here” and then come back to it. But sometimes it’s too vital an aspect of the chapter, so I end up researching details every few lines. It can be a bit cumbersome but it often leads me down really interesting paths. Then there’s another kind of research that I do outside of the writing process. No matter what story I’m working on, I’m always trying to learn more about writing diversity, about people and what makes them tick, about harmful tropes we keep including into stories. I’m by no means perfect, but I think it’s important to keep widening your worldview if you want to improve your stories.

Do you see writing as a career?

Yes, absolutely, I see myself as an actor/writer, though I had to put the acting part on hold for a bit due to the pandemic and chronic illness. I’m also hoping to get into audiobook narration next year. I took some classes on it in college and am excited to narrate GODDESS OF LIMBO once I have the right equipment. I have very ambitious goals for my writing career and am ultimately hoping to work as a hybrid author, both traditionally and independently published.

What do you think about the current publishing market?

Oof, it’s complicated! I think it’s wonderful that indie publishing is becoming more and more of a feasible option. It allows for more freedom and diversity in publishing. At the same time, it’s a lot of work, and I think long-term I’d prefer to spend more time writing than handling the business aspects of it. The traditional publishing market is, however, slightly broken. So many traditionally published authors aren’t earning a living wage off their books and while not one specific area is to blame, there has to be a better way than artists not making money off their art. We can do better than that! I also think there’s an unfair focus on social media when it comes to publishing as well. Everyone tells authors they have to build their author platform and yes, it is much easier for writers with huge platforms to become bestsellers, but other forms of marketing are equally if not more important. As a bit of an introvert who struggles with social media, it can feel like you’re doomed from the getgo. But the more research I do, the less that seems true. So there’s a lot of misinformation out there, both in the indie and the traditional market. Overall though, I’m happy that more books than ever are being published and read. That is wonderful for the world.

What are you passionate about these days?

Accessibility. As terrible as the pandemic is, it’s shown us the many possibilities on how to make everything more accessible to disabled and chronically ill folks. I hope we will carry these realizations forward and not try to return to a less accessible world once some of us can go back to “normalcy”. I, myself, have learned a lot on how to make content more inclusive in the past year, but also know there’s still so much to learn. It’s exciting to see that platforms are slowly catching up–subtitles are becoming more available, and work from home is an option for many. It’s also a subject dear to the heart for both my wife and me. She’s narcoleptic, which she handles well when accommodations are given. A few extra five-minute breaks are all it takes, but she’d gotten laid off for it before when she’d been doing stellar work, and it’s just not fair. I have several conditions that require accommodations as well, and oh my goodness, does proper care make a difference! For example, nowadays everything is so digital, but because of chronic migraines, I can’t look at screens for too long. There are red filters for which I’m incredibly grateful for, but still, it’s not enough. A few months ago, however, I bought a Neo2 Alphasmart electronic typewriter from… I don’t know, the 90s? And it’s amazing! I’m writing my response currently on it because there is no blue light involved. It has completely changed my life as a writer, and it seems so easy. If we were able to make electronic devices like this thirty years ago, why can’t we do it now? I’m hopeful that one day there’ll be screens using this kind of technology.

I’m passionate about this topic because the more we educate ourselves and each other, the more everyone can be included. An inclusive society enriches us all.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

The must-have answer, of course, is reading. For years, I only did it sporadically, but this year, I’ve finally been able to squeeze daily reading back into my schedule. Apart from that, I love Dungeons & Dragons, and tabletop RPG games in general. My wife and I are currently running a two-person gay pirate adventure game and that’s a lot of fun. My character started out as a cook, but she quickly learned how to kick booty. My friends and I are also big fans of playing Among us. I used to be a lousy alien impostor, but I’m finally getting better. My best friend can still tell immediately if I’m the impostor. He says my voice changes. It’s hopeless. I just gotta murder him quickly!

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

I hate limited word counts… that’s five words, right? Okay, okay, I’ll give it an honest try. Ambitious, bubbly, curious storyteller dork. There we go 🙂

Do you have a favorite movie?

One of my absolute favorites is “Cloud Atlas”, and I don’t think it’s surprising if you look at my preferred way of telling stories. This movie is almost spiritual to me! I love how the characters’ lives of different ages are all interconnected and affect each other. I get goosebumps just thinking about it and the score is so beautiful! It’s also very romantic, and I love a good star-crossed sweethearts story.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

 I don’t know if it counts as a full pilgrimage, but my wife and I loved walking through London when we lived there, and most of the characters and plotlines of GODDESS OF LIMBO were birthed on those walks. The old architecture was perfect for envisioning grand fantasy tales. There is one building in particular near Waterloo station that has a lovely round tower with a circular room on the highest floor. We called that one our “Bored Reginald” tower, because the jester, and loved one of a protagonist, lives in a similar tower room in the palace. I still go on long walks to kickstart my imagination.

What inspired you to write this book?

GODDESS OF LIMBO guided me out of a tough time. I’ll always be grateful for the spark of inspiration that led to where I am now.

I’ve always been an actor/writer, but I focused on acting first. After I finished college, I ended up in a difficult financial spot, couldn’t get any roles because of my accent, and struggled with chronic illness. I felt completely creatively depleted. That’s when my wife started a Dungeons & Dragons game for my friends and me. I fell in love with both my character and her love interest. The storytelling of the game rekindled my imagination and I ended up writing “fanfiction” about my character and her girlfriend. My wife and I created a whole canon outside of the game and kept adding characters to it. We basically came up with a world of our own and played improv scenes set in it every evening after work. Every bathroom break at work turned into me typing out little scenes for the characters and before I knew it, we’d created an epic, intricate fantasy world. Then, when I was sick one day, I decided to write the origin story of my character’s dad. That is now chapter five of GODDESS OF LIMBO. I dove into the love interest’s mother–Ally–next, and suddenly the parents became the true story.

The first draft barely resembles the book now. My Dungeons & Dragons character and her love interest will only be children in the overall series. In the end, it wasn’t their story.

It took me five months to realize that what I was writing might become a book, and another year to truly commit to becoming an author.

I’ve always wanted to be an author, but I thought I couldn’t pursue it until I was in my fifties. I thought I had to establish my acting career first. Writing one book seemed like an impossible journey to me. Now I don’ want to stop. I love this series, but I’m excited about all the other stories I plan to tell as well. I was so lost when the first inspiration for GODDESS OF LIMBO came to me. I don’t want to know where I’d be if I hadn’t followed it.

What can we expect from you in the future?

The Forgotten Splinters Chronicles is currently planned as a five-book series, although the next part will be a prequel novella that takes place right after the prologue. It’s still in the drafting phase, but I’d like it to stand on its own, so people can read it before or after GODDESS OF LIMBO.

In terms of other novels–I have about thirty-five stories on my “to be written” pile right now and it’s steadily growing. While I really enjoy writing fantasy, I’d like to branch out into other genres as well. One of my current projects is a contemporary coming-of-age story about two queer runaway kids growing up on the streets of San Francisco. It’s in the second draft stage now. After that, I’m not sure which one I’ll choose from my idea pile. The close contesters are a space mermaid Sci-Fi, an underwater fantasy romance, and a pirate adventure. 2022, however, will be dedicated entirely to GODDESS OF LIMBO’s sequel. I’ve already written a few chapters for it..

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in GODDESS OF LIMBO?

I have a large cast of characters as their stories are all interconnected, so when people ask me to talk about my protagonist, I’m tempted to give a dozen ted talks. But seeing as occasional restrain is a virtue, let’s just touch on three of the main ones.

Ally, or the elvish Princess Alexandra Verdain, has endured many hardships–the Council stripping her power exiled her grandmothers, her mother died during Ally’s mysterious birth and her father disappeared when she was ten, she was married off as a child to a ruthless magic-bearer, and her nation ridicules and infantilizes her because of her schizoaffective disorder. Despite all that, she’s brilliant, snarky, endlessly curious, and undeterred once she’s set her mind on something. She’s had a long-term affair with her court jester and cares about Elfentum’s future, even if it doesn’t care about her.

Captain Subira Se’azana is still trying to understand who she truly is. She grew up in a noble family in Fi’Teri, deeply religious and set to advance in court, but she ran away to Virisunder as a child and became the mentee of Ally’s grandmother who runs a military academy. When we meet Subira, she’s on the cusp of change–in a war declared lost that she’s determined to win, pregnant and in love with a man who only noticed her after she saved his life, and torn between the military career that gives her purpose and dreams of becoming a dancer and having a loving family, unlike the one she came from. She’s a serious person with a sharp-edged wit, strong on the battlefield but uncertain in her private life.

And lastly, let’s talk about Vana Ackerman. She’s a feisty farm girl that lived through famines and wars and is sick of her town’s ruthless nobility. Even as a six-year-old, she talks about revolution, and by the time she’s sixteen, she’s known around town for her rebel band The Spirit and the Enforcer. The Spirit is her best friend Jules and when we met her, they’ve just broken up, because she’s realized she’s gay. Nevertheless, they plan to take down their nation together. Unfortunately, the beautiful teenage daughter of the local duke gets in their way. Vana has a big heart and a strong sense of justice, but she tends to jump the gun and hasn’t fully understood what the reality of revolution entails.

Where did you come up with the names in the story?

 I came up with character names in three different ways. Some were named by my wife, back when we first explored their storylines in D&D and improv scenes. My favorite of those is Vana, because it’s not actually a real name, but she thought it was and I loved it, so we’ve kept it. Other names were inspired by real people in history. General Makeda, Ally’s grandmother and principal of the most prestigious military academy, was named after an Ethiopian queen. She’s from Fi’Teri, which is loosely inspired by Ethiopian culture. The last and most common way I found names was by searching baby name suggestions from cultures most closely aligned to the fictional nation the character is from. Sachihiro, for example, is a Mayan name meaning “broad happiness”. He’s from Tribu La’am, which is inspired by Mesoamerica.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Writing GODDESS OF LIMBO has been an incredible journey. There are so many moments I treasure from the first four-day mini-vacation I took to focus on writing to the coffee-fueled everyday hustle of finishing the second draft on a deadline. It truly taught me how to write a book, how to become an author, and how to wholeheartedly embrace my imagination.

One of the aspects I’ve enjoyed the most from the very beginning was the jester’s tricks and his dialogue. He always has a turn of phrase or a silly pun on his lips, and despite his overall tragic character, he’s a joy to write.

I also love Martín’s chapters, because his internal monologues are the funniest to write. They’re less fun to edit because I need to delete a lot of his profanity.

Every POV character has its own perks though. Ally’s chapters always require me to pull up “Physics for kids” sites to try and understand the way she’s thinking, so progress is slow, but I also love it because her perception of life differs from mine. Sachihiro, on the other hand, perceives things similarly to me (even though his personality is very different from mine) so his thoughts tend to flow nicely. I love writing Subira for the fierce fight scenes, and Vana for her big ideas and grand speeches on justice. So really, every character has its own perks and I shall dearly miss writing the ones that didn’t survive the first book…

How did you come up with the title of your first novel?

Coming up with the title GODDESS OF LIMBO was a long and chaotic journey. It’s funny, because nowadays I don’t struggle with titles at all. I already have the sequel name and am really excited to share it.

But for the longest time, GODDESS OF LIMBO was just “The Frieda Kilburn Saga”. Frieda Kilburn was the D&D character that inspired everything. For some odd reason, I named her Frieda after Friedrich Nietzche–something about her moral view of the world? I have no idea! And Kilburn after the London neighborhood my train passed through on the way to work. She briefly appears in GODDESS OF LIMBO, but it’s no longer her story. Nevertheless, I kept the name until the first draft was done and I had to come up with something better to submit it for a workshop. Limbo, the realm of lost things, had already become an important part of the story, so I named it “Whispers from limbo”. Half a year later, I decided it wasn’t snappy enough, so I changed it to “Limbo calls”. A demon plot that becomes important in the sequel played a much bigger part in the initial drafts, so I thought it might fit. I still didn’t love it. When I finished the full rewrite, I realized that despite the interweaving narratives, at its core, it’s the story of the goddess Alames–Goddess of Limbo.

My wife and I have an inside joke that Alames isn’t actually the goddess of limbo and it’s referring to a different goddess, but you’ll have to read the book to decide that for your own…

Who designed your book covers?

Franzi Haase from, @coverdungeonrabbit on Instagram! I’m so grateful I found her. She was a joy to work with and took my vague ideas to create this gorgeous cover. It’s exactly how I wanted it to be! I can’t wait to work with her again for future covers. Picking a cover artist was one of the scariest parts of the publishing process. So scary, that for a while I considered designing it myself, but I couldn’t do it justice. Then I saw Franzi’s work on Instagram and fell in love with it!

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Yes, I absolutely would. Writing is such an intimate reflection of our insides and even though I’m deeply proud of this book, I have grown a lot since finishing the final draft and there are a few nuances I wish I’d put more thought into. I want to be clear, I don’t regret anything. If I wouldn’t love my book wholeheartedly, I wouldn’t be putting it out there. Honestly, I don’t think I could, because it’s scary enough to send it to hundreds of reviewers, promising them they’ll enjoy it, when truly, you have no idea. Every time I reread GODDESS OF LIMBO, it makes me incredibly happy. But it also deals with a lot of sensitive topics and there’s one nuance, in particular, I wish I could add. I have a lot of different cultures in this book, but there’s one subculture that we’ve only met one character from and that character is a darker shade of morally grey. From the beginning, I’ve planned to introduce a place full of those people in the third book, and most of them will be positive, good-hearted characters. But they aren’t in this book… So every now and then I get a small panic attack over potentially implying something I hadn’t intended. That’s probably a common issue among epic fantasy writers who juggle so many cultures, especially if diversity and representation are important to them. They’re vital to me. But we live in a society full of marginalization and I personally am constantly unlearning the subconscious biases I grew up with. I think as we evolve as people, our writing will become better and better. Even though I wish every book I write could be 100% perfect in my eyes, I realize that will never be possible, and that’s okay.

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

This is a fun question for me and I’m going to be shameless about it. I’m an actor as well as a writer. I have a degree in film acting and so does my wife. I absolutely want to play Alames. Get the blue stage makeup–I’m ready! My wife wants to play the magical engineer Zazil and I think she’d be great at it. My best friend Nick also needs to play a role but we’re not certain which one yet. Maybe the casting director gets to have a say after all.

As to more known actors–I think Cara Delevigne would make a great Ally, especially after seeing her in Carnival Row, and I’d be honored if the amazing Lupita Nyong’o would play Subira. I’d also love for the actors’ identities to line up with the characters’ to a certain degree. Martín, for example, would have to be played by a Latino trans man, or I’d be upset. I would definitely want to make sure there’s no whitewashing happening either. So to conclude, I have a lot of opinions on acting 😉

What is your favorite part of this book and why?

This is a tricky question. So many moments are dear to me and then there are the ones I strongly connect with personal memories of writing them.

One of my favorite chapters is the Hard Rime River chapter. I love the setting, and it caught me completely off guard when I wrote it. The way it came together changed the whole trajectory of the book. I got so excited about the chapter that when I first presented it to my beta readers, they had no idea what was going on. I’ve rewritten it several times since and learned that me loving a part probably means I skipped the “make sure your readers get what’s happening” aspect. I tend to get lost in those moments.

My favorite part, truly, is the ending though. I’m so happy with how it all turned out. Writing beginnings is tough for me but I love stringing everything together. The moment everything fully connects feels so special. It makes me excited for the sequel because those connections have already been established now.

As to character journeys, I’m the proudest of Richard’s. Admittedly, it’s the one I’m most nervous about too because it deals with several delicate and painful topics, but I think it ends in a beautifully cathartic place. He has, perhaps, the most character development throughout the first book.

Finally, there are about four jokes I absolutely adore. When I find something funny, it never fails to crack me up. My wife still sends me a silly gif from two years ago and I can’t stop laughing at it. So those four jokes are absolutely wonderful to return to.

If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Oh goodness, most of them! But I also feel like I already have. I know so much about them, have spent hours imagining details that will never make it into the books. Character work is my favorite part, both in acting and writing. In our daily life, we always have some sort of mask on. Even when you’re very close with someone, you won’t know their thoughts, won’t know how they see life. All of that is possible when getting to know a character. They’re all flawed, yet I’m incredibly protective of all of them because I feel like I understand them better than I understand most real people. I need to note here that I’m talking about the point of view characters, not the villains. I do not under any circumstances want to spend a day with Prince Josef.

But if I could choose one of them to manifest into reality for a day, I’d probably want to do an improv show with the court jester Bored Reginald. He’s a grand illusionist and could whip up a fantastic set. I think our creative visions would align pretty well and rehearsing with him would be a blast. If I get more than one day, we’ll go on tour!

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

 I’m leaning toward the second one, but I feel like characters have such a mind of their own, they come out of some idea cloud. That’s probably an eccentric view on it, but itÄs how I experience it every time I write. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about book ideas like they’re these spirits of muses that come to writers, insisting to be born. I like that idea. I also think stories reflect paths our collective unconscious has taken. Sure, it’s all fiction, but in a way, it’s also all true. We find ourselves in characters, in their struggles, their lessons. I wouldn’t claim all that magic stems from my imagination alone.

I definitely don’t base characters off of people I know. I admit, I took inspiration for the physical description of two villains from people I knew, but that’s it. My best friend insists he sees a lot of Ally in me, but I can’t even do simple math and am much more of a pacifist than she is, so I don’t see it.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

They absolutely hijack the story. I wouldn’t even call it hijacking. They’re the ones steering the train, owning the railroad, creating the schedule. I just hop on and see where we’re going. I might think we’re cruising through Scotland only to look out the window and find myself in a jungle.

An example of that is my character, Robert. In the early drafts, when I was just learning the story, he was a royal guard, and that’s it. In the first real draft, I gave him a love interest and a whole unrelated side quest. Then, in my big rewrite, he talked to Ally for the first time and their chemistry was irresistible. It was entirely unexpected and changed everything. Suddenly he became a new romantic interest for Ally, and without spoiling anything, the ending couldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Robert’s change of direction. The whole series changed because of his influence and I’m glad for it.

Have you written any other books that are not published?

Yes! My short story EMILY’S HEIRS will be published in Hansen House Books’ queer SFF anthology ELIXIR: Stories of Hope and Healing in January 2022. I’m very excited to be part of this incredible project! My story is about a lesbian autistic girl and her intersex best friend breaking into a futuristic fertility clinic to stop irreversible eugenics.

I’m also working on a contemporary coming-of-age story called A FEW SPOTS PAST THE SUN about two queer runaway foster kids growing up on the streets of San Francisco. The first draft is written, but it’s an incredibly rough mess, so I’m working my way through that right now. My plan is to become a hybrid author, so I’m hoping to traditionally publish that story.

If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?

I was staring at this question blankly and decided to ask my wife. She said “blood”, which was unhelpful. Let me see… daffodils, old parchment, and cinnamon. There we go!

What did you edit out of this book?

About two other books worth! Ally’s firstborn daughter, Josefine, who she wasn’t allowed to care for or even see much, had five whole chapters. She only appears briefly in one Ally chapter now. Richard also had a second son named Elvor, who truly was just an unpleasant fellow. I didn’t even enjoy writing him that much, but he was part of the very first idea dump, so he got three chapters of questionable content in the first draft. I deleted his character completely in the rewrite. Dillon, Ally’s first personal guard, had a huge arc as well, and so did the jester’s assistant Cleo. Both of them disappeared almost completely. Vana was originally an adult and married to a duchess named Marella. They fought Josefine, riding a demon, together on a grand battlefield. It was epic and also utter nonsense in the context of the actual story. The goddess Alames used to appear to Zazil in a strange vision and declare her the chosen one for a minor subplot. I had just finished a venti vanilla latte and thought it was my best writing ever! I’m going to post the original outline on my Patreon soon. It’s hilarious to me how little it has to do with GODDESS OF LIMBO’s actual plot.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why? I would absolutely love to take a class from the authors of THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR. Amal et-Mohtar and Max Gladestone’s storytelling moved me more than I thought possible. They told a grand epic within the pages of a novella. I’m absolutely in awe of their talent and would love to write a story like that someday. My imagination tends to think in epic spans as well, hence I started with a five-book epic fantasy series. But to condense that grand of a picture into the pure essence of it– Amazing! I’d love to learn how to do that. 

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Meet Author Kelly Pawlik

Kelly Pawlik dabbled with story writing from a young age. She spent her childhood reading, dressing her beloved cat, Midnight, up in doll clothes and hunting garter snakes in the backyard. Her favourite cartoon as a child was Jem and she is proud to own the full box set of DVDs. Her childhood dream was to be an author and she is proud to be bringing characters to life with the Olympic Vista Chronicles.

Kelly is a tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG) writer and has released multiple RPG supplements with her husband under their micro-publishing company, Dire Rugrat Publishing. She has also contributed to several best-selling works with Kobold Press.

Kelly lives on Vancouver Island, BC with her husband, their three inquisitive children, and two lazy cats.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?

My husband and I are both avid gamers. We play a lot of tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGS). The characters in this book, or at least most of them, have appeared in various forms across a bunch of our campaigns. (This is probably one of my favorite versions of them though!) The Olympic Vista Chronicles are inspired by some time we spent playing the Tales From the Loop RPG, which is a great system set in “the 80s that never was.”

The characters have come to be very real for me, for both of us, and it’s a little scary but also super gratifying to put them out into the world in these novellas so other people can meet them.

So, what’s the deal with “The Link?”

The books are set in this small fictional town called Olympic Vista. (It’s not too far from Olympia, WA.) The whole town sort of formed around this research and development facility.  No one talks about exactly what they do there. It’s all pretty secretive. What people do know is that it was started by James Morrison. He ran the place for years, slowly growing it and bringing on more scientists. Dr. Morrison had a theory that everything was connected (or “linked”) and a lot of research stemmed from that. For the most part, the research is contained to the lab, but once in awhile something slips through, or an employee goes rogue, or the area just attracts some unwanted attention.

Some residents attribute weird happenings in town to the facility, but most people just go about their business, happy for the inexpensive houses and proximity to Olympia.

Why the 80s?

My husband and I had been playing the Tales From the Loop RPG, which is set in the 80s (“that never was”), but also, Stranger Things has been such a big influence in the media since its release.

Trends from lots of decades seem to circle back into style, but 80s trends are really coming back in all sort of places from fashion to home décor. I think there’s something about that time period. Even cartoon favorites like My Little Pony just don’t seem to go out of style, even if they’ve had a huge revamp appearance-wise.

I have very fond memories of watching Jem and Lady Lovelylocks, I can remember a collection of the hard sided plastic lunch boxes with images of She-ra or Sesame Street on them, and my brother was super into the Ninja Turtles, so we used to play that a lot. There’s just something about the more simplistic time of the 80s that has this nostalgia to it.

Plus, it’s way easier for kids to get themselves into and out of trouble when there aren’t hovering parents and cell phones!

What are your favorite things about the 80s?

The toys. I remember my Jem doll who didn’t fit any of Barbie’s clothes. She had these huge flat feet! Or the brightly colored toy rotary phone that every kid seemed to have.

Then there’s the cartoons. They are honestly so terrible, but in that nostalgic way. It’s amazing how far cartoons have come.

In truth, I was a bit young for some of the 80s vibes as I’m an 80s baby. (Of course, if you listen to Robin in How I Met Your Mother, the 80s didn’t come to Canada until the early 90s!) I’ve got some fond memories from the later 80s and early 90s though, and the internet is such an amazing thing.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

A bit of both! I often find the dialogue writes itself. I can’t seem to control everything they say, for better or worse. The characters all have such distinctive personalities to me, their own flaws and hopes and aspirations. So, I have a general idea of where everything is going, but once in awhile they surprise me.

What is your favorite scene in Yesterday’s Gone?

There are so many I love, but I really enjoy the scene in the park after the kids have snuck into the haunted house. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but Darius’ excitement for the whole situation, and his willingness to just go with it, in contrast to the others who are still coming to grips with the discovery, it just makes me smile every time I read it.

What is your favorite scene in Songs from the Wood?

That’s tough. We really see a lot more of the home lives for these kids in book two, and I really like that. Darius’ interactions with his mother give us a better picture of who Darius is. We get to see Adelaide with her mother as well. And we get to meet Tetsu’s mother in book two, and she makes any scene she’s in wonderful. Tetsu has this way about him, but like so many kids, like so many people, it’s a façade. Mrs. Nomura is a no-nonsense woman and she adds this dynamic that I enjoy. There’s a lot of excitement in the woods, of course, but the banter (or lack of) between parent and child really excites me.

Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.

It’s a little bit of everything: snappy dialogue, friendship, 80s nostalgia, a touch of horror and a small pinch of young love. It’s a quick read, so there isn’t a big commitment, but if you love it, there’s so much more to come. It was written to be a great read for busy adults. Pick it up, meet some new friends, and finish the adventure in an afternoon. What have you got to lose?

Who designed your book covers?

Greta Paliulyte. I found her through Fiverr and I loved her style. They are a bit different, maybe not in the usual wheelhouse of this type of book, but I love the sort of 80s vibe they give off, like a book you’d pull off a shelf in your grandma’s dusty basement.

If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?

Oh, that’s a fun question! I suppose it would be those scratch and sniff stickers from the 80s, but mixed with a musty old house.

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?

I honestly read a lot of YA, especially fantasy YA. I like it, because I like an easy read, but sometimes I wish there was just a bit more to it, or a bit less than some of the books on the fiction market have. As a working parent I found I had less and less time to read and it was frustrating. I’d make it through some YA books now and then, and I enjoyed them, but I still wanted more.

So many people in my life think of me as an avid and voracious reader, but the number of books I was getting through in recent years really diminished. My goal with Olympic Vista Chronicles is to help other people like me, who want to read, who love to read, to feel like they have these bite-sized piece they can get through. The “problem” or adventure in each book is contained to that book, but strung together the series make a bigger and more satisfying story.

Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?

Darius, the rich-kid from Boston, has such a curious mind. In some ways, he’s been super sheltered and the idea that he could have this group of friends, that he could go on these adventures, it’s really exhilarating for him.

Adelaide, is a bit different. She’s the glue that holds her circle of friends together, even if she doesn’t realize it. She’s had a tough life. Her mother can’t seem to hold down a job, she burns just about anything she cooks and she has horrible taste in men. Her dad isn’t in the picture at all and there’s been a revolving door of roommates over the years. Adelaide spends more time being the adult than her mother does, and Darius’ arrival in town gives her a chance to be a kid and get in trouble and just live.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

None of the characters are based on anyone I’ve met exactly, but I don’t know if anything can come completely from people’s imagination; everything we do, everything we see, it can affect us. I have no doubt my interactions with various people, things they have said to me or I’ve ever heard, they all play a part in the creation of these characters. 

Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?

I might just be working on a few! I have an idea for a short story collection I’d like to put together. The main characters of the novella series won’t feature too prominently, but they’ll be around for parts of the book. Their friends, however… we’ll have to see!

In the meantime, there is a short story available to people who sign up for my newsletter. It’s still set in Olympic Vista, but it has very different characters. It’s much less horror and much more friendship with a touch of sadness. (I only send out a newsletter about once a month, but subscribers will get access to novella updates and behind-the-scenes information!)

There are some unanswered questions throughout the two books. Are the answers coming soon?

I really endeavour to wrap things up in each book, but Olympic Vista is a strange place and we’re following a group of preteens as they investigate the weirdness around them. Sometimes the answers are just out of reach, but don’t worry: a lot of questions will be answered in due time. 

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

I honestly can’t pinpoint when I become an author. I can remember trying to write stories before I could actually write. (I distinctly remember one of my older half-brothers refusing to sit as a captive audience writing down my every word!) And I know I played around with stories and poems through school. Several years ago, I started writing roleplaying game (RPG) supplements, and that just sort of kept evolving. Some of it was really rules based, but other parts were adventures or really descriptive.

As far as my novella fiction work goes, I dabbled a bit with passages of work that could become novels or short stories over the years, but nothing really came of it. Between work and kids, there just isn’t always a lot of time and the idea of actually writing a whole book and figuring out what to do with it was really intimidating.

When COVID hit and everyone tucked themselves away, I saw all these posts on social media about what people were doing with their free time I was a little jealous. I’ve got three kids and, due to a health scare with our youngest a couple of years ago, we decided to homeschool them last year. I felt like I had no time at all, let alone this extra time everyone was talking about!

Still, I felt inspired to take baby steps, so earlier this year I enrolled in an online writing course through the community college. It really pushed me to carve out a bit of time for writing. I wasn’t thrilled with the short story I had at the end of it, but it did reignite my passion for writing. My husband was super supportive and kept encouraging me to write more, and so I did. I ended up with a ton of words and too many ideas, so I sought some help from that instructor and she suggested going with a series of novellas. Now here we are!

Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in Surrey, BC. I’ve never lived anywhere but Vancouver Island, but my mum was pregnant and went to the mainland for a concert with my father. Apparently, the doctor had said she’d be fine, but a few hours before the show she went into labour. I had to hear for years about how she knew exactly when Jethro Tull last played in the Vancouver area. I actually offered to buy her a ticket when they passed through again in 2011.

What do you enjoy most about writing this series?

I love getting to bring these characters to life, so to speak. They feel like friends to me, and writing out these adventures, instead of just having them in my head, allows other people to meet them, to love them or hate them (or love to hate them!).  It is also a lot of fun to dig deeper into the 80s. I have a playlist of songs I play to get me in the mood sometimes, and I’ve been digging out the 80s movies to watch as a family. It’s amazing what was acceptable back then!

Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?

So much! And sometimes it’s the small things. I’m from Canada, but I try to ensure the characters refer to things as they would in the US, so soda (not pop). I discovered that Bits-n-Bites are Canadian, so I had to swap them out for Chex Mix. Also, I’ve always called it Kraft Dinner, but I learned that in the US it’s called Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Who knew, right?

You’ve published two books now, both in the same series. Do you have a favorite, and if so, why?

The second book for sure. Yesterday’s Gone, the first book, has a lot of set up in it. I think that’s difficult to avoid in the first book in the series. Songs from the Wood has a lot more about the characters and their interactions with each other. There are more musical references and, I think, an even better feeling of the 80s. If you are on the fence with book one, I really recommend checking out book two. There’s a lot of fun in those pages, including a party!

Why did you decide to write YA?
I’m not sure I did, honestly. I set out to write this series with the intention of providing a great story to adults who were nostalgic for the 80s and wanted a fun, quick read. I often feel like I don’t have enough time to read anymore, and so when I do sit down with a book, I want to be able to get into it easily, to fall into the pages and feel like I’m right there, a part of the story.

I kind of tried avoid the idea of a YA novella, but here we are! I was surprised to learn that (according to different reports) between 55-70% of YA book sales are adults. It sounds like lots of adults love their YA fiction.

If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

So many of them. Honestly. Just for different reasons. I’d be so nervous hanging out with Tetsu because of all the trouble he’d probably get us in, but he’s got a certain charm to him and it would be a day to never forget. I doubt I’d get to decide what we did though! Darius is just so enthusiastic it would be hard to not want to spend time with him. We could bike around or swim in his pool. And sweet little Kurt… I’d want to take him out of his house and let him go wild in the bookstore. Adelaide, well, I’d love to hear her deepest fears and promise her I’ll keep them a secret, then eat a big meal and hand her a packet of leftovers. Andy, and he doesn’t make much of an appearance yet, he’d be fun to spend time with. We’d go for a hike and get ice cream afterward, then maybe watch Indiana Jones or James Bond in the evening.

How to find time to write as a parent?

Oh my gosh, that’s difficult! Some days are way more successful than others. My kids are 7, 9 and 11. Sometimes they all want to play video games and I try to seize that opportunity to write in peace, but they usually end up fighting about whatever game they are playing. Sometimes my husband runs interference, but he’s got a job as well, so sometime I have to just give up.

I read this trick once about setting a schedule for writing where you have these zones: red zone means no writing; yellow zone is good for editing and review; green zone means you have no distractions and should be dedicated writing time. I often feel like I live in the red and yellow zones!

That said, my mum lives in town and she takes them for a sleepover now and then so I try to blitz through some words while they are out of the house.

What do your children think about you being an author? Are they supportive of your writing?

My kids are pretty happy for me to be doing something I want to do. I really had to explain how important my writing time was for them to understand how difficult it is when I’m interrupted. I try to make it up to them with visits to fun places, playing games (my son has a magnetic dart board and loves our daily games on it), and freezies.

I still get interrupted now and then, but they do their best. They were so excited for me when book one, Yesterday’s Gone, arrived in print at our house. Out of the blue sometimes one of them will say something like “I hope you sell a thousand copies of your book.” I love it. I love them. 

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

Mother, RPG lover, mediocre gardener

What can we expect from you in the future?

More of this! I’m really excited about the Olympic Vista Chronicles series, so I’m working away on those. The first book was released in July and the second in September. The drafts for book three and book four are in various states, so it’s a great time to get into the series – there should be more books coming really soon!

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from other genders?

I don’t know what’s going on in their heads! I (mostly) understand pre-teen and teen girls, but boys? My eldest isn’t quite that old yet, though he’s getting close, so I don’t have a lot of experience with that, and I didn’t have a lot of male friends when I was younger. I think it’s because the few there were kept breaking my toys and so I didn’t want them around! I do my best, work with how I feel the characters are, then look to my beta-readers. They’ve been really great at pointing out flaws. They tried to make suggestions with the girls though and I had to go back to my other beta-readers who assured me I’d captured the girls just fine.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I did, but I’m not sure I do now. I think you can be a position to write better or worse, as in some writing may require a much heavier editing hand, but I don’t think there’s a problem you can’t get past by just writing. You may have to skip further forward and then go back and fill in the blanks, but the best way through is to just write.

What are you currently reading?

I have about seven books on the go. It’s way too many! I’m at various points of An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson, Becoming by Michelle Obama, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, and the Dead of Night by John Marsden (that last one is a re-read). I hope to finish some of them up soon, but I keep getting distracted.

I actually added another one to my pile, Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions. I’ve been much more diligent about reading it. He has this whimsical horror to his work that I love.

What makes a good story?

A good story makes you feel something. You feel what the characters do or you feel for the characters, or both. A story that makes you keep reading, makes you wonder what happens next, that’s a good story. A good story makes you invest yourself in it. It makes you care.

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