Author Interview – John H. Paterson

Get to know Author John. H. Paterson as he shares a little of his writing and personal life with us.

John, thank you for participating in my interview. I have to say some of your answers made me chuckle. Your embarassing moment – I’m sure you were “popular” at the reception. And your answer to question #17 – um, isn’t that just noodles? :).

About Writing

1. Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you – in what way and what was the name of that book?

I probably started off reading the Hardy Boys series and enjoyed them but as far as having an impact, I was around 14 when I read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Besides making me want to ride a raft down a river and smoke a corn cob pipe, it made me think that, if these young guys could be so independent, so could I. I think it encouraged me to look for ways of being more independent, like finding part time jobs, so I would have money to do what I wanted. When I was 16, I had saved up enough to buy a used motorcycle so I could go where I wanted, when I wanted.

2. When did you first realize you wanted to write?

As an engineer, it was necessary for me to write technical reports. I was always comfortable writing but it wasn’t until after I retired that I decided to give creative writing a try. And when I did, I found that I loved learning about writing techniques and having an outlet for my creative side. I enjoyed not being constrained by the facts as I had always been before.

3. Who is/are your favourite author(s)?

My favorite has to be John Grisham, hands down. I just like the way he tells his stories and develops his characters. That being said, I also enjoy reading works by dozens of other authors like Dick Francis, Michael Connelly and Michael Creighton.

4. What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing about writing?

I love to have a way I can be creative. I tried painting, playing musical instruments, woodworking etc., but quickly learned that they weren’t for me. Whereas, I can spend hours working on a book or writing an essay and enjoy every minute. My least favorite thing about writing is allocating valuable writing time to marketing. Which is probably why I don’t do much.

5. Where do your ideas come from?

My ideas come mostly from my experiences with my imagination thrown in. I was fortunate enough to travel extensively for my job and my writing content has been focussed on these far-off experiences and settings. My first two books were set in Costa Rica and the Ivory Coast and I have some short stories from Burkina Faso, Benin and Mexico. But Honduras, Guatemala, Bolivia, China and Indonesia are waiting in the wings.

6. I’ve often found that creative people have more than one talent, what is yours?

I can remember the words to most popular songs. Unfortunately, I can’t sing. So, it would probably be a natural ability with numbers. Perfect for a career in engineering.

7. If you could jump inside a book for one day (as an observer) what book would it be?

“Don’t Stop the Carnival” by Herman Wouk. One of the funniest books I remember reading. Hits pretty close to home.

8. When you create characters, are they completely made up or do they resemble or remind you of people you know?

Both. Some are exact replicas of characters I know, only the names have been changed. And some are completely fictitious.

9. Have you ever created a character “out of thin air” only to run into someone in real life that reminds you of that character either in personality or their features?

No. And with most of my characters, that’s a good thing.

10. How do you come up with titles for your books?

I make a long list of possible names while I’m writing the book. Every time I think of another possibility, I write it down. Then I add as many variations to those possible titles as I can. I even look at the thesaurus for ideas and brainstorm some more. Then I narrow it down. Ask for advice from people who have read my draft. Then pick one.

11. What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?

I’ve been working on a collection of short stories while putting together some ideas for my next novel.

12. Have you won any awards for your writing/books and if so what?

Nothing of consequence. But considering entering some short story contests for fun.

A Little More Personal

13. What is one thing you haven’t done but would like to do?

Ride a raft down the Mississippi smoking a corn cob pipe. Or maybe write a best seller?

14. Can you tell us about an embarrassing/funny moment?

I make a lot of bonehead moves so I don’t have any shortage of embarrassing moments. But the worst was when I was driving in Toronto. I was trying to change lanes to make a left turn and no one would let me in. Making eye contact with one of the drivers who could see I wanted him to let me in, I gave him a look like “Hey buddy, what’s the problem?” I watched him mouth the words “F U” at me. Infuriated, but not missing a beat, I said it back to him and cut-in in front of his car forcing my way into his lane. Strangely, a police officer waved us all through the left turn at the intersection while stopping the oncoming traffic. I thought there was a problem with the lights. A block later, all the rest of the vehicles turned into the cemetery. Turns out the driver was trying to tell me I was trying to cut into a “FUNERAL” procession and I reacted by telling him to “F U.” Since then I’m more careful when reading lips.

15. Have you ever experienced something weird you could not explain?

Forty-two years ago, my wife married me. And she hasn’t taken off screaming yet.

16. Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals for good luck?

Not superstitious, don’t believe in that kind of stuff. But I am careful. If I spill salt, I always throw a few grains over my shoulder. And I never ever walk under a ladder. Just in case I was wrong and there is such a thing as luck.

17. What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?

Birds’ nest soup in Indonesia. I could have eaten weirder stuff in China but I didn’t ask what most of it was. I was advised before my first trip, “If you like it, eat it. If you don’t, don’t. But nothing good can come from asking what you are eating in China.”

18. Do you have a favourite vacation spot? Where?

Costa Rica. Love the people and the climate and the protected natural biodiversity.

19. Can you tell us about one of your favourite childhood memories?

Spending summers at the lake. I wasn’t fond of school so I made the most of every minute of my summer holidays and enjoying being a kid.

20. What makes you happy?

Seeing my kids and grandkids. Learning new things. Seeing my grandkids learning new things. Meeting people, travelling, writing and 23-year-old rum.

21. If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?

Taking care of our nature lodge and coffee farm in the Costa Rican rainforest with my wife and our three dogs. We have a small place, five guest rooms and seven acres of coffee surrounded by jungle. You could say we are off the beaten track. Perhaps that’s why we attract such interesting guests.

22. Have you ever met anyone famous – who?

Canadian author Pierre Burton. He was the guest speaker at a dinner we attended at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. My wife and I had pre-dinner drinks and our picture taken with him. Quite a personality.

John’s Links

j.paterson@riomagnolia.com

https://m.facebook.com/jhpaterson

https://www.instagram.com/john.h.paterson

https://twitter.com/j_paterson

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Book Review – Father Figure

Father Figure

Father Figure by James J. Cudney

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


In 1984, naïve 17-year-old, Amalia Graeme, can’t wait for college to start to get away from her hometown Brant, Mississippi and her abusive mother. The only person she’ll miss is her father. It’s just too bad that over the years he did little to protect Amalia from her mother’s physical and emotional abuse.

20 years later, in 2004, another girl, Brianna Porter, is exploring a college campus with her best friend, Shanelle. Always feeling smothered by her over-protective mother, the only parent Brianna has ever known, she can’t wait to head off to school in the fall. Her mother wants her to choose a college close to home in New York City, but Brianna has other plans. It’s not that she doesn’t love her mother, but Brianna needs to get away so she can understand herself and figure out what she wants.

I loved this story with all of its surprises. Just when I thought I had it figured out, a new twist turned everything around. It has been a while since a story had me uttering my shock out loud.

Father figure is a well-woven tale of two young women decades apart. Their stories intertwine until you realize they have more in common then wanting to leave home and needing to find who they are. It is well-written with few errors either grammatically or technically. If you enjoy a well-thought out mystery, then you will enjoy this story.




View all my reviews

Author Interview – J. L. Canfield

This week’s interview is with Author J. L. (Julie) Canfield.

Julie is busy working on the sequel to her detective series as well as getting ready for the release of her women’s fiction novel in early May.

Thank you, Julie, for being my guest this week.

About Writing/Books/Being an Author

1. Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you – in what way and what was the name of that book?

Several stories I read as child impacted me. Snow White gave me hope. Velveteen Rabbit made me cry. Beatirx Potter’s work made me love antiheroes and King Arthur stories made me realize underdogs matter and should be cheered on in life.

2. When did you first realize you wanted to write?

In second grade, I wrote my first play before that I was always composing little songs and poems that I sang during play.

3. Who is/are your favourite author(s)?

So many but Daphne Du Maurier, Anne Perry and Bernard Cornwell are the ones I read the most.

4. What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing about writing?

There’s so much I love about writing but the one thing that keeps me on my laptop turning out words is the feeling I get when I have written another chapter or I have thought of and crafted the next twist in the plot. Writing gives me a high, a sense of creating that nothing else can. Least favorite thing of course is that it isn’t paying my bills yet.

5. Where do your ideas come from?

Honestly, from God, who is the ultimate writer in life. I have Proverbs 16:3 posted in front of my laptop (Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established ESV). Every day I remind myself and him I am doing what he created me to do and that is write. So my ideas flow because of him.

6. I’ve often found that creative people have more than one talent, what is yours?

True it does seem that creatives are gifted in many areas. I would say mine is photography. I have won several awards for my work and have had some of my shots accepted by Getty Images and Alamy. Lately, my sketching has improved some so maybe another talent is blooming in me.

7. If you could jump inside a book for one day (as an observer) what book would it be?

Either Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier to see what was really happening in that house or Bernard Cornwall’s Agincourt because I would love to meet Eleanor of Aquitaine.

8. When you create characters are they completely made up or do they resemble or remind you of people you know?

I try very hard not to create a character that someone will recognize as themselves but I am human so sometimes people I know will have their quirks added to character I am crafting.

9. Have you ever created a character “out of thin air” only to run into someone in real life that reminds you of that character either in personality or their features?

So far no and I think it would scare me if I did.

10. How do you come up with titles for your books?

They just seem to happen as I am writing.

11. What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?

I am writing the next story in my detective series and I hope to have it ready for my publisher to pick up by this summer and then if he likes it, released by next spring. It will explain a few things about the three main characters, where they are headed and the plot focuses on ironically something that happened in a Catholic Church run orphanage that has now caused a death within a different parish that threatens to bring another scandal on the church. I am also in the prelaunch phase for my first women’s fiction which will be released May 2, 2019. This book is about a couple who have differing ideas about their marriage. She is ready to start a family and he is not. She thinks they have a very secure marriage and he realizes he should have thought about what would happen to his life after the wedding night.

12. Have you won any awards for your writing/books and if so what?

This past November, my book What Hides Beneath, received the PenCraft Award for best Christian Fiction 2018. There were no plans at the time I wrote this to make it a series but now those plans have changed and I am working on the next one. This is a detective mystery series.

A Little More Personal

13. What is one thing you haven’t done but would like to do?

Write a publishable play or go up in a balloon.

14. Can you tell us about an embarrassing/funny moment?

On my wedding day, my two youngest nieces who were 8 years old decided they did not want me to cry so they told me jokes in the back of the church. I started giggling and walked in giggling and had trouble saying my vows because I couldn’t stop laughing and when the unity candle refused to light, I lost it and laughed out loud and very loud which made my new husband angry.

15. Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals for good luck?

Not superstitious and I don’t have any rituals for luck but I do believe in divine connections or circumstances.

16. Do you have a favourite vacation spot? Where?

I love traveling to places in Europe because of all the history that is there, but I’m happy anywhere there’s an ocean.

17. What makes you happy?

Besides a publishing contract and a good day of writing, it’s a sunny day on a not crowded beach with a great book to read.

18. If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?

I’m either capturing nature’s beauty with my camera or working out in the gym.

19. Have you ever met anyone famous – who?

I’m from Wilmington, NC where many famous people have come from. It’s a small town and being from a family with roots there. I met them through my parents or because I was on a festival committee where they were being honored as guests. You may have heard of some of these: Sonny Jurgenson, and Charlie damsels who went to school with my mother and walked to and from there with her and a few others every day. Roman Gabriel, Meadowlark Lennon, David Brinkley, who I met through his sister Katie. Margret Truman lived there when I was a teen and I got to talk writing with her, and the most famous person from my town is Michael Jordan who I knew in college. I also had the privilege of meeting Matthew Perry in Charlotte where he asked me out. Wilmington is also home of the largest soundstage on the East Coast and most all of the Marvel movies are filmed there now along with several shows so there’s always someone famous walking around.

J.L.’s Links

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/J.L.-Canfield/e/B076FBXYMF

Amazon Book Link https://amzn.to/2GtBHIM

Icy Roads Preooder link until May 1, 2019: http://www.blackrosewriting.com/literary/icyroads.

Author Interview – John Hazen

My interview this week is with Author, John Hazen.

John’s answer to question #12 impressed me. And I could visualize the scene he described in #19. If that’s not in a book yet, it should be. What a great memory!

Thank you John, for giving us a little glimpse of both your writing and personal life.


About Writing/Books/Being an Author

1. Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you – in what way and what was the name of that book?

The first full-length book that I remember reading was when I was in fourth or fifth grade. It was a novel called Johnny Tremaine. It’s a historical novel set during the time of the American Revolution. I’ve long had a love of history—a love that finds its way into the novels I write—and I’ve often attributed that book as kindling that love.

2. When did you first realize you wanted to write?

I’ve always ‘wanted’ to write but never seemed to have the time. It wasn’t until I got my first laptop that I started to write in earnest. I devoted my commuting time, about forty-five minutes each way, to writing novels. The result is that I’m now working on my sixth suspense/thriller.

3. Who is/are your favourite author(s)?

My favorite all-time novel is To Kill a Mockingbird but, since Harper Lee only wrote the one novel (I don’t count the travesty that greedy publishers put out a few years ago as her book), I’ve found it wise to get to know some other authors. I’ve loved a number of the classics such a John Steinbeck and Sinclair Lewis. I’ve come to really like James Patterson, since he writes in the same genre as I do, and I’ve lately started reading Stephen King.

4. What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing writing?

My favorite thing is inventing characters, bringing people to life in my books. I especially love it when I introduce a person as a minor character, there to advance the plot, but then as the book progresses the person grows before my eyes. Soon, he or she has become a major character, integral to the book itself. Each of my books has one or more of these characters.My least favorite thing related to writing is the promotion end of things. I am lousy at blowing my own horn; I prefer to let my work speak for itself. Unfortunately, not many books get sold if people don’t know about them. For this reason, I appreciate venues like this that you provide as an opportunity to get people to know me.

5. Where do your ideas come from?

They come from a variety of sources. Sometimes I get an idea in my head that won’t go away. The idea eventually evolves into a novel. For example, I’d ask myself a question such as: What would happen if a person were to stumble upon one of the 30 pieces of silver given to Judas for the life of Jesus (Aceldama, http://amzn.to/1sr15Uq)? or What would happen if someone were to try to remove one of the five ‘pillars of Islam’ (Fava, http://amzn.to/1sqss0b)? As I mentioned earlier, I’m a big fan of history and my ideas are often rooted in history. I’ve always had a fascination for the American Civil War and wanted to write a book about it but I didn’t want it to be a run-of-the-mill account, so I came up with the idea of doing a time travel book where a Vietnam War soldier is transported back to the Civil War (Dear Dad, http://amzn.to/1VYgo2Z). This gave me an opportunity to compare two dramatically different conflicts, both in terms of the fighting itself but also in regard to popularity and acceptance by the public. My latest book (Zyklon, https://amzn.to/2MI9pdg) is also steeped in history. It shows how historical events such as World War II and the Holocaust can have a profound impact on today. For my fifth book (Journey of an American Son, http://amzn.to/1OuVZA5), the idea—or at least the setting—practically dropped onto my lap when I was going through some boxes and found a journal my grandfather had kept on a business trip he made going from Boston, Massachusetts to Calcutta, India in 1920. As you can imagine, it was quite an arduous journey, but one that was filled with great stories.

6. I’ve often found that creative people have more than one talent, what is yours?

I’m the quintessential ‘jack of all trades, master of none.’ I’m fairly handy doing jobs around the house; but I’m by no means a craftsman. I can cook and bake; but I’m not an accomplished chef. I can play the clarinet; but I’m no musician. I play tennis; but I’m no athlete.

7. If you could jump inside of a book for one day (as an observer) what book would it be?

It would have to be any of the Harry Potter books. JK Rowling created such a fascinating world that it would be irresistible living there for a day.

8. When you create characters, are they completely made up or do they resemble or remind you of people you know?

They are a mix. Sometimes I make people up totally. Sometimes, I see attributes in them after the fact that I can ascribe to certain real people, but the similarities are unintentional. In other cases, I’ll base a character on a real person or a combination of several real people. For example, the main character in my book Journey of an American Son was a combination of my grandfather and my father-in-law while his father was a combination of my wife’s grandfather and my father.

9. Have you ever created a character “out of thin air” only to run into someone in real life that reminds you of that character either in personality or their features?

That has indeed happened but I’m never sure whether I’m observing the characteristics of the real person or whether I’m assigning characteristics to them based on the character I created.

10. How do you come up with titles for your books?

In two of my books, Dear Dad and Zyklon, the titles were evident to me from page one. Dear Dad starts with a letter the main character, John Foster, writes to his father from Vietnam. The first two words of the book therefore became the title. Zyklon comes from the infamous poison, Zyklon B, used by the Nazis at concentration camps and plays an important role in this thriller. For the other three books, the titles did not present themselves to me until I was well into the book. For example, I had three different working titles until I finally arrived at Aceldama and Fava didn’t have a title until about half-way through and I came up with an affectionate nickname for the lead character.

11. What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?

I’m now working on the third book in my Fava series. Fava and Zyklon were the first two. In this book (as yet untitled) my protagonist, New York City TV reporter Francine (Fava) Vega, is trying to determine what happened to a friend who vanished without a trace. Along the way she gets enmeshed in the worlds of racism, small town politics and apocalyptic religion zealotry.

12. Have you won any awards for your writing/books and if so what?

Best Thrillers listed my book, Fava, as one of the 18 all-time best FBI thrillers. It was quite an honor being on a list that contains the likes of James Patterson, David Baldacci, Catherine Coulter and Lee Child. Also, my book, Zyklon, was selected for a PenCraft award in 2018 as a top mystery.

A Little More Personal

13. What is one thing you haven’t done but would like to do?

I haven’t been shy about doing things I’ve wanted to do. A few years back I gave my wife a present of tandem skydiving, something she’d always wanted to do. I was going to sit it out but when we got there, I figured what the hell and signed myself up as well. I’m sure glad I did. In terms of things on my bucket list, they mostly represent places I still want to see. I’ve always wanted to go to Florence, Italy. Seeing The David in person would be the thrill of a lifetime.

14. Can you tell us about an embarrassing/funny moment?

I was in a meeting at work where this woman was describing a graph that she wanted to present at an upcoming public hearing. Her explanation went on and on and after a while I raised my hand. I told her, “I’ve always thought that a graph was like a joke; if you have to explain it, it’s no good.” It was one of those lines that I would think of after the fact, kicking myself for not thinking of it earlier. I can still feel her glaring at me while everyone else burst into laughter.

15. Have you ever experienced something weird you could not explain?

There have been several instances where I have written something off the top of my head but then, when I subsequently checked them out, I found that the events/situations that I could have sworn I made up were true events. I did not remember hearing them previously, but maybe I had.

16. Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals for good luck?

I’m not really superstitious. I’ve always believed that a person makes his or her luck. That doesn’t mean I’m going to push my luck and start walking under ladders or cursing the gods unnecessarily.

17. What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?

I’m not a real adventurous eater, but years ago when we were in England, I remember ordering a dish called whitebait. My wife was disgusted but I thought it delicious.

18. Do you have a favourite vacation spot? Where?

Paris. We’ve been in love with that city for over thirty years. I’d go there with a minute’s notice if I had the opportunity.

19. Can you tell us about one of your favourite childhood memories?

I had a rather idyllic childhood, growing up in a small New England town, so there are lots of great memories. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we didn’t seem to miss it at the time. My grandmother lived on the lake in the same town and, when I wasn’t playing baseball, I’d be there swimming pretty much the entire summer. The one memory that stands out would be in the winter when my mother bundled us all up and the entire family walked across the frozen lake to my grandmother’s house. She’d have hot chocolate waiting for us there. This was a family ritual for a number of years. I always looked forward to it and it’s such a great memory.

20. What makes you happy?

I love spending time with my wife of 38 years, doing anything or doing nothing. We love to travel but we’re happy just staying at home, too.

21. If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?

I need to start devoting more time to my writing. When I was working, I actually had more time to write than now that I’m retired. Previously, I had that solid block of commuting time on the train that I could devote exclusively to writing. I don’t have that now. It often seems that I spend a good part of my day trying to keep this 62-year-old body in somewhat of a shape, primarily through walking and playing tennis. Also, we did the reverse of most people. For thirty plus years we lived in a condo. When we retired, we moved down to Florida and bought a house. There’s always something that needs doing here. Go figure.

22. Have you ever met anyone famous – who?

I met long-time journalist Dan Rather recently. I’ve met a number of famous sports figures over the years—Martina Navrilatova, Bill Russell, Edwin Moses, Tony Dorsett, to name a few. I shared an elevator with Gene Hackman once, but that doesn’t really count, does it? I’ve also met a few high-profile politicians over the years.

Thank you so much for having me here today, Sandra. If your readers would like to learn more about me, they should check out my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/JohnHazenAuthor/ or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/john_hazen.

Author Interview – David Bryant Perkins

My author interview guest this week is Author David Bryant Perkins

I hope you find his answers as interesting and what better way to answer some of them then with pictures.

Thank you, David, for being my guest this week.

About Writing/Books/Being an Author

1. Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you – in what way and what was the name of that book?

To Kill a Mockingbird. My brother who was a year ahead of me brought it home as required reading assignment and said it was good. It was the first book I read almost non-stop as the story and characters were so engaging.

2. When did you first realize you wanted to write?

After meeting a gentleman in the 1980’s who worked in the Nazi SS department called the Black Sun and learning how they used the occult in WII.

3. Who is/are your favourite author(s)?

John Steinbeck, Mark Twain, Aaron Sorkin (screenplays)

4. What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing writing?

Creating the world in which the story evolves. Deadlines.

5. Where do your ideas come from?

God.

6. I’ve often found that creative people have more than one talent, what is yours?

Take your pick. www.davidbryantperkins.com/entertainment.php

7. If you could jump inside of a book for one day (as an observer) what book would it be?

The Bible

8. When you create characters are they completely made up or do they resemble or remind you of people you know?

The historical dramas are based on actual people (via research), for thriller screenplays they are usually a composite constructions.

9. Have you ever created a character “out of thin air” only to run into someone in real life that reminds you of that character either in personality or their features?

No, thank goodness….

10. How do you come up with titles for your books?

By fashioning a combination of words that tells a story & gives insight into what the story is about and its themes.

11. What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?

Yes, a screenplay on the Qanon posts.

12. Have you won any awards for your writing/books and if so what?

A Little More Personal

12. What is one thing you haven’t done but would like to do?

Go to Jupiter.

13. Can you tell us about an embarrassing/funny moment?

Both happen constantly.

14. Have you ever experienced something weird you could not explain?

Had a dream in 1964 and seven elements of it occurred in 1972.

15. Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals for good luck?

No, however I do believe history (and other things) repeats itself. My rituals for good luck are striving for excellence every day and injecting this attitude when the opportunity rises.

16. What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?

Raw oysters (which I like)

17. Do you have a favourite vacation spot? Where?

Where ever I am….

18. Can you tell us about one of your favourite childhood memories?

Going on my first out of town swim meet in high school.

19. What makes you happy?

A positive outlook on life…

20. If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?

Developing online instruction courses, decoding Q posts, going to film festivals.

21. Have you ever met anyone famous – who?

Lou Diamond Phillips

Cast of TURN! Producer Henry Bronchtein and Ian Kahn (George Washington)….and several others……


David’s Links

If you would like to contact David, please visit his website at www.davidbryantperkins.com and go to the CONTACT page.

Book Review – When I Died

When I Died

When I Died by Elizabeth Eckert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


3.5 stars

When I Died by Elizabeth Eckert is a unique story. I was intrigued from the start and for the most part, it held my attention. It is written in both first and third person POV. Despite the switching back and forth of voice, it was easy to follow. There were few grammatical errors or typos, and the characters were likeable. There are some great lines in this book, one of my favourites being: With help, time, and peace, he could heal, learn to forgive, and rise above the dirt he’d been buried in.

While I enjoyed the story, there were some aspects of the writing that pulled me away, and the story didn’t stay with me when I wasn’t reading. The main character, Adrianna, has a lot of inner thoughts, all written within brackets, I found that distracting. I also noted instances of redundancies that seemed more like filler and a creative edit would help with the flow of the story. Despite these issues I am interested in seeing what the next book holds.




View all my reviews

Author Interview – Mari Collier

Science Fiction Author Mari Collier is this week’s Author Interview guest.

In her interview, she shares many interesting facts about her writing and personal life.

Thank you, Mari, for this interesting interview.

About Writing/Books/Being an Author

1. Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you – in what way and what was the name of that book?

The first book that I read was one I found in a box in my older brother’s room. It was one of the Bobbsey Twin books. I was about five and it hit me that I could read a book. That was more than the few words I could read in A Child’s Garden of versus. It also made me despise the See Dick run or See Jane run books they had in the first grade when I started school.

2. When did you first realize you wanted to write?

When my classmates liked a story I had written for English so well they persuaded me to write a romance story for them. I was about eleven at the time. They loved it, I didn’t. I had just read Stocky, Boy of West Texas and decided to write a Western story.

3. Who is/are your favourite author(s)?

Will and Ariel Durant and their Story of Civilization (all eleven volumes). Fiction is more difficult. Possibly James Clavell, buy I also love Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, and O’Henry.

4. What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing about writing?

The favorite thing is seeing the story come alive on the pages; the least favorite is editing.

5. Where do your ideas come from?

There is no sane answer for that if you have ever read any of my Twisted Tales or science fiction series. They are just there and I write what they tell me to write.

6. I’ve often found that creative people have more than one talent, what is yours?

At one time (when I had a family and was much younger), I was a fantastic cook. I even made up my own recipes.

7. If you could jump inside a book for one day (as an observer) what book would it be?

Caesar and Christ by Will Durant. I could watch history unfold.

8. When you create characters are they completely made up or do they resemble or remind you of people you know?

The characters are just there in my mind, but for some reason Lorenz (from the Maca Chronicles who I saw in my mind when I was twelve) looks very much like my husband. Anna, his mother, has a personality like my mother’s in that her temper is explosive and she is clairvoyant.

9. Have you ever created a character “out of thin air” only to run into someone in real life that reminds you of that character either in personality or their features?

I just did above. I did not meet my husband until I was seventeen and in a different state.

10. How do you come up with titles for your books?

Through sweating a lot. Sometimes the titles are just there. Other times I will have a working title and decide to change it before I submit it.

11. What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?

The working title is Thalia, The Next Generation. It will be the seventh book in The Chronicles of the Maca. I’m also working on my memoir and it has a working title of Am I Still On Earth. I doubt if it will ever be published, but my one living child, my grandchildren, and great-grandchildren would have it.

12. Have you won any awards for your writing/books and if so what?

Earthbound, Book 1, Chronicles of the Maca won an Amazon Best Seller Badge.

A Little More Personal

13. What is one thing you haven’t done but would like to do?

See the pyramids of Egypt, but that will never happen.

14. Can you tell us about an embarrassing/funny moment?

The day I met my husband (a former boyfriend brought him along when he heard I was back in Phoenix), we decided to climb Camelback Mountain. Everything was great until the last handhold to pull oneself to go the top. Lanny (my husband to be) was at the top yodeling his triumph. Scotty went next and then me. Unfortunately, this short person couldn’t reach that last handhold. I made the error of looking down and froze. I couldn’t go up and my body refused to move downward. Scotty extended his hand to pull me up. I considered and yelled at Lanny, “Stop that yodeling and get me out of here.” I knew that face I saw when I was twelve years old was the person to trust, but I was totally embarrassed by the fact that I had been unable to complete the climb on my own.

15. Have you ever experienced something weird you could not explain?

I am not clairvoyant like my mother, but in 1974 I had a dream. An airplane struck a high building in New York City, another struck a building in DC in the shape of a pentagon. Another plane was to hit a city in the South on the Eastern seaboard, but something went wrong and it went down. The dream was so disturbing, I wrote it down and filed it away. I pulled it out sometime in the afternoon of 9/11 and a couple of days later showed it to my daughter. No, I no longer have it. No, I haven’t really told anyone else.

16. Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals for good luck?

No, I’m not superstitious, nor do I have any rituals.

17. What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?

Anchovies. That was but one time.

18. Do you have a favourite vacation spot? Where?

Oak Creek Canyon or Sedona. Both are in Arizona.

19. Can you tell us about one of your favourite childhood memories?

From my memoirs: All through the year, Mr. Nicely piloted the bus without incident. March in Iowa was like most: Snow, then snow melting, rain, ice, more snow, warmer weather and melting snow. It would be a challenge going to town to buy groceries and everyone made sure they had sufficient gasoline for farming by keeping a gasoline tank in the farm yard. The gas for the farm equipment was purple and delivered by truck. The allotment was quite high, but if any farmer were caught using purple gas in their automobile gas tank it was instant arrest. Like the rest of the populace, farmers had to use ration stamps to purchase gasoline for going to town or church.

By the end of March there were but a few lumps of snow left in isolated spots. The ground was spongy from melting snow and the plentiful spring rains. It was warm enough that mother let me wear knee highs instead of the hated long cotton socks.

As Mr. Nicely turned the corner and started down the dirt road without gravel, the bus slid into the ditch. No amount of gunning and trying to move forward or back made it budge. Of course, my brother and I stayed to watch. Mother appeared wondering why we hadn’t returned to the house immediately.

“Tell Mr. Nicely I’ve gone for my husband,” was her command.

Papa appeared shortly as he drove down the lane and onto the graveled road with the iron monster that was our tractor. This thing had metal wheel and metal lugs on the wheels. Once hooked to the front of the bus, Papa put it into gear and tried to move forward. Nothing happened.

Mr. Nicely requested to use the telephone. We did not have one. He was directed to go over to the neighbor’s house a few yards down the road and use theirs.

“I’ll go hitch up the team while you’re doing that.”

Mr. Nicely shook his head and headed for the neighbors. Few believed that horses could do what a machine could not.

Mr. Nicely returned hanging on to the seat of the neighbor’s John Deere with rubber tires. Mr. Fredrickson had purchased it in 1941 prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. They looked at Papa coming with our team as if he were a madman and hitched the John Deere to the bus. The results were the same as with the iron monster. The bus remained mired in the red clay and Iowa mud.

“Guess I’ll have to call the school, but thanks anyway. I thought sure it would move it,” was Mr. Nicely’s comment.

Papa brought our team over and proceeded to hitch them to the bus. Mr. Fredrickson and Mr. Nicely were shaking their heads at such folly.

A more mismatched team would have been difficult to find. Molly was older and slower, part Clydesdale and just as large as one. Betty was younger, but still less than middle-aged for a farm horse. Her background was part Morgan and part quarter horse. That meant she was at least two hands smaller than Molly. Her chest was a Morgan’s wide chest, but she had slimmer legs. If things went too slow in the fields, she would move the wagon before Papa had finished with the hay or corn. His powerful voice would be clearly audible for incredible distances as he yelled obscenities at her in both German and English.

Once they were hitched to the bus, Papa slapped the reins over their backs and shouted, “Yo up, Betty, Molly, up.”

The two horses leaned forward pushing their chests into the harness and felt the weight behind them and the resistance of the muck around their hooves. I watched their haunches descend in unison and the muscles tightened in their back haunches. Then their necks stretched out and it was as if I were watching the stored strength in their muscles ripple forward. Their steps were perfectly matched as they moved slowly, inch by inch as the bus began to move. Even to my eyes it was strange. I’d never seen them pull so evenly together.

This time Papa kept his voice lower and guided them and the bus up onto the road. Both Betty and Molly were covered with foam and their muscles were quivering while they waited to be unhitched.

The “thank you” and the “I didn’t believe it could be done” were profuse. Papa nodded and grinned and took Molly and Betty back to the barn for a rub down and probably an extra ear of corn or some other treat.

20. What makes you happy?

Sunshine, my family, singing hymns at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

21. If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?

Reading, volunteering at the local museum (I docent and am also the Accessions Curator because no one else wants that job).

22. Have you ever met anyone famous – who?

Not to my knowledge. I did rush past Orson Welles once when boarding a plane, but didn’t realize it was him until I was seated and heard the others talking about seeing him.

Bio

Mari Collier was born on a farm in Iowa, and has lived in Arizona, Washington, and Southern California. She and her husband, Lanny, met in high school and were married for forty-five years. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Twentynine Palms Historical Society, and still Docents and is the Accessions Curator. She has worked as a loan collector, bookkeeper, receptionist, and Advanced Super Agent for Nintendo of America. Several of her short stories have appeared in print and electronically, plus four anthologies. Twisted Tales From The Desert, Twisted Tales From The Northwest, Twisted Tales From The Universe, and Twisted Tales From A Skewed Mind. Earthbound is the first of the six Chronicles of the Maca series and Man, True Man is the first of the three Tonath Chronicles. She is working on another anthology and a novel temporarily called Thalia, The Next Generation.

Mari’s Contact Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Twisted-Tales-From-A-Skewed-Mind-124947397618599/

Website: http://www.maricollier.com