Monday, June 27, 2016

Interview with author Craig Gaydas

Kicking off a new week with author Craig Gaydas. We’re chatting about his sci-fi novel The Cartographer.

Welcome, Craig. Please tell us al ittle bit about yourself:
I was born about a million years ago in New Brunswick, NJ. Currently most of my time is spent managing materials within supply chain for a Fortune 500 company. I do rope off my spare time accordingly to dedicate writing the next book or at the very least storyboarding for one. I currently live in Jacksonville, Florida with my son and the voices in my head enjoying the sun, surf and fishing while still finding time to cram as much pizza down my gullet as humanly possible.

Please tell us about your current release.
The Cartographer is the first book in a trilogy.

What inspired you to write this book? I was always a huge Star Wars fan and my desire to write a “Space Opera” style book was always a life goal of mine. I prefer writing books that are designed to be more “in your face” but The Cartographer challenged me to create characters defined not by emotional or ideological difference but with physical and cultural differences as well. I wanted the read to visualize exotic aliens from far off locales, almost like a graphic novel of sorts.

Excerpt from The Cartographer:

The creature wore something like a scuba suit without the helmet, and it glistened as if he just emerged from the pool in the corner. It slipped a three-fingered appendage into the folds of its suit and retrieved something that looked a switchblade. I couldn't see it clearly, though, because his huge frame blocked the light in the room. It pushed a button but instead of a blade, a twelve inch long light extended from it, making a popping sound like a cork from a wine bottle. I would have laughed at the absurdity of it all, but my face was a frozen mask of fear. The creature reached over and sliced through my lifeline with ease.
"Hey the rope gave out, are you ok?" I heard Sam call out. Even though he was no more than forty yards from my location, at that point in time he might as well have been forty miles away. I was too frozen in fear to respond.
The beast looked toward the source of the voice and I prayed that Sam would stay put. The creature grunted and picked me up by the tattered rope ring before I had a chance to react. Its dark, beady eyes bored into my soul and he held me up like a snagged fish. Withdrawing a syringe—one that looked bigger than any I had ever seen—he held it in front of my face. Instead of a vial it contained an empty hour glass, surrounded by a gold-colored metallic sheath. At the end of the hourglass sat a four inch needle point that shimmered like water reflected by moonlight. The beast hesitated briefly and the needle dangled ominously in front of my eyes. I wished more than anything that I could close them but my facial muscles were paralyzed with fear.
I started to think he second-guessed his decision to stab me but then he plunged the needle into my arm. Oddly, I felt no pain, only a warm tingling sensation. Slipping through the skin uninhibited, the wet sensation spread across the site of the injection. A clucking sound escaped from the creature’s throat as it moved in to look closer.
I started to lose consciousness and tried to call out to Sam, but the only sound that came out was a choked gasp. My tongue became ten times too big for my mouth and my throat felt like I had gargled with sand. Darkness enveloped me as I slipped from consciousness.
This is Nathan Chambers, signing off.

What exciting story are you working on next?
A steampunk fantasy titled The Dance of the Magi. It’s a mix of Game of Thrones, Mad Max, and Dune. Ok, I may be embellishing a bit but it will be highly entertaining, I guarantee it! Expected release date, December 2017.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably when I finished writing my Walking Dead fan fiction. I sat back and said to myself: “Craig, you might be able to do this!”

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am not a full time writer. My full time job involves slamming my head into a keyboard, writing various inspirational quotes on sticky notes and plotting world domination from behind the iron walls of my cubicle within the confines of a Fortune 500 company.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Every time I sit down to write I plug in my headphones and listen to Epic Music on Youtube.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A police officer. Scary, huh?

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
For readers who enjoy stories that are in your face, unputdownable as one may say, give some of my stories a whirl. I write across many genres so chances are you may find one you like.


Thanks for being here today, Craig!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Interview with mystery author Barbara Willis

I’m welcoming author Barbara Willis here today. We’re chatting about her mystery, romance, paranormal novel Family of Strangers.

Welcome, Barbara. Please tell us al ittle bit about yourself.
I’m a busy mum of three and have always loved books and writing. I woke one day after a vivid and scary dream and really wanted that dream to be the basis of a book; this thought stuck with me for some time before my husband said ‘Do it - take some time away from work and write a book.’ So I did. After years of writing stories and poems, I wrote my first novel and loved every minute of it. Family of Strangers was followed by Sunshine Spirit and, I hope, there will soon be more to follow.

Please tell us about your current release.
Family of Strangers is about a young woman named Eva who finds one day that her closest friend has disappeared; no-one, even her friend’s family, will acknowledge that she ever existed. Eva is frightened and confused with no-one to turn to, until she meets the elderly Lola and her young lodger, Gabe. Neither Lola nor Gabe find Eva’s strange tale shocking or surprising and they lead her on a journey of revelation as she tries to find her lost friend. A whole new world of lost souls is opened up to her, along with mysteries, the giving of gifts and the finding of new friendships and love. Set at the eve of the second world war there is lots of change looming around the world, but for Eva the biggest change is the one she least expects.

What inspired you to write this book?
For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to write, be it stories, plays or poems. When the idea for Family of Strangers came to me in a horrible dream, the idea wouldn’t leave me and I knew that at some point the story had to be written. The character of the elderly and eccentric Lola had been in my mind for some time and I wanted her to be an important part of the story and to show that it wasn’t her age that defined her but her whole life; her story. Added to that was a love of the 1930s and 1940s and old fashioned tales that weaved in mystery and love and interesting characters. I really wanted to write a story with an old fashioned voice and charm.

Excerpt from Family of Strangers:
My legs hurt, my lungs hurt.

I was afraid.

I didn’t slow down when I reached the gate, still putting in such an effort towards the house that my hands hit the front door with a loud smack and my palms stung with the impact.

When I reached the house I already knew.

But that didn’t stop me wrenching the front door open as soon as my shaking hands had fumbled the key into the lock and rushing breathlessly into the empty hallway like a woman possessed, tearing through the barren sitting room into the kitchen where there wasn’t a sound or a soul.

No odd cups on the table, no whistling kettle, no shopping basket, no cups of tea, no patchwork bag, no apron on the back of the door. There were none of the glorious chaotic things I loved and that welcomed me and that made me feel at home. All were gone except a few pieces of furniture left swathed in white, dust sheets covering them like a snowy mountain range.

I became conscious of a feeling of having been here before, in the same moment, and realised that I had.

The same heavy, sick feeling was there again low down in my stomach. Leaden but moveable, it was spreading up through my body and I had to swallow a few times to quell the sensation that I might be sick. It was the same as the day I’d seen Annie’s empty room, only different. Today was much much worse.

What exciting story are you working on next?
After the release of my second book, Sunshine Spirit, I started working on a story which starts in 1914. However, after initially saying there wouldn’t be a sequel to Family of Strangers, some ideas again started to form and I have now started working on that too. There are therefore two books currently ‘in the pipeline’. The Family of Strangers sequel picks up a new search and the continuing love story of Eva and Gabe; so many readers asked for the sequel and I’m loathe to give away any spoilers!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When my first book was published, but I still find it hard to say it!

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I took a three-year sabbatical in order to write, but now I’m back at work. Writing therefore now slots around work and family. I don’t write when my children are home, but I do write on my day off; after the morning family routine and school run I sit down, always with a cup of tea to hand and music playing, and write for about 4 hours.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Tea, tea and more tea; I’m not sure I can write without it!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An actress or a writer, preferably both!


Family of Strangers and Sunshine Spirit are available in paperback or via kindle from Amazon

Thanks for being here today, Barbara!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Interview with novelist Mark Morey

My special interview guest today is Mark Morey. We’re chatting about his historical fiction, The Last Great Race.

During his virtual book tour, Mark will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too.

Writing technical documentation and advertising material formed a large part of my career for many decades. Writing a novel didn’t cross my mind until relatively recently, where the combination of too many years writing dry, technical documents and a visit to the local library where I couldn’t find a book that interested me led me consider a new pastime. Write a book. That book may never be published, but I felt my follow-up cross-cultural crime with romance hybrid set in Russia had more potential. So much so that I wrote a sequel that took those characters on a journey to a very dark place.

Once those books were published by Club Lighthouse and garnered good reviews I wrote in a very different place and time. My two novels set in Victorian Britain were published by Wings ePress in July and August of 2014. These have been followed by a story set against the background of Australia's involvement on the Western Front, published in August 2015. Australia's contribution to the battles on the Western Front and to ultimate victory is a story not well known, but should be better known.

Staying within the realm of historical fiction, one of the most successful sportsmen of the 1930s, Achille Varzi, lived a dramatic and tumultuous life.  It is a wonder his story hasn't been told before, beyond non fiction written in Italian. The Last Great Race follows the highs and lows of Varzi's motor racing career, and stays in fascist Italy during the dark days of World War Two.

Welcome, Mark. Please share a little bit about your current release.
This is a fictionalised account of a real-life story that seems too incredible to be true, only it is. Achille Varzi was the most successful of his time; hero to his followers; worshipped by the women in his life; driven to succeed. This story is told partly through the eyes of Varzi and partly by fictional Italian-Australian journalist Paul Bassi. We follow the many triumphs and tragedies of Varzi's life: his passionate love affairs, his tragic addictions, his recovery, his marriage and his re-signing to race once more. Set in fascist Italy in the 1930s, we are part of the inexorable grind towards World War Two, where Italy is an ally of Germany, until the devastation becomes too much and the country slides towards civil war. Italy in World War Two and the civil war which followed is a story not well known, but is quite interesting.

What inspired you to write this book?
I have followed Formula One car racing since the early 1970s, and through that I was aware of the story of Achille Varzi, a good driver of the 1930s, until his private life got in the way of his racing career. When I looked into the facts about Varzi I didn't realise that he was the best racer in a legendary era, certainly one of the best of all time, and that his love affair with Ilse was so passionate and ultimately so destructive. I thought that passionate love, the tragedy that came out of it, and his recovery with the help of Norma who came back into his life, made a great story. Norma Colombo was a woman against the odds. She lived with Achille Varzi unmarried when women didn't do that, and when Achille broke up with Ilse she came back to him. That was just as amazing as anything that happened between Achille and Ilse. One man and two women who adored him completely, totally and absolutely.

Excerpt from The Last Great Race:
Achille lit a cigarette and pulled Le Ambizioni Sbagliate from his luggage. He sighed while he momentarily contemplated nights in hotel rooms. It was always better when Norma accompanied him or when his friends were around. But racing had changed and the cost of developing new cars meant fewer entries, and fewer drivers at the circuits. He took the comfortable velvet armchair in the corner of the room and turned to the first page, when he was startled by knocking at the door. Achille put the book down and opened the door to be surprised by Ilse Pietsch. Momentarily startled he then realised she ought not to be seen there. “Ilse,” he said. “Entrez, s’il tu plais.”
“I saw your times from practice today,” Ilse said in French after she closed the door behind her. “They were good.”
Achille nodded while puzzled to have her in his room.
“That isn’t why I came here,” she said. “All the time you were practicing I thought about your comment on Tazio Nuvolari. I know that any driver can drive fast, and any driver can drive on his limits and perhaps crash and break his leg, or even kill himself. A great driver and an even greater man is the man who knows where his strengths and weaknesses lay, and how far he can go to achieve his ambitions without going too far.”
Achille stood stunned with his cigarette hanging from his lips. It was as if she peered into his soul. Just like that.
“Achille?” she asked.
“Pardon?” Achille said, still confused. He looked at her eye to eye for she was almost as tall as he. “You understand me,” he said quietly.
“So I’m right.”
“You knew you were right.”
“I wanted to hear it from you.”
“You’re a great man more than a great driver, and I know you have been misunderstood. I heard talk of arrogance but they don’t understand you. You’re a deep thinker who analyses all the options before deciding on a course of action.”
Achille was again startled. Ilse knew more, much more, about him than his racing. He wondered how she could do that, and especially a woman so young.
Their conversation faded to silence and Achille suddenly felt an intense ache of desire for beautiful Ilse Pietsch. A yearning, a longing, an almost overpowering urge to grab her and take her away and ravish her. He never felt such strong feelings before and he liked them. He liked them a lot. And yet she was unobtainable. Perhaps that was it. She understood him and yet he couldn’t have her. His heart raced and he felt sweaty despite the pleasant temperature. No, such feelings were something else and he guessed what it was. After two brief meetings he had fallen in love with another man’s wife. He didn’t love Norma and never had, but he never expected to find love in a hotel in Montlhéry. He butted his cigarette in the ashtray and all the time Ilse stood there, close but not too close, and Achille knew the significance of that. He wondered, but it was too far too fast. For many years he wanted to kiss those lips, but he knew if he started he wouldn’t be able to stop. He gazed at beautiful Ilse Pietsch, he smelt her soft perfume, and he knew he shouldn’t.
“You should go before people realise,” Achille said.
“Of course,” Ilse replied.
She left his room and quietly closed the door behind to leave Achille pondering whether he should have asked her to stay.

What exciting story are you working on next?
My next story stays in Italy but in renaissance Venice where, in the year 1428, a young woman created a major scandal that rocked Venetian society to the core. That story is intertwined with sub-plots based upon oppression of gay men and oppression of women. I have completed a first draft of The Adulterous Bride but I still have a way to go.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I considered myself a writer when Club Lighthouse published my novel The Red Sun Will Come in 2012.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I work part-time and this gives me sufficient time to write, and to undertake publicity tasks. Publicity is a very important part of writing. My working day depends on the project I am working on, but typically is two or three hours a day for three or four days per week.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My quirk is to look for the unusual which has not been written about before, or to mix genres up by putting, for example, crime with romance. This gives me a unique voice, but it makes it harder to tell potential readers what these stories are really about.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I had a difficult upbringing where I was more intent on survival than on the future.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I hope those who like a good story will try The Last Great Race. The real-life characters and events are almost larger than life, although true to life, while the era, leading up to and spanning World War Two in Italy, is quite fascinating. I have not seen a story anything like this one, and I think it has much to offer to readers of fiction.

Website | Twitter 

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway