Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Interview with sci-fi author Sherrill Nilson

Sci-fi author Sherrill Nilson joins me today and we’re chatting about her new YA/NA fantasy novel, Karda-Adalta Vol I.

Sherrill Nilson used to raise horses. Now she writes about flying horses—with hawk heads and wicked talons. Author of the Adalta Series, she’s been a cattle rancher, horse breeder, environmentalist, mother of three, traveler to exotic places–even a tarot card reader.

She lived in Santa Fe (where she built a straw bale house) and Ruidoso, NM, San Francisco, and Austin after leaving the hills of Eastern Oklahoma and her ranch. Now she’s back in Tulsa where she started.

Her studies for her PhD opened her to the world of ancient myth and story. Writing all those many papers and her dissertation was so much fun, she took a leap of faith and did what she's always wanted to do––write fiction. She started writing Karda and Hunter–the first two books in the Adalta series. She’s now working on Falling, the third book, and lurking in the back of her mind is another series about the trees deciding whether or not to leave Earth.

She lives, reads, and writes SciFi/fantasy (and occasionally poetry) in Tulsa, Oklahoma—back where she started as the oldest of seven kids (don’t ask to drive). Three of whom are writers. (And use too much red ink when she asks them to look at her work.)

She doesn’t have a dog, a cat, or even a bird, but she does have an old Volvo convertible and loves to drive around in her sunglasses with the wind blowing her hair. It’s how she gets her vitamin D.

Welcome, Sherrill. Please tell us about your current release.
Karda is the revised and illustrated edition of the first book in a fantasy-sci-fi series, Adalta, with technophobic humans on a living planet, majestic hawk-headed flying horses, a power struggle between brothers, and a plucky female hero who must learn to tap into powers she never knew she had––powers that scare her––to save the place and the people she comes to love.

With the collapse of Earth’s systems, a flurry of Ark Ships leaves to establish colonies through the universe. In the confusion, a handful of these ships are lost. The colony landing on Adalta was one.

Five hundred years later, Marta Rowan rests beneath a short, twisted evergreen beside a spring in the midst of a barren area of Adalta. This is not her first mission for Alal Trade Consortium. In fact, she’s been doing clandestine fact-finding missions like this her whole life. She arrives on a planet, does her fact-finding, then leaves.

But this planet is different. Empathic connections to Adalta and its creatures begin to assault her senses. She is chosen by a Karda, one of the huge flying horse with hawk-head and fierce talons native to the planet, and their bond grows deeper and deeper, threatening her determination not to get attached—she can’t—when the mission is over, she must leave Adalta.

The trade ship’s goal of introducing high-tech products to this low-tech world proves impossible as Marta discovers the colonists and the planet itself are technophobic. None of their trade items work. The traders find an ally in Readen Me’Vere who uses blood, sex, and death to release a malevolent force intent on seizing control and stripping Adalta of its resources.

A blood magic assassination attempt opens telepathic communication between Marta, her Karda, and Altan, handsome, arrogant heir to one of the Quadrants.

Together Marta, Altan, and their Karda, fight the Consortium plot to smuggle forbidden hi-tech weapons in return for valuable minerals. They must work together to stop this rapacious attack by the ship and by the awakened alien power.

What inspired you to write this book?
I am a voracious reader, and I love fantasy. One day I put down the book I was reading and thought, “I’m going to run out of books to read, of new worlds to live in.” So, I decided to create my own. I bred running Quarter Horses for several years, so I had to include horses in some form. Why not intelligent flying horses on this new world who could communicate telepathically? I talked to my horses a lot—they are good listeners—so why not have them talk back?

Excerpt from Karda-Adalta Vol I
(from Chapter Three):

She managed one step forward, and the Karda's mantled wings spread wall to wall. She raised her head. The large dark eyes in her predator's head looked Marta over, imperious, appraising her. Marta took another step. She took a deep breath, then another, and her shoulders loosened. This colossal creature with its fierce hooked beak should terrify her. But she didn't.
Marta's breath stopped again. It was hard to get her words out. “You're leaving me here with her? What do you mean if she selects me? What do I do?” All of a sudden, she wasn't sure she wanted to be left alone with this huge creature, its fierce hooked beak, its piercing eyes.
Cailyn smiled and walked away, saying over her shoulder, “You'll be all right. More than all right if she chooses you.” Then she turned back, her body still, her tone somber. “It's the way to become a Mi'hiru, Marta—the only way.” She left.
Marta stepped, one slow foot at a time, toward Sidhari, looking up at the proud head, getting as close as she dared. The Karda's dark eyes caught hers. Sidhari held her entranced, examined her, exposed her to the core of her being. Marta sensed a rock-like solidity, an intelligence sharp and discerning, a quest for connection. Marta felt herself leaning toward it. Fear jolted her. Such deep connection was frightening, dangerous.
Her heart beating a timpani concerto in her chest, her hand reached to touch the soft, sleek hair of the long graceful neck, and she lost herself in the Karda's vast mind. Her consciousness spread wider and wider until she was the entire planet, her mind, her heart swirled beyond time and matter, until the scattered atoms of her being gathered with a soft susurrus of feathers sliding together, surrounding her, holding her. She was held, cherished, safe for the first time since her father died.
Her fingers curled, feeling the loose straw and the rough stones of the floor, feeling warmth against her cheek. She was sitting, resting against the warm shoulder of the Karda. Sidhari lay with her feet curled under her. Marta never wanted to move again. Light through the clerestory windows was dark with the deep rose of twilight. Marta started as she heard footsteps echo down the stone hallway of the mews.
“It looks like you've found a match, Sidhari.” Cailyn leaned against the wide archway to Sidhari's stall. “You've been here all afternoon, Marta.”
Marta stood, her legs shook. “Has it been that long? It felt like a few minutes.” She managed to pull the words out of the fog in her head.
“The first time is always like that. You were lost, weren't you?”
“No.” She rested her hand on Sidhari's shoulder, nearly the height of her own though Sidhari laid on the flagstones, her legs tucked under her body. Marta was still shaky. “I think I was found.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I just published Hunter-Adalta Vol. II and am working on Falling, the third volume. The space ship is not going to be leaving Adalta. What is going to happen to the twenty-five-hundred people who must be rescued? Families who have lived for generations on the trade ship, people who have never set foot on a planet will have to learn to adapt, not only to life on living ground, but on a planet that is alive and sentient. And they must learn to deal with the elemental magic they will all have, triggered by Adalta when they first set foot on her soil. And all this takes place in the middle of a war with unimaginable monsters that must somehow culminate in this final volume.

Then I intend to finish the young adult book(s) I started before Karda—about the trees deciding whether or not to stay on earth—with a lot of Sumerian and Ancient Near East mythology, an evil corporate cabal, and angry spirits of extinct species who blame humans for the deaths of their species.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Before I learned to read and write, I used to make ‘writing marks’ across the yellow pages of my dad’s legal pads, imagining stories. I started by first novel when I was eleven—about an orphan girl and horses. (I was eleven.)

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 try to write full time. I’m retired, so finding the time isn’t that hard. Sometimes opening the computer is the hardest part. I’m not very disciplined. But once I get it open and there’s nothing interesting in my email, I can write for hours. I can get lost either reading a book or writing a book. As I heard or saw on FB or somewhere,” A book a day keeps reality away.” Whether you are reading or writing it.

And I love working with my son, Kurt Nilson, who does the covers and illustrations for my books. He lives in Brazil.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I can’t plot. Well, I can, but when I think I have it all figured out and look at it again after I’ve written my first few chapters, my characters are not doing what I thought they’d be doing, and sometimes they aren’t even the same characters. I have learned that having the ending firmly in my mind is very important, otherwise I get close to the end and the book starts wandering all over the place while I try to figure out where it’s going. Kind of like asking Google Map to plot a route to “somewhere in Arizona, or maybe New Mexico.”

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to live on a ranch, have horses, and write books. I’ve lived on a ranch. I’ve had horses. And now I’m writing books. None of that was as glamorous as I thought it would be. Horses and ranch were often hard, dirty work. And writing books is hard on the ego––all that red ink. But all three­­­­––oh, so rewarding.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yes. My sister Alice V Brock is writing a series of historical western mid-grade books. Her first book, River of Cattle, won Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award for Best Western YA/Children Fiction of 2016, Was a finalist for their Best First Western Novel of 2016. She also was fourth for the 2017 Will Rogers Medallion Award for Western Fiction, Younger Readers. I tell her she’s writing Lonesome Dove for kids. She just sent the second book in her series, Pecos River Mystery, to her publisher. It should be out in November.

My brother Phil Vincent’s thriller manuscript of his first novel, Varuna, was picked as a finalist in the 2018 Unpublished Mystery/Thriller category by Pacific Northwest Writers Association


Thanks for stopping by today!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Interview with romance author Elsa Winckler

Romance author Elsa Winckler joins me today to chat a little bit about her newest contemporary, Where the River Bends.

During her virtual book tour, Elsa will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a luck 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 her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Welcome, Elsa. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I have been reading love stories for as long as I can remember and when I ‘met’ the classic authors like Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Henry James The Brontë sisters, etc. during my Honours studies, I was hooked for life.

I married my college boyfriend and soul mate and after 43 years, 3 interesting and wonderful children and 3 beautiful grandsons, he still makes me weak in the knees. We are fortunate to live in the picturesque little seaside village of Betty's Bay, South Africa with the ocean a block away and a beautiful mountain right behind us. And although life so far has not always been an easy ride, it has always been an exciting and interesting one!

I like the heroines in my stories to be beautiful, feisty, independent and headstrong. And the heroes must be strong but possess a generous amount of sensitivity. They are of course, also gorgeous! My stories typically incorporate the family background of the characters to better understand where they come from and who they are when we meet them in the story.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
Kalinda Evans works for the Anglo-Boer war foundation in Canada. She's sent to South Africa to make sure everyone who lost their lives in the war will be remembered. On her drive to the guest farm in Kimberley, South Africa, Kalinda picks up a female hitchhiker and is startled when just moments later, the woman vanishes. Kalinda would be convinced she was dreaming…except there’s still a white lace handkerchief on the passenger seat.

Extreme sports enthusiast and computer game designer Zack Carter is always after the next big challenge. He’s far too busy for romance and adheres to a three-date rule, until he meets his parents’ latest guest. When she relays the story of her mysterious experience, Zack’s family shares the local ghost story. Kalinda and Zack work together to solve the puzzle of the ghost and how it all ties in with the war and the work Kalinda is doing.

As their attraction grows, Zack realizes he no longer feels the need to prove anything to himself. He only needs to prove to Kalinda that he’s more than a good time.

What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to write something about the Anglo Boer War, a war that changed the history in South Africa in many ways. Not a historical novel, but I wanted to incorporate something about the war. While researching the Battle of Paardeberg, I discovered that a regiment of Canadian soldiers were also sent to South Africa and that they were accompanied by eleven nurses. This triggered the idea for Suzie, the ghost in the story. It was also during this time that our beautiful daughter arrived on our doorstep with only her handbag and laptop – she’d finally found the courage to walk away from an abusive marriage. Writing Where the river bends was a way for me to work through this heart ache.

Excerpt from Where the River Bends:
Relieved, Kalinda nodded. Her insides were still shivering from the shock. She wanted to get to the little museum as quickly as possible and start on her assignment. She didn't want to stay one minute longer than necessary. At the moment Toronto sounded much more normal.

She glanced up. Zach was staring at her. Again there was the strange shift inside of her. How did the song put it? Easy on the eye, hard on the heart. Yep, that was Zach Carter. She didn't have to guess whether he was a flirt – the damn dimple seemed to appear just too readily. Dimples? Seriously?

"A last comment about Suzie," Luke said.

Kalinda swallowed a groan. Enough of the ghost stories, already.

"Apparently she only appears to people who are getting married soon."

"Well, that cannot be true, because getting married is definitely not on my agenda," Kalinda said firmly.

Madeline giggled. "Well, my dear. It was also the last thing on my mind. And then I met Zacharias."

Kalinda smiled vaguely, but didn't react to Madeline's words. She focused on her plate, fervently hoping all talk of ghosts and weddings was finished.

"I still don't understand how you ended up on your hands and knees on the road," Zach interrupted her thoughts.

Kalinda frowned, trying to remember exactly what had happened. "I fell, I think."

"But why?" Zach insisted. "You were driving …"

"I got out of the car to look for her. She was walking towards me when I heard the car behind me. When I turned around, the car was nearly on top of me. And then—" She inhaled sharply. "She pushed me out of harm's way," she finished softly.

"Otherwise our car could have hit you." Madeline had also turned pale.

For a few minutes it was quiet around the table. Then Zacharias cleared his throat.

What exciting story are you working on next?
A series of three stories will be published by Tule Publishing next year, I’m happy to say. At the moment I working on an Afrikaans story but I’m hoping to start with something new in the new year.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I love holding a book in my hand and know inside the pages is a story that I wrote down. I think after that very first book, it finally dawned on me that I’ve written a book, it’s okay to call myself a writer.

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?
Yes, I’m fortunate enough to write full-time. I retired in 2010, our three kids moved out more or less at the same time and I now have the time to write down the stories that I’ve been thinking about for as long as I can remember.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Before I start with a story, I find pictures of the hero and heroine and I put them up where I can see them the while time while I’m writing

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve always wanted to write.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I would love to hear from the readers!


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Monday, September 10, 2018

New interview with mystery author Wendy Tyson

I’m happy to welcome mystery author Wendy Tyson back to Reviews and Interviews. Today we’re chatting about her new cozy, Rooted in Deceit: A Greenhouse Mystery (#4).

You can check out her November 2017 interview, here, if you like.

Wendy Tyson is an author, lawyer, and former therapist who writes the bestselling Greenhouse Mystery Series and the Allison Campbell Mystery Series. Her short fiction has appeared in literary journals and in the short story anthologies Betrayed: Powerful Stories of Kick-Ass Crime Survivors and The Night of the Flood, and her novel A Dark Homage was recently accepted for publication in January 2020. Wendy is a contributing editor and columnist for International Thriller Writers’ e-zines The Big Thrill and The Thrill Begins. She and her husband recently moved their micro-farm from Pennsylvania to the Green Mountains of Vermont. For more information about Wendy, visit her at

Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, Wendy. Please tell us about your newest release.
It’s summertime in Winsome. Washington Acres is abloom, Megan is preparing for the grand opening of ther wood-fired pizza farm, and things with Megan’s beau, handsome Dr. “Denver” Finn, are getting as hot as the August temperatures.

But when Megan’s ne’er-do-well father arrives in Pennsylvania with his high-maintenance Italian wife, Sylvia, and announces they’re staying at the new yoga retreat center a town away, a sweet occasion sours.

Eager to secure pieces for her Milan boutique, Sylvia finagles a meeting with up-and-coming artist Thana Moore, whose work is showing at the retreat center. After their explosive encounter, Thana is murdered and Sylvia becomes the prime suspect. Only Sylvia isn’t the only one with ties to the artist—once upon a time, Thana Moore had been Megan’s best friend.

As Megan delves into Thana’s past, piecing together the years since their falling out, she realizes that something sinister is afoot in Bucks County. Unless Megan can find the killer, this idyllic summer will turn nightmarish. Innocent people may be imprisoned—and even more could die.

What inspired you to write this book?
At its core, Rooted in Deceit is about family and the impact family members and old friends can have on one another. This subject has been top of mind for me. I recently moved from Pennsylvania, where I lived most of my life, to Vermont. It was a big change for my immediate family as well as for the extended family I left behind. I think this move, which we’d been contemplating for some time, caused me to think about the ways people weave in and out of the fabric of our lives. It made me consider the concept of family, of “home,” and the fact that some people can affect the trajectory of our personal journey even if we only knew them for a short period. These themes percolated in the back of my mind, ultimately contributing to the storyline for Rooted.

What’s the next writing project?
I’m working on the fifth Greenhouse mystery now, Ripe for Vengeance, which is scheduled to be released in 2019.

What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book? (or the biggest challenge with this book)
I love writing the first draft. It’s a little like falling in love: everything is new, interesting, and seemingly perfect. And then it’s time to read that first draft—and edit it. The first real round of revisions is always painful. The euphoria has passed and it’s down to the painstaking job of reworking four hundred pages of manuscript. Subsequent revisions get easier, but I don’t know that I will ever enjoy the first round of edits.

If your novels require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
As a rule, I tend to write first and fill in the gaps as I go. I think research can be a real trap for writers, keeping us from the hard work of creating—if we let it. For me, the one exception is if the research might drive the plot or an important element of the story, such as the setting.

For example, Fatal Façade, the fourth book in my Allison Campbell mystery series, takes place in South Tyrol, Italy, in the beautiful and haunting Dolomite Mountains. I wanted the setting—with its dominating peaks and looming castles—to be almost a character in the novel. I found it best to visit South Tyrol and perform research on location before writing the book; I needed the details, some of which drove the plot, to be right.

What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
I generally write anywhere and anytime, a necessity born of my crazy schedule. I work full-time as an ERISA consultant and have three kids, and since our move my job entails traveling from Vermont to Pennsylvania every few weeks. As a result, I bring my laptop with me and write whenever I have the chance.

All that said, I prefer to write somewhere with a great view. One of my favorite spots to write is in a ski lodge. My husband and kids are avid skiers; I am not. I go with them, though, and find a spot in the midst of the resort activity, preferably near a window (with a view of the mountains) and an outlet. The background noise helps me focus, and the fact that I’m sort of captive keeps me seated and working.

What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
While I’m an eclectic reader, many of my favorite books are mysteries and thrillers. I love the works of Elizabeth George, Tess Gerritsen, and Jonathan Kellerman, just to name a few. I’m also a huge Stephen King fan, and I think I learned a great deal about craft just from reading his novels. Sometimes when I need to clear my mind, I stick to reading nonfiction, especially books about science and ecology/nature.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
If you enjoy my work, I hope you’ll check out my Allison Campbell mysteries (Henery Press) and my short stories in The Night of the Flood (“Anything Worth Saving,” March 2018) and Betrayed (“Soap,” November 2017). The proceeds of Betrayed are donated to an organization that helps crime survivors move on with their lives.

Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!
Thank you so much for having me! I love your site; it’s an honor to be included.