Tuesday, March 26, 2019

New interview with author John Herrick

Novelist John Herrick is back with a new interview! Today we’re talking about his new romantic comedy, Mona Lisas and Little White Lies.

During his virtual book tour, John 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!

John Herrick is best known as a chronicler of the human heart. His complex characters and earnest tone prompted Publishers Weekly to write, "Herrick will make waves." When he is not writing, he loves long drives on the interstate. He is a sucker for 1990s music. Herrick lives in St. Louis.

Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, John! Please tell us about your newest release.
Lily is an independent—and foul-mouthed—auto mechanic. Ryder is a commercial artist who meets her during a random encounter while she’s at her most beautiful and falls in love at first sight. From that point forward, Lily becomes his muse. He builds an imaginative world for her … a world in stark contrast to her reality! So what happens when Lily starts to realize she prefers Ryder’s version of her world better than her own? You’ll need to read the book to find out.

What inspired you to write this book?
About 20 years ago, I brought my car to the auto shop to have something worked on. The person working at the front counter was a woman in her 20s. You don’t see that very often, and I wondered how it felt for her on her job. I wondered what kind of work she did there, how she interacted with a staff that was, aside from her, male. I wondered how others perceived her—and how she perceived herself. I started planning the story about 10 years later, around the time I was planning my novel From the Dead. Then I set Mona Lisas aside, coming back to it every so often. Once it was finished, its publication kept getting delayed by my other books. By the time it was ready for Mona Lisas to be released, I had to go through the manuscript another time to update it. Technology had changed!

Excerpt from Mona Lisas and Little White Lies:
Lily considered the man handsome with his firm jaw and wavy, brown hair. In fact, he had one of those faces which could, with one glance, render you at ease. She sensed instant comfort in his presence. He also had the sort of appearance that made you feel as if you had met him before.
And Brooke was right. The woman looked exactly like Lily. Her hair color, complexion, nuances in her face and fingers—Lily recognized them all.
Brook leaned over her shoulder. “See what I mean?”
“Yeah…” Stunned, Lily examined the woman closer but couldn’t find the words to speak. An honest-to-goodness lookalike! Yet somehow, that red dress and fancy environment had transformed her into a different person altogether. The change had escorted her into another world!
Even though this woman was a fictional character, Lily tried to imagine her background and what she did for a living. The superficial differences between Lily and this woman were obvious, but Lily knew something else must have come into play between a couple like this. What did this woman have that Lily didn’t? What would draw this particular man to this particular woman?
A hint of jealousy stabbed Lily’s heart, but she shoved the feeling aside.
Before she knew it, Lily pictured herself in the woman’s place—which wasn’t difficult, given the similarities.
She imagined the floral scent of that wine…
The brush of the red dress against her thighs…
His arm around her waist…
What am I doing?!
Lily snapped the magazine shut and tossed it on the dining room table.

What’s the next writing project?
It’s a drama about a police officer in Manhattan. It combines family, love, loss, the paranormal—and documents what happens when they all come crashing together. I’m bursting at the seams to share that story with you!

What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book? (or the biggest challenge with this book)
My biggest challenge is showing up every day when it feels like I’m dead inside. It happens with every book, until something unlocks, the dam opens up, and the ideas suddenly fall into place. But until that happens, to be honest, I feel like a failure. I sketch everything in detail—a 100-page mini version of the novel—before I write the first draft. So in my case, most of the creative work occurs before I write the book. Writing the book is a matter of showing up each day and expanding on a story I’ve already told once.

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?
I conduct research before outlining my novel, to get a feel for my characters’ world. It also helps prevent logistical issues down the road. If I don’t conduct research first, I risk making an assumption about a detail on which the entire novel hinges. That would mean rewriting the whole novel, and if I learned nothing else from working in the IT field years ago, I learned the value of efficiency!

For Mona Lisas, I visited the studio of a commercial artist. I’d never seen so many color options in my life! What fascinated me is that his studio was filled not only with his current projects and past work, but it was filled with books. Tons and tons of books throughout his two-story studio. Topics covered everything from history to automobiles. I learned a good artist is much like a good writer—he researches his projects before he begins.

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.
My writing space is a Starbucks around 5:30 a.m. I write for 2-3 hours while watching the sunrise. I’ve learned to write anywhere and have tried to transition as much as possible to digitally-based methods, which has increased my productivity while expanding my options.

What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
I love John Grisham’s early works. I also try to get my hands on everything by Joseph Finder, Sheldon Siegel, and others. I read a ton of James Patterson because he’s a master a writing with a particular commercial goal in mind, so I study what he does. But I tend to read everything from suspense to American history to politics. I love memoirs/biographies about U.S. presidents and media giants like Clive Davis, LA Reid, and Tommy Mottola. One recent read was The Real Coke, The Real Story, about the rise of Coca-Cola and the New Coke debacle of 1986. I followed that up with Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. So I never know what’s next!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
Thanks so much for letting me stop by! If you enjoy a chuckle and books by Nicholas Sparks or Emily Giffin, you will probably enjoy Mona Lisas and Little White Lies. And feel free to follow me on my socials!


Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Interview with novelist Hawk MacKinney

Novelist Hawk MacKinney joins me today and we’re chatting about Deal Gold, Book 4 in the Moccasin Hollow Mystery Series. It’s a mix of action thriller and love story.

During his virtual book tour, Hawk will be awarding a $20 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!

Hawk MacKinney served in the US Navy for over 20 years. While serving as a Navy Commander, he also had a career as a full-time faculty member at several major state medical facilities. He earned two postgraduate degrees with studies in languages and history. He has taught postgraduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem, Israel.

In addition to professional articles and texts on chordate neuroembryology, Hawk has authored several works of fiction—historical love stories, science fiction and mystery-thrillers. His titles are not genre-centered, but plot-character driven. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award, details the family bloodlines of his serial protagonist in the Moccasin Hollow Mystery Series—murder and mayhem with a touch of romance. Hidden Chamber of Death, the first book in the mystery series, was followed by Book 2, Westobou Gold and his latest, Book 3, Curse of the Ancients. All have received national attention. The Bleikovat Event was Vol I in The Cairns of Sainctuarie Science Fiction Series followed by Vol II, The Missing Planets. Vol III, Inanna Phantom is in final galleys.

Please share a little bit about your current release and what inspired you to write this book.
During a Rocky Mountain ski vacation in Aspen, CO, I came across the documented killing of a wild-living hard-partying Olympic skier chasing gold with the other underhanded goings-on, and no one went to jail. Skin and money and payoffs, and all the inspirations of the slugs of humanity fell into my lap and onto my keyboard.

Excerpt from Deal Gold:
Lust, greed and body parts await Craige Ingram when he leaves the comforts of his South Carolina home to visit his former SEAL buddy, Detective Spinner Krespinak. Set in the Colorado underbelly of a sable and faux glitz ski mecca, the instincts of retired Navy SEAL, Detective Spinner Krespinak suspect drugs have become a lucrative industry amid unrestrained wild sex parties in the snowy sordid playground that is Aspen. An Olympic ski hopeful is brutally murdered, Spinner vanishes, and Craige Ingram is shot as events spin out of control with a Catch-22 no one anticipates.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Vol III in the Cairns of Sainctuarie Science Fiction Series is in galley proof edit.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In the 6th grade writing serial mysteries for my class newsletter.

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?
You make/budget time to write full-time. Up 4-4:30 a.m. for two hours with a raw quadruple steamed espresso, black as Marine Corps bilge water. Another hour+, then lunch and to-do lists that have nothing to do with writing… and all the while keeping my eyes and ears on RECORD. When I take a break, it is with a good non-fiction…quantum physics or biographies.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I find it fun doing in no-good SOBs that hurt for no reason other than being lazy. They provide endless stories for my imagination to plunder.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Probably a cowboy…

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Feed and care for the 12-year old and the dreams that still live inside you—the child in us needs TLC and daily encouragement. After that, it’s ALL uphill.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
…and thank you for hosting me and Dead Gold, my latest title in the MOCCASIN HOLLOW MYSTERY SERIES.

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Monday, March 18, 2019

Interview with sci-fantasy novelist Indie Gantz

Novelist Indie Gantz joins me today to chat a little bit about her new sci-fantasy, Kindred.

During her virtual book tour, Indie will be awarding a $20 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 her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Indie Gantz grew up in Northern Virginia and received her Psychology degree at George Mason University. Despite her passion and curiosity for the human mind, Indie left her chosen field of study to finally give voice to the many imagined minds she has created.

Indie lives with her family in North Carolina. She spends her days drinking tea and clacking keys.

Welcome, Indie. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Kindred is the second book in the Akasha series, a genre-bending Sci-Fantasy epic that follows twins Charlie and Tirigan as they enter a new world and try to reunite their family. Starting with Passage, the first book in the series, the twins encounter powerful foes, struggle with their own relationship, and eventually start to realize that family can be the one you make, not necessarily the one you were born into.

What inspired you to write this book?
This series was inspired by the need for more diversity in genre fiction, which also promotes healthy relationships, complex family dynamics, and realistic self-exploration. Also, blending fantasy with science-fiction is a lot of fun and opens the world up to endless possibilities.

Excerpt from Kindred:
“Sorry for taking over your room,” I tell him, walking until the hallway ends in a slatted wooden door. I push it open as Oleander sighs dramatically behind me.
“Yes. I am incredibly put out. You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Even though Oleander laughs, a jolt of guilt runs through me. He must see my regret in the sudden tension of my shoulders, because the Gyan’s laugh immediately disappears.
“I’m kidding, of course.” He places a hand on my shoulder, essentially swallowing it whole and forcing me to look up at him. “I’m thrilled to give you my room, Charlie. Over the moon about it. Really! Are you in the market for a new limb, by chance? Because I’ve got a couple with your name on them.”
“My name? Really?” I tease, challenge in my eyes despite the kindness in his.
“Don’t believe me?” Oleander’s brow’s raises comically. “Have a look, yourself.”
The tall Gyan raises his arms out as much as he can in the small hallway, exposing his forearms. There, written in long, flourishing strokes, is my name.
“How?” The question escapes before I can think better of it. Oleander searches my baffled expression for what feels like several minutes. I haven’t a clue what he finds there, but whatever it is makes him smile ruefully.
 “You really don’t know what you’re capable of. Do you?”
 “I… I guess not. No,” I respond quietly. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t apologize, Charlie.” Oleander shakes his head. “You are who you are.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am releasing the first character companion piece that corresponds with the series. Captive will focus on Finn, a minor character in the story thus far, and will be about the length of a short novella. These character companion pieces are meant to give the reader brief insight into another perspective, and enrich the world I’m creating. Captive will be released this fall.

Salvage, the third book in the series, will be released some time next year.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I considered myself a writer the moment my sparkly gel pen wrote down it’s first angsty line of poetry. I considered myself a professional writer as soon as I started publishing my books. We’re writers if we say we are!

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’d say I write part-time, as I have a young family and spend a lot of my time managing my household. When I’m not playing head of house, I read a lot, listen and play music, and learn new languages.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I tend to write all the dialogue first in a scene, or maybe even a couple scenes, without any dialogue tags or background information. To me, dialogue is the most important part of developing characters, and I want it to feel natural. I spend a lot of time fleshing out the dialogue before anything else in a scene!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a doctor. Unfortunately, I wasn’t raised in a feminist household, and I got it in my head that I couldn’t make it as a doctor and be happy as a mother in the future. I so resent this line of thinking now, and part of my series will be devoted to empowering women to be the writers of their own story.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’m very excited to share this series with the world. It’s planned to be about 8-10 books, with 5-7 companion piece novellas. It’s a sweeping epic with complex characters and interesting dynamics. It’s got aliens and magic & love and loss. I so hope you’ll consider reading it!


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Interview with thriller author Suzanne Seddon

Novelist Suzanne Seddon joins me today to chat a little about her new crime thriller, A Fool’s Circle.

During her virtual book tour, Suzanne will be giving away a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift 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 her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Suzanne Seddon was born in 1968 in Islington, London. After leaving school she had many interesting jobs, from swimming teacher to air hostess, and was able to travel the globe. Now a single mum to her teenage daughter Poppy-willow, Suzanne spends her days writing and has written several articles for magazines and newspapers.

Growing up, Suzanne witnessed mental and physical abuse within her own family which strongly influenced her when she wrote her first play, A Fool’s Circle, when she attended the famous Anna Scher Theatre. Suzanne, however, was not content to leave it there and decided to go ahead and transform her play into a novel.

Not one to shy away from exciting challenges, she also wrote, acted, directed, cast and produced a trailer for the book around her hometown in Islington with the support of local businesses, who recognised the drive and importance of Suzanne and her work.

Suzanne is a passionate writer and she is determined to be heard so that the issue of domestic abuse is raised amongst the public's consciousness, empowering others to speak out. She wants those who suffer at the hands of another to have their voices heard, loud and clear.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
Kate Saunders has suffered many years of physical and mental abuse at the hands of her controlling husband, Alan, and convinces herself that she is only holding the family together for the sake of her eight-year-old daughter. If it wasn’t for her best friend Jill Reynolds, she’d have taken the suicide option a long time ago.

As she desperately seeks a way to escape, she is contacted by a solicitor. Kate’s old Aunt has died and she has been left a small fortune. 

For the first time she sees the light at the end of the tunnel. She dreams of a fresh start, a new home, a new life.

What Kate doesn’t know is that Jill and Alan have their own secrets, and are both desperate to get their hands on her money.

Kate soon finds herself falling for the charms of Jonathan Jacobs in what she believes to be fate finally intervening and offering her a second chance, unaware that each move he makes has been directed, orchestrated and well-rehearsed as he begs her to leave her husband Alan. 

But is it all too late, as she finds herself in the frame for murder?

Excerpt from A Fool’s Circle:
‘Mummy! Please wake up! Mummy! Please wake up please, Mummy, Mummy.’

Kate woke up with a start and as she looked at her daughter standing in front of her she could see the fear in her eyes as the smoke thickened from Alan’s side of the bed.

‘Mummy, Mummy, what’s wrong with Daddy? Why is he making that funny noise?’

She listened to the weird noise from the creature next to her. Kate screamed at him to wake up as she got up out of bed, and ushered Sophie out of the bedroom.

‘Alan, wake up. Alan, the room is on fire! Wake up will you, Alan!’

Kate could see by the look on his face as he opened his eyes, he had no idea what was going on, still half pissed. As the proverbial penny finally dropped, he was up out of bed and on his feet.
Kate coughed hard as she got Sophie out of the bedroom. She guided her downstairs into the kitchen and grabbed the fire extinguisher from the cupboard. His voice boomed behind her as he entered the room.

‘Where’s the fucking fire extinguisher, woman? For fuck’s sake, hurry up! The whole place will burn down.’

She almost threw it at him. Watching him fly back out of the kitchen and up the stairs, she turned her attention to her daughter.

‘Are you okay Sophie? Talk to me, is your throat sore?’

Sophie was traumatised. She coughed a few times as Kate, worried, stared at her daughter’s face. Sophie started to cry.

What inspired you to write this book?
To be honest, writing a book was never the plan. I wrote A Fool’s Circle as a play first. Then, after finding the script a few year’s later in the back of a draw, I decided to write it as a feature film. I went as far as making a film trailer. Whilst the trailer was in edit, my mother sadly passed away and I was a single parent with no support network. It was my mother’s dream to write a book. So, I decided to change direction and write it as a novel.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I don’t know if I’m quite finished with A Fool’s Circle. I still have a few good ideas where I can take the story next. Although one day I would really like to write an Autobiography, but that’s a long way off.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t often consider myself a writer, funnily enough. I just really enjoy writing. Also, I enjoyed the transition from script writing to novel writing fascinating. The two are so different and I really learned a lot from that.

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 don’t write full time, although I did whilst writing A Fool’s Circle. I spent over two years putting it together. It was manic and full on. I’m now just getting ideas together for my next book. My daughter is now a teenager so I have a bit more time on my hands to write. But I usually do that after she has gone to bed.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t have spreadsheets for characters. I listen to them speaking in my head and often find myself asking them questions. I suppose that sounds a bit crazy, but I often find myself asking one of the characters: ‘What are you going to do now?’ I can see them as plain as day. I have to keep a pen and paper by the side of my bed also. I never know when they are going to catch me out and lead the story.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was very sporty as a child. So, I wanted to do something in that field. When I left school, I became a lifeguard. Then, when I was twenty-one, I became a qualified swimming teacher.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I would be really interested to know, who they thought was the best character in A Fool’s Circle and why?


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

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