Interviewing author Deryn Pittar

deryn-croppedI asked Deryn Pittar, author of this week’s featured new release Lutapolii – White Dragon of the South, to share her thoughts on her writing with us.


Deryn, tell us about the first book you had published.
Love’s Bright Star was published by Secret Cravings in 2012. It was a huge thrill and from that experience I learned about the editing process, prior to publication.  They also published the following four books in the Future Movers series; but unfortunately Secret Cravings closed down in 2015. These futuristic romances are being republished over a six weeks’ time span in June/July this year with Junction Publishing. I am reading through them again (yet another editing process) and I’m delighted that I don’t have the desire to change anything. Because they are set in the future, luckily, nothing has dated!

Six years later, with their republishing, I will have had published a total of eight novels, with a ninth one coming out in October. But I have had many short stories and poems published in between times, in a variety of genre.

Was ‘Love’s Bright Star’ the first novel you’d written?
I’d love to be able to say ‘yes’ but in truth it was about the fourth. One of them I rewrote five times and it still sits in my files. (I can’t bear to delete 70 thousand words. I might need a bit of it one day.) I tried to write for Mills and Boon to begin with, but my mind refuses to stick to a formula; this is probably why I often set my stories in the future, where there are no restrictions on my imagination. However, I consider all those original unpublished manuscripts as a learning curve I had to travel, and not one word was a wasted effort.

Do you write today in the same genre as your first published novel?
Sometimes, but I jump about. I’ve written and had published a few contemporary romance novellas and lots of short stories, some, some a comment on a serious subject and a few light romances. I tried to write horror (with a friend) and we ended up with a black comedy. I like to put a twist at the end of my short fiction. I’ve also dabbled in haiku and other forms of poetry, plus I love a writing challenge. Often a contest’s premise is a good reason to try another genre.

What authors have  influenced your choice of genre?
Asimov’s science fiction novels gripped my imagination as a teenager, opening up the possibilities available to a writer. Then Anne MacCaffrey came along with her Dragons of Pern series, which introduced dragons instead of robots.

LutapoliiHow long did it take from when you began Lutapolii’s manuscript to launch date?
I wrote Lutapolii – White Dragon of the South quite quickly, over a few months, about two years ago. He grew from a short story, which became chapter one. He took on a personality and had a life plan I simply had to follow. Once told, his story lurked in my files for a year as I searched for a cover, then Junction Publishing said they’d like to take him and they found his picture. I had to change one scene to fit in with his final appearance, but he’s such a magnificent fellow I didn’t mind at all. I’m thrilled with the response to his story. It’s not often you get to read a story written by the dragon himself. It’s written for adults, but it fits just as well into the Young Adult classification. There is a mating scene in it, but that’s all noise, smoke and frightened sea birds. I don’t know how dragons mate and Lutapolii refused to tell me.

What is your latest project – or projects?
I recently co-wrote a novella with Meg Buchanan, about an angel who falls in love with a soldier. It centres on Halloween, her brother’s plans for that night and the soldier’s decision to prevent her being harmed. Angelfire is a quirky love story and was fun to write. I had a short story which became the premise for the story. We shared further plot lines and wrote the scenes we each had ideas for; then shuttled the manuscript back and forth to be read, changed and added to until it all hung together. This will be released in October this year, with promotion beginning in September. Perhaps when Meg has time in her busy publishing schedule we will write a sequel.

I have just finished a novella for a winter anthology submission call for Roane Publishing. I called it Thunder Makes Me Cry and I’m hoping it will get accepted. I wrote it with a winter theme, just for their submission call. Heaven knows what I’ll do with it if they don’t want it. They are releasing another novella of mine, Escorts for Hire….Heartaches Free, in their summer anthology in August.

What question do you always wish an interview would ask you?
You often hear writers moan about ‘writer’s block’ (no ideas) or the editing process and how they hate cutting out words and scenes; and how dreadful it all is. Yet no one actually asks them if they enjoy it!

I‘m asking you now. Do you enjoy being an author?
Yes, I love it. Sometimes I run out of ideas, but I never panic. Eventually something will pop into my mind; a kernel that grows into a scene, which might develop into a novel. I love the craft of tightening a story, getting rid of extra words, paring it down to say as much as possible with as few words as you can. Of being able to give the readers a time, place and setting that will drag them into the story and, best of all, hold them there.

Through writing I’ve met a wide group of people I can correspond with, and share work and ideas with. To know there are like-minded people out there, tapping away, feeding their mind-pictures onto the page is a comfort because writing can be a solitary hobby – if you let it. I don’t.

What are you currently reading?
I belong to two book clubs, so often have to read a book that is not of my choice. This doesn’t do me any harm and often leads me to discover new authors. I’ve just read The Song Collector by Natasha Solomons. It is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, with beautiful language. At page 30, I decided I was reading too fast, so I began again and took my time to savour every page.

Daniel O’Malley has written two fabulous science fiction/fantasy novels: The Rook and Silhouette. I’m waiting for his next novel. I also enjoy Robert Galbraith’s series (JK Rowling) and I’m waiting for Lethal White to be released. I think the lady at the library is tired of me asking if they have it yet.

Thanks, Deryn, for giving us this time. I’ve learned more about you than I knew!


Interviewing author G P Gadbois

crop-soft-portrait_G D Gadbois

G P kindly spoke about herself after the launch of her latest novel, Trust Me, released on Monday. She is shown here reviewing her earlier novel Caught Between Worlds.

What made you choose to write in the romance genre?
The idea for my first novel came from a reoccurring dream I had a few years back. At first, I thought I’d purchase a dream analyser book to find out what the dream meant. Instead, as I wrote down the highlights, and shared my dream with family and friends – it became clear, I had to write the story. So, the genre kind of chose me.
Like many women I work full time, so when I read I want to relax and escape.  Although I enjoy suspense and mysteries, I love a story with a happy ending.

In what other genres have you written / or can you see yourself writing in the future, and why?
Many, many moons ago, I wrote a weekly column, in the French newspaper of my hometown, describing the highlights of my high school. On my Facebook author page, I write and post a monthly short family story. It is nonfiction; however, my children have questioned some of the details…
One day, perhaps when I retire from my day job, I might try my hand at short thrillers or write a novel based on true story – I’ve started gathering information.

Of the two books you have had published, which would you most like adapting to see on screen? How would you adapt it?
I find this question amusing. When I finished the first draft of my first novel, Caught Between Worlds, I asked my youngest son to proofread it. I even bribed him; but when he saw the stack of papers I held, he said, “Mom, I’m sure it’s good, but I’ll wait and see it in the theatres.” – I told him not to hold his breath.
I have no idea how I’d adapt my story; however, I’d be willing to review the manuscript as suggested by the experts in that field. I’d also ask my son to be my date on opening night and he’d say, “I told you so.”

Tell us about an exciting, surprising or stressful aspect of the lead-up to or after your first book launch.
I stress over the unknown. Until the first book launch in 2016, my mind had a field day. I worried about everything, including the release blitz and reviews. I still do today, but at least I know what to expect. On this note, I enjoy hearing from readers, whether good or bad. I am after all a novice, and the feedback helps me improve.

Who is your writing hero/heroine (author)? Why?
Nora Roberts and Kathy Reichs. I love their characters and the stories. They make me laugh, they make me sad and they keep me interested.

What are you currently reading?
Your questions. 😉
Before I tackled the final round of edits for Trust Me, the last book I read was my own, Caught Between Worlds. I wanted to make sure my main characters had remained the same.

What is your latest project?
Book 3 of the series ‘A Moment in Time’. This one will be the story of Wendy, and I challenge you to guess who her happy ever after partner will be? 

What question have you always wished an interviewer had asked you? And, please answer it.
I have never given it any thought, but I’ll be creative:
Q: Which actor would you like to see as your main character?
A: A young Richard Gere. ❤

You can find Ms Gadbois at FacebookTwitter, and her publisher’s site


eBook Release: Vicki Arnott’s “The Crystal Bluebird”

cover_ARNOTT V_The Crystal Bluebird

While Mary was exploring the old house she and her family had inherited, she discovered a crystal necklace and an old book telling the story of a sad Queen trapped in her castle.

When she and her brother and sister drew pictures on the story map, they never dreamed they would soon be transported into the fantasy world of Brigitha, where their pictures had become real, and were causing problems! They were soon enlisted by a grumpy Queen’s Guardsman who insisted that they must undo the damage they had caused, and help to free the Queen.

This is a story for children aged ten and above. Teenagers and adults who enjoy fantasy adventure will also love this book.

Exclusive Excerpt…

Arthur raised his fist to knock on the door, but just as he did so, it swung open with a crash. Inside the doorway stood a short, plump woman wearing a pair of bright green dungarees over a bold floral print shirt. Her face was round and her cheeks were rosy pink. Her eyes were as bright and green as her dungarees and seemed to shoot sparks at Arthur. On her head a small cap perched precariously on top of a mass of curls which spilled in an orange riot around her face. She stood with her feet apart and her hands on her hips.

“So,” she shot at Arthur. “You’re finally back. Where is it that you’ve been all this time?”

Arthur straightened himself up to his full height, squared his shoulders and replied with quiet dignity. “I’ve been on the queen’s business, as you well know.”

The woman remained standing rigidly in the doorway. “The queen’s business! Sixty years, Arthur. You’ve been gone sixty years! You’re lucky I’m a resourceful woman, with plenty to do with my time, otherwise I might be pretty angry with you right now.” She glared at him fiercely, her right foot tapping.

Arthur cleared his throat.

“Wynda, I know. I’m sorry. I was trapped and there was no way to let you know what had happened. Let’s go inside and I will tell you all about it.” He turned to the children. He gave a slight bow and his voice became formal, “Allow me to introduce you to my wife, Wynda.”

ISBN eBook: ISBN: 9781311312785

Smashwords link
Click Logo to Buy


About Vicki Arnott

Born in Foxton, New Zealand, and raised in the Manawatu area,File 19-02-18, 3 30 46 PM
Vicki now lives in a rural community near Rotorua, in the Bay of Plenty, surrounded by views of Mt Tarawera, forest, and farm paddocks.

Vicki writes fantasy adventure and science fiction for early teens and young adults. Her love of writing began at primary school and she has always dreamed of becoming a writer. She got serious about her dream in 2015, when she reduced her hours of work as a school teacher to work on her first novel The Crystal Bluebird, a fantasy adventure for children and adults.

She is currently working on her second novel Children of the White Dragon, a science-fiction adventure, and her third novel, also science-fiction and as yet untitled.

Other genre that interest Vicki are romantic comedy and magical, heart-warming Christmas stories. She’d like to write screenplays in those genre, in addition to science fiction and fantasy.

Vicki’s goals include: get better at writing, continue to write and publish, write screenplays and be involved in the production of movies.

Her interests include walking, ceroc dancing and an occasional game of golf. She also likes painting and drama, and has organised many school productions in addition to her involvement in amateur theatre productions with the Rainbow Entertainers Drama club. She recently realised another dream when she planted her first rose garden.  She spends her spare time watching movies, and steals early-morning hours to read because she is so undisciplined when it comes to books, that once a book is started it doesn’t get put down until it’s finished.

Vicki can be found at this site



Gail W Olmsted – Author Interview

portrait Gail Ward OlmstedInterviewing Gail Olmsted, author of Second Guessing

  • What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
    • I love to read!! I enjoy contemporary romance, popular fiction, chick lit, mysteries and thrillers. My favorite authors are Dennis Lehane, Elin Hilderbrand, Michael Connelly and Harlan Coben. I honestly don’t pattern myself after any authors in particular, but after reading Claire Cook’s The Wildwater Walking Club several years ago, I remember thinking…I can write a book. I can finish this story that I’ve been telling myself for several years. And I did!
  • Tell us a little about all the books you have written so far…
    • My first book JEEP TOUR was self-published in 2014. It is the story of Jackie Sullivan and her search for a happy ever after. Recently divorced, she loses her job and after a chance meeting with a sexy tour guide, decides to start over among the red rocks of Sedona, AZ. The first time I travelled to Sedona on a family vacation, I remember thinking- ‘Wow, if you ever needed a do-over, this would be the place to do it.’ Jackie faces some bumps along the way but ultimately finds more than she ever dared to dream in her new life.
      Guessing at Normal was my second book published by Booktrope in 2015. Jill Griffin is working behind the front desk of a seedy motel when up and coming rocker James Sheridan and his band check in while on tour. There is an immediate connection between Jill and James and within a few weeks, she joins the tour. Building a ‘normal’ life together under the glare of the media is challenging and further complicated by constant touring, groupies, James’ partying and the mixed signals Jill gets from James’ twin brother Alex. When Jill’s poems and journal ramblings become the songs on James’ best-selling solo album, she has to step out of her comfort zone and figure out how to live her life in a spotlight all her own. As her professional success threatens her relationship with James, Jill questions whether she can make a living writing love songs without the love of her life.
      My third book Driving on the Left was published in 2016. I had never planned to write a sequel to JEEP TOUR. Shortly after it was released, my daughter and I took a trip to Ireland to celebrate her college graduation. For part of our trip, we took a guided tour off the beaten track with a small group of other tourists. When the topic of my book came up, our tour guide jokingly suggested that I write a sequel featuring a sexy Irish tour guide. My first thought was ‘no way’ but the idea took hold and soon I was writing Driving, a standalone novel featuring JT’s Jackie Sullivan as the mother of a young woman experiencing the joys and heartbreak of first love.
  • What do you think of your first book JEEP TOUR now?
    • I still love the story and the main characters very much. I think that everyone deserves a second, or even a third chance, at a happy life. When I was writing it, I really wasn’t sure till I was 2/3 of the way through before I figured out the ending- would Jackie be with Rick-the hot tour guide or Rob- the ex-husband who she still loved or someone new? Or would she be blissfully single? As soon as I knew how it had to end, the rest of the story just poured out. The ending rocks! That being said, I could easily go through the entire manuscript and tweak and edit like crazy. I’ve learned so much since I wrote JT.
  • Which was the most challenging to write; then again, which was the most fun to write?
    • Driving on the Left was the most challenging for me. It is told from two points of view- Jackie, a mature mom facing a crisis back home and her 21 year old daughter Becca who is deep in the throes of her first true love. Barbara, one of my wonderful betas, read the first draft and put me on the spot. She read me a passage from the manuscript and asked- who’s speaking- Jackie or Becca? I had to guess and I was wrong! It was a real wakeup call for me. I rewrote the entire book several times until I was certain that I had created two distinct characters, each with their own voice. I’ve received a good amount of positive feedback on the dual POV.
      Second Guessing was the most fun to write. I was thrilled to provide songwriter Jill Griffin with another chance at a happy ever after. I just adore her love interest Ben! He’s vacating his role as lead singer of a world famous boy band in search of a solo career and he’s got a secret from his past that he would prefer stays hidden. He’s perfect for Jill, but it takes her a little while to realize it for herself!
  • We’re featuring Second Guessing – may you explain how it relates to Guessing at Normal?
    • I wrote Second Guessing as a standalone novel, however Jill Griffin, the main charater, was first introduced in Guessing at Normal back in 2015. Jill is now a successful songwriter and single mom to a teenage daughter. She has just about given up hope for a love story of her own, when she meets Ben. He’s determined to win over Jill, but she’s got trust issues and wonders if Ben is just too good to be true!
  • What part/s of Second Guessing were the most delightful to write?
    • First off, let me say that I love Jill and was delighted to see her head over heels in love with pop star Ben, who is 14 years her junior. But naturally, there are complications in their path! Jill’s been burned by the media before and wants to keep their relationship a secret until after the tribute concert featuring her late husband’s platinum selling album. News that the ‘rock widow’ is involved with the young headliner of the charity event could negatively impact ticket sales and the future of the record label. On the personal front, Jill is fairly certain that her 18 year old daughter will be less than thrilled that her mom is sleeping with the former boy band singer that she had a major fan crush on just a few years earlier. Add in a crazed stalker fan and a tabloid journalist determined to expose their romance as well as secrets from Ben’s past and you’ve got a love story that may not be able to go the distance. I think readers will enjoy the snappy dialogue, plot twists and the sizzling chemistry between Jill and Ben!!

Readers can find out more on my website:
on my Amazon page:
by following me on Facebook
or Twitter @gwolmsted
or Instagram: gwolmsted
Plus, I can be reached at

“Must Love Fashion” – Author Interview

How long did it take from when you began writing your manuscript to the book launch?
Thanks, Lynne. This question has multiple answers. Must Love Fashion started out as another novel. It took about one year to get that version of the story written. This is where the story gets a little interesting and juicy. I’d been working with an agent for a women’s fiction novel and when that didn’t get picked up, she encouraged me to write a romance novel. I’d had very little experience with reading romances and the ones I had read were ‘historicals’. But I had the idea of a woman with health challenges who meets and falls for a man just getting over the loss of his wife. I took that idea, came up with a title (Not Must Love Fashion) and a setting. I thought so long as I had an HEA (Happy Ever After), I was set.
I was very wrong and didn’t realize it until I shot it off to the agent. She got back to me a few weeks later with a blistering harsh rejection. After I’d gotten over the initial shock and depression of that (three weeks), I realized I had wasted an entire year. I had been working full time as an in-house interior designer for a large senior living franchise, traveling a lot and was under an enormous amount of stress. So each night I would drown myself in a glass (or two) of wine, eat dinner and then try to write. What could go wrong there?
To make this long story short, I sent the rejected manuscript to a published author I know through one of my writing groups. She got back to me with several suggested changes and a lot of compliments. In short, she felt the story had merit and told me not to give up. I had a new manuscript written in four months. I’d also made the decision to leave my full time job. I’m getting started a little later in life and didn’t have years to make this happen. The time was now!

 What are you currently reading?
After I had submitted Must Love Fashion to publishers, I had decided to pick up another novel I started writing a while back. A vampire romance. One would think when as a writer you have the license to create a world in which anything your heart desires can land on the page it’s easy…it’s not. With great power comes great responsibility. And stress. I hadn’t ever been a ‘huge’ vampire fan. My first bite (no pun) was the Twilight books. And then the Sookie Stackhouse novels, by Charlaine Harris. Those books however are not traditional ‘romance’ novels.
And when trying to swim in the ‘romance’ end of the pool, there are rules. I had to find a few other vampire ‘romances’ for inspiration and guidance. I stumbled upon a book called Vampires Are Forever by Lynsay Sands. It’s part of her Argeneau series. The book helped in that while I was going off in all different directions trying to make my vampires unique with a host (no pun) of various qualities, Sands’ Argeneau vampires (Immortals, as they prefer to be called) were very simple. And that made them elegant. By following her lead, it helped my story not get bogged down in scientific hog-wash and allowed me to really concentrate on the love story between the two main characters.
As it turns out that Argeneau book was the 8th in the series of now 26 books! And I’m hooked. Reading them all.

What is your latest project?.
In Must Love Fashion we meet Gwen’s siblings, Greg Mallory, a police officer and Skye Mallory, an attorney. I had actually intended to write Skye’s story next. Even had the first chapters written. But the more I worked on MLF, I grew excited to tell Greg’s story more. So poor Skye got bumped.
There are plenty of ‘runaway bride’ stories out there. But the stories usually follow an arc where the bride finds new love with someone else. And usually the jilted groom is portrayed as a jerk and the villain.
But I had the idea…what if he’s not a jerk? What if he really is the good guy and what if the runaway bride came back! In MLF, we get a glimpse of what Greg has gone through and how it’s affected him. And at the end of MLF, we meet Faith (the runaway bride) and find out she’s back in Darling Cove!
The heart of Must Have Faith is ‘why did Faith really leave?’ She told Greg why two days before the wedding, but Faith really left for another reason.

I so loved writing this book. Because of what I’d gone through to get Must Love Fashion complete, with all the changes (including even character name changes from ancient drafts), I knew Greg and Faith inside and out from the start. Greg was so much fun to write. A handsome brooding police officer. Alpha male personified. But the man has a heart of gold and he was wounded.
Can Faith repair his heart and redeem herself? Readers will have to wait to find out.

 Was Must Love Fashion the first novel you’d written?
No. While Must Love Fashion is my debut published novel, the first novel I’d written and completed and submitted was a Women’s Fiction novel called Forty Times Platinum.
It was August of 2010 and I’d just finished another failed round of IVF treatments. My husband worked nights and I was probably lonely and depressed. I became quietly obsessed with a singer. Sitting on my laptop at night, I scoured the internet for news about him, concerts and listened to his music for comfort.
I came across a photo of him and an attractive older woman. Hey Now! Upon researching her, I learned she was a music executive who’d written a song for him. But in real life there wasn’t anything romantic between them. But what if there was? And so the idea for Forty Times Platinum was born.
That night, I wrote what became the fourth chapter in the book. And I kept going. A year and a half later, I hit 230,000 words and I thought to myself… this might be too long. Ha Ha. (The average manuscript is about 85-90K) I spent another six months breaking the story into two parts. But it didn’t split evenly. So I had to revise Book One and Book Two. I was writing them together.
When Book One was about 130,000 words, I decided to start showing it to people. And based on the feedback, I felt I’d had something I could do ‘something’ with. It took another year which included the reality check that it needed to cut even further, but I submitted it to agents and signed with one. Unfortunately, the book didn’t get picked up. And that agent was the same one who harshly criticized what became Must Love Fashion, which btw, I submitted to publishers myself and received a total of four offers.
I plan to take FTP and its sequel and try to get that published on my own next year. My dance card for 2017 is full!

 Name and explain two books which inspired you to write in the romance genre?
This is an exciting question to answer. I hadn’t been a big romance fan until several years ago. I suffered from the typical snobbery of the perception of what these books were really about; unrealistic, bodice-rippers, sugary, all that. A friend of mine who primarily reads women’s fiction had mentioned a book series called The Bride Quartet, by Nora Roberts. I have to admit, those books completely dispelled my myths. Of course, I’ve read a few since then that completely enforce those myths. But there are a lot of people on this planet and no two people like the same thing.
But those Bridal books were a bridge I could cross with my women’s fiction ideas and transform them into realistic, relatable happy ever after tales.
Once I started reading romance, I couldn’t stop. For a while, I was sneaking off to Barnes and Noble and gobbling up several a week. The books I had been drawn to however were mostly historicals. Johanna Lindsey’s Malory books drew me in big time. (It’s just a coincidence that my Darling Cove family has the same- but I spelled it Mallory).
When I attend conventions and listen to Keynotes and other speakers, everyone has that one book that not only drew them in, but anchored them to romance. My book was Seven Years to Sin by Sylvia Day. That book has never seen my bookshelf. I haven’t put it away. While struggling to make edits to Forty Times Platinum based on a proofreader’s comments, I dug through Seven Years to understand what the editor was talking about. Seven Years taught me how to write romance. It opened me up to the elegant way to craft a scene, build it and show…SHOW emotions not just tell the reader about them. And if I can offer one more book to this list which is my current emotional bible, it’s Jennifer Gracen’s third Harrisons Series book, Tis the Season. The emotional punches in that book still have me catching my breath. I’m lucky enough to know Jennifer (she’s a member of my local RWA writing chapter) and I was so glad to be able to tell her how her writing made me feel.
I just hope one day, I can do the same for someone.

Lynne, thank you so much for the opportunity to tell you about myself and my debut novel MUST LOVE FASHION published and available to readers everywhere.

Here’s an Excerpt from Must Love Fashion:

“Sometimes you don’t realize what a hole you have in your life until someone fills it.”

Annoyed, Gwen roughly draped her scarf around her neck and put on her coat. But those frayed edges once again caught on one of her charm bracelets. “Son of a…” Her free hand reached up to loosen the scarf from her neck before it strangled her. But it snagged on the clasp of her necklace and twisted; trapping her as if she were in a straitjacket. “Are you kidding me?” she growled.
Furiously, she shrugged out of the coat, sending it flying across the office.

“Excuse me.” A deep gravelly voice drifted in from the doorway.

Gwen swung around and locked eyes with the most devastatingly handsome man she’d ever seen. Andrew! “Oh hi!” She held up her hand revealing the tangled mess she’d made of herself.

“Looks like you’ve gotten yourself tied up there.” Andrew put down his bag and moved toward her with powerful long legs covered in what she knew had to be a pair of Prada dress slacks. In an instant, he was touching her hand and…her neck. “What’s caught on what here?”

“I can do it.” She backed away. It was startling to be so close to him. That photo did not do this man justice. He was even more stunning in person. He was so tall and broad. Heat radiated from his body; removing the chill that clung to her all week from the drafty window.

“I think you’ve done enough.” Andrew snagged her wrist again. His commanding hold made her feel like Lois Lane when Superman rose up, caught her and said, I’ve got you.

Author Bio:


Deborah Garland.png
Click for website

Deborah Garland is a former computer and sports journalist, turned romance and women’s fiction author. She likes to write about love and the struggles of complicated relationships. Her heroines are strong, and the heroes fall hard for them. She lives on the North Shore of Long Island with her husband and when she’s not writing, she’s either in the gym, or reading, cuddled up with their two pugs, Zoe and Harley.


Author Links:
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Hounds of the Underworld- authors’ interview

Aren’t writers supposed to be solitary?

cover_Hounds of the Underworld
Cover designed by Daniele Serra


  • Dan Rabarts: That’s just a myth we like to maintain so we don’t have to invite anyone to our parties. Writers are actually about as social as spider monkeys, and we like to do many of the same things when we’re together: eat our bananas upside-down, groom each other for tasty insects, that sort of thing. But we keep this top secret because if everyone knew, everyone would want to be writers and come to our parties.
  • Lee Murray: It’s not exactly a party! There’s definitely a myth circulating that writing is a solitary occupation, and yet I don’t know any successful writer who works entirely in isolation, even those not writing in collaboration. Obviously, there are times when you have to glue your bottom to the chair, put your head down, and churn out the words, but most writers will contact experts to support their work, send early drafts out to a critique group or writing buddy, and then, when draft is completed, beta-readers and editors move in, all of whom contribute to the work in different ways. As far as I can tell, writing a novel is always a collaborative process.

How did you come to collaborate with each other?

  • Dan: A little book called Baby Teeth kicked it all off. I had a crazy idea and got some people on board and realised I’d bitten off more than I could chew, no pun intended. Lee stepped up to help pull it all together.
  • Lee: I think with Baby Teeth – a charity project ‒ the way the anthology came together was atypical, with stories coming in from both established and emerging writers, so from an editing perspective, it was always going to be a challenge. Professionally, Dan and I brought different skill sets to the table and we tried to make it fun and not too intimidating for the newbies. Ask any of the writers: it was like a comedy routine going on in the margins, the pair of us battling it out, trying to find the best way to polish the text. On the way we both learned some new techniques, which we carried over into our individual projects. By the time Baby Teeth went on to win the Australian Shadows and Sir Julius Vogel awards it was clear the partnership was something we should explore further. I threw it out there, and Dan said, why not? But ours is more than just a professional arrangement. On a personal level, we clicked from the get-go. We’re friends: I love Dan’s sense of humour, his can-do attitude, and his wonderfully weird and twisted way of thinking. And the great thing is, our families get on too ‒ we both have incredibly supportive long-suffering spouses ‒ so when we can, we get our kids together, crack open a few drinks, and fire up the BBQ. It’s not all work.

How did you split the collaboration process – decide who contributed what?

  • Lee: Hounds of the Underworld is a he-said she-said narrative, with me writing the science consultant Penny Yee, and Dan writing her ex-con brother, Matiu. So while we each contribute to the development of the other characters, it’s as if we have ownership of those particular story threads. In terms of process, the Dan and Lee approach is an odd mixture of planning and ‘pantsting’, with doses of affectionate squabbling. In fact, the sensible big sister and subversive little brother roles of Penny and Matiu apply to our writing process too, where I am the big sister who knows best and Dan has the crazy go-off-on-a-tangent ideas. Broadly speaking, we have an idea of where we want the story arc to go, but I never quite know what to expect when I open Dan’s latest section, exactly where he’ll have taken a scene. Down some dark alleyway, usually! Working with Dan definitely means taking the story to another dimension.
  • Dan: Yip, we manage to keep this balance of driving the narrative forward in our own ways: Lee with solid research and plausibility, and me with random unexplained explosions. But we frequently sit down during the process and make sure that, at least to some extent, we’re working towards the same goal. The push-pull dynamic that Penny and Matiu share to get their results isn’t that far removed from our collaborative process.

Tell us about the most {worrying / enjoyable} part of collaborating?

  • Dan: Worrying? There’s always the risk that one of us will be abducted by aliens or otherwise removed from the process, and the one that’s left will have to not only pretend to be the other writer, mimic their style, fall into their ideas, take ownership of plot points we’ve deliberately maintained some distance from, but also knowing we’d have to maintain the other person’s social media profiles until the aliens release them back into the wild. All those hashtags. So many hashtags.
  • Lee: {rolls her eyes} Lynne, please don’t get him started. I’m going to open up the next section of the sequel and find it has aliens in it now, aren’t I? The downside is that people assume we must be married! No, I think the biggest worry is that our lives keep getting in the way. Family. Work. We’ve learned to be flexible.
  • Dan But enjoyable? That’s the magic of it. It’s having an idea which is only half-formed, and bandying it around with someone excited and committed to the project, invested in the world and the characters. Lee will bring something new to that misshapen idea, an unexpected twist that gives it direction and completion, and you have this synergy going on that leads to cool things happening, taking form on the page. Whole is greater than the sum of the parts, sort of thing.
  • Lee: The thing I like is that I only have to write half the book. Actually, collaborating ends up being more work than writing on your own, but being a ponderously slow writer myself, sharing the work helps me with the word-count head games!

With which other writers would you / have you collaborate/d? Tell us about that…

  • Dan: We’ve both collaborated with other writers, and produced some fairly cool works as a result. I’m part of a writing band called Cerberus, which comprises myself, Grant Stone and Matthew Sanborn Smith, and one of our stories, Dada, has appeared in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. We produce some extremely weird fiction. But my favourite collaboration outside of the Rabarts/Murray workload right now is a little story called “The People Machines”, which my ten-year-old son and I are writing at bedtime. It’s a story about two boys who get the power to turn into any machine they can imagine, just in time to protect the world from the evil, machine-eating Corlocks. Fart jokes and witty puns abound.
  • Lee: I have a collaborative YA novella, Mika, with YA specialist, Piper Mejia. We’d already worked together on a number of student anthologies, and when I moved to Wellington, the project gave us a reason to talk every week. With Mika, a Kiwi version of the Wizard of Oz, we wrote alternating chapters and then ‘smoothed’ the final text, so it reads like a single writer. I also have a couple of picture books out on submission, both collaborations with Eileen Mueller. But like I said earlier, all writing involves an element of collaboration.



Tell us what fun and games went into the cover design…

  • Lee: It’s gorgeous, isn’t it? It’s by Italian artist, Daniele Serra. In terms of fun and games, there weren’t any: we sent in some ideas, just concepts really, and it came back perfectly formed.

What’s your favourite way to meet your readers ‒ at book signings, conventions, or other events – and why?

  • Dan: Book launches, for sure. Because that means they might be buying a book. Yay! (Buy books, people. We love you when you buy books.) But otherwise, pretty much anywhere. Bars are good. Personally, I like those impromptu gatherings of a dozen people dropping in on an unsuspecting restaurant downtown somewhere to chinwag and press the flesh and talk books and writing and the deplorable state of American politics while comparing craft beers. Good times.
  • Lee: Any time you meet someone who likes your story. Online. At a launch. Conventions. Anywhere. There’s nothing more uplifting than to know you’ve inspired a reader. I walked into the supermarket once, and a woman came running over to me and said, “You’re that writer lady, aren’t you? You’re doing so well.” That was pretty special.

Red: Thanks, Dan and Lee for the distance interview


Hound of the Underworld can be purchased at
publishers {click the logo to go and buy}



Harvest Moon Authors Tell…

… About Their Enthusiasm for Writing, after harvest-moon-cover-reveal
contributing to Love Under the Harvest Moon.

Tom Hodden:
Defining enthusiasm is never easy. It is elusive and changes for each project. Sometimes it is as simple as not finding the book you want to read and realising you will have to create it yourself. Other times it is a way of weaving a picture, a piece of art that would not work on any other medium. Most often for me, writing is giving voice to the swirling maelstrom of ideas and images that are burbling away in my head, looking for a form to be given. Yes, I know how pompous and grand that sounds for somebody who writes little love stories. But it is how it feels at times. When you have the idea for characters, and story, for the piece you are writing you are fitting the splinters of a puzzle together, or layering textures and colours upon each other until, if you are lucky, it all sort of fits together. Of course we should also remember it is also fun. Very few writers would ever consider themselves the prose equivalent of a great composer, writing symphonies or concertos. They are garage bands, experimenting with guitars and drums, building up their songs, but looking to relax, express themselves and jam with others. We might all dream of a hit, but the driving force of our enthusiasm will often be those we bounce ideas of, and joke around with.

Nemma Woolenfang:
In the last few years, writing has become something of an addiction. Like many before, I caught ‘the bug’. It’s simply too hard not to write when ideas keep popping into your head!

Clockwork Evangeline was my first publication success, a steampunk short which won a competition. Now, several years on, my work has appeared in several venues, including: Flame Tree (Science Fiction Short Stories and Murder Mayhem), RIP (A Bleak New World), Corazon Books (Come Into the House), Mantid Magazine (Summer 2016 Issue), Romance Magazine (Vol. 04 No. 02), and Roane Publishing (Masked Hearts as well as Under the Harvest Moon). It’s been a delight not only to work with such great publishers but to get to know other talented writers on the ToCs and connect with the larger writing community. Since meeting new authors and reading their work, my tastes have broadened significantly. Now, I’ve become quite a fan of short fiction.

The genres I write in are rather broad… speculative fiction pretty much covers it. Fantasy, historical, and science-fiction mostly… Always, though, I like that romantic element. And sometimes, these genres crossover quite naturally, for example, I’m currently working on a historical science-fiction novel set in an alternative version of Victorian-era London, which recently won a competition.
For anyone who’s interested, you can find my work on Amazon and Goodreads.

Patricia Crisafulli
I have written stories all my life.  As a young child, I told myself stories for entertainment, to pass the time, and for comfort. Over the years, my love of writing has taken me in many different directions—as a news reporter and feature writer, and then publication of my first book, Remembering Mother, Finding Myself (published under the name Patricia Commins), written for adult daughters whose mothers have died, helping them to understand their mothers as the women who came before them.  I’ve also written books on business, economics, and leadership—as well as in the creative vein, with the founding of, an e-literary magazine, and a volume of short stories and short essays entitled Inspired Every Day, published by Hallmark.

What all these diverse experiences have in common is using the written word to explore the world around me. A story is the best way I know to interpret and understand, discovering deeper meaning and lessons hidden in even the most ordinary circumstances and relationships.

Claire Devon:
When I was younger I would write my version of fan fic. One of my fondest memories is when a friend and I took up the pen to write our fan fic version of General Hospital. Unfortunately, those notebooks were lost in one of our family moves, but the passion lives on. That’s the fun of writing. At any time, I can grab a story left untold and recast it and plot it as I would like to have seen it done.

I enjoy writing because even when things are the darkest, when my characters are being put through the mill I know how it’s going to turn out. I know that there will be a way out of the situation, whatever they are in, and that they will find their way back to each other. So I get to cast these situations with glee, knowing that they will be okay. It isn’t so easy with life, but with art I can always be sure of a happy ending. What is better than that?

Laura Lamoreaux / T.L. French:
As a working partnership, writing strikes both of us very differently.  For Laura, it’s all about the craft.  Finding the perfect words to convey the idea on the page.  The process of making something beautiful, brilliant and new is what she loves. Just the act of getting the words down on the page is a reward in and of itself for her.

As the other half of this crazy ride, my (T.L. French) passion is for telling the stories that are constantly swimming around in my head. It’s the process of discovering who the characters are and what makes them tick that drives me to discover the next story. I find the motivations of characters endlessly fascinating.

What really makes our partnership work however, is the opportunities to collaborate.  There is something magical about being able to bounce these ideas off of each other.  The joy of asking “what if…”  We could literally sit and talk for hours about these people that exist only in our heads–but for us, their stories are waiting to be told.

Love Under the Harvest Moon,
released 18th November 2016 by
Roane Black on White
is available at Roane’s site (click logo)
which lists other outlets.





Masked Hearts – Authors’ Interviews

Masked Hearts – Authors’ Interviews

I worked with all five authors who wrote for Masked Hearts,
2016-03-16_Masked Hearts Cover Revealand through our emails bouncing back-and-forth fell in love with their talented works. Each is so individual, even under the umbrella of the titular theme, I could not settle on any single question to do justice to each author and her story.

So instead of asking the same one or two questions of all the authors, I sent out a list and said “Pick any three”. Here you’ll gain an insight into each author, revealed by their choice of questions as well as the answers given.

Thank you, all…

Dana Wright — Affinity

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? (If you write more than one… How do you balance them?)
    I do write in more than one genre and to be honest it is a challenge to keep them balanced. Under another pen name, I write erotic romance and since things have taken off it has been a crunch to keep up with my day job and both writing styles.
    As to the why…I believe people are more than one sided. I love to watch different kinds of movies and read all sorts of books. It makes sense to me that I write romance, horror, YA and erotic romance because I love to do it. You might even occasionally find me writing a picture book or poetry. Words are fun.
  2. How do you feel about e-books vs. print books?
    That’s a good question. E-books have opened up an entirely new world to both authors and readers. I work in a bookstore, so I see both sides of the coin. As a multi-published author, e-books have helped me achieve a dream.
    But there is a certain type of reader who will only pick up physical books in a bookstore and will never embrace digital media. It can be a challenge to harness both, but that is my goal. I will continue to work on my digital material but I also have goals to get my books into bookstores.
  3. You’ve already done interviews…:What question do you wish someone would ask about your book, but nobody has? “Oh wow. I think I would love for someone to ask for a longer novel based on the story in the book. “
    3a And…your answer?
    I loved it [the story], so the answer would be ‘yes’.

Claire Devon — Water Woman:

  1. How do you feel about e-books vs. print books?
    As a hybrid author with Kindle on my phone, I appreciate the ease of e-books.
    As a person of “a certain age” who enjoys the visceral feel of a book, I prefer paperbacks. There is room for both and both have merit. It’s easier to lend your paperback around to others (if you can bear to let it out of your sight).
  2. Of all the books or shorts you have written, which would you most like to see adapted for the screen?
    Without question, the first in my Elementals’ Challenge series called “Fire Danger.”
    2a How would you adapt it?
    It would not be hard, since it is set in today’s world with an overlay of the paranormal, and the FX are already there for flying people, fire beings, dragons and other creatures. The challenge would be in properly capturing the love story between the two main characters, while still imparting the sense of danger that the world building creates in the book.
  3. You’ve done many interviews…What question do you wish someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?
    “Why did you choose the location you chose for “Water Woman?” What made you choose the types of creatures you chose instead of wolves/vampires, etc.?”
    3a And…the answer?
    I noticed about a year ago I was keeping in my comfort zone about certain locations. I also have seen a tendency for the same sort of paranormal types to surface again and again in our literature. It is a big world out there with many types of interesting beings and I wanted to tackle those. That’s why you’ll see paranormals in my work which you’re less likely to see in others. I hope the reader likes what I’m trying to do.

Sharon Hughson — Duty Or Desire

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? (If you write more than one… How do you balance them?)
    I have published works of women’s fiction, sweet romance, young adult fantasy, non-fiction Bible studies and devotionals, and now fantasy romance (as well as poetry). My preferred genre is young adult fantasy, but writing romance comes naturally to me since that is what I read the most of for YEARS.
    As for balancing all these…I’m still working on that. At the moment, I try to focus my novel writing skills on young adult fantasy since it’s where I want to be.
  2. Of all the books or shorts you’ve written, which would you prefer a reader to read first, in order to “get” you and your style?
    I think the story “The Demon Was Me” (coming out in October in Month9Book’s In The Beginning anthology) is where I would love readers to start. It is my only published young adult story. It is a dark biblical retelling I set in a dystopian world. Readers can see what I want to accomplish with my written words through this story.
  3. You’ve done many interviews…What question do you wish someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?
    “Isn’t fiction all about entertainment? Why do you choose to entertain rather than educate?”
    3aAnd…the answer?
    As an educator, I realize that the best way to teach someone is to get them having fun first. Do I hope my stories entertain readers? Yes. But I also hope they will see the deeper messages embedded in the theme and subtext. In the case of “Duty or Desire,” one of my themes states we give one of these two things top billing – duty for me since I was taught to finish the work first before I could play. However, true contentment is a balance of both, although perhaps not in equal measure. All of my stories have more than one subliminal message.

Sheryl Winters — Feather Fall

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
    The story chooses me. First comes the vision, the images of certain characters. These “people,” could be swimming or dancing or just talking over coffee. My job is to find out why they are doing what they are doing, then the story begins to evolve and the story becomes a lovely Jigsaw puzzle. One piece leads to the other until I wake up and find I’ve “fallen in love,” with my story.
  2. How do you feel about e-books vs. print books?
    I love both. E-books are very nice when I’m at work at lunch. I can never settle to just one before I leave the house. Having a handful of books to read at any time, say the airport, the hospital, stuck at work during my lunch hour is an awesome feeling.
    However, some books, usually Fantasy with a touch of Dragons, I want in print. I want to sniff the pages and feel the weight in my hands as I flip through the pages.
  3. You’ve done many interviews…What question do you wish someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?
    “If you could meet any one of your characters who would you meet and why?”
    3a And…the answer?
    I would love to meet one of the Ra’von or Draven from Skydreamer, one of the seriously good-looking males from Skydreamer. Prince Ra’von, in particular, would be fun to interview. After all, he’s not only seriously good looking but is the most gentle-hearted man. He’s also a dragon-shifter, and I’d like to know a few things about them. Do they enjoy killing griffons or is it more of a cultural thing? When they are flying, what keeps them up? Magic, wing power, wind velocity, etc.. So many questions that I know he has the answer to.

Nemma Wollenfang — Dragon Law

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? (If you write more than one how do you balance them?)
    I write in several genres: fantasy, historical, dystopian, sci-fi… I find it isn’t a choice as such, the story leads you into those different fields like a dog pulling on a leash. Always though, I like to have a romantic element. Sometimes it is a bit of a balancing act when moving between works and I have to take care not to slip from one style into another. Reading the same genre before starting to write can help set my mind on the right track. Sometimes, though, they cross-over quite naturally, for example, I’m currently working on a historical sci-fi set in an alternative version of Victorian-era London.
  2. How do you feel about e-books vs. print books?
    I’ve always been a print book fan. I like to feel the pages, have my own personal copy, and have books stacked around me. It’s a comfort thing. And when I settle down with a paperback there’s no temptation to flick onto the internet, I can cut the world out and focus only on the book.
    But at the same time I’ve read, and become completely engrossed with, a lot of fantastic fiction that’s only available online or in e-book format. So I think e-books have made fiction much more accessible — but I will always love print books.
  3. What question do you wish someone would ask about your book, but nobody has? “Writers often have to contend with distractions – what are your worst?”
    3a. And…the answer?
    My worst distraction is cats. I volunteer at a local cat rescue and I’ve adopted several of the adorable little monsters. I get nipped, kicked and patted while trying to write, until I relent and pay attention. Several times after leaving my computer I’ve returned to find sudden… additions… to works-in-progress. Always illegible. They can be a BIG distraction, yes, but they can be an inspiration too. It’s been while I’ve been working at the rescue that I’ve had some of my biggest ‘Eureka!’ moments with stories. Several of their names might have also slipped into my fiction too…

Siobhàn Foster – interviewed

So You Think You Knw Me                    Leprechauns Made Me Write This

I interviewed Siobhàn, author of So You Think You Know Me? and The Leprechaun Made Me Write This at her double book launch in Rotorua, New Zealand, on 12th March 2015
(Yes, ‘way back then! Sorry, Siobhan)

  • In your autobiographic So you Think You Know Me, you FOSTER_Siobhàn.jpgmention times in your life when relationships within your family, when a child, weren’t the best. Of all those incidents and accidents, which left the most deeply ingrained pain?
    The moment when, at age three, I was watching my mum bent at the small closed fireplace poking at the ashes to make them drop through the grate, and although I wanted to go to her and hug her, some part of me was analysing the situation, and I realised that if I did, the hug would not only be unwelcome, but I would be asked to explain why I’d done it. Even at that young age, I was aware of my mother’s cold side.
    Another thing which hurt me deeply – my mother saying to me “I’d rather you’d come home and told me you had cancer than be coming home and telling you’re pregnant.” That was really cutting.
  • You travelled extensively – France, Australia and stops off on the way back to Ireland. Was that travelling a running away from your problematic past or running to a more hopeful future?
    …Neither, really. I moved around on whims of the moment, but always hoping for a discovery of why I was as miserable as I was, and for some change for the better.
    Running for an answer?
    Yes, looking for anything to help me learn about my past
  • Why did a young woman writer come from Ireland to New Zealand?
    I came here [years ago] for three weeks, to visit a friend in the South Island. I toured around, looking at the landscape and thinking “I could live here”. I went back to Ireland for some years, then one day I thought “I’m off to New Zealand.” That was ten years ago, and…today I just received my New Zealand citizenship
  • Congratulations, Siobhan . How important to you as an ex-Pat (excuse the almost pun) is St Patrick’s Day?
    …It’s not really something important to me, I mean, I don’t look at it as an excuse to go drinking. I may have a drink, but only if I want a drink, not because of the day
  • Best surroundings and atmosphere to write?
    No special place or time. I write in the moments when I am free and feel like writing
  • Favourite genre/style of music?
    Something with a rhythm, a beat; some traditional music; I like the Corrs
  • Favourite childhood prank?
    I never often pulled pranks. Though there was one time, in our first year at secondary school, when we were all given lockers. One boy stepped into his, and I slipped the bolt down and wandered around the corner. Never said a word, just left him. I came back after a time and pulled up the bolt quietly. When he tried to get out again, and it opened, he came out without any fuss, but so puzzled
  • Other books of yours?
    Silver Lining” published 11 October 2012, and  “Laugh Out Loud” published 11 Dec 2012
Siobhan as Leprechaun

After the interview, people began arriving for the launch. The venue soon became too small for the crowd – chairs were in the entry and just outside the door. We listened and laughed to Siobhan’s (in her leprechaun costume) jokes. As I was sitting close to the door, I realised some people were walking away, as from among the crowd outside the door they could neither see nor hear Siobhan.  I’d monopolised her for the duration of the interview, and had both the books now, so I came away so one more could enter the room for a full experience.
I decided to go to the Irish pub, Pig and Whistle, before summoning my ride; for where else could one go to read a book of Irish jokes, only five days out from Saint Patrick’s Day?

Rediscovered Interview, 2013, Stuart MacBride

“Rediscovered” as the USB to which it was originally transferred somehow became corrupted. Amazing what (at last) a recovery app can do! The interview with Mr MacBride was arranged via Booksellers NZ, who supply me with my crime, chiller, thriller, murder, mystery, and mayhem reading for reviews.

30th August, Auckland, NZ
(Transcript of recording made over tea at a roadside café; breaks caused by traffic noise, delivery vehicles’ engines, and cutlery clatter)

Red: What triggered your first realization that writing was your call?
STUART: I’m one of these guys who writes his first novel at age four, …and I had a couple of friends when I was in my mid-twenties who were writing fantasy novels .. But …[that wasn’t for me]. I began to write a crime novel, but I started… Yeah, I know, it was pretty…

Red: Have you tried  the fantasy genre yourself?
STUART: I’d love to. I used to love fantasy when I was growing up …   [I was with] Russell Kirkpatrick  last time I was here touring South Island. I’m touring around North Island, and we’ve been discussing how fantasy novels of some kind come together, in the car, and I’d love to – I ‘d love to have a go.

Red: You’ve always enjoyed writing crime?
STUART: I’ve always read crime.

Red: I’ve loved Close to the Bone…:
UART: Ooh, thank you. Now, this could’ve been the awkward part where you’d said “I hate your books!” [laughs]” We’ll carry on anyway, shall we?

Red: … when I’d reviewed it for Booksellers, they asked me to interview you and I had to say “Well, I can’t really interview him when I’ve only read one book,” so they sent me a few. I’m halfway through, and I love them. I love D.I. Steele – she is such a … She makes me laugh.
STUART: She’s unusual, isn’t she? She’s one of the people you either love or hate. I do sometimes get emails saying ‘Retire her. I never want another word about this woman ever, just get rid of D I Steele, please’.

Red: But who could you replace her with? You’d have to write in a strong character.
STUART: The thing is, I think I could probably kill off Logan if I keep writing the series, but I don’t think I could kill off Roberta Steele, and still have the same… It just wouldn’t work.

Red: No – the interactions among the teams …
STUART: I could do “D. I. Rennie Investigates”, that would be fine, but not, not D. I. Steele.

Red: How do you get inside the heads of your ‘villains’? Do you have a ‘dark side’ and never let on?
STUART: Oh, everybody does. Now, I’m a big believer that there’s no such thing as an evil person, there are just people who do evil things And, we all have that [just lurking] inside us. Just, to me, it requires justification. You, know, you can do anything if you can justify it to yourself. So, if someone kidnapped your son, for example, and was going to kill him, and someone else who was part of the gang knew where he was, how far would you go to get that information out of that guy?

Red: I  understand that. The Israeli Army recognizes women as more ferocious than men in defending family and home…
STUART: Well, in modern times. Back in ancient times Celtic warriors were quite often women. But, that’s what it is – it’s just finding that bit of humanity inside the darkest character, and just showing to people, it has to make sense to them. And, say, it doesn’t matter if they’re a cannibal, or…

Red: Someone like Roadkill? [laughs] He made me laugh.
STUART: You cruel person! [indignant, but grinning] A poor damaged individual …

Red: I laughed at the situation, imagining all these weird houses, all stacked with road kill, thinking ‘Oh, God, that pitiful clean-up crew…”
STUART: Well, everybody has to have a hobby.

 Red: What would it take to have Logan McRae take a trip outside of Scotland?
STUART: Well he has, he has; in “Blind Eye” he takes a trip to Poland. He flies into Warsaw, takes the train to Krakof, and has a little adventure there, and then comes back to Aberdeen.

Red: And have you yet fulfilled your promise to set a novel in Aberdeen in summer?
STUART: I have, I have indeed. And the book, set in the height of summer, and I got So Bored of – [in monotone]-  ‘The sun was shining and it was lovely and -‘ oh, for goodness’ sake; who cares? Rain! Please! So I had to put in a big thunderstorm. Awh! Oh, that feels much better, yes, now I think I can get on with the story now. ‘Cause I like the rain – I love the rain.

Red: When you’re writing, what comes to you first- the plot? Or the villain?
STUART: Oh, sometimes I don’t know who the villain’s going to be until … even more than halfway through the book. Sometimes even right from the beginning. I don’t write… Ah, this’ll be complicated. I don’t really write in a straight line, but I do … I start at the beginning and I go through to the end, but if I get to chapter three and decide something would be better, I’ll go back to chapter two and fiddle with stuff and have a go. I’m always bouncing – like a bungy cord, going up and down, up and down, up and down, so I can be three quarters of the way through the book and I’ll go ” Oh, I know! that would be much better” and I’ll go back to chapter three and make changes there, and work backwards and forward until it all makes sense.

Red: Are you a “Planner” in any way, a time-line or ..?
STUART: Well, sometimes I do Mind-maps, which are something similar, but more like word association, and I’ll fill my whiteboard with that and then start writing. But it means I’m not entirely certain of what the scene’s meant to be, just that I have a rough idea of who’s doing what. Sometimes. Maybe. But I’m one of these writers that, if I start and something shiny takes my attention, I’ll go off on a tangent from the plan, and then the whole plan will have to change because of the new place I’m in. There’s no “Oh, let’s go back to the plan!” It’s “No, let’s just see what happens if we go from here.”

Red: How do you keep McRae fans keen for more?
STUART: I have no idea. Absolutely no idea.

Red: It’s just the adoration of the character?
STUART: Well, hopefully it’s just that they can connect with him, and like the world, but I don’t sit down and think “Hhm, what would the fans like?” I sit down and think “How am I going to make this story work and make sense?”

Red: I’ve read them in the order of eight, one, two, three, –
STUART: Oh, the dirty one …

Red: ( To self: ‘Huh?!’) … then five, and I’ve wanted to know: right from the first there’s a pre-story. Are you ever going to write book zero?
STUART: No, I don’t think I need to because – mmm –

Red: Enough’s been [covered] through the other books?
STUART: Over the first four books, you get enough to tell what happened. I’m not a fan of back stories.: I don’t like the books where you get “And now, previously, on Logan McRae…”

Red: [laughing] Sounding like a soap opera?
STUART: Well, exactly! You get two characters saying :
“Do you remember what happened last year, John?”
“Yes, I do, Philip. When the serial killer came and killed my brother.”
“Yes, he did do that, didn’t he John.”
My God! If it’s not… If it doesn’t matter for the story, I [as a reader] don’t want to know about it, and if it isn’t important then I want it to come out through the characters, how they act.

Red: [teasing] But wouldn’t it make a marvellous competition for your fans to–
STUART: No –no–God, no!

Red: –write book zero?
STUART: No, we’re not doing that!

Red: Not even if ‘Stuart will not be the judge’ [mutual laughter]?
STUART: No, we’ll get the lawyers! [chuckles]

Red: You’ve broken away from the series and given us a few stand-alones. Have you enjoyed writing them?
STUART: It’s a very different thing. When I’m working the series, there’s always a thing that’s like “Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go mad, and do things I wouldn’t be allowed to”, because for the series I have set rules for Logan’s world – the characters and so on.

Red: All the characters having their own personalities; you can’t have them suddenly take on something too different?
STUART: When I start writing the stand-alone book it’s got to be different, it’s got to be better. It comes with its own set of challenges, and at some point I’ve thought “it’d be nice to be writing the series again”!

Red: In terms of sales, how have your stand-alones done, compared with the series?
STUART: Well, there’s only one straight crime standard so far, and that’s “Birthdays for the Dead”. And I wasn’t sure how people would take it, because it’s basically a Shakespearean tragedy, and that’s the structure that I write to, for form. And it sold more than the fourth…. So I’m very lucky that people didn’t just go “Oh! This is different! I’m not buying this.”

Red: What personal reading do you like–other crime writers? Something completely different?
STUART: Oh I do read a lot of crime fiction; ever since I started going to crime festivals I’ve met a lot of crime writers, so I like to read the people I like, so I do read a lot of crime fiction. I’m very eclectic in my tastes…I’m quite happy to read chick-lits, and … Um … Anything at all–biographies, romance, fantasy, fiction, science fiction, any good books.

Red: If someone were to say “I’ve never read any Logan McRae books”, which one would you suggest they jump right into, without necessarily starting with Cold Granite?
STUART: I would say, the most recent one, because when I wrote “Cold Granite” I wrote it as if it was in the middle of a series, which is why there are things that have obviously happened to Logan but you don’t get told that. It was always meant to be … we haven’t started at the beginning, getting introduced to everybody – it’s already up and running. So you should be able to start anywhere you like. And if you like that book, go back.

Red: As you suggested, I read the latest book, and found the first three on Amazon at 0.99 cents.
STUART: I had no idea!

Red: Then the publishers sent me hard copies of the rest. Which one of the series gave you the most angst while writing?
 STUART: Every single one of them. Well, except the first, as that was under contract then, so I was just writing for fun. I didn’t have to worry about anything. But as soon as the first was published, from then on I was very much aware that there were people whose jobs depended on me. It is important that I don’t cock it up, and there are readers who don’t want me to ruin things for them. I’m very loyal as a person, and very duty oriented, so as soon as that first book came out I was like “work harder, do better”.

Red: When you’re busy writing, are you elsewhere or are you at home?
STUART: Everywhere. Yes, I was writing in the hotel room this morning, and in the plane flying up from Wellington.

Red: So you’re not like some writers, tied to one writing corner, in one room?
STUART: I couldn’t. I couldn’t meet deadlines and such if I did that; I would never get a book finished. So…the back of taxis, airport lounges, you name it.

Red: Are you averse to questions about your family life?
STUART: Depends what it is.

Red: I’d like to ask how your wife feels about you spending so much time at a keyboard somewhere? – Instead of rubbing her toes and bringing her lilies?
STUART: Well, it’s … Hey! What about my lily needs? No, we’ve done remarkably well with the books, and she’s very much aware that this is what I do, this is my job. Yes, I’m home all the time, but I’m not sitting there eating chocolates and watching sport on television. I have my free work space, and that pays for nice things.

Red: At what stage do you celebrate finishing the book–when you finish the first draft, the last edit, or when it hits the book stores?
STUART: Well I celebrate completing the first draft, the second draft, the edit, the copy edit –

Red: All the milestones?
STUART: But not page proofs, and not publication, because there’s not a lot about that stage I can say. I don’t do anything much, as far as [celebrating] because I’m home most of the time, or I’m on tour somewhere.

Red: So, how do you celebrate?
STUART: Normally it’s a bottle of fizzy wine from this part of the world, and usually some prawns., cause that’s our little ritual, my wife and I.

Red: I’m going to close the interview here, because you’ve kindly answered more than I needed. It’s been an honour and a pleasure, Mr MacBride. Thank you.

This was the first time I had interviewed anyone – unless you can count Parent-Teacher interviews…Nah, you can’t really.
Since this interview in 2013, in Auckland New Zealand, Stuart MacBride has published many more works with Ian McRae, and D I Helen Grace.
Make sure to visit his official site, to check out what you may have missed.