Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Simon Duringer: The IAN Interview

Educated at Mostyn House School in Cheshire; Simon became involved in writing from an early age. At the age of 13, under duress he was torn away from playing tennis and made to enter the school writing competition which he subsequently won. But to this day he blames said competition for only making the second pair in the school tennis team!
A self-confessed geek, Simon has a passion for mathematics and thoroughly abused that knowledge from an early age by writing probabilities for those playing the school masters at pontoon (21) and poker. Not that he believes in blame culture, but it could be deduced that his success at winning sweets at cards during his formative years has contributed to his six pack transforming prematurely into a one pack! His book "How Do I Win on a Lottery?" became a number #1 amazon bestseller in its genre...
A writer of many genres, yet probably better known for interviewing other authors than for his own books, but nonetheless enjoys scribbling, ranting and making up stories that chill, thrill and entertain.

Independent Author Network. Please tell us about your latest book.
Simon Duringer. The Word – Volume 1. The book delivers 28 bespoke interviews with successful writers; from debut sensation MJ Summers to the Veteran; DuPont, Royal Academy, 5 x Emmy Award winning war correspondent and for 20 years Head of NBC News International, Martin Fletcher. Simon puts them in multiple situations from the sublime to the ridiculous. From time travel to being marooned on desert islands, each set of circumstances has been designed specifically for the individual interviewee’s circumstances and is intended to draw out their inner personalities. Simon breaks down the layers of stardom to reveal the true individuals beneath the glitz. The results are nothing short of fascinating – The interviewees never fail to entertain, whilst also; informing, sharing and creating “out of genre” responses that delight the readers. This is no ordinary set of interviews and the collective trophy cabinet of those within is dazzling! With 10% of all royalties going to the veteran’s charity, The Royal British Legion, and with even bigger names in the planned Volume 2, it is worth getting on board early!
IAN. Is The Word published in print, e-book or both?
S.D. I am a great lover of traditional books and whilst the majority of the marketplace is now eBooks, I chose to publish in both kindle and paperback versions for all my offerings. The Word is slightly different as the kindle version has illustration whilst the paperback does not, so in effect they are treated by Amazon as two separate entities, albeit not by choice. All my books are also currently available on Prime and therefore Amazon Prime members can borrow them for free.
IAN. Where can we go to buy The Word?
S.D. The links I would suggest using are those of my amazon author pages which are as follows;
My books are also available through search on other global amazon sites and via my website: http://www.simonduringer.com
IAN. Do you have a specific writing style?
S.D. I find that to be an incredibly difficult question to answer. Honestly? I don’t know… I don’t tag myself with any particular style or model my work on that of others. It would be nice to think I have my own unique style! However, rather than disappoint or not answer, I have trawled through past emails and correspondence from readers and found this email from a reader in Canada, Isabel Galloway, who sent me a wonderful message late last year whilst reading Stray Bullet. This sums up the answer way better than I could. I quote;
At the beginning it reminded me of Mark Billingham but now I realize that you are more Peter James. Have you heard of him? His novels are all in Brighton. You have the sense of him, I think. And the racy bits remind me of Micky Spillane! Haha!”
IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your books?
S.D. I want my readers to be astonished, surprised and delighted! I attempt to deliver a story that will challenge readers’ imagination. I want them to attempt to decipher the outcome without making it too straight forward. At the outcome I want them to smile, curse the author (in a “I want to do that again!” kind of way) and then sink in their chairs uttering the words “OMG, How the hell did I miss that!” I want to deliver plots that will dumbfound, yet, without patronizing the reader in hindsight be obvious. I want them to be motivated to come back for more. But, most of all it has to be believable, plot lines must work and I must believe my own story before I can make it available to the reader. In summary, I want the readers to be entertained and left wanting more…
IAN. How is The Word different from others in your genre?
S.D. Whilst author interviews are bountiful online, The Word is unique. Each interview takes a vast amount of research time and is not designed to cater to the whims of those with new releases to pimp out to the masses. There are plenty of those around already. The Word attempts to challenge and probe in order to discover what the author is really about. I already know my interviewees are damn good writers, they have either been major award winners, debut sensations or have a unique quality that has caught my eye and intrigued me into approaching them for an interview. I am not looking for bland content to fill my website, or books, for the likes of Google or Yahoo search engines. I am looking for individuals of a like mind. Most of my interviewees, if not all, are far more talented at wielding a quill than I will ever be, and therefore through my interviews I can learn about writing, marketing and the publishing industry, whilst at the same time having my emotions rocked to their foundations by stories that are so sad, or so witty, or simply so incredibly full of creative thought. The Word has been an eight month rollercoaster and what I have outlined above is what has drawn the likes of Bernard Cornwell to my door; The 19th Globally Bestselling author of the decade (source – Daily Telegraph). His agreement to run the gauntlet of Simon’s 10 Q Interviews tells me I must be doing something right! He will be headlining The Word Volume 2. But ultimately it is the readers who will decide the fate of The Word, they are both judge and jury. Without big publishers or marketers behind me, my current quest is simply to get The Word in front of enough readers to allow that process to take its course.
IAN. What books have influenced your life the most?
S.D. I was always fascinated by two books penned by the same author, although of course there have been many… George Orwell’s 1984 is one of those. To see his ‘predictions’, which seemed so unbelievable back along, become reality, with me playing a small part in my mainstream career as an operations and control room manager, is something that astonishes me. Where it will all end who knows, but big brother is already watching you! Additionally, another George Orwell works, Animal Farm, which I read and subsequently watched as a feature length animation whilst still at school, had a great impact on the way I look at others. It displays how, in politics, whilst people might genuinely set out on a journey to improve the lives of others; conforming to establishment traditions, compromising on one’s beliefs, human nature and greed often erode those noble principles over time. I can look back over the course of history and see that as humans we don’t learn from our mistakes and regularly revisit the errors made by past generations. It wears me out sometimes as I find it all so predictable.
IAN. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
S.D. For me this is not a difficult question. In my life time I have had two people I consider to be mentors. One of which I still regard as such, the other, who was not a writer but an incredible man, sadly passed away some years ago. Josephine Bailey, or Godmother as I refer to her, has and continues to encourage me for no distinct reason other than being a good egg! She encouraged me to get started with interviewing and has been casting an eye over my progress ever since. She is an English Rose with a dash of heretic about her and I just feel it is a shame that she and her husband Sam live so far away in the US, though I am certain we will all meet in person one day! Prior to Jo there was a man who was our neighbor when we (my family) lived in Spain during the 1980’s. Possibly the most decent man I have ever known and once again for no apparent reason he took me under his wing for a time. Perhaps being cheeky to a man that nobody else ever dared to confront was what intrigued him into helping me, but John Lampitt who owned Blue Boar, Watford Gap services, Sheffield Ski Village, was referred to as the NCP of Switzerland’s car parking industry amongst other things and if I recall correctly owned sole rights to the sales of Mazda cars within Switzerland, was a great friend and source of inspiration to me. He had started life as a sergeant within the British Army and ultimately is a man I will never forget, though he was not a writer he taught me that anything is possible and I regularly think about him and the amazing things he achieved during his lifetime.
IAN. What book are you reading now?
S.D. I actually have four books on the go at the moment, all very different and all by authors that I know personally. Each is re-opened where I left off depending upon my mood at the time, they are all very good and are as follows;
Hotey by Josephine Bailey (my mentor) – This book is fantastic and I never tire of it. Sadly, it never received the exposure it deserves, Hotey is a contemporary novel and really should be made into a feature animation. There’s a lot in there to be learned both morally and in terms of great writing from Jo, who was voted by Publishers Weekly as Best Female Narrator a few years back.
Unsigned Unscene by John Winstanley – John is an author local to me who managed bands during the last decade. It’s a fly on the wall account of that time and the interviews he carried out. It is a cult book with a few similarities to The Word and whilst John has deliberately left famous individuals out of the book it does not detract from my interest in it.
Flat Out, Flat Broke by Perry McCarthy – This is a fascinating autobiography and reached the Top 20 motor books of all time. It takes the reader through Perry’s struggles to become a Formula 1 racing driver and all that happened between, including becoming the legendary driver The Stig of BBC’s Top Gear.
Finally, I have on my bedside table Daniela by debut author Georgia Melaris. Whilst her first novel, Georgia has been involved in editing and proof reading the works of many others. It’s steamy and not my genre of choice, but whilst I am only into the first couple of chapters of this one, I have 50 shades of hope for it and for her success!
IAN. Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
S.D. In a nutshell, Simon’s 10 Q Interviewees. They are all amazingly supportive and I remain in touch with the vast majority of them. They are all such fascinating and unique individuals and the wealth of knowledge and experience that they have between them is somewhat phenomenal. Learning from them and the new interviewees that come along is a key driver for me, it really keeps me motivated. Conversing with them is like bathing in a fountain of knowledge, or having the ability to delve into the cookie jar with no fear of getting your hand stuck. For me they are the cookies and there is an endless supply out there, the only reason that supply will deplete is, if and when, hopefully, in the future I become one of them, at which time I hope to offer up similar support to those around me.
IAN. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
S.D. Writing both the thriller Stray Bullet and its sequel Phoenix has been a challenge as the stories are complex, full of twists and turns to keep my readers guessing to the very end. I believe, from reading the reviews, that I have achieved this. But as I write the books sporadically and sometimes take fairly long breaks between sessions of writing, I have had to re-read the narratives from the start on many occasions so as not to contradict or compromise the story line when writing fresh chapters. This is a time consuming process but ultimately I believe worth the effort. I would also guess that I am an undiagnosed dyslexic as I am aware that my grammar and punctuation leave something to be desired but am unable to fix it. I hand my work to professional editors, but for me, this is probably akin to an uninhibited author having a manuscript translated into a completely separate language, as in both instances I and they are in the same boat, rarely able to tell the differences post edit to pre edit and can only assume and trust that the professionals have done their job correctly. In the past this reliance on others has not served me well, but again I am in a position of learning and hold enough confidence in my storylines that this is something that can and will be overcome.
IAN. Who designed the covers?
S.D. I do a lot of the conceptual design work myself, indeed I produce my own promotional videos too. For The Word I simply didn’t have the time to commit to getting it “just right” and employed the services of a young and very talented designer from the US – Michael Price. We worked on the cover for months before getting it to a stage where I, and all those involved within the content of the book, was happy with its appearance. I am very grateful to Michael for his patience with us all! The theme is likely to carry on throughout the series.
IAN. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
S.D. Yes, I love you one and all! For me, there is no greater honour than for somebody to consider paying money for something that I have created. Writing a book is a time consuming process and I, as many other authors, put my heart and soul into delivering work of a quality worthy of you the reader. Hours are spent pouring over ideas and concepts for the storylines. Unlike those prolific writers whom are able to churn out story after story, I take great pride in weaving a plot for personal and not financial gain i.e. one that will challenge the reader to use their own imagination if they are going to even get close to the outcome before it is revealed. As with interviews, there are countless shelves full of repetitive storylines, I have no wish to become a part of those formula led award winners. I commit to putting everything I have into each storyline which is possibly why my ideas take longer than most to get into print. But, bear with me, you may not find quantity but I hope you will continue to agree that you shall find quality here…
IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?
S.D. The Word - Volume 2 is already completed and will be out towards the end of the year. Stray Bullet is being re-edited and re-covered for a second edition which will be out in due course and I am still working on Phoenix, the sequel to Stray Bullet, although I have not pressured myself into a time frame for publishing that offering.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Patricia Steffy: The IAN Interview

Patricia Steffy attended Kenyon College and American University. She is a recent refugee from the corporate world where she worked as an analyst for a law firm for more than 16 years. An escape plan started to develop as she pursued her interests as a writer and producer through Circe’s World Films.

She has been involved in co-and exec-producing a number of feature and short films ranging from broad comedy to psychological drama, including the award-winning short Touch. She is currently developing Dating in LA and Other Urban Myths as a web series. The series is based on her long-running blog of the same name which can be found here:

Independent Author Network: Please tell us about your latest book.

Patricia Steffy: Over the course of two years, I conducted interviews with the fabulous women around me and their equally fantastic friends for My Letter to Fear: Essays on Life, Love and the Search for Prince Charming. I put no restrictions on age, or ethnicity. They just needed to be willing to answer some questions. I asked them about the expectations they had for their lives when they were very young versus their current realities as adults. I asked them to tell me the best things about themselves (a question which was surprisingly difficult for people to answer) and the worst things. Those answers—the sad, the ridiculous, and the hysterical—and my own experiences became the basis for these essays. 

IAN: Is My Letter to Fear published in print, e-book or both?
PS: The book is available in print and electronic formats.

IAN: Where can we go to buy
My Letter to Fear?

PS: I’m very lucky in that a number of outlets have picked up the book. Here are the most popular retailers: Amazon     Barnes & Noble    Smashwords     iTunes    Diesel

IAN: What inspired you to write the My Letter to Fear?

PS: I was at a point of serious reassessment in my life. I had just quit my job of nearly 17 years at a law firm, and for the first time in a very long time I was asking myself what I really wanted to do with my life. Mid-life crisis? Maybe. But I was definitely at a point where I knew that the road I had been on for so long was not what I wanted for the rest of my life. Part of the process involved taking a look at the differences between the expectations I had for my life when I was a teenager versus what my adult reality was. After having casual conversations with friends about it, I realized that a lot of people I knew were going through the same type of reassessment. Then I began interviewing women in a more organized fashion - friends, friends of friends, etc. about the issues they were facing (career, romance, relationships generally, abuse, aging, etc). Those interviews and my own perspective on them inspired the actual writing.

IAN: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

PS: When I decided to create the collection, I relied a bit on my previously written work to give me a base. I pulled those pieces together, and completed rewrites on that first batch. In some cases the edits were minor, and other pieces were near total rewrites. Then I reviewed what I had to see where gaps existed—either emotional gaps, or experience gaps. From there I created a list of possible essays that needed to be written in order to fill those gaps, and began another round of interviews (both in person and by email) to see where those would lead me. Of course, there were also some surprises along the way—situations where I was so inspired by someone’s story that I knew a piece had to be written and added to the collection.

IAN: How long did it take to write My Letter to Fear?

PS: t took about a year to complete all the interviews and write the new pieces. However, I seem to write in creative spurts, so it wasn’t a year of straight writing. After the initial draft phase, I had about 25 pieces written (some of those were workshopped as part of a staged reading to benefit the East Los Angeles Women’s Center). Then the review process began in earnest. I continued doing interviews, and then I wrote another 35-40 pieces, most of which ended up in the final book, in about four months at the beginning of 2013.

IAN: Do you have a specific writing style?

PS: I’ve been told it tends toward the “wryly observational.” I don’t know that I have a consistent style when I compare my fiction writing with this kind of collection. However, I do tend to add humor to even the most serious pieces. I’m not trying to make light of the situations, just trying to ground it and make it more relatable.

IAN: How did you come up with the title?

PS: I have a friend who is a therapist, and she was telling me about a technique she was reading about where the person seeking therapy wrote a letter, as part of the therapy, addressed to her concerns (Dear Anxiety, Dear Anger, etc). And I thought that was a fascinating idea. You’ll notice that many of the pieces, though not all, are addressed either to types of people, emotions or concepts. The original title was only My Letter to Fear, but I wanted people to understand that the book also included a good deal of humor and that it was a collection of essays rather than a single story.

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

PS: A friend of mine read the book early on and said it was like having a conversation with your best friend. I loved that! Not every piece is going to speak to every reader, but my goal is for people reading it to see themselves in the struggles, in the stories, or in the emotions and know that they are not alone. There’s strength in the shared experience—in both the laughter and the tears.

IAN: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

PS: All of the experiences described in the book are based on real experiences (which is unfortunate in some cases), but they aren’t all my experiences. Most of the pieces are actually reaction pieces based on interviews with other women.

IAN: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

PS: Yes! I would include a forward in the book. It’s not strictly necessary in the printed version because a breakdown of how the book came to be is included on the back cover. Alas, when you get the electronic copy, you do not get that information unless you read the synopsis. If people don’t read that synopsis, they tend to think that the stories are all mine—in actuality, very few of the stories are my own personal experiences, but rather my perspective on the stories and information gained during the interview process.  Other than that, I do wish I hadn’t waited so long to get it out in the world.

IAN: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

PS: While there is a great deal of humor in the book, there are some darker pieces. I had to be in a place mentally where I could connect with those emotions in order to write about them honestly. That was tough. It is one of the reasons that I have to write alone. I can’t really let go emotionally if I’m writing in public or in a room with other people.

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?

PS: My next two projects aren’t books, but I am definitely back in “create” mode. I've written the first 10 episodes of a web series called Dating in LA and Other Urban Myths. We shot a pilot presentation for sponsors, and we are on the funding trail to film the entire first season right now. That is based on my original blog of the same title (which I continue to write). And I'm in the midst of working on a film script. It’s a drama, but even with the serious subject, I’m infusing it with some humor along the way. In terms of books, I’m toying with another one, but I’m leaning towards fiction the next time out. Now that I’ve committed that to print, of course, the exact opposite will be true.

IAN: Do you have any advice for other writers?

PS: While publishing is a business, don’t be deterred if your work doesn’t fit an easy marketing category. If you have something to say, self-publish it and say it.

IAN: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

PS: Thank you for taking a chance on a new writer! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Connie Knight: The IAN Interview

I grew up in San Antonio, Texas. My father’s family lived in the country some miles away, in the DeWitt Colony area settled in 1825. We visited his family often, and I vividly remember my grandmother, my great-uncles and their wives, my cousins, and the places they lived, so different from the city.

Reading and writing were always my favorite activities. In college, I studied creative writing in San Francisco, journalism back in San Antonio, and then I worked in Houston as a journalist and magazine editor. I still live in Houston close to my family, and I visit my cousins in the country.

After leaving journalism, I found myself writing fiction. So far, two mystery novels have materialized. Chances Choices Changes Death follows Cemetery Whites in the Caroline Hargrove Hamilton Mystery series.

Independent Author Network: Please tell us about your latest published book.

Connie Knight: Chances Choices Changes Death is the second novel in a series-to-be of cozy mysteries set in Texas ranch land near San Antonio. I used the same heroine, amateur sleuth Caroline Hargrove Hamilton and her cousin Janet, in the events of the story.  
The group of initial book characters was enlarged with others: three bad guys in particular. Their portraits extend the cozy basis of the book. My writing style remains humorous, but there’s depth to the plot, just as there is to life. One bad guy, Brian Atkins, is really sleazy rather than evil. He causes the death of Myra but not on purpose. Trying to escape arrest, he tells some things to the police, but hides more. He was an interesting character to write about as the book developed.

So was the diversity between identical twin brothers, Donny and Danny. Earlier in life, they were alike, but they made different choices, and different changes occurred to them. One fell in love, and the other could not, as the book goes on.

IAN: What inspired you to write the book?

CK: I wanted to set a book on a big ranch. Generally, it’s a sequel to Cemetery Whites. In writing fiction, I chose to write a mystery, a genre novel, rather than a work of literary mainstream. I couldn’t think of a plot for a mainstream.

IAN: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

CK: I used an outline, and pages written about events, or characters. The outline changed as writing went on, things changed, new people popped up. Still, I’d rather have an outline plan than wing it.

IAN: How did you come up with the title?

CK: That’s a good question. I’m not sure how I came up with it. I do know that the first title, Cemetery Whites, eluded many people, to my dismay. It’s the name of a white iris planted in graveyards. I thought it was common knowledge. Anyway, Chances Choices Changes Death indicates a stream of events. One leads to another, although death is not always the consequence.

IAN: How much of the book is realistic?

CK: The whole book is fictional, although it’s not a fantasy or set in outer space. The characters, the places, the events, could exist, but they don’t.
Except for the State of Texas, DeWitt County, Yorktown and Cuero. They really exist, but the exact cottages and ranches and characters in my book don’t.

I’ve read comments by authors about taking something they saw or heard and incorporating it into a book. Muriel Sparks wrote about seeing someone with beautiful, fragile hands that she gave to another character one day. The hands were real, but fictionally used.

IAN: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your life?

CK: I’ve tapped into some experiences, but they’re not always important to the story. For a few years, I took English riding lessons, and I gave that background to Caroline when she and Janet are taking Western riding lessons at Robinson Ranch. I gave her an old horse with an English history although he knew Western riding now. That comes in handy when Caroline needs to jump a fence later on.

Actually, I had a similar experience in my English riding lessons. A formerly Western horse mistook my English signals and started walking backwards. The more I tried, the worse it got, until someone took the reins out of my hands.

IAN: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

CK: Going back to early days, that would be Mother Estelle-Marie, my teacher in the eighth grade. With her encouragement, I wrote a play for my class to perform and a poem for a contest. Also a short story that didn’t get published. I’ll always remember Mother Estelle. She got me started.

IAN: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

CK: The development of this book brought police activity into it more than I meant to. A police officer proofed it for me and made comments about accuracy of events, or changes to be made.

IAN: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

CK: I think you always learn something from anything you do. This was my second book, and I learned things additional to what I learned with writing my first book. It’s more complex, the characters vary, and I moved some pages from here to there. There was more flexibility in putting things together.

IAN: Is your book published in print, e-book, or both?

CK: It’s an e-book now.

IAN: Where can we go to buy your book?

CK: Both are available as an e-book on Amazon and Barnes andNoble.

IAN: Tell us about your next book. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?

CK: It’s a sequel, and it’s in progress. There’s an outline, research material, some writing, and Chapter One. Caroline’s daughter comes to the country and—a subplot—decides to be a small farmer. She’s fun to think about.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Rik Stone: The IAN Interview

Do children born into poverty become impoverished adults? It happens; pitfalls and roadblocks to advancement are everywhere. Rik Stone grew up poor amidst the slum-lands of fifties North East England, leaving school at 15 without any academic qualifications. After working in shipyards and a stint in the merchant navy he worked quarries in South East England.

Life was without horizons until he studied for, and completed, a BSc degree in mathematics and computing. Taking a company pension at fifty, he was able to follow personal desires and began writing. Now, he is offering up his debut novel Birth of an Assassin, the first in a series.

Independent Author Network: Please tell us about your latest published book.
Rik Stone: Set against the backdrop of Soviet, post-war Russia, Birth of an Assassin follows the transformation of Jez Kornfeld from wide-eyed recruit to avenging outlaw. Amidst a murky underworld of flesh-trafficking, prostitution and institutionalized corruption, the elite Jewish soldier is thrown into a world where nothing is what it seems, nobody can be trusted, and everything can be violently torn from him.

IAN: What inspired you to write Birth of an Assassin?
RS: Birth of an Assassin came from a few stories I heard from Jewish relatives who had escaped the tyranny of the csars at the end of the 19th century. The final story that came to mind had a better fit in the cloak-and-dagger period of post-war Russia.

IAN: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?
RS: I started with a brief beginning, middle and end, and added the bones and flesh from that. Doesn't matter how brief these three elements are, they should be in place before you start in order to give direction to the story.

IAN: How long did it take to write Birth of an Assassin?
RS: The original draft only took a few months, but I have revisited and redrafted so many times in between writing other stuff, I genuinely have no idea how long this work took. The subsequent stories I've written are probably complete within a year.

IAN: Do you have a specific writing style?
RS: To hold my interest, the text has to have a fast pace.

IAN: How did you come up with the title?
RS: I've had several titles in the course of the writing, but the story itself dictated what it should be.

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
RS: An eager anticipation for the next one.

IAN: How much of the book is realistic?
RS: Like life, stories have coincidences, yet I like to believe this work is feasible.

IAN: How is your book different from others in your genre?
RS: I love to read this genre. However, I find a lot of the stuff is filled with gung-ho heroes. Birth of an Assassin follows the military dreams of a young Jewish boy, but it also absorbs his emotions, whether of love, deceit or betrayal. I also think the setting is very different to the norm. There are books out there covering cold-war etc., but they always have a western hero, US or European. I was, and still am, happy to follow my instincts and use a Russian Jew as my front man.

IAN: What books have most influenced your life most?
RS: The Carpet Baggers and The Adventurers. I was too young to appreciate the slower parts of these books, but the early action excited me such that it has stayed with me always.

IAN: Do you see writing as a career?
RS: I took a company pension when I was fifty. When I'm in the zone, I spend maybe sixty hours a week at the keyboard. I never worked that many hours in my previous life, so yes, I see writing as a career.

IAN: Who designed the cover?
RS: The cover was produced professionally, but the end-product came from my brief.

IAN: Is Birth of an Assassin published in print, e-book or both?
RS: Birth of an Assassin is available in paperback and ebook format.

IAN: Where can we go to buy Birth of an Assassin?
Amazon US: http://ow.ly/vMafx  Amazon UK: http://ow.ly/vMaHg

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?
RS: The Turkish Connection is a prequel to Birth of an Assassin. The work is complete and undergoing the final copy-edit. It should be available sometime during the summer months.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Robert Carter: The IAN Interview

As a child I lived in Sydney, Australia, returning to England aboard the P&O liner Orcades. I went on to study Astrophysics at Newcastle University where I read  a lot of science fiction, wrote my own stories and launched the university's first science fiction society.  

I worked in the oil industry in the USA,  and was posted to parts of the Middle East and  the war-torn heart of Africa. It was both dangerous and well-paid.  More than once I came close to being killed - and plenty of good men I knew never came home.

I travelled around Europe, China, Japan, took tea with the heir of the last king of Upper Burma near Mandalay, and on the road to Everest base camp I ran into Sir Edmund Hillary. After travelling around the Far East, I returned home and got a job with the BBC. Four years later, I left the BBC to write. Robert Carter

IAN.  Please tell us about your latest book. 
R. Carter.  Walter E. Scott - Scotty to his friends - was passing through Death Valley, California, when he happened upon a dead man. Beside the corpse was a dog dying of thirst, and in the man's pocket was a piece of rock glittering with pure gold ...

Scotty seized he day. He buried the body, saved the dog and worked out a plan that would change not only his own life, but that of many others. One of the lives Scotty changed was that of Albert M. Johnson, a wealthy but disabled Chicagoan who yearned for adventure. Johnson wanted for nothing in material terms, but he had suffered a broken back in the train wreck that had killed his father. Despite inheriting the biggest insurance company in the Midwest, he was not a happy man, until Scotty appeared, that is.

Scotty loved to have a good time and to be the centre of attention. He was a romantic soul, a natural-born showman with a talent for making things happen. He used whatever money that came his way to enjoy life and enhance his reputation as a gold miner, but he also enriched the lives of others in a way that was his and his alone.

"Death Valley Scotty" is reminiscent of "True Grit." It has the uplift of "It’s a Wonderful Life."   Set in a time when freedom seemed easier to find, this is a read that will surely make you smile.

IAN. Is Death Valley Scotty published in print, e-book or both?
R. Carter. Some of my backlist is available in print, depending on which book and which country, but now I have moved to indie, I am just concentrating on ebooks.

IAN.  Where can we go to buy Death Valley Scotty? (links)
R. Carter.  All my books are available on Amazon and here is a link to Death Valley Scotty. http://smarturl.it/DVS 

IAN.  What inspired you to write Death Valley Scotty?
R. Carter.  I was travelling through Death Valley on a trip that was chiefly inspired by my geographical interest (from my days in the oil industry) when I happened to see Scotty’s Castle.  It was a most unexpected discovery, and so I stopped to explore. The Castle is run by the US National Park Service http://www.nps.gov/deva/historyculture/scottys-castle.htm and so I took the tour.  I got a really good picture of the man – a most extraordinary fellow as it turned out.  When I got home to London, a screenplay and a friend of mine tried to sell it as a film.  It never got made, so I re-wrote it as a novel.

IAN.  Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?
R. Carter.  I work in phases.  In Phase One I do general research.  I learn everything I can about the period in which my story will be set.  In Phase Two I prepare a detailed outline regarding story and characters.  Then in Phase Three, I do deeper research around the specifics that comprise the story.  It’s only when I’ve completed these three phases that I sit down and start the first draft.

IAN.  What do you hope your readers come away with after reading Death Valley Scotty?
R. Carter.  I hope my books have an extra dimension over and above most adventure or historical fiction books.  As I like to research the settings very closely, I want my readers to get a real sense of the period in which the story is set, and to know more about the feelings and emotions that were prevailing at the time.  Lord Reith, the first Director-General of the BBC said that the job of the BBC was to educate, inform and entertain.  I aim for my books to do exactly this – but not necessarily in that order.

IAN.  How much of Death Valley Scotty is realistic?
R. Carter.  I write stories set in exciting periods of history, in places and times where emotions run at their highest. These are periods of great change, uprisings and wars, in which the characters find themselves embroiled. I want my readers to feel as if they are going on a trip to a strange and different place. Today, you can book a trip to just about anywhere in the world and be there inside 24 hours, but my books take you to places you can't go, places that have vanished forever - the worlds of the past.

The only way I can really take you there is to create a world that is satisfyingly authentic. I feel I've succeeded if the world I've described is all-consuming, and that you are sorry to leave when come to the end of the book. I felt like this when I read James Clavell's "Shogun." What impressed me most was how mindful he was of his readers' pleasure. He really was a writer who wrote for his readers, and I was determined to do the same.

My hope is always to write about dramatic circumstances that have arisen in history, and to make them as factually correct as possible. This means that my books can take many months to put together because you can’t write about the opulence of Peking's Forbidden City in the 19th Century, or describe Queen Elizabeth I's court unless you know a great deal about it.  Many of my readers are experts in these fields and sometimes they write to me to congratulate me, which is gratifying, or to point out an error, which is also gratifying, but in a different way!

IAN.  Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
R. Carter.  The old cliché that “travel broadens the mind” is true.  I was taken abroad as a child and that sparked an interest in maps. Later I  developed an ambition to travel on the entire Trans-Siberian railway, which I did while it was still Soviet.  I spent a good few months travelling to the more unusual parts of Asia, seeing the old ways before they vanished for ever, and making it to exotic places such as Komodo, Mandalay and Everest Base Camp.

I worked for a Texan oil services company, which took me to war zones and other places that are generally hard to get to like the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia and the Congo in Africa.  Very exciting and rather dangerous at times, but I’m glad I did it.

I like to write about dramatic and exciting events and I feel I owe it to my readers to have had some sort of first-hand experience.  When I wrote Barbarians which is set in 19th century China,  I had to go and take a look myself. Travelling in Manchuria in the depths of winter was no picnic.  I find it’s essential to visit the places I write about to pick up on the local culture and how people behave, to make things authentic. 

IAN.  Did you learn anything from writing Death Valley Scotty and what was it?
R. Carter.  For virtually all of my books I spent as much time researching as it takes to get a Bachelor of Arts degree, so I have become knowledgeable on a whole range of subjects.

IAN.  Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?
R. Carter.  I am working on a big new project!  I am close to finishing the first volume of a quintet set in the early 20th century in the Great War.  It is 100 years since the war started in 1914, although the US did not enter the war until April 1917, and it was the start of enormous changes to the way people lived.

My tale encompasses espionage, romance, warfare and the world of the English aristocracy.  The first volume will be out soon, but I am looking for volunteers to read advance review copies and write reviews.  Volunteers should contact me on novelrob@gmail.com.

IAN.  Do you have any advice for other writers?
R. Carter.  Definitely.  Would be writers MUST apply discipline to the exercise of compiling 100,000 well-chosen words.  Without discipline, it’s almost impossible.  So the best help you can get is to develop a habit.  Set aside regular time when you do nothing else but write, and try to never, ever miss a session.  For people who can manage it every day, if you write 1,000 words a day for 100 days, each and every day you will have created the first draft of a novel in 4 months.  Then it is just a question of editing, and editing is much easier than creating.  A real good tip is to print your novel on paper and put it in a drawer for at least 30 days.  When you come back to it, you will find that household gremlins have re-arranged all the words and made it read like garbage.  You will find the second draft is so much better, and the third you can probably be proud of.

IAN.  Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
R. Carter.  I like to write about people who appear at the right time and turn that moment into a fulcrum of history.  Events turn turns on those points – if those individuals had not done what they did, then the world would be extremely different. Most people never get near to a fulcrum of history, and would probably rather not!  Others are never far from one – and that is what makes them different.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Author L. R. W. Lee Releases Andy Smithson: Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning, Book 2

The wait is over! Book Two of this highly-rated fantasy series is now available in Kindle eBook and paperback at Amazon.

Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning is the continuation of L. R. W. Lee’s well-received debut novel Blast of the Dragon’s Fury and the next offering in this seven-book Andy Smithson allegorical, fantasy, adventure series for middle graders.

In Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning, Lee continues to weave a tale of mystery and intrigue as the main character, Andy Smithson, who is now 11-years-old, returns to Oomaldee to retrieve the second ingredient needed to break a 500-year-old curse enacted to punish the current ruler for murdering his older sister when she was 15. Not one to forgive easily, Imogenia’s spirit is bent on thwarting Andy to preserve the curse and naively aligns herself with the evil, scheming Abbadon. 

Things go from bad to worse when a creature Abaddon conjures from the darkest magic steals the Stone of Athanasia, the source of the ruler’s immortality, causing the king and his wizard, Mermin, to fall gravely ill. Andy is forced to choose between retrieving the stone to save those he loves or obediently going after the second ingredient. What will he chose? Will he be able to save the King and Mermin?

You won’t want to miss the non-stop action, drama and thrills on this adventure that is Andy Smithson: Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning, Book 2.

Book Three, Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor is due out Fall 2014.

“This series has everything a kid could want, action, adventure, magic, excitement and mystery!” - Erik Weibel, This Kid Reviews Books (Erik is 12)

"LRW Lee has constructed a wonderful world full of adventure, daring deeds, and remarkable action tempered with the right dose of humor. This wildly addictive series will entertain middle grade students, who, like I, will anxiously await the release of book three." - Sue Morris, Kid Lit Reviews

“There is a strong good versus evil theme underscoring the plot making it a clean story with no bad language but lots of exciting action and suspense. If you adore fantasy books with a medieval theme including knights and dragons, this story definitely fits that bill.” - Wayne S. Walker, Home School Book Reviews

Buy Book 2 – Amazon Paper: http://amzn.to/1eHKa4Q
Amazon Kindle: 
All other eBook versions: 

Book 1
Amazon Paper: http://amzn.to/17pu0ut
FREE eBook (all versions): http://bit.ly/Lk6yH5

If you have not yet had the opportunity to experience the Andy Smithson series, L. R. W. Lee has launched the serialized podcast of Blast of the Dragon’s Fury, Book 1 which is available for free at:
iTunes store - http://bit.ly/1l8u5YP

And there’s more! As part of L. R. W. Lee’s book launch tour, you have the opportunity to win 9 fantasy adventure ebooks from highly acclaimed authors. To enter go to the author’s website at

For a full schedule of Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning, Book 2 launch tour stops: http://www.lrwlee.com/#!media/c1big

For more about author L. R. W. Lee: http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/l-r-w-lee.html