Author Interview – Marty C.Lee

My author interview series continues with YA fantasy author Marty C.Lee the creator of the Unexpected Heroes series.


  • Hi Marty C. Lee, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I write YA fantasy. My then-teenage-daughter was bragging one day about how her artistic skills came from her father, but her writing skills were unique in the family. So I pulled out my file of writing to show her where she got it from. She wasn’t impressed. (It’s notoriously hard to impress your own teenagers.) Then she found four character paragraphs I wrote in high school and asked me for the rest of the story. When I told her there WAS no rest of the story, she quizzed me for two hours until I came up with more ideas, then sent me off to write it for her. The plotted six-chapter short story turned into a complete novel and eventually led to a four-book series and a lot of short stories.

  •    What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Genres tend to have a typical emotion associated with them, like love/passion for romance or fear for horror. Most fantasy leans heavily on hope and wonder, and I like writing those. I believe in happy endings (though not happy middles), even if the ending happiness is bittersweet.

  •    Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

Spark of Intrigue is the fourth (and last) book in my Unexpected Heroes series, and is coming out January 4th. In honor of its release, I’ll be putting book 1, Wind of Choice, on a major sale, so it’s a good time to start the series!

The first three books in the series are loosely connected, and you can read them out of order if you don’t mind a few spoilers. Book 4 is a little different… I took a lot of threads from the first three books and tied them all together in ways that surprised even me. For instance, a throwaway line from book 2 became a major hint in book 4. A random occupation in book 1 became super important in book 4. A character who died in book 3 comes back to haunt them in book 4 (only figuratively, sorry). And so forth. That sort of thing happened many times as I wrote the book, and then random characters either inserted themselves in the story or insisted on being more important— or both!     

  •    What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I actually write a wide variety of characters. Some of them are like me in one way or another, but some are very different. I’m a social scientist by education and inclination, and one of my favorite classes in college was a personality class. It’s not the only class that has come in handy in my writing, but it’s certainly one of them. I’ve given my four main characters half a dozen or so different personality tests, and they’ve come up different from each other in every single test.

  •    For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Read a lot, write a lot, get a writing partner who is better than you at some things, and learn grammar. Please learn grammar. If nothing else—and there IS else—messy grammar buries your story in weeds.

  •    What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

Try to write nearly every day, in one way or another (brainstorming & plotting count on some days). Even if you are a pantser, figure out a method of plotting that works for you. (Obviously, if you are a pantser, this will be a much lighter method.)

  •    Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I started out convinced I was a plotter. After all, I had a sentence or two of notes for every chapter. Didn’t that make me a plotter? *lol* In the years since then, I’ve developed a much more involved plotting process, though I’m still NOTHING like those people who write a 40,000 word outline. And my plot outline still leaves room for pantsing expansions. (Oh, he has a cousin he didn’t know about? Sure! And she’s a diplomat and is going to have a part in this book? Okay!)

What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

            Besides the Unexpected Heroes series, I already have a free sampler of short stories available, starring previously minor characters (https://books2read.com/unexpectedtales), but I’m working on two more long collections of short stories set in the same world, one “contemporary” to the series and the other “legends” of the different cultures (think “fairy tale retellings from my fantasy world”). Based on reader reactions to one of the short stories, I’m considering an expansion to a novel, but that one is still simmering.

 I’m also planning a series of paranormal (ghost) stories that will be set in modern Earth, but it will be a while before those come out.

 With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

No matter how the world is at the moment, I prefer good triumphing over evil. Evil might win the battle in stories or real life, but in real life, it always loses the war.

What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

I do like all of them, but Lord of the Rings is my favorite. Starting at age 8, I used to reread it every three or four months, for… oh, more than a decade. My younger sister dropped her copy when she was reading and called me to find out what page she was on. 🙂 When the first movie came out, my older sister gave me tickets (and a babysitting voucher), because it was inconceivable to her that I not watch it in the theater instead of waiting for video.

No, I don’t write like Tolkien. I’ve been told my stories are more reminiscent of Lloyd Alexander and a bit of John Flanigan.

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The power of Bookbub

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post about the writing process so I thought I’d share with you all the results of my recent Bookbub promotion and how it took Heir to the Sundered Crown to bestseller status in the Sword and Sorcery Category in four countries on Amazon.

What is Bookbub?

So what is Bookbub exactly? Well, it’s a promotion site, the promotion site for books. Landing a US featured deal is like winning the lottery and it took me 4 years of persistent trying to get my book chosen for one.

The official description is: BookBub is a book discovery service that was created to help readers find new books and authors. The company features free and discounted ebooks selected by its editorial team, as well as book recommendations, updates from authors, and articles about books.

An author needs to sign up and create an account before listing their books to their Bookbub profile. (Follow me by clicking HERE) Once that’s done you then need to add the links to the various store fronts (if wide) that your book is sold on. If you’re a Kindle Unlimited author then you will only need to add the Amazon link.

Bookbub sends out emails everyday listed books that it chose for a featured deal and depending on what type of deal your book will be put in front of millions of subscribers. I’ve written about other services before such as Fussy Librarian etc, but Bookbub beats all of those by a wide margin in terms of guaranteed return on investment.

What also makes Bookbub standout is there use of expert editorial teams to choose what books would make the best fit for that days promotion. By using data they assess what type of books are in demand and which ones have the best chance at success.

BookBub notifies its subscribers about free and deeply discounted ebook recommendations selected by its expert editorial team, from bestsellers to hidden gems.

How to get chosen

Now this is a much sought after secret and Bookbub knows this. They have several guides on their site about what gives your book the best chance of being picked but with so many authors clamouring to get a deal the chance you’ll get picked is low. As I said, it took me 4 years of trying to get one!

Heir to the Sundered Crown was first released way back in 2014 but finally achieved over 60 reviews only recently. (If you’ve read it please review it!!!) Reviews help massively in the selection process as does making your book page on the relevant book stores look professional.

During the application process I also mentioned that the book was part of a planned promotion, something that I also think helped it be chosen. My promotion was for the book to be on sale for 0.99p/c.

Cost and Results

For the promotion I got it cost me just shy of £450 or $700, very pricey and a cost that I have to admit made my palms sweat a bit, but as they say you have to spend money to make money. The promotion went out on February 19th and at the time of writing this I have covered my costs and made a nice bit of profit.

Sales wise here are the totals so far –

Amazon (All nations) – 1,258

Wide (Apple, Nook, Kobo, Google) – 406

Total – 1664

Not a bad number and sales are continuing with every passing hour. On the initial promo date the book shot to the top of several genre lists and bagged a best seller badge on Amazon in multiple countries. What was of even greater interest is that my other books began to shift units as well, even the full priced ones. Audiobooks too began to sell with the number of them being sold doubling!

Get Heir to the Sundered Crown on Audio

It won’t be for another month or two until I get the sales data for those but it’s looking good. Another benefit I’m hoping for is that sale through for the Sundered Crown Saga will continue and that readers enjoy Heir enough to buy the rest of the series and maybe try some of my other books.

I won’t know the full impact of the Bookbub deal for another week at least as some of the stores data recording is a little slow, but overall I am very happy with the results of the deal.

Have you had a Bookbub featured deal? What was your experience of it? Let me know in the comments below.

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Author Interview – Mark Johnson

Today I’m joined around the campfire by epic fantasy author and another New Zealander (the desire to write fantasy must be in the air down there!) Mark Johnson.


  • Hi Mark tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hey Matthew, thanks for having me on! I’m an Epic Fantasy writer from New Zealand. I started writing as I was getting bored with high school teaching, and decided to do something different with my hours off.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I’d say the thing that I like most about fantasy is the ‘mystery’ aspect. Most fantasies have some sort of ‘hidden secret’ the author asks you to consider and predict, and for me, the addition of a ‘supernatural’ element into the mystery is just too alluring.

I also like books that explore other societies and ways of living. How would society change if X technology were considered an everyday fact of life? What would you do differently if you could do X?

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

My latest book is coming up in the first half of this year. It’s called ‘The Engine of Gods’, and it’s the fifth in my ‘FireWall’ series, and second to last of the series. The first book is ‘The Renegade Within.’ It’s about a woman who discovers corruption within her martial society, which is similar to Paladins. The corruption turns out to be the tip of the iceberg, and threatens the life of her god. She finds herself going down a path she never wanted, but must if she wants to save the life of her god and people.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I tend to write people who just want to get on with their lives, but find themselves morally obliged to participate in the right action. That’s not really me at all, but I find the question of ‘have I done enough for my conscience to let me rest?’ is compelling to write.

I also like writing characters who learn about the nature of their powers, along with the dangers inherent in those powers. Are the powers truly making their lives better? Do they make anyone’s lives better? Can they keep the powers secret so they can just get on with life?

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Start with dialogue, and dialogue only. You’ll know if a scene works or not if the dialogue flows.

Start with a mystery. That’ll get you to write until the end of the book.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

Lol: ‘on track’. I usually start out with an ending and the middle changes completely, meaning that my deadlines have to get pushed out so I can go back and write new things. I try to keep to 1000 words a day, but I usually can’t, because I’m too busy redoing the plot and other scenes.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

Oh man I’m the worst combo of the two. I start with a plot. The plot gets cooler as I go and I have to go back and change the preceding chapters several times as I go, as well as changing the plot outline. If I’ve written several books in advance of publication (like I did for FireWall), then I go back and touch up a few chapters there, as well. It’s utterly frustrating.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I’m currently plotting my sequel series and FireWall’s sixth and final book. My next series is about what the consequences are for what happens after the climax of the first series. An ongoing theme of my books is ‘there are consequences even for doing the right things’, and my characters go to a new place, to find the echoes/ripple effects of what happened in FireWall are continuing to spread.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I find like stories that reflect the spirit of the times. There’s no clear bad guy and the heroes on both sides and their methodologies and worldviews both have flaws.

I prefer a darker approach to deal with the more complex side of social problems, when the answers to society’s problems aren’t obvious.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

LotR’s context was amazing for the time, and it deserves the praise it gets. But it also is showing its age and overt simplicity. Harry Potter has much more complexity and nuance, and it’s what people need in these times. The good guys aren’t always obvious.

Don’t get me started on Star Wars.

Follow Mark at-

https://www.facebook.com/MarkJohnsonauthor


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Get the History of Esperia eBook FREE!

Hi everyone, I hope you’re doing well and not letting these lockdowns and general global rubbishness get you down.
 
 One good thing about these lockdowns is the extra spare time I have. For a long time I’ve wanted to put together a book that covers the lore and history of the world in which my fantasy novels are set.
 
 To that end I present you with the history of Esperia companion book! Claim yours absolutely FREE from the link below.


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Author interview – E.V. Everest

Joining me around the campfire today is debut fantasy author E.V. Everest.


  • Hi E.V. tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hi everyone! I’m E.V. Everest, and I write fantasy and sci-fi books. My debut novel, Seven Crowns, released this year (2020).

A little bit about me: I enjoy the great outdoors. I’m a huge animal lover and have two dogs and two cats. The weirdest thing about me (that I am willing to commit to paper) is that I can play the trombone and ride a unicycle at the same time. Freak flag flying high, ladies and gentlemen!

Though I strayed to pursue a “practical career,” I’ve always loved to write. I can remember shoving several desks together in elementary school to write stories with a friend. Our series featured a cat that travelled to the moon :p

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Fantasy is boundless. As a writer, the only confines are those you set for yourself. It’s a genre where cats can talk, dragons still fly the evening skies, and Elvis *could be* your next door neighbor.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

I am currently working on a young adult sci-fi series. The first novel, Seven Crowns, was released at the end of July. Blurb below.

A crown is dangerous. A crown split seven ways is deadly.

One year after the death of her mom, sixteen-year-old Anabella Halt is living on her own and breaking all the rules. Life is tough but ordinary.

Until Ana learns her mom’s dangerous secret—she was the heir to a fallen dynasty on a world ruled by seven families. Her family was murdered one by one. Now, assassins are closing in, and Ana could be next.

With the help of a handsome hobo, Ana escapes to the place where it all began—a starflung world where magic and technology coexist. A place where Ana must navigate a tangled web of friends and foes to unmask her would-be assassin before it’s too late.

Travel to a glittering, dangerous world with political alliances and ballgowns, perfect for fans of Cinder and The Hunger Games.

The biggest challenge with the second book (release scheduled for February 2021) is balancing plot lines. I have quite a few threads I want to weave together. Outlining has helped immensely! Overall, I’m really excited to share it with beta readers soon.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I really enjoy writing snarky side characters and villains. Their lines are always fun to write.

None of my characters are exactly like me, but a few contain a little piece of me. For instance, I have a little bit of Samuel’s snark, Ana’s independence, and Ophelia’s love of animals.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Ask for feedback early and often. A rule of thumb for accepting critique: If one person says your chapter is garbage, ignore them. If two people say your chapter is garbage, re-read and really consider their feedback. If three people say your chapter is garbage, look for a trash can.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

In the words of Douglas Adams, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

In all seriousness, knowing that readers are waiting for a book, is very motivating.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I’m a reformed pantser. Now, I outline. It helps me to build complex, multi-layered plots. I can evaluate the twists and turns BEFORE I get to the editing table. What a time saver!

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

Too many to count! Right now, my first priorities are completing the Bellaton series and building the Coffeehouse Magic series. However, I have a short story that is 70% there. Teaser below.

An out of work architect is desperate for employment. Too desperate. He takes a position redesigning an abandoned nuclear bunker but finds he’s not alone in the deep. Think Night Vale X Twilight Zone.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

Like most people, I really enjoy a multifaceted villain with an interesting backstory. However, I’ve been on a light-hearted reads binge. I recently read Meg Cabot’s Avalon High.

That’s also why I wrote The Matchmaker and the Coven. What’s more escapist than a coffeehouse that sits on the boundary between a hundred realms? Or a meddling barista who insists on setting up a water nymph and a mortal?

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

This is a cruel question. I’m also deeply offended that Star Trek didn’t make the list :p I love Harry Potter. I went to the midnight bookstore openings, and it will always have a special place in my heart. I also adore Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Twilight Zone, Chronicles of Narnia, and many, many more.

My newsletter is very active and goes out twice a month. We have trivia championships, recommended reads, sneak previews, and freebies. I’m doing a November giveaway of The Matchmaker & the Coven to all new subscribers. So, if you enjoy light-hearted fantasy, give it a try.

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Website & Blog:

https://www.evelinaeverest.com

Facebook Reader Group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2394603750840538

GoodReads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53474078-seven-crowns

Amazon:

Author Interview – Cameron Johnson

In today’s author interview I chat with Cameron Johnson the author of the excellent Traitor God and other fantasy novels.


  • Hi Cameron Johnston tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hello, and thanks for having me. I’m a totally not-middle-aged (expecting 100+ years achieved via a combination of whisky and cybernetics) guy from Scotland who writes darker fantasy, loves archaeology, history and mythology and exploring ancient sites. I was a library kid and I guess I caught the storytelling bug from that, and it evolved from reading a whole lot to wanting to tell my own stories.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Part of it is revelling in the sheer imagination of it all, from floating castles to terrifying monsters, otherworldly places and fascinating characters landed in situations that suck you in. In a way, reading fantasy is like being an explorer of strange new worlds and as that sense of discovery is a wonderful thing.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

The Maleficent Seven will (probably) be out in August 2021, and let me tell you, writing seven (and a bit) villainous points of view is a pretty daunting prospect after writing two books with only a single point of view protagonist. In the end, I really enjoyed writing those characters and seeing them develop their own unique voices.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I like to vary characters so I don’t have a set type, other than perhaps one with a sharp tongue. One thing I do try to do write are characters that are never 100% good or 100% evil – a bad guy might be a good father or love and care for dogs for example. People are bewilderingly complex creatures. As for how much of myself I put in, probably very little – I’m thankfully much nicer than most of my characters.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Know that most authors are incredibly self-critical, and what you read has gone through several rounds of editing and rewrites. When you start out, the first draft of your first novel or short story will probably not be good, and that’s OK – many published novels started life on shaky feet. To write well you need to learn to write, and then you have to learn to edit your work so it makes sense and reads smoothly. Don’t despair at your first attempts and give up – you will learn from writing it, and then learn to edit it.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

Panic? Hot cups of tea? Perhaps the odd whisky? There are no tricks sadly, just sitting down, avoiding the internet and distractions and getting the words down. It’s easy to procrastinate with a million other things you could be doing, but you just need to resist and get to work.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

-Almost entirely a pantser. I like to know the start and the end of a story, and perhaps a few important points along the road to give it shape, but other than that the characters make their own decisions and write their own story.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

Oh, lots of plans. Too many, really. The only problem I have is what one I want to explore next. I have a few standalone fantasy novels I want to write so I will probably toss the dice to decide what one I start writing first.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I’ve noticed a slight preference for less grimdark fiction at the moment, turning to more popcorny adventuresome stories instead. I expect that’s trying to find an emotional balance with the relentless craptitude of 2020.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

-I’ll go with Lord of the Rings for this one. What a world! That said, I do love The Mandalorian.

Website: http://www.cameronjohnston.net

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CamJohnston

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cameronjohnston13


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Author Interview – PD Alleva

Joining me today is science fiction and horror author PD Alleva.


  • Hi PD Alleva tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I write primarily in the science fiction and horror genres, always mixing in a bit of fantasy, supernatural, metaphysical, thrills and chills into something I like to call alternative fiction. Honestly, the word multi-genre sounds like you’ve got marbles in your mouth so, being a child of the 90’s I prefer the term alternative fiction. I’m also a semi-retired hypnotist and behavioural therapist with a specialty treating trauma and addiction.

I’ve always been a writer. I wrote my first full-length novel in sixth grade and used to write fan fiction as far back as the memory will allow. Just the simple thought of creating a book is inspiration enough to put pen to paper and write a novel. I believe literature marks the time and I’m happy to contribute a voice to the literary community.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The ability to stretch the limits of the imagination. We can go anywhere we choose, do whatever we want. Build cathedrals in one chapter and burn them down in the next. Spiral across time or duel with a dragon or spiral across time while duelling with a dragon. I could go on and on.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

The Rose Vol. 1 has been a two-year long project that started as a short story, a prelude to a trilogy I was writing at the time titled The Indigo Trials. I was writing the short story with the purpose to introduce the superpower in the series, a superpower called ‘the rose,’ which is based on an alchemy meditation practice, although I amped up the superpower to include the ability to transform chemical structures, suspend gravity, and move objects with a thought. However, as I was writing (and having a great deal of fun doing so) it became apparent the story and the characters wanted more and refused to be put in a box as a simple short story.

The story begins after a World War 3 treaty has been signed and follows an unsuspecting American citizen, Sandy Cox, who has been living in a WW3 safety camp for the past few years. At this point in the story human beings are still unaware that aliens exist here on earth, and they are definitely unaware that their own government has conspired with these alien’s in an effort to turn the human population into easily controlled zombies in a diabolical plot to achieve planetary and interstellar domination. Sandy is one of the naïve until she is taken to an underground medical complex and discovers the existence of grey aliens and, even more sinister, a sophisticated species of what I refer to as Dracs, or, the alien vampires.

I had some very specific challenges when writing the book. First, I am a vampire fan, always have been, and introducing a new take on vampires was highly challenging. Not only did I need to satisfy fellow vampire lovers, I had to break open and pen an entirely different although familiar lore behind the Dracs. In addition to this challenge was the alien lore, theories, and conspiracies that I wanted to include in the story, most specifically the lore and mythology behind the Dracs and greys. Any ancient alien theorist will be able to pick up on the multiple theories presented in the story including concepts such as the 12th planet, hollow earth, and Robert Morningstar papers. So, the challenge was two fold, satisfy the vampire and alien lovers while remaining loyal to genre, mythology, and lore, and I tackled this challenge by presenting the dystopian science fiction story through the eyes of the casual observer discovering all the chaos and mayhem that exists behind the scenes. So, just as the unsuspecting heroine Sandy Cox is discovering all these alien vampires the reader is discovering them with her. I hope the end product is not only satisfactory on the intellectual and creative level, but also on the ‘just plain old fun,’ level.

The Rose Vol. 1 was published on October 7th and is currently available worldwide at all major retail stores.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I enjoy writing villains. There’s just something extraordinary about piecing together an iconic villain, delving into the dark mind and hearts of the truly depraved, insane, and chaotic. Yeah, I like my villains.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Write a good book. Great editing is a must and don’t forget that great stories are a collaboration so find an editor that challenges your writing style and remember its nothing personal, its just business. Write to market, and find what works best for you for marketing.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I rarely work under a deadline, as I don’t agree with pushing the creative process, usually things get lost in the shuffle and when you’re writing stories that require so much detail, lore, and backstory across multiple point of view I just need it to flow the right way and not concern myself with deadlines. Case in point is the horror thriller I’m currently writing, Jigglyspot and the Zero Intellect, which I’ve been writing for the past seven months and it’s close to 140,000 words that was originally going to be a novella (guess Jigglyspot refused to be a short blip on my radar). When I’m knee deep in a project it takes up my full attention, thankfully I’m not on any deadlines. I enjoy going with the flow and putting out a stellar product over meeting deadlines.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

Pantser mostly, although I do send myself little emails with thoughts on plot changes and character development.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I also write horror novels. I have a horror and dark fiction series titled Beyond the Chamber Door. The first two books are already published (Twisted Tales of Deceit, and Presenting the Marriage of Kelli Anne & Gerri Denemer), with two more in the pipeline (Golem and Jigglyspot and the Zero Intellect). I’m also about to start writing Vol. 2 for The Rose followed by completing the next part of The Rose series (The Indigo Trials trilogy). From there, two more horror novels followed by the third connected series in The Rose, an apocalyptic time travel series titled Winter.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

A darker approach as always. Every novel I’ve written has dark elements to it, kind of the yin and yang of the universe all wrapped into a neat little package. Plus there’s the whole reality that more often than not bad people win more often, I like to reflect this reality because its not always rainbows and sunshine that life has to throw at us.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

The original Star Wars, anything after that is up for debate.

Author Links:

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Twitter:  https://twitter.com/PdallevaAuthor

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/pdalleva

Website:  www.pdalleva.com

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Author Interview – Poppy Kuroki

Joining me around the campfire today is indie fantasy author Poppy Kuroki who has travelled all the way from the land of the rising sun, Japan!


  • Hi Poppy, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I’m a ghostwriter and editor living in Japan. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, and a lot of my inspirations have come from music and video games, as well as real-life feelings and tragedies.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

It’s limitless! I’m always amazed with the fantastic original worlds people can build from the genre. I write quite low fantasy, but I read a lot of high fantasy with magic systems and worlds so vastly different from ours.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

My latest fantasy is Oath: A Black Diamond novel. I wrote it a year or two ago and sat on it for ages, wondering if it was good enough. It’s coming out on November 1st and has had some great reviews so far! I was going through a rough time when I wrote it and a lot of that is reflected in Colette’s story.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I love characters who go through some kind of life-altering experience and grow with the bad things that have happened to them. I mostly write female characters as I can identify with them more.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

About writing, I’d say that there’s always room for improvement. Read a lot, especially in your genre, and be open to criticism. Study what makes good writing and identify and weed out your bad habits. For publishing, take up free courses and ebooks (there are tons of them out there) and watch out for scams; unfortunately there are many of those out there, too.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I set a word count goal for myself when writing the first draft. 1,000 words today, and it’s OK if they aren’t good, just get 1,000 words down! If I don’t feel motivated, I start with a goal of 200, then 500, and that’s usually enough to get me into it.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

Definitely a plotter. If I start writing without any idea of where it’s going, I won’t finish it. I had a lot of partly finished projects when I was younger before I learned that lesson. I respect pantsers though, if you can end up with a finished project without knowing where it was going to go, more power to you.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I’m currently writing a series of origin stories for the characters in Oath and how they became assassins. I’m also working on a steampunk novel. It’s my first time writing in this genre so it’s exciting!

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I’ve always loved dark or sad stories. If a book can make me cry, it’s an instant winner. I can enjoy happy tales too – I love Disney films just as much as anyone – but sad stories with deep, dark themes resonate the most.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Lord of the Rings! Where would we be without it?

Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/greatbookswithpoppygroup
Twitter: twitter.com/poppyinjapan
Instagram: instagram.com/poppyinjapanofficial/
Website: https://poppyinjapan.com

Poppy’s new book A Bard’s Lament is out now!


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Author Interview – Cassie Crow

Joining me around the campfire today is YA fantasy author Cassie Crow. Settle in and enjoy!


  • Hi Cas tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

    Hi. I am the author of The Wayward Haunt, the first novel in The Wayward Series, a YA dark fantasy which was released in June 2020. Since I was very young, I’ve been drawn to stories involving the supernatural. I would spend my lunch times at school creating scary stories for my friends to listen to. Barbie and my dolls would often end up some terrible, haunted, fantasy setting of some kind. I think what inspired me to write was that for a very long time, I couldn’t. I really struggled as a kid to read and write. I hated it. Eventually I was privately tutored by a teacher named Mrs Swann who recognised my love for storytelling. She taught me to see that reading and writing weren’t any different. With her guidance, I caught up to my peers in class. I think I chose to become a writer because I needed to prove that I could do it. Now I write because I love to be creative.
  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

    I love to read and write fantasy because it takes me into another world where anything can be possible. Fantasy is always growing and evolving. Every author brings something new to the genre, which keeps the stories entertaining and interesting. You never know exactly what you are going to get when you read fantasy, because rules are unbound by reality. The author’s imagination can be limitless. I write dark fantasy because I’ve always enjoyed chilling, ominous stories. The Wayward Series is set in a war-torn, dystopian world where magic is prevalent and ghosts exist, but the themes and events are very similar to what has occurred throughout our own history. I think fantasy allows authors to write about what is happening in our own world, by exploring it through fantasy.
  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together? (include release date etc here)

    My current project is the second instalment in The Wayward Series and is the sequel to The Wayward Haunt, titled The Four Revenants. It picks up directly where The Wayward Haunt finishes. I am halfway through the first draft, which I hope to have completed by April 2021, with the novel released early 2022 (fingers crossed). Just like the first book, it has come with its challenges. Time being the biggest. I feel like there are never enough hours in the day to complete everything I wish I could do with my writing. I work part time, have to organise marketing for the first book, and write a second novel. Sometimes it’s exhausting and I have to remind myself that I’m human and need to take a break. Sometimes it’s great fun and I enjoy every moment. Funny enough, that happens after I’ve taken a break.

    The second biggest obstacle is the fantasy-world building in my story. There is so much history and detail in the world that I’ve created, that it could easily become overly complicated. My biggest fear is that the reader won’t be able to follow it. How do I overcome that? Honestly, I ignore it as I write, even though its nagging away at me. I focus on getting the story completed. After a few weeks, I’ll return to the story and read it. If the world doesn’t make sense to me, I know there’s a huge problem. I’ll need to edit and rewrite. Once it makes sense to me and I think it’s ready, I wait to see what the beta readers say. Again, if it’s too complicated, it goes through another rewrite.

    I think the best thing about writing the second novel is that I learnt so much from the first book, that the challenges are less daunting. They’re still there, but now their easier to manage.
  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?


I enjoy writing all sorts of character types. The easiest characters to create are the ones that are similar to me, or have traits I wish I had. I like to explore both the positive and negative qualities in a character. My main character in The Wayward Series, Zaya Wayward, is strong, confident, and assertive, but she’s also impulsive, judgemental, and has trust issues. I have worked hard to make sure Zaya is always driving the story. Sometimes she makes the right decision. Sometimes she makes bad ones. Just like in real life, her mood dictates what she does. I also enjoy creating villains because… well, what writer doesn’t love creating a superbad guy… or girl. You can be entirely evil and get away with it. It’s great fun. But I do try to make sure my villains aren’t two dimensional. They have a backstory. They have a motive they believe is right, no matter what the cost or sacrifice. Even in a fantasy world, the emotions and thoughts of a character need to be real and relatable. That’s the part I love developing.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

    As a writer, I think the most useful thing I’ve learned is to manage time and be realistic with what I can accomplish. Writing is hard. It took me years to learn, and I’m still learning. I am a perfectionist (something I’m teaching myself not to be), and often I’d get frustrated at how little time I had to write. When I finally did have time to write my stories at the end of the day, I was too exhausted. My writing just didn’t flow. I had to learn time management and be realistic with what I could write in that allocated time. Everyone has commitments—family, work, relationships, sport, etc. For wannabe writers out there, I suggest finding a realistic schedule that works for you. Don’t tell yourself you are going to write for five hours a day if you know that in reality it’s impossible. If you can only write an hour a day, do it. If you can spare two hours on a Saturday afternoon, do it. Writing should be fun and enjoyable, not a chore. You will learn and accomplish far more when you are in the right frame of mind.
  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

    I set daily, weekly and monthly goals with my writing. I write and write and don’t care about editing. I just get the story into the computer. The editing comes later. I take a break when I need to, because if I don’t, I will drain myself and achieve nothing. I exercise. Ideas often drift into my head when I’m out on a jog. I take a notebook with me wherever I go. Inspiration can strike at the unlikeliest of places. Some of the dialogue in The Wayward Haunt is directly from conversations I have heard among friends and colleagues. I am realistic with what I can achieve in a day, or an hour.
  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I am definitely a plotter. Everything in my stories, beginning, middle, end, scenes, chapters, are plotted out and written down. I find that this helps me to keep focus and to meet deadlines. I know exactly where I’m going with the story. Sometimes, unexpected ideas jump in my head as I write. Strangely enough, they work for the scene or chapter that I’m writing. They are always nice surprises when they occur. So yes, I am a plotter, but I do not object to new ideas coming along halfway through my stories. It keeps things interesting.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

    The Wayward Series will be a set of four books, so book three and four are in the pipeline to be written and published. I have many ideas in my head for other novels that I haven’t given attention to at this stage, because my focus is on The Wayward Series, but eventually I will delve into those other stories. I want to write a cozy murder mystery, something along the lines of Agatha Christie. Knowing me, it will have an element of horror in it.
  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

    I enjoy both. Sometimes I’m in the mood for something a little darker, scarier, and tragic. Other times I want a happy feel good story, or a story where the hero faces dangerous obstacles, but ultimately triumphs. Life throws unexpected situations at us all the time. I like stories to do the same.
  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?


To watch, precisely in that order—Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars. To read, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings. I read Lord of the Rings when I was fourteen. It’s a wonderful story. Tolkien is amazing. But honestly, I don’t have the time or the strong mental energy it would require to read it again.

Author Website: www.casecrowe.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/casecroweauthor/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/casecroweauthor/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20457182.Cas_E_Crowe


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Another Sneak Peek at Voyage for the Sundered Crown

 Book 4 in the Sundered Crown Saga will be released on December 30th so I thought I’d share another sneaky peek at the book. This scene takes place early on in the book and introduces a new monster; The Devourer.

Enjoy!


Suddenly, one of the sandbanks exploded outwards and a monster the likes he’d never seen before came screeching from it. It was like a giant worm covered in thick bony armoured plates and vicious razor-sharp spikes. The head was nothing but a cavernous maw of deadly snapping teeth. The Rider cried out, only just guiding the Whale out of the reach of the Devourer. With a thunderous boom, the Devourer crashed back down beneath the dunes sending clouds of sand flying in all directions. The whale sped on through the dunes, the Devourer hot on its heels. Luxon glanced over his shoulder and instantly regretted doing so. All he could see, and gaining quickly was that cavernous teeth filled mouth. Ferran too was looking over his shoulder, but unlike himself, there was no fear on his face, instead, his brow was knotted in concentration. The master monster hunter was studying every detail of the creature, analyzing it for any visible weakness. The Rider spurred the Whale to veer sharply to the right causing the less nimble Devourer to speed on past. It let out a frustrated screech before arching around in an attempt to re-engage its prey. Luxon pushed himself up in his seat, his arms trembling against the forces trying to pin him down. Ahead was a rocky outcropping. The Devourer couldn’t travel through the stone.

 “Head toward the outcropping!” he shouted to the panicking rider.

With a crack of the rod, the Whale veered to the right and sped toward the rocks.

 “Get ready to jump!” Luxon shouted. He followed words with action and unsnapped the harness holding him into place. Ferran likewise detached himself. It was hard to move as the speed of the Sand Whale threatened to pin them into their seats. Luxon narrowed his eyes and channelled his magic to create a shield that enveloped him, Ferran and the rider. The G-forces immediately eased allowing them to move more freely. He grabbed the rider’s hand and Ferran gripped onto his cloak tightly. The outcropping approached and Luxon jumped. With masterful skill, he cast a levitation spell that launched them high into the air and off the terrified Whale’s back. They floated across the sand and onto the high rocky cliff. A solitary dead tree stood on the peak to offer some much-needed shelter from the blazing hot sun. Once they were safely on the rock the Whale dived beneath the sand desperate to escape the monster. Strangely, the Devourer allowed the Whale to go, its attention fixed on them.

 “I can’t be the only who thinks it strange that such a beast would be more interested in us than such a large potential meal,” Ferran remarked.

 Luxon crouched and watched the Devourer as it circled the outcropping. In its huge armoured head was a solitary red eye that was fixed on them. He closed his eyes and focused on the monster. There was a familiar presence emanating from it, one that he’d hoped they would not encounter so far from Delfinnia.

 “N’Gist magic,” he muttered. There was no mistaking it. The gnashing monster below was one made from the darkest sorcery.

 A shout came from below. Sir Beric and the other Bannerlords had arrived. Hastily they disembarked their Sand Whale and hurried toward the rocks. To Luxon’s surprise, the Devourer ignored them.

 “Er, it really seems to like you, Luxon,” Ferran said.

The Bannerlords clambered up the outcropping and joined them at the top.

 “There’s the hideous beast,” wheezed Beric. Despite the desert heat he and his companions were wearing their plate armour. On their backs in packs was an array of weaponry.

 The Devourer’s red eye stared unblinking at the outcropping it’s body eerily still.

 “I trust it didn’t do this when you first encountered it?” Ferran asked Beric.

 “No. When we faced it the beast attacked without mercy. It ate our horses first and then two of our squires. The poor sots didn’t stand a chance. Ah well-”

Beric said as he took a spear from one of his comrades “it’s still as a rock now. Let’s kill this thing.”

His squire handed him a spear. Creeping to the edge of the outcropping he drew back his arm and hurled the weapon with all his might. Just as the spear looked as though it would strike its intended target, the eye snapped shut. The spear struck armoured shell to spin wildly and harmlessly off its surface. Beric swore loudly.

 The eye opened again, it stared at Luxon.

“What’s up with this thing?” Beric grumbled taking another spear from his comrades. The four Bannerlords stepped to the edge and all hurled their spears. Again, the weapons bounced off its armoured shell.

 “Let me try something,” Ferran said as he conjured a fireball into existence. With a flick of the wrist, the magical projectile shot downwards to strike the Devourer. The flame engulfed the monster but instead of it retreating in pain as expected it began to vibrate.

 To their surprise, the creature absorbed the flames and with a sickening crack, the shell split and it began to grow in height. It grew so high that now it’s snapping jaws were just a few feet from the top of the outcropping.


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