Interview with author, John Manuel

Today, I am pleased to welcome British author, John Manuel who lives on the Greek island of Rhodes. I met John on Facebook, where he runs A Good Greek Read, a flourishing Facebook group for people who love Greek books. Make sure to check it out if you like your reads soaked in Greek sunshine! I recently read John’s book, Eve of Deconstruction, loved it, and highly recommend it for your reading pleasure. And now, let me introduce John – wuhoo! – and he’s brought a few photos, I see. Stick around to take a look!

Chippenham UK, present day. Eve Watkins is a fairly average modern woman in her early forties with two teenage kids, a loving husband with a steady job and career of her own. It looks like her average life is fairly uneventful, yet secure. Following the death of her mother she discovers things about her own past that come as a complete surprise to Eve. These lead her eventually out to a small village in mainland Greece, where developments soon lead to her life beginning to deconstruct before her.

Ought she to have let sleeping dogs lie? Yet she knows she has to find out. She has to know who she really is. Whatever the cost.

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Sometimes the past comes back to haunt you, but occasionally it comes back to bite.

Dean and Alyson are two young people who come together in a bar one evening in their home city of Bath, UK. Alyson’s mother once worked with Brian, a musician who never quite “made it”, but ends up playing guitar and singing in a Lindian Bar. Quite how Brian and Christine (Alyson’s mother) come to have a devastating effect on their daughter’s relationship with the man of her dreams will have you gripped, both with emotion and with intrigue.

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When Lewis and his Greek wife Katerini return to the island of her birth for a visit, neither could have predicted the series of events that would unfold, resulting in both of them coming to wonder if they’ll ever see each other again. Katerini, though, wonders if she’ll even live to see anyone at all…

The story revolves around a sensitive social issue that is perhaps surprisingly a problem even in small family-oriented communities in Greece. Most people have a conscience that will make them pay for wrongdoing, even if the law doesn’t…

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Hello John and welcome to my blog!

Thank you, Fros, it’s great to be here!

What was the first thing you ever wrote and how old were you then?

I won a school competition when I was probably only about 8. I’d written something about, wait for it, what I did during the school holidays! Although I was primarily best at all things artistic, I did even then derive a lot of pleasure from writing. When it was time to make my career choice though, I opted for graphic design. Never quite gave up the desire to write though.

Tell us a little about your published work so far.

I’ve published four Grecian memoirs, which I like to call “lighthearted”, and four novels.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters, or do any of them have traits you wish you had?

I’m definitely partially in the character Dean, the “hero” of my first novel, “The View From Kleoboulos”. Not wholly though!

What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).

I’m working on a memoir covering ten years of living on Rhodes, warts and all.

Sounds interesting! What genres do you read mostly, and what are you reading now?

I like virtually anything that’s intelligent. I’m currently reading a Philippa Gregory and I’ve just finished “Six Years” by Harlan Coben, who is new to me, but I’ll definitely be checking out his other work. I do enjoy C. J. Sansom’s historical novels too, set as they are around real events in history. Of course I intersperse such reads with some good Greek ones. Books I’ve read in this “genre” recently include “100 Days of Solitude” by Daphne Kapsali, “Homer’s Where the Heart Is” by Marjory McGinn and something by someone called Effrosyni something-or-other called “The Necklace of Goddess Athena”. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

Yeah, rings a bell (*chuckles*) Thank you for the kind mention, John. And I love the works of Daphne and Marjory! Do you have any author advice to share?

Loads, but one of the most important things is to make sure your books have well-designed covers. In this business it may be sad, but people will judge a book by its cover. If your cover looks amateur then you’ve already lost a huge chunk of your potential audience.

So true! Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?

The website’s a fairly exhaustive look at all my work as a writer, with extensive background info and photos, especially from the factual memoir books. The blog attempts to be a thorough reference point for anyone visiting Rhodes who wants to get the absolute best out of a visit here. I’ve posted info about things to see, places to stay, where to eat and drink, how to visit the other islands that are within easy reach, stuff like that. It’s become a gargantuan task keeping it current – there are so many links in it now.

Oh, I love your blog, John. It provides a wealth of information, indeed, and with such beautiful photographs! Lovers of all things Greek will find it a delight, I am sure. Tell us John, being an author involves a lot of sitting around. What do you do for exercise?

My wife and I walk. We do very long walks during the winter months. We also care for a very large garden.

Oh, look at the blue of the sea! Where are you in these photos?

My wife is photographed above the Acropolis of Lindos in the first photo. In the second one we are in Kiotari beach near our home. And in this one below I am in Vlicha, which is near Lindos…

 

I love Rhodes! Thank you for sharing these. On to the next question: what do you enjoy the most as an indie author that you imagine you wouldn’t if you were traditionally published? If you had a choice would you still go indie?

I enjoy the total control of being an indie, but if I’m honest I’d rather like just one of my works to be picked up by an agent or publisher. It may even put me back in the tax bracket income-wise!

I agree… Hybrid authors have the best of both worlds – i.e. you can be indie/independent with most of your books but can benefit at the same time from the marketing boost a publisher can offer with a book or two. I wish it for you, John! What are the things in your life that you’re most grateful for?

John in Naxos, his favorite Greek island for a holiday escape.

My health, my wife, having had wonderful parents. Music: my iPod is always by my bedside. I’m an old prog-rocker, plus I love electric and acoustic blues music. Partial to a little Laika too, especially Vasilis Karras, Stratos Dionyssiou, Pascalis Tersis. My absolute favourite Greek musician though is Nikos Portokaloglou, who I’d describe as a Greek Paul Weller.

(*Chuckles*) I’d never thought of Portokaloglou as Paul Weller! I don’t follow his music though, so I’ll take your word for it! Any other photos you wish to share with us today?

Just a couple more…

Oh, wow. This looks so serene. And I love the view… Is this your big garden at home that you mentioned earlier?

Yes, that’s right. We particularly enjoy the serenity early in the evening when we sit outside with a drink in the summer months.

Delightful! And this beautiful boat? Where is that?

This was taken in Halki, the inspiration for the fictitious isle of Spilos, where the action takes place in “Sometimes You Just Can’t Tell.”

Wonderful. Thank you for your time, John. It’s been a pleasure.

Thank you for the opportunity to present my work, Fros!

 

 

Born in Bath, UK, John Manuel has been living and writing on the Greek island of Rhodes since 2005, when he and his wife arrived there from the UK. During his working life he was a graphic designer, but was also a perpetually frustrated musician and writer. Having always loved words and reading, one of his goals on arriving to start a new life on Rhodes was to begin writing his memoirs about his Greek experience.

John’s wife Yvonne (known to her Greek friends as Maria) is half Greek, her mother having been born in Athens. Thus John’s writings reflect the insight gained from the contact he’s had with his Greek relatives, especially during his early visits to the country when he and his wife would often stay with them in Athens.

John contributed several articles to the glossy “Greece” magazine in the UK and has also had a brief article published in the EasyJet in-flight magazine in 2013.

Since February 2015, John also is the administrator of a Facebook group called “A Good Greek Read”, which is growing very quickly into a global community of avid readers of literature with a Greek connection.

Website: http://johnphilipmanuel.wixsite.com/works

Blog: https://ramblingsfromrhodes.blogspot.gr

Amazon page:  US   UK

Facebook group, A Good Greek Read: https://www.facebook.com/groups/866776986702535/  (Unmissable if you love Greek books!)

NEWSFLASH: John recently hosted an interview with yours truly on his beautiful blog! There, I talk about my seaside town near Athens, my granny’s cooking, and how plotting my books helped increase my productivity! Check it out here

 

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Interview with Lukas Konandreas, author of Better Dead Than Divorced

Hello! Today, I am thrilled to share an author interview with Lukas Konandreas – a Greek doctor living in the USA who has published a real-life crime story from rural Greece in the 1950s. Back then, Lukas Konandreas’ father had a beloved cousin called Panayota. When he found out her violent and unfaithful husband planned to have her killed, he begged her to leave him, but she refused, not wanting to be stigmatized in the village as a ‘divorcee’. Choosing to live with the mortal danger instead, she stayed at home and eventually got murdered. The book tells a gruesome and riveting story of crime and punishment that provides food for thought and highlights the terrible social restraints women suffered in small village communities in the 1950s. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this true-life gem and will be reviewing it soon. For now, let’s meet Lukas and hear about the man himself and what drove him to tell this compelling story.

A romance. A forced marriage. A scandalous affair. A hit-man. A TRUE STORY.

“Better dead than divorced,” responds a young abused wife living in the confines of a traditional and isolated town… to those who urge her to divorce her controlling, manipulative husband.
A village dances, gunshots are heard; the town is divided. The court takes over.

Her cousin, a principled man, fights beyond his modest means to bring her husband, who has influence in the court system, to justice.

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The paperback is also available in Greek. VISIT AMAZON   US   UK

Hello Lukas and welcome to my blog!

Thank you for inviting me, Effrosyni.

What has inspired you to write Better Dead Than Divorced?

I was inspired by many true-to-life insights contained and exemplified mainly by Panayota. Though she was finally murdered for reasons hardly anybody would appreciate today, her dedication and love towards her husband signifies utter commitment and a tragically heroic act, known only in the tragedies of ancient Greece.

I was also inspired by two other people: Thanasis, my father, who persevered against all adversities and odds making sure justice finally prevailed, and Demosthenes Dapontes, the only juror who after nearly 8 hours of deliberations and likely pressures from the other 9 jurors, listened to his honor and conscience and dissented, thus giving the opportunity to justice to hold a second court.

It must feel like a huge accomplishment for you, to have told this harrowing family story so well and after such lengthy and difficult research…

Yes, it’s true. And I am very proud of the book, not just for the 8 national awards it’s won but also because of the wonderful feedback I receive from readers.

Any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your spare time?

I am still practicing Medicine and of course I write. Playing some golf, taking care of my garden, flowers, orchard trees and swimming fill up, in fact overfill, my time.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters, or do any of them have traits you wish you had?

I see myself in my father whose tenacity and courage carried him to the end of the legal battle despite all odds. Also I wish I could have the opportunity to do what Demosthenes Dapontes did.

What genres do you read mostly, and what are you reading now?

History. True crime. Autobiography if I feel it is honest. Family stories with true-to-life insights. At present I am finishing “Excellent Daughters” by Katherine Zoepf.

Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?

By going to www.betterdeadthandivorced.com, you will first see a landscape of Greece and flashing key phrases describing the story. What follows is the front cover of “Better Dead Than Divorced,” some of the awards my book has won, blog posts with excerpts, my biography, some book reviews and finally photos with captions contained in the book.

If you could have one superpower what would it be?

To bring back the main characters in my story ( Panayota, Thanasis, Dapontes) and interview them OR as a compromise, have the two courts in my story in a video and watch them.

What do you think the qualifications of a good nonfiction author should be?

Sincerity. Patience. Intense research. Honesty. Determination to start the writing process. Also, the ability to ask people whose judgement you trust to critique the writing and express their honest opinion but manage to keep the final decision for yourself. More than anything, to write from the heart.

Your book “Better Dead Than Divorced” talks about the position of women many years ago. Yet similar conditions still exist in many parts of the world. Do you think the sacrifice of Panayota, the heroine in your story, could spark a “revolution” among these women?

I would prefer it to become an “Example” instead of a “Revolution.”  This is because the media today can create an example with the same effectiveness as a revolution. I have seen in my lifetime many people divorce almost because it was fashionable and for reasons that could have been resolved in the marriage. 

What are the things in your life that you’re most grateful for?

My good Health. My solid family. My success in my professional carreer. The fortune to live in the USA, land of opportunity.

How would you like to be remembered?

Optimistic, Resilient, a fearless achiever.

Have you brought any photos to show us today, Lukas?

Oh yes! I’ve brought four. The first one was taken in the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Athens Olympics. The other picture is of my wife and me taken last year.

Lovely! And oh – what do we have here? Cowboys!? I’m intrigued!

*Laughs* Here you can see my family enjoying horseback riding in Wyoming. The last one is of my two sons and me in Yellow Stone National Park USA at a country cook out. 

Great pictures and a lovely family! Thank you for sharing these, Lukas. And many thanks for this chat. It’s been wonderful to have you here today.

Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my work, Effrosyni. I really enjoyed myself!

Lukas Konandreas, M.D., one of four children, was born in Kupaki, a small mountain village in central Greece. He finished elementary school there and high school in Athens, Greece.

After graduating from the Medical School of the University of Athens, he migrated to Toronto, Canada, and from there he received medical training in Chicago and Fresno, CA. He practiced Emergency Medicine in Sacramento, CA for 6 years and from there he moved to Connecticut. There he started an Urgent Care Center, which he still directs.

He is married to Georgia, a Doctor of Psychology, and has two sons.

He published his first book, Better Dead Than Divorced, after spending over ten years exhaustively researching the source material. The book won the 2015 Bronze Nonfiction Book Award.

For more info, visit: http://www.betterdeadthandivorced.com/

A video about the book on Annita Pania’s Greek TV show on channel ‘E’ that includes an interview with Lukas Konandreas (Greek language):

 

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Interview with Kathryn Gauci

Today I’m pleased to welcome Kathryn Gauci, a Brit living in Australia. Kathryn’s historical saga, The Embroiderer, takes the reader on a riveting journey through tumultuous historical events from the Asia Minor Catastrophe in 1922 to Greece in the 1970s. Kathryn is a woman of various artistic talents, as you’ll find out during our chat today!

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1822: During one of the bloodiest massacres of The Greek War of Independence, a child is born to a woman of legendary beauty in the Byzantine monastery of Nea Moni on the Greek island of Chios. The subsequent decades of bitter struggle between Greeks and Turks simmer to a head when the Greek army invades Turkey in 1919. During this time, Dimitra Lamartine arrives in Smyrna and gains fame and fortune as an embroiderer to the elite of Ottoman society. However it is her grand-daughter, Sophia, who takes the business to great heights only to see their world come crashing down with the outbreak of The Balkan Wars, 1912-13. In 1922, Sophia begins a new life in Athens but the memory of a dire prophecy once told to her grandmother about a girl with flaming red hair begins to haunt her with devastating consequences. 1972: Eleni Stephenson is called to the bedside of her dying aunt in Athens. In a story that rips her world apart, Eleni discovers the chilling truth behind her family’s dark past plunging her into the shadowy world of political intrigue, secret societies and espionage where families and friends are torn apart and where a belief in superstition simmers just below the surface.

(A Greek translation will be available in bookstores throughout Greece from September.)

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Hello Kathryn and welcome to my blog!

Thank you, Effrosyni. I’m thrilled to be here today.

What has inspired you to write The Embroiderer?

The seeds of The Embroiderer were sown during my years working as a carpet designer in Greece, 1972-78. The company was situated in a suburb of Athens populated by refugees from The Asia Minor Catastrophe, 1922-23. Working among these people, many of the older generation who still conversed in Turkish, I grew to understand the impact of the disaster and the intense yearning these people still held for their lost homelands (once a part of Greece, now in Turkey), the land of their forefathers where they were no longer able to reside in. Significantly they shared a separate sense of identity, so much so that fifty years after the Catastrophe, many of them still referred to themselves as Mikrasiates (Asia Minor people) and still chose to intermarry.

The Asia Minor Catastrophe was a pivotal turning point in Greek/Turkish relations. Friction between the countries had begun a century earlier with the Greek War of Independence. Millions lost their lives in the 1920s and out of the ashes emerged two new nations – the Turkish Republic under the soldier statesman, Ataturk, and the Hellenic Republic – modern Greece.

Today, most of the white-washed prefabricated homes in the refugee neighborhoods in Athens have been replaced by apartment blocks, but the street names still bear testament to their origins: Byzantium Street, Pergamum St, Anatolia St, Bouboulina St, and Misolonghi St. to name just a few. Women no longer spill out of their doorways sitting with their neighbors and chatting while embroidering cloth for their daughters’ dowries. There are not many basement shops selling bric-a-brac and musical instruments from the ‘old world’ any more but, if we look closer, the history and the spirit of these people still resonate in their everyday lives. You’ll find them in their music, their food, the plethora of Turkish words and phrases that punctuate the Greek language, and the ancient belief in the evil eye. Most important of all, it is through the time-honored tradition of storytelling that keep their memories alive.

The Embroiderer is as much their story as it is mine.

I can sense your love for these people in your words. It’s very moving, Kathryn. The yearning of the Mikrasiates for their lost lands is well recognized still by the average Greek. What was the first thing you ever wrote and how old were you then?

It was a “mini” novel called Adventure in Spain which I wrote in a notebook when I was twelve. Amazingly, I still have it. It’s hilarious but it does show that even at that age, I had that yearning for adventure.

Any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your spare time?

When I gave up textile designing to write, I still wanted to keep my hand in design so I bought a kiln and took classes on glass slumping and flame-worked jewellery. I love the translucency of glass and the way the colors react with each other. From time to time, I still put together ranges which I sell in a glass gallery in Melbourne. I also love to cook and am constantly trying out new recipes.

Oh my goodness! Well done, these are fabulous! What are you working on at the moment?

My current WIP is set in France (with a small section in England) during WWII. It’s a suspense story which developed while researching The Embroiderer – spies, clandestine operations of the Resistance, etc., and a fated love affair, of course. After this one, the novels will be set back in Greece and Turkey. I have at least four different themes lined up – different eras and places, although one is speaking to me louder than the others and I am already working on the plot.

It all sounds very intriguing! Who are your favorite authors, and what do you love about them?

Louis de Bernieres, Orhan Pamuk, Giles Morton, Khaled Hosseini, Sebastian Faulks, Rohinton Mistry. Of the older ones, Kazantzakis and D.H.Lawrence. I love their writing style, the settings, the emotions they evoke, and their strong characters. Most of all, I love it when I can immerse myself in another time and place and get swept along in their struggles.

I love Louis De Bernieres! Birds Without Wings, set in Asia Minor, is one of the most astounding and unforgettable books I’ve ever read. Kathryn, being an author involves a lot of sitting around. What do you do for exercise?

I’m still working on that, Effrosyni! I’m great at making excuses – you know the sort – it’s too cold, too hot, not enough time etc., and much prefer to cook or sit in the garden enjoying a glass of wine. Having said that, I have started on my walks again and aim to walk five days a week.

Sounds like a terrific plan! Choose a male and a female character from your book and tell us which actor and actress you’d cast to play them in a film adaptation.

Hard to choose. Perhaps Maria Nafpliou as Sophia, Sissi Hristidou as the red-haired Maria, and for the men, either Theo Theodoridis or Panayiotis Bougiouris for Andreas or Nikolai. I’d also love to see the Turkish actor Yılmaz Erdoğan as Vedat Aksoy.

Describe your workstation. Are there any favorite objects you have there for inspiration?

My writing room

I write in a small room surrounded by books. It opens out onto a patio. I have photographs of my cats on a nearby shelf, especially one who sat with me while I was writing The Embroiderer. I might make notes everywhere else but it’s only in this room that I can pull it all together. I rarely listen to music here except when I need to conjure up a particular mood in my writing.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in life the hard way?

Nothing comes easy. You have to work to get what you want.

Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?

I love writing blogs. It hones my writing skills and allows me to indulge in a subject that takes my fancy. Unfortunately I haven’t yet mastered the art of the short blog post so I usually do this twice a month. The themes are almost always on Greek or Turkish subjects. They can range from oriental carpets and fashion, to mastic from Chios or the Asia Minor Catastrophe and are usually art and history based. Like yourself, I also do author interviews under the heading A Literary Life. At the moment I interview Greek authors and I am looking forward to doing one with you very soon, especially as you have your new book coming out.

Thank you Kathryn. I hope to publish The Amulet sometime in the next few months and will get back to you on this kind offer in due course. Thank you for being here with us today; it was a treat for me!

And a pleasure for me, Effrosyni. Many thanks!

Kathryn Gauci2

Kathryn Gauci was born in Leicestershire, England, and studied textile design at Loughborough College of Art and later at Kidderminster College of Art and Design where she specialized in carpet design and technology. After graduating, Kathryn spent a year in Vienna, Austria before moving to Greece where she worked as a carpet designer in Athens for six years. There followed another brief period in New Zealand before eventually settling in Melbourne, Australia.

Before turning to writing full-time, Kathryn ran her own textile design studio in Melbourne for over fifteen years, work which she enjoyed tremendously as it allowed her the luxury of traveling worldwide, often taking her off the beaten track and exploring other cultures. The Embroiderer is her first novel; a culmination of those wonderful years of design and travel, and especially of those glorious years in her youth living and working in Greece – a place that she is proud to call her spiritual home.

Website: http://www.kathryngauci.com/

Blog: http://www.kathryngauci.com/blog/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/KathrynGauci

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006545417928

 

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Interview with Maria Savva

Today, I’m pleased to welcome a Londoner, who happens to be one of my oldest Greek online friends. Maria Savva writes terrific short stories and loves to promote music as well as books. If you love Rock music, you’ll love the exciting resources Maria shares today!

 

atimetotell

A family saga spanning fifty years and three generations…

Cara fell for the tall, dark, handsome stranger, fifty years before. Now Frederick is about to return to her life. Can true love stand the test of time?

When Cara’s granddaughter, Penelope, flees her home to escape a violent husband, Cara’s world is turned upside down. She returns to Huddlesea, the town she grew up in. Her estranged sister Gloria is less than happy to see her again. Can they rebuild their relationship after the tragic circumstances that tore them apart?

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lostandfound

Human nature is not neat and predictable.

What makes us betray a loved one?
Can isolation lead to irrational behaviour?
Why do other people’s lives always look more appealing?

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File created with CoreGraphics

Nigel Price has MURDER on his mind.

He can run but he cannot hide. Nigel’s past has come back to haunt him. The truth is, his past has never left him… it follows him without remorse, catching him at every turn. There is no escape. Regret, guilt, nightmares, despair… these fill his every waking hour and disturb his sleepless nights.

Take a trip inside Nigel’s mind, in this dark, psychological thriller with a paranormal twist.

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Hello Maria! Welcome to my blog!

Thank you for inviting me, Fros!

Maria, knowing what a prolific author you are, I bet you’re always working on something new. So, what are your current projects?

(*laughs*) Indeed. I’m currently working on a new novel. The first draft was easy enough to write. It only took two months and that was working around my full-time day job. The editing is a different story! I had it edited by Bob Helle who is a professional editor I found through my good friend Darcia Helle (the surname is a coincidence; they are not related as far as they know!) I then sent the book out to a couple of beta readers. One of the beta readers was Darcia. She spotted my ignorance about the difference between stun guns and tasers, and she also found a couple of other minor issues. This led to me re-reading the book and changing some bits. I am known for being obsessive about editing and every time I read the book I find more things to edit. So far the editing process for this one has been about ten times longer than writing the first draft! I think the light is at the end of the tunnel though, and I should hopefully be sending that out for formatting soon.

I’ve also started another collection of short stories. These were five stories that just came to me in the space of about the same number of days. They are at the very rough draft stage at the moment, but I’m hoping to make them part of a collection.

Any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your spare time?

I love music and going to gigs. I started writing a music blog a few years ago for the UK Arts Directory and when that closed down last year, Maria Haskins (author and poet) asked if I’d like to join her Real Rock and Roll music blog. She’s been running that for a few years and we have a very similar taste in music. I suggested that Darcia Helle also joins us because she’s as mad about music as I am. Now the three of us have two blogs between us, Real Rock and Roll, and another one called Soundwaves Review for anything that is not-quite-rock. It’s a lot of fun being part of that blogging gang, and all the new music I’m finding feeds my music addiction (*smiles*)

Sounds wonderful! Which are your favorite authors, and what do you love about them?

More and more these days, my favorite authors are my fellow indie authors. I love the passion they have for the writing and how they keep going even when there is no sign of any reward at the end of all the hard work. Some of my favorites are Darcia Helle and Maria Haskins (my two fellow music bloggers, who also help to keep me sane!) Michael Radcliffe, who is one of the most talented authors I’ve had the pleasure to know and is also so kind and helpful; Julie Elizabeth Powell, who has written hundreds of books by now, I think. She’s a great friend and very supportive. Her writing is so imaginative. I’ll stop there, but I have been blessed with many wonderful indie author friends and the great thing is I also love their writing.

Do you have any advice for other indie authors?

Try to make sure your book is the best it can be before you publish it. The urge to publish quickly is always there, especially when you write your first book because there is a lot of excitement about getting the thing published. Publish in haste, repent at leisure. I read a lot of indie books because I like to support indie authors and I do notice lots of typos. The stories are usually great, but the editing lets them down. Just taking that extra time to polish the manuscript really makes a difference. I’d recommend always using a professional editor for novels, as well as a few beta readers. Every reader will be reading the book from a different perspective and so you’ll get more accurate feedback if you use a few beta readers.

Are there any sites or writing tools that you find useful and wish to recommend?

My cover designer Kat from Aeternum Design is amazing. She designed the covers for “A Time to Tell” and “Lost and Found”, and I’m also using her for my new novel. I used to design my own covers, but have learned that for a book to sell it has to have a certain type of cover. Professional cover designers know what sells and what doesn’t. It’s all about marketing and reader expectation of what should be on a cover. It’s like a different language. For example, I went to a conference a few years ago and was told that for a chick lit book there should always be some pink on the cover and the title should be in swirly script, and it should include a woman’s leg from the knee down.

That’s right. There are standards in images, colors and fonts so the reader is informed about the genre on a subconscious level as soon as they lay eyes on the cover. It’s pretty thrilling once you’ve delved into this. It amazes me as well.

(For the benefit of my readers, here’s a pretty awesome post on the subject on Freebooksy).

Indeed. Now, I would never have guessed most of that, but apparently it’s what sells the most. I think spending a bit of money on a good cover is worth it in the end.

Also, I’d recommend EBookBuilders for formatting e-books. I think they also do print books now too. My contact there is Deena; She’s an expert in book formatting!

Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?

My website is designed and maintained by someone else because I am clueless about setting up websites. He did a great job with the design. Readers can find all my books listed on the site. I try to add news there whenever I have a new release. It links to my Goodreads blog, which is where I do most of my writing-related blogging. I’ve posted my book trailers there, and there’s information as to where you can buy the books. I’ve also added some links to other sites, and to my social media.

What do you enjoy the most as an indie author that you imagine you wouldn’t if you were traditionally published? If you had a choice would you still go indie?

I think I’d miss the freedom to publish something exactly the way I want to publish it. I’ve heard that editors for mainstream publishers will change things because they are only interested in what will sell. There is a formula for what sells books and that means that there are certain expectations. Just like the book cover design, there are things that readers want and expect. The big publishers have obviously tapped into that formula, so if I publish through them I’d probably get sales, but at what cost? I think there is a place for all types of literature. I read so much fantastic indie fiction that is being turned down by the big publishing houses. Readers are missing out on these gems. It’s like all the indie music that I’ve been discovering on my blog; there is an underground scene that no one knows about but it’s brilliant. As indies we just need to find a way to tap into the market. Obviously, if I was offered a publishing contract with a major publisher I’d consider it, but it would have to be under the right terms. I wouldn’t want to sell my soul.

What were your most and least favorite subjects in school?

I loved History, Biology, Art, and English Literature. I didn’t understand Physics. I was actually a genius at Maths until about the age of ten and then it went downhill. I failed the O-Level!

LOL! This has been a delightful chat. Thank you for your time, Maria.

Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my work, Fros.

 

Maria

Maria Savva lives and works in London. She is a lawyer, although not currently practicing law. She writes novels and short stories in various genres, including drama, psychological thriller, and family saga. Her short stories have appeared in the BestsellerBound Anthologies and she is a regular contributor to the The Mind’s Eye series of books. Maria is also a music blogger at Real Rock and Roll, and Soundwaves Review.

Website:  http://www.mariasavva.com/site/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Maria_Savva

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Author-Maria-Savva-171466979781/

Real Rock and Roll blog: https://realrockandroll.wordpress.com/

Soundwaves Review blog: http://soundwavesreview.com/

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Interview with Isabelle Broom

Today I’m pleased to welcome Isabelle Broom, a fabulous author from Britain. Her novel, My Map of You, is set on the stunning Greek island of Zakynthos (Zante). The book is on my TBR list and I can’t wait to start reading. Take a look!

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Holly Wright has had a difficult few years. After her mother’s death, she’s become expert at keeping people at a distance – including her boyfriend, Rupert. But when Holly receives an unexpected letter explaining that an aunt she never met has left her a house on the Greek island of Zakynthos, the walls she has built begin to crumble. Arriving on the island, Holly meets the handsome Aidan and slowly begins to uncover the truth about the secret which tore her family apart. But is the island where Holly really belongs? Or will her real life catch up with her first?

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Ed waited until all the eyes in the room were on him before he began. He took a deep breath, inhaling as he did so the sweet scent from the lilies, which were arranged extravagantly in front of him. ‘Ladies and gents, I promise to try and keep this short and sweet…’

When Billy asked his best mate Ed to be his best man, Ed knew he would have to make a speech and he was dreading it. But he also knew how important it was to Billy – and to his soul mate and wife-to-be, Amelia. So Ed is determined to do them proud. But little does he know that it will be the most important speech he will ever make, and his toast – ‘To Billy and Amelia – together forever’ – will mean more than he ever thought.

A beautiful short story to remind you of the importance of love.

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Three women. Three love stories. One city.

For Megan, visiting Prague with her friend Ollie is just business. Nothing more. Because if she admits the truth she might lose everything.

For Hope, this trip is a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she’s struggling to enjoy the city when she knows how angry her daughter is. And that it’s all her fault.

For Sophie, Prague has always been magical. And now she’s counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her in the city that holds so many of their memories . . .

On preorder – Visit Amazon  UK

 

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Hello Isabelle and welcome to my blog!

Thank you Fros, it’s exciting to be here!

What has inspired you to write My Map Of You?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, for pretty much as far back as I can remember, and I’ve been coming up with stories since I was a child. When it came to a novel, though, I struggled. I wanted to write something with meaning, a book I could be proud of set in a place I loved and about a subject that meant something to me. When I first visited the Greek island of Zakynthos back in 2000, I knew I’d found the place. I fell in love with it immediately, and I’ve always had such a deep pull to the island. It was this feeling, this sense of being a home, that I wanted to explore in a novel. So, over time and through my own confusion, heartbreak and self-discovery, My Map Of You began to emerge.

I know what you mean. Zakynthos is stunning! What was the first thing you ever wrote and how old were you then?

The Shipwreck (Navayio), the most prominent landmark of Zakynthos

I used to have this big blue exercise book, and each page had a space for a picture above around ten lines for words. I would draw a picture on the top half of the page, and then write a short story to go with it. They had titles such as “The Magic Rubber”, “The Music Box” and “The Very Happy Pencil” – but I was only five or six at the time, so you’ll have to forgive me!

LOL! What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).

I’m currently wrestling with the edit of my second novel, A Year And A Day, which will be released on 17th November this year. It’s another escapist romantic drama, this time set in Prague a few weeks before Christmas. It follows three women, who arrive in the city as strangers but leave with their lives inextricably linked forever. It’s a story about the power of love, and being brave enough to put your heart on the line.

Sounds like a heart-warming Christmas read! Choose a male and a female character from your book and tell us which actor and actress you’d cast to play them in a film adaptation.

Oh, I love this question! Let’s start with my heroine Holly who, in my mind, has always looked like the actress/author/vlogger/all-round superstar Giovanna Fletcher. She has the same dark curly hair and quiet beauty as my Holly. Aidan would definitely have to be played by Aidan Turner (aka Poldark). He’s tall, dark, Irish and absolutely gorgeous, so he’s pretty much perfect!

Being an author involves a lot of sitting around. What do you do for exercise?

Max

It really does, well, except for the times when you get stuck and need to take a walk to chase around all the thoughts in your head. Walking is what I do a lot of – not least because I have a lovely dog, Max, who would go stir crazy if I didn’t take him out. I also run in my lunch hours. I’ve even gone into the ballot for the London Marathon this year – gulp!

What a cutie Max is! And bravo for running a marathon! Describe your workstation. Are there any favorite objects you have there for inspiration?

Being a writer of escapist fiction means that I often write on the move, in airports, on planes, trains or in bars and hotels at my chosen destination – but my main writing space is my bedroom here in London. I have a nice big desk, and I always decorate the wall with pictures that inspire me. I keep my Once Upon A Time mug that was a gift from my editor close at hand (usually full of tea), and a copy of My Map Of You whenever I need to remind myself what I’m working towards. To be honest, though, once I’m in the zone, I’m rarely that aware of my surroundings.

Oh yes. When in the zone I can’t see or hear a thing either, LOL. Is there anything you like to do to get the creative juices flowing when you write?

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Aside from tramping through the local parks with Max, I find reading aloud from the beginning of whatever chapter I’m working on really helps get me back into the zone. I never sit down to write without a cup of tea, and increasingly I have nuts to snack on, too. Better than chocolate, I suppose, but still not ideal. Max likes to hang out with me when I’m writing, but he’s so adorable that it’s actually more of a distraction than help!

Hm! Hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts… I can never have enough. But, they’re terribly nutritious, aren’t they? Surely this is a pro!

(*giggles*) Definitely!

If you could have one superpower what would it be?

Oh, gosh – what a question! This is going to sound weird, but I’m going to choose the ability to sleep. I’ve been a chronic insomniac for years now, and I think of good sleepers as superheroes. Zakynthos is actually one of the only places on the planet where I find sleeping easy, which is a big reason why it’s also my favorite. If I didn’t go over there regularly and catch up on all my sleepless nights, I’d probably have passed out at my writing desk long ago.

You poor thing! Wish I could give some of my early morning and post-lunch sleepiness to you!

(*Rolls eyes*) If only, Fros!

What are the things in your life that you’re most grateful for?

My family, my health, my sense of humor – I’m also lucky enough to have some of the best friends in the entire world. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned that what really matters most of all is happiness. I always remember that saying: “Because when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing.” It really is!

Thank you for sharing this motto, I love it! How would you like to be remembered?

As a kind and loyal friend who loved to laugh – someone who made others happy.

How sweet… Thank you for being here with us today, Isabelle. It’s been an utter delight for me!

Thank you, Fros. I’ve really enjoyed our chat too!

 

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Isabelle Broom was born in Cambridge nine days before the 1980s began and studied Media Arts at the University of West London before starting a career first in local newspapers and then as a sub editor at Heat magazine. Nowadays, when she’s not writing novels set in far-flung locations, Isabelle spends her time being the Book Reviews Editor at Heat and walking her beloved dog Max round the parks of north London. Oh, and she does a lot of laughing, too. Her debut novel My Map Of You, published by Penguin Michael Joseph, is out now.

If you like pictures of dogs, chatter about books and very bad jokes, you can follow her on Twitter  or Facebook at:

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Isabelle_Broom

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

A chat about insomnia, nuts and #Zante with author @Isabelle_Broom #ASMSG #IAN1 Click To Tweet
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Interview with Yannis Nikolakopoulos

Today I’m pleased to present a different kind of author and book: Yannis Nikolakopoulos is a Greek from Australia. He writes delightful children’s books that teach the young ones Greek the fun way, while delving into the Greek culture as well. Here’s a fine sample:

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Today is Sofia’s nameday and her cousins are coming to visit. She has to prepare a salad, but all the ingredients are busy in the Olympic games! Can she and Artmeis her cat make the salad in time?” The Greek Salad is an adventure in the kitchen that teaches kids their first Greek words using fun stories, characters and games. By placing the included stickers in your kitchen, you can continue the lesson and effortlessly integrate Greek into your child’s life. Written inline in English, Greek and Greeklish, no knowledge of Greek is needed for a parent to read the story in Greek to their children, and as the child grows into being able to read themselves, they can also discover the language without prior knowledge of the Greek alphabet.

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Hello Yannis and welcome to my blog!

Hi, Fros! Great to be here!

What has inspired you to write The Greek Salad ?

A very strong cup of coffee in 2009 is to blame.  It was like a lightning bolt of inspiration and I had an entire series of stories and characters in my mind that would bring Greek history, philosophy, culture, and most importantly, language into children’s lives.  Since then I have fleshed out the characters, scoured the world for the perfect illustrators to bring them to life, and drafted over 40 children’s book stories, each of which is a micro-lesson in some aspect of Greek culture. The Greek salad is the first book for the youngest kids; it is designed to familiarize them with a few basic words, and to turn the act of making a salad into a fun game.

What was the first thing you ever wrote and how old were you then?

When I was 6 years old I wrote a story about the giants hiding in volcanoes and how they had to control their anger so as not to destroy the villages with lava, and a little boy who could whisper to the volcanoes and calm them down.

Oh, sounds wonderful! What other writing have you done? Anything else published?

Most of my writing is newspaper articles from the early 2000’s and since then I have been running my own film production company in which I have produced hundreds of short to medium length documentaries. I have also written and directed several short films and satirical videos online that have gone viral, most notably “Quiet signs of love”, a short romantic film for the deaf community that won awards globally with millions of views.

How impressive, well done! What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).

I am busy with the next two books in the Grammatakia series.

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Firstly, The Alpha goes to Athens, which follows the adventures of Alpha as he travels through Athens searching for the rest of the Grammatakia, cute pokemon-style characters in the shape of the Greek alphabet, and blends it with a quasi guide book for tourist kids.

And secondly, Pappou’s Pappou’s Pappou where Sofia asks her pappou who his pappou was and who his pappou’s pappou’s pappou was etc. right back to ancient Greece. So that book is actually an outline of Greek history for kids.

Do you have any advice for other indie authors?

I think I probably need as much advice as I can give, but my perspective boils down to one thing: Audience is everything. The only thing that gave the old paradigm of publishers legitimacy is access to an audience through bookstores and similar networks.  It was a passive crowd that browsed stores for generally interesting new material. Today’s crowd is active. They specifically search for a particular interest, so the power of the indie author is that, unlike the older publishing model, MUST specifically target a niche need of a niche audience and  find ways for active seekers of that niche to find them, and then be able to win their loyalty and trust in delivering to that need.

The need itself is paradoxical, to be familiar but to feel new, and fresh.

The writing needs to tap into the shared space of a common belief or desire, whether that is cultural, historical or the promise that a genre holds to deliver a specific emotional experience. But on top of that shared common knowledge, it needs to innovate and deliver a fresh experience.

Yes, it’s important to find a small niche and, as you said, to deliver a fresh experience…

That’s right . . . Our writing must build on what we know and allow the audience to feel their emotions in a fresh way. That is more important than being original, to make what we experience over and over as people to feel new.

Indeed. Are there any sites or writing tools that you find useful and wish to recommend?

You can often find me typing furiously into my phone at any point of the day, trying to capture the lightning bolts of inspiration. For this I use Evernote, although any note software would work. Sometimes, if the idea comes too fast, I use the Voice recorder app, and can capture the nuances of a character’s accent or attitude as I play it out.

When I sit and write and untangle the moments of inspiration into an ordered script, I can only use Scrivener. Its snapshot feature is a savior as it allows me to destroy earlier drafts with confidence.

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To make a children’s book, as with my other writing, I end up creating a universe of characters and stories to fit it into, and if this becomes difficult I use a piece of software called Aeon Timeline. It maps out all the characters and events in a story on a timeline and allows an overview of multiple complex character interactions. It’s extremely useful, and integrates nicely in to Scrivener; although paradoxically I like to manually transfer to Scrivener and use that process as a review.

What do you enjoy the most as an indie author that you imagine you wouldn’t if you were traditionally published? If you had a choice would you still go indie?

The more distance I get from traditional publishing the more clearly I see it in the rear view mirror and indie is the only way to go. As a filmmaker, my projects were judged even more harshly by how large an audience and therefore money they could attract.

But  most people do not want to make bland stories to suit a vague and disconnected broad audience that wants inoffensive writing. The indie author creates a hard core group of fans deeply connected to the subject, and the author can write much more to that passion, and deliver something of much greater value and intensity, and make it economically viable also.

Indie is the only way to go! (*gives a thumbs up*)

I may be partial, but I agree! (*laughs*) Being an author involves a lot of sitting around. What do you do for exercise?

My exercise of choice is Bikram Yogam in a room heated to 40 degrees Celsius. It’s meditation, stretching and a sauna. It is not for everyone but the value of three things rolled into one leaves more time to sit in a café, writing.

Haven’t heard that one before. Interesting. If you could have one superpower what would it be?

To sit up all night writing instead of sleeping.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in life the hard way?

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Start with marketing. Marketing is seen as tasteless and tacky self promotion by many creatives, and people don’t know how to do it. I specifically prioritized my Grammatakia series of books because marketing the books is not about self-promotion. The books have a real impact on people’s lives. So for me, marketing begins with what stories I can tell around the book that will honestly have a positive benefit to the reader’s life. Now that the books are selling, I am getting great feedback. I just received a video of a Filipino dad reading in Greek to his half-Greek daughter. And that means the world to me. Marketing means more than shameless promotion; it requires deep thinking so that the story AROUND the book (and before the book even begins to be written) delivers something special, unique and positive. I have abandoned hundreds of book and film ideas because, while I love them, they don’t deliver to an audience that is more assertive, demanding and knows what they want.

What are the things in your life that you’re most grateful for?

My wife and children.

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Oh, and what a wonderful family it is!

Thank you. This is my wife with the real Sofia (7), Artemis (5) and our dog, Nala (5 months)

Thank you so much for sharing this, and for your time today. It’s been a pleasure.

The pleasure’s mine, Fros. Many thanks for introducing my work to your readers.

 

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Yannis Nikolakopoulos is a writer, social researcher and filmmaker who has won awards for his short stories and films internationally, including a Webby Award. He has written for newspaper and journals, and his research documentary work has taken him deep into the lives of hundreds of people. His latest venture is to create a series of children’s books that open the rich tapestry of Greek history, philosophy, culture and language to make it attractive and exciting for kids of all backgrounds.

Website: www.grammatakia.com

Book presentation: https://vimeo.com/160914739

Purchase link: http://www.grammatakia.com/product/the-greek-salad/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SofiaGrammataki

 

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Interview with James Collins

Today, I’m pleased to welcome James Collins, an author who makes his home on the small Greek island of Symi. James has recently realized the dream that all authors seem to share: he’s been involved in a movie based on his own work! Join me as I ask him a few questions to find out more.

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An ancient curse? Desperation in the economic crisis? What is causing the suicides of so many adults and children on this small Greek island? When Chris Trelawney arrives on the island to take away his late father’s belongings, he finds that he has been left little more than a mystery. Was his father mad at the time of his death, or did he actually believe that he had awakened a powerful evil? An ancient evil that now stalks the islanders, growing stronger by the day…

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A collection of writings that present an honest and often humorous account of two Ex-pat’s experiences of living on Symi, a small Greek island. This book also contains extracts from the symidream website and the complete guide ‘How to move to a Greek island or other place in the sun.’ “Even if you are not thinking of moving abroad this little collection will entertain and inform.”

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A mysterious iron chest arrived on the island of Symi, Greece in 1882 and was immediately hidden for its own safety. 121 years later and Jason is working as a holiday rep for SARGO holidays. When his grandmother turns up as one of his guests she brings with her a locked cigarette case, left to Jason by his recently departed grandfather and given to him on Symi in 1944. The case is opened and reveals a piece of music, but the music is not what it seems and Jason and his small group of pensioners soon realise that they have stumbled on a secret that has been kept hidden on Symi all these years. A secret both dangerous and valuable. Jason and the Sargonauts is a contemporary comedy adventure full of fun and mystery, ‘A comic, camp and musical romp.’

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Hello James and welcome to my blog!

Thank you, Effrosyni! It’s great to be here.

I must say, your thriller, The Judas Inheritance, sounds absolutely intriguing! And now, it’s been turned into a movie, right?

Thank you. Yes, the film is titled “The Thirteen”. It’s 99% finished and we’re now waiting for the backers to watch a copy. Then, they’ll find a distributor for us, fingers crossed (*smiles and crosses fingers*)

Good luck, James, and well done! What has inspired you to write this story?

The Judas Inheritance was inspired by two things. First, I was approached by 1066 Productions, a British film company, to come up with a story for a low-budget, indie movie. It’s a film-world fact that horror sells best, so they were looking for a good horror story but also for something that could easily and cheaply be filmed with a small cast and an incredibly low budget of £20,000.

Photography by Neil Gosling

Secondly, I have always been fascinated and enchanted by the ruined houses on Symi, left abandoned during the depression and after the World Wars. And so, I decided to write a story set on an unnamed Greek island that combined history and these dark, sad ruins.

The Judas Inheritance (later filmed as ‘the Thirteenth’) grew from that. It takes a solid ‘horror’ premise along the lines of ‘The Omen’ where historical and Biblical myths collide with the present day in the form of cursed pieces of silver, 30 of them, naturally. This curse becomes the reason for the abandoned village (and, later, spreads to become the cause of the state of the Greek economy, to give the story some wider relevance), and the ruins play a large part in the background and action.

Wow, sounds riveting! What was the first thing you ever wrote and how old were you then?

I was nearly 12 years old when the Moorgate tube crash happened in London, England. We were asked, in an English class, to write a story based on this horrific event. I know, not what you’d normally be asked to use for inspiration when at that age. I wrote a story about archaeologists exploring a pyramid that then collapsed about them. I remember this story not because it was horrible, but because I was asked to re-write it again in my best handwriting so it could be presented to the school. Hours of laborious handwriting later and I had what I would now call a reasonable second draft. The story didn’t put me on the road to writing horror (I have only written two horror novels) but it taught me valuable lessons: let your imagination flow, don’t be scared to shock, and above all, re-write until it’s written right. (Poor use of English is intended there.)

What other writing have you done? Anything else published?

I have written four full-length stage musicals (book, music and lyrics) that were staged in Brighton, England. Two of them won Arts Council Awards, one of them was also shown in London and elsewhere. I have written revues and cabaret songs, choral pieces for local choirs and other artists and incidental music for theatre companies.

You said the magic word – Brighton! And, very impressive background, I must say!

Thank you, Effrosyni.

How many books have you published?

Nine self-published books so far . . . Three are about life on Symi, Greece. (‘Symi 85600’ is a compilation of emails, letters and posts reflecting my first five years here; ‘Carry on up the Kali Strata’ is the second and contains articles, a short story and photos; and ‘Village View’ is a collection of edited blog posts through 2013, again with photos by my partner, Neil Gosling.

Two are horror stories, two are thrillers and two are comedies. One of the comedies, ‘Jason and the Sargonauts’, is also set on Symi.

I am shortly to publish a new body-swap comedy (through RC Publications, our own small indie endeavor), and am working on another comedy about Greece’s first gay civil partnership. This is called ‘Shocking the Donkeys,’ and it is taken from a screenplay I wrote a few years ago.

What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).

As usual, for me, I have several projects on the go and being worked up, even if only in my head and notebooks.

Soon we shall bring out ‘Remotely,’ a gay/straight body-swap comedy set in a small seaside town in the UK. This is all about the brainless state of British ‘reality’ and ‘talent’ show TV, but mainly about how solid friendships can be made, lost and made again through miscommunication. As with a lot of my comedy, it’s slightly camp, a little bit gay and has something to do with theatre.

Meanwhile… A few years ago I co-wrote the screenplay for ‘Shocking The Donkeys’ which was about a gay civil partnership taking place in Greece. It’s not based on the actual civil partnerships that took place on Tilos and resulted in the arrest of various people involved, it’s more about what would happen if a small Greek island (very traditional) found itself hosting a gay civil partnership between one of its own and a man from America. Civil partnerships in Greece are now legal but still cause an amount of uproar – hopefully that will be satirized in the book version which I am slowly putting together.

But also… I am working on a mystery thriller, and taking a course in scriptwriting. I shall be heading for my annual writing retreat on Tilos in June to work on this mystery, or ‘Donkeys’, or something else. So, several projects all at one time!

You keep yourself busy, that’s for sure! What genres do you read mostly, and what are you reading now?

I prefer to read autobiographies and history books but also delve into literature as much as possible. I know every writer should either be writing or reading and I am, but I am not always reading other novelists’ work. Books about writing are on the shelves, as are books about screenplay writing and the use of the English Language. Right at the moment I am reading an English history book in print version, and Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Return of the Native’ on my Kindle. The Kindle also houses a collection of books about true crimes, mysteries and Jack the Ripper. (I know!) Funnily enough I read very little comedy, which is the thing I most enjoy writing.

But then when you live on a Greek island, comedy is all around.

Oh sure! Anywhere in Greece, I believe! Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?

I have been writing an almost daily blog at www.symidream.com for about the last nine years. It is about our life on Symi and my writing. Some days it’s fun and satirical, other days it’s informative (I hope), other days its publicizing my books, or those by others that I have enjoyed, but always it’s about what I see going on around me on this small, Greek island.

It’s quite popular now, and I have loyal readers who tune in each day to catch up on my writing, film and Symi news, or to get what some call their ‘Symi fix.’ We also have a very popular deaf rescue cat called Jack, also known as The Alarm Cat due to his early morning alarm calls; he’s proved very popular and has his own following on the blog.

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As well as the blog posts and photos each day, there are links to our old Symi Dream, site that carries articles on Symi history, travel to the island, books about, and films filmed on Symi and other things related to the island and ex-pat life in Greece.

What do you enjoy the most as an indie author that you imagine you wouldn’t if you were traditionally published? If you had a choice would you still go indie?

I most enjoy the freedom that publishing through a small indie arrangement brings. Having worked in collaborative arts such as theatre, I find the freedom to write alone and for fun the biggest draw for me. However, I appreciate the importance of having someone else edit and work with me to make each book the best it can be. And yes, it would be great to have a large publishing house pick up one of my books and take care of it and sell it, but as for the publicity trail, the book signings, the interviews and all that would go with it… That’s not really for me. I am happy where I am.

So, at the moment, I can’t see me aiming for traditional publishing though I have tried many times in the past. What I really need is a secretary to handle submissions and rejection letters, not because I can’t cope with the rejections and not because I am lazy – sorry, not just because I am lazy – but because it takes up so much time and energy; resources that can be better spent on my creative writing. I admire authors such as Anne Zouroudi (Bloomsbury’s Greek Detective novels, and a friend of mine) for their persistence in not only their writing routine, but in their bashing away at publishers until their work was (quite rightly) accepted.

I understand you’ve brought some more stills from the filming to show us today. And if you’d like to tell my readers more, or to mention the cast, this would be great! I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love to see and hear more.

Thank you, Effrosyni. The film was filmed in its entirety on Symi. Local businesses helped out, local people were involved as actors and extras. Starring in the film are British actors, Richard Syms (‘Gangs of New York’, ‘The Iron Lady’), Kurtis Stacey, an actor best known for his role in the British soap drama ‘Emmerdale’, Rebecca Grant, a West End, film and TV actress, and Wookie Mayer, a very popular and successful German actress who also has a house on Symi.

The cast and crew team were made up of people from Greece, England, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Wales, Afghanistan, Scotland, America, Canada, Ireland – and a local goat. A truly multinational effort.

Photography by Neil Gosling

Starring in the film are British actors, Richard Syms (‘Gangs of New York’, ‘The Iron Lady’), Kurtis Stacey, an actor best known for his role in the British soap drama ‘Emmerdale’, Rebecca Grant, a West End, film and TV actress, and Wookie Mayer, a very popular and successful German actress who also has a house on Symi.

The cast and crew team were made up of people from Greece, England, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Wales, Afghanistan, Scotland, America, Canada, Ireland – and a local goat. A truly multinational effort.

Thank you for being here today, James, and good luck with all your exciting projects.

Thanks a lot, Effrosyni, for letting me present my work on your site!

 

James 2013

James is a British born writer who now lives on Symi, Greece. Having worked in musical theatre and cabaret in the UK, he moved into writing novels and travel books in 2002 when he moved to Greece. Since then he has indie-published three books about living in Greece charting his experience as an ex-pat, and six novels one of which has been adapted for film. James is also a composer, pianist and screenplay writer.

Daily blog about our life on Symi: www.symidream.com

Links to James’ books etc.: www.symidream.com/james

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jamescollinsauthor/

Neil Gosling Photography: https://www.facebook.com/NeilGoslingPhotography/?fref=ts

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Interview with Peter John

Today, I’m pleased to welcome paranormal author, Peter John, for a chat. If you love ghost stories, you’re in for a treat. An awesome collection of chilling tales by the Indie Collaboration (Peter John’s brainchild) is currently FREE on Amazon! Check out these samples of his work:

Dead Medium New Cover Art50

“The Strangest Things Happen When You’re Dead.” – May Elizabeth Trump.

The deathly silence is about to be broken. She disliked the company of others and death did little to warm her spirit. She had led an independent life and she faced death in much the same way. She was finally alone, finally free from the mindless babble of others, at least that’s what she thought. May Elizabeth Trump was the rarest of spirits and she was none too happy about it either. She was a dead medium, a ghost who can speak with the living, and her services were to become in great demand. Flung into the limelight and smothered with unwanted attention, May soon discovers that it’s not only ghosts with long awaited messages that have taken an interest in her. Something dark was lurking in the shadows, stalking her. Even the dead are not left to rest in peace…

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talesfromdarkplaces

A selection of chilling stories from some of the best indie authors on the market. We dare you to venture into these pages of spine chilling tales and stories of ghosts and goblins. Freely donated by the authors themselves, these dark passages are a great example of their various, unique styles and imaginations. This is the first of a series of topical collections brought to you by The Indie Collaboration.

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wrapped up

A collection of 35 poems spanning subjects such as homelessness, public transport and kitchen utensils. This poetry collection swings between being both humorous and thought provoking. Illustrated by Christopher Raven.

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Hello Peter and welcome to my blog!

Hello Effrosyni! Thank you for inviting me.

What has inspired you to write Dead Medium: Not Your Average Ghost Story?

Over the years, my mother visited many psychics and mediums in a never-ending search for answers from beyond the grave. I grew up listening to her as she recounted her experiences and have even been privy to some of the tape recorded sessions. Several years ago, on probably the first and last time I accompanied her to the home of a psychic, I found myself pondering the whole concept of a medium. It occurred to me that such a person was merely a bridge between two worlds and it shouldn’t matter on which side of the river they stood; it wasn’t necessary for a medium to be alive.

I love the concept! What was the first thing you ever wrote and how old were you then?

My earliest written work, as I remember it, was a short story called ‘Thinking Crash’. It was a monologue of the thoughts, emotions and fears of a person trapped in a car directly after a major accident. I was 14 years old at the time. I wrote this story for GCSE English and was graded A. Sadly the only copy has been swallowed up by the education system never to be seen again. It was handwritten and I never had the opportunity to make a copy. I have often considered rewriting this story but I don’t believe I could capture the intensity I gave it at the time. I  now prefer to regard my introduction into creative writing a lost work.

What other writing have you done? Anything else published?

I am a founding member of The Indie Collaboration, a group of international authors who have produced several short story anthologies. I have contributed to many of these publications with either short stories or poetry.

Well done, what a wonderful idea! Which are your favorite authors, and what do you love about them?

My favorite authors are Piers Anthony and Terry Pratchett. Their books are written with unfettered imaginations; anything is possible.

Choose a male and a female character from your book and tell us which actor and actress you’d cast to play them in a film adaptation.

My book Dead Medium is available on Audible and I had to answer the same question during its production. May Trump was based on Maggie Smith, Margaret was Miriam Margolyes, Barbara was Maureen Lipman, Victoria was Julie Walters, and Deborah was Thora Hird.

Oh, so many delightful actresses – I am hooked! Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?

The Trump Diary Blog

I have a blog called The Trump Diary where you will find, among other things, an ongoing prequel diary about May Elizabeth Trump’s life before Dead Medium.

What do you enjoy the most as an indie author that you imagine you wouldn’t if you were traditionally published? If you had a choice would you still go indie?

I spent a year under contract with a small publisher when Dead Medium was first released and I couldn’t wait for that contract to expire. I had no control over my book and the publisher seemed to do very little to promote it. I am much happier now as an independent author and would never sign up with another small publisher. However, if a large publisher offered to put my book on the shelf of my local Waterstones I would be a fool not to consider it.

I fully agree with you, Peter. Do you listen to music while you write and if so, what kind?

I don’t listen to music while I write, I much prefer silence. However, I have found transpiration through music. I imagined that the Squirrel Nut Zippers song, “Hell”, was playing in the background throughout chapter 18.

 Thank you for this chat, Peter. It was a pleasure.

For me too, Effrosyni. Thank you for introducing me to your readers.

Peter John

I was born in Bromley, Kent back in the early seventies. I spent most of my childhood riding bikes, playing tag and kicking tin cans around the street, unless there was an actual football to hand. At the age of fourteen I had a milestone experience. Prior to that I had never shown the slightest interest in writing, if I remember rightly I wanted to be an astronaut, but then I got put into detention one afternoon. I had failed to bring in my homework assignment and the teacher had punished me by forcing me to write a short story during the lunch time break. While all the other boys kicked tin cans around the playground, I was sat in a room on my own with a sandwich, a carton of Kia-Ora and an exercise book. I picked at the sandwich while staring at the blank pages in front of me and then it happened. All of a sudden a story formed in my head and I almost instinctively threw in down on the paper. 45 minutes passed in what felt like seconds and the short story which I had called ‘Thinking Crash’ was spread throughout the exercise book in my scruffy, barely coherent handwriting. I had never fallen into a story like that before, where my hand was struggling to keep up with my brain and I didn’t look up once from the pages until I heard the lunch bell ring. Ever since that day I have been hooked. I could have been circling the earth in a tin can and eating my dinner out of a tube if it wasn’t for that one stint in detention; I still like to consider it as a lucky escape.

Amazon page  US   UK

Website: http://deadmediumpeterjohn.webs.com

Blog: http://thetrumpdiary.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AttemptedAuthor

Facebook: https://facebook.com/DeadMediumbyPeterJohn

 

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Interview with Luke Christodoulou

Today, I’m pleased to welcome Luke Christodoulou, a mystery author from Cyprus who sets his murder stories in enchanting Greek islands. Let’s meet him, shall we? But first, let’s check out his Cycladic-blue, stunning covers!

 

theolympuskiller

Over the picturesque Greek Islands, bodies are piling up fast. Bodies tortured, mutilated and strangely connected to ancient Greek mythology. Hellenic Police Captain COSTA PAPACOSTA is called in to assist young, top of her year, foul mouth, food loving Cretan, Lieutenant IOLI CARA in solving their most complex case yet, while facing his own demons after the tragic loss of his daughter. The OLYMPUS KILLER, as the tabloids refer to him by, is a cunning, sadistic murderer with a haunting past. A past revealed to us through his mother’s story set in Dayton, USA.
Will the two officers catch the murderer in time or will the Olympus Killer have his revenge?

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thechurchmurders

Hellenic Police Captain COSTA PAPACOSTA and Lieutenant IOLI CARA are back, faced with four brutal cases all strangely connected to the Greek church. A reporter investigating the existence of a Gospel written by Jesus himself is found stabbed to death on the island of Salamina while a lawyer and a young girl have gone missing. In Santorini, the most beautiful of all Greek islands, bodies are piling up fast. Murder after murder, our officers are left puzzled. All the clues are there, but who is the killer?

The Ionian islands. Seven islands, seven bodies. Suicides or foul play? Ioli’s lack of faith is tested by a boy experiencing stigmata on the island of Kefallonia. Could his marks be for real? Time is against the two investigators and lives are on the line…

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deathofabride

Of all the plans a bride makes in anticipation for her wedding day, dying is definitely not one of them. The Zampetaki mansion, on the remote island of Gadvos, welcomes dozens of guests for the grand wedding of Cassandra Zampetaki and Homer Cara. It’s a wedding that will never take place. The bride’s lifeless body is found, brutally murdered, on the morning of the wedding. Planned to look like an open-and-shut case, the mastermind behind it all did not figure on Hellenic Police Captain Costa Papacosta and Lieutenant Ioli Cara to be among the guests. A storm rages outside and no one is able to leave the island. In a battle against time, the dynamic investigating duo must solve this intense case before the guilty party can depart from the island. Everyone is a suspect and no one is safe. Join in on the thrilling mystery and try to solve the crime. The clues are all there…

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Hello Luke and welcome to my blog!

Hi, Fros! It’s great to be here!

What has inspired you to write the Greek Island Mysteries?

Island hopping

The crazy voices in my head would be the honest answer. Since childhood, I’ve always loved creating stories and characters. This combined with my passion for mysteries and my love for Greece created the Greek Island Mysteries book series. Life itself inspires me. So complex, so scary and beautiful, all bundled up in one. People-watching is a great hobby of mine and witnessing various behaviors helps me create my characters and make them more believable.

What was the first thing you ever wrote and how old were you then?

I doubt it was the first, but it is the first that I have memories of. It was a science-fiction piece. I must have been around nine at the time, so excuse me for including superheroes traveling into space and meeting various alien races in a search for a magical portal that would allow them to travel back in time and save Earth. Yes, I was ‘that’ kind of kid.

Hey! Sounds like a great story! Any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your spare time?

Besides the obvious – reading and writing – I am a huge movie fan. I love nothing more than to get lost into a good film. To escape reality for a while and enjoy some great acting and effects. Cooking is a great pastime for me, though time is not always available. I cook an amazingly delicious octopus (or so I have been told) marinated in red wine, if you’re are interested.

Always interested in octopus! Yum!

(*chuckles*) Other specialties of mine include salmon, roast pork and anything I can pair up with pasta. Gardening is gaining more and more of my time, as my daughter really enjoys it and it is something we can do together.

Oh that’s nice. What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).

Me in Santorini (book 2 setting)

Luke in Santorini’s capital, Fira.

At the moment, I am deep into my Greek Island Mystery world and writing the fourth member of my deadly series. I have a working title, but nothing certain yet. It will be mostly set in Folegandros (a less-famous Santorini, though with nothing to envy in terms of view) and upon a cruise ship (which gives me the freedom to describe various island locations). My two main characters return, having to face, once again, complex murder cases where nothing is as it seems. Fans of the series will also get answers about Costas’ cancer and be treated to a pregnant Ioli.

Which are your favorite authors, and what do you love about them?

By far, Agatha Christie. She was so ahead of her time and created many things that today are considered clichés in murder/mystery books. I nearly cried when a review board compared my book, Death of a Bride, to her work. ‘An Agatha Christie tale set in the 21st century,’ it read. I love how she left clues all over the book and how at the end it all made sense, unlike many books today that end with an unbelievable twist that is too hard to swallow. I guess, some authors aim for shock value or strive too hard to stand out. Other authors I enjoy reading include James Patterson, Lynda LePlante, Stephen King and Mark Twain.

I agree. A clever mystery plot completes the jigsaw puzzle in the end without cheating… Choose a male and a female character from your book and tell us which actor and actress you’d cast to play them in a film adaptation.

Though he’s shorter than my character, I would love to have Tom Hanks play the main lead, Costa Papacosta. Robert Downey Jr would also be an incredible choice. As for Ioli, it would have to be a Greek or at least a Latin actress to truly do the character justice. Someone like Marie Agveropoulos.

Being an author involves a lot of sitting around. What do you do for exercise?

exploring the Greek Islands

Exercise? What’s this? Jokes aside, I really should work out more. I try to eat healthy or at least to not eat too much, but I haven’t set foot in a gym for over six years and going for a walk or a bike ride are not high on my priority list.

I feel you… Do you listen to music while you write and if so, what kind?

I need complete silence to write. I talk to myself too much during the process of creating a new book. Music is a distraction. Though, I listen to music all day. In the car, during my ‘relax’ hour or just have the radio playing in the house.

If you could have one superpower what would it be?

Immortality. As a non-believer in life after death, the amazingly short time we have scares me. I guess, writing about death so much is my catharsis. I wish I could live forever and just keep writing and enjoying this magical planet we call home.

What are the things in your life that you’re most grateful for?

My children. My crazy bundle of joy that I call my daughter and my little cute monkey boy offer the most joy in life. I am grateful for having met my wife and for all the colour she has brought into my grey existence. I think we all have to wake up and be grateful for another day to live, to breathe, to strive for happiness in all the little things that make us tick.

That’s a wonderful answer, Luke. Thank you very much for introducing us to your work today.

Thank you for the opportunity to do that, Fros!

 

DSC02696

Luke Christodoulou is an English teacher (MA Applied Linguistics – University of Birmingham), a poet and an author. He is also a coffee-movie-book-Nutella lover. His first book, THE OLYMPUS KILLER (#1 BESTSELLER – Thrillers), was released in April, 2014. The book was voted Book Of The Month for May on Goodreads (Psychological Thrillers). The book continued to be a fan favorite on Goodreads and was voted BOTM for June in the group Nothing Better Than Reading. In October, it was BOTM in the group Ebook Miner, proving it was one of the most talked-about thrillers of 2014. The second stand-alone thriller from the series, THE CHURCH MURDERS, was released April, 2015 to critical and fan acclaim. The third stand-alone thriller, DEATH OF A BRIDE, is available now! Luke is currently working on the fourth book from his planned Greek Island Mysteries book series.

He has, also, ventured into children’s book land and released 24 MODERNIZED AESOP FABLES, retelling old stories with new elements and settings. The book also features sections for parents which include discussions, questions, games and activities. He resides in Limassol, Cyprus with his wife and daughter. Hobbies include traveling the Greek Islands discovering new food and possible murder sites for his stories.

Amazon page  US   UK

Website: http://greekislandmysteries.webs.com/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Greek-Island-Mysteries-712190782134816/?ref=bookmarks

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/luke.christodoulouauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/OlympusKiller

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Interview with Darcia Helle

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Darcia Helle, author of wonderful stories of thrill and suspense. I’ve read her paranormal novel, Into the Light, and simply devoured it. Review to follow soon. For now, let’s meet the terrific lady behind it!

 

intothelight

Max Paddington refuses to go into the light until he finds his killer. This presents a dilemma, since Max is even less competent as a spirit than he was as a live person. No one sees or hears him and he can’t manage to get anywhere or do anything on his own. Joe Cavelli is a private investigator, living an ordinary life. Then one day he walks across a parking lot, gets yelled at by a ghost, and his life only gets stranger from there. Max and Joe team up to find Max’s killer. In the process, they form an unlikely friendship and change each other’s lives in ways they never expected.

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eliscoming

Eli’s dark legacy holds murder as his rite of passage. They say his ability is a gift. He calls it a curse. A life of violence and heartache leaves him with nothing left to fight for. Or so he thinks.

Amanda steals his heart, but love makes him vulnerable. He must give her up or accept who he is and fight. Will he risk stepping into the darkness that could consume him?

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NoJusticedh

For Michael Sykora, killing started as blind rage. Then it became something he’s good at. To most of those who know him, Michael is a software designer, a smart but average guy with a workaholic nature. To a chosen few, Michael is a part-time hit man whose specialty is eliminating hard-core criminals.

Michael has managed to keep his two personas separate. Until now. When Nicki, a close friend, gets into trouble, Michael steps in to help. Having lost his fiance to a brutal crime, Michael will do whatever necessary to keep from losing another woman in his life.

“NO JUSTICE” IS PERMAFREE!

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Hello Darcia and welcome to my blog!

Thank you, Fros, I’m excited to be here.

What has inspired you to write the Michael Sykora Novels?

The character of Michael Sykora came about during a conversation I was having with my husband. I think our discussion started out on the topic of the death penalty, and then moved into vengeance killing. I asked my husband what he would do if someone tortured and killed me (yes, we have some odd conversations.) As he was talking, Michael Sykora’s character quite literally popped into my head, complete with a story to tell.

Originally, I’d planned for a stand-alone novel. Turning it into a series hadn’t even occurred to me. Halfway through writing that first novel, I realized I had way too much going on. Michael Sykora has a complex history and a variety of directions in which to go. At that point, I decided he was a series character. I rewrote No Justice, the first book, with a narrower plot, and put some of the extra content into Beyond Salvation, the second book. Killing Instinct is the third book. I’m now working on number four. Each book is designed so that it can be read as a stand-alone, so readers aren’t obligated to read in a specific order.

It sounds like a fabulous series. What was the first thing you ever wrote and how old were you then?

The first thing I remember writing is a ghost story and picture book. I think I was five years old. It was on blank white paper, with a cover and title, and my mother let me staple the pages together.

Tell us a little about your other published books.

I’ve written 10 novels, one short story collection of my own, and I am part of an ongoing collection of short story anthologies inspired by photographs. All of my books fall somewhere within the suspense genre, including romantic suspense, psychological suspense, supernatural suspense, and suspense/thrillers.

Any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your spare time?

I am as obsessed with music as I am with books. I have a vast, eclectic music collection, with sounds for my every mood. I’ve recently become a regular contributor to the Rock And Roll blog with Maria Haskins and Maria Savva, which is the perfect outlet for sharing my obsession.

Due to the progression of late-stage Lyme disease, with pretty severe neurological complications, I am mostly housebound these days. The activities that I choose to occupy my time are more restricted than I’d like. But I keep myself entertained with books, music, three dogs, one cat, and an incredibly tolerant husband.

I’m sorry to hear that, Darcia, but I’m glad you have a lovely set up for entertainment at home, and a husband to take care of you.

Thank you, Fros.

Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?

On my website, readers will find information about all of my novels and short story collections, along with excerpts and audio samples. The ‘Things of Interest’ page offers a variety of material I’ve written, such as true crime articles, information about my writing process, personal essays, and a few short stories.

On my blog, I post all of my book reviews. I read 100+ books per year, so that alone is about half the content. I host a few book tours per month, typically including giveaways. I feature new releases by authors whose work I read and enjoy, and spotlights for books by a variety of authors. And I post my own random, personal ramblings.

Being an author involves a lot of sitting around. What do you do for exercise?

I consecutively lift my tea mug throughout the day, alternating hands in order to evenly distribute the muscle development. I used to get a lot more exercise, chasing my cat when she brought lizards inside the house to torment. She’s now a senior citizen, and we’re both too tired for that sort of theatrics. I do still walk my dogs, which also allows me to practice my agility while hopping over tangled leashes.

(*laughs*) What lovely pets! What were your most and least favorite subjects in school?

In general, I found school too restrictive. For instance, I love history, but I hated most of my history classes because “learning” amounted to memorizing dates and assorted lists. I wanted to delve into the guts of it all. Overall, English was always my favorite class. I hated earth science, because there was no way I was cutting open a frog.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in life the hard way?

Is there an easy way to learn a life lesson? Everything of value I’ve learned has come by way of at least some emotional and/or physical discomfort. The most important thing I’ve learned, and perhaps the hardest lesson I will ever learn, is to listen to the stories of older people in your life. I mean really listen. Ask questions. Lots and lots of questions. Let them tell their favorite stories over and over. You don’t realize how much those stories matter until it’s too late to ask to hear them.

How right you are, Darcia. Thank you for being here with us today. It’s been a treat for me!

Thanks a lot, Fros, for introducing me to your readers.

darciaphoto

Darcia Helle lives in a fictional world with a husband who is sometimes real. Their house is ruled by spoiled dogs and cats and the occasional dust bunny.

Suspense, random blood spatter and mismatched socks consume Darcia’s days. She writes because the characters trespassing through her mind leave her no alternative. Only then are the voices free to haunt someone else’s mind.

Amazon page: http://amzn.to/1Xf39Kr

Website: http://www.QuietFuryBooks.com

Blog: http://www.quietfurybooks.com/blog

Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/DarciaHelle

Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/quietfurybooks

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