Reviewing Indie Authors One Book at a Time

Posts tagged ‘author interview’

Ordinarily Perfect – KC Leigh

OPKCLUsing poetically descriptive phrases, Leigh depicts the trials and trauma of brain injury.  Using the method of alternating perspectives, dancing between the patient, the patient’s wife, and the patient’s doctor, the reader receives a triangular view of the recovery process. From the accident through rehabilitation, the story progresses in a logical and telling order.

Leigh has an excellent eye for details and the capacity to depict them in often unusual yet exquisite ways. Her ability to capture the “little things” brings the big picture into better focus. You aren’t left guessing a character’s mood solely from their dialogue. The environment is an important component to expressing the emotion of the story.

Our main character isn’t alone in his struggle to regain the abilities and the life he had before the accident. We also follow the stories of other patients, including Damien who is in the hospital waiting to die from Motor Neuron Disease; and Sara, a young woman who had a stroke just two weeks after giving birth to her first child. Each patient has different goals to attain and different routes to get there, but their paths are inextricably laced together.

Find a copy of Ordinarily Perfect on Amazon.com

A Brief Interview with KC Leigh

WBB: Ordinary Perfect focuses on the personal effects of brain injury. What inspired you to write a book about this subject?
KCL: No sudden blinding flash! . . . perhaps because writing hasn’t been a long-held dream? At any rate, the heart of it lies with my conviction – quickly cemented by hospital work – that sound health is a first-rate asset. And widely undervalued. Several years more and I came to credit myself with rare insight and perspective into what constituted the ‘important things in life’.

Fast forward a decade and a half and three offspring later, to find me mired in the near daily crises of primary school mornings: lunchbox lids and, from week two of any term, the permanently odd number of socks!

I wish I could claim it dawned quickly . . . but at some point, finally I wondered, given the pace of our time-poor modern lives, how and why do we make time to stress over such trivia? And the proof, if it’s required, is how rapidly these distractions disappear if life turns up something actually worth worrying about.

WBB: How much research did you do in the writing of this book?
KCL: Having had training and work experience with head injury rehabilitation, I consider I ‘cheated’ somewhat on the research front!  I needed to confirm current practice and thinking, and ensure Alistair’s injury could conceivably lead to the extent of recovery in the time frame of a pregnancy, and review current pregnancy scanning and investigations. Significantly more time was spent on MND for the specifics of Damien’s story. I did just enough research to leave me in total awe of authors who spend months and years learning about topics outside their experience/expertise!

WBB: Who is your favorite character in Ordinarily Perfect?
KCL:
I hoped for – and the story needed – readers to love Damien, and he is definitely ‘up there’. I think that Clay is probably my favorite, gaining recognition for his sense of humor despite everything he has lost. (And I aspire to Teresa’s breezy positivity.)

WBB: You have a wonderful eye for detail in your written descriptions. Is this easy for you to accomplish or do you have to work hard to make it happen?
KCL: Not easy! Even the first draft would be held up for days, even weeks, while I drilled down to the precise moment – orienting the character in their story and the main story, allowing for the impact of recent or upcoming events/scenes – until I knew how the character was feeling. Then I wrote to convey the atmosphere or mood even more than the physical detail. Exacting, incredibly challenging, though deeply rewarding. . . but it didn’t get easier!

WBB: What are you currently reading?
KCL: Hikmut’s Folly. . . absolute riot of a read! (found on Bookvetter.com, a site where authors anonymously review other indie authors in the first part of a process to present a collection of professionally reviewed and ‘vetted’ books)

WBB: Do you have a favorite indie author?
KCL: Not yet . . .

WBB: Where else can readers find you on the internet?
KCL: Hmmm. My confession comes with a time-saving tip: don’t look! And use the few minutes to do something that makes you smile. Anti-social, I know.

My (ongoing) quest for balance and perspective finds me preferring to write than regularly dedicating time to a well-produced, maintained, informative and relevant site. (Hats off to Bee and others who do!)

I’d be happy to respond to genuine queries posted on Goodreads or Amazon. Thanks for understanding.

WBB:  Thank you very much, KC!

 

 

 

Love In the House of War – Al M. Scott

 Interview

Meehan I am proud to introduce to you Al M. Scott, the author of Love in the House of War.

In Scott’s words: “It is a romantic love story and thriller that is set in post 9/11 Afghanistan. Teams of Special Forces (Green Berets) were deployed to link up with Afghan freedom fighters who were fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban after the 9/11 strikes on US soil. The Taliban have taken Shararah, an Afghan nurse, and will execute her for being seen speaking to one of the Americans. The American, Special Forces medic, Ron Hawkins, comes to her rescue and they escape through the Hindu Kush Mountains, hiding in a secluded cave. Together, they develop a mutual respect for each other, quickly followed by romantic gestures, and finally an undeniable love for each other. Will they and their new-found love survive within the House of War?”

Scott Meehan is a retired Army Major.  Al M. Scott is his pen name for fictional works. He served in the Army from 1980 to 2005 as both an enlisted soldier and commissioned officer. He married Trena Denise Bass in 1981, after meeting her in the Amazon jungle where she was doing mission work. They have a 32 year-old son, and 30 year-old daughter who is married to an infantry soldier. Their 3 year-old grandson is named Jaden. They live in Orlando, Florida, and besides writing, Scott teaches a variety of computer courses at local colleges.

View the Trailer

++++++

I asked Scott to answer a few questions about himself and his work.
LoveWar

What can you tell us about your current writing endeavor? I am currently working on the sequel to “Love in the House of War,” called, “A Flame in Paradise,” but I cannot say too much about it because mentioning any of the characters could spoil “Love in the House of War’s” dramatic conclusion. I will say that the story’s setting jumps forward to present day, 2014 and includes characters (many of the same) and scenes from the Russian-Ukrainian conflict as well as the Kurds stand against ISIS is northern Iraq. A third novel, “Asha,” in this series is planned as well.

Otherwise, I have two completed novels (not yet published), and three non-fiction works in the planning stages.

Can you give us an excerpt from one of your favorite scenes in your latest novel? There are several favorites for audiences of all genres. The following is for the romantic Christian:

As the sun sank below the ridge to the west, they packed up their gear to begin their move across the mountainside. The landscape darkened rapidly, with the amber-tinted river below slipping into blackness. The distant hills revealed scattering gleams of campfires. They left the area; Shara leading the way. As the two of them moved along at a steady pace, Ron thought of and old hymn that came to mind from his younger days as a kid in church, back in Elizabethton, Tennessee. He began humming softly, the song, Rock of Ages, cleft for me.

Shara stopped to listen. “That is nice. What is the song?”

“Rock of Ages.”

“It is a popular song in America?”

“Not really. Only in church, when we sing it on Sundays. It is an old song.”

“What are the words?”

“I only remember, Rock of Ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself in Thee.”

“You said from church. The rock is Jesus?”

“Yes, Jesus. That is what the church calls him today. The real name is actually ‘Yahushua,’ which means ‘God-saves,’ in Hebrew.”

“You believe that he is still alive?”

“Yes. Yes I do. He is alive. He is the living water. God raised him from the dead. We believe in the resurrection.” Ron took a sip from his CamelBak. “And I try to live like he is alive in me.”

Shara thought for a moment and then walked up to Ron. Standing in front of him, she stared into his eyes and held out her hand. “I’d like some, too, please.”

“What, water?”

“Yes, of course. Water. You have the living water, yes?” Ron held the nozzle up to her lips so she could drink. She lifted her right hand to hold the nozzle with him, placing it directly on top of his. With her left hand, she held on to his extended wrist. As she drank the water, her head tilted downwards, her eyes looking up into his as she stared into them until she finished drinking. “Thank you. Very refreshing.”

Ron still held the nozzle in his hand like a statue as she turned around and began walking quickly away. “Wait for me!” Ron called as he quickly regained his composure, placing the nozzle haphazardly back onto the pack and swiftly retrieving his M4 assault rifle.

What was the inspiration for Love in the House of War? I was inspired by a combination of personal experiences with multi-culturalism, military missions, and both fictional and non-fiction books I enjoyed reading.

How did you decide what the title of this book would be? According to one sect of Islam, the world is divided into the House of Islam (Dar al-Islam) and the House of War (Dar al-harb). Dar al-Islam consists of all the lands in which a Muslim government rules and the “Holy Law of Islam” prevails. The outside world, which has not yet been subjugated, is called the “House of War,” and strictly speaking a perpetual state of jihad, of holy war, is imposed by the law.

Would you consider yourself to be a plotter or a pantser? More of a pantser because I’m always thinking of scenes in my head even before going to sleep at night or other sporadic moments. I only come close to being a plotter when I need to jot these thoughts down quickly (not in outline format though) until I can get behind a computer to develop the scene.

What made you decide to become an author? Initially, I wanted to write about my personal experiences (which I did in, “Stone in a Sling”) because so many of them were so extraordinary. Then, as I continued experiencing the phenomenal and hearing other stories from friends with the same background, stories started developing in my mind, many of which pull in the events and trends of today. I also have an inner motivation to get a message across a diverse audience.

In your latest novel, who’s your favorite character? Tell us why. The Afghan girl, Shararah, is my favorite character because of her resilience against hardship, her dreams for a paradise, and her devotion to what she loves as she emerges victoriously against all odds. She epitomizes all of the oppressed of the world who cling onto hope until they finally realize their dreams.

Do you set aside a specific amount of time to write, write/answer emails, and market/promote your book[s]? I wish I did, unfortunately, I have too many other irons in the fire.

What are you favorite books that you’ve read? Tell us one or two. I always enjoy reading the Bible on a daily basis, especially from the book of Psalms. The last book that I just finished this past week was Ian Fleming’s, “From Russia with Love,” an old 007 James Bond book with intrigue and romance. The ending shocked me and was nothing like the movie.

What is your favorite writing environment and/or accessories? Complete quiet isolation in terms of people. I will at times choose certain music, depending on my mood.

Find Love in the House of War on Amazon.  And check out Stone in a Sling, Scott’s non-fition journey.

+++++

To Connect with Al M. Scott (Scott Meehan)

BLOG: almscott.weebly.com or scottameehan.wordpress.com

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/scott.meehan.96

FACEBOOK FAN PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/AllanScottMee

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/6245569

TWITTER: @MeehanAScott

 

 

 

Fargoer – Petteri Hannila

FargoerWritten originally in the Author’s native Finnish, this work has been translated to English for sales in the US.

Set in the forests of Northern Europe, Fargoer: A Viking Age Tale describes the life of Vierra, a tribeswoman of the Kainu, beginning with her ascension into womanhood. While her own tribal society is matriarchal, she is pitted against both men and spirits as she progresses through the years to her ultimate destiny.

This tale is delivered in an epic style, merging the mythologies of Scandinavia with fantasy, reminding me of stories from the spoken word traditions that place the main characters in situations to test their strength and determination against powerful opposing forces.

Constructed from a string of short stories, similar in style to Martian Chronicles by Bradbury, the novel leads us through the journey of Vierra, from her prepubescent years living with her chieftain aunt and cousin into the life of a quiet hunter, an outsider even among her own tribe. Throughout her life’s trials and triumphs, we are introduced to a variety of spirit identities. We observe the rituals and rites of her people contrasted with those of the Vikings and other tribes who appear in the narrative. The work is sprinkled with poetic chants and songs.

As I looked through other reviews of Fargoer, I noticed that some readers complained that the writing was boring, as if there was not enough action from page-to-page to evoke their interest. I found the opposite to be true, with almost every detail of this book drawing my attention, down to the very last description of the tribal huts. Action is important in any adventure: if the destination were the only purpose of writing, then there would be no point in telling a story at all. What is a story without setting a scene? – describing the landscape, the clothes, the homes of the characters. In between the bursts of exterior action, we need to dwell inside the characters thoughts, to see how the events affect their personalities, to understand how those actions affect us as the readers. To understand her destiny, Vierra must accept her actions and her own justification for each one. The reader is prompted to consider how he or she might handle those same events.

This novel evenly disperses meaningful description of the tribal lands and traditions with the swift fighting action.

This book receives an exuberant 5 Stars from me.

Find Fargoer on Amazon.com.

+++

I asked Petteri to answer a few questions, and he obliged with some fascinating information.

Q: Where is your native country/state?
A:  I come from Finland, and to be exact from Central Finland area. I was born and raised in countryside and even though my parents weren’t farmers there were lot of them among my relatives. Even though I live in the city now, originating from ”the end of the sandy road” has probably had an effect on me.

Q: Do you prefer writing in your native language?
A: Yes. I prefer to write in Finnish and then possibly to translate my texts in English. The translation projects have been joint efforts, as I am not good enough on my own do translate fiction.

Q: When (or at what age) did you first become interested in writing stories?
A:  I started reading my first novels when I was eight. From those days I have linked fantastic adventures with books, but it took fairly long to get going. I wrote some poetry in the 90’s (horrible by the way) but it wasn’t until around 2008 or 2009 when I got going. It was a long process for me.

Q: What does your writing process entail?
A:  I write a lot of short fiction which usually starts with a strong idea or an emotional state. From there flows the concept and the story itself in quite a short time. I am a sporadic writer with long times of non-productivity and then short bursts of creation. It is kind of stressful for me sometimes, but there has been no way around it. I am still experimenting with different working methods, currently I write my draft versions with pen and paper. It is interesting to find out how different ways of doing things affect the results.

For longer stuff I usually have a long ”incubation period”. Fargoer took four years to make, and it seems that my future projects take a long time as well.

Q: How do you create your characters?
A:  My characters are a mix created out of my experiences with real people, the needs of the particular story, and quirky whims that my imagination stirs up. Usually they kind of develop themselves when they are written into the storyline, I do not plan so much of characters beforehand. This sometimes leads to re-writing, but for me it has been the best way so far.

A:  Who or what was the inspiration for Vierra?
Q: I am privileged to have been lived my life around strong and independent women. My grandmother and mother are such figures, and I have had a chance to meet many more. This is the basis of the character herself. I have also been interested of the ”warrior women” or amazon-myths as they seem plenty and can be found within many cultures. I tried to create Vierra and her culture as a believable warrior woman and a culture to match: a pseudo-historical entity but without over-the-top implications that plague most of the explorations of these myths.

Q: Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special?
A:  Well, for the reader she represents a unique culture. A matriarchal hunter-gatherer society in the northern forests. But she is a kind of an outcast in her own culture as well. Perhaps the most overwhelming aspect of her is ”sisu”, a Finnish word for guts that we pride ourselves of. A person with ”sisu” goes through obstacles even in grim situations with sheer stubborn determination and inability to give up. This, and her other traits make her flawed, but interesting character in my point of view.

Q: Is there a moral/social idea you wished to convey through “Fargoer”?
A:  I don’t like conveying agendas but I like to convey ideas and things for the reader to ponder with. With Fargoer I would say there are few: social status of an outcast is one of them. Anti-religious tendencies in a world with clear supernatural involvement is another. Clashing of cultures of different livelihoods is third. Destiny of an individual is probably the fourth.

Q: What drew you to writing a story based in the age of the Vikings?
A: I would say it is the way the era is underused in fantasy literature. Most of fantasy seems to be based on High Medieval period and different variations of Middle Ages. I think Viking Age has very interesting things to give for fantasy literature. There are more original cultures and different religions present than in later periods, when the influence of the church has grown. Vikings themselves brought an element of multi-culturalism as they traded and raided in many areas, creating an exchange of ideas and goods all the way from northern sea to the Arabs. Level of sophistication ran all the way from hunter-gatherers to quite sophisticated Caliphate.

Q: How closely do the spirits and chants in your book mirror actual tribal mysticism?
A: I’ve tried to mimic the feel and methods of ancient Finnish poetry for the chants. In Finnish version they are written in old Kalevala-meter but translated poetry uses rhymes as it is more natural to English language. Poems and mythology described in Fargoer is not an exact copy of the traditional Finnish mythology, but the ancient reality was not either. Especially Kalevala was created in an age of rising national awareness and does not represent the whole spectrum of myths and beliefs that really existed. In this light, my work is not authentic, but neither are the other works derived from ancient poetry.

Q: What’s the one major piece of advice you would give to a first-time novel writer?
A: I would say, try to find your own voice and your own way of doing things. Use tips and tricks used by others but do not get caught up with them, the best methods for you are the ones which make you pound those words in.

Q: What’s the biggest lesson you learned from writing your first book?
A: Writing a book is a huge task, especially if you are very self-conscious of your work. I guess I can say big accomplishments can come out of small things done regularly for a long time.

Q: What are you currently working on?
A: Currently I am writing short stories. The follow-up for Fargoer is in the works but it seems to take longer than I predicted. I have learned not to fret over such things too much, so I currently write stuff that comes out naturally. I have many novel-size projects in my mind besides Fargoer’s sequels, it will be interesting to see when they decide to come out. 🙂

Q: How do you relax?
A: I practice aikido in addition to writing so physical activity is also very important for my well-being. Books, movies and music also seem to work, as they seem for the most of us. As a family man I enjoy being home and seeing my boy grow and learn new things.

Q: Any last notes or words of inspiration or encouragement you would like to leave?
A: “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” – Vince Lombardi
“Big things have small beginnings” – Lawrence of Arabia

To Connect with Petteri, you can click on the following links:

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

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fargoerbook

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Petteri-Hannila/e/B009QIJXP0

Creativia Publishing:  http://www.creativia.org/fargoer—day-of-the-dead.html
Day of the dead is a short story set in the world of Fargoer (and it touches the storyline depicted in the novel). You can download it for free from Creativia’s web site.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: