Interview: An Interview with Poet Megan O’Keeffe

Book Name and Description: Where I Ache

Where I Ache Cover

This collection is broken up into six chapters ranging from themes such as depression, jealousy, grief, and strength. These delicate subjects can be difficult to talk about and most people avoid them because of the uncomfortable vulnerability. This collection features content that can be triggering for some. I’ve always written and shared my poetry with the hope that readers would relate and feel less alone. I hope you feel a sense of community to all of those connected throughout this collection.

This book is available on Amazon: Click Here

 

Love Song
By Megan O’Keeffe

When times get hard and I’m losing myself
you sing the song my heart needs to remember itself.
I hope you’ll always be here
because through the chaos you’re all I hear
even when the darkness scared my love away
you gave me yours and promised it will always stay.

 

What gave you the idea for Where I Ache? Or what inspired you to write it?

Where I Ache focuses on various aspects of mental health, such as depression and self esteem, which are definitely important to me and my writing. Mental health can be such a delicate topic and often gets avoided because of that. In fact, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to publish this book because I didn’t know if I could put that vulnerability out there. But then I reflected that because of the silence, people with mental illness feel even more alone, so then I knew I wanted to publish this collection, so that the readers could be their own little community of support and unity.


Tell us about your past books and stories?

My first book focused on a journey of love lost, then found. Not all poems are happy, as not all of love is. But the poetry is vulnerable, real, and honest. And in that honesty, I hope each reader can find comfort, community, and strength to continue on your own journey of love.


What is the writing process like for you? What is your writing day like? What have been the biggest influences on your writing?

There’s definitely an ebb and flow to my writing process – weeks without writing and then days with 4-5 poems in one sitting. I tend to think of poem lines while driving or they’ll just randomly come to me during the day, in class, in conversation, etc. The first 6 years of my writing were heavily influenced by love and now I have some more influences: like nature, mental health, and grief are also present.


How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I definitely think I’ve branched out my topics for my poetry more. I’m also playing with the real estate of the page a lot more and emphasizing words more for impact. Lastly, I’m working hard on getting rid of cliches in my poems, trying to be original and as creative as possible.


How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

I do most of my marketing through social media, mainly Twitter (@Ddateable) and Instagram (@megokeeffewriting). I’ve started working on email newsletters as another marketing tool. My best avenue is probably my blog, Debatably Dateable. I can really connect with my readers there, and have been growing that connection for the longest.


What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

I really do love my piece, ‘War Cry.’ It’s in the form of a pantoum, which is hard to explain, and makes more sense when you see an example, but it repeats two lines from each previous stanza so you have to take the readers on a journey with not much material to do so. I think the creativity needed for the form could go unnoticed if you haven’t tried it before. I also love the world news topic I wrote on for that piece.


For those who haven’t read any of your poems, what book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?

I think Cracked Open represents the poet I started out as, which is very much the foundation of my work. But I think Where I Ache shows where I’ll be going as an artist, so I would recommend Where I Ache to new readers.


What are you doing next?

Obviously, I’ll be marketing Where I Ache for the rest of the year. But I’ve also been organizing my next collection, which I hope to publish in 2020 – but one thing at a time, haha.

 

Bio:

Up and coming Poet, Megan O’Keeffe has been writing poetry for the past decade and published her first collection, Cracked Open, in 2018. The love and support Meg received from her blog, Debatably Dateable, encouraged her to make to make this leap yet again for Where I Ache. When she’s not writing, Meg is bingeing “Brooklyn 99” or walking her dog, Maverick. You may spot her touring the newest spot on Long Island, NY with her sisters and boyfriends…

 

Links:

Where I Ache on Amazon

Megan’s Instagram

Megan’s Twitter

Debatably Dateable (Megan’s Blog)

Megan’s Amazon Author Page

Megan’s Goodreads

 

© The Literary Librarian 2019

Interview: An Interview with Lucie Guerre

Book Name and Description: Land of Memories Forgotten, Shattered Memories, A Day for the Living, and Soulstice.

4 Covers

Land of Memories Forgotten: In the American Southwest is an antique and souvenir shop owned by the elderly Muriel Adams. When a stranger breaks into her store, Muriel is confronted with a decision from her youth. As she struggles with the important choice of her past, it is her present-day and future that hang in the balance. Lucie Guerre’s debut short story will leave you wanting more.

Shattered Memories: Vanessa and her father live in the heart of the desert, the perfect place to sell repurposed goods and forget about her mother. As Vanessa digs through other people’s memories, she never imagines her own would come back to haunt her.

A Day for the Living: Though they may look alike, twin sisters Maria and Isabel could not be any more different than one another. Maria is still mourning her mother’s death and trying to make sense of inhabiting a world without her whereas Isabel would steamroll over her if at all possible. She destroys Maria’s every attempt at keeping her mother’s legacy alive, but when the two are forced to be around each other for just one day, their emotions collide and together, they learn what it truly means to be alive.

Soulstice: A collection of poetry moving through the seasons of life, accompanied by full-color photography.

Please Visit the Links Section Below to Access Her Books.

 

What gave you the idea for Land of Memories Forgotten, Shattered Memories, and A Day for the Living? Or what inspired you to write them?

Honestly, my husband and I took our honeymoon out in the Southwest – Arizona, to be exact – and while he was driving, I snapped a bunch of pictures of certain scenes that inspired me: a dilapidated jewelry stand, a souvenir store, and nature. Oh my gosh, the nature out there was so unusual to me, a girl from the Midwest. Suddenly, as he was driving, I yanked out my tablet and began writing stories. Stories that just spilled out of me.

 

What got you into writing in this genre?

I struggled for a long time in identifying my genre. I hated calling it “Fantasy” because that didn’t seem accurate. I called it “Slipstream” for a while because that seemed to work. “Weird Fiction” also seemed to work, but it was never a perfect fit. Finally, upon re-reading some “Magical Realism,” I realized that’s what I wrote. I just like the idea of magic in everyday life. I like the idea of it running through the normal events of the day. I don’t always write magical realism. I don’t choose the genre. It chooses me.

 

How long have you been writing?

I began writing when I was seven years old. I was struggling to differentiate between the letter g and the letter j (actually, believe it or not, this is something I still struggle with from time to time; the word, “jig,” is a trick for me, haha), and I was practicing writing my letters. I got so comfortable writing my g‘s that I wrote an entire short story and illustrated it. It was called, “Gum Drops, Gum Drops Make me Hungry.” So, I’ve been writing for around twenty-five years, now.

 

Tell us about your past books and stories?

I have published a volume of poetry, called Soulstice. It explores the seasons of my life in a metaphorical sense. Each season represents a different phase of my life, but hopefully, the poems are ones that most people can relate to: love, heartbreak, loss, passion, friendship, memories. Since then, I have published my three short stories: Land of Memories Forgotten, Shattered Memories, and A Day for the Living – as described above.

 

What is the writing process like for you? What is your writing day like? What have been the biggest influences on your writing?

I wish I had more of a process. However, right now, I am in college, so I squeeze writing in where I can. I enjoy fitting it in early – if I can – before classes, but my most productive creative hours are later in the evening. In the early mornings, I’ll drink a cup of coffee and my dog will rest her head on my leg, and I’ll write. In the evening, I usually just fall into the story. The biggest influences on my writing are my life, itself, but various authors have also inspired my style. My life has inspired my writing in the sense that my poetry tends to be semi-autobiographical, whereas my fiction utilizes metaphors and similes. I would not use as many metaphors if it weren’t for my background. I was taught to hide my stories and my feelings, so I think part of me still hides behind metaphors like they’re security blankets, shielding me from the fire of truth.

 

What is your favorite book, as a reader, and why? What book has disappointed you and why? Has any author(s) influenced and inspired your work?

Absolute favorite? That’s tough. I really like Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, White Oleander by Janet Fitch, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon van Booy, and the short stories of Jeanette Winterson. I don’t like to speak poorly of other authors, but I am sometimes shocked at what becomes “popular” in fiction, whether it’s the Twilight series or 50 Shades of Gray. I just don’t understand commercial literature. Jeanette Winterson influenced my work, years ago. I had never heard of her, and a friend handed me her book of short stories, and I was enthralled. My friend compared my writing to hers – and of course, the compliment went to my head – so I read everything she had ever written and scoured her website. Similarly, I read White Oleander years ago, and I constantly re-read it. The language in it feels familiar, yet it pivots the reader into a new way of thinking. I had the pleasure of having an email exchange with the author, and she is kind and wonderful. Another influence is Laurie Halse Anderson, the author of Speak and Shout, in addition to other pieces. I was so excited this past March, when I met her and got her autograph. I listened to her speak, and she just inspires me as a human being and an author. She does so much good, and someday, I want to write, instead of from my imagination, something that comes from the heart. I want to write something to change people’s lives.

 

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

My style has improved so much, over the years. I have tightened it and honed it. When you write poetically, as I do, sometimes, it comes across as purple prose, and I wanted to avoid that. So, to make my writing more succinct, I had to practice. It’s still not perfect, but there are certain pieces that I look at objectively and am proud of. Also, my basic mechanics of novel-writing have greatly improved. I am in a few writing groups on Facebook, and their tips challenge me to be a better writer. I am still learning to incorporate more of the senses, but I think my writing has a lot of great creativity.

 

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

  • Access to a good dictionary
  • An open mind that’s always willing to learn
  • A story to tell
  • The Emotion Thesaurus
  • A good support system that believes in them
  • Also, a good group of critics that teaches them how they can improve

 

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?

“The thing is, the average reader doesn’t care about how a book is written, only that the story is good.  If you do both, you’re in great shape.  They won’t know why they love it so much, only that the story is so compelling.” That’s advice on balancing lyricism and telling a good story, directly from Janet Fitch. Although I’m sure I have other gems saved on my phone, that’s the first one that popped into my head.

 

How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

I’m not the greatest at self-promotion (raised not to brag, and promoting myself feels a lot like bragging), but I do post excerpts and graphics relating to my content on a lot of social media. I usually use Twitter and Facebook, but sometimes, I use Instagram, as well.

 

What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

I’d have to say, I am really proud of my volume of poetry, Soulstice. A lot of heart and soul went into writing those poems. I cried over some of them, and it is amazing to me to see how strongly others react to the poems. My favorite is the first poem in the whole collection. It’s called, “Arson.”

 

For those who haven’t read any of your stories, what story/book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?

A Day for the Living, my most recent work, best represents my work. It has compelling characters, a good balance of plot and lyricism, and an interesting story … in my opinion.

 

What are you doing next?

I am working on finishing my novel. It’s with my editor right now, and then it’s up to me to fix what needs revising. While I am sending that off to publishers, I plan on working on a second volume of poetry. I already have part of it started. I’m organizing it, as we speak.

 

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Read, read, read. Don’t take rejection personally. If the story is important for you to tell, for God’s sake, find a way of telling it. Don’t give up. Never give up. It might feel like Hell, but finishing it is so rewarding.

 

Bio: Lucie Guerre is a pseudonym. Lucie is derived from a Latin word meaning “light”, and St. Lucy lost her eyes either through her own volition, through torture, or due to an admirer’s liking of her eyes. I personally love the idea of my writing providing vision to the blind.  Guerre stems from the phrase “nom de guerre”, which essentially means a name of war. Generally, it comes from names chosen in times of combat. Idiomatically, it is another word for a pseudonym. My pseudonym is used mostly with pieces I’m too ashamed (or too afraid) to write under my real name, but I feel like I am stepping into war with a pen as my weapon when I write.

This is where my pen rests as a sword. This is where I do my best to snuff out the shadows and make darkness light.

 

OR (“If you prefer a more traditional bio,” she says, chuckling):

Lucie Guerre Author PictureLucie Guerre (born in 1987) was raised in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. She began writing at the age of seven, starting with her original work, “Gum Drops, Gum Drops Make Me Hungry and Other Stories.” She has been married to her wonderful husband since September of 2017. They enjoy hiking and cooking together. Lucie enjoys discovering new music and creating collage art and pen-and-ink art, in addition to reading and writing. Since 2017, she has published a volume of poetry and three short stories. She hopes to release her novels, soon.

 

Links:

Lucie’s Facebook Author Page

Lucie’s Twitter

Lucie’s Website

Lucie’s Instagram

Land of Memories Forgotten on Books 2 Read

Shattered Memories on Books 2 Read

A Day for the Living on Books 2 Read

 

© The Literary Librarian 2019

Interview: An Interview with Tammy Ruggles

Book Name and Description: Starsky and Hutch Next Gen.

STARSKY AND HUTCH NEXT GEN AMAZON MAIN COVER

Description of Starsky and Hutch Next Gen

Not only are Davis Starsky and Kent Hutchinson young, single detectives with the Bay City Police Department in California, they’re brothers only a year apart, as they share the same mother, who died in an auto accident when the boys were young teenagers.

Other characters in Starsky & Hutch Next Gen include Captain Shaw (female superior), Tasha Brown (Huggy’s daughter), her boyfriend Tony (Phys Ed teacher), Mo (Davis and Kent’s snitch and psychic friend who runs a grungy gym), and Lucky (Davis and Kent’s hooker friend trying to go clean).

Davis drives a black Mustang with twin white stripes running down the hood, and Kent drives a white Audi. 

This book is available on Amazon: Click Here.

 

What gave you the idea for Starsky and Hutch Next Gen? Or what inspired you to write it?

It came from being a fan of the original TV show, and even the movie later on. Starsky and Hutch were my heroes: I liked what they stood for, justice and mercy, and they were one of the main reasons I wanted to be a social worker. They knew how to kick some criminal butt, but they stood up for the little guy too.

A lot of my writing comes from asking what-if questions, and this was one of them. What if Starsky and Hutch had sons who were detectives too? What kind of cases would they have in today’s society? What challenges would they face in their personal lives?

I wanted the characters to have their own identities, not to be just Xerox copies of their dads. What they do have in common with their fathers would be their integrity, their concern for victims, and their tenacious attitude, regardless of the obstacles they encounter.


What got you into writing in this genre?

I think this genre, the detective/investigation/social issue genre comes from my background as a child/adult protection social worker. I was accustomed to intense situations, actually thrived on them, so it just seemed natural to write about it. Also, I started writing fanfiction years ago, and it was cop stories I wrote even then. But with a human twist.


How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I’ve been writing professionally for 17 years, so that’s a good question. I think I still have the same style, but maybe it’s a little more polished and relaxed than it used to be. I try to be as disciplined and proper with my fiction as I am with my non-fiction, but I write them so differently. With fiction, I can release my imagination a little more, it’s kind of like a bird escaping from a birdcage. It just wants to be free, and I have to rein it in. I think another way I’ve evolved is that I can take what I’ve learned about writing and publishing—my experiences—and pass them on to others.


What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

Some sort of market guide, like Writer’s Market, to know where to pitch your material once it’s finished. That’s all I had when I first started writing professionally, and it served me well. Pair that with a simple query letter, and you are on your way to publication.


How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

I use social media, do call-in guest spots on podcasts or radio shows, and interviews, when invited.


What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

It sounds cliché, but it’s this newest book, and I’ll tell you why I’m so proud of it. Number one, it’s a full-length book. It has 8 episodes, but it’s still a full-length book, and I had to make sure the story arc worked, and the character arcs worked for the duration of 287 pages. That is far different from my 1000-word articles and 3-10 page short stories. It was a real challenge to weave all 8 stories into one cohesive story line. But I think, and hope, that I achieved it. It felt like it when I was finished. I don’t have any regrets or second thoughts about it. It came out the way I wanted, and that was a relief. I just generally don’t do long works like that, so it was a big deal to me. Thank goodness it’s my last.


For those who haven’t read any of your stories, what story/book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?

Again, probably this one, because it has all the elements I love to write: Drama, angst, tragedy, friendship, family, social issues, and unexpected events. My son jokes that it’s a Lifetime movie waiting to happen, and he was my main sounding board for it. That’s another thing I rarely ever did while writing. I never bounced ideas off of someone. I knew exactly what I wanted to write. With this one, since it was so long, and had all those moving parts, I wanted a sounding board.


What are you doing next?

No writing planned, just promoting the work I’ve finished, or helping new or young writers on their way to publication.


What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Put the story first. Keep yourself out of it.

 

Bio:

Tammy Ruggles is a freelance writer based in Kentucky. Her first book, Peace, was a paperback published traditionally by Clear Light Books, while her latest, and final book, Starsky and Hutch Next Gen, is an Amazon Kindle eBook.

 

Links:

Tammy’s Amazon Author Page

Tammy’s Facebook Author Page

Starsky and Hutch Next Gen on Amazon

Starsky and Hutch Next Gen Facebook Book Page

 

© The Literary Librarian 2019

 

Interview: An Interview with Mystqx Skye

Book Name and Description:
Currently published book: Bared – Beneath a Myriad of Skies
WIP: A book about self-publishing and book marketing

FRONT COVER
Description of Bared

Bared – Beneath a Myriad of Skies is a unique find. Revel in the exquisite art of prose and poetry composed of intense imageries and intriguing visuals. Every page evokes a different emotion. Every leaf leads you to a different discovery.

Bared hopes to give you: consolation – if not a friend of your mind; refuge – if not an escape; to find a piece of yourself – if not your soul’s companion. And above all, Bared wishes to give you a relief of heart.

This unique 117-page poetry book inspires and encourages love for self and others, inner self-discovery, understanding relationships and appreciating the beauty of life. The visuals in the book (mandala art, the essence of a woman, beauty of nature) awaken a sense of creativity leading to an inspired mind. The blank writing pages can be used as your diary/journal to help you express yourself.

Come and experience the sensations of Bared – Beneath a Myriad of Skies. Get your hands on it and feel the passion, longing, rage, fear, darkness, hope, strength, exhilaration, happiness, peace, love –  written with beautiful honesty on the pages.

 This poetry chapbook is available on Amazon: Click Here


– My Love Affair with Writing –

The impulse to hold a pen
The feel of fibers as I skim my fingers
On pages where moist ink are deeply engraved
To see the words slowly awaken
To form phrases that spread through the sheets
Immersing it with meanings
Yet unwritten to curious eyes
Gradually heightens my senses
Only to be consumed in that moment
Of ineffable bliss
That mystery… that thrill
And the liberating feel
Of finding my heart
Engulfed in all of it.

***

Mystqx, 2019

What gave you the idea for Bared – Beneath A Myriad of Skies? Or what inspired you to write it?

There were these days in my life last year when everything was too much to handle. Talking to someone did not alleviate the anguish so I caved in and started to write more and more about it. Writing created my breathing ground and it carved my way out of that darkness. One might think that I am too busy to be depressed but that is not the case. I nearly didn’t have time to breathe and yet every sigh that escaped my body was that of giving up. Then I decided to collect all my writings, musings, ramblings (some that even dated back twenty years) and put it together. This has been my therapy ever since.


What got you into writing in this genre?

I remember these sheets of beautifully-cut paper with typewritten poems in it which I took from my mom’s memorabilia boxes that she wanted to put away. Since I love reading, I started reading them aloud, and the rhyme and rhythm made me fall in love with them.  I started collecting them, tearing pages from magazines and making a scrapbook out of them.


How long have you been writing?

My love for writing started when I was in the second grade – when I had to write love letters for my friends. Romance was the motivation, and the feel of reading and receiving handwritten letters was just exhilarating. Then, my love for writing developed into different genres. My mom was a paralegal and she always took me with her to her office. That gave me lots of legal background. During the time I spent there, I was reading books and hearing legal advisers all the time. So that skill and talent was needed by my friends and I started specializing in writing fake parents’ excuse letters to teachers and stuff like that. Of course, it was nothing like breaking the national law or whatever.


What is the writing process like for you? What is your writing day like? What have been the biggest influences on your writing?

There are days when you are motivated, days when you have to find motivation, and days when motivation finds you. A typical writing routine for me is first getting myself in the mood. Music plays a big role in setting the right atmosphere. Latte or tea – depending on what I crave accompanies me at my writing nook. Then the excitement builds up in me as soon as I open my laptop and read articles I wrote before starting with my current writing project. My favourite writing time is during the break of dawn: around 4 to 6 am. There is just something mysterious, magical, and a settling feeling around that time.

The biggest influence on my writing are the myriad of emotions from stories I heard from people coming from all walks of life, my memories, and my dreams. I source out all the words that flow into my writings from these wells.


What is your favorite book, as a reader, and why? What book has disappointed you and why? Has any author(s) influenced and inspired your work?

Being a bookworm, having a favorite book is difficult to say. It’s like choosing one ice cream flavor from your favorite ice cream store. But if I have to name one, it would be The Notebook. I’m a die-hard fan of love that transcends time.


How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

Slow and steady. After pouring my heart out into Bared, now I am ready and moving slowly out of my comfort zone by trying to write in different genres.


What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

I’m all for paper and pen next to a good writing app.


What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?

Didn’t receive it but read it: “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader—not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”― E.L. Doctorow


How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

I’ve been in the marketing and advertising industry for years now and have followed the fast-paced changes in the digital and social media scene. I find that Instagram works for me. I think when one knows how to utilize its features, prepares a good content strategy, and distributes it at the right time, one can reach a targeted and very interactive audience.


What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

My poetry book – Bared. It’s my first.


What are you doing next?

My next book is about self-publishing and book marketing. Marketing is actually one of my favorite things to do. It gives me an opportunity to express my creative skills from a whole new angle.


What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Just write.

Keep the fire within you alive. It takes a very special kind of person to be a writer – so you are very special. Be proud of your passion, regardless of whatever people say about your work. People always have something to say anyway, so why not just write and do what you want?


Bio:

MS bio mag


Links:

Bared Video Trailer

Bared – Beneath a Myriad of Skies for purchase on Amazon

Mystqx Official Website

Mystqx’s Instagram

Mystqx’s Goodreads

Mystqx’s Twitter

Mystqx’s Pinterest

Mystqx’s Facebook

 

© The Literary Librarian 2019

 

 

Interview: An Interview with Wesley Butler

Book Name and Description: Passage to Portrainia

The world of Portrainia is like a fairy tale where things you never thought imaginable exist – a common ground for lucid dreamers. It is seen through an unconscious body, mind and soul, where three young teens discover their dreaming lives are just as real as their waking lives.

This book is available for Kindle and in print on Amazon: Click Here.

 

What inspired you to write Passage to Portrainia? How has this published work evolved throughout your stages of writing?

While the concept of dreams has always fascinated me, Passage to Portrainia has gone through about five or six drafts before it reached its current, published form. I remember the first time I began to write it (around 2008), it was a fan-fiction based on a well-known (within the gaming community) video game that had been cancelled, and eventually transformed into a different story. I decided to turn that around.

I had written a full story from start to finish set in the world of Portrainia, although, at the time, it was not a literal dream world; rather, I had taken the “high fantasy” route and created a world set in an entirely different place other than Earth. The format for the story was blog post-like and episodic: I would post a new “chapter” every few days until the story ended. For the most part, I got positive feedback from it.

About a month later, I planned a sequel to this “draft,” (how I consider it now), which would be more interactive in nature. People who signed up to this gaming forum could “role play” their own characters, but the project never took off. At that point, proud that I had published an entire story (even in a non-formal way), I was becoming more interested in dreaming – lucid dreaming especially. I would borrow dream dictionaries and books from my local library and analyze certain elements I’d experience in dreams. It’s amazing to think about how accurate “meanings” are. Not necessarily paranormally, but, for example, if you’re experiencing undue stress in your life, and you dream of murky water and sky, that “illustrates” your feelings in real life.

This was the real inspiration for Passage to Portrainia. I always loved the name of this world and wanted to incorporate it into one of my writing projects. About four years ago, I decided to marry my interest in dreaming with this fantasy world, and create a place meant only for those who had the willpower to lucid dream. A literal dreamworld is not a concept explored widely in fantasy and science fiction, so I wanted to present how something like it could potentially play out.


What got you into writing young adult fantasy?

It’s a genre to which I’ve been attracted ever since I could remember. In my spare moments growing up, I would spend hours daydreaming of make-believe places, even drawing full-color maps of different landmarks, locations, dungeons, etc., that a protagonist in a story would travel to.

When I’d play video games such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask (the latter of which I believe to be the most compelling story I’ve ever seen in a video game), which I’ve owned for nearly 18 and 17 years, respectively, I’d be enthralled with the thought, attention to detail, and creativity that went into the development of storylines, and how different locations and fictional creatures interacted with each other.

As a genre, fantasy can have various categories (young adult, general audience, and more mature themes), and children’s literature is still my most favorite to this day. It allows for important morals to be incorporated and taught to its audience, life skills that can be used in the real world. Throughout my childhood, I would think to myself, “Wow, I hope I can create a rich world and story just by using my imagination.” That’s what really got me into writing young adult fantasy.


How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing ever since I could hold a pencil. I can’t begin to tell you how many unfinished drafts I have stored in my home, from the ages of 5 and 6 to the present. Professionally, I’ve been writing for many years, on a freelance basis and in my current role. I have experience writing journalistically, mainly feature stories with human interest.


What is your favorite book, as a reader, and why? Has any author(s) influenced and inspired your work?

Although I equally admire all seven Harry Potter books, one of the most significant turning points occurs in The Goblet of Fire, the fourth in the series. The atmosphere is foreboding, almost as though you expect something dastardly to happen at any moment. Although the main event (literally, the Triwizard Tournament) is meant to showcase the power of wizards and witches, and have them compete against one another, its outcome was manipulated to resurrect one of the darkest, sociopathic villains ever created. Even rereading the book for the third and fourth time, I still get a sense of panic that a formidable force is about to terrorize the world, as if I was reading it for the first time.

J.K. Rowling, Ransom Riggs, Charles Dickens, and Roald Dahl have influenced my creativity, because their works have challenged me to build multi-dimensional worlds you can lift off the page. A lot of mental labor goes into creating a fantasy plot, because you must establish a living, breathing society of its own, just like we do in the real world.


How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

By exposure to new ideas and life experiences. I find when I write, I’ll first spend time “researching” my credibility to the topic, even if it’s fiction. When I read a new fantasy book, watch a movie, or play a new video game, I think about how the writer/creator drew on their own hardships or positive “flashbulb” moments in their lives (which happens frequently in literature) to tell the story.

Writing and publishing a novel has granted me the practical experience needed to hone my skills.


What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

I’m proud of my debut novel, Passage to Portrainia – particularly the fantasy world I’ve built with my imagination. I’ve always admired the raw talent authors possess and I feel accomplished that I’ve done something similar. As fantasy authors, I believe it’s our duty to create safe havens to which people can escape. Reality can be harsh at times, so it’s important to be able to lose ourselves in a world separate from our own. It’s a good way to recharge.


For those who haven’t read any of your stories, what story/book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?

Passage to Portrainia best represents my work. I lean towards “high fantasy” worlds connected to the real world in some way, but not accessed by normal means. When it comes to the places themselves, I try to introduce fantasy elements seldom or never seen. I build them up to the best of my ability, including places to travel to and quests to complete.


What are you doing next?

I have a couple of writing projects in progress. At one point, Passage to Portrainia’s plot was going to be merged (although I didn’t know it yet; I hadn’t separated the stories) with another idea I have, and that would have served as its own story. For now, I’m working on a plot that incorporates this idea as the main theme.


Bio:

Residing in Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada, Wesley Butler works in academic administration & communications for higher education. Passage to Portrainia, his debut novel, was released December 2018 under Amazon Kindle Self-Publishing. A former freelance writer, Wesley has served as associate editor of FAME Canada, a music and cultural news website, and as a columnist/reviewer for Independent Music Promotions.

 


Links:

 

© The Literary Librarian 2019

Interview: An Interview with Andrew Birch From the Birch Twins

Interview: Andrew Birch (writing as The Birch Twins)

Book Name and Description:     Book one:  The Life of Lol

                                                            Book Two:  Poohsticks Bridge

Poohsticks_Ebook_cover

This Book is Available for Kindle and Print on Amazon: Click Here.

What gave you the idea for Poohsticks Bridge? Or what inspired you to write it?

It started in 2016, when I was told by family that I originally had a twin sister, who didn’t live.  In fact, for a short time, we both died, as our mum couldn’t support both of us.  Helen gave up her chance so that I could experience life.

And so, searching for an outlet for this grief, Helen gave me Poohsticks Bridge.  It was the story of a lonely little boy growing up on an old ranch house, who meets a special little girl.  And so begins a friendship that will last their whole lives.  Their closeness and fierce protection of each other throughout all the tribulations in their lives is what I’d been denied.  Put simply, John is me, and Melissa is my Helen.

The inspiration to write it, have it professionally edited, to seek an artist to do the cover, and to market it in the best way I could, all came from my twin.  The desire to get people to see the dedication to her at the start of the book was a motivation.  Back in 2016, she was only a forgotten name from 1974 that nobody knew.  And now, everybody who buys the book knows who she would have been and what she would have been capable of.  She remains the driving force in my life, and my inspiration; hence the author branding is “The Birch Twins.”

How did you come to write Poohsticks Bridge after The Life of Lol?

I’ve always thought of each book as a reaction to the previous one.  The Life of Lol was loud, action packed, brashly fun, and the locations vary from coast to coast.  By comparison, Poohsticks Bridge is still, quiet and only features one house at its location.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for my whole life.  I started as a child writing little stories, and coding quests for my videogames.  That led to proper stories, poems, and eventually novels.

Tell us about your past books and stories?

Between 2000-2005, the company I worked for held a short story writing competition every year.  I won it three times and was featured in an anthology of stories.  Sadly, I no longer have copies of any of them.  My first completed novel was Travels with a Barbarian, a fantasy epic dealing with the relationship between a female warrior and an apothecary in a changing world.  I decided against publishing it in its then-current form.  Travels will appear at some point, but it’ll be rewritten first.

My first published novel was The Life of Lol, the story of an orphan girl that grows up to be a gangster and con artist.  Violent with plenty comedy and action, Lol was a learning process.  What to do next time, and what NOT to do.

And then came Poohsticks Bridge, my current novel.  Three years in the writing, it was inspired by Helen, my twin sister that was lost at birth.  Helen has been with me throughout the process of making Poohsticks Bridge come true.

What is the writing process like for you? What is your writing day like? What have been the biggest influences on your writing?

I plan quite extensively.  I’m a detail-planner, and I always leave gaps in case another story needs to come into this one, or a sequel is planned.  So the world always has spaces open.

When I know what’s going on, I write the novel in my head.  I’m a massive fan of sitting staring out of the window.  At first glance, it appears that I’m doing nothing, but in fact I’m playing the story through in my head and checking to see whether it makes sense  and it holds together well.  Sometimes, new things come to me, and they get jotted down.

Only when it’s watertight does it get committed to paper for a first draft.  As I work at a job as well, writing time can sometimes be limited.  I’m better in the mornings, rather than at night, so I can get up between four and five if serious writing needs to be done.

What is your favorite book, as a reader, and why? What book has disappointed you and why? Has any author(s) influenced and inspired your work?

The biggest reading disappointment for me has to be Treasure Island.  I’ve always loved pirates and pirate movies and TV shows, but never managed to read this classic, until recently, and sadly it’s left me cold.  I was hoping for rich description and characterization, but it really isn’t that good.  The plot doesn’t make that much sense.  I’m a lover of what used to be called “adventure stories for boys”, my favorites are the H. Rider Haggard tales, and I’d hoped this would have been the same.

My favorites have to be the Fleming Bond novels.  I love the lengthy descriptive passages.  I love the way he spends twenty-five pages on a game of golf, and always gives us a description of what’s on the characters’ sandwiches.  I love that so much.  I can’t write that way, I’m much faster paced than that; but for relaxation, that’s my guilty pleasure.

Other than these, I’m a massive fan of Golden age comic book stories.  I’m a fan of Gotfredson’s Mickey Mouse detective, Bark’s Disney ducks, Segar’s Thimble theatre Popeye, and Marston Wonder Woman stories. I love them, especially if they’re episodic, long-winding tales.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I have more confidence now.  I don’t try to be something I’m not.  I’m just a normal guy from the back end of Manchester, I’m  not some super-intelligent professor type.  That used to bother me, and I never felt I fit in with writers and the writing crowd, but it’s different.  Some success with the second novel gave me enough confidence to say, “I don’t give a shit what people think, I’m me, and I write my own style.”  Apart from that, I’ve spent time listening to and reading writers that I admire.  I even enrolled in a writing academy to tighten up my skills.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

Well a PC with a copy of Word helps.  I’m also a fan of notebooks, spreadsheets, and even a sketchbook for drawings and maps.

How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

I’ve done everything possible for Poohsticks Bridge, from going on a blog tour, to appearing in the local paper, being on the local radio, posting in Facebook groups, and even advertising at work.  Links to books and The Twins’ website are always included on short stories that get published.  I think a brand name is important, too.  Most of the time on Facebook, I usually operate as “The Birch Twins” and try to get the brand name out there.  It’s important to know how Facebook postings work and to make the postings aspects work for you.  When talking about my work, I never say “the book”; I always use the title.

What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

Poohsticks Bridge is the piece of work that I love above all others.  There are still things I’d do differently if I were to write it again, but it’s my best writing, to date.

For those who haven’t read any of your stories, what story/book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?

The work that best represents my work is probably my short story, “The Coyote.”  It’s violent, atmospheric, funny, and fast-paced;  plus, you can get through it in under ten minutes.  Most of my main characters are female, and this story is no different. It was published by The Literary Yard.

What are you doing next?

Next, I am doing a prequel to Poohsticks Bridge, entitled Tales from Belle Starr House.  In fact it’s the first of two prequels to Poohsticks.  This book goes back to the days of the Yukon gold rush, and will feature actual people who were around Dawson and Skagway at the time, who will interact with the ancestors of the characters from Poohsticks Bridge.  Apart from that, whenever I get time, there are always short stories and flash pieces over at The Birch Twins Facebook page

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Keep writing.  Learn the rules, but never be afraid to go your own way.  Be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be.  Remember that no creature on earth has a greater right to life than any other.  Always be courteous and polite, but remember to be firm. You’re a special person, too, with talent.  Listen to advice, but be prepared to disregard it.  Apologize when you’re wrong.  Be humble, but never too humble.  And if you drink bourbon, always drink it neat.  Most of that was from Helen, but she’s wise and worth listening to.

Bio:

Andrew Birch is a forty-four-year-old professional artist, writer, poet, designer, and one-half of the creative duo known as “The Birch Twins.”  His interests include comic books, action figures, machinery and engineering, sitting looking out of the window, and having picnics in the rain.

Links:

The Birch Twins Author Central on Amazon

“The Coyote” on the Literary Yard website

Poohsticks Bridge on Amazon

The Birch Twins Facebook Page  

© The Literary Librarian 2019

Interview: An Interview with JP Meador (Author and Poet)

Books List:

JP Meador has written over twenty books. A small portion of them are listed here: The Wagon Wheel, Strada Almaden, 32 Ounces of Wisdom, A Place I Call Home, Are You Supposed to be Taken Seriously?, Love Unfolding, Observing What is Not Seen, The Atrium, Off the Top of My Head, Subterfuge, No Need to Bleed, The Light Stream, and more.

See the Links section at the bottom of this interview for links to these works, a link to JP Meador’s listings on Amazon, and the link to his Facebook author page.

 

What made you decide on Strada Almaden as an author name?

I don’t want people to be confused. I am Jon Meador, JP Meador and love every aspect of Almaden so my author page is Strada Almaden. Strada Almaden means in Spanish, the road to Almaden. JP sounds much better than Jon when you publish books so I use JP. How can I explain this, Strada Almaden is similar to a metaphor, my poems and stories open the door to the memories I carried while I lived in Almaden. I still live there, even though I live in Fresno. Most of my family live there still, I go back whenever I can. I have walked on the roads and cleared many trails in the foothills that many people have hiked in Almaden. I may be absent from Almaden but I still call it home.

What made you want to write?

What gave me the inspiration to write comes from singers and songwriters. I am a poet first and foremost. The ideas that I get for my books comes from my personal experience.  

What got you into writing in this genre?

I have always enjoyed listening to songwriters and I wanted to write just like them. Poetry just arrived naturally. Poetry came to me like Pablo Neruda wrote in his poem, “Poetry.” I believe poetry is born within a person rather than practiced. It takes a while for that part of a person to be known. It may sound strange but I’m still developing as a poet.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for the past twenty years. I wrote my first poetry book in sixth grade because it was an assignment and I didn’t know anything about the subject. I didn’t pick up a pen and write another line of poetry for eight years.

Tell us about your past books and stories?

The first book I ever wrote was called, The Darklight Café. I spent a lot of time writing about girls and my experience with relationships. Then I grew out of that and wrote about other subjects that mattered to me at the time. I feel that the world wants you to be something other than what you were meant to be. I don’t like being under a label and I find myself misunderstood by other people. I am poetry but don’t know any other way to explain it.

What is the writing process like for you? What is your writing day like? What have been the biggest influences on your writing?

The process of writing can’t be forced. It will arrive when you least expect it. I’ve learned you need to have a pen and paper with you at all times. I used to walk to work with a small notebook because you never know when true inspiration will strike. It begins with a funny line or a thought than you put the time into it and it will transform to something you can use in a poem or it may stand alone as a storyline for a short story or a novel.

As I said, my influences are not from literary figures but songwriters. I just think they are more interesting and real.

What is your favorite book (other than your own book, of course) and why? What book disappointed you and why?

I have always been interested in autobiographies because people interest me. The book that caught my attention and couldn’t put down was a book written about Jim Morrison by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugarman called No One Here Gets Out Alive. I read a lot of books about famous celebrities like Elvis but I also like reading books from Lee Child and his character Jack Reacher. Those types of characters interest me.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I no longer think about what may or may not be interesting to the reader. I just write what interests me the most.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?     

Stephen King covered what tools you need to be a successful writer was a vocabulary and good sense of grammar. I would add to the list that a writer must have a great imagination as well.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?

I learned from David Whyte that you need to feed your longings and desires.

How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

I market my work on my author’s page on Facebook.  The best way to advertise is the traditional way, doing readings and word of mouth.

What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

I feel I’m still growing as a poet and a writer. If there was a work I’m most proud of, it would be the book, Observing What Is Not Seen.

For those who haven’t read any of your stories, what story/book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?

Observing What Is Not Seen is a book of poetry and I feel it reveals more than what was written. It was dedicated to my late brother Gregg who taught me the importance of observing the world around you and to appreciate music.

What are you doing next?

I have published two books in July. I wrote a book on understanding poetry called Poetry Abounds and another book called Creative Joys that talks about writing and the need to keep at it. My next book I’ll publish will be three short stories called, Bound to Nowhere.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

The advice I would give aspiring writers would be keep writing. Don’t ever give up. Listen to your instincts and be careful who you ask to look at your writing.

Favorite Quote:

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Bio:

JP Meador has worked as park aide, security guard, computer technician and federal contractor. He was born and raised in Almaden, located in south San Jose, CA where he developed and indulged his interests in poetry and American History.

His first poetry book was called Forgotten Sentinels published in 2012 (now titled, A Place I Call Home) poems about abandoned military installations along the West Coast, which he visited throughout the decade of the nineties.

Since 2012, he has written over twenty books of poetry, novellas and a memoir called, “Are You Supposed to Be Taken Seriously?

He’s been married twelve years to his wife Debbie. They live in Fresno, CA with their grandson Matthew and a German Shepard pup named, Sasha.

Links:

The Wagon Wheel

Strada Almaden

32 Ounces of Wisdom

A Place I Call Home

Are You Supposed to be taken Seriously? 

Love Unfolding

Observing What Is Not Seen

The Atrium

Off the Top of My Head

Subterfuge

No Need to Bleed

The Light Stream

Complete Amazon Books Listings for JP Meador 

JP’s Amazon Central

JP Meador’s Facebook Page

 

© The Literary Librarian 2017