Interview with Reese Hogan, Author of SHROUDED LOYALTIES

by Dan Stout in


As part of an ongoing celebration of upcoming debut novels, I’ll be running highlights of interviews from a number of my fellow debuts through the end of 2019. The full interviews are available on DebutAuthors19.com.

Today, we’re continuing the series with a conversation with Reese Hogan, author of Shrouded Loyalties, a military sci-fi / dieselpunk releasing from Angry Robot on August 13th, 2019.

About the Book

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Naval officer Mila Blackwood receives dangerous powers when her submarine travels through an alternate realm of existence and is attacked by a monster. She must figure out how to use these powers to save her country from invasion, all the while unaware that her partner is a spy and her brother is an enemy collaborator.



Interview Excerpt

Where did you get the idea?
I always have to have three ideas come together to really take off. This one’s root ideas were a fantasy with a WW2 feel, a soldier who returns home to find out her brother is an enemy collaborator, and people with magic tattoos who are being hunted by an occupying force (which became the marks with powers they receive in the second chapter). Everything else built from there.

How long did you take to write this book?
Approximately two years to write (not continuous), then ten months from there until publication. Atypically, I got the publisher offer before I had an agent, so that put me on a faster track than normal.

What kind of research did you do for this book?
Lots about World War 2, especially France both before and after occupation. A TON about submarines, including visiting the USS Pampanito, the submarine on which the BZS Desert Crab in the novel is based. And a lot about volcanoes—yes, there are volcanoes, too.

What did you remove from this book during the editing process?
Mostly passages where it took too long to get to the point. I’ve discovered that when I’m not quite positive of the next step my character will take, my character is doing a lot of internal thinking to figure that out when I reread. So when I chop out the internal thought process, they appear to make decisions quicker, and the pacing is better.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I write EXTENSIVE outlines, but—like that old military expression about the best plans only lasting until the first bullet is fired—my outlines go off the rails almost right away. That being said, the outlining does help me figure out the key points that I’m most excited about, and I use those as guidelines to keep the book on track.

What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
Over time, it’s definitely become editing. Having the story down in a workable form makes it so much easier to sit down and work with than writing those initial words. And during the editing process, you’ve already had feedback and know where its weak points are, so there’s more confidence that you’re spending time obsessing over the right things.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
When I first start writing a new draft, I have all these ideas but I haven’t yet put together a framework for how they’ll work together. There’s a lot of self-doubt about whether I’m starting in the right place, or have too many plot threads or not enough, or whether I should write first or third person…the list goes on. There’s lots of deleting—whole chapters worth—before I start to figure out what the story will look like.

Can you share your writing routine?
I write a minimum of two hours a day, and I have to plan when this block will be ahead of time to make sure it actually happens, since my kids’ schedules can vary. I try to get another two hours in the evening, but it depends on how crazy my kids are at bedtime (they are 7 and 5). My husband is very good about making sure I get my needed blocks on the weekends, which is the most challenging time to fit it in.

Have you ever gotten writer’s block?
If yes, how do you overcome it? I think we all get stuck sometimes, and I think it usually relates to losing interest in your story. When this happens, I go back to the last moment in the story I was excited about and try a different direction from there.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Try not to be afraid to share your work. No matter how good you think it is, you won’t know what its real problems are until someone points them out to you.

What’s your favorite writing advice?
It’s from V.E. Schwab, and I absolutely love it: “At the end of the day, there’s one thing to do: Show up. Put in the work. Let go of the outcome.”


About the Author

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Reese Hogan loves nothing more than creating broken relationships in broken worlds. With a Bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in journalism, Hogan has spent the last twenty years honing her craft by taking classes, listening to podcasts, and attending writing workshops and critique groups. She is passionate about music, especially alternative and punk rock, and adamantly believes that art can reach out in a way no other form of communication can. She lives with her family in New Mexico.

Connect with Reese:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Goodreads

Buy Shrouded Loyalties

by Dan Stout

Interview with Sarah J. Sover, Author of DOUBLE-CROSSING THE BRIDGE

by Dan Stout in


As part of an ongoing celebration of upcoming debut novels, I’ll be running highlights of interviews from a number of my fellow debuts through the end of 2019. The full interviews are available on DebutAuthors19.com.

Today, we’re continuing the series with a conversation with Sarah J. Sover, author of Double-Crossing the Bridge, a humorous fantasy releasing from The Parliament House on August 13th, 2019.

ABOUT THE BOOK

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An upstanding, grog-chugging troll sick of struggling to make ends meet devises a scheme to solve her financial woes—a heist!



Interview Excerpt

Where did you get the idea?

I love to combine things that shouldn’t be combined, so when my husband and I were talking about a sitcom starring trolls, it only seemed natural to take it to the next level. Double-Crossing The Bridge is How I Met Your Mother meets Ocean’s 11 with the humor of Deadpool and characters that could have been created by Jim Henson.

What’s the story behind the title?

 I’m a sucker for word play. My dog’s name is Roadie because I found him hit by a car back when I used to play guitar. So when Double-Crossing The Bridge came out of a brainstorming session, I knew it was the one.

How long did you take to write this book?

 My writing process is atypical. It took about a year to get the bones all in place and another to get the story fleshed out.

 What kind of research did you do for this book?

I read Donald Westlake and researched troll lore. But the best part was subjecting my husband to hours upon hours of heist movies in the name of research, frequently with our own versions of grog—scotch for him, beer for me.

What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

Discovering the story. I begin with a spark and write from there. Finding out what it turns into is exciting.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

Once I know the story, I struggle to keep momentum through revision after revision. I get bored and lose focus easily, so I really have to beat myself up to get it whole and shiny.

Can you share your writing routine?

I have two young children. I only get about 30 minutes of writing in per day under normal circumstances. Some days, I don’t write at all and others, I have to steal time during naps and after bedtime. I have a dedicated writing space that is always buried, currently beneath Double-Crossing The Bridge swag, so I do most of my writing at the dining room table or hiding in a corner of the bedroom.

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Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?

I don’t really believe in writer’s block. I’ve lost all will to keep going, but that’s not really the same thing. In those times, I take a week or two off and set a drop-dead date. If I haven’t picked it up by then, I force myself to push through. Eventually, I get my groove back and go back to fix whatever nonsense I wrote when I was only focused on getting the words down.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Relax and embrace who you are. You don’t need to change the world overtly to have an impact on it.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a fantasy noir about a fairy godmother who goes rogue to hunt down the serial killer who slaughtered her first princess.

What’s your favorite writing advice?

Just do it. LOL! I’m really not kidding though. There are so many routes, and different things work for different people. Whatever works for you is the right way to get it done.

What’s the book you’re currently reading?

I’m currently enjoying The Queen Con by Meghan Scott Molin. Next up is Shrouded Loyalties by Reese Hogan.

About the Author

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Sarah J. Sover writes fantasy crossover novels while raising two energetic little people. A Georgia Southern Bell Honor's graduate who grew up living near Detroit, London, Miami, and Atlanta, Sarah's background is as varied as her answers to the dreaded "where are you from" question. She's done everything from wildlife rehabilitation to data management, leaving notebooks filled with bad poetry in her wake.

Sarah resides in John's Creek, Ga with her brilliant husband Alex, two vibrant daughters, cranky old dog, and seemingly immortal snake. In addition to writing, Sarah loves craft beer, blues dancing, binging superhero Netflix shows, hobby jumping, Disney, and groove metal.

Connect with Sarah:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads

Buy DOUBLE-CROSSING THE BRIDGE on Amazon or through the publisher


by Dan Stout

Interview with Maxym M. Martineau, Author of Kingdom of Exiles

by Dan Stout in


As part of an ongoing celebration of upcoming debut novels, I’ll be running highlights of interviews from a number of my fellow debuts through the end of 2019. The full interviews are available on DebutAuthors19.com.

Today, we’re continuing the series with a conversation with Maxym M. Martineau, author of Kingdom of Exiles, a fantasy romance releasing from Sourcebooks on June 25th, 2019.

ABOUT THE BOOK

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Exiled Charmer Leena Edenfrell is running out of time. Empty pockets forced her to sell her beloved magical beasts—an offense punishable by death—and now there’s a price on her head. With the realm’s most talented murderer-for-hire nipping at her heels, Leena makes Noc an offer he can’t refuse: powerful mythical creatures in exchange for her life.

Plagued by a curse that kills everyone he loves, Noc agrees to Leena’s terms in hopes of finding a cure. Never mind that the dark magic binding the assassin’s oath will eventually force him to choose between Leena’s continued survival…and his own.


Interview Excerpt

Where did you get the idea?

Kingdom of Exiles started because of a dream I had about Noc, the main male character. I’ve always had particularly vivid dreams, so when he appeared all swathed in shadows, as he’s apt to do in the book, I just knew I had to write about him. In my dream, he told me about how he was physically incapable of being with the one he loved, and I wanted that to translate into a story, hence Noc’s curse.

Leena was born out of his descriptions of her, and the beasts were something I always dreamed about—creatures I’d see, worlds I’d get snippets of. It was really like pulling ideas together from several different dreams into one coherent story.

No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.

There is something like 25+ beasts referenced in some way, shape, or form in Kingdom of Exiles. I had no idea when I started exactly how many I’d include, and then it just sort of… exploded! I love all of them, and I’m so glad my publisher did, too, because this resulted in the creation of a bestiary appendix, which includes pronunciation guides, ranks, detailed descriptions and taming requirements for each and every one of them.

How long did you take to write this book? (You can share about the timeline from drafting to publication)

 I’m a speed writer, I’ll admit it. I started concepting out the idea of this novel while I was in Pitch Wars with a different book, but truly didn’t start writing it until December or January of 2017, I believe. I made it a goal to finish it before my wedding in March, started editing after that, and then sent out a few queries but held off when I got into Query Kombat. Signed with my agent in September, went through revisions over the holidays, went on sub shortly thereafter, and had an offer relatively quickly. I ended up signing with Sourcebooks in July of 2018.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

 If you twist my arm, I’ll side with the pantsers. I typically only start with a vague notion of where I want my characters to end up, but as they start to develop on the page and make choices that surprise me, I’ll alter along the way. Which makes me want to say I’m a plantser? Is that a thing? I’m making it a thing. It’s a bit hard to not plot to some degree when writing a trilogy, even if it’s only, “I know he’ll get to Point A by midway and Point Z by the end of it all.” But I have never been a hardcore synopsis writer, sticky note gal, or outline type of person.

What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

Pre-writing. In this stage, I do a lot of dreaming, build a lot of boards, fill out character sheets and design maps (I love to design maps!). I feel like this is when I truly get to build out characters and worlds that are three dimensional. That way, when they’re on the page progressing through the plot, their actions and quirks come naturally to me.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

This is a hard question for me to answer. I find all parts of the writing process validating and invigorating in different ways. Though I end up pulling my hair out the most during editing, so if I had to pick, that one.

Can you share your writing routine? (e.g. How do you carve out your writing time? Where do you normally write?)

Writing time? What’s that? I’m kidding, mostly. I work a full-time job and am the co-founder of a not-for-profit romance site on the side (All The Kissing), so I don’t have a lot of hours in my day. I will say, though, that I thrive under deadlines. Need edits in a week? I’m game. A rework of that chapter before it gets released? Done.

Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?

 Absolutely. I usually have to walk away for at least a day, if not more. I’m the type of person who can write 5,000+ words in a sitting, so when I can’t get more than 100, I really flail. I end up calling my critique partners so I can talk through options and pain points, and that usually solves the problem. Sometimes I just know the section is going to be rough, and I push through just to make it to the next passage. When I come back for edits, it’s much easier to see what I missed or could do better.

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About the Author

Maxym M. Martineau is a staff writer and editor by day, and a fantasy romance author by night. When she’s not getting heated over broken hearts, she enjoys playing video games, sipping a well-made margarita, binge-watching television shows, competing in just about any sport, and of course, reading.

Following her passion, Maxym earned her bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. From that point on, it was all words, all the time. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, and currently lives in Arizona with her husband and their dogs. She is represented by Cate Hart of Corvisiero Literary Agency.


by Dan Stout

Interview: Deborah L. King, Author of GLORY BISHOP

by Dan Stout in


As part of an ongoing celebration of upcoming debut novels, I’ll be running highlights of interviews from a number of my fellow debuts through the end of 2019. The full interviews are available on DebutAuthors19.com.

Today, we’re continuing the series with a conversation with Deborah L. King, author of Glory Bishop, a work of women’s fiction releasing from Red Adept Publishing on June 4th, 2019.

About the Book

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GLORY BISHOP is a coming-of-age story of a young woman’s longing to reach outside the sheltered life of her mother’s madness and live in the world as a normal person.

 






Interview Excerpt


Where did you get the idea?
Years ago, I was in a writing class, and wrote a short story about a sheltered, repressed girl being embarrassed about going to a party.  That girl evolved into Glory.

 

What’s the story behind the title?
Back in 1998, I created an AOL screen name GLORY and I chose BISHOP as a last name because it’s the name of a street in a neighborhood where I lived as a child.  I always wanted to go to the corner store on Bishop, but my mother would never let me.  I’m glad my publisher liked the name… so we kept it.

How long did you take to write this book?
About 25 years.  I started it in 1992 and wrote off and on until 2016. 

What kind of research did you do for this book?
I did quite a bit of research.  I had to tour some places in Chicago and find the locations and names of 1980s businesses.  The old Chicago Transit Authority map was fascinating, as was the history of some of the neighborhoods. 

What did you remove from this book during the editing process?
For legal reasons we took out song lyrics and changed a few location names. 

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Actually, a little of both.  I start the story; then write an outline. Then I change the outline as the story evolves. 

What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
My favorite part is when I get into the zone and the story starts flowing and the characters take control of the narrative and I learn new things about them. 

What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
The most challenging part is discipline.  I’m not too good at keeping my butt in the chair and my mind focused.  The magic portal that is the internet often lures me in, and I waste time.  When that happens, I try to turn that time into productive research…or so I tell myself.

Can you share your writing routine?
I write in spurts.  I have had weeks where I laid on the couch and plotted the story scenes in my head.  I’ve also had binges when I didn’t eat or sleep…just wrote for days on end. 

Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?
I get it frequently.  When that happens, I usually switch to another part of the story and try working on that, or maybe work on a different book altogether.  When it’s really bad, I read back over what I’ve already written and see where I can improve it.

About the Author

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Deborah King has been a writer and storyteller her whole life.  She published her first short story when she was seven years old. Her writing runs the gamut from poetry and women’s fiction, to espionage and science fiction. Her upcoming debut novel, GLORY BISHOP, is scheduled for release in 2019.  When she’s not writing, Deborah enjoys cartoons, cooking, photography, and Star Trek.  Born and raised in Chicago, Deborah has managed to achieve all her childhood dreams and still lives in the area with her husband and two youngest children. According to her daughter, she has “literally aced her life!


Connect with Deborah:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads


Buy Glory Bishop

by Dan Stout

Interview: Daniela Petrova, Author of Her Daughter's Mother

by Dan Stout in


As part of the ongoing celebration of upcoming debut novels, I’ll be running highlights of interviews from a number of my fellow debuts through the end of 2019. The full interviews are available on DebutAuthors19.com.

Today, we’re continuing the series with a conversation with Daniela Petrova, author of Her Daughter’s Mother, a mystery/suspense releasing from Putnam Press on June 18th, 2019.

About the Book

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Her Daughter’s Mother is a suspense novel about a woman in her late thirties who has it all—an apartment in Manhattan, a great job as an art curator at the Met, a long-term live-in relationship with a Columbia professor—except they haven’t been able to become pregnant after years of trying. Their last chance is a donor egg cycle they can barely afford. But when he unexpectedly leaves her three days before the precious embryo transfer, she faces the impossible choice of having to give up on her dream of having a baby or proceed without his consent. 




Interview Excerpt


Where did you get the idea?

I struggled with infertility for nearly ten years. I was in the middle of an anonymous egg donor cycle and thought, What if I were to run into my donor? Of course, I would recognize her—I’d seen photos of her—but she wouldn’t know who I was. Would I be tempted to follow her? To learn more about her? The possibility seemed at once exciting and frightening. I knew her health and education history, her hobbies, the eye and hair color of her grandparents. But I had no idea what she was like. Did she laugh with abandon or shyly cover her mouth? Did she sing in the shower? Did she spend her free time at the gym or curled up on the couch with a book? Hungry to find out more about her, would I be tempted to follow her? I never ran into my donor. I didn’t even get pregnant but I liked the idea of a pregnant woman encountering her donor and stalking her, unable to suppress her curiosity.

What’s the story behind the title? (e.g. who came up with it, did your publisher change it, etc.)  

I’m greatly indebted to a writer friend of mine who came up with the title. I love it because it makes you stop and think, Wait what? It also draws out the special relationships in the book, the fact that there are two mothers to one baby (the woman who carries it and the woman who’s egg has been used to conceive it.)


Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Somewhere in between. With this novel, I didn’t foresee many of the plot holes and issues until finishing an entire draft. Believe it or not, I only then realized that I had to start again and rewrite the entire book. For my next book, I intend to plot out as much as possible in advance, thereby resolving many of the potential problems before starting to write. But let’s see how that goes.


Can you share your writing routine?
I wish I could say that I have this amazing routine, where I get up every morning at 6 am and write for 5 hours straight, but I don’t. I’m very disorganized—I don’t recommend it—and end up writing at different times, depending on what else is going on in my life. I can spend three days working non-stop but then the rest of the week I won’t write a word. Perhaps not the most efficient process but it works for me.

What are the 2-3 most important things that you learned from writing classes that you found to be true in writing your novel?

  •  Come in late, leave early--I might have picked it up in a screenwriting class but I find it to be true in books. That rule helped me so much with the pace of my novel.

  • Don’t be the protagonist of your novel because you’ll never be able to put yourself through hell. It’s very hard to make yourself look bad or to create a multi-dimensional character if you’re writing about yourself.

  • Conflict, conflict, conflict—scenes and conversations without conflict can be dull and slow moving.


How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have one completed novel that I couldn’t sell. And in retrospect, it’s pretty bad. But I don’t regret writing it because I learned so much. I see it as my dress rehearsal for the real thing.


Do you have any writing quirks?
I need snacks. All the time. I can’t work if I’m hungry, and I get hungry all the time when I’m stuck.


About the Author

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Daniela Petrova grew up behind the Iron Curtain in Sofia, Bulgaria. After the fall of Communism, she moved to New York where she cleaned apartments while taking English classes at the YMCA in the evenings. She is a recipient of an Artist Fellowship in Writing from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Her work has appeared in anthologies, magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, and Marie Claire among others. HER DAUGHTER’S MOTHER (Putnam, June 2019) is her first novel. She lives and writes in New York City.



Connect with Daniela

Website

Facebook 

 Twitter

 Instagram

Find HER DAUGHTER’S MOTHER:

Amazon

Goodreads

by Dan Stout

Interview: Autumn Lindsey, author of REMAINING AILEEN

by Dan Stout in


As part of the ongoing celebration of upcoming debut novels, I’ll be running highlights of interviews from a number of my fellow debuts through the end of 2019. The full interviews are available on DebutAuthors19.com.

Today, we’re continuing the series with a conversation with Autumn Lindsey , author of Remaining Aileen, a work of speculative women’s fiction releasing from Magnolia Press on May 7th, 2019.

About the Book

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Aileen was dead. At least she was supposed to be.

When Aileen wakes up in the hospital after her plane crashes during a storm, everyone says it’s a miracle. All Aileen cares about is seeing her husband and children again. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for Aileen to realize her survival wasn’t random. Her mind and body are changing in ways she can’t explain. As Aileen grows desperate for answers, a man assumed dead from her flight appears to reveal a dark truth about her survival.

Drowning in the reality of her new life Aileen is forced to make a choice: live forever, or once again face death. Except living might cost her everything she wanted to remain alive for.



Interview Excerpt

Where did you get the idea?
Before Remaining Aileen was, Remaining Aileen the novel, she was an idea I had for a screenplay. A few years back, around 2014 I had this super vivid vision of a young mom, who was on a plane that was falling from the sky. All hope is lost. Her thoughts revolve around never seeing her children, or husband again, and the devastating reality that she is going to die. Until she wakes up, alive, completely unharmed- or so it appears.

This scene became the inciting incident that would propel Aileen along her journey, as well as what started me down my path of becoming a writer.

At the suggestion of my amazing husband, Aileen became a novel instead of a screenplay, and now she is about to be released into the world and I truly still, cannot believe it. Fun fact, my very first title idea was Vampire Mom, and it was going to be this light-hearted story of a mom who becomes a vampire, until I realized just how HARD it would be to actually try and be a mom and a vampire. While I do keep some light-heartedness in the story, it did end up taking a bit of a darker/ more emotional turn (which I am so excited about) than I originally was planning. But if there is one thing I have learned about writing stories, is that they seem to tell you what they want to be regardless of your original intentions. It's best to just see where it takes you sometimes!

How long did you take to write this book?
I first conceived the idea of Aileen back in 2014, she was ready to query in September of 2017, and then she queried until I signed with Magnolia Press in October of 2018! So it has taken quite a few years to get her from conception to publishing and wow what a journey that has been.  

What kind of research did you do for this book?
I did quite a bit of research, first into how many “vampire mom” books there are (not too many really) and then a did a lot of research into vampire lore and the history of the superstitions. I also read as many vampire novels and watched as many vampire shows/movies as I could find time for.  

What did you remove from this book during the editing process?
So much. This was my very first attempt at writing a novel, so there have been MANY darlings killed, many words laid to rest in the “coffin” file, needless to say, much as has been learned during this process.  

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am more of a “plantser” I do outline, but it’s a very bare outline, I work out the details while writing my first draft.  

What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
My most favorite part is of the process is that initial idea. The spark. That single immeasurable moment where what did not exist now exists and it’s such a great feeling. My next favorite moment is writing the words “The End”. I’ve never felt more accomplished then writing those two words at the end of my first finished draft.  

What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
What challenges me the most is getting myself to actually sit down and focus. Once I’m settled into a story I can write for hours, but often getting to that point takes a little creativeness on my part. Bribing myself with Netflix binges usually works to get done what I need to get done.

Can you share your writing routine?
Most of my writing time happens at night when the world is sleeping. I find I’m able to focus so much better when there are less distractions. If I have deadlines to reach I do everything I can to make myself sit down and focus during the daylight hours when my kids are in school. But mostly I try to use the late hours to get most of my writing and editing done.

About the Author

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Autumn lives with her husband and three kids in a deep, dark, magical forest. Fluent in typo and fueled by caffeine, she writes Women’s Fiction with characters that bite. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or lost somewhere in her jungle of a house due to her massive collection of houseplants.

Watch for her debut novel REMAINING AILEEN, coming May 2019 from Magnolia Press

She is also the founder Writer Moms Inc. so, if you happen to be a Writer Mom in search of community and support, check it out! She’d love to have you join!





by Dan Stout

Interview: Martine Fournier Watson, author of THE DREAM PEDDLER

by Dan Stout in


As part of the ongoing celebration of upcoming debut novels, I’ll be running highlights of interviews from a number of my fellow debuts through the end of 2019. The full interviews are available on DebutAuthors19.com.

Today, we’re continuing the series with a conversation with Martine Fournier Watson , author of THE DREAM PEDDLER, a work of literary historical fiction releasing from Penguin Books on April 9th, 2019.

About the Book:

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Traveling salesmen like Robert Owens have passed through Evie Dawson’s town before, but none of them offered anything like what he has to sell: dreams, made to order, with satisfaction guaranteed.

Soon after he arrives, the community is shocked by the disappearance of Evie’s young son. The townspeople, shaken by the Dawson family’s tragedy and captivated by Robert’s subversive magic, begin to experiment with his dreams. And Evie, devastated by grief, turns to Robert for a comfort only he can sell her. But the dream peddler’s wares awaken in his customers their most carefully buried desires, and despite all his good intentions, some of them will lead to disaster.

Interview excerpt:


Where did you get the idea?
I was a huge fan of L. M. Montgomery growing up, and my favorite heroine was Emily of New Moon. Emily wants to be a writer, and in the final book of the trilogy she writes her first novel but is unable to sell it, so she burns it. All the reader ever knows about this book is that it was a modern-day fairytale called A Seller of Dreams. Since I could never know any more than this, my curiosity about the burned book eventually led me to write my own version.

What’s the story behind the title?
I really owe the title to L. M. Montgomery as well, but hers felt a little too formal to me, so I tweaked it.

How long did you take to write this book?
The first draft took about six months, and then I spent maybe another eight months or so getting feedback from beta readers and revising. Finding an agent took a long time! Over eighteen months and a grand total of one hundred and nine queries. Once on submission, it didn’t take dreadfully long to sell—maybe about five months.

 

What kind of research did you do for this book?
My research was in two parts. I wanted to know as much as I could about the dreaming process and what kinds of things are possible in terms of influencing our dreams and remembering them. This was fascinating, because I discovered all the things I’d written that felt far-fetched to me are actually quite plausible!

 The other branch of the research was understanding farming communities and how they operated during the early part of the twentieth century. Not quite as scintillating, but in order to make the characters and their way of life tangible, I really needed to have all the details, even down to what crops would have been planted or harvested at which time.

 

 What did you remove from this book during the editing process?
Quite a lot! I tend to be a wordy writer, and much of my editing time is spent pruning my prose. The basic plot of the book never changed, but I definitely deleted a few scenes as well. They were originally there to give the reader a little more context and backstory for some of the characters, but in the end they weren’t necessary, and they just weren’t interesting enough.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am a pantser all the way. The process of discovery is what makes writing so joyous for me. I think if I always knew exactly where my plot was going, I would grow bored.

 

What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
Definitely the drafting, although it wasn’t always that way. I was in my thirties before someone enlightened me about how first drafts are supposed to stink. Once I started drafting more quickly instead of stewing over every word, it became my favorite part of the process. I love the feeling of a great idea for a scene popping into my head and rushing to get it all down.

 

What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
It depends on the book, but editing is always hard for me. Once I’ve written the book, I’m afraid to look at it again, to be overwhelmed by the mess, and I really have to talk myself into it. With my current project, I also did myself the great disservice of writing it out of order as scene ideas popped into my head, having only a vague idea of how they’d fit into the storyline. Organizing that jumble of scenes into a coherent narrative, linking them up with new writing, is the hardest thing I’ve ever done as a writer.

 

Can you share your writing routine?
I don’t have a routine, and I write anywhere and everywhere. I have to keep paper and pen handy everywhere I go! I love best to write outside, usually sitting on our back porch, but if it’s too cold you’ll usually find me on the living room sofa.

Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?
I wish I could be more helpful on this, but writer’s block isn’t something I have experience with. My head is always swimming with ideas. I do get “blocked” in terms of being afraid to sit down and do the editing work, although that’s not really the same thing. And there isn’t any magic cure except to force myself to get started. It’s like a dive into cold water—the anticipation is bad, but once you’re in it’s glorious.

 

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I would tell her that thing about how first drafts are supposed to be terrible.

What’s your favourite writing advice?
Ignore all the advice and trust your instincts.

About the Author:

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Martine Fournier Watson is originally from Montreal, Canada, where she earned her master’s degree in art history after a year in Chicago as a Fulbright scholar. She currently lives in Michigan with her husband and two children. The Dream Peddler is her first novel.

 

Connect with Martine:

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by Dan Stout

interview: Eva Seyler, author of The War in Our Hearts

by Dan Stout in


As part of the ongoing celebration of upcoming debut novels, I’ll be running highlights of interviews from a number of my fellow debuts through the end of 2019. The full interviews are available on DebutAuthors19.com.

Today, we’re continuing the series with a conversation with Eva Seyler , author of THE WAR IN OUR HEARTS, a work of historical fiction releasing from Authors 4 Authors Publishing on March 24th, 2019.

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About the Book:

France, 1916: Estelle Graham faces a nightmare. Expecting to meet her beloved husband and bring their newly adopted daughter home to Scotland, she instead finds him gravely injured and unconscious in a casualty station. As she fights for his care, she takes solace in his journals and letters.

In a farmhouse in Somme, Captain Jamie Graham is forever changed when he meets young Aveline Perrault. Both of them broken and walled off from the cruel and cold world around them—made even crueler and colder by the Great War—the pair form an unlikely bond. She finds in him the father she never had, and with her love, he faces the pain from his own childhood.

Discover the depth of love and faith in the face of brutality and neglect as they learn to live while surviving World War I.

Interview Excerpt:

Where did you get the idea for THE WAR IN OUR HEARTS?
I’ve felt for a long time that there wasn’t enough WWI fiction out there, and as I was thinking about what I should write, I got a visual in my head of a red-headed girl standing in a barn. That was Aveline, and when she had some trouble, Captain Jamie Graham came to her aid.

How long did you take to write this book?
It took almost exactly nine months from writing the first words to beginning the querying process, and another six months to complete the edits and proofreading.

What kind of research did you do for this book?
Honestly I felt like I was drowning sometimes, but the upside is that I’ve learnt so much I can continue to write about WWI and already have the basic history of the era covered in my head. For TWIOH particularly, I needed information about trench warfare more than anything else. Eye-Deep in Hell by John Ellis and Hot Blood, Cold Steel by Andy Simpson were both amazing resources.

What did you remove from this book during the editing process?
Mostly self-indulgent snogging scenes that didn’t do anything to move the plot forward. I also took out a lot of rambling and irrelevant nonsense about Captain Graham’s time training troops in Aldershot.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Pantser. When I have a solid idea where the story is going, then I make my detailed timelines and write my character sketches and all that technical jazz.

What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
I like the polishing part, when I have the bulk of the story in place and I get to rearrange and reword and weave everything together into a harmonious, well-crafted whole.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
Turning it over to beta readers before it’s reached a state of perfection.

Can you share your writing routine?
I write whenever and wherever I can. I use Google Docs, so I can (and do!) write on my phone or iPad in the car, sitting around waiting for people, relaxing the the bath, whatever. I also try to make time at my computer at least once a day for concentrated writing time with an actual keyboard under my fingers.

I write by hand sometimes early in the process, and I take most of my notes and do my character sketches by hand too. Usually about halfway through writing a novel, I’ll print out the initial draft and annotate it by hand (adding scenes, indicating rearrangements, making notes of things that are still needed and where they should go) before completely re-typing the work from scratch.

Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?
If I can’t think of anything new to write that’s relevant, I’ll go back and do some editing, or draw pictures of characters/scenes, or pick my friends’ brains for ideas.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Probably I would tell it, “Someday you’re going to write fanfiction and it’s going to change your life. You think that’s something to scoff at now, but you just wait and see.”

How did you get into writing?
I’ve been writing since I was little, but I never really FINISHED anything until roughly 2008, when I wrapped up a novel I’d started a couple years prior, and after that I quit writing completely until 2016, when I got sucked into writing fanfic and realised I missed writing a lot and wanted write my own book.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I’m teaching my human children, eating chocolate, cooking or baking, wasting time on Twitter, or making weird shrieky noises every time I see my non-human children.

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About the author:

Eva was born in Jacksonville, Florida. She left that humidity pit at the age of three and spent the next twenty-one years in California, Idaho, Kentucky, and Washington before ending up in Oregon, where she now lives on a homestead in the western foothills with her husband and five children, two of whom are human.

Contact Eva:

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by Dan Stout

Interview: Andrea Rothman, Author of THE DNA OF YOU AND ME

by Dan Stout in


As part of the ongoing celebration of upcoming debut novels, I’ll be running highlights of interviews from a number of my fellow debuts through the end of 2019. The full interviews are available on DebutAuthors19.com.

Today, we’re continuing the series with a conversation with Andrea Rothman, author of THE DNA OF YOU AND ME, a literary romance releasing from Harper Collins on March 12th, 2019.

I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of Andrea’s novel, and it’s fantastic. You may know that I have a special interest in STEM related fiction, and the setting combined with the exquisite prose meant this novel is right in my sweet spot. Check this one out— it’s wonderful and well worth your time!

 

About the book:

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Ambitious young scientist, Emily Apell, joins a renowned research lab in New York to study the sense of smell. There she meets Aeden Doherty, a senior colleague. Their relationship is complicated by external events. Eventually Emily will have to choose between her research and Aeden. Years later, about to receive a prestigious award for the work she carried out in the lab, Emily looks back upon that choice.




Interview Excerpt:

What kind of research did you do for this book?
I did a lot of research about Anosmia, defined as a long-term inability to smell. The research in the lab, carried out by the characters in my novel, is about smell.

What did you remove from this book during the editing process?
Thankfully nothing. By the time my editor read the novel it had gone through so many revision nothing was lacking or in excess. The material flowed.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Both: a pantser at the very beginning of the work and a plotter towards the end.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
As much as I like not knowing where I’m going (see my answer to previous question) I also sometimes find it a little nerve-racking when things seem to be going nowhere, and it happens all too often in the writing process, especially with fiction.

Can you share your writing routine?
I write creatively only in the morning, from around 8 to 12. I need absolute quiet and I usually write at my desk at home or in a quiet office space. It’s nearly impossible for me to write imaginatively in a Starbucks for instance.

Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?
I’ve had writer’s block very often in my life, I think most writers experience this a lot. To overcome it I usually just lower my expectations and write whatever comes to my mind, just try to fill the page with words, trying to keep my ego out of it. I think most writer blocks are a problem of the ego and having high expectations about the words and the material before the work is even done. Beginning writers rarely have writer’s block.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Follow your heart and trust yourself. It will be okay. If you love the material enough, a book will eventually take shape.

What do you hope to achieve with your novel?
I hope to transport the reader to another place; different to anything they’ve ever known. And I hope that he or she will keep thinking about the characters, their drama, what they could or couldn’t have done and the choices they could have made, long after they’ve finished reading the book.

About the Author:

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Before turning to fiction writing, Andrea Rothman was a research scientist at the Rockefeller University in New York. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and was fiction editor for the literary journal Hunger Mountain. Her first novel is “The DNA of You and Me.” Her short stories can be viewed at www.andrearothman.com.





Contact Andrea:

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Buy THE DNA OF YOU AND ME


by Dan Stout

interview: Michael R. Johnston, author of THE WIDENING GYRE

by Dan Stout in


As part of the ongoing celebration of upcoming debut novels, I’ll be running highlights of interviews from a number of my fellow debuts through the end of 2019. The full interviews are available on DebutAuthors19.com.

Today, we’re continuing the series with a conversation with Michael R. Johnston, author of THE WIDENING GYRE, a work of science fiction releasing from Flame Tree Press on March 14th, 2019.


About the Book:

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Once a war hero of the Zhen Empire, Tajen Hunt has become a freelance starship pilot, scrabbling for a living on the fringes of the Empire.  When his estranged brother is murdered, Tajen discovers that he was killed by Imperial agents.  Betrayed by the Empire he used to serve, Tajen gathers a crew and sets out to finish his brother’s quest—to find the long-lost human homeworld, Earth.  What they discover will shatter 800 years of peace in the Empire, and start a war that could be the end of the human race.


Interview Excerpt:

What’s the story behind the title?
When I was first drafting the story, I called it Things Fall Apart, because the story is inspired by Irish history, and that’s one of my favorite lines from the Irish poet W.B. Yeats, in his poem “The Second Coming.”

Then I remembered Chinua Achebe’s book of that name, and I decided to change it to The Widening Gyre.  Some friends didn’t like it, and I let myself be talked into changing it yet again.  But then my editor, Don D’Auria, said he preferred The Widening Gyre, and since I did, too, I happily changed it back. 

How long did you take to write this book?
I began writing it in July 2012, began really taking it seriously after I attended the Viable Paradise SFF writing workshop in October of 2013, and finished the first draft in July 2015.  I did some rewriting, and started submitting it to various agents & publishers in January 2016.  I got the acceptance from my publisher in May 2018.

 

What kind of research did you do for this book?
I did a lot of reading on Irish history, as well as researching the dismantling of the British Empire. 

 

What did you remove from this book during the editing process?
There was an extended “dream” sequence in which Tajen had a conversation with an AI, unaware of what it truly was.  But it wasn’t working, and as written it blurred too many lines, so I took the AI out and replaced it with a simpler scene. 

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m much more of a plotter.  Maybe it’s my English teacher training, but I can’t get traction on the story until I first work out the characters, and then outline the basic plot.  I still get a lot of ideas to add in as I’m writing, and some things change in the process, but I definitely plan the shape of the story before I begin drafting. 


What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
I like the point where I’ve nailed down the plot, I know what’s going to happen, and I can just write.

 

What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
Getting the outline done.  Making sure that the plotlines not only make sense, but are interesting.

Can you share your writing routine?
I still have a day job as a high school teacher, and a child in grade school, so I have to write when it fits.  During the school year, I try to write every night for at least an hour after my daughter goes to bed.  During breaks from school, I write throughout the day--most of the work on The Widening Gyre was done during the summers.  That said, I am working on ways to increase writing time, such as giving up some of the television I used to watch, among other things. 

What are you working on right now?
I am working on a couple of things.  First up is the sequel to The Widening Gyre, titled The Blood-Dimmed Tide.  I’m also working on the plot outline for a new IP, another space opera set in a place I’m calling the Boundless Empire.  And finally, I’ve got an epic fantasy that I’d outlined, but which I took back to the drawing board to replot, because I love the characters and the basic idea, but a lot of my original outline doesn’t work.


About the Author:

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Michael R. Johnston is a high school English teacher and writer living in Sacramento, California with his wife, daughter, and more cats than strictly necessary. His debut Science Fiction novel, The Widening Gyre, will be released 14 March 2019 by Flame Tree Press. He can be found at mjohnstonbooks.com and Twitter @MREJohnston

 
by Dan Stout