Guys I’m super excited! Today, I have the pleasure of sharing my interview with Kevin J Roberts, author and supporter of individuals with ADHD And cyber addiction. It’s a really big day, because his new book, Schindler’s Gift, is coming out!! And it’s on sale! and you get the interview! So hopefully you enjoy it as much as I do.
Over the past few weeks, I was lucky enough to interview Mark Zaslove, an author who just recently came out with his new book, Death and Taxes!! I really enjoyed hearing Mark’s answers to my questions, and now I can’t wait to share with you. Hopefully you find it just as enjoyable as I have!!
A month or so ago now, I was approached to do an interview with AJ, and I lept at the idea, because… well… I love interviews. But this one had something special, because AJ was in the process of releasing Closet Full of Bones, a psycho-thriller that sounds absolutely WONDERFUL (I’ll share more details after the interview). Right away, my interview with AJ was awesome, and it certainly didn’t let me down. Her sense of humor, wittiness, and honest answers made her super fun to talk to, and so make sure you read the interview and then find out more about her book!!
Q: Hi AJ! Thank you so much for spending your time answering questions for us. How would you describe Closet Full of Bones in your own words?
AJ: The book started germinating years ago when a person very close to me was being stalked by an ex. The trauma spread throughout this person’s family and friends. Even coworkers were affected by the strain. There wasn’t a single part of this person’s life that didn’t become tainted. When I had my own stalking incident, the book became a way or purging all those negative feelings onto the page.
Q: In Closet Full of Bones, the main character’s dream has been to open an “artists’ retreat”. Is this a personal dream that you have had? Also, have you ever been to one before, because it seems pretty neat!
AJ: I’m not sure I’d be up for hosting a B&B full of writers or painters, because that would mean I had to make so much coffee and tea and not drink it all myself, and that just seems unfair, but I have entertained the occasional thought of doing some kind of workshop thing once I get over a crippling case of impostor syndrome.
Q: Imposter syndrome!! As someone who desperately wants to write a book, I find it hard to believe that anyone ACTUALLY PUBLISHED, MULTIPLE TIMES, would feel that way. When you were in the process of writing and querying, and even now, how do you deal with that sense of doubt?
AJ: I…don’t deal with it. LOL. I cram it in a box in my head and let it fester there until the fetid gasses build up and explode, and I have a momentary meltdown. Then I need some cake and the cycle begins again.
Q: Your latest book is a much different genre than you wrote before. Why did you decide to change genres?
AJ: I like keeping things fresh, and, after all of the emotional heavy lifting of the last couple of Marnie Baranuik Files stories, stepping into something entirely separate gave me a chance to be free of all the world-building I’d done, and challenge myself in a genre I’ve enjoyed reading for years and years.
Q: Your overall review ratings on Amazon are AMAZINGLY HIGH. What is your reaction when you read rave reviews?
AJ: I hyperventilate and ask my husband or my editor to read it to make sure they’re actually saying nice things, and not being mean and sneaky in a way I’m too wound up to notice. Once that’s been ruled out, I grab my cat and boogie around my office, shaking my booty and mortifying my children.
Q: Hahaha that’s such a perfect reaction 🙂 Have your kids read any of your work?
AJ: No way, man. There’s dirty stuff.
Q: Where do you get inspiration for your writing?
AJ: A lot of the things in CLOSET FULL OF BONES were inspired by real-life events I’ve experienced either first hand or through my friends and family. The thing with the bear trap is mostly wishful thinking, because people keep cutting through my garden.
Q: Are there any authors that you look up to, or try to model your work after?
AJ: I’m pretty short so I look up to everybody. As for authors, I admire Ann Rule, both Kellermans, Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell, and Barbara Michaels.
Q: What does a typical “day in the life” look like?
AJ: Alarm goes off at 4 AM. I swat at it like a cat on quaaludes until my husband shoves me out of bed so he can go back to sleep. I slouch upstairs to make some tea, mutter blackly at whatever manuscript I’ve got going on for a little while, get my kids ready for school, do some research and/or homework (since I’m in school myself pursuing a degree in criminal psychology & behaviour), and harangue my long-suffering editor until it’s time to start making dinner. Afterwards, I might frag some noobs in World of Warcraft, read for pleasure, fail at Sudoku puzzles, or watch TV.
Q: Omg I love Sudoku! I went through a phase where all I got for my birthday were Sudoku puzzles and I would finish them all in a few days…
AJ: I sometimes do NOT finish them, and then I cheat and look at the answers in the back.
Q: Do you think your criminal psychology background helped you to write Closet Full of Bones?
AJ: No, I haven’t been in school long enough for it to affect the book. I wrote Closet Full Of Bones in November 2016, and started school in May 2017. But I’ve always been interested in certain pathologies and I read a lot of True Crime; that likely helped.
Q: When you are writing about character’s emotions during a “scary scene” is it hard to get the wording just right, or does it feel natural how your characters will react?
AJ: I’m a highly paranoid and anxious person, so reaching down to explore fear is never a problem.
Q: How old were you when you took an interest in writing?
AJ: I was a wee little sprout, but the first time I tried writing my own story was at the age of 13.
Q: Do you need to be in a specific mindset to write, or does it come out anywhere?
AJ: I can make myself write in just about any mood, but some of them are a lot more productive than others when it comes to word count or revisions.
Q: Pretend you could never write again. Obviously, it would be devastating for you and all of your readers, but what would you decide to do (either as a career or a hobby) instead?
AJ: I could totally be a farmer or a serial killer or maybe a trophy wife.
Q: To clarify, though, you’re going to try out the serial killer life before trying to be a trophy wife 😉
AJ: Well, I’d probably have to go shopping for nice clothes to be a trophy wife, but serial killers can get away with yoga pants, right? So I’m all set. But I’ll try farming first. I dig a nice, fresh zucchini.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
AJ: Get in a routine, and stick with it. I hate waking up at 4 in the morning, but I have my most productive stretches when I get my butt in the chair every day, and the routine builds on itself.
Thank you so much for doing this interview! I loved talking to you, and now I want to read your book more than ever! (and be friends because you seem awesome)
Ever since they were children, Gillian Hearth has been her sister Frankie’s guardian, her sounding board, and her best friend. Together, the Hearth sisters quietly bury their secrets and form a formidable team during any crisis. Purchasing the old Blymhill house with the hopes of turning it into an artists’ retreat, the sisters are finally living their dream. But when Frankie’s stable ground is rattled by a vengeful ex-boyfriend, an unstable friend from the past shows up unannounced with delusions of intimacy, and a cold case cop starts sniffing around their door, the sisters are forced to wonder how far they will go to keep their secrets safe.
Gillian discovers that, this time, her fight is about to land her in the crosshairs of a dangerous predator who will use any means necessary to remove her from the equation. With everything she holds dear under threat, Gillian battles to keep her head above water and her skeletons in the closet.
AJ Aalto is the author of the paranormal mystery series The Marnie Baranuik Files. Aalto
is an unrepentant liar and a writer of blathering nonsense offset by factual gore. When not working on her novels, you can find her singing Monty Python songs in the shower, eavesdropping on perfect strangers, stalking her eye doctor, or failing at one of her fruitless hobbies. Generally a fan of anyone with a passion for the ridiculous, she has a weak spot for smug pseudo-intellectuals and narcissistic jerks; readers will find her work littered with flawed monsters and oodles of snark.
AJ cannot say no to a Snickers bar and has been known to swallow her gum.
I hope you enjoyed reading this interview as much as I did, and don’t hesitate to read Closet Full of Bones (which came out May 30th) or any of her other previously published books!! I think CFoB is free with Kindle Unlimited!!!!!
Did you enjoy this interview? Would you read CFoB? Would you rather be a trophy wife or a serial killer?
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As many of you already know, Nia is my little for the Big Blogger, Little Blogger project. I’ve been doing my best to make sure you all head over and give her a follow, because her blog is genuinely amazing and she deserves far more followers than she currently has. Because I wanted to get to know her better (and you probably do too if you’ve taken the time to look at her blog) I decided that it would be fun to do a blogger interview!! Mikaela said that for the project we need to write a full post about our Little after a certain date, and I plan on doing a separate post for that, so get used to seeing Nia around here!!
Hi Nia!! I’m so excited to be starting the blogger project with an interview. I feel like it’s the perfect way for us to get to know each other, and let everyone else learn what an amazing blog you have! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi Joce! Thanks, I’m super excited to do this! Well, I’m Nia (but you already knew that haha), I’m 21 and I’ve been reading since I was 15, but this became a more serious thing to me about two years ago. I love chocolate, coffee and my two little cats are the joy of my life! I also love cozy blankets and cold and rainy days where I can just pick a book and read it all day.
Oh my god cats are my favorite!!!!! But I do have to say that I HATE rainy days, I find the sound annoying… plus, I’d so much rather read outside. Where’s your favorite place to read?
I used to hate them too, but they’ve grown on me haha! I’d say my couch or my bed, because I’m this kind of annoying reader who is constantly uncomfortable and needs a place where it’s quiet and has a good light. So those two places are my paradise, even though I usually read on the train but shhh don’t tell anyone!
Hahaha whenever I read in bed my arms go numb and I feel like I’m dying 🙂 What is your favorite book, or one you think everyone needs to read?
*coughs* Harry Potter *coughs* haha. No, but apart from HP, I would recommend The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Vicious by V. E. Schwab. They are both adult books but I think a lot of readers would love those stories (from YA readers to Adult ones). I also totally recommend The Female of The Species by Mindy McGinnis because it deals with very important topics that everyone should be aware of!
THE NIGHT CIRCUS!!!! That book is one of my favorites ever, I’m so excited that you agree 🙂 I’ve never read a VE Schwab book, but everyone seems to like them and I love her on Twitter. Is there any author that you know is really hyped, but you’ve never read any of their books? I always feel so embarrassed by my lack of popular reading so I’m praying you have someone!
Oh, I’m so happy to hear that! It’s one of my favourites too. Yeah, I feel you. I’ve been wanting to read something by Brandon Sanderson because everyone raves about his books but I haven’t so far! Also The Book Thief by Markus Zusak… yeah don’t kill me for that one *sighs*
You NEED to read The Book Thief, it’s incredible. And actually I’ve never heard of Brandon Sanderson so *quietly goes to a corner to hide*
Book-to-movie adaptions? Yes or No?
I KNOW! Everyone keeps recommending it to me but I just never pick it up haha. Well at least I’m not alone in this one!
Umm… it depends. Usually I like to see movie adaptations but it would be hard to see an adaptation of my favourite series because I would be that annoying reader who wants everything to be like the book (I know that’s not possible BUT STILL these are my babies!). So I’d say it depends on the book, yup.
Yeah that’s true, I hate the way that certain movies change the book completely… like City of Bones!!! What’s your favorite fandom?
Oh, yeah! I remember watching the movie while thinking “WHAT ARE THEY DOING?! THEY ARE RUINING IT!!” haha.
Ummm… it may sound a bit clique but I really like the book community in general. It’s really diverse and the people are so nice and friendly! The HP fandom is one of my favourites, too!
I know!! All of the people are incredible I honestly cannot believe how many friends I’ve made in the bookish community. So tell us, how did you decide to start your blog?
Indeed! I met my best friend and many other people thanks to that, so yay!
Well… I’ve been writing reviews on Goodreads for a while, and then I created an account on Books Amino where I posted recommendations and other bookish stuff, and asked myself “why not create a blog and do it all?!”. And here we are now haha. It was a very fast decision, to be honest.
Haha that’s a great way to start!!! I’d never even written a review before I started my blog so you were a step ahead of me. I normally ask people what advice they would give to other bloggers, but I know you’re fairly new to blogging, so I’ll ask this instead: what’s the hardest part of being a book blogger?
I used to be the worst but I started taking notes while reading and writing what I like and didn’t like about the book and that’s been really helpful so far!
Umm.. I think when you start. I hardly know anything about blogging and suddenly there are tons of good blogs out there. I think discovering the community while achieving your goals.
I completely agree!! Sometimes it feels overwhelming but you just have to keep going.
Thank you so much for doing this interview Nia!! I’ve loved talking with you and getting to know more about you!
Thank you for interviewing me! It was a pleasure and so much fun
Love the interview? Head over and give Nia a follow and let her know how much you ADORE HER because obviously you do because who wouldn’t???
Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Khaled Talib about his new book, Incognito, which is coming out today!! I really enjoyed hearing more about what the book is going to be about, and getting a little insight into who Khaled is as a person. Hopefully you find it interesting too!!
Me: Hi Khaled! Thank you so much for joining me today on the blog!! I’m so excited to have a chance to talk to you and hear more about both your writing and you in general. Can you tell us a little bit about what your new book, Incognito, is about?
Khaled: Incognito is a thriller about three mysterious specialists who are officially dead. They include a former SAS soldier, an ex-French female military officer and an American fugitive.
These people have been additionally trained by The League of Invisible Knights, a covert division of Anonymous that aims to bring about the triumph of good over evil. Their mission: find the Pope who is missing.
The bulk of the story takes place in Switzerland and Italy with smaller scenes in neighboring countries.
Me: That sounds really exciting!! How did you get your inspiration for the story?
Khaled: I’ve been reading some of the Pope’s statements about Islam. I started doing some research into Catholicism. Interestingly, I discovered that the Vatican considers Muslims and Jews as members of the “brotherly faith.”
This sense of affinity is a far cry from the days of the Crusades. The reason is because the Vatican made changes to its doctrines between the late 1950s and early 1960s during the Vatican II. During this time, the Catholic religous leaders met and discussed revisions to their religion.
This discovery encourage me further to write a novel with a focus on Islamophobia. But while I was inspired by the Pope’s statements, I wasn’t sure how and where to start until a chance encounter with a strange woman one night in Geneva.
I saw her through the window of my hotel room. Tall and wearing black, she stood under a street lamp. She just stood there staring into the blankness. Later, I left my room to go downstairs. I saw the same woman at the empty foyer. She gave me a cold, hard stare. I ran back up the stairs and locked myself in the room.
You need a password to open the hotel’s door entrance. How did she get it? She reminded me so much of Mrs. Baylock, the character from The Omen. I realized there and then I had a story. I even gave her a nickname.
During another visit, I trekked a Swiss mountain. A woman started talking to me. She was friendly in the beginning, but she got worked up all of a sudden and pointed to the direction of Italy. She told me the Vatican was responsible for many of Europe’s problems. I began to read more about the Vatican, from news clippings to blog articles. And that was how Incognito was born.
Me: Wow, that’s crazy. It’s almost like your real life experiences could just be made into a book!! You talked a lot about islamophobia and the Vatican in your description. Do you feel Incognito will be controversial, or did you aim for a more neutral standpoint?
Khaled: I won’t divulge this aspect of the story as it forms part of the mystery. But I do hint that the media has failed to act responsibly in managing the news.
Me: Ooooh that sounds exciting!!! One of my biggest problems when I try to write fiction is that I copy people who I know in real life. Do you find that you take inspiration from close friends and family in your piece? Would any of them recognise themselves?
Khaled: You know something? I’ve never taken inspiration from anyone close to me. I tend to observe people in passing. I think it’s because when you meet someone for the first time, you’ll start to build an impression. But if you’ve known someone for a while, you’re not really observing them. There is no mystery. Nothing to surprise you.
Me: That’s a good way to look at it, and I love all of your talk of mystery. So, what does a typical “day in the life” look like?
Khaled: I spent about fourteen hours a day writing and rewriting my manuscript. That doesn’t leave me much time for a social life. But I do go out sometimes, otherwise you’ll go crazy being a recluse. I don’t have a choice. This is the life of a writer. You have to be ruthless with your time. I do jog every alternate day because sitting down all the time is not healthy.
I also spent a lot of time on social media promoting my books. I don’t consider it part of work as I enjoy spending time talking to fellow writers and readers. Anyway, the weather in Singapore is humid and the whole island is crowded. It’s a chore to go out. You have to get in line everywhere you go whether it’s the post office or a cafe. I actually avoid going to the post office on certain days because I know there’ll be a crazy queue. Who needs that? I’d rather sit down and do some writing.
I worked on two manuscripts since last year. Just today, I received an offer to publish my romantic thriller, Gun Kiss, by Imajin Books, a publishing house in Canada owned by bestselling author, Cheryl Tardif.
The story is about an A-list Hollywood movie star who gets kidnapped by an obsessed drug lord.
Me: That’s awesome!! 14 hours a day writing is insane, I don’t know how you have that motivation. You live in Singapore? That’s definitely a very different experience than in the United States. What’s one country in the world you would want to visit, if you could?
Khaled: Only one? So many places I haven’t visited, but the one place would be Greece. I’m a big fan of Greek food, and I honestly don’t care who created baklavas, whether it was the Greeks or Turks. I’m neutral to the debate. Baklavas are a popular dessert in the Middle East too.
I have to visit Mykonos and Santorini and some of the exotic islands. Everyone raves about these places, and I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting them. I have to. I must.
As I understand, there’s also a plan to rebuild the Colossus of Rhodes. I hope it’s ready by the time I visit, but I can’t wait. Might visit earlier.
Me: That’s really really cool. It sounds like you’re very into history as well?
Khaled: Yes, I’m a big fan of history. I was pretty excited to have visited Turkey. I booked a tour to Troy and spent a day there with two other tourists. There were broken Roman relics scattered all over the place, and we even saw remnants of the Trojan palace.
The place was breezy and cloudy, and there was something haunting about the whole experience. I thought how ironical that after so much hype on Troy from the movies, all that’s left of the place were a bunch of rocks and like more than thirty cats roaming the place.
You know, I used to live in Egypt where I worked as a writer for a magazine. I must’ve seen the pyramids like a gazillion times. After a while you get jaded seeing it. But now I missed it. I mean, you come to the place and stand before their grandness. For a moment, it might mean nothing to you because it’s right there in your time and space. But you have to realize these monuments were built thousands of years ago. They were created at a different time, by a people who no longer exist. Their history is so powerful that even holy scriptures talk about it.
I supposed if I could go back in time, I’d like to check out some countries and talk to some famous people. Like Bill and Ted. Maybe even bring them back!
Me: Jaded from seeing the pyramids!?!?! That’s such a unique life experience that I will probably never relate to. *sobs internally* You said there were tons of cats and that got me thinking– are you a cat person or a dog person?
Khaled: I’m a cat person, but I’m not anti dog. Do you know that I have saved the lives of several cats? For some strange reason I always find lost cats. They come rushing up to me, and I know immediately they are lost. In every case, I managed to find their owners. I have also arranged for cats to migrate to new forever homes, and I checked on them. Let’s just say they’re having a great, bum life, which is good.
Me: That’s so sweet, it’s amazing to have the opportunity to rescue an animal. Do you own any cats of your own?
Khaled: I used to, but not anymore. It’s a sad story. But there’s a cat in my thriller, and it’s based on one of my cats, a black and white. I used his real name in the novel.
Me: Awww that’s such an amazing tribute to your cat!!! Okay, last question: what advice would you want to give other aspiring writers?
Khaled: Don’t give up. Don’t be stubborn. Listen to your editors. It’s always good to be cool and keep an open mind. Expect to slog. And after all that, you’re going to get rejected, and it’s going to make you feel low and worthless. There will be people who will doubt your abilities. You have to trust your inner voice. Are you a writer or not? You know who you really are.
Me: That’s great advice!! Thank you so much for doing the interview, I loved talking with you 🙂
Khaled: Thank you, Joce. Drop by anytime.
Pope Gregoire XVII was last seen waving to the crowd at Saint Peter’s square from the famous Apostolic Palace window. Despite several layers of tight security, neither the Gendarmerie nor The Entity (the Vatican’s secret service) or the Swiss Guards claim to know anything about his sudden mysterious disappearance.
As the world mourns for the pope, a frantic search begins in Italy and beyond its borders amid speculation that the Holy See may know more than they are telling.
Ayden Tanner, a former British SAS commando officer — who is officially dead — is dispatched with two other crew members to find the Supreme Pontiff by The League of Invisible Knights, a covert division of Anonymous that aims to bring about the triumph of good over evil.
A secret arrangement is made for Ayden to meet Rafael Rabolini, the Papacy’s press secretary, in Geneva, who might be able to tell him more. But trouble unexpectedly starts from the moment Ayden arrives in the city that winter day…
The story unfolds to reveal an insidious plot by Willem Van Der Haas, a ruthless Dutch senator who has aligned himself with a world power bent on its own global ambitions.
In a gasping chase that races from the snowy mountains of Switzerland to the secret passages under Saint Peter’s Basilica to the hilly terrains of Istanbul to the harsh desert air of Egypt, Ayden and his crew are forced to match wits with lethal assassins as they struggle on a desperate quest to prevent a terrifying tomorrow.
A tumult of intrigue, action, suspense from the author of Smokescreen.
Khaled Talib is a former magazine journalist and public relations practitioner. His articles have been published and syndicated to newspapers worldwide, and his short stories have appeared in literary journals and magazines. He is also the author of the thriller Smokescreen, and Incognito. Khaled is a member of the International Thriller Writers and Crime Writers Association.
Author’s Official Website: www.khaledltalibthriller.com
I hope you all enjoyed the interview!! I love supporting authors, and it’s especially special that I get to post this on his publishing day. Please support and check Khaled out on Twitter, his website, or just plain buy the book.
Where would you want to travel in the world? Are you a cat person or a dog person? Did you enjoy the interview? Have you read Smokescreen? Would you read Incognito? Are you bored of all of these questions? Let’s Talk!
For my stop on the Grammar Sex and Other Stuff book tour (put together by the fabulous Susan Barton), I have the pleasure of inviting author Robert Germaux to the blog to do an author interview as well as sharing a little bit about his first entrance into the nonfiction writing world. Robert has just published his collection of humorous short stories, and so if you enjoy the interview, make sure to check it out!
ABOUT THE BOOK…
Grammar Sex (And Other Stuff) is one man’s take on life’s little moments, minor annoyances and unexpected delights. A collection of thirty-two (mostly) humorous essays about life, work baseball, The Beatles and more
In your own words, please tell us about Grammar Sex and Other Stuff:
As I say in the blurb for the book, it’s one man’s take on life’s little moments, minor annoyances and unexpected delights.
This book is a change from your previous books. What made you change things up?
I’ve enjoyed reading a couple of local newspaper columnists for several years. At some point, my wife suggested I try writing some essays myself, with an eye towards having enough for a book. So to anyone who enjoys the book, you can thank Cynthia for planting the idea in my head.
So I have to ask…was including the word “sex” a deliberate attempt to grab the attention of potential readers? Oh, definitely, and the fact that you asked that question means it worked, right?
Actually a year or so ago, when I was writing my first guest post, a friend suggested I come up with a “catchy” title. Since I had used the expression “grammar sex” in “The Backup Husband,” I decided to use the term in the title of the post. Incidentally, that piece is one of the essays included in this book.
I love slice-of-life stories and Grammar Sex and Other Stuff certainly fits that category. How did you manage to recall all of your awesome stories? Do you keep a folder or do you just have an incredible memory?
I do have a good memory, but not that good. One thing that helped, especially with the essays related to vacations Cynthia and I have taken, is that I’m big on taking notes. When we’re on vacation, I take a few minutes every evening and jot down notes about what we did that day. After we get home, I use the notes to write what amounts to a daily diary of our trip. I put that diary with the photo album of the trip, and then we’ll get it out every few years and relieve all those wonderful moments. As for the essays that aren’t trip-related, anything I can’t remember on my own, I can usually get help from Cynthia or, in some cases, family members, especially my sister Barb, who’s become sort of our family historian.
Speaking of awesome stories, what do you think makes an interesting story?
For me, it has to be something that I can relate to in some way. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something I have personal experience with, as long as the author writes well enough to grab my attention. That pertains to fiction, but I also enjoy reading autobiographies.
What kinds of books are in your personal library?
I like detective novels, of course, but also other genres, anything that is well-written and captures my interest. I particularly enjoy stories that inform me about other countries and cultures.
Do you have a book genre/writing preference – fiction or non-fiction? Definitely fiction.
I loved writing “Grammar Sex and Other Stuff,” but I prefer writing about my private detective, Jeremy Barnes, or my police detective, Daniel Hayes, both of whom work in Pittsburgh. As soon as I sit down and start a new chapter about either Jeremy or Daniel, I’m right back in the world that I created for that book. I just lose myself in it.
Do you have any new books in the works?
Yes, I do. I’ve completed “One by One,” the next book about Daniel Hayes. It will be available not too long from now. And I’ll also be releasing at least one more Jeremy Barnes novel later this year.
How can readers connect with you?
You can always reach me at my Amazon Author Page. I love interacting with my readers.
Since you have now had several published books completed, what advice would you give aspiring authors?
The most important thing is to keep writing (and rewriting). Equally important is to find at least one person whose opinion you trust. Ask that person to read everything you write and give you an honest take on it. In my case, that person is Cynthia. She knows my characters, my writing style and, well, me better than anyone else in the world. When she offers a suggestion, I end up taking it 99% of the time.
ABOUT ROBERT GERMAUX…
Robert Germaux and his wife Cynthia live outside of Pittsburgh. After three decades as a high school English teacher, and now a good many years into retirement, he is beginning to have serious doubts about his lifelong dream of pitching for the Pirates. Grammar Sex and Other Stuff is Bob’s first non-fiction book. You can find links to his first three novels (The Backup Husband, Small Talk and Hard Court) at his Amazon Author Page.
Today, Write Through the Night (and all of you guys) has the pleasure of featuring author Alistair Cross!! Alistair wrote an urban fantasy/dark fiction novel The Angel Alejandro, and it was finally published this January. I was lucky enough to be able to ask him some questions about his book, writing, and himself!
On The Angel Alejandro…
Where did you come up with the idea for The Angel Alejandro?
Like most book ideas, it came in small sections – some of which predated the writing by a couple of years and others that were formed as the writing went along. But there was one defining moment that stands out – something I saw that brought it all together and had me itching to write this book right away: A man walking down the street near my house.
He looked like he’d stepped right out of 1880s London, and the moment I saw him, I knew he belonged in this book. His slicked-back hair, shiny black briefcase, and long ebony cigarette holder sparked my imagination in a thousand ways and by the end of that day, Gremory Jones – the main antagonist in The Angel Alejandro – was fully formed and ready to begin telling his dark, sordid story.
Can you give us any hints about what’s to come in the book?
The cover and title of this novel suggests a certain lightness – romance, even – and that’s deliberate. There’s plenty of both within the pages, and a good dose of humor, too, of course, but once you get deeper in, there are darker things – things that will hopefully set the readers’ teeth on edge. I wanted to throw some curveballs in this book, to keep the readers on their toes, and to leave a lasting impression. I think of this book as a ticking bomb gift-wrapped in pretty packaging.
Which authors inspired you to begin writing?
There are so many, and nearly every author I’ve read has inspired me in one way or another, but no one has given me more inspiration – on and off the page – as my friend and collaborator, Tamara Thorne, who is the bestselling author of Moonfall, Haunted, and Candle Bay. Together, we’ve collaborated on several novels and this is a dream-come-true for me because I’ve been a fan of her work since the 90s, long before I ever put pen to paper in a serious way myself.
We met in 2012, just after I’d first gotten published, and we hit it off in a way that only happens once or twice in a lifetime. We found ourselves talking about new ideas for novels, one thing led to another, and one day, she called me and asked if I’d care to work on a book with her. I had mixed feelings about collaborating at the time – is there a quicker way to sabotage any relationship than going into a joint business venture? – but when horror-lit royalty like Tamara Thorne invites you to collaborate, you don’t turn that down. Plus, I had a really strong feeling that if I could write with anyone, it would be her.
We soon found that our writing styles gelled together so seamlessly that when asked who wrote which part, we often didn’t know the answer. We still don’t. And after over three years of working together every day, we have never had a fight. We have nearly identical artistic sensibilities and we share strong feelings about proper work etiquette – which, in short, translates as no drama. We’re currently wrapping up our fourth and fifth collaborative novels simultaneously.
This is the type of author friendship most people only dream of!
How do you begin the writing process?
I always feel like I should have a really interesting answer to this – and one day I’ll make one up involving goat bones and virgin’s blood – but the truth is, I get up, make coffee, sit down, and start writing.
Why did you choose to write fantasy, out of all possible genres?
While The Angel Alejandro qualifies as urban fantasy, I am a horror author at heart – not because I chose either of these genres but because I simply write the story that needs to be told. I don’t think about genre. I could just as likely one day write a historical romance if that’s what appeals to me at that time.
What do you consider the best part of writing?
I love the characters. I like putting them in impossible situations and seeing how they get themselves out. Nothing makes me happier than when a character surprises me. That’s how I know I’m on the right track – when the characters start telling me what happens next.
On Reading and Other Hobbies…
Who are your favorite authors to read?
Another very, very long list. I am a reader. I always have been. I’ve loved everything from Pet Sematary to Gone With the Wind. Currently, I’m reading The Troop by Nick Cutter, and I can’t put it down. I love the darkness of Anne Rice, the authenticity of Patricia Scanlan, the dark romance of Anne Rivers Siddons, the eloquence of Charles Dickens, the elegance of Oscar Wilde, the sexy bad-ass-ness of Laurell K. Hamilton, and the brilliance of Stephen King.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Driving around without destination, radio blaring. Reading. Petting the cats. Thinking about writing. I try to take Sundays off so I can just watch movies and veg out.
On The Radio Show…
You said you co-host a radio show. What is the most challenging and/or rewarding part of doing this?
Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, an hour-long weekly radio talk show, is part of the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network, which has over 3 million listeners worldwide. On Haunted Nights LIVE!, Tamara Thorne and I interview authors, crime buffs, paranormal investigators, forensics experts, and even actors and psychics – anyone who dabbles in the darkness.
The reward, of course, is meeting amazing people. I get to say with certainty that I’ve conversed in depth with people who will be remembered hundreds of years from now. I get to not only meet my heroes, but I get to ask them about their work, their lives. I get to find out how their minds work. I’ll never forget what it was like to talk zombies with Walking Dead author, Jay Bonansinga, or ask Andrew Neiderman, author of the world-famous V.C. Andrews novels, what a day in his life looked like.
And how could I forget how nervous I was the first time we interviewed Laurell K. Hamilton? That first interview with her would be especially difficult to forget, of course, because of a technical glitch that kicked me out of the studio during her reading from her novel Dead Ice … but pros that they are, Laurell and Tamara carried on just fine and by the time I got back in, all was well. There are simply too many rewards to mention, and I love doing the show.
As for challenges, our only real enemy is time constraints. Between solo novels and collaborations, Tamara and I are working on a minimum of three projects at any given time and this doesn’t leave us a lot of room for anything besides writing, researching, editing, and brainstorming. But we love the show and make it a priority.
Who is the best guest that you’ve ever had on your radio show?
I can honestly say we haven’t had a single bad guest. Not one. As for choosing a favorite, I simply can’t do it. I’ve learned so many different things and had so much fun with all of them that it’s impossible to say which one I enjoyed the most.
And Finally (as always), a Bit of Advice and a Personal Note…
What advice would you give to other aspiring authors, or just to people in general?
Do what you love. Use the talents you were given. When you begin your journey, you’ll be told that you can’t, that you won’t, that you mustn’t. Look closely at the lives of those who are discouraging you and ask yourself if this is someone you should be taking advice from. I personally guarantee you they aren’t – people who fulfill their dreams aren’t naysayers because they know what’s possible. Only the idle have such strong negative opinions about progress.
If your readers could only know one thing about you, what would you want it to be?
That I sincerely love what I do and that it’s because of them that I’m allowed to do it.
Want to Know More?
Thank you so much to Alistair for taking the time to answer my questions, I know I loved reading your answers, and it gave me much better insight into you and your writing! For those of you that feel the same way, below is a summary of Alistair’s book, and a couple of links you should probably check out.
About the Author
Alistair Cross’ debut novel, The Crimson Corset, a vampiric tale of terror and seduction, was an immediate bestseller earning praise from veteran vampire-lit author, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and New York Times bestseller, Jay Bonansinga, author of The Walking Dead series. In 2012, Alistair joined forces with international bestseller, Tamara Thorne, and as Thorne & Cross, they write – among other things – the successful Gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their debut collaboration, The Cliffhouse Haunting, reached the bestseller’s list in its first week of release. They are currently at work on their next solo novels and a new collaborative project.
In 2014, Alistair and Tamara began the radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, which has featured such guests as Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of HELLRAISER 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore.
Visit Alistair at: http://www.alistaircross.com
The Angel Alejandro
From bestselling author Alistair Cross comes a forbidden tale of love and redemption, of good and evil, and those who dare to stand up to Hell itself.
Angel or Demon?
Naive and heart-stoppingly handsome, he calls himself Alejandro, and Madison O’Riley has no clue what to do with him. As they set out to recover his lost identity, Madison realizes the mysterious man who saved her life harbors deep, otherworldly secrets that will put her in grave danger.
The Devil is in the Details
Gremory Jones has something for everyone, and for a price, he’s willing to make a deal. Walking the streets in top hat and trench coat, he tempts the citizens with mysterious wares from his shiny black briefcase. But buyer beware: All sales are final – and fatal.
A Scorching New Terror Has Come to Town
The townspeople are changing in appalling ways and it’s up to Madison – with the help of a psychic, a local priest, and the new chief of police – to help Alejandro unlock his forgotten powers before an unspeakable evil tears apart the fabric of existence … and costs them their very souls …
Buy The Angel Alejandro on Amazon
Other Books by Cross
The Crimson Corset
The Book of Strange Persuasions
The Cliffhouse Haunting with Tamara Thorne
The Ghosts of Ravencrest with Tamara Thorne
The Witches of Ravencrest with Tamara Thorne
Mother with Tamara Thorne
Don’t Miss a Thing
Will you be buying The Angel Alejandro? Did you learn anything new in the interview? Comment below!
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Just a month ago, I first stumbled across one of Susan’s many service based blogs–Book Blogger Listing— and then from there made my way around to see all of her other great blogs: My Book Tour, eBook Review Gal, and DIY Mom. All of them had equal effort put in, and there was INCREDIBLE content on each. After talking to Susan a bit about being a tour host, I fell in love with her effort and her blogs, and I couldn’t resist asking if I could interview her. And I was lucky enough to have her say yes!! So, without further ado…
Me: How did you decide to start blogging?
Susan: I guess I’ve always had a lot to say. I’ve also always had strong opinions. Just ask my husband! I fell in love with books and reading at an early age and I take my reading very seriously. After all, it takes a certain amount of investment – monetarily and time-wise – to choose the perfect book and sit down to read it. When I read glowing, positive book reviews, I expect to be wowed. If I’m not, then I get cranky. It’s as if I’ve been cheated. That’s when I write about my disappointment. Likewise, when I read a really great book and I absolutely love it I have to let EVERYONE know about it. The perfect place to do both of these things is on a book blog.
How long have you been blogging?
I started my very first blog back in 2005 – so twelve years now!
What is the most rewarding part of your online business/blog?
I get to meet SO MANY interesting and unique people. Many have become longtime friends. I just LOVE that!
You are one of the most versatile bloggers I’ve ever met. How do you balance your book blog, DIY Mom blog, Ebook review site, and your book tour service?
I’ve always been a speedy multi-tasker! I love keeping busy – in fact, I need to keep busy. It also helps that my ADD keeps me bouncing from task to task at lightning speed 🙂 But, I try to devote adequate time to each endeavor, just to maintain the proper balance.
Which of your websites do you find the most rewarding to run?
That is an EXCELLENT question! I’m a little torn about that, since most of my sites center on authors, books and reading. I LOVE helping struggling authors and I do get genuine pleasure in promoting them. But…my mommy blog (DIY MOM) is equally important to me too. I guess, ultimately, I view my websites like I view my children – I don’t have favorites 🙂
You host/design Book Tours for authors, so you must have come into contact with a lot of authors and publishers. Do you have any interesting/comical stories about these interactions?
I think the most common thing I find when working with authors is 1) they never realized how much marketing would be involved when they decided to become authors. And 2) They didn’t previously know too much about book tours and how they work. I don’t mind one bit having to explain the process to any author and I sometimes have to do this. But I love every minute of it!
You are stuck on a deserted island, and can only bring three things– a book, an item of food (endless supply), and a hygiene product. What do you bring for each category?
That’s easy! My beloved copy of To Kill A Mockingbird, Quaker Popped (I can’t eat gluten and these are my absolute favorite snacks!) and my toothbrush (I’m an oral hygiene nut!)
What are your favorite genres to read?
I love psychological thrillers, mysteries and paranormal novels.
*Gulp*….at the risk of ruffling some feathers, I’d have to say Sci-Fi. Oh, and Erotica. They’re just not my “thing”.
All of your crafts on DIY mom are so creative! How do you come up with your ideas?
Well, thank you! It definitely goes back to my days as a young mom. I was always looking for super inexpensive, easy ways to decorate our home, so repurposing, recycling and upcycling became my best friends. Pinterest is another great inspiration. I check out photos and think “how can I do this myself”. Then I share my results.
Which social media site do you find most useful in promoting your content? Do you think that social media is necessary for reaching a large audience?
All of them! Without a doubt, social media is ESSENTIAL for reaching your target audience – regardless of what you’re doing. If you have an online or brick and mortar store, you absolutely HAVE to get social. Running a blog or business without utilizing social media is like throwing a party but forgetting to send out the invites. Who will know what the heck you’re doing otherwise? And, I’d also add that it’s not enough to just join all of the social media platforms, you have to interact with you followers on a daily basis. And…by interact I don’t mean yelling at people about how great you are. You have to actually be sociable on social media or people will tune you out very quickly.
And finally, what advice do you have for people who are currently running a small blog and wish to broaden their audience?
The best advice I can give is to write, write, and write. The more content you publish, the more of a following you’ll gain. You simply cannot afford to allow your website or blog to sit, languishing in stale silence. Readers want to see fresh content on at least a weekly basis – more frequently is even better if you can manage it.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all of my questions!! I loved hearing more about how you started blogging, and your blogging advice!!
Loved the interview and want to hear more? Don’t forget to head over to one of Susan’s many websites or social media to share the love:
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Hugh W. Roberts is a new author, and has just recently published his first book, Glimpses, a collection of short stories. Besides this, he is a blogger, and has a really inspirational story. It was my pleasure to have the opportunity to ask Hugh a few questions and learn more about both his book and his life!
You have dyslexia, and make no secret of it. What was it like growing up with this, and do you think it caused people to see you differently?
While growing up, dyslexia was not an acknowledged condition. Teachers told my parents I was either slow and/or not very intelligent for my age. You can imagine how that made me feel, while sat alongside my parents, knowing that sometimes the words I wrote or read just seemed to get jumbled up. I was often taunted by other children about all the mistakes I’d make when reading out a story in class. Thankfully, dyslexia soon became a recognised condition and by the time I left school there were help groups being set up for those with the condition and/or the parents of the child if they also wanted to attend.
How (if at all) has your personal life influenced the creation of Glimpses?
Like many authors and writers, I do pick up ideas for stories from conversations, experiences or when out and about and I over-hear the odd snippet of a conversation. However, only one of the stories in Glimpses has been taken from a personal perspective.
And which one is that?
Now, that would be telling, but let’s just say that many people found the story funny.
How long have you wanted to write a book for?
Ever since I can remember. However, for far too long, I foolishly allowed being dyslexic get the way of fulfilling that dream.
When did the idea come along to publish all of your short stories?
Shortly after I wrote and published, on my blog, ‘The Truth App’, one of the stories in the book. It went viral and people started asking me to write a second part and to put my short stories into a collection. I ended up writing another nine parts of ‘The Truth App’ and, in June 2016, decided to start putting the book together.
Which short story in Glimpses is your favorite?
Lipstick. I love the reaction I get from readers. I’ve been told it’s a great ‘karma’ story.
Do you think you would have ever published your book if you hadn’t started blogging?
No. Without a doubt, if I had not started blogging then none of the stories in the book would have ever been written. Many of them were created from writing challenges and photo prompts set by other bloggers.
Have any authors inspired your work?
Rod Serling, who created ‘The Twilight Zone’ and wrote many of the episodes, has certainly inspired my writing. He’s the master when it comes to those unexpected twists in stories. Alfred Hitchcock is also a big influencer when I write. I’d love to tread in both their creative footprints.
Do you hope to inspire others with your writing and overcoming your dyslexia?
Yes. Other bloggers with the condition have left me comments telling me they are dyslexic and that my blog has inspired them to write more and to publish and share their work. I only wish I had discovered blogging before February 2014. One of the biggest compliments I can get is to be told that I have inspired somebody to write.
Who is the target audience of Glimpses?
This is a difficult question because Glimpses contains stories that cover many genres. I hope it would appeal to anyone over the age 18, but is probably geared more towards fans of science fiction.
Most of your short stories are drama, sci fi, and fantasy. What about those genres do you love?
I’m a big fan of time-travel and it features in some of the stories. You can do so much when time-travel is involved. My mind often gets carried away when writing fantasy and I never know where it is going to take me. The words seem to flow very easily when writing in that genre. I’m fascinated with life and where it can take us and that’s why I also enjoy writing drama stories with a twist.
Oooohhh Time Travel!! Are you a fan of Back to the Future?
Oddly, no. My favourite time-travelling movie is the original version of the H.G Wells classic ‘The Time Machine.’ I’m a huge fan of time-travelling TV shows such as Doctor Who, Quantum Leap, Sliders, and a brand-new show I’ve just discovered entitled Timeless.
You wrote an LGBT story in Glimpses. I think it’s great that you’re inclusive of a group that often gets ignored, especially in works that are otherwise unrelated to this community. What caused you to write this?
It was after reading a blog post which asked the question “where have all the LGBT characters gone?” Being gay, I wanted to include at least one LGBT story. However, it’s so sad to still read that some book reviewers won’t read and review LGBT fiction. I, for one, won’t allow that to stop me writing more LGBT short stories.
You definitely shouldn’t. It means so much to so many people when minority characters are written about.
What do you most want your readers to know about you?
That I am a ‘people’ person. I enjoy contact with other people and always go out of my way to respond and answer comments left on my blog or answer emails. That includes any constructive and non-offence negative feedback about my writing, so never be afraid to approach me.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! I loved getting to hear more about your incredible story, and your life!
If you guys liked what you heard about Hugh, make sure to first check out his blog, and then head over to Amazon and buy his book! I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but from the few bits that I’ve heard, it sounds worth the read.
Buy Glimpses on Amazon
Add on Goodreads
Check out his Blog
Are you a blogger or an author that would like to be interviewed? Click here and fill out the form, I’m always looking for awesome new people to feature!
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You have no idea how overwhelmingly excited I was when Isla said that she wanted to do a blogger interview! She is so incredibly amazing in the blogger world, both bookish and otherwise, and it was awesome to have the chance not only to talk to her more, but to be able to show those of you who don’t know her a perfect new addition to your Reader. After reading this interview, I’m sure all of you will want to read her blog in depth, so just save yourself the time and click here! (I’m joking, please read this interview *begs on knees*)
Isla is best known for her blogging on A Whisper of Ink, a fun book blog for all sorts of great bookish content. Her favorite hobbies are reading a blogging (and, of course, eating). In addition to blogging, Isla offers FREE blog designs, so if you are in need go ask her. The ones she has already done are fabulous.
The ACTUAL Interview…
J: Hi Isla!! I’m so excited to get the chance to interview you! You have an amazing book blog, it’s what I aspire to be! To start, I wanted to find out what your favorite book you’ve read this year is?
I: Hi, Joce! I’m so honoured to be here on your blog! This is the hardest question to answer for any book worm, but I think I’ll have to go with The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini! It made me cry at so many points in the book and it beautifully written!
J: Oh my god I LOVED that book!!! It was so incredible, it made me read one Hosseini’s other books, A Thousand Splendid Suns, right after. It was equally as good.
I: I really want to read A Thousand Splendid Suns but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet! Hosseini is truly amazing author and I want to read A Mountains Echoes aswell, have you read it?
J: No I haven’t gotten to that one yet but I want to! I find it amazing that he can consistently publish such great work. So, out of curiosity, where do you normally read?
I: I know, his writing is so good and even though his books are long, he hits quantity and quality at the same time. I usually read on my bed. It’s just so wonderful, snuggling up with a good book, and getting in lost in thoughts of your own. Though, occasionally, if a book is SO good, and I can’t put it down, I take it with me to read on the Bus, Train or Car if I’m lucky. I usually use my e-reader for this because it’s easier to transport. I think, once for an audiobook, I listened to it wherever I went. Oops, I’m beginning to ramble, ahaha!
J: Haha I want to start an audiobook so that I can walk around reading, I’ve never done it before!! The bed is the best place to read because you’re just so warm, although I feel like I always forget food or something (I’m a compulsive eater when I read lol).
I: I’ve only done it once but it’s an amusing experience! I always like to get stocked up when I get a chance to read. Some chocolate, a warm brew, and some blankets always get me into the reading mood! Though, I hate getting smudges on books while I eat! It’s so frustrating getting stains on books!
J: Omg I hate that so much!! Especially when the pages are really white. Did you get any books for Christmas?
I: Yes, tell me about it! 🙂 I don’t really celebrate Christmas but i did receive a review copy of this amazing book, which I’m reading now, called The Magician’s Workshop! And I’ve got my staggering TBR as well!
J: Oh oops I didn’t realise you didn’t celebrate! I’ve never heard of that book but the title sounds cool.
I: No worries! Yeah, I just finished and it was great!
J: That’s awesome!! So, why did you decide to start blogging?
I: It’s not as inspirational as others bloggers stories. It was because I was bored and competitive. My brother and I decided to start a blog. It was hot lazy, summer afternoon and we had nothing to do. We had no idea what a blog actually was and began writing up random things on Blogger. That was years ago. But the real reason I started blogging PROPERLY was because I wanted a place where I could share my bookish thoughts. I’ve always loved writing and I wanted to set myself a challenge. Could I really run a fully-working blog BY MY SELF? Turns out, I can.
J: You definitely can!! That’s actually cool that you started with your brother. Does that blog still exist?
I: Like I said, it was a very long time. Both of the blogs we started out with are long gone. We moved to WordPress. It’s funny you ask that, because a few days ago he started up a new blog. I asked him if he wanted any promotion on my blog, he politely declined. I won’t give the link but looks out for it!
J: Oh wow that’s awesome, I’ll definitely keep an eye out! I always tell my mom to start a food/lifestyle blog (she’s a HUGE vegan foodie and there’s such a blog market for that) but she never does.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me!! It was so much fun to learn about your favorite books and how you started your blog!
I: You’re welcome! But, really I should be thanking YOU for the honour!
I hope you guys enjoyed reading that interview as much as I enjoyed doing it!!! Make sure you go and read a few posts on Isla’s blog and share the love!!
Do you love Isla’s blog too? What’s your favorite feature? Are you a blogger interested in being interviewed? I want to know!
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