Author Interview – Esther Newton

A while back, I posted a Call to Writers, asking my fellow author bloggers to allow me to interview them for guest-spots on my blog.  (If you are interested in participating, please contact me.)  I asked everyone thirty-five questions — some were basic, and others were multi-part inquiries — and I asked them to answer only what they wanted to or what was applicable. My friend and fellow-blogger, Esther Newton, had some very interesting responses which I’m sure will captivate you, as well.  After you read her interview, please be sure to hop on over to her blog and follow her for a regular dose of her humor and wit.  And now, heeere’s Esther…

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ABOUT YOU::

1. Please tell us your name (or pen name) and a little bit about yourself:

My name is Esther Newton. I’ve always kept my real name. I think it’s because I struggled to get that first piece of writing published and so when I finally did, I wanted everyone to know!!

I’ve now been working as a freelance writer for fifteen years, regularly writing articles and short stories for magazines and newspapers such as Freelance Market News, Writers’ Forum, The New Writer, The Guardian, Best of British,  The Cat, Woman’s Weekly,  The People’s Friend and My Weekly to name a few.

Winner of Writing Magazine, Writers’ News and several other writing competitions and awards, I have also had the privilege of judging writing competitions.

As well as working as a freelance writer, I have branched out into the exciting world of copywriting, providing copy for sales letters, brochures, leaflets, slogans and e-mails.

I love writing but equally, I enjoy helping others, which I achieve in my role as tutor for The Writers Bureau.

2. Please provide the link to your blog (and website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc.):

Blog: https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com

Facebook: Esther Newton Author Page

Twitter: @esthernewton201

3. How many books have you written?

Seven books to date.

4. Has any of your work been published yet?  If so, please share the link(s) to purchase it:

My book of short stories was published as an e-book earlier this year and the paperback version came out on 15th November: http://www.amazon.com/Siege-Other-Award-Winning-Stories-ebook/dp/B00LCCG9S2

5. If you have been published, did you self-publish or use traditional publishing?  Why?  If you have not been published yet, what are your plans for the future?

I used a publishing company who specialise in helping authors self-publish. Short story collections don’t tend to sell well so I didn’t even try the traditional route. But a ‘proper’ publisher has shown interest in my children’s series so fingers crossed!

6. How old were you when you started writing?  When did you know you wanted to be an author?

I’ve always loved writing ever since I can remember, but I didn’t have much time for it when I started working on an accelerated management training programme at a bank. When I had a bad accident and couldn’t continue my job at the bank, I took up writing with a passion.

7. What would you say motivates you to keep writing?

I have no choice – it’s just part of me.

8. Who are some of your favorite authors?  What are you currently reading (or what is the last book you read)?

I love J.K. Rowling’s crime series featuring the loveable private detective, Cormoran Strike.

I’ve just finished reading Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places. It kept me hooked right to the end. Hugely atmospheric and deeply dark. Loved it.

Before that I read the YA novel, The Maze Runner by James Dashner. Very gripping and as always, better than the movie.

9. What is your preferred reading method?  (i.e., Kindle, Nook, paperback, hardback, etc.)  Why?

Paperback – there’s nothing like the feel of a paperback in your hands or breathing in that fresh, new book smell.

10. Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?

I prefer a first person viewpoint as it gives you the opportunity of really putting yourself into that person’s shoes and bringing the character to life. I tend to use the past tense more than the present, but the present can work particularly well in giving a story a sense of immediacy.

11. Do you “always read” or do you take breaks between reading books? 

I’m always reading something.

12. How many books would you say you read in a year?  How many at any one time?

I always only have one book on the go and I won’t start another until that one’s read. I probably read about 40 books a year.

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ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BOOK::

13. What is the title of your current work in progress of the most recent manuscript you’ve completed?

Sophie and the Secret Quest Series.

14. What is your novel’s genre?  Would you say there is a sub-genre?  What makes yours different than other books in the same genre?

The series of six books is for children. The books are different from other books in their genre as they put right a myth that all dragons are fearsome, fire breathing fiends!

15. What inspired the current or most recent story you’ve completed?

Listening to my daughter playing with her toys and how, to her, they are real. I put myself in her shoes and asked the question, ‘what if?’

16. What is your target audience’s age, gender, etc.?

The books are for girls aged 5-7.

17. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your story?

Sophie Berry’s long, boring summer holiday suddenly becomes one of excitement and adventure when she finds a tiny statue of a dragon at the bottom of her garden.

What appears to be a statue turns out to be a real-life dragon from another world. Lilly, the dragon, has come to the human world because her world, Mandoreum, is in danger. Gnarla, Queen of the witches, has tricked everyone and cast an evil spell ridding Mandoreum and its people of their magic and beauty.

Fairy Godmother Grace manages to produce a counter-spell involving the finding and solving of six clues in order to restore Mandoreum and to banish Gnarla forever. The solving of the six clues will also restore Lilly, who is no longer her magnificent self; her scales keep falling off, she has no teeth, her wings are broken, her long tail is now a silly stump of a tail, cotton-wool balls have taken the place of claws and Lilly can no longer breathe fire.

So begins the first of six books in the ‘Sophie’s Secret Quest’ series, telling the story of Sophie and Lilly’s discovery and decoding of the six clues. With the solving of each one, a little part of Mandoreum, its people and Lilly is restored.

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ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE::

18. How often do you write?

Every day.

19. Approximately how many words do you write at each sitting?

I don’t have a specific word limit in mind – I tend to have slots of time, in between marking assignments in my role as a writing tutor, so I’ll try and write as many words as I can in each slot I have.

20. Do you do your own editing or send it to someone else?

I do my own editing. I always set it aside for a few days and then read my work aloud. I find this a brilliant way for highlighting any errors.

21. What is your method of writing?  (i.e., Do you write the entire manuscript, then go back and make changes?  Do you plan chapters as you go along or write the story then go back and add chapters?  Do you re-read as you go along or after you are done with the first draft?)

I tend to write a chapter at a time and then go back over it until I’m happy with that chapter before moving on to the next one. Once the book is complete, I’ll then see how it fits together as a whole and if I need to make any more alterations.

22. Do you have a muse?  If so, please elaborate. If not, what inspires you?

I don’t have a muse. Other people’s writing inspires me – famous authors and my students and their creativity inspires me.

23. How long does it take you to write a full manuscript?

I wrote the six books in the children’s series in a matter of months. The editing took the same amount of time.

24. Do you give yourself a word limit for each day or a time limit to finish your novel?  If so, please elaborate.

I tend to have a general time limit in mind, but life often gets in the way so I’m often reassessing.

25. How do you come up with your character names and geographic location / business names?

I tend not to think about it too much and to let my mind work at it. Often a name pops into my head when I least expect it – when I’m driving, dusting, walking etc.

26. How long (or how detailed) are the notes you take before you start writing?

I’m a jotter, so I write lots of snippets of information that trigger the idea when I look over my notes.

27. Do you have any “must haves” to help you write?  (i.e., a full cup of coffee, a view of the ocean, etc.)

I’d love a view of the ocean, while listening to the waves rolling into shore…but the reality is a little different! I can usually be found in my lounge, a laptop on my lap, which has to fight for position with one or more of my cats!

28. Do you only write during a certain time of day or in a certain location?  If so, do you make yourself stop after a certain time?

I write whenever I can squeeze it in – be it early in the morning or late at night. I find it difficult to stop and have to drag myself away.

29. Does your real life ever neglected because of your writing?  If so, how do you feel about that?

I try not to let it, but as every writer knows, it’s not easy!

30. What is the quirkiest thing you do or have ever done when writing?

I once wrote a short story in the back of a car in a dingy car park where I could hardly see what I was writing. The story went on to win first prize in a competition!

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ABOUT YOUR WORK::

31. If you have written more than one novel, which is your favorite and why?

I loved writing the whole children’s series. I was Sophie as I read the book and it allowed me to look through a child’s eyes again and to enter a magical world.

32. If you could be one of your own characters for a day, who would it be and why?

I’d love to be Lilly the dragon – when she can fly!

33. What is the oddest thing you have ever researched for one of your books?

Colouring books and the average amount of dragons in them!

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 Thank you, Esther, for allowing me to interview you.  I hope everyone else has enjoyed learning about you and your work as much as I have.

~Rachel

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Author Interview – Madhvi Ramani

Recently, I posted a Call to Writers, asking my fellow author bloggers to allow me to interview them for guest-spots on my blog.  (If you are interested in participating, please contact me.)  I asked everyone thirty-five questions — some were basic, and others were multi-part inquiries — and I asked them to answer only what they wanted to or what was applicable. My friend and fellow-blogger, Madhvi Ramani, had some very creative responses which I’m sure will captivate you, as well.  After you read her interview, please be sure to hop on over to her blog and follow her for a regular dose of her charm and wit.  And now, I turn the microphone over to Madhvi …

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ABOUT YOU:

1. Please tell us your name and a little bit about yourself:

Hello! I’m Madhvi and I write short stories, children’s books, plays and screenplays. I grew up in London and currently live in Berlin with my (mad) German husband.

2. Please provide the link to your website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc:

Website: www.madhviramani.com

Twitter: @madhviramani

Facebook: The Nina Series

Blog: An English Man in Berlin

3. Have you published any books? If so, please share the links to purchase them:

I have a cute series of chapter books about a girl called Nina, who goes on fantastic adventures around the world using her aunt’s travelling spice shed (you’ll have to read the books to find out how that works).

Nina and the Kung Fu Adventure, available on Amazon and iTunes

Nina and the Travelling Spice Shed, available on Amazon and iTunes

And, out soon:

Nina and the Magical Carnival, available on Amazon and iTunes

I’ve also published several short stories in magazines and anthologies. You can find them via my Amazon Author Page.

4. If you have been published, did you self-publish or use traditional publishing?  Why? 

So far, all my work has been traditionally published. This seemed like the best option when I started out because I had no idea about the business of publishing. However, I would love to produce my own books and have more control over my work, so I’d be interested in self-publishing in the future.

5. Who are some of your favorite authors?  What are you currently reading? What is the last book you read)?

Oh so many!  I’m currently reading every single Joyce Carol Oates book I can find (there are lots). I also recently enjoyed Edward St Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose series.  Favourite authors include Roald Dahl, Toni Morrison, Franz Kafka, Elena Ferrante, J.M Coetzee, Hilary Mantel, Doris Lessing, Kazuo Ishiguro…

6. What is your preferred reading method?  (i.e., Kindle, Nook, paperback, hardback, etc.)  Why?

I like paperbacks from used bookshops or libraries, because they smell of secrets, dust, and disintegrating paper.  I also have a Kindle, which is great for journeys. I don’t like hardbacks, because they’re heavy to hold and carry around, and I’m lazy.

7. Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?

All of the above!  Recently, however, I’ve tended toward first person present tense, because of the immediacy. I think there’s value in making the reader physically and emotionally feel what the character is experiencing as much as possible.

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ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BOOK:

8. What is the title of the most recent manuscript you’ve completed?

Nina and the Magical Carnival.

9. What is your novel’s genre? What makes yours different than other books in the same genre?

It’s fantasy-adventure for children aged 7+.  I try to write intelligent children’s books.  Books that children can go back to, or that the adults reading to them can also enjoy. I create diverse characters, and positive role models for girls.

10. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your story? What inspired it?

Nina has to perform in the school talent show, but she doesn’t know what to do and time is running out!

When her teacher mentions a magical fantasia that can help, Nina sets off to Brazil in her aunt’s travelling spice shed to find it. There, she has a great adventure involving a mysterious costume, a samba parade, and a top-secret mission!

Carnival, with its masks and costumes, has always fascinated me – it’s an expression of freedom and creativity.  When I wrote this book, I was having problems with my own work, because I’m a perfectionist, so I basically gave Nina the same problem, and worked through it. That’s really what this book is about –getting in touch with your creativity.

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ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE:

11. How often do you write?

A few hours every day.

12. Approximately how many words do you write at each sitting?

300 – I’m slow! I comfort myself with the fact that Flaubert was slower (then again, he was Flaubert).

13. Do you do your own editing or send it to someone else?

I edit as much as I can, then give my work to my writers’ group, and edit it again with their notes in mind. Finally, the editors at the publishing house have look at it.

14. What inspires you?

Newspaper and magazine articles, titbits of conversation, daydreams, people I meet, places I go.

15. Do you have any “must haves” to help you write?  (i.e., a full cup of coffee, a view of the ocean, etc.)

Coffee is good. And my laptop. That’s all…

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 ABOUT YOUR WORK:

16. If you could be one of your own characters for a day, who would it be and why?

Nina, because she has access to a magical shed that can transport her anywhere in the world in an instant!

My fiction for adults is darker – I make horrible things happen to my characters, so I wouldn’t want to be any of them…

17. What is the oddest thing you have ever researched for one of your books?

Research is fascinating, and I’ve accumulated much random knowledge doing it. Recently, I’ve become an expert on is wine-making in Biblical times (for a short story called Noah, in Triangulation: Parch).

18. What is the most difficult thing you have researched for your fiction and why?

I researched acrotomophilia, or amputee fetish, for a horror story a while back. Once you go down that research hole, you emerge a little disturbed. (If you’re curious, the story is called The Dark Room, published in the anthology Night Terrors II.)

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 Thank you, Madhvi, for allowing me to interview you.  I hope everyone else has enjoyed learning about you and your work as much as I have.

~Rachel

Author Interview – Corey M. P.

A while back when I posted a Call to Writers, asking my fellow author bloggers to allow me to interview them, I was elated with the responses I received.  (And if you would like to participate, please feel free to contact me.)  I asked thirty-five questions and gave the interviewee the freedom to answer only what they wanted.  My friend and fellow-blogger, Corey M. P., had some very interesting responses which I’m sure you will find as fascinating as I did.  When you’re done reading the interview, please hop on over to Corey’s blog and make sure you follow her for more entertaining tales.  And now, I will hand the microphone over to Corey…

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ABOUT YOU:

1. Please tell us your name (or pen name) and a little bit about yourself:

I’m Corey M. P. I’m a writer and a graphic designer from California. Aside from writing novels, I also write children’s books. I created Sammy’s Books in 2012. It’s a collection of beginner books for young children. My daughter, Sammy, is the inspiration behind it.

2. Please provide the link to your blog (and website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc.):

Website: coreymp.com

Children’s Books website: sammysbooks.com

Blog: coreymp.wordpress.com

Twitter: @CoreyMP1

Facebook: Corey MP

3. How many books have you written?

I’ve written one novel, and I’m currently in the process of editing my second novel. I’ve also written/created a few children’s books.

4. Has any of your work been published yet?  If so, please share the link(s) to purchase it:

Yes. My first novel, “HIGH”, is published and is available on Amazon.

My first children’s book, “Goodnight World”, is available on Amazon.

I also have five children’s books launching on May 29, 2014. For more information, visit sammysbooks.com.

5. If you have been published, did you self-publish or use traditional publishing?  Why? 

I self-published. I originally planned on getting an agent. In 2008, I sent out queries to a list of agents for my first novel, which was a novella at the time, and received a letter from an agent in L. A. who liked my story but said there was no market for novellas. I let my novel sit for a while after that. Almost a year later, I revisited my story and edited it. It was then I realized it was meant to become a novel. Then I attended a Writers Conference in 2011, where I quickly learned that self-publishing had changed a great deal. But it wasn’t until after I attended a Writers Workshop in Paris in 2012, that I finally decided to self-publish. Meeting other self-published writers who were quite successful gave me the push I needed to pursue self-publishing.

6. How old were you when you started writing?  When did you know you wanted to be an author?

I was fourteen when I started writing poetry. I knew I wanted to become a writer after I wrote my first poem. I was nineteen when I knew I wanted to write novels and someday become an author.

7. What would you say motivates you to keep writing?

What keeps me motivated is the thought that I must write, or else I’ll never know what happens to these ideas in my head. The curiosity to explore these characters, plots, and stories, and see where they could end up, definitely motivates me to keep writing. The thought that I will someday share these stories with others really inspires me to keep going.

8. Who are some of your favorite authors?  What are you currently reading (or what is the last book you read)?

Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde, and Paula McLain, to name a few.

I am currently reading, “The Lady with the Little Dog and Other Stories” by Anton Chekhov.

9. What is your preferred reading method?  (i.e., Kindle, Nook, paperback, hardback, etc.)  Why?

I somehow read quicker on my Kindle, but I still love reading paperbacks. There will always be something so fascinating about flipping and smelling the pages.

10. Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?

My first novel was written in the first person. My second novel is also written in the first person, but my third novel might be written in the third person. It all depends on what I feel is best for the story.

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ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BOOK:

11. What is the title of your current work in progress of the most recent manuscript you’ve completed?

Current one is called, “Hearts and Errors”.

12. What is your novel’s genre?  Would you say there is a sub-genre? 

Fiction. The sub-genre would be contemporary fiction.

13. What is your target audience’s age, gender, etc.?

18-50 years old. I’d say probably about 60% women, 40% men.

14. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your story?

Sure. “Hearts and Errors” is about Ally Levine, a single New Yorker, whose life changes after she comes across an old article about a matchmaker in Paris, and decides to flee The Big Apple and venture off to The City of Light in search of something she may never find.

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ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE:

15. How often do you write?

I write as often as I can. Whether it’s on a sheet of paper, or on the computer, I am always writing.

16. Approximately how many words do you write at each sitting?

I don’t really keep track, but if I were to guess, probably about 1,000 words or so.

17. Do you do your own editing or send it to someone else?

I edit my work until I feel satisfied, then I send it to a few beta readers, get their feedback, and edit it again. Then I send it out to an editor and edit it again based on the feedback I receive.

18. What is your method of writing?  (i.e., Do you write the entire manuscript, then go back and make changes?  Do you plan chapters as you go along or write the story then go back and add chapters?  Do you re-read as you go along or after you are done with the first draft?)

First, I write the entire manuscript, while editing as I go. Then I read the entire manuscript, edit, and rewrite, as needed. Repeat the process until it’s done.

19. How long does it take you to write a full manuscript?

For my second novel, I did a 100-day challenge. Meaning I challenged myself to write the entire first draft in 100 days. But for my first novel, I wrote whenever I could with no real deadline, so that experience was very different.

20. Do you have any “must haves” to help you write?  (i.e., a full cup of coffee, a view of the ocean, etc.)

No real must-haves. As long as I have a notebook and pen, or my laptop, I’m good to go. Music helps sometimes.

21. Do you only write during a certain time of day or in a certain location?  If so, do you make yourself stop after a certain time?

I write in the mornings, after I drop off my daughter to school, and at night, when everyone else is asleep.

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ABOUT YOUR WORK:

22. If you have written more than one novel, which is your favorite and why?

It’s hard to pick one. I like them both for different reasons.

23. If you could be one of your own characters for a day, who would it be and why?

I’d say, Ally Levine, from my upcoming novel, “Hearts and Errors”. Why? Well, who wouldn’t want to be in her shoes for a day? She drops everything and flees to Paris in search of a matchmaker she read about in a magazine, only to discover something even more amazing. Sounds like a pretty exciting adventure to me.

Thank you so much for the interview, Rachel. I loved answering your questions. 🙂

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Thank you, Corey, for allowing me to interview you.  I hope everyone else has enjoyed learning about you and your work as much as I have.

~Rachel