Saturday, October 10, 2020

Writing Tips and Meet Children's Author Sheikha Shamma

Carpinello's Writing Pages is excited to bring you a special author interview, but before we get to that, here's writing tips from other authors we've interviewed.

Write as often as possible and release at least one title a year. Raymond Bean, children's author of Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionaire

Don’t give up, even if publishers or agents reject you. Write what you want to write and not what you think would sell. Don’t self-proof read. Get someone you trust to it for you. It is too easy to miss mistakes when reviewing your own work. Consider self-publishing. These days there is a lot of support and free marketing out here to resource. Use online media platforms to promote yourself. Converse with other authors, share books and reviews and get yourself noticed. Do book readings and signings if you can. It’s a great way to actually meet readers who might enjoy your work. Nicola J. McDonagh, YA author of Echoes From the Lost Ones.

Whilst writing I’ve learnt that I have to be self-critical and be prepared to edit and edit and edit. I read it out loud, just as if I was reading it to an audience – or a class. And I ask other people to read and criticise it. BUT I take heart from praise because we all need that! Rosie Morgan, MG author of The Golden Sword.

 

And Now,

Please welcome Children's author Sheikha Shamma

to Carpinello's Writing Pages.

 

Entrepreneur, philanthropist, and published author, Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan is the great-granddaughter of the UAE’s founding father, His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

A graduate of the University of Cambridge, holding a Masters degree in Sustainability Leadership, Sheikha Shamma is a well-respected industry expert on sustainability, thanks to her business and academic endeavours in the field.

Her charitable foundation, Circle of Hope, has spearheaded a substantial number of local and international initiatives; these include Wanna Read? which has placed over 7,000 books for young patients in hospitals across the UAE; Beacon of Hope which has supplied thousands of children in developing countries with an important solar-light resource and which was recognised at the 2018 United Nations Solutions Summit; and MorEquity (formerly the Women’s Empowerment and Equality Board), created to promote gender equality in the workplace and the boardroom. The initiative comprises of over 150 women from the UAE’s largest organisations who meet regularly for workshops and collaborate on community projects driving change.

In addition to her children’s book, Skeikha Shamma is a regular columnist for The National newspaper and has coauthored two articles published in Future Governments – Actions and Insights.


Why did you decide to write books for Children? 

I had always felt that the character in my book, my dog Coustaud, would make a fun character in a children’s book. He reminds me of Garfield. He is a fun and humorous character, and it is very funny how he snores so loudly, grunts softly and sits sloppily. I wanted to share the happiness and fun that he brought to people who knew him.

What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?

I enjoy reading a wide variety of books. I prefer non-fiction, and I stay away from science fiction.
As for what I do when I’m not writing, where do I start? There are not enough hours in the day! I have a sustainability-oriented company, and I work in the office most days, but I also have a charitable foundation – Circle of Hope Foundation – that works to improve the lives of women and children. I like spending time outdoors in nature and reconnecting with the world around me. In this day and age, when we are all very dependent on our electronic devices, we need time away from them to enjoy the many wonders of Planet Earth.

Tell us about The Tangled Tale and how the story came to be.

The Tangled Tale is my third book in the series The Adventures of Maxima and Coustaud. This  children’s series focuses on morals, values, and current issues to help encourage ethical behaviour. The stories aim to promote a love of reading via engagement with the central characters, a magical horse, Maxima, and her funny companion, a French bulldog called Coustaud.

Here's a peek at The Tangled Tale:


Maxima and Coustaud must save a dragon that is tangled in a mangrove forest. The Tangled Tale teaches children about how interdependent and connected we all are and about the importance of mangrove forests and bees. I believe that systems thinking is an important skill for children to develop.

It will be released next month (November 2020).

 

How do you go about researching for your stories?

My latest stories are sustainability-focused, a topic that I am passionate about, and an area that I am privileged to be working in. I try and simplify concepts for children, raising awareness while empowering children to be conscious of their decision-making. We all have a role to play to protect our planet for future generations.

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

I have written two other books within the series The Adventures of Maxima and Coustaud. The first story, The Lost Princess, is about a princess who ends up in the hands of a wicked witch. I thought the witch would be very scary for children, but I have realised that they love her. The second book, In Search of a Global Solution, is about people working together to tackle one of the world’s biggest threats to humanity’s existence – climate change.

I have also written a stand-alone story – The Colour Thief. It is a cute story about two Jack Russells and a young boy called Zak, who go on an adventure. Imagine a world where all the colours disappear – what a sad place it would be. I hope children who read this book will take a closer look at the world around them and appreciate the many things we take for granted.

This year, I even wrote a short story to help children understand coronavirus called “Corona – The Story of a Virus that Stopped the World.” The short story is available for download on the following website http://wannaread.ae/ebooks/.

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

My latest project is a book for young adults, which is set in Cambridge where I studied for my Masters. I have fond memories of the beautiful and historic university town which often reminds me of Hogwarts. So I thought, why not create a story that takes place in Cambridge and bring in my love for the environment, innovation and discovery.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Do not let yourself be overwhelmed by all the books around you. Never compare yourself to other writers because you have a unique voice and a unique story to tell.

Anything else you want readers to know?

There is a whole world out there and many other galaxies to be explored, so never stop learning! Inspiration can be found in unlikely places – like in a type of book that you would not usually choose or by speaking to someone from a different country or ethnic group. So read a variety of books, explore different genres and make the effort to talk to people that you would not normally speak to. We live in a world filled with countless fascinating stories just waiting to be discovered.

Where can readers find you and your books?

My books can be found on Amazon and on my website www.sheikhashamma.ae/author/

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Meet Jemima Pett & Her Newest MG Fantasy: Princelings Revolution

 Carpinello's Writing Pages is excited to participate in the release of Jemima Pett's newest MG Fantasy  Princelings Revolution. I've know Jemima for many years, and her books are some of the best middle grade fantasy out there. If you haven't read her Princelings of the East series, you will be surprised and delighted to learn about her unique characters. So let's get on to it with some background on Jemima:

Here's a bit about Jemima:

Jemima Pett has been living in a world of her own for many years. Writing stories since she was eight, drawing maps of fantasy islands with train systems and timetables at ten. Unfortunately no-one wanted a fantasy island designer, so she tried a few careers, getting great experiences in business, environmental research and social work. She finally got back to building her own worlds and wrote about them.

Her first series, the Princelings of the East—mystery adventures for advanced readers set in a world of tunnels and castles—is now complete. Jemima has also edited two volumes of Christmas stories for young readers, the BookElves Anthologies, and her father's memoirs White Water Landings about the Imperial Airways flying boat service in Africa. She lives with her guinea pigs in the UK.


Why did you pick to write books for Middle Grade readers?

I think the genre chose me, or at least I wrote the Princelings books with the characters based on my guinea pigs, and that led to them being considered more children’s books. Looking into this, I decided that there really was a gap for complex stories for advanced readers of 8 and up, although I usually say 10 and up in print. I had some ten-year-old beta readers at the time, which helped.

What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?

I review a book on my blog every week, so sometimes I read things I’m not keen on, but mostly I pick science fiction and middle grade books, usually with a spec fiction aspect, maybe magical-realism. I also read science and environment-based non-fiction. But for a proper break, I read crime novels.

Tell us about Princelings Revolution and how the story came to be.

Princelings Revolution is the tenth and last book of the Princelings of the East series.  I never expected it to be a series. Originally I envisaged a trilogy: there is an epilogue in the first book which became the goal towards which my heroes were working. That theme ran through the rest of the books that followed. My world insisted on growing and showing other aspects to my readers.

In about 2014, I started planning the last book as number eight in the series and knew there would be unrest and changes in the way the castles are run. I started writing it in a file called ‘Topsy-turvy world’ but soon stopped because there was simply too much time that had to pass until the end, set for summer 2021. What developments would occur? It was easier to write other books to make them happen than to invent a roadmap for myself - and my readers. It gave me a target to reach in my writing, as well as one for my heroes Fred and George to attain. So this is the only book I’ve written to a deadline!


Here's a peek at Princelings Revolution:

George seems to have lost a phial of highly dangerous liquid. King Fred is battling politics, relatives and self-seeking dignitaries in his aim to give the people a better way of living. But can Fred keep the promise he made to an engaging chap from another time when he was just a princeling? Or will all their hopes fail?

Short excerpt 

Princess Jasmine, Fred’s daughter, and her cousin Liska, are on a treasure hunt at the edge of the marsh…

Liska stood quietly behind a large tree trunk, peering where Jasmine pointed. “Oh, it’s a small house. A shack, maybe.”

“I wonder if anyone lives there? I’ve not heard about a community over this way.”

“Maybe it’s just one person. What if…?” Both girls wondered if fairy tales of princesses abducted in the woods might actually come true. 

“Let’s just have a look. I think my father would like to know if there’s someone actually living here. It’s probably just a store, or a shelter for a woodman.” Jasmine walked forward, taking each step carefully, treading between twigs that might crack under her feet. Liska followed her, breathing loudly. “Shh!”

“I am shush-ing.” Liska whispered in response.

They crept up to the side of the building, listening for any indication of life. “I can’t smell a fire or anything.” Jasmine whispered. 

There was only one window, and one door, sheltered by a small veranda that ran the width of the shack. Logs were stacked neatly under it, along the front of the building. “Someone’s put those there for use.”

“As long as they aren’t inside.” Jasmine lifted the latch and pulled the door outwards to open it. 

Nobody was inside. 

What Jasmine saw was an apparatus that she was very familiar with, a duplicate of the one in the flyers’ laboratory. It was hissing gently, and a drip plopped from the final tube into a glass bottle at the end.

“What’s that?” Liska asked.

“It’s a still. It’s making something, and it smells like strawberry juice. Liska, we must leave. Now! I have to tell George!”

“All right, let’s go then.”

Liska left the shack, followed by Jasmine, but Jasmine overtook her at a run. Jasmine took the straightest route she could, back to the path that led to the lightning tree.

Suddenly she was falling through the earth. The light through the trees above swirled crazily as she fell backwards. Sharp things scratched at her, and knocked her from side to side, and the light disappeared. Her surprise forced a squeal from her, cut short as she landed hard on some uneven ground and branches. Then she screamed in fear as Liska landed on top of her.

How do you go about researching for your stories?

For the Princelings, it’s mostly world-building skills: making sure the world the people inhabit is consistent and has proper rules for law and order, commerce, education, all the background that we can take for granted in a story based in say, Colorado 2020.  

I once studied design and technology, and used that, and kept an eye out for specific information that would help George devise both a new electricity/power system and new flying machines. Fortunately my career in energy efficiency policy helped with the technical elements, and my father’s background in 1930s flying boats influenced me heavily.

Most of the political thought Fred has is based on theories I gleaned from proof-reading a friend’s thesis for him, and I owe him a huge debt.

This makes it sound like the book is all science and technology, but it isn’t! It’s people living in a castle a long way from anywhere else, in the middle a marsh, near the sea! And that was easy to research, because it’s in Norfolk (UK), where I lived!

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

Apart from the ten books in the Princelings series—you can probably jump in at number 7, Willoughby the Narrator, if you insist on not starting at the beginning—I have a trilogy of a science fiction series (for grown-ups), the Viridian System series. The Perihelix sees my two heroes taking three women for a space holiday, only for them to be kidnapped. The women have to learn how to pilot the spacecraft, and the men have to deal with some very nasty aliens who want something found. In the second of the series, the women have become equal partners in the men’s adventures. I suspect in the third book they may end up taking over.

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

So that third book in the Viridian Series, titled Zanzibar’s Rings (in a shameless bid to get on people’s A-Z title list), has a partial outline and several developed bits of plot that only hang together by a thread at present. It probably won’t emerge until late 2021 at the earliest.

And there are other ideas I discover when I look in my notes… a collection of short stories, the complete Dylan and Dougall adventures… I also hope to get more short stories accepted for other anthologies.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Write down ideas for other books or stories when you get them.  You won’t remember them later.
Don’t give up. Take a break… but don’t give up.

Anything else you want readers to know?


If you don’t mind, I’d like to beg anyone who thinks they’d like a pet, or a new pet, to go to a rescue or rehoming centre, and not to a store or breeder.  There are so many loving, unwanted animals, some of whom have really traumatic stories, and others who were born in rescue. They all deserve a good loving home, so please give them one for life.  Rescues will also give you help and support if you need it, long after you take the animal home. Thank you.

Where can readers find you and your books?

Author website & blog
Twitter: @jemima_pett
Facebook either ‘princelings’ or ‘viridianseries’

Amazon US/Worldwide
Amazon UK
Apple
B&N
Book Depository
Goodreads
Smashwords
Audible


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Good News & Meet the Grandfather & Granddaughter Writing Team

I want to share with you the Good News about my latest book and the final book in my Guinevere trilogy: Guinevere: The Legend. Since being released in late December/early January 2020, the book has been honored with the following awards: From: Colorado Independent Pubishers’ Association 1st Place EVVY in Fantasy/Folklore/Mythology; 2nd Place EVVY in Juvenile Fiction Middle Grade; Readers' Favorite Silver Medal in Children's Mythology/Fairy Tale; and the NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Award Winter 2020.

Finishing my middle grade trilogy of this amazing young lady and her loyal friend was a highlight of my writing career. Back in 2007, when I first conceived the idea of introducing young readers to this girl/queen, I never imagined that she and Cedwyn would soar to such heights. Throughout the trilogy, readers have experienced the two's highs and lows. While their decisions weren't always the best, each made those decisions with the best of intentions. And didn't (and don't) we all do that growing up? I won't tell you how their stories end, but I will tell you that you will be on the edge of your seat wringing your hands and wiping your tears.


 And Now,
Please welcome to Carpinello's Writing Pages,
Oliver Eade and Lara Eade.


Carpinello's Writing Pages is excited to bring you this unique interview with Oliver Eade, author, and his 9-year-old granddaughter Lara Isabelle Ruiz Eade, illustrator. Oliver is a fellow author at Silver Quill Publishing and a very prolific writer. I've posted the interviews together, so we get a better idea of how these two work together. Let's get to know these two!

Here's a bit about Oliver:


I was born a Londoner, but am now an adopted Scot. I retired in 2003 from a career in hospital medicine spanning England, Vermont, and Scotland. After waking up one night with a ghost story in my head, I took to writing adult short stories and joined the Society of Medical Writers (SOMW) and a local writers’ group, The Borders Writers Forum.

I fell in love with a Chinese girl at the age of 19 (we played piano duets together till the piano got in the way) and have never fallen out of love with her. We have a son and daughter and four beautiful granddaughters, two in Texas and two in Switzerland.

 

And here's Lara:


Illustrator Lara Isabelle Ruiz Eade, aged 9 years.

I am Lara Isabelle Ruiz Eade. I am 9 years old. I live in Leysin in Switzerland. I like tennis, running, skiing, dancing drawing, reading. My favorite subject in school is French.

 

 

 

Oliver: Why did you pick to write books for MG?

Although my ‘default’ is to write for adults, having throughout my medical career focused on difficult correspondence about illness, and academic medical writing, I find that writing for young readers inspires me to look at this puzzling world we live in afresh as if through the eyes of a child. I do believe the children that we once were are still there, somewhere within each and every one of us.

Although not confined to any particular genre, I probably feel most comfortable in that magical space between reality and fantasy; the space into and out of which children slip so easily in their play; the place of dreams and myths and legends and deeply ingrained in many cultures across the globe. 

Lara: How long have you been drawing? Who or what got you interested in drawing?

Ever since I remember I like drawing. My mummy and my elder sister taught me to draw. 

Oliver: What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?

I mostly read adult real-life fiction nowadays. Not a great fan of crime or sci-fi, although I was hooked on these genres as a youngster. I am a great admirer of Isabel Allende’s writing. Each of her novels explores human experience in a way that makes me think very deeply about her characters, what they do and why. Perhaps this is because of my medical background. She suffered a lot of tragedy in her life, and I do believe that true life experience shows through in great writing.

My other passion is photography. I took a diploma in photography in 2005 and love street photography. With COVID-19 this is no longer possible, so I am focusing on close-up work… e.g. insects and plants… and local landscapes. I also try to keep fit with gardening, and my wife and I do ballroom dancing in the kitchen! Plus I still play the piano, sometimes accompanying a violinist. 

Lara: What was your process for completing the drawings?

I did the pictures softly in pencil at first, starting with the animals. Then I added the background before painting the picture with acrylic paints.

Oliver: Tell us about The Zookeeper's Daughter and how the story came to be.

The Zookeeper’s Daughter was ‘commissioned’ by my youngest, 9-year-old, Swiss granddaughter, Lara. Her elder sister had illustrated my collection of Short Stories for Children aged 7 to 77 years, and Lara asked if she could also illustrate one of my books. We sat together and discussed an idea I had. I knew she loved animals, and that she also had moments of frustration with rules and regulations, so I suggested to her that the zookeeper’s daughter, Isabelle (Lara’s second name), might magically escape from the tedium of parental control and live free like the wild cousins of the animals in their zoo. Lara decided on the names of the characters and the connection between Scotland and Switzerland. Then COVID-19 happened. I had to get on and write the story, and quickly, for being elderly, I feared I might succumb to coronavirus. Also, the pandemic encouraged me to focus on humans failing to respect our wonderful world, thereby endangering so many species. Lara agreed that we should use her novel to think about animals endangered because of what humans are doing to our planet.

Lara: Why did you want to illustrate The Zookeeper’s Daughter?

I wanted to illustrate a book because my sister had done one. Also, I love drawing animals.

Here's a peek at The Zookeeper's Daughter:


 

 

Isabelle Scott is devastated to learn she won’t be staying with her beloved Swiss ‘mamie’ (granny) that summer because Old Jamie who works in her daddy’s zoo in Scotland, where she lives, is ill in hospital and her ‘maman’ (mummy) will be too busy in the zoo to take her.

Summer vacation with Grumpy Gramps and her annoying little brother, Joe will be unbearable. But things change after a spider emerges from a white chamois, a present from mamie, and connects Isabelle via a magical golden web to the worlds of endangered wild animals in a book specially written for her by Jamie.

                                                 

 

 Excerpt: The Bald Eagle that Isn’t Bald

Joe began to cry. At least, an adult jaguar would have called it crying, although to a human it would have sounded very strange. Isabelle licked him, as their mother had done before she got shot, and he seemed to get comfort from this.

“What are we going to do, Isabelle?” Joe asked.

“Florence won’t let us down. I know it.”

Far from going down, they began to float upwards. Together. If Isabelle had hands instead of paws, she would have held onto her little brother. Soon she realised she didn’t even have paws. She had wings instead. An angel? Had she and Joe been shot, without knowing, and turned into angels?

Up and up they went until they broke out above the forest canopy, spreading their magnificent dark wings. No fur, no spots… and no longer jaguars. Then Isabelle remembered the next chapter in Jamie’s book. The North American bald eagle, also sacred to Native Americans.


Never had Joe looked so happy as, soaring over the Chiapas jungle, with his wings spread wide, he sailed north like a big black kite, away from the forest-covered hills, and with his elder sister at his side.
He called out to her. She looked huge. Because of this, he assumed the sound he would make with his own yellow hooked beak might be loud and strong, but it came out high-pitched and squeaky like the twittering of a small bird.

“Where are we going?” he twittered. At least Isabelle understood.

“North,” she chirped. “We shouldn’t be here, so far south. Not as bald eagles, anyway.”

 

Oliver: How do you go about researching for your stories?

Mostly by searching the internet, although I also buy books relevant to the topic, e.g. ‘The Story of Roman Britain’ for my next time travel YA novel about Scotland under the yoke of Roman occupation. Sometimes, I simply ask an expert.

Lara: Do you have a favorite illustration from the book and why it is your favorite.

The American Bald Eagle. Because they can fly free in the air.

Oliver: Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

I have published over 50 short stories, many which appear in the collection Walls of Words.

My young readers’ books are Moon Rabbit, a magical journey to mythological China and the sequel, Monkey King’s Revenge; Northwards a dark fantasy set in Texas and the Arctic; and Rainbow Animal, a fun spoof on war also set in the US.

My debut adult novel A Single Petal is set in Tang Dynasty China. It explores personal loss for the main character and his journey towards spiritual enlightenment. Voices, about family love, intrigue, and deceit is set in London, whilst the dark futuristic novel The Parth Path is set in a post-apocalyptic Scotland run by women for women. The premise here is that when women abandon their true nature and try to become just like men, then they become as bad as men.

My young adult novel The Terminus is set in a London changed beyond recognition from the drab post-World War II era and which, in a post-apocalyptic world, gives humankind a second chance. My YA trilogy From Beast to God (From Beast to God, The Golden Jaguar of the Sun, and The Merging and Revelation) follows a Texan boy and Mexican girl, blending European and Native spiritual beliefs. The Kelpie’s Eyes was inspired by a visit to the famous Scottish waterfall, the Grey Mare’s Tale, and weaves Scottish mythology into a tale of sisterly love. Number Twenty-four is a coming of age romance about an unconfident Scots boy and a Chinese girl who end up together in Dogtopia, a land where dogs rule and humans are their pets.

Having a profound love of live drama, I also write plays. The Gap is about the coming together of a dysfunctional family following a natural disaster, inspired by being caught up in the Great Sichuan Earthquake (Richter 8, China) of 2008. The Other Cat is a darkly humorous take on Schrödinger’s famous feline.

Lara: Do you think that you will keep on drawing? Would you like to be an artist when you grow up?

I would like to keep on drawing but probably not be an artist for a living?

Oliver: What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story? 

Together with my eldest Texan granddaughter, Lucia, who also wants to become a doctor, I am writing an experimental book on the history of medicine. Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, In the Blink of an Eye follows the events that led to a teenager called Larry being on life support with COVID-19 and re-incarnations of the same character over 7000 years, each highlighting a major medical advance. I have also written the The Fire Hills, a YA coming of age novel linking a futuristic Scotland, denied independence by a far-right UK government, to Scotland nearly two thousand years ago under the brutal control of the Romans.

Oliver: What advice do you have for other authors?

Write from experience and from the heart. Do not be put off. Write your own story, not a ‘me-too’ book!

Oliver: Anything else you want readers to know?

Our world has reached a turning point because of climate change. If humanity refuses to see the writing on the wall, civilisation and future of Planet Earth are under threat. I’m a scientist and believe what over 99% of climate scientists are telling us. Perhaps 100% now with the latest data from the Arctic.

Oliver and Lara: Where can readers find you and your books?

My website (https://www.olivereadebooks.org)

Silver Quill Publishing 

Amazon author page

The Zookeeper's Daughter 

Amazon UK

Amazon US


 



Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Writer's Tip and Meet YA Author Jess Frankel

Welcome to Carpinello's Writing Pages. This week brings more writing tips from our authors in addition to introducing a new author this week. You be amazed at where this author has spent the last 30+ years! But first, our writing tips. As always, be sure to leave your favorite tip in the comments for our readers/writers.

Writing isn't easy! It takes time and dedication, sometimes pushing you to the very edge. Keep working and find something that helps keep your mind in the writing zone so you don't get off track.  For me, it's different types of music or just speaking to my sister so I can bounce my ideas off of her...Alica Rivoli, author of the MG fantasy Mere Enchantment.

I think the most important thing is to make writing fun. You must enjoy what you’re doing to do it well. So take a subject you adore and write about it. Every day. Until you know it’s right. On days I don’t feel like writing, I read over the last few chapters and immediate I start to edit and rewrite; since I’m a bit of a perfectionist, that always gets me in the proper mood...J.C. Whyte, author of Karmac.

It helps to have a very thick skin and learn not to take rejection personally.

Also, write for the correct reasons. You need to write because it is your passion, not because you think it is a path to riches.


Make sure that your book is ready before jumping into the publishing process. Self-published books need to be professionally edited and of very high quality if you wish to compete with the mainstream books on the market. The book market has been flooded with masses of books in recent years and you really need to deliver a good quality product if you hope to achieve commercial success...Louise Lintvelt, author of Diary of a Dancing Drama Queen.



And Now,
Please welcome YA author Jess Frankel
to Carpinello's Writing Pages



Here's a bit about Jess Frankel:

I was born in Toronto, Canada, a long time ago, and after graduating university with a BA (double major) in political science and English literature, I worked for a bus company for three years and then somehow ended up in Japan where I’ve lived for the past thirty-something years! I married a lovely lady from Osaka, we have two children, and I make my living by teaching ESL and writing at night. Some of my best known novels are the Catnip series, The Titans of Ardana, The Auctioneer, and Apocalyptia.


Why did you pick to write books for Young Adults?

I write both MG as well as YA, but stick to YA for the most part. I find that the genre itself is a very fast-moving one, something fresh and immediate, and it’s exciting. I can let my mind go free and travel anywhere. That kind of genre is practically limitless in what you can write about.


What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?

When I’m not writing, I watch movies—big superhero fan—and listen to various kinds of music to relax. That’s about it.

Tell us about Apocalyptia and how the story came to be.

Apocalyptia is a YA thriller about the discovery of a computer code that could trigger Armageddon. I wrote it because these days, everything is done by computer, and while they don’t control our lives, they play an integral part in them. Cyber warfare is nothing new, and taken to extremes, it can spell disaster. That’s what I wanted to explore.

Here's a peek at Apocalyptia:

An unreadable code. A secret too big to keep. An idea people will kill for.

Ed Sawyer, seventeen, is one of those ignored types at his school. A nerd hopelessly obsessed with all things cinematic, he lives for his next flick. He’s matched by Linda Usher, a classmate who is also into movies, as well as computer coding and hacking.

On the last day of school before summer vacation, Ed is given a flash drive by a dying man. He sees a code on it, and Linda, for all her genius, can’t decipher it, either. They are soon pursued by not only domestic terrorists—ex-members of the Department of Defense—but also by Russian agents who are after the same thing.

It seems that the creator of the program, Harry Haskins, devised it as the ultimate smart bomb, the ultimate tool for controlling the internet and every single computer program around, including those of defense.

It’s a secret that the wrong people will kill for, and Ed and Linda have to go on the run from those who would capture and kill them—and that includes citizens as well!

Only Linda has the knowledge to prevent such a catastrophe from happening. The only question is whether the duo can remain alive long enough to deliver the goods to the right people.

How do you go about researching for your stories?

I read a lot of different articles on the Internet, and then, if I don’t know, I ask those who do. For fantasy, I rely on my own imagination, but for real-world things such as computer programs, medicine, certain diseases and their symptoms, research is integral. I’ve found that readers will forgive you for certain lapses in narrative or inconsistencies in plot, but if you make a mistake on something technical, they’ll definitely call you on it!


Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

I’ve written about thirty-five other novels. Many of them deal with aliens, alien worlds, have lots of action and some romance. I don’t see why a writer can’t combine action and romance in a story and do both aspects well.

Some of novels, as mentioned above, are Catnip, which deals with transgenics, monsters, mad scientists, and so on.
 Master Fantastic is all about elemental magic. The Associate, its sequels, The Sindicate, and Stand-In, are all about superheroes, but not written in a conventional way. A little twist here and there makes them special! Check ‘em out, please!


What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

Right now, I’m working on a story about a young man going blind who develops psychometric powers—the ability to ‘read’ impressions from objects he touches. I finished it the other day, and since it’s just the first draft, it’s all very rough, but I’m having fun with it.

What advice do you have for other authors?

As trite as it sounds, I’d say write with your heart, edit without one, and be as objective as possible. Also, don’t let rejection get you down. I was rejected over a hundred times before someone took a chance on me. I’m not famous or wealthy—darn—but I am productive, and I have hopes that my books will increase in their popularity.


Anything else you want readers to know?

Just that I’d like to thank you, Cheryl, for allowing me this interview. Also, I hope that readers will take a chance on someone who’s not a big name but who writes a good story that is entertaining as well as informative.

Where can readers find you and your books?

Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter


Amazon Author Page