Author Interviews

* you can find the original interviews and much more on my 'everything writing' blog (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com), the main items being the interviews (new ones posted there 7am UK time daily) as well as author spotlights, guest posts, flash fiction or poetry 7pm.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Author interview no.136: Freda Lightfoot (revisited)


Back in September 2011, I interviewed author Freda Lightfoot for my WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
I’m thrilled to bring you the one hundred and thirty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today's is with the prolific author Freda Lightfoot. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello Freda. Lovely to meet you. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Freda: I was born in Lancashire, and brought up behind my parents’ shoe shop. I still remember my first pair of clogs, made by my father, which I wore to school for many years. My parents were passionate about reading and I spent many happy hours in our local library. I would write my own stories in little red exercise books, always rather similar to what I had recently read: Enid Blyton mysteries, Chalet School, and my all time favourite, The Secret Garden. I always wanted to be a writer but this was considered a rather exotic ambition, so I qualified as a teacher and it wasn’t until I was bored with the nappy routine that I tried it again. Writing started as a hobby with articles and children’s stories. But after I opened a bookshop it again fell by the wayside as I was busy bringing up my kids and helping prop up the family budget. After ten years of this, with my husband better established in his own job, I sold the business and we moved out onto the remote Lakeland fells. Here I became thoroughly involved in rural life. Fortunately the weather was so bad I was able to stay indoors a good deal and write, short stories, articles, serials, children’s novels, puzzles, anything that took my fancy. The object was to send them out faster than they came back. Not easy, but eventually I learned to target my efforts and sold over forty short stories and articles.
Morgen: I love the idea of you beating the rejections and it is all about practice, honing your craft. What genre do you generally write now and have you considered other genres?
Freda: I write historical romantic fiction in some form or another. When it was out of fashion I wrote family sagas. Now it is very much back in fashion so I am writing both, which is a good way for me to keep my writing muscles fresh.
Morgen: It definitely is popular. I met three agents at this July’s Winchester Writers’ Conference and they all wanted more historical (and crime). What have you had published to-date? Can you remember where you saw your first books on the shelves?
Freda: I’ve had over 35 books published to date. I rather lose track of the exact count. Following my success with the short stuff I tried my hand at novels, and after a couple of rejections my third historical romance was accepted by Mills & Boon. After that I turned to family sagas set in the early part of the twentieth century. I remember seeing a whole rack of Luckpenny Land in terminal 1 at Manchester airport, and was absolutely overwhelmed.
Morgen: :) Have you ever seen a member of the public (whom you don’t know!) reading your book… in any unusual locations?
Freda: Thankfully, no. That would be terribly embarrassing.
Morgen: Really? I know one person (a colleague called Mary at the Red Cross shop I volunteer at) who is a big reader of your novels and her eyes lit up at the mention of your name. As they did when I mentioned Anna Jacobs, who I interviewed back in July, which is how I knew I’d get that reaction. Given that you’re so established, how much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Freda: It is a fact that most writers, other than the big names, are entirely responsible for their own publicity. Building one’s ‘brand’ is very important, and I’ve done hundreds of talks, workshops, and courses over the years. These days I promote mainly online, and although it is very demanding on time I would much rather spend writing, it is an essential part of the job. Fortunately, it can also be quite good fun.
Morgen: <keeps fingers crossed that this is included in that> Do you write under a pseudonym? If so why and do you think it makes a difference?
Freda: The first novels I wrote for Mills & Boon were written under the pseudonym Marion Carr. Since then I’ve used my own name.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Freda: Most of my backlist is now up on Kindle and other platforms. I was fortunate in getting many of the rights reverted so published them myself, and I must say they are selling surprisingly well. They really took off a few months ago. I have a Kindle myself and absolutely love it. So now I have an ebook habit to feed as well as a print one.
Morgen: Not a hard habit to endure, I’m sure. :) What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
Freda: There is nothing to compare with the sale of your first book. That ranks alongside the birth of my children, the day I fell in love, my wedding day, and such like wonderful events in my life. But an acceptance is still a joy and also a relief that you haven’t lost whatever talent you might have.
Morgen: Presumably you’ve had some rejections along the way. If so, how do you deal with them?
Freda: Every writer suffers rejections. You deal with them by drying the tears, put on a pot of coffee, then write another book taking any criticisms into account. Persistence, patience and practise are the three essential ps. I was fortunate that having cut my teeth on shorter work. my first saga, Luckpenny Land, had three offers for it, so that was hugely exciting to have a telephone auction. Writing the second book though, was quite terrifying. Writing is never easy.
Morgen: But you’re practiced at it now. :) What are you working on at the moment / next?
Freda: I am just getting started on the next saga, title undecided, in fact much of the plot is undecided at this stage. I have an overview, a beginning, a middle and an end, although how I will get there has yet to be determined. I’m not a great plotter and planner. Once I have an idea of the main characters and the premise I start writing into the mist and see what comes. Usually by chapter four and five I know where I’m going. After this, will come another biographical historical. The desire to write the next book always acts as a spur to work hard on the current one.
Morgen: Most of the authors I’ve interviewed have said they don’t plan much and as the characters to have a tendency to take over it’s probably wise. Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Freda: Writing is my job, and one that I love, so I keep to a strict routine. I award myself a holiday each year, and a little time off at weekends, and in the summer. Other than that, yes, I write 7 or 8 hours a day for at least five days a week, more as the deadline approaches.
Morgen: Wow. So I don’t suppose from writer’s block...
Freda: I don’t have time for writer’s block, not if it stops me writing. I accepted long since that writing is a painful process, one that even after 37 or 38 books, doesn’t get any easier. That feeling can still sneak in that I can’t really do this, that what I’m writing is rubbish. But as I say this for every book, it’s something I just have to live with and keep going. I tell myself that it will get better, that it doesn’t need to be perfect in the first draft, that it can be revised later. But I can’t improve a blank screen. Write first, criticism and edit afterwards.
Morgen: I’m sure it’ll reassure anyone reading this (it does me) that it can still be a struggle even after so much writing, although you clearly love it. One of my Monday night poets says she finds writing tortuous but she wouldn’t want to do anything else (nor would I, although I’ve only really found scriptwriting hard enough not to want to do any more). I mentioned characters earlier on, do you have a method for creating yours, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Freda: The appearance of a character can come about as you write, but I like to work out in advance what kind of people they are. What is their main characteristic, and their major flaw? Often the two facets are linked. Independence can easily slip into stubborn obstinacy. Everyone has faults and it is these human failings which can bring a character alive for a reader, and explain their motivation for behaving as they do. Back story is also important, and how they relate to other people. We do not behave towards to our daughters, for instance, in the same as we do with our father. Nor do they see us in the same light, so considering other viewpoints about a character can help to round them out.
Morgen: Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
Freda: My editor. But even she doesn’t see it until it pleases me first. I am my stiffest critic.
Morgen: Not a bad thing at all. :) I’m the same really. If I’m not happy with it I don’t email it to Rachel until I am, otherwise I’m wasting her time which will ultimately cost me more in money and time as she’ll find more errors and I’ll have to correct it all anyway. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Freda: I revise as I write for the first 30 - 40% of the book. Once the foundation is built and I know where I’m going, I sprint to the finish, or almost. I like to reach the end, although the final chapter might be a bit rough at this stage, then I go back and revise the whole thing, a notebook beside me to keep track of loose ends that need tying up, details which need checking, and so on. Scenes may get rewritten or moved, and I go over the book as many times as is necessary till it is as polished and perfect as I can make it. This is a method that works for me. But everyone has their own system.
Morgen: I found, certainly with my big chick-lit (the first draft was 117,540 words!) that four times was plenty, although I was still finding ‘thought’ instead of ‘though’ and so on. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Freda: To be prepared to work hard and practise their craft until they’ve learned all the techniques and tenets of the novel. Many aspiring novelists make the mistake of sending work out too soon. Perhaps excited by the thrill of actually reaching the end of the story, they rush it out, thinking it’s ready to be seen. Wrong! Put it away for a month, then look at it again. I guarantee you will want to revise and improve it. You wouldn’t expect to master a musical instrument quickly, and even though we might all possess writing skills, they need to be honed and adapted to suit a market. It isn’t enough to write beautiful prose, or to be clever with words and grammar, we have to be good story-tellers and to be commercial. Study where you think your book will fit in the market. Which shelf would you expect to find it? And who would read it? Then you have made it as perfect as it can possibly be, then you can send it in. And start on your second novel at once.
Morgen: Absolutely, I often compare writing to piano playing. Who would sit you in front of a Steinbeck and expect you to play a concerto? We shouldn’t expect that of ourselves. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Freda: I garden, go on long walks, do yoga, watch drama on TV, and read, read, read. Never enough time in my day for reading.
Morgen: :) Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
Freda: I do a lot of social networking as it seems to be essential these days. I’m on Twitter and Facebook, Goodreads and Writer’s CafĂ© on Kindle Boards, among others.
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Freda: My latest two hardbacks are published at the end of September.
THE PROMISE, which has two time strands.
Chrissie Kemp visits her grandmother and discovers a shocking family secret that is about to throw her family into turmoil. As the truth unfurls, the passion, emotion and astounding love that blossomed in San Francisco over forty years earlier is revealed. Georgia Briscoe is in love with British sailor Ellis Cowper but unwillingly betrothed to Drew Kemp, a businessman mired in the San Francisco underworld. Georgia plans escape to be with the man she loves, but then comes the earthquake…
THE QUEEN AND THE COURTESAN, which is the last in the Marguerite de Valois trilogy.
Henriette d’Entragues isn’t satisfied with simply being the mistress of Henry IV of France, she wants a crown too. Despite his promises to marry her, the King is obliged by political necessity to ally himself with Marie de Medici, an Italian princess who will bring riches to the treasury. But Henriette isn’t for giving up easily. She has a written promise of marriage which she intends to use to declare the royal marriage illegal. All she has to do to achieve her ambition is to give Henry a son, then whatever it takes through intrigue and conspiracy to set him on the throne.
Morgen: Thank you so much Freda. I really appreciate your time, and I love your covers. :)
Born in Lancashire, England, Freda Lightfoot has been a teacher, bookseller and smallholder. Moving out on to the remote Lakeland fells for a ‘rest!’ she became thoroughly involved in rural life, kept sheep and hens, various orphaned cats and dogs, built drystone walls, planted a small wood and even learned how to make jam. Fortunately the weather was so bad she was forced to stay indoors a good deal and wrote and sold over forty short stories and articles. She followed these with five historical romances for Harlequin Mills & Boon. Inspired by this tough life on the fells, and her passion for history, she has published over thirty-five family sagas and historical novels. She has now given up her thermals to build a house in an olive grove in Spain, where she produces her own olive oil. To find out more about Freda visit her website or blog, or find her on Facebook  and Twitter.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the questions. You complete them, I tweak them where appropriate (if necessary to reflect the blog ‘clean and light’ rating) and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.
Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Author interview no.135: Stephen Brayton (revisited)


Back in September 2011, I interviewed author Stephen Brayton for my WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to the one hundred and thirty-fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today's is with multi-genre author Stephen Brayton. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author further. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found at here.
Morgen: Hello, Stephen. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Stephen: I know many things, for I walk by night. I know many strange tales, hidden in the hearts of men and women who have stepped into the shadows. Yes ... I know the nameless terrors of which they dare not speak.
What? Oh, sorry, my mind wanders a bit now and then.
Morgen: Hee hee… I can tell we’re going to get on. :)
Stephen: Actually, this opening to the old Whistler radio program is not a bad description of writers. It fits us all in one fashion or another. The shadows people have stepped into need not necessarily be bad (unless you’re reading my first book Night Shadows), but can be any area of life with which we become familiar. The nameless terrors can be the secrets we, as writers, use to create plots. Write what you know, or do research to learn about what interests you. For me, I instruct martial arts so my heroine in Beta is also a martial artist who uses her skills during her cases. I started writing as a child but during the free hours at an Illinois radio station where I worked right out of college, I became serious about completing a story and thinking about the possibility of one day being published.
Morgen: A martial arts instructor… I’d better be nice to you. :) What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Stephen: I’ve written action mysteries and horror / paranormal. Currently, I’m working on a thriller. I’ve thought about erotic science fiction, but then I’d have to research alien physiognomy and that seemed like too much work. Beside, do you really want to read about a starship captain making out with some strange looking alien? Oh, but if you’re James Kirk it’s all right, is that what you’re saying?
Morgen: It did sound familiar. :) What have you had published to-date? If applicable, can you remember where you saw your first books on the shelves?
Stephen: Do my name and picture on FBI wanted posters count as being published? Uh…let’s not get into details on this one, okay? Seriously, Night Shadows was released back in February and Beta is due out on October 1. I also have four short stories contracted but haven’t been given a release date. The book shelves are virtual. Night Shadows can be read on your Kindle or Nook or you can download it to your computer.
Morgen: Oh yay, that’s the route I’m going. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
Stephen: I’ve won many taekwondo tournaments. I remember this one in Chicago where I accidentally punched this guy in the face…
Morgen: Er… I guess something not to put on your CV. :)
Stephen: Oh, you mean writing contests? I’ve entered several over the years. I’m still waiting to hear if I’ve won.
Morgen: I hate to be the bearer of bad news but…
Stephen: As for helping in a writer’s success, I think if you take the time to write something, polish it up, submit it for consideration, you’ve helped yourself. Whether you take home a tangible prize is another matter, but you’ve learned something and you’ve continued to practice your craft. So maybe in the long run you gain.
Morgen: And if you don’t win or get placed, you still have the story to send elsewhere. :) What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
Stephen: After I read the email from the senior editor saying Echelon Press would like to publish my books, I was stunned. I had read three rejections in the previous three weeks and when I saw the email, I figured it was the fourth. I read it three times before it sank in they wanted to publish me. I called Dad to tell him even before I answered the email.
Morgen: Yay! :) Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Stephen: Do you remember the scene in The Godfather where the guy wakes up next to a horse’s head? Keep that in mind the next time anybody thinks about sending me a rejection. Oh, of course I’ve received rejections. Emails, cards, and form letters. I once received a rejection email thirty minutes after I sent the query letter. I print the emails and bundle them up with those I get through the mail and I keep them to remind me where I’ve been. The pile helps me persevere.
Morgen: Absolutely. It must feel more rewarding than having an easy ride. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Stephen: I’m trying to get my cat to roll over and play dead, but since he lies around most of the day anyway, it’s hard to tell if he’s actually doing the trick or just being lazy.
Morgen: You could write a book on that… 101 uses for a dead… oh no, it’s been done already. Bond, Simon Bond. :)
Stephen: What? Oh, you mean writing projects.
Morgen: Ah yes, if it’s not too much trouble, it is kind of what the good folks have come here for. :)
Stephen: Well, the sequel to Beta is completed and I’m in the middle of a thriller. I have a few more ideas for the characters in Night Shadows, but I’m having difficulty with the second book. I’ve also written down starter outlines for a few other ideas.
Morgen: You say you’re having difficulty… what’s your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it?
Stephen: Sure I get writer’s block. I then proceed to the nearest bar, drink eight shots of the cheapest whiskey and pick a fight with the two toughest looking dudes in the place. Clears up the problem right quick. When I wake up, the writer’s block has magically disappeared… along with a couple teeth and… I didn’t know my leg bent that way. Actually, I think writer’s block shouldn’t be looked at as a bad thing. For me, it tells me I need to think about the scene or chapter a bit more, let the ideas sift through my mind, coalesce into something good. Sometimes it lasts a few minutes or a few days. However, when I get back to writing, then the product is a lot better than it would have been it I’d have forced it.
Morgen: It does usually work that way. The bar scene by the way… ever written it down? :) Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Stephen: For me, not plotting stories is like spelunking a complex cave system with no map and only ten matches. I can’t do it. I have to have some idea where I’m going. However, I’m not bound by the outline. It changes as I write the story because as I’m moving along, the circumstances will bring up problems or challenges to work around so the outline may alter.
Morgen: Most authors say that it’s a bit of both; I guess that’s how our brains work (or something like that). Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Stephen: I’ve discussed this with friends many times. From where do you get your characters? Look around you every day. There are characters walking the streets, sitting in your office, riding the elevator, or eating in your favourite restaurant.
Morgen: (in a bar) :)
Stephen: I work nights in a motel so can you imagine the types of people I see come through the door on occasion? During my research on Beta, I met all sorts of people, some by accident, or while walking along the sidewalk, and every single one of them, in one form or another, went into the story. I base all my characters on some actual person, or a combination of people.
Morgen: A combination of a person, now that I’d like to read. :) What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Stephen: First, I eat a steak and lobster dinner with a nice wine. Then an hour’s massage, followed by a bedtime story… well, that only happens on the weekends. Actually, I’ll tell you the truth about what happens before I write. I get this mental itch or urge that is very difficult to resist. It distracts me from anything else I’m doing. If you’re not a writer, you’re thinking, “This guy is losing his mind.” And you’d be right. It’s the unshakeable desire to fire up the laptop or grab a pen. A few nights ago I couldn’t get this idea out of my head so I went and did a little research to temporarily quell the itch.
Morgen: To accompany the steak and lobster dinner with nice wine, before the massage… or perhaps during, what sort of music do you listen to… when you write?
Stephen: Usually, NPR plays classical music late at night with a guy who sounds like he’s three blinks away from falling asleep. It’s good background noise but nothing too distracting.
Morgen: NPR does good podcasts too. :)
Stephen: I’ve tried Top 40 a few times but give me Bach or Beethoven or Rachmaninoff. I can’t tell the difference between their songs. They all sound the same to me anyway. (Yes, I know I’ve just offended the classical fans. Sorry.)
Morgen: I’m a classics fan but there aren’t many I can spot straight away. My mum’s a listener for longer than I’ve been alive and she can’t… I think it’s just like that… like wine drinker – can you really tell the label by smelling it? Ah, “nice wine”, maybe you can. :) What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Stephen: I’ve never tried second person which I think would be difficult. I’d like to try fourth person, which to my best guess would be one of my multiple personalities taking over the writing. Actually, most of my projects are done in first person. I don’t think I ever made a conscious decision about it, but just went with what seemed appropriate at the time.
Morgen: Fourth? Wow. You have me there. Second person is great… my favourite actually. It’s very direct to the reader so not for all tastes. Maybe take a look at my sentence starts page and try continuing one of the 2ppovs. :) Do you use prologues / epilogues? What do you think of the use of them?
Stephen: Yes, I do use them, although I try to buy the cheaper prescriptions from Canada. No, wait, that’s the medication I take for, uh… never mind.
Morgen: Ouch that sounds painful. :)
Stephen: I’ve always thought prologues shouldn’t be an alternate first chapter. A prologue shows us something that has happened or may happen later and should keep the reader interested enough to want to know more about what’s going on. Then later, the story ties into that prologue. Too many epilogues are just alternate final chapters, but they should connect to the plot, not just be the guy riding off into the sunset ending. An example would be a monster bug story where the epilogue shows a lone egg getting ready to hatch another bug.
Morgen: Which leads nicely into the sequel. :) In which country are you based and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Stephen: I’m based on this deserted island and the problem I have is the Professor can never find enough coconuts to build a powerful enough transceiver so I can talk to people. And the native chimps don’t quite comprehend the whole Kindle idea.
Morgen: I could so go to a deserted island… as long as I had broadband or an endless supply or pen / paper. I listen to Desert Island Discs and would love to be a subject one day… when I’m famous (old) enough. :) Ooh, sorry nodded off there for a minute… no reflection on this interview, just…
Stephen: No, I’m in the heartland of Iowa so I have to use a lot of Internet social networking and visit writers’ conferences. Des Moines is the closest metro area if you count metro as being where the traffic report commercials last longer than the actual traffic report.
Morgen: I walk to work so I tend not to pay much attention but we have too many incident, accidents, roadworks etc. I’ve heard of Des Moines, sounds nice. :) Where can we find out about you and your work?
Stephen: Ask the local judge and prosecutor; they have reams of stuff about me… wait, don’t do that, they’ll tell you skewed versions of what really happened.
Morgen: Your secret is safe with me.
Stephen: My website is http://www.stephenbrayton.com. Here you can find out about my books and the buy links. My writing blog is http://stephenbrayton.wordpress.com where I also post author interviews along with my cockeyed views on writing. If you’d like a book reviewed, my review blog is http://braytonsbookbuzz.blogspot.com. If you’re really nice to me I might be your friend on Facebook and Twitter.
Morgen: Ooh great, I know a couple of my interviewees would like their books reviewing (175. Gregory Allen and 194. Sarah Baethge)… and I’m sure there would be more. :) What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Stephen: Depression, despair, failed marriages, rotten kids, liver disease, heart palpitations, and finally a long, slow agonizing death due to endless blog, radio, and television interview questions.
Morgen: Rosy then. :)
Stephen: (Just joking here. I actually love answering questions.)
Morgen: Hoorah, I inflicted loads on you. :)
Stephen: Seriously, the eBook explosion and writing websites present more opportunities and more challenges. One of the biggest challenges for serious writers is nowadays any hack can splatter a bunch of words on a page, upload it onto the Internet and sell it for whatever a sucker will pay. New authors have to fight hard for their work to be recognized as quality, especially if they’re selling online. It’s like dating sites. The profile may have you thinking you’re going to meet Miss October but the reality could be you’re about to date Miss Troglodyte.
Morgen: Another story in the making… Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Stephen: Haven’t you learned enough already? Would you be interested in my shoe size? Boxers or briefs? Favourite sleeping position? I mean, aren’t you getting a little personal with these questions?
Morgen: There’s always the inside leg measurement. :)
Stephen: What? Oh, sorry, lost my focus for just a second. I really want to thank you for having on your show, I mean blog, and I hope your audience will take the time to check out my books (surely they can scrape up three dollars), and let me know what you think of them. (Be nice, my feelings get hurt easily.)
Morgen: Given the earlier Taekwondo reference I think they know better. :) You’re very welcome, by the way.
Stephen L. Brayton is a Fifth Degree Black Belt certified instructor in the American Taekwondo Association. He’s worked as a broadcaster, graphic designer, and motel night auditor. Other than writing and martial arts, he enjoys fishing, racquetball, and his three nieces, although not necessarily in that order.
Morgen: Black Belt… er, yes definitely be nice to him. :)

UPDATE JUNE 2012: Stephen's sequel to 'Beta' (Alpha) is due for release August 2012.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the questions. You complete them, I tweak them where appropriate (if necessary to reflect the blog ‘clean and light’ rating) and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.
Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Author interview no.134: Rosie Cochran (revisited)


Back in September 2011, I interviewed author Rosie Cochran for my WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to the one hundred and thirty-fourth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today’s is with Christian suspense novelist and memoirist-to-be Rosie Cochran. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello Rosie. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Rosie: I’m an accidental writer. I didn’t set out to be one. I became one to ward off boredom and to keep my mind fresh. It began when our twins reached the “terrible two” stage—times two.
Morgen: :)
Rosie: We were living in a remote tribal village at the time. Civilization was a 3½ hour flight by a small Cessna plane over nothing but jungle away from our home. Home was a jungle hut with mud and pole walls and a palm roof. Running water meant the water was run up in buckets from the river, poured into our water barrels, and pumped up to higher barrels to finally mimic real running water. We were remote and primitive.
Morgen: A bit like Northampton then…
Rosie: I was in the language learning process of the Maquiritare tribal language when our twins reached that significant age of two. The terrible twos times two. My goal in life became to keep them out of trouble, which meant keeping them within sight. Language learning was tabled. I became bored.  That’s when writing became my friend. A pad of paper went with me as I kept the twins in sight. I began to write and fell in love with it. Out of the terrible twos came my first novel, “Betrayed,” written on a pad on my knee as I watched our twins play.
Morgen: ‘Betrayed’ sounds intriguing. And you could write something about twins (my mum / aunt have just celebrated their 80ths!). What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Rosie: Christian Suspense. I’m strongly considering writing a memoir on our time as missionaries.
Morgen: Memoirs are very popular, especially in the Red Cross shop I work in. :) What have you had published to-date? If applicable, can you remember where you saw your first books on the shelves?
Rosie: To-date, I have written three novels: Betrayed; the sequel, Identity Revealed; and my newest novel, A Murder Unseen.
Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Rosie: As an indie writer, marketing falls solely to me. This is where my learning curve has been stretched. At least now I am living stateside which makes marketing easier.
Morgen: Presumably not in a hut. :) Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Rosie: A Murder Unseen is available in Kindle format at www.Amazon.com, both in the USA and the UK. I would like to get the other books into Kindle as well, but those projects are still a ways down on my To Do List! Watch my website for updates on that! (http://www.booksbyrosie.net)
Morgen: Ooh great. :)
Rosie: Warning to the British: though British by birth and raised in Canada, I am now an American and you'll probably think they've corrupted my spelling and grammar as I now write "American!" (Yes, even down to their still strange in my mind placement of quotation marks!)
Morgen: :)
Rosie: The process?
Morgen: Ah yes…
Rosie: Time-consuming. It would be easier to have someone do it for me, but I really want to learn the process. Time will tell whether I am successful in the conversion or not!
Morgen: I’m going through that at the moment. My editor Rachel has offered to do it (and she still may) but I have a lot I want to ‘publish’ so I’m learning from the ground up. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Rosie: At the moment I am working on formatting “A Murder Unseen” into Kindle format, as well as marketing the book. I am beginning to write the memoir, though am only a few chapters in and undecided as to the direction I want to take with it. Should it be a memoir? Should I write it in first person? Second person? Or from the viewpoint of a young Maquiritare girl watching the strange white people moving into her village? I’m still mulling over the possibilities.
Morgen: Ooh second person! I love second person. I’d say go for that (but I’m biased) but the young girl’s pov sounds good too. I really like your cover by the way. :) Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Rosie: Most days. I do work a full-time job, so time is precious. Between story ideas and two blogs I maintain, it’s rare that I don’t write something each day.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Rosie: I keep reading that I am supposed to plot out my stories. I always even plan to. It just never seems to work that way. It’s the seed of an idea that gets planted in my mind that just won’t go away and begs to become a story. Sooner or later, I find I’ve written part of a story with the storyline evolving as it goes along. It’s just so much fun. As the story grows, I do write out the timeline, filling in the holes, and watching for inconsistencies. I also write out information for each character: physical descriptions, character summaries, and any idiosyncrasies I’ve given them.
Morgen: I plotted the first http://nanowrimo.org novel I did but it didn’t stick much to it so haven’t really planned anything since then, and as you say it’s fun. :) Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Rosie: As the story becomes real to me, I write out summaries for my characters. They usually become a blend of the characteristics of people I know. This makes them real to me, which in turn, makes them believable. I work at not making them ‘me’.
Morgen: You sound very organised. Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
Rosie: My mother. Mothers are always your best fan, right?
Morgen: Often, but not in my case (my stuff’s too dark although I do send her the lighter stuff and articles I’ve had published).
Rosie: And then my sister, because she’s got the nerve to edit it to pieces for me, to point out my strange way of wording things, and to help me sound more American—and less like a British-born, Canadian-raised, 18-year resident of Venezuela, who now is an American citizen living in the USA!
Morgen: With lots of experience. :) Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Rosie: I’m a full-time secretary. I see something in writing and I instinctively edit it. Fully-formed can still be edited! I have to get to the point when I say enough is enough—and just stop.
Morgen: I’m a secretary (part-time) too. That’s me to a tee… four edits and that’s it (less actually now Rachel’s involved). :) What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Rosie: Chapters begin more like visual scenes in my mind. It’s a movie script playing before me before I sit down. The scene comes together with actions and words—and then it’s time to sit down, pen in hand, and get it into words.
Morgen: Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
Rosie: Having begun writing on paper, I wasn’t sure if I could write creatively on the computer. At first, I just couldn’t. Time has a way of changing things. Now I prefer the computer. Creative juices flow into it!
Morgen: Don't they, although apparently we use different parts of the brain for each format so maybe keeping a mixture is good. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Rosie: I love writing. I only wish I could actually make a living doing it!
Morgen: Don’t we all. Just keep going – as long as you enjoy it that’s the main thing. What do you like to read?
Rosie: I’ve raised four boys. No girls. Romance movies are rare in our home. Action movies reign. Therefore, I guess it should be no surprise that I love reading suspense and mysteries.
Morgen: Me too (older brother, no sisters), nothing wrong with that. :) You mentioned a real mixture of places earlier, in which country are you based now and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Rosie: Though being raised in Canada, I married an American, became an American, and am based in the USA. I feel it is a plus for marketing. Of course, I’m continually watching my spelling and grammar to keep it American, instead of Canadian, as this is where I live.
Morgen: I hadn’t realised they were different. :) Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
Rosie: I do go to different forums. I have found them helpful, full of great advice, though my time is so limited at present that I don’t get to go to them as much as I’d like. Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are great. They keep and build relationships which are invaluable for an author’s platform.
Morgen: They are great, aren’t they. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Rosie: There are several places you can find me, depending on which avenues are most comfortable for you. You can follow me on any of the options below:
-        My Website: Books by Rosie (unfortunately only set up for purchases in the continental USA)
-        My blogs: Rosie Rambles On and Writing to Marketing
-        My Amazon.com author page
-        USA: Amazon.com
-        I know they are available at Amazon.com in Canada & the UK, but am not sure of the links
-        Twitter @RosieCochran
Morgen: Thank you Rosie and good luck with your new book. Oh and the UK link is Amazon.co.uk (currently just £4.98) and Canada is Amazon.ca. :)
Welsh-born Rosie Cochran and her husband, Matt, served as missionaries in Venezuela for eighteen years with New Tribes Mission. Currently Rosie is enjoying her varied role as pastor's wife, home-schooling mom to their youngest two sons, and full-time secretary at their former home church. Rosie is the proud mother of four sons.
Rosie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Intercultural Ministries from NTM. She holds NACPB Certification in Bookkeeping, QuickBooks and Microsoft Excel, and is a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor. Her hobbies include writing, blogging, and website design.
Rosie has written three books: Betrayed, Identity Revealed (a sequel to Betrayed), and A Murder Unseen.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the questions. You complete them, I tweak them where appropriate (if necessary to reflect the blog ‘clean and light’ rating) and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
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