Author Interview: Patricia Dimsdale

How has your work as a teacher influenced your writing?

My career as a teacher has influenced me, but not the teaching aspect.  For over 30 years, I have worked with First Nations children and youth in six areas of British Columbia. Their culture has impressed me with how the people have used their natural surroundings to survive.

The first book I wrote was a graphic novel which included native culture, and many of the characters were based on people I knew. They gave their consent to be a character.

From your books, it seems that you’re very close to nature.  Have you always been that way?

Since I grew up on a remote farm, I have always been close to nature. Many of the places I worked in BC were very remote, some fly-in only. I have seen some of the most beautiful  mountain scenery in BC. Working in Pacific Ocean communities has been great, with awe inspiring waves, rocky shores, and pebble beaches. In the Cassiar mountains of the north, I hiked to the top of mountains where I sketched wild flowers and mountain sheep.

What’s your favorite book?

I don’t have a favorite book, but do have a favorite author, Jodi Thomas. She writes contemporary western romance. I like her so much that I asked her to be a character, the lady pastor, in my graphic novel. She said yes!

Where’s your favorite place to write?  What’s your writing process like?

My favorite place to write used to be on top of mountains, where I wrote poetry. Now that I live in Alberta, I write in an easy chair in my living room.

The writing process starts with a concept that I mind-map around. When something grabs me or jolts my attention, I focus on that. Then I play the main scenes out like a movie in my mind. I am visually oriented, being first an artist, so I have to see all the scenes in my head before I can write them.

Then I plot out the major scenes in a circle, with connecting lines between them, showing how each character affects others. This is the left brain work. Then I start writing directly on the computer.  I make written notes to remind me of things I want to add, and personal drama between characters.

The scenes can change, and new ideas come up, and even new characters walk in. These I jot down before forgetting them.

Real books or e-readers?

I only do real hard copy books, though I tried to add my books to Kindle, but that did not work.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing for a long time. Initially, I wrote poetry, and some of it was published. Then I took a college fiction writing course from a lady who was a successful young adult writer. She was good at inspiring us to write short stories. Another distance ed course in fiction writing also helped. The main text was Fiction Writers Workshop, which I recommend to everyone.

Do you have any other books in the works?

The book I am working on now is tentatively titled Mountains Where You Can Ride Horses. An accounting clerk quits her job, learns carpentry, and seeks to build a cabin by herself in the BC wilderness.

Be sure to check out Patricia’s books, Rough Inlet, Fissure in the Rock.  You can find her on Facebook.

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What are Facebook Memories doing to our Actual Memories?

I’m the first to admit that I adore the “On This Day” stuff from Facebook.  I love that it brings up all my posts from that day in previous years.  I get to admire my adorable children all over again, remember funny things they said that I had forgotten about, and of course see lots of pictures of my dogs. 

I’ve even fallen into the trap of feeling like I need to post good things that I’ll enjoy seeing again one, two, or five years down the road.  Yep, they saw me coming a mile away.  I’ll be using Facebook until I die.

Unfortunately, I also remember lots of things that I didn’t want to remember or that really weren’t all that memorable in the first place.  Who cares if I burnt the lasagna on November 17 of 2010?  Well, I’m sure I cared that night, but I really don’t anymore.

What this makes me wonder is if this is affecting how I remember things from my past.  When I think about my childhood, it’s this series of bright images with a lot of emotions mixed in, lots of sunshine at the edges, and some really intense colors.  My Facebook memories are only colored by what I posted.  I feel like I’m remembering these things as posts instead of actual events.

And then of course there’s the fact that not everything was recorded on social media.  Unlike some people (and you know who you are) I don’t post every single tiny detail of my life.  I’m not just talking about having a great sandwich but the ups and downs of relationships.  It seems that the events I remember happening in my adult life (even once I had FB) that I did NOT turn into statuses are inherently clearer than those that I DID post.  I can put myself back in those times and really feel what was going on inside me at the moment.  The imagery, if you will, is much more intense.  Does these mean I’m only posting inane stuff that I don’t mind sharing with the world instead of posting what really matters to me?

I also have to wonder if I’ll forget things that happened in real life because I’m relying on Facebook to remember them for me.  I can be pretty terrible at remembering to go to the post office or make an important phone call, and that has nothing to do with social media. 

Am I being affected by screen time?  Is it dulling my senses to real life?  What about my kids?  What will their childhood memories be like?  Let me know what you think.

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Dragon’s Napalm – An Ink Review

What do you do when you buy some ink that happens to come with a free pen, and you discover that you’re absolutely in love with said pen?  You buy more ink, of course!

I fell in love with the Charlie pen by Noodler’s that came with my purchase of Heart of Darkness.  These larger bottles with pens were a special edition limited run, but they can still be found out there on Amazon, eBay, and several other sites.

I couldn’t resist an ink named Dragon’s Napalm, and so I’ve now added it to my collection.  As fun as it was to watch black ink slosh around inside the pen, it’s even more fun with Dragon’s Napalm, which is rather bloodlike.  I can sign all my future contracts in blood now, yay!

The ink comes out in a brilliant cherry red, reminiscent of dragons guarding their hordes of gold deep in the mountains of 1960’s fantasy novels.  Like all Noodler’s inks that I have experienced, it flows well and is such a joy to write with.  It’s perfect for proofreading or plotting the death of antagonists.

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Author Interview with Amrita Chowdhury

What inspired you to write Let’s Sell Your First Book?

 I’ve been a part-time editor and book cover designer for the last six years now — going on seven years — apart from having a completely different day job. And in these seven years, I’ve worked with a multitude of publishers (big and Indie), authors, agents, fellow editors and every day I come across fresh writers who may or may not know how to write a book, but definitely struggle with marketing their product.

Most of the existing “bibles” of book marketing are brimming with jargon and methods that sound like Greek to new writers. And that’s what gave me the idea to compile a book that is specifically targeted towards authors trying to sell their first book! Let’s Sell Your First Book! Marketing 101 for First-Time Authors will be out for pre-order now.

 

What do you think makes a good book?

 In case of fiction, I think it’s a combination of a well-developed plot, a writing style that shows a great deal of command over the language and smart editing.

For non-fiction, I lean towards preferring books that are well-researched, well-structured and those that focus on practical information.

 

Do you feel your background in construction has influenced your writing?

Oh, I started writing made up stories when I was six or seven. I used to be able to read a storybook once and be able to recite it page to page! I can still do that, actually, although not as accurately! My education as an Architect has definitely not affected my writing style. But I like writing pieces about real-life and human relationships and many of my stories, especially the funny ones, are inspired by real-life incidents that have taken place over the course of my career.

 

What’s it like to be a food blogger?

 I come from a family of foodies who talk about lunch while having breakfast and of dinner while having lunch. Each and every one of us travels just to eat, really. I started food blogging in 2009, also when I was starting to take my writing seriously and the idea of being a writer came about. It’s been fun combining my two of my three favorite things in the world, in one neat package at The Subjectivist.

 

What’s your favorite book?

So many! The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, anything by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie or MFK Fisher.

 

Are there any other writers in your family?

 Nope. Although, my mum and literally all my friends are avid readers!

 

It looks like you travel quite a bit.  Where’s your favorite place to be?

 I do have to travel a ton for work…or otherwise. Even though I wouldn’t mind getting away for a few days to a secluded log cabin embedded in snow, I’m a city girl through and through. New York, Paris, and London are my favorites. Just the hustle bustle, the colorful people and the possibility of an adventure gets me going. I also have a soft corner for Scotland.

Cats or dogs?

 Both. I mean dogs. No wait, cats. OK, both. Arrgh, this is hard.

 

What time of day works best for you when writing?  What’s your writing process like?

 Afternoons work best for me. They’re quiet and are usually uninterrupted. I did, for a while, try writing early in the mornings, but I can’t for the life of me wake up early enough.

I’m actually a pantser, most of the time. I don’t write chapter by chapter or sequentially. On the other hand, I don’t start writing unless I have a loose structure in my head. I’ll write according to whatever idea is the strongest in my mind at that point, and then piece the stories together according to the structure that will efficiently drive the story forward. I’ll then add layers and “meat” as and when required.

Be sure to check out Amrita’s Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as her website and blog.

 

 

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Heart of Darkness – An Ink Review

I’m starting to build up a bit of collection of fountain pen ink, and I’ve not been doing my duty in telling you all about it.  Time for that to change!

I admit I’d set my fountain pens aside for a little while.  I hadn’t been keeping them properly clean, and I’d just been so busy that I hadn’t bothered.  But I got a little Christmas money and decided to spend it on something that had been on my wish list for quite some time:  Heart of Darkness by Noodler’s.

Now, I didn’t just go and buy any regular 3 ounce bottle.  No, I sprung for the 4.5 ounce bottle that comes with a free pen!  Yay!

The first thing I noticed when I opened the box is that this is one massive bottle of ink.  I’ll go through an awful lot of character development and plot rearranging before I ever run out.

The second thing I noticed was that the pen had no cartridge converter.  I looked at for a full five minutes, taking it apart and putting it back together again (thinking at first that it was missing some pieces), before I figured it out.  The Charlie pen by Noodler’s does not, in fact, have a cartridge converter nor does it need one.  The ink is allowed to slosh around freely in the pen tube.  A small canal cut into the side of the feed lets the ink flow down to the nib.  This seems very efficient to me, since no ink is wasted inside a converter.  It’s also a lot of fun to tip the pen back and forth and watch the ink when you should be writing.

As for the ink itself, the name does a good job of describing it.  This is a truly black ink, and one that is very satisfying to write with.  There are no delicate color fluctuations to write about this time; it’s simply black.  It’s a great ink for striking out your To Do list.

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Author Interview with April Presnell

Grounded in fanfiction, expanded by literary fiction in college, and continually inspired by the fandom world, April Presnell has a lot in store for her readers.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I get my inspiration from a variety of places, but often it is nature that inspires me. I think it is amazing how different landscapes can alter the way you are feeling. When I find something that leaves me awestruck I could stare at it for hours and never get bored. I usually use those feelings as a jumping point for my characters in my fantasy stories. I want my worlds to give my readers the same sense of awe I feel.

Tell us about the book you’re working on.  Can you share an excerpt?

I’m actually working on two books right now, since at the moment it’s National Novel Writing Month. The one that has my primary focus for editing is titled Seeking Utopia. It is a YA fantasy/sci-fi novel about a world that is filled with cracks; along the ground, buildings, trees, everything. When my main character steps into one of these cracks, she steps into a different dimension:

The cracks in the world had always been there, much as the sky had. While walking down any street you could see buildings, roads, trees, and of course, the cracks. They were as commonplace as the cracks in the sidewalk, though the cracks in the sidewalk did not shine with the same sort of faint, glowing light. They also were not guarded by police or, more common as of lately, blocked by a wall of concrete.

Officials had declared the Tectonic Preservation Act a huge success that would soon be implemented to protect all the tectonics of the world. The cracks and tectonics were the same thing, though I’d never been entirely sure why they were called tectonics. They never seemed like tectonics in the traditional sense, and they were absolutely everywhere. Along the sidewalk, climbing buildings, zigzagging up trees. I’d always asked how the cracks could all be connected, but from a young age my parents had always told me to stop asking questions.

That had never sat well with me. After all, asking questions was how humans had grown. But apparently humans had forgotten that, as I had always been told that my curiosity was going to get me in trouble. 

I was surer of that more than ever now, as I lingered on a street corner that was currently unguarded. As usual, KK Street was bustling with activity, even in the middle of the week. Across the street small clumps of people were cluttered around metal tables, drinking coffee that was too expensive under sunlight that was too bright. Nearby, people dressed in printed shirts with large purses were seated on the patio of a slightly below upscale restaurant. I was currently loitering near the corner of a building (an organic grocery store, to be precise), eyes glued to the small, glowing crack on the wall there.

What’s your favorite book?

This is always a tough question. I have to give Harry Potter a shout out, as it got me writing, but currently my favorite book is Room by Emma Donoghue. The writing, characters, and plot are all beautifully done.

Favorite authors?

I love Scott Westerfeld. He has really fresh ideas for the YA fantasy realm, which I really appreciate. I’ve also really been enjoying Fredrik Backman. His characters are so interesting and his writing style manages to be both incredibly humorous yet tragic at the same time.

Where’s your favorite place to write?  What’s your writing process like?

My absolute favorite place to write is this tiny independent café near my apartment. It’s very cozy, the coffee is great, and the employees know me on sight by now. I can’t focus on writing if I am at home. When I am out, especially if it is on my own, I can really focus on the page in front of me. For my novels I like to have at least a rough outline so I can do the proper character development and foreshadowing. And I always write chronologically. I’ve tried jumping around and I just completely lose the flow.

What do you do when you aren’t writing?

I’m a huge geek. I love to cosplay, go to conventions, and play video games. I am really passionate about traveling and most of my extra money goes to that. Other than that, a lot of reading, adventures with friends, and eating out. I love eating out.

Real books or e-readers?

100% books. I hate using e-readers. I like to have the book in my hands. Plus I work at a computer so much that I need a break now and then.

How long have you been writing?

Since I was about thirteen. I started with Harry Potter fanfiction. Before then I wrote here and there, but not nearly as seriously.

 

For updates from April, follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and be sure to visit her website.

 

 

 

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Author Interview with J.E. Nice

J.E. Nice is about to release the third book in The Last War trilogy, In My Bones.  I got a chance to chat with her about her love of dragons, her writing process, and her life outside of writing.

What was your inspiration for this story?

There were a couple of inspiration points for In My Bones, especially as it’s the third book in a trilogy. The first book, Matter of Time, started when I was in a new job and I was bored. I’d run out of work and they didn’t have any more to give me. I was sat next to the window and I stared out at the rain lashing against the glass. I opened up an email to myself and typed, ‘It was raining.’ That was the beginning of the trilogy, and that sentence is still in there. It led onto a scene with Del, a veteran, exiled dragonslayer meeting a company of dragonslayers seeking shelter during a storm.

A few months later, I was driving home from work with music blaring. Edge of the Earth by 30 Seconds to Mars came on and I suddenly had a vision of Del standing with sword in hand, looking down through the heat of lava and fire to a large dragon. That became my focal point for In My Bones and helped to drive the rest of the trilogy.

 

Have you always loved dragons?

Yes. I’m pretty sure my love of dragons probably evolved from a love of dinosaurs when I was small. I discovered fantasy when I was about sixteen, but I was attracted to dragons before then. When my mum bought me a fancy hobby horse, I picked a dragon instead!

 

Tell us about the third book in the The Last War trilogy.  No spoilers!

I tried to make each book in the trilogy work as a standalone. It means you can pick them up in any order, although it helps to do it in the right order! This was quite difficult with In My Bones, and it’s difficult to explain the book without giving away spoilers from the previous two, but here we go…

In the city of Drummbek, humans and dragons live side by side. But it took a war to get there. Our dragonslayers, maid and army commander have already dealt with the screams in the castle, people going missing and gangs forming to fight dragons on the Wastelands. Now an ancient dragon is ready to destroy what the humans and dragons have built.

At the beginning of In My Bones, an egg cracks open. It’s the beginning of a new life, not just for the creature inside but for the inhabitants of Drummbek. Magic is returning to the world.

The book follows characters from the previous two books, Del, Tabitha, Markkus, Andra, Johnny and Venkell, as they try to protect the city and its inhabitants from the biggest threat their world has seen in thousands of years.

What’s your favorite book?

I have a few favourites but my absolute favourite is the novella ‘The Body’ by Stephen King. I first saw the film Stand By Me when I was twelve and fell in love. I finally found the book it’s based on, ‘The Body’, and fell even more in love – the book is usually better than the film!

It’s about four twelve-year-old boys venturing out to find a dead body. It’s a rite of passage story and the two main characters are the misunderstood bad boy and the writer.

The book goes into much more detail about the characters and story, of course, and because it’s Stephen King, the writing is incredible.

 

What book are you reading at the moment?

I’ve been rereading the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch. The latest in the series, The Furthest Station, was recently released but it’s a novella so it was over pretty quick. It’s been a long time since I read the first book, Rivers of London, so I went back to that. Then I accidentally picked up the second book, Moon Over Soho. I’m sure I’ll stop after this one and go back to my massive TBR pile!

 

Favorite authors?

I tend to fall in love with stories and characters rather than the author, so one book or series from an author I’ll love but another series from the same author, not so much.

Right now, I love Ben Aaronovitch, V E Schwab (Vicious is beautiful) and I love K. S. Merbeth’s Bite. I also love Chris Wooding’s ‘The Ketty Jay’ series, and Joe Abercrombie’s ‘The First Law’ trilogy.

 

Where’s your favorite place to write?  What’s your writing process like?

I’ve almost trained myself to write anywhere! But I usually write at home, in a little office room upstairs where it’s quiet. I’ve also been known to write sat at the dining table and, if I’m struggling, down at the local coffee shop with a hot chocolate.

When I’m working on a first draft, I try to write at least a thousand words a day. When I’m in the swing of things, that only takes me half an hour. I like to plot out the story beforehand so I know where I’m going, but it’s all open to change if a character decides to take it a different way.

I prefer the writing to the editing so editing is the long slog. I try to do so many pages a day, and then towards the end, so many chapters a day. I love the feeling of the book coming together.

I also love to talk about whatever I’m writing. Even if it’s just to myself! It really helps with plot problems (showers with no pen or paper also frustratingly help with that), but also helps me to get fired up and motivated to go write.

 

What do you do when you aren’t writing?

When I’m not working on my books, I run a virtual marketing assistant business called Adminosaurus and I’m hoping to soon take my technical publishing experience to offer services for authors. I’m also building a writing resources business called Write into the Woods, after speaking to so many people over the years who bombard me with questions about how to get started writing when they’re feeling overwhelmed and a bit scared.

Outside of work, I love watching movies and TV, and I’m often very behind! As well as playing with our new Labrador puppy, Bucky, who I’m hoping will be a keen listener to plot problems in the future.

A few times a year, I drag the people I love up to Scotland (my favourite place in the world) for an adventure. Otherwise, you’ll often find me sat on Bristol Harbour, even in the depths of winter, and watching the paddle boarders go by.

 

Real books or e-readers?

Definitely real books. I have some ebooks but I can’t get the hang of reading them. You can’t beat a real book. I especially like to read before bed and the thought of staring at another screen before I sleep is enough to give me a headache.

 

How long have you been writing?

My whole life. My mum used to make up stories for me when I was a baby. Then we’d make them up together. As soon as I started learning to write, I was off! I owe it all to my mum. I haven’t ever really stopped longer than a few months, when life got in the way.

 

Do you have any other books in the works?

I have lots of ideas for future books. I’m just starting to work on a new book about two women who form a paranormal investigation team. There’ll be fairies and ghosts and time travel in there too.

In the middle of writing The Last War trilogy, I wrote another book about a werewolf hunter. I’ll be giving that a rewrite at some point and hopefully turning it into a series.

I had great trouble saying goodbye to the characters in In My Bones, so I’m also planning a couple of short stories just to delve a little further into that world.

And then there’s the pirate historical fantasy, the steampunkish fantasy following a crew on a flying ship, and the sci-fi dystopian thief.

Needless to say, there’s more to come!

 

Where can we find your book?

In My Bones will be available on Amazon (ebook and paperback), iBooks, Nook, Kobo and my Etsy shop (ebook only) from Tuesday 19 December 2017.

 

Be sure to check out her website, and don’t forget to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest updates!

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