Monday, 24 February 2014

Meet A Writer Monday Presents...

... Dawn Napier

1. Tell me about your book, Storyland, and where you got your inspiration for it?

Storyland is a horror/fantasy novel about the end of the world.  Human nightmares and fairy tales have come to life and want to kill everything that moves.  The idea grew organically from a discussion on an Internet forum about dragons.  I made the comment that fantasy stories about dragons are almost always set in medieval times, and someone else responded that in modern times our weaponry would make dragons less of a threat, so the story wouldn't be as exciting.  I thought that that was not necessarily true, if you took away some of our technological advances and gave dragons the sort of slinky, sly lifestyle of a coyote.  Coyotes can survive anywhere, even in big cities.  I wrote a few short stories set in this world I envisioned, where elements of fantasy would have the advantage over human technology.  Those short stories became Part One of the book, and then in Part Two, I blended elements of Part One to create Alicia's own personal story.

2. Do you admire your own work?

Most of the time.  I'm not completely satisfied with it, and I know I have a long way to go.  But I know I can entertain people, and the more I do it the better I get.

3. Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or movie?

I guess I could be a female version of Walter Mitty.

4. What’s the most blatant lie you’ve ever told?

"I love your poem.   Don't change a word."  This was to a frenemy.  I was a very passive-aggressive teenager.

5. What sort of Starbuck’s coffee would your characters order? Simple coffee, complicated soy-non-fat-extra-espresso-half-caff-nightmare?

Alicia would definitely get plain black coffee or a shot of espresso.  She doesn't have time to sit around and sip a latte.  Places to go, vampires to kill.

6. What’s your Porn Star name? (To get this you add the name of your first pet to the name of the street on which you lived as a child.)

Peaches Parker.

7. Which book do you wish you’d written?

A Game of Thrones.  A Song of Ice and Fire is the most amazing series, so rich and deep.

8. What was the point you realised that being an author was no longer a dream but a reality?

I don't think I ever treated it like a dream.  Being an author always felt like something that I was going to make happen eventually.  There were times when it felt like a very distant reality, but a reality nonetheless.  I'm still not 100% where I want to be yet, but I'm getting closer all the time.

9. How do you handle working with an editor without letting pride get in the way?

After the first five hundred rejection slips, you've already had a lot of practice at swallowing pride.   
For me, the initial viewing is the worst.  I take a deep breath, open the file and read as fast as I can.  It's like ripping off a bandage.  Once I've done that, I can go back and approve the corrections without fuss.

10. How do you deal with brilliant ideas that pop up while you’re writing something else?

I have a special notebook where I jot down ideas as they happen.  If it's a piece that I know will be very short, like a single day to write, I'll take a break from the main project to write it really quick. 

11. How did you chose your genre?

I didn't, not consciously.  I started writing stories when I was six or so, but most of them were just imitations of cartoons I'd watched.  The first really original story I ever wrote was a ghost story.  I'd had a scary thought, and I wrote it down to get it out of my head.  The story scared the hell out of me, and I loved it.  I've been addicted to horror and dark fantasy ever since.

12. What sort of environment do you write in? (e.g. quiet room, a cupboard with headphones on, in a death match with the cat for control of the keyboard)

I write longhand in a spiral notebook, anywhere I can.  Whenever I have more than a few minutes to sit still, I'm scribbling.  I write at the library, on the couch in front of the TV, sitting in the middle of the kids' bedroom floor supervising their cleaning skills, anywhere at all.

13. Would you rather be the good guy or the bad guy in a movie?

Definitely the good guy.  Good guys get to live more often, and when they die it's always in a really meaningful way.

14. What was your favourite subject at school?

Cultural anthropology.  I had a teacher who I loved.  He would have made a good Dead Poet Society-type protagonist.

15. Do you prefer blue or black inked pens?

Black ink, definitely.  I like a dark, thick line.

16. Is there a message in your novels you want the readers to grasp?

I write to entertain my readers, and any message that they find that pleases them is good enough for me.  I often have a theme in mind when I'm polishing the story, but it might not be the same as what a reader could discover.


"Creatures of fantasy and nightmare have returned to the real world, and human beings are now an endangered species. Fairytale monsters have come to life, and the lessons they teach are grim.
Out of the ashes of civilization's ruin rises Alicia, a gritty young girl born and raised in this terrifying new world. With a pistol in one hand and her trusty machete in the other, Alicia forges through nightmare after nightmare in search of a safe haven and trustworthy friends."

“What’s your name?” Alicia asked the gorgon.
“Janelle.  You?  I’m guessing it’s not really Samaritan, first name Good.”
“No.  It’s Alicia.  Thanks—for being here.”
“Nah, thanks to you for being so sweet.  Most folks don’t even look at little Drake, let alone give a crap what happens to him.”
Alicia walked over to the beat-up cardboard box and looked down at the baby again.  Drake stirred and yawned, exposing a pink forked tongue.
“The magic’s getting stronger, isn’t it?” Alicia whispered.


About Dawn

Dawn Napier grew up in Waukegan, Illinois and upstate New York. Her earliest memories are of re-imagining favorite cartoons on paper and inventing her own. She has a husband, three kids, and a ridiculous number of pets. She reads adventure fantasy, horror, science-fiction, or anything else that takes her away from it all.


Monday, 17 February 2014

Meet A Writer Monday Presents...

...Tiffany Haisten

1. Tell me about your book Red is the Color of... and where you got your inspiration for it? 

My book is about a young girl who learns that the thing that makes her different, her red hair, is the thing that makes her special. The inspiration for my book came a few years into my teaching career; I saw many students struggling with self acceptance, especially after being bullied. I wanted to show them that we are all different, and we are all of value.

2. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or is it all imagination?

I based the book on real life conversations that I had with my mother over the years about my struggle to accept my red hair. I often was teased about my looks and my mother was instrumental in helping me accept all the wonderful differences that made me..Me! Although ,just as many authors tend to do, there is always a bit of imagination added here and there.

3. Is there a message in your children's book that you want the readers to grasp?

I want children to understand that they are perfect just the way they are. They don't have to be like the person next to them to be worthy of love and respect. Each of us is a masterfully created piece of artwork and we should celebrate that instead of trying to be a duplicate of another.

4. What was the point you realised that being an author was no longer a dream but a reality?

I was one of those writers that just wrote stories and tucked them away. Occasionally I would be asked to read one or two by my family, but I never thought that I was "good enough" to pursue writing. One December, I had just read my story "Red is the Color of..." to my father and mother; at the end my father looked at me and said, "Promise me that one day you will publish one of your stories." That was the last conversation I had with him before he passed away from a massive stroke. A year later, I remembered the promise I had made and began the process of looking to be published. The day I got my acceptance for publishing, I cried because I had finally fulfilled my father's last wish.

5. How did you chose your genre?

I do not think I really chose my genre, I think it chose me. I truly enjoy reading fantasy, but I have a hard time writing about things that are not real. I remember, when I first started writing, at the age of 8, I wrote about things I knew and was actually pretty good at it! As an adult I feel the most comfortable in realistic fiction, there is so much room to play around and add "fantasy" when needed. Plus, I can make the characters, events, and places more real because I am familiar with "them".

6. How do you handle working with an editor without letting pride get in the way?

I was pretty lucky in that area, my editor was very kind, and she was amazing at constructive suggestions. Ultimately, a writer needs to understand that an editor is trying to bring the best out of you. Most of the time they are NOT trying to destroy your literary message, they are just wanting it to be its best!

7. What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Make friends with other authors, know that you will spend more money than you make in the beginning, and be prepared to be a small business owner. Your book is your market market! I have gained so many opportunities because I sought advice from other writers; don't be afraid to ask questions. And never pass up an opportunity!

8. What’s next for you?

I have a few other children's stories tucked away in a journal as well as a YA novel. Hopefully, one day soon, I will release a few more realistic fiction stories.

9. Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or movie?

Oh my goodness yes! I have a laundry list...Anne Shirley, Arwen, Hermoine, a mix of Peta & Katniss, Sherlock holmes, Jane Eyre, Elizabeth Bennet....the list goes on and on.

10. Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? 

Do I have to have ONE favourite? Well, if I had to choose my TOP favourite it would be JRR Tolkien. His ability to create a mythical world and all it's inhabitants and make them seem richly real, astounds me. He has the ability to allow his reader to live, work, battle, love, smell, touch, and feel middle earth - it is magical! It is probably the reason why I love C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins. These 4 authors are masters at making the unbelievable believable.

11. What was your favourite subject at school? 

My favourite subject was history. I believe we can learn so much from our past, and sadly we often forget that the same mistakes can be made again. I wish that more people were as passionate about history as they are about pop culture. Sometimes we forget that we are making our own history - for better or for worse.

12. Sunrises or Sunsets?

Sunsets, there is such beauty in the ending of a day. The richness of colors is majestic, calming, and the romantic feel is hard to beat. I love painting and photographing sunsets, each day a new beauty to behold, and I wish I could record every one of them.

13. If you were trapped in a room with Jennifer Lawrence and the world was about to end, what would you do? 

If I were in a room with Jennifer Lawrence and the world was ending, I do believe I would just want to about life and laugh. If we cannot save the world we might as well remember it and look forward to what is to come...

14. Would you rather be the good guy or the bad guy in a movie? 

Is quirky side kick available?? I would love to be the funny person rather than the hero! But, between those two choices...the hero!

15. If you could have only three electrical appliances in your home, what would you have a why? 

The 3 electrical appliances I would have are a toaster oven, a coffee maker, and a fridge. I can cook things in the toaster, heat liquids in the coffee maker, and store any left overs!


'I hate my red hair!'

Tiffany feels that her red hair makes her weird and different from everybody else. But her mother knows that the color red is not weird at all. It is what makes things vibrantly beautiful. Roses are red. Red is a color of the rainbow. Christmas stockings are red.

Listen in on a conversation between Tiffany and her mother as Tiffany is taught what else Red Is the Color Of...


About Tiffany

Tiffany wrote a children's book called "Red is the Color of…" out of her own experiences with bullying. As a child, Tiffany was often victimized by other students because of her dyslexia and for the color of her hair; which is red. Her parents were instrumental in helping her realise how beautifully special she is and how to accept her differences. As a result, Tiffany wants children to understand that what makes them different makes them wonderfully special.