Book Reviews, Young Adult

Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

EVERY DAY THE SAME

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Inside cover of The Girl On The Train

In honor of the new movie, The Girl On The Train, I’ve revisited its book counterpart. I read it at the beginning of the summer, but the new trailers have re-sparked my interest.

Let’s start at the beginning. The book starts off slow and stays that way for a while. I read this alongside my sister-in-law, and we both found it hard to focus at times. There isn’t enough action until the very end, but the end quite possibly makes the book worth reading. (But I’m getting ahead of myself.)

The main characters, Rachel and Megan, are okay. Rachel obviously has flaws that contribute to the mystery of the book, but at times she became incredibly boring to travel with. I found myself as a reader going through her routine and feeling like not enough was happening.

Megan, on the other hand, was much more thrilling to read about. The author does a good job weaving little clues into Megan’s perspective, which helped me stay committed to the novel.

The ending was the best part of the entire story. There was great detail, so much so that I could feel the emotion practically jumping off the page. It had my heart racing as a mystery should. If the entire book had been like that, or at least a little bit evocative, I would have enjoyed it so much more.

It’s a decent book, but I don’t think it quite meets the mystery standard simply because it wasn’t consistently interesting. However, I’ve heard from others that they loved it, so it definitely depends on your expectations going in. In the end, I would give it a 3.5 for a good premise and a well-written ending.

Genre of the Month, November - Science Fantasy

Interview: Kelly Blanchard

In honor of Science Fantasy month, we are pleased to have Kelly Blanchard, author of the Chronicles of Lorrek, join us for an awesome interview!

Kayla Perisho-Denley:  So, first I want to thank you for joining me today.

Kelly Blanchard:  Thank you. It’s an honor. 🙂

Perisho-Denley:  November is our Science Fantasy month, and you write quite a bit in this genre. Can you tell us about your current/most recent books?

Blanchard:  I just published the second book of my ‘Chronicles of Lorrek series‘. The series starts with sorcerer Prince Lorrek suddenly returning after being missing for ten years. He finds that in his absence his reputation has been marred, and he has been accused of terrible crimes, so he sets out to clear his name. However, sometimes favors are asked and deals are demanded, so it’s not a simple task. And everyone is wondering what EXACTLY happened ten years ago right before he disappeared. He’s the only one who knows the truth, and he isn’t very forthcoming. Book 2 begins after he struck a bargain, and it has dire consequences. He’s sent from his medieval kingdom into the highly advanced land of Jechorm to hunt down a specific person, but at that time he finds himself swept up in a much bigger war between advanced technology, medieval warfare, and ancient magic.

Perisho-Denley:  That sounds so exciting! Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired you to mix magic and technology like that?

Blanchard:  I’ve always been a fan of Star Wars, and I used to write Star Wars fan-fiction, so I was used to highly advanced technology in stories and such. However, I also like the idea of magic, spells, and sword fighting, so I combined the two genres. It worked out really well, and it allows me to expand beyond a single world.

Perisho-Denley:  That’s really cool. Do you still write fan fiction? Do you find that it helped your personal writing a lot?

Blanchard:  It certainly helped me craft my writing abilities. I call fan-fiction the training arena for writing. There are no expectations there, and it’s just a huge playground, playing in the world someone else created. It’s easier to focus on things such as character development, plot, description, and such when you don’t have to create a whole new world on top of that. Unfortunately, I don’t write fan-fiction anymore only because I’m too busy writing original fiction. If I ever had the time, I’d love to write some, but I’m too busy.

Perisho-Denley:  Understandable. Where do you draw your inspiration from to write Science Fantasy? Are there any Sci-Fan books or movies that have been really influential on you?

Blanchard:  Inspiration comes from everywhere. Sometimes it’s watching TV Shows like Intelligence. I love how the computer images looked to the main character when he was viewing the data, and it’s an idea I can use later if I ever need it. Other times it’s a song or line someone says. Sometimes I like to go to YouTube and watch crossover fanmade videos like Loki meeting Daenerys. Makes for an interesting story. I pull on so much that it’s hard to know *exactly* what I use because I use a little bit of this, a little bit of that, so by the time I’m done, it’s unrecognizable from what it was originally.

Perisho-Denley:  That makes sense. How long have you been writing? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?

Blanchard:  Before I knew how to use quotation marks or write proper paragraphs, I was creating stories by drawing very pathetic stick people to show the story. I can’t draw for the life of me, so you can imagine how relieved I was to finally grasp the concept of writing at such a young age. I became serious about writing when I was twelve after a horse accident dashed my dreams about riding horses in championships. Around that time I discovered fan-fiction, and I’ve been writing ever since.

Perisho-Denley:  That is pretty neat that you started at such a young age. Do you find that you are just as or more passionate about it now that you are published?

Blanchard:  Honestly, the fact that I’m a published author hasn’t changed my passion about writing. I absolutely LOVE writing, and the publishing and promoting is simply another aspect of it. I hope to eventually do workshops about writing and self-publishing because that’s always been something I’ve wanted to do, but my passion for writing is the same. It’s just very exciting to get feedback from people who love my book and those readers who claim my series is now their favorite series ever. That’s high praise, and I’m always amazed by it.

Perisho-Denley:  That is high praise, congratulations on that!

Blanchard:  Thank you!

Perisho-Denley:  Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Is there a specific time and place you prefer to write, or can you write anywhere?

Blanchard:  If I have my earbuds and music to drown out the sound, I can write anywhere. When I was in college, I had 15 minutes between class, so I would go to my classroom, sit in the hallway because the door was locked, and I’d put my earbuds in and start writing. This is how I taught myself not to get distracted. However, I prefer to be at home in my room writing if possible, and I like writing in the morning. This way I can get my writing done for the day and get on with whatever real life throws my way. I like to have a bit of an outline for my story, so I know what I’m writing next, and I always try to write 2,000 words each day. Sometimes I’ll go over that, and sometimes I have bad days and I can’t reach that goal, but I’m pretty stubborn and tend to reach it. It helps having a clear mental image in my head of how I want the scene to play out.

Perisho-Denley:  Is there any specific method you swear by for keeping track of your outline and notes, or do you prefer napkin notes?

Blanchard:  Sometimes I organize in Scrivener, but usually what tends to happen is that I just open a document in Word and just start outlining. If organization gets much bigger, involving pictures and such, I’ll switch to Scrivener to keep it all contained.

Perisho-Denley:  I know this is a dreaded questions for writers, but I have to ask. Which authors or books have inspired you the most?

Blanchard:  The writer who inspired me most is actually a Star Wars fan-fiction author by the name of Red_Rose_Knight. I don’t even know her real name. But when I was reading her stories online, I could SEE it clearly in my mind, and I paused and asked myself how she did that. I went back through her stories and really studied her writing technique. That experience alone taught me more than actual published books or creative writing class has ever taught me.

Perisho-Denley:  That is awesome! Inspiration can come from the least expected places, sometimes. Do you have any advice for someone wanting to write Science Fantasy? Or just writing in general?

Blanchard:  Well, for writing in general, when you’re writing the book, don’t worry about publishing it. A lot of people are determined to publish the first book they ever write, but there is so much more to writing than simply writing, and that takes work. The best thing to do is to focus honing your craft. Once you’ve mastered that and have a good handle on it, then focus on building your platform and publishing your work. As for writing Science Fantasy, anything’s a possibility, but be careful. Try to make it realistic and blend the two genres together.

Perisho-Denley:  That is excellent advice. What about advice for surviving NaNoWriMo?

Blanchard:  The common word of advice is to write 1,667 words a day, but I say 2,000 words. It’s an easier number to remember, and you don’t have to do a lot of math to figure it out. Also, if you write 2,000 words a day, you will automatically be ahead of the game. This gives you breathing room in case you have a day when you just can’t get any writing done. Also, know how quickly you can type. For instance, in 15 minutes, I can write 500 words. That means in a half an hour I can write 1,000, and in an hour I will write 2,000 words. Knowing this means that I can plan to have just an hour every day to write in order to reach my goal. Sometimes I can’t have a solid hour block to write, so I have to break the 2,000 words into four segments of 500 words each. That’s easier to manage, and it just takes a few minutes. That is why it is important to know how quickly you type.

Perisho-Denley:  Very good point. One last question, before I let you go. Do you have anything coming up that readers can look forward to? And where is the best place they can find your current books?

Blanchard:  I have book 3 and the prequel of my series are already written. Book 3 has been revised and is ready to be sent to the editor, but i literally just published book 2, so I’m not publishing that book just yet. I’m going to write another book of the series before releasing book 3. I’m always writing and publishing!  Soon I hope to have a newsletter people can sign up for to get one-shot stories and behind the scenes glimpses into my world, but I haven’t had the time to set that up yet. Right now, you can find my books on Amazon, Kindle, iBook, Nook, and Kobo.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKellyBlanchard/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kellannetta

Amazon: https://goo.gl/P2iIno

Barnes and Noble: Book 1 ‘Someday I’ll Be Redeemed’ — http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/someday-ill-be-redeemed-kelly-blanchard/1123600995

Barnes and Noble: Book 2 ‘I Still Have a Soul’ — http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/i-still-have-a-soul-kelly-blanchard/1124842686

iTunes: Book 1: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1097600040

iTunes: Book 2: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1166017446

Kobo: Book 1: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/someday-i-ll-be-redeemed

Kobo: Book 2: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/i-still-have-a-soul

Genre of the Month, November - Science Fantasy

Interview: Jeffrey Cook

For our Science Fantasy month, we are joined by Jeffrey Cook, author of the Dawn of Steam series, the Fair Folk Chronicles, and a contributor/organizer of the Writerpunk series.

Kayla Perisho-Denley:  First, I want to thank you again for agreeing to this interview!

Jeffrey Cook:  Absolutely. I love what all of you have done with Books & Quills, and I’ve loved the features so far. I’d love to see you do well with it.

Perisho-Denley:  Thank you! So, to start, I want to talk about your amazing Punk series you’re a part of. Can you just briefly tell us about that?

Cook:  Sure. So, Writerpunk originally began, similar to Books & Quills, out of the Nanowrimo facebook group. An author named John Wesley Hawthorne is the main culprit — he noticed whenever ‘punk’ scifi came up, steampunk, cyberpunk, dieselpunk, etc., there were a handful of us responding regularly. So he started a group and invited a few people to join. After a while, between John, and Esaias Glaster, the suggestion came up that we could write some ‘punk’ anthologies. Maybe adaptations of classic works or something. So, already a full-time author, I jumped at it. When it was agreed Shakespeare would be a good opening theme, I took ‘The Winter’s Tale’ and gave it a steampunk twist. After it had been edited, cleaned up, rewritten, etc., I went back to the group and asked how everyone else was doing… and there were crickets. From there, I kind of took up some of the organizational reins. We set a deadline, put some phenomenal folks in charge of different areas: Carol Gyzander, JL Sarchet, Lia Rees, Katherine Perkins — all have been really essential to it. But we put out Sound & Fury: Shakespeare Goes Punk, with 5 stories. We’ve done 2 more volumes since — with all profits going to help PAWS Animal Rescue in Lynwood, WA — a charity I’m pretty passionate about. Each book contains ‘punk’ sci-fi adaptations of public domain works. Right now, we have 2 volumes of Shakespeare adaptations, and Poe is the newest. We’re starting the build-up towards next year’s, which will be ‘English Class Goes Punk’.

Perisho-Denley:  Awesome! I am a huge fan of Poe, so I’m glad he’s been “writerpunked.” I think the punk subgenres are some of the best examples of Science Fantasy. Can you tell us what originally drew you to these genres?

Cook:  I started writing the Dawn of Steam series of steampunk novels due to a waking dream. I had two of the characters mostly fleshed out, and started building a world around them. A friend, who was already a steampunk fan, mostly from the perspective of her dressmaking, Victorian manners and tea parties, etc., suggested it as a genre to look into for the series. I’d previously read and enjoyed some of the classics of both cyberpunk and steampunk. But writing my own ‘punk’ series, with heavy doses of real history, exploration, parts of the world that don’t get a lot of attention in US history books, etc., with some Jules Verne-esque sci-fi involved was what really got me fully immersed. When Writerpunk started, I had the first two books out, and the third in editing.

Perisho-Denley:  I know there is a pretty vibrant community surrounding these genres, conventions, etc. Do you draw a lot of inspiration from the subculture?

Cook:  I love the subculture out here and have the good fortune to get to interact with it quite a bit. I sell books every year at Steamposium here in Seattle, Gearcon in Portland, the Fairhaven Steampunk Festival up in Bellingham — where I graduated — and a couple other events. A lot of the steampunk folks show up at other events as well. I’m not sure I’d say I draw a ton of inspiration specifically for the books — a lot of my steampunk tends to be earlier era, heavily based on history and historical events, and a little more sci-fi-light than a lot of it. But the community certainly helps inspire me to keep writing in the genre, and enjoying what I do.

Perisho-Denley:  That’s an awesome way to connect with fans, for sure. How long have you been writing, or is it something you’ve always wanted to do?

Cook:  My mother likes to tell the story about how I first declared I wanted to be an author when I was about 6 years old. It’s certainly something I’ve been hoping and working towards since the last couple years of high school. I spent a lot of years doing some writing on the side while focusing on paying the bills. Then, after being laid off from a job in the insurance industry, I started focusing on it full time.I put out my first novel in 2014, with a few more first drafts done, but in editing and rewrites, and have 11 books out now, not counting the contributions to the anthologies or short stories.

Perisho-Denley:  That’s pretty awesome. Do you remember which book or author inspired that first declaration?

Cook:  When I was 6, I think that’d most likely be either CS Lewis, James Howe, or some combinations. Those were my favorite authors at the time.

Perisho-Denley:  What about your favorite author or books now? I know to a writer that’s like asking them to choose a favorite child, but I have to ask!

Cook:  My favorite book of all time is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I have some nods to it in Dawn of Steam, since those books are set to be contemporary with her. I love James Clavell — especially Shogun. William Gibson, JRR Tolkien, Asimov, Shakespeare, Pratchett. Kind of eclectic. The last couple years, I’ve been reading almost solely indie works, with the exception of Shiv Ramdas’s Domechild — amazing book. But also finding some fantastic indies that I’ve been really enjoying.

Perisho-Denley:  That is a very respectable list. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Is there a specific time and place you write best at, or do you prefer to write anytime?

Cook:  Writing has become a full-time job. I work pretty extensively with my editor and fairly regular co-author now throughout most days. I do a lot of my new writing once my wife and the dogs go to bed, usually around 11, but that’s shifting at times currently, with conventions on most weekends requiring me to get ready to be up by 7ish.

Perisho-Denley:  Sounds like a pretty full schedule. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Cook:  I have way too many hobbies for my own good. I’m a table-top role-playing game player, I attend a live-action role play when I can, which is about 1 weekend in 4. I love watching sports, especially American football. I get into the occasional computer games as well. I also have 3 large dogs who occupy a lot of time, but it’s well worth it.

Perisho-Denley:  That is awesome that you role play!  Do you find that role playing games help your writing?

Cook:  Oh, most definitely. I love the creativity involved. It helps a lot with character and world building, certainly. But yeah, I started role-playing when I was 8 — and it’s become a life-long thing.

Perisho-Denley:  That is fantastic. Do you have any advice for someone wanting to get into writing punk or other Sci-Fan genres?

Cook:  #1 piece of advice: read. Read the classics of the genre. If it’s ‘punk’, read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, read Neuromancer, read The Anubis Gates, read Morlock Night, and particularly read The Difference Engine. Then look at some of the more modern stuff. Read indie stuff, go to a convention and engage with the fans, go to panels. Much the same with general sci-fi — read Asimov, read Bradbury, watch some movies, and then take a look at the newer stuff and indie stuff. Get familiar with things like the Mohs scale, because if you’re selling sci-fi books, people will want to know if you’re more space opera, more hard sci-fi, etc. And then, my advice to anyone wanting to write in any genre: it’s a job. The inspirations can be a lot of fun. But there’s days it’s hard, and times you need to put a lot of hours in too. It’s the most rewarding job I’ve ever had — but it’s still a job.

Perisho-Denley:  That is excellent advice. One last question before I let you go. What is your best piece of advice for surviving NaNoWriMo?

Cook:  Provide yourself with incentives — carrots instead of sticks. Pick out things you like or like to do. Food, tv shows, etc., and tell yourself that if you get your word count in, you can have that dessert, or watch your show, and if you don’t, then you can’t. It can be small things — but it really can help, as long as you stick to it.

Perisho-Denley:  Awesome! Thank you so much! What do readers need to look out for coming from you and/or Writerpunk?

Cook:  My next few projects involve finishing the Angel’s Grace urban fantasy trilogy, putting out a collection of steampunk short stories (historical event-heavy, action-adventure, lesbian steampunk shorts), and then getting to work on a new YA Fantasy, Unchosen, which approaches the question “What happens when the Chosen One dies in Chapter 1?” And then Writerpunk is gearing up for our 4th release, coming next May, of ‘What We’ve Unlearned: English Class Goes Punk’, keeping to our one-book-a-year plan.

Perisho-Denley:  Fantastic! Thanks again for joining me today, and I look forward to reading more of your stories!

Cook:  Very welcome, and thank you!

Writerpunk books:

Dawn of Steam:  https://goo.gl/SSpuAZ

Fair Folk Chronicles:  https://goo.gl/MW4m6A

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/dawnofsteamtrilogy/?fref=ts

Twitter:  @JeffreyCook74

Book Reviews, Young Adult

Review: Foul is Fair by Jeffrey Cook & Katherine Perkins

Lots of girls play Fairy Princess when they’re little. Megan O’Reilly had no idea the real thing was like playing chess, guitar, and hockey all at once. Megan had known for a long time that she wasn’t an entirely typical girl. But living with ADHD—and her mother’s obsessions—was a very different thing from finding out she wasn’t entirely human. Somewhere out there, in a completely different world, her father needs help. There’s a conflict, revolving around Faerie seasonal rituals, that could have consequences for humanity—and if Megan’s getting the terminology straight, it sounds like her family aren’t even supposed to be the good guys. As she’s further and further swept up in trying to save her father, Megan may be getting too good at not being human.

–back cover of Foul is Fair by Jeffrey Cook and Katherine Perkins

This book was captivating! Cook and Perkins will take you on a magical adventure that seems so real that when you look up you just might be surprised that you’re still sitting in your chair.

From the start, Megan is a character that is an easily likeable character. She is real and clever and at times she is funny. Her quirks just make her more realistic. Her best friend Lani is also quite likeable. I wouldn’t mind having a friend like that. Throughout the book you meet a vast and exciting cast of characters including but not limited to Cassia, her kittens, Ashling, the Count, and Justin. Being a cat person, the kittens were one of my favorite parts. I hadn’t seen something like that in a book before. I always chuckled when the Count would caw and Ashling knew exactly what he was saying.

I think that one of my favorite things about this book is that Cook and Perkins wrote about a common mental illness–ADHD. It seems like often times mental illnesses are not represented in fiction, and when they are the book is solely about that, but not in this book. Megan was someone with ADHD, and yes, it did influence the story at times, but no it was not a story about ADHD. I think that this is the way that all types of mental illnesses occasionally need to be represented, and it was very refreshing to see it.

I also applaud how clean the book was. It is hard to find a decent read that is not full of cussing or inappropriate content. It was nice to be able to read it without the dirty distractions.

Also, the musical magic was a wonderful take on magic. I enjoyed reading about it.

I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars for its captivating plot, enjoyable characters, and pleasant writing style. All YA readers should give this book a shot.

Book Reviews

Review: The Secret King by Dawn Chapman

I have to admit, Space Opera as a Science Fiction genre is a brand new concept to me. When I picked up this book on the Canadian Amazon site, at the recommendation of a reading group I belong to, I wasn’t sure what it meant. I had set in my mind a vision of a soap opera with an outer space setting. That, as it turns out isn’t entirely incorrect. As always, I turned to Google to answer my question. From the results I received, I summarized that a Space Opera is a story which involves drama and action, set in outer space, that focuses more on character interaction than on technology. That description explains exactly what this novel is.

In the beginning of the book, we are introduced to the main problem facing Kendro, the King. Their sun is dying and their planet needs to be evacuated if anyone is to survive. In large ships, they set out in search for another world to call home.

The action doesn’t stop there. Along the way, another alien race threatens their destruction; there is a plot to overthrow the king and all kinds of other little tidbits, including a bit of romance, to keep the reader entertained. There is a military side as well as a personal side. The reader experiences not only the battles for existence, but the ups and downs of everyday life that make up that existence as well.

At first, I felt a bit swamped by the sheer number of details and characters. This feeling subsided as I delved further into the novel and formed my own understanding of the author’s world. Once I fully grasped the concept of the birthmarks, things began to fall into place with ease.

I must warn this isn’t a book a reader can skim through. You will need to focus your attention on the words and details. Before you begin, make sure you have time set away to be able to fully enjoy Chapman’s work. There is a glossary at the end to help the reader out, which definitely makes things a bit easier at times.

This is a fantastic choice for seasoned Science Fiction fans as well as first time Space Opera readers. Now that I have been introduced to this genre I will be coming back for more, especially if written by Dawn Chapman.

Rating 4.5/5 stars.


Book Two of Dawn Chapman's Series, 
The Secret King, will be released 
on December 20th, 2016. 

Interviews

Interview: Dawn Chapman

Browsing through my ‘To be Read’ pile, trying to choose my  next book to read, one novel in particular stood out. I haven’t had a chance to read many true science fiction works. Chapman’s book is listed in the space opera sub-category of the science fiction genre. It all sounded intriguing. I was interested enough to ask the author a few questions before diving into her book. Make sure you follow Books & Quills Magazine – you won’t want to miss my review coming soon.

From Amazon:

‘Dawn Chapman has been creating sci fi and fantasy stories for thirty years. Until 2005 when her life and attention turned to scripts, and she started work on The Secret King, a 13 episode Sci Fi TV series, with great passion for this medium. In 2010, Dawn returned to her first love of prose. She’s been working with coach EJ Runyon who’s encouraged her away from fast paced script writing, to revel in the world of TSK and Letháo as an epic prose space journey. She’s had success with a web series, co-written with ‘Melvin Johnson’, produced by Nandar Entertainment. This year her experience of working with Producers/Directors from the US and AUS has expanded. From Drama, Sci Fi to Action, Dawn’s built a portfolio of writing, consulting and publishing.’

Question: What genre would you say the book falls into?

Answer: Space Opera with Science Fiction and Fantasy elements.

Question: Are there any trigger warnings and/or explicit content readers should know about?

Answer: There is some violence, and an M/M developing relationship, but nothing sexual.

Question: Do you have any upcoming events? Feel free to elaborate .

Answer: We have just released our next two Audio Shorts. From The Secret King as a series. Which will be an illustrated anthology as well. The Truth Hurts and Brie’s Results, narrated by the fab Holly Adams. Both Holly and Greg are working on more for us and I’m really excited to have them onboard with us for TSK’s projects.

Question: What is next for you? Do you have anything in the works?

Answer: I am working on book 2 from the series, First Contact.  A short blurb for it might read something like  –

After evacuating Letháo and fighting off their ancient enemy, the Aonise arrive in Earth’s solar system. First Contact isn’t without its frustrations. With food and supplies running low, Kendro compromises with the leading government in the hopes his people will have a permanent new home.  

Question: Are there any Easter eggs in your book(s)?

Answer: No, should there be? Lol

Question: What was your favourite book when you were growing up?

Answer: Malanie Rawn’s Sun Runner Series. I loved her fantastic worldbuilding.

Question: What piece of advice from other authors do you hear the most but choose to ignore?

Answer: I would never ignore any advice given to aid me.

Question: What’s your favourite food? Have you ever mentioned it in your book(s)?

Answer: Not as yet, and my favourite food would have to be pudding. Sticky Toffee to be precise.

Question:  If your life was a book, what would be the tagline?

Answer: Struggling with her inner most demons, Dawn Chapman escapes into Sci Fi to survive one day to the next.

Question: What advice would you give new writers?

Answer: Write every day, network and find friends who you can rely on and work with, forever. They’re your most valuable asset.

Question: What has been the worst mistake you have made in your writing career?

Answer: I think in not sending off The Secret King script, when it had great feedback from some UK companies. I doubted myself a lot at that time, when my ED was at its worst. I learned not to self-doubt by getting the right help. But it’s been a long road to recovery.

Question: What is the best moment you have had with a fan?

Answer: Just sitting across the table from them and listening to what character they enjoyed the most within my world. There is nothing better than someone describing what they loved about your work.

Question: If you could change the date to any year past or future, what date would you change it to and why?

Answer: I would like to spend some time with my Nan and Grandad again. I miss them a lot. They never gave up in believing in me and I’ve very thankful for having them in my life.

Thank you Dawn Chapman for taking the time to answer my questions. You can find  The Secret King: Lethao on Amazon.

 


Book Two of Dawn Chapman's Series,
The Secret King, will be released
on December 20th, 2016.

 

Genre of the Month, November - Science Fantasy

Interview: Andrew D. Michaels

For our Science Fantasy month, Andrew D. Michaels joins us to talk about his book, the December Project!

Kayla Perisho-Denley:  So, to start off, can you tell us a little bit about your current project?

Andrew D. Michaels:  Well the December Project is a two part series that takes a look at an almost dystopian society that has been united under an umbrella based government.The government, known as the legion, is extremely development focused, to where their goal is any advancement for the greater good at any cost.One of the scientist groups have been looking at DNA and gene modification for the purpose of accelerating evolution for adaptation to their changing environment

Perisho-Denley:  That sounds pretty awesome! What inspired you to write this story?

Michaels:  It was started as kind of a joke. I was talking with some of my friends in Theta Fleet which is a roleplay based gaming sim set for Star Trek universe (Check them out at theta fleet.net!) And we were brainstorming ideas about how and why the utopia idea never really took off. Everything from corruption and greed to war and such came up. Eventually it got around to the competition of advancements and how people were always trying to one up each other with the ‘next big thing’ So the idea came of what if the next best thing wasn’t the best thing? Like if there was something created that we weren’t ready for or could handle, how would humans react to something like that?

Perisho-Denley:  Some of the best ideas start as jokes, I think. How long have you been into RP, and do you find it helps a lot with your writing?

Michaels:  I’ve been playing and running D&D for a little longer than fifteen years now and it is extremely influential in my writing. A lot of my stories stem from one game or another

Perisho-Denley:  That’s awesome! What was the main thing that drew you to the Sci-Fan genre?

Michaels:  I blame Orson Scott Card for that one, haha! I came across his Ender series and I had the little lightbulb that fantasy wasn’t strictly dragons and spells and such. So I started experimenting with a few sci-fi based games to become familiar and then story ideas started to form and here we are lol.

Perisho-Denley:  That is an excellent source for inspiration! Besides the Ender series, and I know this is a dreaded question for writers, but what authors or books have you been most inspired by?

Michaels:  That one is actually fairly easy for me. My inspiration comes from Stephen King, Robert Jordan, and Piers Anthony for a majority. Recently I have wandered over to PC Cast, and Orson Scott Card.Though I’m currently reading David Baldacci, but I’ll have to get back to you on him.

Perisho-Denley:  Stephen King is especially good for Science Fantasy, the Dark Tower is so amazing. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Is there any specific time or place you prefer to write, or can you write anytime?

Michaels:  I’m usually at least writing in my head whenever I can, but as far as sitting down to write I save at least an hour or two every day.I have a playlist that helps me so much when I’m writing because it keeps me focused on what I’m doing, because I can tend to get distracted fairly easily.My favorite spot is the library down the road. The staff there have been fantastic and extremely helpful when I need to find or research something.

Perisho-Denley:  Playlists are a must, in my opinion. I shouldn’t keep you much longer, so one more question. Do you have any advice for someone wanting to get into the Sci-Fan genre? How about advice on surviving NaNoWriMo?

Michaels:  My tips for surviving nano? Get a group together. Someone(s) to beta, brainstorm and keep things going. Someone to kick your butt when you stray and support you through. And someone who knows how to doodle.Nothing motivates me more than a completed cover for a project.As far as sci-fan in particular, find something you like and can relate to. A game, movie, books, whatever and start there. Also look into other authors in the genre so that you can become more familiar with it and get comfy. Always write what’s comfy. If you feel not comfy with your writing, it’ll show in it.

Michaels:  And build a playlist. Music is a great influence in writing. Something slow and sad or upbeat and jumpy will be conveyed in your word choice as well

Perisho-Denley:  All fantastic advice. Actual last question. Where is the best place for people to find your work? Any genre.

Michaels:  As I’m unpublished for the time being, not much of anywhere. December Project is anticipated early 2017, and Black Bridge is going out just before New Years this year. Announcements and behind the scenes extras can all be found on my fb page or my Instagram. Facebook.com/AuthorADM Insta: ADMAuthor

Perisho-Denley:  Awesome. I know I’m looking forward to reading it! Thank you again for joining us!

Michaels:  Thank you!

Facebook: Facebook.com/AuthorADM

Instagram: @ADMAuthor

Children's Corner

Exploring the Genres

Here at Books and Quills, we have this thing we like to call “Genre of the Month”. We post puzzles, prompts, and articles about that month’s genre. This October, for example, was Horror month. So, what is a genre?

When we describe a book’s “genre”, we are talking about the type of story it is telling. A book can be a romance, a fantasy novel, historical fiction, or something else entirely. There are many genres in the literary world, but these are a few of the most common ones for children’s books.

Fantasy

Supernatural creatures, funny names, and magic galore; fantasy books use all of these and more to tell stories of heroes, villains, and quests that could never happen in real life. Some fantasy stories take place in other worlds, like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit. Others, like Harry Potter, use a magical version of our own world to tell their stories.

Science Fiction

Science fiction (or sci-fi for short) is similar to fantasy in that it uses people or things that are fantastical and beyond our understanding. However, instead of using magic to explain these things, sci-fi stories use science. This means that aliens, time travel, and advanced robots are all elements of sci-fi stories, since they are all subjects explored by science and might one day be discovered or created by scientists. Books like The Giver and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH are examples of sci-fi books.

Realistic Fiction

Fantasy uses magic, sci-fi uses futuristic science. Realistic fiction uses the world as we know it today. These stories are still made-up, but they mimic real life. Many of Andrew Clements’s books, like Frindle and The Landry News, are realistic fiction. Holes (Louis Sachar) and Because of Winn-Dixie (Kate DiCamillo) are also examples of realistic fiction.

Historical Fiction

Historical fiction books are like realistic fiction except that they take place in the past. They are usually about a specific time period or event, like the 1920s or World War II. Walk Two Moons (Sharon Creech) and Goodnight Mr. Tom (Michelle Magorian) are examples of historical fiction. Some novels, like The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett), were not historical fiction when they were published but are now historical fiction because they take place in our past.

Mystery

Some stories are about a character or a group trying to solve a mystery. These mystery-solvers can be detectives, or they can be any person who stumbles on a mysterious event. The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew are examples of characters in mystery novels.

Nonfiction

All of the books mentioned so far are fictional, or books that involve made-up characters and plots. Nonfiction, on the other hand, deals with real life. This is different than realistic fiction because though realistic fiction takes inspiration from real life and they all seem very real, the characters are still made up. The Little House on the Prairie series is an example of a nonfiction series. They are memoirs: stories written by a person about their own life, with little exaggerations here and there.

There are many other genres, sub-genres (genres within genres), and stories that have more than one genre. Some authors write all of their stories in one genre. Others write in many genres. Many write most of their stories in one genre but step out of their comfort zone to try something new.

We as readers can be like that as well. Take some time to figure out what genre you read the most. Why do you like that genre? Are there genres that you avoid? If there are, try to find a book in that genre that you like. It is okay to prefer one genre (I personally am very fond of fantasy novels), but if you never explore what’s out there, you never know what you might be missing.

Genre of the Month

Interview: Tuuli Tolmov

For our Science Fantasy month, Tuuli Tolmov joins us from Estonia to talk about her upcoming book, Aristarkhov’s Method.

Kayla Perisho-Denley:  I want to thank you for agreeing to chat with us today!  So, to start off, can you tell us a little about your book?

Tuuli Tolmov:  Well, the main character is psychiatrist Aleksandr Aristarkhov, who studies sleep paralysis. It is a phenomenon in which an individual is half awake, a state between wakefulness and sleep, but is unable to speak or move. Usually it is accompanied by hallucinations (Check out The Nightmare, by Henry Fuseli). So, Aleksandr discovers that it is possible to control what his patients are seeing while being in that state. He reaches to their deepest fears and being unable to move, they die in adrenaline overdose. The heart stops because of fear. That’s the main storyline of the book, how he is obsessed with this study

Perisho-Denley:  That sounds very thrilling. What inspired this story?

Tolmov:  I have experienced sleep paralysis few times myself. Quite interesting and scary. But the story itself, how someone kills using sleep paralysis, came to me when I was chatting with my friend. She’s a writer too, and we were brainstorming different ideas how to kill her characters. Yes, writers plan the murder of their characters out open, right in the cafe. So it came to me suddenly and I thought- Hey, this would be fun to write in my next NaNoWriMo.

Perisho-Denley:  That’s a very good combination of inspiration! And having experienced it yourself, that will certainly make the story more realistic. Is there anything in particular that drew you to this genre? Have you written other stories in the scifi genre?

Tolmov:  Most of my novels and short stories are connected to sci-fi. I have published a few short stories in a local sci-fi online magazine. I have always loved sci-fi and fantasy, both of them. They let both reader and writer to explore unlimited possibilities of the imagination. And it is exciting! Nothing can hold you back. I can create entire worlds with my own laws of physics, nature, life forms, culture etc.

Perisho-Denley:  Agreed! That has always been what drew me to those genres as well. I know this is a dreaded question for any writer, but can you tell us which authors or books inspired you?

Tolmov:  Well, Harry Potter opened the world of fantasy to me at age 8 and interest in sci fi became little later for me, in age 14 thanks to a local author Leo Kunnas. But I think I have no specific authors, who I consider my role model. I read quite a lot and I pick things up here and there.

Perisho-Denley:  That makes sense. So when did you know you wanted to be a writer? Or is it just something you’ve always wanted to do?

Tolmov:  Yes, you can say it was something I always wanted to be. I dreamed about stories I’d like to write, but I didn’t do anything about it. I picked up writing seriously when I moved to bigger town and started my University years.

Perisho-Denley:  Can you tell us a little about your writing process? Is there a specific time or place you prefer to write, or can you write anytime?

Tolmov:  There are two conditions I work best in. I prefer to write in the morning before school or work. In that case, I need absolute silence and at least 2 hours. The other is basically opposite- in a cafe, alone, drinking tea and letting the fingers do their magic. I found cafe’s’ ambience soothing.

Perisho-Denley:  I can understand that, maybe it’s all the caffeine in the air. Can you offer any advice to someone who wants to break into the scifi genre? Or any advice on surviving NaNoWriMo?

Tolmov:  I have very warm feelings towards NaNoWriMo, so my advise would be go out and meet some other participants- to talk, to write together, to listen to their ideas.They are absolutely amazing and inspiring people who will not let you quit. About breaking into sci-fi genre… expect a lot of world building and weird google search history. Also, don’t be afraid consult with people who are good in science.

Perisho-Denley:  Awesome! That is all excellent advice. I should let you go, but one last question; where is the best place people can go to read your stories?

Tolmov:  I haven’t had a chance to translate my work into English. I write in my native tongue, Estonian. If there are any Estonian readers, they can check out Reaktor, our online sci-fi magazine, or some of my earlier work in Meie Jutud forum. My book will be published in the middle of January, also in Estonian.

Perisho-Denley:  Very cool. I want to thank you again for joining me today, the story sounds amazing and I look forward to hearing more about it!

Tolmov:  Big thanks to you too.

Instagram: @tumelilleke