Monday, 26 January 2015

D. M. Read

Author: D. M. Read
Best Known WorksSomewhere a Drum Waits for Me
Where you can find her: Website
Top Writing Tip: Know where you’re going before you go. In other words, for a successful novel or short story, you must visualize the ending, then the way to get there.

Hi Diana, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us.

Tell us a little about yourself, what are the main life experiences that have led to this book?

I began to follow the Goddess path in the mid-1990s. As my experience with the Craft grew, so did my fascination with it. Many of the people I’ve met on the Pagan path have sparked ideas for stories.

When did you realise that you were Pagan?

I didn’t actually realize it until I read Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance. Then I knew. All my life I’d felt out of sync with everyone else, with what society expected of me and what I was supposed to think. When I read her book I realized in one blinding flash that I was, had always been, and would always be, Pagan.

When and why did you begin writing?

Oh, when I was quite small. My mother told me that when I was eight I was reporter, editor, and publisher of a little newspaper entitled Freedom and Torment. I don’t remember anything about it, though.

Do you plan your stories before you begin?

Absolutely!  I visualize my short stories in scenes. I visualize the chapters of the novels I write in scenes also. However, with the novella I’ve loosened up a bit. I just sit down and start writing. I’ve got a general idea of where I’m going, of course, but I must say the novella is free-flowing and a lot of fun to write.

Are you published or self-published, and what has been your experience of this process? 
My first novel, Layoffs, was published POD (print on demand) with a company that is now out of business. Witchfire and my previous book, The Deer at Lammas Tide, have been published by Smashwords, and now BookBaby has brought out Somewhere a Drum Waits for Me, available in Amazon's Kindle store, iBooks, Nook, and other places. I'm just getting started with ebooks, and I'm in love with the whole concept. I have also had articles published in The Washington Post and by a nonprofit organization’s newsletter.

Do you think ebooks have changed the publishing market for better or worse?

For the better, definitely!  It used to be that a beginning novelist had almost no chance of getting published unless he or she was related to some movie star or politician or other big name. Now one can write a book and be published on Smashwords, Kindle, Kobo, Amazon, and a variety of other sites. There’s a readership for every kind of novel - sci-fi, historical, romance, whatever. For the last few years I’ve preferred writing about Paganism. I like writing about everyday Witches and Pagans who occasionally experience magick in their lives.

How did the topic of your book come to you?

Sometimes the title of a story will appear many years before the actual plot comes to me. That happened with The Deer at Lammas Tide and Somewhere a Drum Waits for Me. Other times, though, someone will recount an anecdote or I’ll read something in the newspaper and my imagination immediately kicks in with a title and a story to go with it.

How long does it take you to write a book?  Are you a fast writer or a slow writer?

It depends. I have very little time in which to write. When I was a freelancer, I wrote between paying jobs. Now I snatch an hour at night and often write on weekends. With my historical novel, I’ve been agonizing over every scene. The simplest statements, such as, “He looked out of the window,” leads to questions: did they have windows in Roman Britain? If they did, were the windows glassed in or just hangings of cowhide? One has to stop and research every detail.

Who encourages and inspires you?

When I was younger, my parents encouraged me. Hardly anyone else did. Now, the people who encourage me are my friends in the blogosphere.

Do you socialize with other writers or are you a solitary author?

I know only two writers in my personal life and they're too far away to hang out with, except on Facebook. I do sometimes attend sessions by a women’s writing group run by a friend of mine.

You have quite a few GLBT characters in your stories and novels, what's the significance of this?

Our GLBT brothers and sisters are part of our society and should be able to see themselves and their lives reflected in the fiction they read. Nothing annoys me more when I pick up a contemporary novel and realize that the author appears to think our society consists of only Caucasian heterosexuals. What a boring world this would be if that were true!

For the same reason, I’ve started giving ninety percent of my female characters brown eyes. An optician once told me that thirty-nine out of forty people have brown eyes, which is something you’d never realize from reading most fiction.

Tell us a bit about your story, key characters and plot.

Somewhere a Drum Waits for Me is actually a collection of short stories, my second collection so far. The brief description is as follows:
An American engineer in West Africa encounters a visitor from the Otherworld at Samhain; a wisewoman discovers that a chair she bought in a second-hand shop possesses magical properties; a young Druid calls on his patron god, the Green Man, to help him save a redwood forest; a twelve-year-old girl undergoes a coming-of-age ritual in the Craft of the Wise; and a lawyer calls on Ma’at, the Egyptian goddess of truth and justice, to help her track down a killer. 

Some of the same characters that appear in The Deer at Lammas Tide appear in this collection also, and some characters are entirely new. The mood ranges from feel-good, to intriguing, to downright scary.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and, if so, how do you overcome it?

Yes, and when it happens I sit down and write one line. Just one. And that leads to another line, and another. Sometimes I have to just sit down at the computer and “talk to myself” on the screen. You know, asking the character questions about his or her motivation, what he or she is thinking or feeling that day, and that kind of thing. There are stories that have been difficult for me to write because the original idea was so tenuous. However, when I’ve kept at it I’ve managed to complete every one of those stories!

What are your future plans for writing?

I have a couple of things in the works: a novella set in the present day, and a historical novel set in Roman Britain. I’ll be doing short-short stories every month for the Fiction Café on my Website. This month's short-short is called The February Lover.


Thank you once again for taking the time to talk to us, Diana. We wish you all the best with Fiction Café and your future writing.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Stephen Mullaney-Westwood

Author: Stephen Mullaney-Westwood
Best Known WorksUnforgotten Tales
Where you can find him: Website / Facebook / YouTube
Top Writing Tip: Expect nothing. Simply do it because you can't not do it. 

Hi Stephen, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us.

Tell us a little about yourself, what are the main life experiences that have led to this book?

I’m a 40 year old tree hugger currently living in the Cotswolds, in the UK.  I write slightly dark fiction philosophising on nature, and the nature of man. My forthcoming novel is about the true haunting faery lore of Cornwall.

I grew up in a village where there was quite a lot of countryside. Climbing trees and wellie-booting through ponds were my favourite past times. I guess that was when my excitement for nature was sparked, but I kind of lost my way as a teenager and became very depressed, and actually ended up quite mentally unwell for a good twenty years of my life. 

My recovery began with writing. I had an autobiography published and did a lot of work spreading awareness of the mental disorder I suffered from. But true fulfilment came with love, with the understanding that I am a sensitive soul, and by spending time with the trees. A spiritual coming of age I suppose, which is how I describe my novel.  

When did you realise that you were Pagan?

Well to tell the truth I shy away from labelling myself, I am just me, and I certainly don't follow any doctrine, but the ideals of paganism definitely come the closest to how I feel about the world. 

There have been so many hundreds of years of conditioning, warping and merging of every thought human beings have ever had, that I personally don’t think any religion can be truly believed or followed.  But paganism, in its pure form of nature worship, can not really be argued... it is a beautiful, honest thing.

When and why did you begin writing?

I have always been creative and I have always written. I may not have published The Adventures of Harry the Hedgehog but I was very serious about writing it, drawing the illustrations and putting a fake publisher’s mark on the corner of the cover!  I used to put on puppet shows for my family, programmed computer games in the 80s, made board games, have been in bands, written songs, play the drums... I just like to create.  But it was clear to me that writing was where my passion really lies. Through the years I have amassed pages of completed novels and short stories but these were training... now it’s serious!

Tell us a little about the community you’re building through your blog and social media.

I find all this very difficult as I’m quite a loner. I do have the skills to chat to people and I am not completely devoid of technical know-how either, but there is so much competition and I am not really sure how to fight my corner. I have a website, a Facebook page and I do vlogs on Youtube.  Please take a look at them because although I enjoy doing it, it will be much more fun if I have some followers.

Is this your first published piece or have you had work published before?

Unforgotten Tales is my first release under my name Stephen Mullaney-Westwood. It is an introduction to how I write and what I am about, released at a low price on Kindle and will soon be in paperback.

It's a collection of thirteen short folktale-style stories, modern fables and fairy tales, written in a method now often forgotten. Intentionally allegorical, darkly twisting while yet enlightening and inspirational. Brought to Kindle as a prelude to my forthcoming novel Forgotten Things; the first chapter of which is included. Because some things are important to remember.

Are you published or self-published, and what has been your experience of this process? 
My autobiography was published (under a different name), and I have recently self published a collection of short stories called Unforgotten Tales.  Yet currently I am seeking a publisher for my full length novel Forgotten Things.  Nowadays whether you are traditionally published or self published you will still have to take care of marketing it yourself, and it is time consuming work. I had a lot of positive response from my first book, but I think if it was self published that would have been the same. There were errors in the text I would have loved to have control of tiding up, and money wise, we are artists, so unless we are very lucky, we will always be poor! 

My reasoning behind looking for a traditional publisher for the novel is that, with so many books out there, having some initial credence behind it might get it noticed more.  To be honest though, it may be a little bit of vanity, and I think some good reviews on Amazon are probably equally beneficial. 

How did the topic of your book come to you?

I like to write the things I would want to read.  A lot of the books I do read were written many years ago, and I don’t think there are many who write that way in modern times.

As for faeries, I don’t really remember when I first discovered the truth about that folklore. I am very interested in how things we now see as fiction were long ago completely believed in. I used to be obsessed with vampires and I had a lot of books about them, some of which had sections on other mythical beasts, so perhaps it was from one of those books. It all clicked in to place with me, their darkness tinged with the mystical magic of the woods... I felt a strong draw to be their voice.

What do you enjoy reading?

I find it so hard to read because I can sometimes be only a few lines in when an idea comes to me for my own writing!  I read a lot of non–fiction for research and enlightenment. I read about faeries and forest spirits... I actually love old fairy tales even if they are written for children. And I don’t associate myself with current writing or trends. The likes of Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allen Poe are where my aspirations lie.

Who encourages and inspires you?

Trees.  Woodland.  And music I suppose.  I have always been very much ‘into’ music; it can change my mood or enhance it. I will latch on to a particular artist and listen to them constantly for a while before finding another. Tori Amos, Patrick Wolf, the Smiths and Morrissey... to name a few that have shaped a part of me. 

How important are reviews of your work, do you read them?

It is hard to keep confidence in yourself as a writer, and while a good review might make you smile for a moment, it is the bad ones that stick in your head. Personally I am very good at picking out the negatives from a glowing review. But we have to remember that every view is subjective, not everyone is going to ‘get’ what we do. The people who go out of their way to write a review tend to do so because their reaction to something was strong, whether that be for good or bad. But I would rather be loved by a few than have many that think my work is ‘so, so’.     

I would say read them, then forget them, unless there is something truly constructive that you can use. They are there to help others make an informed choice as to what to buy... and as consumers we all know how to read between the lines.

If anyone wants to read my book and review it for Amazon, I would actually be very grateful.  

Tell us a bit about your story, key characters and plot.

Excuse me for simply pasting my ‘blurb’... I'd like to keep an air of mystery!

Forgotten Things is a coming of age tale set in the Cornish countryside during the mid 1980s. Delving deeply into Cornwall’s rich and dark faery lore; it is a novel of nature in contrast; sinister, beautiful, wise and innocent. With an otherworldly twist it explores the importance of influences; of growing up, whilst still looking backwards.
The tale which unfolds is seen through the eyes of one man recounting the memories and adventures of his childhood. In a similar way to a classic ghost story the ‘horror’ is subtle and unnerving, with its antagonists being the little people in their true form; ancient beings which transpose boundaries- taken seriously and sitting in mysterious juxtaposition with the secular world.

Do you plan your stories before you begin?

Everyone has their own way of doing things, but I think you have to plan to some degree. If you are making it all up as you go along, I think it will show. I have a beginning middle and end, I have key scenes and lots and lots of paragraphs I have written that I want to slot in. But you can fix it all together as your mind flows, and sometimes the best ideas will be those that you had not planned until your character was there, in the situation at the end of your fingertips, waiting to see what is around the corner. That is where writing becomes exciting to the author, because typing out the parts you already knew were going to happen can be quite dull!

If you could pick one book you wish you’d written, what would it be?

The Picture Of Dorian Gray.

What are your future plans for writing?

My novel Forgotten Things will be released either by myself or by a publishing house. And I have made plans to begin a semi-sequel... there are pages and pages of notes to sift through already!


Thank you once again for taking the time to talk to us, Stephen. We wish you all the best in finding a publisher for your next novel.