#AuthorInterview : Janet LoSole, Author of Adventure by Chicken Bus #AdventurebyChickenBus #memoir @JanetLoSole

Hello Readers! I’m pleased to welcome Janet LoSole, Author of Adventure by Chicken Bus for an interview on Books Teacup and Review. Check out this interesting travel adventure memoir and author in this post.

Adventure by Chicken Bus: An Unschooling Odyssey through Central America by Janet LoSole
Publication Date: December 11th 2019
Publisher: Resource Publications (CA)
Genre: Memoir / Travel Adventure

Sunopsis:

Embarking on a homeschooling field trip to Central America is stressful enough, but add in perilous bridge crossings, trips to the hospital, and a lack of women’s underwear, and you have the makings of an Adventure by Chicken Bus…a tale of one family, buckling under a mountain of debt, who sells all worldly possessions and hits the road.

Adventure by Chicken Bus demonstrates how to travel sustainably, but more importantly, how to nurture the next generation of environmentalists and social justice activists by exposing them to the conditions faced by those in the developing world.

From a remote monkey sanctuary tucked into an enclave on the Panama-Costa Rica frontier to the overdeveloped beaches of the Mayan Riviera, we endure chaotic border crossings, infections and injuries, learn about the history of the civil war in Nicaragua, visit UNESCO heritage sites, and hike the ancient Mayan temples of Tikal in Guatemala.

For the sake of safety, we plan our route down to the kilometer, navigating the region by chicken bus, an eye-opening mode of public transportation ubiquitous in the developing world. Along the way we re-connect with each other, re-kindle our commitment to the environment, recognize the privilege into which we were born, and become compassionate global citizens.

Janet LoSole is the author of Adventure by Chicken Bus: An Unschooling Odyssey through Central America. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in French Linguistics from York University in Toronto and a Bachelor of Education Degree from Nipissing University. She is a certified TESOL instructor and has taught ESL internationally since 1994. She began homeschooling her daughters in 1997. She writes about traveling with children and homeschooling. Her work has been published in: Canada’s Education Magazine, Natural Parent Magazine, The Alliance for Self-Directed Education, Outdoor Families Online, Unravel, and elsewhere.

Can you tell readers a little about your book, Adventure by Chicken Bus? What they can expect from it?

Adventure by Chicken Bus demonstrates how to travel sustainably, but more importantly, how to nurture the next generation of environmentalists and social justice activists by exposing them to the conditions faced by those in the developing world.

From a remote monkey sanctuary tucked into an enclave on the Panama-Costa Rica frontier to the overdeveloped beaches of the Mayan Riviera, we endure chaotic border crossings, infections and injuries, learn about the history of the civil war in Nicaragua, visit UNESCO heritage sites, and hike the ancient Mayan temples of Tikal in Guatemala.

For the sake of safety, we plan our route down to the kilometer, navigating the region by chicken bus, an eye-opening mode of public transportation ubiquitous in the developing world. Along the way we re-connect with each other, re-kindle our commitment to the environment, recognize the privilege into which we were born, and become compassionate global citizens.

How did you come up with the idea for your book? 

I first decided to write a book so my daughters would have a record of our adventure. I’d written a blog while we were on the road and once we returned home, I compiled all the blog entries into chapters. Then, I researched the market and found that although there are scads of blogs about traveling with kids, there are not that many memoirs about that.

The book is unique because most families homeschool temporarily because they are taking their kids on a trip. We were traveling because our kids were homeschooled. So the homeschoolers and worldschoolers out there needed a story by someone from their community. The book is also for people longing to travel with their kids, people who like adventure memoirs, and also expats who can relate to settling into a foreign community.

At the end of the day however, I wrote the book to answer the incessant questions from people who were curious about what we had done.

So you mentioned this is about a homeschooling field trip in this memoir. What are your thoughts on homeschooling?

The growing homeschooling movement points to large scale disillusionment in institutionalized education. Homeschooling has some drawbacks; a lack of resources for example (parents don’t have full science labs in their home or a regulation size soccer pitch).  However, it offers children a wide scope of opportunities to learn what they are interested in. This was the single driving force behind our decision to homeschool.

What were the key challenges you faced when writing Adventure by Chicken Bus?

I knew nothing about writing a long-form piece of prose. I’d only written short articles as a freelance writer. I spent a great deal of time learning how to write paragraphs that lead to chapters. I also learned about how to structure a memoir and how to pare down superfluous prose. In a nutshell, self-editing was the biggest challenge.

How long does it take you to write a book?

This is my first book. It took me years because I was homeschooling full-time while I was writing it. Full-time homeschooling, for those who are unaware, is 24/7. It’s a totally different system that traditional schooling.

Did you outline your book beforehand? Why or why not?

I did outline it in the sense that I wrote a blog on the trip and I used the blog entries as the skeleton for the book. I could not have done it otherwise; I would not have remembered as much if I had just written it without any outline to rely on.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned through writing Adventure by Chicken Bus?

I’ve learned that anyone can write a book if they take the time to learn how to write. I attended workshops, I asked fellow authors lots of questions, I read tons of books on how to write, as well as books in my genre. Most importantly, I learned to never give up the dream of becoming published.

Tell us about your journey to publication. 

I took a mathematical approach to getting published. I created color-coded charts and developed lists. I discovered that a fellow travel memoirist had queried 150 publishers before getting her book accepted so I relied on that number to set my goals. I had a spread sheet that compartmentalized publishers by region, then by genre, then by response time. I queried the publishers whose response time was many months out, and then I went down the list, first to Canadian publishers who were interested in my genre (travel, memoir), then branding out to the US, the UK, etc. On the spreadsheet I noted who was looking for a full proposal and who just wanted a query letter. I forced myself to learn how to write synopses, pitches, and proposals. On the 67th query, my book was accepted.

What are your most favorite and least favorite things about being an author?

There is a deep sense of accomplishment when you are a published author. For me personally, I feel that this has had a positive impact on my daughters who have their own dreams. I hope that my determination to get published will set an example of how to set goals and to never give up.

The least favorite thing about being an author is the pressure to write the next book.

Do you have any writing rituals?

As much as I chastise myself for going on social media, I learned to allow myself a bit of time during my morning tea to wake up and engage with others before settling in to write. I also have to take breaks. Often I just get in some laundry or start dinner on these breaks but in the nice weather I get out and walk or ride my bike to allow my brain a break.

What is your favorite childhood book?

Dr. Dolittle

What is the next project you’re working on?

I am currently working with my oldest daughter on a short film screenplay (she is an actor). 

When not writing, what do you like to do to relax?

I love to read, but I also love to watch Netflix, primarily k-dramas.

Can you describe Adventure by Chicken Bus in five words?

Kids, monkeys, spiders, bananas, turtles

And the last one, top 3 tips for aspiring authors.

  1. Learn (the library has dozens of books on how to write)
  2. Patience (it takes a long time to get published)
  3. Never. Give. Up. Never.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Book Links: (Amazon)

Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and interview?
Have you read this book?
Are you going to add it to TBR?

HAPPY READING!!

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#AuthorInterview : R. J. Garcia, Author of The Call of Death #TheCallofDeath @rj_dreamer

Hello Readers! I’m pleased to welcome R. J. Garcia, Author of The Call of Death for an interview on Books Teacup and Review. Check out more about this paranormal YA book and author in this post. I have already read this book. I enjoyed it and gave it 5 stars.If you haven’t read my review here is the ➡ LINK⬅ .

The Call of Death by R.J. Garcia
Publication Date: November 5th 2019
Publisher: Parliament House
Genre: Paranormal / YA Romance
Pages: 268

Fourteen-year-old Hannah Priestly crashes into a terrifying future. She wakes up in her dorm room now knowing the name of an infamous serial killer, Norman Biggs. He will attack her in the future unless she and her three male friends can change fate.

Hannah is an obsessive-compulsive California girl dropped off at an English boarding school by her celebrity mother. Hannah has difficulty understanding algebra, let alone her increasingly dark visions. Rory Veer is Hannah’s smart, easy-going and romantically challenged friend and school crush. When Norman Biggs unexpectedly appears in Rory’s reality, terror is set in motion. It is Rory who must acknowledge a past he has denied if the mystery is to be unraveled. 

R.J. Garcia is a wife, and proud mom of two smart kids. She earned her MSW and worked with foster children and as a school social worker. Writing has been her other great love. She has published several non-fiction pieces. She has been writing short stories for as long as she can remember. To her amazement, those short stories became novels!

Can you tell readers a little about your book, The Call of Death? What they can expect from it? 

Hannah Priestly is an obsessive-compulsive California girl attending an English boarding school with the usual teen problems. She doesn’t fit in at school and is falling in love with her best friend. But when she wakes up knowing the name of a notorious serial killer at large, Norman Biggs, her life goes from complicated to scary, and her visions only grow darker.  

Rory Veer is Hannah’s easy-going friend and school crush. When Norman Biggs unexpectedly appears in Rory’s reality, terror is set in motion. It is Rory who must acknowledge a past he has denied if the mystery is to be unraveled.

Expect young love and a lot of twists and turns.

How did you come up with the idea for your book? 

When I wrote the first draft, I had just finished reading the Harry Potter series with my daughter. It played a part in my decision to have the setting an English boarding school. I have also spent time in England and have cousins there. I am also fascinated with boarding schools, and love books like A Separate Peace.

The television show Medium, which I watched in the past, also inspired me to write this story. A nightmare I had about seeing a man behind me in the mirror catapulted the book’s first chapter.

What were the key challenges you faced when writing The Call of Death?

I think finding time is always a challenge. Also, because I have dyslexia and had only written short stories and didn’t know if I was up for the challenge of writing an entire novel. Although it was something, I always dreamt about doing. I had this story for The Call of Death in my head and pushed myself. My teenage daughter and brother kept wanting to read the next chapter, and it propelled me to keep going.  

What type of characters do you love and hate to write? What is your favorite quality in protagonists? Does anyone in real life inspire you to write them?

I love to write about imperfect characters and the underdog. I hate that muscled bond, cocky leading man type that would probably help me sell books. Yes, my characters are based on composites of real people. My other novel, Nocturnal Meetings, is inspired by a real foster kid I admired. He had been through a lot but had a lot of heart and resiliency. Hannah was a composite of a girl I counseled and a movie stars daughter I read about. The character, Hannah, had boys as friends like I did in high school.

The main character had the gift to see in the future, to smooth it and make it less crazy she called it premonitions. Have you ever had premonitions or experienced deja vu?

When I was in fourth grade, I was very close to my grandmother. She came to me in a dream to play and tell me she was going away. When I woke up that next morning my parents told me she had died. I really believe she came to me to say goodbye.

Other times I have also experienced a sense of déjà vu. I believe there is much more than just this life.

When writing, do you plot or go with the flow?

I plan out the main plot but let conversations and scenes flow. I am open to changing things if they don’t feel right on paper.

How long does it take you to write a book?

It took me six months to complete the first draft of the Call of Death. My current WIP took a little longer. I go through a week here or there where I don’t write at all. I get busy with work and family stuff. On top of that, I suffer from writer’s block sometimes.

Tell us about your journey to publication. 

It took me many years to have the confidence to even write a novel. When I did, I queried The Call of Death to a dozen agents with no luck and focused on writing Nocturnal Meetings of the Misplaced instead. When I finished writing Nocturnal Meetings, I queried some small publishers and found a home for it at The Parliament House. So, it was my second novel, but the first I published.

What are your most favorite and least favorite things about being an author?

My favorite thing about being an author is coming up with ideas and writing. Then having people actually read and connect with your stories is amazing! Seeing the cover for the first time and holding your book is incredible.

Since my mom passed and will never read my stories, it makes it bittersweet. On a lighter note, another of my least favorite things is letting go of the characters once the book is published. As weird as it sounds I kind of miss them.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I do like to drink coffee and have it quiet or music on. Hearing others talking or TV distracts me.

What is your favorite childhood book?

My mom read Charlotte’s Web to me, and I loved it. It made me have a thing for spiders and farm animals. She also made up stories, and that may be where I got my love of storytelling.

What is the next project you’re working on?

I have a short story available March 31st in The Masks Anthology alongside some fantastic authors from Filles Vertes Publishing. My story, The Axeman Among Us, is inspired by actual events. In 1918, Two young teen boys encounter The Axeman of New Orleans, the most infamous serial killer of their time. Fearing the killer will return, they implore the aid of a voodoo priestess.

I’m working on a new novel too. It is about a teenage boy who believes his new house is haunted until he discovers a strange girl living there. A girl who brings evil and supernatural beings into his life.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do to relax?

I like to hang out with my kids and play games, watch Netflix or movies, and snack. I watch true crime as well as HGTV. I also ride my bike now and then, and go to plays.

Can you describe The Call of Death in five words?

Visions, young love, and murder.

And the last one, top 3 tips for aspiring authors.

1. Write the story you’re obsessed with.
2. Make sure you’re ready to query. (proofread and find beta readers.)
3. Most importantly never give up.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Bookbub
Book Links ( Amazon ) : Nocturnal Meetings | The Call of Death | Masks Anthology

Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and interview?
Have you read this book or any other by the same author?
Are you going to add it to TBR?

HAPPY READING!!

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#AuthorInterview : Darryl A. Woods, Author of The Summoned Ones @DarrylAWoods #TheSummonedOnes #Fantasy

Hello Readers! I’m pleased to welcome Darryl A. Woods, Author of The Summoned Ones, newly released adult epic fantasy, for an interview on Books Teacup and Review. Check out more about the book and author in this post.

The Summoned Ones: Book 1 Flight to Bericea by Darryl A. Woods
Publication Date: February 29th 2020
Publisher: Bresford Ridge Publishing
Genre: Epic Fantasy

Synopsis:

The Bericean army was in Malabrim for the ninth straight fighting season. Over the past 9 years, Zybaro, the leader of a small band of unknowns, had evolved from his days as a minor usurper of a tiny kingdom. Now, almost the entire country of Malabrim was under Zybaro’s control, and his army was large enough to easily challenge Bericea’s army. Still, Bericea continued its raids into Malabrim, hoping to stem Zybaro’s methodical progress and thwart his tyrannical means of control. Zybaro had seized village after village, forcing anyone capable of joining his army and enslaving all who remained in deplorable working conditions to supply his army.

This latest conflict with Zybaro had pushed General Darnon to a decision, one he had resisted making for over a year. Though he still held grave reservations about the Prophecies, he was willing to support the clerics who would attempt the summoning. The details of the ritual had recently been discovered in an ancient tome. The clerics were confident they could bring forth the Summoned Ones of Prophecy, those mysterious beings who would aid Bericea in its time of greatest need.

Darnon also had concerns about the location of the summoning. It would have to take place farther into Malabrim than they had ventured in many years. And even if the ritual was effective, it would be a great challenge to get the Summoned Ones safely back to Bericea, in addition to the soldiers sent to protect them. However, Darnon felt that morale was so low, if they survived this battle, he owed his troops the hope the summoning ritual could bring.

Join the soldiers of Bericea and the Summoned Ones through a life-or-death struggle. The Summoned Ones was made up of a small college aged group of friends from a small Kentucky town near the Daniel Boone National Forrest, who find themselves somehow brought to a chaotic world through magic. Their epic journey will push the Summoned beyond the limits of their endurance. This unlikely group will discover many truths about themselves and experience another world beyond their imagination.

About Author:

Darryl A. Woods is a storyteller who hones his craft entertaining coworkers. He also enjoys regaling family and friends with stories of his upbringing in rural Ohio, of the motorized contraptions his father fabricated, and of the timber cutting and sawmill work he did with his father-in-law. With an appetite for reading fantasy, it was inevitable he would choose to write about an epic journey in a world dominated by magic and sword fighting.

Interview:

Can you tell readers a little about your book, The Summoned Ones? What they can expect from the book?

The reader can expect friendship, betrayal, battles, leadership, love, an evil protagonist, swordplay, personal growth, self-reflection, greed, evil creatures, horsemanship, creativity, magic use, and a treacherous journey. 

Can a group of college-aged friends from a small Kentucky town actually be the Summoned Ones of prophecy, called to a strange world filled with magic and devastated by war? Can they save the lives of the desperate inhabitants and help them defeat a wicked tyrant? Their epic journey will push them to the limits of their endurance. This unlikely group will discover truths about themselves and experience another world beyond their imagination.

During their journey, they will explore this new world, discover new talents and previously hidden abilities, develop friendships with people they couldn’t have dreamed possible, and will be forced to take actions they would have never considered in less dire circumstances.

The Summoned Ones is a portal story that thrust an eclectic group of college-age friends into a chaotic world. How did you come up with the idea for your book? 

I have been a huge fan of fantasy for years, and I can’t remember a time I wasn’t a storyteller. So, when my wife encouraged me to write a book, the genre was a given. I often daydreamed about how I would react to situations in books I read, ones that led to modern-day people thrust into a world completely foreign to anything they could imagine. This let me explore their emotions and how their experiences would determine certain reactions to situations.

What inspired you to create a fantasy setting, a world filled with prophecy, magic, and war?

Once I had decided to set modern-day people in a world of magic, I needed a way for them to get there. The idea of being summoned by a magic administered from a fantasy world came about.  I then needed a reason for them to enact the ritual, and the prophecies of a desperate, war-weary people came to be. 

What type of characters do you love and hate to write? What is your favorite quality in a protagonist? Does anyone in real life inspire you to write them?

I enjoyed all of the main college-aged characters, each for different reasons. They vary so much in personality and what motivates them that it kept things fresh as I moved from storyline to storyline. 

The most interesting aspect of the protagonist is his complete lack of empathy. Power and control of others are his only motivations, and he can never get enough of either.

I would say that there’s a bit of my brothers and me in the Renard brothers. My father was a machinist and we were all taught a great independence when making household repairs.

What were the key challenges you faced when writing The Summoned Ones? 

I guess I faced the same challenges that many authors do. Is this good enough or should I tweak it some more? Is the pace right for the situation? Will anyone like this? Should I react to the suggestion from an early reader that I really don’t agree with?

I had two situations that were not typical of a lot of authors. I have been a storyteller for many years, so plot, character development, and scene development that many authors struggle with came easier for me. I spent far more effort on the pace of the story, of balancing narrative and dialogue, getting the right mix of detail and the big picture. I suspect these come natural to other authors.

The other situation was that I had a relative and a good friend who was my editor. Her 30 years of experience, willingness to work with me, and quick turnaround made my work far better than it would have been otherwise.

What is the most interesting aspect of The Summoned Ones?

The portal aspect of showing modern-day people dealing with a fantasy world certainly allowed me to explore their emotional journey. I also liked the in-world characters dealing with the Summoned Ones. They treated them with a great deal of reverence, having heard stories of them all their lives but believing them only to exist in lore. But then I was able to show strong friendships develop between modern-day and fantasy-world characters.

Tell us about your journey to publication. 

That was a long journey filled with expensive mistakes and wasted time. I decided to pay a firm to help me publish so that I could continue to write. I spent a great deal of time researching a company that would just do the work, let me retain the material, and I would keep 100% of the royalties. The company started out well enough, but soon sold out to an entity that was simply a vanity publisher. It was an expensive lesson in terms of both money and a great deal of time. 

I was forced to research each step of the process to make certain that this new company was being honest with me. I eventually learned enough that I fired that company and recreated all material at far better quality, then published on my own.

What are your most favorite and least favorite things about being an author?

My most favorite is having characters and scenes spring to life out of thin air as I write. One character in the last chapter came to life only as I developed a storyline that I had expected to write completely differently. It forced me to go back and add to already written scenes to set up this new character and the scenes he inspired. In the end, I felt his scenes and character were among the strongest, and I thoroughly enjoyed writing them.

My least favorite is the grind of editing and promoting. It is purely a rinse-and-repeat process that you must commit to doing every day. Even these have great moments of accomplishment, such as having advance readers really enjoy that latest scene, or spending 10 hours over a weekend sending out review requests and hearing back from several of them.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Very early on in my writing, I was in a restaurant when an idea struck me. I talked the waitress into a pen and jotted my ideas down on several napkins. When I got home and typed it into the story, I discovered that I edited the material far more thoroughly going from handwritten to the keyboard. I like the improved quality so much that I wrote in longhand every page of the book after that. 

I would even do a few handwritten edits. I would print the chapter and then make corrections with a pencil. I think the left-brain, right-brain thing kicks in and you see clearly things you miss editing on the screen.

What is the next project you’re working on?

The Summoned Ones is the first book of a two-book series. My next book, Perilous Path, is the conclusion to the Flight to Bericea story and is about 70% complete. By complete, I mean written, professionally edited, and read by 20 advanced readers. I’m planning on being done by the end of summer with a release in November 2020.

I have the overall plot of the next two book series in Bericea thought through. I have also written the rough drafts of two scenes I had to get out of my head.

Can you describe The Summoned Ones in five words?

Epic war and magic journey

And the last one, top three tips for aspiring authors.

  • Make time to write.
  • Don’t be afraid to publish.
  • Believe that your work will be enjoyed by many.
  • And a fourth tip I’m stealing from a good friend. Never feed chili to the dog.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Website | Newsletter (short story every 15 days) | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram | Book Links

Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and interview?
Have you read this book?
Are you going to add it to TBR?

HAPPY READING!!

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#AuthorInterview : Robert Crouch, author of No Mercy @robertcrouchuk #NoMercy

Hello Readers! I’m happy to welcome Robert Crouch, author of No Mercy, fifth in Kent Fisher Mysteries, for an interview on Books Teacup and Review. Check out more about the book and author in this post.

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No Mercy (Kent Fisher Mysteries #5) by Robert Crouch
Publication Date: January 16th 2020
Genre: Murder Mystery

Synopsis:

COULD YOU KILL IF JUSTICE FAILED YOU?

Highways Inspector, Derek Forster, couldn’t go on after the death of his wife. Even though he had a secret lover, he took his own life. Or did he?

Samson Capote, the restaurateur from hell, brutally attacked and left to die in a deep freezer. Did he antagonise too many people? Was he sharing Forster’s secret lover?Millionaire entrepreneur, Clive Chesterton, falls from his yacht and drowns in Sovereign Harbour. Why did he have Forster’s missing journals in his cabin?

When Kent Fisher becomes a murder suspect, he realises he could be the next victim of a killer who shows no mercy.

Can Kent connect the deaths and solve the mystery before the killer gets to him?

About Author:

Robert Crouch writes the kind of books he loves to read. Books ranging from the classic whodunit by authors like Agatha Christie, the feisty private eye novels of Sue Grafton, thrillers by Dick Francis, and the modern crime fiction of Peter James and LJ Ross.

He created Kent Fisher as an ordinary person, drawn into solving murders. He’s an underdog battling superior forces and minds, seeking justice and fair play in a cruel world. These are the values and motivations that underpinned Robert’s long career as an environmental health officer.

He now writes full time from his home in East Sussex. When not writing, he’s often found walking on the South Downs with his West Highland white terrier, Harvey, enjoying the scenery and researching the settings for future Kent Fisher mysteries.

Interview

Can you tell readers a little about your book, No Mercy? What they can expect from the book?

My books are contemporary murder mysteries, featuring amateur sleuth, Kent Fisher. He’s an environmental health officer by trade, but finds himself drawn into murder investigations.

The stories feature a strong backstory based around his work, relationships and the animal sanctuary he also runs. The characters and events in the backstory often link to the murders and themes of each book and offer readers something in addition to a classic whodunit, such as a glimpse into the world of environmental health.

No Mercy is the fifth novel in the series where Kent has to connect three seemingly random deaths to identify a killer before he becomes a victim himself.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

I hate injustice and unfairness and wanted to explore what could happen when someone felt the system had let them down. I also wanted to how a restaurateur from hell can abuse social media to give Kent nothing but grief.

No Mercy is fifth in Kent Fisher Mysteries Series. Can readers read it as standalone or should read in order? How do your plot and characters develops in the series?

Yes, it can be read as a standalone, but most readers want to get to know the characters and backstory, starting at the beginning with No Accident. Many of the comments readers and reviewers make concern the relationships and characters as much as solving the murders.

There are running issues in the backstory. Kent’s work as an environmental health officer happens during severe public spending cuts, which affect his ability to do the work he loves. The relationships between characters, especially Kent and Gemma continue to change, offering a romantic element to the stories. Then there is his animal sanctuary, family problems and the effects of solving some testing murders.

You get a flavour if this in No Mercy, but not the full picture.

What is the key theme and/or message in the book?

How far would you go if justice failed you? Would you kill?

What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?

The challenge is invariably the same with all my books – keeping it fresh and credible, which isn’t easy when your main character isn’t a police officer or private detective.

I also want the events to be based on reality, especially as an environmental health officer wouldn’t normally investigate murders. That means accuracy, which is where research comes in. As an environmental health officer in real life, I’ve enforced the law, worked with the police and Coroner’s Officer, so I have a good idea how things work. But I’m always asking friends in the police for help.

I also don’t plan the books. I have a few notes on the subject area, what motivates the killer and the theme, but that’s all. It means I’m never sure if I have enough for a novel when I begin writing. I have only a vague idea where the story will go as it develops chapter by chapter. I simply throw in complications at the end of every chapter and see where they take me. More ideas come to me and sometimes the rest of the story, which forces me to stop and make notes.

Though scary, writing is much more exciting this way. After all, if I knew what was going to happen it wouldn’t be as exciting. I hope it shows in the stories

What type of characters do you love and hate to write? What is your favourite quality in protagonists? Does anyone in real life inspire you to write them?

All characters, whether good or bad, are interesting. Some characters present challenges as it’s easy to slip into cliché with police officers or managers who talk like training manuals. As in real life, where you get to know people slowly over time, my characters grow and develop as they become involved in the stories.

I love writing the female characters, especially those who might become a love interest for Kent. As in real life, he reacts differently to different people, so it’s fascinating to watch these characters in action.

I have lots of favourite qualities – like courage, empathy, sacrifice, selflessness and determination, but top of the list is fighting unfairness and injustice.

I create all my characters from scratch so they were entirely fictional. Of course, there are characteristics, phrases, tics and mannerisms I pinch from people I know and meet. If I want a particular characteristic or type, there may be someone who could act as a role model, but it’s much more fun and more satisfying to create my own people.

Tell us about your journey to publication.

How long have you got? It’s a long journey filled with rejection slips, self-doubt, frustration and unrealistic expectations.

My true journey to publication began when I realised I wanted to write crime fiction, thanks to Agatha Christie and in particular, Sue Grafton, who wrote the brilliant Alphabet series featuring PI Kinsey Millhone. I created Kent Fisher, found a way to draw him into a murder and wrote three novels. The first was okay, but the characters and relationships weren’t right. The next two became the foundations for No Accident and No Bodies. The stories lacked that certain something to tempt a publisher, but the plots were complex, intricate and unique.

When I gave up smoking in 2006, I had to stop writing. The two were so intrinsically linked and I had no intention of smoking again. Roll on about nine months, and the urge to write returned. Feeling rusty and unsure of myself, I started a humorous blog, based on my experiences as an environmental health manager. To disguise my identity, I wrote it as Kent Fisher and called the blog, Fisher’s Fables.

Five years and many blog posts later, I realised I’d found my author voice. I returned to my two novels and rewrote them in this new voice. I showed a couple of chapters to an author friend, who offered to introduce me to a publisher. The publisher liked the first chapter and offered me a contract. He went on to publish No Accident in June 2016.

While I bought back the rights and now publish the novels myself, I’m grateful for that first opportunity and the confidence boost it gave me.

What are your most favourite and least favourite thing about being an author?

Writing and editing the stories are my most favourite. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a pantser, who writes his stories chapter by chapter, never quite knowing how the story will develop. I love it when characters surprise me by not doing what I want or expect them to do. This takes me into uncharted territory. It makes the writing more exciting and dynamic and somehow it all works out in the end.

Editing polishes the rough stone. I love sharpening the prose, lifting the plot when it sags, making the story clearer. With each edit and revision, the word count drops and I can see and feel the story improving, which means it will be better for the reader.

My least favourite things are the covers and blurb. I tried to make life easy by keeping the same background for all the covers, changing only the title, strapline and what appears in the foreground. Yet when I write each book, I have no idea what to put on the cover – with the exception of No Bodies, which is my favourite cover.

Writing the blurb is difficult and frustrating. Once written, it never seems good enough. I often update the blurbs for my books. One day, I’ll work out the secret and enjoy the process.

Do you have any writing rituals?

No. I write morning, five days a week, slipping into the afternoons when I need to. I keep evenings and weekends free.

What is the next project you’re working on?

Book 6 in the Kent Fisher mystery series, is provisionally entitled, No Love Lost. As the title suggests, there’s bitterness and ill-feeling at its core, which leads to murder. Revenge is a dish best served cold. Ice cold. These words have been going around in my head and may well become the strapline.

It’s the most difficult and adventurous book I’ve attempted so far, which adds to the pressure. But I need to stretch myself, to try something different and improve as a writer. I also hope it keeps the series as fresh and interesting as possible.

Can you describe No Mercy in five words?

I struggled with the blurb, so five words feels almost impossible.

Injustice. Betrayal. Baffling. Unusual. Exciting.

And the last one, top 3 tips for aspiring authors.

Find your author voice – it’s what makes you and your work unique. It’s the way you write and express yourself naturally, so don’t fight it or be stifled by grammar or comparing your writing with that of other authors. Cherish your natural style and develop it with lots of practice. Without it, you will never produce your best work.

Read, read, read and keep reading. There are so many great authors and books out there. Let them become your friends and offer you insights and guidance.

Listen to your inner voice – it soon speaks out when something isn’t right, or when you’re pushing your characters into places they shouldn’t go. Trust that voice and become a better writer.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

The best places are my website or my Amazon author page.

Website: https://robertcrouch.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertcrouchauthor

Twitter: @robertcrouchuk

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01HFPCYOM

Book Links: (Amazon)

No Mercy: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B083JHPLCJ

All books listed on my Amazon Author page

Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and interview?
Have you read this book or any in this series?
Are you going to add it to TBR?

HAPPY READING!!

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#AuthorInterview : Varsha Ravi, author of The Heartless Divine @pvraviwrites

Hello Readers! I’m pleased to welcome Varsha Ravi, author of YA Fantasy debut novel- The Heartless Divine, for an interview on Books Teacup and Review. Check out more about the book and author in this post.

The Heartless Divine by Varsha Ravi
Publication Date: November 29th 2019
Genre: YA / Fantasy

Synopsis:

In this unexpected twist on mythology inspired by Sangam India, reincarnated lovers find themselves bound together, connected to their past by a centuries old tragedy that only one of them remembers.

In the ruthless martial empire of Naja, Suri is the crown’s unfailing blade. But the princess dreams of a life exploring the lands beyond the borders, unshackled by blood. The king and queen offer her freedom, at a price: marriage to a king she’s meant to kill, and the death of Athri, a kingdom her family once nearly destroyed.

Her only obstacle lies in the mountains above the Athrian capital of Marai, where a young prophet sees a world struck by catastrophe—a world where a girl lies dead in the temple of the fire god, and the city lies burning below.

Centuries later, Suri lives with no recollection of her past lives. Haunted by her family’s deaths eighteen years ago, Suri sees the boy bleeding gold on her doormat as an opportunity to unravel the mystery of the car crash that took their lives. But not all gifts are created equal, and the boy soon proves to be more trouble than he’s worth, a dangerous link back to a world of gods and wishes.

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Varsha Ravi is a senior at California High School. She was born and raised in Illinois, before moving to North Carolina. She is currently living in the Bay Area, California.

As a kid, she read voraciously, encouraging her to attempt writing her first stories at a young age. Even as she grew older, creative writing continued to be a passion of hers.

The Heartless Divine is her first novel.

When she’s not writing, she can be found reading, studying, or curating Spotify playlists.

Can you tell readers a little about your book, The Heartless Divine? What they can expect from the book?

The Heartless Divine is a book about human choice in a world dictated by fate. It follows two different timelines: one set in the U.S.A. in the 21st century, and one set in 200 A.D. in a country inspired by areas of Sangam Era India. In the modern timeline, a nineteen-year-old college student named Suri finds herself mysteriously bound to an amnesiac god weakened by an attack he can’t fully remember. The rest of that plot mainly follows their budding friendship as Kiran struggles to piece together his past and how it connects him to Suri in the present. The past plot follows the first lives of the soulmates, over seventeen hundred years before the modern arc. Suri, an assassin princess from a foreign country, is arranged to marry the young king of Athri. Her assignment is to kill him immediately after the wedding. However, the king’s adopted brother, the messianic prophet of the kingdom, has a vision of her death soon before her arrival. This plot largely follows the span of time between her arrival and the wedding, as Kiran tries to protect Suri and she struggles to confront her feelings regarding the upcoming assassination.

Readers can expect a complex, mythology-inspired fantasy with romance, drama, and tragedy.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

It came to me while I was writing another book, actually. Back then, a lot of the details that I now feel are incredibly salient and relevant to the plot didn’t exist; more than anything, my first grasp of the book hinted more at underlying themes in the premise: a tragic love story bookended by humans and gods and sacrifice, and a peek at the darker sides of love and power. Thinking about it now, I might’ve thought up the initial premise while listening to a song (most of my ideas appear when I’m listening to music).

What inspired you for fantasy setting and reincarnated lovers arc of The Heartless Divine?

Setting wise, I knew I wanted to tell a story across two different timelines, with fundamentally different circumstances. There’s definitely an element of fate present in the story, and I wanted to play with how the timelines paralleled one another and differed, to emphasize the characters’ agency but also bring in a kind of inevitability with regards to their endings. The reincarnated soulmates arc stems from that greatly – Suri and Kiran are different from their past selves, and yet they still fall in love.

The magic system in the book was always meant to be tied to gods, but more than that, I liked the idea of tying it to souls. Souls don’t change, but they can be changed and manipulated, and are the same in humans and in gods. I thought it would be interesting to create a fantasy where magic was innate and visceral instead of nature-based, especially since the novel itself is closely tied to emotions borne of such things.

What type of characters do you love and hate to write? What is your favorite quality in protagonists? Does anyone in real life inspired you to write them?

This might come off a bit trite, but I really love writing characters that are human. I like imbuing them with the flaws and dreams and strengths that come with every one of us, and I also love writing the different dynamics between naturally conflicting characters. I also love playing with idealistic and cynical characters, and the spectrum of morality. My favorite quality in protagonists.

I don’t enjoy writing characters that are incontrovertibly good or evil, or adhere too closely to a certain trope. Although I feel like those kinds of characters do have a place in fiction, it’s personally not as fun to me when there’s no apparent depth to a character’s actions.

None of my real life acquaintances have directly inspired a character, though I do feel like some of the character’s traits might have been inspired by my close friends, and my interactions with them. There’s no real character inserts, though.

What is the most interesting aspect of The Heartless Divine?

I modeled the book after a classical tragedy with the aim of emphasizing the heavy hand of fate throughout the plot. I think the most interesting aspect is how the supposed freedom of human choice works into that; whether human agency is real, and if not, whether it still matters to feel as though you have control of your own fate. Another interesting aspect of the book is the dichotomy between humanity and divinity; by making one of the characters a god who was once a human, it was really fun to play with the boundaries of what defines inhumanity, and thus, what defines humanity.  

Tell us about your journey to publication.

I decided to self-publish. Juggling revisions, publication, classes, and college applications wasn’t easy, but my father helped out with a lot of the minutiae of the publishing process.

What are your most favorite and least favorite thing about being an author?

My favorite thing is probably just writing. It can definitely be overwhelming at times, but the rush that comes from working through a good scene is unbeatable. Research can also be really fun.

My least favorite thing is probably the self-consciousness that comes with knowing my work is publicly available. I’m confident in my writing, but it’s a little strange to know anyone could pick up the book and read it now, after so many months of it being solely my own.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I prefer to write at home on my bed, but I’m pretty flexible with location as long as I feel somewhat secluded. My only real ritual is that it’s difficult for me to get into the mood if I’m not listening to music. I’ve made several playlists for each of the projects I’ve worked on.

What is the next project you’re working on?

I’m currently working on the sequel to The Heartless Divine. Plotting it has been incredibly fun so far. I think it’s an interesting foil to the first novel; it has a lot of the same themes, but circumstances change drastically, and the decisions the characters are forced to take become much messier and darker.

Can you describe The Heartless Divine in five words?

Fate, doomed love, human error.

And the last one, top 3 tips for aspiring authors.

  1. Read as often as you can, and as much as you can. Reading helps with understanding plot structure on a deeper level, and being surrounded with prose can help spark inspiration. It’s also just really interesting to see some of the amazing books out there these days.
  2. Write as often as you can – even if you can’t get anything on paper one day, try to keep yourself engaged by plotting and fleshing out the details of the story. But writing even a few hundred words each day does help stabilize flow and style.
  3. Don’t be self-conscious of your work on your first draft. I’ve definitely struggled with this and continue to, but the time I spend stressed out about specific sentences or paragraphs is wasted. Over time, I’ve begun to place faith in the revision process and trained myself to write whatever I want to on the first draft.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Readers can check out my website (linked below), as well as my twitter.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Goodreads

Purchase Links: Amazon

Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and interview? Have you read this book? Are you going to add it to TBR?

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