Monthly Archives: September 2013

Author Interview with Ica Iova

We bid a warm welcome to Ica Iova:

Born in Romania, Ica Iova moved to Canada with her family, in 1988. Married, a mother and grandmother, her views on life are defined by her spiritual beliefs – that although everyone’s life is planned and managed by God, some things will happen in one’s life because of one’s actions. She takes pleasure in simple things and accepts people however different they are.

http://icaiova.webs.com
http://on.fb.me/17cnSAa
http://amzn.to/18uhk1b
http://exm.nr/11v5BPf

1. How long have you been writing?

I think I always had a passion for writing, however becoming a full time writer only became possible recently. I write about parenting and other social issues at Examiner.com, and in 2012 I published my first novel, My Children His Victims, followed by my second book Your Children First in 2013.

2. What is the earliest work of yours that you have published or intend to publish?

I wrote a collection of short paranormal stories back in the 80’s. That collection was translated in English in the spring of 2013, and will be published by the end of this year, under the title Presumed Crossed Over.

3. Who were the earliest authors to be an inspiration for your writing?

My very first inspiration was Romanian author Theodor Constantin. Chrysanthemums for Etna was the last of his nine novels which concludes the chain of agent Ducu Manaila’s adventures of international espionage. The profound and inadmissible love story between an international spy and an agent working for one of the most brutal secret police forces in the world – Securitate (Romanian Intelligence Service), had an intense stimulus on my writing in terms of bringing to light my characters’ powerful human emotions.

4. Which other authors do you consider to be an inspiration and for what reason?

I always loved Agatha Cristie and her mystery novels for an excellent characterization.

Given my fascination with the unknown, later in life I came to love Stephen King who inspired me on my second drafts and how to eliminate the unessential parts of the story.

“Mostly when I think of pacing, I go back to Elmore Leonard, who explained it so perfectly by saying he just left out the boring parts. This suggest cutting to speed the pace, and that’s what most of us end up having to do – kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” He said.

King’s formula for success: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%.

5. Are you inspired by any landscapes or buildings, or even towns and cities?

Though when I think of describing a place, I always think of my adoptive city – Vancouver – with its natural beauty of mountains and beaches, when writing any paranormal story I can’t help but associate it with my native country – Romania – where supernatural events are as common as soap operas in the western world.

6. Which was the first book you published and why?

My Children His Victims is a lyrical novel which through the eyes of its main character – Johanna – takes the reader in the midst of a bitter divorce, with all its bells and whistles. The tests and trials to which Johanna is submitted by her ex-husband and his equally irrational lawyer, shows the reader the lengths to which anger and court battles drive seemingly normal people. I wrote the book following my daughter’s bitter divorce and custody, because I thought that it is important to bring attention to the psychological and financial damage that such disputes cause to these families. Divorce is very common nowadays; people get married, people get divorced. It breaks my heart to realize that many parents suffer watching their children die of various illnesses or freak accidents, while others cause themselves unnecessary pain and suffering by fighting in family courts for who’ll take the children trick or treating.

7. Have you been surprised by a negative reaction to any of your work?

I have only received one negative comment about my first book, and although it was clear to me that the reader who made the comment did not read the book, I would not be surprised to hear a negative reaction, because no book ever, can satisfy all tastes. Nonetheless, I welcome all opinions equally, and I’m open and willing to learn from my critics.

8. Other than authors (and friends and family) who are your heroes?

My heroes are ordinary people who do, what I consider, extraordinary things such as a disabled individual who has to overcome incredible barriers and difficulties in order to live a somewhat normal life that many of us take for granted; I take my hat off to millions of abuse survivors who instead of resigning to being just victims, rise and turn a negative situation into a positive one by speaking up and educating others about an important social issue.

9. If you could go back in time to learn the truth about one historical mystery or disputed event what would it be?

I’m most interested in two disputed mysteries.

Atlantis, the advanced island civilization that was destroyed or lost. Stories about Atlantis are first mentioned in Plato’s dialogues Timaeus and Critias, in which characters say it was destroyed by an earthquake or a tsunami about 9,000 years before the time in which Plato wrote. The story claims Atlantis was somewhere outside the Pillars of Hercules. According to Plato, the story originated with Ancient Egyptian priests.

Also the extent of the historical basis of the Iliad has been a topic of scholarly debate in classical studies since the 19th century. While the Age of Enlightenment had rejected the story of the Trojan War as fable, the discoveries made by Heinrich Schliemann at Hisarlik reopened the question in modern terms, and the subsequent excavation of Troy VIIa and the discovery of the toponym Wilusa in Hittite correspondence has made it plausible that the Trojan War cycle was at least remotely based on a historical conflict of the 12th century BC.

10. What is the name of your latest book, and what inspired you to write it?

What is more mysterious than what happens to us after death? The lure of the unknown is deeply human, and being born in a country rich in paranormal, has doubled my fascination with the unknown. I’ve recently finished another book titled “She Never Got To Say Goodbye” – a paranormal thriller about young wife and mother who is killed in her own house. Convinced that her husband is the killer, she comes back from beyond the grave determined to punish him, but instead, finds herself joining forces with her husband, her best friend, and a private investigator, to find her killer. All my books about the paranormal, will not take you to places that won’t let you sleep at night, but to places which give you hope, that life does not end here.

Thank You, Ica Iova!

Soul of the Hunter

Soul of the Hunter

Raging fires that burn within my heart
Calloused palms grip the eternity
Of the night that lies before me
I fight my way through to the darkness
I thrust aside the mist and the fog
Ever alone and hunted by mine enemies
I yet seek to annihilate
Those that would do more harm

Beholder Problems

My novel Beholder has hit a file corruption problem. I’m not sure where it happened – whether on the laptop, or copying the file between laptop and desktop, or on the desktop PC, or in conversion of Word from one format to another, or even in downloading from CreateSpace the master copy (as I thought). But the last backup I can find has gone into crazy all-capitals mode, whilst the last one uploaded to CreateSpace was so corrupt it failed the pagination test.

There ARE backups saved elsewhere, including on DVD, but this is a stark warning that you should not overwrite existing backups but check that the file you are copying over a serviceable one actually works!

Many Grrrs! Its going to take me many hours I had intended to spend on other projects to sort this out.

Beset Rearguards
Grey Wolf

The Keys of Marinus

In the lead-up to Doctor Who’s Fiftieth Anniversary, Grey Wolf’s Blog will be hosting the event “Monday Favourite Dr Who Story“.

This week, we take a look at the First Doctor story, The Keys of Marinus, starring William Hartnell as the Doctor, William Russell as Ian, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara and Carole Ann Ford as Susan. Originally broadcast in April and May 1964 ‘The Keys of Marinus’ was one of the later stories in Doctor Who’s first season.

A six-parter, ‘The Keys of Marinus’ is very much an ensemble piece. As Doctor Who was made almost all-year round, rather amusingly William Hartnell’s two-week holiday fell within the middle of filming, necessitating his absence from the story and allowing the two supporting characters to play a greater role.

The story has the theme of a quest for the scattered keys to a mind-control device, the Conscience of Marinus, spread out across the planet to prevent the machine being used by the wrong people. The same theme would be used again in Tom Baker’s time to make a whole season of stories, ‘The Key to Time’ which in many ways has the episodes of this story as its antecedents.

The Doctor and his companions land on an island possessed of a large building and surrounded by a sea of acid. Although the relatively cramped nature of the set is evident, clever use of camera angles generally gives a good impression of a much larger scene. Also, whilst it is evident on modern televisions where the break between the set for the giant building and the painted backdrop is, on 1960s black-and-white televisions the picture would have been much less distinct, and it would have looked far more natural.

Once the quest begins it takes the form of hopping between predetermined locations in a pattern, first here, then there, then the next as the designer of the machine, the sole person left on the island has programmed their teleportation devices. These locations include some very nicely done scenes, each one the location of that week’s quest. The jungle laboratory where the trees have been accellerated is an excellent set, with a simple but dramatic story, whilst the mountain ice and snow, with the single hunter-trapper in his hut is another.

I omit one of the more dramatic episodes here, because the spoilers spoil it. But it is one where the surviving colour photographs of the set and actors are very effective indeed. The brains in a jar motif would later be used in a Blakes Seven episode, showing again how much science fiction series borrow from each other.

My favourite location is the last one, the city where Ian arrives ahead of the others and accidentally stumbles into the murder of a man in a museum, a murder in the middle of an act of burglary, the target of which has been the final key to the machine. The Doctor is absent at this time, having gone ahead a deal in advance of the story (in story terms) meaning that when Barbara and the two others (the ensemble cast) arrive they find Ian under arrest, and the Doctor a rumour.

The court case before three judges in the Byzantine manner is good drama, and the out-of-court adventures are worthy of Perry Mason right up to the last-minute twist. The Doctor, William Hartnell having returned from his holiday, and the others now use the teleportation device to return to the island.

In the first episode we came upon a dead Voord, the enemy that the keeper of the machine had feared would seize it and use it for their own ends. Although he looks like a man in a wet suit with weird appendages, he is an effective looking creature. Whether he is intended to be some sort of bio-mechanical entity (half man half rubber) or a semi-human is never made clear, and perhaps we are better for not knowing. Their return at the end is inevitable, much like that of the Black Guardian in Tom Baker’s Key To Time series, and the denouement is probably obvious, since what else was going to happen?

All in all this is a very enjoyable story. The frequent change of scenes within one mission, and the addition of two extra characters help a lot to keep the pace going, whilst there is genuine mystery and drama in the court case.

Buy The Keys of Marinus at Amazon UK
Buy The Keys of Marinus at Amazon.com

Author Interview with Devorah Fox

Rebekah Pierce #6094 - pictage.comFP#7 New Cover Image 2

We bid a warm welcome to Devorah Fox:
Facebook www.facebook.com/DevorahFoxAuthor
Website http://devorahfox.com
https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/3235

1. How long have you been writing?

I have memories of having written a novel in the third grade. As I recall it was about a Korean immigrant orphan. Not that at age 8 I knew anything about Korean immigrant orphans. I illustrated it too and couldn’t decide which I liked better, writing or illustrating.

2. What is the earliest work of yours that you have published or intend to publish?

Does a guest editorial for Newsday newspaper count? I was a senior in high school. If I remember correctly it was a competitive program to involve high school students with the paper (and snag future subscribers, I suppose). Budding marketing genius that I was, I opined about a worthy but noncontroversial topic which I was certain would be worthy of publication. It was published, as well as my picture and byline above my editorial.

3. Who were the earliest authors to be an inspiration for your writing?

I’ve loved to read for as long as I can remember, but the author who inspired me to do my own writing was Faye Kellerman. I so enjoyed her books that I decided “I want to do that.”

4. Which other authors do you consider to be an inspiration and for what reason?

I like Greg Iles and Randy Wayne White for the way they create a vivid sense of place.

5. Are you inspired by any landscapes or buildings, or even towns and cities?

I’m not in particular. I’m more inspired by people and ideas. My stories come from “what if?” What if instead of happening the way it did, this happened instead?

6. Which was the first book you published and why?

The first published book I was involved with was BUMPER TO BUMPER, The Complete Guide to Tractor-Trailer Operations. My late husband and I had started a company to do entry-level truck driver training curriculum design. He thought the industry needed a textbook and decided we should create one. That was in 1988 and the book is still in publication, now in its fifth edition.

The Lost King was my first published work of fiction. I had had the story in my head and as the occasional journal entry for several years. In 2010 I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month and picked The Lost King to work on. I finished it in 2011 and it was released in December of that year.

7. Have you been surprised by a negative reaction to any of your work?

I’m fortunate to be able to say that all the reaction has been positive and encouraging. I’d hope to remember that I haven’t liked every book that I ever read and be able to take negative comments in stride.

8. Other than authors (and friends and family) who are your heroes?

Many of our contemporary so-called “heroes” have certainly achieved great accomplishments but I don’t consider that heroic. I define a “hero” as someone who risks his or her health or welfare for the benefit of society. I would name as heroes women like Margaret Sanger, Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, who were committed to a cause, boldly went where women weren’t supposed to go and suffered for it personally, but didn’t quit.

9. If you could go back in time to learn the truth about one historical mystery or disputed event what would it be?

Stonehenge fascinates me. I got to see it, albeit in the pouring rain, in January, 2012. I’d also love to know the how and why of the Nazca Lines.

10. What inspired you to write your latest book release, The King’s Ransom?

Fans of The Lost King kept asking me “what happens next?” and “when is the next book coming out?” When I wrote The Lost King, I didn’t have a series in mind. My original intent was to write a happy ending for a friend’s very real life-altering crisis. However, as is often the case, the characters had different ideas. As I approached the conclusion, I realized there was no way this particular tale could end happily ever after. King Bewilliam had learned a lot but still had a lot to learn. Now I’ve got a entire saga on my hands with other characters from the series clamoring to have their stories told.

Devorah Fox, Thank You very much!

Science Fiction Month is Coming!

November 2013 is Science Fiction Month

NOVEMBER 2013

Science Fiction Month is a month-long multi-blog extravaganza where numerous bloggers will devote the entirety of their blogs during that period to posts on the multitude of topics that come under the banner of ‘Science Fiction’. There will be reviews, interviews, give-aways, top tens and much more.

GREY WOLF’S BLOG

Grey Wolf’s blog will be a full participant in Science Fiction Month, with over four weeks of posts already planned, including the ‘Monday Favourite Doctor Who Story’, the ‘Saturday Doctor Focus’ and the ‘Wednesday Book Day’. There will also be promotions for new and recent science fiction books, a look at some of the classic films of the genre, both older and modern, and author interviews available for independent authors who write in the genre of Science Fiction.

DOCTOR WHO 50TH ANNIVERSARY

A large feature of this blog during Science Fiction Month will be the forthcoming 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, and the TV Special that airs on Saturday 23rd November. There will be a lot of build-up to this event, some of it starting in mid-October so as to properly stagger the posts, and I will be featuring one of my favourite stories from each Doctor, starting with ‘The Keys of Marinus’ from William Hartnell’s era. I will also have a weekly overview feature, comparing and focusing on two doctors at a time, with the first on Saturday 19th October having a look at William Hartnell’s and Patrick Troughton’s portrayal of the character and an overview of 1960’s Doctor Who.

AUTHOR INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE

Grey Wolf’s blog offers author interviews to independent and other authors, and for the month of November 2013 there is a special opportunity for any independent science fiction author to have an interview that will no doubt be syndicated across many other participating blogs. If you are eligible and interested, please email enquiries@alternate-history-fiction.com.

Author Interview with Mark Fleming

Mark Fleming author Call of The Siren by Mark Fleming

Mark Fleming grew up in Southport, in the Northwest of England, before moving to London in the mid 1980s where he lived until the early 2000s. Mark published his first book, Firework Art,in 2005. He published his first novel, Challerton, in 2012. In June 2013, he published another non-fiction title, Fascination, Firework and Festival. In October 2013, Mark’s second novel comes out. Titled The Call of the Siren, it is the first in a trilogy of Siren books. Mark’s website can be found at www.rumblebook.co.uk and his Amazon page at www.amazon.co.uk/Mark-Fleming/e/B007JTVY5K.

1. How long have you been writing?
I have been writing for an audience since my mid teens, although not consistently. I wrote non-fiction first and then took a break from it throughout my twenties. I then began to write screenplays in the early nineties, and took one, titled Ellen, to within a few months of seeing it made into a feature film. That deal fell through, but it showed there was some merit in my work. I began fiction writing in the mid nineties and still have a few of my first attempts on file for future reworking.

2. What is the earliest work of yours that you have published or intend to publish?
In my youth I was very interested in Astronomy, and through giving talks at my local astronomy society and neighbouring schools, a local paper asked whether I would write monthly night sky articles. I was aged fifteen when I began to write them. They were limited to 300 words, but were successful enough to be syndicated to other newspapers in Northwest England.

3. Who were the earliest authors to be an inspiration for your writing?
The first author to move me, and therefore show the power of words, was Ernest Thompson Seaton, who wrote a book called ‘The Biography of a Grizzly’. He wrote the book in 1900 and my father, when a young boy, won a copy at his school. That old copy was the first full book I ever read on my own. Following the life of a Grizzly Bear, from a tiny cub to its peaceful death, it has stayed with me ever since. It made me cry at the end, and it made me realise just what those squiggles of ink on a sheet of paper can achieve. Writing should move you in some manner – fear, wonder, erotic, sensual, funny.

4. Which other authors do you consider to be an inspiration and for what reason?
Again, I would have to think more of authors I read when young, for that is when I formed the backbone of my desire to write. I would have to say Philippa Pearce, therefore. ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’ is still, for me, the perfect book. It may not be the greatest work of literature, but it perfectly tells its story, and does so with many subtle and moving layers. The story conveyed the sadness of aging. I could see the garden and feel the warmth of the sun, and I could empathize with the sad remains of the garden in its later times. That works on so many levels and is something I try to convey today. It is there in the background setting of my first novel, Challerton, which sees a beautiful country house exist in two forms; one pristine and maintained, while in the other, owing to a different progression of events, it is a ruined shell. In Challerton, the main character, Anne, uses an opening in time to cause one to switch to the other.

5. Are you inspired by any landscapes or buildings, or even towns and cities?
I find inspiration in dark places. Alleys, or beneath canal bridges, ancient woods, sea caves, ruins and overgrown abandoned gardens. A place needs to hit more than one sense. Its smell, sounds, temperature and even the taste of the air all add to the setting. I try to capture those sensory triggers in my writing.

6. Which was the first book you published and why?
My first book was Firework Art, published in 2005. From early childhood I have always loved fireworks, and in particular their labels and posters. One day, after Bonfire Night 2004, I began to think about the old designs, and wondered whether anyone had ever made a book featuring them. No one had, and so Firework Art came into being. I made the book I would most love to have stumbled upon by chance. It became a labour of love, and enabled me to capture the art of the lost British firework industry and the evocative labels remembered by so many.

7. Have you been surprised by a negative reaction to any of your work?
Thankfully, I have yet to have any. That is the truth. I expect it soon though, because it is inevitable. When it comes I will treat it objectively. If one hundred people like a story and only a few do not, then I’m not going to lose sleep over it. If the ratio is the other way round, then I’ll take note and address the problem. There will always be people who take pleasure in giving negative reviews, and no writer can please all readers. But that won’t stop me sending the Siren after them…

8. Other than authors (and friends and family) who are your heroes?
Battle of Britain fighter pilots come high in the list, and the crews of Bomber Command. They were ordinary people doing terrifying and extraordinary things. People who, should they manage to survive, then returned to ordinary jobs after the war. True heroes. Another hero of mine is Gene Kranz, the legendary flight director at Mission Control during the Apollo Moon Program. Others would include medical pioneers, great inventors and great visionaries in science. No actors, no singers and absolutely no footballers.

9. If you could go back in time to learn the truth about one historical mystery or disputed event what would it be?
I would want to go back 65 million years and settle, once and for all, whether a comet kissed goodbye to the dinosaurs. It would also mean that I could, to quote from ITV’s pinnacle of scriptwriting, ‘Primeval’, conclusively ‘prove that the past exists.’ Hmmm.

Thank you very much Mark Fleming

Rebekah Lynn Pierce Blog Interview

Rebekah Pierce #6094 - pictage.comFP#7 New Cover Image 2

We bid a warm welcome to Rebekah Lynn Pierce, an independent author and playwright, who publishes her work primarily through print-on-demand on LuLu.com and for ebooks through KDP Amazon for Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook for all ebook formats.

To date, Rebekah has published four books and several full-length and short plays for Off Broadway. She is an award-winning playwright and author whose work focuses primarily on issues that affect the lives of modern women and children. She is also a veteran of the military and a former college English teacher.

Rebekah L. Pierce lives in Midlothian, Virginia in the United States with her husband of 14 years and two children, Immanuel (12) and Macy (4).

Website: www.rebekahpierce.synthasite.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorrebekahlynnpierce (author page) and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Murder-on-Second-Street/124154814274796 (Murder on Second Street book page)
Twitter: www.twitter.com/rebekahpierce
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7191171.Rebekah_L_Pierce
About.me: http://about.me/rebekah.l.pierce
Wordpress Blog: www.rebekahpierce.wordpress.com
Amazon.com: Murder on Second Street: The Jackson Ward Murders http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00E3XWN82 ________________________________________
Interview with Grey Wolf

1. How long have you been writing?
I have been writing practically all of my life. For as far back as I can remember I’ve always had a pen in my hand. I’d write short stories, poems or even just journaling. Writing is an extension of my soul. I am heavily connected to my muse, meaning that I am an inspiration writer. I do not write to a clock or schedule. It’s when my muse presents a story to me that I pick up the pen. I posted this quote on Pinterest recently because it expresses so deeply what I feel about writing: “To pen a story is a gift. To pick up the pen is a treasure.” I take this gift/craft very seriously as well. I teach composition, so it’s imperative that I not only hone my skills as a writer, but teach others to value the craft. Writing is a reflection of you. Therefore, do your research, get the work edited; the art of writing is rewriting/revising. Don’t be afraid to go back into the work. Credibility is imperative to the success of a writer.

2. What is the earliest work of yours that you have published or intend to publish?
The first book I published was the mystery novella, Sex, Lies & Shoeboxes in 2003. It features a female private investigator named Bobbie Vale who is a recovering alcoholic and a survivor of child molestation. She has had a very troubled past but is determined to succeed in her new venture, even though she is terrified of guns and has a secret crush on her secretary slash body guard, Eddie Dillon. I am re-releasing this book as a two-part novel this winter 2013.
In the meantime, I have published my historical fiction murder mystery, Murder on Second Street: The Jackson Ward Murders. It is set in October 1929 in an old historic African American neighborhood called Jackson Ward in Richmond, Virginia, U.S.A. It’s 29 days before the fall of the infamous stock market crash (Black Tuesday) and someone is dumping the bodies of working class Negro women, as they were called at the time, near businesses in the Ward. The reluctant investigator is Sy Sanford, a WWI veteran who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as we call it today. He takes the case because 1) he needs the money as his business is dying and 2) he wants to take his love interest and secretary, Lena, away from her abusive husband. It’s a really dark piece.

3. Who were the earliest authors/playwrights to be an inspiration for your writing?
Well, for my sci-fi type plays, it is Octavia Butler. She wrote the brilliant novel, Kindred, back in the mid-1970s. It was about a woman who traveled back into time to when she was a slave and she travels back and forth between the past and the present, called by her ancestor to save the future generation of her family. It was so beautifully written. So, when I sat down to write my full-length play, That Color Blind Kind of Love, I thought of Kindred and the message in the novel. But I also thought of the style and manner in which she told that story. That Color Blind Kind of Love takes place in three periods via flashbacks: 1855 on a slave plantation, 1935 in a southern court room and the present day in an art gallery in Richmond, Virginia. The souls of Twyla and Sampson have traveled across time to reclaim their love, and what they have found in each period is that their love is not acceptable – is, in fact, illegal. But as they come together in the 21st Century, the play asks the question of have things changed? Are we really living in a post-racial society where love belongs to whomever wants it? I based the storyline off the actual law case of Richard and Mildred Loving vs. the State of Virginia. They were arrested in the1960s for marrying – a violation against the miscegenation law of 1924. They defeated it in 1967, forever destroying that law. So, this play is both a work of historical drama and science fiction/mysticism.
As for my short play, LuLu’s Dance, well, I was inspired, believe it or not, by a Tina Turner video. Remember the video for Turner’s “Private Dancer”? I have always found that video to be a little out of this world, so to speak, and have been creatively drawn to it for years. So, that video and the play, Dutchman, by Amiri Baraka, inspired this story of a woman who has traveled across time and the universe to wait in a dark bar room to meet “him.” This particular play is published in my book, On the Cusp of Humanity: A Collection of Short Modern Plays, now available on Amazon.com for KDP Kindle.

4. Which other authors/playwrights do you consider to be an inspiration and for what reason?
Well, I’ve mentioned Octavia Butler for sci-fi as well as Samuel R. Delany. I am a huge fan of and grew up reading Agatha Christie, Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys, Harlequin Romances and Louie Lamar westerns. Now, I am deeply influenced in terms of narration and POV by Alexander McCall Smith’s “No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series. With regards to humor and gum shoe detective stories, I absolutely love the style of Janet Evanovich. And for classic mystery/detective, it has to be Walter Mosley’s “Easy Rawlins” series. Of course, for the classics, the period I most identify with and generally love to teach/read, it’s the modernist period in America. Some of those authors are Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, John Steinbeck, etc. The use of imagery and language is powerful as well as the themes of their words: social justice, the loss of faith, redemption, and more. For early British women writers, Mary Shelley, hands down…oooh, oooh! And Mary Wollstonecraft. Yes, the mother-daughter duo have had a huge impact on my work and my advocacy for women and children, and for the portrayal of the frailty of humanity. Also, one of my all-time favorite novels is Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. I don’t think I need to say more about that novel: brilliant. For theatre, William Shakespeare, of course, Lorraine Hansberry (A Raisin in the Sun), Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman and The Crucible) and Aristophanes (Lysistrata). Yes, my tastes are eclectic, but what do you expect from an English teacher? 
5. Are you inspired by any landscapes or buildings, or even towns and cities?
Nature has always inspired me in terms of bringing me peace and stillness to reflect. I love the sounds of birds singing, the waves rolling and a mildly warm, breezy day. Nature inspires me to keep going and to be joyful and grateful. Plus, I am unduly influenced by the Romantic poet, William Wordsworth as I am a literature teacher. So, I agree with him that in nature, we are reminded of our connection to a higher power – the light – the universe. It is the muse for creativity – life.

6. Which was the first book you published and why?
The first book I ever published was a mystery story I wrote in the 8th grade called Cool Times at Clairemont High. A classmate drew the illustrations for this mystery/suspense story – my first. It won first place in a book fair for middle school, and I can remember being so excited because I didn’t think I’d win. I just wanted to tell the story. That moment confirmed for me that I was a writer.

7. Have you been surprised by a negative reaction to any of your work?
No! And I say this because I’ve come to learn that not everyone will like what I’ve written, and not all that I have written is for everybody. What does hurt is that people are so close-minded; they refuse to let go of anger, hurt, disappointment, prejudice, etc. They have become comfortable in their pain. My work in theatre and fiction/non-fiction does not shy away from the painful realities of our existence. From the issues of race to child molestation, domestic violence, etc., I create works that force people to see an element of truth that they wish to avoid. But there is healing in telling the story. I believe that wholeheartedly. And what I love about science fiction, in particular, is that the truth is oftentimes masked so well in fantasy that people cannot see where the truth ends and fiction begins.

8. Other than authors (and friends and family) who are your heroes?
After studying and teaching the work, “The Hero’s Journey,” by Joseph Campbell, for years, I have come to believe that I am my own hero; I say this because I get up every morning and put my feet on the ground and go. Not everyone can do that or even does. I live each day to the fullest, and try to always give love and receive love. I am here to serve, and I do that through not only my daily interactions with people, but through my written work. The hero takes on the journey – willingly or not. But at the end of the journey, the true hero returns home, but they are forever changed for not only the good of themselves, but for the community. They bring a light and a joy back to it, and for me, writing is that journey – it is my Iliad and Odyssey. So, I am a hero.

9. If you could go back in time to learn the truth about one historical mystery or disputed event what would it be?
Oh my goodness! I love History so much, I am not sure I can pick one event. Okay, maybe this one: Adam & Eve and the apple. I would love to see the look was on Eve’s face when Adam pointed his finger at her and said, “She did, God! She told me to eat the apple.” I often tease my Women’s Literature students by replaying this scene for them in our discussions about why the fall of man is laid at the feet of women. I am almost positive the look on her face or rather what she was thinking was, “You punk *&^!” I’m sorry. I have a crazy sense of humor, but she could have said it…or worse.

10. What inspired you to write your latest book release, Murder on Second Street: The Jackson Ward Murders?
What inspired me to write Murder on Second Street was a field trip to the local Black History Museum here in Richmond, VA with my African American Literature students in 2009. Nine out of 10 of my students were born and raised in Richmond and didn’t know that they even had a museum about their own people. It was sad. So, when we got there, I saw all of these paintings and black and white photographs of African Americans dressed in fancy clothes, eating lavish meals and dancing in grand ballrooms during what looked like the 1930s or 40s. I was floored! I’d never seen anything like it. And not being from the South, I was really curious. So, I asked the curator what the photographs were about and she began to tell me the rich history of Jackson Ward during the 1920s-30s. Well, the story popped into my head right then and there. I thought, “How would these people, in all of their opulence, handle a series of murders happening in the Ward?” I shared my idea with my students and they loved it. But I put off writing it because I was pregnant with my daughter and I was drained. But the story never left me, and so when someone sent me an email about participating in the National Novel Writing Month contest that coming November, I jumped on it. I wrote the first draft in less than 30 days. I teach and know well Black history, so I knew this novel was going to draw attention, and it has. There’s nothing like it currently on the market. It’s historical fiction at its finest, receiving 5 star reviews from all kinds of readers. I am excited about this work.