Today’s Featured Author – Connie B. Dowell

Please welcome author Connie B. Dowell to my blog. Her book, The Orchid Caper, is now available on pre-order on Amazon. The book will be released on April 11, 2017.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi. I’m Connie and I like cheese. Also, I write mostly for young adults, largely fiction with a little nonfiction too. In my spare time, I knit absurdly large and warm things, paint and draw a lot, and sometimes try to make noises on the violin.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

Most of my time is spent chasing an almost seventeen-month-old boy with one ambition: to risk life and limb in new and unusual ways. When he is not testing his limits, that’s when I write and work as book publicist. Basically, my working hours exist in five minute bursts when he is occupied with toy cars.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I always start with a big picture outline, but I don’t know how it will play out scene by scene until shortly before I work on that particular scene. Then I micro-outline the upcoming scene or two before I write them.

Please tell us about your current release.

The Orchid Caper, now available on pre-order, is the first in a planned trilogy of wacky nature-themed heist books. A young burglar and a college kid who’s more than he seems are brought together in a smelly surprise and team up to steal…not a precious diamond, not a boatload of cash. Nope. A flower. But what a flower it is.

What inspired you to write this book?

To be honest, one day I thought Wouldn’t it be fun to write a horror story that starts with a mysterious fart? Then—for some reason—I started to write to see where it went. Obviously, it didn’t turn out to be a horror story…unless you’re a pair of underwear, that is.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

Alas, if I tell too much of the plot, I’ll be revealing the ending of The Orchid Caper. But I can say that there’s more nature-themed thievery and that the second installment will showcase the same level of maturity and serious tone as the flatulence-laden first volume.

What book are you reading right now?

I’m slowly but surely plodding through Phoebe North’s Starglass. I say plodding not because I don’t enjoy it. It’s got spaceships and a murder mystery, pretty good stuff. It’s just that with writing and work and a toddler and no childcare, my reading time is limited to ten minutes at night before I realize I am too tired and brain-fried to put any more into my head.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I once thought I was going to be a lawyer. I even went to law school for a whole disastrous year. Side note: “Because I said so” is not actually an acceptable legal argument.

Book Blurb

orchid-caper-working-01A down-on-her luck burglar, a trust fund college kid with something to prove. Will they outfox a master thief?

All eighteen-year-old Darlene wants is to rob the joint. College guy Ian comes home too soon. And some ill-timed flatulence brings them together. Darlene thinks she’s toast. Instead Ian gives her a job offer, leading a heist team to steal a rare species of vanilla orchid. Only catch, she’s swiping from one of the best thieves in the biz.

With her dad’s store on its last legs, Darlene needs the cash she’ll get when the job is done. Ian’s in it to win a bet. Can their rag-tag team pinch the flower right under their mark’s nose? And can they remember not to eat beans for breakfast?

About the Author

author-photo-c-dowellConnie B. Dowell can’t resist breaking the law…on the page, that is. She spins tales of nefarious folks and the people who catch them. In addition to The Orchid Caper, she has written The Poison in All of Us, a young adult historical mystery novella set in 1918. A former university writing center coordinator, Connie also authored You Can Love Writing: A Guide to Get through Your College Papers and Like It. When not writing, she is a work-at-home parent and a law abiding citizen. Connie lives in central Virginia with her husband and son (and soon a daughter).

You can find out more about Connie on her website.

****

The Orchid Caper is now available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released April 11, 2017.

Today’s Featured Author – Michael Bayer

Today I welcome another Texas author, Michael Bayer, to my blog. Michael released his debut novel, The Absconded, in November.  You can purchase it on Amazon.

Interview

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I always had an artistic side.  I tried to draw, but I never could get on paper to match what was in my head.  I played the violin for a few years in grade and middle school, but my high school didn’t have an orchestra, so I needed something new to do.  Then I had an assignment to write a scene using the ten or twenty vocabulary we were learning that week.  I still remember my English teacher’s exact words after I read it aloud, “Herm, that was beautiful.”  I’m pretty sure that was the seed that started it all.

Over the years I would get complements for my writing, usually term papers in college and grad school.  Whenever any writing was needed for work, I would jump at it.  It would take over twenty-five years before I could do anything beyond that, but that’s where my wife comes in.  When we moved to Texas for her career, she insisted I start writing full time.  Just when I thought I couldn’t love her any more, she shoulders the financial burden so I can pursue a dream.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I know some people say it’s the moment you start writing, but for me it was when I pressed the publish button and it became available for anyone to purchase.  It had taken a little over three years to get to that point, but felt so good when I finally clicked that button, though with some trepidation.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I started a short story, but that was mainly to keep my writing skills up while I was working on the nuts and bolts side of self-publishing.  The downside to doing it all yourself is the need to step away from your writing to work on the business side of it.  Sometimes I can jump right back in to writing, but most of the time it takes a couple of days to get back into the flow of the story.  But I’m happy to say I’ve started the sequel to The Absconded.  It starts off a few months after book one ended and is a continuation of the story.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

I write full-time, but not the full eight hours a day I’d like to.  By the time I get my wife off to work and daughter off to school, it’s almost 9:00 AM and I haven’t even had my breakfast yet.  Which is fine, because I’m not hungry until around 9:30 AM anyway.  Once that’s done, it’s off to the word mines!

I tend to write in bursts.  Thirty minutes of staring or pacing followed by ten minutes of furious writing, followed by on the fly editing, re-wording, deleting, doubting and occasional cursing.  When I’m really stuck, I go and spend time with my bearded dragon.  He’s a good listener but doesn’t hold back his opinions.  This all goes on until about 3:30 PM when it’s time for me to pick my daughter up from school.  That’s when I worry about making dinner.  I rarely do any work in the evening, unless I have an inspired idea.  I’ve learned that if I don’t write it down almost immediately, I’ll forget it.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

There are two things I love about being a writer. The first is when someone reads a scene or a chapter, and completely gets what I wrote.  They have a clear image in their head of the characters and settings.  It’s not easy putting what’s in your head onto the page, but when that happens it’s magical.  The second is when someone tells me how much they love a character.  To have spent so much time crafting and giving them a personality, mannerisms, quirks and a history is not easy, but so satisfying to hear someone, other than me, say how much they love that person.

The worst part is deleting scenes.  The Absconded is about 107,000 words and that was after I trimmed about 35,000 words.  There were scenes I spent weeks writing, and absolutely loved.  But in the end, they didn’t serve the story and slowed down the pace, so they needed to go.  It was rough, but in the end I was glad.  The story was much better, much tighter.  Whomever said you must be prepared to kill your darlings was right.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

The Absconded was written flat out.  I had been trying to write it for about ten years, so when I was finally able to dedicate myself to writing, it just came pouring out.  That’s why I needed to trim 35,000 words from it as well.

Unfortunately, I am not having the same experience with the next book.  While I came up with the basic idea for book 2 (and book 3) while editing The Absconded, I needed to outline the story and character arcs.  That took about three months, but once done it felt great to start writing those people again.

How did you come up with the title?

I’ve always liked the sound of the word, absconded.  It’s a fancy word for stealing and would always conjure up images of Ocean’s Eleven and Mission: Impossible type heists.  It’s also similar to abducted, but with a big difference.  You abduct a person, but abscond an object.  Having someone think of a person as an object, a thing, is quite unnerving to me.  You haven’t just taken away their humanity, you don’t even acknowledge it.  Right off the bat, it sets the tone of a person, or in this case an entire alien race.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

More than you think based on what’s described in the book.  I read all I could on theoretical physics and scoured NASA and other websites for space travel, living in space, and long distance expeditions.  Now I had to apply that to an alien race and decide how they would resolve those issues.  And this became an interesting rabbit hole for a couple of months.  How would an alien species design their ship?  What would be a priority to them?  Now I had to create the alien’s history and how they evolved because culture determines priorities, so that required researching different cultures on our planet.  Once all that was decided, building their ship was easy.  Well, on paper it was easy.

Another rabbit hole was designing the alien’s biological research area and procedures.  You’re abducting aliens, but how do you know they aren’t contagious to you?  I needed to create a combination quarantine/medical research facility and all that encompassed, but make it alien and believable.  And place it on a ship where real estate is at a premium.

Very little of the technical aspects are explained in the book, but I’m hoping to describe at least some of it in to the sequels.  It was a lot of fun and I’d like to explain some of the science and logic behind the tech, but only if it pertains to the story.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

The Absconded is the first in a series.  How many books in total remains to be seen, but I was thinking of at least three.  It took me a couple of months to plot it out and have everyone’s character arcs.  I don’t have a firm title for the second book, but it picks up about three or four months after the end of The Absconded.  The survivors of the first book (yes, I am being coy for those who haven’t read it) are now in limbo.  They’re all far from home and some are wondering whether they have a home to return to while others are searching for their purpose, their function in life.  Everyone’s definition of home and purpose is different and the story is their journey to find it, all while being hunted by the aliens who originally captured them.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

The hardest scenes were describing the settings on the ship, specifically where all of the aliens that have been collected are kept.  Making it foreign, yet similar, was a challenge and required quite a few re-writes.  My first attempt was pages of settings and descriptions and was boring, almost to tears.  Thankfully I was able to find right balance of action, character and setting.  I think the first year of writing was finding my voice, my style.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

I need a dedicated place to work.  Someplace I can go and my mind says, “Okay, playtime is over.”  My wife’s work requires a lot of conference calls, so it made sense for her to use the home office.  Once she closes the doors, she can tune out the rest of the house.  Since we never use our formal living room, I converted it into a second office.  It has a desk and an old sofa, but that’s just so the cats can hang out in there while I write.

But I could easily pick any spot and label it my work area.  What really matters to me is getting into the right frame of mind for what I’m writing, and that requires music.  Lots of music.  I have about 60 GB of music on my computer (about half of my CD collection) and there’s always something playing when I’m writing.  If it’s an action scene, I need a song to give it a cadence and rhythm.  If it’s a character scene, then it needs to be appropriate for the scene.  Even when creating a character one of my first decisions is what type of music would be appropriate for them, what type would they like, and I listen to that incessantly while creating their history and description.  For me, music is more important than where I write.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

In addition to music, my writing is fueled by green tea.  Dragonwell, to be specific.  On average, I have five cups a day.  Anything else I snack on is whatever I find in the kitchen.  It ranges from an apple to carrots to chocolate cake.  But the tea is required and sometimes supersedes lunch.

What book are you reading right now?

I’m reading two books at the moment.  Seven Brief Lessons in Physics by Carlo Rovelli.  I like keeping abreast of science and this is a great refresher on the basics of Einstein’s theory of relativity and other advances in physics.  It also goes into the history that led to the discoveries and theories.  I find it fascinating how one little observation, a moment of curiosity can lead to a discovery that reshapes how we view the world and universe around us.

The other book is Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.  Mexico City has banned vampires.  Just think about that for a moment.  That means vampires are so ubiquitous and intelligent that you can ban them from a city.  That says a lot about the world of the novel and immediately caught my attention.  I’m only a couple of chapters in, but the world building and characters have me completely hooked.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

First up is Tom Clancy.  He made technical jargon and events utterly fascinating.  He described the explosion of a nuclear bomb in vivid detail, both the physics of it and how it affects the environment, and made it riveting.  He also managed to juggle so many characters in his novels and I never was confused.  I would love to know how he managed that.

Second would be Aaron Sorkin.  He’s a master of writing conversation.  The first few seasons of the West Wing are fantastic.  He made smart people with opposing view points arguing so engrossing.

Book Blurb

abscondedUnfortunately for Scott, aliens exist.  Snatched from Earth, he finds himself added to their collection of creatures gathered from throughout the universe.  His cage is a window to the wondrous varieties of life, and the atrocities that can be inflicted upon it.  Atrocities that are clues of what awaits him.

Nearby is Kaliria, a furred being that’s equal parts wild and wily.  A long, torturous captivity has filled her with a righteous rage.  She spends her days alone, simmering in her cramped confinement, pining for the fields and forests of her world.  Pining for companionship.

While happenstance makes Kaliria and Scott neighbors, it’s desperation that makes them allies.  In order to survive, they must overcome each other’s language, culture and mistrust, all while keeping their interactions hidden from their captors.  And if they succeed, there’s still one more obstacle to surmount — escaping an alien ship traveling through space.

About the Author

michael-bayerbwMichael C. Bayer lives in North Texas with his family consisting of two humans, two reptiles and four felines. At the urging of the humans, he quit his job to follow a life long dream. He combined his love of science, knack for telling tall tales and decades of daydreaming, and began to write. The Absconded is his first novel.

You can check out Michael’s Facebook page (a work in progress) or check out his Amazon Author Page.

You can purchase The Absconded on Amazon.

#NewRelease – THE JEALOUS FLOCK by Ashley Borodin

Author Ashley Borodin released his debut novel, The Jealous Flock, last month. If you would like to read it for FREE, he is giving away copies in exchange for an honest review.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

My name’s Ashley and just to be clear I don’t expect to be called Zim or Zir. My name, in its various permutations, was a popular boys name in Australia in the late 70’s. There were three of us in my highschool year-level, making it the most popular name in the school I think.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Australia, in the southern, and least deadly bit called Victoria. At the moment I’m in the process of moving back there from Tasmania, which is even more southern.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

This is a tough one to answer. I’ve always been capable of writing but seldom motivated. In school and later in life various writers with a strong mind, with powerful ideas have goaded me, taunted me into putting my own will to paper. I think the final two voices that lead to my actually writing a novel were Bukowski and Ballard. If you’re reading my work and looking for similarities, for a sort of provenance, then I think those two could be considered the fathers of The Jealous flock. I’m thinking in particular of Bukowski’s poems and Ballard’s Millenium People.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’m not sure I do. And judging by the muted response I get to my pleas to be taken seriously, I’m not sure anyone else does either. But if being a writer means struggling to be heard above the din and persevering in the face of inevitable and constant rejection, then I started to feel like a writer about two weeks ago. That’s when I really started to stop being a writer and start being my own publicist.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

The character of Randall in The Jealous Flock is a thinly veiled version of me. I’m also in all the other characters, especially when they are observing the peculiarities of others – that’s my Outsider’s view on the world.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I have two ideas in the works. One is a coffee table book of my best poems and the other is a novel about an orphaned boy who is one of the Lost Children:

Here’s an excerpt:

Morris hurried down the crumbling rock. The passageway grew dim and soon the next corner would cut all light, but he dared not use his torch. It was the corner after that, the one with the drop, and only then after a thorough check would he even think about lighting the way.

The dogs were angry. Scurrying eggs catapulted them toward the tunnel entrance and soon they too were slipping awkwardly on the rocks. One hit the wall and yelped. That gave the second pause, but not before he’d already collided with his sister and the two had become tangled on the sharp rocks. Each yelped in turn and tried to get their bearings.

The scent.

But the boy was gone.

As they nosed the air, only silence and dusty breath met their senses. It was over. The chase was at an end.

There would be consequences.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

Things that have an impact on me emotionally, events or stories I relate to. I suppose I make finding a way through my own grief, my own story through the stories of others. In ‘The Jealous Flock’ I am speaking largely as the boy who said, “The emperor has no clothes!” This experience has been, and still is, a large influence on my thinking and outlook on life.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

Both. However I am going to map out my next project before really getting stuck in this time. It makes life a lot easier.

Please tell us about your current release.

The Jealous Flock is my debut novel and it’s short. A lot of people like it once they’ve read it, which is gratifying. It’s getting anyone interested in the first place that seems to be the tricky part. If you’ve ever watched one of those mini-series that the British do so well about an upper-middle class family going through some kind of crisis – well imagine taking that and putting it on the world stage. Giving that story international, geopolitical context. That’s The Jealous Flock. It relates all the small things to the very large things that are shaping our society today.

What inspired you to write this book?

About 4-5 years ago I could sense a change in the zeitgeist. I come from a deeply religious, indeed Fundamentalist Christian, family and the Gift of Prophecy is something they take for granted. I see foresight in a more prosaic manner but that’s basically what I was doing back then – forecasting the future. I saw a few, but certainly not all, of the emerging trends and tried to commit these revelations to paper as quickly as I could.

How did you come up with the title?

That shall remain an enigma. A good poem, koan or aphorism, a good riddle has to stay and gnaw at you. It’s not my job to spare you the necessary discomfort of allowing it to do its work in the back of your mind.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I’ve been watching documentaries for ages so I had a lot of backlog of international affairs to wade through. Also there are those British dramas I’m quite fond of. Then there are books of course. I’ve done some reading on Sufism and the Hashashin. I did conflate these in the book in an unrealistic way and there’s a reason for that. The reason is to exaggerate the  hodge-podge of Islam that leads to extremism to show the contrasts within the ideology itself and the varying cultures we broadly label as ‘Islam’ as outsiders.

I watched a lot of interviews and visited websites of people with similar roles to those of my characters. And I did a lot of first-hand reporting. Writing live from the bus, on the beach, in my house surrounded by screeching birds.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

I hate books and films where every character is an idiot. I have to live with these people so I’d better make them somewhat likeable. That was my approach. At the same time I didn’t want to make them archetypes in the way Ayn Rand does with her characters. I’m not a romantic, I’m a Realist. A Realist who also invents things. I think I like Randall the best because he’s the most fully realised of the lot. I had an easy relationship with him. The others I felt a little antipathy towards. Or rather an aloofness. They are entirely foreign to me but I did my best to understand them, generally by bringing them to heel.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

I’d be Martin. He’s much more important than me and doing a lot of worthwhile stuff with his life. I envy him.

If you could jump into any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

I tend to like open world fantasy games so I suppose something like Lord of The Rings would be a pretty awesome world to inhabit. As long as I can save at any time.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

Ayn Rand because I think our fights would be epic and I could retire on the ticket sales alone.

GK Chesterton because I’ve recently discovered Distributism and I would like to start implementing his ideas with his blessing.

Book Blurb

the-jealous-flockForced from their collective comfort zone, all three members of Martin’s family come face to face with the realities that underpin their urbane way of life. Each is faced with a paradox that will test their belief in themselves and their image of the tolerant, liberal society they believe they inhabit.

An epic in miniature, The Jealous Flock takes readers from the cloistered air of Professional London through the harsh realities of the Middle East and on to the culture war simmering beneath the surface in Australia.

Through their interwoven narratives each character tries to grapple with change as they question their authenticity and value as individuals amidst The Jealous Flock.

About the Author

Ashley Borodin was born in Victoria, Australia in 1978, that means he remembers stonewashed denim jackets the first time round. He has been published in a few literary journals and delivers poems into the void daily on Twitter. His début novel is The Jealous Flock but he won’t tell you what the title means.

You can find out more about Ashley on his website or you can follow him on Twitter.

You can get a free copy of The Jealous Flock in exchange for an honest review. It is also available on Amazon.

 

Today’s Featured Author – Alexandria House

Please welcome to my blog author Alexandria House. Her contemporary romance, Higher Love, came out in December.

Excerpt

“This truly is a great view,” I said, standing before a wall of windows in Derek’s office.

“It’s even more impressive when the office is dark. May I?”

“Sure.”

He turned the bright overhead lights off, causing the lights from neighboring buildings and the street below to almost glow. I stared at the view for a moment before turning my attention back to his luxurious office space. “So this is where you do all your work?”

He nodded. He was standing by his desk with his hands in the pockets of his slacks, his eyes on me. “Yes, it is. Sometimes I sleep here. The couch is rather comfortable.”

“You’re a workaholic?” I asked as I moved toward the desk, fondled the nameplate sitting on it.

“I try to balance it out with my fair share of pleasure.”

“Like Virginia?”

“Oh, that was much more than pleasure. Much, much more.” He walked around the desk and stood next to me. “That was ecstasy.”

I backed away from him a bit. “Really?”

“Yes, don’t you agree?”

“Maybe…”

“I wish I could experience that again.”

I lifted a brow. “Do you?”

“You have no idea how badly I do.”

Book Blurb

higher-love-ebooktn-cvrPopular travel blogger, Greer Kennedy, is living the good life with a successful career and equally as successful fiancé until one phone call from a friend opens her eyes to the truth of her relationship.

Tall, handsome, and successful in his own right, Derek Hill is dealing with some serious relationship problems as well.

When their paths cross, they mutually, but unofficially, decide to share a night—or three or four—of anonymous pleasure. Will they end up experiencing much more than either of them bargained for?

About the Author

alexhouselogoA southern girl at heart, Alexandria House has an affinity for a good banana pudding, Neo Soul music and tall men in suits. When this fashionista is not shopping, she’s writing steamy stories about real love.

You can find out more about Alexandria on her blog or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

Higher Love is available for FREE via Kindle Unlimited or purchase it for $1.99.

Today’s Featured Author – Chinadu Enechi

Today, author Chinadu Enechi stops by my blog. His debut novel, Ifechidere, came out in November.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a social person, very determined and ambitious.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Nsukka and I grew up in Onitsha. They’re both in Nigeria. Anywhere I have family, including my brothers and sister, is home to me.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

My late mother Mrs Josephine Nebechi Enechi was my inspiration.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

After I wrote my first novel titled “Wise ones never Loose”, my father then gave it to a friend who was then an English Lecturer in their school to edit but then said man disappeared with the book because of that, my mum swore to promote my writing career and she was there till she died.

How much of yourself, your personality or experience, is in your books.

A couple of the characters in my books have my personality. What I write mostly contains my experiences of experiences of those around me. In fact, the story of “Ifechidere” is mainly based on my mother’s life.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

Yes, I actually have two projects I am currently working on.

One is about a young man who married an older woman and how he was antagonized for it, by his father, his family and even her family. A man marrying an older woman is frowned upon in Nigeria and this story offers view points of why it is so, and how some people navigate that problem.

The second story is about a young man whose love turned sour, after his poor parents visited his girlfriend’s family. The girlfriend was pregnant …

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?
The best is that I can let people know my thoughts and feelings on some things, as well as inform them about some current events or facts.

The worst is the criticism from people who get upset that I am writing a particular thing, because of their bias.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

My family, friends and my dream of being a successful writer whose work is enjoyed by fans.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

My plot ideas are a combination of my experiences, experiences of people around me, stories heard and sometimes figment of my imagination.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

Sometimes, I do; sometimes, I don’t.

Book Blurb

ifechidere-coverThe loss of both her parents, even before she is old enough to speak, appears to pre-determine Ifechidere’s life. She is made to toil from dusk to dawn.

Yet, Ifechidere is no modern-day Cinderella, as she finds that faith in the will to survive, which is stronger than any absentee fairy godmother, will propel her to find herself. And it’ll lead her to the thing that was always meant to be

About the Author

Chinedu Enechi is a Philosophy graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and an MA student of Political and Social Philosophy at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. His hobbies include cooking, reading, watching movies and hanging out with friends.

You can purchase Ifechidere on Amazon US, Amazon UK (and all other Amazon affiliates – simply search by author name or book), Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, ITunes, Kobo and Okadabooks.

Today’s Featured Author – John Ukah

Please welcome author John Ukah to my blog. His book, Murder at Midnight, was released in November.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is John Ukah. I am a graduate of Business Administration from the University of Benin, Benin City. I am a banker and an Associate of the Institute of Capital Market Registrars (ACMR).

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Delta State of Nigeria. But I have always considered Benin City in Edo State home because that’s where I grew up. That’s where my parents live.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I have always kept a personal journal. Writing is exhilarating and therapeutic. The books I grew up reading, influenced my writing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When people asked me to write stories or essays for them and were willing to pay for it.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

My writing is usually inspired by conversations with others and personal experiences. I am also blessed with a fertile imagination, which gives wings to such experiences or conversations.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

It is a detective thriller that affirms the point of duty on young men and women to make the right choices with their eyes open. It contains love, pitiful criminalities, investigations, assumptions and deceits.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

I work in a bank. It is challenging finding time to write with a banking job. However, we do find a way though to do the things we love.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

Best advice is that writing is an evolving process. We get better at what we do constantly. Worst advice is that a writer has to sit and wait for inspiration. Writing is work and a commitment to get the task done.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

The best thing is the fun in doing what you love. Living the life you dream about. The worst or hardest thing is that you don’t get to spend as much time with friends and family as desired. You have to make time for your writing.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

Writing is cathartic and some stories demand to be told.

 

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

An outline helps in developing the plot. I prepare broad outlines and chapter plans. I write a few chapters at a time and not necessarily in a sequential order.

Book Blurb

murder-at-midnightAlex Simpson, an ex-police officer, decides after a bout of typhoid fever to take a break in a serene and therapeutic environment. The last thing he expects is to be called upon to solve a murder at the Kinging Guest Lodge. But that is what happens, when the delectable and vivacious Maria Marshall is found dead in her bedroom at midnight.

The gallery of characters living at the guest-house and thrown into the mix, does not make his task of solving this chilling and brutal murder any easier …

 

About the Author

john-ukalaJohn Ukah is a seasoned banker and Associate of the Institute of Capital Market Registrars (ACMR). He is a graduate of Business Administration from the University of Benin, where he was listed as University Scholar. He also holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA).

You can purchase Murder at Midnight from Amazon, Amazon UK (and the other Amazon affiliates by searching his name), Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, the Kobo Store, Apple, and Okadabooks.

 

Today’s Featured Author – Chioma Nnani

Please welcome to my blog author Chioma Nnani. Her book Forever There for You came out in November.

Interview

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Port-Harcourt (in Nigeria), went to school in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, and Abuja (the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria) is where I call home.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

Writing is something I’ve done from childhood; it wasn’t like I was trying to try out a career path for the future.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

To be honest, a fair bit. The protagonist in “Forever There For You” attends college in the city of Oxford and I attended college in the city of Oxford. She worked herself to the point where she got an ulcer, I did the same – although the ulcer showed up much later in my case. She finds that the British weather is not a friend of any Black girl’s hair; that was a traumatic lesson I had to learn … my hair was literally falling off. I can’t even laugh about it now; it was that bad! There are a few bits and bobs … “Forever There For You” isn’t about me, but some of the characters lived through what were my experiences in real life. One of the really weird things, though – in the book, the college accommodation where Nadine lives when she’s in Oxford is called “McMillan Student Village”. After the book was released, I found out that there is a real “McMillan Student Village” but it’s in London! A bus that I was on, broke down and it happened to stop beside the “McMillan Student Village” in London. It was very surreal!

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

Yes, I have started my next projects. As an author, there’s a collection of short stories to be released very soon. I read something in one of Faye Kellerman’s novels a long time ago, in which a character said, “Everybody is either running away from, or towards something.” But it dawned on me that you run till you get home, because home is that person, place or thing where you can be naked and unashamed. So, this collection of short stories is about finding home, being home and … just what home means to a lot of people despite our external differences.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

(laughing) I almost wish I could afford to. But I run The Fearless Storyteller House Emporium Ltd; it currently consists of an “Authors Services” department, an “Office Angels” department, a “Learning & Teaching” unit, a “Services to Media” wing, and a “Mentoring Club”. There is one other component to the Emporium that I don’t think I should talk about publicly right now, because it’s still being worked on … but I also run a blogazine – Memo From a Fearless Storyteller – and present a radio show – The Fearless Storyteller PX Show – with a London-based radio station.

My work day tends to be … semi-organized chaos. Generally speaking, I’m up by 6am, meditate a bit, check my emails and social media, have a shower during which I go through some part of my day in my head. I have breakfast either at my desk, or on the go if I have to be out for a meeting. What I actually do during the day will depend on what needs to get done. I may liaise with a school to run a training program for them, a prospective client who needs more information on a service or product, an affiliate marketer who wants to sell our products or service, a media outlet trying to get an interview, an author whose marketing plan needs tweaking, my PR people to discuss a concern or a plan of action or an advantage we have, an editor or graphic designer who needs me to sign off on their work, a supplier to pay, a guest blogger whose content I need to approve, a mentee I need to get back to, a blog that I need to send content to (because I guest-blog as well), or my account manager to understand why I don’t like what I’m seeing on my bank balance. I might also have an event scheduled, so I would need to speak to my stylist or skin person or hair person … or all three (laughing). I actually have to create time for writing and that’s important to me because that’s actually at the core of who I am. I try to put my phone on silent from 9pm, which is when I start trying to wind down for the day. I will usually eat lunch and perhaps dinner at my desk, or on the go.

Having said that, there are days I just shut down because I need a break.

Please tell us about your current release.

“Forever There For You” is a cocktail of love, friendship, sisterhood, religion, domestic violence and cultural clashes. There’s quite a bit going on … it’s coming-of-age, chick lit, women’s fiction, Afro-centric stuff and sorta religious fiction going on. It’s also set in a number of places – Nigeria, London, Oxford, Paris and Bristol.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

There’s a case that shocked England when it happened, that I made reference to – a woman named Kiranjit Ahluwalia was brought from Punjab to England, via an arranged marriage to a man who turned out to be really violent. One day, when he was asleep, she poured gasoline or something on his feet and burned him. He died. Her case changed British legal history because at first, the judge ruled that her defense of self-defense wasn’t valid because she wasn’t in immediate danger. However, for some weird reason, the catalog and intensity of abuse Kiranjit had suffered, weren’t heard by the judge or jury – so, she went to prison. This organization, Southall Black Sisters, heard about her and felt she had been unjustly treated, that there had been a miscarriage of justice. So, they got involved and helped her tell the full story … they got a lot of publicity and celebrity support, and the case went back to court. The charge of murder was downgraded to manslaughter and because she had already served time, they let her go. She did a book, then there’s a film on it called ‘Provoked’ with Aishwarya Rai-Buchnan playing Kiranjit. That case literally changed the meaning of ‘provocation’ in a legal context in British law … when I studied it in my first year (Criminal Law was a compulsory module in first year), I had no idea that years later, I’d be writing a book and recalling that. It does pay to listen in class (laughing)!

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Yes. The best friend of the protagonist, Nadine is called Stella and she’s based on two people I know. So, I got their best and worst traits and exaggerated them and Stella came forth (laughing). The abusive character, Tony is based on my brother – abusive, violent and in many ways, a coward.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

Oh, wow! I don’t have a favorite character. I do have different feelings about some of them … the protagonist is “Forever There For You” is completely different from her friend, Stella who is cheeky and mischievous, but fiercely loyal. I think we need different kinds of people across the spectrum for life to be as interesting and colorful as possible. Some characters, I don’t dislike, but I dislike some of the things they do – like Stephen, because he’s friend-zoned himself with Nadine. He loves her, but is too terrified of saying anything till it’s kinda late …

Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?

There are quite a few of those … there’s a bit about a plane crash in the book, but it’s not fiction. It happened in December 2005, in the city where I was born and it was really bad. There were only two survivors. About 61 of the passengers were schoolchildren who were coming home for the Christmas holidays from their boarding school in Abuja. A plane crash is never nice, but these were kids. And one of the really horrible things about it was that the plane actually got to the airport and parents were waiting – because obviously there was a schedule, they knew when their kids were due to arrive … and the plane literally burst into flames on the runway, in front of parents! It’s probably one of the blackest Christmases that the city of Port-Harcourt has ever known; it felt like everyone was directly affected, or knew someone who was. I knew someone who lost her sister, I know someone else who lost her dad, and one of my mum’s former colleagues at work was on that plane. There was this one woman who lost all three of her kids … you do tend to send all your kids to the same school, if you can. And you book them on the same flight or bus going or coming … all her kids were on this flight and she was waiting at the airport to receive them. I think one of the worst parts is that till today, over a decade later, nobody knows what actually happened that day. The investigation was a shoddy disgrace and left everyone with more angst than answers.

Now, in the book, it’s the aftermath of the plane crash that pushes the protagonist, Nadine in a certain direction that kinda determines the rest of her life …

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

The abuse. It was mentally difficult. I had to go to places literally and metaphorically, that I really didn’t want to go. But I put in the work, because it had to be done. And having the kind of result that it’s birthed – not even about the awards or recognition or career trajectory – but the impact it’s had on people … a woman contacted me after reading it and was like, “I just read your book and I’m going to file for divorce right now”. It turned out she had been living in limbo for 17 years, her husband was a violent man who abused her terribly, they were separated but she hadn’t had the nerve to file for divorce because she was afraid of judgment from the church (which is something that the protagonist in “Forever There For You”, Nadine had to deal with).

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

This is actually from a book that we’re scheduling for release in autumn, this year. The name of the character is Claire and I’m not even sure how I’m going to get away with calling her the protagonist, because she’s something else! (laughing)

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

Hmm, I think it would be the futuristic New York, in which J. D. Robb sets majority of her “In Death” series.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

No, but the “In Death” series by J. D. Robb is amazing; Cecelia Ahern’s “P. S. I Love You” made me bawl from maybe page 30 till the end, Martina Cole is in a league of her own, and a part of me sees Jeffrey Archer’s writing and is like, “I want to be like that when I grow up. Without the going to prison part, of course!” (laughing)

What book are you reading right now?

“Survival” and “Sun Sets At Vanity Fair” by two new authors, being published by my company, this quarter (January – March 2017).

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

Lynda La Plante, because of what she’s been able to do with her work in terms of creating multiple streams of income and a platform; it’s almost like a franchise. Then, there’s Barbara Taylor Bradford, just because her book “A Woman of Substance” is everything!

Book Blurb

foreverWhen NADINE is confronted with the reality of her failing marriage, her first instinct is to work it out. She has had it drummed into her that marriage is ‘for better, for worse’. Walking out is just not an option – her faith would condemn her and her culture would make her a pariah.

The combination of Nadine’s background, education, social standing, friendships, faith, experiences and past relationships is meant to equip her to become a success. Failure is alien to her and love means forgiving at all cost.

As she tries to survive and make the most of the curves that life has thrown her, she discovers that ’success’ is a subjective term, and ‘happily ever after’ is something that you have to discover and define for yourself …

About the Author

chiomaChioma Nnani is the author of FOREVER THERE FOR YOU. She is an award-winning storyteller, as well as a two-time UK BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) Award nominee, in the ‘Best Author’ category. A talented ghost-writer who is known for “being able to get into your head and under your skin, before writing down exactly how you’re feeling”, Chioma is also a 2016 DIVAS OF COLOUR finalist (in the category of “Diva Author”), a 2016 CREATIVE AFRICAN Awards finalist (in the category of “Best Fiction Writer”), and has been named “One of 100 Most Influential Creatives” by C.Hub Magazine. She holds a Law (LLB) from the University of Kent and a Postgraduate Certificate in Food Law (De Montfort University, Leicester).

She is the founder of THE FEARLESS STORYTELLER HOUSE EMPORIUM LTD (a premium storytelling outfit based in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, where she lives), typically contributes to lifestyle and literary publications, and runs the “Memo From A Fearless Storyteller” blogazine at www.fearlessstoryteller.com for which she won the 2016 BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) Award for “Blog of the Year”.

You can purchase Forever There For You on Amazon, Amazon UK (and all other Amazon locations – simply search Chioma Nnani). It is also available on Smashwords, the Kobo Store, The Apple Store, Barnes & Noble and Okadabooks.