Author Interview: April Henry

Hi bookies (you book explorers)!

As you can tell from the title, the long-awaited author interview with April Henry is complete. I think you’ll enjoy hearing what she has to say as she seems like a pretty cool person. Also, if you like mystery books, check out her work! So, now I present to you the interview!

hardcoverlover: First, I want to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions during your flight. So far, Ive only read two of your books, The Girl Who Was Supposed to Dieand The Night She Disappeared. They were pretty awesome. It seems there are several similarities between the two. Do you care to tell us about why that is so?

April Henry: I usually write about teens who find themselves in trouble, often girls.

hardcoverlover: Why do you choose to write about female protagonists?

April Henry: Being female myself, those are the stories I am often drawn too. There is often a male main character too, even if he is not a POV character.

hardcoverlover: Which of the characters you have created is your favorite character?

April Henry: I like Jaydra, who is going to be in the sequel to Girl, Stolen (Count All Her Bones, due out May 2017). She is a body guard who knows martial arts. She is a real bad ass. Her name is borrowed from a kung fu brown belt I know, an amazing and fierce woman.

hardcoverlover: Wow! There’s going to be a sequel? I definitely want to read that! What does your character think about you? Would he or she want to hang out with you, the author?

April Henry: I have created literally hundreds of characters. I think most of them would want to hang out with me. I feel that, as their creator, I understand where they are coming from and why they are the way they are. And who doesn’t want to be understood?

hardcoverlover: You’re right. Let me test how well you understand them. What sort of Starbucks coffee would your characters order? Simple coffee or some sort of complicated soy-non-fat-extra-espresso-half-caff-nightmare?

April Henry: Perhaps they would be like me. I used to order just non-fat lattes, but SA Bodeen turned me on to asking for “ristretto shots.” I’m not exactly sure what that entails, but it does result in the creamiest latte.

hardcoverlover: Hmm, interesting. I will have to try it out some time. Are you currently writing a book? Would you like to tell us about your upcoming book?

April Henry: I am always writing a book. My next book that will publish is Count All Her Bones, the sequel to Girl, Stolen. It comes out May 2, 2017.

hardcoverlover: I can’t wait. Speaking of waiting, how long does it take you to write a book?

April Henry: Usually nine months. I once had to write a book in nine weeks (for reasons too complicated to explain), which was horrible. I cried a lot. I got it done, but I don’t remember anything about those nine weeks.

hardcoverlover: Wow. Tough job there. Where do you get your ideas? I know one of them came from a real-life crime you read about. What other sources do you use?

April Henry: Almost all of them start with a news story. The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die started with a song lyric that made me think “What if?” And the book I’ve just started writing (working title: The Lonely Dead) started with the idea of a girl who can talk to the dead.

hardcoverlover: How do you name your characters?

April Henry: Sometimes I have to play around with names to find the right one. Like in The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die, the main male character was originally named Gareth but that never felt quite right. Then I changed it to Ty, and it clicked. I sometimes use the first names of students I meet or names from my daughter’s eighth grade graduation program.

hardcoverlover: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

April Henry: I usually have at least a rough outline.

hardcoverlover: How involved are you in your story? Do you fall into the world as you write it or do you just see it from the outside?

April Henry: I usually see it in my head like a movie, although I’ll often speak dialog aloud or act out certain movements or gestures.

hardcoverlover: That’s really cool. You get to enjoy your “movies” too! Do the stories seem to write themselves or are you constantly pushing it along?

April Henry: It’s a mix, to be honest.

hardcoverlover: How do you work through the dreaded writers block?

April Henry: I have learned that you can always edit crap, but you can’t edit nothing. So my best tip is to turn off the internet in 45 minute chunks and make your hands continuously move over the keys for those 45 minutes.

hardcoverlover: Good philosophy. Where do you write? Is your workspace the definition of “neat freak” or do you prefer to keep a “controlled chaos” atmosphere?

April Henry: I have a treadmill desk. It’s mostly clean, although there is a guest bed in there that can end up being a catch-all space if I’m not careful.

hardcoverlover: I know what you mean. Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

April Henry: Sometimes my goal is a number of hours, sometimes it’s a number of words. I think goals help me stay more focused.

hardcoverlover: What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

April Henry: I might research some at the beginning and then more as I go along. I have taken classes on how to get out of rope, duct tape, zip ties and handcuffs; sword fighting; knife throwing; how to shoot pistols and machine guns; how to escape detection; disarming an armed attacker,;fighting in close quarters; kung fu; and Brazilian jiujitsu.

hardcoverlover: That’s a lot of dedication to your work. But, hey, at least you learn really cool and valuable skills. I pity whoever tries to take you on. Speaking of skills, your books tend to have really interesting, attention-grabbing covers. Who designed your book covers?

April Henry: My older covers were designed by Rich Deas. April Ward (both work for Macmillan) designed the last five or six.

hardcoverlover: Like I mentioned before, I’ve only read two of your books. I suppose I have many to catch up on. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

April Henry: Close to 30 if you count unpublished ones. Twenty have been published and two are in the pipeline. Asking about a favorite is like asking a mother about her favorite child.

hardcoverlover: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

April Henry: How easy it is to get out of handcuffs.

hardcoverlover: I guess I will  have to research it. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?

April Henry: I had one called Satellite that never found a home. It was an adult book about a guy who learns he doesn’t have Huntington’s disease. Maybe someday I will revisit or self publish.

hardcoverlover: Hmm. That’s unusual. To learn that you don’t have a disease. I think it would make an interesting read. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

April Henry: I wrote three books that never got published. The first was roundly rejected. The second got me an agent, and nice rejection letters from editors. The third did not even get nice rejection letters from editors. The fourth sold in two days in a two-book deal.

hardcoverlover: Good thing for us you’re not a quitter! What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

April Henry: The only ones that hurt are the ones you suspect are right.

hardcoverlover: Aww! I’m sorry to hear that as a reviewer. I hope we balance it out for you. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

April Henry: A review for an older book said the villain was too two-dimensional, and it was right. My favorite compliments are to hear from teens who have started to read for pleasure because of my books.

hardcoverlover: Makes it worth it, huh? If inspiration strikes you in an inconvenient place like driving a car or eating with friends at a restaurant, what do you do?

April Henry: Make a mental note.

hardcoverlover: You must have a good memory, unlike me. Now, I know we’ve been bombarding you a bit with all these questions about your books and your work. But here comes the youpart. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? For example…

Whats the most amusing thing that has happened to you?

April Henry: I was once leaving a plane when I reached back to put on my backpack and accidentally grabbed what I thought was the armrest. It turns out to be a businessman’s crotch!

hardcoverlover: Yikes! I’m not sure how I would deal with a situation like that. I assume you like reading if you’re an author. What book are you reading now?

April Henry: March by Geraldine Brooks (told from the point of view of the father in Little Women) and The Handmaid’s Tale (again) by Margaret Atwood.

hardcoverlover: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

April Henry: I read The Darkest Corners and What Waits in The Woods and liked both of them. I don’t have internet on this flight, so I don’t remember the author’s names.

hardcoverlover: That’s okay. We will entertain you instead. We have a series of small but fun questions your readers want to know the answer to. I hope you don’t mind.

Pen and paper or computer?

April Henry: Computer. My handwriting was already bad and then I broken my hand in September 2015.

hardcoverlover: Ouch. Light or dark chocolate?

April Henry: Dark, preferably with nuts.

hardcoverlover: Ooh, me too! Favorite color?

April Henry: Teal.

hardcoverlover: Dogs or cats?

April Henry: Cats.

hardcoverlover: Tea or coffee?

April Henry: Coffee all the way.

hardcoverlover: E-reader or print book?

April Henry: Print unless there’s simply no room.

hardcoverlover: A true booklover’s answer! Chocolate or vanilla?

April Henry: Chocolate.

hardcoverlover: Sandals, sneakers, heels, boots, or flats?

April Henry: Flats. At home I am mostly barefoot.

hardcoverlover: Same here. Do you like manga?

April Henry: Not really. Don’t hate me.

hardcoverlover: That’s alright. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea (or coffee in your case). Do you subscribe to any magazines and, if so, which?

April Henry: Oprah and The Sun, which is a wonderful literary magazine.

hardcoverlover: How would your best friend describe your personality?

April Henry: Funny, caring, sometimes too jokey.

hardcoverlover: You get the class clown award, I guess. My friends occasionally have to remind me to act my age too. Do you go out of your way to kill bugs? Are there any that make you screech and hide?

April Henry: I have a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for the most part.

hardcoverlover: Fair enough. Do you like your name? Why?

April Henry: Yes, because it’s unusual but easy to spell.

hardcoverlover: Do you have any siblings?

April Henry: A brother and a sister, both younger.

hardcoverlover: Haha! I win. One older brother and three younger sisters. Favorite TV show?

April Henry: Game of Thrones.

hardcoverlover: What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?

April Henry: Right now I’m drawing a blank. I feel like at this point I have been asked everything.

hardcoverlover: So sorry! Now, just to wrap things up, is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

April Henry: Thank you for reading my books!

hardcoverlover: Okay everyone! Now you know! Thank you again for your time. I appreciate that you were able to answer our questions, and I’m sure all our readers appreciate it too.

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Review: The Night She Disappeared

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Hi bookies (personal book collectors)!

I recently read a pair of books by a new (to me) author. April Henry. She has written great books from what I can tell. I don’t usually read this type of book, but let me explain what I’m talking about.

Title: The Night She Disappeared

Author: April Henry

Genre: Mystery, Young Adult, Crime Fiction

# of pages: 229

As always, here’s the blurb:

Gabie drives a Mini Cooper. She also works part time as a delivery girl at Pete's Pizza. One night, Kayla-another delivery girl-goes missing. To her horror, Gabie learns that the supposed kidnapper had asked if the girl in the Mini Cooper was working that night. Gabie can't move beyond the fact that Kayla's fate was really meant for her, and she becomes obsessed with finding Kayla. She teams up with Drew, who also works at Pete's. Together, they set out to prove that Kayla isn't dead-and to find her before she is.

Has it gotten your attention yet? It got mine when I pulled it off a shelf. It’s basically one of those middle school, who-is-the-criminal type of books. But I was surprised when I did a bit more research to learn that this book is based off of a real-life crime. April Henry got the idea from an old newstory about…well, let me just let her explain it:

The Night She Disappeared was inspired by a real-life case that happened nearly 30 years ago. A man ordered some pizzas to be delivered to what turned out to be a false address. He asked if “the girl in the orange Volkswagen” was working delivery that night and was told a different girl was. That girl’s car was later found with the keys in the ignition and the pizzas and her hat on the ground. Her body was never found.

The parents hired a psychic, who zeroed in on a young man who owned a truck similar to one that had been seen in the vicinity. Right after that man talked to the psychic, he killed himself, never revealing where he had left the delivery girl’s body. For years, the case was considered closed — until another man, already in prison, confessed to the murder. The man who committed suicide had nothing to do with it. I was always fascinated by this twist, and decided to write a book with a better outcome than the real story. I also wondered how it would feel to know that you were the girl the killer asked for first. In high school, I worked at Pietros Pizza, so I was able to draw on that experience for real-life details.

I have to say, that does sound like an interesting news story that would spark ideas. But now back to the review. Well, it was a quick read. I finished this book in a few hours. It wasn’t so easy that I got bored. That was good. It is written in pretty simple language so it works well for kids. The point of view switches between Gabie, Drew, Kayla, and a tiny bit of the abductor’s and a few minor characters.

Now, while I’m sure kids will understand the story and language, I’m not so sure that 6th grade age level kids and below should read this. It’s not hard to understand, but there are a few parts that get a little dark. The main character, Gabie, becomes obsessed with understanding what might have happened to her workmate and how she must have felt when she was kidnapped. So she tries to copy some ‘scenes’ she imagines happened and has some disturbing thoughts due to her guilty conscience. Take a look at this example:

“And why the rock? Did she cut her hand falling? Or was it something worse? Had the bad things happened yet, or was it just the beginning? Or- my heart quickens here- maybe Kayla was the one who hefted the rock. Maybe she hit him in the head and then fled the quickest way she could, by jumping into the river. But how could she survive a nighttime swim in swift-moving water?

And that’s when I kick off my shoes.”

Clearly, these questions are not very good ones to get obsessed with. Younger children would probably not benefit from these type of questions. So I would recommend this book for those 13 and older.

For those of you that meet this requirement, this book isn’t that scary. The story is mostly focused on Gabie and how she is feeling, her relationship with Drew. You’re trying to figure out who the bad guy is and what his motivations are. Honestly, the book doesn’t really say. I guess this can be seen as realistic, because in real life, you don’t always get a reason or why people do bad things to others.

In contrast to the realism, the end is a mostly happy ending with the main problem reaching its conclusion and the relationships that were damaged were repaired. The end focuses mostly on the budding romance between Drew and Gabie, which you could see coming from a mile away. So there’s nothing shocking or too descriptive (it is for kids after all), but it was enjoyable to just chill out to.

As for my rating… I will give it a 3/5. It does well for the audience it is focused on, but it can give more details. It jumps straight into the romance between Drew and Gabie without giving it enough time to develop. The abductor mostly remains as a sort of ‘shadowy figure’ even when you uncover who it is. I would have liked for the author to explain more about the abductor to make it more realistic or have more of an impact.

What about you bookies? Does this rating seem fair to you? What would you rate it? What was the first book to ‘traumatize’ you?

Review: The Help

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Welcome back, bookies (my literary-inclined pals)!

Today I want to talk about another book that has been made into a movie. Have you heard of “The Help”? Let me provide you with the details.

Title: The Help

Author: Kathryn Stockett

Genre: Historical Novel

# of pages: 522

Now for those of you who have been under a rock (just kidding!), this book has been a big hit. As you have surely noticed, this is a historical novel. That’s not to say that it will sound like your high school history textbook. It’s a fictional story with a historical setting- the 1950’s when blacks were hated and discriminated against. So let’s look at the blurb, shall we?

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step….
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women--mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends--view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope,The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't.

Have you ever read “To Kill a Mockingbird”? It’s a great book that I read in high school. It’s  a classic, pretty interesting, and talks about the same era. Well, in my opinion, “The Help” is so much better. I mean, let’s just start with the title. “The Help”; Such a nice, simple title that immediately tells you what the whole book is focused on. Now think about it. It’s not easy to do that in two words, but Kathryn Stockett was able to.

Moving on. The story itself is so well-paced. Usually, with historical novels, there are small parts where I get bored and that I read through without any interest in order to get to the interesting parts. Well, that’s not the case with this book. I did not want to put this book down. I was only able to do so when absolutely necessary. How did the author achieve this? She focused on the human aspect of the story. After all, we might live in different times, but emotions stay the same and so do a lot of personal relationships. We still care about family, friends, colleagues, etc. And we still feel anger, sadness, happiness, disappointment, surprise, joy, just like the generations before ours did. So by focusing on this, you get sucked into the story. It’s something you can relate to. Now, I’m not saying everyone will enjoy this. But I think most will. Especially if you are interested in topics like discrimination, racism, human rights, history, etc.

I love the character development here. You can actually see the growth of the character as she stops being so accepting of her situation and learns to adapt to new circumstances that are initially out of her comfort zone. I love how the story alternates between the 3 main characters, but it is very well-balanced. It doesn’t feel like just one character takes over. It feels like you’re getting to know all of them, one at a time. I also really liked how the story is told as if the character was having a conversation with you, explaining how things are.

It addresses a serious topic in a way that seems very natural. It doesn’t push one opinion or another. It just focuses on a “this is my life; let me introduce you to it” sort of storyline. For example, after having to deal with an unpleasant encounter with her fake-nice boss, Aibileen mentions,

“I put the iron down real slow, feel that bitter seed grow in my chest, the one planted after Treelore died. My face goes hot, my tongue twitchy. I don’t know what to say to her. All I know is, I ain’t saying it. And I know she ain’t saying what she want a say either and it’s a strange thing happening here cause nobody saying nothing and we still managing to have us a conversation.”

The author does such a great job with having the characters tell the story that I think few people would get offended. Those that do are probably looking for something to fight over.

You may have seen the movie. If you have, I have to say that the movie is remarkably close to the book. But somehow, the book seems to be even better. If you haven’t seen the movie, watch it first, then read the book. Save the best for last, like dessert. When you read the book, you get to know not only the reactions and emotions displayed on their faces but also what they are thinking and feeling on the inside. You get to enjoy more of their quirks, like Minny’s hilarious sassing when she is insisting her boss has to tell her husband that she wants to hire Minny as the help.

“And what’s Mister Johnny gone do if he come home and find a colored woman up in his kitchen?”

“I’m sorry, I just can’t-”

“I’ll tell you what he’s gone do, he’s gone get that pistol and shoot Minny dead right here on this no-wax floor.”

Miss Celia shakes her head. “I’m not telling him.”

“Then I got to go,” I say. Shit, I knew it. I knew she was crazy when I walked in the door-

“It’s not that I’d be fibbing to him. I just need a maid-”

“A course you need a maid. Last one done gone got shot in the head.”

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As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I absolutely love this book and can’t say enough to express how much I enjoyed it. It’s thought-provoking, funny, sad, happy, exciting and basically, just goes through the whole range of human emotions. I give it a 5/5. Absolutely wonderful and totally worthwhile!

What about you, bookies? Did you enjoy it? Have you seen the movie? What differences did you notice between them? Say your piece below!

Author Interview with Jeffe Kennedy

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Hey Book Kooks, Ink&Scales here, saying “Long time no see!”

Hardcoverlover and I were able to score another author interview. Hooray! This time around, we were able to interview Jeffe Kennedy, author of the book series The Twelve Kingdoms, Covenant of Thorns, Master of the Opera, and a few others, as well as several stand-alones. She has written a lot of different works, such as essays, poetry, and some non-fiction. Hardcoverlover reviewed the first book of The Uncharted Realms series, The Pages of the Mind, some time ago, and the next one in the series is to be published in December of this year.

As we can see, Jeffe Kennedy is a prolific writer, and now we have the opportunity to get to know her a little better. So without further ado, let the interview commence!

Ink&Scales: First off, I want to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. So far, we have only read one of your books: “The Pages of the Mind”. Tell us a little bit about it.

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JK: This is the first novel in The Uncharted Realms, but really the fourth in this world, which began with The Mark of the Tala. This book picks up in the aftermath of that trilogy with one of the secondary characters, Dafne the Librarian.

Ink&Scales: How did you get the idea for this book?

JK: Dafne was a consistent – and much-loved – presence in the first three books. So many readers wrote to ask if she’d get her own story that I knew she’d be the natural choice for the next installment. Because language, words and knowledge are so important to her, I knew I wanted to put her in a situation where she couldn’t use those skills – married to a man she couldn’t talk to.

Ink&Scales: How did you come up with the title?

JK: I originally suggested The Pages of Fate – for Dafne’s bookish ways and the way destiny takes a strong hand in her life – but the books are all titled The Something of the Something, so my agent suggested The Pages of the Mind and that worked too!

Ink&Scales: I’ve seen you have written another series called the Twelve Kingdoms. I suppose that the events of that book unfold before the events of  “The Pages of the Mind”, is that correct?

JK: Yep! Pages picks up in the aftermath of that trilogy.

Ink&Scales: Would you like to tell us a little bit more about that series, to give us a bit of background information?

JK: That trilogy is about the three princesses, each more beautiful than the last, daughters of the High King. They begin to discover that their lives, the king and the Twelve Kingdoms are not what they’ve been raised to believe. They take hold of their own destinies and change the world. (Which also creates a big mess – lol!)

Ink&Scales: Dafne is a very interesting character and one that I think a lot of readers will relate to. Tell us- what does your protagonist think about you? Would she want to hang out with you, the author, her creator?

JK: I’m pretty sure she has no idea I exist! But I like to think we’d be good friends.

Ink&Scales: To be good friends, you’d have to know them very well. If you were to imagine them in our world for a change, what sort of Starbuck’s coffee would your characters order? Simple coffee or some sort of complicated soy-non-fat-extra-espresso-half-caff-nightmare?

JK: It would depend on the character. Dafne is probably a Flat White kind of girl.

Ink&Scales: I’m sure most readers have enjoyed getting to know Dafne more in this book. Would you like to tell us what we can look forward to in your upcoming book?

JK: The next in this series is The Edge of the Blade, which is told from the point of view of Jepp, a scout and warrior who accompanies Dafne on her quest as a bodyguard. When Dafne is waylaid, Jepp must pick up her mission, and also deal with a foreign prince she committed a bit of an indiscretion with.

I’ve also got a new series coming out – called The Sorcerous Moons – and the first book, Lonen’s War, comes out in July. It’s about a sorceress whose city is attacked by a barbarian race, and a warrior forced to deal with a magical city. There are also dragons.

Ink&Scales: Dragons? Awesome! I love dragons, hence the “scales” in my name. Man, with Edge of the Blade and this new series coming out, there’s a lot of to look forward to. Now, I’m sure that everyone wants to know about your writing process, so we have to ask: how long does it take you to write a book?

JK: I’m pretty fast now and I write full time. The Sorcerous Moons books are shorter, at ~60,000 words and I can write those in about 35 days. Books like The Pages of the Mind are twice as long and take pretty much twice that time to write. About 1,700 polished words/day, including days off and revision time, works out to be the average.

Ink&Scales: Wow, that’s some pretty fast writing. Where do you get your ideas, your inspiration?

JK: A lot of them from dreams.

Ink&Scales: And how do you name all your characters?

JK: I name them for friends or readers who support my Patreon. I look up name meanings and pick names that convey their personal qualities. Sometimes the names just come to me with an idea of the character.

Ink&Scales: So we can see you take time and research for your character names. What about the story line? Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

JK: I write for discovery and seem to be incapable of pre-plotting or outlining. I have a general idea of the direction of the book and what will happen, but the details – particularly how problems are solved – always come to me as I write.

Ink&Scales: So how involved are you in your story? Do you fall into the world as you write it or do you just see it from the outside?

JK: Oh definitely very involved! I feel like I ride around in my point-of-view character’s head and discover things as they do.

Ink&Scales: And once you’ve finished the rough draft of your book, do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

JK: For both my traditionally published and self-published books, a series of editors does that for me. Outside editing is crucial.

Ink&Scales: Where do you write? Is your workspace the definition of  “neat freak” or do you prefer to keep a “controlled chaos” atmosphere?

JK: Hmm. Neither really applies. I have a dedicated writing office with a treadmill desk that looks out over a valley and distant mountains. I like my desk to be relatively clean and free of detritus or clutter, but I’m far from a neat freak.

Ink&Scales: So basically, you have a comfortably clean place to work. What about goals? Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

JK: Always.

Ink&Scales: How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

JK: Counting only novels, including those not yet published, I’ve written about sixteen. A lot more than that with novellas and short stories. It’s hard to pick a favorite. The Talon of the Hawk, the third Twelve Kingdoms book, is very close to my heart – and not just because it won Best Fantasy Romance of 2015 from RT Book Reviews, although that helped!

Ink&Scales: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

JK: I don’t know? Maybe that each one is difficult to write in its own way – and equally rewarding in its own way.

Ink&Scales: Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?

JK: Yes – I’m still working on it!

Ink&Scales: Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

JK: It took me years and lots of revisions. Eventually it ended up published by Carina as Rogue’s Pawn, my first Fantasy Romance, which then became the first in my Covenant of Thorns trilogy. But I published erotic novellas before I was ever able to sell that one.

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Ink&Scales: If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novels, either writing them or getting them published, that you would change?

JK: No – because things happen the way they do for a reason. My path is my path and all that occurred led me here.

Ink&Scales: What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

JK: Reviews are for readers and it’s good for people to express their opinions. Reviews are also growing to be more and more key for discoverability on sites like Amazon, so I always appreciate any review a reader takes the time to leave. I don’t read many of them.

Ink&Scales: So reviews don’t really impact your writing. What about other books? Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

JK: Tons! I often cite Anne McCaffrey, Tanith Lee, Patricia McKillip, Anne Rice and Robin McKinley as major influences. There are many more.

Ink&Scales: I love Anne McCaffrey, especially her Dragonriders of Pern series, and Robin McKinley also has some great works. And you, as an author, do you have any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?

JK: Write every day is the very best advice I have. The sooner you build the habit of producing words, the more your career will grow.

Ink&Scales: Now, you’ve been getting a bit bombarded with all these questions about your books and your work. Let’s relax a little. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What do you do when you are not writing?

JK: I read. I like to take walks and garden. My husband and I watch movies and stream some shows and series. Really I have a pretty quiet life.

Ink&Scales: What about when you were younger? What were you like at school? Were you part of a clique? If so, which one?

JK: I was a total nerd – National Honor Society, French Club, theater.

Ink&Scales: If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?

JK: Well, I did write an essay collection about my life experiences – it’s called Wyoming Trucks, True Love, and the Weather Channel.

Ink&Scales: That’s an interesting title. And speaking of interesting, which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?

JK: Living, I really want to meet Neil Gaiman and Tina Fey because they’re my heroes. Dead, I’d pick Tanith Lee and Anne McCaffrey, because I never got to.

Ink&Scales: I assume you like reading since you’re an author and you’ve mentioned various other authors. What book are you reading now?

JK: I am reading Grace Draven’s story, The Undying King, which appears in our duology, For Crown and Kingdom. I didn’t have time before it went live and now I’m like the last person to read it! Of course it’s awesome, as everything she writes is.

For-Crown-and-Kingdom-cover-725x1024.jpg

Ink&Scales: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

JK: I read M.A. Grant’s Honour Bound and really liked it – would love to read more from her. I also recently read Kelly Robson’s Nebula-nominated Waters of Versailles and greatly enjoyed it. I’m really looking forward to more from her!

Ink&Scales: And now to the nitty-gritty. We have a series of small but fun questions your readers want to know the answer to. I hope you don’t mind. Here they go.
Pen and paper, or computer?

JK: Computer all the way – anything else is too slow!

Ink&Scales: Chocolate or vanilla?

JK: Chocolate in everything but ice cream.

Ink&Scales: Light or dark chocolate?

JK: The darker the better.

Ink&Scales: Tea or coffee?

JK: I like them both!

Ink&Scales: Favorite color?

JK: Green – on the emerald end

Ink&Scales: Dogs or cats?

JK: Cats, two, Maine coons

Ink&Scales: E-reader or print book?

JK: E-reader is my preference. Saves my bookshelves and instant gratification is the best kind.

Ink&Scales: Favorite movie and tv show?

JK: My go to comfort movies are Pride & Prejudice (Keira and Matthew, thank you), Clueless and Legally Blond. Fave TV shows right now are Outlander and Game of Thrones.

Ink&Scales: D0 you like manga?

JK: I don’t dislike it, but I don’t seek it out.

Ink&Scales: How would your best friend describe your personality?

JK: I asked my husband of twenty-five years. He said: witty, charming, thoughtful, informed. He’s the reason we’ve lasted this long!

Ink&Scales: What’s your stance on creepy-crawlies? Do you go out of your way to kill bugs? Are there any that make you screech and hide?

JK: I am a bug relocater or coexister. Spiders are welcome in my home. The only critters I don’t care for are banana slugs.

Ink&Scales: Once again, thank you for your time. I appreciate that you were able to answer our questions, and I’m sure all our readers appreciate it too.

JK: Thanks so much for having me!

 

Also, if you like to have a look at her bio or check out her website, see below.

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.
Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review was nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2014 and the third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015. Two more books will follow in this world, beginning with The Pages of the Mind May 2016. A fifth series, the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, started with Going Under, and was followed by Under His Touch and Under Contract.
She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.
Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.

Author Interview: Al Macy

Hi bookies (you bookworms),

As we finish a good book and turn to that last page with a satisfied sigh, a lot of times we begin to wonder how the story would continue. How did the characters live after the previously mentioned events? We begin to think: I wish the author had told us more about this or that. And as a result, we wish we could talk to the author and make those suggestions or ask him/her those questions.

Well, I’m happy to announce we got that chance. We have secured an author interview for those that want to get to know Al Macy a bit better. This is the time you get to see what he’s thinking, working on, and know more about the how he thinks. Feel free to ask questions to the author below and you might get an answer! Enjoy!

Author Interview

hardcoverlover: First off, I want to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. So far, I have only read one of your books: “Yesterday’s Thief”. Tell us a little bit about it.

AM: It’s a paranormal thriller involving a mind-reading detective (Eric) and a jewel thief (Viviana). Viviana traveled forward in time to escape the police. I’d like to tell you more about what happens, but that would spoil things for the readers.

hardcoverlover: How did you get the idea for this book?

AM: I asked myself the question: “What would happen if someone materialized in the middle of a televised baseball game?” That’s it. That’s the whole genesis of the book. Next, I figured out how that might happen, what might have caused that.

In the same way, my first novel, Contact Us, came from a similar question: “What would happen if everyone on Earth sneezed at exactly the same moment?”

hardcoverlover: Wow! That sounds so easy! Of course, getting an idea and making a story out of it must be really different. You must put a lot of work into it, I’m sure. But, how did you come up with the title?

AM: In the past I’ve come up with titles on my own, just thinking about possibilities until one caught my fancy. Bad idea. Now, I come up with fifty or more ideas, and then present them in a forum filled with authors (kboards.com). The authors make comments and vote on which title they think is best.

My original title idea for Yesterday’s Thief was The Lady Unvanishes. I actually liked that title, but it’s derived from a Hitchcock movie that came out in the thirties! Yesterday’s Thief is more fun.

hardcoverlover: Yes, I think so too. Would you like to tell us about your upcoming book?

AM: I’m ninety-percent done writing The Universe Next Door. In it, Jake Corby, the main character in Contact Us and The Antiterrorist, is transported to a parallel universe with his dog and his eighty-three-year-old grandmother-in-law.

The grandmother was a mid-level character in Contact Us, but so many readers told me she was their favorite character that I had to give her a prominent role in the next book.

Here’s the first draft of the blurb:

Jake Corby is recovering from his last mission, enjoying life with his new family, when he’s sucked into a parallel universe with nothing but his clothes, his dog, and his eighty-three-year-old grandmother-in-law.
On this version of Earth, the dinosaurs didn’t go extinct and the world is ruled by a spacefaring civilization of dinobirds. If Jake wants to return home, he’ll need to not only survive but locate the rulers of Earth so they can send him back.
Worse, Corby learns that a universe collision is imminent. Unless he can adapt to his new reality and work with the dinobirds to ward off that danger, his universe, as well as countless others, will cease to exist.

But I’ve been really bad. I’ve started work on another book even though I’m not done with The Universe Next Door. This next one will be another Eric Beckman book (the main character in Yesterday’s Thief). Eric, the mind-reading detective, will go undercover in an insane asylum. I’m excited about it, but I can’t tell you more!

hardcoverlover: Sounds really interesting! Now, about your writing process: how long does it take you to write a book?

AM: It took me 4.5 months to write Yesterday’s Thief. This graph shows my progress (number of words written versus time):

Al Macy progress chart

I tried writing The Universe Next Door faster, but it’s not working out that way.

hardcoverlover: How do you name your characters?

AM: I use a tool that’s part of Scrivener, the novel-writing software I use. Here’s the dialog box:

Al Macy Scrivener namer.png

hardcoverlover: Hmm. That’s pretty interesting. Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

AM: Outline all the way. Scrivener makes it easy. Here’s what things look like, outlined in Scrivener:

Al Macy scrivener outline.png

I’d show you the whole thing, and with text that’s actually big enough to read, but that would give too much away.

hardcoverlover: Dang it. I guess we will just have to wait for the next book! Sounds like this Scrivener is a pretty important tool. I think you have given aspiring authors a good idea of how to organize their stories. Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

AM: I proofread my first several books by myself, but now I outsource it. I had to read a book six times to find all the errors. Aargh! It’s better to spend that time writing my next book. So now, I have a great editor who does that for me (Julie at FreeRangeEditorial.com).

hardcoverlover: Where do you write? Is your workspace the definition of “neat freak” or do you prefer to keep a “controlled chaos” atmosphere?

AM: I’ve got a relatively neat rolltop desk in my living room. It has a great view of the forest, and I’m heated from behind by our woodstove. This is what it looks like (but it’s rarely that neat):

Al Macy workspace.png

hardcoverlover: Ooh, looks cozy! How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

AM: I’ve written three novels and two nonfiction books. By the way, if your readers are so infatuated with me that they have to have more, more, more, my book Drive, Ride, Repeat is free on Amazon.

Yesterday’s Thief is my favorite so far.

hardcoverlover: Well, Mr. Macy, we really do appreciate the work you do and especially the time that you took to answer our questions despite your busy schedule. We look forward to your future books.

For more information on Al Macy, see his bio here or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.