Elena talks about her Writing

Name: Elena

Age: 33

Where are you from? Ripley, NY, USA

Tell us a little about yourself ie. education Family life etc. I have two sisters (twins) who recently had babies just six days apart! I am a speech therapist and have my Master’s degree in Communication Disorders and Sciences. I love my job!

When and why did you begin writing? I have always loved writing and began when I was about in 3rd grade. I always had stories floating in my head!

Do you have a novel/collection published? Would you like to tell us about it? Not yet…

What inspired you to write your first book? I was walking home from school in 7th grade and had an idea for it. It literally popped into my head. Maybe an angel gave me the idea like in The Bishop’s Wife…..

Do you have a favourite character from your book? If yes, who is it and why?   My main character is Charlotte, a teenager who lives with her stepmother who gradually becomes an alcoholic. She is my favorite character because she has overcome a lot in her life. I also like her friend Lara because she has juvenile arthritis and has to use a cane or wheelchair and makes Charlotte appreciate what she has.

Is your book part of series? If so what can readers expect to find in your series? It’s not yet but it could be

Do you have a specific writing style? Hmmm….not really

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?   Sometimes I am not sure where to go with the story and don’t work on it like I should

What are your current projects? My Charlotte story, a story about a non-Jewish persecuted person in World War II and a kid’s ghost story

Can you share a little of your current work with us? It’s too long

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Not really, it’s pure imagination!

What books have most influenced your life most? Do you have a mentor? I love Eva Ibbotson, Roald Dahl, Bruce Coville, Ray Bradbury, Tolstoy….   I don’t have a mentor though

Have you ever been able to travel in regards to your books? What was it like?   No, unfortunately

Do you have any advice for other writers? Keep working on it no matter what!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?  Read my work!

What book are you reading now? The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury and Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Do you remember the first book you read? If not tell us what your favourite book is and why.   It’s Spring!

Other than writing do you have any hobbies? I love to read, walk and hike. I also enjoy movies

Do you have a day job? If so, what do you do? I’m a speech therapist

What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching? The Simpsons, Disney films, I love Lucy, The Addams Family

Favourite foods /Colors/Music.   Lasagna, silver and purple. I like most kinds of music (except country). I listen to classical when I write

 

Twitter:  Elenaspeech

Purchase links for my novel: Hopefully coming soon!

Morgan Bell Talks about Life and Writing

Morgan Bell

Name: Morgan Bell

Age: 33

Where are you from? Newcastle Australia

Tell us a little about yourself ie. education Family life etc.

I am the eldest daughter of a couple of shopkeepers, Glenys and Steve. We moved around a lot as kids. My parents would renovate and flip local corner stores and I was the kid behind the counter selling confectionary and cigarettes. I studied civil engineering at uni, and later technical writing.

When and why did you begin writing?

I loved writing at school, and replicating known formats, like creating little restaurant menus or biscuit boxes with bar codes. I went from writing penpal letters and diaries in my childhood to becoming weighed down with academic writing and reading for most of my twenties. When I turned thirty I joined a local writers group and rekindled my passion for fiction and storytelling.

Do you have a novel/collection published? Would you like to tell us about it?

My debut collection of short stories, Sniggerless Boundulations, was published last year. The stories are short and sharp, and psychologically piercing. It is a series of concise scenarios based around aging, anxiety, and jealousy. There is a mysterious package delivered to an office, a medical oddity, an old man obsessed with public toilets, a door-knocking environmentalist, and the road to hell. The collection is quirky and colourful.

cover

What inspired you to write your first book?

I wrote the stories that appear in Sniggerless Boundulations over a period of three years. Many of them were written from prompts in my local weekly writers group, or were submissions to short story competitions. Some were typed up and printed, some were hand-written on the backs on envelopes or photocopies or in notebooks. I was made redundant from my day job in Newcastle and had to pack up the house I had lived in for those three years and move to Sydney. I am a terrible hoarder of paperwork, so I took the opportunity to sort through every piece of paper in the house and throw it out, putting anything writing-related aside. Sniggerless Boundulations is a ‘best of’ those three years of my life.

Do you have a favourite character from your book? If yes, who is it and why?

I love the titular character from the story Garsdale. He is a haughty abseiler on a rescue mission to save a boy that has been lost in a canyon for 99 years. He has a lot of attitude. It is one of the stories that came out best in the audiobook recording, and is the narration sound sample on Audible.

Is your book part of series? If so what can readers expect to find in your series?

Sniggerless Boundulations is the first of three short story collections. The second installation is Laissez Faire, it is close to publication. The third installation will be called Tardigradous. They are all stand-alone collections, but have some commonality with voice and themes.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I almost exclusively write in third-person past-tense, with a distant omniscient voice to the narrator, and using the technique of free indirect speech for character thought. I write very concisely, both stripped back and dense, there is no filler. There is a bureaucratic sound to my word choice, an amusing reflex I chose to accentuate rather than fight, as a testimony to my career in local government engineering.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Focus and discipline, you know, just the most important things. Writing is something enjoyable to me, so I don’t like to make work of it, I just write when I’m in the mood, and until I get distracted, which is a dreadful plan if you are aiming to be productive. But I am just enjoying the craft of it. I like to experiment and take risks.

What are your current projects?

I am currently editing an anthology of flash fiction about wicked plants called Sproutings (a Hunter Anthologies project). The call for submissions closed 31 May 2015 and I am in the guts of the editing process right now. I commissioned cover art from professional illustrator Tallulah Cunningham – who has also designed covers for the Novascapes anthologies – and her design is nearing completion. The cover has a clean green and black palette, and a creeping twisty vine motif. There are 45 pieces ranging from magical trees and capricious flowers to military science fiction and deadly grass and creepers.

I am also writing a speculative fiction novel, Daughters of Mallory. I have been plotting the novel for about a year and have a mockup of the episodic structure completed. I am just starting the fun bit now, typing up the detailed content. The novel is a feminist retelling of some minor characters from Dickens and Austen and a few fairy tales, with a portal and some potions.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Excerpts from Sniggerless Boundulations:

“Her eyes were itching and beginning to water, she pawed at them with the backs of her hands until they went red. A mosquito buzzed in her ear, she trod on a bee, and a single line of tiny black ants curled up around her flamingo shin. She began limping, her foot swollen, shaking the other leg like a cat who had stepped on sticky tape.” (Tiptoe Through The Tulips)

“The tune was the call of his love, a tune only he and she knew. But it was different, peppered with some menacing mannerist malice. Constable Skillion swaggered out from the scrub with a shovel slung over his shoulder, tobacco smoke unfurling. He spied Telfer lingering over the dirt mound and stopped his whistling. Telfer snapped to face the silence.” (Telfer Speck)

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I think most of my characters are different aspects of myself, with borrowed traits from friends or family or people I meet once at work. I have vivid dreams which sometimes set the tone for a story. The events usually have a center of reality that is a mashup of different events from my life, and I take creative license to give shape to the edges.

What books have most influenced your life most? Do you have a mentor?

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde changed my perception of what a book could be, such a unique narrative voice, so much philosophy and social snarkery. Also The Passion of New Eve by Angela Carter for feminist commentary and gender bending. I don’t have any one mentor, but I have a great network of co-conspirators within the Newcastle writing scene who share advice and experiences and ideas. I think that is better than a mentor.

Have you ever been able to travel in regards to your books? What was it like?

Only between Sydney and Newcastle, which is car travel, about 2-3 hours on the road. I am very involved in the Newcastle writing scene, and when I am working in Sydney I will travel back to Newcastle to volunteer at Newcastle Writers Festival, to speak at live reading nights for competitions, and to attend workshops and writing groups.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep your day job so you have material. Listen to people, whether they are talking to you or talking near you. Read your work out loud. Meet up with other writers in person.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I have a few opinion pieces on writing you may find interesting:

  1. Write what you know http://sniggerlessboundulations.webs.com/apps/blog/entries/show/43333617-a-place-to-shout-out-loud-featured-author-morgan-bell
  2. Why can’t I use a comma splice?

http://www.hunterwriterscentre.org/blog/rant-by-morgan-bell

  1. Writing about mental illness

http://laurabrownauthor.com/2014/06/02/guest-blog-post-morgan-bell-writing-about-mental-illness/

What book are you reading now?

Sister Noon by Karen Joy Fowler (novel) and An Astronaught’s Life by Sonja Dechian (short story collection). Also Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (ebook) and More Than This by Patrick Ness (audiobook).

Do you remember the first book you read? If not tell us what your favourite book is and why.

Im sure it was probably a Grug picture book. But the first novel I distinctly remember was Rasco & The Rats of Nimh by Jane Leslie Conly or The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton. I think I read every Babysitters Club book ever written and, a bit older, I enjoyed Robin Klein and John Marsden.

Other than writing do you have any hobbies?

I am a crazy cat lady. I have two tabby cats, they are twin girls. I have a big fat black moor goldfish called Carl, he often has other goldfish companions that don’t last, I secretly suspect he is a serial killer. I review books and films for a friend’s website Salty Popcorn. I am addicted to YouTube and Netflix. I dabble in visual art, including mosaic, photography, digital, collage.

Do you have a day job? If so, what do you do?

I am a traffic engineer and technical writer.

What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

TV: Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Girls, Transparent, Grace & Frankie, Parks & Recreation, Orange Is The New Black

Films: Whiplash, Locke, Edge of Tomorrow, Oblivion, Transcendence, Predestination, The One I Love, Under The Skin, The Double, Breathe In, Far From The Madding Crowd, 99 Homes, Black Sea

Favourite foods /Colors/Music.

Pizza / Green / Chris Cornell, David Bowie, Bauhaus, Talking Heads, Sia

Want to find out more? Then check out these links:

Website: http://sniggerlessboundulations.webs.com/

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morgan_Bell

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/queenboxi

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7790406.Morgan_Bell

 

Her debut collection can be found at:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sniggerless-Boundulations-Morgan-Bell/dp/1291712313

Audible: http://www.audible.com.au/pd/Fiction/Sniggerless-Boundulations-Audiobook/B00U8Q0V5K/

Guest Post: Broken Toy by David Owain Hughes

If you read my last post you’ll see that I mentioned a very talented man that I’ve been co-writing a novella with… well this is the guy! He’s taking time out of his busy schedule to guest post on my blog and talk about why horror works for him.

David Owain Hughes

“Ah you think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man; by then it was nothing to me but blinding!”

― Bane

Why Horror, David?

Because I was born of it; grew up living in a world full of it, along with fear and sadness…But hey, the poet needs the pain, right?

Let me explain, but I fear I won’t be able to keep it from sounding like a cliché – I’m not typical of writing or talking about sob stories for attention, drama or any other reason…I just feel as though I have to get this out, as much stuff has been going on in my life lately.

Before I go any further, I just want it to be known that I love my parents, and that how my childhood was, doesn’t change that. In fact, it helped instil in me a love for horror and violence.

Maybe ‘love’ is the wrong word. I certainly love it now, as it’s a world I’ve immersed myself in – I get great joy out of it with my writing, as I strive to become a known and loved author.

But back in my childhood, I think to have called it ‘love’ would be wrong of me. I think the world of horror and violence was my safety blanket…Who knows? But it’s a starting point.

So, ‘Why horror?’

It’s a question I’ve been confronted with on many, many occasions. My answer? That I grew up on pirate, ninja and horror films from a very tender age; a tender age of five or maybe younger; I’m pretty sure I was five…I remember watching “The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf”, so five would have been about right.

That film was probably my first horror flick.

I also remember watching and loving “Flesh and Blood”, but that would have come later in the 80s.

So yeah, the whole I grew up on pirate, ninja and horror films from a very tender age is true. I didn’t make it up for shits and giggles!

Hey, I had older brothers, what can I say? I’m sure many of you were in the same boat, right?!

Anyone remember “Gymkata”? I thought that was the best ninja movie ever…Until “American Ninja” came along, that is. What about that pirate movie with Michael Caine? “The Island” – Cor! now that is an oldie, along with “Who Could Kill a Child?”

My heroes were Jason Voorhees, Freddy Kruger and Michael Meyers as a child, along with the “Garbage Pile Kids”, “Ghoulies”, “Gremlins” and “The Monster Squad”.

Every weekend my parents would go out and leave one of my older brothers to look after me – if it was Richard, then it was sure to be a night filled with blood, guts and carnage; the video shop was our playground…Yeah, I used to pop along with him.

Aye, for a shaggy, blond-headed five-year-old, I was made of pretty stern stuff. I loved the gore and monsters, but my nightmares were horrific, if you listen to my brother talk about those long ago Saturday nights…

‘The bloodier the better,’ Richard has told me I was said, whenever I ask him about my film likes back then.

Richard was also underage at the time, but only by three or four years.

You’re probably wondering where the ‘sob story’ come into all this?

Well, we’ve pretty much discovered where my love for horror has come from, and why I write what I write.

But why was it my ‘safety blanket’ as a small child?

The answer is simple – my parents had a very unhealthy relationship when I was a child. It was filled with drunken rage and violence; the things that went on, were the sort of things a small child should never bare witness to. I’ve never spoken about this before, only to close friends and past/current girlfriends.

I guess it’s not the type of stuff you just throw into conversations?

I’m not going to dwell on this part too much, but I am going to recant a tale that will never leave my memory.

Again, I was still very young at this point – no older than five or six.

My parents returned from a night out, very drunk I may add, and started arguing. I was upstairs asleep when they come home, but their loud shouts and my mother’s screams of pain woke me.

When I went downstairs, scared witless, I’d never seen a scene in real-life like it – nor to this day, in fact. The living room was a complete bombsite – furniture had been smashed and thrown around the place, with broken glass everywhere.

My fear turned to sobs of distress and panic, as you can imagine.

Running into the kitchen, I saw the walls were covered in blood – and I mean covered. They were running red, just like my mother’s face.

A shocking moment, believe you me; this behaviour of theirs continued throughout my childhood, causing me to live in constant fear.

Fear for myself and my mother.

Film and TV were my friends – I found a world in which I belonged.

Maybe I knew no different?

It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though, as I was very much loved for by both my parents. Still am. It’s something that will never change, as I love them, too.

We only get one set of parents in our life…

My type of past would be seen as a negative by most who have suffered in such ways, or worse, I’m sure – but I’ve taken it and used it for a gain, and boy is it working, as I strive to reach my goals within my writing.

I wrote this post after I discovered a batch of old photos of myself as a young boy – the images of me playing brought a smile to my face, as I thought back. There were a lot of good times, especially the ones spent with my brother.

I have a son of my own now, and when I look at him sometimes, I think of myself at that age, as he’s spiting image of me at that age. His innocence makes me laugh, as he hates anything scary.

‘Not like your dad,’ I’ve heard my mother tell him…

Bio:

David Owain Hughes is a horror freak! He grew up on ninja, pirate and horror movies from the age of five, which helped rapidly install in him a vivid imagination. When he grows up, he wishes to be a serial killer with a part-time job in women’s lingerie…He’s had several short stories published in various online magazines and anthologies, along with articles, reviews and interviews. He’s written for This Is Horror, Blood Magazine and Horror Geeks Magazine. He’s the author of the popular novel “Walled In” (2014), along with his short story collections “White Walls and Straitjackets” (2015) and “Choice Cuts” (2015). After discovering Richard Laymon, David set out on a path to become the best writer he could, holding a BA and MA in creative writing.

Choice Cuts’ blurb:

Choice Cuts: A collection of one of the finest splatter-fuelled horror the genre holds, an unflinching set of short stories that will stay with you, horrors that set root into the back of your psyche & taunt your sanity to its limits.

Here lies fourteen tales of all that is baneful & bloodthirsty from David Owain Hughes, an author with an unflinching love for all things close-to-the-bone, grim & grotesque. Once you delve into these pages you will come face to face with an unstoppable force of pure gore. Readers of a delicate disposition may want to put this tome back on the shelf, while those of you who feel ready to be dragged along into the minds of the deranged & disturbed, the murderous & malignant who watch & wait…

Packed with fast-paced thrills & many, many spills. You’ll come face to face with what lies beneath the surface of the mundane & ordinary, step foot into the maze of murder, mania & madness…just be sure to come out in one piece, not just another choice cut.

We had the disquieting dioramas of stealth-like shocks & spills of Laymon…now we present you with Hughes’ own approach towards the antagonistic execution in the realms of the fear & mayhem that can strike when you least expect it. If you’re a fan of Laymon & Lee, you’ll devour Choice Cuts.

Choice Cuts

Choice Cuts

Buy link for Amazon: Choice Cuts

Co-writing Experiences

Recently I met a man who is going to be in the same anthology as me. It’s released on Halloween (can you guess the genre?!) and is published by Burning Willow Press. It’s going to be awesome.

We spent a bit of time chatting and getting to know one another and it turns out, we have a lot in common as well as some neat ideas we can share. So we decided to co-write something. At first it was going to be a short story but it kept growing and the ideas kept flowing and in just over two weeks we have churned out a novella!

I always wondered how co-writing would work. The logistics of it confused me a lot and I didn’t know whether it would be set out a certain way or a certain author would write a certain bit. In fact, we have just gone with it as it suits us. I started and passed it to my friend who added and passed it back. Now we’re at the same stage only I did the first round of edits and emailed it to him.

What started as a bit of fun might turn into something more as we have queries several publishers who are all interested in seeing the finished novella which is great!

What I’ve found with co-writing is that it boosts my creativity. Not that I can’t write on my own mind you but have someone to constantly bounce ideas off is great, especially if you’re both on the same page but have different imaginations. I have also found that it means because I am responsible to my friend for finishing my section, I’m working quicker, I’m putting more energy and thought into the novella.

I’ve been writing this at the same time as working on my novel (which is now at 30k) and although I thought it may have been too big a project to take on at the time, I have really enjoyed the experience. I will certainly co-write again!

What are you thoughts and feelings on co-writing? Have you ever co-written something? What was your experience like? I would love to hear from you!