Friday, May 30, 2014

Jacky Gray: The Warrior Scholar

Hey guys!

So today I get to dish about the amazing and talented Jacky Gray. I like to think of her as the Warrior Scholar.

If anything, Jacky reminds me of those knights of old: Noble, loyal and wickedly clever. Completely comfortable picking up a pen, but not afraid of picking up the sword when the occasion calls for it (the occasion usually calls for it when she is helping me hack away at my first drafts).

Well not really, she's really very sweet. And totally giving, and helpful, and will go out of her way to help you become a better writer. I have so much to thank her for!

 How fabulous is she? And did I also mention she's the Mother of Dragons?

Um, don't believe me? Lame. When you find yourself facing the UNHOLY FIRE OF HER DRAGON PET, don't come crying to me!

Her actual dragon.
So yeah, she's kind of a big deal. And she's written a series of incredibly imaginative and historically awesome novels. Set in medieval England (kinda... you will have to read to find out why!), her Archer is a character after my own heart. I kind of want to steal him actually, but he's so honorable he probably wouldn't like it much. (PLUS you know, there's the DRAGON!). But you should definitely check them out: They are a great read for all ages, and explore an interesting time period in a completely new and unique way. And jousting, guys. There's jousting! (It's called a laaaaance, hello?!)

Archer and Rory and Reagan
Anyway, I really can't say enough good things about Jacky. For more information, check out her website! And now I'll let the gorgeous soul speak for herself!

The Questions:

1) Why write? What’s your inspiration? And when do you realize your ideas had merit?

If someone told me I couldn’t write anymore, it would be like cutting off my life-support system. Writing (or teaching about writing) is like breathing to me – essential for survival. I took a 6-month sabbatical from teaching to work as a university researcher and had to read 50 children’s books in 3 weeks. Pure heaven (mostly), except I had no time to write.

Being brought up in the shadow of Warwick castle, adventure and history were always large part of my childhood. But it wasn’t until I started teaching high school math (and learning how close my mind was to a teenage boy’s) that the true connection was made. A friend and I watched Kevin Hicks shoot 100 arrows through a piece of rope the size of a man’s head in five minutes and woke the warrior within me. It took 7 years to finish the book with an Adult Archer, but it was some time after that I decided to write about his teenage years. Then the words just flowed.

My very good friend Marianna was the first to see the merit in Archer – she took a bunch of books to sell in her bookshop in Glastonbury, inspired me to come up with the catch phrase “Be Brave, Be Worthy” and organized a signing at her shop complete with a medieval Archer Paul (and his wife Cara) who trooped up and down the High Street handing out flyers. Several years of re-enactor, pagan and faery festivals later, I now get that people like Archer as much as I do.

2) Who is your favorite author/what is your favorite book? 

Bernard Cornwell, Conn Igguldon (both of them do historical adventures the way they were meant to be written), Lee Child (there’s more than a little of Reacher in Archer – even their names are only one letter different!), Hunger Games series (so jealous of Suzanne Collins’ awesome writing style), John Flanagan’s “Ranger’s Apprentice series (apparently on analysis, the wordage in Archer is closer to this than any other!)

A single book? Couldn’t do it. The ones that have spoken to me most lately are Patrick Ness “A Monster Calls” and RJ Palacio’s “Wonder.” Both touched me deeply, on a soul level.
Films appeal to me more than books in terms of living in them; I would choose A Knight’s Tale or Robin Hood (Prince of Thieves) or Hook – that’s where it’s at for me. If I had to choose a book to live in, the closest would be Michelle Paver’s Wolf Brother – or in fact the whole series (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness) so I could spend time in each world. It’s kinda like Game of Thrones, but way more appealing for me, being set in prehistoric Europe.

3) Are you an outliner, or a writer-it-as-it-comes-er?

As soon as I sit in front of the keyboard, the words come pouring out – several thousand a night, for days on end. Archer was written in just 18 days, start to finish. A year later, I had drafts of the first five of the Hengist books. It’s taken an age to get them all spruced up enough to cast before a real audience and I’ve been holding off on publishing the latter ones until I reach the end of the series. So far I’m halfway through the seventh book and I need to go back and revisit some of the earlier ones to make sure that I have given enough clues about the stuff happening now, hence the stall on releasing the fourth book Slater.

4) Which of your characters is the most like you?

Archer – wall-to-wall courage, self-doubting, adventurous, generous, kind. At least that’s the me I like to think I am – others may know better.

5) Where do you write? Name three objects in the space and explain why they are significant (do you hold it when writing? Fiddle with it? Look at it?)

Most of Archer was written at my kitchen table, overlooked by a borrowed dragon staff and a huge map of the world. But great wedges of the subsequent books in the series were written in Wessex (Avebury, Glastonbury), Devon, Scotland and even France. As my collection of weapons and spiritual artefacts grew, I eventually had to put up some shelves to house them – but the best inspiration were my maps, weapons, dragons and secret garden. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rowanna Green: The Ringleader

Hey loves! I've been a bit bad about updating this. Mostly because I'm not sure I have the words to introduce our next lovely writer. I mean, how do you possibly put into black and white what Rowanna Green means to the rest of us WWW-ers? Honestly, I don't think you can. But, I'll do my best at giving it a try. Sho deserves all the credit for this one, but we like to call Ro: The Ringleader.

Why? Pretty sure it's because she walks around like this.

Of course, she looks less like Colin Firth and more like this. But with just as much sass!

Flawless, right?

Ro is the reason there is a WorldWiseWriters. Without her, we would just be an unconnected group of writers, struggling to publish our books and keep-on-keeping-on. But she saw something beautiful in each of us and brought all of us together. And because of that, I can never offer her enough thanks.

Not only is she the reason the WWW exists, she's also the author of some brilliantly spectacular books. It's a beautiful mix of this:

With some of this:

And a whole lot of this:

Okay, so I'm being a bit silly (read: really silly) and probably not giving her works the credit they deserve. You should really check them out, both now available on Amazon (um ... did I mention she got them ready to publish in like the absurd time of like two weeks or something? She's amazing!).

Death Wishes and Triple Jeopardy
Ro's books have a wonderful way of sneaking up on you. They are wickedly clever, fun reads, but also are stunningly insightful. Death Wishes may be about a hot angel, but it is also about living a regret-free life, caring for your family and being true to yourself. Triple Jeopardy may be pitched as a naughty little beach read, but it deals with important subjects with an incredibly sophisticated understanding of dangers women face every day. I love how I can read these books and simply enjoy the story, and yet their inherent lessons stay with me throughout the day and really get me thinking about important issues. I urge you to give them a try, it's not very often you find books that are fun to read and yet wonderfully thought out as well. For more information, visit Ro's website here.

What else can I say, really? Ro is truly the ringleader of this little band of writers, and we would be at a loss without her. Her humor, wisdom and caring are integral parts of the WWW group. Simply put: We love her.

And you will too! So without further fuss, I'll let the lady speak for herself.

The Questions:

1) Why write? 

So Mr Perryman, my Chemistry teacher is droning on about some stuff and I sit and write a story about Ann Node who is this, like really positive electrode, but all the negatively charged electrons find her so attractive. She really wants to meet positive cations but they’ve all got the hots for Cath Ode – the most negative electrode in the cell – at least that’s how I remember it went. I showed it to him at the end and he really liked it despite (or maybe because of) the naughty innuendos that ran all the way through. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Chemistry, I just loved writing more. That would have been age 15 or so – prior to that, I remember filling an exercise book with a lot of dodgy, angst-ridden poetry – some of which got published in the school magazine. Writing (or critting) is something I have to do to keep (relatively) sane.

What’s your inspiration?
My inspiration is definitely books, TV and movies – especially the latter. The first full-length novel I ever wrote (aged around 16) was based on a decidedly naughty dream I had after watching a rather adult TV drama I wasn’t supposed to. I lost the notebook, but the idea stayed and I re-wrote it about ten years later (and lost that too), then re-wrote it at 39 – that version is about to become my next release.

And when do you realize your ideas had merit?
Merit? My ideas? Never. Seriously, it wasn’t until I met the other ladies in the WorldWiseWriters that I had enough faith in any of these tales to let them loose on the story-reading public. I’m still not as happy with them as I could be – didn’t quite manage to edit out all the rookie writing. I cut my teeth on writing romantic fantasy stories, but I seem to have strayed away from the genre. Now I’m more into teenage books as that’s where my true inner child lies.

2) Who is your favorite author?
I have had so many favourite authors over the years – as in every other aspect of my life, I’m a bit of a tart. The ones I keep on buying (and have whole collections of) are: Stephen King (especially the Gunslinger series – totally awesome), Jodie Picoult (just every single thing), Preston/Child (adore the darkness of Pendergast – like a modern, American Sherlock) and Wilbur Smith (he gave me a passion for Africa). I was also deeply affected by Cecelia Aherne’s “If you could see me now” (love the angel – I read this after being gifted with my guardian angel) and Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” (thought the first book was the best thing since sliced bread at the time). 

What is your favorite book?
Bit of a throwback, but for years, this was the one I kept coming back to: Limelight by Terence Feely. The character of this strong, sassy blond who rode round Liverpool and Manchester on a motorbike, breaking into the office of a big-shot tycoon – loved it. I’ve since found out he wrote for the English TV series “Arthur of the Britons” which I loved in the 70s. Nuff said. Number 2 would be Modesty Blaise – what a gal – a female James Bond.

 If you could live in a book, which would it be?  
Cornelia Funke’s Reckless – Mirrorworld is the literary equivalent of some of my fave movies: 10th Kingdom/Labyrinth/ Willow/Stardust.

3) Are you an outliner, or a writer-it-as-it-comes-er?

Outliner, planner – worry about where the next bit of the story is coming from-er. But sometimes the characters do take over and tell me their stories – I absolutely love it when that happens.
I start with a character in a situation – the two are pretty inseparable for me. The situation almost always arises out of who the person is and what experiences have brought them to that point in time. They then need to use their ingenuity to prevail through whatever life (meaning me) throws at them. I’m afraid there isn’t a lot of “journeying” going on in my protagonists, it’s more about how they extricate themselves from this particular pile of poo. That’s not to say there’s no character development – sometimes there is way more of that than plot. I’m hoping that what you get is the real nuts and bolts of what it would be like to tackle a challenging predicament and maybe think about what you would do if faced with the same problem. I am well aware that my ladies don’t act how they’re meant to. All credit to Modesty for that – she spoilt me in terms of silly things like fear and other natural reactions to danger.

4) Which of your characters is the most like you?

All of them. Every heroine has an aspect of a different part of my life and the person I was then. All the scenarios are vaguely auto-biographical I never strayed too far away from what I knew. All the heroes are based on aspects of my husband – the guy who played saxophone professionally, flew light aircraft, sails boats, punts along more rivers than I care to name and shares my passion for theatre, opera, rock music and exploring caves and similar adventures. I married Indiana Jones (minus the whip) and am forever grateful for it.

5) Where do you write? Name three objects in the space and explain why they are significant. 

At my bureau. It has so many precious objects I can just stare anywhere in front of me and get inspired. If I’m struggling, I light incense and candles. My crystal skull is very tactile and always jump-starts my imagination.

Sometimes I have to close my curtains against the view of my back garden:

Saturday, May 24, 2014

J.D. Faulkner: The Comedy Queen.

Hi everbody! Sho here, taking the reins to introduce the amazing J.D. Faulkner. I’m sure you’ve already noticed, she is the queen of awesomely entertaining blogs; funny rolls right off this girl’s fingers the way chocolate seems to roll off mine. Mmm, chocolate. But I digress.

Apparently she kept her hilariousness bottled up until college. “I was terribly, horribly shy, which kept me from talking to people and making friends.” But I’ll have to take her word for it. The J.D. I know (and love) is quirky, vibrant, and one of the funniest women I have ever met. Seriously, she is the comedic heart of WWW.

She should be writing comedy for NBC or something. So, in keeping with her ritual of giving each of us a name, I’m going to call her the Comedy Queen. Don’t believe me? Check out her blog here. And if you want to split your sides open, check out this totally brilliant “WhyMyWriterIsCrying” blog here. Her stuff brings me to tears. Seriously.  

And look at her. Is she not gorgeoulicious? (Yes, that’s gorgeous and delicious mixed together. Somewhere, my high school English teacher is developing yet another headache.) And this Seattle bred girl enjoys gorging on Spud’s fish and chips followed by Husky’s flake ice cream. I wish I could eat like that and look this beautiful! (OK, I do eat like that, but the looks … J.D. I hate you just a wee little bit. ;) ) 

But folks, that’s not all she’s got going for her. She’s a bloody brilliant writer, and she’s got a law degree. Do you know what that means? She can totally bail the rest of the WWW ladies out when research for our next book takes us places we shouldn’t go.
Disclaimer: that has never and will never happen. (Cue nervous laughter.)

She’s also just published her amazing first book, Mirrored Time, which you can check out on here. And look at this gorgeous cover!

Mirrored Time is a Quarter-Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, and a mind-boggling romp through the time streams. Gwen Conway finds herself in the middle of a time-travellers’ war, battling against a seriously destructive demi-god. And the poor girl was just looking for a job. (By the way, the same thing totally happened to me when I got that after school job selling hot dogs, but I digress.) Check out J.D.'s website here to learn more about her awesomeness, and to read an excerpt of Mirrored Time.

OK, it’s time for J.D. to do the talking. Thanks for sticking with me while I tried to do justice to a truly amazing woman! 

1) Why write? What’s your inspiration? And when did you realize your ideas had merit?

Why write? Because I don’t have a choice. Like there really was no other option. I’ve been telling stories for as long as I remember, back to when I was a little thing, telling the story of Princess Jellybean and her magical friends.

I did try, really hard, to pick a ‘grown up, realistic profession.’ The most common response to ‘I want to be a writer,’ was: “Get a good job first, and then when you make some money, you can try to write.” So, I tried. In college, I started out as a Pre-Med major. But when Organic Chemistry came around, at the delightful time of 8am in the morning, I found myself having more breakdown anxiety attacks than should have been normal. So I switched to Classics, and I adored the stories of ancient mythology and history. But I still tried. I actually enjoyed law school, but when it came down to trying to find a job after graduation, back to the old anxiety.

Finally, I decided to let myself try to be a writer. I was the only one who could make my dreams come true. And now I have a book published, a wonderful group of fellow writers, and a sequel that’s itching to be written. Not sure I’ve completely accepted the concept that my ideas have merit, but I’m working on it. Each review, comment or moment of excitement from a reader: Those are those moments when I feel like I’m making it.

2) Who is your favorite author/ what is your favorite book? (If you could live in a book, which would it be?)

I have a hard time with this question, because I love a good book. And that’s basically my requirement. One of my favorites is Frank Herbert’s Dune. There’s something magical about it: Whenever I re-read it, I catch some new thing that I didn’t notice before. But my favorite part?

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

3) Are you an outliner, or a write-it-as-it-comes-er?

A write-it-as-it-comes-er, all the way. And I’m finally accepting that it’s okay. I try to write outlines, and usually I do have a general idea of where I want my story to go. But I think my muse takes it as a challenge when I write an outline. She goes out of her way to make the story diverge from the outline as much as she possibly can.

4) Which of your characters is the most like you?

If you know me, and you’ve read Mirrored Time, it’s probably pretty obvious. I struggled with Gwen, my MC, because I thought she was so transparently ME that it drove me crazy. Although once I accepted that she shared a lot of my thought and speech patterns, she started to become her own character. As if I had to accept that all characters are a part of their writer, and that’s okay.

5) Where do you write? Name three objects in the space and explain why they are significant (do you hold it when writing? Fiddle with it? Look at it?)

Funny story: I have a perfect little writing nook. A nice breeze, good sunlight, a cute little rolltop desk, a nice cushy chair. And… I do absolutely NO WRITING there. Instead I camp out on my bed, or sometimes on the couch, staring at my computer screen, daring myself to write. I don’t really allow myself to have any objects around me. Especially my phone. On days I’m being a good productive writer, it goes in the next room. I think the one thing I let myself gaze at is the metal wall hanging I have of Perseus. Since I like to play with elements of classical mythology, looking at him usually will jump start my creativity. Other than that, just my computer. Although that’s dangerous enough… Why is the internet so shiny?