To delve into the pages of a book by Leone Sperling is to enter a deep world of light and dark. You are titilated with love and respect but thrown around in a world of hatred and unacceptance. There is no set pattern to the writing of Leone Sperling yet she writes with precision, strength and professionalism.
Leone Sperling knows her stuff. As a writer of fiction that is lightly based on the experiences of her own life one can only imagine the journey she has taken. With every Leone Sperling novel you can be guaranteed a page turner. Within Coins for the Ferryman I was taken on a journey from Australia to Europe finding not only a character I related to but myself. Mother’s Day disturbed me in such a way I could not put it down. Five hours passed before I could pull myself away and this was only after I had read the last word. Guilt tore through my body as I dealt with the fact that such a disturbed book had been so enjoyable. Jamie left me divided. As a character he annoyed me. He was demanding, at times rude, and unacceptable yet as I felt his every emotion. I felt compassion for his disability, his needs and his life.
Leone Sperling takes you places. She gets inside your soul and tosses you around. She plays on your mind and she teases you. She challenges every inner thought, ever piece of doubt and every bit of acceptance you have.
With each Leone Sperling book I read I was left intrigued about the writer. It is with this that I felt compelled to ask Leone a few questions about herself and her writing, hoping to crack the code of her mind.
1. When did you begin writing and what inspired you?
I did not start writing until I was 21. I had no desire to write as a child as creativity was not encouraged in my family. My mother supervised our education. She tested us constantly on our times table, our spelling etc. and academic excellence was what was required. My sister and I both went to Opportunity classes in primary years 5 & 6 and my brother, my sister and I went to a selective high school - Sydney High. My mother supervised our learning throughout our high school and even throughout our university courses - encouraging us to study hard, rote learn and then she would 'hear' us all our work - holding our books or notes and testing us on what we had memorised. There was no time for creativity!
I started writing during the first year of an intense, strictly Freudian, psychoanalysis which was conducted 4 times a week for 4 years from 1958 until I got married at the end of 1961. I entered analysis because I was a compulsive eater and the process allowed me to uncover the unconscious causes of my eating disorder as well as revealing to me that I actually wanted to write about all that I was learning and the power of the deep, dark, unconscious mind. My analyst encouraged me to keep a dream book. I used these dreams as my gateway into the unconscious and felt that the dreams and their interpretations enabled me to see the truth about myself and my family. My analyst encouraged me to write and it is because of her that I became a writer.
2. Was there anything in particular that kept you motivated when you started writing?
The thing that kept me writing was a compulsion to write and a compulsion to be fearless about revealing the darker side of life.
3. Do you have a specific writing style?
I write with my own voice. Anyone who knows me and reads what I have written says that they can almost hear me speaking as they read. My style is simple but powerful. I like using short sentences. I like revealing truths about life that other people prefer to hide. I have found that the novella length is very suitable to my style. Mother's Day, Oasis, and What About Love are all constructed with novella length sections.
4. Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Mother's Day was the most challenging thing to write because I needed to push my characters beyond normal, acceptable behaviour in order to see what would happen to them. Using my own life and being fearless at doing so was extremely challenging. Coming to the decision that I was ruthless in this matter was also disturbing and challenging. Knowing that I would inevitably hurt members of my family by my writing yet deciding to do that regardless of the consequences was also challenging.
5. Do you have a favourite character from one of your books. If yes who is it and why?
My favourite character from my books is myself - a person I have written about in many different ways. Everything I have ever known, felt or experienced has found its way into my books.
6. Have any other authors been of influence during your writing career?
The most important book I ever read was Germaine Greer's 'The Female Eunich'. It helped to liberate me from the conventional wife, mother, daughter relationships that I had followed throughout my life. As I have a BA Honours degree in English literature I have, of course, been influenced greatly by my study of literature. I think Shakespeare influenced me more than any other writer because he knew absolutely everything about the human psyche and human relationships. He understood the power of unconscious. I was very influence by the plays of Eugene O'Neill because he was the first playwright to put put the unconscious minds of his characters onto the stage. He took Freudian theory and turned it into powerful drama. I did my English Honours thesis on the plays of O'Neill. For the same reason, because it uncovers the unconscious mind, I was very influenced by Doris Lessing's 'The Golden Notebook'. Any writer who successfully dives into and reveals the dark power of the unconscious mind appeals to me.
7. Do you have any current projects?
I have stopped writing. However I have always wanted to write a book that starts with this sentence, "I live in a food prison," but so far I haven't had the courage to write it.
8. What advice would you give to other writers?
Use what you know. Believe in yourself. Listen to criticism but if you feel confident about what you have written, then trust you intuition. Don't expect to make any money from writing!
9. What was the first book you ever read that had a huge impact on your life? What impact did it have and why?
I partly answered this in talking of Germaine Greer's book.
10. Other than writing do you have any other hobbies?
I have been studying Latin with Continuing Education at Sydney University for about 14 years. I love translating Latin. It's a wonderful mental exercise to be exposed to classical Latin writers.
So did I crack the mind code of Leone Sperling? Will anyone ever crack the code? The writing of Leone Sperling is definitely one that I will continue to ponder.
Find out more about Leone Sperling and purchase her books from Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Leone-Sperling/e/B001KMIZTU
On 27th March 2015 Clancy Tucker posted an interview he did with Jennifer Douglas on his blog. Below is a link to the interview.
Why short stories?
It started with my local writers group in Newcastle, it was one evening a week and the coordinator would send out an email full of writers prompts prior to the meeting and we were asked to select a prompt as inspiration and write a piece of flash fiction. When we had a larger group we were asked to stick to 350 words or less and when the group was smaller we would write to 500 words. Each writer read their work aloud in the meeting, so the shortness of the stories was for time management. In the meeting we would also read a classic short story and discuss it, and I got a real appreciation for the artistry that goes into a short story. I am a technical writer in the engineering world as my day job so I am trained to make things as concise and informative as possible. So for me I’m mixing an art with a craft. I have a natural desire to get down to brass tacks, but I want the result to be beautiful and unique.
What is the shortest story you have ever written?
The shortest story in Sniggerless Boundulations is Deep Water, which is 127 words. That one is more of a vignette. There are a few vignettes at the beginning to set the tone of mystery and apprehension. They are like a hook to the larger pieces. In my new book Laissez Faire (soon to be released) the first story Sit Down is 111 words. I am doing a series through my Patreon page https://www.patreon.com/queenboxi, and through my mailing list sign-up where I get fans to participate and submit 4 words for me and I form them into a 100-500 word story, so there could be even shorter stories in the future.
How long did it take you to write it?
My little stories are often like a one-take shot. I could write them in one sitting while waiting for someone or something, or while attending a writers gathering (I get most inspired around other authors). Longer pieces, over 1,000 words can sometimes take a few weeks, piecemeal around my day job and other commitments. I do a lot of thinking before I write, and I write in sections with a lot of thinking and research in between each session. I basically form the entire story in my head before I open the word document to type.
Where do your ideas come from?
Many are inspired by real people or situations or current events. I rework little
tid-bits I am told or experience, and put a philosophical bent on them. Sometimes it helps to set the story in a fictional town or world to put a bit of distance between the reader and what they are reading, otherwise it would be quite confronting. I like writing stories directly from dreams. I strongly believe dreams are the recycle bins of our fears, these little misshapen collages where ideas clash and merge and repeat ad infinitum. I have very vivid dreams and will often write them down into my notebook first thing in the morning. The story Mrs Jackson is an example of an anxiety dream. The stories Telfer Speck and Garsdale were inspired my music, both lyrics and atmosphere, by Blitzen Trapper and Soundgarden respectively.
Is there any author in particular who inspire you?
I really like Raymond Carver and Tobias Wolff for short stories. Also Cate Kennedy, Margo Lanagan, Tim Winton, and Jim Crace. Neil Gaiman writes a good short story, I recently saw him speak (and sing) at Sydney Recital Hall and he read a piece called “Adventure Story” that was pure perfection. Cate Kennedy’s “A Pitch Too High For The Human Ear” and Tobias Wolffs “In the Garden of the North American Martyrs” are must-reads for short story lovers.
To date how many short stories have you written?
There are 18 published, with another 17 to be published this year. This includes the contents of Sniggerless Boundulations, Laissez Faire, my story Midnight Daisy from the She: True Stories project, and stories in anthologies like Novascapes and Prints Charming. The rest just sits in fragments in my note books until I pull a bit out and expand it or mash it together with something else.
How did you come up with the title of your book Sniggerless Boundulations?
That phrase came to me in a dream. I was dreaming about red coconuts that took one-hundred years to ripen and the enveloping warmth of reconnecting with an old friend. It was like the word “silencio” in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. All this implied incomprehensible meaning due to the repetition. I felt like my sub-conscious brain was trying to tell me something. Symbolically I think of it as one small step for mankind, one giant leap for this woman (me).
When I read Sniggerless Boundulations I was left wondering what the purpose of some of your short stories were yet wanting more. I was curious as to who this author named Morgan Bell was. How would you describe yourself?
Neurotic, paranoid, idealist. I am the person who sits back in the corner and watches other people and wonders what they are thinking. I can read people really well, I probably missed my calling as a cold-reading psychic charlatan. I love interesting words and phrases and the etymology of names and expressions. I also love the variations of English accents and slang and the stories behind how people in different locations came to speak the way they do. I love language evolution and portmanteaus and film quote memes. But when I write my purposes is always to express raw emotion in the closest approximation that the English language can get. I aim to convey a feeling rather than a plot, the plot is just the vehicle. The best compliment I can get is someone saying that my stories kept them thinking long after they are read. I loved that I had you scratching your head and pondering meaning, that, to me, is the aim of the game.
If you had to write a 350 page novel what would it be about?
I have a bare bones plot structure of a speculative fiction novel that I’m currently working on. You may not get 350 pages out of me, it might be more like 200 pages, maybe more novella length, like Steinbeck’s Of Mice & Men or Hemingway’s The Old Man & The Sea. However to my defence, I write very densely. So its like having a skinny slice of an ultra rich chocolate mud cake. My novel has a working title of Daughters of Mallory and is a feminist dystopia that appropriates an reimagines some of western literatures most underrated villains and sidekicks.
What next for Morgan Bell?
I am planning on doing a call out short stories so I can edit an anthology. It is going to be called Sproutlings and will have a sinister flora and vegetation theme. Novascapes 2 (speculative fiction from the Hunter Region of Australia) will be out this year, so I will be looking forward to helping with the promotion of that. The big project is Laissez Faire, my next flash fiction collection, and that is nearing completion. I would love to have it finished before Newcastle Writers Festival 20-22 March 2015, however that is drawing near so I don’t want to make any promises. Sniggerless Boundulations will also be available in audiobook within the next month, I have been working with a voice artist Jon Severity to get my book into audio format, he has been doing a fabulous job, expect to see it on Audible soon.
1. Where did you grow up? Did your childhood have any impact on your writing?
I was born in Australia, but I am well-travelled, having lived in four countries. Yes, I am sure that I write young adult fiction because of my childhood. I still recall what it is like to be a kid. Hence, I have role models in all of my stories. Sadly, many kids today would not know what a role model is.
2. Tell us about the first story you ever wrote, published or not?
It was a short story called, ‘Topsy The Orphan’, based on my mother’s early childhood. Topsy was her nickname as a kid. The story is about a family of rabbits, and I still have the original manuscript.
3. What are you currently working on, writing wise?
I am revising the manuscript for my next 3 books. Also, I am deeply involved in research for a possible non-fiction story. It involves a famous incident, and alleged murder, that happened about 12 years ago in Australia and made world headlines for months. Hopefully, I might just have the evidence that will again be world headlines. Not a word more will I say. Watch this space …
4. What is your favourite character you have ever created and why?
Difficult question to answer. I use male and female protagonists. However, probably Smokey ‘Gun’ Danson; the main character in my first book – Gunnedah Hero. Why is he my favourite? Smokey is a very noble character with ethics, loyalty, empathy and passion.
5. Do you have to write in order or do your ideas just come to you and you put them in order later?
I have an idea and shoot from the hip. The story takes on its own life. I never plan a story. It normally takes me three months to write a manuscript of 100,000 words, working 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week.
6. What was your path like until you found writing?
I first wrote when I was about eight-years-of-age.
7. How is your relationship with your publishing company?
It’s excellent, considering I’m the managing director of my own publishing company. However, I’m always seeking interests from traditional publishers. Should they come to fruition, I would be prepared to negotiate on most things except two: changing the stories I write, and the covers for my books.
8. Tell us about your covers.
As a photographer, I do my own covers.
9. What inspires you to write?
I am well-travelled, and have done my travelling with an open mind. Travelling is the best university on earth. Also, people inspire me. I am very intuitive, perceptive, observant and interested in what goes on around me and the world.
10. How do you get book reviews?
With great difficulty, but I’ve been lucky enough to have had some brilliant reviews which can be seen on my daily blog: http://clancytucker.blogspot.com.au/p/book-reviews.html
11. What is harder: writing, editing, or marketing?
Writing is very easy for me. It just rolls out. Editing or revising is a discipline you must accept as part of the journey and a major part of learning your craft. You cannot become intolerant of sitting for hours with a red pen, looking for better ways to write or say things in a manuscript. Marketing is an absolute pain, but sadly necessary. It takes me away from what I’m good at – writing. However, I write a daily blog and have a variety of guests from around the world. My blog has introduced me to some fantastic friends. I am always seeking the silver bullet.
12. If you could publish every book idea you’ve ever had, how many books would you have out right now?
I’d say at least 500. I have a folder where I keep ideas that I’ve jotted down on various scraps of paper. Trust me. I will never live long enough to write what I have.
13. Have you ever considered co-writing a book or series with another author?
No. Doubt I would do it. Nor would I write science fiction or fantasy.
14. What do you do to relax?
Not enough. I read, keep abreast of world affairs, fish, watch sporting events, and entertain.
15. If you could tell your 14 year old self one thing, what would it be?
Not sure what you mean, but anything is possible, providing you are passionate enough. If you want to be a writer, find something you are passionate about and write passionately about it.
16. What advice would you have for this upcoming generation?
Leave your mobile phone and laptop at home and get out and do things. Travel, learn, observe, smell and do things for others. Life is short … use it … there is plenty to do.
17. Have you ever read a book that changed your outlook on life?
No, not really. Writing did! It’s great therapy for an open mind. Retain your own voice and let it out.
18. Do you have a classic piece of literature or a classic author you are fond of? How about one that is overrated?
Mm … writing, reading, music and food are very subjective, like most things in life. So, who am I to judge? However, it always shocks me that Harper Lee wrote one book that sold 42 million copies – ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’.
19. Any type of music that gets your writing juices flowing?
No. I write in silence.
20. If you could pick three people who are your heroes or role models, who would they be and why?
I have many, and for the same reason: Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Junior, My mother, Lech Walesa, Gandhi, the king of Thailand, Aung San Suu Kyi, Princess Diana – people with passion, empathy and a great belief in human rights. They also did things because they believed it was right.
21. Dog or cat person?
Australian cattle dog.
22. What do you want to eat right now?
23. What is your favourite holiday or time of year?
Summer. I hate the cold.
24. Anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for inviting me. I wish you enough …
Check out his website for inspiring blogs and updates on his works: http://clancytucker.blogspot.com.au/
When not writing author Sheri Poe-Pape can be found teaching the piano at Pape Conservatory of Music. Her first children's book Cassie's Marvelous Music Lessons combines her love of music with that writing.
1. What inspired you to write Cassie's Marvelous Music Lessons?
My former dog, Cassie, would knock my hand off the keys with her paw when I started warming up to teach piano and voice.
2. Are the characters in the book based on anyone in particular?
All characters are based on myself, my dog and former music students.
3. When reading Cassie's Marvelous Music Lessons what do you hope children will get out of it?
I hope they realise that a dog or anyone can be quite different from the rest, and in the end, we can all get along with a little bit of compromising and fun.
4. You chose to take the road of self publishing. What made you take this road?
I have discovered that it is not always what you know, but who you for traditional publishing.
5. If there was one thing you wished you had known before approaching publishers what would it be?
I wished I had known about their marketing abilities.
6. Now that you have traveled the self publishing road what message would you give to others who are at the beginning of their journey?
I would tell them to do it again and again this way.
7. What have you found to be the most rewarding thing about being an author?
I have discovered how much fun it is to read to children and also teach them creative writing.
8. What have you found to be the most difficult thing about being an author?
Getting some national book stores to keep their shelf stocked with my books.
9. Did you have the opportunity to choose the illustrator for your book?
Yes I did. I feel she did a super job.
10. When choosing an illustrator how did you make the choice?
I based it on other books the illustrator had already done.
11. As well as being an author you are the director of Pape Conservatory of Music where you teach the piano. Would you say the two overlap each other and if so how?
The music experiences that went into the book span over the lessons as well.
12. What next for author Sheri Poe-Pape?
I hope to get my book up to optimal sales level and start on the sequel. There are three sequels plus six other books that are different that will be published in the future.
Find out more about Sheri Poe-Pape and purchase Cassie's Marvelous Music Lessons www.sheripoe-pape.com
10 questions with author and paramedic Mark Mosier
Mark Mosier is a man who has seen it all. As a paramedic with 30+ years experience behind him he has been a part of the lives of many who would have preferred to have never met him. In his book Signs of Life, Mark Mosier takes us with him as he saves lives and heals the wounded. Signs of Life is a book of real people, real call outs and real drama.
Mark Mosier answers 10 of the questions that went through my mind whilst reading Signs of Life.
1. In Signs of Life you write of the real life call outs you have experienced in your 30+ years as a paramedic. That is a lot of years and a lot of call outs. Was it hard to choose which call outs to include and which to omit?
Indeed this time frame included literally thousands of emergency calls. Certainly there are ones that seemed to fit outside that proverbial ‘routine’ response. I tried to give the reader a glimpse of what a paramedic or EMT might see during their career. I also believe it is more impacting for the reader knowing these are based on actual responses.
2. For those who work in EMS each day, and each call, brings the unknown. What goes through your mind at the beginning of each shift?
The shift actually starts when you wake up that day. You are going through the motions of how your shift will start, preparing for that call right as you come on duty, thinking about how you want the ambulance set up, talking with your partner about who will do what on certain calls. You have no control over what call you go to, you do have control over what you are bringing and that is our edge.
3. Throughout your book you speak of searching for MedAlert bracelets. The constant message you gave had me wondering under what circumstances should one wear a MedAlert bracelet? What important factors can these hold that help paramedics?
MedAlert bracelets give us valuable information about serious medical conditions that patients have and may not be able to convey to us. Illnesses like diabetes, seizures, heart conditions, medication allergies and a host of other conditions. When someone is wearing a MedAlert bracelet, we know their condition is serious enough that it can affect the outcomes if we find them unconscious. We have also seen then worn by developmentally disabled with important contact information. We see them in bracelet form,necklace and sometimes in the wallet or purse.
4. Signs of Life is a very informative and educational book. It is more than a story it is a resource. Within you include information on the ‘tools of the trade’ using pictures to give a visual of your explanation. I learnt a lot whilst reading and will now look at the equipment used by EMS and hospitals with a little bit more of an understanding. For some this will take away a little of their fear when in an emergency situation. One thing that interested me was your explanation of flatline being no rhythm in a heart attack patient and that at this time you can’t shock the patient or start the heart. This surprised me as movies lead you to believe that you shock the patient because they have deceased. Can you explain this a little further?
We all enjoy the fantasy of a movie and yes they do make it look real and seem like it should work the same way in real life. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Real life can be cruel and have devastating outcomes. EMS preforms near magic and does this day in and day out. This was one of the objectives in writing Signs of Life. I want people to understand what to expect from EMS and also realize TV and movies are fantasy and real life is much different. All the treatments in Signs of Life are accurate and follow the current practices by the majority of EMS systems throughout the world.
5. When writing Signs of Life were there any times you found it difficult to write about the call outs? Even though you deal it every day, and have done so for many years, emotionally you must still find some situations hard.
Last year I was working in Iraq. A very good Iraq friend of mine asked the exact same question. I smiled at him as he asked this and told him I wondered how many people would consider this. Putting these calls in Signs of Life was difficult as they are always in my mind. I am comfortable talking about them as I know that we, as a crew, did the best we could and gave the patients a very aggressive chance at a positive outcome.
6. In Signs of Life some of the days are pretty full on and it is one devastating situation after another. Do you have difficulties putting the situations of a day’s hard work behind you at the end of each day?
At the end of your shift it can be emotionally draining. There are calls that can ‘bruise’ you for several days. We understand this is a normal reaction and have a great support network within the department. Over the years they have developed a CISD, Critical Incident Stress Debriefing, programs. This is implemented after the death of a child or any scenario that might invoke especially traumatic feelings. We watch this very carefully and it is vitally important to have an open dialogue between the crew members and conduct ‘After Action Reviews’ on most of our calls. We are a family, an extended family. As a crew we will see parts of ourselves our spouses or families will never see.
7. As well as being an author and paramedic you devote time talking to EMS groups, businesses and schools sharing your knowledge and skills and educating them on the role of EMS. This must be very rewarding. Are there any talks you have done which stand out in your mind?
I have been a teaching medic for over thirty years. I have been heavily involved in teaching the lay public first aid and CPR. Initially I didn’t realize what I was giving back to the community. Only after I started having citizens come up to me after class and shake my hand, hug me and tell me how much I have affected them did I realize that I had such a passion and compassion for what I do. When I was in Iraq I was in charge of teaching Iraqi’s first aid and CPR. The looks on their faces and enthusiasm they showed me as I told them this was for them and their families is something you cannot put a value on. Signs of Life is not just a book, it is what every reader needs to know about EMS, whether it is for their career, general interest, their passion or that inspiration needed to talk to their family about making themselves successful in an emergency. I have been to too many scenes where families were woefully unprepared, and it cost them dearly.
8. Signs of Life has it all - car accidents, drug overdoses, accidents concerning children, gunshot victims, domestic violence - you name it you talk about it. You are based in the U.S but these situations are worldwide. What would you say is the situation you are called out to the most?
I would say some of the highest medical responses are cardiac, in other words, heart related problems. As far as substance abuse issues, alcohol is at the top of the list. Whether direct or indirect alcohol is a global issue with devastating consequences. Motor vehicle accidents, domestic violence, assaults, suicides and a host of medical conditions are a result of the lifelong abuse.
9. If you had one message for society in relation to your job as a paramedic what would it be?
Life is precious. It can change in the blink of an eye. Tell your loved ones what they mean to you, hug your children, read Signs of Life and consider making changes with your families.
10.So what next for author Mark Mosier? Will we be seeing a Signs of Life II and if so what can we expect?
Signs of Life II is nearing its release. This is a book that very few will be able to read straight through...it is also based on real calls and as incredible as the calls are, they are real life. The reader will be as invested as the crew is. I am very proud of both Signs of Life and Signs of Life II.
This interview came about due to my reading Signs of Life and feeling I had to find out more about the paramedic behind the book. I had to thank the man who had taken me on one hell of a journey I would never forget. A journey that changed not only the way I see the EMS services but the way I act toward my family and go about my daily life. I now think before acting and see the need of being emergency prepared.
Get Emergency prepared by purchasing a copy of Signs of Life. It will change your life. www.signsoflifeems.com.
Australians can purchase a copy of Signs of Life directly from this site, saving overseas postage. Click here.
Into the Mists is a mystical magical novel that follows the journey of Carlie, a teenager who after her parents are killed in a car crash, struggles to find her place in life. She finds herself on a plane leaving behind her home country Australia to live with the grandmother she never knew existed in the UK.
What was your influence when choosing the UK as your destination?
The British Isles are a place of myth and magic – and mists – and a lot of my own magical experiences took place there, so it seemed right to base much of the book there. The mists are almost a character in themselves in Carlie’s story, and I needed to ground her experiences within these mists in my reality, and that is where I have encountered them. One summer solstice eve I found myself trapped by the mists atop the tor in Glastonbury, England, stranded up there until the sun rose the next day; one pre-dawn autumnal morning I walked into the swirling mists as I wandered through the sacred stones of nearby Avebury; another time the mists descended on me while I was climbing a mountain in north-west Ireland, on a grey and truly Otherworldly afternoon. And I’ve danced in stone circles there, been licked by a calf as I sat meditating within one, entered sea caves and clamboured into ancient burial tombs, walked through green fields and ruined castles and places of myth and legend there, all of which wove themselves into the story somehow.
The characters within your book all have strong, unique personalities that allow them to stand alone but blend nicely as a team. This creates a story that touches the heart. Are there any particular techniques you use that help you create your characters in this way?
Not really, there was no technique (at least that I was aware of), they just developed along with the story. I must admit I was a little surprised by how much everyone loved Rose, the grandmother – I got a lot of messages about her, and how much they wished they had a Rose in their life. But while she and Carlie had a fraught relationship at first, and Carlie is scared of her, and angry at her, I didn’t want to leave her without some support in her life – she needed to know (even though it takes her a while) that she is still loved. Mostly though the story is of Carlie’s journey in becoming her true self – what can happen through loss but also if you’re brave enough to really look within.
Are there parts of Into the Mists that resemble your own life?
My first response when I read this question was no – especially as my parents are still very much alive, and sadly my grandparents are not. But a lot of Carlie’s experiences did emerge from my own. Many of the rituals she takes part in are based on my experiences, her questioning and scepticism around magic and spirituality does echo mine, and she drinks her tea the same way I do. So while Carlie’s life-defining moment was very different to mine, I guess there is a little of me in her, or her in me, I’m not sure which way that goes.
Two cats play an important role within your book. Was there anything in particular that influenced the events involving the cats and their personalities?
I’ve never really thought about this, but they were very important to the story. In a broad sense, Luther is Rose’s witchy black cat, her familiar, but when Carlie arrives at her grandmother’s she feels very isolated and alone and out of her depth, and scared of this woman too, and angry at people and at the world. So Luther is her way to communicate – she can confide in him, without having to speak to her grandma – he is a sounding board she uses to understand how she’s actually feeling and what she thinks of things. He enables her to start feeling love and affection, without having to let her grandmother in, and the support of the natural world, without having to accept magic. Luther was a melding of two black cats I’ve spent time with – one was my flatmate’s cat Luther, who I loved (and hence the name), and the other was Mowsie, who resided upstairs from me for a few years, but who basically lived with me, just going home for meals. And Shadow was based on Mowsie’s sister Freckles, who used to jump up on the table when I was doing healings and put her little paw on the person too. In the book Shadow embodies magic, healing and possibility, and a link for Carlie to her mother. And she is perhaps less real, but still equally important to Carlie on her journey…
You started writing Into the Mists the day after you finished your book Witchy Magic, as part of the thirty-day National Novel Writing Month. Do you feel this had any influence on the writing of Into the Mists?
It influenced the book in so much as I had thought I would spend October planning Into the Mists – writing up a chapter outline and plotting it all out. Instead I was still working on Witchy Magic (and the book launch, the US release, the website etc) until October 31, so on November 1 I just had to dive in, and make it up as I went along :-) And it was fascinating, how the story wove itself together through the process of writing. I think in a way my first book, Seven Sacred Sites: Magical Journeys That Will Change Your Life, had more of an impact on this novel, as that included many of my magical experiences in sacred places around the world, as well as all my research on the history and culture and legends of those places, all of which threaded itself into Into the Mists in some small way I’m sure.
How do you feel books on paganism are accepted by society today? Would you say this has changed since the writing of your first book?
I was surprised while writing Witchy Magic, and researching the history of witchcraft and paganism through the centuries, and interviewing people for the book, how little acceptance there was even thirty years ago for pagans of any kind – witches, druids, shamans, priestesses and more I think it’s easy to forget how hard so many people had to struggle, against the law, against people’s perceptions – and misperceptions – to be able to openly follow their spiritual path. And although it is better now, and books and rituals and gatherings and wisdom are more widely accepted, I’m conscious that I live in a big city and all things are more accepted here. I was contacted recently by a student from LA who wanted to interview me about witchcraft – and she was convinced it was related to Satanism, which couldn’t be further from the truth. So, it’s getting better, but there’s still a way to go…
At the back of the book you state that Into the Mists started as a fun challenge with a few friends - to write fifty thousand words in thirty days for National Novel Writing Month. What advice would you give to those who are attempting NaNoWriMo for the first time?
I’d definitely recommend NaNoWriMo to anyone interested in writing. I’d written five non-fiction books before this, but I’d never tried fiction, so I figured this was a good way to find out if I had a story in me. And it worked – Into the Mists was pretty much written in that month. I rewrote a little and added a bit more later, but Carlie’s story was definitely born in that month. My second attempt the following year was much more difficult – I wrote the 50,000 words by November 30, but not all of them ended up in book two, and much of the story came later. But now I can’t imagine starting a novel any other way :-)
What helped me was that I told people I was doing it and posted my word count each day on Facebook – it kept me accountable. Not that I would have quit (I’m very stubborn), but it was even more reason to write every day. And doing it with a few friends also helped, as we inspired each other to keep going (seeing that one friend had written more than I had definitely spurred me on – I discovered a competitive streak I wasn’t entirely aware of, ha ha)… And for what it’s worth, my advice is to be fearless. Just dive in, and don’t think about it too much, or second guess yourself, and don’t edit as you go. Just write, let the words spill out onto the page, as fast as you can, almost stream of consciousness. I didn’t plot my book at all (I’d planned to, but work got too busy in October), so I started with just the vaguest idea, of a girl and her grandma and a cottage in the mists that may or may not have been real. And it amazed me, how the plot revealed itself to me slowly over the thirty days, and that only happened because I kept writing, even when I had no idea where it was going. I’d write a scene, and that would lead me to another scene and so on. And don’t worry about whether what you’re writing is any good – at least half the days I thought my story was total crap and there was no point continuing, but I kept on writing anyway, and by the end I realised I actually really liked my story :-) So this November I’ll be launching into book three of the trilogy, and hoping the story will reveal itself to me again. Threads are already starting to weave themselves together, so I’m looking forward to being able to pour it all out.
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Peter Clancy: 10 things you did not know about the man within the crime fiction series by TW Lawless
Peter Clancy, the fictional character of his own series by TW Lawless, was asked to reveal 10 things his fans did not know about him. His collection of answers show further the larrikin that TW Lawless has created.
1. I feel more comfortable sleeping in my Triumph Stag than in a bed.
2. I want my ashes scattered on the Collingwood training ground when I die, while their training.
3. Once I met my most beloved band, Deep Purple, after a concert. I then talked them into going to the footy the next day.
4. I only lose my temper when I am served bad coffee. It must be espresso, extra strong.
5. I was once an extra in the TV soap Neighbours, just so I could get an inside story on one of the actors. I stood out so much that I was offered a speaking role during the shoot. I politely declined.
6. I use my cunning kit to get into places I would never normally be allowed. I once pretended to be a doctor so I could interview someone in hospital, only to be dragged into an emergency where someone had a heart attack. Luckily the specialist was on the scene quickly to save the day.
7. I once went a month without an alcoholic drink, but only because I was in the outback and one hundred miles from the nearest pub.
8. In 1985, I announced that I wanted to settle down and have children ( when Collingwood win the premiership ).
9. I stayed out partying for three nights running in 1990, when Collingwood finally won the premiership.
10. I have now announced I will settle down and have children when Collingwood beats Carlton in a premiership, or when the two teams amalgamate. Whichever comes last.
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TW Lawless bares all: 10 Things you did not know about the man behind the Australian crime thrillers
After interviewing TW Lawless I asked him to bare it all and give me 10 things he felt his readers would not know about him.
His answers may surprise you.
1. I studied journalism at uni before changing to a sociology major.
2. I was a registered nurse for twenty-five years and have a post-grad diploma in public health and tropical medicine.
3. I wrote my first book in longhand in the early 1990's. I think it was a thriller.
4. My wife and I co-wrote screenplays before we wrote books. One was nearly picked up by a producer in Hollywood.
5. I'm a good guitar player but I don't practice enough. One of my teachers was a former member of the Little River Band.
6. I auditioned for a game show and got selected. The show got cancelled, unfortunately.
7. I love history and trivia. Do you want the long or short lecture on causes for the fall of the Roman Empire?
8. I have seen a ghost.
9. My parents and I lived next door to a psychopath, who later murdered someone randomly.
10. I wear a kilt on occasion. I have a great love for Scotland. 'Oh Flower of Scotland...'
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In a world exclusive interview Peter Clancy, who holds the lead role in the novels Homecountry and Thornydevils by TW Lawless, speaks candidly to Jennifer Douglas about love, life and the future.
It is written that you are a hard-drinking, hard-living journalist. Would you say this fairly describes you? How would you describe yourself?
Doesn’t that describe all journalists? Or at least every journalist with the guts to get off their backside, go out there and get themselves a good story. Yes, I play hard but I also work hard. You’d probably be surprised to learn that I do have a cuddly side (but please don’t tell anyone at work: they’d give me hell for it). Part of me loves to wine and dine the odd, attractive woman. Then again, I’m a tough nut—listening to loud rock music, going to a Collingwood game.
In your role as a journalist at the Melbourne Truth what would you say are the assets you bring to the newspaper?
I bring everything to the table. I’m their best journalist, without a doubt. If you don’t think you’re the best in this game they’ll walk over the top of you; other journalists especially.
What would you say is your toughest role as a journalist?
Having to interview innocent people who have been used or abused by those they trusted. I’ll fight every inch of the way to help them tell their story. When children are involved I go all out. I’ll break rules if I have to.
Describe your love life? Would you say you are unlucky in love?
It’s complicated, it’s colourful and it’s eclectic. I’ve had relationships with a nurse, a rock singer, a lab technician, a stripper, a lawyer, a fashion designer. I’m not attracted to a certain type of woman, I’m attracted to all types of women. As long as they’re interesting, that is. Sometimes. I’ve felt lucky to have a relationship with a particular woman, then again, sometimes I felt lucky when it ended. The closest a woman has ever got to me was a woman I met in London. Her name was Ruby. She was one of a kind. Enough said.
You mix with a lively colourful bunch of people. Can you tell me more about your friendship with Concheeta? She intrigues me and seems like one you would usually not befriend.
Concheeta lives his/her life the way s/he wants to. She doesn’t take shit from anyone. I admire that. She’s also been a great source of information over the years. You could say, we’ve looked after each other. She’s a source who has become a close friend. I guess you’d call most of my friends misfits and rebels. I like it that way. I couldn’t be friends with an accountant, unless they had a darker side after hours.
You found yourself in some pretty intense moments in Thornydevils. What would you say has been your most challenging moment to date?
I always enmesh myself in the story, sometimes at the risk of my life. It’s gonzo journalism taken to the extreme. So far, I’ve been shot at, bashed, chased with a meat cleaver, and narrowly avoided a bomb explosion. You know you’re onto to a good story when someone tries to harm you.
You have seen death and been faced with near death. Has this changed your view of life in any way?
As a journalist you see human nature at its worst. Sometimes I think there’s no hope for the world. Maybe that’s why I drink too much on occasion. But if a person out there is seeking to tell the truth and bring the baddies to justice, there is a glimmer of hope. I’ve been faced with death a few times as I just said, but I’d rather do that than lead a dead life that has achieved nothing. Better to die on your feet, than live on your knees I say.
So what next for Peter Clancy? Will you be hanging up your journalist jacket and settling into a quieter more ‘normal’ lifestyle or will we see yet another scandal solved?
Sometimes I think I’d like to take a break from it but what would I do? I want to do more investigative pieces. I’m tired of doing sex scandals. How many ways can you write about kinky sex involving a celebrity? I thought briefly of becoming an author or buying a farm, but that sounds too quiet and normal. I’m breaking out in a cold sweat just thinking about it. Freelancer could be the way of the future. Sorry, I’ve got to go now. My mate Sam Saturday’s taking me up north on a camping trip…
At the close of interview Peter let it slip the reason for his eagerness to depart and get up north. He is currently working with TW Lawless on the next novel titled Blurline which is seeing him take a trip abroad to London. Will this camping trip be the last he see’s of Australia?
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More information on Homecountry and Thornydevils can be found at www.twlawless.com.
Copies are available fromm TW Lawless online or Amazon.com
Jennifer Douglas is the manager of Jennifer Douglas Literary Publicist and is a supporter of self published authors and independent bookstore. She believes in a world where positivity is the norm and negativity is long forgotten, focusing on the rights of all authors to equality.
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