Tag Archives: Spark Press

The River by Starlight – Author Interview with Ellen Notbohm

This fall, I had the great pleasure of meeting award-winning author, Ellen Notbohm, a fellow author in the She Write Press/Spark Press family. I am so pleased to share with you this interview about her latest release, The River by Starlight, a story inspired by her research into the secrets of her own family history.
What was/is your latest book release? Tell us about it!

book cover The River by Starlight The River by Starlightcame about when I hit what genealogists call a brick wall in our research. Every family has one—it’s the person no one will talk about, and there’s always an aura of taboo swirling around that brick wall. The River by Starlightis the story of the woman I found behind my family’s brick wall, a story that took years of painstaking research to bring into the light. It’s literary historical fiction based on the true story of a couple whose passionate union and entrepreneurial success unravels in the face of little-understood perinatal and postpartum illness. Though set a century ago, the themes remain eerily and unsettlingly resonant today: the stigma of mental illness, the inadequacy of mental health care, stark gender inequity, climate disaster, ruinous real estate boom-and-bust. Maternal mental health is a subject rarely addressed in historical fiction, the undertold story of many women, but Riveralso plumbs the depths of a male point of view, a story even less told.

What advice would you give to your younger writing self?

Don’t find reasons not to write. I once confronted a profound question (I think it was from Oprah) that changed my life: What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? When I read that question to my husband in a shaking voice, he said, “Well?” and I answered, I would write a book. And he said again, “Well?” And here I am, five books later, all of them award-winners.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? What made you decide to become one?

I always enjoyed writing and found ways to incorporate it into most of my so-called day jobs through the years. I believe that if one writes, one is a writer, so I had no sense of actually deciding to become a writer, I simply was one. The leap of faith was from writing articles and other short-form pieces to writing books, and then from writing nonfiction books to writing a novel. In the twilight zone between finishing the novel and getting it published, I wavered. I’d written a novel, so was I a novelist even though it wasn’t yet published? Could I take my own advice and say yes, I am a novelist? I struggled with that, but not for long, and then identifying my choices for the rest of the journey to publication became a bit clearer.

Who is your favorite character in your book(s)?

My mother always declared how lucky she was, that her children were so different from one and another, it meant that each could be her favorite in their own unique way. That’s proven true of my characters in The River by Starlight, many of whom I love, but in very disparate ways. And of course there are a few villains I and my readers don’t love. One of my favorite reviewer comments: “The characters are real and pop off the page. I have empathy, sorrow, joy, and want to choke a number of them!!”

Where do you do most of your writing?

I have two writing rooms—the room I’m supposed to write in, and the room I actually write in.

Ellen Notbohm photoMy office is spacious but always hopelessly cluttered with the business end of writing and other ongoing aspects of life. I work in my office many hours a day, but it’s not my writing room. I write in the pre-dawn hours, in a bedroom done in dark reds, a few feet from my office. Wee-hours chilly mornings are my best writing time. The red tones of the room feel life-sustaining, suggestive of bloodlines, carrying a sense of history. The multi-media artwork on the walls is a four-generation history continuum too, from watercolors by my husband’s grandmother to needlework by me and a quilt by a good friend, to a painting by one of my children. A writing room needs a live element too—here it’s a feisty old cat, dozing in a dappled knot, a true survivor who fell out of a 150-foot tree in a city park, stumbled into our yard, and never left. Quite a story. Maybe my first children’s book?

What inspires you?

People who continue to exemplify love, grace, humility, generosity, respect, and optimism even in the face of adversity, injustice, and hate. Many of these people are children. We have much to learn from them.

What else would you like your readers to know about you?

That I’m still a work-in-progress and I hope that never changes.

Tell us a little about your process. Pantser? Plotter? Mixture of both?

The process is different for fiction vs nonfiction. I wrote my four nonfiction books from what I knew, gathering more “know” as I went along through the years, interacted with more people both peers and professionals. For my novel, the process was the opposite. I had the nugget of a good idea, then I went far and wide to research—fifteen states and provinces—and the arc of the story grew from there. I’d say I’m more of a pantser than a plotter. I seem to pull forth material that’s more raw, more organic, more emotionally nuanced when I’m pantsing. Plotting and structure are necessary to any book, but for me it comes later in the process when I see the general path the material is taking.

What are you reading right now?

Susan Henderson’s The Flicker of Old Dreams and Carrie La Seur’s The Weight of an Infinite Sky. We recently shared a panel discussion at the Montana Book Festival, discussing our books’ similarities in theme, one of which was how women who don’t fit easily into their communities find their place and their power.

What actor/actress would you like to play the part of your protagonist if your book became a movie/television show?

Someone we don’t know yet. Just as there are thousands of extraordinary writers whose work never gets the opportunity to come before the public, so are there actors whose exceptional talents go undiscovered. I’ve deeply appreciated the many people over the years who read my books even though I wasn’t famous, and told me in the most heartfelt terms how it had changed their lives. That’s the kind of actor I’d want to see play Annie. Someone who comes before viewers with no preconceived “Oh, I loved/didn’t love her in ______” notions, or “I liked her better in _______.”

Do you have any rituals that you practice before sitting down to write?

The ritual is—no ritual. Since my best writing is done in the dark before anything else happens in the day, the act of getting up with intention and anticipation seems to be all the ritual I need. In general, I find that rituals bore me fairly quickly—that thin line between ritual and rote—then the ritual becomes finding a new ritual, and I don’t find that enjoyable or productive.

What do you like to spend time doing when you aren’t writing?

Like many writers, I spend time lamenting how the business end of writing takes up so much time! I also have caregiving responsibilities that require a chunk of me. Trying to maintain balance is always a challenge, but I try to stay away from screens when I’m not working, doing a lot of reading, knitting, walking, cemetery prowling (great sources of story ideas), DIY projects. I love beach-combing and day-tripping to places that, even after a lifetime of living here, I have yet to discover. All of this eventually feeds the muse. And that muse is the ultimate renewable resource.

More about Ellen:

An internationally renowned author, Ellen Notbohm’s work has informed and delighted millions in more than twenty languages. Her books include her multiple award-winning  historical novel The River by Starlight, and the widely beloved Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew, a bestseller for over a decade. In addition to her other popular books on autism, her articles and posts on such diverse subjects as history, genealogy, baseball, writing and community affairs have appeared in major publications and captured audiences on every continent.

More about The River by Starlight:

Set in the waning years of Montana’s homestead period, Annie and Adam Fielding’s dreams of prosperity and family shatter as an enigmatic illness of mind and body plagues Annie’s pregnancies and exacts a terrible price. Based on a true story researched across fifteen states and provinces, The River by Starlightweaves a sweeping tale of passionate love, unthinkable loss, resilience and redemption embodied in one woman’s tenacious quest for self-determination in the face of devastating misfortune and social injustice. Its themes of maternal mental health, gender inequity, climate disaster, and economic boom-and-bust remain powerfully and painfully relevant today.

Here’s what reviewers say about The River by Starlight:

“Magical storytelling . . . intimate and poetic language reminiscent of Paulette Jiles and Marisa de los Santos.”  ~Booklist

“Graceful and unflinching.” ~Kirkus Reviews

“Captivating . . . exquisite.”  ~Foreword Reviews

“As rich in theme and detail as the Montana sky is in stars . . . impressive. ~Brian Juenemann, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association

“Really well done. Don’t miss this.” ~Powell’s City of Books Staff Pick

Connect with Ellen:

Website           https://ellennotbohm.com/

Facebook         Ellen Notbohm, Author  https://www.facebook.com/ellennotbohm/

Twitter            @EllenNotbohm   https://twitter.com/EllenNotbohm

LinkedIn          Ellen Notbohm   https://www.linkedin.com/in/ellennotbohm/

Pinterest          Ellen Notbohm   https://www.pinterest.com/EllenNotbohm

Buy Ellen’s book:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/River-Starlight-Novel-Ellen-Notbohm/dp/163152335X/

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781631523359

Powell’s:  https://www.powells.com/book/-9781631523359

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/river-by-starlight-ellen-notbohm/1126894130

 

Quirky Stories for a Quirky World – Mindy Tarquini

Author Mindy Tarquini spends her time creating and crafting new worlds in which all things, good, evil, and quirky are possible.

Deepest Blue, Mindy T.

Today, author Mindy Tarquini tells us about her novel, Deepest Blue, published by Spark Press last month, and gives us a peek into her process and how pain brought her to writing. Here is what Publishers Weekly had to say about Tarquini’s newest release: “…a haunting lyrical fantasy dealing with love, loss, and political turmoil…”

Fans of Paulo Coehlo and Neil Gaiman will revel in this magical tale.

What was/is your latest book release? Tell us about it!

My latest release is Deepest Blue (Sparkpress 2018). The story is set in a fairytale land where everyone’s destinies are predetermined, until one young man decides to seek a life of his own.

What are you working on now?

I am leaving fairyland for a while to return to the county of humorous contemporary fiction. The story is set in Arizona, the time-traveling is sublime.

What advice would you give to your younger writing self?

Learn story structure, and use it. A great story needs a great structure or it is just a series of events.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? What made you decide to become one?

Mindy TarquiniNo, I have worn many hats. From restaurant to retail to accounting to allied healthcare, it wasn’t until I had my mom-hat on that I truly began to write. I hurt my back, which meant that there wasn’t much else to do except hang out on the internet and search the pain forums for ideas on how to alleviate the constant ache. I ended up chatting with someone who was a writer. She invited me to a writer’s forum where people exchanged stories. There, I made a couple of friends whom I still consider to be among my closest. We don’t exchange stories so much anymore, but we do love to laugh.

Who is your favorite character in your book(s)?

Claudio from Deepest Blue. He’s a cleric, which makes him the man who knows everything but can’t say any of it.

Where do you do most of your writing?

At home with my dog. Punctuation makes her happy.

What inspires you?

The land of “what-if” inspires me. I see something, I go to the land of “what-if”, and all kinds of wondrous things happen.

What else would you like your readers to know about you?

I’m always breaking the rules that I set for my characters.

Tell us a little about your process. Pantser? Plotter? Mixture of both?

Who actually likes wearing pants? As my daughter says, “comfy pants or bust”. As for writing- I’ve never met an outline that couldn’t be expanded.

Do you have any rituals that you practice before sitting down to write?

I used to sacrifice a blue bird or two, but the neighbors complained to the HOA.

What do you like to spend time doing when you aren’t writing?

Plotting the next one. There’s no time once you get on this publishing rollercoaster. Like…none.

Read more about Deepest Blue.

In an enchanted city seen only at twilight, a resentful second son unlocks secrets which could cause his world’s star to finally set.

In Panduri, everyone’s path is mapped, everyone’s destiny decided, their lives charted at birth and steered by an unwavering star. Everyone has his place, and Matteo, second son of Panduri’s duca, is eager to take up his as Legendary Protector–at the border and out from under his father’s domineering thumb. Then Matteo’s older brother pulls rank and heads to the border in his stead, leaving Panduri’s orbit in a spiral and Matteo’s course on a skid. Forced to follow an unexpected path, resentful and raw, Matteo is determined to rise, to pursue the one future Panduri’s star can never chart: a life of his own.

Brigadoon meets Pippin in this quirky tale of grief steeped deep in Italian folklore and shimmering with hope–to remember what helps, forget what hurts, and give what remains permission to soar.

More about Mindy!
Mindy Tarquini grew up convinced that there are other worlds just one giant step to the left of where she’s standing. Author of the critically acclaimed and award-winning Hindsight (SparkPress 2016) and The Infinite Now(SparkPress 2017), Tarquini’s writing has appeared in Writer’s Digest, BookPage, Hypable, and other venues. An associate editor on the Lascaux Review and a member of the Perley Station Writers Colony, Tarquini is a second-generation Italian American who believes words have power. She plies hers to the best of her ability from an enchanted tower a giant step left in the great Southwest.
Connect with Mindy:
Buy Mindy’s books here:

Author Interview – Rachael Sparks

I am so excited to share with you my interview with fellow Spark Press author, Rachael Sparks! She is here to talk about her debut novel Resistant, to be released October 16, 2018. Mark your calendars, you won’t want to miss this one!

Tell us about your novel

Resistant, imagines a world post-antibiotics, which is truly almost upon us. The main character is a woman who has lost her mother to an infection and is getting by with her father but discovers she might hold the cure in her own blood. Because of that, she’s a target of several groups that would like to control that cure. She’s unsure whom to trust and still trying to protect her friends and family while she determines the real answer, and the adventure takes off from there. It’s a little bit sci-fi, adventure, action and romance, so I think it’s going to appeal to many readers.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on the publicity steps for Resistant, which releases in mid October. I’m also finishing a work in progress that I love working on. It’s set in 1700s Maine and the present day, with just a dash of science, a pinch of witch, and romance threading through two stories. The two main characters are distant relatives and I’ve really come to adore learning about them—and about lighthouses, Maine, and medicine in colonial Americas.

What advice would you give to your younger writing self?

I’m certain I was quite a terrible writer in my youth, but I was just writing fun tales for myself. Later in my early 30s, better stories came to me but I wasn’t confident enough to write them. If I could advise younger Rachael, I would say to start practicing and writing down those tales stuck in my brain. It took the confidence of age for me to begin writing seriously, but also the experiences and exposure to different styles of writing. It even took exposure to some poor, yet published, writing that gave me a sense of “Well. If they can, I can.” So maybe I would just buy her a drink, wink, and tell her she’s capable of more than she knows.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? What made you decide to become one?

Very, very secretively, yes. As a kid, I read nonstop. I daydreamed in full, detailed stories that I would revise constantly, as if daydreams needed to have a proper plot. I never actually dreamed it could be a career, though. Michael Crichton was a god to me, and he seemed omniscient in a way I didn’t think I was capable of achieving. But over time I came to see I was an autodidact with obsessive research tendencies.

At some point I realized I’d accrued a lot of these stories, along with a fairly unique knowledge set, and that I could weave many into a full novel, the type I wished someone was writing and publishing: a meal with all my favorite flavors of science, action, thrills, mystery, romance, danger. It had been simmering, then two events made Resistant happen. One, a dream of Rory and Navy in a certain scene that happens at the climax of the novel. And two, my husband and I had a dare between us for who could finish the first step towards our most secret aspiration—either he would finish a small piece of furniture, or I would finish the first five chapters of a novel. We had three months. I finished Resistant nine months later.

Who is your favorite character in your book(s)?

Well, Rory is my main character, so I do adore her. But I think I favor Navy, her co-hero, because I find him difficult to get to know. There’s a lot more to learn about him if one could pry his brain open. Fortunately, that’s my task.

Where do you do most of your writing?

Wherever I can find a quiet moment! Family, work, and trying to have a healthy life can both slow you down and feed your imagination. But usually from nine to midnight, and if I can beat everyone awake, during the blue hours of the morning. I love that color of light and the sense that everyone is dreaming on pillows while I’m dreaming on [digital] paper.

What inspires you?

Learning new information, exercise and music inspire me. I read as many scientific and history articles as fiction work, and am constantly saving them to bookmarks so they can inspire a new plot twist. I have a playlist that is curated to the mood of each WIP. It’s the soundtrack to the movie playing in my mind. If I’m stuck, for me, a hike or a long walk to said soundtrack usually bubbles up a new twist or motivates a stuck character. And when I want historical perspective, I love to dig through the New York Public Library’s Digital Collection– if you haven’t been, go, and I advise putting your vacation responder on.

What else would you like your readers to know about you?

I’d probably want my readers to know that I appreciate them. If we ever meet, I hope they’ll say hello, let me buy them a beer, or even cook them some pasta. For reassurance, I would also want them to know I used to cook professionally. It’ll be good.

Tell us a little about your process. Pantser? Plotter? Mixture of both?

Once I sit to write, the pantser takes over. When I am unable to actually type, I try to record my disparate thoughts and needles of “this character is too likeable and needs faults” or “don’t forget to take that gun off the wall soon”. Thank goodness for Google Keep (tm?), while I continue the search for a plot-mapping app that I like.

What are you reading right now?

I’m ashamed to admit how many books. I’m reading Eliot Peper – 2 of his. Just finished Adrienne Young’s Sky in the Deep. Kelli Clare’s Hidden. Andrew Mayne’s Looking Glass. James Scott’s The Kept. The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry. And re-reading Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, That’s the fiction stuff. Maryn McKenna’s Big Chicken is in progress too. As you might imagine, everything moves pretty slowly with that many going on. It’s a recent problem I’ve developed that I’m not sure how to treat.

If you could spend the day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?

AJ, a character who will have a larger role in the sequel, is a fishing captain of her own vessel. I’d love to go on a fishing trip with her off the coast of Woods Hole, MA. Maybe swing into Martha’s Vineyard for a homebrew and pizza at the Offshore Ale Co.

What actor/actress would you like to play the part of your protagonist if your book became a movie/television show?

Rory is in her twenties, so I imagine there are hundreds of talented actors [actresses? Not sure the preferred parlance these days] who could play her. It seems more fun to find an unknown actor with untapped talent! I’m certainly unknown so far. On the other hand, I think Jennifer Lawrence and I share the commonality of a well-educated pirate’s vocabulary and a fondness for a pint.

What are your top 3 favorite books?

So hard to narrow down! I guess I’d say the ones that haunt me most: The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry. Wuthering Heights. Jurassic Park.

But if we’re being honest, I confess to rereading Daddy Long Legs. Though fiction, it’s this historical, literal progression of a poor, uneducated orphan from child to a young woman, told through the letters she writes to her benefactor. While it’s outdated and of course today the story would never be so patriarchal, I still like reading how Jerusha overcomes her insecurities through education and faith in her natural skills. Her college education, her social education, are all relayed through such an honest lens, and her destiny is to be a writer. I daydream of writing the modern adaptation.

Do you have any rituals that you practice before sitting down to write?

Music on. That’s all. When I write, I think it’s wise to read a bit of my last writing as well as a random chapter somewhere else. The former refreshes me of where I was headed, and the latter both cuts editing time in the final product and keeps the mood consistent in the overall story.

What do you like to spend time doing when you aren’t writing?

I love to cook with my daughter, and to feed my family and friends. Pasta occupies a steady 1/8thof my daily thoughts. My dogs appreciate a walk, though I don’t always appreciate their addition to mine. I like to have a glass of anything with my husband, who is charming and hilarious and challenges me. I treasure time with my mother, who at 74 is spry and brilliant, especially when she gets sassy. She leads our hiking adventures. I garden for beauty and food, and try to learn what is edible that we all ignore [latest: look for a plant called lamb’s quarters, it’s a weed but the wilder, nuttier version of spinach]. Ask me on Twitter for my fresh Caesar dressing recipe, or anything about pasta.

Here is more about Resistant

Book Cover Resistant

In the final battle with drug-resistant bacteria, one woman’s blood holds a secret weapon. Rory and her father have survived the antibiotic crisis that has killed millions, including Rory’s mother—but ingenuity and perseverance aren’t their only advantages. When a stoic and scarred young military veteran enters their quiet life, Rory is drawn to him against her better judgment . . . until he exposes the secrets her mother and father kept from her, including the fact that her own blood may hold the cure the world needs. Now she is the target of groups fighting to reach it first. When the government comes after Rory, aiming to use her for a cure it can sell to the highest bidder, she’s forced to flee with her father and their new protector. But can she find the new path of human evolution before the government finds her?

Here is more about Rachael:

Rachael Sparks was born in Waco, Texas. She graduated with a degree in microbiology from Texas A&M University and her first college job was ghostwriting a nonfiction science book. After a decade-long career in Austin, Texas, as a transplant specialist, she joined a startup fighting healthcare-acquired infections. After relocating with her husband, young daughter, and mother to Asheville, North Carolina, she finally put her first novel onto the page. In her free time she serves on the board of the Asheville Museum of Science and loves to cook, brew, garden, and spend time with friends and family in between obsessively researching new science concepts, history, or new recipes.

Connect with Rachael:

 

 

Author Interview – Mary Kathleen Mehuron

Today I have the pleasure of bringing you my interview with Mary Kathleen Mehuron, author of The Opposite of Never released by Spark Press, April 24, 2018

Mary Kathleen Mehuron is a career educator who made a splash with her first book, Fading Past, an autobiographical novel whose protagonist, like Mary Kathleen, grew up Irish-Catholic in New Jersey. The Opposite of Never is Mary Kathleen’s second book, and to finish it, she traveled alone to Havana in January 2015 in order to experience the city before it became Americanized. Mary Kathleen lives and teaches in a ski town in Vermont where they call her Kathy. This is where she and her husband raised three sons,  and she is an occasional columnist and writes curriculum daily for private math and science students. She takes extended time to work on her novels on Grand Turk Island and in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

Mary Kathleen, tell us about your latest book.

At the end of April, SparkPress released my new novel The Opposite of Never. It’s about four Vermont families, three close women friends, two love stories (millennial and baby boomer), a devastating mistake on the part of the young couple who become involved in the opioid epidemic, and a truly grand, grand finale.

I never really know how a reader will interpret the words I’m writing, because, his or her own experiences become mixed in with my intentions. But, I know for sure, that I wrote this particular story about hope, which I firmly believe, is contagious. The novel has been included in the Most Anticipated Books of 2018,Brit+Co; Breakout Novels of 2018,Indie Picks; Six Books About Family to Cherish This Spring, Buzzfeed; Ten Heartwarming Tales About Family, Culturalist; 12 Inspiring Me-Time Reads Perfect for Mother’s Day, Working Mother; and10 Books to Keep You Woke in 2018, Bookstr.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a third novel with the working title The Belonger. A “belonger” is someone with historical ties to the island of Grand Turk in Turks and Caicos, where my family and I spend a great deal of time. At one time salt was more valuable than gold but producing it was grueling work. White business owners brought African slaves to the Grand Turk to do it. My novel begins in the 90s and is about a young man descended from such slaves, who is offered a chance to come up to largely white State of Vermont. As always I am interested in love stories and how life throws curve balls at us, but, in this case, also the subject of skin color.

What advice would you give to your younger writing self?

I’d say, “You are not going to believe this. When you enter into the third act of your life, you are going to turn it into a grand finale. You are going to publish a book. Seriously, you are! And then a publishing company is going to take an interest in you and you will publish a second. Yes, I know you are a math and science teacher and it seems unlikely, but it’s true. Oh, yeah, and I left out the part when you are middle-aged and you become a professional singer. All I’m saying is hold on; it’s going to be a wild ride.”

Who is your favorite character in your book(s)?

Spencer Paquette. Like many young men, he makes some terrible decisions and it affects not only him but his family and friends as well. I’m a sucker for a comeback story. Who hasn’t made mistakes? But, we can always make restitution and grow as human beings. We can. I think that’s an absolute. Obviously, not everyone cares to put in the hard work to do so or wants to be felled by the amount of humility it takes to admit the need for a big change. Yet, it is a road that is always possible.

Where do you do most of your writing?

I can write anywhere. It’s probably because I grew up in a melting pot neighborhood filled with swarms of children. We had five kids in our family, not nearly as many as our neighbors, but it was enough to ensure our household was in a constant state of pandemonium. You either learned to do your homework surrounded by noise or you didn’t get it done. I am probably the only person in the world who looks forward to long airport layovers— they are generally very productive times for me with my laptop. But, if I really think about it, I wrote most of my two novels on Grand Turk island and in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.

What inspires you?

I am a person who remembers the vivid details of life’s extreme up and downs. One day I’m singing before a seven-piece country swing band and the next, I’m diagnosed with two different breast cancers. My prognosis was grim, yet I went on to travel the world, see my sons grow up and become very successful, and to write my books. I feel better today than I did twenty years ago. Savoring a beautiful moment is an art form; living beyond tragedy is too. So I would say it is hope that inspires me. Sometimes that’s all you have. Hang on to it.

Tell us a little about your process. Pantser? Plotter? Mixture of both?

In every other area of my life I am an obsessive planner, but not when writing a novel. That is more like channeling a story that I’m being told as I sit at my desk. It just kicks in and starts flowing. No note cards. No outline. I literally don’t know the ending until the day I write it.

What are you reading right now?

On Writing by Stephen King, The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah, and A Dangerous Woman From Nowhere by Kris Radish.

What do you like to spend time doing when you aren’t writing?

I go shopping for beautiful food to cook that night. I meet some friends for a five-mile hike in the fresh Vermont air, where we finish at a vista, that every time, takes my breath away. When I’m well exercised and the groceries are all put away, it’s “go” time. I sit down and write.

Thank you so much, Mary Kathleen! I enjoyed reading your responses and I look forward to reading your book.

You can buy Mary Kathleen’s book here :https://amzn.to/2MjRdGb

Connect with her here:

Website: https://www.marykathleenmehuron.com/mary-kathleen/

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

Here is a little bit more about The Opposite of Never:

Devastated when they lose their spouses, both Kenny Simmons and Georgia Best carry on for the sake of their children, although they are certain that the best part of their lives is long over. Then Georgia and her lifelong companions, Linda and Yvonne, meet Kenny while walking down a dusty Vermont country road, and the four of them hit it off. Soon, Kenny becomes a regular part of their hiking group, and he and Georgia grow more than fond of each other.

Kenny’s stepdaughter, Zelda, and Yvonne’s teenage son, Spencer, also fall in love—at first sight. Through surprisingly relatable circumstances, they are drawn into opiate use, shocking everyone, and the two of them struggle through the torment of addiction together.

In an impulsive and daring attempt to create a grand finale out of difficult times, Kenny takes Georgia off to vacation in Cuba just as it is opening up to Americans—and what they discover in the golden light of Old Havana is another startling surprise.

Author Interview – Jacqueline Friedland

Jacqueline I am so pleased to share with you my interview with attorney turned author, Jacqueline Friedland! Today, she is telling us about her novel, Troubled The Water, which was released May 8, 2018, by Spark Press. She also gives us insight into a little bit about her process.

What was/is your latest book release? Tell us about it!

My latest book release is a historical fiction novel, TROUBLE THE WATER.  The story takes place twenty years before the Civil War in Charleston, South Carolina. I was inspired to write this story after learning that the international trafficking of slaves was outlawed in 1808, but the practice continued nearly unfettered for decades afterwards.  The governments of countries like the United States and England did not do nearly enough to enforce the anti-trafficking laws nor otherwise stop the atrocities.  I began to wonder what if there had been a person, a vigilante, who stepped in to make a difference?  Maybe there could have been someone with sufficient resources and sufficient manpower to get a group together and make the kidnapping of Africans more difficult for the criminals of the high seas.  I asked myself what kind of person would be brave enough, bold enough, to do such a thing?  What would his life be like, and what would his actions cost him?  I created my main character, Douglas Elling, based on these thoughts, and the rest of my story grew around him.  Interestingly, when I introduced a female protagonist to challenge Douglas, I found that her story fascinated me as much as his, and I created a young woman who I envisioned as an early feminist and an independent thinker. As this character, Abigail Milton, and Douglas Elling get to know each other, they each learn a great deal about themselves, as well.

What are you working on now?

I am working on another novel.  Unlike the first one, the next story is contemporary fiction.  I so greatly enjoyed writing a historical novel and will most likely write others, but just as I love reading across different genres, I also appreciate that interesting stories can materialize out of so many diverse situations and time periods.  The next book is about a young woman in Manhattan who finds herself in a surprisingly complex love triangle.

What advice would you give to your younger writing self?

I would advise my younger writing self to commit sooner. I wasn’t sure if I had the talent or the dedication to work as a writer.  I was afraid to fail, and so I moved very slowly at first.  I dabbled in the research, I wrote scenes in my head but stalled before putting them down on paper.  I wish I could have been braver, that I could have brought myself to sit down at the computer a little sooner.  The first rule to being a successful writer is that you actually have to WRITE.  I would have pushed myself a little harder at the beginning.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? What made you decide to become one?

I have wanted to be a writer my entire life.  I have always loved words and crafting sentences, but I worried as a young adult that I wouldn’t find success.  So instead I went to law school and became a lawyer. I was actually pretty good at my job as a lawyer, but I never felt passionate about my work.  I also never got accustomed to office culture.  After my first child was born, I decided to use a portion of maternity leave to begin working on my first book.  It was an attempt to see if this whole “writing thing” could really pan out for me.  Unfortunately, in my naïvete as a new mother, I didn’t realize that I would have precious little time to do work with an infant in the apartment.  Even so, something about the transition to motherhood helped me realize that I was truly an adult, and I’d better get busy doing something I loved because life is short.  I tried to transition to teaching Legal Writing as a compromise between the two disciplines, but I still wasn’t satisfied because I wasn’t creating fiction. I finally left the law and went back to school for an MFA in Creative Writing.  I am glad to have my background in law, and I still find several aspects of the legal system genuinely interesting, but I am thrilled to finally be living my dream as a writer.

Where do you do most of your writing?

I do almost all of my writing at home. I know many people are easily distracted at home and feel they have to set up shop at a café or a library in order to be productive.  I am the opposite.  I find people enormously fascinating, so if I am in public, it’s very difficult for me to draw my eyes away from all the other people around me and focus on my screen instead.

Tell us a little about your process. Pantser? Plotter? Mixture of both?

I am a hardcore Type A kind of a person, which puts me squarely into the category of Plotter.  That said, it never works out like I’ve planned.  Before I start writing, I make a detailed outline.  Then I fix it and re-do it several times.  Then I highlight and color code.  Then I make various changes and fix everything all over again.  I don’t begin writing the story until I really feel that I have a step-by-step guide about where the piece is going.  Then when I actually begin writing, everything changes.  Nothing turns out as I expected, the characters keep doing things that surprise me, and the story ends up going in a completely different direction. At this point, I am comfortable with the spontaneity, and I even expect it, but I am still committed to completing those outlines in advance. Imagining all the different scenarios and laying out a framework for myself helps me to get to know my characters and my setting. It puts me inside their heads deeply enough that when they start going off-script, I can understand why, and I can work with it.

Do you have any rituals that you practice before sitting down to write?

Before I write, I have to get my kids out of the house to school or camp.  Then I drink a big cup of coffee and respond to any outstanding emails.  Once my inbox is organized, and my desk is clean, I can get to work.

What do you like to spend time doing when you aren’t writing?

When I’m not writing, I love watching movies with my family, reading fast-paced novels, exercising, sitting outside on warm days, and laughing with friends.

Here is more about the book!

Book coverAbigail Milton was born into the British middle class, but her family has landed in unthinkable debt. To ease their burdens, Abby’s parents send her to America to live off the charity of their old friend, Douglas Elling. When she arrives in Charleston at the age of seventeen, Abigail discovers that the man her parents raved about is a disagreeable widower who wants little to do with her. To her relief, he relegates her care to a governess, leaving her to settle into his enormous estate with little interference. But just as she begins to grow comfortable in her new life, she overhears her benefactor planning the escape of a local slave—and suddenly, everything she thought she knew about Douglas Elling is turned on its head.

Abby’s attempts to learn more about Douglas and his involvement in abolition initiate a circuitous dance of secrets and trust. As Abby and Douglas each attempt to manage their complicated interior lives, readers can’t help but hope that their meandering will lead them straight to each other. Set against the vivid backdrop of Charleston twenty years before the Civil War, Trouble the Water is a captivating tale replete with authentic details about Charleston’s aristocratic planter class, American slavery, and the Underground Railroad.

Read more about Jacqueline!

Author Bio:

Jacqueline Friedland holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a JD from NYU Law School. She practiced as an attorney in New York before returning to school to receive her MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in New York with her husband, four children, and two energetic dogs.

To connect with Jacqueline:

For more on Jacqueline or her writing, go to www.jacquelinefriedland.com or follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JacquelineFriedlandAuthor

https://twitter.com/jbfriedland

https://www.instagram.com/jackiefriedland/

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