Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: Christine Padovan, Narrator of Slade: Team Greywolf

Folks, please give a warm welcome to Christine Padovan. She kindly let me pick her brain with questions and is also offering up Audible.com/UK audiobook copies of Slade: Team Greywolf or Kyrathaba Rising (winner’s choice). Scroll to the end of the post to check out that giveaway!

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

Wow, can it be a fictional character instead? I know for sure I would want former CIA agent, John Reese from ‘Person of Interest’ to save me, because he seems to be able to get himself out from certain death anytime it faces him! Or his colleague, former Army Intelligence Support Activity operative, Sameen Shaw. Either one would do nicely 🙂

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

The Forever War by American author Joe Haldeman, telling the contemplative story of soldiers fighting an interstellar war between humans and the Taurans. It’s a fascinating story, spanning years via time travel through space, and showing the social changes that occur to mankind on Earth and where it takes them over time. So well written and great humor too, I’d love to read it again someday.

Another amazing story that really grabbed and stayed with me since I was a kid is A Wrinkle in Time by American writer Madeleine L’Engle, first published in 1963. I loved that the main character was a girl like me 🙂 – just loved the whole story.

Note that both stories have happy endings. I’m a positive person and truly believe in good overcoming bad 🙂 and that goodness will always prevail 🙂

What makes you fall in love with a story?

Something about the storyline has to really connect with me in some way. If the idea behind the story doesn’t grab my attention – like with Eva Gordon’s writing with her paranormal suspense stories, where there is personal development between the characters as well as action and drama happening around them, then I’m probably going to stop reading the story.

The writings of Ayn Rand are examples of stories that make me think – a story that takes a hard look at social conventions and makes you think more about your own beliefs from your heritage and upbringing, and gives you a different perspective from someone else’s viewpoint.

Back in 2011, you were part of a Star Wars fan web series. What attracted you to this project? What were some of the highlights for you?

The attraction was I’m a sci-fi geek – I also did on-camera and voice work for ‘Dark Frontier’, an online web series for Triple-FictionProductions.net, a Star Trek fan series that films out of Florida. I was a lesbian Captain, Alexia Mandell killed off in the beginning of the pilot episode, but was also a Ferengi bar owner named Madam Mirak. I briefly played a Vulcan captain, Captain Searon on another webisode. Voice – was show announcer and did some ‘engineer emergency announcements’ over the intercom 🙂 Folks can check out the live streaming webisodes at http://triple-fictionproductions.net/DarkFrontier.html .

‘Rise of the Rebellion’, the Star Wars fan series was very fun. I was approached at the time in 2011 through Voice123.com by Can Akdag who is in Turkey, to provide the voice dubbing for the actress playing Flora Milon on webisode 4, ‘Jefi Business’ of the show.

Your readers can catch the webisode here: https://vimeo.com/channels/456071/21038731

I’m the show announcer saying ‘previously, on ‘Rise of the Rebellion’ and Flora’s one line around
the 2:15 timemark.

What was challenging is the actress said her line extremely fast and I had to watch the clip Can sent me
over and over, and I practiced timing the voicing of her line to fit her mouth movements. It was hard to do,
but it did work out with the takes I emailed back to Can.

The highlight was getting this as a credit to my IMDb profile. The only disappointment is Can did this out of his love for Star Wars and not to make money, so before he used my dubbing lines for webisode 5 – where I had a few more lines than just one – he actually didn’t dub webisode 5 and ended up going on to other projects that he could make a living at.

If you couldn’t be a voice actor, what would you chose to do?

I have a degree in Psychology and used to do some clinical social work and neuro-psychology research, but I would really enjoy being a police detective or an FBI agent. I’m fascinated with what makes people commit crimes such as murders, and I love the ability to look at all the details and put the puzzle pieces together, to solve the crime (like Sherlock Holmes). I’m very much a person who is into details, and when I watch television or meet people in real life, I look closely at them and can usually figure out if they are ill, or been ill, etc. or see through them with whatever quirks they possess. I really like understanding what makes people tick!

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you going into book narration?

Ha! I don’t think any voice actor out there ever thought they would be a book narrator or voice actor of any sort, unless they had a dream of being a radio dj or show personality :-). I was a tomboy as a kid – loved being a jumping bean since I could walk. Anything to do with being active and being outdoors, that was me!

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Well, one would be Sherlock Holmes (either the modern day version like Jonny Lee Miller’s character on ‘Elementary’ or the Granada series with the late Jeremy Brett). However, Sherlock Holmes probably wouldn’t give me the time of day! I’d be too uninteresting to him and he would probably sit there, quietly analyzing everyone else. (Or he would see I’m too much like him and he wouldn’t want to waste time talking to me!)

The others would be Spock, Ben-Hur (played famously by the late Charlton Heston in 1959), Claire Randall from Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Outlander’ series, and 13 year old, Meg Murry from ‘A Wrinkle in Time’. Wouldn’t that be an interesting little tea/wine party 😉

What is the first book you remember reading out loud to someone else?

‘The Story of Babar: The Little Elephant’ by Jean de Brunhoff to a class of kindergarteners when I was in 4th grade 🙂

Guess my narrating to listeners did start at a young age, but I didn’t know then that it would be a real career now!

Thanks for asking me all these great questions – I’ve really enjoyed this interview 🙂

 

About Narrator Christine Padovan:

Christine Padovan is a popular narrator with a warm, distinctive voice, who can make non-fiction stories sound compelling and interesting, with versatility in bringing characters to life in the world of fiction. Specializing in Romance, Self Development, and Sci-fi/Fantasy genres. Audible Editor Review of David Poole’s bio/memoir of NASCAR’s Tim Richmond: “…Christine Padovan’s captivating, lively delivery perfectly encapsulates Richmond’s freewheeling spirit and the kinetic energy of Poole’s prose. Her skillful performance makes this experience as bracing and compelling as a NASCAR race, making it difficult to pause after pressing play.” Winner, 2013 Best Audiobook for BADWATER by Toni Dwiggins –Goodreads.com/eFestivalofWords.com

 

Places to Stalk Christine Padovan

website ~ AudioFilefacebook ~ twitter ~ Audible ~ linkedin

Book Blurb for Slade: Team Greywolf

Runt, Cricket, is an honorary beta of Team Greywolf, an elite special ops branch of the Lycan Intelligence Agency. As a member, she poses as a human and collects forensic evidence. Because of her low rank, she is assigned in the rehabilitation of Prince Slade suffering from morphogenesis after his entire pack is murdered, and then his indoctrination as a member of their team. Babysit a psycho, domineering alpha? Not on her watch. To complicate matters, she lusts for Slade. Foolish. A runt can never take an alpha as a mate.

Slade has two choices. Honor his murdered kin and serve Team Greywolf, or once healed, obey King Conan and return to his territory with an alpha mate. Complicating his decision is his relentless desire for the hot sexy little she-wolf, Cricket.

Early into his recovery, Slade and Cricket are sent to investigate missing werewolves. An unstable werewolf seems hardly a match for a former Nazi werewolf bent on bringing on Ragnarok, the destruction of mankind.

Can they stop this evil regime, while conforming to pack law that forbids any chance of them fulfilling their desire for each other?

Amazon ~ Audible

Book Blurb for Kyrathaba Rising:

One hundred and seventy years from now, aliens decimate Earth. A relative handful of humans survive, hidden in deep subterranean enclaves that offer some protection from surface radiation. Although the main attack is now seven years in the past, one alien ship remains in orbit, and the conquerors are not content merely to let humanity lick its wounds…

Amazon ~ Audible

GIVEAWAY!!!

Christine is graciously offering up 3 copies of Slade, winner’s choice of Audible.com or Audible UK. Also, if paranormal shifter romance isn’t quite your cup of tea or if you already own this audiobook, each winner can request an Audible.com/UK copy of Kyrathaba Rising instead. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) Have you ever watched a fan-made movie or series? 2) Which are you interested in more – Slade or Kyrathaba Rising? Giveaway ends May 5th, 2017, midnight.

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Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: Lauren Carr, Author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries

CarrTheMurdersAtAstaireCastleEveryone, please welcome Lauren Carr to the blog today. I really enjoyed her Mac Faraday mystery, The Murders at Astaire Castle. Lauren has been kind enough to give us a bit of her time for this interview. Also, don’t  forget to check out the tour-wide audiobook giveaway! If you want to find out about the GIVEAWAY, then scroll to the bottom.

What makes you cringe?

A very messy kitchen that needs cleaning.

Who are some of your favorite book villains?

This is such a hard question to answer. I know what I like and don’t like in a villain. Not being a fan of serial killer books, I don’t like Hannibal Lecter, no matter how elegant and educated he is. I actually get angry when the villain escapes justice at the end of a mystery so that he or she can return in another book, which has become a popular gimmick that some writers use. It leaves me with a heavy sense of injustice. There’s too much of that in the real world. I read books to escape. So I want to see the villain captured and getting what he or she deserves in the end.

Do you have any phobias?

No, but I live in fear of a horribly dirty house that I have to clean. But I don’t have a fear of germs. I just hate cleaning. I’m not afraid of it. I simply hate it.

CarrItsMurderMySonIf everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

Caution, murder mystery writer at work. Careless treatment of this writer could result in ending up in one of her book.

In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

I always enjoy talking about my books and my writing. So I have to say that I love book tours and the opportunity to talk to readers and reviewers about my murder mysteries. As for what is most challenging? That’s easy. Keeping my website up to date. I get so wrapped up in my writing and answering questions that I forget about my website. There have been times that I have actually forgotten to list my latest book or even tour dates.

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

1. Agatha Christie. She would order something French in honor of Hercule Poirot, who was Belgian, not French.
2. Erle Stanley Gardner. He would order a manly steak and potatoes and smoke a cigarette over scotch for dessert.
3. Carolyn Keene, which is a pseudonym for several writers who wrote the Nancy Drew books, which I read while growing up. She would order rice cakes. Since she’s not real, she wouldn’t be eating real food.
4. Of course, at the other end, we can’t not have Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the master who created Sherlock Holmes. He will order kidney pie.
5. And a mystery dinner would not be complete with the author of the first mystery, Edgar Allan Poe, who wrote The Purloined Letter. He would order a poultry dish, most definitely not raven.

CarrBlastFromThePastWhat do you do when you are not writing?

I love to cook and especially enjoy trying new and exotic recipes. But I hate cleaning up the kitchen afterwards. Did I already mention that?

Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

I really enjoy Archie Goodwyn in the Nero Wolfe mysteries. Here is a side character who, in reality, is the protagonist. He’s witty, even snarky. As the narrator and the front man for Nero Wolfe, he is in the forefront—yet, he’s the side character.

I have been completely floored by how Mac Faraday’s side character, Gnarly, his German Shepherd, has caught so much attention. I have included animals in every one of my books, because I love animals. I myself grew up as a farm girl. I knew my readers would have to love animals, too, but the immediate attraction to Gnarly took me completely by surprise. Would you believe Gnarly was not in the first or even second draft of It’s Murder, My Son, the first Mac Faraday Mystery? I wrote him in a later draft of the book.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

The Bobbsey Twins. That was the first chapter book I read. I believe I was in the second grade. The actual book was in our family’s book case. It had been one of my mother’s school books from when she was a child. I remember it was an old worn book and didn’t even have a front or back cover. That’s how old it was.

CarrTheMurdersAtAstaireCastleBook Blurb for The Murders at Astaire Castle:

Never tell Mac Faraday not to do something.

Spencer’s police chief, David O’Callaghan, learns this lesson the hard way when he orders Mac Faraday to stay away from the south end of Spencer’s mountaintop – even though he owns the property. It doesn’t take long for Mac to find out what lies on the other side of the stone wall and locked gate, on which hangs a sign warning visitors to Keep Out!

Topping the list of the 10 top haunted places in America, Astaire Castle is associated with two suicides, three mysterious disappearances, and four murders since it was built almost a century ago – and Mac Faraday owns it!

In spite of David’s warning, Mac can’t resist unlocking the gate to see the castle that supposedly hasn’t seen a living soul since his late mother had ordered it closed up after the double homicide and disappearance of Damian Wagner, a world-famous master of horror novels.

What starts out as a quick tour of a dusty old castle turns into another Mac Faraday adventure when Astaire Castle becomes the scene of even more murders. Mac is going to need to put all of his investigative talents to work to sort out this case that involves the strangest characters he has run into yet – including a wolf man. No, we’re not talking about Gnarly.

Buy the Book:   Amazon  ~  Audible

LaurenCarrAuthorAuthor’s Bio:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries. The twelfth installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series, Candidate for Murder will be released June 2016.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with Lauren: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

GIVEAWAY!!!

This giveaway is part of the iRead Book Tour. Don’t forget to check out more interviews, reviews,  & guest posts on the blog tour! Win an audiobook copy of The Murders at Astaire Castle by Lauren Carr (2 winners – open int’l), a stand alone Mac Faraday mystery, narrated by Dan Lawson. Contest ends Oct. 30, 2016.  Just click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway.

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Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Arthur Slade, author of The Hunchback Assignments

SladeDustEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author Arthur Slade. I’ve enjoyed Slade’s works – check out my reviews of Dust and Ember’s End. We chat about book villains, which fictional characters to invite over for tea, tough jobs, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss the international GIVEAWAY at the end of this post – ebook of Dust.

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

The Six Million Dollar Man. Battling sasquatches! Running at amazing speed! A bionic eye! When I was a kid this was the only science fiction type show on tv and I watched it religiously. In fact, I think we only had one channel on our TV (I grew up in the outback). So I’d love to experience that amazing, overwhelming joy that I felt whenever the show came on TV. In second place would be Star Trek and Space: 1999 (tied for 2nd, of course).

SladeEmber'sEndWhat has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I was a night auditor for a hotel. It wasn’t horribly difficult, except that I was the only employee in the hotel from 1 to 7AM and that meant I was the plumber, the security guard, and the guy behind the desk. Often there were hours of boredom peppered by the occasional crazy party that I’d have to break up. Writing is certainly safer and, oddly enough, pays better. I was able to get a bit of writing done between 2 to 4 AM because the hotel was usually quite then.

SladeTheHunchbackAssignmentsMore and more we see fiction being multimedia – a book, a TV show, a PC game, a graphic novel, etc. Any plans to take your works in the multimedia realm? Will there be more Arthur Slade audiobooks?

I do have plans to create more audiobooks. My latest novel, Flickers is in the hands of a studio right now that is putting the book together. I’ve been lucky, also, to delve into graphic novels via Kickstarter. And my steampunk series, The Hunchback Assignments, has been optioned for a movie. So there are several irons in the fire, so to speak. One of the joys of this modern digital age is that so many of these types of publications are easier to access. Well, except making movies. Those still cost a mountain of money.

SladeTheDarkDeepsWho are some of your favorite book villains? Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

As far as villains, I’m partial to Captain Hook. That villainous pirate who always hears ticking in the background. I’m also a huge Lord of the Rings fan, but in all honesty Sauron is a boring villain. He’s just so powerful and so far in the background. Instead betrayers like Saruman are much more interesting. Any of the hobbit duos were great fun in those books, too.

SladeEmpireOfRuinsIf you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Hamlet, but he probably wouldn’t be able to make up his mind whether he wanted tea or a beer. Darth Vader, to see if he would use the force in a ping pong game. Katniss, to tell her to hurry up and make up her mind about one of those men. Sherlock Holmes, because he could probably find the socks that I’ve lost. And Julius Caesar (who appears as a fictional character in many works) to ask him whether he was represented properly.

SladeIslandOfDoomCare to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

The restraining order from Stephen King doesn’t allow me to repeat the story. Kidding, of course. I did go to his house once because I was in Bangor, Maine. I just wanted to see it. Didn’t knock on the gates or anything. I did ask his neighbour what it was like to live next to Stephen King and he said, “It’s fine, but I get tired of the tourist buses pulling up and people getting out to stare.” Not sure I’d want to be that famous.

What do you do when you are not writing?

Netflix. Oh, and reading. Far too much Netflix, though.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander. Still one of my favourites! I blame it for turning me into a fantastical type writer.

ArthurSladeAuthorPlaces to Find Arthur Slade

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon

Author Bio: Arthur Slade was raised on a cattle ranch in the Cypress Hills of southwest Saskatchewan and he caught the writing bug at an early age. He is the author of eighteen bestselling books, including “Dust”, “Jolted,” and “The Hunchback Assignments.” He currently lives in Saskatoon, Canada.

SladeDustBook Blurb for Dust: SEVEN-YEAR-OLD MATTHEW DISAPPEARS one day on a walk into Horshoe, a dust bowl farm town in Depression-era Saskatchewan. Other children go missing just as a strange man named Abram Harsich appears in town. He dazzles the townspeople with the promises of a rainmaking machine. Only Matthew’s older brother Robert seems to be able to resist Abram’s spell, and to discover what happened to Matthew and the others.

GIVEAWAY!

Arthur Slade is offering up an ebook copy of Dust. Giveaway is open internationally! You can enter the Rafflecopter below or you can answer these questions in the comments: 1) What country do you live in? 2) Who are some of your favorite heroes from books? 3) Please leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaways end October 7, 2016, midnight.

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Interview: Alistair Cross, Author of The Crimson Corset

CrossTheCrimsonCorsetDear readers, please give a warm welcome to Alistair Cross, author of The Vampires of Crimson Cove series. We chat about favorite book villains, telemarketing, superstitions, and plenty more. Enjoy!

Are minions/sidekicks just throwaway devices in a tale? Can they become more? Do they need to become more?

Depending on the story and the characters themselves, they can be throwaway devices, but sometimes, they go on to become much more, and I think it’s wise to allow that to happen. When The Crimson Corset was first conceived, Gretchen VanTreese herself was originally meant to be a very minor character, but as I began writing, she stole the spotlight, took over the story and moved it in a new and exciting direction. I would have missed out on some great things if I’d insisted she stay in her proper place.

CrossDarkerShadowsOver the years, are the changes in society reflected in today’s villains and heroes?

To a point, yes, but human motives never change. Greed, jealousy, and revenge are always going to motivate villains, and heroes will always be motivated by things such as love, loyalty, justice, and honor. The execution of motives changes with the times, the clothing may be different, but the core of the human experience is timeless.

What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

Emily Bronte. I would like to ask her about her poetry, which I love, and about writing one of the first dark romances, Wuthering Heights.

ThorneCrossTheCliffhouseHauntingWhat has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

The worst job I ever had was a telemarketing job where I had to try and sell family friendly films to strangers. It took everything I had not to recommend the Omen or the Exorcist to prospective customers.

I much prefer writing because it’s personal to me. Plus, I get to write stories of my own rather than trying to sell someone else’s. Writing takes even more time and energy than any job I’ve ever had, but I believe in my work and am excited to get up every day and go to work.

ThorneCrossTheNewGovernessMore and more we see fiction being multimedia – a book, a TV show, a PC game, a graphic novel. How do you see the publishing industry evolving to handle this trend? Any plans to take your works in the multimedia realm?

As a writer, I’m not interested in creating games or writing screenplays. I like the richness of novels and wouldn’t want to veer too far from that. As for how the publishing industry might evolve to accept these new ideas … well … if the past is any indication, it will embrace the changes very, very slowly.

Who are some of your favorite book villains? Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

I like my villains creepy, somewhat subtle, and unforgettable. Among my favorites are Madam DeFarge from A Tale of Two Cities, The Space Cowboy from Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game, Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, and Mrs. Danvers from Rebecca. As for hero duos, I like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

ThorneCrossChristmasSpiritsDo you have any superstitions? Or any phobias

I hate flying. I have flown many times and will continue to do it because a) sometimes, it’s just practical, and b) I refuse to give in to the fear, but it’s not something I enjoy at all. As for superstitions, I will admit to getting a little uneasy when a black cat crosses my path, but I’ve never made – or not made – a decision because of it.

In writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating on him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?

All of the above, depending on the character and the book.

CrossTheCrimsonCorsetBook Blurb for The Crimson Corset:

Welcome to Crimson Cove

Sheltered by ancient redwoods overlooking the California coast, the cozy village of Crimson Cove has it all: sophisticated retreats, fine dining, and a notorious nightclub, The Crimson Corset. It seems like a perfect place to relax and get close to nature. But not everything in Crimson Cove is natural.

When Cade Colter moves to town, he expects it to be peaceful to the point of boredom. But he quickly learns that after the sun sets and the fog rolls in, the little tourist town takes on a whole new kind of life – and death.

Darkness at the Edge of Town

Renowned for its wild parties and history of debauchery, The Crimson Corset looms on the edge of town, inviting patrons to sate their most depraved desires and slake their darkest thirsts. Proprietor Gretchen VanTreese has waited centuries to annihilate the Old World vampires on the other side of town and create a new race – a race that she alone will rule. When she realizes Cade Colter has the key that will unlock her plan, she begins laying an elaborate trap that will put everyone around him in mortal danger.

Blood Wars

The streets are running red with blood, and as violence and murder ravage the night, Cade must face the darkest forces inside himself, and perhaps even abandon his own humanity, in order to protect what he loves.

Places to Stalk Alistair Cross

Website

GoodReads

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Facebook

Interview: Barbara Venkataraman, Author of Engaged in Danger

VenkataramanEngagedInDangerEveryone, please welcome Barbara Venkataraman back to the blog today. I have enjoyed her Jamie Quinn mystery series, Death by Didgeridoo being Book 1. Today we chat about modern culture in books, fictional book clubs, jobs worse than writing, and plenty more. Sit back and be entertained!

If you could be an extra on a detective TV show, what would it be?

Being a little obsessive-compulsive myself ( lol ), I think I would have enjoyed being an extra on “Monk”.

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

Hmmmm…well, the books would have to be fun books because life is serious enough, yet have some heft to them. The Time Traveler’s Wife is one of my faves, so that’s in, also Bel Canto, a book I love love love and a new favorite of mine, “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves”. As for who I would invite, it would have to be my three sisters. They love to read, they’re lots of fun and we would have a lively debate.

VenkataramanDeathByDidgeridooAre minions/sidekicks just throwaway devices in a tale? Can they become more? Do they need to become more?

I can only speak for myself, but in my books, sidekicks are an integral part of the story. They contribute information, they have their own lives going on and they add drama due to their relationships with my protagonist, Jamie Quinn. In the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, Watson is the perfect foil to Sherlock and the stories couldn’t exist without him.

How does modern pop culture influence your work? Do modern cultural references date a piece or add touchstones for the reader?

I try not to date my stories too much with current pop culture references, although I do sometimes refer to television shows. There used to be such a long gap between a book being accepted for publication and the actual publication that any cultural reference was a risk. Now, with e-books on Amazon Kindle, an author can change or correct any reference in their book and have it back up on the site within a few hours. Of course, if you’re writing a period piece or a sci-fi book like “Ready Player One” which is set in the future but has a premise based entirely on pop culture references from the 80’s, then you’re fine.

VenkataramanCaseOfKillerDivorceOver the years, are the changes in society reflected in today’s villains and heroes?

I think the answer to that is yes. Over time, I believe that both heroes and villains have become more complex, not all good or bad, but flawed individuals. Look at “Dexter”, a serial killer who kills only wicked people.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Working at McDonald’s was the worst job ever. Writing is a dream come true, I enjoy it very much and I’ve met so many nice people as a result, people like you!

With the modern popularity to ebooks, a book is no longer limited to a specific genre shelf. It is now quite easy to label place an ebook in multiple genres (i.e. YA, Fantasy, Horror). How do you see this affecting readers? Have you been inadvertently lured outside your reading comfort zone?

This multi-genre shift hasn’t affected me at all. My test for a book is readability. If I make it past the sample and think it looks interesting, I will give it thirty pages. After that, I’m out of there.

VenkataramPerilInTheParkIf everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

My warning label would say: “She likes to talk, especially after a glass of wine. She will wax poetic about good books she’s read and will steal your candy when you’re not looking.”

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in mystery/crime literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

“Presumed Innocent”, Agatha Christie’s works, some Steven King, some Edgar Allan Poe, Sherlock Holmes, and Sherlock-influenced books like “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime”.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I don’t have a moment when I was gushing over someone’s work in a forum where they could hear me, lol! I guess my most awkward moments are when fans get so wrapped up in my characters that they put in requests about who to keep for the next book, who should have a romance, etc. I love that they are so excited, but I can’t please everyone.

VenkataramanEngagedInDangerBook Blurb for Engaged in Danger, Book 4 of the Jamie Quinn Mysteries: 

Finally, life is good for reluctant family law attorney, Jamie Quinn–her father may get his visa soon, her boyfriend is the bomb, and her law practice is growing like crazy–but when she agrees to take on a high-profile divorce case, everything falls apart. What looked like an opportunity to work with her friend Grace and make some serious bucks has turned into a deadly game, one that could destroy their friendship and tear their town apart. Why couldn’t Jamie just leave well enough alone?

Places to Find Barbara Venkataraman

Goodreads

Blog

Amazon

Facebook

Previous Interview with Barbara

Giveaway & Interview: JD & Amy of Whimsy & Wonder Creative Press

CollinsOfRobotsAndZombiesAndWizardsAndStuffDear Dabbers, please give a warm welcome to the brains and beauty behind Whimsy and Wonder Creative Press, Amy & JD. It was a real treat to interview this couple. We chat about several TV shows, where to spend the holidays, the tribulations of self-promotion, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss out on the paperback GIVEAWAY – scroll to the bottom for that.

If you could be an extra on a TV show, what would it be?

J: We actually were extra’s on TV show once. It was a show called “Murder In Law”, a show about people getting murdered by their in laws, and we were in one of the cheesy reenactments, which was a lot of fun. If I could do it again I would want it to be on Game of Thrones as a Wite, or on The Walking Dead as a Zombie, because who doesn’t want to be put in professional quality zombie make up at least once in their lives?

A: I would like to be an extra on Outander. So I could potentially see/meet (stalk) Sam Heugen.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

J: I think a supernatural creature, because I’ve always wanted to befriend like a cool monster or something that would be my friend or companion or something, so maybe if I was rescued by supernatural creature, like a mogwai or a hippogriff or something I could make that a reality.

A: Space Alien. That way we can become friends and they can prove to me that everything they cover on Ancient Aliens is true.

What fictional world would you like to visit for the holidays?

J: Harry Potter for sure. First of all it’s just really friggen magical. Secondly, I’ve always dreamt of Christmas at Hogwarts, and thirdly, I feel like less terrible things happen in the Harry Potter world than a lot of others. Like, Westeros I would be for sure worried about whether I would even make it through the holidays. Middle Earth is also extremely terrifying, although a holiday in a hobbit hole does sound rather cozy. Basically I don’t want to spend the holidays in a universe where I end up being somebodies red shirt, and overall Hogwarts seems pretty safe, what with the Dark Lord vanquished and all.

A: I would go to Who-ville.

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

J: We were actually just talking about this. I would love to re-watch the Sixth Sense and Empire Strikes Back again without knowing the twists ahead of time. I was too young to watch either of those movies when they came out (I wasn’t even alive when Empire came out), so by the time I was able to watch them they were entirely spoiled for me.

A: I think I would want to experience The Lord of the Rings movies for the first time.

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

J: I think The Hunger Games would make a really bitchin’ video game, but I would want it to be something where I could design my own character and pick my own weapons and skills and stuff. Like you could choose whether you want your weapon to be a bow and arrow, or a sword or a trident or whatever, and then choose to build up specific skills like foraging, or hunting, or camouflage before finally duking it out in a random arena with different environments like forest, or dessert or tundra. Actually the more I think about it the more that sounds like an amazing game. Somebody should get on that.

A: I would really enjoy a video game version of Carrie. It’s probably the closest I will ever get to having telekinesis and working out my high school issues.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

J: Warning: Is Prone To Dancing In Embarrassing Places (including but not limited to; grocery store lines, bowling alleys, and movie theaters).

A: Warning: Can become very hungry – keep snacks nearby.

In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

J: I have a really hard time with this actually. It’s really challenging to get anyone to listen to you in the void that is the Internet, and there’s way to many talented people making good stuff, so it’s really hard to get noticed. Add to that a crippling condition I have called social awkwardness, and it can be kind of a mess sometimes. That being said, it does have it’s moments, when people really seem to enjoy what your doing.

A: It’s a very fun job to have, getting to be like hey everybody look at how awesome we are. The most challenging part is some people just aren’t interested or may give criticism on things you have spent a really, really long time on. That can be very nerve racking.

CollinsPeopleSuckIf you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

J: Sherlock Holmes, because I would be really curious to see what he would deduce just from seeing me. GandalfProfessor X and Dumbledore, because they’re so wise and I’ve always wanted them to be my life coaches, so I would seek their guidance. Since I get one more probably Xander from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, because I feel like we would be good friends.

A: I would choose Jamie Fraser from Outlander Because he’s gorgeous I’m not going to pass on that opportunity. Gandalf from Lord of the Rings – I feel like he would have really good advice on life. Furiosa– from Mad Max: She is just so bad ass would love to have a beer with her. Effie Trinket– from the Hunger Games- I feel like she could give me style advice and I could see her getting along really well with Gandalf. And Michone from The Walking Dead- another bad ass female who probably would become best friends with Furiosa…..and maybe me…..

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

J: Well, we’re just getting started so I’ve yet to have anyone gushing over my work, but I did get to meet Stan Lee at a Comic Con once. It was at the little photo booths they set up where you pay to get your picture taken with a celebrity and I was so excited, so I wanted to come up with something clever to say. It’s crazy because I had a very long line to wait in to figure it out but I didn’t, so when my turn came I couldn’t think of anything except for “it’s so great to meet you”, and because it was Stan Lee, and because he is possibly the coolest human on the planet he just clapped me on the back and said “You’re god damn right!” and then they snapped the picture. It was awesome. I still have the picture.

A: When we got our picture of George Takei he said “OH My Look At Youuuu.”  So I took that as a compliment and felt like my life was pretty accomplished after that.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

J: I can’t say that I can think of just one, because that’s kind of just our life. We’re always bickering about some odd movie or another. Amy still makes fun of me for liking the movie “The Mist”, which she refers to as “The Mist-take”, which she thinks is very clever.

A: There are many to choose from and now that I cant think of any but Jerrud and I tend to get into arguments about how fast the zombies would be moving on TV shows. Pretty much our whole relationship is arguing one geeky thing to another.

CollinsOfRobotsAndZombiesAndWizardsAndStuffBook Blurb for Of Robots and Zombies and Wizards and Stuff:

Have you ever wanted to read a story about a dancing robot? How one about a vicious hamburger eating, teenaged zombie? Or perhaps a retired super hero working a day job as mailman? Have you ever felt that your life would be enriched by a fierce and vitriolic debate amongst wizards about beard lengths? Have you ever once felt a talking tree might have the answer to all of your problems? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this book might be for you*. In the tales within, you will find all of these, and so much more. So go ahead, give it a try. You just might find what you’ve been looking for. *Please consult with your doctor before reading this book to discuss risks of an awesome overdose

CollinsPeopleSuckBook Blurb for People Suck

People suck, especially when your not one of them. In this adult(13+) picture book follow the journey of human suckage as explored by creatures suck as a yeti, a swamp monster and space aliens.

Places  to Stalk JD & Amy

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Tumblr

Etsy

Amazon for People Suck

Amazon for Of Robots and Zombies and Wizards and Stuff

 

GIVEAWAY!

JD & Amy are generously offering up two copies each of their books: Of Robots and Zombies and Wizards and Stuff, and their new picture book People Suck. These will be paper books and, therefore, we have to limit this giveaway to USA only due to postage. To enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer the following in the comments: 1) What state do you live in? 2) Do you have an awkward fanboy/fangirl moment to share? 3) Which book would you prefer to win? 4) Leave a way to contact you! Giveaway ends November 15th, 2015, midnight.

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Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Alex Hurst, Author of D. N. A.

HurstD.N.A.1Everyone, please welcome Alex Hurst, author of D. N. A.: Alta, a most entertaining illustrated novella. WE chat about comics, TV series, artist influences, and plenty more! Also, there is a sweet giveaway – check out the last question in the interview for that.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

Oh, definitely a superhero. The idea that there could definitely be the promise of super powers in the human race is an amazing concept for me. While aliens would be interesting, I’ve always considered them an inevitability (just look at how big this universe is!) and the likelihood that I would be able to communicate with my savior would be quite slim… same goes for any mythical creature. But a superhero would be like me, like you, like all of us –– just with something a little extra.

What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

If I could interview any dead author, it would be Edgar Allan Poe. A couple of years ago, I took it on myself to read everything he’d ever penned: short stories, poems, essays, and his one and only novel. I had so many questions by the end. He seemed to have a wicked sense of humor (he had a habit of writing fake news stories that ended up on the first pages of respectable papers) and a really interesting philosophy about art and life. I feel like being able to interview him would make for some fascinating reading, and I’d really be curious to know how he would feel about his cult icon status in the world these days.

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

I’d love to experience the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes TV series with Jeremy Brett. While I’m also a fan of Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, Brett’s will always be my favorite. I’ve watched the episodes so many times that I can’t get the same thrill from them that I used to. I’m hoping if I wait to watch the series again for another ten years, it really will feel like experiencing them again for the first time! I suppose a close second would be A&E’s Horatio Hornblower adaption.

HurstHeroes&VillainsOver the years, are the changes in society reflected in today’s villains and heroes?

This question is a little harder for me to answer, as my benchmark only begins with the 80s comics of Marvel and DC, but I would say so. The prevalence of superhero films and TV dramas has brought the world of comics into grit (especially with DC, as seen with the Arrow and Dark Knight series), which we see most obviously in cinematic adaptations. Heroes are getting darker, more antihero than hero, and villains are getting dirtier and scarier. The Joker from the 80s is not the Joker of 2015’s Suicide Squad movie trailer.

While in some cases, I have liked the industry’s tilt into further character development and psychological meanderings, I’m still undecided as to whether those things automatically need to be explored via gratuitous violence. The range of human emotions is broad, and I do not think they are being explored to their full potential on either side of the equation.

More and more we see fiction being multimedia – a book, a TV show, a PC game, a graphic novel. How do you see the publishing industry evolving to handle this trend? Any plans to take your works in the multimedia realm?

I would love if D.N.A. were to get adapted into a fully-illustrated comic or graphic novel, and of course the nature of Alta’s universe, I think, would make for some excellent animation of film adaptations. But for now, the important thing for me is to deliver the strongest story I can for readers, one that uses the superhero world as a foil to explore the weaker parts of the human and cultural psyche.

As for the publishing industry, I think it will always find a way to adapt. As the technology becomes more available and more stable, I think we will see more stories making the multimedia jump from one platform to several. With books, we saw this with audiobooks and then ebooks, which are now industry norms, but I imagine it will continue with the development of illustrated editions to full-on graphic novels, animated features, and so on. Motion Books (a 3D comic platform) will likely continue to gain steam, as well, as soon as their technology becomes available on more than one platform.

HurstDarklyNeverAfterWho are your non-writer influences?

Artists and musicians. My favorite artist to contemplate a story to is Lightwave, a new age, lyricless artist. I often pop in their song Uraniborg when I’m trying to work my way through a scene. I have a lot of artistic influences, as well, including Frida Kahlo, Jim Lee, Helena Nelson Reed, and Alphonse Mucha. I was so happy when my artist, Kevin Nichols, agreed to take on the D.N.A. project because it meant a marriage between my two favorite art styles: Golden Age and comics.

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in super hero/ super villain literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

I’m more of a Marvel fan, so my list might be a bit biased, but there are a few comic arches that would have to be required reading for character study:

  1. Magneto, the independent comic series by Marvel currently exploring the psychology of one of their more fascinating hero-turned-villain-turned-hero characters.
  2. Batman: The Killing Joke and Batman: Year One, because as a hero, Batman straddles the line between the limits of a normal human going “super,” and all of the trials those limitations place on him.
  3. X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga, because it is one of the most important arcs for the characters of that universe, and it was also written at the height of X-Men’s popularity before the movies.
  4. X-Men: Mutant Massacre, because this is the critical arc for my favorite X-Men character, Gambit (yes, I told you this was going to be biased!). The arc deals with the ramifications of a mutant-led mutant massacre, and Gambit’s struggles to define himself as hero or pawn to villainy.

I admit, my comic reading has not been as extensive as it used to be –– I poured over my brothers’ collections as I never had the money to purchase my own, but in recent years I have started reading in the genre again, and I am finding myself really in love with Storm’s standalone comics, as well as Dr. Mirage and She-Hulk. There are so many comics to read and explore I’m having a hard time catching up!

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I would like your readers to know I am more than happy to give away 3 copies of D.N.A. Tell me in the comments what you would do if you could adopt the genetic code of any animal to fight crime (or perpetrate it!) and I’ll pick my favorites to send a book to. Or do the Rafflecopter thing (right below this paragraph) for extra entries. Giveaway ends August 31st, 2015 midnight.

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HurstD.N.A.1D. N. A. #1 book blurb:

D.N.A. is an illustrated, serial novel written by Alex Hurst. The story chronicles the adventures of Alta Williams, a woman of a future where genetics dictate quality of life and scientific discovery advances at an inconceivable rate. Alta is known to the media as the Human Doll, the first successful case of a full nanoCell organ transplant.

Alta appreciates the technology around her: without it, a chemical fire would have killed her in her early twenties. Though the fire destroyed her extracellular matrix, scientists from the medical behemoth nanoTech were able to replace her ruined skin with their patented nanoCell material, giving her a second lease on life.

However, with nanotechnology now advanced enough to alter the human genome, and a company determined to capitalize – and control – the endeavor, it is up to Alta to expose their plans.

And she’s not alone.

Helping her every step of the way is D.N.A., the Digital Nanocell Accelerator, a self-learning computer program charged with telling synthetic cells which tissue they should build. D.N.A. fuses with Alta’s fully-synthetic skin and convinces her to fight against those who would otherwise oppress society as she knows it.

Of course, it helps that D.N.A. can change the genetic makeup of Alta’s skin at will, gifting her with the characteristics of any living recorded in the Genome Project. With the world’s genetic code at her whim, Alta has the power to overcome anything…

…but at what cost to her humanity?

**Please note that this is a novella with illustrations, not a comic or full-length novel**

About Alex Hurst:

Alex Hurst writes primarily character-driven fantasy, in such sub-genres as urban, Gothic, uncanny, and regional fantasy. Sometimes, she dapples in science fiction, horror, and LGBT literature.

She was raised in the wilds of the south. Lightning storms and hurricanes created the playpens of her youth, and in the summers, she used to spend all of her time dodging horseflies in a golden river, catching fish and snakes with her bare hands, swinging from vines, and falling out of magnolia trees.

In the dawn of her adolescence, her family took her on a journey across the United States, from the white sands of Pensacola, FL, to the razor’s edge of the Hell’s Backbone in Utah. They finally landed in Marin, CA, where lotus eaters tried to make city folk out of them (but miserably failed.) She currently lives in Kyoto, Japan, working as a writer and dream-smith.

She also freelances as an editor for the Writers’ Anarchy anthology series, designs book interiors at Country Mouse Design, and admins on the Fiction Writers community on Facebook, assisting emerging writers.

Places to Stalk Alex Hurst

D. N. A. website

Hurst’s Blog

Facebook

Twitter

 GIVEAWAY!

Alex is giving away 3 copies of D.N.A. Tell me in the comments what you would do if you could adopt the genetic code of any animal to fight crime (or perpetrate it!) OR do the Rafflecopter thing (right below this paragraph) for extra entries. Giveaway ends August 31st, 2015 midnight.

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Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: Domino Finn, Author of The Seventh Sons

FinnTheSeventhSonsEveryone, please welcome Domino Finn! He’s the author of the Sycamore Moon series. I greatly enjoyed The Seventh Sons, book 1 in the series. Today we chat about Miami, Sherlock Holmes, a few movies, plus so much more! Also, we have a lovely AUDIOBOOK GIVEAWAY (open to US & UK) so don’t miss that at the end of the post.

What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

This might be a cop out, but I’d have to go with Conan Doyle. (I considered Poe and Dumas, and while I might have more fun at a bar with them, I think I could learn the most from Doyle). As a huge mystery fan, his Sherlock Holmes adventures really inspired me to write. I would pick his brain about story ideas, research methods, and iconic character development.

Are minions/sidekicks just throwaway devices in a tale? Can they become more? Do they need to become more?

I wouldn’t say they need to become more. It’s okay for Chewbacca and Boba Fett to be one-dimensional. They can still be cool. But relationships are two-sided, and a well-fleshed out sidekick can really challenge and deepen the hero. Dr. Watson is an interesting example. The original Sherlock canon didn’t delve too deeply into his character, but if you watch modern cinematic interpretations, a living, breathing, opinionated Watson does both characters some good.

Which would rest easier on your shoulders: to never be able to leave your home city, or to never be able to go back to it?

Which is my preferred hell, huh? I left my home city of Miami eleven years ago and I used to visit often. Not as much nowadays, but I couldn’t dream of never going back. That said, I love to travel. The Americas, Europe, Asia. It’s a tough question. But because you drive a hard bargain, I suppose I’d admit there’s no place like home.

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

I HAVE SO MANY ANSWERS. The Matrix for the ground-breaking special effects (and the twist). The Sixth Sense for the emotion (and the twist). But I think I’d have to go with Seven. For some reason, I was so invested in the detectives catching the killer. Kevin Spacey played such an arrogant serial killer and I couldn’t wait for the climax of that film.

How does modern pop culture influence your work? Do modern cultural references date a piece or add touchstones for the reader?

I like to fall somewhere in the middle with references. I definitely stay away from the latest meme or twitter hashtag – that stuff won’t be funny a month from now – but a lot of modern pop culture will stand the test of time. References help fill the gaps of our fictional societies, so I go big and don’t worry about dating. Besides, time and place is what gives a novel character. I love all the pay phone stops in the first Harry Bosch book!

FinnTheBloodOfBrothersWhat has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Writing is easy compared to other professions. Let’s get that out of the way. It takes hard work, dedication, practice – but it’s not manual labor. I love my job most days. You want a difficult job? Program video games. With cutting edge technology, you need constant improvement to stay ahead of the curve. The hours alone violate the Geneva Convention.

Do you have any superstitions?

Most days I’d say no, but when I’m watching college football, I swear the players can hear me through the TV.

Would you choose to live permanently in a fictional world, or visit as many as you liked but you couldn’t stay more than a few hours?

So I’m allowed to leave Miami?

I’d definitely go with the temporary option. After a while, Wonderland gets a bit overwhelming.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

I never declared that I’d be a writer, but I constantly came up with stories and games. Novels, Choose You Own Adventures, flip books, board games, computer rpgs. I’m not really sure I finished all that many but I was full of ideas. It wasn’t until my twenties that I realized I could pursue a creative field, however.

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

I’ll go with a guy’s night out at a bar.

Batman, for his war stories.
Homer Simpson, for years of laughs.
R2D2, for his loyal sidekick/ beer-fetching qualities.
James Bond, to class up the joint.
And Tyrion Lannister, because who would be more fun to drink with?

FinnTheSeventhSonsThe Seventh Sons book blurb:

Two years after his wife went missing, Detective Maxim Dwyer is still running down leads. The isolated woods of Sycamore are home to many lawless men, and no one’s talking, but that hasn’t stopped Maxim from gathering suspects. Topping his list is the local motorcycle club, the Seventh Sons. His biggest obstacle? Everyone swears the bikers are werewolves. The small-town residents are wary of provoking the MC, and the marshal’s office is no exception.

Everything changes when a routine biker brawl turns fatal. Going against procedure, Maxim presses an enigmatic stranger for answers. But Diego de la Torre is running his own con. The outlaw deals in lies and legends, and no adversary can back him down. Not even the police.

It’s too bad that nobody’s above the law for Maxim. He’s willing to risk his badge, and his life, to prove it.

The Seventh Sons is whispersynced (with the ebook purchase, the audiobook only costs $1.99). The first 5 chapters are up on Domino’s site.

FinnTheBloodOfBrothersThe Blood of Brothers book blurb:

Diego de la Torre is officially an outlaw now, a full-fledged member of The Seventh Sons Motorcycle Club. The werewolf MC runs the wild lands of Sycamore with ease. At least until a dead body shows up and points to them as the culprits.

Detective Maxim Dwyer presses the Seventh Sons hard, but there are other guns in play. California bikers look to expand their drug trade. A mercenary outfit seeks revenge. Top that with an overbearing FBI agent who undermines local police, and both detective and outlaw have their hands full.

Brothers or not, Sycamore’s about to get a whole lot bloodier.

Places to Stalk Domino Finn

Website
Twitter
Facebook
GoodReads

GIVEAWAY!

Domino Finn is giving away two Audible copies of Book 1 (The Seventh Sons) and two of Book 2 (The Blood of Brothers). Each book stands on it’s own. Winners will need to redeem the audiobook gift through Audible.com or Audible.co.uk. You don’t need an Audible account to redeem the gifted audiobook, just an Amazon account. Enter the Rafflecopter below, or answer the following in the comments: 1) How do I contact you if you win? 2) Do you have a preference of book if you do win? 3) Which 5 fictional characters would you invite out for a night of beers? Giveaway ends Midnight Aug. 31, 2015.

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Interview: Chip Huddleston, Author of Snowbeard the Pirate & the Naughty List

HuddlestonSnowbeardPirateNaughtyListFolks, please welcome Chip Huddleston! You can catch my review of Chip’s Snowbeard the Pirate and the Naughty List over HERE. You can also check out his downloadable CD for yourself on CD Baby. Today, Chip talks about Bunnicula, Puccini, the great shows on PBS & BBC, and plenty more!

1) You are obviously into taking a standard story (Santa delivering toys on Christmas eve) and turning it sideways (tossing in pirates and stale fruit cake). What other stories would you like to give a twist to?

There have been so many smash-up novels in the last couple of decades, it’s hard to keep up with them all. My interest recently has been on looking at our holidays and family traditions and coming at them from a little bit of a different perspective. Also, humor is an extremely important element in my writing (and life!) so almost anything I write, even something dark, has some humor involved. I was a professional actor/singer for over twenty years so theatricality appeals to me as well.

I’m looking right now at the way we actually celebrate Halloween and feel that it has been underserved by some of the lore and literature. I loved the Bunnicula series, could someone please do something about the Easter Bunny? Can’t we write something better there?

2) If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

I read The Hobbit when I was about 12 years old and that was a revelation. I’d love to have that experience again. Being a singer, the first time I heard (and understood!) Puccini’s La Boheme was almost a religious experience! Puccini has this way of crafting beautiful melodies, even throwing away (seemingly) an exquisite phrase every now and then. I like to think of that when writing.

The PBS Masterpiece Theatre presentation, Upstairs, Downstairs, was a great favorite, although I’ve revisited it and it doesn’t seem quite as good as my memory of it. But with Downton Abbey now on the rise, I’ve found my new, improved Upstairs, Downstairs. I’m a great fan of PBS and would love to see someone do a parody of a PBS fundraiser where, because of the tremendous success of Downton, PBS changes all their most successful shows to reflect that. For example, they might have the Beatles Play Downton show or a show for American tourists traveling in England entitled, Where In The Hell IS Downton Abbey? Or a fusion of Asian and English cuisine co-hosted by David Ming of Simply Ming and the cook from Downton Abbey. They could call the new show, Simply Dreadful. Maybe a show called, We Have British Accents And You Don’t – Hah! The possibilities are endless!

3) Given the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs? Would you take a selfie with the beastie?

I have to admit that I would love to be able to (safely) visit Jurrassic Park! Also, the idea of the Kraken has always fascinated me (as you know, I even have a humorous reference to it in Snowbeard’s tale.) I don’t think I could successfully use an I-Phone to take a Selfie while in the clutches of a Kraken – I think I’d need a GoPro to capture it (right after it captured me!).

4) What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

One of the worst jobs I ever had was cleaning restrooms on my college campus to pay for tuition. But the acoustics were wonderful so I would sing as I scrubbed and mopped! Also, as I mentioned previously, I worked professionally as an actor and singer, eventually working on Broadway and at the New York City Opera. Although it’s great to get applause at the end of your work day, it can be a very difficult profession because there is so much rejection, very much like writing.

5) What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

It is difficult for me to answer this question. My sons would be much better on this answer than I (one age 22, the other 17 and big video gamers). I don’t quite find fascination in shooting soldiers or zombies over and over but I love mystery series so maybe some sort of Sherlock Holmes/Miss Marple/Hercule Poirot video game where you solve murder mysteries and, much like the musical based on the Dicken’s novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, there might be options at the end where there are different endings with different murderers.

6) What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

I have enjoyed several reboots of classics. The Mary Russell series by Laurie King that speculates on what may have happened with Sherlock Holmes is very good. I enjoy the original Sherlock Holmes stories but I find that the genius of those stories is the Genius himself, not so much the storytelling. In fact, getting back to PBS/BBC (which I love, obviously) they have that nice updating of Sherlock to present day London starring Benedict Cumberbatch. The most recent one had a wonderfully absurd plot where Holmes fakes his own suicide spectacularly, with Watson witnessing it and being terribly traumatized. But Holmes reappears after about a year and stuns Watson to the core.

I’d put this in my mythical parody of PBS, by the way, by having some Alan Cumming look-alike announcing that, “Brilliant British actor, Benedict Bandersnatch returns in, Sherlock Holmes and the Jabberwock –  an exciting story where Sherlock and arch-nemesis Moriarty commit double suicide by leaping into the jaws of the Jabberwock only to pop out it’s backside one year later Fully Alive, ladies and gentlemen!!!”

7)What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

Being an opera fan back during the 70’s and 80’s, there were always two camps on who was The World’s Greatest Tenor, Pavarotti or Domingo? While one can appreciate both, I was always a Domingo fan. Pavarotti, by far, had the best vocal technique, but, in my opinion, Domingo had the more beautiful sound.

Oh, and for sheer, gut-wrenching animalistic keening try googling Franco Corelli singing Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turandot. But be forewarned! You will aurally ingest an almost lethal dose of testosterone by listening to it. It is amazing.

HuddlestonSnowbeardPirateNaughtyList8) Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

Well, the picture book version of Snowbeard the Pirate and the Naughty List will be out for next Christmas (2015). I have grown out my white beard to look like Snowbeard/Santa in order to promote the story in a very festive way.

One of my literary heroes, P.G. Wodehouse, also wrote lyrics and the book for several musicals. I merely dabble in lyric writing as well and I’ve created a character for myself called, Satire Claus, the Singing Christmas Grouch and am putting the finishing touches on my lyrics for a new Christmas song parody CD entitled, I’m Beginning To Look Alot Like Christmas.

Interview: Fred Wolinsky, Audiobook Narrator & Producer

FredWolinskyVoice Over HeadshotEveryone, please welcome Fred Wolinsky. He’s an Audible.com approved narrator, an actor, a puppeteer, a sign language interpreter, and all-around entertainer! Today we chat about audiobooks, fantastical worlds and fictional people, the differences of live performance versus narration, and much more. Enjoy!

What fictional world would you like to visit?

Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated by fictional worlds — Neverland, Oz, Wonderland, and others. That is one of the reasons I really enjoyed narrating “The Doorways Trilogy” by Tim O’Rourke.  His fictional world of Endra borrows from many others, and sets up its own intriguing rules.  If I had to pick just one fictional world to visit and explore, it would probably be Narnia.

O'RourkeDoorwaysIf you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

In thinking about that, there are actually 2 very different book series that I would like to experience again — “The Tales of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis, and “Tales of the City” by Armistead Maupin. I read them both when I was very young, and would probably have a whole new perspective now, with more life experience.  Narnia presented the wonder and innocence of childhood shattered by evil, and saved by magic and faith in the good.  That series touched me in the soul, as well as my sense of adventure.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, “Tales of the City” presented a large cast of quirky, flawed, and lovable people in real world San Francisco.  It presented its own kind of innocence of young people growing up through a changing time.  That series touched my heart and my sensibilities, and I would like to meet those people again, looking back in time.

I am hoping that some of the books that I narrate, like “The Doorways Trilogy” will become experiences that others will want to experience again.  One of the benefits of narrating audiobooks is that people can experience the stories in a whole different media, providing a new perspective.  After hearing my narration of his book, Tim O’Rourke responded that “The book really comes to life and even though I wrote it, I got caught up in the story as if coming across it for the first time.” Readers can have that same experience and listen to books even if they have already read them.

O'RourkeLeagueOfDoorwaysWhat are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?

My favorite parts are meeting lots of interesting people — even if only virtually — and getting the support of blogs like yours.  I love getting feedback and hearing people’s views.  I also like writing and designing promotional material.  The worst part is the frustration of limited market reach, and the inability to break through a glass ceiling of visibility.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to narrating?

I have been fortunate to have jobs that I enjoyed throughout my life, so there is no “worst” job.  All have their simple moments, and their difficulties, but the difficulties present the challenges that make them exciting.  The most challenging job I have ever had is that of a Sign Language Interpreter.  The mental challenges of handling 2 languages simultaneously, each with very different structures and thought processes, plus dealing with each individual’s linguistic styles and accents, makes it extremely intensive work.  Experts have called the process of interpreting the most challenging cognitive process that man is capable of.

Narrating has its challenges as well.  Each book has a different style, tone, and “voice,” plus each character should have a unique voice and personality.  It is similar to sign language interpreting, in that acting and narrating is also a form of interpreting — interpreting the author’s thoughts and words, and delivering that message to the listener.  The mental challenges of switching instantly between character voices and narrative can be comparable to interpreting.  However, interpreting is done live, in real time.  Narrating, on the other hand, has the luxury of being able to stop and start and then edit it together to appear live without having to actually do it within the confines of real time.

LongoInsanityTalesWhat does your Narrator’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess?

That depends on the eye of the beholder.  I have my various piles around my desk that I feel are neatly arranged, and I know just where everything is.  However nobody else would be able to make sense of it.  So, it could probably be described as a tidy mess.

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

I am a tea drinker, so I would love to have tea with Merlin, Gandalf, Aslan, Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot — all wizards of either magic or of the mind.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another’s work?

I have only been doing audiobook narration for a little over a year now, and most contact with fans are virtual.  Even though I have 20 books available through Audible.com at the moment, and several more in production, I have not had much direct interaction with fans.  However, as a puppeteer, I had much more direct contact.  Perhaps the most awkward moment was when someone saw me at a conference and just gushed over how much they loved my shows.  As they talked about it, I realized that it was not one of my shows they were talking about, but actually someone else’s show.  I tried to explain that to the fan, but she insisted that it was my show, and suggested that perhaps I just “forgot.” (Having done each show dozens or perhaps hundreds of times, I know which are and are not my own shows, but this fan had a different opinion.).   So, rather than argue with a fan, and especially since she loved the work, I just smiled and thanked her for her praise.

PhillipsHallsOfHorrorYou are also a puppeteer. How does the real live audience experience compare with recording a narration that will be enjoyed by an audience at a later date?

I have been a puppeteer and an actor — both performing before a live audience.  While there are many similarities to book narration, there are also many differences.

They are similar in that they both require bringing characters and words to life, and interpreting an author’s story.  They both require extensive use of the voice, including character voices and accents, sometimes many different character voices in one performance.

One of the differences is that with narration, the entire illusion must be created with the voice.  In acting and puppetry, there is a visual aspect which is just as important if not more so.  Another difference is the amount of preparation.  Since acting and puppetry are presented before a live audience, extensive rehearsal is needed to do it in real time, without the ability to stop and correct anything.  It is performed over and over again, each performance being essentially the same, but always slightly different than the others.  Narrating involves very little prep, but you have the luxury of stopping and starting, correcting, and retaking until each component is just right — then it is frozen in the recording.  And a final difference is that with live performance, you get immediate feedback from the live audience — hearing their responses — and can adjust your performance accordingly.  With narration, you have to imagine and anticipate the audience response, and do not have the pleasure of actually hearing it happen.  You do, however, get feedback from authors and listeners. In some ways the artistic rewards (the pleasures of creating the art) last longer in narration, but the ego rewards (the praise from fans) are more hidden and delayed.

PhillipsApocalypseTangoAs a sign language interpreter, do you occasionally find an animated person who talks with lots of gestures inadvertently signing off-beat things? Due to this skill, have you modified any of your own gestures?

Actually no.  In both spoken and signed languages, gestures and language complement each other, but are different.  Sign language is an actual language.  Just like spoken languages, it also incorporates gestures, but the gestures themselves enhance rather than replace the words. I have never seen anyone doing a gesture that inadvertently translates into an unexpected lexical sign.  However, I have experienced times where I am trying to express myself verbally to a hearing person, and find that my thoughts are more clearly expressed with sign language.  I then automatically start signing without thinking about it, but quickly catch myself and remind myself that the person I am talking with does not understand sign language, and I have to figure out how to express myself verbally instead.

TaylorToLightTheDragon'sFireFinally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I currently have 20 books available on Audible.com.  My most recently completed projects have been the first 2 books of the paranormal fantasy adventure, “The Doorways Trilogy” by Tim O’Rourke.  You recently reviewed book 1: Doorways.  Book 2 (League of Doorways) is also currently available.  The third book (The Queen of Doorways) will not be out until sometime the first half of 2015.

In production, and coming out soon will be Insanity Tales, a collection of stories of murder, mayhem and madness by David Daniel, Stacy Longo, Vlad V., Ursula Wong, and Dale T. Phillips, with an introduction by the New York Times Best-selling author Jonathan Maberry.  Also coming out soon is the paranormal fantasy romance, To Light the Dragon’s Fire by Margaret Taylor.  I have several other books in the production queue as well that I am working on.

For the latest information about my books, to listen to a wide range of audio samples, and to see a short video of me narrating an excerpt from Doorways, check out my website at http://fredwolinsky.weebly.com/

Places to find Fred Wolinsky

Website

Audible.com