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One Killer Interview with Author Hunter Shea, Master of the Paranormal Horror

Today on the site we have one of my most favorite authors ever–the never elusive, extremely funny, and all around great guy Hunter Shea!!! Let’s see how much he tries to scare our socks off this time. He told me he has revealed more in this interview than anywhere before…..and I’m kicking myself for not asking him even MORE questions! If you like paranormal, creepy, horror, and the like, then you’ll want to check out what Shea has to say.

Or maybe start with a kiss……

Hunter kissing a skull

Hi, Hunter! So happy to have you stop by the blog today so I can infiltrate your monster of a mind. 🙂 One of my favorite times on the blog is when you are hanging out…

Hunter: Thanks Erin. Glad to see you lifted the restraining order so I can come around again. I’ve tried to stir up all the cranial beasties and spirits, just for you!

Erin: You sure know how to rub a girl the right way….! I’m anxious to ask you some questions to let readers get to know you and your writing better, as well as catch up on your news for 2013!

Q: When did you first start writing? Have you always had a love affair with the pen?

A: I started writing with the aim of doing more than just killing time in the mid 1990’s. I was in a dead end job and my friend Norm who sat next to me was working on a book whenever he had some down time in the office. I was going through a tough time and Norm both inspired and coached me along the way. I thank him every chance I get (and dedicated my book, Swamp Monster Massacre to him). As a kid and a teen I used to write zombie poems and dystopian stories littered with tough guys who said inane things and battled creatures. Then college came and writing only became something you did to get a good grade on a paper…or writing flyers for wing night or free keg. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties when the bug burrowed under my skin and became a passion. And boy, it only grows with each passing year.

Erin Comments: “My friend Norm” sounds like a Cheers episode. Boy am I glad your friend Norm was writing novels and not just tipping back beers. Otherwise you’d be a drunk not an author….lol! Now I’m wondering what happened to Norm and if he published anything….

Q:  Your writing is pretty polished. You have a nice tone to your writing voice. How did you perfect this over the years?

A: Now you’re making me blush. Lots of practice, trial and colossal error. I didn’t even attempt writing a novel in my favorite genre, horror, until I’d been working on short stories and novels in other genres for almost 8 years. My very first full length book was a romantic comedy, of all things, but the voice wasn’t quite mine. It was hard getting the voices in my head to translate onto the page. I realized early on that everything I was writing was not solid gold. I have a vampire novella in a file that induces nausea quicker than a shot of Ipecac. I learned from my mistakes on that one and moved on to another that was slightly less horrible. I just kept at it until I was comfortable with my voice and style.

Erin Comments: Would love to see a vampire novel from you! And I can see why’d you write comedy, you’re so funny.

Q: Where do you come up with all the evil stories you churn out? What gives you inspiration?

A: I was raised a good Irish Catholic altar boy. I know evil when I see it! I thank God that my father let me watch horror and sci-fi flicks from day one on this big blue marble. We had a drive-in theater by our house so I got to see all these wonderfully awful B movie monster and biker flicks. We had Chiller Theatre on TV and this new writer called Stephen King giving everyone nightmares. I’ve loved horror for as long as I can remember and I was blessed with an overactive imagination. Now I get to put it to work!

Erin Comments: It’s always those preacher kid and good little altar boys isn’t it? Ha!

forest of shadows

Q:  When following a creative lead, how do you write? Outline first or just write what comes into your head?

A: I’ve heard other writers talk about their process and I guess I fall into the ‘organic’ category. I despise outlines. I did too many of them in school. Whenever I think of doing one, I get the feeling there’s an angry Brother behind me tapping a ruler in the palm of his hand. I develop a basic idea for a novel and kind of let my subconscious turn it around for a few months. If I still want to do it months later, I’ll start research (on locations or events or people), then pick a day to sit my ass down and start typing. I let the story kind of write itself and I’m always surprised by how my novels and characters end up. It’s pretty cool. Kind of like a medium and automatic writing, except it’s just the dark recesses of my demented brain doing all the heavy work.

Erin Comments: Knowing you, I am determined you just press your finger to the screen and say download. I don’t know how you write so fast….but glad you do.

Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?  Who inspires you? I think you are unique in your writing style, an original. Would you say so, or are you compared to any certain novelists in how you approach your stories?

A: I’m sure there are bits of every author I admire in my work. I do make a conscious effort to not sound like anyone else, but it’s hard to keep all your influences and loves at bay. I re-read several Hemingway books every year. If you want to learn brevity and the power of words, you have to study him. For horror, aside from the master, King, I’ve devoured everything by Robert McCammon, Brian Keene, Richard Matheson and Bentley Little. Oh, and I can’t forget my pal Norm Hendricks.

Q:  I know you are a huge video and film buff. What are some of your favorite all-time movies? Why?

A: Me likey movies. Hell, I started the Monster Men podcast with my bud Jack Campisi because we both loved scary movies so much. For my money, Alien is the best horror and the best sci-fi movie of all time. I mean, holy cow. There is nothing scarier than that creature, especially when Dallas was going through the air ducts with the flame thrower and they can see the alien on the radar coming up on him and he can’t! I still get chills.

The Big Lebowski is my #1 favorite movie. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is funnier. The Hunter abides. I love Excalibur and its grandiose story, music and action. King Arthur kicks some serious ass. The Haunting (the original, not that abomination of a remake) is proof that you can make a terrifying ghost movie without special effects. Rosemary’s Baby is just plain creepy, as is The Sentinel. I could go on forever (and you can all see Jack and I pontificate at The Monster Men…and it’s all free!).

the-graveyard-speaks

Q:  What movies are you looking forward to this year?

A: I haven’t been too thrilled with movies the past few years. I really can’t think of anything I feel like I absolutely have to see in 2013. I’m sure something will come out of the blue and surprise me. Of course, I’ll watch anything with Salma Hayek. Hence my ponying up money to see Here Comes the Boom. I’m so shallow.

Erin Comments: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter was awesome!!

Q:  What books are you looking forward to reading this year?

A: I have a whole wish list of books from other authors at Samhain that I can’t wait to dive into. I’m finally going to get around to reading NightWhere by John Everson. I hear it’s kinky and twisted. John is a super nice guy. Hard to imagine that coming from him…that is, until I went to one of his short story readings. He’s a sick puppy, alright! I also can’t wait to read The Narrows by Ron Malfi, another awesome dude and Tumor Fruit by bizarro master Carlton Mellick. Carlton is an acquired taste, but he hooks you like a drug. I’m also looking forward to reading The Lawgiver by Herman Wouk. My Amazon wish list is about 60 books long. I’m hoping to get through all of them this year.

Q:  How did you begin to take a turn with your writing in regards to being published or publishing your work?

A: I wrote my first horror novel, Forest of Shadows, with the intention of sending it to editor Don D’Auria who was at Dorchester/Leisure horror at the time. I was an avid fan of the entire Leisure line and wrote my book to make sure it fit in with the tone and style they were looking for, which was also the style I enjoyed writing. I submitted it only to Don and waited…for 3+ years. Then, out of the blue, I got an email from Don saying he wanted the book. For the first time in my life, I was speechless. Before I could sign the final contract, though, Dorchester went under. Luckily, Don signed up with Samhain a few months later and asked if I wanted to head up the new horror line. It’s all been wonderful since then.

evil-eternal-cover

Q:  I know you set out for Evil Eternal to be a comic book.  Why do you describe it as such?  Do you still have hopes of it becoming drawn? 

A: I grew up loving comic books and have always wanted to write one. Evil Eternal is so over-the-top, so visual, so gory, I still hope we can get this in graphic comic form some day. It doesn’t read like anything else I’ve written. The characters are larger than life and dammit, they need to be drawn! 🙂

Erin Comments: Yes, it does and the cover is awesome. You can see my review HERE.

Q:  Have you written any other comic stories? Movie scripts? Tell us a little bit about what other writing you do besides on your novels.

A: Over the years I’ve written tons of stories in all genres except romance. I’ve never read a romance novel and I feel you can’t write something you have never read. Just a rule of mine. I also wrote a darkly comedic suspense novel back in 2000.

My one experience with script writing was, in hindsight, a funny disaster. A friend of mine met the head writer of a very, very popular crime show on network TV. He told him about my desire to be a writer and the guy asked me to write an episode of one of the top comedies on TV at the time. I spent 2 weeks watching every episode to get the characters, cadence and overall flavor down. Then I spent another 2 weeks writing and polishing the script. Turns out I did a good job, because the script was stolen by a staff writer and pitched to the producers. I didn’t get credit, but I did learn some valuable lessons about protecting my work, especially in a script/screenplay environment.  

Erin Comments: That sucks!! But glad you take it as a compliment.

Q:  Where is the best place for you to write? Do you make set times to do so, or try to do it wherever and whenever the muse strikes?

A: I have a corner of my bedroom that is my writing cave, but I’ve learned to write wherever I can. That could be in the kitchen, in the living room surrounded by my family, in libraries, my car, airports, hotels, you name it. When I’m knee deep in a project, I make sure I write at least 6 days a week and you can’t always do it in the place or the time you want, so you make do with what you have and where you are. You know what they say, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

Erin Comments: Remember the post about writing in the kitchen….read HERE.

Q:  I know you have a Monster Men podcast and I enjoy listening to some of them. How did this come about? Can you tell us more about it?

A: Jack Campisi and I worked together for many years and discovered that our childhoods intersected but we’d somehow never met. We have the same sensibilities, likes, and passion for movies and horror. We’d always said we should just do a show where we talk about the things we love, like watching us sit at the bar and debate the state of the zombie as a genre.

When my first book, Forest of Shadows, was picked up, Jack decided it was time we put our money where our mouths are so I could also use the show as a way to promote my books. This summer we’ll have been doing it for 2 years and it gets better and better (and funnier). We say we have a lighthearted approach to dark topics. I do think we take a unique angle when it comes to talking about movies, books and the paranormal. It’s all about having fun.

Erin Comments: JACK is the MAN!!

swampmonstermassacre

Q: Tell us about your previous novels/novellas first, then let us know what is upcoming for you this year. What will be published?

A: My latest novella is Swamp Monster Massacre, a sweaty slog through Florida’s Everglades with a pack of vicious skunk apes on the trail of a group of shipwrecked tourists led by a crook named Rooster. It’s non-stop, relentless fun, and a chance for me to give some love to Bigfoot’s wet, smelly cousin. People have really taken to it and it’s my most successful book to date (as of January 2013).

In April, Samhain released my next novel, Sinister Entity, and a short story that precedes it, The Graveyard Speaks. Both are sequels to Forest of Shadows and center around a 19 year old ghost hunter with nerves of steel and unknown paranormal abilities of her own. She’s joined by the descendant of famed spiritualist D.D. Home and together they go up against angry poltergeists, malevolent spirits and the terrifying doppelganger of a young girl.

They’ve hit top selling lists on Samhain’s website and TGS has hit a top list on Amazon. The Graveyard Speaks is still free, for now, and introduces my ghost hunter. It takes the reader right into Sinister Entity and should give folks a chill or two up their spines.

Erin Comments:  You can read reviews of Forest of Shadows HERE, The Graveyard Speaks HERE, and Sinister Entity HERE.

sinisterentity

Q: What are you currently working on? What is on the horizon for Hunter Shea?

A: I started my next novel already, as a matter of fact and have a first draft done to turn in at the end of the month. I don’t want to give away much, but I will say it’s set in Wyoming in the early 1900s and Teddy Roosevelt will be a minor character. And no, he’s not hunting vampires or killing zombies. That’s already been done. It’s going to be a unique story with a lot of true history behind it. I also completed a novella that is based on the actual paranormal events my wife and I went through over a decade ago. More on that to come…

Erin Comments: I can’t wait, sounds amazing!

Q:  Your favorite movie snack?

A: Popcorn, without a doubt. I could eat the stuff for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And theaters, don’t give me that pre-popped in a giant bag crap. Pop it fresh. It’s not that hard to do.

Erin Comments: Mine too, extra butter! It’s how I keep a nice round butt!

x2_d7bf340

Q:  How can readers and fans connect with you?

A: The best place to find me is on my web lair at www.huntershea.com. There you can read my blog, excerpts of my books, free short stories, every Monster Men podcast and more. You can find the Monster Men on our You Tube channel, Monster Men 13. I also have a Facebook fan page (Hunter Shea, of course) and you can follow me on Twitter at HunterShea1.

Erin:  Thanks so much for joining me. It was a lot of fun, as always, to talk to you.  You’re a great writer with a friendly side.  Your books scare me more than you do. *wink*

Hunter:  Thank you for having me. I love what you’ve done with the place. And sure, you say my books scare you more now. Wait till I visit and stay for a week. Then you’ll see. *wink*

Author Hunter Shea, Biography~

I’m the product of a childhood weened on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone and In Search Of. I don’t just write about the paranormal. I actively seek out the things that scare the hell out of people and experience them for myself.

My novels, Forest of Shadows, Evil Eternal , Swamp Monster Massacre and Sinister Entity are published through Samhain Publishing’s horror line. I live with my family and untrainable cat close enough to New York City to get Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.

I’m also proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with my partner in crime, Jack Campisi. Our show is a light hearted approach to dark subjects. We explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun.

Feel free to contact me any time at huntershea1@gmail.com. Writing is lonely work.

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A Conspiracy Thriller to Shake Humanity? Announcing Work Coming from Tim Busbey and a Reader Contest

My partner, Tim Busbey, has been a writer, editor, and copy editor veteran for many years. Now, he is on the edge of completing his first novel, novella, and short story (all which tie-in together) in his conspiracy thriller series!! I am very happy to announce this news on my own site today!

So what is his book about?

He doesn’t want to give away too much about it because there are lots of twists and turns and mysteries and conspiracies. But, according to Tim, it involves genetics, religion, covert agencies, the origins of man and much more.

More? That’s a mind-blowing amount of suspense already! Sounds good…

 It is set in a variety of locales, ranging from India to Cuba to Columbus, Ohio and more. Here’s a synopsis:

It involves a reporter who discovers a centuries-old secret that could shake the foundations of all of the world’s governments and religions. But is it the truth or simply part of a conspiracy? Dark forces try to keep him from uncovering the truth before they can unleash their master plan.

Tim says on his own blog at http://www.timbusbey.wordpress.com :  “But that is just the tip of the iceberg. It is an epic story with a large cast of characters. The story I am telling is sure to be controversial. But I am not writing it simply to stir up controversy. I am writing it because it is the story that I have been given to tell.”

fourth pic for tim's novel

If anyone happened to read his earlier versions in process, much of that content remains in what will be the finished product. However, he’s copy edited for clarity and story elements. Once he realized there was more back story than one novel could handle, and keep up its fast pace, he decided to break out parts of the book and create a short story and a novella which will serve as introductions to some of the characters and ideas associated with the main book.

AND YOU COULD UNLOCK THIS SHORT STORY!! He’s going to give away the short story to anyone who helps spread the word about his novel on Pinterest or Facebook!!

Please support and like his FACEBOOK Author Page at the link..he’s got his novel contest and updates on novel progress, but also lots of writer links and tips, international news and discussion, and he announces free thrillers from other well-known authors.

LIKE TIM BUSBEY AUTHOR PAGE HERE:

https://www.facebook.com/messages/543612461#!/TimBusbeyAuthor?fref=ts

and if you’d like to join his profile on Facebook too:

www.facebook.com/tim.busbey

Pinterest and Facebook Contest~

He will post one picture a week for eight weeks, we are in week four now. Each picture is a clue or somehow related to the story. The first picture appears to be a DNA helix. But is there more to it than that? At the end of the eight weeks, everyone who has re-pinned all eight pictures (you can pin at any time or all at one) on Pinterest, or commented on all contest photos on the Facebook page, will unlock the short story for free as a special thanks for your help. To receive your free short story, please email me a link (tbuzz50@hotmail.com) to the board where you re-pinned my posts after the eight weeks are finished. It’s that easy.

Please take a look and tell your friends. Here is his Pinterest and My Novel board is the one you want:  http://pinterest.com/pin/110056784616111015/

Tim Busbey, Biography~

TimA veteran newspaper journalist, he has spent the last five years working in marketing communications for a major small appliance manufacturer, an HR communications firm and one of the top law firms in Ohio (the latter two he currently works for).  He runs Addison’s Compass Public Relations with Erin Al-Mehairi, from which they offer writing, marketing and editing services to authors, businesses and individuals. He’s a soccer and softball coach and enjoys reading and collecting books.  He graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1996 with a degree in journalism and a minor in economics.

Besides at Facebook above, follow the blog at www.timbusbey.wordpress.com or Tweet with him at @tbusbey.

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Exclusive Interview with Author Timothy L. O’Brien: The Lincoln Conspiracy

Yesterday, I reviewed The Lincoln Conspiracy by Timothy L. O’Brien and loved it: click HERE to read review and don’t forget to enter the giveaway! Watching a Journalist use those talents researching and writing to pen a creative novel, seeped also in another of my loves–history, was absolutely inspiring. Today, I had the honor of interviewing O’Brien. For me as a writer, he’s one of my role-models. A Pulitizer Prize winning Journalist and Editor. A trail-blazer for The Huffington Post. And now an author of a historical novel. I hope this interview helps all my readers get more of a feel for the book, why he wrote it, how he wrote it, and what is in store for the future! Comment and let him know what you think!

Interview~Timothy L. O’Brien, author of The Lincoln Conspiracy

Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! We have been looking forward to this interview about your new release, The Lincoln Conspiracy, and learning about you and your writing.

Q:  With a Journalism degree myself, I was intrigued first by the fact that you are an award-winning Journalist and Editor. How did your Journalistic side propel you along with this novel?

A: I was pretty relentless about the fact pattern surrounding the Lincoln assassination, Erin, and that’s certainly part of the journalism well I dipped into – I did quite a bit of reporting and research into Washington and New York in the 1850s and 1860s, as well as research about prominent figures such as Mary Todd Lincoln, Alexander Gardner, Allan Pinkerton, and others.

Q:  What gave you the desire to write a book about Abraham Lincoln? Presidential history? Conspiracy theories? Economics of the United States at the time?  Which most interested you and how did that play into your angle for the novel?

A: I’ve been a Lincoln buff since I was about ten years old. My father’s uncle gave me Sandburg’s Lincoln biography as a birthday present and I just became fixated on Lincoln after that. Like many others, I was fascinated by Lincoln as a person and as a historical figure. But there was little I felt I could add to the understanding about the period in which he lived through non-fiction. A novel – particularly a novel centered around his assassination and the myriad new forces shaping post-Civil War Society – felt like a meaningful way in for readers. I hope The Lincoln Assassination also works as a great mystery yarn.

Q:  What do want readers to take away most from this book? A suspenseful novel based on a very political time in U.S. History or something much deeper?

A: I hope they take away a deeper appreciation for what a wild, revolutionary time it was in Lincoln’s era and how fascinating the men and women of that time were. What most of us consider to be “modern” has its roots in that period. I also hope that real lovers of historical fiction and mysteries simply enjoy the tale itself.

Q:  What do you think is spurring the rush of historical conspiracy and intrigue novels? How many of them are based on truth?

A:  Novels allow you to probe character and intent, something that non-fiction has less leeway around. Novels also allow you to do creative things with the writing that non-fiction usually doesn’t allow, so that’s another reason novels are such great venues for a different form of historical understanding. I don’t know enough about the market to know if there’s a rush now or not – I just worked on this because I loved it and felt I could pull readers into the era.

Q:  How long did it take to finish The Lincoln Conspiracy?

A: I took five years, largely because I have a very consuming day job! The research for this novel also took a great deal of time.

Q:  What were your biggest hurdles along the way? Your biggest celebrations?

A: The biggest hurdle was time management – really carving out time to steep myself consistently in the writing and in the creative space I needed for the book. But I guess that’s nothing new! Seeing The Lincoln Conspiracy published has been the biggest celebration so far.

Q: Do you have plans for another novel? If so, please give us details!

A: This is the first in a multi-part series about Temple McFadden and his wife, Fiona. The next book will be set largely in New York, where they will encounter Maestro once again, but Washington will never be far from their thoughts or actions.

Q: How can readers best get in contact with you?

A: My website is an easy way to reach me: http://www.timothylobrien.com

Thank you very much for spending some time here on my blog! Wish you the very best of luck with your book and future endeavors.

Author Bio~Timothy L. O’Brien (pictured above)

Timothy L. O’Brien is the Executive Editor of The Huffington Post, where he edited the 2012 Pulitzer Prize–winning series about wounded war veterans, “Beyond the Battlefield.” Previously, he was an editor and reporter at The New York Times. There, he helped to lead a team of Times reporters that was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in Public Service in 2009 for coverage of the financial crisis. O’Brien, a graduate of Georgetown University, holds three master’s degrees — in US History,Business and Journalism — all from Columbia University. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife and two children.

 About the Book~The Lincoln Conspiracy

Publication Date: September 18, 2012 | Ballantine Books | 368p

DESCRIPTION: A nation shattered by its president’s murder. Two diaries that reveal the true scope of an American conspiracy. A detective determined to bring the truth to light, no matter what it costs him

From award-winning journalist Timothy L. O’Brien comes a gripping historical thriller that poses a provocative question: What if the plot to assassinate President Lincoln was wider and more sinister than we ever imagined?

In late spring of 1865, as America mourns the death of its leader, Washington, D.C., police detective Temple McFadden makes a startling discovery. Strapped to the body of a dead man at the B&O Railroad station are two diaries, two documents that together reveal the true depth of the Lincoln conspiracy. Securing the diaries will put Temple’s life in jeopardy—and will endanger the fragile peace of a nation still torn by war.

Temple’s quest to bring the conspirators to justice takes him on a perilous journey through the gaslit streets of the Civil War–era capital, into bawdy houses and back alleys where ruthless enemies await him in every shadowed corner. Aided by an underground network of friends—and by his wife, Fiona, a nurse who possesses a formidable arsenal of medicinal potions—Temple must stay one step ahead of Lafayette Baker, head of the Union Army’s spy service. Along the way, he’ll run from or rely on Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s fearsome secretary of war; the legendary Scottish spymaster Allan Pinkerton; abolitionist Sojourner Truth; the photographer Alexander Gardner; and many others.

Bristling with twists and building to a climax that will leave readers gasping, The Lincoln Conspiracy offers a riveting new account of what truly motivated the assassination of one of America’s most beloved presidents—and who participated in the plot to derail the train of liberty that Lincoln set in motion.

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Q and A with Authors, Starting with ME!

**Please note**This is from 2011! I can hardly believe it. Time to update!**

Since doing the Red River Writers BlogTalkRadio show, Dellani’s Tea Time yesterday, I decided to go ahead and post my questions and answers to inquiries about me and writing and about my book series. Some of these were talked about on the show. I think these answers will give great insight into me for anyone that is curious.

Introducing Erin Al-Mehairi, author of this blog and aspiring author:

I am a mother of 3 young children in mid-Ohio. My fiancé Tim Busbey and I own a writing and public relations business that we work out of our home called Addison’s Compass Public Relations and a fine art nature photography business called Breathe Beauty Art and Photography. We are both coming back to our dreams of being creative writers and I am working on my first children’s book series as well as my poetry, and he is halfway through his adult religious history thriller. If you want to know more about me, click on the tab at the top of the blog.

When did you start writing?

I remember writing all through childhood. I won a local children’s writing contest in my tween years; it was a Christmas essay contest in our local newspaper. I wrote stories, essays, lots of poetry and have always been an avid reader. I was mentored and encouraged by many of my English teachers from elementary on. I became engrossed in Journalism in high school and then obtained a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and English (as well as History) from Ashland University. I was mentored by many fabulous and distinguished English teachers and edited for the university group Poetry Press. I was encouraged in my writing by one of the most phenomenal Journalism and English professors ever, Dr. Daniel Lehman. I was always writing articles and essays, many times about children in my life or causes that laid on my heart. I continued this writing in various forms along with my newspaper articles for the college paper. During and directly after college, I kept up with my poetry. In 2002 I took a job in public relations and for the next 7 years wrote consistently technical and newsletter type articles, as well as copy writing for web and advertising. I was so busy working so many hours a week that I lost my time for creative writing, and in many ways lost myself. I was in an abusive marriage and trying to raise 2 children. In 2004, I left my marriage. Later on I met the man who is my world today. In 2007, I was pregnant with my third child and though a joy for us together, I was also very ill with both pulmonary and fighting several autoimmune diseases. Taking a risk in hopes of getting my life back, I quit my job. The last year and half at home with my children, while doing freelance article and copy writing and photography, has allowed me to take the long and healing journey back to writing creatively, reading, art, and photography. I’ve come back to myself and it feels really good. I think if I hadn’t done this, hadn’t rid myself of all that way tying me down, I would never have been quiet enough in my mind for my children’s book idea to percolate and summon me. I am so happy to be writing again!

How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

 I don’t know if there was ever really one special moment. I’ve always read and I’ve always written. If there was paper in front of me, and a little time, my pencil would move and create poetry without me even trying. It would move and create essays and stories on children and or nature. I’m excited to say that in the past 6 months, my pencil has been moving that way on paper again. I think it is something that possesses me without me even deciding to do it. Writing isn’t something I decided to do, it is just something that is me.

What gave you the idea for your first book?

I always knew I wanted to write a children’s book, but never had a specific idea. As I began turning my love for fine art nature and historical photography (and repurposing old wooden furniture) into a business while being home with my children, who are 11, 7 and 3, for the past almost 2 years, my creative juices seemed to start working. Before the winter (winter of 2010/2011) we went on many long walks around the older parts of the neighborhood, taking photo pieces of historic houses, an abandoned train depot, old barns and doors and windows. We wanted to know the history behind those places. As we had these mini-adventures and I watched the interactions of the kids, especially those between my two young daughters, my idea sprang to mind. My daughters are opposite personalities and that can become really hilarious at times. I saw using their personalities for humor in the book, while some of our adventures and photographs gave me ideas for the plot of the books.

What is your latest release?

Continuing on with my last answer, I’m just in the starting phase of my book series. I am writing a fiction novel for young first or second graders with two young girls as the main characters, slightly modeled after my own two girls. I had spent time listening to their conversations and I really saw how different their interests are and how unique it makes each of them. And it came to me, I could write a book stemming loosely from their relationship. A 7 to 9-year-old girl who is girly, yet likes sparkly skulls, black, jeans, art, mystery, pop songs, and is super subdued unless spiked by her sister compared to a girl age 3 to 5 who is the total princess package including pink and more pink, dresses, dance and ballet, classical music and song who is really confident. Stemming from their personalities, I’ve come up with the name Monster Princess and Little Diva. My rough outline of the entire series includes the girls having to move with their single mother to a new town and/or state in New England. Since Mom is very busy, the girls start to head-off for walks and in each book of the series, they end up at an old building or house or area. There they find a special item that transports them into an adventure or chaotic happening where they are able to help the people they encounter. For instance, when they find a paintbrush, they are transported into a world they enter that is all one color. They will be able to use the magic brush to show the people how to put color into their lives, embracing diversity. The moral of the story is to embrace the many different “colors” of life. Another story has them helping a cupcake store who has no sugar because a naughty squirrel has stolen and hoarded it. The moral is about sharing.

What age group are your books intended for?

I had wanted to write a hardcover picture book and I think that is because of my love for art as well. I’ve always been an avid collector of picture books for children. Finding a first printing of an old Madeline book in a used book store was so exciting for me! I see just how Monster Princess and Little Diva would look in a book and how cute they would be. However, for right now for my own books I’m trending toward doing the series first for about a first or second grade level. I may take the characters up in age a few years from my own in order to gain the first grade audience. I want to make a book for that age that takes the readers into a different type of adventure that is outside the box, outside of the normal school related adventures that seem to saturate the market. What made you decide to write books for children? As I mentioned before, I think just my own love for children’s books of any age and watching my own children grow up. When I see children’s books, I fall in love. I want to create one to make children’s happy about reading. My daughters are very excited about my series and when I see the gleam in their eyes, I hope that other children might get that too.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your work?

I think just learning what age my characters should be to relate to certain readers. Even children of the same age are at all different reading levels. For the first half of the school year I went every Tuesday for over 2 hours to listen and help the first graders in my daughter’s class read individually. The reading levels were all over the place. Beyond that, my main challenges are fitting the writing into my schedule with 3 kids and finding quiet time to write. I must have quiet to be able to think or I don’t even know what I’m typing!!

What experiences have inspired you?

Certainly, the experiences with my children and in my art and photography hobby and work have inspired me with the story. Sometimes when you look at art or a photograph you can either see it as a flat surface, a flat perception, or you can look FURTHER into the photograph and begin to think about might be behind the door, behind the scene, behind the history. I love to come up with stories that lead you from that first flat look. My illness and other life hardships have inspired me to remember that life is short and we must spend the time with those we love, doing what we love. Otherwise, why live?

What other authors/ artists have influenced you?

Dandi Daley Mackall (www.dandibooks.com) is a children’s author who has inspired me since I was young. She lives in my area and is a friend who I have always looked up to from the moment I met her. She has written over 400 books while living a simple life in rural Ohio. She writes because she loves to do it and she writes wonderful books with great moral guidelines for children. In my talks with her, I’ve really been encouraged to want to be a children’s writer myself. I’ve also always enjoyed the writing and art in Jan Brett’s books. Growing up, and even still, I enjoyed Madeline L’Engle, Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis, and all the Grimm Fairy Tales. Right now I really like Victoria Kann, who writes the Pinkalicious series.

Do you find that you “collect” people? In other words, you meet or see someone who eventually finds their way into a book?

I think we first learn about attributes people have from someone we may have encountered in our real lives. Of course with the main characters being molded after my daughters’, I suppose I’ve done that. Do you have any advice to aspiring authors/ illustrators? Don’t be afraid that you can’t write or don’t have the time. Give yourself some quiet time to discover your creative side. If you can only write 15 minutes most days, then that is at least a start. Just write for yourself first. Everyone should make their dreams a priority and not feel they are being selfish. There are many more opportunities out there today for anyone who wants to write.

Tell us about your publication journey.

I’ve just started so I haven’t found a publisher yet, or even looked that much into publishing. I want to get my story out on paper right now since my main motivation is to tell the story. Then I pray the publishing comes. I want to create a legacy for my children.

Please share with our listeners where they can purchase your book(s).

Of course I don’t have a book done yet, but you can follow my journey on writing and read my book reviews of books for all ages at http://www.hookofabook.wordpress.com and my group for children’s books on Facebook called Teaching Kids Through Books. I sell Kane/Miller and Usborne Books at www.ubah.com/z2837.

If you could ask your favorite author a question, who would it be & what question would you ask? How would you answer that question yourself?

I don’t know if it would be about asking just one, but to many authors in general I would ask first, how do you stay focused and secondly, how do you handle any rejection to something you present that is such a part of you? In answering this myself, again I say that you have to make writing a priority and schedule time for it. The only thing I can say about rejection is that you have to be strong enough to love your own story for what it brings you, even if someone else doesn’t agree.

To hear me, as well as mystery writer Beth Groundwater, children’s author Amanda Thrasher, and illustrator Wade Zahares on our BlogTalkRadio show, click on this link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rrradio/2011/02/14/dellanis-tea and it will start playing. Put on your headphones and listen while you work, or just listen through the speakers.

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Filed under My New Children's Book Series, Q and A with Authors