Saturday, 28 April 2012

Guest post: George Elder's Child of Destiny Blog Tour

On editing sci-fi stories

I love Lord of the Rings’ story line, but many literary professionals feel that the work needed a bit of editing. The same could be said of any number of Sci-Fi texts, including some of the classics. Of course, Sci-Fi has changed a great deal over the years, and the often gaudy literary style that typified early books are now seen as gouache. Yes, woe is unto the writer who uses too many “ly” words or adjectives. We now call such writing “pulpy,” as in the excess paper that is needed to find a home for the verbiage.

Mind you, some folks like that verbiage. Alas, a personal desire/taste cannot stand in the face of contemporary style’s winds—however those breezes may shift. I wish more writers would understand this basic truth, what we perceive as good or bad is context-bound. Hey, popular music, clothing, and literary style are ephemeral by nature. Styles change and evolve as time and shifting tastes dictates. Thus a writer’s words which are seen as the “perfect exemplar” of today may be regarded as the fodder of tomorrow’s humorists.    

But that does not excuse writing that is poor is terms of grammar, syntax, word choice, and all that. I have a Masters in Writing from UNH and a Doctoral Degree in Communication from Penn State, but I can’t spell to save my life and my prose is certainly not the best. Yeah, I can spin a yarn, have good imagination, and possess a knowledge base that is probably more varied than most. I’m a former academic who knows that he does not “know,” so there is still a small bit of hope for me.

For example, I know I need an editor in the worst way, and I honestly believe that almost all writers are in the same boat. Some of us fall in love with our words, but that doesn’t mean they should all be there! A trained set of eyes that is not invested in the text is a writer’s best friend. Those eyes can see what is invisible to authors. Our passages become like children, along with the natural reluctance to cast them adrift.

But we have to let go, and herein comes the need to employ a person with the ability to help polish our work. When writing Genesis, I used three layers of editing—friends (including writers), an editor who proofed text books, and the publisher’s editor. I am sure some things slipped through the process, and much was changed. There were also disagreements along the way. For example, I like putting dialogue with action descriptions because we often talk while doing something, as in:

“You’re an ignorant sot,” Anita said while glaring at George. “Can’t you see that word’s like ‘while” and ‘as’ will become redundant if you use this approach?” She paused, shook her head, and added, “It is possible to use clauses that separate words and actions, even if that interrupts what some call flow.”

Now my publishing editor recently changed a bunch of lines in Genesis Book 2 to coincide with the advice Anita just gave us, and I just about had a fit! I mean, I could feel something akin to the pain of childbirth setting in, and I’ve had kidney stones! What I saw was edited prose that went like this:
"Let’s be reasonable about this," Ragmor advised. Perhaps he had overplayed his hand.

Wherein, I wanted prose that expressed the ideas as thus:

"Let’s be reasonable about this," Ragmor advised, realizing he had overplayed his hand.

            Another example is:

"And even Maglee’s name came to you." Ragmor stared through the pane. "So I suspect you also know what became of her."           

            Whereas I wanted:

"And even Maglee’s name came to you." Ragmor observed while staring at Kara. "So I suspect you also know what became of her."          

The point is, these are stylistic choices, and I often opt to connect a bit of dialogue with a concurrent action. I like playwriting, where words and actions are intermixed by way of stage directions. I suspect my writing shows a bias toward this mixture, and some may find that annoying.

When editing, it is essential to think about how others experience our text. Inevitably we must find a place of humility, and understand that we often cannot see the forest except for the trees. It is possible for an editor to be incorrect, but it is at least as likely, depending on the editor’s skill, that some good advice is offered that ought to be employed. In any event, I opt to accept an editor’s choices in most cases.

At the end of the day, the work has the author’s name, for better or worse. If the editor cannot explain why X, Y or Z should be changed, then stand by your work. However, if what the editor relates makes sense and is in line with current trends, go with the flow. It hurts me to say this because I detest going with the flow. Indeed, that advice violates every bit of who I am as a person. Yet if we become beasts of ego, our writing will reflect this—and our words will become pedantic and judgmental. We will pontificate on high without even contemplating that we could be wrong.

About the author

Dr. George H. Elder has a Ph.D. from Penn State in Speech Communication and a Masters Degree in non-fiction Writing from UNH. He also has a very eclectic work and personal history. He has been a college teacher, custodian, upper-level scholar, drug addict, weight lifting coach, bouncer, and much more. He has authored numerous articles in the popular press and even a scientific text book that examines the neuropsychological basis of human communication. He has also addressed subjects such as philosophy, free speech, weight training, drug use, nutrient effects, street life, and a wide range of other issues.

His varied life experiences and education give him a unique and interesting perspective, and he often weaves philosophical insights and pathos into his texts. His books are action-oriented, but they do not have simplistic plots wherein good vs. evil or some other hackneyed approach is used. Instead, Elder employs plot shifts that allow the characters and readers to question the relationships we often take for granted. For example, a hero may do great wrongs while a species once perceived as malicious can be revealed to be honorable and wise. This offers refreshing and exciting perspectives for readers as they delve into Elder’s texts, for one never knows what to expect.

Child of Destiny synopsis -book 1 of The Genesis Continuum trilogy

The universe is nearing its inevitable end, everything is being rapidly devoured. The last hope of a dying universe is to awaken the Seeker, a legendary metaphysical being known only through ancient tales. The Seeker has the capacity to link the entire universe; they alone may be able to spark the rebirth of the universe.

Many of those that remain desperately want existence to continue. As the remaining races struggle to survive and fight over saving existence, lofty ideals give way to brutal pragmatism. Missions are sent out in search of the Seeker. One such mission encounters Kara an outcast noblewoman of the Labateen, a Stone-Age warrior culture. Kara is well versed in the Seeker’s litany, beyond what would be considered coincidence –to Kara the litany is simply the ways of God. Will Kara be able to help locate the Seeker?

Those who wish the universe to end in disorder, with no more than a whimper are not willing to sit by as others race to alter the end universe. As these opposing forces mount their defenses, racing to see their goals are achieved, one question stands out…

Is Kara the key?


George's website:

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Showers of Books Giveaway Hop: April 20-25

Thank you to everyone who entered this giveaway. 
Congratulations to the winners, picked by random through Rafflecopter. I'm emailing you! 
I enjoyed reading everyone's response to the question of what animal they would
like to be for a day - the most popular choice was a cat - purrfect!
This was closely followed by a lion, bird or penguin! 
If it was me, I'd pick an eagle or a dolphin - as I can't fly... or even swim too well!
Thanks again for entering and happy reading! 

The winners of the three books in the Kiwi Series are:

 Renee G.
Ciprian H.
Amber T.
Kay P.
Aldelei L.
Tam S.
Natalie C.
Ellen H.
Sian B.

Helllooooo and welcome to my Showers of Books Giveaway!
Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A WriterOne A Day Y.A.

Click on the links on the right to hop to the other
participating websites giving away their books ...

I've giving away ebook copies of 
Kiwi in Cat City
Kiwi and the Missing Magic
Kiwi and the Living Nightmare

Simply fill in the rafflecopter on the right and answer this question - 
if you could be an animal for one day, what would you choose?

The Kiwi Series is written for readers aged 9-10 up, including adults :)

Kiwi in Cat City
One dark night, Amy cannot sleep and she looks out of the window into the garden to see her cat, Kiwi, transfixed by the moon, which is glowing brightly like a cat's claw. Waking her brother, James, Amy suggests they follow Kiwi to see where she goes... whether it involves a hunt for mice or something else. Little do they know that, with a flick of her tail, Kiwi is going to magically change them into kittens and lead them on the adventure of their lives to a land they never knew existed in their wildest dreams. In the blue-lit world of Cat City, the budding detectives help Inspector Furrball to investigate the mystery of the missing catizens and find out what happened to Madame Purrfect.

Kiwi and the Missing Magic
In the second book of the Kiwi series, James and Amy embark on another adventure with their little black cat, which will take them to the Land of Giant Mice. The children return to Cat City to help their friends from the first book and meet some new characters along the way, including the Worry Bee, a mouse called Whiskers and Kiwi's mum, Moggie. The catizens' home is at risk of invasion and some of the Magic has gone missing. Can James and Amy help Kiwi save the day? More importantly, will James' pet hamster find his true calling in life? 

Kiwi and the Living Nightmare
In book three, Amy, James and Kiwi embark on their spookiest adventure yet - on Halloween. What begins with an eerie dream about a three-legged cat will take the budding detectives on a quest to find an old house in the middle of the woods, meeting some familiar characters and some perky squirrels along the way. Little do they know that there awaits an angry, restless ghost that will do anything to stop them leaving. Meanwhile, Inspector Furrball and Siam discover the human world, and that Ames and Jimster are not what they seem.

Happy reading!!!  

Kiwi Series: interview with me & 3-book giveaway

Hi cat fans!
Laurie interviewed me on her blog! Yay! There’s an interview, an excerpt from Kiwi and the Living Nightmare (when the catizens ride the bus) and a giveaway of some sets of my ebooks. Stop by for a read if you fancy :) 
Thanks, Vickie 
– have a purr-fect day!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Haiku Bombers: Five Senses

Quill Shiv has a weekly Wednesday haiku writing prompt

Today's prompt is the five senses

Head to her website to read her haiku, those of other writers' and to join in:

Here are my attempts: 


Bright in your glory,
I miss you in the dark spells –
Rainbows of colour


Juice flicks as I peel –
Zesty, fresh, sharp and sweet, it
Lingers on my tongue


Vanilla, lemon,
Warm bread rising, salt sea breeze -
These scents I love most


Hopping on branches
He twitters, bobbing his head
To his soft Spring song


In the chill morning
Before you wake, I snuggle
Against your warm skin

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Words with... Natalie Wright

Thanks to Natalie Wright for this interview. To win a copy of her YA fantasy novel, Emily's House, all you need to do is leave a comment... 

What is your day job or are you lucky enough to write for a living?

By day, I’m an attorney and divorce mediator. By night, I write stories that take myself and my readers to another world.

What books have you written so far?

I have published one book so far, Emily’s House, which is the first of a three-book YA fantasy series, the Akasha Chronicles.

What works in progress do you have?

I’m currently working on The Deep Beneath, Book 1 of the H.A.L.F. Trilogy. It’s a YA science fiction novel, full of government conspiracy, human-alien hybrids, and a lot of action and danger. Think X-Files meets Area 51, but with teens! 

I’m also hard at work on the follow-up to Emily’s House. The second book, Emily’s Trial, finds Emily a year older, getting beyond the ‘Freak Girl’ status and navigating her first love. But will she use what she learned in the Netherworld wisely? Book 2 will test her and her friendships. If she thought what she went through in Book 1 was hard, Emily hasn’t seen anything yet!

I’m also putting together a novella that will be a companion to Emily’s House and the Akasha Chronicles. It’s the story of Saorla, Emily’s ancestor, who we met in the first book. I had a lot of material that I cut, so for those who enjoy the ancient Celtic backstory, the novella will explore that further.

How long did it take you to write your book/s?

Emily’s House, being my first, took quite a while. From concept to completion, it was about four years. My second, The Deep Beneath, will be a little more than two years from concept to completions. Emily’s Trial will hopefully be about a year from concept to completion. I’m getting faster!

Which character from your books do you like most / are most like?

When I first began writing, I found it hard to write the ‘bad guys’. I think I was afraid to go there. But, once I got into it, I LOVE IT! The dark characters are so much fun. So far, my favourite characters are the dark ones, Dughall and Macha (a nasty pixie) from Emily’s House. In The Deep Beneath, I created a character named Commander Lilly Sturgis. She’s like a soothing mother to her hybrid creatures one minute, and then she’s like ‘Mommy Dearest’ the next! And, in Emily’s Trial, one of the villains from Emily’s House is back (but I’m not telling which one!) and the readers will also meet Ciardha, a powerful entity with a seriously bad attitude and an axe to grind.

Of all the characters I’ve created so far, I think I’m most like Emily Adams, but wish I was more like Madame Wong.

Who is your hero / heroine?  
My favourite heroine is Katniss Everdeen. The Hunger Games is my favourite series and Katniss kicks butt. I love that she’s not perfect, but she can be counted on to do the right thing. She’s strong and powerful, but not because she has superpowers or paranormal abilities. She’s a real person on this real Earth and she finds the strength within to be a hero. I think she’s a masterfully crafted character.

Which book do you wish you had written?

The Hunger Games trilogy. I aspire to write as well as Suzanne Collins and I hope to have a story premise as amazing as The Hunger Games plop into my head some day.

Which three authors would you like to take to the pub?

Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – because they seem like a funny pair of blokes and I’d like to pick their brains about writing! And Maggie Stiefvater – because she is a multi-dimensional person who seems fun and entertaining. I get the feeling you could talk to Maggie about any creative subject and she’d have a great story to tell. 

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?  
I am self-published and happy to be. Unlike a lot of writers, I did not attempt to get a traditional publishing contract without success and then decide to self-pub. When my manuscript was ready to start queries to agents/editors (last spring), I knew that it would take between two to five years to see my book in print with traditional publishing – IF I could find the right publishing house for it. My decision was to spend that two to five years writing and publishing books, building an audience, connecting with readers rather than querying and waiting – LOTS of waiting and have no book in print. I think it was the right decision for me. I am loving it!

But self-pubbing is not for the faint of heart! You have to work your *ss off, not only in writing the book, but finding the right team to put a quality book into print. Then you have to commit time DAILY to nurturing your network and contacts, and staying on top of promotional activity and social media. It takes an extraordinary amount of time. And the writer needs to be committed to the long term. 

For the vast, vast, vast majority of writers – whether traditional or self-pubbed – it takes years to build an audience for your work. There are no shortcuts. It’s about solid, consistent work. But I love each part of it so, for me, it feels like fun, not work!

Do you have a blog? What do you blog about?
I do have a blog, I post three times a week. Monday is ‘Manic Monday’ where my posts can touch on anything I’m inspired to write about. The posts are sometimes humorous, other times thoughtful/philosophical, or maybe inspirational. Wednesday is ‘Writer Chat Wednesday’ where I post interviews and Skype interviews with authors. I focus primarily on YA writers, but I’ll chat with anyone who I find interesting. Then Friday is ‘Book Review Friday’. I also post about giveaways and blog tours there.
Complete one of these stories in 100 words or less…
2. In the deep and darkest reaches of the dank forest... small Maggie skipped as she sang a merry tune. It was forbidden to enter this part of the Great Forest, but Maggie was not fond of following rules. She was required by curiosity to explore uncharted realms as it was the forbidden places that promised great discovery.

Because Maggie was impatient, she had not listened to her elders explain why entering the Great Forest was forbidden. A great power lay buried beneath the rotting oak leaves and fertile soil. A darkness long ago banished to the depths by a sorceress.

“Oh, what a beautiful mushroom,” Maggie squealed. She reached down to pluck the bright red fungus. As Maggie reached down for the mushroom, she was soon enveloped by the Earth, her open mouth filled with rotten leaves and musky loam. Her screams were buried with her.


At Barnes & Noble and at CREATESPACE.COM:

E-Book also at SMASHWORDS.COM:

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Sample Sunday: from Kiwi in Cat City


The night was dark and the streetlights glinted a faded blue wash across the street. It was very quiet. The little houses sat still and motionless, with curtains drawn and nearly everyone sleeping. Mr Katz looked at his watch. He was running late. Work had been so hectic this week and he was starving. He could feel his belly rumbling and his nose twitched, just like it always did when he was hungry. He began dreaming of food, lashings of food, mountains of it, steaming hot, and a nice warm mug of milk to send him off to sleep. He smiled at the idea of it. Nice and warm in bed with a nice mug of milk...tap tap tap… from behind him drifted the sound of footsteps in the dead night. In the distance, but getting louder. He turned to see who was out this late, but could see no-one. Weird. He could hear the steps getting nearer. He stopped whistling and quickened his pace.
Round the corner he went, walking fast, his breathing growing heavier. Behind him he could hear the footsteps approaching nearer and nearer. He turned but could see no-one in the dark. He turned another corner, and the next. Still he could hear the footsteps. Louder and louder. Nearer and nearer. Faster and faster. Mr Katz broke into a run. He dropped his bag and sped round the next corner and the next. And the next. Bang. He stopped all of a sudden.
“Are you alright sir? You seem in a bit of a hurry,” said the female voice. He squinted as he puffed, out of breath, but he could not see her face properly as it was so dark.
“Yes,” said Mr Katz. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. I was in a bit of a rush…”
“So it seems,” she said. “But you ran in the wrong direction…”
Mr Katz felt someone grab him from behind. He coughed and his heart raced. He went cold.
“You really should have gone the other way,” said the male voice.
Then everything went dark.

Chapter one: follow, follow

Amy awoke and saw her black cat sitting perched on the end of her bed, studying the gleaming moon. She rubbed her eyes and sat up just in time to see Kiwi leap out of the window and on to the ledge below. Amy crept out of bed and peered outside. The cat was standing perfectly balanced on the wooden garden fence, calm and still, her tail perked up. A dark silhouette staring up at the moon. I wonder where she’s going, thought Amy. She crept into her brother James’ room where he was sleeping soundly, and prodded his arm until he woke with a jump.
“What?” he gasped, wiping the sleep from his eyes. “I was dreaming. You really scared me.”
“Come and look.”
“Eh?” He stumbled out of bed and, like a zombie, followed his sister to the window. Gazing out, they could see the black cat still sitting on the fence.
“She has been sitting there for ages,” said Amy.
“Maybe she’s stretching,” he shrugged.
They watched, but Kiwi didn’t stretch. Instead she leapt off the fence and stood on the path, looking up at the moon.
“Now that’s weird. That’s what I’m talking about,” said Amy. “She’s thinking about something.”
“I wonder where she goes at night,” James mused.
“Hunting mice,” grinned Amy.
“Yuk, she wouldn’t. Would she?”
“Tell you what, I’m going to follow her and see…”
“You’re crazy,” gasped James. “It’s 1am and mum will kill you.”
“I want to see what she has for breakfast,” Amy laughed. “Don’t you?”
“Yuk! That’s grim,” said James, screwing up his face.
Amy wandered back to her room with her little brother following, half-asleep and a bit confused.
“So you’re coming then?” asked Amy, putting on her shoes and jacket.
“Errm,” he murmured as his sister crept out of the room on tiptoes. “Okay, but if she catches anything I’m not touching it…”
James slid on his trainers, jeans and jacket, and crept down the stairs after his sister, being careful not to make a sound. He could hear his dad snoring like a sleeping dragon. The sound echoed off of every wall. They tiptoed to the back door and slowly opened it on its creaky hinges. It was so loud. Ahh.
Kiwi was still sitting in the middle of the garden, staring up at the moon. Holding their breath they slowly closed the door without a sound. Turning around, they were just in time to see Kiwi plunge over the fence in a single bound. The two children looked at one another, raised eyebrows, and ran to the bottom of the garden to the gate. Out they went, giggling. It was a warm summer night without a breeze. In the field beyond the gate, trees soared up against the night sky, jagged and spectre-like. Without the shine of the moon it would have been completely dark. James shivered, but he had already decided that he was not going to look scared, even if he was.
“There she goes,” pointed Amy, as they bounded across the field towards the black tail that bobbed above the grass in the distance.
They chased and chased. The black cat ran and ran. They swerved between trees and the black cat just kept running. The children started to puff and pant. “Kiwi!” they yelled.
Suddenly, the cat’s ears pricked up and she stopped with a jump. Caught unawares, the little black cat turned around, her yellow eyes wide and enquiring. “Are you two following me?”
Amy and James stopped dead in their tracks. James sat down on the grass with a bump, his mouth wide open. Amy wanted to say something, but she couldn’t speak.
“Well, are you?” asked Kiwi, standing up straight and resting one paw on her hip. “It’s a bit late to be out playing you know.”
Kiwi grinned the biggest, widest grin and flicked her tail. She sat down and started washing, knowing that she had just given her two playmates the biggest shock of their lives. She carried on washing her paw, flicked out a claw, and waited for a reply. It was a long time coming.
The children were transfixed, rooted to the spot. Cold fingers of air travelled up their spines and made all of the hairs on their necks stand up. Amy gulped. Was she dreaming?
“What’s wrong?” laughed Kiwi. “Cat got your tongue?”
“Ahhhhhhhhhhh!” Amy sat down with a thump.
“Yooouuuu taaaallllkkkkk,” James stuttered.
“Well, what were you expecting? Sign language?” asked Kiwi matter-of-factly.
“But, we can understand you,” mumbled Amy, pinching her arm. Ouch. She wasn’t dreaming. Could this be real after all?
“Well, I know several languages,” explained Kiwi. “It comes in handy. So you WERE following me? Ha ha!”
“Sort of,” said James. “We were wondering what you ate for breakfast.”
“Like mice?” asked Kiwi, grinning.
“Well yes.”
Kiwi laughed. “I have more important things to do. And mice taste funny. Errr. Not good. And mice have feelings too. They’re very intelligent you know. I have several good friends who are mice….” Kiwi stopped talking as the two children sat open-mouthed in shock, blinking oddly.
“Ok, well, enough of that,” she carried on. Best to change the subject. “I was joking. I don’t have any mouse friends! Well, you see that moon up there? See how it’s really bright and glowing?”
The kids nodded.
“And see how it’s shaped like a cat’s claw?”
“I guess…” said James.
“Well, nights like these are not ordinary nights,” said the cat, looking straight at the boy.
James shivered. “Why?” He wasn’t sure if he wanted to know the answer. Was Kiwi going to eat them?
“Well,” said Kiwi slowly, “if you really want to know… why don’t you follow me some more?”
It was a challenge. The cat was grinning from ear to ear now. Amy was cold and scared. She could only stare awkwardly as though hypnotised while her brother chatted to the cat… the cat…. THE CAT! She felt dizzy.
After a few more minutes, Kiwi gazed back at the moon. It seemed even brighter. She got up. “There is no more time to lose. I have to go now. Are you coming?” She flashed her big, yellow eyes.
James sprung to his feet. “I’m coming,” he announced.
“No,” called Amy as James started to follow the little black cat. “I’m scared. Don’t follow. This is too weird…”
But James didn’t listen and carried on walking. Amy pulled herself to her feet and looked behind her. The field was empty. It must be about 2am by now, if not later. Their parents would be getting up in a few hours for work. Morning was fast approaching. What should she do? She couldn’t let her brother go alone. What if he got lost? “Wait!” she shouted, and charged after her brother and her suddenly talking cat. Things were not how they were meant to be today.

Chapter two: as easy as one, two, three

“Come on,” said Kiwi. “We’re nearly there.”
“Where?” asked James, glancing around at the big, open and completely empty field. All around the edges, the tall trees loomed, stretching up like a giant, natural wall.
“Here,” said Kiwi.
“But there’s nothing here,” said James, cold and slightly impatient. Not only could his pet cat talk, but she was also clearly crazy.
“There’s more than the eye can see,” said Kiwi, gazing up with her big, yellow saucer eyes. “Just follow what I do. And concentrate. It’s easy.”
The cat sat down and stared up at the moon. “One, two, three, a flick of the tail, a purr, a leap and away we go…”
Puff! She vanished. All that remained was a strange, glowing, purple mist.
“She disappeared!” cried Amy, turning round in a circle. “I can’t see her. Can you?”
“Your turn,” he said quietly.
“What? Are you crazy? She‘s just hiding in the grass,” said Amy.
“You go first, like she says…”
Amy looked annoyed. “You can’t be serious. You’re not suggesting…”
James nodded. “You’re the oldest.”
“No way!” she replied. “I haven’t got a tail to flick and I’m pretty sure I can’t purr…”
“I think you’re meant to imagine one…”
“You’re mad,” said Amy.
“Mmm I’m going to try,” sighed James, and he starting counting out loud.” One, two…”
“Ok, Ok,” cried Amy, clenching her fists to her sides. “Now straight after this I’m taking you home. Okay?”
And so, Amy flicked her imaginary tail, which was pretty long in her mind, purred and leapt up into the air – into nothing, or something? She couldn’t make it out. She had this amazing feeling of pure weightlessness as if her body weighed nothing. It also felt smaller, and she seemed to be floating. All around, everything was purple…
“Wow, it worked,” shouted James, jumping up and down. And he collapsed into giggles. “Cool!”
In the spot where his sister had jumped, only a puff of purple mist was left. Now it’s my turn, he thought, and turning round with a one, two, three and a flick of his imaginary tail, a purr and a leap, away he went to who-knows-where. A feeling of sheer weightlessness gave him the impression that he was flying. Wild! But where was he flying to?
“Ahem, the landing can sometimes be a bit difficult until you get used to it,” grinned Kiwi, washing her nose with a paw as Amy found herself collapsed in a heap on the floor. “You’ll have to get used to being on four feet now!”
“Four?” Amy stuttered, bewildered.
“Sure, look down and see how many feet you’ve got.”
“Eeeeeek!” Kiwi was right. Not one, not two, not three, but four feet were attached to her new body – but they were not feet, they were paws!! Fluffy black and white paws! “No!” Amy jumped backwards and fell over. But the biggest shock of all was the big white fluffy tail that wiggled out like a worm behind her. “Oh no!” she cried, and then fell over again trying to chase round in a circle to check out the tail more clearly. “Ahhh”, she yelled, and then a small laugh bubbled up inside her, spilling over until she couldn’t stop. She rolled over on her back with her legs in the air. All four of them. “I have a tail! A tail!” And she laughed some more.
Just at that moment, James fell through the sky and bounced on the ground with a little “ouch”.
Except that, of course, it wasn’t quite James. Well, it was and it wasn’t. James was now a little, tabby kitten with a very pink nose. He wobbled a bit on his new feet when he walked, with his tail stuck up like a radar.
“Where’s Amy?” he asked as he sat down, a bit dazed.
“Don’t you recognise her?” grinned Kiwi, nodding towards the little black-and-white cat, who sat bright-eyed and staring at him.
“No, really, where is she? Is she okay?”
“I can see this is going to take a while,” said Kiwi, taking charge. “Amy meet James, James meet Amy. No, you’re not dreaming. Yes you have a tail.”
“No, you’re joking…”
“I’m afraid she’s not,” purred Amy in her feline voice.
“Ah,” shouted James and fell over. He noticed that Amy still had her flowery necklace on. “It can’t be true! Hey, what’s that? Hey, I’ve got a tail! Wow! And four paws. No way! This tail is really bushy…”
Amy started giggling. Kiwi raised an eyebrow. It was going to be a long night. Humans!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Words with Malika Gandhi

Thanks to Malika Gandhi for this interview

What is your day job or are you lucky enough to write for a living?

My day job is being a home maker and dropping my two boys off to nursery/school. It is a full-time job!

What books have you written so far?

I have written one book, Freedom of the Monsoon. This is my debut novel. It is set in India in 1942-47, during the Quit India Movement. The novel explores love, loss, sacrifice and the need for justice. It is romantic as well as shocking. Domestic violence is shown too, which is seen time and time again, but where no one can help. The novel is not factual, but there are references to real-life events and situations during that time. Gandhi, the leader of the Quit India Movement, is mentioned many times and his work is referenced here too. The story revolves around the point of view of five central fictional characters – Rakesh, Dev, Pooja, Amit and Sunil – and they take us into their world, showing us the affects of the Quit India Movement.

What works in progress do you have?

Currently, I am working on the sequel, which will be quite different to the first book. Although it is still based in India, following on from the Quit India Movement, which is Partition, it will be an Indian romance centring on one main character, from her point of view.

How long did it take you to write your book/s?

Freedom of the Monsoon took me two years to write and that was when my children went to sleep. So between 9pm and 2am sometimes!

Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants?

My style of writing is very much jumping back and forth as I like to show what happened in the lives of the character beforehand, and sometimes the character’s thoughts take us back in time too.

Why do you write?

I like the freedom of the words. It allows me to express myself and bring me out into a world where I can let my imagination explore.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing for a long time, since my university days, dwelling on short stories and writing a diary, where my ideas and thoughts appear. But, I didn’t begin to seriously write until two years ago, with Freedom of the Monsoon.

Where and when do you write? ­ Do you have set times?

I don’t have set times as it is difficult with children. My concentration peaks when all is quiet at night.

Which character from your books do you like most / are most like?

My favourite character from my book is Pooja as she goes through so much and loses a lot too. Before her marriage she is abused, and after she is abused and raped by her husband. She is a lovely character who has grown with my writing.

What/who inspired you to write and still inspires you?

Reading books by Roald Dahl and CS Lewis inspired me to write. Their fantastic storytelling made me want to put pen to paper and just write.

What do you think is the ideal recipe for a good novel or story?

A story has to come from your heart; you have to be passionate about what you write and about your characters. This will show in your work.

Have you ever based a character on someone from real life? And did you tell them?

I haven’t based a character on someone from real life.

Fave things: animal? food? drink? film? colour? band? song? place? item of clothing?

My favourite things:
Animal: elephant.
Food: pasta and Paneer (Indian cottage cheese).
Drink: has to be Diet Coke!
Film: oh there are so many, but I love When Harry met Sally and You Got Mail.
Colour: blue.
Song: no particular song, but I like variety.
Place: anywhere where there is sun, sand and sea – preferably HOT.
When you were a kid, what did you want to do/who did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an author when I was a kid, or an artist as I love to paint and draw. I now have the opportunity to showcase my work through my book (the illustration on my book is my own).

Would you say that your dreams have come true or are you still working on them?

My dreams are still some way ahead before I can reach them. I believe a dream will always expand once you reach a certain level. As for now, I am happy that I have become published, but I don’t want to stop here.

You’re walking in the forest and you bump into an alien librarian from Mars. He wants five book recommendations from you…

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
Miguel Street by VS Naipaul
The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Who is your favourite character from any book and why?

Like so many, it is from a Classic – Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, for his brooding personality, which is logical and romantic at the same time. I also love Jo’s character from Little Women. She is endearing, and kindles inspiration and ambition!

Ah Mr Darcy is one of my faves too... what a man! I love that book. But, since watching the superb BBC adaptation, I'm always going to have the image of Colin Firth coming out of the water... -- Vickie 

Which three authors would you like to take to the pub?

I would like to take JK Rowling, Kathryn Stockett and VS Naipaul.

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?

I am self-published. The experience is tough as the marketing is all down to you, but it is also exciting to be in control of your own work and what direction you want it to take.

How do you find the marketing experience?

Very hard. As an Indie author who is very new, finding people and groups who may be interested in your work is the first thing, but it is getting them to like the idea to buy, which is hard. Every moment I get, I am thinking of new ways of promoting my work, and the people I speak to have helped me.

What advice would you give other writers just starting out?

To never give up and keep persisting as that is the only way you will achieve your dream goal. Be patient also – which is one thing I am still learning.

Do you have a blog? What do you blog about?

It is about my book, but I have also posted some articles on the history of India and an interview with my fictional character, Pooja. I plan to do more.

What other hobbies do you have?

I love to paint and draw, and I love films. I love to read and always have a book with me.

If you won the Lotto or a major publishing contract, what would you do with that dosh?

I love to travel so that would be one of the things. I would also put some money away for my boy’s university education and a considerable amount towards the beginning of their future.

Complete one of these stories in 100 words or less…
1. There was once a wee worm called Fred…
2. In the deep and darkest reaches of the dank forest...
3. One day Charlotte decided she was going to change the world...

In the deep and darkest reaches of the dank forest, a woman crouched with her daughter, hiding away from the crazy man. She was afraid to use her magical aura; she knew she mustn’t abuse it. The Lords wouldn’t forgive her.  There would be consequences. She had been warned. Sarina looked at her daughter of three. She had been touched by the aura – she knew it. Her bronze locks shone and shimmered, a slight vibration and her hair would glow. She had to hide Petal somewhere, out of reach, out of sight forever...

What question do you wish I’d asked and, of course, what is the answer?

Do you think Traditional Publishing is better than Self-Publishing?

My answer:
In the current climate, both have its advantages and disadvantages.  It is getting harder for publishers and authors as there is so much competition. It has come down to the author to do most of the legwork, whether published traditionally or self-published, especially as a new, unknown author. It is nice to get the backing of a traditional publisher, of course, but if that doesn’t work then try self-publishing.


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