Author Interview – Theresa Braun

Getting to know the woman behind the books…

I’ve been keen to bring my blog to a new level and give some more engaging posts for my readers, so why not give thanks to the authors that have supported me from the beginning by interviewing them and shining a well deserved light into their career and personal life! I hope to keep this type of post going so that you can get an insight into the authors I’ve had the pleasure of working with as well as the people behind my book reviews.

Why did you decide to become an author?

I’ve always enjoyed being creative. When I was younger, I was more of an artist, painting and drawing (which I still do on occasion). Then at some point I shifted into creating stories. It became a great way to escape. And, there’s a thrill in creating an entire world with words. I think most writers would say that it’s in our blood. It’s a drive that we can’t control and it makes us feel alive. At least that’s how I feel about it. If I’m not writing, there’s something missing. So, every chance I get, I follow through with the compulsion, despite all the frustrations and challenges that come with it.

Where do you get your story ideas?

As far as where I find inspiration for what I write, lots of the time I’ll get something that pops into my head and I write it down and expand on it later. Or, I’ll hear something on the radio or the news and it will spark my interest. And, on occasion, I have some pretty twisted dreams that can be used as material. Lately, I’ve gotten a few ideas from my students. One of them will say something in class and I’m like, that would make a great story. The shower is another awesome place where ideas run rampant.

Authors are traditionally cast as reclusive loners. Are you?

Well, writing does take a considerable amount of alone time. That part is very true. Sometimes I do feel like withdrawing completely. I could easily disappear and be happy. However, I try to balance it out by getting out with my friends or hanging with my writing buddies. It’s great to have people who understand the struggles of being a writer. I do enjoy the solitude that comes with creating, but I often crave socialization if I’ve been secluded for too long. It’s a balance.

Does your writing require research?

Yes, most of the time I’m doing research as needed.. I’ll open the Google page on my laptop and search up something on the spot. It makes me laugh sometimes to think about someone looking at the history on my computer. I’ve searched up a lot of bizarre things over the years. The most recent one is what happens to a body when it’s run over by a train. It could appear rather incriminating to someone who doesn’t know I’m a writer.

Which authors influenced your writing?

I’m lucky to have some authors in my circle who I really admire. As far as the famous bunch of writers out there, I’d have to say Stephen King is one of my biggest inspirations. Furthermore, there’s definitely an echo in my work of some of the classic authors like Shelley and Stoker, just to name two.

What part of writing do you find most challenging?

That would be a tie between writers’ block and some of the patience it requires to write and get a story out there. I think all authors have doubts while crafting a story. We wonder if we are approaching it right, using the appropriate POV or other techniques. There are times I have to sit on a story until it’s done. Many times it doesn’t come out in a straight shot. Lots of writers have a file of unfinished stories that they might not get back to for years, or ever. And, when a story is complete, then it’s a matter of getting it out there. Where to submit? And the rejections can be discouraging or it can take months to find out if something has been accepted. That is always a thrill, but then we have to wait for the publication to come out, which can also take months. In short, there’s a lot of waiting involved. So, one has to have a few projects going to feel there is a forward momentum. It helps to be connected to other authors so we can cheerlead each other along the way.

Do you write the story, or do your characters take over?

In the past, I’ve always been in control of the story. However, I’m starting to let the characters talk to me more. When that happens, it’s pretty cool. It’s kind of like channeling their feelings and actions. That can also be rather scary, since the writer doesn’t always know where things are going. Doing this requires quite a bit of trust. But it can be extremely rewarding when it’s all over.

When a reader closes one of your books, what do you hope they’re left with?

My biggest hope is that I’ve moved the reader in some way and he or she cared about what happened to the characters. An added bonus is if I’ve given the reader something to think about. The best stories that I’ve finished of other authors have left me haunted and contemplating life or a deep philosophical question. At the very least, I hope people are entertained by my work.

Do you have any advice for new/aspiring authors?

The best writing tip is to read. Stephen King has been quoted as saying that if you don’t read, you will never become a good writer. I think that’s so true. You have to see how other authors are treating plot, characterization, and setting, including how to write about gore or how to leave it out or imply it. I’m part of a writing group and some of what we do is read established writers and talk about what they do that works. It’s really helpful.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/spirit animal, why?

I’d like to say it’s a bat or dragon or something like that. However, my writing mascot is one of my cats. He’s always by my side when I’m writing at home, like he is giving me support or helping to rein in the inspiration. When I get excited about something, I often hug and squeeze him. I probably shouldn’t admit it, but it’s true.

Do you Google yourself?

I haven’t Googled myself in a long time. As of late, I’ve been too busy with other things to worry about what’s out there on the internet about me. That doesn’t mean that I won’t at some point. Just right now it doesn’t interest me enough.

How did you choose the genre you wished to write in?

I’ve always been into dark subject matter and the workings of human nature and the mind. Horror is the perfect genre to explore these things and to delve into the grim aspects of humanity and existence. However, I can see myself crossing over into other genres. I’d like to write more sci-fi, for example.

Do you have any new books coming up that you wish to shout about?

Unnerving Magazine is putting out an anthology called Hardened Hearts which will include my piece entitled “Heirloom”. It’s about a therapist who inherits a mirror that has the power to send her into the past against her will. Her whole world gets turned upside down. I’m really excited about its release. And, I’m finishing up a monster story that will be in an upcoming Deadman’s Tome collection called Monsters Exist. There will be about 15 amazing stories in there, and I’m thrilled to be alongside some very talented storytellers. My other pieces are still looking for homes at a number of magazines. Fingers crossed.

 Until next time…

If you want to know more about Theresa Braun you can have a look on her website for all sorts of updates. Alternatively follow her on Twitter (@tbraun_author) or like her Facebook page.

Joyful Trouble – Patricia Furstenberg

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What a joy this book is…

This book is actually the first ‘children’ book I’ve reviewed and I got worried that being in my early 20’s I wouldn’t be able to connect with it. How wrong I was! This book brings so much joy (pun intended) that I would highly recommend to anyone no matter your age. As I’m a dog lover this book was already something I was looking forward too, as I prepared myself to falling in love with Joyful Trouble I was taken on a beautiful journey that Patricia Furstenberg created.

As mentioned before I am a dog lover, which made this story really hit home as we are shown that even the biggest of breeds (Great Dane) can be gentle giants, even if they are a little mischievous. This story follows the journey of Joyful Trouble, a Great Dane that serves in the Navy due to his love of the seamen. Showing true friendship between man and ‘beast’ we see how humans rely on dogs for more than just companionship but for specific services too.

The story itself flows beautifully, narrated by the granddad of two small children (Ana and Tommy) who tells the tale as part of bedtime stories. As we flick between the granddad reminiscing of his time in the Navy (alongside Joyful Trouble) and current time with his family after he has retired you get to see fully how Joyful Trouble effected so many people throughout the years. The writing style is aimed at young children yet still emphasised the important areas needed to make sense of the story, reflecting that of a bedtime story really gives this book a clean and easy reading opportunity with room to get completely engrossed and captivated (bringing me back to my childhood when I got read bedtime stories!).

The key to a good book is not getting bored, connecting with characters or the story and feeling a sense of happiness when finished. Joyful Trouble produced all of these, I knew that the story wasn’t too long but happily finished it in two sittings (only pausing due to work or sleep) but I did try to prolong the reading experience as long as possible. As for the connection, it made me nostalgic – bringing me back to my childhood where I fell in love with reading due to the stories my parents would read to me. The happiness is due to the book being so well written and even with it being based on a true event added that twist of original creativity that allows you to laugh, cry and love alongside the characters.

Personally this story would be wonderful to read to your own children but also if you’re looking for a book that you want to make you smile then Joyful Trouble is the one for you. No matter your age, anyone can benefit from reading this gem of a book! Honestly I would be happy to read more of Patricia Furstenberg’s work and hopefully find some more beautiful stories.

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Joyful Trouble’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Patricia Furstenberg
Patricia Furstenberg came to writing through reading, her passion for books being something she inherited from her parents. She loves to write children’s stories and poems about amazing animals. She believes each creature has a story and a voice, if only we stop to listen. She writes the ‘Sunday Dog Tales’ column for mypuppyclub.net, an Australian website shortlisted for Australia’s Top Influencers Award. Patricia is passionate about children’s right to read and she often writes on this topic for The Huffington Post South Africa.

The Calling – Louise White

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Portal travel can lead you down a dangerous road…

I always love finding a good fantasy book that is different and really stands out, it is quite hard as there are so many books out there that follow similar story lines which can get quite repetitive and predicable. The Calling is not one of those books, it’s such a refreshing narrative and story that really draws you in and gives you hours of escaping your own reality and following the life of Carolyn our strong willed female protagonist. I had no issues getting into this book and got taken on a journey that crosses realms, encounters demons and involves a romantic twist, a little bit of everything you’d need to enjoy a fantasy novel!

The story follows our female heroine Carolyn, who has lost her mother and brother to another realm and spends years in the unknown about her new found ‘magical’ powers. Being drawn to the gateways to complete tasks of killing demons she becomes ‘The Destroyer’ without having much insight into why she does this ‘job’. The book itself is quite confusing to begin with, especially as it flicks between the present/past and Carolyn’s internal thoughts but once you’ve sussed out what section your reading it does flow quite nicely. The story is full of amazing detail that really brings the story to life and creates the perfect balance of realism and fantasy!

The characters are something that really stood out for me, we see a lot of Carolyn and her strong feminine attitude which gets broken down somewhat by the demon Note who unexpectedly takes our protagonists heart (romantically of course) but the character development is brilliant! You really feel connected to each character you meet and understand their purpose in this book to the full, blending the bonds of friendship and love with some key characters along the way (Ethan) you really get a wide variety of people and each one stood out on their own, connecting with you on a personal level.

Mystery and confusion are two things that spring to mind when I thought about describing this book, the mystery side of it is due to never truly knowing what will happen next (always on your toes) but also being slightly sceptical of some characters and their motives, wondering if a character is actually right for our main lead and judging people before we truly understand them. All of these aspects make you so hooked to this book it’s unreal, I never wanted to put it down as I was always hoping to get more information on the next page! Confusion is another description due to this being the first novel in the series I’m hoping some of my questions will be answered, especially how the book ended I am desperate to find out more!

Overall I would say if you are a fan of fantasy I would highly recommend this book as Louise G. White has created a world (or two) that you can get lost in! This book has a bit of everything for everyone and is so well written I cannot wait to read the next novel in the Gateway series! The story line is flawless and really grabs your attention straight away, you won’t be putting this book down at any point until you’ve finished it!

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘The Calling’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Louise G. White
The scenic west coast of Scotland is where she lives with her family. She didn’t set out to write Fantasy, but when she sat with her laptop to begin The Calling, It became apparent that she still believed in Bogey Men, the Monster in the cupboard and of course, the Faeries at the bottom of our garden. Suddenly she found that she was writing a story of heroes who could be found both on our doorsteps and in the realms that lie beyond.

Bloggers Bash Awards

#BloggerBashAwards

As a start up blogger I rely on word of mouth quite heavily. As my followers are what make my blog grow I do value each one of my followers and honestly I couldn’t be doing what I love if it wasn’t for the constant support of my readers and the authors who I work with! However, one of the major boosts my blog can get is awards (currently my blog is on the Feedspot’s Top 100 Book Review Blog list) and this is where you come in…

The Bloggers Bash is now less than two months away, which means the ABBAs (Annual Bloggers Bash Awards) are back! Every year, they run a set of awards nominated and voted for by you.

I have no shame in asking for help especially when it’s to do with growing something I’m passionate about, I would love if my followers could nominate my blog for ‘Best Book Review Blog’ category. That is of course if you feel I would be suited for this award. With your combined voting I could stand a chance at being up against some of the famous Book Review Bloggers (and who knows, maybe even win!).

If you do vote for me, here is the information you need:

Website: http://www.thebookbox.uk
Name of the website: The Book Box
My email: thebookbox121@gmail.com

The link to vote can be found here, with more information on the awards itself.

Until next time…

Spells & Persuasions – S.J.Budd

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Dark, twisted and extremely believable…

Now this review will be slightly different to my usual book reviews, as this collection features 9 short stories in the dark fantasy genre but I will try to review them as a whole and pick out some highlights from each. Before we begin I would not suggest reading these before bedtime as they have such an element of realism, making you think about situations in your own life that these events could occur as well as giving you twists to leave you shocked!

As mentioned before this collection has 9 short stories in, I actually read this book twice! Not only because it was such a well written book but because I wanted to make the experience of reading it last longer and really take in each story as a whole (letting the twists and turns really sink in). Each story draws you in straight away, not needing a long build up to realise what is happening. By doing this you are already engaged with the characters situation and follow the story word by word.

The style of each story varies from modern day to fantasy (witches and spells) but all have an underlying theme that is ‘relationships’ whether this be in the form of mother and son, husband and wife or teenage crushes. Each story delves deeper into these relationships and shows the darkness behind them, even the most innocent of characters are not as they seem (A Most Devoted Son, The Little Orphan Girl & Hold Me Tight). These stories really make you think about your own experiences (especially Spells and Persuasions) where teenage crushes can turn into something horrific, especially when magic is involved.

Now the genre of all these stories is dark fantasy and as it is a genre I most enjoy reading, I must say I wasn’t disappointed. Each story took me down a route that I thought I would suss out the ending but always shocked me and left me wanting more answers when the plot twists came out of the woodwork! The writing is so well done that you turn each page with ease, completely engrossed with the story that S. J. Budd has provided. The darkness within these stories is done in a way that makes you want to keep reading but part of you knows that something frightening is yet to come.

Just to pick out some of the stories that I enjoyed the most (honestly I wish I could write a whole review for each one) – ‘The Mound’ was one story that felt very close to being a real life event, yes it had magic and ghosts but the underlying theme of adultery made it full of possible realism. Not to give away any spoilers but let’s just say that if your husband is cheating on you and you find out, be careful what you wish for!

Another one that I enjoyed thoroughly was ‘The Little Orphan Girl‘ this story was one that wasn’t set in the modern world but in a world that had witches. The reason for picking this was the fact it really creeped me out! Normally I don’t like little girls in anything remotely scary (films or books) but this story really showed that innocence can be misleading. Again not giving away any spoilers but this twist really had me, I kept trying to work out what would happen as I was reading but I would have never guessed that ending.

In all honestly I would highly recommend this collection as it does have a little something for everyone (even if you’re not a huge horror/ dark fantasy fan) as the story lines are very well thought out and the twists will leave you speechless. I will definitely be looking forward to any future works of S. J. Budd as her writing is spectacular (and scary!).

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Spells and Persuasions’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: S. J. Budd
Originally born in Cornwall, south west England, her childhood was surrounded by myths and legends and she has always been fascinated by anything out of the ordinary. It was in this strange and ancient land where she developed a passion for writing.
S.J.Budd loves writing short stories exploring dark fictional worlds and its mysterious inhabitants, and is currently working on her first novel. Her day job involves working as journalist for http://www.findahood.com and she also blogs on her site http://www.sjbudd.co.uk
Her work has appeared in Sanitarium Magazine, Siren’s Call Publications, Deadman’s Tome, Innersins , Aphelion, Bewildering Stories, Blood Moon Rising Magazine, Shadows at the Door and Danse Macabre Magazine, The Wild Hunt, Morpheus Tales and Freedom Fiction. Twitter @sjbuddj

Frost on my Pillow – Leah Hamrick

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A book that you wouldn’t give the ‘cold shoulder’…

Whenever I go away on holiday I always bring a book with me (or two!) to escape reality even when I’m on the other side of the world. This was exactly what I did with ‘Frost on my Pillow’ by Leah Hamrick! I got lost in this book so much that I couldn’t put it down, the genre is one I truly enjoy and the story itself was breathtaking! I am glad this was the book I had taken with me on my holiday and now two weeks later I can write my review…

Firstly the genre of the book is one that is in my top favourites (paranormal, romance and NA) so I had no issue getting stuck in! The book really shows these elements in a clear and creative way, whether that be the love triangle Lyla has that is full of passion and lust or the magic within the characters (even those that don’t know it!) – Firebringer, Icebringer and Demons are some of the paranormals you can find within this book. Safe to say the story has something for everyone, I couldn’t wait to turn the next page and continue the journey Leah Hamrick had given me.

The characters themselves were a treat to discover, from the protagonist Lyla who isn’t just an ordinary girl, she is a Firebringer (can control fire!) – she shows herself as a strong minded girl that goes for what she wants, but everyone has their weaknesses. The character development is very well done and you can relate to each of them in your own way, or better yet aspire to be like them (personally I would love to control fire). Rylan is also a great example of an epic character, everyone loves a bad boy! Swaying Lyla away from a monogamous relationship with Ethan showing the reality of teenage lust and hormones!

This book has been written in such a way that you can honestly imagine some of the scenes playing out in your head, it is a story that takes twists and turns keeping you on your toes. The creativity of this story makes you feel as if you are going along Lyla’s journey with her, feeling the way she does and creating a bond with the characters. The way this is written really highlights the teenage qualities without losing an adult audience. Another plus is that the chapters move smoothly with this page turner of a book and quite frankly I didn’t want it to end, it does leave you wanting to know more (hopefully the next book will answer my questions!).

For my first blog post back after my holiday I am glad that it was ‘Frost on my Pillow’ – It is always easy to write a review about a good book and my words probably can’t do it justice but it had me captivated from the beginning! I can’t wait to see what Leah Hamrick has in store next as her writing style is something special!

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Frost on my Pillow’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Leah Hamrick
Leah Hamrick lives in Michigan with her partner in crime husband Jon, young daughter Khloey, and plethora of reptiles, fish, and a tree frog named Sticky. She can always be found with her nose in a YA book, daydreaming and thinking up new ideas for a story, and trying to figure out how to make a character’s chemistry clash with one another’s. She is a fan of romance, and anything paranormal. She gets the inspiration for her stories from things that have happened in her real life—except the paranormal/fantasy aspect… She wishes she were that awesome! She enjoys listening to heavy metal music, traveling, watching bad reality TV, and everything pink. She hopes that one day she can be become a well known author, and to keep writing stories for everyone to enjoy for years to come.

Letters to Eloise – Emily Williams

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Such a small thing can change your life forever…

Firstly I must admit to being apprehensive about reading this book as you’ve probably guessed the main theme is ‘pregnancy’ – even though being a woman I still didn’t know if I could get into this book due to this… Oh how wrong I was! This book drew me in straight away with it’s beautiful narrative, wonderful characters and by the end it had me crying into my pillow!

This story follows the character of Flora (a university student who has fallen pregnant in her last year). The way in which the book is written is in a series of letters to her unborn child, going through the stages of her pregnancy and explaining her journey towards motherhood. My first impression of this writing style was admiration! It is such a unique way of writing that flows perfectly and keeps the story alive without feeling as if you’re reading a history textbook. You can really feel the love that Flora has for her unborn child, with every letter it just creates this unbreakable bond that leaves you breathless with awe.

The relationship between the characters is another reason the book flowed so well, it was also something that I could relate to… Having been in university and knowing what halls are like just made this book one step closer to home! Flora, Brooke and Brian are such close friends and you really feel the love they have for each other as this book progresses, they have no secrets between them. At the beginning of the book when Flora finds out she is pregnant her friend Brooke is the one that purchased the tests for her and supports Flora throughout her pregnancy showing the signs of true friendship.

The relationships that Flora has/had herself with the few men in her life was lovely to discover, from going back in the past to present with her tales of romance always kept me on my toes (especially when I really wanted to know who the father was at the very beginning). Her ways of explaining each love to her unborn child was as if a little girl was writing in her diary about her first crush, it was pure, honest and raw. Pulling you in and even had me rooting for my favourite man!

There are parts in this book that left me shocked (without giving away spoilers!) and as I went through the story I felt I was with Flora every step of the way, so for me when the book came to it’s final pages and what was revealed at the end really hit me hard! Don’t let that fool you into not reading this book though, every story needs a little heartbreak and knowing Flora’s journey with her pregnancy is something I would never want to miss.

I honestly couldn’t put this book down (to the point of reading it on the bus to and from work) as I was captivated with Flora’s journey. I laughed, cried and loved with every page of this book and thought that it was a wonderful creation that Emily Williams has made, I cannot wait to read more of her work as she’s shown such a beautiful writing style and a book that I will never forget!

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Letters to Eloise’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Emily Williams
Emily Williams lives by the seaside in West Sussex with her family and large menagerie of small pets. After graduating from Sussex University with a BA in Psychology, Emily trained as a primary school teacher and teaches in a local school. Letters to Eloise is her debut novel. For more information about Emily and her upcoming novels, please follower her on Twitter @EmilyRMWilliams.