Archive for the ‘Interview’ Category

logoA finalist in the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards, James Norcliffe’s Felix and the Red Rats is a fun mix of fantasy and adventure.

felix and the red rats

When David’s uncle comes to visit he sets off a bizarre series of events. Things become complicated when the pet rats turn bright red.

David senses that somehow the red rats are connected to the story he is reading, and he becomes more convinced when the colour red becomes contagious.

The parallel story sees Felix and his friend Bella inadvertently shifted into a strange land where they must solve a riddle. But this puts them into great danger. How will they escape and find their way home?

See review here

As an author, you must have a lot of ideas floating around. How did you decide to write this book?

 I had been toying with the idea of writing a book with a dual narrative. It wasn’t conscious, but I think I may have been influenced by the Japanese writer Murakami whom I’d been reading a lot of and who uses the technique. It then came to me that a variation on the idea might be a book within a book and, even better, that the book within the book could have some bearing on the outer story. This quite excited my and because I love the intricacy of plot I found the process tremendous fun. I hit quite early upon the idea of alternating chapters and the book(s) began to flow quite organically once I set off. There were challenges, of course. I’m not terribly good at multi-tasking and I’d charged myself not only with managing two stories but also with trying to end each chapter of each book with a sufficiently exciting moment to keep the readers interested in both stories at the same time. I wasn’t sure I’d managed to pull it off until other people read the manuscript and found the concept worked. I was hugely relieved.

Tell us a bit about the journey from manuscript to published work. What was the biggest challenge you faced in publishing this book?

 I wrote the book in 2012 during my time as Children’s Writer in Residence at the Otago University College of Education. The residency allowed me to live at the Robert Lord Cottage in Titan Street, a twenty minute or so walk from the college. This allowed me to be completely focused on the stories and for a number of weeks I lived, dreamed, and rehearsed the story. I don’t take copious notes but tend to let my stories play out in my head. The red rats idea came in a eureka moment as I was walking across the Alhambra rugby field on my way to the college. I also played out conversations on the walk and when I’d get to the office at the college I’d hurriedly write them down before they disappeared. I imagine I was a danger to traffic. I’m not sure there was any especial challenge in publishing the book, just the usual nail-biting wait between the time it’s packed off to the publisher and the time you get the response. Luckily, Barbara Larson, my publishing editor lives in Dunedin, luckier the wait was not very long, and luckiest of all, Barbara liked the book very much.

Did you tailor this book to a particular audience – or did you find it found its own audience as it was written?

I don’t consciously write for children. I guess if I did there would be a danger of ‘writing down’ and I like to think my readers are bright and don’t want to be condescended to. If I’m honest, I think I’m trying to write the sort of book I would have enjoyed reading as a young person: funny in places, scary in places, with a touch of the fantastic and a satisfying conclusion.

Can you recommend any books that you love, that inspired or informed your book in any way?

I don’t think any book consciously inspired or informed Felix and the Red Rats. Actually, I’m proud of the fact that it is so original. Subconsciously perhaps, Haruki Murakami (as mentioned earlier) was an influence, as particularly in his 1Q84 he uses the dual narrative technique with alternating chapters following the stories of two protagonists until they come together. However, Felix is completely different in every other possible way. A book I was reading at the time of writing Felix was A.S.Byatt’s wonderful and dark The Children’s Book and this put me in mind of the Edwardian E Nesbit who was the model for the central figure (who was a children’s writer). Nesbit was famous of course for The Railway Children but many of her other books were fantasies. Nesbit’s books are must-reads for any lover of fantasy.

Tell us about a time you’ve enjoyed relaxing and reading a book – at the bach, on holiday, what was the book?

One of the pleasures of having my time at the Robert Lord cottage – six months in a kind of bach – was the time it afforded for reading for pleasure and Dunedin is a city blessed with bookshops. I haunted them and found many treasures. There are too many books to list but I did find the time to follow the work of writers who were interesting me: Roberto Bolano, Murakami and Orhun Pamuk. I found too a whole set of Chesterton’s Father Brown stories and these were fun. Sadly while I was down south, Margaret Mahy died and I took the bitter-sweet opportunity to re-read a number of Margaret’s books.

What are your favourite things to do, when you aren’t reading or writing, and why?

 Probably spending time in the garden. I’m passionate about plants and we are lucky to have a large garden at Church Bay which allows me to grow all manner of trees from interesting fruit trees to precious natives. It also affords me a large lawn which needs mowing regularly and I don’t mind this at all: it is my gym. Of course, spending time with family and friends. And crossword puzzles.

daggersaQueen Ellyria just wants her sick triplet sons to live, each ruling over a third of the kingdom as their dying father wished. When she finds herself trapped in a deadly bargain with a Dark Spirit, she recruits a band of young mages to help – but a terrible curse takes over.
The Dark Spirit befriends her enemies and seduces her friends, and Ellyria soon finds that famine, pestilence, betrayal and bereavement are all in its arsenal.
Can Ellyria unite the elvish and mortal sides of her family and in so doing, save the kingdom?

“Crisp, stylish prose, a nicely realised medieval world and an undercurrent of dark magic make The Dagger of Dresnia a good read for lovers of epic fantasy. It’s refreshing to see an older female character on centre stage!”
– Juliet Marillier Author of the Sevenwaters series
“A classic story for lovers of traditional fantasy. Readers who love the gradual unfolding of a story and the development of relationships as much as action scenes will enjoy this one.”
– Glenda Larke Author of The Mirage Makers trilogy


Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?

I’m sort of in between! When a story decides to invade my mind, it gives me two things only – a character and a situation. The character, strangely, comes with his or her CV, diary and birth certificate. In other words, I know a lot about that character right from the start – his or her name, age, family background, occupation or social class, and circumstances at the start of the novel. I ask the character what s/he wants, and usually I find out straight away or within a day or two. So I have my MC, a beginning and an end. The rest I have pick up on the fly.

Do your characters ever want to take over the story?

Yes, they do take over to a very large degree, but sometimes I have to be strict with them or they will bring along all their friends and relations. I often end up with far too many characters even when I don’t give the main ones free license to drag in their brothers or long-lost cousins!

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I write best in the mornings, but if I’m on a roll I can keep going all day and into the night. Yet just as often, I have to make myself write or at least draft the next scene.

Where do you dream of travelling to and why?

I would love to tour Europe.

Do distant places feature in your books?

Yes indeed! My stories invariably have historic settings in an imaginary world that looks very much like medieval Europe, although I do have a yen for England in the times from Elizabeth I to Charles II, too. Having grown up in Australia I feel somewhat deprived of my historical roots and I think my writing reflects that.

Do you listen to music while writing?

Occasionally, and my choice of listening invariably reflects the two historical periods mentioned above. Composers from Dowland to Purcell are pretty standard listening, together with early music such as Gregorian chant.

What previous works have you released?

The Dagger of Dresnia is my first published novel, and it’s the first book of a trilogy. I’ve had the odd poem and short story published before, starting with ‘Dolly’s Lullaby’ in The Manchester Guardian’s children’s feature when I was seven. Sadly, (or perhaps thankfully) none of my juvenilia is still in print! You can find a story of mine in the anthology Mythic Resonance by Stephen Thompson (ed) which I think is still available via Amazon, and a sonnet in the collection The Weighing of the Heart, published by Sunline Press.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?

The Dagger of Dresnia is a medieval fantasy, complete with elves and the odd dragon. It’s about a widowed queen who has triplet sons, and in trying to ensure they have peaceful, prosperous reigns she is tricked into making a rash promise to a Dark Spirit. Mayhem ensues, but so does romance and adventure.

What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?

I made a point of learning as much as I could by visiting blogs by writers and editors and scouring publishers’ websites. I would impress on beginning authors that this is essential – learn as much about the industry as you can. I was already a professional non-fiction editor, but fiction editing is different world!

Is there anything you would do differently?

I would have started earlier if I could. Starting a novelist’s career after the normal age of retirement is a tad eccentric. However, I was well into my fifties before inspiration for fiction came to visit, even though I’ve been a voracious reader of fantasy ever since I was a child.

Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?

In a nutshell: history, other writers, my own life, and the lives of others.

Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?

Learn as much as you can by going to classes and workshops, especially in your chosen genre. And never stop reading!

What are three words that describe you?

Old, eccentric and intelligent. Every day, I work on becoming more compassionate. It’s the one quality, I think, that might save the world, and it’s in very short supply.

What’s your favourite book?

Possibly Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave, or Juliet Marillier’s Wildwood Dancing, but I love too many authors to have a fixed favourite.

What is your favourite food?

Fresh garden salad!

Marmite or vegemite?

Being an Aussie with papers to prove it I’ll say Vegemite, but to be honest I don’t think there’s much to choose between them!

Have you got a blurb of your book?

Yup – here it is straight from the back cover: Queen Ellyria just wants her sick triplet sons to live, each ruling over a third of the kingdom as their dying father wished. When she finds herself trapped in a deadly bargain with a Dark Spirit, she recruits a band of young mages to help – but a terrible curse takes over.
The Dark Spirit befriends her enemies and seduces her friends, and Ellyria soon finds that famine, pestilence, betrayal and bereavement are all in its arsenal.
Can Ellyria unite the elvish and mortal sides of her family and in so doing, save the kingdom?



Satima Flavell is a freelance writer, editor and reviewer. She has already published poems and short stories as well as many feature articles and reviews – her work as an arts journalist has appeared in The Australian, The West Australian, Music Maker, Dance Australia and many other journals. Her first novel, The Dagger of Dresnia, book one of The Talismans Trilogy, has just been released by Melbourne’s Satalyte Publishing.

MurrayKibblewhiteMurray kindly aggred to be interviewed to celebrat he launch of his first book ‘The Minke Connection’.

Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?

All my stories, short story’s and novel are carefully planned normally with a definite opening (to gain attention), a middle (where all the meat is) and an ending that hopefully leaves the reader wondering what will happen next and they want to read on further. This formula applies for the overall book, the separate chapters and for each scene.

Do your characters ever want to take over the story?

My stories are plot not character driven.

What is your favourite food?
Vegetable stir fried as I am a vegan.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I am a morning person try to use the morning for writing.

Where do you dream of travelling to and why?

I intend writing a number of novels dealing with ecology or environmental issues. So my dream is to leave New Zealand in May each year for up to three months and visit areas I intend writing about.

Do distant places feature in your books?
Yes they do as I am looking for the opportunity to mix and match different locations and different issues to make a compelling story.

Do you listen to music while writing?
Yes I listen to both classical and pop music, as I feel inclined.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?

The Minke Connection is my first novel, which I refer to as a RAT! Romantic, Action, Thriller! It outlines the efforts of Greenpeace using the protagonist, John Daroux, to try to stop the Japanese from killing the protected Sperm whale. For years the Japanese whalers have entered the Southern Ocean to kill the small Minke whales for “research” purposes. The initial setting is in the Southern Ocean South of New Zealand where John boards the factory ship to discover evidence of Sperm whales. Together with Whale Researcher, Carrie Ardley, they travel to Tokyo, where they have many adventures escaping from the Yakusa, being poisoned and tortured to eventually forcing the whaling company to cease killing the Sperm whale. John and Carrie become intimately involved but an unfortunate incident drives them apart. There are number of romantic scenes, numerous action situations and the final successful outcome is achieved only after both John and Carrie suffer physically.

What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?

Writing is an art that is both exciting and challenging. It is exciting because it allows me to express my ideas and fantasies, but challenging because of the need to plan carefully, research extensively and be patience in writing a long work.

Publishing online is the way to go as people are now moving towards electronic publication. However, it is very challenging as an author to become familiar with all the elements of online publishing. I have decided to employ a younger person to help with the publishing and marketing aspects as she understands the issues more than I do.

Is there anything you would do differently?

No. However, it is a “labour of love” and now that I have completed my first major work I look forward to organising my life more efficiently so I can produce a novel each year for the next few years.

Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?

I have read most of the works of Robert Ludlam, Tom Clancy and Ian Fleming and their styles have influenced me. I also attended several writing classes where I received helpful feedback.

Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?

Choose a genre that suits you as you need to have incredible perseverance to create and write a major work. Get help in the areas you are not experienced such as publishing and marketing.
What are three words that describe you?

Dreamer, Communicator, Teacher.

What’s your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?

My favourite book was channelled by J. Z. Knight from her Guide called by the same name – “Ramtha”.

Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book
My latest work, ‘The Minke Connection” is to be released by Smashwords on 25 November 2013. The next short story, “Year 21” will be released just before Christmas this year.

List of previous books
I have set up a series of short stories under the heading “Project L.E.L.” This stands for Project Live – Experience – Learn. The first on is “Year 17” and eventually I expect to reach “Year 40”.

Originally from Masterton, a small farming town, Murray Kibblewhite moved to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, to complete his B.Com. from Victoria University.  He then shifted to Auckland where he has lived for the last forty years. Murray is an author, teacher and businessman and his short stories are available free from Smashwords. His first novel, a thriller, “The Minke Connection”, is available in hard copy from Lulu and e-Book format through Smashwords.

Murray can be found;

on Facebook here

on his blog here

on Goodreads here

on Smashwords here

on Lulu here

MistyEvans1I was lucky enough to have the chance to ask Misty Evans some questions about her new novel, Deadly Pursuit, and her life as a writer.

You’re a talented writer, having published stories in the romantic suspense, paranormal romance and urban fantasy genres, and winning tons of awards, including the Reader’s Choice Bean Pot Award for Best Romantic Suspense in 2010 and the ACRA Heart of Excellence Reader’s Choice Award for Best Romantic Suspense in 2011.  Where do you get your inspiration for stories from?

ME: Inspiration comes from music, TV, movies, even people walking down the street. I read a lot of nonfiction, and I have a vivid imagination. Those two ingredients combine to give me more story ideas than I could ever write down.

 How did you come up with the concept of the SCVC Taskforce series?

ME: I’d landed my first agent but she was having trouble selling the first book in my Super Agent series, and asked me to write a different type of romantic suspense. Something grittier, she said. I watched a bunch of Miami Vice reruns, some Bad Boys movies, and NCIS shows. What emerged was this idea of a violent crimes taskforce of DEA, FBI, Immigration, and other undercover agents pulling off sting operations and falling in love at the same time. Unfortunately after I wrote about 80% of Deadly Pursuit and ran it by my agent, she felt there was too much action and the characters were too dark. The story went into a drawer until recently when I saw the new TNT series Graceland, and decided the time was right to pull Cooper and Celina out of the drawer and publish their story.

 Celina doesn’t sit back and wait for rescue, she kicks ass.  What inspires you to write strong heroines?

ME: I’ve always gravitated to strong heroines, growing up on shows like Wonder Woman and Charlie’s Angels. When I began writing, every female was strong and not afraid to what they believe is right, even if it means sacrificing their careers or even their lives. They may be scared on the inside, but they don’t show it.

 Which characters were particularly fun to write?

ME: What a tough question! I love writing ALL my characters, whether they’re super agents or witches or demons or just the girl next door. They’re flawed and damaged, and oh so fun to dig into. Male or female, every one of them has a good heart and wants to see justice done in the world. I think Amy and Luc are particularly fun, and the hero and heroine of my first Super Agent book, Operation Sheba, are still fun to write in the follow-up books of that series.

You self publish some of your books.  Why did you decide to do this and was it an easy journey?

ME: I’m published with Entangled Publishing, Samhain Publishing, and Carina Press (digital imprint of Harlequin), and I’m also self-published. I love self-publishing because I control the content, cover art, and marketing. My fans are voracious readers who read faster than I can turn out books, so it works to have some stories with publishers and some that I publish on my timeline to keep readers happy. There are pros and cons to both.

 What is a typical day for you?

ME: Coffee, take the dogs out, more coffee, write, get the kids up/off to school, exercise, write some more. Promo and emails in the afternoon, and family time/dinner/sports games in the evening. I have less and less time to write these days, but I still make the effort to get that in first. My fans are counting on me. I also offer a coaching service for writers, so I often have deadlines to meet for my clients.

Do you have any advice for writers?

ME: Believe in yourself and the story you have to tell. You know what it is and you’re the only who can do it justice. But…take workshops, set up a critique group, and keep improving your craft. Be patient with yourself and your books. You can’t hit a homerun the first time up to the plate if you haven’t swung the bat thousands of times and grown as a player. Same thing with stories. Write, write, and rewrite.

Describe the feeling in 25 words or less of how it feels seeing your name on your book.

ME: Awesome! There is a lot of emotion in seeing your hard work turned into something tangible. That feeling never goes away.

 Plug the book in twitter form (140 characters or less)

ME: Action, adventure, and hot romance in Southern California

Any plans to come to New Zealand one day?

ME: I’d love to take a trip to New Zealand some day! It looks beautiful and adventurous!


Thank you very much to Misty for taking the time to answer my questions in detail.  You can find out more about Misty on Facebook, Twitter, or visit her website.


Misty has kindly donated three ebooks of Deadly Pursuit to give away.  Leave a comment with your email address on this post by 15 August to be in the draw to win.

I was lucky enough to have the chance to talk to Ripley Patton and ask her some questions about her debut novel, Ghost Hand, and her life as a writer.


How did you come up with the concept of PSS and the character of Olivia Black?

I have a friend who is an amputee, and I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that he can feel his missing leg. When he walks barefoot in the backyard, his phantom toes, the ones on the missing foot, feel the grass. So, for Ghost Hand, I asked myself, “What if ghost limbs really existed? What would they be made of, and what would they do?”

As for the character of Olivia, she’s a whole lot me and a little bit my teenage daughter, plus some other people thrown in for good measure.

Which characters are particularly fun to write?

I love writing Olivia, of course, and Marcus and Passion are a blast too.

Plug the book in twitter form (140 characters or less)

Olivia Black’s ghost hand just went rogue, and the only person who can help her control it is a boy she barely knows and doesn’t trust.

Phew, that was hard.

You’re a talented writer, having published many short stories and flash fiction.  Where do you get your inspiration for stories from?

Thanks so much for saying I’m talented. My inspiration for my writing comes from everywhere. I get so many ideas I have notebooks of them and am hoping I can live more than one life to get all the books written that are waiting in line.

What is a typical day for you?

I get up and get the husband and kids off to school. I usually have a list of things to do, many writing related but some mundane like doing laundry or cleaning the bathroom. I usually start my work day by checking my e-mail and social media, but I try to do this in thirty minutes or less (okay, an hour if I’m honest). Then I move directly into writing until lunch, at which time I often also take a walk. Then back to writing until the kids get home or someone insists I make dinner. I try to keep the evenings and weekends free for my family, but will often slip some promotion in too.

You lived in New Zealand for a few years and survived earthquakes, laughing in the face of danger.  How have those experiences helped you as a writer?   Any plans to return?

So many of my experiences in New Zealand helped me as both a writer and a person. I think traveling and inserting yourself in different cultures expands your own story, and therefore the stories inside of you. The earthquakes in particular were a very Armageddon type of experience for me and my family. I think they made us stronger, and braver, and more resilient. And that experience will probably show up in a YA series someday. As for returning to New Zealand, I deeply hope I get to. I miss it often and with great pangs of the heart.

You self published Ghost Hand.  Why did you decide to self publish and how hard of a journey was it?

I decided to self-publish for many reasons, the main two being timing and control. After spending three years writing and polishing Ghost Hand, I didn’t want to spend another three trying to convince someone else to publish it. I knew it was good enough. And financially, I honestly had to start making money from my writing or go out and find another way to help support my family. Add to that the fact that I wanted control and involvement in cover design, formatting, marketing, and most importantly, royalties and rights, and the decision was pretty clear.

The journey of self-publishing was actually a joy. I loved every step of it and haven’t had a single regret. I learned about the publishing process and had some amazing people help me along the way. It wasn’t hard. Waiting to hear back from agents and publishers? That was torture. Self-publishing was just fun.

Do you have any advice for writers?

Have fun. Never give up. And don’t wait to get it perfect because no one ever does.

Describe the feeling in 25 words or less of how it felt seeing your name on your book for the first time.

It felt like finally fulfilling the thing I was meant to do in this life.

ghost hand

Thank you very much to Ripley for taking the time to answer my questions in detail.  You can find out more about Ripley at her facebook or amazon pages or her website.