DA Kentner writes the column THE READERS' WRITERS for the (Freeport) Journal-Standard and GateHouse News Service. My alter ego KevaD lives under a stairway of dreams where he writes stories and grumbles about everything. Click the pic to visit KevaD's blog.
Drop me a line at dakentner@yahoo.com

I invite you to read my award-winning short story posted on Calliope Magazine's web site.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

An Interview with Enigmatic Author Poppet

By writing magazine articles about the health benefits of bananas and coconuts, to methods of overcoming erectile dysfunction, to the use of mistletoe as a possible weapon in the battle against cancer, author Poppet has devoted many years of her life to bettering the health and well-being of the world around her.
So, how does an individual go from writing articles of such goodness, to suspenseful and terrifying tales such as the novels DARKROOM and WOMANISED?

I wanted to know too.

Visit Poppet, her stories, articles, and recipes at http://authorpoppet.wordpress.com/category/author/

Q) What first spurred you to begin writing?

A) I wrote my first book at age twelve. It was appalling. I gave up the dream of being a writer, until I became paralyzed by the Guillain-Barre virus. I was one of the lucky two percent that only have one side of their body paralyzed; this left me with my left hand to do work. I lost my job and considered my options as a halfling. One thing I could do slowly, and in my own time, was sit as half a vegetable at my computer, and type. I am naturally right handed, so learning to write and do all the usual things was humorously challenging with my left hand.

I have always been interested in food as a key to health, and became quite passionate once my mother was cured of cancer by a homeopath after the doctors had given up on her. So I took my time and started writing for two magazines, and was surprised that they both took me on without hesitation. I research my health articles thoroughly, using only medical science as my reference. I like to provide my readers with proof, and “The Journal of Natural Medicine,” who I wrote for, lists all references, as they target people in the health industry. I'm not qualified as a health specialist; I'm just really good at research.

I've been a vegetarian from the age of twelve and did bodybuilding as a vegetarian, so my own experience and research for my own ends have come in handy as a health writer. My passion is obviously food and how food contributes to illness or good health. Ignorance is the biggest cause of disease. I've always felt that if I could save just one person from unnecessary death, the work is worthwhile.

Three years ago I turned my attention to writing fiction, returning to the dream. I wrote four books in a series and joined Authonomy. My work lacked polish and professionalism and the brutal opinions from other writers gave me quite a shock. But they were priceless in my growth as a writer. The fifth full length novel I wrote is “Womanised.” I decided to go back to one of my passions, helping humans, and “Womanised” examines how women get caught in abusive relationships when they are too young and have no reference to compare Mr. Perfect with. A young girl is a prime target to get caught up with a bad seed. “Womanised” follows a young woman's journey through what she considers love, until she discovers what love really is. It's a rite of passage story, which most women should be able to identify with, but it serves as a warning inside fiction, for a younger and older audience to recognize the signs of domination of a detrimental kind in a partner. It's told in a humorous way because the content at times is quite heavy.

This book received a gold star on Authonomy, and at the same time, I got an agent for it. Leaving it in the agent's hands, I continued writing as my health was greatly improved and the bug had once again infected me (the writing bug). “Seithe” followed, and after that “Darkroom.” I write a novel in approximately three months, so these all received peer reviews on Authonomy, and most were complimentary and favorable. And here I am, still writing, and signed with Rebelepublishers. However my agent didn't get me signed, and I continued submitting queries myself.

Q) Well, let’s get right to it. What was the impetus that drove you from writing about healthy lifestyles to the satirically romantic WOMANISED and the psychological thriller DARKROOM?

A) My muse wanted me to write fiction. So I trusted this urge and am so very happy I did.

Psychology fascinates me. My father was abusive and I've known many women in abusive relationships. I partially answer this in my previous answer. I believe fiction should mirror reality. Thus, I wrote “Womanised” as a “Bridget Jones” meets “Nine and a Half Weeks” type read, with a serious moral and message beneath it all.

”Darkroom” was a challenge. I love horror and was afraid of being typecast as a one-genre writer. I especially love psychological thriller / horrors and wanted to see if I could write one. It did originally have a contributing author, but we chose to go our separate ways, and I rewrote the sections he wrote so it would stand alone as my own work. The concept and plot were both mine, so this wasn't a problem. “Darkroom,” I find, is all the more horrific because it's plausible and examines two mindsets. That of a victim, and that of the psychopath, and how two people can view the same incident with completely opposing viewpoints. I found the *two minds* and points of view, both challenging and intriguing to write.

”Seithe” is my step outside reality book. It's the tale of a fallen angel trying to become mortal, wrapped up in a dramatic love story.

They do say that variety is the spice of life, and I do love spice.

Q) You are a poet. And that fact shines through with a pleasant effervescence in your novels. Each sentence is carefully designed to flow… to merge with the next. It has been said; the best novelists were once poets. Would you agree? And why or why not?

A) I have to agree simply because I am a poet. For two years I had poetry published in “Mobius Poetry” magazine in NY. I ranked well in the Bookhabit international poetry competition in 2008 (run in New Zealand). I came 27th worldwide overall. And I was just approached by “SNM Horror Mag” to publish my dark poetry. August is the first month that my work will be in their zine, and they have enough material from me for a year. They are apparently publishing one of mine a month. Although I never expected to become known for my poetry because I indulge in it just for fun.

Q) You are so talented, and have such diverse interests in writing, where do you see your prose taking you in the future?

A) Honestly, I have no idea how to answer this question, and thank you so much for your kind praise. I would like to continue writing edgy romance; and separately, horrors. I like books that make the reader think and feel a part of the tale. Which is why I can't write straightforward romance. I like to address issues that matter. My book “Pieces” for example examines a cougar with a younger man who cuts himself when stressed. It addresses AIDS and how it affects a couple. Sticking to my creed that fiction should mirror reality. I hope to keep writing novels that my publisher will want to publish.

One day I also hope to write a recipe book, which includes the health information from my articles. But right now it's just one step at a time.

Q) What advice can you offer those who believe they would like to write a book?

A) Write where you feel passion. If you feel strongly about the subject, your work will connect with the reader. Never give up. Seek the reviews of your peers because their insight is invaluable. Never see rejection from an agent or a publisher as a reason to give up. Rejection should simply spur you to keep knocking on doors. The more you knock, the greater the odds of one of them finally opening. However, look for agents that specialize in the genre of your book.

It takes months, sometimes years, for someone to write a book. The fact that you did it means you have the will to succeed. Polish your work, go back to it again and again and remove excess words, make sure it's original, keep trying to outdo yourself. And in this day and age, you can publish yourself. If your work is polished, and you believe in your product, and you aren't afraid of hard work, there is no reason why you shouldn't succeed. Keep writing, and keep shooting for the stars, because you just may catch one that lights up your life.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An Interview with Erotica Author Evanne Lorraine

In Seattle, Washington, a gentle, demure lady quietly goes about the business of lovingly tending her flower garden. Her dog, having taken refuge from the sun under a tree, idly watches. Knees sore, back strained, she leaves her gloves on the gardening table, trades shoes for soft slippers, hangs her straw sunhat on a hook, pours a glass of lemonade, and sits down at her computer. The tranquil, flower horticulturist immediately transforms to Evanne Lorraine, a leading author of the books you don’t tell your friends you read.
Whether the characters are lonely businesswomen in search of what can’t be found from 9 to 5, dangerous men and the women who deserve them, or water demons who taste like chocolate, Evanne’s skillfully written novels capture the imagination, steal your breath, and set your heart racing.

You can find Evanne, her flowers, and her novels at http://www.evannelorraine.com/

Q) When did you decide you wanted to be an author?

A) During the process of planning for retirement, I realized the thing I would miss about working as an accountant was the work. Although I love numbers and am very fond of money, I wanted to do something different. Something involving words and reading. I seriously considered a career in library sciences, but found the challenge of writing even more seductive.

Q) You truly possess an affinity for flowers and spend hours researching them and tending to them. Given your expertise, have you considered writing a book on horticulture?

A) I like to keep my hobbies and my work separate. Tending the landscape refreshes my spirit, If I wrote about my passion for gardening the process would become work rather than play.

Q) Your characters are solidly constructed, barely fictional. Where do you draw inspiration from for them?

A) Everywhere and anywhere, while the fictional people may be a tad larger than life, and their outsides a little more than ordinary, on the inside they are everyman.

Q) As well as the “Enyo Chronicles” series, the “Wicked” series, and the “Dangerous” series, you have written numerous single novels such as "Pirate Rules" that take us from the bedroom next door to ethereal worlds we could never envision ourselves. Please describe for us the process you use to construct your settings, be they our hometown, or a race of lusting demons searching for love.

A) Many of my stories are set in places I've been fortunate enough to visit. It's a personal treat to return to a tropical paradise. I usually write those stories during the rainy season. In Seattle the rainy season is most of the year, leaving plenty of time to write about exotic locations. The futuristic story settings are imagined terrains, constructed of dreams.

Q) What advice can you offer those who believe they would like to write a book?

A) Write the story you want to write. Really. There's no substitute for writing. There is also much benefit to reading--widely and often, English degrees, and creative writing courses.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

An Interview with Rising Star, Laura Whitcomb

“Someone was looking at me, a disturbing sensation if you’re dead.” Thus begins the journey into Laura Whitcomb’s novel, A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT.

Pigeonholing Laura as an author of ‘Young Adult Fiction’ in the paranormal/fantasy genre is a misnomer committed by those who have not read her work, though that is the bookstore shelf where a seeker will find her.

In reality, she is an artist. The English language is her brush, and the blank page her canvas. She paints a mural of love and how nothing - be it time, distance, or even death – can wither our need for it, or prevent us from finding it.

That constant theme is the basis for her second novel, THE FETCH, as well.

If you believe in love, if you long for love, if you seek love, I urge you to read the unforgettable works of Laura Whitcomb. http://www.laurawhitcomb.com/

Q) What was the defining moment or event that sparked the desire to become a published author?

A) There wasn't an exact moment. I always wanted to be a writer. When I was three my mother let me dictate stories to her. I remember in elementary school hoping that a story I was writing about a witch would be on display in the children's section of the library someday. I probably wanted to write books because we had so many books around our house and because I was read to every night when I was little. What could be a better job?

Q) Your life transformed from “this” (this needs to be done now, this needs to be done next…) to “dis” (disorganized, discombobulated, ‘dis’ ain’t gonna happen) with the birth of your son. Congratulations by the way. He, obviously, and rightfully so, holds your heart and occupies a place in your every thought. How will he affect your writing? Will he influence the themes and paths of future novels?

A) I'm sure Robinson (I call him Binny) will indeed influence my work, but it's hard to tell this soon because the project I'm rewriting (a sequel to A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT) was already drafted before he was born. My guess is that he will make everything in my life more joyful, vivid, and meaningful. (And fun.) One added aspect I already notice is that I think, "I better get writing so I can afford formula, diapers, wipes, and eventually college tuition." =)

Q) Writers write about what they know. You pen tales of love. But your tales incorporate emotions spanning the void between life and death. Where does that inspiration come from?

A) That's hard to answer. I'm a romantic, so I enjoy spending time in a love story. And I've loved tales of the supernatural since early childhood. As a storyteller, I've probably been inspired, and influenced, by tales I read or heard or watched through the years. Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL, Daphne du Maurier's REBECCA, Henry James' TURN OF THE SCREW, etc.

Q) Youth and innocence play a part in your works. What is it about the pre-twenties age group that draws out of you the desire to use that assemblage as the basis for your main characters?

A) I actually didn't start out to write SLANT as a YA novel. My agent sent the manuscript to both adult and YA editors. But when it sold as a teen book, it made perfect sense. The ghosts are trapped in the world of teenagers and have to deal with those teenage problems, limits, challenges. Also, being a teen is a little like being a ghost -- you feel invisible and powerless at times. You want to be seen for who you really are. Often you are drifting in the margins of life, heavy with emotions and passions unexpressed, waiting for that one person who can truly understood you to look you in the eyes and love you.

Q) What advice can you give to a struggling writer trying to become published? (Feel free to plug your ‘how to’ books here)

A) Well, yes, I did co-author YOUR FIRST NOVEL with my agent Ann Rittenberg and a couple years later I wrote NOVEL SHORTCUTS -- there's plenty of useful advice in those books, but the short answer is . . . read a lot, practice writing a lot, read the kind of books you want to write and read writers you admire. Rewrite and refine your manuscript until you love every part of every page. Get an agent rather than sending your work directly to publishers. Research the agents you query before you write to them. Make your query letter no more than one page long -- make sure that it tells the agent who the story's about, the setting (place and time), and what the main problem of the book is. Don't wait to sell the first book before you start writing your next one. (You'll just keep getting better and better.) And don't give up.