Thursday, December 30, 2010

Arlene Miller's The Best Little Grammar Book Ever!

Hi Arlene: Welcome to my blog. You are the first non-fiction author I have had on my blog.
Please tell us why you wrote this book when there are plenty of grammar books.

Most grammar books are long and b-o-r-i-n-g! My book is short and friendly. It has a complete review of grammar, but most of the book talks about common problems and confusions. For example, the book includes all those confusing things like principle/principal, affect/effect, imply/infer, I/me, etc. There is also a great index, which I did myself, by hand. Everything in the book is in the index.

I found the chapter on capitalization most handy. I can't believe all the rules on what words to capitalize and NOT capitalize when preparing a table of contents! 
What is your back round that has enabled you to write such a difficult but comprehensive book?

 I spent many years as a technical writer and editor. I also have experience in newspaper writing and editing, as well as textbook editing. I have a degree in journalism -- and a teaching credential in English. I have been teaching English to 7th graders for seven years. I also teach workshops based on my book at Santa Rosa Junior College and College of Marin. It all really started when I began teaching school. I noticed that the writers I had edited and the students I was teaching all tended to make the same mistakes. I thought it would be a good idea to put them all together in a book. And that is what I did!

Who do you recommend this book to?

 EVERYONE, of course! It is intended for approximately ages 12 to 112. I can see the book being particularly useful to students, parents who want to be able to help their students, homeschool instructors and students, teachers who want to brush up on grammar, writers of both fiction and nonfiction, business people who need to speak and write in their jobs, job hunters, college applicants, and those whose native language is not English.

Your Utube is a very cute, funny and  imaginative story! Everyone look at it here:

I got the germ of the idea from a friend and expanded on it! My son did the animation portion, music, photography, and then he put it all together.

I see that The Best Little Grammar Book Ever is actually your second book. Please tell us about your first one. 

My first book is called Beyond Worksheets: Creative Lessons for Teaching Grammar in Middle School and High School. It is available as a download only from my website and from a website called Teachers Pay Teachers. It is a group of grammar lessons that I developed. I love teaching grammar, but often the students' eyes start rolling around in their heads! It can be boring, and the concepts are often difficult for students. Therefore, I try to make it interesting by thinking up different ways to use the grammar book.   A few years back I had a student teacher who thought I should put these lessons together in a book, so I did!

As an active member of the Redwood Writers Club, please tell us your future goals as a writer. 

Well, I don't know if I have any more books in me!
Actually, besides my grammar book, and the grammar lesson book I just talked about, I wrote part of a diet book several years ago. I think about maybe finishing it and putting it up on Scribd.
Many years ago, I wrote poems and song lyrics, but now I stick to the nonfiction stuff!
 I admire those of you who write fiction, and I would love to try it; perhaps I will do the next NaNoWriMo.
However, for now, my goal is to take my writing/grammar course from the junior colleges into corporations. I am beginning a business conducting half-day and daylong workshops for corporations and other groups. If anyone is interested, please contact me! The workshops will cover both grammar and business writing. They are either 3 hours long (the Blitz Course) or a full day (6 hours). My website is and my e-mail is
Well, Arlene, you certainly are ambitious to teach all those classes! Where is this adorable, little yellow book available? 

The Best Little Grammar Book Ever! 101 Ways to Impress With Your Writing and Speaking is available on my website, on and most other online booksellers, at Copperfields in Petaluma, Borders in Santa Rosa, the Santa Rosa Junior College bookstore, College of Marin bookstore, and at the Sonoma County Library. My book is available as a download in Iphone and Ipad. It is also for sale at Redwood Writers meetings and out of the trunk of my car, wherever I am!

Please post a comment by pressing the blue comments. Go to the end of everyone's comments, under post a comment, write a comment, under comments as select Name/URL, type your name and email address on ONE LINE(no url necessary), then press POST comment. Thank You! 

The four winners of Linda Loveland Reid's Touch of Magenta were: Kathy, Drmimi, Osha and Dan. Congratulations! Thank you, Linda for being so very generous.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Touch of Magenta by Linda Loveland Reid

Hi Linda: I am very thrilled to have you on my blog!  I’ve had several questions to ask you since reading your great book, Touch of Magenta.
I also wanted to thank you for being so generous to give away four free copies!
I found the story very original and really wanted to know how you thought of blending two periods of time in one novel, 1971 and 1895?

I don’t usually like a story that is split, so it was interesting to me that I went with this structure, back and forth between main characters. I didn’t want the book to have a lot of flashback. As I got farther into the plot and into Pegeen’s character, I realized this was a story in itself and needed to be given that time. Thus, I devised a structure to carry both stories. My biggest fear was that folks would get so caught up in one woman that they might resent being pulled away.  I’ve been told that both stories kept moving and the reader always wanted to know what was happening next regardless of where they were.

Were any of the characters based on relatives or people you know?

Not directly, but the whole time I was writing about Pegeen, my grandmother was in my mind. She was a strong, honest, hard-working woman.  Even though, she was nothing like Pegeen, the core of Pegeen’s integrity, I got from my grandmother.
I did have an experience when I was two years old. My mother took me somewhere and didn’t come back. It is sort of “Rashamon” in nature, in that everyone has a different story about what happened. Consequently, I don’t know what happened to this day. I never saw my birth mother again, but was lucky to have a wonderful stepmother that raised and loved me. I believe that even though we don’t remember dramatic events in our lives, ( which I certainly did not at age two), I’m sure this worked its way into my novel and had an effect on my life.
We are a composite of all the good and bad that happens to us. I believe that if we like ourselves, we must embrace our history.
 I had two sayings I used to lay on my kids: Be sure you know where you’re going because you’re going to get there. And: Don’t ever get mixed up between your backbone and your wishbone. Some how these two ideas have guided me and I think are part of what is going on with my characters in Touch of Magenta.

Have you been to all the places that you describe so well in you novel: California Gold Country, San Francisco Chinatown, Singapore, Italy, and England?

England is one of my favorite places and I have been lucky enough to have been there many times, as well as to Italy.
I was close to an older women who lived in San Francisco during the earthquake. She was just sixteen and remembered watching the fires burn for days.
I did not go to Singapore but brought home about twenty books which I devoured for the information.
I have a BA in History and loved the research. It was especially fun to learn more about the Chinese coming to California and San Francisco.

Would you consider this book to be for young adult as well as adult?

Humm? Well, there are a few sexually explicit scenes but beyond that, I think the subject is one that a young adult could enjoy and understand.

What have men said about your book?

It is more of a woman’s book, which I hate to admit.  Being my first novel, I needed to stick close to what I could readily understand and be in touch with. Though the men who have read it, have given me very good reviews. They found the story and mystery compelling.

I see at the end of the novel that you have a book club reading guide. Why did you add this and how did you think of the questions?

 Since I planned to go and visit book clubs who read my book, it seemed like a helpful thing to do.
The questions came from things people said to me and asked me when they’d finished reading my book. Actually, I was surprised at some of the discussion the book created but then you never know what emotions a subject might create in someone else.
 The book is about morality, making tough decisions and living with them. It is looking back over the years and seeing those decisions as marks of integrity. It’s easy to be moral and do things right when all is going well, but under stress or fear, people react with their gut. This can be good or bad.

Have you presented to many book clubs and what was that like?

I love going to book clubs. What could be more fun than discussing your book with people who take the time to give you a “read.” I’m always so appreciative. I love the questions about why the character did this or that, or didn’t do something!

Your book is 464 pages long! Some people might find that daunting, but when I read a great book, I don’t like it to end! Do you think your next book will be as long?

I certainly hope not!
I too, don’t mind a long book if it keeps me going.
Maybe I’m long winded, but I want this next book to be 300 pages; long enough to be serious but short so it doesn’t cost as much to produce.

I know you are working on your second novel in between being the President of the Redwood Writer’s club, painting and directing plays for 6th Street Playhouse and the Novato Theater Company.  Could you tell us the name of your new novel and a little of hint of what it is about?  How is it different from Touch of Magenta?

It is completely different from Touch of Magenta in structure and style.
The novel takes place in Dillon Beach. There are five main characters, which they say not to do, so I'm taking a chance! When they were in high school together, a friend committed suicide. Each woman believes she was the cause. Year's later, at age 48 that have inherit a beach house from the dead girl’s mother. These are the interesting questions that will be answered in my new novel:
Why did Annette kill herself on Prom Night?
Why have they inherited the Beach House?
How are their lives today settled out, as old and new issues boil over?

This book sounds very intriguing and I  am looking forward to reading it!
What is the best advice you could give to a new writer who wants to publish a book?

Write it! That might sound trite but really, if you just keep writing it will happen.
Along the way you should go to classes and join a critique group.  Mix with other writers at a non-threatening place like Redwood Writers.
But mostly you need to write. When you let yourself go, fill the page without judging yourself, magic things will begin to happen. When first considering if I wanted to write, I was worried that it might be too solitary.
Here’s what I discover when I write:  there’s a whole bunch of folks with me, in my mind, and often when I’m just typing away, minding my own business. They do things I never expected! That’s when it gets really interesting!

Thank you, Linda Loveland Reid, President of Redwood Writer’s Club.

Please post a comment for a chance to win this novel. Post by December 30.

If you don't win, please buy Linda's book at Copperfield's or

Linda has generously given four copies of her novel, Touch of Magenta for people to win.
Congratulations, Charles Marquee for winning a copy of Plane Jane, last months author interview!

How to Post a Comment: At the bottom of the interview,  press blue comments. Go to end of everyone's comments. Under Post a Comment: write a comment, scroll under select, select Name/Url, type in your name and email address on ONE line, no url necessary! Don't forget to press Post Comment! Thank you!
Know a author for an interview? Contact

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Adventure/Romance: Plane Jane by Robert Fischer

Hello Bob, I’ve wanted to interview you ever since I saw your novel on the bill board coming off the downtown exit in Santa Rosa, Ca.
Please tell us about your adventure, romance novel.

 Do you know what a burqua is? Well this adventure starts with the burqua…(or the lack of one)…and United States Air Force regulations. 
     Major Mary Jane is a career officer—(a fighter pilot) who was discharged for refusing to wear a burqua off base in Saudi Arabia. With no experience and not knowing any better, she contracts to repossess a luxury Boeing 747 jet liner from a power Saudi Prince.
     Her challenge is not only learning( on-the-job) how to repossess a jetliner from a Saudi prince, but dealing with  colorful and often dangerous people and turning it into a business. Her efforts result in a great adventure-romance set in today’s Islamic world.
     In non-fiction one might interview a woman in a burqua talking about her faith, but a novel permits the reader to walk in that woman’s shoes. The reader will know what it is really like to suffocate in the heat, to eat with a veil, to go to a public restroom where people wonder if you are a man or woman, to walk behind a man in servitude, to never be allowed to be alone in public, never to drive your own car. Peering through a tiny grill in the veil that only permits forward vision, the vision of a man’s back, or swaying from side to side to avoid bumping into things. Ironically, Plane Jane’s, heroine, Mary Jane must wear the burqua as a disguise in Saudi Arabia to repossess the airplane, and experience first-hand what it is actually like to wear such a thing… and she doesn’t like it.

Are all Americans in the Air Force forced to wear the burqua when on active duty in Saudi Arabia?

No longer, but for a time women in the Air Force were required to wear the burqua, not allowed to drive vehicles off-base, and were required to walk several paces behind their fellow airmen both off-base and on the military reservation.

Is it still Air Force policy to require females to wear the burqua in Muslim countries?

That came to an end in 2002 when USA Air Force female fighter pilot, Col. Martha McSally sued the Air Force for discrimination and won. Her story was widely publicized but I wrote Plane Jane before she won her lawsuit.

Does the Koran mandate the burqua?

No, it does not. Nor does the Koran mandate many of the Islamic traditions that—in my opinion—are designed to subjugate women; take away their power; make them into nothing more than slaves. In Plane Jane, Mary uses the burqua as a disguise. Slavery still exists in many Muslim countries

Why do women wear the burqua then?

For men to dominate or subjugate women they must first take away their power. The burqua covers 98% of the body and it does just that.
Arab men often say the burqua covers their women from covetous and envious eyes and that it protects their modesty. If that were remotely true these men would also cover their Mercedes in a burqua
The actual meaning of the word burqua is to cover the shameful parts.

What is the status of the burqua in the West?

In 2010 France banned the burqua entirely, not just at schools, but everywhere in public. Spain has begun talking about doing the same. Italy has just introduced legislation to ban the burqua, Syria bans it in Universities, and Australia has just begun debating the subject in Parliament. The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science has just banned it.

What kind of woman is Major Mary Jane—the heroine of your novel?

Mary Jane is the ideal of many modern American females: Strong-willed, independent, a redhead raised in Paris. Learned to fly airplanes by the time she was 12 She is a beautiful young woman who lives hard and loves hard. She constantly fascinated me—a competition swordsman, widely traveled, a career officer. A fighter pilot who flew A-10 tank-buster-gunships affectionately called “Warthogs.” In combat over Iraq.

Is your heroine, Major Mary Jane, based on Colonel McSally’s character or her experiences?

When the news story broke in 2002 about female Air Force personnel being forced to wear burquas, I was stunned and it stuck in my mind. But at the time I did not even know McSally’s name, only the story.

You call your novel, Plane Jane, an adventure/romance. What is her love interest in your story?

Mary has designs on her co-pilot with whom she had an affair some years before in Turkey. She and Jesus Martinez, an American officer of Mexican heritage, they were an item then but were separated by a fluke. In Plane Jane Mary and Jesus fly to exotic Paris, Jeddah and San Francisco, giving her plenty of time for mischief.

Is repossessing of a jetliner a figment of your imagination or has it happened before?

Airline companies start up and fail every year in every country in the world. When failure happens their planes could be anywhere in any condition. Most all jetliners are financed and those companies want their airplanes back and are willing to pay a high price for someone to do it, often under dangerous circumstances. Mary and Jesus learning as they go, with her dressed in a burqua and walking behind her man.

In real life are their companies that specialize in this field?

In Plane Jane, Mary and Jesus form their own airplane repossession company. However, an American company, Sage-Popovich alone has repossessed 1,200 airliners and there are others like ‘the Grim Reaper’ Ken Hill of Aeronautical Systems. He averages about 30 per year. Ken Gage in Orlando, Florida.

Are some jet aircraft stolen?

Yes, most by criminal organizations, but some by dictators or generals in small countries like the Congo, Venezuela, Haiti and many former Soviet Republics like Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria or Tajikistan. Repossessing these aircraft is always dangerous. Often stolen aircraft have yoke or thruster locks; they can be booby-trapped or stripped of engines and electronics. Finding these aircraft is also an art form.

Why are so many luxury aircraft bought by Arab royal families and rich businessmen?

In my opinion, during the early 70’s there were many scandals involving American companies giving kickbacks to Arab middlemen. It is a common practice in most of the world, but not in the USA. Holding meetings in luxury airplanes became a convenient and exciting way of doing business anonymously. New found Arab wealth, of course, can afford $100 – 200 million dollar airplanes.

Tell us about your background that influenced you to write Plane Jane.

I was a Marine during the Korean War. After the war, I flew my own helicopter and was invited to fly for the Rhodesian Army. I also flew for a Senator in the Philippines during the President Marcos period.
As a helicopter pilot, I’ve have spent considerable time in Saudi Arabia and know something about their culture and I’ve been to places where stolen aircraft are often destined.

 Have you ever been in danger?

In Arabia, I narrowly missed being arrested and sent to the square. I was at the Jeddah airport to receive a shipment of desalination equipment. Unfortunately, an Egyptian customs agent wrote 'distillation' equipment at a time when two British subjects were arrested for distilling and making
whiskey, which wasn't true, but an infidel's word is worth half of the Muslim accuser. They were sentenced to 15 lashes on the square, which, with an 8 foot ebony pole is considered a death sentence. I hid for three weeks before the Governor of Mecca reversed the findings. Without high-up help I
would have been dead.
I witnessed brutality toward women and the crushing punishment meted out for the smallest real or imagined moral digressions. I have witnessed the sale of illicit diamonds, the trafficking of women for prostitution, and the massive theft of autos, machinery and aircraft from Europe and America.

Are you currently writing another book?

Yes, The Return of Private Fischer comes out in Spring/Summer 2011 and the sequel to Plane Jane, The Flight of the Falcon, comes out in 2012

Where is Plane Jane available?

It is available on my or many bookstores.

Congratulations Christine H. who won a free autographed copy of Linda Weaver Clarke’s book, Mayan Intrigue.

Post a comment about Robert Fischer’s Plane Jane and be eligible in a drawing to win a free copy. Comment by December 15.

How to post a comment: Go to bottom of interview, press blue comments. Go to end of everyone’s comments, under Post a comment, write a comments, under select , select Name/url, type in your name and email address on ONE line, no url necessary. Then don’t forget to press Post Comment! Thank you!

Know a  author for an interview? Contact me at:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Linda Weaver Clarke's Mayan Intrigue

Linda Weaver Clarke’s latest mystery, Mayan Intrigue.

I heard about Linda Weaver Clarke from John Kremer’s Book Marketing Tip’s ( that I receive each month. Linda interview's authors on her blog and gave me permission to create my own.

Hi Linda: Please tell us about yourself.

I was raised on a farm surrounded by the rolling hills of southern Idaho and now I live in southern Utah among the beautiful red mountains and desert heat. I am happily married and am the mother of six daughters and have several grandchildren. I received my Bachelor of Arts degree at Southern Utah University.

 You are an extremely prolific author please tell us about your books. 

I am the author of the historical romance series, “A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho,” which includes the following novels: Melinda and the Wild West - a semi-finalist for the “Reviewers Choice Award 2007,” Edith and the Mysterious Stranger, Jenny’s Dream, David and the Bear Lake Monster, and Elena, Woman of Courage.                                                    
Lately I have been writing a new mystery series, The Adventures of John and Julia Evans, which will include the following novels: Anasazi Intrigue, Mayan Intrigue, Montezuma Intrigue, and Desert Intrigue. 

Tell us about your latest mystery Mayan Intrigue. By the way the YouTube on your web site about this book is fantastic. Here's the Youtube link:

It’s about the discovery of a priceless artifact that puts Julia’s life in great danger. While on assignment for the newspaper, John and Julia try to enjoy a romantic vacation among the Mayan ruins, but when Julia accidentally comes upon a couple suspicious men exchanging an item, she quickly turns and leaves but it’s too late. Before John and Julia realize what's going on, they find themselves running for their lives through the jungles of the Yucatan. To read an excerpt, you can visit

Have you been to the Mayan ruins?

Most of my research has been online, visiting the Mayan ruins that way. The Mayan culture is so intriguing to me, with their magnificent temples and structures in southern Mexico and Central America. Archaeologists don’t understand why they left these huge cities. There are 172 sites open to the public. We have the famous Chichen Itza that covers ten square miles. We have Coba, which covers over 50 square miles and contains more than 6500 structures, not yet uncovered. These cities were totally abandoned and no one knows why. Some suspect they were at war with one another and that was the reason. While researching for Mayan Intrigue, my eyes were opened to the problems they have in southern Mexico. You see, when an ancient ruin is discovered, it doesn’t take long for thieves to take it apart. The reason why is because the Mayas used astrological alignments when planning their city. Looters have learned the layout of the Mayan cities so they know where to dig. With this knowledge, they can loot a sacred temple in a few days. While writing Mayan Intrigue, I found that artifact theft in Mexico has been taken over by drug dealers from Columbia. In other words, since organized crime has taken over, there is also an increase of violence. It’s a very interesting subject.

How much of your own personal experiences enter into your novels?

I love including personal experiences in each of my novels. My first series is historical fiction and I gave many experiences from my ancestors to my fictional characters. With this new mystery series, I include many humorous experiences that really happened to me or my husband…just to make it fun.

I see this book is a sequel, do the books have to be read in order?

Even though this book is a sequel, each one can be read separately because each book has its own plot. The series is a mystery/adventure called The Adventures of John and Julia Evans. I have Anasazi Intrigue, Mayan Intrigue, Montezuma Intrigue, and Desert Intrigue, which will be published in 2011.
Not only are you a writer but a teacher and teach Family Legacy workshops. I bet you learn about some interesting stories from other people.

Yes, I travel throughout the United States, teaching a “Family Legacy Workshop,” encouraging others to write their family history and autobiography. It’s important to teach our children their heritage. Our children need to be proud of their ancestors. Leon Garfield said: “The historian, if honest, gives us a photograph; the storyteller gives us a painting.” What I’m teaching people to do is how to paint, to be the storyteller. Adults are usually the main audience, but I’ve attracted many teenagers who want to learn how to write. In fact, one library sponsored this workshop for a group of troubled teens. Writing helps to express one’s innermost feelings. It can be a healing process. To learn more about what I teach, you can visit my website at

What is the most interesting story you heard at one of your Family Legacy workshops?

Hmm, that question is hard. People usually don't tell me what they're writing about. There was this one man who was a holocaust victim in Poland. He was writing his own story during World War II.

Tell us about your blog interviewing authors.

I began blogging in July of 2009. Even though I've been an author for a few years, I'm new to this blogging business. It wasn't until April of 2010 that I began interviewing authors. Why interview authors? I had been interviewed by several bloggers and it was a lot of fun. It's hard to come up with something new each week to interest the public, so I decided to interview authors and have book giveaways every Monday. It's been fun getting to know each author and finding out what inspired them to write their books. Gradually my blog is becoming known because I'm getting more and more requests for interviews by authors and agents. It's great. My blog is different than most blogs. It's a family friendly blog. So I only have books that can be read by children, young adults from ages 12 - 16, "sweet" romances for teens and adults, and "how-to" books. So I have to make sure that each book is G-rated for my audience. I've had many people make positive comments, saying that it's refreshing to not have to worry about whether it's G-rated or not. You can visit my blog at

Where are your books available?

On my website, Amazon, Borders, and Barnes and Noble online.

The winner of Persia Woolley's book A Child of the Northern Spring was Barbara Moehring. Congratulations! To be in a drawing to be eligible to win a autographed copy of Linda Weaver Clarke's Mayan Intrigue please post a comment by Wednesday, December 1.

How to post a comment: Go to bottom this interview, press BLUE comments. Go to end of everyone's comments, under Post a Comment, type your comment, Select NAME/URL, type your name and email address on one line, NO url necessary. PRESS POST comment! Thank you!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Persia Woolley's historical fiction, Child of the Northern Spring

Hi Persia: Welcome to author interviews. Several people have requested that I interview you about your new book. Could you please give us a brief synopsis?
Persia: Child of the Northern Spring is Book One of my Guinevere Trilogy where I tell the stories of King Arthur as seen through the eyes of his queen, Guinevere.  It deals with Guinevere's childhood, introduces a number of the famous characters, and culminates with the marriage to Arthur and their establishing of the Round Table.  My books are unique in that they are not fantasy or woman's romance and when I began work on them, no one else had thought to write the story from first-person Guinevere.

Can you tell us briefly without giving the story away about the best part?

Persia: My Gwen is a feisty northern Celtic tomboy who doesn't want to leave her own country to go south and marry the new young King.  She constantly hopes to escape this fate until there is an unplanned meeting and their first real interaction establishes their relationship for the next 1400 years.

Please tell me why you wrote about this particular period of time and why it is special to you.

Persia: My rendition of Camelot is based on history so the period was dictated by when Arthur and Guinevere would have lived, if they were real people.  That was at the beginning of the Dark Ages, following the collapse of the Roman Empire and before the Saxons fully conquered Britain (roughly 450 to 550 A.D.).  It was the characters and story that fascinated me--if they had lived during the Middle Ages, I would have set the books then.

How many historical fictions have you written?

Persia: The three Guineveres are the only ones published and they took me a total of eleven years of research and writing.  All three were Book of the Month Club selections, have been published in seven other countries and made into a terrible movie for TV.

Do you read other author's historical fiction of the same time period?

Persia: I don't read other authors when I am writing, but during the research phases I indulge in a wide range of reading.

About how long did your research take on this book?

Persia: "Child" took 6 years of research and writing before it was published.  Book Two, "Queen of the Summer Stars" took 3 years, and Book Three, "Guinevere--the Legend in Autumn" was done in six months.  By then the characters were so complete, I just reported on what they were doing and thinking.

You are very well-known in this community. Could you tell us something about yourself that we would be surprised to hear?

Persia: I used to be a journalist and specialized in interviews and profiles of artists, musicians, actors and writers for the San Francisco Chronicle--it meant 'opening night tickets on the aisle' for everyone from Maya Angelou to Norman Mailer, Anais Nin to Elton John--as well as the Lipizzan Stallions, all the stage productions in town and whatever Bill Graham concerts were on tap.
I also had a season on live TV in S.F. where I produced and hosted my own interview show which included the film maker Richard Attenborough--before he did 'Ghandi' and became Sir Richard-Lyle Tuttle, the renowned tattoo artist who did the Jackson brothers and Janis, etc. He was a trip, and we became friends as a result.
After moving to Auburn in the Sierra foothills, I began to write for the local weekly paper doing interviews, business profiles and reviews of anything vaguely cultural; also had my own column about life in general whenever I felt like it.
I love journalism because it gets you behind the scenes and gives you an excuse to meet fascinating people and ask impertinent questions--plus you have a reason to chase the fire-engines and be in the midst of the excitement.

I know what a prolific writer you are. What are you working on now?

Persia: Ophelia's Tale is a finished manuscript, set in 1600 A.D., the year that Shakespeare wrote "Hamlet." It is in need of an agent.

Do you have a web site?

Persia: I'm in the process of designing one.  I do have both FaceBook and Twitter accounts, and they are very useful for communicating with friends and fans.

Who is the publisher of the Child of the Northern Spring and where can it be purchased?

Persia: Sourcebooks is re-issuing the entire Trilogy, and Child can be found at Copperfields, Borders and on line at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and various independent stores right now.

Please tell us about what events we can visit you.

Persia: On November 16th I'll present "An Evening With King Arthur" at Copperfields in Sebastopol.  This is an hour that begins with 10 minutes of my reading and talking about "Child of the Northern Spring" and then is thrown open to questions.  I'm glad to answer questions about the legend and its growth over 1400 years, or the historical reality of Arthur and Guinevere, or my own experiences hiking all over Roman and Celtic ruins, staying in hostels and carrying everything in my backpack.  And if anyone has a question about writing and getting published, I'm willing to talk about that too.  This is free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. and naturally I'll be happy to sign books.  Future programs will follow in other bookstores and libraries around the area.

That event sounds very promising as well as exciting. Thank you, Persia!

The winner of the autographed book Crucial Time by Elsbeth Benton is Margaret Murray, congratulations!

Please comment on Persia Woolley's interview and be eligible to win an autographed copy of her book. Child of the Northern Spring. Comment by Wednesday, November 17.

NOTE: How to comment: Go to bottom of interview, press blue comments. go to end of everyone's comments, under Post a Comment, write comment, under COMMENT AS, Select NAME/URL, write your name and email address on ONE line, NO URL necessary, Then press POST Comment! Thank you!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Elspeth Benton's Mystery "Crucial Time"

Hi Elspeth: It's nice to have you on my author interviews blog.Tell me, where did you get all your ideas for your mystery, Crucial Time?

The ideas came from two sources--a lifetime of experience working with young children and families, plus two years of research on Zimbabwe (guidebooks, history, memoirs, fiction). I also  talked with Zimbabwean friends and my Peace Corps  friends who were sent home from Zimbabwe when it was closed in 2005 due to the extreme danger.

What would you say was your primary theme in the novel?

The primary theme is the urgency of giving all young children, everywhere, a solid, dynamically peaceful start in life, before the violence all around us takes over. Hence the title, “Zero to nine [in a child’s life]; it’s the crucial time!”

Have you been to Zimbabwe?

I wish! I definitely want to go there!

You certainly are well qualified to write a realistic novel about a childcare center. How many years did you teach and direct?

I have an MA in early Childhood Education and have taught and directed over 30 years.
Most large urban child care centers today are widely international and they afford the perfect opportunity to sow seeds of peaceful coexistence, hence the underlying theme in my book.

What do your family and friends say about you having published a novel?

They're highly supportive, though the one sex scene did offend a family member.

It must be amazing to have great-grandchildren!

Definitely amazing, though having my own unplanned first child 50+ years ago was probably even more of a shock!

Have you always wanted to write a novel?

I o.d.'d on fairy tales as a child, and have grooved on novels ever since, starting with Gone With the Wind--Kingsolver, Tolstoy, Zora Neale Hurston, Harriet Doerr, Paul Harding, Elizabeth Strout, F.S. Fitzgerald, to name a very few jumbled-up favorite authors.
So yes, I always just assumed, without even thinking about it, that once my children were raised and my working years ended, of course I'd be writing fiction! Then it dawned on me that many writing classes and workshops would be needed to begin to learn the craft—all my writing heretofore had been letters, board reports, journaling, grant proposals, newsletters, etc.—so I jumped into the classes and workshops and am still participating in these.

Do you have plans for a second novel?

In my mind, I'm working daily on a sequel in the Hannah Cooper mystery series!  In reality, all my energies are presently going into marketing Crucial Time. There's never enough time for it all!

It's great that you placed your book in Book Passages, Corte Madera. Do you have connections?

I wish! Mostly I'm just very persistent, going to bookstores and using whatever logic I can to get my book placed with them. With Book Passages, I mentioned that I'd participated in their annual mystery writers' convention (plus other writing classes there), and am a local author. "Local author" turns out to be a useful foot-in-the-door ploy.

Crucial Time is available on the website (, from, as a Kindle or as an e-book, and locally in all the Copperfields Bookstores and from Book Passages in Corte Madera; also at Tsunami Books in Eugene, OR.
Come hear Elspeth Benton’s presentations about Crucial Time at 7PM Thursday Nov. 4 at Montgomery Village Copperfields, or at 1PM Sunday December 12 at Book Passages in Corte Madera!

Last week's random winner of posting a comment is Arlene Miller. Congratulations Arlene! Deborah Grabien, will be mailing you an autographed copy of London Calling. 

Post a comment and tell all your friends.
Under comments, post as name/url. Enter your name and email address on one line, you can skip the url. The deadline to randomly win a free copy of Elspeth Benton's Crucial Time will be Thursday, November 4. Good luck!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

London Calling by Deborah Grabien

Hello, Deb. It's nice to have you on my new blog, Interviewing Authors. Please tell us about your new book London Calling. 

Well, London Calling is actually the third in the JP Kinkaid Chronicles and, like the other book titles in this series, the title relates to the real-world events or situation that inspired the original song. In this instance, the story is about racism, how it affected the music of the past fifty years, and specifically what happened in the UK and France during the late seventies and early eighties: the skinhead movement, very Nazi-based. There was a right-wing hate group called the National Front in the UK (the Front Nationale in France), really essentially terrorists. London Calling, the original song by the Clash, was about what was happening in the urban UK at the time, and the socioeconomic realities that led to this sort of racism. What's terrifying is that you see some of those same conditions spawning the Tea Party movement today. It's a book about old crimes and old tribal enmities casting long shadows, and also about how music deals with the racism and tribalism that's still too prevalent today.

 Where did you get your inspiration for your novel or the JP Kindaid Chronicles?

It was less inspiration and more deep need. With John Kinkaid, I initially wanted to get a particular piece of my own personal history back, and a lot of buried memories of one particular man. In one sense, I wanted to see how he and I might have evolved, and how that relationship might have evolved, if things had gone differently a long time ago. In another sense, while I quite like the happy ending I actually did get, I wanted to write the one I didn't get.

But if you're a writer worthy of that title, your characters take on their own lives and realities, and that's what JP did. By the time I'd hit the second chapter of the very first Kinkaid (Rock and Roll Never Forgets), he'd become John Peter Kinkaid, period. And while the voice I hear in my head is still the one that triggered the creation of this entire series, the man I see in my head is unique and distinct, and doesn't even look much like his source.

Bree Godwin, though? She's still got a lot of me in her makeup, at least through the first few books. She's evolving into uniqueness a bit more slowly than JP is, just because - as a first person narrative - we see her through his eyes, and that means I do too. And that takes some processing, for me: seeing me the way the man might have seen me. One thing I have in common with Bree is that we're both trained cooks, and caterers. She actually has her own blog, called "The Care and Feeding of Everyone Else", about cooking for people with special needs, snippets of her home life with JP, recipes, and interaction back and forth with readers who post comments in the blog:

Can the chronicles be read out of sequence?

Oh, I think so. It's not the ideal way to read them, honestly, because each book seeds others, and the later ones loop back to refer to earlier events. That means there are spoilers. For instance, in the first few pages of the first Chronicle, we meet a girl named Suzanne. Unimportant, just passing through - except that, no, there are virtually no casual pass-through characters in this series. I don't write throwaway characters. We meet her again in book 5 (Book of Days) and she becomes vitally important to the entire band family dynamic. And no, I didn't know that was going to happen when I first wrote her, back in 2005. But if you don't mind being spoiled for details in earlier Chronicles, go for it. They'll certainly make sense.

Will there be a fourth?

Well, since I just started writing the eighth book, that's a definite Yes. The fourth one is called Graceland, and it comes out April 2011. Nothing to do with Elvis - it's about the Delta blues, the movement of that music through America and the rest of the world. It's also about owning your history (a theme very close to me), about the family you choose, the family you make, the ties that bind, and about loyalty. The entire series deals with loyalty, in one way or another, in every book.

Do you get your ideas from real life experiences?

Not really sure how to answer that one, since these aren't ideas. An idea is something cerebral. These stories are completely visceral. Hell, everything I write that isn't critical nonfiction review is visceral, soul stuff, pit of the belly, groin, nerves, you name it. I'm an annoyingly organic writer - I don't write from the brain.

A lot of what happens in these books does come from my own history (and in a couple of cases, from the history of friends and compadres). Part of that is being willing to access the painful stuff - things like a miscarriage or a sense of guilt. Writing viscerally and pulling away scars and memory scabs is not always easy. But if you're writing emotionally true, it's what you have to do.

Do you research in order to write your books?

Not much, no, because I don't need to do much. I'm a musician, and this is a world I know. But some stuff has changed drastically on the tech end of recording and live performance. My husband does the research on that when I need it - he's brilliant at that, and loves doing it, too.

I love your photo. Most authors send me "head shots." Your photo tells us how much you love music. Tell us about that.

It's in the blood, really. My father was a musician. I started playing (guitar mostly) when I was a kid. I've been a musician and, specifically, a songwriter, for coming up on forty years. I can't play the way I once did (see below, your final question), but I can still write lyrics and sing what I want the music to do, and I've written, literally, an album's worth of songs for JP's two bands, Blacklight and the Fog City Geezers, to play. Being a musician isn't just something you do, it's what you are.

Finally, please tell us something about the "real you" that we'll never forget.

Ah, the root of it all: the man JP was based on was in very poor health - he had Crohns, among other things, and died much too young. When I sat down to write JP, I wanted to reflect that bad health, how it would affect a working musician. But I have multiple sclerosis, relapsing-remitting, which is one reason I can't play music the way I used to. It affects the signals between brain and hands. So I gave JP Kinkaid relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, because I could write about it with authority. And I learned to understand, writing it for him, just how I deal with it in my own life: JP and Bree, both into their forties/fifties, still have a torrid sex life. He still tours with his two bands. He doesn't fight the disease, because there's no point; it's a sort of wary detente. And that's precisely how I approach my own disease. When it holds the whiphand, I back off. Some days, moving hurts. Other days, I can dance the night away. So on that one, we mirror each other, JP and I.

 How many books have you written so far?

Written, or published? If we're talking about being published, London Calling is my fourteenth published novel. If we're talking about written and awaiting publication, I've just started the eighth Kinkaid (Comfortably Numb), so we're talking about eighteen novels. Plus short stories - I've had several of them published.

Deb your latest book out sounds like a hot, new, original thriller. I'm sure the audience will want to buy it if they don't win it!
This interview lets us know how incredibly disciplined you are to be so prolific. I really admire how well you cope with having a chronic illness it is an inspiration for us all.
 Deborah Grabien's novel London Calling is widely distributed in all bookstores and is published by Plus One Press.
Deb Grabien’s website address is 
Her blog is up at Red Room:

 Please post a comment and leave your name and email address to be randomly drawn to win a copy of this thriller. 
Dates to post comment to win autographed book are: 10/14-10/21.