author interviews, m/m romance, Uncategorized

Welcome, Lane Hayes!

This fine Thursday m/m romance author Lane Hayes visits PQR to discuss literary pilgrimages, reader’s block and her writing process. As a forever fan of Lane, I am SUPER excited to have her come by! My personal favorite is Better Than Safe but I believe it is hard to go wrong with any of her books.

Leaning into…is Lane’s current series, Leaning Into Always is available now from Amazon. Click on over!

(Before I forget, thank you so much, Lane, for stopping by and talking with PQR!)

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Lane answered a few questions for me, as usual, I wanted to ask a zillion more!

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

I love this question. There have been a few instances where I’ve been lucky to travel to places I’d read about in books and became mesmerized by the almost magical feeling that comes from walking in your book hero’s shoes. The first time I visited London and the English countryside was like that for me. I was a huge historical romance fan and it seems like every story is set there. I also visited Bath around the time I was in a strong Jane Austen phase. And yes… I made a special trip to Forks, Washington. I just had to see where Twilight took place. LOL

What is the first book that made you cry?

Black Beauty. Books with animals always pull at my heartstrings!

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Honestly, both. Mostly, I find writing invigorating. It’s a creative outlet and I definitely draw energy from it. But after a long day at my computer, my eyes ache, my fingers are numb and I’m just plain exhausted. Or old. That could be it too.

Have you ever gotten reader’s block?

Yes. Usually, reader’s block happens when you finish a fabulous book and the next few don’t measure up. Not fun. The only cure is to keep reading.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym (or do you already)?

Lane Hayes is my pseudonym. Each is a middle name of two of my three kids and my grandmothers’ maiden names. It was important to me that my author name meant something to me.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

Maybe, but I think it would be difficult for that writer to develop a strong readership. A good book, no matter the genre, should touch you somehow. It should have the power to tap into your senses, stir feelings and make you think. In my opinion, the best books are written from the heart and from some measure of personal experience.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I love a good series, but it’s important to me that each book in my series is a standalone for a couple of reasons. As a reader, I get frustrated when I accidently begin a series out of order and it becomes obvious I’m missing a link in the story because of it. To avoid confusion, I make each a standalone. However, anyone who’s read any of my four series will recognize character from other novels and subtle connections in between.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

The first book that comes to mind is Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice. It’s a twisted, imaginative marvel. I absolutely loved these very unlovable vampires! Any author who can challenge a reader to study the enigmatic and come away with an appreciation of our fragile psyches is genius. Anne Rice’s vampires aren’t your average paranormal fodder. They’re truly special.

How many hours a day do you write?

I write eight hours a day on average. There are days where I spend too much time on social media or on research, but I do my best to put in a full day of writing everyday.

What was your hardest scene to write?

I’ve written a few scenes that have been challenging for me as a writer because I was forced to tap into deep emotional waters. Lol. A couple that stand out are the scene between Zeke and his dad in A Kind of Romance and the ending scenes in The Wrong Man and The Right Time. And I actually just made myself cry when I reread part of Leaning Into Touch (coming October 5!). I think that’s a positive sign though. Books are meant to send you on a memorable journey and sometimes that involves a tear or two. Thankfully in a romance novel, we can count on that HEA to make it all worthwhile.

Thank you so much for inviting me to come by today!

Happy Reading,

Lane Hayes xo

More about Lane:

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

Books by Lane Hayes:

Better Than Good, Better Than Chance, Better Than Friends, Better Than Safe, The Right Words, The Wrong Man & The Right Time, Leaning Into Love and Leaning Into the Fall, A Kind Of Truth, A Kind of Romance, A Kind of Honesty, A Kind of Home, A Way with Words

Coming soon: Leaning Into Always and Leaning Into Touch

 Contact Information:

Website: http://lanehayes.wordpress.com

Twitter:   @LaneHayes3

Facebook: LaneHayesauthor

Email:   lanehayes@ymail.com

 

 

author interviews, m/m romance, Uncategorized

Robert Winter talks writing pitfalls, fear, and good writing habits (among other things)

September _headerbanner

Robert Winter author of September, Every Breath You Take and Lying Eyes joins PirateQueenRdz to talk writing and what it means to him.

Thank you, Robert, for joining today! This was a great interview, the best ones are always those that leave the reader wanting to know more.

Cheers,

PQ

Lying Eyes is Robert’s most recent release, read a little about it below!

Adobe Spark (6)

THE INTERVIEW:

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

The one that comes to mind is to Oxford, in England. I was a huge fan of both The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis when I was young. Lewis and Tolkien were friends at Oxford, and both were members of a group called The Inklings. They used to meet at The Eagle and Child pub in Oxford. Going there was an amazing experience that made me feel close to both writers.

What are common traps for aspiring writers, or any writer?

Believing that you can be your own editor. When you produce a novel, it’s very easy to think that, as the writer, you are best positioned to judge the story. After all, you are the only one who knows the tale you want to tell. The problem is that ego inevitably produces blind spots. You can’t see the omissions or logical gaps because, in your mind, the connections are clear. Beta readers are helpful, but since they tend to be friends they may not be willing to identify flaws that might hurt your feelings. It takes an objective, hopefully professional, editor to point out flaws, weaknesses or downright inconsistencies.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Fear of unintentional plagiarism can paralyze me. All writers read voraciously, and the words and ideas inevitably are stored in our subconscious. Every time I have what I think is a good plot or a clever way of phrasing something, I worry that I have remembered something rather than created it. The self-doubt can keep me from writing for days at a time. Sometimes I stop what I’m doing to go back and reread works that I might have aped. Rationally, I know that we all work with a finite set of words and within a range of tropes – vampire, werewolf, May-December, GFY, enemies to lovers and so on – and therefore some similarity is inevitable. As long as I can convince myself I’ve done my level best to tell a unique story, I can work myself out of the crippling fear.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym (or do you already)?

I thought about writing my MM romances under a pseudonym but then I decided that implied I was somehow ashamed of them so I publish under my own name. I’m retired from my law career so I don’t have to worry about professional repercussions, and my family is generally supportive. I have ideas for other types of books, particularly a Young Adult series, and if I pursue those I probably would use a pseudonym as a way to keep my audiences distinct. I don’t think I’d want a 13-year old to pick up Lying Eyes and learn about rope play!

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

It’s some combination. I do want to be original, but I also want to be read. That means keeping an eye on the top sellers in Amazon for various tropes that do well and considering whether I have a story that might fit in a niche. It also means acknowledging that readers have expectations and not being so wed to my own writing that I alienate an audience. For example, in Lying Eyes I originally had my main character Randy meet another character, Danny, before he met the love interest. An editor pointed out to me that many readers would latch on to Danny as the end game because they met him first, and would then resent my intended romantic pairing. I thought that was valid so even though I liked the story structure I started with, I changed it to acknowledge that readers have legitimate expectations.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Starting with my trip to GRL 2016 in Kansas City, I’ve met a number of writers who have become friends and mentors. Leta Blake and Keira Andrews, in particular, have been terrific with their advice, both in terms of story content and the logistics of self-publishing. B.G. Thomas and Brandon Witt have been good sounding boards and they’re both kind men as well. Pat Henshaw, Rick Reed, Devon McCormack, Amy Lane … I’ve really been lucky to meet these great people who genuinely want to help a new writer succeed. I can’t wait for GRL 2017 to connect with even more writers.

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

Write every day. I heard this advice when I was younger but I never developed the habit that I should have. Storytelling is a talent but writing is a craft. I wish that I had made myself sit down and write at least one page of something every day, even if it was nonsense and would never see the light. Sentence structure, syntax, composition, balance, momentum … all of these are vital and have to be developed with practice. I’ve grown a lot as a writer in the last few years since I began to write my first MM romance, but I think I would be much better if I had started earlier.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

When a book first comes out, I skim the reviews on blogs, Amazon and Goodreads to see if the reaction is generally favorable or not. After that, I keep an eye on the overall summary ratings but I don’t usually read the actual reviews. Instead, I ask a friend to read them and let me know if there is any recurring trend or theme – either positive or negative – that I can take note of and use in future writing.

What was your hardest scene to write?

Spoiler alert. In September, I wrote a scene where Brandon has his leg amputated. That scene gutted me. Of course I fall in love with my own characters so it was painful to do something so awful to one of them. But I had laid the groundwork. I mention early on that Brandon, a physical therapist, worked with someone hurt badly riding a bicycle, then I mention he starts riding his bike more as the weather gets hotter, and then after his hit-and-run accident I introduced the risk of amputation and his devastation at the possibility. I didn’t want to cheat myself or my readers by having his leg recover miraculously. Still, it killed me when I wrote the scene where his doctor tells him that they can’t save his leg.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

When I get going, it takes me about six weeks to produce a complete first draft of an 80,000 word novel. After that, I spend two to three months on revisions before I get to the point of showing it to anyone else. By the time I go through professional editors and proofreading, it’s typically been six months overall.

ABOUT ROBERT WINTER

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Robert Winter lives and writes in Provincetown. He is a recovering lawyer who prefers writing about hot men in love much more than drafting a legal brief. He left behind the (allegedly) glamorous world of an international law firm to sit in his home office and dream up ways to torment his characters until they realize they are perfect for each other. When he isn’t writing, Robert likes to cook Indian food and explore new restaurants. He splits his attention between Andy, his partner of sixteen years, and Ling the Adventure Cat, who likes to fly in airplanes and explore the backyard jungle as long as the temperature and humidity are just right.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Contact Robert at the following links:

Website: www.robertwinterauthor.com

Facebook: facebook.com/robert.winter.921230

Goodreads: goodreads.com/author/show/16068736.Robert_Winter

Twitter: twitter.com/@RWinterAuthor

Email: RobertWinterAuthor@comcast.net

Review quotes and links:

“Robert Winter is now an auto-buy author for me. Spectacular writing!!!”  Amazon reviewer

“There are pulse-racing action scenes to go along with the intrigue and building romance, and an ending that goes above and beyond to supply gratification to the reader, as well as to the characters.”
It’s About the Book

“4.5 stars!!”
Bayou Book Junkies

“Robert Winter has definitely made it onto my favorite author list.  This is his third book, and they just keep getting better!”
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

 

 

 

 

author interviews, m/m romance, Uncategorized

Meet the lovely CL Etta!

 

 

Today’s guest is CL Etta, author of several MM novels including Hound and Harmony. Cl Etta will be at GRL this year as a supporting author and I look very much forward to meeting her in person. Without further ado, here is CL Etta discussing how she got into writing and the bumps (and peaks) she has reached along the way.

Interview:

Good morning. I hope everyone’s day has started with a bang. My thanks to Elle for her generosity inviting me to contribute to her blog. It’s hard to believe, but I began my writer’s journey in 2015. I had retired from the workforce, and Candy Crush was beginning to bore me, so I took a creative writing class at our community college. I had an enlightening time while renewing an interest in storytelling I thought had died forty years ago. Then, we went on vacation and I spent hours reading.

When we returned home, my fingers were itching to start a story I had rattling around in my brain. Kevin, Raphael and Robbie were born. They refused to go away nor believe I wasn’t a writer. I stayed up many nights until three a.m. putting their words to paper. Okay, since this is the twenty-first century, I was keyboarding like a madwoman to get their voices into my computer and saved in a cloud. By the way I still haven’t figured out where that cloud resides. The point is, they did not let me rest until I had told their stories. Book one of the series I envisioned was completed.

When finally the manuscript was ready and edited with the help of a brilliant family member, I sent it off to a publisher while I continued writing book two. Publisher One promptly turned it down without explanation. Okay, I expected that. I sent it to another who did the same. Not surprised at all. I anticipated running the gamut of publishers before finding a home. Off to a third publisher who without surprise turned it down. But, and this is a big one, gave me feedback. I didn’t know the rules of genre writing, still break them in fact, but I had started my story with my characters too young for the YA genre. Even though they aged through the storyline, they weren’t right for the “adult” line.

So what I did was take parts of that first manuscript and combine it with the one I was working on, and Heartache and Hope was the result. It’s been a year since Pride Publishing took a chance on me and published the book. Since then we’ve brought you Heart and Home and Hound and Harmony.

Of the three book, Hound and Harmony is my favorite. While the first two books were about Kevin and Raphael, the third book follows Robbie as he learns to live on his own away from Kevin. We’ve seen Robbie grow from troubled rent boy, to a successful musician but living in Kevin’s shadow. In Hound and Harmony, we follow his travels from Las Vegas, to San Francisco, to Okanogan Washington and on to his hometown at the source of the Columbia river in Canada. He’s looking to find himself, but along the way, he encounters Cassidy, a sexy retired Army Master Sergeant, who earned the nickname Hound long before he met Kevin.

The reason this is my favorite of the three books is Hound. His voice is distinctive and the best characterization I’ve written to date. I hope that other’s will agree with me. Although Hound and Harmony is the third in the trilogy, it can certainly stand alone.

The book and the others can be found at these fine e-book retailers.

Pride Publishing                                   Amazon                  Barnes and Noble               Kobo      First For Romance

 

In addition to the Beyond Heartache trilogy, I’ve also written and had published by Dreamspinner Press another book dear to my heart. Love’s Tethered Heart. I drew on my experience as a nursing home nurse to write this one. It’s the story of Mico who’s quadriplegic and tethered to his bed by the mechanics keeping him alive. He meets Danny, a reporter whose assignment is to discover why Mico won’t name the people who attacked him, stealing his life and mobility. It’s heartbreaking, heartwarming and life affirming.

I also wrote and self-published Darken Not My Soul which is about Adrian and Randy, two of the characters from Love’s Tethered Heart.

Currently I’m about to finish up what began as a science fiction short story but quickly evolved into a full-blown novel. It’s a challenge, but I was so excited about meeting it, I set aside the other two manuscripts I was working on to bring Transcending Phoenix to life.

Although I still feel like the new girl on the block, it’s been a busy and fascinating journey into the world of writing and publishing. To have written four books and had them published within two years of opening my computer is mind boggling. I consider myself very blessed to have this opportunity But what is more spectacular is the chance to connect with people from all corners of the globe, and to meet and make new friends.

In the fall, I’m attending my second Gay Romance Literature retreat in Denver. I look forward to meeting a lot of you. You can find me at the supporting author’s tables on Thursday and Friday, so stop by and say hi. If you miss me there, you’re sure to see me in the bar sipping martinis. Take a seat and we can talk about why we believe in Love For Everyone.

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author interviews, m/m romance, Uncategorized

Meet: Isobel Starling

MEET: ISOBEL STARLING

Happy Tuesday! Today’s visitor is Isobel Starling, accomplished author and someone who is always willing to share her experiences in the publishing industry with those of us (ME!) less experienced. Before we get too far I want to thank Isobel for taking the time to join us and answer a few questions.

In other (more exciting) news Sweet thing: A Pretty Boys Series m/m novel, the second in the Pretty Boy series, is coming out September 8th! See the pretty cover? Click on over to pre-order today.

Adobe Spark

Without further ado:

Isobel Answers A Few Questions:

  1. What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?

Bad contracts.  It’s far too easy to be bowled over by the fact a publisher is interested in your work as an author.  Then when you get the contract, it’s like you are on the cusp of becoming a ‘real’ writer.  Many authors don’t read the contract or are confused by it, sign and be damned.  They miss all of those nasty hidden ‘rights grab’ clauses.  It’s so cheeky that publishers get away with bad contract clauses and authors end up out of pocket because they did not know what to look for, or know how to find legal advice.  I have written many blog posts on the kinds of red flags to look out for and have walked away from two publishers who offered me deals because their contracts were terrible.  Authors don’t have to take the first deal offered, and they can always negotiate.

  1. What are common traps for aspiring writers, or any writer?

Common traps that I have seen include paying too much for Editorial, Proofreading, Beta reading services.  Publishing is a business, and aspiring authors are led to believe they need to spend a lot of money to self-publish a book.  They don’t.  To start off with an author needs a great story that they are completely happy with.  Without a great story, it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at it; the book will rarely turn into a literary masterpiece.
Also, there are many Vanity Publishing houses out there who charge exorbitant amounts for ‘publishing packages.’  These are total scams.  If you are offered a real publishing deal the money should be flowing in one direction- to the author in royalties.  An author should NEVER have to pay to get their book published.
Aspiring writers should do a little bit of research into self-publishing and try and learn new skills to do what they can themselves.  Learning skills like basic photoshop will help with future marketing- for graphic teasers, book covers, etc.  Learning how to format an ebook is again another skill that may take a few hours but will be invaluable if they want to self-publish.

Don’t be fooled into thinking the amount of money you spend on creating your first book will mean it will sell, it’s just the start, marketing it is a whole other ball game!

  1. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I’m a series writer.  I get very involved with my characters and their stories.  I love my boys and hate letting them go.  I want to follow them until they get to a nice stopping point.  My next release is “Sweet Thing” it is book 2 in my Pretty Boy series, which is about two male models, Pieter and Simeon who have a bromance, but Sim wants more from Pieter than friendship.  The first book “Fall Together” is Pieter’s love story, “Sweet Thing” is Simeon love story.  It will be the final book in the series, and so it’s been hard to say goodbye.

My Shatterproof Bond series will be six books in total, four of which have been published, two are yet to be completed.  The thought of never writing about Sam and Declan after that is troubling, so I will just have to see where my muse leads me.

Readers can also determine whether some books are standalones or series books.  My Novelette “Silken” has had such a great response from readers that I will write about those characters again.

  1. If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

Stop picking; you’ll make it worse!

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

It was the $35 I spent on a Deposit Photos special offer that got me 100 photo credits.  They will provide images for my book covers for years to come.

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have a fantasy novel that I want to be a trilogy, it’s currently at 150,000 words, but it’s been ‘resting’ for nearly three years now.

My next Shatterproof Bond novel “Powder Burns” is at around 30k words.

I have 4k of my next book in the ‘Dick and the Sidekick’ cosy murder mystery series.

I also have a file full of plot bunnies for books I would like to write.

  1. What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I don’t think the sex of the writer matters, more their skill with language and their imagination.  It’s like saying that no one can write about dragons if they are not actually a dragon!

  1. What do you edit outof your books?

Sex scenes.  Thousands upon thousands of words of sex!

I tend to get a *little* bit carried away with sex scenes.  I aim to have a good balance between plot and sex, so the sex has to push the story along.  I cannot stand gratuitously long sex scenes in books I read, so I pare back my own and try and craft them into scenes with heaps of passion while moving on the character development.

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

I use baby name websites, and then I research the names to make sure I haven’t named a romantic lead after a serial killer, etc.

  1. If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

I didn’t start writing full-time until I was 42 so I guess I would have tried to write a book sooner.  I never had any confidence when I was younger, so I was far too scared to put my words down for others to see.  Turning 40 changed a lot of things, and I just thought, to hell with it, and gave it a go!

More publications and reader reviews:

silken twit addJUNE_Boxset promo graphic.4 book series twitter advert graphic

 

Author bio:

Born in Germany, Isobel Starling spent most of her twenty-year professional career making art in Ireland.  She relocated to the UK and, faced with the dreaded artist’s creative block, Isobel started to write and found she loved writing more than making art.

Isobel is currently working on her fifteenth book.  The Shatterproof Bond series is an Amazon Gay Romance bestseller and is being translated into French with Juno Publications, German with Deadsoft Verlag, and Italian with Quixote Edizioni.  The series is also available as audiobooks, narrated by Gary Furlong.

Isobel can be reached in a variety of places.

Isobel’s website

goodreads link

Here she is on Amazon

Isobel Starling avatar2

Thank you, Isobel for joining me here today on PirateQueenRdzWrites&Chats!!

author interviews, m/m romance, Uncategorized

Author Interview: Kasia Bacon

Hello! Welcome to PirateQueenRdz first ‘getting to know you’ author interview! I am so excited to be featuring new to me author Kasia Bacon. Her new book, The Highlander, releases 08/31/2017.

Teaser Board Quote 2 copy

I wanted to know a little more about Kasia so she kindly provided a short bio and answered a few questions.

Ready?

Let’s go!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

kasiabaconA linguist and an avid reader with a particular fondness for fantasy and paranormal genres, KASIA BACON lives in London with her husband. When not tearing her hair out over a translating project, she writes stories about the shenanigans of emotionally constipated assassins and sexy Elves. Otherwise, she can be found shaking her loins at a Zumba class, binging on anime or admiring throwing knives on Pinterest. She has a mild coffee and lemon tart addiction. A lover of MMA and Muay Thai, she also enjoys nature and the great outdoors. She dreams of becoming independently wealthy, leaving the city and moving into her wooden mini-manor—located in the heart of stunning forests resembling those of the Elven Country depicted in her tales.

Find Kasia online:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Pinterest

Instagram

Goodreads

E-mail

What makes Kasia tick? She answered a few questions of her choice. I have to add that I love Alexandre Dumas as well. Mine favorite was The Man in the Iron Mask.

What is the first book that made you cry?

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. The author’s craft, the strength of the characters’ friendship and the dramatism of the plot deeply affected me in my formative years. To this day, it remains my favorite adventure romance.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Both. *laughs* There are occasions when, after expressing my thoughts particularly well, I feel exhilarated. Other times, I swear my head off and reach for a drink, thinking, “What the hell am I even trying to do here?” Fun times.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym (or do you already)?

I did briefly consider it. But I’m bad at cloak and dagger stuff. Being a chaotic person, I’d probably babble out and spill the beans on my true identity sooner rather than later. So I decided against putting myself through the additional stress. I use one part of my double-barrelled name—my husband’s name, to be exact. At the beginning, I jokingly asked if he minded his family name being ‘tarnished’, in case this whole writing thing goes tits up. He said, “Tarnish away.” Well, here we are, then.

What does literary success look like to you?

*smirks* I’m a niche LGBT fantasy author who writes about Elves. I hold little delusions of future grandeur and fame. Even if only a handful of people find enjoyment and solace in my world, I’m happy enough.

What’s the best way to market your books?

I’m still trying to figure that one out. Any practical advice is highly appreciated *laughs*. I wish I were more of a businessperson, with a shrewd marketing strategy at the ready, but I ain’t.

How many hours a day do you write?

That varies, depending on my real life job. When amidst a translating project, spending further hours typing, crouched over a computer screen doesn’t appeal.

I’m a slow writer because I’m also a compulsive deleter. I hate padding in books, and I think about every word very carefully. I like aiming for 500 words a day during my writing phase.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

I purchased a keyboard with a gel wrist rest and an ergonomic mouse. Worth every penny. Carpal tunnel is a bitch.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

At nursery (or kindergarten, for dear Americans). I told a scary story to other children—they cried and couldn’t sleep at nap time—and I loved every second. The teacher had words with my parents afterwards.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Three. Two paranormal novelettes: one about a shifter, and a fantasy novel about a hunter and a mage. I’m planning on revisiting them once I’ve completed my current projects.

How do you select the names of your characters?

I think the names are of vital importance in my genre. Fantasy is governed by its own rules. I mean, I cannot see myself writing about an Elven warrior called Bob or Tom, no offence to Bobs (or Toms). It just wouldn’t invoke the right vibe.

As a linguist, I love coming up with the names for my characters and geographical places where their adventures happen. Somehow, that’s always been a super easy and fun task for me, and the starting point of my writing process; they just come to me. I have to admit to being influenced by words of Celtic and Scandinavian origin.

My characters speak a variety of languages and dialects—I enjoy creating unique idioms and sayings. Most of them have accents; language diversity is tremendously important to me. In the Order series, I even came up with my own version of the Elven language.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I do. I find reading reviews educational. So far, I’ve been lucky. I’m grateful to people who leave a comment or rating upon finishing my stories. Reviews mean a lot. However, in my view, any artist must be prepared for receiving critiques the moment they release their creation, whatever it is, into the world. So ultimately, developing a thicker skin and the ability to avoid taking things personally might be a good idea. Yup, easier said than done. But at the end of the day, all opinions are subjective, and there is no accounting for taste.

What is your favorite childhood book?

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. My father recommended it to me, and I think it shaped my views on social justice and decency early on.