Interview: SIMONE SALMON

I’m excited to have Simone Salmon stop by my blog today and answer a few questions about her novel, Drafnel! 

CropperCapture[108]Simone Salmon, a Jamaican born New Yorker, is the mother of two sons and a Jack Russell terrier.

Simone is still working on her exit strategy from Corporate America, but in the meantime she writes novels, poetry and expands her multisensory perceptions. She is also a spiritual truth seeker who appreciates psychic phenomena and timelessness.

Music of all kinds, warm weather, lounging on the beach, and experiencing the unknown are just a few of her most favorite things.


Drafnel Cover

Pre-order the book at: Amazon | BookGoodies | Goodreads

DRAFNEL launches 8/28/2015!

There are so many moving pieces in DRAFNEL, and it’s all the more complicated by the fact that, as presented, the book is non-linear. How did you keep everything straight? What was your writing process like?

This is a fantastic question and I hope that my answer explains why. I have always wanted to write a book or poetry or short story…just about anything. After receiving a C- from my freshman English professor, I decided that maybe the writing dream needed to be shelved in pursuit of a more realistic profession: something having to do with computers. Fast forward 20+ years later, with a limited career in word processing, the writing itch started to take over again. I found a great online writing coach, the late Debra Rigas. She understood my aversion to using an outline, after my many misses with a slew of “How to Write a Novel” books. She encouraged me to not worry about where paragraphs or even chapters would end up. For instance, the last chapter that I wrote is the beginning of the first chapter in Drafnel. To be honest, many chapters and paragraphs were moved around as the story unfolded. As a matter of fact, my original intention was to write a ghost story based on very real events that occurred while living in a New York brownstone after graduating from college. However, something different unfolded the more I connected with my characters and glimpsed their worlds. The only real process I can admit to having is a commitment to non-stop writing during three one-week vacations at the Jersey Shore. The majority of the book got written by the beach over a three-year period during each of those vacations.

My best answer for your first question is that I followed Debra’s very astute suggestion and just wrote. This novel is a literal creative purge. There was no methodology for keeping everything in logical sequence. I did not have lists or journals, nor were there any character mappings. Some of the characters chose to remain undeveloped because they will appear in subsequent books in the series. I followed their energetic flow, otherwise the narratives sounded forced and felt mechanical. I found myself filled with genuine delight or surprise upon discovering why a certain event happened or even the name of a particular character. I knew nothing of implementing plots or plot twists, but that didn’t seem to matter because, as you hinted, a variety of intricate and complex moving pieces somehow weaved their way into the story.

A writer writes. So I just wrote.

I was captivated by the sections narrated by Camille’s grandmother, Catherine, which were set in Jamaica. Catherine’s character–both as a young girl and as an old woman–came through so strongly. Can you talk a little about her and how she came to be included in the book?

Catherine’s character is based on my maternal grandmother, Mavis, who passed away several years back. My grandmother, like Catherine, was adopted from India and knew very little of her own family history. The people who raised her, in Jamaica, treated her like a housemaid instead of an adopted child or sister. She shared many tragic stories of mistreatment and loss. An example is when her two year-old son was permanently removed from her care. She never knew where his father had taken him or how to locate the family. She searched for him throughout the years and did not connect with him again until a little before her death. So there are many similarities between Catherine, the character, and my grandmother.

I spent countless hours on the phone or lounging in my grandmother’s living-room couch, during occasional visits, captivated by her answers to my questions about her life. She had the best sense of humor and always made me laugh. She helped me to write this book in many different ways: through her gift for story-telling and the presence of her magnificent spirit.

Another standout for me was Kristle Franz. I won’t get into spoilers here–folks really should read the book–but that was a narrative thread that slowly built momentum and weirdness throughout. What were some influences for you? How did that character come to be?

It’s so interesting and satisfying to hear how a character affects the reader. As I wrote the story, Kristle seemed to prefer staying in the background. I guess that’s why her narrative has that slow, yet deliberate momentum you mentioned. She is loosely based on the stepmother of an acquaintance. This acquaintance happens to be the product of an extra-marital affair. She ended up being raised by her father’s wife who, understandably, resented being burdened with the daily reminder of her husband’s betrayal. Unfortunately, the child bore the brunt of this man’s deception, both in her lack of acceptance within the family and the rejection by her own mother. Kristle’s character is composite of perceptions from an outsider witnessing some of the weirdness in those relationship dynamics.

What are you working on right now? What should readers look for from you next?

I am currently working on the next book in the series entitled, Caleb. This will be based on Catherine’s brother, who we learn little about in Drafnel. Like this book, I really won’t know much more until the story unfolds.

I’ve also been working on a non-fiction book about my experiences trusting intuition and following higher guidance. I’m hoping to get both books completed over the next twelve months.

How can readers stay in the loop and get news about your projects and releases?

Folks can look for upcoming events such as giveaways and book signings on my website: www.ssalmonauthor.com.

On social media I can be found at:

Anything else you want us to know? Shout-outs? Words of wisdom?

Don’t wait for the right time or inspiration. If you want to write a novel or do something outside of your comfort zone – just do it and be ready to experience the miracle of co-creating with the universe. Listen to your intuition and follow your gut. That guidance will open up new doors and change your reality in ways that you cannot begin to comprehend or conceive.

Shout-out to:

  1. BR Sanders for this interview and awesome review;
  2. Solstice Publishing for taking a chance on my book;
  3. Solstice editor, Laura Johnson, whose editing was everythang;
  4. Cat Castleman who brought the characters to life on the book cover;
  5. My sons, James and Jordan, for being constant inspirations and motivation;
  6. My angels, both here and beyond, for all of their assistance and guidance during this process.

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Interview: KAYTI NIKA RAET

I’m excited to have Kayti Nika Raet stop by my blog today and answer a few questions about her novel, Nikothe first installment of the Outsider Chronicles! 

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Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Kayti Nika Raet moved down South when she was 11, where she was bitten by the writing bug, as well as other, less friendly insects.

She is the author of the Outsider Chronicles, a five book series starting with NIKO and set in a world where the rain burns like acid and flesh eating monsters roam.

She’s also a reviewer for Readers’ Favorite and has her own Youtube Channel: Kayti Edition.

When she is not hard at work on her fourth book she has fun reading, listening to K-pop, and photography.

Kayti lives in Milledgeville, Georgia.


The worldbuilding in NIKO is meticulous, and the fact that it’s the first in a series suggest that what’s been revealed about the Slithers, Amaryllis city, the Circles, the acid rain, etc, is only the tip of the iceberg. Did you plan the arc of the entire series before you wrote NIKO, or did you figure out it was a series as you wrote the first book?

Thank you! 🙂 I started Niko wanting it to be a series. It was actually one of my writing goals since I sucked at sequels, and what’s a series if not multiple sequels? But I’m a total pantser who hates outlines (hisssss), so the first draft was written without any concrete ideas for a series arc. I was just writing a story and having loads of fun.

It wasn’t until I started doing the second and third draft that I hashed out a vague arc (seriously, it’s about five words) that I wouldn’t feel constricted by. Each book has it’s own individual arc that helps keep me on course. Mostly.
It’s been a learning experience. I’m not only finding out new things about my characters with each book, but I’m also discovering things about myself as a writer.

~

Where did the initial idea for NIKO come from? How did you get the idea for the series?

There’s no one, concrete, idea that got Niko going, it was a lot of little things coming together. A doodle with the word Harmony Nickle on it. A love of squicky, gory, weird you out horror. A dislike for the slew of YA that seemed to encourage girls to belittle themselves, and be ‘likable’ and ‘relatable’. My twisted sense of humor. Manga and action movie fangirling. Random song lyrics… and science facts… and randomness… But at the core of it all was the desire for a story that I would want to read. Hopefully it’s something that lots of other people like reading too.

~

I haven’t had a chance to pick up the rest of the book yet but PLEASE tell me we haven’t seen the last of Norm and Lo!

They’re great aren’t they?

Did you know, Lola Pon is named after the amazing authors Malinda Lo and Cindy Pon?

*mild fan girl moment*

Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to properly reintroduce them yet, but I plan to.

I love them.

~

What are you working on right now? What should readers look for from you next?

Right now, I’m taking a little break to relax and recharge before diving into the big finale that is book 5. I have a slight idea how I want things to go and I can’t wait to get started.

There have been a few other stories buzzing around in my head as well, but they’ve been a little evasive when it comes to the getting word on paper part.

~

How can readers stay in the loop and get news about your projects and releases?

I’m everywhere (okay, that’s a lie. But I’m ALMOST everywhere. Close enough.)

You can follow me on

Twitter: https://twitter.com/knrwrites

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/kaytinikaraetbooks

My blog that I really need to update more often: http://kaytinikaraet.com

My second blog with the two lovely authors Madhuri Blaylock and L. J. K. Oliva #WriteBitch4Life
http://writebitches.com

~

Anything else you want us to know? Shout-outs? Words of wisdom?

Oh my god, shout outs! I’ll curb my enthusiasm and keep it to three authors you definitely should read.

Madhuri Blaylock made the dedication of one of my books and if you read any of her works you’ll see why. She’s the author of The Sanctum Trilogy and the upcoming Keepers Series with the first book, DUTCH about to set the world on fire.

Kendall Bailey really came through with some awesome editing and helped beef up some of the sci-fi elements in NIKO. He wrote a great crime thriller called The Dead Don’t Speak.

Suanne Laqueur is someone I bumped into recently, and her book The Man I Love is all kinds of awesome. I don’t usually read contemporary romances, but that book… asdfghjkl!

And for the words of wisdom bit, I’m going to crib from one of the greats.

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An Interview with Brian C. Baer

I’m excited to have Brian C. Baer stop by my blog today and answer a few questions about his novel, Bad Publicity! 

Brian C. Baer is a graduate of the Creative Writing program at Eastern Washington University. After teaching English in Prague, London, and Manchester, UK, he has now settled in Spokane,
Washington. Bad Publicity is his first novel.


BadPublicity_BrianCBaer

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A major theme in Bad Publicity was secrets–their commodification, their destructive potential, the ethics of uncovering them versus leaving them alone. Can you speak to this what drove you to write about this?

Secrets and that hidden side of everyone has interested me for as long as I can remember. That, along with an interest in journalists, can probably be blamed on reading Superman comics as kid.

Everyone has secrets; they can be simple and benign or very much the opposite, but they are always nobody else’s business. Still, nothing is more intriguing. Modern day “entertainment journalism” struck me as the best way to explore this sort of voyeurism.

I was really interested in the way Madame Blue and the other ghosts played out through the course of the book. Especially with Fitzgerald, who was a new sort of medium. Can you talk a little bit more about your worldbuilding? What was it like in the afterlife for Madame Blue and the other ghosts? What was up with Fitzgerald’s ‘sensitivity’ for lack of a better word?

I didn’t get into the details of the ghosts or Fitzgerald’s gifts in the book, because those ideas are just so cool and I didn’t want to sidetrack the main story too much. To me, the ghosts are just a series of echoes. When you die, you can’t do anything new, but the person you were and the things you did keep ringing out. What makes Madame Blue different is a sense of agency; she is very much stuck in that one facet of her personality, but she has more control and can make more of an impact. And she gets this power from (what she perceives to be) love.

‘Sensitivity’ is actually the best word for what Fitzgerald does. He’s sensitive enough to hear those echoes, but not strong enough to keep himself separate from everything he hears. He’s an overly sensitive guy who loses himself in the thoughts of un-real people. In other words, he’s a writer.

Which came first–Jackson Hardy being a tabloid reporter or the ghosts? Or did the two sides of the plot develop together?

Those two concepts were there from the get-go. The book came from a short story I wrote about a ghost love-triangle. Jackson has this ghost he uses for his job, and the two of them developed a relationship without him realizing it. She fawns over him, but she also fills a void in his life. Then he meets a cute girl and everything goes to hell. Those two’s connection is what made me want to expand the story more.

What are you working on right now? What should readers look for from you next?

I’m in that fun process of struggling to write and over-thinking the sophomore project. I’ve been doing some travel writing and blogging for the ComicBookMedia.com site in the meanwhile, but I’m finally buckling down and working on the next novel. With any luck, it’ll be a slacker farce full of cults, military-industrial complex conspiracies, and slightly too much nostalgia for the mid-90s.

How can readers stay in the loop and get news about your projects and releases?

Well, I spend too much time on Twitter, if that’s what you mean. Follow me @BrianCBaer.

Do you have any final thoughts or words of wisdom you want to share?

Just “Never trust anyone who offers you words of wisdom”.

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WORKING Interview with Sarah McCarry

Sarah McCarry, who is beyond awesome, recently started the Working Project, where she interviews women and trans* writers who experience mental illness. The Working interviews are a space where these writers articulate the way their experience of mental illness impacts and intersects with the act of writing.

I expressed interest in participating in her project, and Sarah generously agreed to interview. My interview is up on her blog now, and I am honored and thrilled to be a part of this ongoing project. If you’re at all interested in first person accounts of writing life, mental illness and the combination of the two, I encourage you to read the whole set of interviews. And if you’re a woman or trans* writer who experiences mental illness and is comfortable speaking about it, I encourage you to contact Sarah.