Author Interview: Ammar Habib

Book Squirrel chats today with Ammar Habib, a bestselling and award winning author of paranormal suspense thrillers.

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Interview Red

Book Squirrel chats today with Ammar Habib, a bestselling and award winning author of paranormal suspense thrillers.

Ammar Habib Photo.JPG

Welcome, Ammar. It’s a privilege to have you here today. 

Thank you, Book Squirrel! It’s a rare thing to be interviewed by a squirrel!

What can I say? I’m a rare squirrel. 

You certainly are.

Thanks! So tell me, what inspired you to write?

The one book that inspired me to become a writer is Og Mandino’s The Choice. I read the book when I was seven-years-old and it is what put me onto the path of becoming a writer and inspired the dream to one day have millions of copies of my books sold around the world.

Outside of books, the other main thing that acting as a catalyst for my writing was my 2nd Grade Teacher at AP Beutel, Mrs. Scott. When I was in her class years ago, she gave me a homework assignment to write a one-page story. This was the first time I ever wrote anything. That experience breathed the love of writing into me and I’ve never stopped since!

I’ve also discovered that I’m not the first author in my family. My great-grandfather was a writer after his career as a police officer in India ended. My maternal grandmother was also a writer, having some of her works published in the newspaper. Although my own mother was not a writer, she has her Master’s degree in Fine Art. So I think this artistic capability probably runs in the family too.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

I like to say that my favorite and best book is always my next project!

What are you working on writing now?

I actually have quite a few projects in different stages of development. I recently signed a contract for a children’s picture book, which will be releasing next year. I also have a police novel releasing next year as well. My agent is shopping around a Young Adult novel and is also shopping around a non-fiction project of mine. I also have a graphic novel being read by some publishers. So 2018 will be very exciting God-Willingly!

Who designs your book covers?

As of right now, most of my book covers have been created by Fiona Jayde.

What’s your favourite kind of music?

I don’t necessarily have a favorite kind of music in terms of genre. I’m more particular about lyrics and making sure that I listen to something that isn’t going to drag me down mentally. However, I definitely use music to my advantage when writing and find that listening to music that mirrors the type of scene I’m writing helps me nail down the tone of the scene!

So, you are what you listen to?

That’s one way of looking at it!

 What movie can you watch over and over again?

Hands down, it’s The Last Samurai. I love that movie from the characters to setting to plot to theme. The ending still gets me on the edge of tears, even though I’ve watched this movie many times. This film was actually the inspiration for the graphic novel script I recently wrote.

 When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Ever since I was seven, one of my dreams was to one day become a New York Times Bestselling author! I’m still excited about continuing to strive towards that dream.

What’s your favourite quote, ever?

Here’s a quote from President John Quincy Adams: “Duty is ours. Results are Gods.” I love this quote because it reminds me not to worry about the results of my action. I just need to do the best I can and keep my intentions pure, and then leave the outcomes up to a higher power.

I like that. It’s very inspirational.

I agree.

Speaking of inspiration, name three people you admire, and give reasons.

There are definitely more than three people I admire and look up to, but I’ll just keep it at three for the sake of space. The first two are a couple, my father and mother. They’re my heroes in life and gave me the foundation to pursue my dream.

The third would be my brother. He is my best friend and #1 fan and I cannot explain what his support has meant to me through every step of this journey as a writer! Without these three people in my life, I would not be the person I am today and the person I am becoming tomorrow.

They sound like great people. We should all be so lucky.

Indeed!

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Here’s an answer that most authors can definitely relate with:

1) Getting a publishing deal
2) Raising awareness of your books.

Both are sometimes equally hard as the other and something to celebrate upon achievement. But thankfully as I continue to work in the industry, I’ve gotten more opportunities for both and am continuing to grow more proficient at my craft. All this leads towards growing closer to my dream of becoming a New York Times Bestselling author in the near future!

Where can readers buy your books?

My books are on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

And where can we follow you on social media?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ammarahsenhabib
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmmarAHabib1
Instagram: https://instagram.com/ammar.a.habib/
Blog: ammarhabibblog.wordpress.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Ammar_Habib

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cTopbv

Thanks for being here today, Ammar. 

Thanks for having me!

 

 

 

 

 

Author Interview: Dylan Madeley

Book Squirrel chats today with Dylan Madeley, author of the epic fantasy series, The Gift-Knight Trilogy.

Interview Lime

Book Squirrel chats today with Dylan Madeley, author of the epic fantasy series, The Gift-Knight Trilogy.

Hi Dylan!

Hi Book Squirrel!

Let’s get straight into it, eh? What inspired you to write?

My dad was always reading and writing and then talking about how he was going to write, himself; children’s books or whatnot. I was really young at the time and caught the bug. Now I find I have two books on the market and I am waiting for his first, but life is funny that way.

What are you working on writing now?

The third book in the Gift-Knight Trilogy, to neatly close that off: The Masked Queen’s Lament. The first draft was written in 2011 under a different working title, and finally (finally!) I am prepared to look at it, make an outline of what’s actually in the book, make a counter-outline of what I want it to look like, and rewrite the whole thing using the first draft as source material.

Do you have a favourite food or drink that helps you write?

I am very partial to freshly home-roasted coffee, yerba mate, irn bru, or herbal tea during the writing process. Food is more like drifting between sweet and savoury snacks, though like many of my Toronto NaNoWriMo brethren, I am partial to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

*sigh* I love Canada… and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups… oh, *cough* right! Yes! Where were we? 
Who designs your book covers?

For this first trilogy, all cover art is by Rona Dijkhuis and designed in a collaborative process. She did also assist with back cover layout/art once I moved to CreateSpace for print on demand paperbacks.

What’s your favourite kind of music?

I have a good chunk of the Dead Can Dance studio album catalogue sitting in iTunes, but to freshen things up, I will go for just any music that seems to scratch an itch at the time. I like the couple of albums LEGEND (Icelandic dark electronic band) has put out. I can flip fully over to movie soundtracks and harsher industrial music, or straight up pop, but whatever it is has to feel right at the time.

What’s the best vacation you had?

Ethiopia. By far. Also the last. Full range of emotions experienced. I have four separate photo albums of what I saw/experienced there in my Flickr, under the user name “Dylerpillar”.

That sounds amazing. I’ll be sure to check those out!

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

What jumps to mind is “astronaut”. I probably wanted to be whatever had looked coolest most recently to me, but that’s an early one that seems to be more important than the others for some reason. I was also a complete failure at math once you get to Relations and Irrational/Real numbers and whatever we were struggling at by grade 10 or 11. And no better at Computer Science for that matter. Fortunately, one of those things was “writer” too, and somewhat more within reach of the skill sets I have developed.

What’s your favourite season? Why?

I am one of the autumn people, the ones you may have been warned about. It doesn’t have the oppressive heat summer can have, nor the bone-chill of winter, nor the heaps of allergens that tend to get me in spring (though spring would be in a close second for its balanced temperatures and precipitation).
What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?

Your greatest asset is you, being present with your audience in person. This asset has more value than all the high priced marketing things you can sign up for put together. Be with your audience at vendor markets where you have a stall, at autograph sessions and readings, in their libraries, at their panels, in-person. If you have the skill set to make that work, you can probably make online presence work too.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

I: Editing, namely self-editing, editing my own work. Enough said.
II: Stress-free social interactions with strangers and most other human beings. They’re mostly good but a part of me is often on edge for reasons I could write whole essays about, but wouldn’t try to fit in this interview.
I hear you. People can be so… people-ish. And they don’t always try to understand my Squirrelness.

Right!

Where can we buy your books?

Ebook editions can currently be purchased through Amazon:

and Kobo:

https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-crown-princess-voyage

Where can readers follow you on social media?

Readers can follow @thedylanmadeley on Twitter, and like/follow my Facebook Page.

Thanks for joining me today, Dylan!

Thanks for having me, Book Squirrel!

Book Review: ‘Souls Asunder’ by Miranda Brock

Miranda Brock has definitely cemented her place in my shortlist of “one click authors” whose books I will buy in a heartbeat.

Miranda Brock TKW 2 Souls Asunder

It is a skilful writer who develops the characters in such a way that the reader visualises them in all their different expressions, holds their breath in moments of suspense, and only realises they were doing so when they let that breath go.

Miranda Brock is one such writer.

The sequel to Souls Discovered, this is the second in Miranda Brock’s The Keeper’s Way series for young adults and older. Brock has crafted another exciting and deeply involving story in which The Keeper, Autumn, and her Searchers confront the terrible powers of evil in their efforts to rid the world of those very powers. There is plenty of action to keep the story going, and there are a number of absolutely gut-wrenching moments that keep the reader absolutely enthralled.

Just as Autumn and her Searchers know each other better and have a stronger connection in the second book, the reader also feel a stronger bond with the central characters because they, too, know them better now. I didn’t even realise how much I had invested emotionally in this book until I finished it.

After reading Book 1, I knew better than to expect a predictable ending in the sequel, and Souls Asunder does not disappoint. I’m so keen for Book 3 and dead keen to know what happens next.

Miranda Brock has definitely cemented her place in my shortlist of “one click authors” whose books I will buy in a heartbeat.miranda-brock-souls-discovered

Golden Acorns
Because Book Squirrel was giving  star ratings rather than Acorn Awards when he reviewed Book One, both books in The Keeper’s Way series are receiving a shiny Gold Acorn today.

The Keeper’s Way series is available on Amazon.

 

Book Squirrel Review: Christmas Miracle at Easter by R.M. Gauthier

Gauthier is a great writer and a master of finishing a story with a sledgehammer that leaves you wanting to read on and keen for the next story.

Renee Gauthier Christmas Miracle Easter

The third instalment in R.M. Gauthier’s Christmas Miracle series, this story is a little shorter than the others but still full of the same tension, humour and characters.

Gauthier is a great writer and a master of finishing a story with a sledgehammer that leaves you wanting to read on and keen for the next story.

I really enjoyed this book, and I really hope there will be another. Christmas Miracle on Canada Day, perhaps? Now there’s a holiday this squirrel can get behind!

Golden Acorns

‘Christmas Miracle at Easter’ gets a shiny Golden Acorn!

Get your copy at Amazon!

And if you haven’t read the others – they’re great, too!

SIBA First Miracle

Book Review: Shiva XIV – The Veil of Truth by Lyra Shanti

When I wrote my review of the first book in the Shiva XIV series, I said that this could easily become everyone’s next favourite space epic series, and that  it would easily fill the void that Star Wars fans would experience after the final episode.

Having just finished ‘The Veil of Truth’, the second book in the series, I stand wholeheartedly by those words. This brilliant space opera series really is a gift that keeps on giving.

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When I wrote my review of the first book in the Shiva XIV series, I said that this could easily become everyone’s next favourite space epic series, and that  it would easily fill the void that Star Wars fans would experience after the final episode.

Having just finished ‘The Veil of Truth’, the second book in the series, I stand wholeheartedly by those words. This brilliant space opera series really is a gift that keeps on giving.

Lyra Shanti Shiva XIV 2 The Veil of Truth

Following directly from the action and story of of ‘Shiva XIV’,  this book is once again woven from highly original and engaging stories in which the characters find themselves in a web of conflicted love, loyalties and ambitions that develop and unfold as the they pursue justice and discover truths about themselves that are not always either welcome or pleasant.

Shanti’s magic envelopes the reader, not just in the magical realism that is blended so beautifully with the sci-fi elements of this book, but also in her writing itself. The reader is swept along, easily visualising the worlds and characters that are central to the story. The worlds are intricate and complex, each with individual qualities that make it unique from the others. Shanti then plays these worlds off against one another, adding to the personal stories of the characters so that the reader truly understands that there is much more at stake than the fates of individuals.

Shanti really is a very gifted storyteller who takes the reader on a new and often surprising journey. The plot lines are well developed and strong, woven so skilfully together that the reader doesn’t always realise how intricately and significantly the characters’ stories contribute to one another.

The book ends not with a cliffhanger as the first did, but rather with a surprise and a very strong sense that there is more to learn and discover before the story can really end. I’m very much looking forward to reading book 3, ‘The Riddle of the Gods’, and continuing this fantastic journey.
Golden Acorns

‘The Veil of Truth’ by Lyra Shanti gets a lovely Golden Acorn.
It’s available on Amazon, with the rest of this amazing series and some excellent short stories that also take place in the Shiva XIV universe.

Book Review: ‘Bound’ by R.M Gauthier

The mystery surrounding Landon Miller builds to a heart-pounding crescendo in this fantastic sequel to ‘Control’.

R.M. Gauthier Bound
The mystery surrounding Landon Miller builds to a heart-pounding crescendo in this fantastic sequel to ‘Control’.
 The action is fast-paced and unpredictable, providing a really effective contrast between those moments of waiting and wondering that heighten the tension and intrigue even further.

Gauthier’s characters are for the well-written and believable, and the reader continues to build empathy with Lexi throughout the story. I felt involved in the story and shared in Lexi’s frustration and anger with various situations and other characters at various points of the plot. Gauthier very cleverly positions the reader to understand the central character so that her responses feel both reasonable and justified, even though the reader might not personally respond in the same ways. In all honesty, I know Lexi is much more brave than I am, even if her stubbornness is something I can totally relate to.

This was a great read that focused on the mystery and the chase, rather than the “underground lifestyle” portrayed in ‘Control’, which was really only alluded to in ‘Bound’.

Golden Acorns

‘Bound’ gets a lovely shiny Golden Acorn!

I’m really keen for the release of the third book in the series.

Author Interview: Lyra Shanti

Hi folks, welcome to another Book Squirrel Author Interview! Today we chat with Lyra Shanti,  author of the brilliant space epic series Shiva XIV and a number of other incredible works. 

Interview Purple

Hi folks, welcome to another Book Squirrel Author Interview! Today we chat with Lyra Shanti,  author of the brilliant space epic series Shiva XIV and a number of other incredible works. 

Hi, Lyra. 

Hi, Squirrel.

I confess, I’m a little star-struck. 

Oh, you sweet thing!

Right, where was I? Ah yes. Here we go! What inspired you to write?

Where to start? So many things inspire me! Great films, books, plays/musicals, music, anime/manga, poetry, laughter, sex, love,  rain, moonlight, the ocean, tall ancient trees, mountains, lakes, and so much more!

Truthfully, everything affects me.  I’ve been writing poetry, plays, and songs since I was a child of seven, but I didn’t start seriously writing stories till I was in my late 30s. I always wanted to try novel writing, but was terrified I wouldn’t be good enough. Then, one day, I felt the urge to try. I stared at the blank white screen and suddenly envisioned an infant, held up at an altar by a priest. It was Shiva XIV I saw, but I didn’t know it yet. Slowly, the story came to me, and the rest is history.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

I’ve read a few good ones, though I haven’t had a ton of time to read (spending most of my time writing and editing!) But I loved Sweet Vengeance by Aliya DalRae. Can’t wait to read book 2, Sweet Discovery! It’s such a fun, sexy paranormal series!

Oh, I’ve read those! They’re great!  What are you working on writing now?

Lyra Shanti Shiva XIV 4 The River Of Time

I just finished book 4 in my sci-fi series, Shiva XIV: The River of Time. Yay! I’ll be promoting that for a while, but my next book will be The Artist, a complete departure from sci-fi and fantasy.

It’s a story about a man named Apollo Antonius Vidali, an artist fighting his madness in search of true love. It will be a cross between historical romance and erotic freeform poetry! I can’t wait to get that done by next year. I think my fans will be totally surprised, and that’s exciting!

What is your pet hate? Have you ever built it into a character or used it in your writing?

I have a strange aversion to whistling. Not so much when a person does it on key and it’s a song they know well… but when it’s meandering and slightly off key. I can’t explain why, I just hate it so much. I’ve yet to write that into a book… I may at some point. Maybe if I were to write a thriller or murder mystery. I could see a murderer whistling right after he’s killed someone. Terrifying!

What movie can you watch over and over again?

Lord of the Rings. All of them…The extended versions. Not even kidding! Lol

I would also repeatedly watch Close Encounters, Back to the Future (all 3), Titanic, The Wizard of Oz, The Muppet Movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and of course, the original Star Wars movies.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Basically what I am. 🙂 From the time I was 7, I wanted to be a songwriter… and playwright. I never envisioned myself as a novelist. That’s new, but feels right!

Sometimes you just have to run with what life brings you, eh?

Absolutely right!

What’s your favourite season? Why?

Winter… especially in S Florida. There really aren’t weather changes here, like, at all… so winter is the only time it isn’t hot and humid. I love cooler weather! I love sweaters and snow and holidays!

Autumn is a close second. If I were living where I grew up (in Bellingham, Washington), there would be beautifully warm colors in the trees and a crisp, cool breeze in the air. It would be heaven! Plus, Halloween!

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

Growing up, I loved Alice in Wonderland. I think Lewis Carroll had a bigger influence on my already wacky brain than I realized. Then, Shakespeare plays made my heart and mind swoon! And of course, I loved Tolkien and J.K Rowling. But my biggest influence and inspiration would be Hermann Hesse. Books like Siddhartha, Steppenwolf, and Narcissus and Goldmund had a huge impact on me as a young adult, and as a writer. His stories were full of philosophical “East meets West” ideas, but also romantic relationships with flawed characters I deeply related to. I have to say, without his writing I would never have been a writer myself. His stuff was poetic and brilliant!

What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?

It’s hard work. A lot harder than some might realize… all the writing, editing, promoting, and worry over if anyone will like the story.

Ultimately, though, it’s worth all the pain. At the end of the day, I get to see my worlds born into a virtual reality where it will live on forever. And I can say I did it my way… like Sinatra. 😉

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Editing books! And a second thing? Hmm… Driving a car in the city. Driving itself doesn’t scare me, but other people in their cars do! They’re nuts!

Wait! Nuts are good!

Okay. I guess you could say they drive me crazy!  *makes Fozzie Bear face* Get it?! Wakka wakka!

Moving right along…

Ah, I see what you did there!

*laughter*

So tell us, where can readers find your books?

My books are all on my Amazon page and my website at www lyrashanti.com.  

Awesome! Where can readers follow you on social media?

I’m on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for being here today, Lyra! You’re incredible! 

Awww, thanks! You’re pretty special too, Book Squirrel!