Author Interview: Catherine Weaver

Interview Orange

Welcome to another Book Squirrel Author Interview, in which Book Squirrel meets Catherine Weaver, the author of the Island of California books, which are fantasy books set in the present day Silicon Valley area and the magical Island of California.

Welcome, Catherine!

Thank you, Book Squirrel. It’s lovely to meet you!

Tell us, Catherine, what kind of audience you write for.

My books were written for middle-grade readers and have absolutely nothing in them that is not family-friendly. Kids who have read the books so far really like them, and most adults who have read them like them, too.

That’s great! It’s true that the best kids’ books are loved by adults as well.

Yes, there’s a child in all of us.

Or, at least, a very cute little squirrel. 

Yes, of course!

Are your books all in a series, or are they single titles?

The novels, Gold Dust and Phoenix Down, and I am currently working on the third in the series, Dragon Oil.

I also have two books of short stories: Tales From the Island of California, and More Tales From the Island of California.

What inspired you to write?

I come from a family of writers. My mother, Jane Blue, is a poet, and her mother wrote articles for newspapers in San Francisco, so I grew up with the idea that writing was something people do. But what really inspired me to actually start writing books was my huge love of reading, plus my love of the San Francisco Bay Area. I read lots and lots of books that I loved, but noticed there was a distinct lack of fantasy books set in the SF Bay Area and Silicon Valley, which I feel are among the most magical places on Earth, and I wished I could read a book like that. Since I couldn’t find them, I decided to write them.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

I like them all, but have a special place in my heart for my first book, Gold Dust.

What’s your favourite thing that someone else has written?

Ask me this on a different day and I will give you a different answer. I am a voracious reader and I have a lot of favorites. Right now I’m reading Ready Player One, which I am enjoying very much. I just finished Anansi Boys, which I feel is a perfect book. I also think most of the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett are perfect. I completely loved The Martian and can’t wait for the sequel. The Thin Man is one of the best books ever written. The Harry Potter books are likewise amazing. When I was a kid, I read and re-read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy to a point where I had them memorized, and the same goes for the Chronicles of Narnia. There are many more.

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

Today I have to say Ready Player One.

What are you working on writing now?

The third book in my series, which is called Dragon Oil.

Do you have any books planned that feature… you know… squirrels?

Uh… no. Sorry.

It’s okay. It’s never too late, you know.

I’ll keep that in mind.

Thanks.
What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

When I went to Switzerland and stayed with friends in Yverdon near Lausanne, rented an Alpha Romeo, and drove all over the french part of Switzerland, then down the Rhone Valley in France to Marseille, staying in Valence on the way.

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

I really hate prejudice, greed and the way artists are devoured by the machine. I also hate religious, cultural and gender discrimination. These things are addressed in my writing, in a way that is palatable for kids. My books are full of humor, so the things I hate are not hit over anyone’s head.

What movie can you watch over and over again?

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension.

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

An architect.

Cool!
What’s your favourite season? Why?

I like autumn the best because it’s sunny but not too hot, the air smells of wood fires, and the low sunlight slanting through the turning leaves is beautiful.
And all those lovely nuts!
Absolutely!

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

Terry Pratchett, Dashiell Hammet, JRR Tolkien

Great choices! 

Thanks!

Where can we follow you on social media?I’m on Facebook and Twitter and I also have a webpage.

You’re also welcome to check out my Amazon author page, which has all of my books on it.

Just click through on the links.

Thanks for being here today, Catherine. 

Thank you for having me!

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Book Review: ‘Leger – Cat Sleuth’ by Lacie Dearie

‘Leger – Cat Sleuth’ is a delightful short story in which a cat takes on the role of detective to solve a mystery that unfolds very close to his home.

It’s written with good humor and clever characterization of the protagonist and his animal friends, feline and otherwise, who help him find the pieces of the puzzle and find the culprit he seeks. 
Suitable for any reader from young adult upwards, this story is a short read but contains enough charm and interest to engage a reader and entertain their imagination.

‘Leger – Cat Sleuth’ and others in the series are available on Amazon.

Book Review: The Dragon Warrior Of Kri by Lyra Shanti

Lyra Shanti Dragon Warrior of Kri

An enthralling tale of self-discovery and destiny.

Set in the complex and dynamic world of Shanti’s Shiva XIV series, The Dragon Warrior of Kri is a powerful short story that explores part of the early life of Meddhi, whom we meet as an older man in the Shiva XIV novels.

It’s a thought-provoking storyline enriched by beautifully written sensory detail and powerful undercurrents of love, self-discovery and rising to meet the challenges of one’s destiny.

The characters are vivid and engaging, each one portrayed as complex, highly individual, and conflicted both by their own flaws and by others’ expectations of them. This makes them highly relatable, and keeps the reader hoping that their favorite will prevail.

Shanti is a master of world building and story telling. Her writing draws the reader into this world and envelopes them in the drama and crisis points of the story so effectively that it’s hard to put the book down.

Although it is a short story that fully complements the Shiva XIV series, it works perfectly well as a standalone story.

New readers should consider themselves warned, though: this book will leave them wanting more. Thankfully, Shanti’s novels and other stories set in the same world are able to provide exactly that.

The Dragon Warrior of Kri is available on Amazon.

Read the Book Squirrel’s author spotlight on Lyra Shanti.

Author Interview: J.S. Bailey

Interview Lime
Welcome to another fabulous Book Squirrel author interview! 
Today, I’d like to introduce J. S. Bailey, author of  supernatural suspense novels and short stories.
Welcome, J.S! 

Thank you!

What inspired you to write?

I don’t know! I have written for as long as I’ve known how to read. My earliest “stories” date from when I was five years old, and I’d decided to make children’s books that I illustrated myself. One was about a “baer” that went to school. Thankfully my writing has matured a bit over time. 😉

 

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

JS Bailey Ordinary Souls

I’ve enjoyed writing most of my books, but my absolute favorite is my short story collection Ordinary Souls. It’s an eclectic mix of light horror and science fiction and features 16 stories that have a sort of Twilight Zone vibe to them.
The main story in the collection, “The Mirror,” is about Elena, a wealthy antique collector who brings home an old mirror that at times shows her her reflection as it appears in the future. Once Elena has caught on to what the mirror is showing her, she fixates on what her future self is doing and tries very hard to avoid it.
Writing “The Mirror” was challenging because it takes place in London, where I have never been. I had to conduct much more research while writing this 12,000-word story than I’ve done for 100,000-word novels! I do love British literature and television, so that helped.

 

Who is your preferred audience?

I write for adults, but my books are not erotic/sexual in any way.

What’s your favourite thing that someone else has written?

It may be cliche, but I adore the Harry Potter series and always will. J. K. Rowling has a way with words that few authors have, and her characters are some of the most developed I have ever read.

 

Oh! I love those too! I just wish there had been a magical squirrel at Hogwarts…

Nawww! What a cool idea!


What are you working on writing now?

Too many things! I’m finalizing my supernatural thriller Surrender: The Chronicles of Servitude Book 3 and have been slowly plotting out Solemnity: The Chronicles of Servitude Book 4. The series is about Bobby Roland, a socially-awkward psychic who has premonitions of disaster whenever someone he knows is about to die. Unfortunately for Bobby, the people he knows are always getting into terrible trouble.

 

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

I’ve visited the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee many times, but one vacation that stands out is the time my husband and I went there in 2012 and hiked the whole week. We hiked up Mt. LeConte–7 hours round-trip–and saw so many breathtaking views. Different kinds of wildflowers I’d never seen before grew at different elevations on the mountain. It was beautiful beyond words, and I’d love to do it again.
What movie can you watch over and over again?

I don’t watch too many movies (I’m more into TV shows like Doctor Who and Supernatural), but I do love the movies Interstellar and Ed Wood. I’m not really sure what that says about me…

JS Bailey Rages Echo

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

For a while I’d wanted to be a teacher, but then I realized that large groups of children are terrifying. I did always want to be an author, so I guess you could say I’ve lived my dream.

 

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

J. K. Rowling for the reasons stated above. I’m also a massive fan of Edgar Allan Poe and Roald Dahl. Poe because his works are beautifully dark, and Dahl because his short stories are wickedly twisted. Dahl could make a sunny day seem sinister!

 

Name three people you admire, and give reasons.

I admire the actor Peter Capaldi because of his kindness toward his fans, Steven Moffat for his gripping storytelling in Doctor Who, and my husband for putting up with my weirdness all these years.

 

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Paying the bills, and finding time to write!
Where can we find your books?

JS Bailey booksigning

Readers may purchase my books from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Audible, Kobo, iBooks, and more.
 
Where can readers follow you on social media?
I might be found lurking at Facebook and Twitter
And be sure to add my books on Goodreads
Thanks for chatting with me today, J.S! It’s been fun!
Thanks, Book Squirrel!

Book Review: Four American Tales by Jack Messenger

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On starting this collection with the first story, Wichega, I was immediately drawn in by the wistful, melancholic voice of Sweet Pea, telling her story so powerfully. This story is so evocative of memories, of sights and smells and sensations, that I almost felt that I was right there in the scene. This story is such an engaging way to open the quartet of stories.

Messenger’s writing is equally powerful and emotive in the other stories. The characters are developed richly, each having their own distinct voice and mannerisms that portray far more than what is told of them in the stories themselves.

These stories, and the characters in them, are varied enough to keep the reader engaged and curious throughout the book. There is neither cliche nor repetition in the plots, characters and imagery delivered by Messenger.

These stories are, without doubt, American in both style and setting, at different times reminding me of the imagery and eloquence of John Steinbeck.

This is the first of his books that I have read, but I definitely hope to read more of his writing. I enjoyed Four American Tales very much.

Four American Tales is available on Amazon.

‘The Lion and The Tiger’ by Lyra Shanti

Lyra Shanti The Lion and The Tiger

‘The Lion and The Tiger’ is a short story companion to Lyra Shanti’s ‘Shiva XIV’ epic sci-fi series. It fills in a little of the backstory of Hynfir, whom we meet in the novels as the general of the Tah army. For those who have not read the Shiva XIV series, this short story works perfectly well as a standalone.

Written with Shanti’s trademark eloquence, ‘The Lion and The Tiger’ is the story of the meeting and relationship of  the Lirhan warrior, Hynfir, and Leif, the man who should have been off limits.

‘The Lion and The Tiger’  is not very long, but it has profound relevance for anyone whose love or life challenges judgemental or restrictive social boundaries.

If you haven’t read the Shiva XIV stories, ‘The Lion and The Tiger’ will whet your appetite for the novels which are, in my opinion, the next great space epic just waiting to be discovered.

‘The Lion and The Tiger’ is available at Amazon for just $1.
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April Reading List Challenge

March didn’t quite go as expected. How on earth is it April already?

Needless to say, I didn’t get through all the books on my list for March. It was a combination of factors, being an action-packed month at work which meant taking more work home, and getting distracted by my own writing and  organising a new release!
The books still on the pile have been carried over to April, with a couple of others added.

In March, I read all of ‘Call of Sunteri’ by Missy Sheldrake, and half each of two other books: ‘An Enlightening Quiche’ by Eva Pasco, and ‘Sediments’ – the poetry of Lyra Shanti.

‘Call of Sunteri’ is a beautifully written, magical adventure tale for YA and older.
You can read the official Book Squirrel review for more information and links.

Lyra Shanti’s poetry is beautiful and vivid. It winds tendrils of love, desire and angst around your imagination and forces it to paint pictures for you. I’ve not finished reading it, so keep an eye out for that review this month.

‘An Enlightening Quiche’ has a lot more depth and profundity than one might expect from a book titled after quiche. I’m really enjoying it. The review will happen soon!

Which brings us to my April reads.

‘Christmas Miracle in July’ and ‘Christmas Miracle on Valentine’s Day’ by  R.M. Gauthier.

These twin novellas blend humour, small-town life and unexpected romance. I wonder, though, if the romance is the only thing that will take the reader by surprise? I suspect not.

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‘Souls Discovered’ by Miranda Brock. Fantasy, adventure, mythical beasts and a quest. It already sounds like a winner to me!
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‘The Dying of the Mother Seed’ by India Emerald. I’ve loved everything I’ve read by this author so far. I’m looking forward to this.

At the time I wrote this, The Dying of the Mother Seed was still listed as free on Amazon. I don’t know how long that will last.
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‘Snowberry Blossom’ is a short story/novella that fits into the Keepers of the Wellsprings series right after ‘Call of Sunteri’. I’m sneaking it in because it’s short, and because I can’t wait to keep reading this series.
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If you’re looking for something new and different, you could try ‘Stained Glass’ by Joanne Van Leerdam.  This new release was featured on the Book Squirrel blog last week.
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Promo Stained Glass Cover

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This is a collection of  22 poems for and about women, by a woman who is striving to live, love, work and make sense of the world she lives in.

Available now in your favourite eBook store, and permanently priced at $0.99.