Author Interview: Samantha Bryant

Interview Red

Hello and welcome to another Author Interview by Book Squirrel. Today we’re chatting with Samantha Bryant, author of the Menopausal Superheroes series. 

meandbook

Hi, Samantha. It’s lovely to have you here.

Hi, Book Squirrel. I’ve never chatted with a squirrel before, so I’m excited.

I’m a very exciting squirrel. 

I bet you are.

So tell us, what inspired you to write?

I’ve written nearly as long as I can remember. It probably started with a love of reading, but it was my first grade teacher who put me on the path to becoming an author. As a handwriting exercise, Mrs. Alsdorf had us first graders copy out classic poems in our nicest hand, illustrating them in the margins, and collecting them in a special folder made out of wallpaper scraps.

That was my first encounter with many classic poets: Robert Frost, William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, etc. I fell in love with the sounds of the words and when I told Mrs. Alsdorf how much I enjoyed the poems, she knelt down next to my desk (not a far reach for her: she was very short) and said quietly and seriously, “You know, you could write poems of your own, if you wanted to.”

And I did. I don’t really write poetry anymore, except occasionally for myself, but I still love to read it, and I credit that early love of poetry with helping me craft beautiful prose and teaching me that I could write my own pieces.

That’s beautiful. Great teachers are so underrated!

Thanks! I agree!

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

That’s usually the thing I have just finished writing. There’s a glow over something when it’s fresh, and you can’t yet see any flaws it might have. Though it is also a lovely lovely feeling when you re-read something you wrote some time ago and think, “Hey, that’s pretty good!” I’m proud of all my work, even the work I now see flaws in. Choosing a favorite is rather like choosing a favorite child, so I refuse to choose!

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

Oh my. That’s a hard choice. According to my Goodreads list, I’ve read 44 books this year. I have a yearly goal of 52 (one per week) and I usually exceed that.

I’ve read a fair number of classics because I co-host a classics book club at my library. Of those, Moby Dick is the best one I’ve read this year. I think I’m finally old enough to truly get the book. I saw the dark humor and wit this time, and the poetry.

My neighborhood book club reads mostly literary or historical fiction. Of these, my favorite this year has been Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell, which explores Doc Holliday and the Earp boys from the inside. I’m not generally much of a western fan, but Russell won me over with her beautiful language and strong emotional connection to what these men might have felt.

I’ve made a point of reading books by people I know this year, other writers I know online or from the southern convention scene. Many of them are indie writers, which can often mean a read that steps outside the box and takes a daring or creative turn in the narrative. My two favorites (I know, I’m totally cheating on how many books I say are my favorite) are Reenu You by Michele Berger and Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley. Interestingly, both of those books have quite a lot to say about racial politics, so while a scifi story about a hair relaxer gone rogue and a murder mystery set in an alternate history South Africa may not seem to have much in common, they are exploring some of the same issues.

I do love reading more than quite possibly anything else . . .except maybe writing, so I could go on for quite a while about what I’ve loved reading.

What are you working on writing now?

I was invited to be a part of a book bundle by a writer friend. It’s a collection of young adult, post-apocalyptic, romance. I couldn’t resist that challenge: three things I’ve never written, so I’ve been working on a story, though it’s come out more dystopian than post-apocalyptic. It’s working title is Thursday’s Children, and it follows a sixteen year-old track star named Kye’luh Wade, her cousins, and some other young people she collects along the way as they run away from government persecution to save themselves and rescue their parents. I don’t know if I’ll finish it in time to be a part of the bundle, but I’m grateful to my friend for prompting me to try something new. I’m really enjoying writing it.

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

I am especially annoyed by narcissism. It comes across in many ways: condescension, man-splaining, pontificating, failure to listen, aggressive driving, line-jumping, etc. But they all strike me as part of the same basic problem.

Patricia O’Neill, aka The Lizard Woman of Springfield, from my Menopausal Superhero series has proven a fun character to grind these particular axes with. She is a no-nonsense woman, with a secret soft spot for underdogs and a bit of a hero complex. Transforming into a giant bulletproof dinosaur did not soften her caustic demeanor. Of course, like many of us, the behaviors that annoy her in others are also found within her, so Patricia is continually coming face to face with the problems her own narcissism causes even while she takes down the bad guys, either with her claws or her wit.

What movie can you watch over and over again?

I have a few perennial favorites. I watch The Quiet Man once a year and am suckered by the chemistry between John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara every time. I love the entire story line of the man wounded by tragedy returning home to make a fresh start and in the process making his peace with his past.

What’s your favourite season? Why?

I’m a fan of fall. Since I’m a schoolteacher, fall is a time of new beginnings and fresh starts for me in at least that aspect of my life. It’s also when the weather cools down enough for me to wear my cozy sweatjacket, but hasn’t yet become so cold that I have to zip it up or find a coat. I’m a tree-person, in that I feel most at peace among trees, and fall is definitely a showcase season for trees, with all their colorful finery on show. Then there’s all the fall pleasures, like hot cocoa, pumpkin flavored everything at the bakery, Halloween, hay-rides and corn mazes, and jumping into piles of raked leaves. Fall is definitely the best. I missed it horribly when I lived in Alaska where the seasons were pretty much “green”, “white”, and “brown.”

Are there many nuts in Alaska? 

You’d be surprised!

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

Emily Dickinson speaks my soul more often than anyone else I’ve ever read. I’ve been reading her all my life and even though there’s a finite amount to read, I still find something new in her words every time.

Neil Gaiman combines darkness and whimsy to write seemingly dark stories with a hopeful core. He also loves fairy tales, ghosts, and magic as much as I do.

Stan Lee created so many of my favorite heroes. He could also balance preachy-ness with exploration of moral issues and placed his characters in difficult situations to let them shine. He shared my soft spot for the underdog, too.

Name three people you admire, and give reasons.

As a child, I had a mild obsession with Helen Keller. I researched her life for a speech contest, and read everything our library had about her. Her story is a fantastic inspiration, a reminder that every person has value and needs only the right opportunity to learn to shine so the rest of us can see it. As a teacher, I see how easily her life might have come out differently if not for the support and love she received and I try to offer that love and support to those around me. Her writings are deep and thoughtful and full of kindness and generosity of spirit. The world is lucky to have them.

Josephine Baker according to Wikipedia was “an entertainer, activist, and French Resistance agent.” Shouldn’t we all live to have a biography like that? She was important on so many fronts, fighting for freedom and equality both as a performer and as a human being. She used her art to make a difference and took risks throughout her varied career. She’s a reminder that “safe” isn’t always best.

My great-grandmother Lena Wilhelmina Wurth Taylor. Grandma Lena had it rough in a lot of ways. She was a child of recent German immigrants in rural Kentucky during a time when that could get a person beaten, imprisoned, or killed. She lived nearly all her life just on the respectable side of poverty and pulled herself and her family along through sheer iron will and indefatigable hard work. She married late and lost her husband early, spending more of her life widowed than she had as a bride. But she was determined to maintain her independence and did so until the last day of her life. Strong minded and stubborn, sure of herself, and fierce in her loyalties, she was not an “easy” woman by any means. She could be intimidating, but she would fight tooth and nail for those she loved. I aspire to be as self-sufficient in my own way as she was.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Time-management. I want more out of my day than is possible to squeeze most days. I want to write all the words, enjoy all the light, appreciate all the people, enjoy all the love, and still get enough sleep, exercise, and eat delicious things. Most of the time, I feel in a constant push-pull of life’s currents trying to keep my footing on slippery stones. I’d love to feel that I *really* have my balance.

Money. I am fortunate in my life in many ways and our family does not struggle for food or pleasant shelter or even for some frivolous pleasures, but like many middle class folk, I still often feel hampered by financial considerations, unable to pursue opportunities I want or take on work I would find fulfilling because I can’t “afford” to. I would love to have more freedom of cash flow. Unfortunately, I’ve chosen two less-than-lucrative fields in teaching and writing, so I will have to find my riches emotionally rather than in my bank account.

Thanks for being here with us today, Samantha. 

You’re most welcome! It’s been fun!

Before you leave, can you tell us where we can follow you on social media? 

Sure thing!  You can find me at:

newsletter:http://eepurl.com/bwgsxD

Amazon author: viewAuthor.at/SamanthaBryant

Blog: http://samanthabryant.com

Facebook Author: https://www.facebook.com/samanthadunawaybryant

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mirymom1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/mirymom

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SamanthaDunawayBryant/posts

Tumblr: http://mirymom.tumblr.com/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9j-KqaCAp8UYrVAWejQZ-g

 

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Author Interview: Melvin Taylor

Interview Purple

 

Welcome everyone! Today we meet Melvin A. Taylor, Indie author of The Kindred Spirits book series. The series consist of two novels since 2011. Currently, Melvin is working on the third book entry which will be released soon. 

Hi Melvin! Welcome!

Thanks, Book Squirrel. You can just call me Mel if you like.

Sure thing! So tell us, Mel, what inspired you to write?

An inner voice saved my life during 9/11. That same voice spoke to me and planted a seed in my mind with an idea around a series of three books, which ultimately sparked my interest in writing and the rest, was history.

Wow! What’s your favourite thing that you have written? 

The first book in the series The Kindred Spirits: Rivers Return. After writing the book, it felt weird actually holding the book in my hands. A simple idea went from a thought to a physical finished product. I still can’t get my head around it.

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

Who Moved My Cheese? By Spencer Johnson MD.

Who moved my cheese? That’s an intriguing title. 

Well, yes, I guess so.

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

Steve Harvey’s book, Jump.

What are you working on writing now? 

The third book in The Kindred Spirits series, which I hope to publish early next year.

What’s the best vacation you’ve had? 

Traveling to Zurich and Geneva, Switzerland on business. I was there for a little more than two weeks, respectively, in both cities—18 days in Zurich, came home for a week, then 18 days in Genova. After work and on the weekends I took full advantage of all that Switzerland had to offer. It was awesome and beautiful.

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

I detest shady people…the ones that come across as friends but really have a hidden agenda. So the main villain in the book is based around that type of person.

What movie can you watch over and over again?

There are several movies that I could watch all day: “Miss Sloane”, “The Warriors”, “Ghost”, “The Sixth Sense”, “Predator”, “To Sir With Love” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

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

I’ve always wanted to be a businessperson. My grandfather had that entrepreneurial spirit and business savvy, which I gravitated towards and, unconsciously, it has become a part of my DNA. To date, I’m an author of two books and founder and CEO of an independent record label called 45 Records Entertainment. Growing up, I had no idea this would be my path, but I’m grateful and the grind doesn’t stop. Who knows what will happen in the future.

What’s your favourite season? Why?

I love the Fall! Cool enough to wear sweaters, bundling up in warm clothes and the beauty of the changing leaves.

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations? 

My sister, Carol A. Taylor, as well as Jackie Collins and John Grisham.

Name three people you admire, and give reasons. 

Rupert A. Taylor (my grandpa), Carol A. Taylor (my sister) and my cousin Gary O. Davis. They’re successful individuals, working for themselves! They go to sleep at night with dreams and they wake up, still living their dreams.

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

Remember, after writing and completing the book, that’s when the real work begins!  Be patient promote, promote and promote!! Always remind yourself the process is a marathon, not a sprint.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

1) I wish life it self was easier! I wish it came with a map, blueprints, instructions or directions as to what to do or not to do. A guide would eliminate all the mistakes that I’ve made in my lifetime. But, I’m learning as I’m going and growing and there’s a lesson in each experience. We all go through moments where we either feel discouraged, unmotivated and uncertain about ourselves—sometimes all three, ya know? But life is not about how you fall down, but how you get up. I think sometimes in life we need reminders about this, myself included; which is why I started my Resilient Warrior Story blog series and Resilient Warrior Community Facebook Group to promote stories of any kind. Sharing stories and experiences can assure someone else they aren’t alone. And the older I get, the more confident I become in my journey and where I’m headed…it’s a good feeling.

2) Losing loved ones (my mom, my dad and grandfather). If I could only spend one last time with them, to pick their brains or simply sit quietly with them…just to listen to them inhale and exhale again. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. Life has such a vicious cycle. I wish loss were easier to accept but I know that our paths will cross again and we will meet up on the other side. Hopefully, no time soon—and on the up side, I know I’m making them proud.

Oh, I’m sure you’re making them proud!

Thanks, Squirrel. That means a lot.

You’re welcome. Tell me, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter @MelvinATaylor
Instagram @MelvinATaylor
Facebook @AuthorMelvinATaylor
Great! And where can we find your books? 
They’re on MelvinATaylor.comAmazon  and Goodreads
Thanks for being here today, Melvin. It’s been great! 

Thanks for having me, Book Squirrel!

Book Review: ‘The Celtic Curse: Banshee’ by D.J. Doyle

D.J. Doyle The Celtic Curse Banshee

 

A deliciously creepy story, ‘The Celtic Curse: Banshee” tells the story of the origins and then the conclusion of one family’s experience of a banshee’s curse.

Perfect for lovers of the Gothic and the macabre, this tale is permeated by plenty of classic horror, superstition and dark supernatural power, which are in part balanced by the normality of the central characters who unwittingly fall under the curse.

I found this novelette to be perfect reading for a stormy late September afternoon, given that both Friday 13th and Halloween are approaching.

The Celtic Curse: Banshee is available via Amazon for kindle or in paperback.

Book Review: Blessedly Bound by Lucretia Stanhope

Lucretia Stanhope Blessedly Bound

‘Blessedly Bound’ is so bewitching,I found it hard to put down.

The central character, Gwen, is an enigma of strength and vulnerability combined, which makes her easy to empathise with: surely, when we are being honest, that is how we perceive ourselves?

The reader is also tantalised by the fact that the reader doesn’t ever really know who the good guys are – the candidates for Gwen’s “hero” are compelling blends of good and bad, so that one is never really sure which way each of them will turn out.

While the pivotal storyline of the book is brought to a satisfying resolution, there is still plenty of mystery and intrigue left for sequels as questions, doubts, and fears remain.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I’ll definitely be reading the sequel.
I’ve given this great paranormal mystery read five stars.

Blessedly Bound and other books by the same author are available on Amazon.

Book Review: Waking The Dragon by Susan Day

‘Waking the Dragon’ is a fun and exciting adventure story for kids, revolving around a group of dogs who work undercover as dog rescuers in an organization that is the kid-friendly canine equivalent of CSI. 

The story is written with good humour that kids will enjoy, and a plot that will keep them guessing. The characters are engaging and likeable — even the cats, who harbour less-than-honourable intentions! 

One aspect of this book that I really appreciated is the Australian element that appears in both the settings and the storyline. In a world full of books set in America or major world cities, it’s very refreshing to find a kids’ book set in one of my favorite regional Australian cities. This is great for Australian kids, but should also add interest for readers from other countries in which Australia is a source of interest and fascination. 

Waking The Dragon is Book 10 in theAstro’s Adventures series by Susan Day.  This book – in fact, this series of books – would make a great addition to any school or local library, and would be a wonderful choice for both individual and family reading at home.

Find ‘Waking The Dragon’ on Amazon.

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!

Book Review: ‘Robin Hood: Wolf’s Head’ by Eric Tanafon

Every now and then, as a reader, I experience an incredible moment of revelation when I take in an expression or image of something that is so powerful, it takes my breath away.

No sooner had I started reading ‘Robin Hood: Wolf’s Head’ than I had to stop and experience the moment. I had just read an extraordinarily beautiful sentence: “The forest clearing was a web of moonlight and shadows.”

What perfect imagery!  It is simple and direct, but powerfully evocative at the same time.

In that moment, I was there. I had been transported to that forest clearing and drawn into the world of the story, even before I knew anything else about it.

This is the magic a writer works when wielding the wand that is their pen.

Eric Tanafon Robin Hood Wolf's Head

Tanafon continues to cast these spells with magnificent imagery throughout this book. As tales are told and the various storylines develop, the author provides the reader with a feast of sensory morsels that both satisfy and delight the reader.

At times, such images can be consumed at speed. Others, like this one, demand more thoughtful digestion to fully appreciate the skill in Tanafon’s craft:

“The autumn day had dawned softly, with light mists gathered around the sun like a veil. In the late morning the forest was still sweet and moist, haunted by the ghosts of decaying leaves.”

As a writer, I lost count of the times I read a sentence or two and thought to myself, “I wish I had written that!”

Tanafon’s genius in reinventing the story of Robin Hood as a paranormal adventure is equally as enchanting as his writing. The stories of Robin Hood, his band of followers and of their enemies are interwoven, not as a braid but as a rich tapestry. Thus the old stories are retold, stripping back the gloss of legend and hero worship and offering the reader a far more thought-provoking and deeply engaging retelling of the famous tales.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It’s not just a fantastic read: this is literature absolutely worthy of the top shelf.

Available on Amazon.