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!

Author Spotlight: Lyra Shanti

Lyra Shanti is a most accomplished author, poet, songwriter, and musician.

Lyra is the author of the amazing magical science fiction Shiva XIV Series and a number of short stories that explore the same world at different times in her characters’ lives.


If you’re looking for something in the realm of sci-fi/fantasy with a gripping storyline, you should definitely grab Lyra’s Shiva XIV series. It has been reviewed as “brilliant, epic space opera” and “the next space epic you need to read”. It’s really that good.

The short stories that further explore the world and characters of the Shiva XIV series are well written and add greater dimension to the characters and their experiences. The opportunity to see further into their lives and see what has helped make them who they are is always a bonus. They’re great stories that are also able to stand on their own quite successfully, although they will leave the reader wanting more.

Lyra has also published two books of poetry and a novella, ‘The Rainbow Serpent’, in which Lyra recreates the story of the Garden of Eden as told by the serpent.

Lyra Shanti Rainbow Serpent
According to one Amazon review for ‘The Rainbow Serpent’, this book is “Flawless in composition … plainly, yet eloquently written with beautiful imagery that reflects the universal truths of life” so that “the reader is left to ponder the extent of predestination vs. free will to execute one’s choices along the spectrum of morality since Creation.”

Lyra’s poetry is rich and sensory, full of imagery that draws the reader into the emotion and depth of the poet’s mind. It’s a definite must for any poetry lovers, but also shows the extent and versatility of the talent of this wonderful author.

Lyra Shanti Sediments

Lyra has author profiles at both Goodreads and Amazon.

You can also follow Lyra on social media:
Instagram: lyrashanti
twitter: @LyrtaShanti

website: www.lyrashanti.com

You can support Lyra’s work at Patreon where Lyra’s patrons have access to exclusive material and previews.

Book Review: Four American Tales by Jack Messenger

Jack Messenger Four American Tales.jpg

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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.

Author Interview: Betty Mermelstein

Interview Red

Hi folks! I’m back again with another fantastic Indie author interview. Today, I’m chatting with multi-genre author, Betty Mermelstein. Welcome, Betty!

Thanks, Squirrel!

Tell me, Betty, what inspired you to write?

I have always loved to read and was interested in learning vocabulary and grammar even in elementary school, so I decided I wanted to tell my own stories with the written word.

What movie can you watch over and over again?

Gone With the Wind: oh, the drama!

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

Since I was nine, I wanted to be a teacher because of my love of learning. I kept that desire and got my college degree in teaching. I retired after having taught preschool, elementary, and junior high.

Wow! Kids of all sizes!

That’s right!

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

You have to be willing to find the support as you struggle to format your books to get them self-published (especially as an ebook), find a means to advertise your books, and work your way through technology as you set up and maintain a website/blog. However, you don’t give up!

That’s right! Don’t give up!

*Betty and Squirrel give each other high fives*

What’s your favorite season?

It’s a toss up between Fall and Spring. I was born in the Fall, and it feels comfortable to me: the smell of leaves on the ground, the brightness of the foliage, the crispness in the air (of course, I haven’t lived in a climate that supports that for many years, but the memories make it palpable!). Spring makes me shiver inside with anticipation of newness and opportunities. It shows its beauty in its blooms and rejuvenates my soul with its breezes.

Oh! I love fresh blooms! It’s like… every bush is a salad!

Right…

Yeah. Back to the interview…
What the best book you’ve read this year?

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. I love historical fiction, and this one is set in WWII in France and New York, following characters who are part of the Ravensbruck concentration camp.

What’s your favorite thing you have written?

That’s a hard one. I also write poetry and short humorous essays, some of which have been published. I guess I feel most accomplished in putting together my collection of short stories that deal with relationships, entitled Seven for Reflection.

What are you working on now?

I mostly continue with my short humorous essays for my blog on Tumblr. There’s always something I experience in my life that I can poke fun at.

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

I’ve been lucky enough to have traveled in Canada, Europe, and around the U.S. One of the best trips was last year when I returned to our family’s summer cottage on a lake in Michigan with my husband and sisters. We connected with extended family and proved that you can go back!

What are two things in life that you wish were easier?

I wish my expectations (which covers a wide range of situations) could be met more than they are. I always tell myself my expectations make me delusional! I also wish I could learn things more quickly, especially in technology. In my twenties, I thought I could learn anything: again, delusional!

Thanks for joining me today, Betty! 

Thanks for having me, Squirrel!

Betty Mermelstein’s books can all be found at Amazon, and you can follow her blog on Tumblr