Thursday, 12 June 2014

Author Interview|| Gina Damico

About Gina Damico
I grew up under four feet of snow in Syracuse, New York. I received a degree in theater and sociology from Boston College, where I was active with the Committee for Creative Enactments, a murder mystery improv comedy troupe that may or may not have sparked my interest in wildly improbably bloodshed. I have since worked as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker, and breadmonger. I live in Boston with my husband, two cats, and a closet full of black hoodies









TSD:  Thank you for agreeing to do this interview. Can you start by telling us about your books and who you wrote them for?


Gina: I am the author of the Croak trilogy - CROAK, SCORCH, and ROGUE - which are about a teenage girl who finds out that her uncle is a grim reaper, and that it's her turn to learn the family business. I don't know that I wrote them "for" a specific audience, but rather wrote them in the style and voice that I think is fun to write - lots of snark, plenty of excitement, and even some heartbreak along the way. I guess I just knew that there would be an audience out there for some funny, dark, deathy adventures.

TSD: Nowadays, YA is a very popular genre. Did you grow up reading YA? What are your opinions about the conditions of the genre at present?

Gina: I read all kinds of things growing up - some books primarily targeted towards teens, but also plenty of classics and TONS of Kurt Vonnegut. And I think YA is in a wonderful state at the moment. There's something for everyone, and there are so many talented authors out there. It's really a very exciting time to be writing.



TSD: Which character do you connect most to? Do you base your characters on real people?
Gina: I suppose I connect most to Lex - she's sarcastic and spunky, and I like to think of her as a younger, much braver version of myself. Unlike Lex, however, I don't go around punching people. As for inspiration for my characters, I sort of pick and choose from all sorts of places. I take a little bits from people that I know, then mix them in with other fictional characters, celebrities, you name it. They all come together in a delicious character stew. Mmmm. Stew.



TSD: How does you’re the idea of the afterlife you have created communicate to your younger readers?
Gina: One thing that I've really enjoyed is hearing from my readers about how my books have affected their view of the Afterlife--or that it got them even thinking about it at all. I didn't set out to prompt this sort of discussion--and I don't even know if I believe in it myself -- but It's such a wide open unknown that it's fun to hear about what other people envision.



TSD: Advice for aspiring writers

Gina: Let other people read your work. It's the hardest thing in the world to do, putting your words out there for others to judge, but in the end, hearing other people's feedback is an absolutely necessary part of writing. Just bite the bullet, throw some pages at them, and run! (Just make sure you come back to listen to what they have to say.)

Thank you so much Gina, you have really inspired us a lot.
You can buy Gina's book Croak( Croak Trilogy#1) from:

Friday, 14 February 2014

Author Interview || Joseph Delaney

About this author
Joseph Delaney is a full time writer living in Lancashire, in the heart of Boggart territory. He first got the idea for the Wardstone Chronicles series when he moved to the village where he lives now and discovered there was a local boggart - ‘a man like me needs boggarts around’. He made a note in his notebook ‘a story about a man who hunts boggarts’ and years later when he had to come up with an idea at short notice developed this into ‘The Spook’s Apprentice’, the first book in the series. The Spook's Apprentice, The Spook's Curse and The Spook's Secret have all been shortlisted for the Lancashire children's Book for the Year Award. The Spook's Apprentice is the winner of both the Sefton Book Award and the Hampshire Book Award.

The Speculative Daily: Thank you for agreeing to do this interview. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself and your books?

Joseph Delaney: The ‘Wardstone Chronicles ’is the story of an apprentice, Tom Ward, being trained by a spook to fight the dark. They deal with ghosts, ghasts, boggarts and lots of witches who drink blood and crunch bones.

I was a teacher of film and media studies before becoming a full-time writer. But I began my working life as an apprentice in a factory. I carried a tool bag for an older engineer but we didn’t fight the dark. We just repaired machinery.

TSD: Which books inspired you to start writing?

Joseph: Every time I read a great book I think ‘I wish I’d written that’. There were so many – far too many to list. But I enjoyed ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Dune’ both of which probably influenced my writing. They certainly inspired me!

TSD: Nowadays, YA is a very popular genre. Did you grow up reading YA? What are your opinions about the conditions of the genre at present?
Joseph: When I was growing up there was no such category as ‘YA’. I got my books from the local library which had a children’s section although I really wanted to borrow from the adult library! I used to read two books a week from about the age of six. The ‘YA’ genre is thriving and some of its books can be read by much older people. Recently when I signed a book for a teenager she said: “It’s not for me. It’s for my mum!”


TSD: The movie for ‘Spook’s Apprentice’ is scheduled for release early next year. How involved are you in the filming process? Is it going to stay true to the book and what are your expectations?

Joseph: I have not been involved in the filming process that much. They asked me a few questions and I visited the set in Vancouver and watched Jeff Bridges in action. It has gone through a process of three directors and even more screen writers. It took eight years from my signing of the contract to the post production of the film. It is different from the ‘Spook’s Apprentice’ but it will be a good action film and Jeff Bridges will be a good convincing Spook.

TSD: With a book a year, you must have a very busy writing schedule. Do you still find time to read? Which books have you recently enjoyed?

Joseph: My schedule is busy but I still read a lot from a range of genres. Recently I have read:

The Wool Trilogy Hugh Howie

The Riddle of the Sands Erskine Childers

Success Martin Amis

The Green Man Kingsley Amis

Goldfinger Ian Fleming

Butcher’s Crossing John Williams

The Luck Uglies Paul Durham

(This last one was a proof copy. It is published in July 2014)



TSD:  In the “Curse of the Bane” the body of the Quisitor who burns ‘witches’ floats showing that he is the evil one. As a former educator, do you leave subtle lessons in your books for the benefit of young readers? If so, how do you manage to balance the part meant for pure entertainment and the one which is meant to teach your readers something?


Joseph: I don’t deliberately leave any lessons at all in my books but they probably do reflect the way I think. I am just trying to tell an interesting story and scare my readers.

TSD:  You completed an apprenticeship just like your protagonist Tom Ward. Do you see other similarities between him and you?

Joseph: There are a few. For example my mother believed in duty. I hated being an apprentice but she made me go to work on cold rainy mornings. That’s what Tom’s mam does too. He has to work with the Spook and fight the dark whether he wants to or not!

You can buy Joseph Delaney's book "The Revenge of the Witch (also published as The Spook's Apprentice)" from

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Author Interview|| Laura Michelle Thomas

 Laura Michelle Thomas is an author and professional copywriter and ghostwriter. She has been mentoring young writers in workshops, camps and courses since 2007.  More recently Laura formed a communications company through which she fosters the development of young writers worldwide through quality contests, conferences, blogging, books, and educational resources. She has been kind enough to give us an interview about her book Polly Wants to Be a Writer: The Junior Authors Guide to Writing and Getting Published.


The Speculative Daily: Can you tell us what this book is about and who you wrote it for?

Laura Michelle Thomas: Polly Wants to Be a Writer is a YA fantasy novel based on the materials I used to teach an eight-week short story workshop for young writers in which the students go from having no ideas on the first day to a fully polished short story of no more than 2,000 words that is ready to submit to a publisher. Several of my students have gone on to publish the stories they wrote during this class, and what is most helpful to them is walking with me step-by-step through the writing process: from idea to formatting and submission. Readers will be able to do the same as Polly, a fifteen-year-old wannabe writer struggles with the same issues.

TSD: What inspired you to write your book?

Laura:
Not what, who. I talk to aspiring young writers, writing teachers, and parents with talented literary kids every day. Everyone needs realistic advice about becoming a professional writer. I simply cannot help them all individually, so I wrote a book that will.

TSD: What was your biggest obstacle during the writing process? How did you overcome it?

Laura: 
Time and space. Writing a novel on speculation (which means that you work on your book for almost a year and have no idea if you will sell a single copy) is very risky, so I always put my paid writing work first. I had to make a choice this year to put my novel first. I have to remake that decision every day. Hiring a talented team of young freelancers to help me serve my copywriting and ghostwriting customers was a really smart thing to do.

TSD: What advice do you have for writers who are thinking about writing a novel?

Laura:
If you are serious about getting a book into reader’s hands, be realistic. Are you really ready for a major project? Have you had success publishing and getting paid for smaller pieces of work? If not, try that first. However much time and effort you think it is going to be, multiply that by ten. Also, be sure that you understand the different stages of the writing process. They are all different and will challenge you in different ways. Knowing your inner dragon (that voice in your head that tells you that your writing sucks) and how to use him will truly help if you do decide to tackle a big project like a novel.

You can buy Laura's book 'Polly Wants to Be a Writer' from
Amazon.com|| Amazon.co.uk
IndieBound|| BookDespository

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Amazing|| Photography

Since this is a very small version of the real picture, it doesn't do it much justice.
To see the full sized image click here.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Author Interview|| Michelle Sagara West

Michelle Michiko Sagara is a Japanese-Canadian author of fantasy literature, active since the early 1990s. She has published as Michelle Sagara, as Michelle West and as Michelle Sagara West. She lives in Toronto and is employed part-time at Bakka. She was generous enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer our interview questions.

The Speculative Daily: What inspired you to start writing?

Michelle Sagara West: Like most writers, my inspiration for writing is a direct result of my love of reading. Books were like entire pocket worlds for me as a child; I loved them. I loved the stories and I loved the words. Sometimes I had to struggle with the words to understand and appreciate the nuances they contained--but unlocking them always opened up new avenues for me as a reader, and new ways of seeing both myself and the world around me.

I wanted to write books at a very young age--I thought, at the time, books were all made by hand, and I was frustrated because my writing and drawing didn't look like a real book.

But eventually I understood off-set printing, and printing presses, and publication, and at that time, I started to write, because I wanted to tell a story that readers would fall in love with, just as I’d fallen in love with the stories of others.

TSD: What were the major hurdles in getting your novel published and publicised?

Michelle: The major hurdles for me were writing and revising a novel. This isn’t as simple an answer as it at first seems. Writing for yourself is a simple act of creation; it’s not so much an act of communication. You understand how you think; you understand who your characters are. But when you’re writing for other readers you need to make certain that some of that knowledge is actually on the page. Too much, and it slows the story down; too little and it becomes confusing and possibly even seems pointless.
But learning to write is very individual, because literally no two published writers I know work the same way. Each of us has a process that works for us. Some are heavy outliners. Some can’t outline at all. Some write long, detailed character sketches; some learn about the characters as they write them. There’s no right way to write a novel; there’s only the way you’ve discovered that works for your novels - and so much of that is stumbling around in the dark looking for glimmers of luminescence. But that was the hard part, for me. In 1991, when my book was published, publishers accepted unsolicited (i.e. unagented) books, so I sent my book to Del Rey books. The editor liked my writing, but didn't like some elements of the book, and asked to see anything else I had either previously written or would write in the future.

There’s no right way to write a novel; there’s only the way you’ve discovered that works for your novels - and so much of that is stumbling around in the dark looking for glimmers of luminescence.

TSD: Do you base your characters on real life people?

Michelle: I don’t base most of my characters on real life people, in part because some of the stuff the characters go through is so personal it could wind up being awkward. And I don’t really do character sketches before I start to write. This doesn’t mean that there’s anything at all wrong with character sketches. Some people find them necessary--and writing is really all about finding your own process.

TSD: How do you deal with writers block?

Michelle: Writer’s block is interesting. Until I started working on two projects simultaneously, I used to think that I had stretches in which my creative brain was on strike. But I discovered that while it might take me 6 hours to write 400 words in one book, I could switch projects and write 1500 words in two hours, and I began to realize that sometimes the slowdown - or even the dead stop - was very much based in individual projects. Sometimes I can’t move forward because there’s something wrong with what I’ve just done, and I’m too close to it to see it.

When I first started writing, I couldn’t have worked on two projects simultaneously. But the way through, for me, was to set a minimum number of words that I had to write during a writing day--and to write those, no matter how long it took. This was probably as much fun as it sounds. 

                                                                  -----------------

We thank you Michelle, for taking out the time to talk to us about your journey as an author. There were some great tips for aspiring writers.

Our favourite from Michelle's books are the Chronicles of Elantra series (yes all nine of them !) and next in line to read is "Silence" book 1 of ' The Queen of the Dead' series. Reviews for Cast in Shadow is going to be put up soon, so stay posted.

Click on any of the following links to buy book 1 of Chronicles of Elantra :

Want us to interview your favourite author? leave a comment


Friday, 10 January 2014

Some Awesome Libraries|| You Don't See These Everywhere

1) Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai- Egypt
This one is our favourite because of its unique design, one you could imagine to be similar to Great Library of Alexandria. It is home to some of the world's most ancient manuscripts written in different languages of which Greek and Arabic are prominent. Due to its religious importance a small town has grown around it.

 2) Centrale Biblotheek- Amsterdam
Giving the warm effect of a perfect library, Centrale Bibliotheek is the place to relax amidst books of whatever genre you like. Strange, really, that such designs aren't more common since it seems so fitting for a library.
3) Stuttgart City Library- Germany                                                                           
Wow,this is one cold library! Even the books and visitors don't bring any colour to this 'White Wonder'.The neutral theme and intense brightness lower the ratings of this one otherwise the sheer amount of books in this 5 storey building is simply amazing. It has a grand feeling to it that few buildings can claim to match.                         



4) Library of Congress- USA
Boasting a collection of over 32 million books in some 470 languages, the Library of Congress is one of the largest libraries ever. Apart from printed material much of the library's data is stored electronically. A copy of 'Old King Cole' measuring 1/25"x1/25" has such tiny pages that they can only be turned over with the help of a needle.





5) The Trinity College Long Room- Ireland
Can you imagine how awesome it must be to walk through this room. Books as far you can see, crammed in their shelves just waiting for you to pick them up. Ahh...Bliss. Housing 0.2 million of the main library's 6 million books, it is part of Ireland's largest library. With marble busts, thousands of rare books and an ancient harp, it is a major tourist attraction.
The Jedi archives in the Star Wars movie bears close resemblance to the long room but officials declined to take any legal action.












5) Stockholm Public Library- Sweden
With tens of thousands of books and even more audio books, CDs and sound recordings, the library is one of Stockholm's most notable buildings. In the 'International Library' section, containing material in other languages, Arabic, Persian, Spanish and Russian are the most notable languages. With a friendly, self-serve atmosphere, you could spend the entire day just looking at the books.




“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.” - Mark Twain


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