Meet Author Simon Rose

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My guest today is author Simon Rose, writer of sci fi and fantasy  novels for kids and young adults. Simon is active in the Canadian writing community and shares his skills as presenter, editor, teacher, and writing coach. I first met Simon at Chapters Indigo in Calgary, Alberta, where he was connecting with readers. He was kind enough to take a little time out of his busy schedule for my interview questions.

Simon, can you tell us about yourself and your most recent writing project?

FutureII’m originally from the UK but have lived in Calgary since 1990. I first became interested in writing novels for children and young adults when I became a parent and the first novel, The Alchemist’s Portrait, was published in 2003. Other novels in the science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction genres followed on a regular basis and the most recent book, Future Imperfect, was published this spring. Future Imperfect is an exciting adventure featuring technology, teenage geniuses, corporate espionage, and mysterious messages. Most kids these days are very familiar with laptops, tablets, and video games, and don’t go anywhere without their cell phones, so the technology and gadgets that feature in the story make the novel very appealing for young readers. My paranormal novel, Flashback, was published in 2015 and two sequels are coming out next year.

We’ve all heard the advice that writers should write the books that they themselves would like to read. Do you write for yourself, or is there a specific person or type of person you have in mind when you write?

I don’t think there’s a type of person I write for. As you say, we tend to gravitate toward what interests us or what we’d like to read. That’s what ‘writing what you know’ really means. When I first began creating novels I was influenced by the Harry Potter series, among other books, but didn’t want to write about the same subject matter. I liked the style and the age level that the first few books were targeted to but my story ideas were about things that interested me or that I would like to have read about when I was a young adult. These included science fiction, fantasy, the paranormal, superheroes, ancient civilizations, and so on.

You recently participated in TD Canadian Children’s Book Week, where you visited schools in Quebec. Are your books translated into French or intended for Anglo readers only? Did you experience language barriers? If so, did you have any strategies to overcome these?

Yes, I visited schools on Quebec City and Montreal in early May. It was a hectic week but a lot of fun too. My books aren’t available in French and the tour was at English language locations only. Consequently there were no language barriers to overcome but naturally I practiced my French whenever I could and was surprised how much I remembered. I spoke to audiences of around 100 children in most places, usually grades 3/ 4 or 5/6 but there were audiences containing some older grades at a couple of the schools. I also spent a day with adult students at The Learning Exchange in Laval.

Your schedule of writing, teaching, speaking and bookstore signings seems hectic, to say the least. How do you make time for yourself? What do you like to do to relax?

It does seem hectic but this is a full time role for me unlike other authors who perhaps have a regular career that keeps them busy. I don’t take a lot of time off since I do enjoy what I do, whether it’s crafting new plots and outlines, writing books, or doing all the marketing. Since it doesn’t really feel like work there’s isn’t as much motivation to get away from it, I guess. I do have two children that have kept me busy throughout the time that I’ve been writing and publishing books. My dog also insists on going out for walks on a daily basis, which pulls me away from the computer. Nevertheless I always seem to be thinking about stories while we’re out, but I guess a lot of writers appreciate those times when they can let their mind wander while appreciating the great outdoors. I also watch movies, keep up to date with current events, read a lot, and enjoy the company of friends whenever I can.

What’s next for you? Can you give us a sneak peek at your new book? Where is it set and what is it about this project that gets you excited?

FBAs I mentioned, the sequels to Flashback will be published next year so I’m sure I’ll be tinkering with those stories in the coming months. I also hope to start work on two sequels to Future Imperfect. The novel has proved quite popular so far so I want to explore the possibilities of further adventures for Alex, Stephanie, and the other characters that appear in the novel. I’m also currently working on a science fiction trilogy about a parallel universe that I hope to have completed by the end of the year. I’ve had the concept for quite a while, but it’s one of those stories that continually improves, in my opinion, and as it’s being written I get ideas all the time to expand it further.

You can visit Simon’s website at www.simon-rose.com or subscribe to his newsletter, which goes out once a month and has details of his current projects and upcoming events.

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Meet author Mahrie G. Reid

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I am pleased to introduce you to my friend, author Mahrie G. Reid, who agreed to do a little Q&A with me today.

Can you tell us a little about your current mystery series?

The Caleb Cove Mystery Series is set where family doesn’t always have blood-ties. They have a Touched by Murder Club with rather an alarming number of members. Surviving a crime changes people and each of the heroines deals with the issues differently. However, they face death and learn that they are capable of more than they ever thought possible. And whether the murders are the results of guns, knives or poisons, the folk in the cove are front and center and ready to help.

Your titles feature the Came Home theme. Can you tell us what that means in the context of the story’s setting?

CameHomeDead_MahriGReid_1600x2400[1]Nova Scotia, with its seafaring history has some unique terms. Came Home Dead comes from a phrase used when the body of a sailor who died at sea, or drowned, shows up on shore. He is deemed to have come home dead. Additionally, Nova Scotians refer to any where other than N. S. as “away.” So you might hear the phrase: Did you hear, Johnny Zinck came home from away for Christmas? So the came home term comes from those uses. I also learned from a police officer in the province that they serve a lot of warrants and arrest quite a few people in December. “Those Nova Scotia boys just can’t stay away at Christmas. They came home and ended up in jail.” 

What motivates you to write? Caffeine, sugar, carbs, or a higher moral purpose? 

On any given day, coffee starts my brain and my brain has all these ideas. I have to do something with them. On a larger scale, I dislike shopping, I found VLT’s boring and I can only clean the house so much. Given that I love to read, and I’ve been writing since I was a kid, writing my favorite type of books is a logical extension. Words do it for me. My father was a clergyman and had several Bibles in his office. But my mother’s bible (she was a writer) was the Oxford English Dictionary and it sat on the cast iron radiator beside the kitchen table. “Look it up,” she’d say. And we did. Grandpa wrote as well, so I suppose it’s almost genetic. Besides, it’s darn good fun. 

A little bit of the author is written into every one of her characters. Which character are you most like? Least?

I like Uncle Lem, a man who gets things done, has a mysterious past and guides walking tours of old houses and graveyards. He’s more my age, so that might factor in. Devon and Kelsey and Emily all have a piece of me. Growing up a minister’s daughter in the 50’s and 60’s I don’t remember being me. I was his daughter, then I was someone’s wife and later someone’s mother. Life-changes had me questioning who I, as an individual, was. And in one way or another, all three of the main characters struggle with that question. 

You have taught, mentored, edited, and critiqued other writers, including me when I was a noob. What part of the writing process do you enjoy most? Why?

CameHomeToAKilling_MahrieGReid_1600x2400[1]My favorite part is developing the back story. Murders and kidnappings don’t come out of thin air, they have reasons. Knowing who can kill, who invites murder and who knows enough, or asks enough questions, to solve it requires knowing both the characters and their history. Psychology fascinates me, so making up people and understanding them works. And passing on what I know – I am so excited I’ve learned things, I just want to share them.

Please tell us a little about your next writing project.

CCameHomeTooLate_MahrieGReid_1600x2400ame Home too Late, book 3 in the Caleb Cove Mystery series will be out in a couple of weeks. I’d planned to move on to another series I’ve been brainstorming, but one of the cove’s recurring, secondary characters took me by the brain and inserted ideas for her book. Therefore, my next project (already started) will be book 4. It’s Constable Natalie Parker’s story, but as of yet it has no title. Suggestions welcome.

Thanks Makenzi, for coming up with such great questions. It’s been fun.

Mahrie’s bio:

An avid reader from elementary school on, Mahrie often read twelve books a week. Once she’d read the Nancy Drew books, mysteries dominated her lists. Agatha Christie, Dick Frances and Dorothy Gilman, among many others, set the tone for her reading and writing. Her published books are Came Home Dead, Came Home to a Killing and the third, Came Home too Late, will be out by the end of June 2016. They are books 1 to 3 in the Caleb Cove Mystery Series.

Over the years she’s published articles, poems and short stories. She has belonged to writing groups and attended conferences and workshops and, in later years, taught in all these areas. Her stories involve ordinary people who get caught up in extraordinary situations that push them to be more, and do more, than they ever thought possible.

Mahrie is a member of Alberta Romance Writers’ Association and a graduate of Calgary’s Citizen’s Police Academy and Private Investigation 101. She lives north of Calgary, Alberta with her hubby and a cat called Kotah.

Learn more about Mahrie and her books at www.mahriegreid.com