books

Japan & Espionage: Shig Sato wasn’t the first to fall into a trap

KGB. GRU. CIA. The Cold War. It’s the stuff of thrilling writing. But do you know the story behind the story?

In Traitors & Lies, Tokyo’s reluctant P.I., Shig Sato, finds himself entangled in high-stakes international espionage in early 1990s Tokyo. It doesn’t take long for Shig to realize he’s been lied to, and might just be a pawn in the biggest power grab in the Cold War.

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(AP photos)

But they say truth is stranger than fiction. It’s certainly the case with one of my favorite authors, Ian Fleming, and the story behind You Only Live Twice. This article that ran in The Japan Times, one of my old newspaper haunts, explains why. Read the fascinating story here.

To find out what it takes for Shig Sato to come to his senses about Katsuo Takahashi, and his new life as a private investigator, pick up a copy of Traitor’s & Lies.

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Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Kurt Wallander and Japan Noir and you have a new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s Son, The Thief’s Mistake, or Traitors & Lies – and to read how it all began. To find out more about the World of Shig Sato, sign up for a periodic newsletter. All you have to do is click here.

 

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Twisted Tales: Meet the Authors – an interview with Geoff Nelder

To paraphrase Forrest Gump (and his momma): “twisted is as twisted does”- so grab your free copy of Twisted Tales, a Readers’ Choice selection of short fiction from Readers’ Circle of Avenue Park. Literary lies, epic yarns – it’s an eclectic collection of stories by authors from around the globe.

In today’s Meet the Authors series I’m delighted to welcome to the blog Geoff Nelder. He was a Geography and Maths teacher who gained his MSc and Fellowship of the Royal Meteorological Society partly for research in weather satellites.

ChaosofMokii (1)     Just recently, Geoff Nelder, wrote an experimental fiction, THE CHAOS OF MOKII, as a short story. In this tale there is a city, Mokii, which only exists in the group consciousness of its inhabitants. Olga sits in a train but her mind is busy bluffing past a figment bouncer and into the glorious gothic yet brilliantly lit city where there’s fun but also trouble. Geoff submitted the short story – it’s only a half hour read – to Solstice Publishing, who loved it so much they published it as an ebook. It was a surreal experience for Geoff to be asked for cover art decisions, acknowledgements and blurb pages for a short story!
It’s out already for only 99 pence or dollar equivalent at http://mybook.to/ChaosOM
 

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In the research of Prime Meridian he stayed a Chingford hotel directly on the Prime Meridian and he spent a day walking that 0 degrees longitude from the northern to southern boundaries of London.

Your story ‘Prime Meridian’ appears in the Readers’ Circle of Avenue Park’s recent anthology Twisted Tales. What made you decide on that story?

Prime Meridian is my favourite story. It is part autobiographical in that the protagonist is a teacher, who is nothing special but has extraordinary things happen to him. In this case a grape-sized micrometeorite hits his house at the same time every day. He has to find out what’s happening before his home is a pile of rubble. For my research I stayed in a hotel in North London right on the prime meridian (the zero line of longitude) and hiked all the way to the southern edge of London all along that line. Readers who don’t embrace science fiction have delighted in discovering that it’s kind of SciFi and yet isn’t. Humour, character-driven threads and novel ideas are woven in. Great fun.

Did you find writing a short story easier or harder to write than what you’ve written in the past?

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Geoff Nelder

Writing is bloody hard work. I belong to Shorts Anonymous and have to confess I’m addicted to writing them, and have been for more decades than everyone else remembers. Novels? Dead easy. I’ve written eight, had six published, some with awards. Over 80 shorts published – each one costing me sweat and swearing. Some won awards and a few still earn me pennies. Novels give you time to develop characters, plot threads, false leads, be languid and live inside the beast. With shorts you have no damn time in, say, 2k to 10k words and yet the reader doesn’t want to feel hurried. Shorts are different animals to novels. I’m so excited, wound up, needy with my love/hate relationship with shorts I co-wrote a book on how to win short story competitions. How bad is that? Take me away!

Who has been an important influence on your journey as a writer?

Not my wife. She couldn’t give a flying fig unless I sneak her into one, but I value life too much. My car-crash journey as a writer has been steered by nutters such as Tibor Fischer with his crazy, marvellous novel, The Thought Gang. His mind for that story conjured the following: Fact 1 Bank robbers get away with it; Fact 2 Bank robbers are dumb; Idea gather a gang of unemployed philosophers to rob banks in France. Brilliant. He inspired my humorous thriller, Escaping Reality.

For shorts, I stumbled into that brilliant writing of A.L.Kennedy, e.g ., her Now That You’re Back. The skill of ALK’s writing is such that I hadn’t noticed until three-quarters through that collection that she hadn’t used any dialogue tags at all. Phrases I wish I’d written: ‘I have temporarily forgotten how to inhale’; ‘Something impatient about the sky.’

Allan Guthrie helped me tighten my writing so much it hurt. He’s the inventor of the article ‘Hunting down the pleonasm,’ agent, editor, writer of hard-nosed crime. Such a gent (get it?) that he suggested I slip my promo bookmarks into his Two-Way Split novel at his Edinburgh book signing.

What’s your next project?

Works in Progress include Xaghra’s Revenge—a historical fantasy based on the true event in 1551 when everyone on the island of Gozo were abducted by pirates. The ill and old were thrown overboard, the rest sold into slavery. Those souls are crying out for revenge. Yes?

Scoot is a series of illustrated stories for infants. He, his dog and friends, crash into surreal adventures inspired by my own grandkids. Something they can take into school to show off their author granddad rather than my scurrilous books for grownups.

I also write non-fiction. Articles for cycling magazines based on my longer journeys and odd ones such as one I’m dong now—cycling along the top of Offa’s Dyke.

Please share a little more of your writing background.

Dad illustrated a science fiction magazine and as a joke talked mum into having kids. I inherited his SOH and both their affection for science fiction. I wrote comedy sketches for my school players and was an editor and contributor to Sheffield university rag mag, sold for charity. I still see my awful gags around the web today for which I apologise.

A science fiction was my first novel, written (badly) while I was a teacher. Michael Crichton read it at Bloomsbury and it was praised then fell at the final committee fence. Gutted, I didn’t write another thing for hours. Later, I worked for the small publisher, BeWrite Books and became an editor at Adventure Books of Seattle. I still make more dosh editing other people’s stories than from my own but hey ho, it’s all creative writing.

Where can readers reach you?

Heck, I don’t want them to reach me. Have you any idea how often I’ve had to move house to get away from fans? Me neither. However, if they insist:

How to Win Short Story Competitions by Geoff Nelder & Dave Haslett Kindle http://hyperurl.co/283u9s

Geoff’s UK Amazon author page http://www.amazon.co.uk/Geoff-Nelder/e/B002BMB2XY

And for US readers http://www.amazon.com/Geoff-Nelder/e/B002BMB2XY

Geoff facebooks at http://www.facebook.com/AriaTrilogy and tweets at @geoffnelder

http://nelderaria.wikia.com/wiki/NelderAria_Wiki

Geoff’s website http://geoffnelder.com

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Stay tuned for more Meet the Author interviews. If you like what you read in Twisted Tales you’re invited to leave a review on Amazon. Thanks!

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cropped-cropped-fbcoverthisishow.jpgJoseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Holmes, Poirot, and Japan Noir and you have a new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s SonThe Thief’s Mistake , or Traitors & Lies – and to read how it all began, download my prequel novella Tokyo Summer at josephmarkbrewer.com

Suicide or murder? A Shig Sato bonus novella just for you!

ssnovella1Of all the summer projects I chose to tackle after relocating to Austin, Texas, the most challenging – and most fun! – was writing my first Shig Sato novella, Tokyo Summer. But it is available only to my email list subscribers. So don’t miss out. Click here to sign up for all the Shig Sato news and this Shig prequel, Tokyo Summer, available Sept. 28.

Here’s a sneak peek:

Junichi Ohto was a 30-year veteran of the Tokyo Metropolitan police. Thin and bald and with a smoker’s hack, he would never admit that being a detective at such a small outfit like Tsukishima Police Station was as good as his spotty career would get.

There had been days when he still had his hopes. At first, catching the Usami case that late June evening had given him hope that a good murder would put him right with his boss. But within minutes of taking in all the details he knew it was suicide. Typical domestic turmoil, husband some sort of mid-level big shot at the Bank of Japan. Wife a typical “education mama” who lived for her kids passing their college entrance exams. Why she swallowed a vial of valium was anyone’s guess.

“If she wanted to kill herself she could have jumped into the Sumida River and saved us all a lot of trouble,” he said to his partner, a detective so young and green he barely spoke a word other than “yes” and “excuse me.”

It didn’t take long for them to wrap up their interviews and file that case away.

“All we need are the toxicology reports,” Ohto told his station chief. “Not gonna get anything from them, either, I bet.”

Then, a few weeks later, Ohto’s boss said, “That Usami case? Murder.”

It hadn’t been a pleasant morning. Admonished like a rookie, scorned for being old and useless, Ohto knew the toxicology report made everyone in the station look bad.

Ohto lit a Seven Star cigarette and coughed for a minute after inhaling the delicious smoke. He wondered how quickly he was going to get demoted behind once Division took over the case. His boss had said that Sato asked for Ohto. By name.

He heard that the detectives picking up the case at Division were Ken Abe and Mo Kato, two officers he knew and resented for being the types the higher-ups liked. Kato could wait out a glacier for one key clue. And Abe. Ohto had seen for himself how Abe’s strange sense of smell had led to the arrest of a cross-dresser simply by identifying perfumes, lotions and body secretions no self-respecting man would know the first thing about.

But Inspector Shig Sato. He knew then that he was in trouble. Sato left no stone unturned. Ohto knew he was bound to be grilled like a tuna.

He smoked the cigarette down to the paper filter in 27 seconds then lit another before hitching a ride to Chuo. Ohto made it into the station with what little dignity he could muster, his eyes focused on what was in front of him as he quickly walked to Criminal Investigations.

After the usual greetings Ohto took a seat by Sato’s desk. He wasn’t prepared for Sato’s tactics. A junior police officer brought tea Ohto didn’t want, but recognized the gesture for what it was, nodded his thanks, and resisted the urge to light up a cigarette.

“Ohto, I’m sure you did your best with the information you had when you were handed this Usami case.”

Ohto tilted his head to one side, admitting nothing.

“Here’s how it is. I don’t care what happened then. I care about now. Now it’s a murder investigation. Now we have to start as if it’s hour one.”

“I see.”

Sato saw that Ohto did not see.

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To get your copy of Tokyo Summer, just click and you’ll be reading in no time.

 

Twisted Tales: Meet the Authors – an interview with C.A. Sanders

To paraphrase Forrest Gump (and his mom): “Twisted is as twisted does”- so grab your free copy of Twisted Tales, a Readers’ Choice selection of short fiction from Readers’ Circle of Avenue Park. Literary lies, epic yarns – it’s a collection of eclectic stories by authors from around the globe.
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In today’s Meet the Authors series I’m delighted to welcome to the blog C.A. Sanders. A life-long New Yorker, he lives in the suburbs of NYC with a turtle that he has had since he was six years old. He is patiently waiting for MetroNorth service in his area. He is an unabashed geek and a Dungeons & Dragons addict. He is also ‘the most dastardly Skully player to ever live.’ If you don’t know what Skully is, he’ll be happy to teach you … the hard way.

Your story ‘Skully’ appears in the Readers’ Circle of Avenue Park’s recent anthology Twisted Tales. What made you decide on that story?
 
First of all, thank you for letting me ramble on your website. I’ll try not to track in any dirt.

I chose ‘Skully’ because of the anthology’s diversity. There are writers from all of the world in it, and so many different genres, and I wanted to share something that no other story in it covered. ‘Skully’ is a uniquely New York (pronounced New Yawk) story. I grew up in The Bronx (pronounced Da Bronx) during the 80s, and I used to play skully nearly every day. It’s a very New York game (though I’ve heard that they also play it in Philly). The Mister Softee truck, the GI Joes, and the tumbleweeds of cassette tape are all out of my childhood.  I wanted to capture the time and place, but with supernatural aspects. I’m primarily a fantasy writer, and I especially love combining fantasy with history. ‘Skully’ is a perfect example of that.

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C.A. Sanders

 Did you find writing a short story easier or harder to write than what you’ve written in the past?
I cut my teeth (not literally) on short stories and news articles, so for me this was more like going back to basics. I think that short stories are harder to write because every word is at a premium. Because of that, beginning writers should always start with them. It teaches you discipline and proper word choice. Do the hard things first and the rest comes easy. It’s like one of my old writing professors said:  If you can’t write a short story, you can’t write a long one. I say the same thing to the people I tutor and edit…they don’t like when I say that.
 Who has been an important influence on your journey as a writer?
 
That’s a tough one. I’m tempted to list all of my favorite writers, but the truth is that you only get better with guided writing, that is, writing with someone more experienced to advise you. Because of that, I have to give the credit to the writing professors and editors that I’ve had over the years. I don’t think anyone suddenly woke up and became a brilliant writer. It takes hard work, a bit of talent, and helpful advice. The first two, I’d like to think I have, but I know that I’ve had the third.
 What’s your next project?
I’m finished up the second draft to the next book in The Watchmage Chronicles. The working title is Cold Iron, and it will hopefully be out in the fall.
Please share a little more of your writing background.

I’ve been writing since I was a little kid (I remember typing out stories on my gramma’s old typewriter, and I majored in Creative Writing in college. I never considered another career besides it. My first story was published in 1999. While trying to impress literary magazines with pretentious prose (and alliteration) I worked as a freelance journalist, mostly music, but occasionally hard news.

Finally, I got sick of both journalism and lit mags. I decided to write what I love: fantasy and sci-fi. My first novel, Song of Simon was published in 2013 by Damnation Books (now Caliburn Press). My second novel, The Watchmage of Old New York, came out in 2015. I plan on writing Watchmage stories for a long time. It’s historical fantasy, and there’s a lot of history out there (and more everyday).

 Where can readers reach you?
Wherever darkness lurks and evil must be avenged … or the local Taco Bell.

If you can’t find me there, you can find me here:

Website: www.casanders.net – it’s a fun site, and I’m active on it. This is the best way to get the true, insane, C.A. experience.

Twitter: @CraigASanders.- I’m a little too active here. Expect a lot of silly memes.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/casandersauthor – I’m not very active, but try it anyway.
You can also buy Song of Simon here, and The Watchmage of Old New York here.
If all else fails, you can lure me into a trap with a trail of egg rolls or tacos. Pizza works too.
“The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
                                       Answer.
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” — Walt Whitman
 
Song of Simon from Damnation Books.  Available on site, at AmazonBarnes & Noble, or your local book store.
The Collected Works of Valerie Z. Lewis. Available at Amazon.
The Watchmage of Old New York Available on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and just about everywhere.
Visit my webpage for all things geeky.  We have punch and pie…
Twitter: @CraigASanders

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Stay tuned for more Meet the Author interviews. If you like what you read in Twisted Tales you’re invited to leave a review on Amazon. Thanks!

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Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Kurt Wallander and Japan Noir and you have a new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s Son and The Thief’s Mistake – and sign up for my monthly newsletter at josephmarkbrewer.com

Twisted Tales: Meet the Authors – an interview with Mark Fine

To paraphrase Forrest Gump (and his momma): “twisted is as twisted does”- so grab your free copy of Twisted Tales, a Readers’ Choice selection of short fiction from Readers’ Circle of Avenue Park. Literary lies, epic yarns – it’s an eclectic collection of 15 stories by authors from around the globe.
Twisted Tales 15LitLiesEpicYarnsFINAL

In today’s Meet the Authors series I’m delighted to welcome to the blog Mark Fine. Mark was a label chief for PolyGram records. He has written the critically acclaimed novel ‘The Zebra Affaire.’ As research for his ‘Karmic Odds’ story, Fine immigrated to America from South Africa, in an effort to better appreciate being a stronger in a strange land.

Your story ‘Karmic Odds’ appears in t he Readers’ Circle of Avenue Park’s recent anthology ‘Twisted Tales.’ What made you decide on that story?

When the Grand Poobahs of Readers’ Circle of Avenue Park invited me to write something for ‘Twisted Tales’ I was delighted. By the way ‘Karmic Odds’ is not autobiographical; though there’s some truth at the heart of the story.

As an immigrant to the USA I’ve been amused by the way folks respond to my accent; to them my South African speech patterns seem so, well, let us say ‘exotic.’ In turn, they assume I’m far more interesting than I really am.

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Mark Fine

Obviously, back in South Africa the way I speak is downright dull. So let’s be honest, it’s still the same dull me no matter where I live. This duality intrigued me and lent itself to some great irony within my story.

Did you find writing a short story easier or harder to write than what you’ve written in the past?

I’d had this short story circulating in my mind, and it wanted out.  This made the task relatively easy. I enjoy the efficiency of both writing and reading short stories so it was never about being easy or hard. Similar to a photograph that often looks better cropped, I felt a story can improve by being tightened.

Yet, I see songwriting as the ultimate short story. Consider the Rolling Stone’s ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ – two thousand years of human history is recited in rhythm and rhyme in only a few minutes. Now that’s what I consider to be truly difficult task.

Who has been an important influence on your journey as a writer?

I’m a fan of both O. Henry and Roald Dahl as masters of the short story, and relished the surprising sting-in-the-tail treats they provided us readers. As a homage to these two writers, I have a twist -in -the -tale, of sorts, lurking within ‘Karmic Odds.’

What is your next project?

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The Zebra Affaire

Sub-Saharan Africa continues to intrigue me as setting for my novels. Fortunately my historical fiction book (with it’s generous dollops of romance and suspense) called The Zebra Affaire   has been well received. Not a sequel, but continuing on the African theme, is a work I’ve tentatively titled The Hyena Axis. It’s set in 1978 Rhodesia as that country (now known as Zimbabwe) was being torn apart by  the Bush War, as a consequence of the liberation struggle.

Please share a little more of your writing background.

As a music business executive and record  producer I’ve always been a part of the creative process. As for books, my grandmother owned a library which elevated the value of the written word within our home. Growing up I had the honor of the legendary author, Alan Paton (‘Cry, the Beloved Country’) give a lecture to my high school English class.

Then, as friends of the family I was fortunate to know Wilbur Smith (I still have an autographed copy of his novel, Gold Mine, on my desk). His powerful historical fiction-based yarns of Africa have been a tremendous influence over the years. All this contributed to my love for writing, and reading.

Where can readers reach you?

Would welcome hearing from readers. Joe, as you well know writing is a “living process” and it’s vital as authors engage with the world at large. So the opinions of readers is crucial to the creation of better books, and to themes within our books. For example, I got a wonderful review from a reader. She applauded me for taking on the difficult subject of apartheid. But she chastised me for not confronting the issue of poaching–especially rhino and elephant.  Thanks to her I’m now including this vital wildlife conservation theme in my future writings, and my current promotional efforts under the theme #RhinoProtector and #ElephantProtector. So feedback does a great service to both an authors work and the greater community at large.

So please, reach out to me at:

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Stay tuned for more Meet the Author interviews. If you like what you read in Twisted Tales you’re invited to leave a review on Amazon. Thanks!

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cropped-cropped-fbcoverthisishow.jpgJoseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Holmes, Poirot, and Japan Noir and you have a new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s SonThe Thief’s Mistake , or Traitors & Lies – and to read how it all began, download my prequel novella Tokyo Summer at josephmarkbrewer.com

Twisted Tales: Meet the Authors – an interview with Anita Kovacevic

To paraphrase Forrest Gump (and his momma): “twisted is as twisted does”- so grab your free copy of Twisted Tales, a Readers’ Choice selection of short fiction from Readers’ Circle of Avenue Park. Literary lies, epic yarns – it’s an eclectic collection of stories by authors from around the globe.
Twisted Tales 15LitLiesEpicYarnsFINAL

In today’s Meet the Authors series I’m delighted to welcome to the blog Anita Kovacevic. Anita is an author and a teacher of English. She writes various genres, and has self-published and illustrated an urban-legend novella (The Threshold) and three children’s books (Winky’s Colours, The Good Pirate and Mimi Finds Her Magic). Anita’s stories, poems and illustrations appear in the anti-bullying e-book Inner Giant. Her story ‘Passage’ is published in Awethology Light, and her poem ‘Christmas Surprise ‘ opens the December Aewthology Light. She lives with her husband and children in Croatia and doesn’t know the meaning of ‘free time.

Your story ‘Active vs. Passive’ appears in the Readers Circle of Avenue Park’s recent anthology Twisted Tales. What made you decide that story?

It is a weird thing when people invite you to write a short story, any topic you want and no word limit at all. I was honoured, then nervous, then I started overthinking. Overthinking never does my writing any good; it may help my editing, but only up to a point.

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Anita Kovacevic

Eventually, I remembered that I already had some stories written, lurking in my files in their rough form, waiting to be spruced up. I chose Active vs. Passive because it is dear to my heart for several reasons. First off, it deals with unnecessary violence and simple kidness, which I both consider relentless, and am always shocked by the first and grateful for the second. Secondly, as a parent and teacher, I consider the story relevant, having witnessed myself how many things go by unnoticed, till it’s too late, for simply not talking about them or listening properly and hearing what the other person has to say.

The story was initially written for my blog challenge, which I organized with some fellow authors at the brink of my writing career adventures, and the mood of the story follows the Inner Giant, an international anti-bullying charity ebook project I participated in with various amazing, selfless educators and artists from around the world. I just had a feeling Active vs. Passive had earned its place in this collection. People ignore the signs of bullying and abuse, sometimes truly not knowing, sometimes burdened by their own issues, sometimes blinded by survival despair. We cannot afford not knowing, especially when it concerns our children.

Did you find writing a short story easier or harder to write than what you’ve written in the past?

Well, I wrote plenty of short stories before, so I never gave it a second thought.

Actually, I never really set out to write a certain format at all. When a scene or character start haunting me, and won’t go away till written out of me, then I write them. It makes no difference to me if it’s a children’s story, a poem, a limerick, a short story or a novel. Some may say writing multiple genres and format means dabbling and still searching for my own author’s voice. In a way, that is true, because I haven’t officially been a (self-)published author for that long, but I have never thought an author had to write one type of texts all the time. But I do believe that different stories have different voices and perspectives, and I try to write them down as I hear them.

Who has been an important influence on your journey as a writer?

Oh so many people, events and things. First of all, I believe all the books I’ve ever read, and still am, all the stories I’ve ever heard or seen, people I’ve met… everything influences us.

When I was a school kid, I actually wrote a lot, mostly in Croatian, although I dabbled in English as well. As a teenager, I threw away every notebook with poems and stories I’d ever written. My parents rescued them, in secret, but when I found out, I got rid of the notebooks again. My parents were my first fans, he he he, and I treated them like a proper diva.

I am sorry now, of course. It would be fun to see what I wrote about at the age of 10, even 13. And it is funny to think I’d forgotten my writing for a long time, during my university years. It all came back to me later on, as I started teaching and writing stories for my lessons. Once I had my first child, my urge to write again, just write, not for work, but to write the stories out of my head, became simply natural and a necessity. It only became stronger with my second child. Having children who are no fans of sleeping may have contributed – insomnia had me reading a lot and spurred The Threshold.

I have to say I was lucky, and still am, to have the support of my family, friends and colleagues. It was actually my teaching colleagues, both from the school where I teach English, and from an international teaching community (the wonderful people from esl.printables who participated in the Inner Giant), who pushed me into trying to publish. My husband, my best friend and my sister were the ones who gave me the final push when I was on the verge of giving up. They still do. And then things evolved.

Nowadays, in my life there is a group of likeminded authors I am happy to have met through some writer groups and am proud to call my friends. These people have raised the bar for me, challenged and taught me a lot, and are always there to give me an earbashing or pep-talk. You know who you are. Thank you all.

What’s your next project?

After having participated in the #Awethors’ anthologies and the RCAP Twisted Tales, I am looking forward to any future projects they dare to invite me for. They are all amazing, inspiring people with astounding amounts of energy and ideas, and a wonderful support network.

As for my own work, I am currently writing a light chicklit novel about a garrulous young lady looking for love in her daydreams. (Again, one of those who wouldn’t be quiet.) I am hoping to finish that by midsummer.
There are several children’s stories, a preteen fantasy novel, and a full-length adult novel I have written out, still cooling till I am ready to edit them. There is also an editing challenge an author friend has set for me, inviting me to work on her novel, which is almost finished. Blogging author interviews and book reviews has become a routine I enjoy, my own book promotional activities have become a constant struggle, but are vital.

My writing is (only) a passion. I teach full-time, which takes up a lot of my time and energy, so I write far less than I would like to. Still, there is a time and place for everything, and I am still learning.

Please share a little more of your write background.

My first story and poems were published years ago in an ESL charity book Teaching Children from the Heart. Sadly, the book is no longer available, as the publishing company went under amidst all the financial turmoil in the world. Inner Giant is an amazing anti-bullying e-book I collaborated on with artists and teachers from all over the world, as proofreader, contributor and even illustrator.

I have three children’s e-books available on major purchase sites, all fruit of my teaching experience, and two of the stories have been nominated for Best Indie Summer Award in the category of children’s books. Winky’s Colours, The Good Pirate and Mimi Finds Her Magic all have a positive educational message, with additional activities to help the children enjoy, and the adults read and engage children.

The Threshold, my adult novella, is available as e-book only, although I am working on a paperbook as well. It’s a moral parable with slight elements of horror and paranormal. It was actually the first book I wrote considering it writing, not teaching.

My story Passage is featured in the Awethology Light, and my poem The Christmas Surprise opens December Awethology Light. Active vs. Passive is featured in this amazing new collection of the TwisAwethology.Passage.Anitated Tales. Having collaborated on so many books with authors from around the world has been a huge honour and challenge.

Where can readers reach you?

As time-consuming and tasking as it can be, I try to be active on various social sites and groups, although I may not reply instantly. My links are listed below, so feel free to drop by and say hi. You may even stumble upon an interview with the authors from Twisted Tales, Joseph Mark Brewer included. Have fun reading and don’t forget to review books – your opinion counts.

AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/author/anitakovacevic

FB BLOG – Anita’s Haven https://www.facebook.com/anitashaven

TWITTER https://twitter.com/Anitas_haven

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Stay tuned for more Meet the Author interviews. If you like what you read in Twisted Tales you’re invited to leave a review on Amazon. Thanks!

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Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Kurt Wallander and Japan Noir and you have a new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s Son and The Thief’s Mistake – and sign up for my monthly newsletter at josephmarkbrewer.com

Twisted Tales: Meet the Authors – An interview with Jean Gill

To paraphrase Forrest Gump (and his mom): “twisted is as twisted does”- so grab your free copy of Twisted Tales, a Readers’ Choice selection of short fiction from Readers’ Circle of Avenue Park. Literary lies, epic yarns – it’s a collection of eclectic stories by authors from around the globe. Twisted Tales 15LitLiesEpicYarnsFINAL

In today’s Meet the Authors series I’m delighted to welcome to the blog Jean Gill, author of The 13th Sign in Twisted Tales, for a chat about her story and her writing life.  Jean is a Welsh writer and photographer living in the south of France with a big white dog, a scruffy black dog, a Nikon D750 and a man. Her claim to fame is that she was the first woman to be secondary Head Teacher in Carmarthenshire. She has published 18 books, and is mother or stepmother to five children, so life is hectic.

Your story ‘The 13th Sign’ appears in the Readers Circle of Avenue Park’s recent anthology Twisted Tales. What made you decide on that story?

I think ‘Twisted Tales’ will appeal to adventurous readers who want to be surprised and entertained so I submitted a story that I hope does both. Will a naïve but gutsy youngster complete his coming-of-age ritual and be given his rightful place in a parallel universe? When the youngster is the constellation Ophiuchus, and the twelve established zodiac signs are stacking the magical odds against him, nothing can be taken for granted.

jean sm

Jean Gill

I’ve always loved the idea that, astronomically speaking, there should be a thirteenth zodiac sign but astrologers didn’t like the number thirteen – or any change at all. My zodiac sign is in fact Ophiuchus the Serpent-bearer and 13 is of course my lucky number. My books are now published by my own Indie imprint ‘The 13th Sign.’

Comic fantasy gives endless opportunities to poke fun at the world we live in and the personalities of the various Zodiac Signs might remind you of people you know. My ambition with this story is to follow in the steps of the master, Terry Pratchett. As he said, ‘writing is the most fun you can have by yourself.’

Did you find writing a short story easier or harder to write than what you’ve written in the past?

I’ve written and published many short stories, and was even a double prize-winner one year with London Inc’ International Writing Competition. My collection ‘One Sixth of a Gill’, free to those who subscribe to my Newsletter http://eepurl.com/AGvy5 contains poetry and shorts ‘to fit everyone’ and I enjoy the freedom of experimenting. I was first published as a poet and I like breaking rules in my work.

I was once part of a performance group of three writers in Wales, The West of Whitland Poets, and my friend, a short story author, was asked, ‘Do you think you’ll ever manage to write a novel?’ The idea that start with short stories and you write novels when you grow up as a writer is daft. What I’m after is the perfect marriage between content and form; I have hundreds of ideas and some have to be poems; some short stories; some novels; and I’ve written plays too.

Who has been an important influence on your journey as a writer?

I’ve been published every which-way, traditional and self-published, and have learned from many writers and editors over the years. Influences have been bad as well as good and I have my share of horror stories which put me off writing – but I always carried on and I’m so glad I did. You never forget your first acceptance from a publisher. Mine was when Outposts Poetry Journal published my poem Note from Guinevere to Lancelot. As poetry publishers get thousands of submissions each week, this was a big deal. My first editor and publisher (Johnathon Clifford of The National Poetry Foundation) was exceptional; he was one of those rare editors who can put their finger on what is wrong in a line of poetry and suggest an improvement. He encouraged me but was also fierce in rejection so I learned the three important lessons for any writer, from him: my work is good, it needs to be edited and improved, and rejections happen – get over it.

What’s your next project?

I’m researching Book IV of my 12th century Troubadours Quartet, historical fiction that tells the adventures of my fictional couple, Dragonetz and Estela, in the context of real events and characters in 1150 -1154. I’m feeling the pressure now because Book 1 won the Global Ebook for best Historical fiction and Book 3 is shortlisted for the Wishing Shelf Awards – the last book has to be good!

Book1, Song at Dawn is free http://smarturl.it/dawnsong so you can visit 12th century Provence and see whether you enjoy ‘Game of Thrones with real history.

Please share a little more of your background as a writer.

My writing had to run alongside my career in education, and my family, until 2003 and I’ve now published 18 books, including three translations (from the French). I write in many different genres, from modern family sagas, and historical novels to dog stories, poetry and a cookbook.

I never found a traditional publisher who loved all my work and it is both time-consuming and depressing to start submitting work afresh each new book so self-publishing suits me down to the ground. I do use a professional editor and cover-designer.

Where can readers reach you?

I love hearing from readers and anyone who reviews one of my books can send me a dog photo, with brief description, to go in my Readers’ Dogs Hall of Fame . http://jeangill.com/dogs/

Contact jean.gill@wanadoo.fr

Sign up for Jean’s Newsletter http://eepurl.com/AGvy5blogger1 banner

IPPY Award for Best Author Website www.jeangill.com

Blog www.jeangill.blogspot.com

Twitter  https://twitter.com/writerjeangill

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/writerjeangill

The Troubadours Page https://www.facebook.com/jeangilltroubadours

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4619468.Jean_Gill

Youtube book trailers https://www.youtube.com/user/beteljean

 

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Stay tuned for more Meet the Author interviews. If you like what you read in Twisted Tales you’re invited to leave a review on Amazon. Thanks!

#

Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Kurt Wallander and Japan Noir and you have a new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s Son and The Thief’s Mistake – and sign up for my monthly newsletter at josephmarkbrewer.com