fiction

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

Like Knives Behind My Eyes

Suicide – or murder? Will scandal taint the Bank of Japan? Here’s Chapter one of Tokyo Summer – A Shig Sato Novella.

 

Chapter 1

 

“It feels like knives behind my eyes.”ssnovella1

Setsuko Usami said it so often her husband seemed deaf to it. She knew that their years together taught her that Taro would not understand it, not even try. Taro Usami’s indifference had become almost as painful as the migraines themselves.

At one time early in their marriage she was surprised and glad Taro asked about her headaches, if anything was wrong, but that stopped. Her migraines always returned and he was tired of feeling useless, and would say, “What could he do?”

He never had headaches. He didn’t know what to do.

Eventually Setsuko gave up. What could he do? He was a rising star at the Bank of Japan and they had a tiny four-room flat in Chuo and she was the mother of two teenagers. His life was outside the home. Her life had not changed since her 20s. She cooked and cleaned and shopped and succumbed to the incessant, unbearable beat of the never-ending demands of life in Tokyo.

Setsuko remembered when Taro would ask about her day, act like he cared. That was when they were young and the world held so much promise for smart young couples staking their claim to making a good life for themselves in the city. She sometimes thought that being young was the cause of that. Now they were in their 40s and she was weary and laid in bed for hours every day even when she didn’t have her migraines.

She held onto hopes, though. Like it being the year 1988, and thinking that perhaps this would be the year her luck would change. She had heard 88 was a lucky number.

But it was the end of May and she laid on her futon and suffered through her migraines and wondered if her luck would ever change, or if this really was her life. She wondered if she would ever get fed up and actually say something like “that’s the last straw.” She wondered what would it be, that straw that finally broke the camel’s back.

She wondered about it, idly at times, then forgot about it as a new day presented new problems. But the thought always returned. What would happen? What would it take?

 

The last straw came at the end of June. Plans for the children’s summer holiday had to be decided. Taro’s indifference infuriated her. He said he was busy at work. He said a promotion was in the works. He said he couldn’t get away because the timing was all wrong.

She kept asking. A trip with her sister and their children just didn’t happen on a whim. She needed to know. She needed to plan. Her daughter’s sullen peevishness was driving her mad – getting the girl to agree to anything was a battle in itself, now that she was 15 and in full rebellion mode. Her son was pulling away from her, as boys do when they become teenagers. He was 13 and had sprouted up and seemingly overnight his voice had dropped an octave. His charming little boy self was disappearing. Getting them both to agree to go with her sister and their children to Okinawa had been like moving heaven and earth. And in another year she knew it would be impossible to get anyone to agree on anything.

Setsuko Usami clung to the hope her plans had not gone to pieces. Then one evening Taro came home late and she was ready to have it out once and for all. But before she could get started he said, “I have to go to Singapore for the Pacific Rim finance ministers meeting.” He said it as if he was taking the car to a mechanic.

“What! When?” She prayed it wouldn’t interfere with their holiday. “When do you have to go?”

“You know when,” he said as he removed his clothes and left them where they lay and reached for the pajama bottoms she had laid out for him. He escaped to the bathroom.

“Taro! My plans! Why can’t–”

“It can’t be helped!”

Setsuko stared at the bathroom door until he stepped out. She collapsed onto her futon and watched Taro lay down with his back to her. A thunderbolt of nausea erupted from deep inside her gut and she ran to the bathroom.

Taro called out, “What is it now?”

“You know what it is!”

Taro turned off the light. A pink half-darkness beyond their window spilled into the room where they slept, the dim split in two by a rare moonbeam. Sleep came easily.

 

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Aroused from his slumber, Taro Usami realized he sensed Setsuko’s absence. He sat up and saw her unmussed futon. He listened for any household sounds. He heard nothing. Then he realized a need to relieve himself.

Stepping to the bathroom, half asleep, he wondered why the door wouldn’t open fully.

And why the light was on.

Once he managed to get his head in for a peek, he saw why. Setsuko lay on the floor, her body twisted, eyes open, mouth sagging, tongue limp, strands of hair matted on her forehead and cheek. An empty prescription medicine vial lay inches from her fingertips.

Later, his children would say he shouted “Setsuko” over and over.

Taro Usami would say he didn’t remember.

To pre-order a copy of  Tokyo Summer, click here. To sign up for for great deals and advance notice of more great Shig Sato stuff, just click here. Be assured your information is safe – I hate spam and never share information.

 

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.

 

Freebie Weekend – The Gangster’s Son : A body identified

CanvaJBpicAmazLogoThe Gangster’s Son and The Thief’s Mistake are free Labor Day Weekend – it’s a great way to discover the world of Shig Sato. Just click here and then once more – or twice!  – for your copies – yep – for free. And be sure to look out for Shig Sato No. 3, Traitors & Lies, debuting this fall.

Here’s an excerpt from Shig Sato Mystery Book :1 The Gangster’s Son

(The parents of Kimi Yamada learn of their daughter’s death and must go identify her body.)

gangster3Mysterious knocking ended Yosh and Miyako Yamada’s summer slumber. Even as they tightened their robes as if to protect themselves from what the two policemen were saying, a slow ballet of shock and grief stirred in their hearts as they tried to comprehend words like “dead” and “Kimi” and “Roppongi” and “a short time ago” and “can you identify the body right away?” Time shifted to a meaningless state, and they took no notice of their actions or their surroundings as they fell into hell.

Before they realized what they were doing, Kimi Yamada’s parents found themselves driving from their home in the western suburbs through dimly lit, unfamiliar streets, looking for the place where the police said they could find their daughter. Searching kept their minds occupied as an incomprehensible torment squeezed their souls.

Eventually they found the building they were directed to go to, the building caped in the dark of night, surrounded by harsh streetlights. They parked their modest sedan as close to the shiny glass doors as possible, and it took some time before the couple was aware that a tall man chewing a toothpick was standing by the large glass doors.

As they approached the doors the man opened one and held it open for them as he said, “My name is Kato. I’m a police officer. Please follow me.”

Without saying anything, the Yamadas meekly followed Kato to where the unthinkable would become real.

Kato watched Kimi Yamada’s parents arrive to identify the body of their daughter in the small hours of that Saturday morning in June. He saw life extinguished from their eyes, their bodies bent, hands shaking, the mother clinging to the father.

They dutifully followed Kato down a hallway no different from any other building in Tokyo, but in their minds the Yamadas were now capturing each step they took, frame by frame  like a torturous slow-motion moving picture. They tried to will time to stop long enough for them to flee their fate, but no matter how hard they tried, they found themselves in that horrible place, following the tall man.

“Is she here?” Mrs. Yamada whispered as they walked down a corridor.

“Yes.”

“Did she –”

“Come with me,” was all Kato said.

The silence became unbearable.

“She’s such a good girl,” Mr. Yamada whispered. “She’s such a good student. She plays the piano.”

“Yes,” Kato said.

“She is our only child,” the father whispered. “She never gives us any trouble.”

“Until she took that job…” the mother began, but fell silent.

“She speaks English. She wants to …” but words failed the father.

Kato said nothing as his solid footsteps pounded a beat on the linoleum under the Yamada’s hesitant shuffle, a miserable rhythm filling the corridor, punctuating the stillness sad government buildings inhabit.

The inevitable turned out to be quite simple: Kato pulled back the sheet covering Kimi Yamada’s face. Her parents took one horrible look and their mournful tears affirmed her identification.

Kato asked his question anyway.

“Is this Kimi Yamada?”

“Yes,” the father croaked, fighting a new wave of grief, but resolved not to look away.

“Her face,” her mother screamed in a hollow voice with no volume, no depth. “Did that man do that?”

“Which man?” Kato asked as he gently covered Kimi and led the pair to standard, hard plastic chairs meant for anything but comfort.

“The black foreigner,” the mother said, ashamed that she had to say the words out loud.

“We’re looking at everything, checking every fact,” Kato replied, wondering how the inspector was getting along with that.

The mother brushed back a strand of her hair, but kept her eyes on the floor, shame and anger in her words. “We insisted she break things off with that, that soldier. We insisted! I wouldn’t be surprised if he had something to do with this!”

“We’re looking into it.”

“He’s an American, just a common soldier,” she said, giving way to fresh anger. “She deserved better than him! She deserved better than …” But her grief swallowed her whole, and she dissolved into her husband’s arms.

“Mr. Yamada?”

The man looked at Kato.

“Do you have someplace you can go, other than your home?”

“What?”

“Do you have someplace you can stay for a few days? Other than your home?”

“Why?”

“Sometime soon, reporters and photographers will find out who you are and where you live, and you don’t need that kind of bother right now. Do you have a relative or friend you can stay with for a few days?”

“I don’t know …”

“Mr. Yamada, your daughter was killed by someone. We’re working the case. Eventually people will find out that it was your daughter who was killed, and then they will come looking for you for a comment. Do you want that?”

“No!” Mrs. Yamada sat up, fierce and determined. “The jackals. Why can’t they leave us alone?”

“I have a sister …” Mr. Yamada began.

Kato said, “I suggest you go there, straight from here, and stay there for a day or two. Let things play out.”

“Why are you telling us this?” Mr. Yamada asked.

Kato knew if the GI did have something to do with the murder, pandemonium would fall on everyone, especially the Yamadas. Kato wanted them one step ahead of the television crews and newspaper photographers.

But all he said was, “Sometimes, things can only be made worse for you two at a time like this. Please don’t say anything to the press or anyone else until we have a chance to check our facts and find a suspect. I promise to call you when we have made an arrest. Okay?”

“Yes, yes,” the father said wearily. “We’ll go to my sister’s place. In Chiba.” As he wiped his tears, he said, “We have to make arrangements …”

Kato wrote down the several phone numbers the Yamadas recited. Then he escorted them out of the morgue and watched as they walked the way people do when leaving a terrible place. The woman’s last words to him rested uneasily on his mind.

“Find that man. He killed my Kimi.”

Don’t miss out on the latest Shig news and giveaways. Sign up for my monthly newsletter at my website, www.josephmarkbrewer.com.  

Twisted Tales : Meet the Authors – an interview with Elizabeth Horton-Newton

To paraphrase Forrest Gump (and his momma): “twisted is as twisted does”- so grab your ebook copy of Twisted Tales (or a print copy by clicking here) – it’s 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 Elizabeth Horton-Newton. She has had a life-long interest in serial killers and all things horror. Fascinated by the inner workings of the criminal mind, she allowed her imagination to run will in her tale for this anthology.

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

I’ve been fascinated by serial killers and their deviant behaviors for a long time. The criminal mind is like a web that forms based on both nature and nurture. While many adult serial killers were victims of abuse as children, that isn’t necessarily true of all of them. As a society their aberrational behavior frightens us and we seek to explain it, to define it rationally as though we will be able to identify them in our midst. I have read stats that say there are as many as 50 to 100 serial killers in the US alone at any given time.

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Elizabeth Horton-Newton

Now, overall that isn’t a huge percentage. But you have to wonder when you look at your next door neighbor if there might be something you are missing. Look at the BTK killer, Ted Bundy, or Jeffrey Dahmer. They moved around freely in society, interact daily with co-workers, school mates, the mailman, and others. Gaunt Thibideaux was just a kid in a small town who had a bad habit that he kept secret for years. He could be the old man who waves at your kids while he’s mowing his lawn.

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

I have always enjoyed writing short stories. I’ve been writing since I was a child and my stories were always novel length. I dabbled a little with short stories in college and got a lot of praise from my professors. But twenty years ago I decided to challenge myself with writing stories as short as five hundred words to see if I could do it. I love Stephen King and he, along with Edgar Allan Poe, James Joyce, DH Lawrence, and John Cheever, are possibly some of the best short story writers in my opinion. I wanted to try and capture that intensity they express in their short stories. I hope the more I work at it, the better I may get. I doubt I’ll ever be as brilliant as they are but I like to aim high.

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

Oh that’s a tough one. I started reading Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle when I was about seven years old. I fell in love. As I got older my taste expanded to Harper Lee, Daphne du Maurier, Stephen King, and the author’s I previously mentioned. My fourth and fifth grade teachers encouraged me to write. Two of my college professors absolutely encouraged me. Professor Malley and Dr. Spector at Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York, were amazing English professors who loved sharing my work with classes. When you have readers telling you they think you have a gift you grow.

What’s your next project?

I am currently finishing a book called “Stolen” about a teenage girl who discovers her parents are not her parents at all. Soon she finds she and her mother were in the Witness Protection Program and her mother was murdered. The program lost track of her and she was raised by a gypsy couple. To compound things, her mother was a gypsy and it seems her father, the head of the clan, is searching for her and seems to want to kill her. But there is a lot more than meets the eye. There is a drug cartel, a sexy Irishman who rescues her, corrupt police officials and a home for unwed mothers. You have to read it to see how it all comes together. I also have a short story coming out in an all woman anthology about women who overcome some difficult situation. The anthology is the first in a series called “Gems of Sisterhood” and this edition is “Gems of Strength”. It will be out later this spring. My story is about an abused woman who has escaped her abusive husband, but he finds her. I leave the rest to your imagination.
Please share a little more of your writing background.

As I said I have been writing since I was little. I have two full length books out now and short stories currently available in three anthologies. I’ve written articles on domestic violence for the YWCA and a variety of organizations that advocate for abused women. My blog “Between the Beats” is on WordPress. I do a lot of book reviews, occasional short stories, and opinion pieces.

Where can readers reach you?

Author Website: www.elizabethhorton-newtonauthor.com

Blog: Between the Beats- http://elizabethnnewton.com/

Twitter: @redqueenliz

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elizabeth-Horton-Newton/368956446609506

View: https://www.facebook.com/LeeOswaldView

Riddle: https://www.facebook.com/Riddlenovel

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/authornewliz

Stumble Upon: http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/newliz0201/likes

Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/elizabeth-newton/8/105/766

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHBFtuhuqUw

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xi78rbM_Tlg

Amazon Author: http://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Horton-Newton/e/B00NSET8JY/

CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5010415

Stolen:         https://www.facebook.com/Stolen-1411175705857509/timeline/

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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.

Mark Fine B&W (72dpi)Web

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.
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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

LULU SPOTLIGHT http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Anita_K

WORDPRESS https://anitashaven.wordpress.com/

GOODREADS  https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/38410617-anita-kovacevic

PINTEREST https://www.pinterest.com/anitarobi/

INSTAGRAM @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