Cuppa and a Catch Up – An Author Interview with … Mike Harris

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SUNDAY 26TH MAY 2013

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I would like to wish a warm welcome to the lovely Mike Harris, whose grandfather is the author of ‘Pegasus Falling’ which was a Best Indie Book Finalist and who has just released the fab new book ‘It Never Was You’.

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Hi Mike and welcome! It’s great to have you here.

Hi Gemma, it’s great to be here. Thank you for inviting me on to your blog today!

Tell us more about It Was Never You. What is its connection to Pegasus Falling?

20130525-212019.jpgIt Never Was You is part two of the Cypress Branches trilogy, and it’s the follow up to Pegasus Falling. I hesitate to call it a sequel, because we switch to a new set of characters whose storyline runs parallel with that in the first book. There are connections, though, and eventually we do find out what happened after the dramatic climax we read in Pegasus Falling.

Set against the backdrop of the Second World War and its immediate aftermath, It Never Was You follows the story of Harry, a quiet, studious merchant seaman and his relationship with the exuberant Liverpool waitress, Mary. They are two people from very different backgrounds who might never have met had it not been for a chance encounter, and as their love for each other grows, they struggle to overcome the class and social barriers that existed at the time. It’s a fascinating look at the post-war period and how it affected everyday people from all walks of life.

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In Pegasus Falling, we met Sammy, a world war two paratrooper, and followed his storyline from battlefield to concentration camp to Palestine. In It Never Was You, we follow Harry, a merchant seaman, from the freezing Arctic ocean to the war-torn Liverpool docks and eventually to post-war London. They’re very different settings, very different storylines, and very different characters, but there is definitely a common theme and thread running through the books.

They’re both, after all, love stories at heart, and have their origins in the war, which profoundly changed people and their attitudes and outlooks on life. I’m amazed that there aren’t more books set in the post-war period – most authors concentrate on the war itself, but in my opinion, the 1940s and 50s are just as fascinating from a historical and social point of view, and these two books explore the era brilliantly.

20130525-213709.jpgHow did your grandfather start writing? Was there a particular book or moment in his life that spurred him on?

I couldn’t say if there was a particular book that inspired my grandfather, as there are well over 1000 books in his library! He always had a book or three on the go and if he wasn’t reading, he was browsing through a local bookshop looking for his next read.

He began writing the Cypress Branches after he retired. I can’t recall him ever showing signs before then that he wanted to write a book, then all of a sudden, he bought himself a word processor and started writing.

William led an incredibly interesting life. He was a paratrooper during the war, and spent time in the merchant navy afterwards. He studied for two university degrees (he’s a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Art) and had a successful career as an engineer. He took a keen interest in world and local politics, as well as history, science and the arts (particularly music, film and theatre).

Although The Cypress Branches is a work of fiction, his voice and his experiences come through in many ways. He was profoundly affected by what he witnessed during the war and the time he spent in Palestine and then at sea. For a long time he wouldn’t talk about it, so I think writing his book had a cathartic effect. It allowed him to face some demons he had been avoiding dealing with for some time.

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I remember the period in which he was writing very clearly, because at the time we hardly ever saw him! Visits to his house took on a strange air. We’d wake up in the morning to hear him tapping away on the keyboard of his word processor. He’d make us all breakfast (he made the best porridge ever!) before disappearing back into his room to write until lunchtime.

Again he’d make lunch (not even writing could keep him away from his beloved kitchen for too long) before heading back to the book for the afternoon. After dinner, he would spend the evening with us, sometimes printing off what he’d written that day to share it with his wife, Sheila.

We would all then head to bed, but as we were getting to sleep, sometimes we could hear the faint tapping on the keyboard again.

As you can see, he was very disciplined about his writing during that period, very rarely taking time away from the keyboard. I asked him afterwards how he managed to create such a long book without getting completely swamped. He told me that when he started, he knew where the story would begin, and where it would end, but didn’t really know how he would get from one end to the other. But once he started writing, it just flowed naturally.

He also said that the characters took on lives of their own, that he could hear their dialogue clearly. It was like they were in the room with him, talking to each other. All he had to do was listen in and write it down. That makes sense to me reading the books, because the dialogue is so incredibly natural.

It took William about two years to write the first draft of the Cypress Branches. Considering he wrote over 350,000 words, I’d say that was pretty speedy!

Where was your grandfather’s best ‘writing space’; the place where he felt comfortably locked away from the world and able to let his creative juices flow?

William wrote on a portable electric word processor which he had set up on a desk in his bedroom in his house in central Milton Keynes. Although he lived in the middle of the city, the room overlooked the small garden dominated by a large apple tree, behind which was a wide, open green space with lots of trees, so it was quite a peaceful place to write.

That’s where he wrote the majority of the book, but the fact that the word processor was portable meant that he could take it with him wherever he went. He even spent all day typing when he came to visit us on one occasion!

He became completely obsessed with his book and his characters, and it was all consuming at one point. I don’t think it mattered where in the world he was (he could have been in Australia or the Arctic, for all it mattered) the story flowed so easily from him, I think he would have written it anywhere as long as he had his word processor to hand.

And finally, tell us an interesting fact about William that not many people know.

One thing I never get to talk about in interviews usually is my grandfather’s wicked sense of humour.

My memories of spending time with him are filled with laughter. He was always cracking jokes, giggling at his own quips or having a good belly laugh at someone else’s. He loved comedy in all its forms and had a large video collection containing Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, Woody Allen, stand up routines from Billy Connelly and Robin Williams, to name but a few. The sillier (and sometimes the ruder) the better!

And that sense of humour does come out in his writing. Despite the books being set during one of the most appalling periods in history, there are comical moments – especially in It Never Was You, when Mary’s Scouse humour had me in stitches on more than one occasion.

Although he’s now in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and has difficulties communicating with his family and carers, he still enjoys a good laugh to this day.

By far his favourite was The Goon Show, which is still hilariously funny even today. To give you an idea of the kind of humour William likes, here’s a YouTube clip featuring his favourite sketch:

http://youtu.be/-tjHlFPTwVk

Thank you for being here today Mike.

My pleasure, Gemma! I’ve enjoyed talking about William!

Catch up with and follow the rest of the It Never Was You blog tour on acuteanglebooks.co.uk: http://bit.ly/YxZDcU

Connect with Mike, William and the Cypress Branches trilogy online:

Twitter: @CypressBranches

Facebook: www.facebook.com/CypressBranches

William’s Goodreads Author page: http://bit.ly/129cxiu

William’s Amazon Author page: http://amzn.to/15TL4sD

Pegasus Falling and It Never Was You, the first two parts of the Cypress Branches trilogy are available to buy in paperback and ebook

Where to buy Pegasus Falling:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/PXbf5X

Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/R4IdCG

B&N Nook: http://bit.ly/Sytq6Y

Kobo: http://bit.ly/PXbf5W

Smashwords: http://bit.ly/PXbf5V

Where to buy It Never Was You:

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/12HSoE5

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/11BS6gO

(Other retailers coming soon)

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Love Missuswolf xxx

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Cuppa and a Catch Up – An Author Interview with … James Wilcox

SUNDAY 19th MAY 2013

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I would like to wish a warm welcome to the fabulous James Wilcox, author to Miracle Child.

~Author Bio~james wilcox author pic

James P. Wilcox is the author of Miracle Child, two novels – Sex, Lies, and the Classroom and The M-16 Agenda – and Musings of a Particular Bear: A Poetry Collection. James, a former newspaper photographer and writer, is currently a high school teacher in the Kansas City area, where he lives with his wife and three children.

~Synopsis~

miracle child 7This is a story of miracles, both big and small, and the story of one little boy born sixteen weeks early, weighing only one-and-a half pounds. Nathaniel Wilcox needed a miracle.

He wasn’t expected to make it through the night.

This is Nathanial’s story of his five month journey to survive, and how he touched the hearts of everyone who cared for him. This is the story of how one family managed to overcome tragedy and despair, to find a renewed faith in each other and in God.

A miracle child?
Indeed.

Now let’s get cosy and meet James Wilcox …

Hi James and welcome! It’s great to have you here.

Thanks so much for having me.

 Where did the inspiration behind Miracle Child come from? 

Miracle Child is the true story of my son’s five month journey in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.  My son was a 24 week preemie (he was due on St. Patrick’s Day, but was born on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving) and Miracle Child chronicles the anger, frustration, and fear, as well as the love, hopes and faith my wife and I experience during those five months.  It is the story of immense love and the battle for life.

How would you compare writing this book with anything that you have previously writtenm16 agenda

Miracle Child is about me and my family and is the most personal book I have written to date.  Obviously, Miracle Child covers an extremely stressful time in my life, a time when I wasn’t always at my best, and at times it was difficult to share my thoughts and feelings, but I think it is an important story to share.  All of my other books are fiction, and much less personal.

How did you start writing? Was there a particular book or moment in your life that spurned you on?

Rabbit, Run by John Updike started it all.  I had dreamed of being an author for years, but it wasn’t until I finished reading Rabbit, Run that I finally decided it was time to try my hand at writing a novel.  I don’t claim to be the next John Updike, but his quirky story of an “average guy” struggling to find his place in the world resonated with me, as did his beautiful use of simple language to tell his story.  Rabbit, Run really illustrated that the key to a good book is strong characters and a compelling story, not necessarily “flowery prose” and a “masterful” use of language.

Sex Lies and The ClassroomHow do you organise your writing time?

As the father of three young children, a husband, a high school Social Studies teacher, Scout leader, and every other “title” I carry, I don’t really have writing time to organise.  I simply write when I can carve out time to write.  I wish I had more structure and more organization, but I simply don’t know from one day to the next whether I am going to have time to write each day or not.  When I do find some time, I try to scratch out as many sentences as I can.  Believe it or not, this is why I am usually working on more than one book at a time.  I simply don’t have time for writers block.  I find that if I am working on more than one book at a time, if I am stuck on one story, I usually am not on one of the others.

Where is your best ‘writing space’; the place where you feel comfortably locked away from the world and able to let your creative juices flow?

I can write just about anywhere.  I write in the car, sitting on the bleachers at baseball or basketball practice, sitting in a camp chair at soccer, anywhere I have a few free moments to write.  Ideally, I would prefer sitting at my desk with the laptop, by myself, but that doesn’t happen very often.

And finally, tell us an interesting fact about yourself that not many people know.  musings

One thing that not many people know about me is the fact that I have always wanted to be a musician.  As much as I love being a writer and a teacher, I was wanted to play the guitar and be in a band.  Growing up, I never had the opportunity to pursue this dream, but now that my oldest son is taking guitar lessons, I am trying to learn to play with him.

Thank you for being here today James.

~Where to find James Wilcox~

To find more about James and his work visit his website at www.jamespwilcox.com
Twitter @m16agenda
miracle child 7
Miracle Child available for Kindle
For Nook
Love Missuswolf xxx

Once a Druid – New Release by SJ Byrne

WEDNESDAY 01st MAY 2013

“By the light of the Lunar Eclipse—let them see!”

lunar eclipse

There is something seriously wrong in Kirra Munro’s head. Besides suffering from amnesia, night after night she is plagued by dark dreams of other worldly rituals and a past she has no right in remembering—or does she?

Psychology professor Cayden McKinnon has the ability to unlock the blockages in her mind, but after one visit things begin unraveling far too fast. 

Time is running out…or has the battle for one woman’s soul just begun?

 Available in print and digital April 25th, 2013!

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Beyond her heavy eyelids, Kirra knew she was no longer alone. In the darkest shadows a presence had joined her.

The being didn’t breathe. Her sensitive hearing would have detected the slight whoosh of air filtering through the spongy mass of a living lung.

It also wasn’t human—her tongue would have tingled from the imminent promise of a blood offering.

Whatever the thing was, she had never encountered its kind before.

A slight shift in the air to the left alerted her to the creature’s exact position. Part of her wanted to be afraid but her stronger essence knew there was nothing to fear.

A prickling began in the tips of her toes as she pushed the comforting thought into every corner of her brain. Curious about the cause, she stilled her mind and focused on the heat spreading from her feet throughout the rest of her body. Not an entirely unpleasant sensation, it was much like bathing in a gentle wash of warm water.

Once the sensation penetrated her brain she knew all her past actions were being picked apart and judged by the invading heat. Somehow she understood that the being held her life in its hands. Despair saturated the infrastructure of her spirit but ceased almost immediately, leaving a sense of weightlessness at her soul’s core.

“Only the pure of heart can receive my protection—all others perish during the purging.”

The edict slipped into her thoughts like soft feathers turned to a thick warm liquid. Through the haze washing over her reflective process, Kirra sensed her body being lifted off the slab of stone and was unable to resist the movement.

To be cradled against an essence exuding such strength and vitality made her want to cry. All she’d been lacking in her heart flooded her system, choking the breath from her lungs.

“Weep not…”

The voice drifted off into unintelligible murmurings as the shadows behind her eyes turned pure black and Kirra’s thoughts were no more.

Order your print copy today!

Once a Druid

Alex and SJ

Living in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Alex and SJ Byrne are just trying to make their way through the insanity that comes with creativity. Writing is SJ’s passion—life is her muse—Alex is the force that brought this long anticipated novel to light after 17 years in a box.

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Love Missuswolf xxx

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