Thursday, October 12, 2017

Interview with dark fiction author, Ivan Blake

We had the pleasure of an exclusive interview with author, Ivan Blake. Thank you, Ivan, for taking time off and answering our questions.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
Wilton Barnhardt, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Kate Mosse, Michael Gregorio, Edward Rutherford, and of course, Edgar Allan Poe.

I would have been surprised if Edgar Allan Poe wasn't on your list, Ivan. Having read Dead Scared, I see some influence there.

What motivated you to become a writer and at what age?
A professor in university once challenged me to critique my own writing as if I were reading a stranger’s work. And what horrible writing I discovered it to be. The experience taught me to be truly self-critical, and was critical to making me a writer.

What 3 words describe you as a person?
Curious, imaginative, and enthusiastic.

What 3 words describe you as a writer?
Compelling, at times poetic, and a pretty good story teller.

When not writing, how do you spend your time? Hobbies?
Travel, pottering around the house, enjoying our patio and fish pond, and spoiling my granddaughter.

Ah, spoken like a true and passionate grandfather. As a new grandmother, I totally understand the 'spoiling' part. 

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Just William books by Richmal Compton. I chuckle to this day at the antics of William Brown. The book that made me want to be a writer was Murders in the Rue Morgue by Poe which I read in Grade Nine. Poe’s language was intoxicating.

Describe your desk.
My computer stands on a tiny desk that belonged to my wife as a child. There’s no room on the desk for anything other than the keyboard, monitor and a printer. I don’t mind the cramped workspace because I can’t imagine being confined to one room to write. I wander all over the house as I’m working out ideas. Getting them into the computer is only the last stage in the process.

Who is the main character?
Christopher Chandler

What’s his story?
Chris is seventeen and a half and an embittered loner whose father travels from town to town across America closing factories for his employer, Allied Paper Products of Wisconsin. Chris’s mother suffers from acute depression, and his siblings are too young to mean much to him   In whichever hellhole his dad’s job drops the Chandler family, Chris’s survival strategy is to keep a low, brooding profile and shun the company of anyone. Then one fateful day he makes two mistakes. He discovers his neighbour is stealing corpses from the local funeral home, and he attracts the attention of the most popular—and the cruelest--girl in town, and all hell breaks loose.

Where/when does the story take place?
In Bemishstock, Maine, a dying factory town at the mouth of the Roan River on Maine’s North Coast in 1985.

How did the story come to you?
I’ve written radio documentaries, a TV Christmas special and a vampire stage play, all of which I’m pleased to say have been performed, but I’ve always wanted to write a novel. My first effort was a romance but my sons said, “Dad, you always told us terrific ghost stories as kids. Do that.” So I did.

Who is your target audience?
Young adults certainly, since the hero is a young man struggling to find his place in the world, but there are also issues and themes in the book that should appeal to readers of any age. 

What makes your book different from other similar ones?
For one thing, I deliberately set out to write a story in which the dead are not the shambling zombies of so many other horror novels. The dead in my tale are to be pitied, protected even, from the living who would disturb their slumber. I’m not aware of another novel in which the hero is a defender of the dead.

What do your fans mean to you?
I write because I love telling stories. I can only hope my readers find my tales as engrossing as I do cooking them up. I try my very best not to be predictable. I want my readers to be surprised at every twist in my stories. Only my readers can tell me whether my efforts have succeeded.

Where do you get the inspirations for your book(s)?
I’m always on the hunt for strange news stories and odd beliefs. I can’t recall where this particular tale originated but authors often say, ‘write what you know’. So perhaps something in my own past prompted this story.

Any advice for new writers just beginning this trek down the wonderful world of publishing?
First, read your work aloud, read it as though you’d never read it before, and forgive nothing. If it sounds awkward and confused to your own ear, then it probably is. And second, the story is everything. Don’t waste a word in needless lyrical flourishes or working out your own personal issues. If a passage doesn’t move the story forward, then don’t use it.

Thank you once again, Ivan, for your time. 

Don’t miss Ivan's chilling series: The Mortsafeman, Book 1, DEAD SCARED, now available. Perfect read for those fall windy nights.
Who knew the dead have more to fear from the living than the living have to fear from the dead? Certainly not seventeen-year-old Chris Chandler, not before his family moved to Bemishstock, Maine in the autumn of 1985.

Kirkus review:
"Fans should claw at Blake’s windows for more graveyard tales after this delightful series opener."

Dead Scared by Ivan Blake
Book 1 from his The Mortsafeman series

Paperback available at AMAZON | B&N | POWELLS | BAM |
Ebook available at: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo |

Friday, September 29, 2017

Interview: Donovan: Thief 4 Hire

Welcome to a very special interview today with Sean Donovan, main character 
from Chuck Bowie's series:
 Donovan: Thief 4 Hire

The Interview

As the new Communications and HR Director for Plenitude Winery, Beth McLean has asked Sean Donovan the winery owner (her new husband) to sit for an interview in order to sharpen her interviewing skills. As you can see, this ‘game’ of interviewing soon went off track.

Beth (Q):How long have you been a winemaker?
Sean (A): I’ve been a fan for years, but only at the bottle-to-glass part. I’ve become an owner—the soil to vine to bottle—this past year.

Q: What made you want to be a winemaker? Was your previous job not exciting enough?
A: (Grinning). Well, I was a contract thief. I bet you didn’t see that coming.

Q: (Feigning surprise). I knew you were a security consultant, but some of the ways you disarmed people and gathered up the valuables you sought made me suspect you had…hidden talents. Did you travel a lot, in your previous career?
A: Sure. Mostly North America and Europe. For many years I had an apartment in Montreal, but I seldom got to sleep there. There was always a contract, always a prize to chase on behalf of a client. Funny thing, though. I’d travel to all these cities of the world, but didn’t get to enjoy them, because it was always get in, do the job, and get out. This is not how you learn of the charms of Bucharest, or Nice, or…here.(Waves a hand to offer up the view of a vineyard.)

Q: It occurs to me you must have liked your job, to put that much effort into it. Was it the thrill of the chase, or the money?
A: I was raised poor, had no stability and had to leave home at sixteen. Cold and hunger will give you an appreciation for money. To be honest, though, I did derive satisfaction from using my skills and wits to separate people from their possessions. Especially the bad people.

Q: Bad people?
A: You’ll be surprised to know, Beth, that there are bad people in the world who have things they didn’t deserve to have. And if you enjoy watching Karma in action, you’ll get a kick over some very bad man losing everything he’s hurt people to get.

Q: And now?
A: Things are different, now. I’ve met someone, bought a business, and somehow feel as if I’ve got some measure of redemption. I don’t need or want to go back to that life.

Q: (Smiling). So you’ve retired, never to steal again?
A: (Deadly serious, his eyes unwavering). I’m almost there. But I recently came upon some information that leads me to believe my winery may be in danger. In cases like this, there are two options: fight or flight. I’ve grown fond of my winery, so…

Follow the exploits of Sean Donovan as he navigates the path from driven thief for hire to a man who’s found redemption. Book 4, the newest in the Donovan: Thief 4 Hire suspense-thriller series drops in 2018. It’s entitled The Body On The Underwater Road.


Chuck Bowie graduated from the University of New Brunswick in Canada with a Bachelor Degree in Science. He still lives in on the East Coast of Canada, an hour north or east of Maine. Growing up as an air force brat, his writing is influenced by the study of human nature and how people behave, habits he picked up as his family moved nineteen times in his first twenty one years. Chuck loves food, wine, music and travel and all play a role in his work.

His writing will often draw upon elements of these experiences to round out his characters and plotlines. Chuck is involved in the world of music, supporting local musicians, occasionally playing with them and always celebrating their successes. Because he enjoys venting as much as the next fellow, Chuck will at times share his thoughts with a brief essay, some of which can be found on his website.

To see his complete series, please visit: CHUCK BOWIE

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

It's All About Pride

We are absolutely thrilled to have another Kevin Craig novel with us. PRIDE Must Be a Place, Kevin's LGBTQ YA novel, releasing February 2018, is sure to resonate with many. 

Thank you, Kevin, for coming in and giving us some insight to your inspiration on writing this book.

It’s All About Pride
by Kevin Craig
Why did I take on the subject I took on in Pride Must Be a Place, my new LGBTQ novel with MuseItUp Publishing? That’s a hard question to answer. Not because I don’t know the answer, but because I’m still sort of tap-dancing around it.

Ezra Caine and Alex Mills are the two main gay characters in this story about the formation of a gay-straight alliance in a small-town high school. Ezra struggles with coming out at home, afraid of how his family—especially his father—will react to the news. Alex is flamboyantly gay and has been the victim of homophobic bullying at school one too many times. The story follows the two as they work with Ezra's best friend Nettie to make their high school safer for the LGBTQ students and allies, while Ezra navigates the reality that this will inadvertently cause him to be out at home. 

In short, I wrote this novel because, as an adult, I find myself constantly attempting to write the novel that would have saved ME as a teenager. I try to put books into my teen self's hands, to rescue him, to tell him he's not alone, to convince him he's not the monster he imagined himself to be. But as I contemplated writing this blog post, I realized I may still have a long way to go with that convincing. Perhaps I still need a little saving myself.

I realize that even though I'm essentially living my life as an out-gay man, I'm still not out in all the areas of my life. Not really, anyway. I'm certain this book (or possibly even this very blog post) may give me that final push I need to stop caring what others think about something as private as my own sexual orientation. The thing is, when you face a lot of bigotry in early life, you carry the legacy of that burden into your future life. You suspect every ally you discover along the way, you question their allegiance. Coming out is an ongoing process that constantly takes you out of your comfort zone. Who am I going to lose? What rights or conveniences am I going to lose? And then one day you realize you're becoming a happier, more authentic you. And then the threats you always worried about begin to evaporate. Happiness becomes more important than loses, real or imagined.

Some might say that gay-straight alliance high school stories are a thing of the past, but we have to keep reminding ourselves that we are not yet all on the same page. There really are still high schools in existence that do not have such a thing as LGBTQ support and alliance groups. There really are still gay teenagers suffering in silence, struggling to get through the day in environments that are not completely friendly towards them. High school is a battle zone in so many ways. It shouldn't be a hostile environment for those still coming to terms with their sexuality. Often, this is in itself an overwhelming obstacle. Especially if they are facing bigotry at home.

I wrote this novel because I think of those who may still be suffering in silence. The great American poet Emma Lazarus wrote, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free”. I believe that with all my being. It is true of racial discrimination, religious intolerance, and bigotry in all of its forms, including homophobia. As a gay man who isn't currently facing many instances of bigotry or intolerance himself, I can't simply sit back and relax in my bubble of acceptance. Not while others are still suffering. I can't coast on my own freedom. I wrote this book to keep the issues alive, to remind people that homophobia isn't only occurring in places like Chechnya, where gays are facing severe persecution. It is also alive and well in our streets and in our schools and in our childhood homes. Teens need to know they're not alone. I know this simply because it's what I always wanted to know as a teen myself.

We must continue to tell stories of coming out, of being out, of building bridges between straight and LGBTQ communities. I will continue to tell stories like this one until we are all free. I hope Ezra's story resonates with teens facing these issues today. I hope I have written a book that might go a little way in saving someone like me, someone who needs to be told they're life is worth saving.

Thank you, Kevin. 

Pride Must Be a Place is releasing February 6, and will soon be available at all online reputable retailers. But you can pre-order your copy today from MuseItUp Publishing.

Also make sure to check out Kevin's YA Summer on Fire.

Zach Carson is a loyal friend. But is loyalty enough to keep best friends together when one of them sets fire to the rural barn they use as the local hangout?

Zach, Jeff Barsell and Arnie Wilson struggle to pick up the pieces when news spreads that a body was discovered in the burnt out shell of the neighbouring home. When the word murder is used by the local police, the stakes grow even higher. When the police start searching for their most likely suspect—none other than Jeff’s older brother, and nemesis, Marty Barsell—the boys decide to join forces and come up with a way to prove his innocence.

But just how innocent is Marty Barsell? When Marty admits to being at the scene of the crime, the three friends enlist the help of Zach’s annoying sister, Sherry, as well as the sympathetic town eccentric, Ms. Halverton. But can they keep it together long enough to save Marty, and themselves, from eminent catastrophe? Summer on Fire is the story of friendships, and the lines we are asked to cross in order to keep them.