Today I am the final stop in a blog tour for Accidental Damage by Alice May. Today I will be interviewing her!
Jessica’s Reading Room(JRR): What is the first book you remember reading or having read to you?
I remember my father reading ‘Swallows and Amazons’ by Arthur Ransome to me, at a very early age. My siblings and I would snuggle up together by the fire and Dad would read aloud. We always begged for ‘just one more chapter please!’
JRR: That sounds like great family time! Who is your favorite literary character?
My favourite literary character is Lessa in Anne McCaffrey’s ‘Dragonflight’ because she’s cool and there are dragons. I can’t say anything else without spoilers, but let’s just say I really love dragons. I stumbled across this book at the age of 18. I had a lot of time to kill waiting for someone one day and had the choice between a bookcase full of medical text books and one novel. Not surprisingly I picked the novel and haven’t looked back. I’ve since read every single book Anne McCaffrey has written and there isn’t one that I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend.
JRR: Dragons! I will have to look into that book! Which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?
War and Peace by Tolstoy. This is a novel that is regarded as a central work of world literature. I rather think I should have found time to read it. It’s on my to-be-read pile honest!
JRR: Good luck with that one. It seems like not many have read it. If you could only take one book with you on a desert island, which would it be?
I would take ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy – omnibus edition. Or is that cheating? It would certainly keep me going.
JRR: That’s not cheating, I promise! 😉 What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading Katie Fforde’s new release ‘A Secret Garden’ and I am enjoying it very much. It’s a warm hearted, enjoyable read with a bit of romance thrown in.
JRR: Who would be at your dream dinner party (alive, dead or fictional)?
I would love to hold a dinner party for Katie Fforde, Trisha Ashley, Anne McCaffrey, J.K. Rowling, H. T. King and Kate Fenton. All are authors whose books have kept me going through the years and I would enjoy cooking up a feast for them to say thank you!
JRR: Great answers! What’s the best advice you have ever received?
‘Never ever give up!’ My parents have been instrumental in encouraging me to pick myself up and dust myself off after every setback in life. They are right. Anything is possible, you just sometimes have to believe in yourself, grow a thick skin and get on with it.
JRR: That is great advice! Yay for mom and dad! What’s the worst advice you have ever received?
“Do a French A-level. You’ll be really good at it!” Hmmmm – I passed, but only just!!!
JRR: Who is your hero or heroine (real or fictional)?
Soppiness alert! My Beloved Husband is my hero. Just because!
JRR: Awww! Where are you happiest?
I am happiest walking along the beach, whatever the weather, listening to the waves and just ‘being’.
JRR: Peaceful as long as there are not many people there! Who would you like to star in the film of your life?
Victoria Wood. She was such a talented lady. I have thoroughly enjoyed all her work, especially her poignant portrayal of Ella Last in ‘Housewife 49’.
JRR: Describe your best ever holiday.
Surfing (I really mean body boarding but I like to pretend I can surf) in Cornwall with my husband and kids. A whole day on the beach followed by chips and a pint of cold lager (lemonade for the kids of course) in the evening is my idea of heaven. Maybe I will take a learn-to-surf course one of these days.
JRR: That sounds like a good time! If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
If I could be invisible for a day I would probably sleep if, I am being completely honest. As a busy working mother, I spend my life running from one spinning plate / disaster issue to another. If I was invisible no one would see me just relaxing. Could I be deaf to all the people grumbling that I am not doing what I am supposed to be doing too, please?
JRR: Sure! If I joined you on your perfect day, what would we be doing?
My perfect day would involve sunshine and good coffee. Probably cake as well! I don’t have terribly high maintenance needs.
JRR: Cake! Can I join you?
**Thank you for your time Alice! I had fun getting to know you! **
Buy Accidental Damage Now!
If you think the normal school run on a Monday is entertaining you should try doing it from a tent in your back garden surrounded by the jumbled up contents of your entire home. It is vastly more diverting.
Our heroine has survived the sudden collapse of her home – or has she?
Certain events two and a half years ago led her to deliberately destroy an important piece of herself, hiding away all remaining evidence that it ever existed. What happens when she decides to go looking for it?
Does she really deserve to be whole again?
Inspired by a true story, this is an account of one woman’s secret guilt and her journey in search of forgiveness!
Courtesy of John David Bethel
He has traveled to many places that most of us can only dream of going, and also had a 30 year career in politics, now John David Bethel is a published author. He has written his second book, Blood Moon which was released December 4, 2016.
Buy on Amazon
On a hot, steamy afternoon in Miami, Cuban-American businessman Recidio Suarez is brutally beaten and abducted. Handcuffed, shackled and blindfolded, he has no idea why he has been targeted. What he discovers is heart-stopping. What he endures during almost a month of captivity compares only to the most horrendous stories of prisoners of war. He is tortured, and under the threat of death, and worse – the rape of his wife and torture of his children – Suarez is forced to hand over his multi-million dollar holdings to his captors.
Suarez survives and then spends the next few months staying one step ahead of the murderous pack. During this time, he and his lawyer, Nolan Stevens – a former Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Office of the FBI – are having difficulties convincing the Miami-Dade Police Department that a crime has been committed. Their efforts are complicated by Steven’s difficult history with the head of the MDPD Special Investigations Division, who is not interested in pursuing the case.
JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): Tell us a little about yourself.
Abridged version. I grew up overseas as my father was with the Foreign Service. After stops in Germany, Japan and Cuba (we also had six month stints stateside in Honolulu, Norfolk and New York City), we settled in Miami where I went to high school. Following graduation from Tulane University, I worked in Washington, DC for 30 years. I served as a speechwriter and press secretary to various members of Congress and the Senate. I also served in the same capacity for the Secretaries of Commerce and Education. After a stint as Associate Administrator with the U.S. General Services Administration, I retired and returned to Miami. I have written and had published two novels; Evil Town, a political thriller and Blood Moon, a suspense thriller based on a true crime.
JRR: That is quite a life you have lived so far! You had an interesting career before you became an author. Does your previous experience in politics influence what you write?
The years I spent in politics probably influenced how I write more than what I write about.
I learned to fully appreciate the power and consequences of words and language. Legislators and/or candidates often have one opportunity to represent themselves and their vision to constituents and voters. Without the correct words that opportunity could be squandered. With them, ideals can be explained, people inspired, and personalities defined.
JRR: That is very true! They must come up with the correct words or they may not get their point across or even have the changes they want see fruition. Now, did you always want to become an author?
I always enjoyed writing and that might have come from being an avid reader.
As noted, we spent a lot of time traveling, which meant I missed large chunks of formal education. Whenever I wasn’t in school, my parents insisted that I read. I was fascinated by the fact that no matter where I was – Europe, Japan, the Caribbean (or on an ocean liner or airplane between posts) – a book could transport me to a different place entirely. This fascination compelled me to try my hand at writing and I found that I enjoyed it…and it gave free reign to an active imagination.
JRR: What inspires you to write?
A story will come to me and gnaw away until I sit down and weave through it. I’m not sure if that qualifies as “inspiration” or is more akin to an “itch”.
JRR: Whether it is an inspiration or an itch, go for it and write! What does your writing process consist of? Do you research for your novels, do you handwriting or type, do you listen to music or not?
I have the kernel of a storyline which builds as I write. I don’t work from an outline nor do I have backstories for my characters. I have no idea where the story is going to take me, and the characters mature and develop with the storyline. Like the reader, I am drawn along as I write and am often surprised where the plot takes me.
I use a PC and if I listen to music, which is a “how do I feel today” kind of choice, it’s classical. Beethoven, Rachmaninoff and Bach are among my favorites.
JRR: Even if you outline and ‘plan’ what’s going to happen with your characters, sometimes they will ‘do what they want’ and take a ‘life of their own’ and change your plans! What kind of advice can you give to aspiring authors? The journey to become published and can be long and hard.
First and foremost one must have a compelling desire to write for no other reward than the product itself. “I write therefore I am” kind of thing. The prospect of publication should not be foremost in mind as, unfortunately, getting published today is very, very challenging.
Second, an aspiring writer must have the discipline to sit down every single day and spend hours over the keyboard. That can be the toughest part of the process…dedication to the task and the discipline to complete that task.
I also think writers must have healthy egos to endure the rejection that comes to all of us from publishers, agents, literary critics and readers. If one has a fragile sense of self, writing is definitely going to be a destructive career choice.
JRR: Great advice! Who was your favorite author as a child?
My father used to read to me from American folk tales. Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill are two I remember well. Those got me started and from there I’d read stories about other bigger than life figures like John Henry Johnson, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Jim Bridger, and finally graduated to Mark Twain.
JRR: Who is your favorite author as an adult?
I have a few. The novels of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald entranced me and demonstrated how brilliantly-written fiction could gobble readers up and transport them to another place and time. The storytelling ability of Stephen King showed me that a good tale could pull the reader into the story, increase their heartbeat, cause them to perspire with fear and anticipation, and come out the other end invigorated. Also, the novels of Aldous Huxley and Sinclair Lewis taught me that fiction could have a social conscience while also being entertaining.
JRR: Which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?
The Magic Mountain and Finnegan’s Wake.
JRR: What’s the best advice you have ever received?
Though an aphorism more so than advice, I’ve benefited from knowing that: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
JRR: I like that! Your newest book, Blood Moon is based off of a true story. What made you want to tell this story?
First a little background. The details of the story came to me from Ed DuBois. Ed runs a security firm, Investigators, Inc., and had been brought into the case by a mutual friend of Marc Schiller, the victim. Ed read my novel Evil Town and enjoyed it, and when he wanted to explore the possibilities of having a book written about the crime, he contacted me.
Initially, Ed wanted a true crime book written to counter the treatment the real story was getting in a movie that was being made of the crime, “Pain and Gain.” Ed was serving as a consultant on the movie and grew disenchanted with the “black comedy” slant being applied to the script. I wrote a treatment of the book but when it became apparent a true crime book could not be written and published in time to provide a balance to the movie, that project was abandoned.
I had become intrigued by the crime, especially by the courage of the victim, Marc Schiller, and Ed’s determination to get the “bad guys.” Schiller’s survival of 30 days in captivity during which he was brutally tortured, and had every single penny of his substantial estate extorted, was a story that was too compelling to ignore. My wheelhouse is fiction so I went to Ed and Marc and asked if they’d mind if I treated the story as fiction, hewing closely enough to the real events to convey the true horror of what Marc endured and how Ed worked skillfully to solve the crime.
JRR: I find that hard to believe that they gave the movie a ‘black comedy’ slant on something that actually happened to someone! Especially where someone survived 30 days of pure torture. How much research was involved in writing Blood Moon?
Blood Moon required a great deal of research. I studied hundreds of pages of trial transcripts to fully understand details of the crime and to get a “feel” for the perpetrators and their victims. I also studied police crime reports. The depositions conducted by attorneys for the defense and prosecution were another source of information. Most helpful were hours of discussions with the Ed and Marc.
JRR: How accurate is it to the ‘real life story’? It sounds truly terrifying.
Two passages from Marc Schiller’s Foreword to the novel answer this question best:
After reading this novel, most readers will be hard-pressed to accept that anything as written in these pages could happen. That assumption would be very wrong. I know because I am the one who experienced and survived many of the traumatic events described in Bloodmoon.
My month long stay in what I called “Hotel Hell” – which the author of Bloodmoon captures with chilling accuracy – was filled with physical and mental torture, humiliation and starvation.
JRR: He must have been a strong person to survive his ordeal. It had to have changed him as well.
If you could have dinner with three people (living or dead) who would they be and why?
- My late father so we could discuss my novels.
- Ernest Hemingway for the same reason. Presumptuous I know, but I’d love to get his critique, and also pick his brain on writing.
- Beethoven because he is a fascinating personality as well as a genius in his field.
JRR: Those are some good choices!
**Thank you for your time with this interview![Top]
Originally from Manila, and now living in Canada, K.S. Villoso always wanted to write. She writes in the Fantasy genre. Book One of her trilogy The Agartes Epilogues is out now and the next two books will be released in April!
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It has been years since his brother’s accident. Kefier was only just beginning to live a normal life–at least, as normal as it could get for a mercenary from a run-down town. And then an errand goes wrong and he finds himself holding his friend’s bloody corpse.
Already once branded a murderer, he is pursued by men he once considered friends and stumbles into the midst of a war between two mages. One bears a name long forgotten in legend; the other is young, arrogant Ylir, who takes special interest in making sure Kefier is not killed by his associates. The apex of their rivalry: a terrible creature with one eye, cast from the womb of a witch, with powers so immense whoever possesses it holds the power to bring the continent to its knees.
Now begins a tale with roots reaching beyond the end of another. Here, a father swears vengeance for his slain children; there, a peasant girl struggles to feed her family. A wayward prince finds his way home and a continent is about to be torn asunder. And Kefier is only beginning to understand how it all began the moment he stood on that cliff and watched his brother fall…
JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): Tell us a little about yourself.
I had a colourful childhood, most of which I spent in the slums in Manila, up until we immigrated to Canada in my early teens. The only daughter of two civil engineers, I followed my parents’ footsteps and pursued an education in civil engineering myself; however, I’ve always been a writer first. I now live in a village near Vancouver, Canada, where I can walk out of my backyard straight into the forest. I share my life with my husband, children, dogs, and the occasional garbage-stealing bear.
JRR: Children, dogs, and bears: Oh my! 😉 It does sound like you have had an interesting life. Did you always want to become an author?
Yes. It was one of my first answers to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” When we lived in the slums, I was not really allowed to go and play outside with the other kids, and there was no Internet or cable TV or libraries, so I spent a lot of time re-reading the same old classic novels and writing on a 1 gb hard drive computer my dad built for me out of old/spare parts.
JRR: A 1 gb hard drive computer! Wow! But you had to work with what you had. What inspires you to write?
All of my writing revolves around character exploration, no matter what the genre. I like digging deep, discovering complex relationships, motivations, backgrounds, all of which culminate into character growth.
I also really like world-building, and have a large world in which most of my epic fantasy stories are set in. I love creating new cities and then exploring them; I also like getting my characters to travel through all sorts of natural and magic-made wonders.
JRR: What does your writing process consist of?
Once I have an idea, I type a lot of outlines or summaries for it. I want to have a clear picture in my head of what this story is going to be about and what facets of the main characters I want to explore. I also want to have a clear picture of the main scenes—particularly the beginning, turning points, and the end. This means it may take years for a novel (or series) to “bake” in my mind. Afterwards, I’ll generally write a deeper outline (lately I’ve been doing chapter-by-chapter outline) before I start writing.
I follow an organic process when I write: a lot of things change during the actual writing process, and I allow my outlines to evolve. This means I could be creating new outlines for every change that happens in the manuscript itself, which is labour-intensive, but I love the results so far. Characters I’ve doomed to die in the outlines may end up living after all, or the other way around; actions change as the manuscript delves deeper into their motivations.
JRR: You have quite the process! Things can always change while you are writing and characters could ‘take over’ with what you plan to do for them. What kind of advice can you give to aspiring authors?
Always question the quality of your writing, and always aspire to do better than you did yesterday. Keep writing and don’t compare yourself to other writers. Everyone had a unique voice, and you can only be “better” than yourself, not better than anyone else. Also, writing is hard—it’s supposed to be hard. It’s one of the most worthwhile things in the world you can do, so don’t let thoughts of money or fame distract you from what’s truly important, which is to give life to stories that only you can tell.
JRR: That is great advice! Who was your favorite author as a child and who is your favorite author as an adult?
I loved Jack London when I was little. I still do, but I’ve added to the list: Guy Gavriel Kay, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ursula Le Guin, Robin Hobb, G.R.R. Martin, and I’m sure there’s others I’ve missed.
JRR: What can you tell us about your series The Agartes Epilogues? Book one is out now and the other two will be out soon.
The Agartes Epilogues is an epic fantasy series brought down to a “human level”. It consists of an epic plotline that is told from the point-of-view of three minor characters, who have their own selfish motivations. These POVs are contrasted with Interludes from both side characters and the actual “heroes” of the stories (people who carry out heroic deeds and represent traits like duty, everlasting love, honour, and sacrifice). In the series, I explore themes of love, redemption, legacy (specifically as it pertains to children), and purpose.
The entire series spans a whole ten years or so, but the books themselves are actually fairly light and quick reads (for this genre). There is a lot of focus on character interactions and dialogue, as opposed to descriptions.
Jaeth’s Eye, which is Book One, is currently out now, while the last two books, Aina’s Breath and Sapphire’s Flight will be out this April 2017.
JRR: Good luck with the upcoming releases! Who is the target audience for The Agartes Epilogues?
The Agartes Epilogues is for fantasy lovers who enjoy characters, particularly those who enjoy full immersion in characters’ lives, their problems, and their eventual growth. You don’t even have to necessarily like the “epic” aspect of fantasy (or even like fantasy at all—I’ve had a few of these readers), although that will certainly help you appreciate the politics, wars, and the scale of the worldbuilding.
JRR: Where did you get the idea for The Agartes Epilogues? Was there anything that influenced you to write it?
It actually started out as a JRPG my boyfriend and I were designing back in high school, using RPG Maker (I forgot which version). I had the main plot consisting of a disgruntled hero and what he did to the world and an entire cast of characters all ready, and ended up getting to the second town before I realized I wanted to do more than the medium allowed. I ended up writing the first novel right after high school graduation, but I did it from the point of view of a side character, one who wasn’t featured in the game, and instead pushed the heroes (the main cast) to the background.
I would later rewrite that same novel several times before it finally became Jaeth’s Eye.
JRPG stands for “Japanese Role Playing Game”, which is a genre of video game that usually involves linear gameplay, a party of characters, and levelling up by defeating enemies through random encounters while walking around dungeons. RPG Maker is a software for developing video games–you can find out more here.
JRR: If you could have dinner with three people (living or dead) who would they be and why?
Also supposing I don’t have social anxiety…probably Ursula K. Le Guin, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Robin Hobb, who are some of my most admired authors in the fantasy genre. And I just want to sit there and listen to what they say to each other and absorb that information.
JRR: Maybe they could give you ideas on future novels! 😉 Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
Thank you for this opportunity for an interview, and don’t forget to visit my website at http://www.ksvilloso.com.
***Thank you for your time K.S.![Top]