Interview with T.L. Bodine and Tagestraum!

Today I’m interviewing author T.L. Bodine. First let’s take a look at her latest book: Tagestraum.

Working as a child welfare agent, Adrian has seen a lot of disturbing things. Nathaniel Weaver isn’t the first kid in the city who’s ever gone missing, but his disappearance haunts Adrian in a way he cannot entirely explain. Maybe it’s because the child looks so eerily similar to himself. Maybe it’s the drawing that Nathaniel gave to him the last time they met: a cloaked nightmarish figure that Adrian recognizes from his own dreams.

When Adrian returns once more to the scene of the disappearance, he finds a doorway leading to another world: Tagestraum, a bizarre and often treacherous faerie realm powered by human dreams. The world itself threatens the safety and sanity of any human that crosses into it, and several of its denizens are eager to harvest errant humans for a little raw energy.

Adrian knows that he’s the only person who can find Nathaniel – but to do it, he must battle both dangerous inhabitants and his own worst nightmares, and each night that passes brings Adrian closer to losing himself completely.

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1.     So much of your writing has a fairy-tale element. What fairy tales captivated you as a child, and now?

When I was maybe six or seven, my grandmother gave me a book of fairytales that were broken out into days — 365 sections, each one meant to be read at bedtime throughout the year.  These were the original Grimm’s stories, and I was completely fascinated by the violence and death in them compared to the Disney movies I’d seen.  The one that really stuck with me was Cinderella, when the step sisters are cutting off parts of their foot to fit in the slipper.  I just remember reading it and thinking, “Wow, they definitely left that part out of the movie.  This is so much cooler!” (I was kind of a weird kid lol)

In college, I read The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, and it was kind of a transformative experience.  I knew right then that I wanted to revisit some of those stories from my childhood and try seeing them in a new way.

2.     What do you find the biggest differences are between writing fiction and web content?

They’re almost like apples and oranges.  When you’re writing for the web, you’re giving somebody exactly what they want.  Your number one job is figuring exactly what they’re looking for and delivering it to them.  You spend a lot of time researching and creatively reorganizing information into an effective or accessible format, but everything you need already exists — you’re just packaging it differently.   With fiction, you’re creating things as you go, and you have to go slowly enough to figure out what you’re trying to say.  I can write 10k a day easy for my “day job”, but if I get a thousand words out on a novel it’s a very good day.

3.     If one song out there could define your book, what would it be?

Is it cheating to use a poem?  Because I’d totally say “The Stolen Child” by W.B. Yeats.  Some people have done musical arrangements of it, so it totally counts right?

4.     If you met your main character at a bar, how would you interact?

Well first off I’d be pretty concerned because he’s not a drinker.  He watched both of his parents drink entirely too much and ruin a large chunk of his childhood because of it.  He toyed with drinking socially in college and realized he couldn’t control himself around it, so he’s never been back since.

But I’d buy him a Shirley Temple or something — dude’s earned it– and try to get him to open up.   Sure, I have the unfair advantage of knowing him better than he knows me, but I’m sure there’s things he hasn’t told me yet and I’d love to know them.

5.     If you could live in any literary universe, which would it be?

I’d be perfectly content with a Hogwarts acceptance letter 🙂

6.     Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A bit of both.  Writing for me is kind of like driving on the highway at night.  You know pretty much where you’re going and how you’re going to get there, but at any given time all you can see is what’s right in front of you, and sometimes things jump out at you from nowhere.  Only difference is that writing, the unexpected bits are usually good.

7.     How has writing changed your life?

I’ve been making up stories since I can remember, and writing them down since I was about 8, so it’s been a huge part of making me who I am now.  There’s kind of an old cliche about writing as therapy, but I think there’s a lot of truth to it.  Obviously the number one thing you want to do when you write a book is to try and tell a good story.  But underneath that, you’re also working out problems — trying to figure out how the world works, and why, and whether that’s a good thing.  So I think writing can give you a lot of self-awareness in that respect, and it’s something I turn to for comfort in those situations where answers aren’t always easy to find.

8.     What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read widely.  Write all the time.  But don’t forget to go outside and live, too.  Every experience you have will enrich your writing, and you owe it to yourself to gather as many of those experiences as you possibly can.  Sitting alone in front of a typewriter is a romantic image, maybe, but it’s not what’s going to make you a better writer.
About the Author
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T.L. Bodine is a fantasy author, web content writer and fly-by-night video game writer.  Most recently, she’s collaborated with Ginger Goat on the anthology “Trust Me,” about dolls who sometimes tell lies, and her work can be seen in the newly released Holdfast gamebook from Black Chicken Studios.  She has three books in print: Tagestraum, Nezumi’s Children, and The Beast in the Bedchamber.

Indie Services Freebies! MS Evaluation

Hey all.

I recently decided to add some more features to Burning Tree. Beyond author interviews, cover reveals, and promotion, I wanted to expand Burning Tree into more of a resource for Indie authors.

The first is a new bookstore showcasing awesome Indie and Indie pub books. This (I hope) will continually expand to be a way to find books on Kindle/Amazon that are well-written, professional, and enjoyable. If you want to nominate a book for the shop, please leave a note in the comments. Self-promotion is absolutely okay.

 

The second is copyediting and Manuscript Evaluation services. As a copyeditor, I offer a 1000 word free trial before accepting a project, so that you can be assured that we’re compatible. I’m also looking for more copyeditors to join in to provide quality editing services for affordable prices.

For Manuscript Evaluation, you receive a full report on whether or not your book is “ready” to be published/submitted. This report will focus on a variety of book elements, including character development, plot, and grammar.

 

To get all of this started, I’m looking for some “guinea pigs.” So here’s the deal: I am offering three free Manuscript Evaluations in exchange for thoughts on the process. I’m hoping to create an affordable way for an Indie writer to get an in-depth opinion on how ready their book is for the “shelves.”

 

If you’re interested, please email me at Lindsay@burningtree.ca with a blurb on your MS, as well as the complete file as a .doc .docx or .pdf attachment. The first three inquiries will receive a free evaluation!

 

Spread the news to anyone you know who might be in need of such a service, and if you’re a freelance editor, I’d love to hear from you too if you’d like to play a part!

 

Thanks all, keep writing!

Interview with Jack Croxall @jackcroxall Author of Tethers

I am so excited to introduce you all to Jack Croxall, if you haven’t met him already. His book, Tethers, is totally fantastic and a wonderful, well-written read. I love it.

A bit about his book:

In the wake of a cold Victorian winter, two teenagers discover an anonymous journal filled with strange passages and bizarre scribblings.

The journal soon draws them into a covert and sinister conspiracy, a conspiracy centred around an otherworldly artefact with the power to change everything …

Karl and Esther have spent almost every day of their thirteen years in the quiet market town of Shraye. Stifled by their rural surroundings and frustrated by their unfulfilled ambitions, they find the allure of the journal’s mysterious pages impossible to ignore. The book seems to be beckoning them away from Shraye, away from their homes and towards the coast where an unsolved disappearance has set in motion a dark chain of events.

The voyage the teenagers soon find themselves undertaking is one of desperate importance and true peril; it will change the way they see the world, and each other, forever.

Set in Victorian Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, Tethers is the first instalment of The Tethers Trilogy.

***

Here’s my interview with Jack:

How much work did you put into building your world?

On the whole, Tethers took about two years to write and a good proportion of that time was spent researching Victorian England (where the novel is set). I spent hours upon hours studying Victorian life and I must say it was fascinating, not a chore in the slightest! My favourite aspect was perhaps life on the waterways – a style of living that is non-existent in today’s society. Whole families would live in the single cramped cabin of a narrowboat as they transported supplies up and down the rivers and canals. The life was incredibly tough and children would work full days as soon as they could walk.

What was the initial lightbulb idea that put Tethers into motion?

 

I started writing Tethers with absolutely no (conscious) plan whatsoever, and, at times, I did wonder where the novel was going. However, my lightbulb moment came when I realised the aspect of the plot that the book’s title is a reference to. I couldn’t possibly go into any more detail than that though …

What was the single hardest scene to write in the book?

 

There is a scene where a main character dies and that was incredibly difficult to write, not only because it’s horrible to let one of your darlings go, but you have to accurately gauge and convey all the emotions at play in the other characters present. It took several redrafts but I think I got there in the end!

If one song out there could define your book, what would it be?

 

I really can’t think of just one song, but I have put together a playlist of songs I listened to whilst writing the book. You can check it out here: http://bit.ly/Zr6l9U

If you met your main character at a bar, how would you interact?

 

One of my main characters, Esther, lives in a rural pub and I think if I somehow turned up there, she would be quite keen to talk to a new face. She’d probably be disappointed when she found out I wasn’t particularly exciting or mysterious though – unless she found out I was from the future of course!

If you could live in any literary universe, which would it be?

Oh, that’s easy; Lyra’s universe in His Dark Materials. Philip Pullman crafted a gorgeous world for his seminal trilogy and the best part is that everybody gets their own daemon (a physical, animal-embodiment of your soul). I think mine would be a heron because I’m patient, persistent and I love water!

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

 

Can I be a combination of the two, a ‘planster’ perhaps? I’ve recently been writing with a vague plan but allowing myself absolute freedom to go off on tangents and connect the dots however I feel is best at the time. It’s working out well actually.

How has writing changed your life?

 

Quite simply, it’s made me happier than ever before.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Firstly, I would say read as widely as you can – not exclusively books from the genre you intend to write in. I’m not only talking about fiction either; blogs, newspaper articles, pamphlets, menus, billboards, DVD boxes, E-mails, all can be sources of great writing – you need to absorb as much of it as you can. Secondly, I suggest getting involved with the larger writing community. With social networking it’s never been easier and most writers and readers really are wonderfully supportive. I’ve found talking to fellow bookish-types incredibly helpful so, get involved; my twitter handle is @JackCroxall, if you’re interested, add me for a chat!

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Find Tethers here:

 

More About Jack Croxall:

 

Jack Croxall - Author Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Website

Twitter

Interview With Author Meredith Towbin @Mtprose and Her Novel Straightjacket

Today I have the pleasure of hosting Meredith Towbin, author of STRAIGHTJACKET.

The Book:

Eighteen-year-old Anna has lived her whole life in shame, losing herself in books to cope with crippling panic attacks triggered by her abusive parents. Forced into a psychiatric hospital, she can’t imagine a future that’s anything but bleak—until she meets Caleb, a gifted, 19-year-old artist who insists he’s an angel.

He swears his mission is to help Anna break free from her parents’ control and fulfill a destiny that she can only dream of. The doctors, however, are convinced that Caleb is delusional.

Anna doesn’t want to be that girl who’s in love with the crazy guy, but when she sees his stunning portraits of her and the way he risks everything to keep her safe, she can’t help but imagine a new future for both of them, filled with hope. But just when it seems they’ve created heaven on earth, Caleb’s past emerges full force, threatening to destroy their tiny, blissful world. And Anna has to decide if she should follow her heart, or if Caleb’s really as troubled as his doctors say…

**

This was the kind of book that really surprised me. It took a completely different turn than I thought it was going to, which is so, so refreshing in today’s world. Here are her answers to my burning questions.

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 What was your inspiration for Straightjacket, and how did you work to make it stand out from other angel books?

I’ve always been fascinated by psychology (I took a ton of psych classes in college). I knew I wanted the setting for my book to be in a psychiatric hospital just because they kind of scare me and intrigue me at the same time.

As I was creating my characters, I needed to come up with a reason as to why they might be there. Depression/suicidal tendencies is definitely one reason (for Anna), but I wanted something super weird for my other character. I mean, why be normal when you can be super weird, right? After mulling it over for a while, I came up with the idea that Caleb would be delusional and think he was an angel.

It wasn’t  my intention to write a paranormal novel, like a lot of the other angel books out there. Caleb might be an angel, and he might not – he’s either completely delusional like his doctor says or supernatural. There’s doubt there, and I think most angel books make the reader suspend disbelief and accept that in the world of the book, angels definitely exist.

What was the single hardest scene to write in the book?

The sex scene, by far! Writing a sex scene, especially for YA, is very difficult, at least for me. I wanted it to be realistic, sweet, overwhelming, but still appropriate. I remember sitting in the Barnes & Noble café writing it, and even though no one knew what I was doing, I still turned 15 shades of red.

 If one song out there could define your book, what would it be?

Funny you ask because there was one particular song that hugely inspired the book. Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You into the Dark” was it. I love that song, and I would listen to it and think that I really wanted to write a book about two people that love each other so much that if one of them died, the other one would die too just so they wouldn’t have to go it alone.

 If you met your main character at a bar, how would you interact?

If I met Anna at a bar, she probably wouldn’t talk to me. She’d plant herself in a corner and look as inconspicuous as possible. If I met Caleb there, I’d be the one not talking to him because I’d be intimidated by his coolness. And if he happened to come up and talk to me, I’d be a blubbering idiot.

 If you could live in any literary universe, which would it be?

I absolutely loved the Wicked series by Gregory Macguire. Oz is definitely not the happy-go-lucky place out of The Wizard of Oz, but even so it’s magical and full of amazing characters that I would love to get to know.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

In real life I am a major organizer – it’s all about lists and calendars and putting things in places they belong. I have a minor (ok, major) obsession with The Container Store. So I figured when I went to write a book, I’d of course outline everything and know exactly where things were going.

I used my outline for the first chapter and then went totally off the rails. I realized that I’m a pantser when it comes to writing. I might know what will happen two or three chapters ahead, but it can always change. I think it keeps it fresher for me, like I’m reading along with it even though I’m the one doing the writing.

How has writing changed your life?

It was always my dream to write a novel, but for many years, I was too scared of failing to actually try. Now that I’ve gotten up the courage to do it, I really feel like it’s a dream come true, whether or not what I write gets published. Because there are definitely things I’ve written that haven’t gotten published.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Carve out time every day that you devote to writing. There are always a million excuses as to why there’s no time. There’s never a good time. Believe me. Make yourself do it just for an hour. I wrote STRAIGHTJACKET in one-hour increments. Five months later I had a book. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish if you just make it a priority.

**

Find more about STRAIGHTJACKET & Meredith Towbin here:

 

Amazon

Goodreads

Barnes & Noble

www.meredithtowbin.com

Coming up: An #author Interview with Suzanne Van Rooyen

I’m proud to announce that I will be interviewing Suzanne Van Rooyen (http://www.suzannevanrooyen.com) tomorrow about writing, publishing, LGBT characters and more.

In the meantime, check out her newest book, OBSCURA BURNING. It’s fantastic.