Interview with @ChrisWalkerT #MattSmith #theriteofwands #audiobooks #vo #DavidTennant #DoctorWho #TuesdayTeaser #doctorwhoislife @DrWhoOnline @FindawayVoices @smith_lynne

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In this special edition of Time And Relative Developments In Stories, I have invited my incredible voice actor/narrator, Chris Walker-Thomson, from The Rite of Wands audiobook, coming out later this month. He’s here to talk about voice acting, Doctor Who, Big Finish, Matt Smith, and especially, my book, The Rite of Wands.

Question 1) What got you interested in voice acting?

thumbnailI’ve always had a thing for putting on voices. Earliest memory I have is of me putting on a different voice for each toy I played with, so they’d converse on whatever adventure I’d be putting them through. As they years went on, I discovered impressions – particularly Dead Ringer’s Jon Culshaw – and ended up emulating people around me. So it all grew from that really, until finally, I went professional.

Question 2) What was it that got you your first “big” break?

61C9I66yXjL._SX342_There’s a few that I considered my “big” break until something even bigger happened. I did a lot of Doctor Who fan audio dramas, doing my performance as Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor, which got a lot of attention. But one day I was asked to do the audiobook for City Of The Gods: Forgotten, which gave my first official credit and paid work that really pushed me into being a working actor. So I’m immensely grateful for them giving me a shot, and setting me on my way.

Question 3) Where you would suggest someone brand new into voice acting start to find job opportunities?

I’ve found websites like Mandy.com, or Findaway very good. There are many others out there, some low-paid, some not, but experience is key. I started small, and am still small in comparison to others, but experience is great and attracts more interest. And never be ashamed to ask to be paid.

Question 4) Do you enjoy working better independently or in a studio environment like Big Finish, and why?

Oh, a studio environment for sure! I’m an actor foremost. As great as putting on voices is, and you can do so independently, to have someone to bounce off is such a thrill and really improves the performance. Even when it comes to Pixar films or any animation, they do feed the lines to the actor. Plus, I like the energy. Independently can get quite lonely, tiring, and if you work from home, you get a bit of cabin fever from not going out.

Question 5) How did you first come across The Rite of Wands?

doctorwhoonline.pngAgain, I owe thanks to the Doctor Who fan world. I have got to know a lot of people in the community, such as people behind big blogging sites such as Sebastian J Brook from Dr Who Online. Seb mentioned that an author friend (Mackenzie) was having trouble with her book, as the person who was meant to be doing it had to pull out due to other commitments, leaving her in the lurch. So, he suggested myself.

I was a bit down at this point. It had been months since my last job, and any job, so I was thinking of calling it a day. But on a whim, I dropped an email to Mackenzie and she got back asking me to audition. I was a bit late to doing the audition, but I did it, sent it off and left it as that. Then, in early January, I got an email from Mackenzie offering me the gig. Hilariously it came at the same time I also got a part-time job offer, so like they say about buses.

Question 6) What kind of research did you have to do to prepare for recording?

template-4-12172901503297868-largeAlthough I do record reading off a tablet (to avoid paper turning sound, etc.), I don’t find it a great way to read. Like everyone who has ever owned a Kindle says: they actually prefer reading a physical book in their hands. So, I asked nicely if I could get a copy to read at my leisure, which Mackenzie was very kind to send me with a signed message within. For someone who does audiobooks, you’d be surprised to hear that I don’t really take the time out to read books as much as I probably should – mostly because it takes time out of the day. But, I found myself engrossed in it and really finding it difficult to put it down, so I knew this was a good book if it managed to hook me in. Afterwards, I went over it again and made notes.

But the research I had to focus on was my performance of the main character, Mierta McKinnon, which Mackenzie had noted as “I wrote it with Matt Smith in mind”. I could do a reasonable impersonation of Matt Smith beforehand, but I needed a refresher course, so I started a marathon of his Doctor Who episodes to let it sink in. The rest of the voices I’d pieced together, but Mierta’s voice took some time to prepare.

Question 7) Knowing the history of the project being passed around multiple narrators, did you feel any extra pressure before recording it?

Eleventh_Doctor_(Doctor_Who)Only that the previous narrator was better at doing a Matt Smith impression than I was! So I kept saying “it’s not exactly right, but the best I can muster”, to which Mackenzie was immensely happy with my effort anyway, so I didn’t need to worry. So aside from that, I didn’t have any pressure. It was quite fun, until I got the email after I’d finished recording it, saying “we’ve redrafted the book”, and prompting me to redo it all from scratch. But I think it sounds better than it did previously, especially my Smith’ voice for Mierta.

And, here’s a little tease of the audiobook, releasing in the next couple of weeks!

Question 8) Okay, be honest. How many times did you have to practice saying “Emaculavi el curpas y mehartis” before you got it right? LOL!

Too many to count! Quite a few spells got me frustrated. Especially as they’re not spelt accordingly due to their country’s origin, or the pronunciation guide in the book wasn’t exact. I’m all for learning new words, but wow. Ha.

Question 9) How do you go about deciding which voice to use for a character?

tumblr_mr4l73sHmL1surntbo1_1280It’s not a long process, I tend to read the dialogue and think, maybe this voice? Maybe later on I’ll change my mind, and go back to redo it. Orlynd was Scottish, which wasn’t my best accent, or one I’d spent a while working on. So I found the root of the voice in my memory as a scatty, young David Tennant, and just went from there. I found it also helped to jog the accent by swearing between lines of dialogue, just to really get the Scottish tone right. Then after a while it just settled in, and I can now talk fluently. The rest of the voices just seemed right.

Question 10) Did anything in particular surprise you while you while performing?

Only that my neighbours really couldn’t care less as to what I was doing. Either they’d get out a pneumatic drill, or they’d completely ignore my dying screams. Probably used to my madness at this point.

Question 11) Fans of the series tend to favour the character, Mierta, however, from recent discussions, I’ve learned Orlynd is your favourite character. What is it about him that you like so much?

Well, I just think Mierta grows up to be a dick, ha. Orlynd has me feeling sorry for him from the first time we meet him in the book, and he’s stuck in a place he’s despised, yet is “Aye yer Majesty” in a sad, yet shy tone. But as he progresses, he gets stronger and becomes more heroic. He even shouts at the King’s guards. It’s great character development, and a delight to play.

Question 12) What would you like to see happen in the series?

I’d like to see Orlynd and Deor become better friends as time goes on, and even more of Anya’s conniving. But, I’d also like to see Lochlann (Mierta’s brother) knock Mierta off his own pedestal. From what I’ve heard of what’s going to happen, it’s already ticked my boxes.

Question 13) How can others find out more about you?

My official website is www.chriswalkerthomson.com and I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and such. I do keep it all updated if you’d like to follow me there?

Be sure to check back in the next few weeks for the official release of The Rite Of Wands on audiobook, performed by Chris Walker-Thomson.

How You Can Participate!

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Book Spotlight: A Bond of Swords and Sacrifice Cove @kytomlinson #newrelease #giveaway #fantasy #ya #dragons

Title: A Bond of Swords and Sacrifice (Book Four: The Goddess and the Guardians series)

Author: Karen Tomlinson

Release Date: 15th December 2018

Blurb:

Sometimes winning means losing EVERYTHING.

Reeling from their encounter with the God of Chaos, Diamond and Eryanth Arjuno, the true heirs of the Avalonian crown, strive to rekindle their broken bonds and heal their shattered hearts.

2017-234-Karen-Tomlinson-B04-copyBut the machinations of war are never simple. Challenges must be faced and threat hovers ever closer as painful truths are revealed and blood ties are uncovered.

No longer an innocent village girl but a fierce and powerful queen, Diamond will fight for those she loves. She will wage war for her people and battle for the survival of every soul in the Eight Kingdoms. But she soon discovers destiny will exact a high price. If she cannot accept the cost to her heart and soul, the Eight Kingdoms—and those dearest to her, will be doomed for eternity.

Prepare yourself for magical lands, heart pounding battle, sailing through vast oceans and flying with fierce dragons. You’ll be pushed to your limits and sucked back in for this final, breathtaking adventure in The Goddess and the Guardians series. It’s the epic conclusion you never knew you were waiting for.

Author Bio:

DSC02261Karen Tomlinson is the USA Today Bestselling author of The Goddess and the Guardians YA fantasy books.

Karen adores books and will read any genre that catches her eye. She was whisked away by fairies as a child, has been a dragon rider and grew up learning to fight. (This bit’s true!) She likes nothing better than an epic fantasy full of hot warriors and romance especially when it is set in a magical and dangerous world.

Karen lives in Derbyshire, England, (think Mr Darcy territory) with her husband, twin girls and her dalmatian, Poppy. When she is not busy writing, reading (or eating cake and drinking coffee) Karen likes to keep active. She has been practicing Shotokan karate since being thirteen, loves running, mountain biking and walking in the hills with her family.

Pre-Order Link:

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Social Media:

Website: www.karentomlinson.com

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Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/kytomlinson

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/karentomlinsonauthor

Facebook Page: Facebook page

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Book Spotlight & Cover Reveal: Severed Veil @simmeringmind #fantasy #scifi #shortstories #poetry #dragons #Fridayfeature

Severed Veil coverBlurb

A dream-traveling boy haunted by a broken girl. A cursed warrior, weary of bloodshed. A princess who battles dragons in an enchanted slumber. A treacherous graveyard in the stars.

From Bethany A. Jennings—author of Threadbare and Dragon Lyric—come twelve mesmerizing short works of poetry and prose that boldly pierce the shadows. Severed Veil contains a selection of fantasy, sci-fi, and poetry, including “Dreamskip,” the winner of an honorable mention from the Writers of the Future Contest in 2018.

Illustrated with ethereal pencil sketches by artist Julia Busko, these tales dance on the delicate rift between life and death, waking and dreams.

Author Bio:DoAAw5CWkAAyy0G

Bethany A. Jennings is a YA fantasy author, a sandwich aficionado, and forever a night owl. She is endlessly passionate about the power of fiction to shape hearts and cultures and unveil hidden realities. Born in sunny SoCal, Bethany now lives in New England with her husband, four kids, zero pets, and a large and growing collection of imaginary friends.

Social Media Links:

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Author Interview: J.E. Reed #fantasy #newrelease #runningwiththewolves @J_E_Reed_author @bhcpressbooks

Today I’m fortunate to present J.E. Reed author of Running with the Wolves.

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from? 

JE_ReedI live on the outskirts of Cincinnati, OH.

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story? 

Character. I love it when a story develops a character through adversity. Watching as someone grows up or grows stronger and gets through whatever they are facing is inspiring and I never get tired of it.

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book? 

I’ve always had a passion for writing, but oddly enough it was gaming that inspired my first published work. The new craze is virtual reality and we’ve seen movies/books that depict people in that environment, but the technology is always involved. I wanted to create a story where people are trapped in a sort of gaming world, but without technology’s interference. Kind of ironic, I know.

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? 

Messily organized. I’m a pantzer, which means I don’t outline and just write on the fly. My characters determine the direction of the story. Naturally, this has its draw backs as I’m forced to write more drafts to get everything right, but I feel like the story has better flow when I just let my imagination take over. I strive to write 3000 words a day when I’m working through a draft.

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 

Sticky notes, they’re everywhere.

Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book. 

Running with the Wolves is the title of my fantasy debut novel and I’m very excited to share it with the world.

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book? 

Running with the Wolves has a medieval setting. Due to this I’ve done research on that era, but I’ve also done a lot of research on various survival methods and tools. One of the more interesting things I learned was how to pick up someone who is dead weight. Have you ever tried to pick someone up from the ground? It’s hard and if you’re in a situation where you have to move fast, it creates a problem. There is a roll technique that enables you to grab the hurt/unconscious individual and stand with them on your shoulders. Yes, I’ve practiced this haha. You can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPrATJ-u5Rg

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share? 

Chapter 1

Unknown

Realm: 1

Day: 1

Running_With_the_Wolves_JE_Reed.jpg

Lying in bed, the chatter caused her mind to stir from that blissful place that lingers on the edge of dreams. It was too loud, too early. She rolled over, the fog slowly clearing as voices turned to song, birds greeting the morning sun. Strange how they’d never woken her before.

She groaned, reaching for a pillow, but something stung her fingertip, and she jolted. A small droplet of blood formed on the tip of her index finger. Her heart thundered as she looked at the culprit and then her surroundings.

This wasn’t her room.

Instead of cool sheets and a soft bed, she lay on dead leaves and grass, the musty forest scent filling her nostrils. White walls were replaced by an endless array of trees that blotted out the sun, save for a few rays that fought their way through.

 

 

She blinked, pushing herself up.

Am I still dreaming?

Her finger pulsed as she scanned the vicinity, and fear crawled into her mind.

Nothing.

No fire, no tent or tracks. Nothing that indicated civilization existed.

Surely someone had to be here, someone could explain—wait, had she been abducted?

Who would want to kidnap her? Why wasn’t she bound if that were the case? The list of reasons for waking in the middle of a forest were slim. Abduction, a lapse in memory, a vacation gone horribly wrong.

She stood, using a tree for support, but dizziness rocked her back. She leaned her head against the trunk, waiting for the spell to pass.

Small specks flew across her vision. Abduction seemed the most likely of scenarios, but where were her captors? Could a drug explain her lapse in memory?

The last thing she could recall was dressing for bed. The girl examined herself, pleased to find shorts and a tee-shirt rather than pajamas. Brown hair hung loose around tan shoulders, and nothing around her wrists indicated she’d been bound. The only odd possession she carried was a little bracelet with leather threaded around a small blue stone. White veins traced a sky-colored surface like cracks of lightning.

Unease settled in her gut at the name etched on its surface.

Kiuno

It was a surrogate name. Something she used for gaming and online activities. Few knew her—

She paused. Her name. She couldn’t remember her name…

What’s going on?

Her throat tightened as she slumped against the tree again, fighting back tears. She was alone and didn’t know her own name. What were the odds?

She took a deep breath, trying to steady her racing heart.

Stay calm.

A forest in mid-summer wasn’t so bad.

Summer? Wasn’t it only January?

Her heart pounded faster as she realized one of two possibilities. Either time had passed without her knowledge, or she was further from home than she imagined.

Calm down. Think.

Summer, okay. Food would be easy. She’d a spent a lot of time camping and experimented with a few survival techniques. That would help as long as she could remember them.

She glanced back at the name on her wrist. She tried to picture her husband calling when dinner was ready or when he needed her to fetch something from the house, but every time the recollection came close it eased away again. Like a cloud hanging over her mind. Maybe she’d recall it later. For now, Kiuno would have to do.

Knee-high foliage surrounded large trees, and fur covered vines snaked their way up the trunks. Thick air caused sweat to roll down her neck. She needed to find water.

Kiuno made her way through the foreign forest and allowed herself to become lost in its beauty. Heavy, snarled roots spread across the ground, connecting each tree in an endless network. Small animals eyed her with curiosity before scurrying beneath the brush.

It would have been the perfect painting.

Hours passed, and the temperature continued to rise as mosquitoes and other insects nipped at her skin. Beauty was turning to nightmare.

Kiuno stopped to catch her breath and plopped on a fallen log. Sweat rolled down her face as she tried to lift her hair for some relief. She was no stranger to the outdoors, but didn’t remember camping ever being so miserable.

She looked at the sun. Had someone noticed her missing yet? Surely her boss would call home regarding her absence. Her husband would know something was up.

Standing, she took another breath, wiped the sweat from her brow and started walking again, the dry patch in her throat a nagging reminder. Using the tree roots, Kiuno slid down a small hill and finally heard the sound she’d been searching for. Running water.

She made her way around a few more trees to find clear water cascading down a rocky cliff that stood twice the size of any person. The river stretched twenty feet across and flowed with a steady pace. Thick brush and cattail lined the bank, and a large piece of rock lay just below the falls, its previous fixture visible above.

Rushing to the water’s edge, Kiuno cupped her hands, the cool liquid easing her scratchy throat. She splashed more on her legs to ease the itchy bites.

Deep colored pebbles lined the river bank with small water plants growing between them. Little fish played among the foliage and larger stones. If she could catch one that would resolve her growling stomach.

Before worrying too much about food, Kiuno hoisted herself onto the fallen rock, slipping a few times on the green moss. She looked down river, hoping for some sign of civilization, but it only renewed her sense of dread. Forest extended for miles.

Her stomach flipped, and she sank down, drawing her knees into her chest.

Trapped. Alone.

Kiuno stayed there for some time wrestling with ideas. She had water, first priority taken care of. The river would provide food, and it wasn’t as though she’d be there forever.

Despite some optimism, her nervousness grew with the looming shadows. Beings seemed to form and vanish as evening played on her fears. It was too late to build a fire, but at least a tree would be safer than the ground.

Glancing between branches, Kiuno found one that split, creating a nook just big enough for her to squeeze in. She rested her back against the biggest branch and watched the orange glow dip below the horizon. Her stomach growled, her skin itched, and every sound made her jump and recheck her surroundings. She curled into herself, trying to reason the shadows were nothing more than the reflections of trees.

Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?   

Currently, I’m working on the sequel to Running with the Wolves and I hope to finish it as a trilogy. Beyond that I have ideas for dragons, kitsune and pirates. It’s just a matter of picking which one to work on first.

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?  

A developmental editor. There is literally no better money spent. They’re not your friends and they know what to look for. A good editor will tell you what needs to be fixed and they aren’t afraid to hurt your feelings. You might think your book is good enough, but give it to a good developmental editor and they’ll make it shine.

Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books? 

Visit my publisher’s website www.bhcpress.com to learn more about me http://www.bhcpress.com/Author_J_E_Reed.html and Running with the Wolves http://www.bhcpress.com/Books_Reed_Running_With_the_Wolves.html

Love social media?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/J.E.Reed.author/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/J_E_Reed_author

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jereed_kiuno/

 

Best and Worst Things About Being a Writer, and Ten Things I Wish Every Aspiring Writer Knew by @Laire_McKinney @XpressoTours @BHCPressBooks #Tuesdaybookblog #bookblitz #newrelease #fantasy #destinyfulfilled #womensfiction #romance #faeries #druids #writingadvice

Destiny Fulfilled
Laire McKinney
Publication date: August 7th 2018
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Only love can save them…

Wren O’Hara is waiting for the day she succumbs to mental illness like her mother. When she is attacked by a psychotic client at work, and saved by what must be an angel, she fears the time for insanity has come.

Little does she know, her savior is an immortal warrior druid named Riagan Tenman, and that he will challenge everything she ever thought she knew about reality.

Now Wren must decide if the fantasy unfolding before her is true, or if she has finally lost her mind.

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Guest Post by Laire McKinney:

Best and Worst Things About Being a Writer, and Ten Things I Wish Every Aspiring Writer Knew

The best things about being a writer are seeing my name in print, fulfilling a childhood fantasy, and letting my mind run wild, knowing it will only make a story better.

The worst things about being a writer are the slow pace of publishing, the uncertainty of any outcome, and the at-times debilitating self-doubt.

Ten Things I Wish Every Aspiring Writer Knew:

1. Your first attempt at a novel will not likely be the one. (There are always exceptions, but I know several authors who did not snag the publishing contract until book #2…or #3…or #4…). As for me, I was offered a contract on the second full-length novel I wrote, but that was already two years into the writing experience. One year was spent writing the novel that will never been seen. The second year was writing the one that got published. It is not a quick-turnaround business so reevaluate if that’s what you seek.

2. Community matters. I am as introverted and socially-awkward as they come, but I do venture out to writers’ groups and conferences, and am active on online forums. Having a peer group is essential to survival. I use them to bounce off plot ideas, to beta read, to cheer me on when I’ve been given good news, to cheer me up when I’ve been given bad news.

3. And there is a lot of bad news, so thicken that skin. Rejections. Rejections. Rejections. Then if you do land the contract and sail your way (via tumultuous seas) to the published novel, then there are the reviews—hopefully good, sometimes bad, occasionally downright mean. Then, if you’re one of the few, you’ll sell a lot of copies and make a lot of money. Most of us are somewhere in the middle, and this can vary month to month. Sometimes you might very well find yourself at the bottom and that sucks but it’s reality.

4. Do not be competitive with your peers. My writer friends have been some of the most supportive and encouraging and non-competitive people I could hope to know. A perfect example: I was at a workshop and the speaker wanted those in attendance to create a story together. Her disclaimer: do not worry that someone will steal the idea you’ve thrown out. Even if they started with that idea, their story will be vastly different from yours. Not to say there isn’t plagiarism and piracy, but among the writers you choose to call friends, be supportive and encouraging. You’ll appreciate that when it’s reflected back to you.

5. Be fearless. There is something to be said for writing for the masses. Agents and publishers know what’s trending, what has sold in the past, what is expected to sale in the future. But there is always the break-out novel that’s just different. In a cookie-cutter world, be a free-styling carver and you’ll land on your mark. (I hope that last statement makes sense!)

6. Enjoy the writing. I know from personal experience if I get bogged down in the business of writing (which you must learn), then I lose the creativity. It’s a balance. You can’t have one without the other, and if you no longer find you enjoy it, take a step back and write something for your pleasure only. There is a chance it might very well be your best yet.

7. You will have to spend money marketing, even if you have a publishing contract with a big agency. You need a website, social media, head shot, etc. It helps to join one or more organizations. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America (an excellent place to begin), as well as Women’s Fiction Writers. If you write YA, there is Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

8. If you want to write a genre but are embarrassed or afraid of how it’ll impact your day job or your image, use a pen name. It’s all good, but it’s best to decide that before you get published. If you want to write erotica, it’ll be hard to turn around and write YA under the same name. Not impossible, but tricky.

9. Understand there will be times when the words do not flow, the mind will not concentrate, and the writing timeline falls by the wayside. This happens to me all the time. I have three children, a dog, a hubs, a job, and sometimes it’s just not happening. What do I do? I don’t stress about it. It could be a day, a week, sometimes a month. That recharging period will help you come back renewed.

10. Writers are often introverts. I know I am, and I love to live in my head, to watch tv alone. I love to be in my house when it’s as quiet as an early morning in snowy December. But living your life is essential to good writing. We need experiences to draw from, ideas that simmer and stew and eventually become plot…we need to live life so we can retreat and create.

If you’ve already stepped onto the writerly path, what suggestions would you give to a new writer?

Many thanks for hosting me today. Cheers, Laire.

 

Author Bio:

Laire McKinney is the author of contemporary and fantasy women’s fiction. She believes in a hard-earned happily-ever-after, with nothing more satisfying than passionate kisses and sexy love scenes, endearing characters and complex conflict. When not writing, she can be found traipsing among the wildflowers, reading under a willow tree, or gazing at the moon while pondering the meaning of it all. She lives in Virginia with her family and beloved rescue pup, Lila da Bean.

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#Interview with #author, @bawrites! #MattSmith #MG #steampunk #dystopian #DoctorWho #DrWho #doctorwhoislife

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Next up is author B.A. Williamson with an exciting middle grade book that is on my to-be-read list. He’ll be talking about how #DoctorWho and #MattSmith inspired his book — The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray!

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

interview1.pngI hail from a quaint little neighborhood on the east side of Indianapolis.

Question 2) When did you become a fan of Doctor Who?

I became a fan in college, when I went home on spring break and my Dad was watching this strange show. Some fat green Vogon-like aliens had just destroyed Big Ben, and they farted a lot, and came from a planet with a funny name. When he told me what it was, I remembered seeing a whole shelf of classic Doctor Who tapes at the local library while I was growing up, but I never touched them, a decision I now painfully regret. Tom Baker would have vastly improved my childhood. As it was, I watched a little with my Dad while I was home, but I didn’t become a fan in my own right until I saw David Tennant’s first episode with the Sycorax.

Question 3) What do you think makes a good story?

Desire+Obstacle. Your character has to want something, and want it badly, no matter how small it is. There needs to be things standing in the way, obstacles that match the character’s level of desire. If your character doesn’t have a clear driving goal, we lose interest. I also think a story should have something to say, beyond just beating the bad guys. Doctor Who has infinite storytelling possibility, but it touches on some of the deepest topics that any form of literature can approach, which is something science-fiction has always been particularly suited to.

Question 4) Congratulations on the publication of The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray! Tell me a little bit about your book.

interview5.pngGwendolyn Gray faces an overwhelming battle every day: keeping her imagination under control. It’s a struggle for a dreamer like Gwendolyn, in a city of identical gray skyscrapers, clouds that never clear, and grown-ups who never understand. She’s a plucky little redheaded outcast that would be perfectly at home in the TARDIS.

But when her daydreams come alive and run amok in The City, the struggle to control them becomes as real as the furry creatures infesting her bedroom. Worse yet, she’s drawn the attention of the Faceless Gentlemen, who want to preserve order in The City by erasing Gwendolyn and her troublesome creations.

With the help of two explorers from another world, Gwendolyn escapes and finds herself in a land of clockwork inventions and colorful creations. Now Gwendolyn must harness her powers and, with a gang of airship pirates, stop the Faceless Gentlemen from destroying the new world she loves and the home that never wanted her—before every world becomes gray and dull.

If that sounds like the plot of a Doctor Who episode, well, you wouldn’t be far off the mark.

Question 5) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating this book? 

interview6Seeing how your own characters can take on a life of your own, and do things that surprise you. When you’re writing, and you get really in the zone, stuff comes out that feels completely independent, and I have no idea where it comes from. Which then became a theme of the book in and of itself, and I spend a lot of time exploring the nature of imagination and creation, and how it can be a type of magic on its own.

Question 6) I understand that Doctor Who has played a significant role in your writing. Can you elaborate on that?

It tremendously influences the type of story I want to tell. Those are the stories I love, and I wanted to emulate those somehow, I wanted to tell a world-hopping portal fantasy. When I was looking at how to craft a tale of an imaginative kid bouncing between worlds and solving her problems with wits, not weapons, I went and studied some of the best Who episodes. I looked at their structure, how the Doctor eventually prevailed in spite of overwhelming obstacles. I looked at how the best episodes deliver a strong message, not in a preachy way, but one that was at the center of a fantastic adventure story and compelling characters. And of course, every adventure involves a lot of running.

Question 7) Turns out, our books both have something in common — Matt Smith! Any specific characteristics of him can be found in your characters?

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His short attention span and tendency to babble. His childishness comes through in Gwendolyn, because Gwendolyn is herself a child. But there’s also a weight of sadness there: these actions have consequences, and the characters have to feel those deeply, but always choose to go on.

Question 8) Who is your Doctor?

David Tennant, always and forever. Particularly, The Christmas Invasion, Blink, The Shakespeare Code, Gridlock, The Beast, Tooth and Claw, the Cybermen invasion, and the Master’s Return. I don’t think the show has ever been better than his first two seasons.

Question 9) What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

The beginning. Figuring out what the story is and where it’s going. And every time you start, you never completely know what’s going to happen or how it’s going to turn out. Starting a new story is like taking a leap off a cliff, and it’s just as terrifying. I always have an ending in mind, but parts of the journey are still huge blanks. You just have to trust yourself, your skills, your voice, and let it go where it will. But it’s never an easy step for me.

Question 10) What would you say is your interesting quirk?

I like to dress in costume for my book events. The narrator in the book is a bit of a character in and of itself, and I like to become something like that character. It comes from my theatre background, I suppose.

Question 11) Do you have an excerpt from the book you’d like to share?

Sure! Here’s one that’s particularly Who-vian. Gwendolyn lives in the City, a dystopian place where creativity and ideas simply don’t exist. It’s not “the way things are done.” Picture a mid-century modern future straight out of Mad Men with the social structure and values of Mr. Banks from Mary Poppins. Gwendolyn’s imagination just made one of her classmates grow actual rabbit ears, and while running from the consequences of that, she has just discovered a major secret and some strange artifacts on the Edge of the City, a place no one knew existed. Now she has her first run-in with the villains of our story. It’s a very Who sort of scene- creepy baddies, sudden rescues by mysterious new friends from other worlds, and plenty of running.

interview2.pngGwendolyn sprawled on the sidewalk, nose to toe with four polished black shoes. Above the shoes were crisp grey pants, and above that were twice-buttoned jackets with black ties pinned smartly to white shirts. The men both wore black bowler hats, and they had no faces.

Let me be clear: they had noses, yes, and mouths as well. Likewise eyes and ears, all in the right place and amount.

But Gwendolyn could not have told you what they looked like.

Looking at them was like trying to picture the face of a friend you haven’t seen in years. The men stood plain as day in front of her, but the faces underneath those bowler hats slipped from her mind like eels, as though her eyes saw something terrible, and refused to tell her brain what they had seen. Most people have never seen a man with no face, but let me assure you that it is a sight so unsettling that it puts goosebumps on your eyeballs.

A white-gloved hand reached down. Gwendolyn thought it meant to help her up, but it picked up the book instead. The man’s eyes examined the gleaming title, and the gloved hands flipped through the colorful illustrations.

Gwendolyn snatched up the gem and snuck it in her pocket.

The man turned to his comrade. “This is a very interesting book, Mister Five.” he said. His voice was a high-pitched whining monotone, crisp and proper. The voice she’d heard in the Headmaster’s office.

“Very interesting indeed, Mister Six,” replied the other, his voice identical to the first. He leaned in slightly, ever so slightly, to examine the book.

Gwendolyn got to her feet and put on her precious-little-girl voice, all sweetness and light, the kind you use when you want a second helping of dessert. “I’m terribly sorry, sirs. I wasn’t watching my way.”

Slowly, ever so slowly, the two men’s eyes turned from the book toward Gwendolyn. Their heads cocked to the side and stared at her, faces instantly dissolving in her memory.

Gwendolyn shuddered. “If you will accept my polite apologies, I will take my book and be on my way. Mother will be quite cross if I am late.”

The men ignored her. Carefully, ever so carefully, their hands flipped through the book as though the pages were covered in muck, and they didn’t wish to dirty their white gloves.

“Where did you get this book, my dear?” said Mister Five.

“Uhh…” Gwendolyn stammered, “it’s mine, and I would like it back now, please.”

“This is a very unique book, little girl. And my partner and I… collect… things such as this,” said one of the men.

Gwendolyn again felt the gut-wrenching sensation of being caught, as she felt earlier with the Centrals, but these gentlemen made Cecilia and her gang seem positively fluffy. “I’m sorry sir, but it is mine, and it is not for sale. I must insist that you give it back. Please?”

“What do you think, Mister Five?” one of the men whined eerily.

“She has seen the book, Mister Six, and would appear to have been reading it quite intently,” said the other, examining the edges of the pages. “And unless I’m very much mistaken, and I seldom am, Mister Six—”

“-No, indeed, Mister Five—”

“-this girl is not where she should be.”

“Most assuredly not, Mister Five. The Edge is not permissible to the citizenry; particularly children. Most particularly not to children so particularly… strange.” Gently, ever so gently, his gloved hand reached out and caressed a lock of Gwendolyn’s fiery hair.

Gwendolyn flinched. The man’s brief touch made her skin want to crawl off her bones, into bed, and under the blankets. She slapped his hand away, but Mister Six didn’t react.

“You are correct, Mister Six,” said Mister Five. “She has seen The Wall, and this book, and who knows what else. She is also certainly the one causing these unacceptable… changes. No, no, no, I’m afraid we really have no choice,” droned Mister Five.

Mister Six’s hand reached up slowly, ever so slowly, to his black bowler hat. “I agree completely, Mister Five. These changes simply must be dealt with.” His tone turned sweet, dripping more venom than honey: “Girl. Might I draw your attention here, to my lovely hat?”

He took off the hat and turned it toward her, like a magician showing that his hat is indeed empty. But instead of a rabbit, a pinpoint of light came out of the hat’s black interior. Gwendolyn’s gaze was locked in place.

Cold light poured out of the hat. It was just like a Lambent; but one more potent than any she had ever encountered. Her eyes burned but she could not look away. With an awful shock, she found she could no longer move. Any thoughts of running or escaping faded. She could feel her mind slipping away, drawn toward the light, drowning in it.

“Perfectly done, little girl. It doesn’t hurt.”

He was wrong. It did hurt. Her head felt like it would split in two. The searing pain brought her back to her senses. “No!” she shouted, and reached forward to knock the hat away.

Mister Six stepped easily out of reach. “The girl resists, Mister Five.”

“Indeed she does, Mister Six. She is stronger than anticipated. Increase the power.” The light doubled in brightness. She held up her hand to block it, but it didn’t help.

Her hand… she could see right through it. It was vanishing before her eyes, disappearing like a puddle on a hot day. She felt disconnected from her body, her arms and legs as far away as yesterday’s dream. She felt like a glass of water being poured into a swirling drain. Her thoughts, normally so fast she couldn’t control them, began to slow. She felt… less.

Mister Six’s mouth curved upward slightly, ever so slightly. “Yes, this will only take a mo—”

“Look out!”

Someone collided with the faceless man, and hard. Mister Six was knocked to the street, his hat rolling away, and the book skidded down the sidewalk. Senseless Gwendolyn was grabbed by a pair of rough hands and pulled down the street like a rag doll.

“Move your feet, or I’m leaving you!” came another voice, a girl’s. Gwendolyn shook her head as the volume on her senses was turned back up.

And for the third time that day, Gwendolyn Gray was running away.

She noticed several things all at once. She noticed a very peculiar looking boy, about her own age, running beside her. She noticed a bright red jacket and a long yellow scarf that fluttered behind him. He grinned recklessly, holding his flat and checkered newsboy cap. He held up a red book. “Here! You dropped this. Clumsy.”

Gwendolyn took it, noticing that her hand was solid and whole again. She noticed the girl pulling her other hand wore a complicated-looking set of goggles on her head, all dials and lenses. Her shimmering blouse was not quite green, not quite blue, but was somehow both at once underneath a coppery-orange vest. She looked back at Gwendolyn and gave her arm a fierce tug. “Quit staring at me and run!”

She did, pushing her feet as fast as they would go. They sprinted through the deserted streets. The Mister Men followed effortlessly, seeming almost to float over the ground.

Suddenly, Gwendolyn noticed some scattered pedestrians in shabby clothes. Gwendolyn must have run all the way to the beginning of the Outskirts. People gaped at the wild children who would dare run through The City’s streets, but the Mister Men passed by without so much as a glance from the Cityzens, and the sparse crowds moved mindlessly aside to let them through.

Gwendolyn turned to look behind, but the Mister Men never grew any closer or farther away. “I can’t… keep running… like this!” she gasped, her satchel banging against her side with every step.

“Quick! This way!” The boy shouted.

“Sparrow, wait!” the girl said, but the boy ducked into an alleyway. The girl groaned and pulled Gwendolyn in after him.

It was a dead end.

The boy spun around. “Oh. Never mind. What now, Starling?”

“What? Not again! This was your idea!” She groaned. “Fine. Take her! I’ll catch up.” She pointed at something down the alley, then pushed Gwendolyn at the boy and started patting the pockets of her pants. The girl was nothing but pockets from the waist down. Her black trousers were covered in them, and she wore crisscrossing belts full of dangling tools and gadgets. Gwendolyn wondered if she needed all those belts to hold up such heavily laden pants.

The older girl pulled a copper sphere from a pocket on her thigh and twisted the two halves, winding it up. She leaned out of the alleyway and tossed it into the air just as the Mister Men came around the corner. The sphere whirred, clicked, and then exploded with a loud SNAP!

The alley entrance was instantly filled with orange smoke. One of the men stumbled out of the cloud, but the girl shoved him back in. She pulled her goggles down over her eyes and flipped a lens into place. “Go! I’ll lead them away and circle back!” Then she plunged into the fog.

“Come on!” the boy said. He pulled Gwendolyn down the alleyway and studied the wall at the end. “Now, what was Starling pointing at?”

Gwendolyn noticed a fire escape above them, old iron ladders and walkways bolted to the side of the building. “Do you think she meant that?”

“Oh, yeah. Good call.” The boy shot her a toothy grin, one that was altogether too cocky for their present situation. He jumped up and pulled the ladder down. “Ladies first.”

Gwendolyn hesitated. “Uh… I’m not climbing over you in this skirt. I’ll thank the gentleman to go first.” It was a good excuse, but truthfully she just wanted to see if it would hold his weight.

The boy’s jaw dropped, taken aback. “I didn’t… That’s not… I would never…”

A loud crash came from the smoke behind them.

“Just climb!” Gwendolyn shouted, though she was glad to wipe that smug smile from his face. She had the presence of mind to stick the book in her bag.

He scrambled up the ladder, but was already grinning again, and gave her a wink. “Be careful, girlie. Wouldn’t want to tear that precious skirt of yours.”

“Just worry about yourself, little boy, and when you fall, try and avoid my head.” Teasing him was an easy way to hide how terrified she was.

The fire escape held, and they reached the roof. They crossed to the other side and looked down. The sheer drop to the street below made her eyes swirl. A twelve-story fall is not the sort of story you’ll ever get to tell.

“What now? There’s nowhere to go!” Gwendolyn said.

“Nowhere to go? Please. I have a plan. Well, we have a plan. Um . . . Starling will have a plan. Any trouble down there?” he asked the goggled girl, who was clambering over the edge of the roof.

“Yes. And all of it is your fault. But I bought us a few moments. Now take one of these.” The girl produced a collection of objects from another one of her pockets and tossed something to each of them.

Gwendolyn caught it. It was a miniature umbrella, bright pink with purple spirals on it, not much larger than her hand. It was the same sort of umbrella your parents might put into a tropical drink on the beach when they’ve left you and your sister at home with relatives. Gwendolyn frowned at it, but she opened it with a crinkly pop.

“When I say so, jump,” said the older girl, approaching the edge of the roof.

This was too much, even for Gwendolyn. “Jump? We’ll be smushed!” She glanced at the pitifully small umbrella in her hand.

The boy rolled his eyes. “You wanted a plan. Maybe you should ask them about it,” he cocked a thumb at the Faceless Gentlemen, who had just appeared on the roof.

“This is a most inappropriate way for young children to act, Mister Five.” said the man on the left, his face slipping from Gwendolyn’s mind like water through her fingers.

“Most inappropriate indeed, Mister Six. They will have to be dealt with immediately. These sorts of… intrusions… cannot be tolerated,” the other replied. They strode across the roof toward the children, each step in perfect unison.

Gwendolyn looked down at the punishingly solid sidewalk. She glanced at the boy, and got another infuriating wink. For someone saving her life, he was certainly not impressing her. “Isn’t there another way?”

“Of course there is another way…” droned Mister Five. His hand reached toward her in a gesture that absolutely failed to be comforting. “Come with us.” His voice took on the sickly sweetness of cough syrup. “Your parents must be worried sick about you. No little girl should be out this far. Just what would your mother think?”

“What indeed, Mister Five. We will take care of you, girl, and see you home safe. We will explain everything to your parents, make all your problems… disappear. We might even allow you to keep that little book. The Status Quo will be preserved. All will be well. After all, you cannot trust such dreadful children as these.” His white gloved hand waved toward her brightly colored companions.

You and I might be able to spot the lie these men told, but we are not the one’s teetering over the edge of a fatal fall. Gwendolyn hesitated. What would Mother think? She would certainly not approve of any of this dashing about, nor of her two rescuers. But her parents had also never seen anything like these men, and she wasn’t certain they’d approve of them, either.

The boy put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s us or them. Now or never.”

She took a deep breath and looked over the side. She had to do it. She couldn’t turn back now. She would imagine she was brave, even if she felt like throwing up.

“Then I guess it’s now,” she whispered. She squeezed her eyes shut, gripped the umbrella, bent her knees-

“Sorry, girlie, time’s up!” The boy gave her a shove, and Gwendolyn fell with a shriek. The older girl followed, leaping from the roof.

“So long, chaps!” The boy tipped his cap to the Mister Men, showed them a very impolite finger, and jumped.

Question 12) What can we expect from you in the future?

More Gwendolyn! I’m currently working on The Fantastical Exploits of Gwendolyn Gray, and where the first one features a trip to a Steampunk world, this time she’ll find herself trapped in the land of the Fae.

Question 13) How can others find out more about you and your work?

The book itself is on Amazon and Goodreads. The website is gwendolyngray.com, but I’m probably most active on the Facebook page, facebook.com/gwendolyngraybook. Twitter is my social of choice, but you can find me pretty much anywhere @bawrites. I’m always happy to chat, particularly about the book!

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Author Interview with @authorcsmith! #FridayFeature #DoctorWho #Whovian #scifi #fantasy #steampunk #timetravel #authorinterview

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This interview I’m very excited about as it is my kickoff to the latest section of my blog on novels, short stories, anthologies, scripts, audio scripts, fanfic, etc, surrounding the #DoctorWho fandom.

Today, I’m fortunate to present Claire Smith, author of The Quest Of The Prodigy.

Welcome!

Thank you so much, Mackenzie!!! Always love getting love from a #Whovian! Whovians make the best sort of humans 🙂 

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from? 

Claire_BHC_Web.jpgBorn and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago. Moved to Greenville, SC in 2013 to be with family. Loving the southern life! 

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story? 

For me, it’s always the characters. I always say the story starts and ends with a good character. If you don’t have interesting characters, my attention gets lost very easily! That’s why I take character building very seriously! I also believe that one should learn something from reading a book. Not like an after-school special, but either a new take on something or an actual fact they might not have known. I believe that’s the power of fiction, to teach us something about reality too. 

Question 3) Congratulations on the release of The Quest Of The Prodigy! Tell us what inspired you to write this book?

Quest_of_the_Prodigy_Claire_Smith_WEB.jpgThank you so much! Well, it was back in 2012 and my friends and I were making fun of the rather new BBC show Sherlock. We were teasing about British surnames and I somehow thought of the name Barkley. And somehow I knew he was a time-traveler! And everything else just came from that 🙂 

Question 4) What would you consider your greatest writing challenge?

Finishing!!! I get so many ideas, that is hard to stay focused and finish a project. I have about five projects I’m working on at the moment!

Question 5) I understand your book was also selected by Barnes and Noble as a special two-week exclusive release on Nook! How did you react when you heard the news? 

Thank you! Well much to the disappointment of my amazing publishers, BHC Press, I had laryngitis at the time so I could barely say anything!!! So, I was screaming on the inside, lol.

Question 6) Turns out, your target audience is the same as mine – #DoctorWho fans! What made you select #Whovians?

I wrote this book FOR Whovians 🙂 I’ve always loved Time Travel, and been a Whovian for almost 8 years now! I wanted a book that was a fun, light-hearted read that would satisfy the Whovian in between seasons. And this book was also geared towards the sci-fi fan that likes the technology side of sci-fi explained so it’s less ‘magical’ and more ‘scientific’, kind of like Doctor Who! 

Question 7) Who’s your Doctor?

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Well, it’s cliche but the Tenth Doctor! It just wasn’t on his handsome looks, lol. I started watching Doctor Who a little differently because I started with Torchwood which was introduced to me first via BBC America. Then my British friend @jetlbomb introduced me to Doctor Who! She said if I loved Jack Harkness so much I should watch all of Doctor Who! So I started with the Empty Child, hit all the Jack episodes and then started again with Rose. It wasn’t until I saw the Utopia two-parter that I was HOOKED and so David Tennant will always be my Doctor. And Matt Smith is COOL, and well, being a Smith, I’m a little bias, so they are both my Doctor’s 🙂 Gotta love 12 though! They all rock! 

Question 8) How excited are you to see the Doctor being played by a woman for the first time?

I’m very excited! At first, I was worried about the casting just to please an agenda, but JODIE is going to be BRILLIANTLY AMAZING and I cannot wait! Also super excited for the new showrunner. Moffat had fine moments for sure, but new blood I think is most welcomed! 

Question 9) Okay, back to writing. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 

Oh yes, I could talk about Doctor Who all day! I think my ‘quirk’ might be my habit of going into tangents / rants when I write, in character! My next coming novel In Need of Direction, a modern adult contemporary, the main character Charlie Vail goes in MANY side-rants. I have to trim them down a lot lol. I also like to make pop culture reference because I’m easily amused!

Question 10) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating this book? 

DfGv9UIW0AAblUwI think the whole book itself surprised me. The first draft, horrible as it is, is WAY different and was more middle grade level. I changed it a lot too also to add more STEAMPUNK elements which I’m also a big fan of!

Question 11) Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?

Certainly! Grab a preview here! https://issuu.com/bhcpress/docs/qotp_cs 

Question 12) What can we expect from you in the future?   

In 2019, my contemporary fiction novel In Need of Direction, about a Hollywood movie director who finds love a little too late when he finds out he’s dying, will be released. 2020 is expected to be the release of the sequel to the Quest of the Prodigy where our heroes will travel to the golden age of piracy! I’m also working on some screenwriting scripts for some contests, so WHO knows 😉 

Question 13) How can we contact you or find out more about your books? 

Thank you so much! I like how you have THIRTEEN questions for the new Doctor, woohoo!

They can visit me at writewithclaire.net! I’m also very active on Twitter @authorcsmith!

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