Author Interview: Lavie Tidhar

You may recall that last month I reviewed The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar. The third book in his Bookman Trilogy, The Great Game was just released in the US yesterday (October 4th) and comes out in the UK tomorrow (October 6th).

Lavie Tidhar is the author of the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize-winning A Man Lies Dreaming, the World Fantasy Award-winning Osama and of the critically-acclaimed The Violent Century. He has a British Fantasy Award for Best Novella for Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God. Lavie’s first non-fiction novel Art and War: Poetry, Pulp and Politics in Israeli Fiction – co-authored with Shimon Adaf – was released through Repeater in March 2016.

Lavie was kind enough to answer a few of my questions regarding his book and life in general:

  • I enjoyed your take on alternate history/reality in The Bookman, but the burning question for me is: why lizards?

If you’re asking, what’s their origins? What’s the obscure literary reference, as it were? Then the answer’s that it’s a joke reference to “Victoria”, the first novella in Paul di Filippo’s “The Steampunk Trilogy”, from 1995, where Queen Victoria is replaced with a giant newt. I thought it would be fun to throw that in but, of course, once you do that more seriously you start developing a whole rationale and back-story and before you know it the giant lizards take over! More seriously, it was interesting to posit an alternative to human empire that is decidedly non-human, which then allows you to ask interesting questions about how the course of empire and colonialism may have turned out differently had different human factions had reason to co-operate. But really it’s a bad literary joke! Or, as I’d hope, both.

  • When you’re not busy writing or cooking up new ideas for your next book, what can you be found doing?

Cooking? That’s actually something I do an awful lot. What I cook varies depending on where I live, what the climate is and what the ingredients are (so, a lot like writing!). I love living near markets, I love butchers and greengrocers and fishmongers, and at various times have had to catch my own fish / grow my own vegetables and so on. Sorry, a bit off track there! Also, in my spare time, such as it is, I do things like, you know, writing answers to interview questions… sometimes I even try to read a book!

  • You’ve written sci-fi, alternate historical fiction, thrillers, non-fiction and even comics – do you have a favorite genre to play in?

I have a weakness for the charms of the hardboiled, and noir, but otherwise not really – I tend to think of genres as just this big sandbox I get to play with and just use whatever toys I happen to like. I do find comics writing quite interesting – my graphic novel, ADLER, is due from Titan Comics at some point (though it will be a while yet!), and I’d love to do more in that form, as I love collaborating with artists. I have no artistic talent myself, so it’s very exciting to see things come into life.

Length-wise I’d say my favourite form is the novella – not too long, not too short! But always a hard sell. I’ve published 7 so far, and I’m currently writing 2 more, but, you know. It’s hard to set aside the time.

  • Back to The Bookman – I loved the large cast of writers and fictional characters you included in this book, but my favorite were those from Sherlock Holmes. Was there any particular reason they played a larger part in the varied cast of characters? Are you a big fan of the detective?

I am – I own the Annotated Sherlock Holmes (somewhere) which is great. I am also, incidentally, quite interested in Doyle himself, who was a pretty fascinating character. But really there’s everyone from anything in The Bookman, my personal favourite would probably be the cameo from Flashman. I love Flashman!

  • Who (or what, I suppose) among the group of characters in The Bookman was your favorite to write?

The pirates, I think. Mr Spoons is based on a friend of mine. I keep thinking he might come back in a novella some day…

  • Lastly, if you could travel to any fictional destination, where would you go?

I’d rather travel somewhere real I haven’t yet been, or revisit a few places as well. I was very lucky to visit and live in some pretty remote places, from the Gobi desert to the longhouses of Borneo, to living on a remote island in Melanesia… Hmmm. I don’t know! Fantasylands seem pale by comparison.

Thank you for taking the time to chat – I really appreciate it!

Thank you!

You can visit Lavie’s page on the Angry Robot site or check out his own website, or follow him on Twitter .

Author Interview: Leah Ward

pinny3

I was able to review an advanced copy of Leah Ward’s new children’s book, Pinny the Bowling Pin, which is an adorable little tale about anti-bullying and being true to yourself. As part of her blog tour, I’ll be posting my review tomorrow. Today I wanted to share a mini interview I did with Leah. As a young, self-published author, I find her quite inspiring. At the age of 21, Leah will have three books published, once Pinny hits shelves on November 21.

I’m a fan of children’s books and the variety of themes and topics they cover. What made you decide to write your first children’s book about bullying?

When I began writing Pinny the Bowling Pin, I knew I wanted it to be cute and funny, but I also wanted it to have meaning and depth. I wanted children to be able to get more from the story than just a laugh, I wanted them to see a moral. So I made Pinny well-rounded, touching on bullying, feeling left out, dreaming and becoming anything you want, etc.

The topic of anti-bullying is an important one, but what made you choose a bowling pin for your main character?

Well, I had the idea of Pinny before the idea’s of anti-bullying and dream chasing. What’s funny is that one of the first comments I got was “Pinny (Penny) is a girl’s name,” and that sparked the idea for anti-bullying. There are plenty of kids out there with unisex names such as Morgan, Alex, Jesse, just to name a few. Although Pinny’s case of bullying goes further, because in many cases bullying tends to. Which is why I want to make kids aware, and what better way than having a funny character from a book help teach you that?

What made you decide to move on to writing a children’s book, rather than starting another young adult novel?

I do have plans for another YA novel, and even a New Adult novel, but for now I wanted to jump down to picture books. Children’s books (picture/middle grade/young adult) have always been a favorite for me as a reader. When I go to a bookstore, that’s what I buy. And, I wanted to write a little of each genre, for my own enjoyment!

During the publishing process, did you have a say in the design and illustration of the book? Were you able to give input as to what the characters should look like?

Yes! I actually had full input on the designs. I drew the sketches sort of in comic book style and sent them to my illustrator just like that. I wanted the illustrations to be digitized, cute, and very kid friendly!

Overall, how long did it take to write the book and get it published? Did you find it was easier working on Pinny than your previous book, Searching For Darkness?

Pinny I wrote in possibly…a week? I’m not sure! It wasn’t long though. Normally when inspiration strikes, I will stay up to wee hours of the morning working on a manuscript. The illustrations however, and piecing everything together took months. It was easier than Searching for Darkness, less time-consuming on my part because I wrote 30 pages rather than 230! Although, overall they took about the same amount of time from start to finish.

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Stay tuned for my review tomorrow and check Leah out on social media – she posts lots of cute pictures of her dog, Luna, on Instagram and she’s also hosting a couple giveaways. You can also visit her website here.
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Book Review & Author Interview: Holding on to Georgia

Photo from Amazon

Photo from Amazon

Holding on to Georgia
By Courtney Giardina

My Edition:
ARC e-book, 261 pages
2014, Take Two Publishing

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

From the author’s website: Rylan Bradley is perfectly content with her single, thirty-something life. Love is the last thing on her mind—until she crosses paths with Wesley Kade. He is handsome, charming, and always there when she needs someone the most. But there’s a story behind those brown eyes that he’s not ready to tell. As Rylan and Kade struggle to untangle their feelings for each other, the reality of their pasts will once again resurface and threaten to take it all away.

Before I start my review, I wanted to share the mini interview I did with Courtney:

+ In your bio, you mention that you write to save your soul. What pushed you to finally work towards publishing a book?

A few years back I went through a rough situation. I used music and inspirational quotes to sort of push me through it. I realized how much they helped me and I decided I wanted to make the same impact on others who may be going through similar situations of feeling stuck, like they have nowhere to turn and are unsure of whether or not to hold on tighter or let go completely. In order to do this I turned to the one thing I always loved, writing. I made a pact with myself to finish this book because others needed to hear the message. The process was therapeutic for me and in the end, it helped me come to terms with certain aspects of my own life while also trying to help readers do the same.

+ Your latest novel, Holding on to Georgia, is a romance – have you always wanted to write romance novels? Do you see yourself branching into other genres in the future?

Sometimes I think that mystery would be a fun genre to dive into, but I’m not sure I’m that brave yet. I’ve always loved romance and think there are still areas and stories left to explore there, so I think I’ll stick with it for a while!

+ From the start of the creative process, to the finished book, roughly how long did Holding on to Georgia take to accomplish?

This is kind of a tough question since I technically finished it back in September 2013. After sending it off to a few Beta Readers and taking their feedback, I finally realized it wasn’t what I was going for and rewrote the entire thing. The story changed drastically. I’d say from starting Round 2 until publication (with a few weeks off to really analyze what I wanted the story to look like) it took about 10 months.

+ One of your main characters is Wesley Kade – was it hard to write from a male’s perspective?

It was one of the most challenging things about writing the book. I wanted him to come across realistic and I wanted readers to be able to relate to him. I pull a lot of inspiration from the people around me. Whether it be friends or just random situations I happen to come across on a daily basis, I pay very close attention to actions, conversations and gestures. Then I try to take that and pull together characters. In each male character in the novel, including Kade, there’s a bit of all of those guys in them. Kade has much more of an emotional story so I had to really dig deep. I’ve seen men in my life hurt and how they handled it. It can be tough, but all of that you use as a writer to create depth within your character.

Courtney’s website: http://courtneygiardina.com/

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What I liked:
I don’t read romance novels often, but I do enjoy them now and then. I find them comforting – girl meets boy, can’t have boy, has boy, loses boy, totally gets boy in the end, and if we’re lucky there’s a few erotic scenes thrown in! Personally, I find most romance novels to be predictable, but I don’t mean that as an insult! It’s nice to take a break from the heavy stuff and just read something cute and a touch dramatic. This probably still sounds like an insult, but I swear it’s not.

Courtney gives that perfect mix of the woman and man who have been burned before, yet it’s clear they both still want to find love. This book was a quick read, something I could relax with, and I appreciated that. The familiar formula of the romance novel allowed me to sink easily into the drama when it arose. This book was cute, with a little southern flare and it helped take my mind of my impending winter depression.

What I didn’t like:
There was a lot of telling in this book and I could have used more showing. As a reader I was often told how a character felt, and it was often accompanied by a phrase like “hollow eyes” in an attempt to convey an expression – one which I really couldn’t picture. One thing I could picture was what the characters looked like, and wore for each day. This didn’t seem to be a fashion-based romance, yet I felt like I spent a lot of time reading about what Rylan and Kade were wearing. Speaking of Rylan, I kept calling her Ryan! That’s more my fault than anything, but I could not, for the life of me, remember to pronounce that “L.” Rylan also suffers from the always-cliché “clumsy girl” syndrome, despite being a very skilled dancer. Too many lead females suffer from this trope simply so they can sometimes literally fall into the arms of their man, or get injured so they can be cared for.

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This book was very middle of the road for me – it wasn’t bad, but I didn’t love it either. My real issue was that I wanted more. I wanted more depth from the characters, I wanted more action, I wanted more romance! There were a few scenes where things started to heat up, but honestly I could have used a lot more of that. I’m not saying the book should have been an erotic novel or anything, but Kade was described as a very sexy man, and I expected more from his intimate scenes with Rylan.

If you’re really into romance, this book may be the one for you, but for me it just wasn’t developed enough.