Month: June 2018

Interview with Kevin Ansbro

Interview with Kevin Ansbro

Kevin Ansbro, Author – KINNARA

 

 

Intriguing and exotic, Kevin Ansbro’s novel explores how our actions can come back to haunt us in the most unexpected ways.

‘Murder, myth and Mr Ordinary meet up in this extraordinary novel. However bad the weather is here, Ansbro’s vivid writing will transport you to a sun drenched tropical island – with darkness at its heart. I loved it!’ – Karen Holmes, editor 2QT

 

Hello Kevin, thanks for the interview –

I just finished reading Kinnara. Such a brilliant and enjoyable adventure!

Kevin – Thanks, for inviting me to answer some questions, Ingrid.  I like being probed, though not by alien life forms … not that this has ever happened to me … or has it? They wipe your memory afterwards, don’t they? Now, on to the questions…

You know so much about Thailand, have you lived there? You character, Sawat, is so real, did you know someone like him?

Kevin – My wife and I are fortunate to have visited Thailand more than twenty-five times: we love the people/the culture/the overall vibe, and we speak a lot of Thai. Sawat, like many Thais, has an unassailable positivity, despite having to eke out a living in difficult circumstances. He seems to be everyone’s favourite character and is based on a friend of mine, whose winning smile would light up any room.

As for your portrayal of the tsunami that hit Thailand, were you there during that tragic and horrendous event?

Kevin – I wasn’t in Thailand at the time of the tsunami (we were there a couple of months prior), but waking up on Boxing Day in 2004 to those alarming scenes is something I shall never forget. I was immediately on the phone to friends whom I knew to be in the areas affected. One actually had to cling to a coconut tree while the spiteful torrent surged through, giving me the idea to write that frightening event into the book.

I love your use of the Swan People (Buddhist god, Klahan) and Buddhist mythology in your book. How did that originate and develop?

Kevin – Whenever I’m ferried into Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport in a taxi, I always marvel at the bronze statues of mythical creatures that line the route into the terminal. These statues depict the half-bird, half-human Kinnaree, much-loved in Thai folklore. And it was there that the nucleus of an idea began. By the time I’d paid the cab fare I was already planning a storyline that would involve these celestial beings. The male of the Kinnaree are known as the Kinnara, hence the title of my novel, which is essentially a teeth-rattling thriller wrapped in a burrito of magical realism.

I really enjoy your writing. It’s clear, smooth and flows. I’m curious about the German serial-killer connection in Kinnara. It seems to stand out so much from the rest of the story. May I ask how you came up with that?

Kevin – Why, thank you, Ingrid. 
The German serial killer connection was dreamt up to give the book an international flavour, my inspiration coming from a lifelong love of Bond movies!

You also wrote a short story entitled, The Angel in my Well. I’m curious where it came from. It is so different from Kinnara, and yet, I can see the underlying magical realism from the description you posted on your website.

KevinThe Angel in my Well blossomed rather unexpectedly in the darkest of hours. 

My high-spirited (Irish) mum, Kathleen, had become a living shadow of her former self, ghosting the bleached corridors of a nursing home, lost in the fog of dementia and dying of cancer. While visiting her one day, I watched as she caught sight of her eighty-three-year-old self in a mirror, rather than the vivacious teenager she imagined herself to be. She turned to me, confused, and asked, “How did I suddenly get so old?”

It was heart-breaking to watch and at that moment I thought how wonderful it would be to have my mum come back to me again, as the scintillating young woman I remembered as a little boy – even if it was just for one day. And so, there and then, the nucleus of a book idea was borne.  As with Kinnara, the story is set in our real world, but with something otherworldly happening in that world.

My mum died not knowing she’d inadvertently inspired me to become an author, a silver lining to a very dark cloud.

Thank you, Kevin, for sharing. I’m sorry for your loss. The Angel in my Well sounds like a wonderful tribute to your mother. I look forward to reading it.

 

Now, Kevin, please tell us all about your next project.

Kevin – Although I’m a full-time writer, it has taken me three years to write my current novel. It’s complete, my best yet (I think), and I’ve only just begun to send submissions off to literary agents. 

It’s titled The Fish that Climbed a Tree (a metaphor for a Homeric, near-impossible, odyssey within its pages). And, again, there is an alchemy of reality and otherworldliness to my novel but it reveals, within its beating heart, a spiteful, teeth-rattling thriller that is in no way formulaic or prosaic (my style veers more towards the rich and linguistically playful).

I do want to add another question, I was actually referring the family question to your wife, Julie. Any correlation between Hannah and Calum and Kevin and Julie? Aside from the karate and kickboxing of course, btw, I’m totally impressed! So, all the traveling…because of tournaments?

Kevin – There isn’t a correlation between Hannah and Julie, though I channeled some of my wife’s wisecracks, swordplay and reactions into Hannah’s dialogue. Julie is also the first person I turn to for an honest, unvarnished appraisal of my work. 

When I was a kickboxer, the only travelling I did was around Britain. I have trained in Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) while in Thailand though. Don’t let looks deceive you; those guys are hard as nails! 

Kevin, one of the things I admire about you is your encouragement and support of other writers. With that in mind, what advice would you give to new writers?

Kevin – Thank you! and I’m so pleased you asked this! 

I spot a great deal of uninformed guidance on social media: people suggesting that the way to get better at writing is simply to carry on writing. What utter nonsense! You wouldn’t employ an untrained person to run a restaurant kitchen on their own and say to them, “There’s the fridge; the pots, pans, knives are over there. Away you go!” Yeah, they’ll probably muddle through and improve, but will never attain the skills needed to become a great chef.

So, my best piece of advice is to read, read, READ. And don’t just read any old piece of pap. Peruse the classics; learn from the gods of literature. Find out about literary devices and how to construct a narrative arc; understand what it means to ‘show and not tell’. And please, please accept constructive criticism as if you were Gollum being offered the Ring.

Trust me, you need candid advice more than you need cheerleaders! It’s true that all writing has value, but aspire to be the Michelin-starred chef, not the short order cook. 

Ingrid, thank you so much for inviting me in for this groovy interview. It’s been an absolute pleasure!

I know that you are also eminently passionate about your work and I’d like to wish you every success for the future!

Thank you so much, Kevin Ansbro, for the interview, your thoughtful words, and for your amazing book, Kinnara. I look forward to reading The Angel in my Well and  The Fish that Climbed a Tree.

For more information about our guest, Kevin Ansbro, and for the latest on his upcoming novel,  you can find him on the links below:

Kevin’s website

Kevin’s author page on Amazon

‘Kinnara’ novel

‘The Angel in my Well’ short story

Kevin’s Twitter page

Kevin’s Goodreads author page

 

Splintered Love No More…

Splintered Love No More…

The Sad Demise of Splintered Love

 

I am sad to say, Author S.J. Hermann has ended the existence of his amazing dark-love collection, Splintered Love.

Now for the good news. The stories will live on, each available as a single story!

Coming Soon to Amazon

Leap of Faith – Could one find true love again and if you can, what if it came from an unusual place.

Inner Beauty – Today’s society is based on a person’s looks and not what they carry on the inside.

Desperate Souls – What would you be willing to give up for love?

Reckless Thoughts – You find your true love, then you carelessly throw it away.

Forever Love – Love is eternal.

 

From my interview with S.J. Hermann, an excerpt from my personal favorite, “Leap of Faith.”

For more on S.J. Hermann, including his amazing series soon to be on the big screen, The Morium Trilogy

Website: www.authorsjhermann.wordpress.com

Twitter: @Writing_Novel

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SJ-Hermann-250758318466659/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/s.j.hermannwriter/

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/+SJHermann

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9784255.S_J_Hermann

My Interview with Author Vanessa Ravel

My Interview with Author Vanessa Ravel

Vanessa Ravel, Author – Four O’Clock Alice

 

 

A little girl. An ancient enemy. A shared past.

Alice Davies wouldn’t hurt a fly, but death seems to follow her everywhere. And as the body count rises, people in Dolwicke start to whisper.

If you like ancient myths and portal fantasies, you’ll love this surreal tale that will pull you down the rabbit hole for the adventure of a lifetime.

 

Hello Vanessa, thanks for the interview!

I just finished Four O’clock Alice and I have so many thoughts. I found it suspenseful with Alice Davies one of the most fascinating, engaging, and endearing characters I’ve read in a long time.

Now, most of us know the story of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, but yours is a different kind of Alice and I’m still not sure of the reference between the two stories. Would you please explain?  And also, if you don’t cover this, I’d love to know where you got the idea for this amazing story!

Vanessa – Thank you for inviting me to chat, Ingrid! I’m so happy to hear you liked Four O’clock Alice. It was my first novel—my baby, if you will—so I’m really pleased to know that she turned out okay! Like most first-time parents, I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing (I’m still learning with this next one, but I like to think I’m getting the hang of it!)

The relationship between my Alice and Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is nuanced. I wanted to create a character with the same kind of curiosity and wonder as Lewis Carroll’s Alice, so I peppered my book with allusions to Carroll’s story. I also wanted to use Alice in Wonderland to establish exposition and setting (Edwardian England) and to show that the book was contemporary (though Carroll published his work 50 years earlier).

As it turns out, those superficial allusions opened a Pandora’s box of hidden connections between mine and Carroll’s story that, thanks to your great question, I just noticed. For example, both stories can be considered coming-of-age stories. In each story, the girl learns about herself and the world around her, and experiences fabulous and frightening things. She physically grows (and shrinks!) and for better or worse, Alice goes on the adventure of a lifetime.

Of course, it’s all subjective—some may see Alice in Wonderland as a political allegory and my book as a paperweight, but that’s what’s fun about literature analysis, isn’t it? The meaning is in the eye of the beholder.

A lot of people have asked me where I got the idea for Alice, and unfortunately, the story is really not that interesting! I don’t know how often this happens to other authors, but in 2012, I sat down to write a completely different book (I’m not really an “outliner”). Yes, the main character was a little girl. Yes, the genre was gothic/dark fantasy. But that’s pretty much where the similarities ended.

What happened was I wrote myself into a rabbit hole and instead of trunking my beloved first novel, I dug deeper and found Alice on the other side. Moral of the story: sometimes you have dig through mud to find clay!

– I really like that! “Moral of the story: sometimes you have dig through mud to find clay!” Kind of reminds me of your field “epidemiology” where you must dig through all the cases to find the “clay” so to speak. Right? Or am I way off base here?

Vanessa – Nope, you’re spot-on, that’s what epidemiologists do. They dig through a bunch of data to uncover the hidden associations between exposures and diseases. And then they write papers about it! (Clearly my favorite part about being an epidemiologist is writing the papers)

I – And like all readers who enjoy getting lost in the next big adventure, I’m not going to ask you about the ins and out of your story or your characters. Though I must say, I did marvel at how your story unfolds. Well done!! It was a crazy and wild ride and I’m so very glad I had the pleasure!

Vanessa – So glad you enjoyed your trip down the rabbit hole!

I – I must ask why gothic/dark fantasy?

Vanessa – I didn’t choose this genre; it chose me. Judging by my reading track record, I would probably have chosen something more steeped in horror (which is what I’m writing now) or at least supernatural. However, that isn’t to say I don’t like dark fantasy; most of my favorite films fall into this genre (Pan’s Labyrinth, Edward Scissorhands, The Devil’s Backbone, etc.).  The Gothic part kind of snuck up on me too. Even though I don’t have much experience reading those kinds of books, for some reason the Edwardian setting really spoke to me for Alice. There’s a certain romantic appeal to the period around the time of the Great War, something about not having antibiotics I guess, that’s both horrific and enchanting. It would be cool to visit that period—though not without a pocket full of Azithromycin.

 I – Okay, so can you give us a sneak peek at what’s next for Alice?

Vanessa – Alice is a standalone novel, although now that you mention it, maybe there’s more story to tell…

I -I certainly hope so! Alice is truly a great character. So, what’s next from Vanessa Ravel?

Vanessa – Speaking of series, I do have one planned down the line. I’m hoping to start on it after my upcoming release, Demon Dance. This gritty short horror story collection is a big departure from Alice, and came from somewhere completely other within me. I think the strangeness of Alice is still there, though, and if you dig deep enough, so is the heart, but it’s surrounded by a lot of barbed wire.

 I – Sounds great! I love a good horror story!

 

Okay, time for some fun! You can answer any questions below you want to answer:

Where would you love to take a hot-air balloon ride real or imaginary?

Vanessa –Assuming you could tranquilizer dart me and drag me into said hot-air balloon (not a fan of heights), it would be nice to visit the past. Back when I was five and my only worry was how long I was going to get to play on the swings before it was time to go home.

I – I love your attitude, your strength, reading your bio on your website you really are amazing! Aside from writing, what are your other creative pursuits, goals, dreams, what have you?

Vanessa – I do declare, that’s probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me! I don’t have much time to do anything creatively but write nowadays, but I do like to draw and make stuffed toy animals. I used to make them as Christmas gifts. I should get back to doing that!

Vanessa w Dudley before he passed in 2014

I – Stuffed toy animals, what a great gift idea!

What are your other passions?

Vanessa – Aside from writing, I’d say my passion is animals. Specifically, dogs, if my Facebook profile is any indication. I have five at the moment, but there’s always room in my heart (though not necessarily in my house) for more. I’d love to have a big plot of land to build a rescue or sanctuary. Better get working on that next book…

I – Please do! I think your readers and the homeless dogs of this world would much appreciate it.

Favorite genre to read? A genre outside your norm that you’d like to read?

Vanessa – Definitely horror! I’m a major fan of Stephen King. I actually love how boring his books are. It sounds strange, but I think the true King fans will know what I’m talking about—at least I hope so… for all I know, they’ll want to burn me at the stake for calling their idol boring. In any case, what I mean is that for me, the best parts of his work—short stories and novels alike—are the exposition, where basically nothing happens. Gives you a chance to fall in love with the characters before you even get to the story. It would be interesting to read a science fiction book, but I’m afraid I just wouldn’t ‘get’ it!

I -I totally get what you mean about the “boring bits” in Stephen King books. I LOVE those!! Mainly because you know he’s introducing you to his characters and then there’s the sudden buildup that you just weren’t expecting but, “Bam,” it hits you square in the face like a really scary snowball. I LOVE Stephen King with John Saul a close second, oh, and Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby was awesome. And my absolute favorite book ever so far is “IT.”

What’s your favorite flavor ice cream?

Vanessa –That would have to be pistachio

I– Flip flops or sandals?

Vanessa – Flip flops all day long. I’m an L.A. girl, after all!

I– Favorite place to veg?

Vanessa – Being a vegetarian, it’s hard to find “acceptable,” let alone edible food at non-vegan restaurants apart from side salads and French fries and mozzarella sticks. We just discovered that Fatburger sells the Impossible Burger, which is an impossibly awesome meat-free, plant-based burger that tastes exactly like meat. So, my boyfriend and I have kind of been living at Fatburger on the weekends. Don’t judge.

I – I asked where you like to veg? Sorry, that’s probably a generational thing. I meant relax, hangout, unwind, but the food thing was awesome, didn’t know you were a vegetarian until then. 🙂 I’d like to include both if that’s acceptable to you.

VanessaOh, LOL to the generational thing. You know, I should know what that means. The first time I heard that was in the movie “Clueless” when they were talking about “vegging” out on the couch all day long. Duh. It’s actually what I thought about when I read your question! But circuitously, what I replied with actually makes sense, because I really don’t veg out except when I go out to eat. I’m kind of a shut-in! Since I’m super shy, I don’t really go out and do things apart from car rides and walks and hiking in the forest and desert (not really “vegging out” – kind of the opposite LOL). So I guess Fatburger and the local vegan place is where we kind of loiter/”veg.” And the couch with the dogs, of course!

I – Your earliest happy memory?

Vanessa – Seeing Santa in my house! I know now that it was a false memory, that there was no fat man in a red suit in my house (no wonder my mom kind of freaked out when I told her). But it sure made my four-year-old self happy!

Your favorite horror movie actor?

Vanessa – Interesting question! I’ll give two answers to this one: my female favorite would be Sigourney Weaver (gotta love the Alien movies) and the male favorite is Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs is in my top 5 movies and is my favorite book!). Of course, there are a ton of great character actors that totally make the genre but those are my two big-name actors.

I – Your favorite horror author(s)?

Vanessa – In case you hadn’t noticed… Stephen King, I also like Dean Koontz. Sadly, I don’t read enough to be able to scrape up a real list.

I – First movie or first book, both 😊

Vanessa – My first book was a picture book called Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema about an African shepherd boy that must find a way to end a drought that threatens all the wildlife in the plain. I think first movie that really left a mark on me was Killer Klowns from Outer Space. I was about four and already into scary stuff. Easy to do when your sister is ten years older than you and it’s the late eighties, i.e., the era of bad horror films!

I – Killer Klowns from Outer Space! Hysterical!

Any question I didn’t ask during the interview that you want me to ask?

Vanessa – I can’t think of anything… you were very thorough, Ingrid!

Thank you, Vanessa, for the interview. It’s been an absolute pleasure!

You can follow Vanessa on the following social media sites!

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