Author Interviews

* you can find the original interviews and much more on my 'everything writing' blog (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com), including author spotlights, guest posts, book reviews, flash fiction or poetry - new items posted 6am UK time Monday to Saturday and writing exercises at 6pm very weekday.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Author interview with Leonardo Ramirez (revisited)


Back in May 2013, I interviewed author Leonardo Ramirez for my interview-only WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with graphic and prose novelist Leonardo Ramirez. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Leonardo. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Leonardo RamirezLeonardo: First of all, thanks so much for having me on. It’s a real honor. There is so much valuable information for authors on your website that I hope as many writers as possible are taking advantage of it. As for me, I started writing over 20 years ago and what got me hooked on the process were short story assignments that I received in college. My professor was impressed with my work and she was very encouraging. From there I wrote my first book (which was never published) called Fables of Pangaea. This was a long time before self-publishing was as rampant as it is today. I still have the drawer full of rejection letters from that time. I keep it in a file that has my contract with my first traditionally published graphic novel, Haven in the back. I keep that file so that I can encourage my daughter never to give up on her dreams. I just used it for the first time (for this purpose) about a month ago.  I live in a suburb of Nashville now with my wife and daughter who I love to spend time with.
Morgen: You’re very welcome, Leonardo. I’m delighted you could join me today. What genre do you generally write and what have you had published to-date?
JC CoverLeonardo:  My first traditionally published book was the aforementioned graphic novel, Haven which picks up where Dante’s Inferno left off. Using what I learned from that experience I moved to publish the first in a Children’s Steampunk series, The Jupiter Chronicles. I’m also in the editing phase for Haven of Dante which is a prose version of the graphic novel and fills in the gaps. I’m currently working on The Jupiter Chronicles: The Ice Orphan of Ganymede.
Morgen: You’ve traditionally published – have you also self-published? If so, what lead to you going your own way?
Leonardo: My first traditional route was very disappointing. The artist and I had put our lives on hold for this project but after three years we have yet to see a dime from it. The publisher did not invest any time at all in marketing it save to list it on their website which is tantamount to nothing. I did all of the marketing and being a newbie with a full time job just doesn’t cut it. I asked myself why the publisher would keep so much and add so little so I ventured out on my own. I know this sounds bitter but please believe me when I say that I’m not. Not every publisher is the same. Others have a bigger platform and I do believe that authors should assume responsibility for the marketing. It’s a learning experience. You take that and move on to the next thing and hope that things will even out later.
Morgen: Many authors have had the same experience, and I’ve self-published having been rejected by agents and turned down two traditional publishing deals (which weren’t right for me) so I don’t blame you at all for going that route. Do you have a favourite of your stories or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Leonardo: This is a fun question!
Morgen: Thank you. :)
Leonardo: I think Callie is my favourite because she’s modelled after my daughter. She fun and adventurous but above all she’s fearless. She also likes to crack a joke in the midst of sheer chaos. My daughter is 11 now and she’s said that she wants to be an actress so I’d have to pick her to play the part. I’ll always think of her as Callie.  Haven would be my second favourite. She’s bold and truthful but also hurting on the inside. Jessica Lowndes bares a likeness, as does Felicity Jones.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or research?
Leonardo: Tons! John Lassiter once said, “You can never have too much research.” That’s a mantra I live by. I love to explore the setting exactly as it should be for the time period. Even though I write Science Fiction I like to keep it as if these things could actually happen so they’re all as realistic as I can make them.
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites?
Leonardo: Yes! Here’s a list!
Morgen: You’re definitely out there. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Leonardo: Right now I’m working on the second book of The Jupiter Chronicles titled, The Ice Orphan of Ganymede which I hope we can release in the fall. Haven of Dante is in the editing phase and I’ll have more information on that release on my website.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Leonardo: You can find me at http://Leonardoverse.com. I blog often and have a forum there as well. I encourage your readers to stop in and please subscribe to the blog where we’ll have interesting discussion as we travel this road together. As for my books…
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Leonardo: My website bears the theme, Science Fiction for the Human Condition. What I mean by that is that I like exploring who we are and why we do the things that we do through the written word as well as how Science Fiction has impacted the human race.
Morgen: Science fiction’s a hugely popular genre. I write very little of it although one reader of my Story a Day May 2011 collection said the one sci-fi story in it was his favourite so maybe I should write more. Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Leonardo: Yes! Do you update your website on your own or do you have a staff of people that help with your efforts? If so, how do you structure this?
Morgen: Oh, how I wish. No, it’s just me. Or rather, yes, it’s just me. I’d love to have an assistant as it’s lots of copying and pasting but I can only just afford to live (apart from the occasional £10 / £15 full interview, I don’t earn any money from it) by renting out two rooms in my house, but I am living the dream because this is my day ‘job’ and even though I’m on my computer all day every day (other than dog walks, Red Cross volunteering, the cinema and catching up with friends) it doesn’t feel like ‘work’. It’s how everyone should feel. From January I’ll also be teaching creative writing for my local council so it’ll be even better. :) Thank you, Leonardo.
*
I then invited Leonardo to include a synopsis…
A war has been fought and lost by the Jovians. Now the answer to their freedom lies within the Great Red Spot and it's up to Ian and Callie to uncover its secret.
It is the year 1892 and Ian and Callie Castillo have had to suffer the hardships of a single parent family since their father went missing five years ago. Since then Ian has refused to use the last gift that his father left the wounded boy; a telescope that sits collecting dust in the attic. When Callie decides to peer through its murky lens it activates the device and sends the Castillo’s to the steam-powered floating cities of Jupiter to rescue their father and free the Jovians before the Martians launch their final attack.
What follows is the beginning of an era that will forever be known by its strange name… Steampunk.
The Jupiter Chronicles series takes flight with the first book in the series… The Secret of the Great Red Spot.
**
Leonardo’s work includes a graphic novel titled, Haven as well as the Steampunk Children’s series, The Jupiter Chronicles and the upcoming prose novel, Haven of Dante published through his newly created self-publishing entity, Leonardoverse.
His heart and motive have always been for people who are hurting. These can be kids who have had to suffer through child abuse or neglect or an absent parent which can be equally torturous as was the case in The Jupiter Chronicles. It can also be young girls who have suffered an assault like Haven did in Haven of Dante. Young or old it doesn’t matter. Those are the kids and adults Leonardo Ramirez wants to speak to because he’s been there.
It’s not just Science Fiction. It’s Science Fiction for the Human Condition.
***
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on the mixed blog but everything else (see Opportunities on the main blog) is free.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have this blog, http://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com, on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
** NEW!! You can now subscribe to the main blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel, which is serialised on Novel Nights In!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at the main blog’s Feedback page.
As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. I welcome items for critique for the online writing groups, and their associated Facebook groups, listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Author interview with Jonathan Bennett (revisited)


Back in April 2013, I interviewed author Jonathan Bennett for my interview-only WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...

Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with non-fiction self-help author Jonathan Bennett who co-authors with his brother David Bennett. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Jonathan. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
jonathanpicJonathan: I’m 34 years old and live in Ohio in the United States. I’ve always been the creative type and tried to write a book even as a teen. But, it just never happened. However, when I was in my early thirties, I got into a big rut and was basically “settling” in life. I decided I couldn’t take it anymore and researched ways to improve myself and bring some meaning to my life. The principles I learned and applied transformed me in so many ways that I consider it a real “awakening,” for lack of a better term. Once I became this new person, the words just seemed to flow. I was “in the zone” and writing became very natural.
Morgen: What genre do you generally write and what have you had published to-date? What do you think of eBooks?
Be Popular Now coverJonathan: I have two unpublished fiction novels taking up bytes on my computer, but my published books are in the self-help genre. I’ve written, with my twin brother David, “Say It Like You Mean It,” a book on crafting positive affirmations and “Be Popular Now: How Any Man Can Become Confident, Attractive and Successful (And Have Fun Doing It).” The latter is a handbook of popularity for guys. As far as eBooks go, I must admit, I like traditional paper books. But, I own a Kindle and I see the writing on the wall. I hold to many ideals, but I’m at heart a realist.
Morgen: I think paper and electronic will go hand-in-hand but as eBooks are cheaper and instant to obtain they will undoubtedly hog the market. You self-published – what lead to you going your own way?
Jonathan: It was largely because of my research of the industry. I know that as a new author I would be largely responsible for promoting my book. And, I’d have to give away most of the profits, the rights, and the control. So, if I was going to do most of the work and lose control, I might as well just do all the work and keep the control (and more of the money). So, my brother and I decided that self-publishing was the best route, especially since we already own a business and could build off what already existed.
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your stories?
Jonathan: We tell a lot of stories throughout the book because, as teachers, we know that people learn best through stories. So, each chapter has tips to be popular that are illustrated through a story. I love a story we tell about Spud Webb, a 5’6” professional basketball player who won the NBA slam dunk contest in 1986. We use it to teach that you can be born with all sorts of disadvantages, but through hard work and determination you can succeed in spite of your alleged shortcomings.
Morgen: I loved basketball at school. I’m 5’10” – maybe I should have kept it up. :) Which authors shaped you as a writer?
Jonathan: I was highly influenced by authors who emphasized that we can create our own reality. Up until I was thirty-two, I believed that my life was outside of my control. I deferred to others and let them determine my dreams, which didn’t work very well. However, as I read writers like Richard Bandler, Lynne McTaggart, and others, I internalized the concept that I determined my own reality. Even if I couldn’t change events, my mindset towards the event is totally determined by one person: me. My current writing has been shaped by my newfound love of Hermann Hesse. I think he really “gets” human nature.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day, and do you plan your books or just get an idea and run with it?
Jonathan: I write each day, both for future books and my self-help websites. I probably write around a thousand words a day in some capacity. Once I found my core purpose in life, I felt very inspired. It’s been going strong for over two years. I’m not over-thinking it or jinxing it. I’m just going with it and enjoying the ride. 
Morgen: That’s why we do it. Do you do a lot of research for your topic?
Jonathan: David and I are constantly researching new ways to be popular. There is a real science behind attractiveness. It’s not just psychology either. Humans are animals and social interaction is grounded in evolutionary biology and brain science. There are patterns and rules to human attraction (both friendship and dating). We research those rules and create real world advice based on them. We test these techniques personally in social settings (and with our clients). And, they really work.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Jonathan: I love how I can take an abstract concept from science and put it in a way that can actually help make the lives of people better. Our techniques need to be explained in a lucid way. That’s where my writing ability is a real asset. My least favourite aspect is probably the proofreading and formatting. I know the rules of grammar and syntax, as well as how to format a book, but I prefer the actual creative process. But, I take the time to proofread and format because I value quality.    
Morgen: Your readers will appreciate it. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Jonathan:  I think it would have to be Alexander the Great, Jesus, and Casanova. All three were very popular and attractive, but took very different paths to their popularity. I’d like to pick their brains for ideas! We would definitely eat Chinese since I’m a fan and it would be new to all three.
Morgen: What a great idea. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Jonathan: I’m active in local networking groups and some of the people involved are writers. Admittedly, David and I are primarily speakers and business owners who love to write and, through our liberal arts backgrounds, have the skills to do if effectively. We find social media to be very valuable. We have a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. We get a lot of exposure and website visits because of it. It’s helped us sell books too.  
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Jonathan: David and I are currently growing our popularity brand by speaking and consulting, which is awesome.  We have a new book coming around June. It’s a popularity book for teens. As teachers, we know that teens have a very rough time these days. Low self-confidence and bullying are rampant. We apply our research and tips to the teen environment, which we know intimately through our professional relationships with teens. We truly believe this book will be a blessing to frustrated teens and their parents. We are also in the early stages of producing a book about romantic attraction and dating.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Jonathan: Our websites are good places to find out more about us. They are http://thepopularman.com and http://thepopularteen.com.
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Jonathan: I’d like to add why we write about popularity. David and I, once we had our awakening and started reading on popularity, totally transformed the way we interacted with others. Instead of being in our closed world, we opened up. Literally everywhere we went, we talked to people. We made them laugh. We listened to them. We became their friends. We’d walk into a coffee shop and walk out five minutes later with two new friends.
We found that our attractiveness and popularity didn’t just benefit us. It benefitted everyone. We made the days of other people better. And, we received popularity in return. So, we offer tips to guys (and soon teens of both sexes) to go out and make their lives more popular and fun. And, we hope they pay it forward by going out and blessing others. Popularity is ultimately about meeting the needs of others and having them love you in return. 
Morgen: Being confident and good-natured definitely helps. Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Jonathan: Yes! My name is also misspelled constantly. How do you correct people in public? Consider it social skills research!
Morgen: <laughs> Morgan is the more usually spelling so I’m used to it but I’ve become a ‘Morgen with an e’ brand so sign off emails with that. I don’t usually make a big deal of it but http://morganbailey.wordpress.com is a shell of a site (which is such a waste of a domain) and the email morgan@morganbailey.com disappears into a black hole so I don’t want people getting lost. One of the many Morgan Baileys (in the US, I think) is a transsexual porn star so some will at least have an interesting time getting to me. :) Thank you, Jonathan.
*
I then invited Jonathan to include a synopsis of his book…
Using cutting edge research in psychology, brain science, and other fields, combined with advanced modelling strategies and personal experience, Jonathan and David Bennett have written the authoritative handbook of male popularity. Every chapter of Be Popular Now is entertaining and informative, with concrete examples and practice exercises. Learn how to increase confidence, approach women without fear, become the center of attention anywhere you are (even online), and much more! No matter how unpopular you are, with these secrets, becoming more popular is fun and easy. What are you waiting for? Start reading and be popular now!
**
Jonathan Bennett is a self -help writer and speaker who co-owns and operates several informational websites that receive over a million visitors a year. He writes about such topics as popularity, health, spirituality, and success.
Although he spent most of his life in school and was naturally popular, he realized he (or anyone else) was never taught the social skills that lead to genuine success. Working with his brother and friend Joshua Wagner, he decided to study (and model) the ways that successful people think and act. His study of cutting-edge social research, along with his natural popularity and personality, led him to consult, speak, and write about popularity and other topics related to success.
In his spare time, he enjoys reading and writing. He drinks a lot of coffee and has a passion for health and fitness. He enjoys spending time with his friends and family, especially his wife and children. He enjoys going to concerts (modern adult alternative acts primarily) and running extreme races like the Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash.
***
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on the mixed blog but everything else (see Opportunities on the main blog) is free.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have this blog, http://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com, on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
** NEW!! You can now subscribe to the main blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel, which is serialised on Novel Nights In!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at the main blog’s Feedback page.
As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. I welcome items for critique for the online writing groups, and their associated Facebook groups, listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.