Monday, May 27, 2013

Interview with Author Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Cheryl Kaye Tardif is an award-winning, international bestselling Canadian suspense author. Her novels include Submerged, Divine Justice, Children of the Fog, The River, Divine Intervention, and Whale Song. Cheryl enjoys writing short stories inspired by her idol Stephen King, resulting in Skeletons in the Closet & Other Creepy Stories and Remote Control. She has also written a non-fiction marketing book, How I Made Over $42,000 in 1 Month Selling My Kindle eBooks.

Cheryl's website:

“Whale Song is a beautifully written story of love. Tardif's gift with language and empathy towards cultures lent this book an authenticity, which had me searching to see if it was based on a true story. The best book I have read in a while." -- Melissa Clarke

Hello, Cheryl. Please tell us about your novel, Whale Song.

Whale Song is my "heart book," and I call it that for many reasons. It is the one novel that has more of me in it than any of my others; and it has affected people's lives in so many ways. In fact, you could say it has saved lives and relationships. One woman told me that sharing my novel with her mother restored their relationship. How powerful is that?

Whale Song is the story of a woman who reflects on her life and the mystery behind her mother's death. It opens when young Sarah and her parents move to an isolated town on Vancouver Island. It is there that she is introduced to racism, bullying and the effects these can have on a young girl's life. But when her mother falls ill, her focus shifts, and she learns of a secret that changes her life.

Filled with rich native folklore and memorable characters, Whale Song is really a novel for anyone, any age. It is being used in schools across North America and in a NATO school in Europe—there's a special School Edition with a discussion guide in the back (ebook and trade paperback). It is mandatory reading for a women's shelter in Newnan, Georgia, and was used as a book club read in a women's prison in South Dakota. But is it just for women and girls? No. I have heard from boys and grown men who have loved Whale Song.

It is my "heart book" for all of these reasons and more.

Author Chynna T. Laird said about your book, “It's about tragedy, understanding, coming-of-age, acceptance and forgiveness.” Will adults enjoy this book as well?

Adults will LOVE this story. It will take them back to the good and bad times of being a child. It'll remind them about the importance of family. It'll inspire them to be more forgiving and more accepting. One of my fans is a 60+ year old man who constantly tweets about his age and how much he loved Whale Song. My oldest reader that I know about was 108. And book clubs worldwide have embraced Sarah's story.

That is so awesome that your book has touched the lives of many people, young and old alike. Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

Sarah is based loosely on aspects of my life. I moved around a lot as a child. My father was in the Canadian military. I had to leave friends behind and learn to make new ones. I lived on an isolated island in BC that is rife with racism and bullying. I was exposed to native folklore. But Sarah's journey is her own, not mine. She inspired me to let go of the past, and in writing her story I learned that "forgiveness sets you free."

That is so true about forgiveness. What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

I researched killer whales as they are a strong element in the story. I researched native folklore as well so that Nana could relate the stories of her culture. I also had to research the illness that Sarah's mother is diagnosed with and the final consequences.

Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

My heart has been deeply saddened by the stories of teens who have committed suicide because of bullying. I cry for their sorrow and their frustration and their loss of life. And I know their pain, deeply, intimately. I was bullied when I was a teen. I was physically abused by other teens. I was emotionally abused by girls and boys. I thought of suicide many times. I withdrew and became very shy with zero self-esteem. My escape was books.

But I survived. I survived the bruises and everything that lowered my self-image. I survived humiliation. I survived despair. All I knew was that at some point things would change. The bullying would be over. I just had to get through it. Otherwise, the bullies WIN! So I had to live.

Decades later, I still remember those events and my main bully. I saw her once when we were in our 20s. Her life was nothing to admire. Karma. I was sad for her. She could have been more. I was determined to be. I forgave her. This is really the seed of Whale Song.

If I could talk one-on-one with a bullied child I would tell them: This will pass. It is only a small part of your life, and it does NOT define you. You CAN survive this. You will become better for it. You have your whole life ahead of you, and wonderful things are in store for you. So hold on for one more day. And then one more. I know this…because I did. And you can too.

Thank you, Cheryl, for this wonderful and touching interview. Your exceptional outlook on life, striving to become a better person, surviving childhood humiliation, and forgiveness has made you the person you are today. Thank you for sharing your innermost feelings with me and my readers.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Interview with Fantasy Author Serena Clarke

Serena Clarke is a graphic designer and author. She is also a member of the Red Mountain Shadows Publishing Team. She edits books, formats them, and creates covers for authors. Many authors want to publish their books through Amazon’s Create Space and other self-publishing companies, so Serena helps them get their books into shape. She loves reading and writing fantasy with a hint of romance. In fact, she enjoys designing her book covers almost as much as writing her books.

Welcome back to my blog, Serena. Today we’re going to talk about the secrets of writing a fantasy. What elements or creatures does an author have to put into a story to make a good fantasy?

The reason I love fantasy so much is that anything can happen. You are not restricted by reality. The definition of fantasy is “The faculty or activity of imagining things that are impossible or improbable.” There are no particular requirements to write a fantasy. Your imagination is your limit. However, there are some things to keep in mind. When you are writing a story, no matter the genre, you are creating a world. Within this world, there are rules. You create the rules. But then you must follow them. If you follow the rules you have created within your make-believe world, your story will be more believable and easier for readers to follow.

Create a history, not only for your characters but also for the world you have created, the kingdoms, etc. Also, if your world has magic, where did the magic come from? What rules apply? Who can use magic? What restrictions are there? Are there consequences for using magic? Does everyone know about magic? Is it accepted by society? Are there mythical creatures? What are they like, both physically and socially?

Create geography, methods of transportation, what technology exists, etc.

Create a society all your own… You can create a whole new world, unique to your imagination, or you can use the world you live in as inspiration and add fantastical elements. You can follow tradition and mythology or you can create your own characteristics. Or create your own fantastical creatures. You decide what is possible and what is real.

Wow! I didn’t know so much went into creating a fantasy. What does your story have in it to bring out these elements?

For my story, I created a whole new world, loosely based on reality. My main characters are humans, but they live in a magical world. There are magical creatures, witches, magical treasures, etc.

In your research, you have probably noticed that dragons, elves, giants and other creatures have a certain aura and personality about them. When I say “aura,” I mean a certain characteristic that surrounds them. Did you keep to this or create your own personality for these characters?

For some of the mythical creatures, I followed tradition. I did some research on what these creatures might look like or how they might act. But there are so many interpretations for many of these creatures that I decided to change them up a bit. Sometimes I made my creatures completely different from what they would be like traditionally. I wanted them to be unique to my world. I also have creatures that came from my own imagination. I created them, gave them a name and characteristics.

I read your book and that is why I loved it so much. Your creatures were unique. What is The Treasure of Isian about and where can you buy it?

Prince Garin is a brave, proud, adventure-seeking prince. Elani is his most trusted servant and she would do anything for him, even die for him. Their quest to find the mystical Treasure of Isian is immediately interrupted and they find themselves confronted by angry giants, soul-stealing elves, bewitched dragons, a vengeful water-witch, battling foes, and a mysterious kingdom. Elani must face her greatest fears to save her prince and her kingdom. Garin must decide what the most important things are in his life. Will they be able to make a great sacrifice to save the kingdom? And will Elani find true love? Become lost in the adventure, love, loyalty, and mystery of The Treasure of Isian

The Treasure of Isian can be bought online as an ebook for only $.99 for an Ipad, Kindle, and Nook. You may buy her novel at Amazon or Barnes and Noble online or order it from a local bookstore for $12.95.

Thank you for this interview, Serena. It was interesting to learn how a person creates a fantasy. I enjoy having my daughter on my Family Friendly Blog and letting my readers get to know you.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Interview with Young Adult Author Anna del C. Dye

I was born in Valparaiso, Chile. I came to the USA at age 21 to be married two weeks later. I have lived in Utah all my married life, and have travelled to many places in the USA. We are the parents of three princes and a princess. I love ruins, medieval and fantasy things.

Welcome back to my blog, Anna. I understand this new book is number six in your Elf Series, but it’s a stand-alone book and can be read separately. Please tell us about your book.

It is always a pleasure to be with you and your friends, Linda. Flying takes you to new heights. Here is a bit about A Flying Elf. Shahira is a she-eagle and lives with her father, mother, and baby brother. Her dream is to find a stripling young eagle for her mate. But mating is a ritual that happens in the sky and she cannot fly. She keeps telling herself that soon she will be able to, but every time she tries she falls.

The character causing all the problems in this tale is Huzan. He is almost a wizard and suffers from schizophrenia. He hears and sees people talking to him all the time. This makes him very dangerous, especially as he thinks his brother, the head of the Wizarding School, is against him. A crazy wizard, on his own, pursued by his personal demons, makes for interesting suspense.

Lets not forget Llorradinn. He is the Elf who finds love in Shahira’s nest and who is willing to do anything for her. As a true Elf, he would sacrifice his life for Shahira if it would make her happy. 

Where did you get your inspiration for this series?

From Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. My son got me hooked on the books, and when the movies came out my imagination went wild. I have so many characters wanting to be first in my head I can’t write fast enough. 

What kind of research did you do for this book?

Eagles are the main characters in this tale, so I needed to ask questions about their lives and what they are like. The person in charge of the eagles in Tracy Aviary at a park in Utah was very nice and let me pick his brain. For my artist, we Googled eagles and had hundreds of pictures to choose from.

You love to write elf stories. What intrigues you most about writing these books?

What intrigues me most is how my Elfs came to me with their personalities clear and unwavering. They aren’t perfect, but they are certainly far ahead of any human I have met in real life. The world of my elfs is so pure and humble that it inspires many of my readers and me, because you can’t find that in real life and as humans we need it. The way elfs love and care for the she-elfs is humbling and the way the she-elfs reciprocate to their companion’s care and love is heavenly. I believe that is what every human being wants in life… someone who will see past our imperfections and treat us with utmost respect and love, in spite of it all.  

Thanks, Anna, for a wonderful interview. Your books sound awesome. The “world of elves” sounds so intriguing to me.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Interview with Author Kathi Oram Peterson

Kathi Oram Peterson is the mother of three, grandmother of two, and wife of one. After her youngest child graduated high school, she went back to college and earned her BA in English. She worked for a curriculum publisher writing and editing children’s biography and concept books, but always had the dream of writing YA time travel and romantic suspense novels. Her dream finally came true with the publication of The Forgotten Warrior, followed by An Angel on Main Street, The Stone Traveler, River Whispers, Cold Justice, and Wanted.

Welcome back to my blog, Kathi. I love romantic suspense. Please tell us about your new book, Wanted.

This was an exciting story to write. I set it in my home state of Idaho in areas I’m very familiar with: Swan Valley, Table Rock Mountain, and Fall Creek Falls. Let me share the back cover blurb of the book.

Rodeo veterinarian Jo Powers is accustomed to operating under pressure—but nothing could have prepared her for the shocking discovery of the armed and bleeding escaped convict hiding in her truck. Even more disconcerting is the fact that Jo knows the man in the prison jumpsuit. Jo’s split-second decision to use her medical skill to save this man’s life is just the beginning because now he needs her help to uncover the truth.

Seven years ago, Branson Faulkner was accused of a murder he claims he didn’t commit. With the hope of finding new evidence to prove his innocence, he’s risked everything to clear his name and reclaim his life—but he can’t do it alone. Jo agrees to help, even though she isn’t completely sure Faulkner is innocent. Now as Faulkner and Jo conduct their investigation, they discover an alarming connection between a string of homicides, and one truth is clear: there’s a murderer on the loose who will stop at nothing to cover his tracks . . .

I love mysteries that include romance. It seems to keep the story moving. Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?

Sometimes the idea of a story just hits you out of the blue and sometimes it is an accumulation of things: places you’ve been, people you’ve known, and the type of story you’ve written before. Those three things, plus a lot of work inspired Wanted. I needed the main character to love animals, so making Jo a veterinarian was a good fit. And I’ve always liked the idea of having the hero wounded from a bullet and in need of help. Making Branson an escaped prisoner worked perfectly.

It’s fun finding out what inspires an author. What kind of research did you do for this book?

I attended many rodeos to research this novel. In fact, I was allowed, by one rodeo owner, a “behind the scenes” view of what goes on during a rodeo. I learned how they truly cared for their stock and many times took better care of their animals then they did themselves. These rodeos were not in air-conditioned arenas. They were held in the middle of nowhere, but when rodeo time arrived people gathered from miles around bringing their campers and RVs with them.

I also spent a great deal of time researching the criminal justice system. A friend of mine helped to teach religion classes in the prison and many inmates were converted. Time behind bars would be an awful experience, but it could also help some prisoners commit to living better lives. My friend was a great resource.

And because I grew-up close to where I set the novel I knew a great deal about the area. See, I knew that there really is a cave behind Fall Creek Falls because I’ve been there. I knew the creek was a warm springs because I’ve floated down it. I knew the beauty of Table Rock Mountain because my mother had been born at the base of the mountain and had taken me there many times as I was growing up. 

Wow! I love it. Your research and knowledge makes reading your books fun. What is the biggest challenge in writing a romantic suspense story?

I think the most challenging aspect of writing romantic suspense is adding enough red-herrings. Are two enough, are six too many? But this usually resolves itself as the story unfolds and opportunities arise.

Thanks, Kathi, for this awesome interview. It was fun learning more about your book and your research.