All is God cougarsmall.jpg

Poetry was my first love. For me it is a minimalist art. My aim is to say something beautiful or important is as few words as possible. I scrawl ideas down, cross them out, rewrite until all available space on the paper has been filled with ideas and corrections; you would see lines between lines, margins filled, phrases squeezed in vertically, words struck through and rewritten over and over. Then I write it out fresh, read aloud, cross out what sounds superfluous and finally type up with two fingers on my computer. My originals are hidden away all over the house as they are terrible to behold. Sometimes I write on envelopes, paper bags or restaurant napkins – you don’t always have a notebook to hand. I would hone them down further on the computer and then share. Friends told me I should publish, not an easy task in the UK unless you are very well-connected or have an Oxbridge First and so I learned to self-publish. I made the mistake of not holding back the poems that were more personal than public and was rewarded with a one-star rating and a scathing review that ran into the thousands of words. You learn to deal with it. To annoy someone so intensely is an accomplishment in itself.

My first novel, The Cougar was a different animal altogether. To a minimalist poet the sheer word count of a novel was daunting enough. My main character came to me in a dream one night and literally said “Tell my story.” Berenice was a phantom, a denizen of the temperate rainforest of British Columbia, and it was a labour of love. I wanted the reader to experience the beauty of the forest and Lake Alouette as Berenice does – and as I do also. I am in love and in awe of this great wilderness. Each time I see it is as powerful as the first, existing in a perpetual state of flux, its colours changing from second to second. The forest visibly seems to breathe and is the perfect setting for a shapeshifter. I wanted to make that wilderness real and immediate and for some I did – for others not so much.

My biggest problem was expectation of genre. This is an odd beast for someone of my vintage weaned on literature that has a wider embrace of the possible than the modern “niche” approach. For me, as a poet, writing is about expression and the music behind the words as much as feelings and actions. It was never about marketing. This imperfection was what I brought to Berenice’s story along with a total understanding of what it feels like to be a misfit and never quite belong anywhere.

The Cougar has been called an erotic romance by some, but it is not erotica. It is explicit but romantic. At the heart lie two parallel love stories in different timelines. Berenice is in both and is a loyal and highly principled bisexual woman. That caused me problems with some fantasy readers and Christians who couldn’t cope with LGBT love and ironically it also caused problems with some lesbian readers who couldn’t cope with straight love scenes. Oh boy! Yet again a wicked bisexual predator is at large! There are some other odd love angles in the story because life is strange in my experience and love just is what it is. Perhaps my life as a writer would have been easier if Berenice was straight? She certainly would have done better to be a lesbian from the beginning if that was the target audience. Perhaps she would have done better to choose a more manipulative writer?

In any case, like Berenice, I am a ship at sea in a terrible storm with no apparent safe mooring other than love itself. If she chose me it was for a reason that I will probably never be sure of. Perhaps it is because I too know what it is not to be “amatonormative” (thank you Gabriel Constans for that lovely word). I leave you with the thought that to write an “amatonormative” book requires the author to be in no doubt whatsoever about their own gender identity or sexuality. Where would that leave the Berenices of this world? To force her to be something other than she is would surely be unacceptable in this day and age? Perhaps that is why she chose me after all…



India R. Adams is author of Serenity (Forever Book 1) and this week I was privileged to meet up with her online and to ask a few questions about her work and ambitions.

Please tell us a little about your background, hobbies and homelife.

I used to be a professional dancer who never had any intentions on writing. Then I became a drama instructor with children, which was a lot of fun. Kids rock. They really do. My first marriage was not the “dream come true” so I had to relearn some things. And as I aged, my childhood past kept creeping up on me. Trying to move past it and grow, brought me to writing, healing my past and loving the future. Now I am remarried with three kids, a loving true dream husband, and I am reaching others—victims—through stories of understanding and compassion because I understand, I’ve been there.

How long have you been writing?

Over nine years but February 2017 is my one-year anniversary of being a “published” author. I started with writing Serenity, the first novel in the Forever series. Oddly enough, it was my last release last year. I released 6 books in 6 months. Fun, but CRAZY!

How many books have you published so far?

I will be having my seventh release, Destiny, the second novel in the Forever series, in April 2017, so six.

Are you a multi-genre author or do you specialise?

Multi and then some! Hahaha… YA and NA. Contemporary/Paranormal/Fantasy/Metaphysical and the list goes on… I even have a MC book in the works.

What do you think is best, and why, to be a published author or an independent?

I’ve only been under my own publishing company but, from what I hear, being traditionally published you lose some of the freedom I have now. I love my job, and it would take a decent offer for me to change over to another publisher.

What projects do you have in the pipeline for the future?

Whooee! I have four releases planned this year. Destiny, Scar Me, River, and Red Waters. I might squeeze one more in (they are all mostly written) but may just wipe my brow and say, “Enough, girl. Stop the madness!”

Next year I plan on releasing the rest of the Forever series, which be four more novels, Mercy, Liberty, Hope, Trinity. I know, I’m a bit insane to be in editing with so many at once. Then I will get back to finishing my other series, A Stranger in the Woods, Haunted Roads, My Wolf and Me, Tainted Waters, then I will finish other books in the works. There is approximately twenty so far. For eight years I wrote 12 hours a day. My imagination insisted on it! My poor kids starved, haha.

Serenity (Forever Book 1)

An Interview with Serenity

I asked India for an interview with Serenity Dowell so that we can get to know this interesting character more closely.

• Tell me a little about your family and what it is like at home.

Oh gosh, my home life? Well, I usually don’t talk about it. I don’t want my friends to worry because they’re young too. If the adults in my life can’t protect me, how can other high schoolers? Ya know? But, this is a special occasion so I will try to give you a little insight. My mom is what you call a binge drinker, a type of alcoholic where, when she drinks, she doesn’t stop—drinks right through the night and day. She has a good heart, she really does, it just has been lost somewhere along the way. My Dad? He’s more complicated. He used to be great. That is why, what he has become now, is so incredibly painful for me.

• Is there someone special in your life and if so what attracted you to them?

Yes, Ma’am. Dereck Hamilton. And what attracted me to him was our past lives. There have been many, and with each one he has been what I can only describe as a dream. And this life? He’s fighting for mine, with all his heart.

• What do you do for a living and what is your ultimate ambition?

My only job at the present is high school, and it works me plenty, hahaha…

• What are you most proud of?

I would have to say surviving. No matter what, I somehow keep pushing forward and not giving up.

• What, if anything, would you change about your life?

If you asked me this a year ago, I would have said my home life. But, now I’m starting to see that it has made me stronger. Was it worth it? I think so. And it’s my life, and life goes on, right?

• What do you like to do to relax?

There is a spring behind my house, in the woods, and it calms my soul. Let’s me escape till the sun goes down…

• What do you dread most in the world?

This question is easy. I’ve had to witness Dereck die before… It was… awful. Something I fear, daily.

• Do you have any pets?

Nope. I’m still working on taking care of myself, hahaha.

• If you were stranded on a desert island, what one thing would you take as a luxury?

As someone who has lived without such things, I have no idea how to answer that. Monetary objects seem to hold no value for me. If it’s an okay answer, I would like to pick my journal. May not be worth much to others but to me, it is my link to the woman I get to visit in my dreams. Her heart is all the gold I need.


Serenity (Forever Book 1)
India’s Blog
India R. Adams on Author Central – See all her books here
India R.Adams on Goodreads
Follow India on Twitter
Keep up with India on Facebook

Sarya's Song is the latest work by author Kyra Halland. It is a beautiful dark romantic fantasy set in a world where music is magic (not just magic as in good, but magic as in spells). It offers a strong plot with danger, potent magic and plenty of romantic interest to the reader. For more details, you might like to visit Sarya's Song on Goodreads I wanted to interview Kyra about her writing and she had this to say to me.

1. When did you first discover you had a talent for writing?

I don't know about talent, but I've always loved to read and to tell stories to myself. I was a music person all though school and never even thought about writing, but after I finished grad school and became a stay-at-home mom with my first child, I decided to try my hand at writing a novel to see if I could actually do it, and I did! I found a huge feeling of accomplishment from doing that, and also discovered that I love inventing stories and characters and worlds. It's the most fun thing ever. And then when someone would read one of my stories and tell me they liked it, that just made it even more fun.

2. Of all your novels, which is your favorite and why?

That's like asking me which of my kids is my favorite! Each of my novels has its own unique personality and history, and they're all special to me. But I have to say I'm very excited about my upcoming fantasy-western series, Daughter of the Wildings. Writing a fantasy set in an other-world western-influenced setting is an idea that intrigued me for a long time, then I finally found the characters and the story to go with it, and they turned out to be a lot of fun. I just love the characters, the setting, the story, and the whole idea of it.

3. Which writers do you enjoy most reading?

Carol Berg is my favorite author right now. I love her style and her characters. Brandon Sanderson and Steven Erikson are other favorites, and I've been discovering a lot of great indie authors, too, like Lindsay Buroker, M. Edward McNally, and Jonathan Moeller. When I'm not in fantasy mode, I enjoy reading P.G. Wodehouse and Jane Austen, and I also like romance (especially Laura Kinsale) and the occasional mystery or crime thriller.

4. Who are the main influences on your writing?

I was influenced to start writing fantasy in large part by reading the Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. LeGuin and the Riddlemaster Trilogy by Patricia McKillip. I think Patricia McKillip's writing style influenced mine early on, but I've since developed more into my own style. Carol Berg's and Brandon Sanderson's originality encourage me to experiment and not be afraid of writing things that aren't like anything anyone else writes.

5. Do you believe that books should entertain or educate – or is a bit of both?

It depends on the book. If I want to be entertained, I want to be entertained. Exploring new cultures, places, customs, and history (whether real or invented) is always fun, and I know an author's outlook and beliefs are going to inform her writing, and all that's fine. What I don't want is to read page after page of research or worldbuilding, or to have the author hammer me over the head with her Message. When I want to be educated about something, I'll go find a book on that subject.

6. If you could choose 10 books to take away to a desert island, what would they be?

1. My combo edition of the Bible and the Book of Mormon (seen the play? the book is better!) My faith is the foundation of everything I am and everything I do.

2. Riddlemaster Trilogy anniversary omnibus, by Patricia McKillip. All three books in one volume, so it only counts as 1 :D One of my all-time favorite series, and one of the few books I re-read. I first read this series in high school in the late 70s, and each time I read it, it gets better.

3 & 4. Flesh and Spirit/Breath and Bone, by Carol Berg. My other all-time favorite fantasy series, and also among the few books I re-read. Carol Berg's writing is as rich and smooth as really good dark chocolate - she could write the phone book and I'd read it. And Valen, the main character, runaway sorcerer, deserter, thief, womanizer, con man, and drug addict, is one of my all-tme favorite characters. In spite of the hard life he's led, he has such a happy, gracious, gentle spirit. I wish he was real; I'd love to hang out with him.

5. A big collection of P.G. Wodehouse. Brilliant and funny.

6-10. Books 5-9 of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson. I've already read books 1-4, and this won't get me to the end of the series but it should keep me busy until someone comes by to rescue me. Unless I can sneak #3 and 4 into one volume, and in that case I can have Book 10 with me too, to finish the series. :D

7. Do your characters speak to you when you write?

All the time. Mostly arguing, bargaining, and complaining. Sometimes they tell me things I totally did not know about their backgrounds, likes and dislikes, and so on.

8. Why do you think people enjoy reading your novels?

I think they enjoy my characters - one of my favorite reviews ever is one where the reviewer said she fell in love with the male main character. I also write a blend of fantasy and romance that is kind of hard to find, and I'm not afraid to dive deeply into emotions. I've also been told that I hit a good balance between too explicit and not explicit enough in how I write sex and violence.

9. What projects are you currently busy with?

Right now I'm releasing Sarya's Song, a dark romantic fantasy set in a world where music is magic. Up next is my 6-book fantasy-western series, Daughter of the Wildings. I wrote all six books before starting to revise, and now it's in the early stages of revision. I should be able to release the first book sometime this summer. I hope; I'm a couple of months behind schedule right now.

10. In short, can you tell us a little about your background and your aims as a writer.

My background is actually in music. I never thought of myself as a writer until after I finished grad school (Master's in Music History and Literature) and was home with my first baby and decided to try something new. I've always loved to read, though, so I was educating myself as a reader even before I ever thought of becoming a writer.

My aims as a writer are basically to share my stories and characters with other people. It'd be nice to be able to make a decent amount of money, to contribute to the family finances and have a little more to give to my favorite causes (especially no-kill animal rescue). But that's secondary to sharing my stories and characters and knowing that other people love them as much as I do. If I can give someone a few hours of enjoyment, maybe help them forget about their problems for a bit and provide some encouragement and uplift, that makes it all worthwhile.

An Emerging Threat

Mark Lein’s novel An Emerging Evil creates a world in which evil has cast a shadow over the islands. A scholar and a warrior of royal blood both begin separate quests to find whoever or whatever is responsible for the darkening of their world. Along the way they meet many creatures, both friend and foe, and the story of their journey is told.

I interviewed Mark about his writing and influences this week.

1. When did you first discover you had a talent for writing?

Do I have that? Early in my teen years I found it was easier to put in writing than speak what was going inside. I was very shy and writing gave me a way to communicate. I thought I had a talent for it from the beginning, but it was not until I was 28 or so that I began to receive positive feedback from peers.

2. Of all your novels, which is your favorite and why?

Well I only have the one published (An Emerging Threat)…so…that one! It is Book #1 of The Seeker’s Burden series.

3. Which writers do you enjoy most reading? Terry Brooks, Tad Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Rex Stout, Louie La’mour,

4. Who are the main influences on your writing?

Terry Brooks, Tad Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis. Definitely the single most influence has been the writing of Terry Brooks. I also used past experiences to build parts of the world. The Savoq and their lands are based off my time in Iraq and Kenya, while a few of the situations the characters go through are ones that closely resembled ones that I lived through.

5. Do you believe that books should entertain or educate – or is a bit of both?

Definitely both. First and foremost my novels are meant to entertain, to take the reader on a journey outside of reality. For books in general, the best education I received in my life was learned by reading. As General Mattis (US Marine) said, “The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men. Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.”

6. If you could choose 10 books to take away to a desert island, what would they be? Bible (Various), The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien), Sword of Shannara (Terry Brooks), The Last Battle (C.S. Lewis), Wild at Heart (John Eldrege), Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain), Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams), Last of the Mohicans (James Fennimore Cooper), any Louie La’mour novel.

7. Do your characters speak to you when you write?

Yes they do. As I write dialog or an experience that a character goes through, I keep finding more small details about the character that I never thought of before, small nuances and traits. It keeps me involved and interested to find out what will come out of my head next! The ever involving and living world is what keeps me coming back to my writing.

8. Why do you think people enjoy reading your novels?

I think it is the mix of relatable characters, exciting and brutal action, and the mysterious and dark enemy.

9. What projects are you currently busy with?

Book #2 of The Seeker’s Burden series, Path of Darkness. The first draft of the novel will be ready for editing the first week of February and I hope to have it published in early spring 2014.

10. In short, can you tell us a little about your background and your aims as a writer.

I have worked on a dairy, yes milking cows, as a hamburger flipper in a fast food restaurant, and as a construction worker. I have worked as a pest control technician (bug guy), I have produced a short film, I have been a Military Officer for 10 years, and I live in the always too hot state of Florida. I have traveled to Africa, Europe, and the Middle East (and exotic Canada).

My aim is first to write a book I enjoy reading. Yes, it is selfish. Second it is to create a world and experience that draws the reader into the story.

Thank you Mark, I wholeheartedly agree with that aim! These days there are so many writers who aim for a “niche” and write to a formula for a particular type of reader. Writing primarily for yourself, in my opinion, allows you to stand out from the crowd. Wishing you every success with An Emerging Threat and much more to come with Path of Darkness!

Sharon Stevenson describes herself as a “supernatural storyspinner” and “the twisted mind behind The Gallows Novels and the After Death Series”. An accomplished writer of horror and fantasy, this Scotland based author is addicted to reading and to writing and is a new and interesting talent in the horror and fantasy genre. I asked her if I could interview her about her writing following her week as a featured author on Goodreads recently and she was kind enough to give me the following interview.

1. When did you first discover you had a talent for writing?

It was more a case of realising how boring and ordinary real-life was and how much fun it was to make stuff up to relieve the boredom. I was about five years-old when I started making up stories so I wouldn’t call it discovering a talent, I was just a weird kid with an overactive imagination discovering a cool new way to have fun and express my creative side.

2. Of all your novels, which is your favourite and why?

I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite but I’ll tell you how I feel about the first book I published. ‘Blood Bound’ was a real accomplishment for me because it was the first full length novel I properly plotted from start to finish and it’s my debut novel. I thought it turned out pretty well but had no idea what readers would make of it, so when the first stranger who read it thought it was good enough to be traditionally published I was ecstatic.

3. Which writers do you enjoy most reading?

Simon Green and Kim Harrison are two of my favourite writers. I find Simon Green endlessly inventive and insanely entertaining. Kim Harrison’s Hollows series is full of brilliant characters and her world building is phenomenal. I also read a lot of indie books and have come across a lot of new favourites. I could write a list of authors I like and it would be as long as a novel.

4. Who are the main influences on your writing?

Anything that captures my imagination has an influence on my writing. A lot of different things influence me. I watch a lot of TV and movies and read a lot of books in the fantasy, sci-fi and horror genres. My family have always been supportive of my writing but I wouldn’t say any person or writer in particular influences me.

5. Do you believe that books should entertain or educate – or is a bit of both?

I’m an escapist so I think fiction should be entertaining. There’s a time and a place for educational books but when I pick up a book to read for pleasure I really don’t want my escape to be interrupted by the appearance of factual information.

6. If you could choose 10 books to take away to a desert island, what would they be?

That is truly an impossible question for a book addict like me. I don’t re-read a lot of books; I prefer to read new ones as often as possible. If I could instead have a perpetually-charging Kindle stuffed with hundreds of new fantasy, sci-fi and horror books that would be heaven!

7. Do your characters speak to you when you write?

No. I see scenes in my head and it’s kind of like watching a movie.

8. Why do you think people enjoy reading your novels?

I aim to be entertaining so hopefully it’s because they’re being entertained!

9. What projects are you currently busy with?

I’m currently writing the fifth Gallows novel, the second part of ‘Raised’ and a novella that is a Gallows spin off. I’ve got half a dozen other projects on the go but I’m concentrating on these three at the moment.

10. In short, can you tell us a little about your background and your aims as a writer.

I’m pretty much addicted to reading and writing and have been from a young age. I aim to keep entertaining myself and hopefully others with my stories for as long as I possibly can.

As a writer of fantasy novels myself, I really like Sharon’s attitude to fiction. The world needs more writers like Sharon who seek to entertain their loyal readers with imagination, action and escapism rather than bore them with dull soap opera type non-stories that are so widespread these days…