Irreverent Questions With… Charlotte Betts

This week we have the lovely Charlotte Betts, author of The Apothecary’s Daughter, answering our irreverent questions.  If you haven’t heard of this wonderful novel, you are missing out and should immediately go and read our review.  Then buy the book, you won’t regret it.

On with irreverence!

What would you be, or want to be, if you weren’t an author?
An artist. I used to love painting in watercolours but was never as good at it as I’d like to be.

Do you have any rituals or processes before you can start writing?
I always make a big mug of tea – builder’s tea, hot and strong, not lapsang souchong.

Describe your working environment right now.
I’m standing up at the kitchen counter – just arrived home from work and am cooking roast chicken for dinner while I write this! It’s a country kitchen, warm and cosy from the AGA, with big windows out to the garden and the woods beyond.

How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
It was a normal, frantic, day at the office. But I did take a few moments to stare out of the window, smiling to myself.

Whose opinion matters most to you?
For anything personal – my family. And then my readers.

Do you get fully dressed to write?
I always write a few words early in the morning in my dressing gown while I’m waiting for the kettle to boil. In the winter, when it’s cold, I wear furry slipper boots, jeans, double jumpers and a scarf. I feel the cold more when I spend hours sitting still in front of the laptop at weekends.

What gets you in the mood or inspires you to write?
I’m always in the mood to write but Life often gets in the way. I do write something every day, even if it’s only a sentence standing up in the kitchen.

Who would play you in the film adaptation of your life?
I’d like it to be Felicity Kendall but she’s too petite or Joanna Lumley but she’s too lovely. It’s hard to see yourself as others do.

What is the best experience you’ve had with fans?
I was at a book signing in my local Waterstones this weekend and a lady came to buy a book. She had seen an article about my debut novel, The Apothecary’s Daughter, in the Newbury Weekly News and said that she found my journey to publication really inspiring. She’s a writer herself and it was wonderful to be able to encourage her to fulfil her own dreams.

What do you value most?
Integrity and kindness. And good health.

How do you deal with negative comments?
I always listen to them but try to distance them from my emotions. If I can learn something that’s good, if not, I do my best not to let such comments bother me.

It’s movie night, the credits are just about to roll, Happy Ever After or Everyone Dies?
Happy Ever After. I’m the eternal optimist.

What do you do to relax?
Read or write. Or bake cakes.

Do you have pets, and if so, describe them?
I had a border collie dog, one of the most intelligent breeds. Megan died a year ago and I still miss her. We used to walk together while I worked out plot problems and she always looked so interested when I muttered snatches of dialogue as we rustled through the leaves in the woods.

What are your preferred conditions for writing, i.e. silence, background noise, TV?
Silence or birdsong from the garden.

What is your favourite type of music?
I always dread being asked this question! I’m embarrassed to say I don’t really listen to much music – there’s too much going on in my head to want any distraction. But sometimes I surprise myself. I was listening to Ladies in Lavender the other day and it almost brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes I can’t help but smile when I hear a pop song from my teenage years.

Do you have any phobias?
I don’t like stuffy, enclosed spaces. The thought of pot-holing gives me the shivers. Oh, and ants.

Do you find the time of year makes it easier or harder to write, are you inspired by spring or delayed by the summer heat for instance?
A walk in the sunshine, whatever the time of year, always lifts my spirits and brings joy to my writing.

Slippers, socks or barefoot?
Barefoot in summer, slippers in winter.

Huge thanks to Charlotte Betts for taking the time to answer our questions and if you want to know more, visit her Website, Facebook or Twitter!

Pictures provided by and used with permission of Charlotte Betts


Irreverent Questions is BookThing‘s fun, new feature where we ask a series of random questions that popped into Grete’s curious head. If you are an author and would like to take part, please get in touch!

 

Irreverent Questions With… Anya Bast

Midnight EnchantmentThe next victim author to brave our Irreverent Questions is bestselling paranormal romance author, Anya Bast!

Anya is a much loved and experienced author of the hot, steamy and paranormal, with several series under her belt.  I came across her work when I picked up Witch Fire, book one of the Elemental Witches.  I was still quite new to the genre at that point but what I loved most about her style of writing were the exceptional characterisations.  In my opinion that has stayed true throughout her career and when she released the ebook Keeping Kaitlyn last year, I realised I had a lot of catching up to do!

Her latest release is book four of the Dark Magic series, Midnight Enchantment.

Anyay, enough wittering from me, on with the irreverence!

What would you be or want to be (or still are), if you weren’t an author?
I would have been a psychologist. At the time I sold my first book that’s what I was on track to become. Who knows, maybe I’ll go back to school one day.

Describe your working environment right now (desk, sofa, bathroom, etc.)
I work in an office with a desk in the corner right in front of two windows that give me a view of the great outdoors. There is always a dog on a doggie bed near me, sometimes more than one. I have bookshelves behind me stocked with my novels, bookmarks, etc. I have a poster with pictures of a kitty of mine that recently died on the wall next to me. There’s a space heater. Not very exciting. Pretty much your standard office.

How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
My family bought me a bottle of champagne and took me and my husband out to dinner.

Do you get fully dressed to write?
Pajama pants and sweaters (or T-shirts) are sort of my standard uniform these days. 😉 Oh, the hardship.

What gets you in the mood or inspires you to write?
Deadlines.

What is the weirdest comment you’ve had?
“Uhm, excuse me, you got [this] wrong in your novel, (XXYY). I KNOW because I’m REALLY a vampire.” I’ve had almost this same comment from an alleged faerie as well.

How do you deal with negative comments?
They used to really bother me, but my skin has grown pretty thick over the years. I usually just shrug off negative comments about my work.

It’s movie night, the credits are just about to roll, Happy Ever After or Everyone Dies?
Everyone Dies, but in a funny way. 😉 I tend to go for dark comedies or dramedys (which, I guess are kind of the same thing). Right now I’m working my way through Breaking Bad and loving it. I also like (no big surprise) science fiction movies/TV or anything fantastical in nature, like Once Upon a Time, Supernatural, and Grimm.

What do you do to relax?
I watch movies at night, cuddling on the couch with my husband and/or dog. Sometimes I engage in retail therapy. I try to make sure I take the weekends off to spend with my family. I like to do exactly NOTHING on Sundays.

BingoDo you have pets, and if so, describe them.
We have six cats and two dogs. Kitty is the most recent addition. He used to be our barn cat, (was an outdoor cat for at least eight years), but we made him an indoor cat recently when we moved. He’s adjusting surprisingly well. The second most recent addition is Bingo, a basenji mix. He’s a character, pretty high-strung, but such a great cuddler. We rescued him from doggie death row and I’m so glad we did. He’s my boy. I adore him.

What are your preferred conditions for writing, i.e. silence, background noise, TV?
Mostly silence, sometimes music. Music can change the rhythm of your brain wave patterns (feels that way, at least). Sometimes it helps me write.

What is your favourite type of music?
Hmmm, depends. Nothing slow, usually not love songs. Depends on my mood. Some days it’s Nine Inch Nails, other days it’s Billie Holliday.

Do you have any phobias?
I don’t know if it’s a phobia, but I really hate dentists. I think it’s the perceived lack of control. I also truly hate centipedes. They are just WRONG on so many levels. And wolf spiders. ARGH. Too many legs, too fast, way too hideous. Dentists all over the world will be happy to know I put them in the same category as centipedes and spiders, right? 😉

Slippers, socks or barefoot?
Slipper socks are a win/win for everyone.

Many thanks to Anya Bast for taking part in our feature and if you want to know more, visit her Website, Facebook or Twitter!

Pictures provided by and used with permission of Anya Bast


Irreverent Questions is BookThing‘s fun, new feature where we ask a series of random questions that popped into Grete’s curious head. If you are an author and would like to take part, please get in touch!

Irreverent Questions With… T.C. McCarthy

If you are a fan of great science fiction and haven’t yet read Germline, then go and track down a copy in your favourite format now!  I would say I’ll wait but then you will be engrossed and you won’t read the rest of this post so… read this first, then get cracking 😉

It’s an astonishing read; brutal, gritty and full of the reality of those who are fighting a war, even in a futuristic setting.  I can’t wait for Exogene, the next book in the series which is due out in March! If you need more convincing then read my review and then decide.  Either way, T.C. McCarthy was kind enough to agree to being my next victim author for Irreverent Questions.

On with the irreverence!

What would you be or want to be (or still are), if you weren’t an author?
A dog who belonged to a good family, with kids. That way I’d sleep, eat, and play all day (when I wasn’t pooping).

Do you have any rituals or processes before you can start writing?
Yes. I put the kids to bed and then set my alarm for 4 AM so I can get up early enough to have peace and quiet. Ugh.Office

Describe your working environment right now (desk, sofa, bathroom, etc.)
I built my own office by renovating an empty room in our house; we were using it for storage and I thought it was time to make it more useful. The two pictures; one is how my space looks right now at 5 AM – dark and out of focus. The grey splotch under the desk is one of my dogs, who is in the other picture, and who keeps my feet warm.

How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
I knew I forgot to do something. Crap!

Whose opinion matters most to you?
This is a fantastic question, and I’d line them in this order, from most to least important: 1. Editor, 2. Reader, 3. Agent, 4. Me.

Do you get fully dressed to write?
I’m in my boxers as I write this, and the manuscript for my next novel is open in another window – so, no? 🙂

What gets you in the mood or inspires you to write?
Positive reviews, negative reviews, the news, and just about anything you could think of. The mood is always there. But the inspiration can come from anywhere, and it’s just important to keep my mind open so I can recognize inspiration when it presents itself.

Who would play you in the film adaptation of your life?
Either John Malkovich or Steve Buscemi.

What is the weirdest comment you’ve had?
That the genetic soldiers are “male fantasy female supersoldiers.” Uh…no. I don’t fantasize about bald sixteen year olds, and I think this comment says more about its author than it does me. The choice of girl genetics was made to (a) convey a sense of gloom, that future society deteriorates to the point where it replaces women in combat with mass-manufactured girls, and (b) it just seemed really creepy. We get a better look at this society in books II and III. The curious can Google “male fantasy supersoldiers” for more information…

What is the best experience you’ve had with fans?
Fan mail from Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan vets who convey a simple message: that I got it right.

How do you deal with negative comments?
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and it’s an honor to be part of the literary or genre debate. I’d rather get negative comments than no comments. So I ignore them when they’re motivated by something other than honest criticism, absorb them when they have value, and try to be grateful that I have a shot at writing novels.

PennyDo you have pets, and if so, describe them?
See the answer to the third question, above! I have four dogs and three kids, so it gets insane around here.

What is your favourite type of music?
I listen to Irish folk, Russian folk, and a lot of punk, shoegazer, and anti-grunge.

Slippers, socks or barefoot?
Barefoot. All the way, barefoot.

Thanks so much to T.C. McCarthy for taking part, and if you want to know more, visit his Website, Facebook or Twitter!

Pictures provided by and used with permission of T.C. McCarthy


Irreverent Questions is BookThing‘s fun, new feature where we ask a series of random questions that popped into Grete’s curious head. If you are an author and would like to take part, please get in touch!

Irreverent Questions with… Michael R. Hicks

Michael R. HicksMichael R. Hicks kindly took time out of his busy schedule of writing and fending off editor cats to be the first victim author to answer our Irreverent Questions!

With a unique perspective on e-publishing, he is the bestselling author of the acclaimed In Her Name Science-Fiction series.  You can read the first book for free (yes free!) although in all honesty, I would buy the Omnibus of the first Trilogy instead, as after I finished the first book, I had to read the rest.  You can read my review of the first book, In Her Name: Empire, if in any doubt!

Right, on with the irreverence!

What would you be or want to be (or still are), if you weren’t an author?
Wow. That’s really a hard question to answer. I’ve spent so much effort on becoming a full-time author, I’ve never really thought about any alternatives!

Do you have any rituals or processes before you can start writing?
Tea and dark chocolate, followed by trying to get the cats off my keyboard.

Editor Cats!Describe your working environment right now (desk, sofa, bathroom, etc.)
An old second-hand computer desk, a Gaiam ball-chair (I tried it for grins and have kept the stupid thing), along with my MacBook Air and Thunderbolt monitor. And usually a cat. Or two.

How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
You know, I don’t even remember. I think I collapsed into an exhausted stupor, because I had literally spent the entire winter scanning over 1,000 pages of the manuscript (this was for the In Her Name omnibus edition) into the computer, then editing the bugger. All while working a full-time job. But it sold three copies the first month. Yeah. Celebratory unconsciousness.

Whose opinion matters most to you?
My wife’s. The reasons should be obvious!

Do you get fully dressed to write?
I generally have clothes over at least 25% of my body. What parts are covered, however, can vary wildly.

What gets you in the mood or inspires you to write?
The possibility of starvation. My writing is our primary source of income now, so if I don’t do well, we don’t eat. That’s a great motivator!

Who would play you in the film adaptation of your life?
Probably Bill Murray.

What is the weirdest comment you’ve had?
That would have to be from one of the negative reader reviews of In Her Name, I think. People who leave negative reviews often provide some valuable insights, and I read those very closely. This particular one – no spoilers! – was just so far off the wall that it had me laughing the entire day.

What is the best experience you’ve had with fans?
When we were on our big RV road trip this summer and stopped in Pennsylvania on the way home. A couple of fans took me and my family out to dinner, and we had a great time. I also have to say that some of the emails and reader reviews I’ve gotten have been amazing, humbling, warm-fuzzy experiences in themselves. Most readers have no idea how important their words are for authors, and those sorts of things have gotten me through more than one tough spot on the way to where I am now.

What do you value most?
My family comes first, although I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t spend as much time doing things with them, especially the boys, as I’d like. Writing – or the other things that come with it as a profession, including social media, answering irreverent questions, etc. – takes a lot of time. In my case, sometimes ten or twelve hours a day, every day. Of course, that’s not as much as the twelve to sixteen hours I was taking out of every day when I was writing and had a full-time job on top of it.

How do you deal with negative comments?
Embrace the horror! As I noted earlier, I read them carefully for any potential nuggets of wisdom. Some readers have provided very valuable critiques. Once I’ve analyzed them for anything that might help me improve my work, I forget about them. Even the very best books ever written have gotten bad reviews (in some cases, quite a few!). It just comes with the territory.

Do you get requests for free stuff?
Actually, no, because I tend to give away a fair amount of stuff (well, books) for free. IN HER NAME: EMPIRE is free as an ebook just about everywhere you can find it, and I periodically also offer some of the other books free (mainly through Amazon, which is my biggest income source). I do giveaways every once in a while, too.

What do you do to relax?
Usually reading, watching movies, or – on infrequent occasion – playing games on the PS3. Learning to relax is actually something I’m still doing, because for most of the last three years I’ve worked like a dog and rarely had any time to indulge in anything but my day job or writing.

Do you have pets, and if so, describe them?
We have two outrageously spoiled Siberian cats, Nina and her big brother, Sasha. Along with two teenage boys, they keep things lively (and hairy!) around here.

What are your preferred conditions for writing, i.e. silence, background noise, TV?
It varies depending on what mood I’m in. Sometimes silence is what I need. Other times it might be movie theme music from James Horner. Still other times it might be Lady Gaga or Pearl Jam.

What is your favourite type of music?
Again, it’s a mix. I’m a child of the 80s, so most of the music I like is rooted in that era. But I also enjoy a lot of the pop (if that’s what it’s even called anymore) sorts of stuff now like Gaga, Kesha, Leona Lewis, and others. I’m not a complete musical fossil. Yet.

Do you have any phobias?
I don’t particular care for heights, like being up on a ladder or looking down into the Grand Canyon. But being in aircraft doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I love flying in helicopters with the doors open (or off). Most cool.

The RVDo you find the time of year makes it easier or harder to write, are you inspired by spring or delayed by the summer heat for instance?
All I can say about the time of year thing is that I hate winter. I don’t like being cold, I don’t like cold and yucky weather. I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, and this four seasons stuff is for the birds. I’m counting the days until our boys are off to college and we can go full-timing in our RV, following the good weather!

Slippers, socks or barefoot?
Barefoot when it’s warm, socks when it’s cold. And I still have my eyes peeled for that special pair of pink bunny slippers…

A huge thank you to Michael for taking part in our new feature and you can find out more from his Website, Facebook and Twitter!

All pictures used with permission of Michael R. Hicks


Irreverent Questions is BookThing‘s fun, new feature where we ask a series of random questions that popped into Grete’s curious head. If you are an author and would like to take part, please get in touch!