Q&A with James Rubart, The Man He Never Was: A Modern Jekyll and Hyde Story

Let’s talk about your new book, The Man He Never Was. How were you first exposed to the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? What inspired you to create a modern take on it?

When I got the idea, I hadn’t seen the movies or read the novella! (I did read the novella after I got the story idea.)

I was working out, listening to a sermon by Tim Keller. During the talk, he mentioned that Robert Louis Stevenson got his inspiration for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from Romans chapter 7. I had no idea, but it instantly made sense to me. Romans 7 is about the civil war inside us. That’s what Stevenson’s novella is about. Bing! In that moment, The Man He Never Was came to life.

How would you describe your stories?

It’s always been tough to describe my genre, but let’s take a shot…

Contemporary stories set in the real world, where fantastical things happen. Or, psychological soul-searching thrillers with a supernatural bent based on a Christian world view.

Or simply, supernatural suspense.

What do you hope readers will take away after reading this book?

I hope they experience more freedom than they ever have before. I hope the ideas in the novel soak down deep in them and they realize they are loved far beyond imagination. I hope all their worries fall away as they realize who they truly are in Christ.

Who are some writers that you enjoy, and what do you like about their work?

C.S. Lewis has always been—and likely always will be—my favorite author. I like Ted Dekker and Stephen Lawhead a great deal as well. All three take me away to other worlds, but wrestle with life issues that are right here, right now.

I want my novels to wildly entertain readers, but also make them freer when they finish my stories than when they started. These three authors do that for me.

Q&A with T.J Green, Galatine’s Curse


When did you first start writing?

I’ve always been scribbling away. English was my favourite subject at school, so I loved the essays where we had to make up stories. At home, I used to start writing little shorts, but never finish anything! During my twenties I stopped writing - distracted by other things, and then 10 years ago, I decided to do my English Degree, enrolling on lots of creative writing papers, and that kick-started my writing again. However, my first book was a slow process. It took 5 years! Fortunately I now write a lot quicker...

Tell us about your book(s) and the genres you write in.

I love magic and mystery, faery tales, myths and legends, and the things we can’t explain. I decided to write a “Once upon a time” story, and that turned into the short story which started off Tom’s Inheritance, my first book. I love King Arthur, and the magic and myth that filled his stories, so Tom’s Inheritance was a revisiting of the King Arthur legend. King Arthur is the Once and Future King who is destined to return, and he was laid to rest on Avalon, the mystical isle that straddles worlds. But what if he woke there, and the Lady of the Lake needed his help?

That idea set the tone for Tom’s Inheritance, the first book in the series Tom’s Arthurian Legacy. Tom is summoned to the Other to wake King Arthur and this sets off a chain of adventures. I weave the old stories and characters into new tales. The next two stories continue their adventures in the Other, with old friends and new enemies, and some of the great characters from the Arthurian legends. All the characters grow and change, and their own stories develop.

In my latest book, Galatine’s Curse, Tom is stronger and more independent, and the stakes are higher. He owns Galatine, the sword that used to belong to Gawain, but it has a dark history no-one knew about, and someone wants it back.

Who’s your favourite character (or least favourite) and why?

I haven’t got a least favourite! I love them all. Nimue is always a favourite - a powerful witch who’s headstrong and volatile - she’s very cool. But one of my new favourites is Bloodmoon. He’s a fey with a mysterious background. Lots of fun and he loves breaking the rules. I loved writing about him, he took the story in new directions!

How much time do you spend writing?

Not as much as I would like. I like to write at least 4 days a week (around work), but sometimes that doesn’t happen, or I try and write for an hour a night if I can’t spare big chunks of time. It’s surprising how much you can achieve if you just get your head down. Unfortunately marketing sucks up my time!

Where is your favourite place to write?

Either in the garden, on the covered deck if the weather’s good, or in my study - a haven of books and solitude.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve had to research?

At the moment I’m planning my new series about witches - urban fantasy I guess - so I Google odd stuff about magic, as well as download lots of magic books!

Who’s your favourite author and/or favourite books.

My favourite author is Lawrence Durrell, who doesn’t write magic or mystery, but he’s a fantastic writer! He wrote the Alexandria Quartet amongst many others, and that’s my favourite. I have a slight Lawrence addiction.

What are you working on now?

I have a rough idea for book 4 of my Tom series (YA), and am planning to start that later this year, but I’m also working on my witch urban fantasy (adult). It will probably be a trilogy, but it currently has no title. That’s something I’ll be working on over the next couple of months, and the first book should be finished by June.

When you’re not writing, what do you get up to?

I love reading - obviously - anything from mysteries, detective series, fantasy, and adventures. I also love gardening, yoga, watching films, and catching up with friends. And wine.

Any fun facts about yourself that you’d like to share?

Many millions of years ago I used to be in a band called Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, and I also used to be in a theatre group in Birmingham. One summer we toured to small venues performing a French farce, and even entered the Ludlow Arts Festival. That was fun! For the last few years me and a few friends have entered the 48 hour film festival in NZ, also madness. Write, shoot, edit a film in 48 hours!

Where can readers go to find out more about you and your writing?

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Goodreads

Q&A with Bella Andre, The New York Sullivans


Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.

I have worked with Eva Kaminsky for many years, so as soon as I had the book done and edited, I sent it over to her. And then weeks later, like magic, Eva sent me the finished files for my review. Of course they were perfect, just like always! I can never stop smiling while listening to her narration of my love stories. She truly brings them to life!

How did you select your narrator?

As soon as I heard Eva Kaminsky, I knew I wanted to work with her. She has narrated more than 35 audiobooks for me and I hope to continue to work with her for many years to come!

How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters? 

Eva is such a pro that she was able to run with my books without any advice or suggestions from me. It’s one of the many reasons I love working with her – she always does an amazing job, no matter the genre or series.

Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing? 

I’m always inspired by the world around me. For the New York Sullivans, I am able to pull from not only my extensive travels throughout New York state, but also my summers living in a log cabin in the Adirondack mountains with my family. I love writing about my favorite places!

In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series? 

I’m a big believer in writing books in a series, because as a reader, I absolutely love to follow characters and families through their lives. I write what I love to read!

Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?

YES! One of my very first books – TAKE ME – came to me, almost in its entirety, in a dream. 

What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Read a ton and write a ton. And hold focus, even when the noise of the world around you might feel like it’s too loud to concentrate. Writing and reading will always center you and fulfill you.

What’s next for you?

I am working on the fourth New York Sullivan book – Harry Sullivan’s love story! I am so excited about this book. I’m pretty sure we’ve all been waiting to see who the sexy academic falls in love with. ☺

Q&A with Meredith Potts, The Daley Buzz Cozy Mysteries


Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.  

It’s an incredible experience hearing your words read aloud.  Writing is such a solitary activity that it feels particularly special listening to a narrator make your characters come alive.  

Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?  

I certainly believe that it doesn’t hurt to have a playful, humorous writing style with snappy dialogue.  Then again, whodunits probably translate well to any format.  After all, who doesn’t love a good mystery? 

How did you select your narrator?

I held an open audition.  That’s how I’ve found both of my wonderful narrators.  

Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?  

I used to work at a coffee shop for a number of years, so I used some of my real-life experiences slinging lattes as the inspiration for Daley Buzz, the cafe in my series.  People are very particular about how they want their coffee and that is reflected in a number of scenes throughout the series.

How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?  

There’s a new murder case in each book of the series, which brings a unique set of new wacky characters and motives into play.  As for the writing, I try to take the weekends off. Everyone needs a break now and then.

Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?  

The dialogue really stands out more when read aloud, I find.  So much depends on the performance of the narrator, which is why I’m so glad that I found two fantastic narrators.  

What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?  

Write to market.  And invest in the marketing of your writing.    

What’s next for you?  

There’s a Daley Buzz spinoff on the way.  I can’t wait to share the new series with my readers and listeners.   

Q&A with Kyle Prue, The Flames


Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?

Lots of dialogue is always better for audiobooks. Although, in my opinion dialogue is better for everything.

Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?

Not with the first book, however with the Flames I was sure to begin and end the chapters with interesting bits of language to give Preston something to work with. That’s what keeps the listener chomping at the bit for more.

How did you select your narrator?

We held auditions through ACX.  We were paying for performance rather than based on royalties so we had a lot of great narrators audition. They all seemed equally talented until we received Preston’s audition. Then we all said, “This is the guy!”  His voices are phenomenal and really let you picture what the movie would be like.

Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?

Whenever I get to listen to the monologues I’m alway impressed by how they come to life when spoken aloud.

What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?

I don’t think it’s cheating but I do think it is very different. It’s a good idea to do both. Audiobooks are very convenient and have their place. I mean, it’s not like I can very well read on the highway. Law Enforcement frowns upon that sort of thing.

How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?

It takes me roughly two months of daily strenuous writing to finish a book. So once a book is finally done I’ll usually take a week to get back on a healthy sleep schedule. Then it’s time to edit.

In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?

When you write a stand alone novel you don’t have to listen to a fanbase. Your book comes out and it’s done. When you write a series you have to listen to people beg you for the next book or demand you answer their fan theories. I’m not complaining though. Most of the fan theories are better than what I come up with.

What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?

You must read. As Stephen King says, “If you don’t have time to read, then you don’t have the time or tools to write.”


Q&A with Leslie Kelly, Watching You


Who are some of your favorite authors?

My reading tastes are just as varied as my writing ones, so I have favorite authors in several genres. Stephen King is my go-to horror guy. For meaty, quirky, heart-wrenching drama, I love John Irving. Historical fiction? Hilary Mantle (I’ve been panting for the last Wolf Hall book!) I love Tessa Dare and Courtney Milan when it comes to historical romance. For romantic suspense—Karen Rose is a huge favorite. For paranormal—I am not a vampire or shifter fan, so paranormal is a bit limited for me. But I do love Alyssa Day’s Atlantis series. And for contemporary romance, you just can’t beat my good friends Carly Phillips, Erika Wilde, and Jill Shalvis. 
Who are some authors in your genre that inspire you?

Karen Rose inspires me to write smart suspense that makes you gasp as you read, and I love the really sexy contemporary romances by HelenKay Dimon.  
What sort of research did you do to write this book?

I actually read a lot of Hollywood gossip magazines, which I don’t usually do. The big stories about the abuse in the movie industry broke when I was working on this series, which was both heartbreaking and fascinating, considering that plays a part in the world I’ve created. 
I also found it interesting to do some research on script writing, something I’ve dabbled in, because that’s what my heroine, Jessica Jensen, wants to do. 
What are you working on now? Any chance of a sequel?

Actually, yes. The Hollywood Heat series will contain three books, one for each of the Winchester brothers. Each one is sexier than the last, and I really can’t wait to get to bad-boy, gruff youngest brother, bodyguard Raine Winchester. 
What started you on the path to writing for a living?  

My husband did! I always liked to write, but had never actually tried to get published. In the late 1990’s, I was a stay at home mom with three little girls under the age of seven. I was going a little stir crazy. My wonderful hubby came home one day with an article he had clipped out of the local paper about a class called How To Write a Romance Novel being offered at a local bookstore. He had already signed me up, and pushed me out the door so I could do something just for myself one night a week. 

During that class, I started the book which eventually became my first published work, Night Whispers, published by Harlequin Temptation in 1999. 
How did you break into the publishing world?

After finishing Night Whispers, I sent it, unsolicited, to an editor at Harlequin, who I’d heard speak at an RWA conference. I broke all the rules (you’re supposed to query!) but she liked it enough to buy the book. 
What are the upsides and downsides to being an author?

Funny, one big upside is also a downside. It’s awesome to get to work at home in your pajamas and not have to get up and put on work clothes and go to some office. 

That, however, can also be a downside. When I’m really deep into a project, I sometimes forget to bathe, much less get dressed. Lol! 

It can also be a bit lonely, especially now that I’ve moved to a new city where I know nobody. Without that job interaction, and without having young kids involved in activities, it can be a rather lonely profession. I’m so very grateful for my writing friends, who pump me up every day, even if only through emails, texts, and phone calls.
How did you come up with the idea for your book?

I think I’ve always played a mental what-if game about what it would be like to draw the unfocused attention of a super-sexy, super-rich, super-famous Hollywood movie star. I just needed to find the right kind of heroine and the right kind of story. When I came up with Jessica Jensen, an extremely snarky, sassy, fun and funny young woman, I realized she might be exactly the type who would catch a movie star’s eye.
What is the main thing you want readers to take away from your book?

That they like it? Lol! 

No, seriously, I hope they put the book down feeling really satisfied with the romantic relationship, and the plotline of Watching You. But I also hope they’re really curious about the Winchester family and want to know more about the secrets that they’ve kept and the dark mysteries of their past. 
How do you deal with writer’s block?

Like a lot of authors I know, I’ve had real battles with depression. A few years ago I went through a really bad patch that cost me about two years of writing. It essentially destroyed my career, which had been going pretty steadily until then. But in this day and age, with readers wanting books from their favorite authors every couple of months, it just killed my name recognition and cost me readers. 

I can’t kick myself too much for that, though. I was battling something I had struggled with for my entire life, and finally, with some professional help, was able to wrangle that beast on my back (and in my brain) and find some balance and contentment…not to mention my muse. 
Do you outline books ahead of time or are you more of a by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer?

Definitely seat of your pants! I try to plot, I really do, but the stories inevitably veer off into new directions as I get to know the characters and what’s happening to them. 
What do you do in your free time when you aren’t writing?

Honestly, I most love being with my husband, Bruce, and my children. Living in Denver as we do now, we’ve really gotten into the lifestyle here, and Bruce and I love going for long drives, picnics, hikes, kayaking…and then there’s always the awesome cities of Denver and Boulder just a hop skip and a jump away. We really love it here. 
You write in several different genres, some of which aren’t usually associated with each other. How did you go from writing sexy romantic comedies to dark romantic suspense?
Honestly, I get bored if I do too much of the same thing in a row. Although I loved writing my many (MANY!) sexy contemporary romances for Harlequin Temptation, Blaze, and HQN, I really also love dark suspense, thrillers, and horror. So when I decided to try to branch out, romantic suspense seemed to be a good fit. That was my intention, anyway, but when I wrote my Black CATs series for NAL, I found myself going darker than I’d intended. I’d say those books verge almost on romantic thriller than romantic suspense. 

After that, I sold the Veronica Sloan series to a German publisher, and they wanted straight dark, futuristic thrillers. That series never really took off here, but I did love writing it, bloody and brutal though it was. 

If I had to name the books of my heart, that would be my Extrasensory Agents series. I’d gone from contemporary romance, to romantic thrillers, to futuristic suspense…so why not throw in some psychics and ghosts into a new paranormal suspense series? I have written four of those books, and plan to continue self publishing them. 

Then came the Hollywood Heat series. It seemed weird that I’d never just gone for straight, sexy romantic suspense in an effort to really blend my light contemporaries with my dark thrillers. 

I hope I was successful…I guess readers will let me know. 
As for what I’ll write next? Well, who knows. I honestly might try for a cozy mystery one of these days! 
Your new series is about movie stars and Hollywood. Have you ever had any movie-star interactions of your own?

I am a huge Broadway nut, and fortunately, a lot of famous actors like to appear on Broadway every once in a while. Because most of them will come out the stage door and chat with fans after each performance, I always make a point of waiting for a quick chat or an autograph. That’s how I’ve met people from John Lithgow, to Kelsey Grammar, to Idina Menzel, to Bernadette Peters…and (wait for it) Hugh Jackman! (be still my heart)

I’ve never run across a star who wasn’t entirely gracious! 
Beyond the story blurb, what is WATCHING YOU all about?
I like to think of Watching You as a sort-of cross between a Cinderella story, Pretty Woman, and Psycho.

There’s definitely a Prince Charming-sweeps-the-normal-girl-off-her-feet element. Jessica Jensen is a Cinderella—a former foster kid and orphan who’s learned to take care of herself and takes no b.s. 

But there’s also a dark, dangerous mystery enveloping the passionate relationships she gets caught up in with director Reece Winchester. 

Somebody is stalking him—and she soon catches that someone’s eye. Things aren’t exactly what they seem, there are old family mysteries the Winchester brothers want to keep hidden that are being dragged out of the shadows and back into the light. There are murders, attacks, and high-stakes danger. 

And, I think, there’s a really fun, solid, sexy romance between two exciting and unique people. 

Q&A with L.G. O’Connor, Surrender My Heart


What’s the main reason someone should really read this series? 

The Caught Up in Love series about three women from one family, their secrets, and finding a second chance at love on their road to redemption.

The stories have underlying threads of loss, hope, transformation, resilience, and sacrificing for the people you love. Family is a strong theme, along with how the dead play their part on the living. In each book, the heroine is shackled in some way to someone who has died.

That’s the gist, anyway! But it’s more than that. A tangential thread throughout the series is a crime syndicate investigation that brushes lightly against the family in every book.

Another reason to read Surrender My Heart and the rest of the series: It takes place in New Jersey! The books are set in towns where I used to live (Summit, Chatham) or where I’ve spent time (Morristown, Spring Lake). You can walk the steps of the characters in places like the Morristown Green, the Summit Train Station, the beach on Spring Lake, and more…

What inspired you to write the series? A particular person? An event? 

LOL, yes and no. The first book in the series was meant to be a standalone novel. It’s a May / December romance about a widowed romance writer and a troubled young landscaper who she convinces to be her cover model when she spots him planting trees on the grounds of the local hospital. That was the inspiration, because it happened to me. Kind of.

In August 2013, I was visiting a close family friend when I spotted a group of guys planting trees, and one of them looked exactly like a character in the book I was writing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t muster the courage to stop. Missing that opportunity haunted me for months until it spun itself into a novel in my head and became Caught Up in RAINE (2017 IPPY Bronze Award in Romance). In the first chapter, Jillian stops the car, and offers Raine, a part-time college student, $300 to pose as her cover model. He accepts and the rest becomes their love story!

Caught Up in RAINE morphed into a series about Jillian, her niece Jenny (Shelter My Heart), and Kitty, Jillian’s older sister (featured in Surrender My Heart). Kitty & John’s book sprouted from two scenes I cut from the first novel at the advice of one of my editors, and became the book that anchors the entire series.

The series features heroines of different ages and delivers the emotional intense journeys of Women’s Fiction with the heat levels and “happy ever afters” of Contemporary Romance.

You use tattoos as symbolism in your series. As a result I understand that each book has a patterned design on the cover. Can you tell us about that?  

Absolutely! The design started with the first book, and a tattoo Raine discovered on Jillian’s lower back while he was training her in the gym. Unlike many guys his age, Raine had no ink, and when Jillian asked why, he told her he’d never found anything that meant enough to him to want to carry it on his skin. He did, ultimately, in the most profound way possible. Throughout the series, both heroes and heroines use tattoos to symbolize their commitment.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an author?   

The best: Fan mail! I love when someone tells me how much they enjoyed my book, and that they couldn’t stop thinking about the characters and / or the story; that it touched them in some way, making them laugh or cry. I feel my characters deeply, and it’s very rewarding when someone else catches that same feeling.

The hardest: Discoverability, proving your work has been properly vetted, and having time to thoughtfully connect with bloggers, other authors, and readers. I have my inner circle, but quickly came to the conclusion that I couldn’t do everything. In my case, time is scarce and worth money. I pick and choose as I see fit, knowing that the price could be less readers who find me. Also, getting reviews! Please, please leave one! It’s the best way to honor a book you’ve loved.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

What motivates me? Readership. Connecting. Impacting people’s lives in a positive way through my stories. Seeing one of my books on film or TV would be awesome, too. Oh, and did I mention hot guys with abs? (Kidding!)

About the Author

LG O’Connor is a corporate marketing exec by day who takes her author cape out at night. An avid reader, she loves books with memorable characters that make her heart sing. She’s the author of the urban fantasy / paranormal romance series, The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, and the romantic women’s fiction series, Caught Up in Love, which debuted the award-winning novel, Caught Up in RAINE. The second book in the series, Shelter My Heart, was a 2017 Kindle Scout Winner. A native ‘Jersey Girl,’ she’s always in search of the perfect cup of coffee and fine Italian leather. Her perfect hero always keeps the heroine fed. You can find recipes, which first appeared on USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog, from the sexy hero of Caught Up in RAINE in his new cookbook, Recipes from Raine’s Roost aka Jillian’s Kitchen, available online where all fine books are sold.

Find & Follow L.G. O’Connor Online: www.lgoconnor.com

Q&A with Errin Stevens, The Mer Chronicles


Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.

Well, I went to the ACX web site and did a LOT of internet research while I considered how to best approach my projects. I decided I don’t much like how often we all get asked to create on the if-come, so even though it was expensive for me, I carved out a section of Updrift for use as a script and put the project up as a paid gig through the ACX production system. I got such wonderful responses from some truly talented narrators and was so agitated about choosing the right one. I co-opted the opinion of a longtime friend and actress to listen with me to help me figure it out! She told me to go with the one that pulled the “right” emotional response as I felt it… and since she and I both thought Sean’s read was the most compelling, I made him an offer. Thankfully, he accepted.

Sean was an amazing professional to work with. He made every edit I requested, did everything smoothly and beautifully, and the second I could amass my next pile of cash to produce the sequel, I contacted him to see if he’d be interested, and he jumped all over it. I’m really grateful for the care Sean took with my stories and can’t recommend him highly enough.

Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?

My short answer to this is ‘yes,’ although with the caveat that I still prefer reading on paper because that process blurs a certain divide between my conscious and unconscious and results in the experience I’m seeking when I read. But. I’ve listened to a few audiobooks - it saved my sanity on two cross-country drives! - and I think the experience was similar enough to “reading” that I’d do it again. I think any nonfiction would play well (I adored “In a Sunburned Country” by Bill Bryson); and I think a good narrator will know how to bring a story across as the writer intended.

Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?

No, but I found when I listened to auditions I did in fact have beliefs about how my characters should sound. As I write my third - and having produced two audiobooks at this point - I can say I’m thinking of it this time around. And it’s a helpful perspective to have, has helped me refine my own narrative voice on the page, I think.

How did you select your narrator?

Sean was one of several people who auditioned for Updrift on the ACX platform. His audition really stood out to me and my actress friend.

How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process?

Very closely, and Sean was the consummate professional throughout. He may remember the process differently, but just as proofing a written manuscript results in copy edits, the same little things come up in voice narration. I think there were two sentences in the whole of both works I asked Sean to re-read with a different tone. The rest was small stuff.

Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?

Although my stories are not at all retellings, the inspiration for Updrift was The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. The little reflection of it I hope people see/enjoy is in the form of a character twist, since I modeled my bad guy after the original heroine. I.e., he was the one who risked everything and suffered the most for what he wanted.

Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?

Oh my goodness, yes. Sean’s voice is just this terrific blend of compelling goodies, prompts for the listener to envision the story as well as hear it, and to feel more viscerally the tension the characters feel. And then I think his rich, resonant delivery does a much better job bringing both my hero and my antagonist to life.

What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Do it. Share your first draft VERY carefully and give yourself ample time to digest advice before you act on anything someone else says you need to change. Your story is yours and you have every permission to write it. But seriously, adopt the butt-in-chair technique and just write the dang thing. :-)

Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?

If you can, pay your narrator rather than offer a royalty share. It’s a cleaner deal, it gives creatives just like you a little income, and you’ll get more response for your audition. Plus you’ll hear a ton of good options, capable professionals you’d want working on your baby.

What’s next for you?

I’m going to finish Outrush this year if it kills me. And it might. Seriously, I think my brain got broke last year… ;-)

Bullying: A Multiple Retrospective by Marnie Lamb


Bullying is one of the main themes of my young adult novel, The History of Hilary Hambrushina. To coincide with Pink Shirt Day, a Canadian anti-bullying initiative, I recently asked several people about their experiences with bullying. Their honest, thoughtful responses broadened my understanding of bullying and several key issues surrounding it. (All names used here are pseudonyms.)

I was struck by the range of ages at which my respondents experienced bullying, which is often thought of as a teen problem. Many people did indeed recall being bullied by classmates in junior high school. Yet bullying begins at a young age and continues into adulthood. Stacey’s daughter was picked on by a classmate in junior kindergarten, and Vanessa and Bonita in elementary school. Ingrid was targeted by her colleagues and Bert by his boss in the workplace. Respondents were taunted for various reasons, including physical characteristics: Rick for his “big nose,” Bonita her “dirty ears,” and Gabrielle her pale skin. As an immigrant new to Canada, Carmen was mocked by her classmates for her clothing and lunches. She attributes this jeering to cultural and class differences between her and her peers.

I also wondered about the level of support provided to the bullied by individuals and institutions in whom the bullied confided. Most respondents did ultimately tell someone, usually a family member or friend, about their ordeal. While most confidants were supportive, Nicole recalls a different experience with her parents: “[My mother] would also tell me I needed to try better to fit in—and not be so strange.” Stacey had a positive experience with institutional support. When she spoke to her daughter’s teacher about the teasing, the teacher offered to look out for any bullying and invited Stacey’s daughter to speak to her (the teacher) about any incidents. This support empowered Stacey’s daughter, giving her “the confidence she needed to deal with the situation better herself so she never did go to the teacher about it.”

For most people, however, institutional support was lacking. Several respondents indicated that while individual teachers were sympathetic and would try to stop bullying, these on-the-spot interventions resulted in only a pause in the taunting. Sadly, some educators simply ignore or refuse to deal with bullying. According to Gabrielle, “[the vice-principal] said that the school couldn’t really do much since kids would always be kids.” Vanessa was pushed into a wall in full view of her principal, who did nothing to help. She says, “Whenever I went to talk to my teacher about [the bullying], he would put up his hand and say, ‘I don’t want to hear about it!’” The situation had to escalate to an extreme level—the bullies threatening to shoot Vanessa—before the school finally took action. The only support Bert received in the workplace was a meeting in which Human Resources told his boss not to call Bert names. The boss agreed, then promptly broke his promise as soon as the meeting had ended. Nicole was even berated by her principal for defending herself against a group of classmates who were physically attacking her. Her daughter has fared better: When she is bullied, the school allows her “to leave her classroom (or any area of the school) immediately without having to ask permission and enter the office where she [can] sit on the couch.”

Respondents were also lukewarm about the effectiveness of anti-bullying programs in schools. While several felt that schools’ handling of bullying has improved in recent years, others emphasize that much more needs to be done. “I don’t think celebrating one day [Pink Shirt Day] helps,” says Vanessa. Carmen feels that even with anti-bullying programs in place, “unless the parents are big advocates and can demonstrate a level of assertiveness, not much is done.” Ingrid has an interesting take on such programs: “Current efforts place the power to stop the bullying with the bully.” Instead, she argues, programs should focus on “empowering those who are being bullied to respond in socially appropriate and effective ways using real world examples.” Bonita, a teacher, laments, “Since I am an occasional teacher, I don’t have the opportunity for extended periods of time to help children who bully and children who are bullied. I feel like I provide more of a Band-Aid response.” And even the best school anti-bullying programs can’t protect children outside of school, as Nicole’s daughter discovered. Once her bullies knew that the principal was powerless to punish them for bullying that didn’t occur on school property, they simply moved their tormenting off the playground and into the street. 

For my respondents, the impact of bullying has been profound and long-lasting. psychological wounds such as low self-esteem, high self-doubt, and wariness of others are common, even years after the tormenting ended. Rick admits that being bullied has resulted in “a narrative of self-loathing that continues until today…. It's like sharing headspace with both Siskel and Ebert; every [Rick] review is two thumbs down.” Ingrid confesses that “it’s been a long road to feel like an equal to my peers.” After Bert quit the job at which he was being bullied, his experience with workplace harassment caused him anxiety in his subsequent jobs.

Yet bullying has also resulted in positive self-growth for many respondents. Stacey believes that her daughter is now “more empathetic, faith-filled, and has a stronger sense of self.” Surviving bullying has emboldened Gabrielle “to take more risks in life.” Rick extends compassion to everyone he meets and stands up for those being bullied. Carmen has harnessed her experience “to support others who don’t feel that they have a voice.” Perhaps the words of twelve-year-old Vanessa, the youngest questionnaire respondent, offer the most hope to those currently suffering through this trauma: “For others out there that are bullied, keep your chin up and know that you ARE strong, you ARE good, you ARE beautiful, and you ARE smart! And most important, you ARE worth it!”

Q&A with Dan Petrosini, The Final Enemy


Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?

My belief is that it is impossible to separate your experiences from your writing.  I wrote one book, Complicit Witness, that emanated directly from the neighborhood i lived in during my teenage years.

Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?  

Yes. I enjoy listening to good narrators bring the story alive.  The flexibility of being able to ‘read’ while driving, or otherwise engaged, is wonderful

What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?

I force myself to write even when its not easy.  When plot issues arise, as they always do, i find a long walk or drive helps to work things out.   As far as reading, I don’t get into slumps though at times, I find it hard to find something that i can quickly submerge into. There seems to be a connection to what i am struggling to write myself.

In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?

As a reader, I was never drawn to series and thus never considered writing one. However, many author groups detail the benefits of a series and now I have three books completed.  It’s too early to tell, as book 2 just released and 3 in editors hands, if there is a benefit besides having a fully fleshed main character!  That said, I am aching to get back to a new stand alone idea.

What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?  

The most important aspect I’ve learned is to write consistently.  Block time out and start writing.  If possible each day but if you can only write a day a week, that’s fine just make sure you do it each week. You will grow as a writer and the words will pile up.

What’s next for you?

My next novel is in my editor’s hands right now, so it will be out in a few months. Next, I am working on two outlines - one for the fourth book in the Luca Mystery Series and the other a Sci-Fi story.