Today we welcome an old friend of TwistedSpace. Mark. W. Duncan has been an indie author as long (if not longer than I) and his was the first book I reviewed on TwistedSpace, Only the Dead – An African War. Now he’s back with a vengeance. Better yet, he isn’t alone, this time he is armed with the backing of a publisher and a fleet of fans.
Mark, welcome to TwistedSpace…
It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me at TwistedSpace.
Your new book Carrion City has leapt into the Amazon bestseller charts within the first few days of release (in no way jealous). Can you give us a brief overview of the novel and the key characters?
I have to admit I was really surprised to see Carrion City climb the Amazon bestseller chart. A welcome surprise for sure.
Well Carrion City marks the beginning of a new narrative for me. I’ve planned out three books in the series with the possibility of extending it further. The basic plot is a new virus erupts in Aberdeen, Scotland. The Carrion Virus turns those infected into mindless killers. The book follows the government’s attempts to contain the outbreak and stop a global pandemic.
Eric Mann is a private military contractor, captured and tortured in Iraq. Losing his best friend and returning home to a fragile personal life he looks for an escape. When offered a role of leading a team in Aberdeen to help contain the outbreak, he jumps at the chance without realising the seriousness of the situation.
Gemma Findlay is a reporter for a small time locally circulated newspaper. She has aspirations of reporting for one of the national outlets and the outbreak provides the story that may just make her career. With a media ban in place, she breaks the law in getting her story, and gets far closer to the infected than she ever dreamed.
Dr. Eugene Holden is a specialist working on containment and cure with the Department of Special Disease. Wanting nothing more than to help, he finds his methods become more desperate as the infection spreads.
PC Nick Galloway, a police officer from the Highlands with a strong sense of duty volunteered to come to Aberdeen and help police the city. Seeing his fellow officers fall to the infection or retreat from the city, he soon becomes a solitary figure with the fate on many on his shoulders.
DSD Agent Tim Magarth, an administrator with the DSD is sent to Aberdeen to help coordinated the Department’s efforts in the area finds his role to be something out of a nightmare. With no training he is forced to drive the DSD response units around the city. Wanting to escape the madness of the outbreak he becomes ruthless in his attempt to flee the city.
These are the main players in Carrion City, though there are many more periphery characters who influence the story and will return for the sequel.
You’re no stranger to writing about warzones, notably Only the Dead was a vivid story with plenty of nail biting action. How do you go about planning your stories and how would you best describe your writing style?
For me, I read a lot of non-fiction, mostly history and military history. I’ve no actual combat experience myself so rely on first person accounts of war. I take the facts, raw emotion from these, mixed with some of my own imagination and mould it into something original. As for planning my stories, I always start with a title. If I don’t have a title I can’t start writing. Once I have a name for the story the ideas form and I create a rudimental plot. I’m not a writer who sits down and plans every novel out. In a way, I wish I was. I’m sure the writing process would be a lot smoother but that’s the way I work. Each day when I sit down I only have a rough idea of what I’ll write.
If I had to describe my writing style? Hmm, tough question. I’d say to the point. I write what I like to read. If I can get the story told in an efficient manner then I will. I use an economy of words, not piling on the description, more trusting the reader to have the imagination to see the picture in their minds from what I’ve written.
You recently signed with Severed Press, they deal primarily in horror and science fiction. Is this an indication as to where your future works are heading?
You could say that. I’ve never seen myself as an author who is defined by a certain genre. At the moment the Carrion Virus Series is dark thrillers/post-apocalyptic/survival horror. I find it difficult to categorise them. After I’ve completed the initial three books, I’ve got a two novel sci-fi story that I’d like to write. I’ve got the titles and the basic plot, I just need to fill out the details. I’m pretty excited about it. Many years ago I wrote a short story for a local anthology that was published. The story- I am Moral is something I’d like to rework and turn into a full length, stand alone novel. It’s a supernatural thriller that focuses on a masked vigilante. Then I’ve got a fantasy series planned. I’ve actually had the idea for this since I was sixteen or seventeen but always felt I never had the writing talent to approach such an epic work. I think in the next few years I’d like to start the writing of them. Again, they’ve all got titles so I’m ready to go. Time is the only constraint at the moment.
What are you working on next?
Well at the moment I’m writing the second book in the Carrion Virus Series. I’m about 20% of the way through the first draft and pretty excited with where I’m going with it. I actually had a eureka moment the other day in regards to part of the plot. It’s very exciting, I just hope I can translate it effectively from my thoughts to the page.
I’m also working on the sequel to Only The Dead: An African War- Sleep In Thunder. However, since signing the publishing contract my independent writing is something that’s been relegated to when I have the odd half hour here or there. My main focus is The Carrion Virus Series.
As an indie author, how have you found the conversion to working with a publisher?
Okay, well most people won’t know this but Carrion City has been considered by two publishers before it was snapped up by Severed Press.
The first, spent nine months considering it before I got a rejection. However, the rejection email I received was full of praise and they regretted that they couldn’t sign it to a contract.
The second publisher who was interested was a different story. After a month of consideration they expressed interest and I signed a pre-contract with them. For the next year or so we worked on reshaping Carrion City to how they felt would be best. I have to admit, there was quite a bit of compromise on my part with the story but I believe we changed the novel for the better. Then, out of the blue, I got an email informing me that my novel no longer fit into their remit. It was like a slug to the gut, I can tell you. In a way, I was glad it happened as this was my first true experience of the publishing world. More often than not it’s cutthroat and can be brutal. So this experience shattered my naivety in regards to publishers and agents. I’ve become a bit more resilient and know to expect anything from high praise to crippling criticism, but that’s okay. I’m a writer, it goes with the territory.
Severed Press have been a joy to work with. I submitted to them in the evening and had an email from them the next day expressing an interest in signing me up. They were very open to suggestions for cover design and supplied an editor to make sure the manuscript was publishable. There was no pressure to change anything to fit their vision for the novel.
I think one of the biggest benefits of having a publisher outside of creating the book and getting it sold etc is that you know there’s a company behind you who have faith in your writing and your ability to sell. Your friends and family can tell you how awesome your writing is but when a company invests money in you then you know you’re doing something right. There’s no BS when money is concerned. I still plan to complete Only The Dead series independently. I like the idea of doing everything myself but for all my future novels, I’ll hopefully having the backing of Severed Press and a few other publishing houses.
Where can we get a hold of your novels and where can people follow you (in a non-stalkerish way)?
Both Carrion City and Only The Dead: An African War are available via Amazon. At the moment Carrion City is only available as an eBook but the paperback will be released soon. I really need to upgrade my blog and make it a little more professional. It does the job for the moment.
I’ve have a social media presence and can be found on Twitter, Facebook and run a blog on Wordpress.
Again, thank you for having me here on TwistedSpace.
Our guest today in interview corner is perhaps the most mysterious author I have encountered.
By day, she is an executive at a world leading brand. But by night, Kitty is an erotic wordsmistress. Kitty Mulholland released her first set of stories last year in the Fierce and Fabulous collection. Now she is back with Leah’s further adventures.
Please give a warm welcome to Miss Kitty Mullholland.
Hi there, and thank you for having me.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book, Fierce and Fabulous Vol.2?
Volume Two continues from where the first book left off. Leah is still living her life to the full and having lots of sexual adventures along the way. There are some different themes involved this time, including a touch of BDSM and some lesbian voyeur action, if you like that kind of thing.
2. I found Leah to be a believable character, in previous interviews and in my own works I’ve found that believable characters are usually based on people known by the author or composites built from many people. How do you go about generating your characters, especially Leah?
Leah is an extension of me in some ways. When I got divorced, I realised I had two options. I could sit at home and feel sorry for myself, or I could grab life with both hands and take the opportunity to fulfil some of my fantasies. I chose the latter.
However, I don’t have quite as much courage as Leah. There are some situations she gets herself into, that I would shy away from. So, I guess she’s me with more balls!
3. Erotic fiction is a difficult genre to write for without succumbing to seediness, I found Fierce and Fabulous managed to stay focused on the story whilst detailing a vivid scene which I think is quite an achievement. What inspired you to write erotic fiction?
An ex-partner of mine encouraged me to start writing. It was something I’d wanted to do for years but never felt I was good enough. So, since I was reading a lot of erotica at the time, he asked me to write a short paragraph about a particularly memorable kiss. The results shocked us both. From then on, the floodgates opened and the stories just came tumbling out.
In terms of the seediness, I think you’re right. I’ve read quite a bit of work which doesn’t quite achieve what I seem to be able to do. My approach is always to think about a particular scene which turns me on. Then, I work out the emotional content in the scene and the relationship between the people involved before I write the story. Are they long-term lovers, or are they strangers? That can make a lot of difference to the kind of sex you’re talking about.
4. Where do you get the ideas for each of the stories from?
One of the reasons that the first book was such fun to write is that the book covers all three possibilities. There is one story which is absolutely real with the name changed to protect the gentlemen concerned. There is another which was written based on something which could well have happened but the reality was somewhat different, and one which is pure fiction.
The second book also contains a story which is based upon two separate events which really happened. I’d love the readers to try and figure out which one it is.
5. You published the first Fierce and Fabulous over a year ago under the pseudonym Kitty Mulholland, were you nervous about taking the plunge and releasing your stories and how has life been since release?
In a word, yes. I was very nervous. There’s something about writing which means when you release a book, you feel as though you are baring your soul to the world for everyone to see. This makes you feel vulnerable. I can understand why so many creative folk become susceptible to addictions with drugs and alcohol.
Since the book came out and I began to receive some wonderful reviews, it has given me much more confidence, which has helped a tremendous amount.
I’m now in a position where I can see a future without my current day job and I can concentrate on writing full-time. I would see that as an enormous privilege.
I have travelled a fair bit recently, too, and I’d love to do more of that as time goes on. There’s something about being on holiday which allows me to relax enough to bring out my creative side. Some of my best work has been written while away from home.
6. You’ve developed a significant fan base already thanks to Fierce and Fabulous. Have you been overwhelmed with fan mail yet?
I’m lucky to have a great bunch of fans who inspire me every single day. I’m not sure ‘overwhelmed’ is quite the word I’d choose. I love getting messages from readers, via Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads, and I respond to them all personally as soon as I can. To entertain others with a gift such as writing, is an honour which I cherish.
7. Being an indie author you’ve needed to take on the role of not only author but publisher and promoter. What have you considered to be the greatest challenges in your indie adventure and what would you recommend to any budding authors?
I adore writing, it gives me such pleasure. However, even those who publish the traditional way are required to do some self-promotion these days. The Social Media explosion has made it a must to have an online presence.
I’ve never been good at singing my own praises though, and I think a lot of writers would echo this statement. As a child, I was shy and retiring. I never spoke up for myself, preferring to remain silent when I was teased and try and ignore it. Some of that little girl still remains and it makes it difficult when trying to promote your work.
I am getting used to it, little by little. Something I’ve realised is that I get very frustrated when I can’t do certain things with my website, for example. So, my biggest tip would be to always consider outsourcing things you know you can’t do. It’s worth it in the end.
I have someone create my eBooks for me. I also have a web developer who looks after the technical side of my blog site. It means I can free myself up to concentrate on the writing, rather than fall victim to the inevitable stress of trying to do it myself.
8. What’s next? Are you working on the 3rd collection of adventures for Leah?
I am indeed, yes. I hope for it to be out sometime in the Spring of 2015.
I have another project which I’m just about to kick off, too. I’ve loved reading fantasy fiction for many years. I grew up with the Narnia stories and Tolkien, so I’m looking to find a way to combine fantasy worlds with a touch of erotica. So, look out for the first in a series of novellas some time during 2015.
9. And finally, where can our readers follow (in a non-stalkish way) and read more about you?
I love having people read my blog. My website is at http://kittymulholland.com. It’s mainly book reviews, but I will also be discussing topics to do with alternative lifestyles and my predilection for tattoos too, so watch this space.
I also use Facebook, where I shall be holding an online book launch party shortly, so please friend me on Facebook, if you’d like an invitation.
I’m a regular tweeter so you can find me @KittyMulholland, if you’re a Twitter fan.
I’m also on Google+ and LinkedIn which I use less frequently at this point, but feel free to give me a reason to engage more :)
Andy’s Review of Fierce and Fabulous Vol. 2.
Fierce and Fabulous Vol 2 carries on from the events in Volume 1 where Leah finds herself in provocative situations. Kitty has written each story (three in all) from a first person perspective very much like a personal diary.
The stories are well written with carefully considered scenes which move at a good pace and described in vivid detail. Like volume 1, Kitty has blended her descriptive powers with an emotive narrative thus producing a more involved scene.
My only criticism is that the stories have little in common with each other, other than the main protagonist. I felt the stories could have done with a bit of flow between them to give an indication as to when these events happen relative to each other (perhaps if they were written more in the style of a diary, with dates with the titles).
Other than that, the stories were well crafted and narrated. I look forward to Kitty’s further projects and the return of Leah in Volume 3.
Fierce and Fabulous Volume 2 can be downloaded HERE
Interview with Dr. Gilly Mara.... Author of Climbing Back, Engineer, Sports Coach, Athlete, Survivor
Today we have a very special guest, Dr Gillian Mara is a world class sports coach, self-improvement coach and safety engineer with Jaguar Landrover. In 2002, Gilly survived a near fatal fall off the side of a cliff. Despite the injuries, Gilly has overcome incredible hurdles and fought her way back to a level of fitness which puts the majority of us to shame.
Gilly has just launched her book, Climbing Back, which charters her incredible ordeal and her battle back to fitness.
Gilly, may I give you a very warm welcome to Twisted Space.
Thank you Andy, it is great to be asked to give some more info about my recent book release Climbing Back.
Your book, Climbing Back, is an incredible achievement which documents an incredible event. For the benefit of our readers, can you talk us through the events of that day?
Climbing Back gives readers an emotional account of the day I fell off the mountain and the night I spent alone on the mountain trying to stay alive. I re-tell my emotions as we began finding ourselves off the trail and what was going through my head at the time. As I fell, I did not go unconscious and I graphically remember each impact on the ground and the tumbling before I finally came to a halt. For me, the book is about I how I dealt with the situation and the attitude I took towards my recovery from the moment I came to a halt on the mountain. Falling off a mountain changed my life forever in terms of my outlook, it could have been a negative event in my life, but as you read I hope you shall see that it is possibly the best thing that could have happened to me.
Definitely a life changing experience. When I read your book I completely got the mixed feelings and the emotional rollercoaster both during and after your fall and recovery. Did you find it difficult to convey those feelings when you were writing Climbing Back?
Trying to put in words the feelings I had was incredibly difficult, I am used to giving factual accounts about things but the bit I struggled most with was describing pain that to me was wordless where it is beyond screaming and crying. When talking through some of the scenes in the night it was the first time I was able to connect with my emotions and not feel like it had happened to a different person, which was how I dealt with the it up until that point.
Since recovering, you’ve taken on a whole bunch of challenges and roles – even become a bit of a celebrity without the book. Would you say that your recovery has driven you into taking on more challenges?
The experience has made me realise what it is like to really want something. Before the fall, I look back and see how I floated from one thing to another. After it, I had to work so much harder to achieve what the majority of the population could do normally e.g. tie my shoes. I began to goal set and as soon as I reached one target I made my goal bigger and harder. I just saw it as stepping stones, just before the fall I was meant to go to my first international sports event. So many thought that was now impossible and I wanted to show them and prove them wrong and it drove me to want to be the best I can be. It has driven me to become the sportsperson, academic, coach, but these are just titles it has just made me the person I am today.
Just going back to the book, at what point did you decide to write it and why?
I began writing the book a few months after I fell as a form of self therapy to try and make some sense of what had happened. However, as I continued writing and telling my story I found that my motivation for writing changed. With time I realised that my experience could help inspire others to realise that they too can achieve their dreams.
I am looking at promoting the book and trying to get it out into the public domain as much as I can. I have an international competition in September and then some half marathons to run and that is just September. As the school year begins again I shall be continuing with my role as an athlete mentor on the Sky Sports Living for Sport and using my story of falling off a mountain to becoming an elite athlete to inspire and motivate young people to set goals for themselves. So it will be busy busy busy! I also have a number of motivational talks to do, some of which are with the WI.
Do you have a blog/twitter where people can learn more about you?
My blog can be found at www.gillymara.co.uk/blog you can follow me on twitter @GillyMara and my facebook author page at www.facebook.com/gillymara
Finally, where can we get our hands on your book?
My book can be purchased on Amazon
ebook and paperback http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00M48V956?*Version*=1&*entries*=0
Barns and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/climbing-back-gilly-mara/1119673870?ean=2940045981552
Thanks again for visiting Twisted Space and the best of luck with Climbing Back.
It was great to get the opportunity to talk about the book and what it means to me, so thank you!
Andy's Review of Climbing Back
From start to finish, Climbing Back is a captivating tale of one woman’s brush with death to rehabilitation and success. Gilly’s tale takes us to the very brink of emotion, from the harrowing and vividly described, fall during her hike up the Sandia Mountain to her rescue and recovery. Gilly’s descriptions are very much from the heart and her writing style exactly captures not just the drama of her adventure but raw emotion that she found herself subjected to.
I won’t say “If you liked 127 Hours, you’ll like this”, Climbing Back goes further than that and doesn't dwell on the accident but rather the roller-coaster of recovery that followed. This is a memoir of commitment and drive which proves that strength of character and determination can overcome any obstacle.
This is a fantastic read and recommended to all.
An Interview with TL Clark about her book "True's Love"... an intriguing alternative to Haunted Space Stations.
It's interview time and Goodread's recent author of the week, TL Clark, is our guest. Hi and welcome to TwistedSpace.
It's a pleasure to be here. Hello everyone! I'm an indie author of romance novels. But I'm also an admin worker by day (but I don't go clubbing like Amanda in True's Love!). I have a wonderfully supportive husband. And I also squeeze in some holistic therapies. My dream is to have a farmhouse where I can treat stressed humans and horses with said therapies. I try to spread love and light wherever I go. My books help me spread the love in a slightly different way and a bit further.
Congratulations on publishing your romantic novel "True's Love", can you tell us a little bit about it?
It starts with a promiscuous young lady who loves her nightlife. She has a long line of one night stands, and you get to hear about some of them. She then goes to Ibiza with a girl friend in search of sex in the sun, but gets more than she bargained for when she runs into the Russian blonde bombshell that is Mikhail. A bit of danger lurks around the corner too. Like all my books, it's packed with emotion. I actually cried at one bit when I was writing!
You've released five novels now, what got you into writing and into the Romance genre?
It's a bit embarrassing really. I read the Fifty Shades trilogy and thought they were badly written. I found Anna completely unbelievable. I thought (rather arrogantly) "I could write better than that!", so I tried. Each of my books looks at love from a different angle. People love in many ways; I thought it was fun and interesting to explore that further. Even my BDSM book (Dark Love) focuses on the love in that relationship, but of course it does have the sexy bits too!
Have you based the characters on anyone you know? I found them to be very believable.
Mainly no, as they're not true copies of anyone, but snippets of personalities do creep in. I get inspiration from people and life, but I'd never write about anyone I know in the true sense. I think it would just be too awkward.
Are you working on your next book and what can you tell us about it?
Yes I am. Book 5 is about an abused girl, which is going outside my comfort zone a little. But it's there as a beacon of hope to those who have been abused; to help show them you don't have to be a victim forever, and you can have a healthy loving relationship despite horrific experiences.
What advice would you give a budding romance writer?
At the risk of sounding like a famous sports brand, 'just do it'! If you have it in your heart it can be put onto the page. Don't be scared. But do it because you want to, not because you think it will make you money. It's unlikely to.
Thanks ever so much for your time, where can we find out more about your work and news?
Thank you for having me here.
You can find me on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7359253.T_L_Clark
My books are available on Amazon (all worldwide sites), Kobo, Apple and Barnes & Noble.
Andy's Review of "True's Love"
True’s Love is the 2nd part of TL Clarks “Love” collection. The series deals with sexual awakenings and adventures. The novels are unrelated so there is no real order to read them in.
True’s Love is about a young woman named Amanda who leads a double life as an admin worker by day and a wild clubber by night. Her world is turned upside down when she encounters more than she was expecting during a holiday romance.
When I was recommended this novel by a friend of mine, my initial concern was that this novel was way outside of my comfort zone, typically populated by science fiction and the paranormal. I felt that I would give this novel a chapter or two before moving onto something involving a poltergeist haunting a space station. However after a few pages, I found myself enjoying True’s Love and continuing at full pace until the end – which is pretty rare for me.
The novel is very well written and TL Clark has spent time developing her characters and the situations (and there are plenty of them) are detailed, explicit yet well-crafted and expertly written. It is difficult to be descriptive yet drive the story forward at just the right pace. I’m happy to report that TL has managed to achieve this with True’s Love, at no point did I feel the story was rushed nor was I laboured with overly descriptive scenes or pointless dialogue.
TL Clark is certainly a name to keep an eye out for in the future. I’d recommend this novel and series to those looking for a romantic read for their summer breaks. If you fancy a change from your normal genre, take a look at TL Clark’s novels.
Hi Lauren and welcome to TwistedSpace.
Hi, thanks for having me!
Congratulations on your supernatural thrillers “Hikers”. Can you tell us a little more about the series?
The Hikers Trilogy is about one man’s struggle to defeat a family of mind-controlling assassins, and the people he meets along the way.
When did you get into writing and what drew you into the world of Indie publishing?
I’ve always loved reading, particularly anything horror-related, and I started writing my own stories when I was a child. Firstly just short stories then I wrote a novel a few years ago and haven’t looked back. I’ve met some great people in the Indie community and everyone has been really supportive.
Who would you say is your typical reader?
I’d say people who like horror writers such as Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I’ve discovered I have a wide range of readers, from mid-teens to grandparents, which is great.
Hikers is a supernatural thriller, have you always been interested in the supernatural and do you have any real life supernatural encounters?
I love the supernatural! Stephen King was my favourite author growing up and I used to scare myself with horror films and TV shows (usually ones that were not made for my age range). IT is one of my favourite books and I’m sure the reason why I’ve never liked clowns. I haven’t had any real-life encounters yet but maybe one day – I keep my mind open.
What are you working on next?
I’ve started working on Hikers Part Three: Politics and I’m mid-way through a collection of short horror stories, which will be available around Halloween. I also have a novel connected to the Hikers Trilogy, Brewer’s Journal, out next month – which is from Brewer’s point of view and acts as a prequel to the series, as well as sitting alongside Parts One and Two.
How can people find out a bit more about you?
You can say hi at my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/hikerstrilogy, or I’m @laurenalgeo on Twitter. I also have a Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6916388.Lauren_Algeo
Andy's Review of Hikers: Part One - Power
“Hikers” is a fast passed supernatural thriller about a group of psychic killers who use their hosts to carry out crimes on their behalf.
I found the novel very well written, descriptive but didn’t dwell on too many details thus pushing the story along at an even pace. I found the writing style similar in vein to James Patterson, short paragraphs with punchy story. It is difficult to combine this style with supernatural stories but Lauren has carried this off convincingly.
The characters were well thought out and convincing. The main protagonist, Scott Brewer, is a man with a troubled past having lost all that was dear to him thanks to the mysterious Hikers. I can see more character development as the series moves forward.
Brilliant and engrossing. Highly recommended if you love the Supernatural and want a fast paced thriller.