Monday, August 26, 2013

8 Questions with M. Leighton, author of the Madly Series

I recently read the Madly Series, a YA series about a mermaid named Madly James. Here is an interview with M. Leighton, the author! 

1. Tell me about yourself and how you first became interested in writing? 

I was a nurse before I began writing.  I'm not one of those people who has written for years or kept journals, anything like that. I never once considered that I might like to write. Until I read Twilight. I was so devastated when the books were over, I decided I'd write a book of my own, and I could keep the characters alive and with me for as long as I wanted.  So I did.  I found that I loved it and couldn't stop at just one book.  So I didn't. LOL  And the rest, as they say, is history.

2. What was the inspiration behind the Madly series? 

Fairy tales.  I thought it would be so neat to write my own spin on fairy tales, to take elements of them and superimpose them on another world and other creatures.  The possibilities are limitless and I think that's one of the many reasons I enjoy the series so much:)

3. Many recently published fantasy novels and series focus on vampires, fairies, and witches. Why did you choose to make Madly a mermaid?

I'd never read a story about a mermaid and, since they're not often spoken of, I thought I'd make them into creatures that could fit in with my fairy tale story. Plus, they're beautiful and mysterious, and I love that about them.

4. Is there any particular writer or book that inspired you, either while growing up or as an adult?

Most recently, as cliche as it sounds, it was definitely Twilight.  I consider that series instrumental in where I am today.  I'd say many authors could say the same thing. As for my younger inspirations, they would include writers like Johanna Lindsey, Nora Roberts, Janet Dailey and Kathleen Woodiwiss.  Lots of great romance authors out there!

5. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Don't ever give it up. It would be all too easy to get frustrated or discouraged and just put your keyboard away forever.  And if you have to do that for a day or two, fine. But don't give up.  There is an incredible feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment in simply finishing a book.  That's huge. And I wouldn't want you to miss out on that.

6. What's next for you?

I'm currently writing the first story in a new series and then will write the final book in the Wild Ones series.  I'm busy, but I love what I do, so a productive day is a good day for me.  And, of course, there's Madly 4 on the horizon...  *sigh*  Jackson...

7. Who would play Madly in a movie/tv show? 

The girl from Pretty Little Liars, Ashley Benson.

8. I have only had a chance to read the Madly series so far, but which of your many series is your favorite and why?

I don't think I could pick just one.  There are elements or characters or pieces of everything I've written that I love, love, love.  It would be like picking a favorite child.  

Thank you so much for having me on! I appreciate your time and hope you enjoy any and all of my books:)

5 Questions with Cameo MacPherson, author of Dead in Bed

1. Tell me about yourself and how you first became interested in writing?

I think a lot of  my interest in writing stems from growing up wanting to be an actor. Even from a young age, I loved inhabiting other worlds and other personalities. I had the privilege of being able to do quite a bit of amateur and semi-professional theater, and even though I never hit it big, I was very grateful for those those opportunities. I still am.

Eventually, my goals began to shift. I fell in love, got married, and had three children - w
ho for some strange reason demanded to be fed and cared for... every day. Shortly thereafter, my mother became sick and I helped with her care. There was no way I could find time to perform, but my mind wouldn't let me stop thinking about other worlds. They haunted me, nagging in my ear until I wrote them down.

After that, I was hooked. Writing the story out bit by bit and seeing it unfold was even better than acting. I could explore the worlds in depth. I could be all the characters.

I eventually did find my way back to the theater, but by then it was too late. I was a writer. 

(Oh, I should probably mention, Cameo MacPherson is the name I use for my romances. Not because I don't want people to know who I am, just because I love the name. For anyone interested, I can be found on Twitter as Cathy Greco@cameomacpherson, or on Facebook at   Shameless self-promotion done now.)
2. What was the inspiration behind your book Dead in Bed?

A little over a year ago, a publisher I had been hoping to work with notified me of a special call. They were doing an anthology of classic fairy tales with a zombie twist. She had read a flash fiction story I had written and thought I might like to take a chance on submitting something. 

Since my best friend is absolutely terrified of zombies but refuses to stop watching shows and reading about them, I knew I had to do it. I took a little used fairy tale (the princess and the pea) and put my admittedly strange twist on it. Unfortunately, the book wasn't ready by the deadline for the special call, but I kept working on it, and it eventually turned into Dead in Bed. 

3. What's next on your plate?

I'm polishing up another zombie-related romance novel. It's set in a different world than Dead in Bed, but I think if you enjoyed Dead in Bed, you'll really enjoy Dead Sexy. It's a full length novel, and I have to admit I love the characters and the world they inhabit. It's a little bit mystery, a little bit silly, and hopefully a whole lot of romantic. I'm also working on a young adult fantasy novel, but I don't want to give away too much. Mainly because it changes with every sentence I write.

4. Is there any particular writer or book that inspired you, either while growing up or as an adult?

 I devour books, so listing everyone who has inspired me would take forever. At the risk of offending the books and authors I don't name, I will say Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers series, and C.S. Lewis' Narnia series were life changing. Terry Pratchett's Discworld, too.

5. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

I'm an aspiring author myself. I think all writers are, even if they've published countless times before. The only advice I can give is to be a little crazy, cause if you're not when you start writing, you probably will be by halfway through the journey.

Oh, and maybe have a best friend who is scared of zombies.    

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Book Review: Arabelle's Shadows by Fleur Gaskin

It's been a very long time since I've updated! I've been so busy, but I finally had the opportunity to sit down and read Arabelle's Shadows. This book was not at all what I expected! I expected a lighthearted and fun tale about the modeling world. Instead, I read about the experiences of a model struggling with depression.

In Arabelle's Shadows, Arabelle, a young girl from New Zealand, recounts her experiences as a model, primarily in Asia and Europe. Having had some experience with the subject matter, this book was a little tough for me to read. My heart ached for the main character, who just couldn't seem to catch a break. I enjoyed that it was written in a journal format, although the constant shifting back and forth between different time periods and places became a little confusing at times. One issue I had, however, especially at the beginning of the book was that Arabelle seemed detached from the world around her and what was happening to her. I think this was intentional, given her depression, but it took me some time to become emotionally invested in the story. Once I did however, I was really rooting for Arabelle, and hoping that she would get better soon!

Arabelle is constantly traveling to new places and meeting lots of people. This keeps the reader on their toes and keeps things interesting, but it becomes hard to keep up at times! The descriptions of the places that she visits are well-done. I was eager to leave my worries behind and hop on the next plane to Kuala Lumpur or to Milan! Additionally, the supporting cast of characters were colorful and well written. I would have liked to learn more about certain characters, such as Carmen, Lada, Keiko and Ploy, but given Arabelle's constant traveling, this would have been difficult to accomplish. Technically speaking, the book is well written and carefully edited. I also felt that it was appropriately paced. The ending of the book was realistic. Without spoiling the book completely for everyone, I will simply say that I was satisfied with it!

All in all, this is an interesting book that resonated with me. I look forward to reading more of this author's work, and more about Arabelle if any sequels are in the works!

My Rating: 3.5 stars