Indie books, for me, are the hidden gems of the literary world. You need to be open-minded, curious, daring and willing to dig around a bit to strike gold and unearth those true underrated, unappreciated treasures that are out there just waiting to be found….
Since starting my own indie author journey in 2019, I have read (almost exclusively) indie books. For the most part, the indie/ self-published books I’ve read have not lived up to the stereotype of being poorly written/poorly edited/ and “no wonder they can’t get published traditionally!” idea. This is just not the case with most indie books! Some, yes, absolutely, but for the most part, the indie books I’ve read have been quite impressive and certainly deserving of a wider audience, which is why I’ve started this blog.
Here are the gems I discovered this year, along with short blurbs from the reviews I posted (and in some cases, am still in the process of posting) for them on Amazon and Goodreads.
“The Underside of Wars is so beautifully and eloquently written (even the depraved parts!) that[the] prose often reads like poetry. [Kane’s] books are not the usual “easy read” fare so often found on bookshelves now. [His] writing and themes truly challenge the reader on many levels – as art should! At times this book, the writing, the story, literally took my breath away – especially the last few dark chapters and that ending!!”
This will be my first reviewed book of 2021, but in the meantime, let me say this book was an absolute thrill ride: full of paranormal scares and delights and a truly unique storyline that I absolutely loved.
“Smart, highly engaging and seamlessly written, The Future of the Present Past is an excellent follow-up to The Mirror of Our Creation. I am not much of a science fiction fan, but like its predecessor, this book doesn’t bog the reader down with the science and instead focuses more on the fiction and does so in a really entertaining and relatable way with likeable characters and wonderful pacing. The storyline truly gives you something to think about long after you’ve finished reading.”
“It had been many years since I’d read a horror novel and this book of short, dark stories brought me right back into the fold. Chilling and creepy with just enough gore to satiate. Some of these stories definitely make those little hairs on the back of your neck stand up – a sure sign of a great read and a fabulous write.”
“Roosevelt’s River more than proved to be another fantastic installment in the Edward Prince series! Like the previous three books, there’s a nice blend of fiction, history and globe-trotting adventure to be had!”
“I found the idea of the book very intriguing – a man getting electrocuted by a quantum computer and then waking up day after day in different realities of himself, stuck in a multiverse loop that he doesn’t know how to escape. It was a very ambitious undertaking of the author to plot this story out with so many storylines and versions of the protagonist and his friends going on…this was a solid book…looking forward to the sequel!”
And for my final read of the year, I’m doing some self-promotion of my own little gem, the second part of my Hope Quest trilogy, a dark, supernatural, coming of age YA story. This review was not written by me (but was very much appreciated by me!):
“I can safely say, I don’t think anything like this exists, and a lot more people need to read this for the mix of friendship, family, unbeknownst powers, and gut-wrenching moments that all intertwine into a lovely picture of beautiful art.”
I’m working on some changes over here: “melanie ever moore” blog is now “read/write/repeat” , though it’s still me (melanie) at the keyboard and “The Innovators” indie interviews has been (sadly) scrapped.
I’ve decided to focus more on book blogging and reviewing of books that I really enjoy and will have occasional author features. Indie authors and indie books will still be my main focus because they are my favourite – and because I’m one (an indie author, that is, with four books to my name).
I’ve made the decision to focus more on my blog in the upcoming year because after nearly two years on Instagram, I’ve discovered that the indie communities of both writers and poets is a hard one to get a footing in. At least for me, it was. I certainly never felt a sense of community there, even after doing The Innovators interviews for the past three months – the whole purpose being to highlight other indie authors and their work in order to build a sense of community amongst creatives on that platform. I was (naively) hoping that other indie writers would connect with those I featured and a sense of community and mutual support of creative work would grow from there. But it didn’t. Other writers and poets just seemed more interested and excited about selfies and memes or other writer’s cats and I just can’t (and won’t) compete with that.
So, I am here now hoping to build and grow a sense of creative community by connecting with other readers, writers and book bloggers (so please give my blog a follow if you haven ‘t already!).
My next post will be My Top Indie Reads of 2020…..come back to check that out in the next few days……
“Like any other effort, writing has its fun components, but my advice would be to view the activity of writing as work. Actual work. Changing your perspective that writing is actually going to require true, consistent effort from you in the form of real work ethic will lead to more tangible results.“
Tell me about Edward Prince: who or what inspired him? Is he a hero or an anti-hero?
I believe Edward Prince is a hero. There are plenty of deconstructed, post-modern anti-heroes in current literature and pop culture right now and plenty more are being created everyday. I like a lot of their stories, but a character created in our time that fits the mold of a “pre-modern, traditional” hero like Prince could be seen as anachronistic if not ironic. I’m totally fine with that. Edward Prince is always searching for the truth and more importantly, he seems to be willing to sacrifice his own comfort and in some cases, risk his life to get to it. Prince was born in the last quarter of the 19th Century as the Victorian Era in most parts of the world started to make way for the Edwardian Era. To me, that is probably one of the most fascinating times in history as new technological achievements intersected with humanity’s relentless ambition to explore the vast and mysterious corners and cultures of the Earth. I wanted to tap into that excitement through the eyes of someone like Edward Prince. To me, he is the culmination of those explorers, innovators and artists of that time, who kept throwing off the shackles of earlier convention and rigid thinking and pressed forward to discover something new. I suppose my inspiration for creating him is an amalgamation of fictional heroes from that era, like Edgar Rice Burroghs’s Tarzan and John Carter and certainly from the lesser-known protagonist, Charles Marlow in two of Joseph Conrad’s books. The “cool under pressure” approach that Prince occasionally displays was borrowed from Ian Fleming’s James Bond (007). I finished reading the original series a few years ago and always thought Fleming had an interesting insight into the mind of 007 facing odds greater than what most people would ever know. As for real life examples, I think Theodore Roosevelt and Ernest Shackleton were big influences. Neither of those men lived to a relatively old age, but both experienced more adventure in their adult lives than most people on the planet. By no means is Prince perfect. There are times when he makes mistakes in judgment, drawing the wrong conclusions and losing his cool, like anyone would do under stressful circumstances. He also seems to be afraid of committing to others in the long-term and that is possibly connected to the loss of a loved one early on in his adult life. I think the idea of the flawed hero, who is still a hero, was really brought to the forefront by Stan Lee, the visionary behind most Marvel Comics characters, like Spider-man, Iron Man and the Hulk. These flaws were present, but never inhibited the characters from accomplishing their mission. One other fictional inspiration that I drew from for the last Edward Prince book was Idris Elba’s character Detective Chief Inspector John Luther in the excellent British television series “Luther.” DCI Luther is philosophical, observant, occasionally misunderstood and usually a little ahead of the rest of the pack he’s surrounded by and that seems to be an advantage. Luther always found himself in difficult situations that required bending the rules and sometimes that meant going off to do his own thing. I suppose those themes coincided with a slightly older, somewhat more world-weary Edward Prince in “Roosevelt’s River.” I’ve had adventures of my own, spending my childhood growing up in two different countries and then in my adult life doing business with people from so many cultures and economic classes. As an author, you can draw from that area of your life so much when you’re trying to create something that feels authentic and rings true to the reader.
Why historical fiction? What compels you to write in that genre?
I enjoy a lot of different genres of fiction, such as science fiction, thrillers, graphic novels, TPBs along with the occasional Steampunk book. However, in writing my books, I followed the advice to write the book you’ve always wanted to read and I took that to heart. I’ve loved studying history since I was a kid. I think people who find history boring or learning about historical events to be dry have never had the right teachers or had it presented in a way that made it relatable. History is messy, it is sometimes murky and it has lately been controversial, but it is rarely uninteresting. In The Edward Prince Adventure Series, I wanted to experiment with putting some real-life historical people with my fictional characters connecting the places and events, but never losing the pace. I’d like to think I was able to do that with some success in all of the books to one degree or another.
Why have you chosen to write Edward’s adventures as serialized short stories? How does that add to the overall theme/vibe/feel of the series?
Serialized fiction has been around for a long time going all the way back to before Dickens. However, as a fan of Ian Fleming’s 007 series, I’ve always admired how there was this underlying thread that was consistent to Bond’s character throughout the series that reflected on his ongoing relationships with the characters of M and Miss Moneypenny. In the books, Bond struggles with killing someone and seems to never lose that angst. He also seems to see himself as a civil servant first and always appears to put hedonistic pleasures such as food, women and alcohol second. He is even married briefly in my favorite of the books, but even that ends in tragedy. Unfortunately, the films have never captured that vision fully. Instead, we’re treated to a Bond that is bedding a woman every 30 minutes, driving expensive luxury cars, shooting everything up in sight and wearing tuxedos. Don’t get me wrong, they are enjoyable to watch, but most of them divert away from the essence of what I think Fleming was trying to do. I also like that Bond aged in the books as well. So my reasons for writing these as serialized stories came from that notion of what I read in Fleming’s books. Also, I was a big reader of comic books growing up and no one wrote cliffhangers and serialized fiction like some of those comic book creators, who wanted you to come back for more every month. There was also another little-known series that probably played a role in all of this work called “The Great Brain” by John Fitzgerald. As a kid, I read every single one of those books and they were based in true-to-life settings, but likely embellished for entertainment purposes. Serialized fiction is all around us in every medium. I think in today’s world of distraction and a zillion things competing for a reader’s attention, writing these shorter books seemed to be a natural response to all of that stimulus. I trust that readers are sophisticated and imaginative enough to fill in the gaps. My focus in writing these books has always been to keep the reader engaged from start to finish. Therefore, action first, dialogue second and brief descriptions third. I try to maintain my allergy to writing a lot of exposition. You’ll also notice that I don’t spend too much time plumbing the depths of Prince’s soul or any other character for that matter. The goal has always been to give the reader a satisfying adventure that touches on the lives of real people from history along with places and events connected to them.
Is there some recent history that you think Edward could / should re-write or be a part of? What is it? What would he do?
I think Edward Prince, a character who is committed to seeing the mission through, but figuring out how to do the right thing at every turn, even if it is to his disadvantage, is a timeless idea. I think someone like him would always be the kind of person you’d want on your side, whether it was during the Second World War, the Vietnam War or the events of September 11th, 2001. I think that commitment to doing what is right in the face of fear and loss is one of the prime traits that makes him a hero. I think he’s also someone who aspires to serve something bigger than himself or his own ego. There are men and women all around us who are like that. You don’t have to agree with them or the way they think, but they are real and they are reliable. That being said, I think if we had more people like that, society wouldn’t quite be in the same chaotic state it is today.
Who or what inspires your creativity? What gets in the way of it?
Anyone who reads the Edward Prince series will see that I love history and I love adventure. In each Edward Prince story, a germ was taken from an event or real person’s life and then expanded upon. That means that L. Frank Baum really was staying the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego at the time “The Mystery of Coronado Cay” takes place, Lenin really was hiding out in Paris, licking his figurative wounds from his failed 1905 coup of Russia as “The Bolshevik Ballerina” happens, T.E. Lawrence was investigating cool archeological finds in the Middle East before serving in the First World War alongside a cholera outbreak that had happened at that time and in that area, as depicted in “The Lost Idol of Ishtar” and Theodore Roosevelt did take that crazy trip on the River of Doubt with Colonel Rondon and his son Kermit, as shown in “Roosevelt’s River.” I wove in other characters into each book that were based on other less-notable people in history. Of course, each adventure takes a fictional course, but I’d like to think that since we don’t know every moment of each of these people’s lives, the possibilities are endless. Modern-day Lebanese-American philosopher Nassim Nicholas Taleb made a career out of telling the layman about randomness and it can affect us daily. I remember when I first approached Taleb’s work in “The Black Swan,” it was a real challenge and I found it vexing. Over time, I discovered that one of the main themes to his writings is that there is so little that is in your control and the sooner you can accept that and prepare for it, the sooner you will be at peace with yourself and the world around you. He would bristle at that kind of summary. It takes a lot of work to get to that mental and emotional state though. In many ways, Taleb was my “gateway drug” into studying philosophy.
Outside of history and Taleb’s work, I enjoy watching movies and television when I can, listening to music, reading fiction and non-fiction and studying the ethical side of philosophy. After all is said and done though, I think my biggest inspiration for creativity comes from looking at the world around me. Relationships with family and friends, interactions with nature and just pondering the universe around me are very important and can be an endless source for creativity.
What is your biggest challenge in being an indie author? How do you overcome it?
For every indie author, I think there are always a number of challenges, such as time management, motivation and organization. To me, the one that loomed as large as those I just mentioned has always been self-doubt. The way I overcame that self-doubt was to dig deeper into myself and rediscover why I started writing in the first place. Of course, it was about writing stories I wanted to read, but it also had to do with letting go of the results and expectations tied to the results. I can’t force people to like my work or even to read my work in the first place. This became a more dominant thought as I wrote more fiction and each book was published. It became about writing for myself and in a way that ultimately, I was satisfied with the outcome. If a reader feels the results of my work are satisfactory too, then I consider it a win.
Best piece of advice for up-and-coming writers?
Film Director Kevin Smith once said that after “Clerks” premiered at Sundance he had received quite a bit of praise, but the most poignant was when someone came up to him and congratulated him on “finishing it.” That’s always stuck with him and I’ve always remembered it too. So many writer projects remain unfinished in their various forms and if this happens too frequently, the writer will likely develop the habit of not finishing any projects. Like any other effort, writing has its fun components, but my advice would be to view the activity of writing as work. Actual work. Changing your perspective that writing is actually going to require true, consistent effort from you in the form of real work ethic will lead to more tangible results. This will require some planning from the writer, some research and writing outlines. My ultimate message is to never give up and to figure out how to finish your projects, even the ones you ultimately decide no one will see. I believe that you should never let perfect be the enemy of good and never let good be the enemy of done.
What do you most want for readers to take away from your work?
Honestly, with the Edward Prince books and my other works of fiction, I like to keep some of the areas of prose sparse for a simple reason. I like the idea that subtext is all around the story and that I don’t have to explain every single thing to my readers. They get to use their imagination and their own reasoning abilities to put some things together. Therefore, what they take away from each book and each story is theirs to keep. I hope they feel inspired to go out and do something good for other people. True heroism is found in simple service. I write characters who are trying to do the right thing for a reason. Even more, I hope readers just enjoy the adventure!
Upcoming projects? Where can readers find you?
If people read the books in The Edward Prince Adventure Series in the order published, starting with “The Mystery of Coronado Cay,” they will find Edward Prince avoided certain making choices that he ultimately began to resolve at the end of “Roosevelt’s River” and it seemed to mark the end of his adventures and his career as a roving, globe-trotting newspaper reporter. However, I have been loosely outlining book 5 in the series (which would take place only a couple years later) and I have another one planned thereafter. Both of those books will feature prominent people from history and will follow the same format. Prince will be a few years older, but hopefully a bit wiser. I also have plans to publish work under other author names in both the fiction and non-fiction category.
I have limited time in my day for social media and updates, so I don’t maintain a website as C.K. Shackleton or a Twitter account, but people can find me on Instagram and Facebook where I share updates and news on projects I am putting out there: Instagram – @ckshackletonauthor Facebook – @C.K. Shackleton They are always welcome to reach out to me through those mediums.
“I want to use whatever platform I am blessed with to shed light on the multiple facets of autism. All the struggles that come with it and the unexpected gifts. I want to make the beauty of it all known to the world.”
My name is Patrick Kaiser. I am a 29 year old indie author with autism from Kansas City, MO. I started writing when I was in the 6th grade. At the time, Christopher Paolini – the author of Eragon – was just beginning to gain recognition. His story of being a 15 year old best-selling author spoke to me. I’d always had a good imagination and loved telling stories. Learning that I could earn money doing so just clenched it. I began reading heavily and studying anything and everything I could on how to write good stories and how to get published. In high school I developed an interest in poetry. I’ve never had any formal training even to this day, but according to my friends, family, and teachers I had a gift for it. I began writing a ton of one-off poems that were honestly pretty dark and depressing. Being a social outcast due to my autism made me very cynical and depressed which was exhibited in my writing.
Senior year I was introduced to the idea of verse novels with Ellen Hopkin’s books. I loved the concept, but could never get into the books. Free verse is just bland to me and the stories told in most verse novels weren’t fun to read for me. They were so gritty and real with characters I just couldn’t relate to. The constant themes of drug abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and social politics were so blah. Not to make light of the real life instances of those experiences, they’re horrific beyond measure and absolutely unforgivable, but I always preferred to read to escape reality. I wanted books that married my love of poetry with the sort of stories I loved – Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Hunger Games – but I never found any that met that threshold. When I was 25, I started to experiment with the idea of writing those sort of books. At the time, I was still super unconfident and self conscious, always wanting to write those books, but always finding some reason to tell myself I wasn’t good enough. Over the next few years I grew and matured, became more confident the more I studied. I found info on Indie publishing and how viable it was, courtesy of the success story of Amanda Hocking, who is considered the matriarch of current Indie publishing. She made millions in a matter of months after years of being rejected by traditional publishing companies. In 2019 I decided to be brave. I had a backlog of poems I’d written over the years, more positive than my high school endeavors, so I slapped ’em together, did a little research and self published my first 2 poetry collections on Amazon in February of that year. Almost two years later here we are: seven books out with number eight releasing in Febrary 2021.
Tell me about your books.
My first trilogy, Crimson Minds, involves a psychic gang war in modern day Chicago as the backdrop for a murder mystery. It covers themes of identity: are we the product of our circumstances or our choices – nature vs nurture, are are we beholdened and defined by our past or can we make an effort to rise above and grasp a better future than the one we’re told we can’t change.
My newest book, Frost, is the start of a new series and deals with family: is family determined by blood or by choice? Genocide, hatred, & racism –just because you’re at the top of the food chain does that mean you’re infallible? Are those that are different by no choice of their own lesser simply because of that fact?
All of these themes are set against the backdrop of an action thriller and are told completely through poetry.
So far, it seems to be working for me.
You identify yourself as an “Autism Advocate.” What does that role entail?
I just want to use whatever platform I am blessed with to shed light on the multiple facets of autism. All the struggles that come with it and the unexpected gifts. I want to make the beauty of it all known to the world. I also want to help support the friends and family of those who are diagnosed. Living with autism is hard, no doubt, and living with those living with autism is harder still, and those people deserve just as much support as those diagnosed.
What role does your advocacy for autism play in your writing?
It’s mainly just the other half of what I’m trying to accomplish. I hope one day my writing can help and entertain those with autism, and I hope that my support of the autism community can result in my work reaching new readers.
The hashtag #makeitecho appears on your website. What does it mean / refer to?
For a few years I had a Youtube channel where I posted videos of my one-off poems. It was called EchoVerse Productions and our tag line was “Love is the mission statement. Let’s #MakeItEcho!” I’m still trying spread that mantra. I want to spread entertainment, peace and love with my writing, while making you think.
Who or what inspires your creativity? What or who do you hope to inspire with your work?
I get super inspired by Japanese anime and Japanese culture. The Japanese tell such great stories, that are super entertaining while touching on sensitive themes. My goal is to tell similar stories with my works. I’d like to inspire evolution within the Verse novel community. I constantly read and hear that verse is only suited to the realistic and gritty kind of stories, I want to flip that notion on it’s head. I’d also like to become a great source of inspiration for those on the autism spectrum. I want them to know that they’re more than their diagnosis.
Tell me about your online shop. What merch can be found there?
I sell tee-shirts, mugs, blankets and a lot more with designs influenced by my writing, all at affordable prices.
My current wip is called Sight and it is book 2 of my current series. I also have a new series planned to start in early 2022 about a robin hood in space kinda story. Hunger Games mixed with Firefly, if you will.
Where can readers find you and your work?
You can find me on social media @authorpdkaiser (Facebook & Instagram).
“Everyone has the ability and capability to do anything. It takes self-belief and patience. That goes hand-in-hand with living your truth. Always create with yourself in mind. Create what you want then if people resonate with it… bonus!”
Hello guys, girls, non-bines, I am Leah Solmaz. I’m primarily an actress, filmmaker, and writer, but I dabble in a lot of other creative activities too. I am currently based in Lichfield, Staffordshire but I’m originally from Birmingham, West Midlands, UK. I lived in County Cavan, Ireland for 9 years and completed the majority of my schooling there. Having lived in both a large, bustling city and a small, country village seemingly in the middle of nowhere, it has definitely given me a broad perspective on life. I’ve definitely experienced the best of both worlds, so to speak and I think it’s helped ground me as a person.
Tell me about your Theosight digital series.
‘Theosight’ is a UK based, comedy, horror, web series that we hope to make sometime next year. I’m the writer, producer, and I also act in it.
The logline: “Theo’s a skeptic. Riley’s optimistic. Shaun’s dead.”
We released the pilot episode on Halloween which sets up the premise for the series. It was directed and shot by my good friend, Matthew Wood, and stars the amazing Kiah Reeves (The House of Screaming Death, 2017) as Riley, Alex Bourne (writer and director of Clownface, 2019) as Shaun, and myself as Theo. The cast of the pilot also features Lewis Clift (BBC’s Doctors), Craig Godwin aka Fingaz MC, Roger David Francis (The House of Screaming Death), and the very lovely Debbie Brannon as Peg … my favourite characters, in all honesty. Behind the scenes, we had Farhaan S. Sadiq on sound, the brilliant Hans Michael Anselmo Hess composed the music, and we were very lucky to feature the song ‘My Reflection’ by the American/Canadian rock band DeBendetta.
The premise is very much this … Theo, is a grouchy, skeptical woman who discovers she is, in fact, psychic after a strange man follows her home from work one night. That man is Shaun. Shaun is dead. Theo’s charmingly optimistic, roommate, Riley, then comes up with the bright idea to set up a Supernatural Private Investigation service. With the help of a rag-tag bunch of friends they do just that and open themselves up to a world of monsters, ghouls, and demons. It is very much an ode to one of my favourite, childhood films, ‘The Monster Squad’, and also pays homage to TV shows such as ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’, ‘Charmed’, and ‘Scooby Doo’ … believe it or not. I love the fact that in each of those, the main character could never have succeeded without the help of their comrades. We genuinely hope people will enjoy it once it’s made and we’ve already received some great feedback from the pilot which you can totally check out for free here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAJCND9EcLw You can also find and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Where did the idea for your novel Nexus: Book One come from? Any plans for Book Two (or another novel)?
So 5 years ago, or it could be 6, in all honesty, but we’ll stick to 5, I had this crazy idea to write and illustrate a dark-fantasy graphic novel. I’m a huge lover of comic books and graphic novels and being in my naïve, mid-twenties I thought to myself … I can do that. Throw in work and other commitments, I found it hard to find time to sit down and actually draw. I’d written half a script for it and planned out thirty to forty pages’ worth of panels but that’s as far as I ever got with it. The story, as it is now, is very different from how I intended for the graphic novel. Initially, the character of Brianna, was going to be a police detective and Dax, was an unlucky guy who had found himself entangled with some dark characters. There was going to inevitably be a splash of the supernatural in there, but yeah it’s definitely not the same story as I originally planned. So, having realized just how much time a graphic novel was going to take, and taking from my primary love of filmmaking I then (again rather naively) thought I could turn it into a feature film. I got halfway with the script and realized in order to make it, I’d need a ridiculous budget and I wasn’t willing to change any of it to ensure it could be made cost-effectively. It was very much put on the back burner until the summer of 2018 which is coincidentally the same time that I came up with the idea for ‘Theosight’. I’d sustained a back injury that meant I actually couldn’t work for 5 months. In being such a creative person, I needed something to take my mind off of the fact that I could barely hobble from my bed to the lounge and back again. I stumbled (maybe literally) upon a lot of my old notebooks and came across the graphic novel script for Nexus. I bought a new notebook and whether or not it was painkiller induced, I decided to change everything about the story. I’d always written short stories growing up and I’d always had the itch to write a book so it just clicked. It meant I could tell the story I wanted to without compromising elements for a feature film and the words seemed to flow easier and quicker than sitting down and drawing. It was gloriously serendipitous. I just started writing. Chapter one. Chapter two … three, four … before I knew it I’d made my way to chapter seven. I was feeling extremely nostalgic being holed up in a small, city apartment and the physical limitations I was experiencing at the time, I’d sort of found myself longing for the open countryside of Ireland so that greatly influenced the world-building side of things and definitely shaped the premise of transporting Brianna from the mundane to the fantastical. For those months, I very much lived vicariously through Brianna, hence turning her into a waitress … I have that on my work resume. For anyone with a keen eye, you can very much identify the influences of the book. I definitely drew from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and also from ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ but I also have a fascination with the occult and demonology and the concept of angels and devils battling each other for our immortal souls. Nexus is very much an amalgamation of those elements. It wasn’t until meeting the fantastic, horror writing twins C L Raven, who worked on a feature film I was acting in, Clownface, that I decided to self-publish and they played a huge part in getting Nexus: Book One made. I will forever love them for that. I am currently working on the sequel and can honestly say that it’ll be bigger, better, and darker than the first book.
What challenges do you face as both an indie author and filmmaker? What specific advantages do you have being involved in both creative realms?
My biggest challenge being indie in both fields is and has been working a day job. I would love to get to the point of replacing the day job with either field. That is definitely the goal but I guess the pros of my current circumstances is valuing time. Another pro of being indie is also having creative control. Especially in regards to the writing side of things. With film, if we’re looking at the behind the scenes side of things, you haven’t got to jump through massive hoops in order to make a film, which if you were looking for a larger, more mainstream studio or production company to get a film made, you certainly would which runs the risk of changing the initial story you want to tell. The downside of that is the scheduling side of things, and organizing shoot days to suit everyone involved but it makes it so much easier to have a great cast and crew. So far, I’ve been lucky in the fact that everyone I’ve worked with, in front of or behind the camera has been truly amazing. The same applies for self-publishing I’ve found. It’s always good to run your manuscript past an editor to see if there are elements that don’t work but ultimately, it’s your call at the end of the day. With writing a book, bar working with an editor or artist, I do enjoy the working alone aspect which makes the whole process of it very therapeutic. The final product is definitely rewarding. It’s almost an extension of yourself and I think most authors feel a sense of pride and ecstasy in realizing that. Working in film, you learn the show don’t tell aspect which has helped in writing Nexus and as an actor, its helped me hone dialogue that is supposed to be spoken. I do tend to read aloud a piece of dialogue to make sure it sounds authentic to a character. Authentic dialogue makes it easier for the audience, film or book, to relate to a character.
Who or what inspires your creativity?
Life inspires me, as cliche as that sounds. People, places, and very much the unknown of it all too. I’m big into spiritualism, philosophy, psychology, and I enjoy learning about ancient cultures. Literally anything and everything. As gloomy as life may seem at times it’s also so awesome. I think we just have to look a bit harder at times but it’s there. Magic is everywhere.
Twenty years down the road, what do you want people to take away from your body of creative work?
I’d like to inspire others to take up whatever creative field they want to pursue. Nothing is impossible. Everyone has the ability and capability to do anything. It takes self-belief and patience. That goes hand in hand with living your truth. Always create with yourself in mind. Create what you want then if people resonate with it… bonus! The fun is very much in the creative stage. Another thing I’d like to inspire in people is to support and promote each other. Creativity is not a competition. It’s a game and like most games the more people the more fun there is to be had. Right? Can I trademark that line?
What are your upcoming projects?
I have a few feature films lined up, in front of and behind the camera. Advent: A Christmas Anthology, in which I act and I believe it’ll be released around this time next year. Shock Value: Body Horror which is another anthology-style film. I’ll be teaming up with Alex Bourne for one of the stories in that. We are also collaborating on a separate feature and hopefully begin the pre-production stage sometime next year. We will be launching a crowd funder sometime in the spring to help get Theosight made. I have a couple of short films, acting-wise too. The Other, which is a dramatic piece directed by Will Bradshaw. The second short, I don’t think I can reveal too much about it as of yet but I’m looking forward to working with some familiar faces on that one, from Advent and Clownface. In between all of that I’d really like to focus more on my store and fingers crossed, design an awesome collection. I’ll also be finishing Nexus: Book Two and hopefully publishing it mid to late next year. I say hopefully and fingers crossed to all of that considering this year’s unprecedented guest.
Now that The Innovators has ten interviews under its belt and has grown a small (but loyal) audience, it has started to take on a life of its own and has requested that the writer interview It this week. Never being one to turn down an interview request, the writer has obliged. So here we go….
Hi! I’m The Innovators, a weekly interview series that focuses on indie creatives. I came into existence a few months back and since then I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing ten incredibly talented artists, including musicians Gerry Weaver and Preston Bell, writer/poet Jared Kane and indie authors Julia DeBarrioz, Eme Savage, Darren Edden, Billy Middleton, Lee Vockins, RJ Jacobs and Eric Woods.
What drives you, Innovators Blog? What inspires you to do this work?
I’m inspired by creativity! I have an affinity for artists, for their art. I think creation is a human superpower (next to love, of course). Art is a balm to all the hurts of humanity and those who create art need to be supported and encouraged in their continuing quests to bring their imaginings to life. It takes a unique sort of courage to share one’s art, to share those thoughts, feelings, ideas that often come from the darkest, quietest parts of one’s soul and offer it up to the rest of the world for comment or criticism. I wish to play a postive role (albeit a small one) in helping artists, particularly indie authors, to gain exposure and confidence in their work and perhaps themselves too. I want them to know that they are supported, they are heard, they are seen, they are important.
What’s the hardest part about being a blog?
Finding readers, finding an audience, for sure, that’s the toughest part! I am just a small platform, with a small voice. Hopefully, over time, more and more people will see my posts and will share it on their platforms and my audience will grow from there. I really want to get the artists I feature out in front of as many eyes as I possibly can.
Well, I’m excited to have my first indie filmmaker interview coming up next week with Leah Solmaz and after that, two more talented indie authors: CK Shakleton and Patrick D. Kaiser! I am hoping to continue the writer streak into the new year. I think interviews with John Meredith, MG Unger, Jason Rogers, Tanis Justice, Slate Raven, Freddie Ahlin and O.S. Williams would be cool.
Where can readers find you?
They can find me every Wednesday right here on this blog (www.melanie-ever-moore.com) and on Melanie Ever Moore’s Instagram @m.ever.moore and on her Facebook writer’s page: Realign My Stars (speaking of which, she should probably change that name soon. I mean really, it should have been changed to “The Innovators” months ago….)
“It takes time, hard work, and patience as an indie, and we should never give up on something we love.“
Introduce yourself and your books.
Hi, my name is Eric Woods. I am an independent multi-genre author who has published three novels: Pummeled (2018), Dragon’s Blood (2019) and Welcome to Oblivion (2020) along with a collection of stage plays (Playing with the Macabre – 2020) which were written between 1997 and 2003. My interest in writing began in third grade when my class was given the assignment of writing a short story. I became hooked on creating fictional worlds ever since.
Tell me about “The Amalgam” …
The Amalgam is the universe by which my stories live and breathe, and the ultimate plan is to publish 10 novels within this universe. I also included the play collection as part of The Amalgam, as characters from several of those pieces will pop in from time to time in the novels. The Amalgam was inspired by a couple things – the Stephen King Dark Tower universe and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Both tell multiple tales but they all occur within the same world, there is a supreme antagonist that oversees the chaos, and many stories and characters come together at the end. The Amalgam will culminate with the 10th novel, where many characters from the other stories come together to face off with the primary antagonist of the universe.
You’ve written in both the drama and horror genres. Which do you most prefer to write in? To read? Why?
My dream as a writer has always been to write in the horror and suspense genres. I grew up on 1980’s slasher films and have loved horror movies since I was a kid. In grade school when we were assigned to write short stories in class, I always went with a scary and suspenseful story. It is just what I have always been drawn to. Horror is also my preferred choice when reading, although I have expanded my choices in the last year as I have gotten to know more and more independent authors. With PUMMELED (my first novel), I took a somewhat personal approach and used themes that were personal to me. That book was somewhat of a release for me, but it also shattered a decades long feeling that I couldn’t complete a full-length novel.
Who or what inspires your writing/creativity?
Stephen King is my horror inspiration. I read Pet Sematary in middle school and was hooked after that. I am also fascinated by dreams. Both Welcome to Oblivion and my next novel were initially inspired by dreams. With WTO, I recall a dream of being lost inside a dark, giant mansion and not being able to find my way out. I felt the presence of something following me but saw only a shadow.
You are a great supporter of other indie authors. Tell me what draws you to support other writers and why do you think it’s important to do so?
I do not see other indie authors as competition. I know how hard it is to get noticed as an author. It is not only a challenge just completing the first draft of a story, but the tiresome, never-ending process of editing, revising, and finding others willing to read and give feedback is an intense process. Followed up with the actual publishing procedure, and authors have already put in endless hours just in the hopes of getting a few eyes on their work. Independent authors and artists love their creations, and it is likely that they have been discouraged by others as they hone their craft. If I can help them along the way, that is what I will do.
What is your biggest challenge in being an indie? How do you overcome it (or have you/can you)?
As with any independent author, artist, singer, etc., the challenge is getting people to notice your work. There are literally thousands of independent authors around the world with easier access to self-publish now than ever before. So, the challenge is growing a fanbase who can find your work and take a chance. It is also a challenge being able to put up with rejections and bad reviews. The only way to overcome any challenges is to fight through them and not become too discouraged. It takes time, hard work, and patience as an indie, and we should never give up on something we love.
What is your superpower? What is your writing kryptonite?
I believe my superpower is being able to create unique, entertaining, and chilling stories that leave my readers wanting more. My kryptonite is time. It took me decades to finally break the barrier and finish my first novel, and I write whenever I have free time. But free time is not always the easiest thing to come by. Along with my full-time job, I am also a freelance writer. During the months of March through October, I serve as the tour guide for the local Lincoln Ghost Walk several nights a week.
What are your upcoming projects?
I will publish my 4th novel, Clippings, in March. It is uniquely formatted and not your traditional tale. The chapters are written in various forms of media communication (newspaper articles, blog posts, newscast transcripts, e-mails, etc.). I am even recruiting people who wish to have their images appear in the articles as “characters.” My 5th novel (PUMMELED: Submission) is tentatively scheduled for a Thanksgiving 2021 release. I am still working on the first draft of that one.
“Clear writing awakens a sense of recognition for me and brings a richer understanding of the lives going on around me.“
Introduce yourself and your books.
I’m RJ Jacobs, a psychologist and author in Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve published two novels:And Then You Were Gone(2019) and Somewhere in the Dark, which came out in August. I’ve lived in Nashville since 2003 and see patients as part of a multi-speciality medical practice.
What came first in your life: writing or psychology?
I actually started out as an English major as an undergraduate at University of Florida, then switched to Psychology in my Sophomore year. Still, I really enjoyed writing and kept on when I had time, usually on breaks. Of course I had no idea how to construct a story when I was starting out but, the early experience in finding a rhythm to my writing and creating a habit of putting words down became really helpful later on.
How does your role as a psychologist influence your role as a writer?
Clinical work is always interesting. One thing I can say that’s a real advantage of being a psychologist: the day-to-day is never dull. Stories I hear sometimes stimulate my imagination. I don’t want patients to think I’m transcribing what they say into my novels, because obviously I wouldn’t, but I have to admit some of what I’ve heard has started me thinking, “what if . . .”
How does your role as a writer influence your role as a psychologist?
There’s a psychotherapeutic technique called narrative therapy that essentially helps patients transform difficult experiences by re-imagining them, by seeing contexts differently, and by encouraging greater sense of imagination and creativity in developing outcomes. I’d like to think that being a writer has helped my therapy work by giving me a clearer sense of how to guide a process like that.
How do you find the time to write novels AND maintain a private practice? What is your writing/ creative process?
Finding time is one of the biggest challenges. There’s always so much to do! I live with my family which helps balance my perspective but also is a tremendous time commitment. Sometimes, I have to write what I can, or whenever there’s a free moment. There was an evening last year when I wrote in the hallway of my daughter’s middle school while she was cheerleading by using the notes function of my iPhone. You just have to do your best and try to get something accomplished even if it’s minimal progress. Usually the best times for my writing are early in the morning or in the evenings, when my kids do their homework. Sometimes it seems like we each find a quiet space to do our own “homework.”
Besides psychology, what else influences and drives your writing? Who or what inspires you?
I’m inspired constantly, particularly by contemporary writers who capture American culture in ways that I’ve observed before but had never named in my own mind. Clear writing awakens a sense of recognition for me and brings a richer understanding of the lives going on around me. I had that sense when I read Angie Kim’s novel, Miracle Creek, last year. There were paragraphs in her book I read repeatedly to make sure I was fully taking them in. I’m reading Leave the World Behind, right now, and have a similar feeling. I like reading the work of writers who are simply better than I am.
Most self-published authors would love to know how you got your books published by a traditional publisher. Please share your secret!
I lucked out by connecting with an incredible agent, Rachel Ekstrom Courage, who is with Folio Literary Agency. When I was starting out, I didn’t understand the difference between writing and publishing, and she’s helped guide me along the way.
As a traditionally published novelist, how does your marketing work? Does your publisher handle it? Do you? Or is it a mix of both?
It’s a mix of both. Working with Crooked Lane has been fantastic. At the same time, I’m always trying to find new ways of marketing the books. There are a lot of books in the world and people have limited time to read, so discoverability is the challenge for most writers. This year has been especially tricky because in-person events have either been cancelled of reimagined in virtual formats. Still, people are continuing to read, which is an advantage writers have over say, filmmakers or musicians. I’m in Nashville, and I know a number of musicians who are having a tough time not being able to play shows. It’s hard, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and hopefully we’ll all use this time to get better at what we do.
What is your best advice to struggling writers who want to throw in the towel after receiving yet another rejection letter for their work.
I think the secret is to find a writing process that’s enjoyable and repeat it over and over again. Rejection is part of it, for sure. It’s not personal. Writers do well when they’re able to hear feedback non-defensively and try to incorporate it into their storytelling.
What do you most want readers to take from your books? Do you recommend your books to clients or leave them on a table in your office?
I’ve given away a few copies to patients who are interested, but my writing rarely comes up, to be honest. The focus in my office is on the patient and most of the time there’s no reason to get into my ambitions as a writer.
I hope readers find the stories moving and fun to read at the same time. Enjoyment, I’ve learned this year, is a need.
What upcoming projects do you have in the works? Where can readers find you?
Right now I’m writing a book set in the evacuated Florida Keys following a hurricane. The main character is a former horror movie actress searching for her family. As the story unfolds, she starts to suspect the circumstances resemble the film she starred in. A lot of people are intrigued by horror as a genre, but the book is written as a psychological suspense/thriller novel. In the same way that The Woman in Cabin 10 isn’t about the cruise ship industry, horror films and their conventions provide more of a backdrop for the story. It should be a lot of fun.
I’m easy to find on my website: RJJacobsauthor.com or on Instagram @rjjacobs75 or on Facebook.
This week, I’m excited to feature my favourite author, Jared Kane. His novels (Decline, Mya and The Underside of Wars) are some of the most thought-provoking and beautifully written books that I have come across since my university days studying English lit. He is also an incredibly talented poet who crafts some of the most profoundly dark and stirring poems found on social mediatoday.Read on to find out more…
Introduce yourself and your work.
I’m Jared Kane, a writer of books, short stories, and poetry. I’ve had poetry published by both online and print publications. My novels are currently self-published, and are regrettably in the corner, unwilling to raise their hands to draw attention to themselves. They don’t want to be noticed at this party because they make the most noise, but because they are the most beautiful and profound thinkers in the group. Sometimes those types stay in the corner and are never discovered.
Explain the significance of your Instagram handle, Whirlpool of Crows.
I went through a couple before I landed on this one, and really, I only stuck with this one because it is how many first found me. It’s four syllables of seventeen of a haiku I wrote: a whirlpool of crows / swirls above, justifying / our murderousness. It also features in my first novel, Decline. And I have it tattooed on my arm.
Your first novel, Decline, reads very much like poetry. Tell me why you were inspired to write it like that and why a nameless/anonymous protagonist?
I wanted Decline to differ from all the other post-apocalyptic/dystopian stories out there. I conceived the story before the glut of post-apocalyptic media hit our shelves and screens, but by the time I finished it, a lot of these stories were already out there. So, I took inspiration from a Salman Rushdie book I read once—I’m not sure if I even liked the actual book that much, but the manner in which he wrote it, it felt like you could pull out any random paragraph, arrange it like a poem, and a beautiful poem it would be. At least, that’s how I felt at the time. So, I set about writing Decline with a different mindset: to couch the story in poetic language.
The nameless protagonist is a bit of a shameless homage to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Also, the novel is very “stream of consciousness”, like the reader is inside the narrator’s head, hearing what he hears, and seeing what he sees. I feel like his name would be superfluous, and maybe even colour the reader’s impression of him (everyone knows a John, or a Dave, or a Dominic—maybe less so the latter—and if the narrator was “John”, the reader might see their John’s face or hear their John’s features).
Explain the meaning and significance of the quote “Temporis Destruit Omne – Time Destroys Everything” as it applies to your second novel, Mya.
Temporis Destruit Omne is another one of my tattoos now—I hope there’s no Latin scholars out there who pipe in about how terrible my translation is.
Mya is a very intimate book. Without getting into spoilers, “Time Destroys Everything” guides most of what happens in the narrative. It’s a very intimate belief and feeling of mine: it doesn’t matter what you build, what you create, who you become, it will all crumble to nothing in time.
There is no such thing as history and future, past and present—aside from what your senses are perceiving right this moment (itself an interpretation of the mind), everything else is dust or in a state of either becoming dust. A character in Mya proposes the theory of Eternalism, which is a sort of answer to this philosophy. Eternalism is the belief that past, present, and future all exist at once and are equally real (to put it mildly, this is the nutshell version, and I’m absolutely not an expert). This is reassuring in a way: all those times you had, or wish you’d had, they’re all out there still and possible, even if you will never return to them again.
The Underside of Wars protagonist, Matthew Talbot, is a writer frustrated with the state of the literary world and its inability to appreciate his work or give him his “break.” How much of that comes from your own experience as an indie author?
Underside is maybe my most personal book. This will be a very vulnerable answer.
The main character grapples with a lot of things I do, thinks some things I think, feels some things that I feel. Matthew’s experience does reflect my personal experience to some degree when it comes to personality shortcomings and substance abuse. He’s a bit of a cipher. While Matthew is supremely confident in his abilities, that confidence is so shaky that he’s fundamentally unable to accept being unsuccessful, or for success to look different than he always imagined. I am very confident in my ideas, my writing, and what I’ve created. And it can be very hard to accept being passed over. It’s all the more devastating to accept the possibility that I may never be successful (insofar as I define “success”). If that comes to pass, what else is there? There’s a lot more plot in Matthew’s journey, but those quandaries and principles are pretty central.
You’ve described your three novels as a trilogy. With different characters and storylines, how do they fit in/ mesh together as a trilogy? Do they need to be read in a specific order?
I call them my Apocalypse Trilogy. It’s more like they exist in the same universe, and fall somewhere on the same timeline. There’s no direct connection between them except for some easter eggs in Underside that point to it taking place a certain amount of time after Mya. If there was an order, it would be Mya, Underside, then Decline. They absolutely do not have to be read in that order. Though that’s not a bad order in which to read them. A new reader would probably find the language in Mya and Underside more accessible. Then, hopefully after they’ve read those two, they’d be willing to undertake the challenge of reading Decline.
What role does music play in your creative process? What else inspires your creativity? What bands/artists are currently on your writing playlist?
Music is everything to me. Life without music would be food without taste. I have a psychological dependence on music, sort of the way someone can become addicted to gambling: like a gambler feels a shot of dopamine when they pull the slot lever down, so do I feel a surge of dopamine when I hear the music I love.
I always match up a song with what I’m writing. If it’s a sad moment, I play a sad song. If an action sequence, I play a more aggressive song, and so on. I know some writers have difficulty focusing when they’re listening to music, and especially music with lyrics, but I don’t hear the lyrics. All I hear is mood.
In that regard, I have thousands of songs on my writing playlist—it all depends what type of dopamine hit I need at the time! For example, Decline is a quiet, sad, philosophical post-apocalyptic novel, so my playlist for that book included a lot of Lycia for the quiet, sad moments. For the more heartbreaking moments, the playlist would become more aggressively despondent, like Psyclon Nine’s “Under the Judas Tree”. Mya was very much influenced by songs from Yendri, while Underside is more raw, and had music from Amenra and Black Mare (see Black Mare’s “Ingress to Form”). Right at this moment in the block universe, I’m cycling through those three playlists (I still keep a separate playlist for each book on iTunes) as I write these answers.
What else inspires my creativity? Maybe everything, maybe nothing. I’m usually most inspired when I feel a lugubrious emptiness. It’s a profound need that feels deeply hollow. Ironically, it’s difficult to write at those times, because my mind will conjure up the same words and lines over and over. Instead, I’m most productive during times of (and I’m paraphrasing . . . someone . . . I can’t remember who, and I don’t remember the quote well enough to search it) sober reflection on past inspiration.
I’m sure you’re the cosmic love-child of dead poets. Who do you think they are ? What writing talents have you inherited from each of them?
I love this question. Anything that makes me turn around and consider my bookshelves is welcome. It’s like returning to nature after the city.
I’ll say William Wordsworth and Thomas Hardy, which is starting right at the beginning. From Wordsworth, I gained a sense of wonder at nature and a feeling for romanticism that is much more vast than our current crass concept of “romance”. From Thomas Hardy, I inherited a dark and tragic outlook. One is basically a response to the other. Hardy probably continues to have the most influence on my writing. His books can be one thing for 300 pages, and then deliver a gut punch out of nowhere in the last chapter (or last two pages in the case of The Woodlanders) that makes you completely re-evaluate your feelings about the entire book.
What do you hope readers will take away from your work? Do you prefer they read your novels or your poems or both? If they only read one of your books, which one would you most recommend?
I hope that my work evokes an emotional response from readers. The best books I’ve read, I’ll put down and feel different afterwards. The light will be a different warmth, and everything around me will look a little different than it did before. Sometimes this feeling lasts a few hours, a few days, sometimes it’s forever. I want my writing to land on that spectrum for readers. Honestly, as I veer back to the question of “success” that came up several questions back, that is true success. If I can make a reader feel that way, then let the rest of the chips fall where they may.
If I had to choose, I’d rather my readers read my novels. But I don’t write long-form poetry, so read both! Depending on the reader, they might want to start with Underside or Mya because they may go down easier to start.
Where can readers find you?
Readers can find me on Instagram @whirlpool_of_crows, where I post poems and other blurbs, while The Underside of Wars, Mya and Decline are all available on Amazon.