Saturday, September 11, 2021

M.J. Polelle - The IAN Interview

 M.J. Polelle

Born and bred in Chicago M.J. Polelle spent a year in Germany on a Fulbright Scholarship before graduating from Harvard Law School. He began his career as a civil litigator. His career took a turn when he became a professor of law, first at DePaul College of Law and then at John Marshall Law School, both in Chicago. He taught constitutional law and served as a Special Assistant State’s Attorney for Cook County. He is now an emeritus professor from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law, formerly John Marshall Law School. He now lives in Sarasota, Florida with Donna, his wife.








IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.

M.J. Polelle: My latest book is American Conspiracy (Lido Press: 7/23/21). When a presidential election is thrown into Congress after a candidate’s assassination the finger of blame points to Detective Jim Murphy of the Chicago PD who in an indelible moment of distraction was out of position in protecting the candidate. Determined to salvage his reputation, he throws himself into an investigation of the mysterious disappearance of Chicago gangbangers.

His investigation uncovers not only a family secret but a grisly web of gangbanger murders leading to Sebastian Senex, an aging pharmaceutical tycoon at death’s door. Senex is determined to cheat dementia and death with secret blood research at Promethean Pharma.

He also has secret political project to restore the great America of his youth. A rejuvenated Senex and General Horatio “Hardass” Harrison plot a coup against a United States on the brink of social and political chaos. Detective Murphy teams up with his estranged brother at the Justice Department and Dallas Taylor, the “backdoor” president elected by Congress, to thwart this act of treason.

How far will some go to hang on to life and power over the next generation?

IAN: Is your book published in print, e-book or both?

M.J. Polelle: My novel is published in both.

IAN: Where can we go to buy your book?

M.J. Polelle: American Conspiracy is available for purchase on Amazon and Ingram Spark. My website, www.mjpolelle.com provides more options for purchase as well as more information about me and my novels.

IAN:
What inspired you to write American Conspiracy?

M.J. Polelle: My years of teaching constitutional law where I saw the potent booby traps in our Constitution involving presidential elections. Some almost came to pass in the 2020 election.

IAN: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

M.J. Polelle: I winged the first draft and let my imagination rip.

IAN: How long did it take to write American Conspiracy?

M.J. Polelle: It took about a year and a half to write the novel.

IAN: How did you come up with the title?

M.J. Polelle: The title American Conspiracy did the best job of conveying what the heart of the novel was about.

IAN: How is your book different from others in your genre?

M.J. Polelle: I don’t believe in “cartoon” main characters in mystery/thrillers who are one-dimensional and seem like supermen or superwomen. I prefer complex characters…like people in real life.

IAN: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

M.J. Polelle: Steve Berry and Dan Brown would be my mentors for the kind of novels I’m writing now.

IAN: What book are you reading now?

M.J. Polelle: I’m reading The Mark Of The Assassin by Daniel Silva whose style I admire.

IAN: Name someone outside of your family members who you feel supported you in the creation of your work.

M.J. Polelle: Pat Agnew, a true Chicagoan and friend, who understands and appreciates literature and what writers go through and is willing to help in any way he can.

IAN: Do you see writing as a career?

M.J. Polelle: I see writing as my “second act” in life after being a lawyer and law professor. It is fun, energizing, and I do it primarily for the joy of writing when I have something to say. It’s a career where financial gain is not the primary objective at this stage of my life.

IAN: Do you have to travel much concerning your books?

M.J. Polelle: When I wrote my debut novel, The Mithras Conspiracy (Lido Press: 2019) I spent a delightful week in Rome, Italy doing research on the cult of Mithras since the novel was set in Italy. American Conspiracy is set primarily in Chicago, my native city, so I fortunately didn’t need to travel there during the lockdown period of COVID-19.

IAN: What was the hardest part of writing American Conspiracy?

M.J. Polelle: Finishing it!

IAN: Do you have any advice for writers?

M.J. Polelle: Enjoy the writing journey and let it lead you to unexpected places.

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?

M.J. Polelle: I just finished American Conspiracy. I’m allowing the well of imagination to fill up again and letting it tell me the direction of my next novel.

 

                                                                                     





Saturday, June 5, 2021

Deadly Business by Anita Dickason

A Multi-Billion Dollar Texas Lure!

Award-Winning Author Anita Dickason ramps up the action in her latest Texas crime thriller: Deadly Business. The reader is thrust into a high-stakes, high-risk game of financial fraud and


murder that extends across three states. With millions of dollars on the line, nothing will stop a cold-blooded gang, including the murders of a U.S. Marshal and a Special Ranger. 


Preorder contest starts June 4, 2021. Enter to win one of three prize packages: tote bag, mousepad, coaster, pen & bookmarks, a $40 value. Contest details at: www.anitadickason.com/

A twenty-two-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, Anita Dickason served as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics detective, advanced accident investigator, tactical officer and the first female sniper on the Dallas SWAT team. Anita writes about what she knows, cops and crime. Her fictional works are suspense/thrillers, and her plots are drawn from her extensive law enforcement knowledge and experience.

Publisher: Mystic Circle Books

Available in Hardback, Paperback, and eBook

Wholesale Distributor: Ingram Content Group

Anita Dickason is available for interviews.



Saturday, May 1, 2021

Denise Bossarte – The IAN Interview

Denise Bossarte 

Denise Bossarte is an award-winning poet, writer, photographer, and artist. Denise is a certified meditation facilitator and contemplative arts teacher. She is an information technology (IT) professional working for a large urban school district. Denise holds a BA in chemistry, an MS in computer science, and a PhD in developmental neuroscience. And she is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

 

 




IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.

Denise Bossarte: Thriving After Sexual Abuse is an eloquent and empathetic self-development book laying out a blueprint for survivors to heal themselves. Denise Bossarte writes with fierce candor as she shares her own traumatic experience with childhood sexual abuse. Thriving provides tips and suggestions for readers to seek help, self-reflect, and pursue healing through a range of activities and practices and offers tangible strategies for readers to reclaim their lives and move forward to a life of Thriving.

IAN: Is Thriving After Sexual Abuse published in print, e-book or both?

Denise Bossarte: Print and ebook.

IAN: Where can we go to buy Thriving After Sexual Abuse?

 Amazon.com  BarnesandNoble.com  Kobo.com 

Google Plus – pending review

Apple iTunes – pending review

IAN: What inspired you to write Thriving After Sexual Abuse?

Denise Bossarte: I wanted to share what I had done on my healing journey as an inspiration and guide for other survivors.

IAN: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

Denise Bossarte: I had an outline of that had the topics for each chapter in the book.

IAN: How long did it take to Thriving After Sexual Abuse?

Denise Bossarte: 4 years. I started the book in 2017. I took about 6 months of 2020 off from working on the book so I could try to get an agent. No luck there so I self-published my book.

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading Thriving After Sexual Abuse?

Denise Bossarte: Ideas on how they can start their healing journey and what things they can try to help themselves heal. The book is meant to be interactive with questions for the reader to work on in their journal.

IAN: How is Thriving After Sexual Abuse different from others in your genre?

Denise Bossarte: My book is not simply a memoir of an abusive childhood. Nor is it simply a self-help book. It is a combination of my story and a blueprint for other survivors of abuse and assault to find their own healing journey.

IAN: Name someone outside of your family members who you feel supported you in the creation of your work.

Denise Bossarte: My editor Candace Johnson was incredible! She was over the top supportive of my work and helped me to bring my dream of my book to life.

IAN: Who designed the cover?

Denise Bossarte: I had the concept for the images on the book and the title of the book. zeIena at 99designs.com helped me take it to the next level.

IAN: What was the hardest part of writing Thriving After Sexual Abuse?

Denise Bossarte: Getting past the writer’s block of being afraid of what people would think of my story and the information I was going to offer in the book.

IAN: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Denise Bossarte: You were not at fault for what happened to you. You are an incredibly strong human being to make it through what you did. You deserve to live a full, thriving life. Give yourself the gift of a healing journey!

IAN: Were there any challenges (research, literary, psychological, logistical) in bringing your story to life?

Denise Bossarte: There were a lot of psychological and emotional challenges in bringing my story to life. I couldn’t just sit down and start at the beginning with the introduction to my story. I had to approach the book slowly, sometimes one paragraph at a time to avoid getting overwhelmed with memories and strong emotions. I skipped around in the various chapters, doing ones that I felt the most comfortable writing about first. And in each chapter, I started with the questions for the readers and then went back and wrote the parts of my story that were related to the chapter topic. The very last part of the book I wrote was the Introduction that gives my story of abuse and healing. It took all the work on the other parts of the book before I was strong enough emotionally to write down my story.

Menelaos Gkikas – The IAN Interview

Menelaos Gkikas

Menelaos studied Industrial Management and Technology at the University of Piraeus in Greece and got an MBA specializing in Marketing, at City University of Seattle. He attended Public Relations Seminars at the Hellenic American Union. He has his own blogs on the internet, and he has attended seminars on Creative Writing, Screenwriting, Social Media, Digital Content, Communication and Conflict Management. He has self-published a romantic drama and a fairytale and he is a digital marketing specialist. Currently he attends Online AI lessons from The University of Helsinki and IBM AI Learning.

 

IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.

Menelaos Gkikas: My latest book is a fairytale, a fairytale fantasy entitled When Magic Truly Happens. A book for all ages above 9 years old that is self-published internationally in the world wide web as an ebook and a pocket book as print on demand. First of all, below I picture its summary:

Little Jennifer meets Jack, the elf, who plays the flute and, through the looking glass, they're magically shifted to a fantasy realm known as Flux, a world created by music. Together with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Jennifer makes new friends, while she discovers the magical mirror plays an important role in her life.

I’ve always dreamt of writing fairytales, enjoying and feeling the breeze around them. When Magic Truly Happens correlates with one of the greatest stories of Brothers Grimm that is Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs. It’s a technique entitled salad of fairytales, described by Gianni Rodari in his book Grammar of Fantasy. Rodari, who has been awarded with a Hans Christian Andersen medal in 1970 for his lasting contribution as a children’s author, names as salad of fairytales the technique of entanglement of different stories who occur onto the resultant of the two.

IAN: Are your books published in print, e-book or both?

Menelaos Gkikas: Both of my books, that is The Words of Emily Logan and When Magic Truly Happens have been self-published both as ebooks and prints on demand. Self-publishing globally with the sole power of the internet and creativity has made this dream come true.

IAN: Where can we go to buy your books?

Menelaos Gkikas: Some of the biggest markets for both of my books have been Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Walmart. Searching the internet for opportunities I discovered the Independent Authors Network, known as IAN into which I created my own web presence with an author’s page. So, aggregated, you can navigate some of my biggest book markets if you just click at my page here: https://bit.ly/39chSSQ

IAN: What inspired you to write the books?

Menelaos Gkikas: Here I would like to clarify the before and after of this inspiration and come up with causes worth spreading. I am a web creator knowing that before I officially started to attend creative writing lessons, the first one million words are practice. I came up to the conclusion that anything and I mean the cure to any complex situation can be explained with storytelling. I believe storytelling can change lives for good. Nevertheless, the unique subjects and objects of this sentence, is what made me quest my own dreams through creativity and not somebody else’s. I still bring into my memory a thought of an epic PC game that is Dreamfall: “Where have you gone to, dreamer? Whose dreams are you dreaming now?” All of the above thoughts have been the stepping stone of coming up with official projects.

The concept of The Words of Emily Logan, when I started writing it in January 2017 was mingled with thoughts and remembrances of the Woody Allen project Café Society. In the beginning of the film wannabe Hollywood stars decide in the end of the film that some dreams are just dreams. This was my motivation to make Joel, my protagonist, act in the screenplay the way he acts and make his dream of fame and fortune come true, at least as a start.

In When Magic Truly Happens, I was inspired by the musical universe of Narnia, described in the first book of the series, The Magician’s Nephew. I was also inspired by Gianni Rodari as I state above and making my main characters correlate with the legendary fairytale of Brothers Grimm was more than a simple motivation and inspiration.

IAN: How did you come up with the titles?


Menelaos Gkikas: I was inspired by Irish Eurovision winner Johnny Logan in my screenplay, singing the song ‘Hold me now’! I still remember how it starts: “Don't... Don't close your heart to how you feel... Dream... And don't be afraid the dream's not real...” Perfect tuning with my previous thoughts on inspiration… It’s also a motivation on telling words hence the title The Words of Emily Logan.

In terms of my fairytale, I just wanted to create a title that bangs! There’s an extraordinary fairytale about Christmas with bears, accompanied by plenty of audio-visual and web material, known as When Magic Really Happens. Here, there is a subtle and tiny distinction between truth and reality. We say for example, those that make the war on ISIS are right, this is a truth. The reality is that it needs violence, people are dying. These terms are complementary and do not substitute one another. That’s why I wanted to create a full of magic and heart fairytale, taking into consideration its potential.

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your books?

Menelaos Gkikas: It’s the discussion I made with my mother. We were saying that what we have always loved in Disney’s projects is the keeping up and the maintenance of a delicate line among all its works. Nowadays, in many forms of art such as writing, music, movies, theater, there have been themes that are heavy, dark, purifying, metaphysical and often times revolutionary… Showing to the world the beautiful, sweet and full of culture and spirit side of the world was my main motive.

IAN: What books have most influenced your life most?

Menelaos Gkikas: As a result of my interests and education I read everything. There have been mainly 3 categories of books that I read: literature books, books related with my education and coaching books. So far these have been approximately 50 since I started lessons in creative writing back in 2015 fall. Hollywood vetted screenplays’ books have a special place in my heart, I am also keen on pure fairytales and fantasy such as The Little Prince of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Hobbit or Philip Pullman’s books. In most of the cases, the main influence comes from books that somehow boost my multi-faceted intellectual nature such as Myla Goldberg’s Bee Season. Apart everything else from Bee Season’s plot, I still remember the words of the precentor to his son inside his studying library office. As the child had been bullied and beaten by his classmates, followed by the discussion with his father where the father expresses the will to share ideas, I still remember his father’s words: “What we do in here, doubly cancels what the others do out there”. I truly believe that the world of letters is the true world of beatitude.

IAN: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Menelaos Gkikas: For both of my books I was being consulted by American writer, filmmaker, consultant and business woman Laurie Lamson whom I first met as a host in free International Screenwriter’s Association Teleconferences about the art and science of screenwriting. Nevertheless, here I have to make a few things clear. A supporter in general and a writing consultant doesn’t take you hand in hand to navigate you into all the analytical details of the movie industry. This is an issue of education, searching, networking, creativity, cross-checking of data, books’ reading and a few inspiring professors. That’s why I am also grateful for the help of Jacob Krueger and Jessica Hinds at the Jacob Krueger Studio in NY, a screenwriting school, who have showed me a different way of filtering my materials. The art that no matter whether something is good, bad, no matter what we have been exposed to as a material, we should not judge, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the ride. Conclusively, we writers are horrible judges of ourselves. But judgement comes from comparison in the end…

IAN: Do you see writing as a career?

Menelaos Gkikas: As a creative individual, digital marketing specialist and transformational leader, writing is the rolling DNA in my veins including my titles. Storytelling is the first and the last attribute that is omnipotent enough to transform everything. Leaders are being exposed to movies, theaters and scripts in terms of the arts, so that when they will have to do it for themselves in their own fields (data storytelling), they will be competent enough to come up with their own simplification crusade. But it is a crusade after all… Especially in the 21st century where digital information and Artificial Intelligence based on information have changed the world, science is being defined by art and vice versa. For the few of us who have the formal qualifications both in arts and sciences, it would be amazing to know how to delimit and frame technology through its creative assets or even better, make heavy weight champions in computers create art where manual work can’t function properly unless it is supported by technology. For all the above reasons, my reasons, I believe creative writing is the beginning of everything for lots of things. Right now, I worry more about the total quality of my whole work and my profile and not making money out of a tiny aspect of it. A writer, engaged into the world of letters that cultivates his soul and his creative expression multifaceted, can’t focus on money from day one. Here it’s important to remember Prometheus, the Titan who steals the creative fire from the Gods and gives it to humans, so afterwards he is being found tightened onto a rock with eagles eating his liver every day after it is being recreated. So, it’s important for me to isolate the good and the bad elements from the creative story of Prometheus without making mistakes. Although writing cases, worries or interests seem common to many people, solutions are strictly personal.

IAN: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Menelaos Gkikas: Creative writing found me - I didn’t find it myself. If I had taken the lessons earlier possibly worrying about my resume, I would have probably failed. It started as an extraordinary exploration of previous read books and materials. For the majority of writers years have to pass before they begin, contrary to the majority of performing arts. Perhaps I just found my calling! But it certainly existed behind the wish to make my artistic dreams come true, if compared with the trying ages of the past.

IAN: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Menelaos Gkikas: Antoine de Saint-Exupery has written one of the greatest and most allegorical fairytales. That is The Little Prince. Besides the fact that it has activated an animation movie and inspired Greek singers play music and sing about the little prince, it’s a book with plenty of messages about vanity, grown-ups and younger ones, hypocrisy, the stars of heaven, faith, effort, the fact that the universe listens, singularity and introducing to little children the issue of death. Although it is written for children it speaks to the heart of everyone!

IAN: What was the hardest part of writing your books?

Menelaos Gkikas: It took me years and plenty of expertise to realize that a script is not revelatory of someone’s character. It is an aggregation of attributes that simply resemble with a person. Man is much more than a sum of a few sentences… Einstein used to say that everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live his whole life believing it is stupid.

IAN: Did you learn anything from writing your books and what was it?

Menelaos Gkikas: I am used to think of my books including art in general as a metaphor and a self-reflection in which I get to know how the world works. One practical way to do that, in the sense of fantastic, is to receive stimuli and create chains of words within seconds that help me create thoughts, decisions and material. This can also happen at the audio-visual sphere. Depending on the temperament and the character of writers, I believe inspiration can come from anywhere. A feather, a book, a photo, nature, music, landscapes, by believing in the world’s fairytale. That’s why the daily processing of experience can be huge but daunting as well. It needs a balance between thinking, daydreaming and doing.

IAN: What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing them to life?

Menelaos Gkikas: The single greatest challenge for me was to be myself. All other roles are taken. Out of this, rise a lot. Rise the research challenges: What about the material, the theme and the multiple argumentations on the work? Confirmation knocks the lonely doors of my mindset recursively. Rise the literary challenges: What do I seek in writing? To portray aspects of my world and my fantasy. Rise the psychological challenges: What is my personal connection to these stories? My personal experiences, conflicts as well as traps in all arguments. Rise the logistical challenges: Is the path I chose logistically effective in terms of creating perspective? Can it be more effective in the future? Here I simply had to do my work, focus on creativity and the world wide web and self-improve with the cross-checking of data.

IAN: Tell us about your next books or a work in progress.

Menelaos Gkikas: There have been 2 books so far under consideration, the completed first draft of a screenplay and the future writing of a novella the concept of which is completed. These are the cases with which I have envisioned to make the great change. Ask for consulting in terms of my entire work, quest movie agents if the prerequisites are met and hunt my cinematic dreams. Nevertheless, the two screenplays plus the novella are concepts with which I wouldn’t like to rush at all. It will take time as Hollywood experts and cinema are not wishes that could come true from one day to the next. All my works are stand-alone projects.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Bridget Smith - The IAN Interview

Bridget Smith


Author. Teach for America alum. Management consultant. Dedicated dog-mom. Whether she's inspiring students to love world geography through games, technology, and a sense of humor or helping her clients disaster-proof their businesses, she brings passion, dedication, and excitement to every adventure. As an author her writing deals with the intersection of fantasy, reality, and identity.

Told she would never walk again after a nerve injury; Bridget began writing what would become her debut novel to simply process what she was feeling. However, the story quickly took on a life of its own, and she realized that the power of Alex and Caidy's world could help other people the same way it changed her life.

 

 

 

IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.

Bridget Smith: A Blade knows all, sees all, and tells few.

Warden Alexander Laurent faces returning to a kingdom and a life he left behind long ago. He didn’t expect to see her so soon, or the look on her face—the look he’s responsible for. When he stumbles onto a plot that endangers not only Caidy, but the entire kingdom, Alex takes the burden upon himself to stop it even if it costs him everything.

Lady Caidelene is busy preparing for the fabled Harvest Festival, the most important celebration in Rosemoor Dell, when Alex returns suddenly. She had dreamed of his homecoming, but not like this - it’s like he can barely look at her. As the Festival draws closer, and Alex pulls further away, Caidy is left wondering: did he ever really love her?

Summer Twilight is set in the intricate world of the Mezrani Empire, where not everything is as it seems. Can Alex and Caidy find a way to survive a dangerous plot to destabilize the throne? Or will they find themselves caught in the machinations of the Empire itself; their fates inextricably tied with that of the world?

IAN: Is Summer Twilight published in print, e-book or both?


Bridget Smith:
Both!

IAN: Where can we go to buy Summer Twilight?

Amazon.com  Barnes and Noble

IAN: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

Bridget Smith: When I first sat down with Summer Twilight, it was a single scene: a young man and young woman, riding through a mountain pass. I wanted to understand how they reached that moment, to explore the world they lived in, so I sat down and wrote out the scene. That in turn raised more questions (as good stories ought to), leading me back in time to the events which led these characters to the mountain pass.

Once I got serious about turning these disparate scenes into a story, I sat down and outlined. It was pretty simple; I used a spreadsheet, added in the big milestones I knew were going to happen, and then filled in the details. I wrote “Netflix episode” descriptions of each chapter, 1-2 short sentences which helped remind me what I needed to have happen, but were very light on the details.

IAN: How long did it take to write Summer Twilight?

Bridget Smith: I got the idea for Summer Twilight in 2012 during my senior year of highschool, when I had just been diagnosed with a chronic nerve condition and was facing potentially spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair. Then, it was a way to cope with and process how I was feeling, a kind of creative journaling.

Once I got to college, I got busy and I left Alex and Caidy alone in their world. I focused on other things, content to return to writing only occasionally, to scratch a creative itch. I didn’t actually return to Summer Twilight until 2018, when I was dealing with severe anxiety and needed to rekindle my coping strategies.

It was during this bout I realized I really had a story to tell, and that with a little more structure, it could help other people the way it helped me. When I got serious and outlined Summer Twilight, I wrote the entire narrative in about three months, in between grad classes and working a full time job.

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading Summer Twilight?

Bridget Smith: I hope readers have a cathartic experience with Summer Twilight. We all face different struggles, we all make mistakes, and we all struggle with Imposter Syndrome. Summer Twilight is the product of my own fears and insecurities, and I think has real power to help you feel less alone.

On a lighter note, it’s also a fun adventure, if you want to leave the seriousness behind and just explore a brand new world with pirates, murder, mystery, and delicious food.

IAN: How is Summer Twilight different from others in your genre?

Bridget Smith: In Summer Twilight, I really tried hard to combine my favorite parts of the fantasy genre. There is rich worldbuilding, a diverse cast of characters, and an adventure tinged with magic and mystery. However, there are two things about Summer Twilight which really set it apart from many modern fantasy novels: the length and the characters.

One of the biggest reasons people don’t read fantasy books are because they’re so long! You’re committing to multiple 500+ page books with complex, intertwining plots. Don’t get me wrong--I love those series. But, it also makes it hard to just flirt with the genre, to get your adventure fix in a fantastical world. So, Summer Twilight is purposely written on the shorter side (about 350 pages total), with bite-sized chapters which shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes to read, so you can enjoy it in manageable chunks.

Second, I put a truly ridiculous amount of time and energy into making my characters feel like normal people who happen to live in a medieval, magical world. Often in fantasy, characters feel superhuman (or, you know, are!), which is incredible but also not super relatable. It’s hard to connect on a personal level with an all-powerful elf queen who can see the future, or a dragonrider warrior. Alex and Caidy, as well as the other characters in Summer Twilight, are designed to break that mold; they make mistakes, struggle with insecurities, have triumphs and successes, and face failure, just like you and me.

IAN: Name someone outside of your family members who you feel supported you in the creation of your work.

Bridget Smith: I’m so grateful to my fiance for all the love and support he gave me throughout this process. We both love the fantasy genre (Lord of the Rings marathons are an annual occurrence), and we both play Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) together. His worldbuilding in our D&D games actually helped inspire me in my own world! I’m so thankful to have someone in my life who encourages me to be creative, believes in me, and is always up to help me problem solve when my characters just won’t behave.

IAN: Do you see writing as a career?

Bridget Smith: I see writing as something I truly and genuinely love. When I was little I wanted to be an author, but having grown up, I’ve realized that I want to be a lot of things. I love my job, I love the volunteer work I’m able to do, and I love having a writing project to turn to at the end of a long day. Because writing is a passion, it’s something I’ll do as long as I love it--and so far, that shows no sign of ending.

IAN: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Bridget Smith: I’ve loved writing as long as I can remember. When I was 11, I wrote a 200-page book about unicorns (innovatively titled “The Story of the Unicorns”) which I confidently told my mother I was going to publish. To her credit, she believed in me and supported me instead of laughing me out of the room.

I’ve always written because it helps me. It’s a way I can be creative and express myself without worrying about the bounds of what’s possible and realistic, and a way I can understand how I’m feeling or what I’m dealing with. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have writing as a coping mechanism, particularly given the trials of 2020!

IAN: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Bridget Smith: Write because you love it. Seriously, the minute writing starts feeling like a chore, you should put it down and step away until you’re excited to pick up a pen again (or open the word document. You get it). Loving what you’re doing will always make your product better, and it’ll make you more likely to actually finish your book. Plus, if you choose to publish (which, by the way, you don’t have to do), you’re going to spend a LOT of time talking about your book. If you love it, that’s much, much easier.

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?

Bridget Smith: Summer Twilight is the first in a fantasy series following Alex and Caidy as they battle the Freelark threat to Rosemoor Dell….and uncover a far more insidious threat to the throne. The next book in the series will deal with the consequences of the events of Summer Twilight, and explore complex themes of freedom, ethics, and morality.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Gina by John "Gene" E. Dawson

 Autobiography, LGBT



Finalist, First Non-Fiction,
 Independent Author Network Book of the Year Awards, 2020


Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Gina details John "Gene" E. Dawson's life growing up in Depression-era Iowa in a poor farming Irish-Catholic family and his adult years spent living on the LGBTQ cultural edge in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and St. Louis. The book offers a rare glimpse into the Mid-20th Century history of both rural Iowa and of LGBTQ individuals in Middle America—told by one who was there.

Part One, Farm Boy 1931-1949: 
Gene recounts his years growing up in the Great Depression, moving with his family from rental farm to rental farm until his parents could afford to purchase their own land and home. Life was difficult and often brutal for anyone during this time, but especially so for a gender-fluid gay child/teenager.

Part Two, Transition and Tragedy 1950-1959:
 Gene initially leaves the farm and begins transitioning into his new life as a gay man in the cities of Cedar Rapids and St. Louis, adopting the "city girl" persona of Gina. But the tragic accidental death of his mother forces him to move back to his family's home in Iowa where he faces gut-wrenching family drama and the loving burden of helping to raise his three younger brothers.


Part Three, City Girl 1960-: Gene returns to Cedar Rapids before finally moving on to live an open, full existence as Miss Gina in St. Louis. Even in the city though, life was quite hard for openly gay men, and Gene recounts multiple harrowing tales involving the brutality of police, gay bar life, and the unsung heroism of Midwestern LGBTQ people—years before the famous Stonewall riot in New York City.

Kindle copies on sale now at Amazon.com



John "Gene" E. Dawson also was known as "Miss Gina" in his younger days. He considered himself a farmer at heart and also worked in factories and as a waiter, beautician, and tax preparer.


In 2019, Gene decided he wanted to get his book published while his health still allowed it. After "Farm Boy, City Girl" was published in April 2020, he enjoyed hearing every comment about it. Sadly, he passed away at age 89 in September 2020.


Monday, September 7, 2020

Philip Yorke the IAN Interview

Philip Yorke writes historical fiction novels and is currently in the process of publishing a five-book series about the English Civil Wars, and the life of Parliamentarian cavalry officer, Francis Hacker.

His first book, Redemption, has received widespread critical acclaim, with one reviewer hailing it as “a well-told tale as close to real life as you’re ever likely to get”.

A former investigative journalist in the UK, Philip has had a life-long interest in history, particularly the events that defined the seventeenth century and anything, and everything, to do with the reigns of Rubert the Bruce and Edward the First.


IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.

Philip Yorke: Rebellion is set in the First English Civil War and tells the story of Francis Hacker, a Captain in the demoralised Parliamentarian army that’s seeking to clip with the wings of King Charles the First.

The bloody war has already been raging for almost a year and forces opposed to Charles are close to defeat. 

In desperation, John Pym and Oliver Cromwell enlist Hacker to spearhead an audacious plot to bring down Charles and restore peace to the ravaged land. 

Courageous and loyal, Francis is drawn into a deadly deceit that may cost him everything he holds most dear…

Rebellion is popular read in the UK, US, Canada, Japan and Australia.

In August 2020, the Historical Novel Society’s Historical Novels Review praised the book, stating: “The first-person, present-tense account is a quiet, simple narrative rich with emotion. Little is known about the real-life Hacker, yet Yorke breathes life into him. Like us all, he has frailties, but dearly loves his family and God. The secret mission, spy and murder episodes may seem like separate interludes in the book; in actuality, they are as intricately and artfully interwoven as a spider’s web and no one is left untouched.”


IAN: Is Rebellion in print, e-book or both?

Philip Yorke: Rebellion can be bought in paperback and e-book formats.

IAN: Where can we go to buy Rebellion?

Philip Yorke: At these stores. 
PhilipYorke.org/store  Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Goodreads.com

IAN: What inspired you to write Rebellion?

Philip Yorke: A visit to the UK’s National Civil War Museum; it was here that I met Francis Hacker for the first time and learned of his contribution to British history. From the moment I was introduced to his life story, I was hooked.

IAN: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

Philip Yorke: I get to know my characters and write from the heart. I do a lot of research, and create ‘quasi outlines’, but I tend to start writing and seldom refer to them. By the time I start tapping away on the keyboard, I usually know where a chapter is heading.

IAN: How long did it take to write Rebellion?

Philip Yorke: Rebellion, which is just over 100,000 words long, took about six months to research and write. It then took a further four months to get everything formatted, proofed and ready for publication.

IAN: Do you have a specific writing style?

Philip Yorke: I write in the first-person. And I try to make the story as authentic as I possibly can. This means I write to a very specific historical timeline, making sure the main threads of the store have credible links to the actual events of the time.

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading Rebellion?

Philip Yorke: Good question. I want people to understand the complexities of everyday life that enveloped everyone who lived during seventeenth century. It was an incredible time, when faith, the arts and remarkable men and women really started to define the modern world. People did incredible things because of their beliefs. They even died willingly because of the causes they served, refusing to take the easy way out just so they could live longer.

I really think there are some lessons today’s generations could learn from the period.

IAN: How much of Rebellion is realistic?

Philip Yorke: I hope all of it is realistic. The feedback I have received from readers, so far, suggests it is.  I am always on the lookout for feedback, and I seek to learn from it (and apply it to my writing) whenever it is offered.

IAN: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Philip Yorke: Without doubt, it would have to be the late and great, Nigel Tranter, a brilliant exponent of the craft of blending historical fact with a wonderful story. His books, in my humble opinion, are ‘unputdownable’! He never sought to be a populist author, preferring instead to be an authentic writer. As a result, his many works are wonderful to read. If you haven’t heard of him, my encouragement is check Nigel Tranter out, particularly his trilogy on Robert the Bruce.

IAN: What book are you reading now?

Philip Yorke: I have just bought Burning the Books by Richard Ovenden. It describes itself as “a history of knowledge under attack”. It covers many instances of literary and ‘thought’ suppression – including the period of the Reformation in England, when Henry VIII’s agents burned many thousands of books produced by monks and Catholics.

IAN: Do you see writing as a career?

Philip Yorke: Most certainly. But I doubt whether I will earn royalties on the scale of JK Rowling!

IAN: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Philip Yorke: I used to play rugby union, and the team I was a part of appeared regularly in the local, regional and national press. When I was looking for a job, the lady who became my mother-in-law suggested I write to my local paper to see if they would be willing to advise me on how I could become a reporter. The paper’s editor replied to my letter within three days – offering me the position of fulltime ‘rugby writer’. I took it and used to report on the games I actually played in. This was in the late 1980s, and you would never be allowed to do it today. It was as hard, and as easy, as that!

IAN: Do you have to travel much concerning your books?

Philip Yorke: I try to describe the towns and cities my characters live in and frequent as accurately as possible. To this aim, I travel reasonably extensively. Being based in the middle of England – and with the books focused on England – it means I never really have far to go. And I always make sure there is a good tea shop close by, for an ‘emergency’ cream tea!

IAN: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Philip Yorke: Write for you, and not your imagined audience. You need to love your book and be passionate about the characters you have created. If you don’t, how can you expect others to find your work interesting?

Make sure you are thoroughly absorbed in your main character/s. Develop values and a back-story for each of the main people you introduce to the reader. There needs to be depth and personality, not just a name.

Try and make the mundane interesting. At least 80 per cent of a book isn’t that exciting. But if it is well written, even making a cup of coffee can be made to sound interesting.

Make sure your story contains some surprises. If it’s predictable, your readers will quickly lose interest. Writing a plot/storyline is critical in this regard.

Don’t stop! At times, it will be hard working bashing out a few hundred words, never mind several thousand. But persevere. Write regularly and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can accumulate 50,000 words.


IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?

Philip Yorke: Redemption – the sequel to Rebellion – is the second novel in the Hacker Chronicles series. It will be published on 11 January 2021, and tells the story of Francis as he seeks to come to terms with the tragic events of 1644.

It is a fast-paced tale of ambition, betrayal, heartbreak, faith and war, all inter-mingled and played out during one of the most turbulent periods in British history – when brother fought against brother in a bid to oust a tyrant King from the English throne.

At its heart is Francis’s determination to gain vengeance against Gustav Holck, a sadistic Royalist mercenary who kills and tortures his victims for pleasure.

But Holck is a formidable foe, and the odds are heavily stacked against Francis as he seeks to bring to justice the man who has caused his own family such grievous pain.