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Interview: Literary Classics Award Winner, Stephan von Clinkerhoffen

The Hidden City of Chelldrah-ham, by Stephan von Clinkerhoffen, won Gold for Best High School Series in the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest! Stig’s Flight of Encounters, one of the books in the series, also received Gold in the middle school general category.

Congratulations on your achievements! When did you first start writing?

It’s a bit of a long story.

We were quite happily living in Christchurch, on the South Island of New Zealand, when I began writing.  About seven years ago Christchurch was hit by two massive earth quakes which destroyed our city and many thousands of homes. Surrounded by so much hurt and destruction I found it almost impossible to carry on my job as an artist painting beautiful landscapes.

I Googled “volunteering Christchurch” and soon found myself volunteering full time, first for the Civil Defence then for the NZ Red Cross. Assessing the worst hit areas and helping those most in need.

But the artist in me needed an outlet so I started to paint large images of a fantasyland with a few sentences describing each one in a short story, kids loved it. Then the stories grew and in no time at all I had started to write my first book Stig’s Flight of Encounters.  The title of the series comes from the twin cities of my home town Cheltenham in the United Kingdom and an imaginary city Drah-ham hence The Hidden City of Chelldrah-ham. I found I could draw on the experiences that surrounded me; the poor living on a fractured land struggling to survive, and use it in the story of a young lad from a city of riches beyond belief where money was worthless. So the story developed book by book, painting by painting.

What’s the target age group for your books?

My series, The Hidden City of Chelldrah-ham, is in three volumes. When I started to write the first book I was targeting 12 years and upwards but with each new book the age group has matured as have Stig and Meg, my main characters. Many of my readers are adults of fifty plus who like escapism and to take a break from reality. Can I call “young at heart” an age group?

Chess’s ed. note: Young at heart is a most acceptable age group, in my humble opinion.

What inspired your award-winning books?

When I was about nine or ten years old I remember being inspired by a teacher.  He told me to follow my passion, and helped me a lot with my art which I loved more than anything else. He also enabled me to win an award at an art exhibition. I still have the prize, a dinosaur book. He is now a main character in my book, War of Chaos, playing a “Guard of Old”. My art and my writing feed from each other so I’m glad of his encouragement all those years ago.

Describe one of your characters with a cliché or a famous quote.

The main character in the book series is Stig who is a “Reluctant Hero”. I also describe him with an old word from the 16th century: “Younker” denoting a young nobleman. I love that word.

Do you have plans to, or have you already, released audio editions of your books?

This is something I would like to do in the future. Can I put it on the bucket list?

Chess’s ed note: Yes, absolutely!

Who would you cast as the voice actor for your main character?

I think that someone like Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), but in his younger days, would be good as the main character.

Do you illustrate your own books?

Yes, I do all of my own illustrations, to me it’s a major part of my writing, because all of my wildest machines start on a sketch pad, to make sure that they are plausible, and potentially could work. I was in engineering, prior to my career in art and then writing, and because of this I don’t have magic in my books. I like everything to work as it should or could do, even if it is from another planet. I find this inventing of new mechanical wonders very exciting.

I always find myself looking at new machines and studying their mechanisms.

Who are some of your favorite YA and/or children’s book authors?

I never read much at all, for several reasons, I like to be creative all the time, so I would rather be writing a book than reading one. Also, I would not want to plagiarise another author’s work so hopefully I will have a writing style of my own.

But that’s not to say I don’t hear of other authors or appreciate the work taken to write a book. I do love to watch a good sci-fi fantasy movie like Harry Potter, love that sort of thing.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

I do like to put onomatopoeic words in italics. It seems to bring the sound of the word you are reading into the imaginative world of what you are seeing, in your mind’s eye. Early on my editors were in two minds about it, but now as it has progressed they have applauded it, many of my adult readers like it too.

There are a few images of my paintings in my books and at times my writing is an expression of these paintings in words.

I paint to music, but I write in silence.

How do you balance writing with book promotion and everything else there is to do in life?

Thank God I have a wife (Sally) who is very computer literate, she was also a sales person for quite a while. She has more experience at marketing etc. which I loathe. We know we need to do more promotions.

Sally is also my first port of call for editing, prior to professional editors, and helps with all those rewrites.

Do you have anything special you’d like to say to your readers or fellow award-winning authors?

To all CLC winners I would like to say a big “Well Done!”

“Hats Off To You”, I know how hard and costly it’s been to get to this stage, so let’s all look to a bright future as authors, and as the ending of my first book says “My your beliefs travel with you wherever you are”.

Author Bio

Award winning author Stephan von Clinkerhoffen grew up close to the English Cotswolds, surrounded by nature and the region’s rich history. An engineer for twenty-five years, he spent ten years in the British aerospace industry.

Clinkerhoffen’s career influenced many of the inventions found in the Chelldrah-ham series, as did his time in New Zealand, where he served as a humanitarian volunteer in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake.

An artist for the last thirty years, Clinkerhoffen has returned to England, where he rediscovered his love of local history—a love that permeates Belas Rift.

He has received praise and numerous awards for his writing from Literary Classics Book Awards, Kirkus Reviews, Readers’ Favorite, and ForeWord Clarion.

Follow Stephan von Clinkerhoffen and his writing on Twitter, Facebook, Goodeads, YouTube, Amazon, and his website.

Award-Winning Books

Stig’s Flight of Encounters

Stig is eager to test out his Spiral Drive, a power unit built for his clockwork plane. He’s so eager that he ignores his fellow inventor’s words of warning. It’s a decision that changes his life and tests whether he has enough fortitude and skill to survive.

Stephan von Clinkerhoffen’s City of Chelldrah-ham: Stig’s Flight of Encounters takes readers on a journey to Chelldrah-ham, the city of riches Stig calls home. They travel with him to strange and beautiful lands as his test flight goes astray and crashes into a wooden pod.

Stig’s trip back home isn’t going to be that easy. Soon he discovers bat-like creatures called the Bach that threaten the pod’s homeland. He escapes the encounter but will have plenty more to face.

Stig must rely on what he finds in nature and the help of new friends like Meg, whom he meets on his trek. He’s got his clockwork skills and a map that his father gave him. But is that enough to help him get back home?

War of Chaos

Stig and his friends Arn and Baits head out of the city of Chelldrah-ham on a mission to Polandrea. Their task is to determine whether the battling Bach creatures still pose a threat.

Stig has his own plans to find and rescue his missing friend Meg in Polandrea. Baits, meanwhile, is tasked as a member of the Guard of Old to search for signs of their absent leader, Lillet. Little do they know the danger that awaits them.

Chelldrah-ham prepares for war when the trio finds evidence of recent battles, and Baits learns Lillet’s fate. Stig and his comrades must confront the Bach and learn their mysterious secret if he hopes to rescue Meg.

Stig, Arn, and Baits must rely on their inventions, each other, and their own ingenuity to survive on a harrowing journey through a magical fantasyland fraught with hidden dangers.

Mystical creatures, secret weapons, action, war, and romance—along with author’s own fantastical artwork—await in The Hidden City of Chelldrah-Ham: War of Chaos.

Belas Rift

After the ferocious battle in War of Chaos, Stig and Meg pursue the evil Anet through a swirling interdimensional rift—and straight into new trouble.

On the other side of this portal, the two Manna find themselves in a world of giants and strange, ominous technology—a world that seems as obsessed with greed and gold as Anet herself. They’ve pursued their enemy to her homeland, a country known as England.

Alone and hunted by a terrifying flying machine, Stig and Meg find allies in the unlikeliest places, and they come to realize other Manna have made this trip between worlds before.

When their frantic search leads them to a golden temple hidden deep beneath the earth, Stig learns that fate ties him to this mysterious shrine. Unfortunately, the two Manna have bigger things to worry about. Anet knows Stig and Meg are in England, and she’s using all her resources to hunt them down. Stig’s ability to devise disastrous plans isn’t helping matters, but the Manna can’t afford to give up now. Anet is breeding new creatures to unleash on Chelldrah-ham, and it’s starting to look as if the Manna simply can’t stop her this time.

“Each of the three books in this magical collection are full of wonder and imagination with delightfully multi-faceted characters and a plot which keeps readers enthralled throughout this dynamic series. With a background in engineering and art, author Stephan von Clinkerhoffen lends a unique perspective to this enchanting series which he both wrote and illustrated.” Literary Classics Book Awards

In addition to the above-linked titles, a color edition of Belas Rift is available for purchase on Amazon.

Did you enjoy this interview as much as I did? Don’t miss upcoming interviews of award-winning authors! Be sure to follow my blog.

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TALKBOOKS INTERVIEW WITH BETTY AUCHARD

What are people saying about Betty Auchard’s Dancing in My Nightgown?

“Auchard simplifies and normalizes the process of a new life transition.” ~ Jewel Sample, award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses

 “The quality is excellent; her (audio) delivery is soothing. The story of transformation is exciting and compelling.” ~ David LaRoche, former South Bay Writers President

This April, both TalkBooks and Betty had a lot more to say about her book, Dancing in My Nightgown: The Rhythms of Widowhood, and writing in general. Read on to learn how this author’s “talking on paper” became awarding-winning reading material.

IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Award) Finalist!

Married when she was barely 19, Betty Auchard went straight from her parent’s home to her husband’s bed. She raised four children, returned to college, taught art in public school, and became a grandmother, published artist, a retiree and then a widow.

When she loses her husband of 49 years, widowhood forces Betty to find out what she can do on her own. She has a lot to learn. Facing her new responsibilities she makes all kinds of mistakes. These short, upbeat, inspiring stories tell how this spunky woman got through widowhood—she decides to dance instead of sitting on the sidelines.

Betty laughs and cries her way through grief and, ultimately, comes to see her situation as normal. Through it all, Betty lands on her feet ready for whatever comes next. The last page doesn’t feel like and ending, because really, it’s just the beginning.

Q&A FROM BETTY’S LIVE INTERVIEW

How did you choose which tales to include in the memoir?

I started writing short notes to myself on scraps of paper the day after Denny died. Nothing seemed real and I didn’t want to forget what it was like. The notes became paragraphs and then turned into stories about my new life as a widow. I was so addicted to writing about every experience that I had to create an ongoing list for new stories that would one day be a reminder of how far I had come. Not until I joined a grief support group sponsored by Hospice did I find out that writing had become my tool for healing. I used to be afraid of widows—I didn’t know what to say to them. Now I know they need someone to listen as they repeat everything that happened over and over again. Only then does it feel real. I’ve learned a lot about grief recovery, and my heart aches for others who have lost a partner. (more…)

Interview of Patty Fletcher

I have not yet read the work of today’s interviewee, but I’m inspired by her story. Patty Fletcher is the author of Campbell’s Rambles, a memoir about how she obtained her guide dog, Campbell. Learn more about this author’s writing and her international publication that features work by blind and sighted writers from around the world.

When did you first start writing?

I began to seriously write when I was in the sixth grade, and my parents bought me an electric typewriter for Christmas. I’d had a semester of typing by then because I attended the Tennessee School For the Blind and Physically Handicap in Nashville, TN at the time, and it was a required class. Their belief was this, “According to the sighted world at large you already have one strike against you, so your goal is to show them different any way you can.”

I sat right down upon opening the gift, put in a sheet of paper from the pack that had come with it, and began to compose a short story. My mother had made chocolate covered coconut balls for Christmas that year, and I began to munch on one as I thought, and soon I was typing away. When I finished there was a crazy funny fictional story about a coconut ball that had been sprayed with chemicals from the nearby Eastman Chemical Company and had grown to a large size, come to life and was beginning to take over the town.

I knew right then that writing was something I wanted to do. I’ve never looked back. I wrote short stories for extra credit in English Lit any time I could and was always the one asked to tell stories at all the camp out trips I went on, and simply love all things writing.

What is your primary genre?

Although my first ever type written short story was one of fiction, my primary genre is nonfiction. I love to write about what I do. I love to write of my life, and all the awesome, terrifying, wonderful, and sometimes horrifying things around me.

What do you hope to communicate to your readers?

I want to make the reader feel what I feel, and see the way I do.

When I write my goal is to take the reader straight in to my experience. I want them to laugh with me, cry with me and feel my anger fear, joy, and sorrow.

I want them to know what it is to truly be me. I want them to know blindness and mental illness does not have to always be a sad way of life but holds many awesome adventures. Yes, sometimes they’re frightening. Sometimes Campbell and I have the strangest calamities befall us, but we don’t sweat them too hard, and usually before they’re even over I’m already rolling a story round in my head and simply cannot wait to get back to my laptop to write it all down.

You also have a magazine called The Neighborhood News. Where did you come up with the idea, and what’s the magazine about?

The Neighborhood News came to be after an editor of an online magazine I was writing for at the time, and I had a difference of opinion that led to an argument between the two of us during which she said to me rather nastily, “Well if you don’t like how we do things, why don’t you go create a magazine of your own?” I immediately stopped writing for her, and then with the assistance of my then book editor The Neighborhood News was born. It was a slow process, the title changed a couple of times, and the content as well. Finally, the editor I had then and I seemed to for whatever reason be growing apart, and after much discussion with and with support from a writing group I belonged to at the time, and due to the kindness of my now editor, Claire, The Neighborhood News began to evolve and grow. It is a monthly magazine filled with both advertisements, news worthy events concerning what the readers themselves are up to and literary submissions from folks both blind and sighted around the nation and world. Yes we even have readers in other countries.

The mission of The Neighborhood News? Simple!

I want to create a safe place for people to learn and grow together. A ‘Neighborhood’ if you will, of people who are connected but unique in their own way as well.

A place where I can not only share what I learn and know, but where the people living in ‘Neighborhoods’ all over the world can write in and talk about what they know, and what they’re learning of, and doing as well.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

Do I have quirky writing habits? Wow! Do I!

First off I write at the oddest times. I sometimes wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, a thought will cross my mind about a particular book I am working on, blog post, or an idea for The Neighborhood News, and next thing I know even if it is only an hour since I went off to bed, I’m up, making coffee, and writing away.

My other habit that some feel is quirky is that I do my very best writing off the cuff. My truest and best writing is done on impulse, with no plan forethought draft, nothing. Just sit down write it spell check it and it’s done. People don’t seem to understand how I can write so much at one time, but it’s just my way.

I guess I do have a couple more weird things, one is, when I get extremely in to what I’m writing I tend to wrap the ends of my hair round my fingers while proof reading, and when I’m deeply involved with the writing process I hold my bottom lip in my teeth.

The man I occasionally keep time with says he knows when he sees me at the computer, and my hair is wrapped round the ends of my fingers, and my bottom lip is firmly held in my teeth, he has lost me for at least an hour or two, and lucky for him he respects it, because I do not like to be interrupted when I’m on a roll.

Do you keep a regular diary or journal?

Absolutely! The majority of my current book, Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life* came straight out of a journal I kept while the events written of were going on, and almost all of my blog entries in Campbell’s World are straight journalings. Nothing more nothing less. It’s just my way.

Where’s your favorite place to write?

I have two favorite places. The first is in my favorite chair in the living room. I am actually in it now. It is comfortable I can keep all the things I like to have with me easily to hand on a table next to me, and be involved with activity around me. I moved my desk in to the living room too, and if the room is filled with people sometimes I’ll sit at my desk, with a document open and write about what’s going on.

This however changes in summer. I have a porch swing, and I love nothing better on lazy summer evenings after the sun goes down, and folks get out on their front porches, and do what I call “Front Porch Sitting” to sit and listen to what’s going on around me and write.

It is the best time ever in the world for me to simply curl up in the swing with my laptop Campbell stretched lazily at my feet, and write a few great chapters, or work on some article for The Neighborhood News.

Where’s your favorite place to read?

I love to read while taking a long hot soak in the tub. I read mainly via audio books and so reading while in the tub is no hardship for me, just tap tap the BARD AP or Kindle AP and I’m on my way to other worlds.

If you had to choose one of your books to be adapted for film, which one would it be?

I have only one book published thus far, but if I could have it made in to a movie I’d be truly in ecstasy! I can’t think of much else that would take me to that kind of level of happiness. I sometimes sit and try to figure out what actor I’d have play my Seeing Eye instructor, Drew Gibbon. I have to smile just writing it. I dream of it often.

If you could spend one day in the life of one of your characters, who would it be and why?

If I could be one of the characters in my book I’d have to be Campbell. I’d really like to know what is in his mind. I’d like to know if what I believe to be is really so. He seems so very satisfied being a guide dog, but then again, he had no real choice, and other than his behavior and body language I haven’t a clue how to know what is in his mind, but … Would I really want to?

He might think me the silliest lady on the planet, but somehow I don’t think so. He really does come to life when the harness comes out and we are on our way out the door.

Still, I’d love to have his perspective on things.

*Legal Notes: THE SEEING EYE® and SEEING EYE® are registered trademarks of The Seeing Eye, Inc. See: www.SeeingEye.org

IMG_0060Patty L. Fletcher lives in Kingsport, TN, where she worked for nine years at CONTACT–CONCERN of Northeast Tennessee, Inc.  She now writes full time.

Her autobiographical book is Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life (C 2014). There, she tells how she obtained her first guide dog from The Seeing Eye® in Morristown, NJ: what motivated her, the extensive training she had, and the good friends she made.

For more details about her and her book, including where to purchase the book in e-book or print format go to: www.dvorkin.com/pattyfletcher/

To see her blog and newly updated website go to http://campbellsworld.wordpress.com/

Blog Tour: Timeshaft by Stewart Bint

Today I’m hosting an author who writes in a genre close to my heart: sci-fi time travel. My page is one of many stops along Stewart Bint’s virtual tour. Let’s wish him the best for the re-release of his book, Timeshaft!

Timeshaft_saga

The Booktrope edition of Stewart Bint’s time travelling saga, Timeshaft, is now available.

By the twenty-seventh century, mankind has finally mastered time travel—and is driving recklessly towards wiping itself out. The guerilla environmentalist group WorldSave, with its chief operative Ashday’s Child, uses the Timeshaft to correct mistakes of the past in an effort to extend the life of the planet.

But the enigmatic Ashday’s Child has his own destiny to accomplish, and will do whatever it takes within a complicated web of paradoxes to do so. While his destiny—and very existence—is challenged from the beginning to the end of time, he must collect the key players through the ages to create the very Timeshaft itself.

“Do our actions as time travellers change what would otherwise have happened, or is everything already laid down in a predetermined plan?” he asks. Stewart Bint’s Timeshaft is an expertly synchronized saga of time travel, the irresistible force of destiny, and the responsibility of mankind as rulers of the world.

Following the fortunes of two sets of time travellers, Timeshaft extends Stewart Bint’s popular novellas, Malfunction and Ashday’s Child (both published by Smashwords in 2012), linking the two completely unrelated storylines into a full-length novel.

Set in Australia, London and Scotland, along with an unknown geographical location called Thiecon, Timeshaft combines Ashday’s Child’s activities and hidden agenda, with an accident befalling the very first time journey by the fledgling Time Research And Exploration Project, rocking along to the past and future with paradoxes and twists galore.

Timeshaft is available for purchase on Amazon UK, Amazon USA, and Barnes and Noble.

Stewart Bint author picStewart Bint is a novelist, magazine columnist and PR writer. He lives with his wife, Sue, in Leicestershire, in the UK, and has two grown-up children, Christopher and Charlotte.

He is a former radio presenter, newsreader and phone-in show host, but always wanted to become a fiction writer–a dream that came true when his first novel was published in 2012 at the age of 56. Now the author of five novels, a collection of short stories and a compilation of his early magazine columns, he was signed by Booktrope in 2015, who published a revised edition of his paranormal novel, In Shadows Waiting, in August.

Other books by Stewart Bint:
In Shadows Waiting
The Jigsaw And The Fan
Malfunction
Ashday’s Child
Thunderlands
Up Close And Personal

He has also contributed to three short story anthologies:
Awethology Dark
December Awethology Light
Blood Moon

Stewart Bint barefoot hikeAs a member of a local barefoot hiking group, when not writing he can often be found hiking in bare feet on woodland trails and urban streets.

Visit Stewart Bint online:
Website and blog
Facebook
Twitter
Amazon UK
Amazon USA

 

TalkBooks Interview with R. L. King

Today I’m excited to feature R. L. King, author of The Alastair Stone Chronicles. This June, SBW TalkBooks read the first book of the series, Stone and a Hard Place. Learn more about King and her writing below!

Book Description

It’s hard enough for Alastair Stone to keep his two lives—powerful mage and mundane Occult Studies professor—separate without an old friend asking him to take on a new apprentice. Especially after a university colleague wants him to investigate a massive old house for things that go bump in the night. Still, Stone figures it’s an easy job: just turn up, put on a little show, and announce that the house is clean.

Only it isn’t. A malevolent spirit is reawakening in the basement, imprisoned between dimensions and intent on escape. If it succeeds, countless people will die. Worse, a trio of dark mages want to help it break free so they can control it for their own sinister purposes. They’ll do whatever it takes—including seducing Stone’s young apprentice and using him against his master—to get what they’re after.

With time running out, Stone has to stay alive long enough to uncover the spirit’s secrets. But even if he does, he fears that his own power won’t be enough to send it back.

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

What is your elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch needs that catchy line. I’m good at back cover blurbs but not at pitches. That’s something I think I really need to work on.

How did you happen to write this book?

I’ve always liked magic, but I’m not a big fan of traditional medieval fantasy. I like the idea of magic in the modern world, but I didn’t want to use all of the same tropes that appear in so many urban fantasy books. For example, everybody and his dog does vampires and werewolves—I didn’t want to do that.

Stone, your Mage, practices magic on par with Harry Potter and the wizards at Hogwarts. How did you learn about the magic used in your book?

Harry Potter was not my inspiration. I made up the magic system used in the book while I built Alastair Stone’s paranormal world. People tell me that my books remind them a little of the Dresden Files, which is funny because I hadn’t read any of those books until after I wrote two in my own series. I’ve since read them and I love them.

How long did it take for you to write this book?

Two or three months. I try to write every day. During one month, I wrote 90,000 words, but I don’t keep up that pace all the time.

This book is part of a series. How many books (of the series) have you written?

I have written five of the books in the series. The second one came out this week, and the third just came back from the editor. I’ve got one more finished in first draft, another that I’ve started, and ideas for at least five more.

Do you think of the whole story at once, or do you do part of it and let the character suggest what happens next?

My books are character driven. If people don’t like the characters, they’re not going to read the book. I like to use the same characters. I know where the book starts, where I want it to end, and roughly what needs to happen to get there, but I let the characters do what they do in the middle when possible.

What are your thoughts on publishing?

The more I found out about traditional publishing, the more I knew I wanted to have final control. I am self-published but I use professionals’ services to help me make the best book I can: good editor, good cover design. I used CreateSpace for my paperbacks, and everything went way better than I expected. Most of my sales are in ebook format, though, through Amazon.