Friday, January 12, 2018

Author Chats & Fun Surprises!

Every once in a while, you stumble upon a book (or series of books) that looks intriguing enough, interesting enough, and just fun enough that you can’t help but dive in head first – even when you’re already waist deep and sinking in everything else you’re already doing, reading and involved in. That’s sort of how this post, and tomorrow’s, came to be. If you’ve played around on this blog by checking out the other pages/tabs across the top, you may have noticed that I have a review request form that authors, their PA’s or even readers can fill out in the hopes of having me read a specific book to review and/or talk about here on Ups, Downs, Ins & Outs. And sometimes a book that is requested captivates me just enough that I can’t wait to do something, anything with it… That’s where today comes in.

Today I’m sharing with you the interview I did with Indie Author Sonia Taylor Brock, writer of The Swamp Witch series. And pssssst… if you stick around to the end, Sonia and I have a BIG SURPRISE for you all too!

[centered/italicized = LDF; normal = STB]

Why (or how) did you decide to be a writer?

I have always dabbled in writing, but concentrated on my art for many years.  [Then] I was given really good advice from another writer that helped me take the plunge.  He told me to write what I know and write what I like to read.  I knew exactly what that should be.  Once the inspiration started, I haven’t been able to shut it off.

When you started writing what was your goal?

Honestly, when I started writing, my first goal was just to finish what I started.  Then the advances in self-publishing were really starting to gain momentum.  I researched the pros and cons and decided that if I wanted to continue writing, I had to self-publish.  I realized that if I waited for a publisher, I would never write another book.

What does a typical writing day look like for you?

Oh, Lord!  I get up, take care of the grandkids, do housework, play on social media for a while, do chores until lunch time.  When the grandson takes a nap, I begin writing.  I write for about two hours every day.  I continue with my daily chores until the grandkids come home, dinner is cooked and hubby is settled in and then my time is my own again.  Sometimes when I am on a roll I will write all night long.

Do you write every day?

Most days yes.  Even if I am not writing in one of my WIP’s, I journal. 

Do you listen to music while you’re writing? Do you make/use playlists to help keep you inspired or focused on the story or scenes you’re writing?

No, I do not.  It is too distracting for me and I can’t focus.  I dive in and become one with the keyboard using it to translate the thoughts into something other people can comprehend.  To me writing is the great escape.  You can be anyone, do anything, on any planet you choose.  Music comes later with a glass of wine while re-reading my progress and I am me again.

Do you have a process you have to follow, items you have to have with you, or other “superstitious” or good luck type of things that help you while writing?

Only to not be interrupted.  Items I have to have, coffee … LOTS of coffee, a full pack of smokes (yes, I am a smoker and I’m not quitting, so everyone can just back off).  I don’t need food or anything else (husband usually reminds me to eat).  Most importantly, I need to room to pace while I work through a scene in my head.  My only good luck charm or focus is the book cover I create.  I usually do it first and it keeps me centered.

When you’re writing do you drink coffee, tea, water, soda, wine?

Coffee from the time my feet hit the floor until about 10:30 then water or soda.  Wine is my reward at the end of a good day. [LDF note: FYI - This could describe my consumption to a ‘T’!]

When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

Many things, but mostly I think I saw myself working for a newspaper or magazine.  Fashion and entertainment didn’t intrigue me, but journalism did.  Unfortunately, my life chose many different paths.  After a stint in the Marine Corps, several secretarial and office administration positions, I found myself in Advertising.  I worked for several newspapers and magazines over the years including The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Creative Loafing, and a couple trade magazines.  Ad copy is not as rewarding as news or human-interest stories, but it gave me an outlet and a sense of direction.

If you could go anywhere in the world on an all-expenses paid vacation,
where would you want to go?

I have been to many places tropical and intend to visit some of them again soon when we get the sailboats seaworthy, but I have always wanted to go to Ireland or Scotland.  The history and beauty of those countries intrigue me.

If someone gifted you $1,000,000 tomorrow, name three things you would do with it?

Completely fund the pilot program for my Non-Profit Organization (Future Literary Professionals of America, Inc.), sell all my property and belongings and buy a 50 foot catamaran.

As soon as I read the book blurb for Hawk’s Spell I knew that this was a book I was going to have to read. Then I looked at what the previous books in The Swamp Witch series were about and knew I was going to have to read all of them. How did you choose your subject matter – witches, dragons, trolls, shape-shifters and etc.?

Well, I was born and raised in South Louisiana.  Stories of the ‘Swamp Witch’ and the ‘RouGarou’ were stories we were told as children.  I have always been a supernatural fan and love the classics.  I think I have watched every vampire and werewolf movie ever made.  I write what I like to read.  My writing is a bit unconventional because I don’t follow the rules.  I also write phonetically with Cajun Patois when Cajuns are speaking.  It bothered me in many movies that actors always got it wrong.  I wanted you to “hear” how it really sounds to hear a Cajun talk.  Don’t worry, I have included a glossary to help understand what the meanings are and how they are used.  Unfortunately, grammar Nazis don’t like this strategy at all.  I chose to write about all the creatures because my way of thinking is that if you have one why not all of them and I don’t discriminate like that, Ha Ha!

How does De Lady Down De Bayou fit in to the series? Would you say it’s more “extra scenes & stories” or the “bridge” that takes you from one book to the next?

You hit in on the head.  It is the “extra” to get to know the day to day life of the Swamp Witch and get a feel for the community that is the primary setting of the books.  I have also given my readers a hint of what they are in for in the way that the title of the book is written.

You’ve got a new book in The Swamp Witch series slated to come out this spring.
Tell us about it.

Ooooh!!!  I am sooo excited about this one!  I am having a blast with it!  As with Hawk’s Spell, this is another book focusing on one of the main characters and how they fit in to the world of The Swamp Witch, how they came to be and a little bit of a side-adventure that focuses on entirely on them.  This one is about Jean Lafitte.  Pirate, Supernatural Creature and main love interest of the Swamp Witch.  He epitomizes what it is to be a rogue in the early 19th century.  He is a thief, scoundrel and a gentleman and loves Stella with everything he has… in his own way.  You are going to get a little bit of actual historical fiction in this one as I recount his life for you. 

[LDF note: Sonia shared with me a peak at the cover work for Jean Lafitte’s book and it’s pretty cool. If you’ve read the books, or intend to, the way she’s captured him for the cover is pretty much exactly how I imagined him in my head while reading!!!]

Of all the characters (and they are many) who inhabit your created world,
which has been your most favorite to write and work with?

Now that is a difficult question.  I love them all, but I think maybe …. Ummm… Oh I can’t choose!  Let’s see, if I absolutely HAD to, I would say Jean.

Thus far you’ve stuck to the world of your Swamp Witch,
do you have any plans for something new/different?

Yes, I have two other books that I am working on right now.  One is called The Bright Lighters (but that may change with a new movie out called Bright, Ugh! ).  It is a dark paranormal.  It is REALLY dark.  At this point there are no Heroes only a woman with a vendetta.  So far, it is gruesome, and I absolutely love it!  I don’t intend to make this a series unless fans talk me into it, but the plan is to write more books like this but as stand-alone pieces.  I am going to SHOW you so much you will get queasy but keep on reading just to find out what happens next.

To take a complete 180 degree turn from my work so far, I am also turning some of my journaling into a book that may or may not wind up as a biography of sorts called “Along the Way”.  I hate the idea of being so narcissistic that I would write a book about myself, so I may make it about someone else and draw on my personal experiences.   Most of my immediate family has passed away and I only have a few cousins that I am in contact with, so with prompting from friends to tell the tales for posterity, I was inspired to write this one.  Who knows?  Maybe it will help someone else.


You’ve made it this far – yay! I hope you found Sonia as interesting as I did, and if we’ve managed to peak your interest in the books you can find out more, and get your own copies, using the following links.

You’ve stuck it out to here, so you’re probably wondering now about that surprise I mentioned, right?

Click that link ^ people. It’s totally worth it! 

And until later... Happy Reading!!

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