An interview with Nico Laeser

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I met Nico Laeser through an indie author group in facebook, but to be honest I would have known him anywhere. We only recently discovered that we almost share a birthday (just a few hours and a good number of years apart) and I was not surprised. We are that rather old fashioned word my father would have used, ascribing to it the highest praise… sympatico – we have read each other’s books and love each other’s style of writing. Nico’s recent novel ‘Infinity: An Anonymous Biography’ is one of the best I have read, and I reviewed it on Amazon earlier this year. http://www.amazon.com/Infinity-Biography-Nico-Laeser-ebook/dp/B00V7QERDW/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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Nico is a talented artist, an accomplished writer, and a great wit – another thing we share is a dry, sometimes dark humour. He has also selflessly poured energy, time, and his considerable wherewithal into helping to bring into being the Charity Anthology ‘You’re not Alone’ https://www.facebook.com/yourenotalone2015

I offered Nico a series of ponderables, about his books, his life, his journey and vision as a writer, and to round the interview off, questions about who he would like to invite as dinner guests and what music he would pick as the soundtrack for one of his novels. I hoped he would choose ‘Infinity’ for that, and he did.

I therefore now present to you Nico Laeser, awesome friend, fellow scribe and dream weaver, in his own words…

“In the beginning, the collective energy that some of our species have come to worship became aware of itself and exploded into physical existence, and so the experiment began. 13.75 billion years later during a dark and stormy night, (average nightly forecast for most of England) I was born.

I travelled to Canada in my early twenties, fell in love with the place and for the first time in my life, I felt like I was home. Since I could think and feel I’ve had a passion for art, music, and literature, and have used each like a drug, and as a catharsis, to perform that ever necessary purge of mental and emotional baggage.

For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed stories in instalments. Each night, almost consecutively, the next episode of a story plays in my dream like a movie, and over the years, I began wondering if any of those stories were good enough to share.

I’ve always written stories, some good, some terrible, and like most aspiring authors most of my stories remained unfinished. It was only after setting my mind to writing and finishing an actual novel, that I began to take it seriously. Once I’d finished the first draft of my first full-length novel, I began wondering if it would be good enough to publish. It wasn’t, and I didn’t try. Instead, I put the novel aside, patted myself on the back for having completed the marathon that is writing a novel and set my sights on improving my technique, reading countless books and articles on the craft. By the time I came back to the novel, I had improved enough to pick it apart flaw by flaw, and I did. I tried to fix it, to polish it, but it was too rough. Knowing what I know now, I could have quoted Hemingway and reassured myself that “All first drafts are shit.” Instead, I experienced my first ‘I’m a hack’ slump.

Once I stopped beating myself up, I began again. I wrote a second draft, scrapped it and wrote a new first draft, then a second, and third. For me, there was no greater creative writing teacher than my first book. I rewrote until I was happy, put it away and wrote another novel using the skills I had cultivated from each failed draft. When I returned to my first completed novel, it wasn’t as bad as I expected, and ‘not bad’ was a good start.

I read in almost all genres and find myself inspired by every well written story. My influences are too vast to name all, and it would be unfair to the rest to name just a few. My love for all genres has made it hard for me to choose a genre, or perhaps reluctant to do so. I’m currently working on two novels, one that could easily squeeze into the horror genre, and the other is a dark comedy. I’m not ready to pigeon-hole myself into one genre, but my novels all have a common thread (loose as it may be and in whatever form) of transcendence, but to some degree all stories share this thread.

When I’m not writing, I’m painting, or loosing arrows at a target, or spending quality time with my beautiful wife and children. Even though I left England fifteen or so years ago, I still enjoy British comedy, and am always looking for shows that I’ve missed over the years of my absence from ‘Old Blighty.’ Nothing makes me laugh harder than dry British wit, and intelligent dark comedy.

If I could have a dinner party with guests from any time period, I would invite Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrödinger, the full cast of Monty Python, George Carlin, Bill Hicks, and Ricky Gervais. I would also leave an open invitation out to Charles Darwin and Jesus Christ. It would be an interesting night, but I’m not sure that all would show up, or stay for the whole thing.

If I had to pick a song for ‘Infinity: An Anonymous Biography’ it would be either Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’, or ‘Dazed and Abused’ by Seether. Both are tragic and beautiful in their own way, and both move me emotionally, as I hope my novels will for my readers.”

https://youtu.be/x4HxqbMq2RQ

Thank you, Nico. Having listened to this soulful track ‘Dazed and Abused’, I agree it’s the perfect choice.

The other novel by Nico Laeser I have already on my kindle, is ‘Skin Cage’ http://www.amazon.com/Skin-Cage-Nico-Laeser-ebook/dp/B00RYDGWIA/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 It’s such a joy to have a novel waiting on my virtual bookshelf that I know without reservation I will delight in reading.

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Nico’s Amazon author page is: http://www.amazon.com/Nico-Laeser/e/B00SF3C732/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1431991295&sr=8-1

For more information, or just to say hi, you can like his author page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nico-Laeser/1439659402974977

Or email him at: http://nicolaeser@gmail.com

An interview with author Ian D. Moore

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I first met Ian D. Moore in an indie author facebook group to which we both belong, and then was invited by him to join the team that evolved to produce the inspired You’re Not Alone – An Indie Author Anthology. https://www.facebook.com/yourenotalone2015 Ian has been the driving force behind this, and has worked incredibly hard to make it happen. Knowing him has been a privilege, especially as I’m aware of the personal grief that first fired his enthusiasm to create a way to contribute meaningfully to a charity dear to his heart. I wanted to understand more about the man as well as the writer, and so I invited him to be interviewed on my blog.

Ian, what else can you tell me about yourself?

Well, my full title is actually Ian David Charles Moore, which is quite a mouthful to say the least. I’m a 43 year old trucker, originally from Birmingham, West Midlands but have been living ‘up north’ in Yorkshire for the last 10 years. I have two sons aged 16 and 9 and a step-son aged 17 and step-daughter aged 15 with my partner of almost 4 years. I tend to be quite practical, not the most emotional person I know. If it’s broken, I’ll try to find the fastest, most efficient way to fix it. If it needs doing, I’ll get it done, one way or another. In a nutshell, that’s me.

What about your writing history – when was the first time you decided to write, and what prompted you to begin?

I have always loved the written word. I’m quite inward focused in real life, not one for making small talk, and I usually avoid crowds. This has meant that I find it much easier to write than to talk, though it is arguable as to which one I do best. So far, I’ve just one fully completed novel entitled Salby Damned. The idea came from a radio broadcast I heard about fracking. It triggered an immediate response in me, and the story was originally written on my Samsung mobile phone and posted chapter by chapter in real time on to Facebook – until it got to be too big. It took just 7 weeks to write the story, and a further 9 months to edit it. This was my first attempt at a full scale professional novel. I had written a few short stories many moons ago, never published and long since lost. I’m prone to poetry from time to time, sometimes funny, sometimes a little more serious.

Did anyone influence you / encourage you to become a writer?

My younger sister Helen was the one who gave me the push to write a professional story. She knew that I could write and encouraged me to try to write a ‘zombie story for grown-ups’ – that’s what she asked for. I hope I didn’t disappoint her.

When did you decide to write in your chosen genre?

From a very early age I was always fascinated with the darker side of life, the horrors and thrillers of this world, from the bizarre such as Animal Farm, to the plausible and one of the greats, Fahrenheit 451, and then, when I got older, James Herbert – Portent, and Dean Koontz to name but a few. The macabre, psychological, paranormal and generally weird always seems to pique my imagination. It felt right to write in a genre that I love so much.

Tell me more about the concept behind your book. How exactly did you get the idea?

Salby Damned

Well, as I said, I was given specific instructions by my sister to write an adult zombie story. And then, at work trucking one day, the radio announced that gas and energy companies could now legally drill under our houses from miles away to extract shale gas… the creative juices started to flow, and the ‘Deadheads’ were born.

What about your life outside of writing?

Life is very busy, as you can imagine with four children, two of which (mine) still live in Birmingham over a 120 miles to the south. I spend my days off alternating between home life in Yorkshire and time with my boys in Birmingham. My trucking work sees me out 60 hours a week on the road and I also run an internet based bed/mattress business which can mean long hours delivering nationwide in my free time.

What makes you laugh?

Lee Evans, generally speaking. His humour is outstanding. I warm to people who don’t take life too seriously – it is far too short for that. I find that seeing my children happy and smiling lifts me beyond words, and equally to see my partner happy also turns a dark day into bright sunshine.

Who would you like to invite for dinner?

The Head of NASA and the complete crew of Apollo 14 – what a story they would have to tell.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

In the Arms of the Angel by Sarah McLachlan – it’s a VERY haunting melody. https://youtu.be/3pvf_OBuJVE

What are you working on now?

Currently, every waking minute is spent on the Indie Authors Charity Anthology, along with a multitude of wonderful writers, to complete a book of short stories in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. It is a very exciting project indeed and, as far as I’m aware, a first for the charity.

I also have the sequel to Salby Damned in progress – Nathan Cross is still semi-naked and walking out of the shower towards a gawping Evie… but that’s enough for now. And then I’ve another book I’ve started, something a little different in that it’s a paranormal thriller – thought I might try and bend my genre a little, reach outwards and see if I can do it. Watch this space…

You have created some great characters. Which one is your favourite?

In Salby Damned, it would have to be Colin Snape. He was just the best character to create, everything loathsome in a human being and I got to write it all down… a lot of fun indeed.

Who would you cast to play the characters in a movie?

Nathan Cross would be Hugh Jackman, Evelyn Shepherd would have to be Keira Knightly. The officers in the book would be Hugh Laurie and Sean Connery. Corporal Simms would have to be played by Uma Thurman.

Are you like any of the characters, and if so how?

Nathan Cross was based upon my experiences – he is smarter, braver and considerably better looking than me, but hey, that’s why I write fiction. No, really – he has a lot of my traits and would do many of the things I could see myself doing.

Were the plot and subplots completely planned from the start or did they change during the process, and if so, how?

Salby Damned literally poured out of me. It’s as if it had been waiting for years to be written down. I was gutted when I came to the end of the story, and honestly didn’t know if I’d be able to write another again. Truthfully, I still don’t, but I seem to be inspired none the less to try. The plots, characters and scenes I could see in my mind’s eye as if I were actually there.

What is your main reason for writing?

I love to write. For me, it is an escape and allows me the freedom to express my feelings in a way that I struggle to do in spoken words. If, by some miracle, others enjoy what I produce, that can only be a bonus. Do I write seriously? Yes of course. Does it matter to me what I put out? Absolutely. Am I competitive in my writing? No, but I think we should all push ourselves to be better if we’re going to sell what we write.

I‘ve only read your first book, Salby Damned, so far. Is it going to be part of a series?

You’ll have to wait for the sequel! Even I’m not sure where it will go yet, but I do have a couple of open options.

What for you are the best and worst aspects of writing?

Having the freedom to create whatever you want is very liberating. Your own worlds, scenarios and characters can come to life from mind to paper. I think I’ll always get excited when the first proof of a book drops on the mat – that has to be the best moment.

The worst bit is the dreaded editing. It can be time consuming, frustrating; heartbreaking at times too, especially if you’re learning the ropes as you go along – as I have, really. It is a necessary evil though – polish your work until it shines… then go and polish it again.

How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?

Marketing means different things to different people, depending upon how you see yourself as a writer. There are some who thrust flyer ads and media into the public eye on a daily basis – they may depend upon book sales for income. I do not. I’ll advertise every few weeks or so but have found the best way to get sales is to socialise with other like-minded souls. There is no better advert than a FREE one in the form of a review that is reposted several times. It carries so much more weight.

Tell us one odd thing about you and one really mundane thing.

Although fairly diplomatic, I’m a fan of body art – tattoos to be specific. You would never know it to look at me, even in a short-sleeved shirt, but I have three, AND a piercing. Perhaps it’s my rebellion against ‘the norm’. I successfully gave up smoking after 28 years almost 6 months ago to the day. Is that mundane enough?

Who are your editors and how do you quality control your books?

My work remains self-edited. It is not easy as an indie to afford the high prices for editors and they may not be in tune with a writer’s style or expression. I choose to self-edit but have a team of willing victims… I mean volunteers, who will read a new piece and either throw it back at me or hand it back with a wink and a smile.

How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?

Self-publishing has been a roller-coaster ride of blood, sweat, tears and laughter. It is a learning curve, an ongoing thing, and to have published one, or even three books doesn’t make you anywhere near an expert. Anyone can self-publish, but you must have a certain discipline to get it right and to a high enough quality. The high point for anyone has to be seeing your book online, and possibly googling your own name and having it come up! The low points are when you go back to look at your work after a few weeks and wonder why on earth you wrote it that way – so begins the after edit fallout.

What is your advice to new writers?

If you have a story – tell it. Go and find yourself a good online writers group, not a paid review group. A group where indies meet, like a watering hole. Get to know them, participate in the posts and events – you’ll learn more in one week than you’d learn in a month on your own. There is a lot to learn – writing the story is the easy part, but don’t give up! Polish your work until it glows in the dark and ALWAYS get a second opinion.

Who are your favourite independent writers?

From those I’ve read so far as follows: Lesley Hayes, Patrick Christopher Power, Tom Benson, Nico Laeser, Eric Lahti, Sharon Brownlie, to name but a few. These are the ones who stand out for me.

Who are your favourite authors?

I’ve always liked Stephen King, James Herbert, Dean Koontz, Nelson De Mille, Ray Bradbury and recently Andy McNab.

What is your favourite book?

There are two that have stayed with me. By The Rivers Of Babylon – Nelson De Mille and Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

What book are you currently reading and in which format?

I’m currently reading Sharon Brownlie’s e-book, Betrayal – a gritty, gripping tale of revenge.

What (not who) would you like to take to a lonely island?

My kindle and possibly a good MP3 Player loaded with music.

What would your friends say are your best and your oddest quality?

I can be quite solitary sometimes, away with the fairies in my own little world, usually immersed in thought about a plot or character. My temper – while longer as I’ve gotten older, is still pretty short though I have a lot more scope for understanding now than I once did.

How do you handle criticism of your work?

With the introduction of e-readers, kindles, mobile phone apps, everyone becomes an instant book critic. There will be some who delight in leaving a good, honest and positive review, and to balance those there will be others who leave a negative one simply because they can. The thing about reviews and criticism is to take what is important from them, to look objectively at what has been said and see if it is based upon truth or emotion. In sticking your head above the parapet and putting your work out there, it is reasonable to expect that some will like it, others will not – don’t try to please everyone!

You can find Ian and read more about Salby Damned by following any of these links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23115462-salby-damned?ac=1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iandcmoore?fref=ts

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Salby-Damned-Ian-D-Moore-ebook/dp/B00MVXFHFC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1430998470&sr=8-1&keywords=salby+damned

An echo of things past

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Today, as I was walking home, the fragile sunlight dissolved into sudden gentle rain, and I was overwhelmed by an inexplicable emotion that was something like joy, something like grief, the most peculiar happiness. And then I understood. It was one of those Proust’s madeleine moments that took me back to the first time I went to Glastonbury with the love of my life. We had been together for a year and a day and we went there to celebrate, for our own private handfasting.

It was spring, just like now, soon after the solstice, and we were so irreparably entwined with one another, so terribly, disastrously in love, with a twinly rapport that has only come once in this lifetime. We had booked the room – in a crazy place run by a mad woman (not that we knew that before we went) – that turned out to be in an annexe out in the garden. As she unlocked the door and we stood on the threshold, a sudden flurry of wind blew most of the blossom from the tree just outside. It gusted on to the floor, and across the bed – a breathtaking show of pink and white confetti that couldn’t have been better orchestrated if anyone had tried.

“It does that once a year,” she said airily. “Today is the day.”

Glastonbury is that kind of place. Magic is everywhere. Later, as we walked towards the town it began to rain, just like today, and we got soaked to the skin and had to go into a charity shop to buy dry clothes. In retrospect it seems symbolic, though at the time it was simply part of the glorious adventure that was our whole relationship. Why symbolic? Because there are times in your life when you shed a skin you didn’t even know you were wearing; a suit of clothes like a cocoon out of which your fragile new self can delicately emerge, somewhat damply, to dry in the sun. I do love a metaphor.

We kept going back to Glastonbury, all the years we were together. It pulled us towards it with a weird kind of magnetism. It was the place where our love sometimes found its most intense expression, even when we were unhappy together, much later on. Somebody who lived there told us once it acted as a portal; and that every time you visited, as you left you passed through into a new alternative version of your life. A sojourn in Glastonbury for any length of time makes such proclamations seem plausible.

Here, on the far distant shore of those islands of magical resonance, it seems a sweet delusion that in our innocence we readily believed that each portal would take us to a deeper place of shared connection. Portals are not that predictable. In a time of flux and transition in your life, they are just as likely to open the way to further turmoil. Sometimes that leads to the realisation that it’s time to move on, rather than keep repeating the same story you tell yourself about who you are.

It’s strange, to be drawn back again so powerfully into remembering the love of my life, the way we were, the beautiful folly of our love at the beginning. How could anyone be so completely full of joy without it spilling over into an ocean of bliss? We were blissful; we were wild with delight like children let out of the classroom to play. We were shocked by us, by the sheer improbability and yet inevitability of our having found one another. How could it be so easy to fall so deeply in love without drowning?

Neither of us had needed Glastonbury to provide a place to cross over into an alternative version of our self. We had both already gone through that first portal of transition. That day we met we were ready for change, for challenge, for the heady risk of a truly soulful relationship. It’s how it is in life – you imagine the possibility of something and then it arrives on your doorstep with the absurd power still to surprise you. Be careful what you wish for.

My memory of our love and its loss still lies on my chest with a sorrow deeper than any sigh could hope to relieve. Although, paradoxically, it also gives me the sweetest happiness, remembering how happy we were and how deeply we connected, when we did. We have been apart now for more years than we were together. There is a point at which you stop saying to yourself that you miss someone, and you just accept that that was then and this is now. And in a strange way, they are also always part of now; in that place inside you where they always were and never go away.

Interview with Christoph Fischer

It’s been a while since I blogged. I’ve been doing that thing that writers do, writing. But more of that another time. Today I am focusing on another writer, Christoph Fischer. I met him through the Indie Authors Review Exchange Group on facebook. We read and enjoyed one another’s books, and out of our mutual respect a dialogue gradually evolved. A few months ago, before a major move in his life to a dream location in Wales, Christoph interviewed me on his blog: http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com Afterwards, I realised how much more I could learn about him by asking him some of the same searching questions. This interview is the result.

Christoph Fischer

Christoph, begin by telling me about your writing history. When was the first time you decided to write and when was the first time you did?

I always had a bit of a lively imagination. I wrote a few articles for my school’s student newspaper when I was younger. Then I did nothing of the sort for over twenty years until a psychic told me that I would write a book. I found it amusing. Then a different psychic told me the same thing and that raised my interest. Five years ago I sat down to try it. I wrote the first draft for Conditions and I haven’t stopped since.

Did anyone influence you / encourage you to become a writer?

My father was an avid reader; both my parents always encouraged creativity of any kind and I also had some excellent literature teachers when I was young. My sister and my partner were my first readers. They liked my books and gave me the confidence to show them to more people. My close friend and cover designer Daz Smith was the one who eventually pushed me to publish.

When did you decide to write in your chosen genre(s)

I’m an impulsive writer and would find it hard to stick with just one genre. I write about what interests me. For a while I got stuck in historical fiction because I love history. The research for one book always seemed to raise points of interest for the next one. I also wrote about mental health and Alzheimer’s disease, issues close to my heart. In January I published a thriller. I started out writing it as a book about Western medicine versus alternative healing but the story was better suited for a thriller.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on another thriller called The Gamblers. An accountant with a penchant for numbers and gambling wins the Lottery. He falls under the spell of a charismatic gambler and falls in love with a stewardess. After a brief honeymoon period things become very dubious and he finds himself torn between blind trust and paranoia.

Who would you cast to play the characters in a movie?

For Ben, the accountant, I would choose Ewan McGregor or Edward Norton.
Mirco, the gambler, could be played by either Alexander Skarsgard or Matthew McConaughey. Wendy, the stewardess could be played by Scarlett Johanson or Naomi Watts.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

There is a German song from 1986 called “Der Spieler” that partially inspired the book. Very moody and mysterious but it does not travel or translate well…
For the English version I would suggest “The Winner Takes It All” by Abba… or “Money Money Money” by Abba, or “Name of the Game” by Abba – even “Waterloo”….

How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?

Not sleeping. Not eating. Not answering the phone. Hide!

What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favourite thing?

Writing the first draft is the most enjoyable part for me: Not knowing for sure how the story is going to end and having all the options open.
My least favourite part is the marketing. I’d rather not tell people that my books are must-reads and would love it if people could be dears and discover my work quietly on their own.

What do you do when you don’t write?

Walk my dogs, go to the gym, read and watch silly comedy programmes on TV. Throw in the odd meditation and quality time with the family.

What makes you laugh?

Friends, Brooklyn 99, Big Bang Theory, Woody Allen, adolescent humour.

Who would you like to invite for dinner?

Susan Sarandon and Stephen Hawkins. I’d imagine them to be interesting guests.

How do you handle criticism of your work?

After a few years in the ‘business’ I think I handle it very well.
Constructive criticism can be very helpful to become a better writer and I’ll always welcome that.
If someone read my book, engaged with it and didn’t like it, fair enough. And those who use reviews to offload anger and hate – that comes with the territory of publishing and has to be endured. I don’t like it but I see it for what it is.
I also own a shotgun…

The book I read by Christoph that really made me sit up and notice him was The Healer

The Healer

When advertising executive Erica Whittaker is diagnosed with terminal cancer, western medicine fails her. The only hope left for her to survive is controversial healer Arpan. She locates the man whose touch could heal her but finds he has retired from the limelight and refuses to treat her. Erica, consumed by stage four pancreatic cancer, is desperate and desperate people are no longer logical nor are they willing to take no for an answer. Arpan has retired for good reasons, casting more than the shadow of a doubt over his abilities. So begins a journey that will challenge them both as the past threatens to catch up with him as much as with her. Can he really heal her? Can she trust him with her life? And will they both achieve what they set out to do before running out of time?

I thoroughly recommend The Healer. In fact I gave it a 5*review on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/review/R3PY5WRS9PN9TE/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00QIJ4DJ6&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=133140011&store=digital-text

If your interest has been aroused the following links will connect you with it:

Amazon: http://smarturl.it/thehealerthriller
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23662030-the-healer
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheHealerNovelbyChristophFischer?ref=hl

You can find details of all Christoph’s books on his website: http://www.christophfischerbooks.com

And at his Amazon Author Page: http:///www.amazon.co.uk/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ