eyE[before]Olivia Stocum

First off, allow me to apologise for my unexpected hiatus from eyE. I hadn’t planned it, but as the old adage goes, ‘life is what happens when you’re making other plans’. In between my aforementioned ‘life’ and trying to get BaCwS finished I’ve been a bit short on time, and it doesn’t look like I’m going to have an awful lot more time in the near future either. But nonetheless, I shall endeavour to continue posting when I’m able.

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Now, on to more important matters. As a reward for your patience, I was recently afforded the opportunity to interview the brilliant Olivia Stocum. Olivia is a historical romance author whose debut novel, ‘Dawning’, comes out in just a few days on July 17th. Many of you may know Olivia from her awesome blog, of which I am a big fan, titled ‘The Claymore and Surcoat’. Many more of you will get to know Olivia, through her fantastically impassioned portrayal of love and devotion set against the backdrop of the rolling Scottish countryside in the 16th century.

A lover, dreamer, archer and artist; the auspicious Olivia Stocum.


What first made you want to become a writer?

“When I was a kid my dad told me I had to start living in the real world, because my uncanny ability to fade into La La Land would get me nowhere in life. I saw this as a challenge. Once he said that, there was no going back. I HAD to turn my overactive imagination into something useful. Judging by how proud he is of me now, I have to wonder if he was using reverse psychology.”

As a writer of historical romance, how much research do you usually put into your story’s background? How do you find the balance between fact and interpersonal fiction?

“Sometimes history can get in the way of the story. When this happens, I think it’s better to tell an engaging story. To some degree you have to create your own reality when you write about a time and place 400 years ago anyway. There’s no way to know every tiny detail of your characters’ daily lives without having to fill in some blanks. Consistency is the key. Decide what’s right for your world and stick with it! Also, make sure you don’t make any obvious changes to the setting or history buffs everywhere will fall into a dead faint.”

As someone who has declared themselves an adamantly independent author, what do you think the advantages and disadvantages of the independent marketplace are for newcomers?

“The indie market evens the playing field. Now, anyone with an imagination and a willingness to work their arse off can make a go of it. No more emptying the bank account to hop a plane to some writers’ conference where you will have to lick shoes all week in hopes someone with a pie chart and a list of acceptable plotlines will confirm that you are, in fact, a novelist. The downside is that the market is flooding with writers who probably should have taken a few more workshops, or joined a critique group, before publishing.”

What do you think are some of the most commonly mistaken or misleading ‘rules’ you’ve been told about writing? What lessons have you learned from your own experiences?

“Oh wow. I’ve struggled with this a lot. At one point I allowed stringent contest judges (to) critique my work to a stagnant death. Sure, I had a clean manuscript, but it lacked the ability to elicit an emotional response in the reader. Take a look at some of the greatest writers throughout history. Guess what? They broke rules. Lots of them. But like many things, you have to know the rules before you can break them. I would tell any newbie out there to study the rules, but keep in mind that they’re really more like suggestions.”

If you could visit any place, at any time period in history, but could only do so trapped in the body of a marmoset, where and when would it be?

“A marmoset is some kind of monkey right? Let me see… little monkeys make me think of Indiana Jones because there was a little monkey in ‘Raiders of the Lost Arc’, which makes me think of Egypt, which reminds me of my belly dancing days… wait, what was the question?

“Oh yes, trapped in the body of a marmoset. Well, if I went to historic Scotland, I’d probably end up rotting in a cage because they wouldn’t understand me. (Not their fault, mind you). So I would stick with the Middle East, India, or Africa. I’d be the favourite pet of some young lady who dressed me up cute and carried me around with her all day long. Yes, I could do that, look cute, and have no responsibilities beyond that.”


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Once again, Olivia’s debut novel, ‘Dawning’, is officially released in paperback on July 17th, but can be pre-ordered on Amazon here. (EDIT: Olivia has corrected me, it will also be available on Kindle as of the 17th! :)) Also, make sure you check out Olivia’s blog, ‘The Claymore and the Surcoat for regular updates on her work. Thanks again, for your time, Olivia!

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Bastion

the-last-human-on-earth

Set in stone, bronze, iron and gold,

The last legacy of man and God,

Bears witness to his dynasty’s demise.

Arms upheld denying chaos’ rise,

Crook laid down, with none to terrorise.

The epitome and essence of the human condition,

As slowly solitude aids orders expedition,

And humanity’s witness becomes history’s patrician.

Survival, endurance, and beastial roar,

Self styled God is made man once more.

But survival’s ward wears through self-contemplation,

External durance turns to internal altercation.

The garden of earthly delights is not dead,

While sap’s sickly sweet smell swims free through the head,

Flowing forth from the corpses now charged in his stead.

And in narcissistic utopia,

A unique cornucopia

Of insanities beset history’s end.

A life taken corrupts life’s rise and fall.

A punishment paid with no heed at all.


If you guys enjoyed this poem I wrote some time ago (which, incidentally, is about the last human), then be sure to check out the article I just wrote for Warhols Children, ‘The S.S. Pornocopia and Other Erotic Tales‘. It’s been a while since I’ve written an article for them, this one is about the ingrained role of pornography in modern culture. Enjoy! 🙂

eyE[before]Adina West

AdinaWest300dpiThis week’s eyE is on the talented Adina West. I had the pleasure of seeing Adina speak in a panel at ‘Forest for the Trees’ as part of the Sydney Writer’s Festival last fortnight. Adina is an up-and-coming author who’s debut novel, ‘Dark Child’ is being released in a revolutionary serialised format by Momentum Books (a digital branch of Pan Macmillan). The episodic release of Adina’s exciting new paranormal fantasy series (which reached #1 in the iTunes book store in Australia and NZ on May 1st) has the potential to change the face of e-publishing as we know it. Luckily for us, Adina has been gracious enough to grace us with her presence.

An interview no independent or mainstream author should miss; the lovely, lively, and lexicological Adina West.


What first made you want to become a writer?

“I was bitten by the bug when I was too young to remember or pinpoint a reason. I’ve dallied with writing since I was in primary school, and I think I still have a hand-typed draft, with pictures, of a children’s book I wrote called ‘Maura goes shopping’. Yummy afternoon teas seemed to be a focus in my writing at that age. Very Enid Blyton!

“More to the point is what first made me finally make the mental leap to thinking seriously about seeking publication. And I can certainly identify that! It came from me reading Stephenie Meyer’s website, which at the time contained, and perhaps still does, a long account of the process she went through in writing Twilight in only a few months, and then sending it to a publisher on the urging of her sister. She mentioned fitting writing in around normal mothering duties like taking her kids to swimming lessons, and as I’d recently had my first child and was both sleep deprived and time poor, her story really resonated. It’s not a unique scenario by any means, but it came at the right time and spurred me on to take the next step. Self belief and persistence are enormously important to writers. I realised all sorts of things are possible if you want them badly enough.”

Your paranormal fantasy novel, ‘Dark Child’, has recently been released in a serialised format. Do you believe that serialisation of e-books and novels could become a standardised, or even more commonplace, form of release for e-books?

“It’s hard to say whether it’s a trend that will endure. It’s certainly very popular at the moment, particularly for self-published erotic fiction. It allows a first instalment to be offered cheaply or for free, and the ‘loss leader’ idea is a great marketing strategy in this electronic age when discoverability of product has become the single biggest sales barrier. Perhaps when the marketplace is flooded with serialised fiction this choice by authors and publishers will drop in popularity as it’ll no longer be a point of difference.

“But right now we’re seeing a resurgence not just of serialised e-books, where each instalment is often 20,000 words or less, but also anything written in a series. Series certainly aren’t new, particularly in fantasy where for years it’s probably fair to say they’ve been the dominant form. But in YA and NA fiction, and in both contemporary and traditional romance, it’s becoming more and more common to see authors writing books that are interlinked. One of the very newest trends I’ve noticed is where an author writes an interlinked pair of books, with both covering the same events but from opposing viewpoints (usually male and female protagonists). A recent example is author Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster/Walking Disaster duology.”

How do you envision the evolution of the paranormal fantasy genre in a ‘post-Twilight’ world?

“I’m not sure that should be phrased as a speculative question on what the future will hold because I think we’ve already seen very significant evolution in this genre since Twilight. An entire generation of teenagers has had their reading experience informed by its presence. The single biggest contribution Twilight’s success made was to move paranormal and urban fantasy fiction out of the shadowy realms of genre niche and into the mainstream market. Literally millions of new readers tried Twilight as their first ever foray into the genre, and have since become fans of paranormal fiction. YA fiction is certainly rife with paranormal offerings!

“With a vast increase in potential readership for the genre, so much more experimentation and genre blending is possible, and certainly people have realised the huge amount the genre offers to readers who love romance! Pre-Twilight, mainstream readers hadn’t heard of PNR (paranormal romance) at all, and the word ‘vampire’ would make them instantly anticipate a story steeped in horror and gothic elements. Times – and reader expectations – have certainly changed.”

As a writer of paranormal urban fantasy, how do you feel the advent of e-books, the internet, and the inevitability of globalisation have affected the narrative mechanics of the genre, particularly in regards to world culture?

“I think the directness of an author’s response to these changes is commensurate with their understanding and acceptance of such realities. The world can change all it wants, but some writers, and their readers, will continue on much as they always have. There are, and will always be, traditionalists. But within the genre as a whole, I think we’re already seeing big shifts, particularly from writers outside the U.S.. Hmmm, wonder why that is?

“Distribution of fiction has become international and I personally think the opportunity to cater for a much more diverse audience than ever before is a wonderful challenge. I think one author who is doing some very interesting things in this regard is New Zealand PNR/UF author Nalini Singh, who sets her work in a fictionalised near-future. She has stories that span the globe and include characters of every ethnicity and skin hue imaginable.

“Personally, I’m a bit of a magpie in this regard, and I’ve always liked the possibility of being able to pick and choose elements I’d like to include from as broad a range of options as possible! An international canvas suits me just fine. That said, I have my traditional leanings too. Having grown up with a vampire mythology rooted in Eastern Europe (where my mother was born, incidentally!) I have found it hard to discount this. But immortal or near immortal beings with plenty of time on their hands would logically have travelled the world, and there’s plenty of scope for narrative diversity in that.”

A dyslexic vampyre-slayer, a syphilitic succubus, and a werebadger with alopecia engage in violent combat to see who gets the last slice of birthday cake. Who is the obvious winner, and why?

“I don’t want to be the one to tell him, but that balding werebadger should see his GP ASAP. Alopecia is a symptom of second stage syphilis, so him and the succubus? Well, I don’t want to point fingers…but when she finds out what he’s ‘passed on’ (and a succubus always finds out – they’ll suck the answers right out of your mind at a moment of weakness) the two of them will be too busy fighting to notice the vampyre-slayer nipping in and scoffing that cake…”


DarkChild_OMNIBUS_Adina_WestAdina’s premiere paranormal fantasy book ‘Dark Child’ is out now. Episode 1 can be purchased here, or it can be bought as a collected Omnibus edition here. Also, be sure to check out Adina’s website – AdinaWest.com

eyE[before]Seyi

This week, I caught up with the remarkable and fascinating Seyi Sandra David. Seyi is seyi-sandra-davidthe best-selling author of ‘The Impossible President’, ‘The Feet of Darkness’ and ‘Tales of Five Lies’, and is also a regular columnist for the London based publication ‘Black Heritage Today. She is one of the few popular authors who have made the transition from mainstream to independent publishing, making her outlook invaluable to the independent publishing community.

In addition to all of this, I personally am a big fan of her blog and her prose, and couldn’t be happier about an opportunity to get to know her better. So, without further ado, here’s my interview with Seyi Sandra David.

 What first made you want to become a writer/author?

“I love that very straightforward question. I (have) loved to string words together (for) as long as I could remember. I realized from a very young age that I have a hyperactive imagination. I wrote my first work of fiction at the age of thirteen though it was not published. My dad gave the manuscript to a publishing company and the company thought it was a plagiarized copy, their refusal dented my enthusiasm a bit but I continued regardless and went on to college, then (to) university to get a degree in English language. There was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to be a published author because the stories just kept coming.”

What is your single most pleasant memory as a professional writer?

“I have a huge grin on my face now with the memory. My single (most) pleasant memory as a professional writer was the day I held my first novel in my hand. I was ecstatic with joy when my publisher sent the The Impossible President to me at home. It was no longer in scribbles on my notepad, and then it hit me with a bang; I am now a professional writer, it was also a sobering moment, I knew there was no going back, I’ve entered the cult of the novelist, it is a lifelong calling.”

As an experienced writer who has published within a variety of fiction genres, as well as working as a columnist and a dedicated blogger, how difficult have you found transitions between writing styles in your work?

“I am like an actor; I know how to switch roles easily, though I have to confess that my editor, Barbara Campbell (Black Heritage Today) used to joke that I should not write a report with the intro of a thriller. My style of writing conformed totally to the in-house style of the magazine, at the back of my mind I know I am now a columnist, not blogging and neither writing a scene in a novel. It just flows easily and when I am blogging, I switch on to what I call ‘friendship mode‘, since I am practically aiming my content at friends. I also write many short stories to illustrate my points so the writing styles are easy to navigate though somewhat interwoven together.

“On my works of fiction, the story flowed with the plot, just like Jeffrey Archer, my prose is easy flowing with no complications. Sometimes, I do have a plot line for a story but once I start typing, the characters usually have a life of their own and events are played out smoothly. I write supernatural and psychological thrillers (The Feet Of Darkness and Tales Of Five Lies). I have also dabbled into what I call ‘political fiction’ with the publication of The Impossible President. I have to confess that I do not find it difficult and I am going off track (at all), my editor is like a mother hen who can quickly put me back.”

How important a role do you feel your life experiences have played in developing your literary voice, in the fields of both fiction and non-fiction? What life events have been most defining?

“While growing up in Nigeria, I hated the way men treat women as second fiddle or as childbearing machines. I had always believed women have the innate ability to do anything they set their minds to do. My first novel, ‘The Impossible President’ was born out of the desire to see a woman installed as the president of Nigeria. It was my vision and it played out in the story as the major character, Sharon Nwosu, scaled through life threatening hurdles to emerge as a force to be reckoned with in Nigerian political landscape.

“I have seen women beaten by their husbands and the society accepted it as normal but I hated it and I was not afraid to voice my opinions. I was also a reporter with ‘People’s Advocatethen, a local newspaper and that gave me a platform to develop my literary voice. When I moved over to the UK, I wrote ‘The Feet Of Darkness‘. I was appalled by the religious trap people find themselves, the trap of killing innocent people to gain acceptance in paradise (suicide bombers). I tried to find the balance between proper religion and the supernatural and I found out that the greatest belief on earth is love, hence the subtitle of ‘The Feet Of Darkness’ is ‘Can Love Overcome Darkness? The London underground bombing of 2005 was a defining moment in my career, I am a Christian and the deaths of so many commuters were unjustified and immoral. In ‘The Feet Of Darkness‘, I tried to reason with a suicide bomber, what prompted such a drastic life decision where he believes killing innocent people was the right decision towards martyrdom or glory.”

As someone who has recently re-edited and re-published ‘The Feet of Darkness’, how important do you think efficient editing is within both the independent and mainstream publishing industries?

“It cannot be overemphasized, efficient editing is the backbone of a book and no matter the message inherent in the book, if it was riddled with mistakes the message could be lost. Both the independent and mainstream publishing industries are aware of the importance of proper editing hence you can see a published work with three or four editions. Once they noticed a mistake, the proper thing to do would be to withdraw such books from circulation and rectify such mistakes. Although, you will rarely see a publishing company admit to a mistake in their books, they can colourfully describe it as an abridged version (another word for edited).

“‘The Feet Of Darkness’ was re-edited and republished by Arrow Gate a London based publishing company. My first publisher, Author House UK did not live up to its promises; they did not market the book to its full potential.”

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only take any one board game with you, what would it be (bearing in mind that there’s no one else to play with on the island)?

“I would take Chess with me, it is a game of thinkers and it would help me think of another compelling story.”


Seyi’s blog can be found here – SeyiSandraDavid.org

Seyi’s book, ‘The Feet of Darkness’, which has recently been re-released, can be found on Amazon.com here – The Feet of Darkness – Amazon.com

And Seyi’s collection of short stories, ‘Tales of Five Lies’ can be found here – Tales of Five Lies – Amazon.com