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.


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!


eyE[before]Justin Bog

JB2Allow me to suspensefully assault the drum before me as I introduce you to the exceptional Justin Bog.

It is a great honour to get the chance to interview Justin, who is based out of the San Juan Islands, north of Seattle. I was just recently afforded the opportunity to beta-read his newly released novella ‘The Conversationalist’ and am a big fan of his dark psychological thrillers. He currently has a short story collection in print titled ‘Sandcastle and Other Stories’ and his debut novel, ‘Wake Me Up’, will be published by Green Darner Press in 2014. Aside from writing fiction, Justin is also the Senior Contributor and Editor at ‘In Classic Style’, and he also maintains a blog over at JustinBog.com.

And so, here he is.

The perceptive, pensive, and e’er poignant Justin Bog.

What first made you want to become a writer?

“As a child, this want remained undefined until I found a typewriter in the attic. After that, I never stopped writing, but I didn’t share my work with others very much. Once I learned how to read, early in the first grade, I always had my nose in a book—this was much preferable to math studies, even though I enjoyed the puzzling world of mathematics as well. Because I loved books so much, I dreamed of working in bookstores. I never dreamed of owning one, just had my heart set on being in the fiction department of a cozy bookstore like the basement bookstore in my hometown. That dream did come true; I worked in one large bookstore throughout college and then for three terrific independent bookstores over the next twenty years before moving to the Pacific Northwest to concentrate solely on my writing. I applied to MFA programs two years after graduating from the University of Michigan, where I had taken three years of creative writing courses. I was accepted into two programs and chose Bowling Green State University because it has a small, almost boutique, program. There is also a Visiting Writer year and Dan O’Brien, author of ‘Eminent Domain‘ and ‘Buffalo for the Broken Heart: Restoring Life to a Black Hills Ranch‘, took over the writing workshop one term. Even though I moved away from Harbor Springs, Michigan in 1993, and ‘Between the Covers Bookstore’ has changed ownership, I will be doing a reading and signing for the new proprietor on July 10th. I can’t wait to go back to northern Michigan.”

‘The Conversationalist’ being your second publication, did you feel any of the ‘2nd book’ stigma that writers often complain hangs over them after their first literary foray?

“Not at all. ‘The Conversationalist‘, a novella, would’ve fit well as the final piece after ‘Train Crash’ in ‘Sandcastle and Other Stories’, since it also has a character who seems obsessed by trains and how destructive they can be. I’ve been ready to publish my first novel since 2011, but decided to postpone that until after I introduced my work through a short story collection. I’m very happy with the choice I made. People seem to like my dark off-center tales, and I hope they enjoy meeting my new characters in ‘The Conversationalist‘. This one has a more direct plot, and a main character who is just sketchy enough to make me want to write about.”

How important do you believe observation of people to be when writing a story focused on interpersonal relationships? How much do you borrow from real life?

“Observation is paramount in most of the stories I tell. Someone even called them observational tales. I try to reveal character through observation—get into the psychology of what motivates certain broken types, or even the person we all walk by in everyday life without a second glance (or even a first). Everything comes from real life, but that’s just a jumping off point. I don’t write about friends, family, or acquaintances. ‘On the Back Staircase’ (is) the most autobiographical (short story I’ve written) because it is set in my childhood home and has a similar family of seven people, including two sets of twins, (but it) is not about my siblings or parents. I just talked about this with my twin brother. It’s not us, I said, and I stand by that. There are touchstones in the tale taken from my past, but the characters are fictional. All the characters in my writing are usually created out of thin air.”

Do you believe digital media (e-books) have changed the execution, demand, and ultimately the public reception of short stories and novellas?

“EBooks have changed everything about publishing, and maybe make shorter work, short stories, ‘singles’ and novellas readily available to readers in larger numbers. Short story collections, in general, did not sell well when I worked in bookstores. I read them, and believe other writers are the ones who read short fiction. eBooks are beginning to change this, make shorter work appealing because people can read them on their iPhones when waiting in any office, or in line at the Post Office—I do this, and love it. I hope to discover many more authors’ work this way. I love reading eBooks and print paperbacks in even measure. There’s nothing like the feel of turning real pages, and that’s why I am not bemoaning the loss of “real” books just yet. I’ll always buy them.”

If you could have a conversation with anyone, real or fictional, from throughout the span of human history, who would it be (bearing in mind that you have to murder them upon the conversation’s completion to ensure the preservation of the existential continuum)? 

“A macabre question to finish this interview off is perfect. But first I want to thank you Ryan for allowing me to share my writing thoughts here on your blog—kind of you.

“I have to choose someone to speak with, and in doing so, execute this person . . . sad for him, and I will choose someone fictional since then the murder aspect isn’t criminalized… I would love to have dinner (adding a meal in since it’s this character’s last supper) with The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantès. His story, told to perfection in what is my favorite classic novel of all time, the very first suspense novel written, is so complex, I know there are many other stories he could tell, and the more he reveals over this really long dinner will help prolong the grim reaper’s appearance. I should’ve chosen Scheherazade. :)”

conversationalistbookcoverjpgJustin Bog’s new eBook ‘The Conversationalist‘ is available for purchase from Amazon.com here. His collection of short stories, ‘Sandcastle and Other Stories‘ are available in both paperback and eBook form. His debut novel, ‘Wake Me Up‘ will be out in 2014, and you can follow his blog, JustinBog.com, for further updates and information on the up-and-coming projects of this very talented author. Thanks again Justin for making the time to speak with us. 🙂

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


moi pxlThis week I got to interview the highly talented, self-aware Andrea Berry. Andrea is a graphic artist based out of Reno, and is also the first artist I’ve actually had the opportunity to interview on eyE[before]E. Honestly, I feel like Andrea’s exceptional talent speaks for itself, both in her awesome design work and through her thoughtful words.

I give y’all the effervescent Andrea Berry.

What first made you want to become an artist?

Every child has a dream of what they want to be when they grow up. At five years old my number one choice was to be an artist. I would spend my days ripping off sheets of paper from the butcher-block reel that my father had given (to) my sisters and I, encouraging our imaginations to run wild.

Like most kids, I went to school because I had to. Yet, I absolutely loved the art classes! Go figure. If I knew one thing about myself it was the fact that I could never get bored creating. All that I wanted to do was to have fun.

I graduated high school in 1997, moved out of my parents’ house, found an apartment and attended Arizona State University. It was time to grow up and start thinking seriously about my career, although I had no idea what to get my degree in. In my heart I wanted to pursue a degree in the field of fine arts but I had always heard that you can’t make money off of it and that’s where the ‘starving artist’ phrase was coined. So, what to do?

After I completed my first year of college I moved into a condo with a good friend of mine. Who would have thought that this move was in divine timing to meeting my mentorsI got to know my neighbors who lived a couple of condos down from me. There were four guys living there at the time, three of them were incredibly talented artists. I became friends with them, as they were my inspiration. Almost everyday, I would swing by to catch up and see the new projects they created.  They opened up my mind to the different paths an artist can take in life, including graphic design. I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to learn more.


What are your inspirations in your design work? What motivates you?

My passion for design is what motivates me. I love challenges and I absolutely enjoy taking a set of requirements, putting it together and ‘wow-ing’ my customers. Since art and any kind of creative media are based on perspective, the message that I create isn’t always perceived as I intended – yet… I hope will resonate with some.

At times I will randomly come across a creative design whether it’s on the internet or seen in passing… (and) I will challenge myself to create it. Since I believe that everything happens for a reason and that there are no mistakes, I look at inspirations as something divine, as life presents it to me for a reason.

As a professional graphic artist, how do you reconcile doing something you love as a day to day job? Do you find it difficult to find the distinction?

As I previously stated, I love a challenge. Every project I take on is different, thus fueling my creativity and keeping me engaged. Getting lost in projects is a true form of meditation for me. The fact that I can create and get paid blurs the line between job and passion. Of 860552_421003137992419_813148736_ocourse there are times when it does seem more like a job when I take on projects that require little to no creativity. However, those projects are few and far between. As a designer, the possibilities truly are endless when it comes to my job. In fact, I believe that everyone should pursue his or her passion and make a career out of it.  Not only does it make life more enjoyable but also makes life a heck of a lot easier.  In my experience, I truly feel that this is my path and it’s what I’m here to do.

How important a role do you believe social media and online networking, plays for the modern professional, or semi-professional, artist?

starfriend 3Social media has its role as it allows an artist to get their work out in cyber space for people to see. If people don’t know who you are (it’s) not going to help your business, no matter how amazing your art is. (Social media) is also great for critiquing and obtaining new ideas.  When it comes to acquiring more business, I wouldn’t say that social networking is the best solution. I typically acquire business through people I physically know, word of mouth and advertising. Many people on social networking sites just enjoy looking at art with no motive behind it to pursue a quote, different reasons for different people. I look at social networking sites as what it is, social networking.  I have met many wonderful people through online networking, which have created much inspiration for my work and myself. Social media/networking does however help your web presence and drive more traffic to your site, which is a plus for your reputation as a designer.

What is the greatest form of artistic expression that has never been invented?

Wow this is quite the question! To even define the word ‘art’ is subject to interpretation, however I will give it my best shot! First off there is a scientist by the name of Dr. Masaru Emoto. He has proven that water has consciousness and changes according to surrounding moods, thoughts, and vibration. With kind and loving thoughts the water molecules form beautiful snowflake-like patterns; with lower vibrational thoughts like sadness and anger, the water molecules turn chaotic without symmetry or appeal. I think it would be cool if people could easily and effortlessly take photos of water molecules according to one’s emotions. They could post it on Facebook, frame it, send it to friends and family, add quotes, etc. It would allow people to realize how powerful their thoughts really are. And by seeing this as an art form I believe it would bring a larger sense of creative realization through humanity and one’s own being-ness.  This artistic form of expression would be inspired through Dr. Emoto’s work yet taken to the next level of mass awareness through creativity.


Andrea’s professional site can be found here – Dre’s Graphics

Her WordPress blog can be found here – DresGraphics WordPress

And her Facebook page is located here – Dre’s Graphics Facebook




This week, I put the inquisition to the talented Tammy Salyer. Tammy is an independant author, editor and all-round awesome human being. A former para-trooper in the 82nd Airborne Division, Tammy has a uniquely gritty writing style which makes me personally a big fan of her speculative fiction. The debut novel in her Spectras Arise science fiction series, ‘Contract of Defiance‘, dropped last year, while the sequel, ‘Contract of Betrayal‘, hit Amazon in February this year.

On top of all this, Tammy maintains her blog and runs an editing service called Inspired Ink Editing, available for proofreading, copy, and manuscript evaluation. She is also an avid cyclist and has asked me to drop the secret cyclist’s code word: Wiggo (or Cadel for Australian readers). I don’t know what this means, and if I have offended anybody, it’s Tammy’s fault. 🙂

Without further ado, the brilliant, beautiful and definitely-not-bombastic Tammy Salyer.

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

“Someone said that they write to quiet the voices in their heads, and in short, that’s true for me as well. If I hadn’t become a writer, I would have become a linguist. First, because I think Noam Chomsky is super cool, but second, and more germane, I think humans have access to few things more powerful than words. War and peace (negotiations) hinge on language; marriages, births, and deaths, are memorialized with words; all our memories and the events of our lives are conveyed to others and made immortal through communication. Words are our link to the future and past, and those truths have always fascinated me. I didn’t become a writer because I have a vivid imagination (though that’s part of it); I became a writer because it is a good way to live forever in the absence of becoming a member of the living dead (which, in many respects, I hold out hope for).”

You are predominantly a science fiction author. What is it about speculative fiction that most appeals to you?

“I grew up reading science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and I believe all those stories severely warped my grip on reality. Writing speculative fiction, besides being loads of fun, lets me access things that are firmly rooted in real life, yet still transcends these quotidian tropes in limitless ways. Also, when I get tired of doing research on any particular topic, speculative fiction gives me the nod to go ahead and make up what I need to.”

How important a role does ‘world-building’ play in your writing? How much time do you spend constructing fictional settings, and what processes do you go through?

“The world of a story is just as much of a character in any story as the people who populate it. For me, the world-building part of writing is an ongoing and integral part of the process that is consistently unfolding in my subconscious. I’m very much a discovery writer, so I rarely sit down with the sole purpose of designing aspects of the events and social structures of my fictitious worlds — until I hit a plot question that requires my undivided focus on knowing some specific detail of the world in question to keep moving forward with the story. For more on my process and questions regarding world-building, I recommend reading a guest post I wrote for mystery author Susan Spann here.”

As a science/speculative fiction author, how much do you borrow from modern social and technological conventions to build a futuristic world? How do you see our species evolving culturally, technologically, or otherwise?

“Wow, great question, and one that could be an entire post all on its own. I think it’s best to just take a couple of points. My military science fiction trilogy is heavily influenced by some of the experiences and stories I heard from other soldiers during my time in the US Army. I don’t know if “borrowed” is the correct term, but definitely influenced by and extrapolated from. I’ve always been a technology buff, too, so I really enjoy challenging the limits of known physics and technological innovations to bring in new inventions.

“As far as our species evolving, I firmly believe that there will eventually be some type of whole-planet unification once we get to the point of realizing that continuing to exist as independent cultures and corporations is going to end up with us fighting against unbeatable odds for the last scraps of resources and physical space. Our evolution, if we’re lucky enough to get there, will be a giant kumbaya of homogenization. That, of course, can play out in myriads of interesting ways. I guess it will all depend on who has the best-smelling peace lilies.”

The crew of your interstellar survey vessel, the ‘S.T.S. Melchizedek’, have succumbed to violent food poisoning, congesting the air recycling vents with their stomach bile. In accordance with Star-Trans protocol, what is the appropriate action you should take in order to resolve this crisis?

“Clearly, in a case such as this, it would have been better if Star-Trans had given me that raise I requested last year, and the captain and first mate really ought not to have barred me from the bridge and denied my request for leave when we’d overnighted on planet Kali. If these fops had done the necessary, I would not be quite as inclined to jettison the entire crew during one of their goosestepping vomit party dropout sessions (nodding to the Breakfast Club) and take the STS Mikshake to my shady cousin Viggo, who can part out and scrap a Class D freighter faster than you can say “My King Most High“. I really could use the money. After all, vacationing on Kali isn’t cheap.”

Tammy’s blog can be found here – Tammy Salyer: Alternative Reality Engineer

The first Spectras Arise book can be found on Amazon here – Contract of Defiance

The second Spectras Arise book can be found on Amazon here – Contract of Betrayal

And Tammy’s editing service can be found here – Inspired Ink Editing

Also, feel free to look up Tammy on Twitter here. She is lovely, and will probably not hurt you unless you are a zombie.


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