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So I was watching the Voice UK this Valentine’s evening, and was mystified when the judges didn’t turn for Keedie Green’s fantastic interpretation of David Guetta featuring Sia”s Titanium.

Now where am I going with this you may well ask, and how the hell am I linking a televised singing contest to my blog which is primarily about writing books? Well stay with me as that in itself is what the point of this post is all about – the unlikely marrying of two worlds.

When the four judges eventually turned in unison to explain why they hadn’t turned during what was an exceptional performance by Keedie, Will.i.am offered some words that unexpectedly connected with me and helped me make sense of my unorthodox approach to writing.

I’ve slightly beat myself up over recent times, and questioned myself regarding my methods of putting all types of subjects into the mixing pot of my novels at the same time.

Is it simply a confusing approach for the reader? I’ve often asked myself.

But then I usually go on to think about the layers of plots in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction for instance, and convince myself that attempting to keep the viewer, or in my case the reader, guessing and interested in the twists and turns of the story is the right thing to do. Besides, I have come to understand that actually, that is how I am simply wired – to mix things up a bit and make bizarre connections, and for me to approach my writing in a much more conventional way would actually be quite difficult for me to achieve.

Most of this internal questioning has materialised after reading generic articles designed to help authors in their careers. The advice given is to encourage the author categorically to choose a single genre and to stick with it. It seems for the author to then wander away from that genre would almost be regarded as a cardinal sin! Now I am not doubting this to be good advice for most authors and there are of course countless successful authors out there who are masters in their field. Many of whom I personally enjoy and find inspirational. And let me be clear, I am not setting myself apart from other authors as being anything special either, but the truth is I struggle to approach my writing as a “one glove fits all” type of author. As I  said, I’m simply wired a bit funny!

Now my only published book to date, Beneath the Floodlights has achieved moderate success, and although there are currently not reviews a plenty out there, the ones that have been written are overwhelmingly very positive I’m glad to say. However, there have been rumblings in some circles as to why on Earth I decided to marry the two worlds of soccer and vampires together, as this perhaps made the book difficult to allocate to one specific genre. Beneath the Floodlights can be found in Local Interest sections in Midland’s Waterstone’s shops, but also on the Horror, Sport and Sci-Fi shelves. My writing tends to include supernatural or horror elements I guess, but to pigeon-hole what I write is quite a challenge. Frankly, it doesn’t really bother me, I already feel blessed that my book is simply available for any potential readers.

And that’s where Will.i.am’s words of wisdom come into the equation, though ironically he may never know how he has helped to ease my mind.

So, when Keedie Green faced the agonising prospect of trying to understand why the judges hadn’t turned for her on the Voice UK, Will.i.am explained that Mary J. Blige had once been criticised for marrying two genre’s of music together early in her career, and although Keedie’s approach of marrying pop vocals with operatic vocals was “a little confusing” for the non-judgmental Sir Tom Jones, Will.i.am pointed out that marrying two unlikely worlds together that automatically shouldn’t belong is a cool thing to do and is only attempted by a certain breed of brave person. The kind of which the entertainment world needs in order to keep evolving whether that be music, literature or whatever!

The key is to pick yourself up after the knocks, dust yourself down and use all that rejection to make you stronger and better at what you were born to do!

So I thank you Will.i.am for reassuring me that marrying the worlds of soccer and vampires was an ok thing to do.

This boosts my confidence to realise that when my next book Mind Guerrilla not only brings two worlds together but several, it is the right approach for ME as a writer. It won’t be to everyone’s taste but a writer has to be true to himself or herself.

And if the people who I am eternally grateful to for reading my books ever notice me “playing it safe” you have my sincere permission here and now to hold me to account.

Thanks for reading my blog, I hope you like reading Mind Guerrilla and it’s several plot lines, out later in 2015.

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I was interviewed by Fiona McVie….

In this interview I speak about my forthcoming book ‘Mind Guerrilla’ as well as answering some great questions by Fiona…
https://authorsinterviews.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/here-is-my-interview-with-martin-tracey/

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Hi everyone, I have a real treat for you as I have managed to secure an interview with the latest literary phenomenon from across the pond – Laura K. Cowan. I also have the distinct pleasure of kicking off Laura’s Blog Tour which leads up to the launch of her latest novel Music of Sacred Lakes. Laura describes herself as a Dream novelist making connections between the natural and spiritual world.

I can relate to Laura as an author as we are both influenced by music and my own novel Mind Guerrilla, due for release later this year, includes the exploration of connecting and even controlling on levels not obvious to most of us.

To learn more about Laura and her intriguing work please read the exciting interview:

Hi Laura, you have a book coming out shortly. Could you tell us a little bit about Music of Sacred Lakes and how you came to choose the title?

Music of Sacred Lakes is about a young man in crisis who doesn’t want to be a sixth-generation farmer because he thinks his great great-grandfather unwittingly stole the land from its Odawa owners. He doesn’t feel he really belongs anywhere. Then, he accidentally kills a girl, but it is the spirit of the girl who comes back as a personification of the spirit of Lake Michigan to help him.

The title is inspired by the idea that there is music in all things, a voice running through the universe. I started this novel with a question: is there a relationship between music and the land it comes from? I began to research metaphysics, what wisdom traditions had to say about connectedness and the nature of the universe and matter, what physics had to say about the nature of reality and the relationship between sound and matter: superstring theory, M Field Theory, quantum entanglement. What I found was an overpoweringly beautiful pattern of connectedness, through all disciplines, through all cultures, through all matter. It’s so hard to explain in a blog post, but this pattern of connectedness informed the heart of this story: what it means for us to belong, and what is keeping so many of us in the modern western world feeling isolated and disconnected.

Is it fair to say that the genre you write in is a little unique, and could you tell us a bit more about the genre of magical realism or metaphysical fiction?

My books are all about dreams, connections between the natural and spiritual worlds, about bringing the magical and presumed-impossible into the world for the reader in a literal way. It’s imaginative fiction, at its heart. Pan’s Labyrinth is a good example of a movie in this genre. Many books in this genre involve mythic elements, fairytales, angels and demons, or completely invented magical characters and worlds. It’s fantasy, but often fantasy just out of the corner of your eye, Neil Gaiman or Borges style. Everything else in the story is contemporary, but then suddenly there are flying carpets, like in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude or Alice Hoffman’s The Red Garden, in which the blood of a bear a frontier woman once loved makes it so everything in her garden can only grow blood red for generations.

What inspired you to write Music of Sacred Lakes?

My family actually has a sixth-generation family farm in East Jordan, Michigan, just like Peter, but for me personally the heart of the story was not about specific people but exploring the relationship between this disconnect in our modern western culture between people and the world around them (the modernist idea that humans stand apart from nature and can be its objective observers) and the legacy of rejection my family has had especially on that side. Generation after generation there is at least one child who feels unwanted, embattled, rejected, and they make big messes and pass it on. I decided a long time ago that this chain would end with me, insofar as it was within my power to stop the legacy. And part of my journey to healing involved receiving this gift of the understanding of the connectedness of all things in the world, including people, from Eastern and Native American cultures. I wanted to write a story that explored these themes while honoring these cultures for bringing this crucial piece of wisdom and healing truth to me, because I grew up in a conservative religious culture that really didn’t know how to honor truth found in other cultures or religions—a symptom of this disconnected crisis.

Which character in the book did you have the most fun with?

Uncle Lou, the Odawa pipe carrier who first tells Peter he needs to live by the shores of Lake Michigan until it speaks to him. I was worried I would stumble across some offensive cultural faux pas writing him, because Uncle Lou kept wanting to be a guy with a mischievous sense of humor. I am grateful that some Odawa and Ojibwe linguists and tribe members helped me proof this book for cultural references and language, because I didn’t want Uncle Lou to end up some cultural stereotype mashup of blackface and Victorian Indian shows. Somehow he came through despite my anxiety, cracking cross-language jokes and (I hope) coming across as a wise and kind but very good-humored elder with a lot of joy in life despite his experience of being displaced from his own culture.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing your book?

Ah, that would be being called a heretic; even by some of the people closest to me (did I mention my upbringing?). Suffice it to say this book involved me growing a lot, and it was pretty hard to discover that I couldn’t explain my discoveries to anyone else. It made me wonder if the book was worth anything more than an exercise in moral courage for me. If people couldn’t understand it, was I doing anything meaningful? This was my wakeup call as an artist. I suddenly found this scripture, which says (I paraphrase, the Bible does go on for poetic emphasis, lol) “if I make you a watcher on the walls and you don’t warn the people that danger is coming, their blood will be on your head.” To me, that meant that it was crucially important that I put my own belief that I had discovered an important healing truth ahead of what other people thought of me. Otherwise I was worse than no good to anyone, regardless of whether I really understood what I thought I did. This book was me developing some courage to speak my truth, and I’m so glad someone out there seems to understand it. Rave reviews can be a seductive mistress, but it’s pretty amazing to see people picking up this book and seeing their eyes light up.

Is a book cover something that you consider important?

It’s very important, especially for magical realism, where the most sophisticated covers can often be found. I had this cover designed by someone who not only could design book covers but also understood the nuances of fonts and cover styles for conveying the exact style, time period, and content of this book. I love it.

For you personally what was the most spiritual experience that you have ever encountered?

When I was exploring the various traditions of vision quests and meditations for pursuing spiritual wisdom I was following a meditation by Lewis Mehl-Madrona on the spirit of healing, in which the listener walks up a mountain path looking for a healing lake. It was so simple, not coercive, so I kept going despite my anxiety (did I mention my religious upbringing? Gah! Fear-based thinking is the gift that just keeps on giving). I followed the path, and when he said that you had found the healing lake and what did it look like, suddenly I realized I was on an island in Lake Michigan, and the healing lake was actually all around me. The healing lake was everywhere! So accessible, so abundant. And my grandparents came to me, who have to me represented this legacy of rejection and neglect, and I asked my grandfather why we had all been through so much pain, why he had suffered and caused so much suffering. His face fell, and he said to me, “No one wanted me.” It broke my heart, this man who in my life had represented the monster of mental illness, telling me it was all because he was an orphan at heart. And aren’t we all, those of us who live believing that we are separated from the world and have no place? My grandmother told me that my grandfather was trying to put things right in our generational line because he was ashamed, of how much pain his suffering had caused, and that was when I knew I was writing a book about freedom from this orphan heart, for the sake of everyone and even the planet itself, which suffers because we suffer.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing?

For me, it’s the only way to get a book like this out to market and increasingly the best option for artists. Things are changing quickly, with traditional publishers most often offering very poor terms and services for authors and self-publishing increasingly offering more. I wanted someone to champion this book, but a dozen top agents in the magical realism space told me it was beautiful, amazing, wonderful, unique, and then that they couldn’t represent it because it didn’t match the longer style of most mainstream books. They did give me some really valuable advice that I took about how to improve the book, but I realized that since my style runs short and this book just isn’t like many other things out there, they really couldn’t help me sell the book without changing it into something I didn’t intend it to be. I’m grateful self-publishing is an increasingly amazing option, so this book doesn’t have to be molded into something it isn’t in order to succeed.

If your book was turned into a movie who could you see playing the lead role for the character or characters?

I want to say a young Johnny Depp because he’s so bizarre and talented, but he’s way too confident for this role, lol. He is a chameleon though. He could probably pull it off.

Who is your favourite author and why?

Italo Calvino. I read his Cosmicomics in college and it blew my mind that someone could succeed as a writer noodling around with fantasy based on the moon and the stars with plots that were coded with messages about the scientific elements that hinted at the nature of the universe. And people loved him! I always thought my tendency to obsess on these metaphysical topics would land me in the bargain bin, if I even got out of the slush pile. Wow!

Ok time to be a bit more random. It is no secret that I am a huge Beatles fan so for you is it Beatles or Stones?

Beatles. I know the Beatles were a UK phenomenon, but they remind me of the optimism and freedom of California, and I think I’m a Northern California girl at heart.

Do you have any other musical preferences?

I played classical and jazz piano pretty seriously through high school, so I have a soft spot for the German and Russian Romantics, but to give you a more up-to-date answer, I love cross-genre hip hop and Latin jazz, Tibetan throat-singing monks, and the music of water. Basically Dream Theater. Dream Theater would be the short answer to that question, lol. Give me something intense and authentic.

Are you a girl who likes football/soccer and if so who is your team?

I’m from Detroit, so my soccer team is the Redwings, I guess? Sorry to hit you up with a very American answer to that question. Hey hey Hockeytown.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about Laura K. Cowan?

Gosh, it sometimes feels like my strangeness doesn’t have a bottom, but I think we’ve covered it all. I suppose one thing to add would be that my books all center around these spiritual supernatural questions, but that doesn’t mean they’re all in the literary genre. I have books coming out this year that range from new fairytales and mythic fiction to a psychological thriller romance with nightmares that bleed into waking reality. It’s these topics that center my work, all other bets are off. I don’t live inside a genre box. No boring stories.

Where can we buy your book and when is its release date?

Music of Sacred Lakes will be available in paperback and Kindle e-book from Amazon on April 26, or you can order it at your local bookstore.

Do you have any means where we can contact you?

laurakcowan@gmail.com goes directly to me, or you can find me obsessing over many strange and possibly recursive thoughts with my friends on Facebook at fb.com/laurakcowannovelist.

Thanks Laura, I wish you every success for the future.

Thank you! Likewise. Thanks for having me.

BIOGRAPHY: Laura K. Cowan, The Dreaming Novelist, writes imaginative novels that explore the possibilities of the human condition through the connections between the spiritual and natural worlds. Her debut novel The Little Seer spent its launch week at #2 and #5 on the Kindle Bestseller List for free titles in Christian Suspense and Occult/Supernatural, and was hailed by reviewers and readers as “riveting,” “moving and lyrical.” Laura’s second novel, a redemptive ghost story titled Music of Sacred Lakes, and her first short story collection, The Thin Places: Supernatural Tales of the Unseen, will be available soon. Connect with Laura on her website LauraKCowan.com, on Twitter or on Facebook.

Meet Rachael H Dixon

It is my great pleasure to feature an interview on my blog of the talented and refreshing author Rachael H Dixon. Rachael is the author of Slippery Souls, the first instalment of the Sunray Bay Series, featuring vampires and werewolves by the seaside. How fantastic and intriguing! If you are having a sleepy Sunday this interview will certainly get you moving . Let’s see what Rachael has to tell us:

Biography

Rachael H Dixon lives in the cold and windy northeast of England. She craves sunlight and warmth, and as such her skin is so white it’s almost translucent.

She’s been writing ever since she could hold, albeit strangely, a pen. Her love for the macabre stems from reading James Herbert novels and watching Vincent Price films when she was small.

As well as writing, Rachael loves reading, walking the legs off her dog, drinking red wine and Gil Elvgren art work. And she often wonders whether she’s the only writer in the whole world who doesn’t like coffee.

Tell me a bit about your writing to date.

I’ve felt the need to write ever since I was small – but I didn’t take it seriously until about three and a half years ago when I started a home study writing course. The course covered all aspects of writing, beginning with non-fiction. I’ve always felt more drawn to fiction, but during the first modules of the course I did enjoy working on non-fiction travel pieces – and a few of my features were even published.

When the course shifted over to fiction, I rekindled my love for storytelling and making stuff up – and so I began to write short stories. I experimented with all kinds of genres to test my abilities and to push my boundaries – but essentially I kept coming back to horror. Dark psychological stories and tales of big-toothed creatures that want to rip your throat out seemed to be my thing. I won a few competitions with my short stories and some have been published in e-zines and anthologies.

In 2010 I was made redundant for the second time in just over a year. Sick of job-chasing, that’s when I decided to pursue writing as a career – but on a much bigger scale to anything I’d ever tried before. I decided I’d try my hand at writing a full length novel – and this is the path I’m still on now, as I focus on the rest of the Sunray Bay Series. My husband has been incredibly supportive throughout, and I doubt Slippery Souls would have come to fruition if it weren’t for him.

Slippery Souls was shortlisted for the Writing Magazine’s Self-publishing Award earlier this year – which was an extremely proud moment for me. It was the confidence boost I needed, telling me I must be doing something right.

What inspired you to write?

I’d say the film The Bucketlist kick-started my writing aspirations. As I said, I’d always enjoyed writing (stories, poems and diaries) from being very small – yet, for so many years during adulthood, life got in the way and my writing fell by the wayside.

When I saw the Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman film, it urged me to write my own list of things I want to do before I kick the proverbial bucket – and I realised that writing a novel was number one on my list! So from then I knew it was something I absolutely needed to do.

Did you design your own book cover/covers?

I have a degree in Graphic Design so I decided to put it to use by designing my own cover and marketing bits and pieces for Slippery Souls. I wanted to create something vibrant and quirky. There’s an overall sense of fun to the book, therefore I wanted the main illustration to be hand-rendered with a bit of a comic-style essence going on. I’ll be continuing in the same style for the rest of the Sunray Bay Series too.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just completed the first draft of book two in the Sunray Bay Series – The Forgotten Ones. I’m also working on the book cover design for it. It’ll take me quite some time yet to go through all of the editing, reworking, proofreading and formatting processes – but, for the most part, I can sort of see the light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s a good feeling.

I’m also trying to plan ahead for the third book in the series – Tattooed Gods. In fact I’ve written the final chapter for that already – I like to know where it’s all headed. I’m a maniac for planning!

Slippery Souls is part of the Sunray Bay series, can you tell us a bit more about this series and what we have to look forward to?

Slippery Souls came about, essentially, because of a dream I had quite a few years ago about the two main characters Libby and Grim. That original idea grew and morphed in my head over the years until it reached the point that it’s at now.

Funnily enough, the story wasn’t initially located at the seaside – it began life in a city setting. But I soon got bored with it – something about it just didn’t feel right for me. And so I decided that I needed to set the story somewhere that I could get excited about, somewhere that appealed to me – and that’s when I thought, why not at the beach? This idea conjured images of stripy deckchairs, wonderfully coloured beach huts, donkeys, ice-creams – all the things that aren’t typically associated with vampires and werewolves. It seemed like a wonderful contrast – darkness lurking in an otherwise carefree environment. I knew I could have great fun with it!

Slippery Souls was originally planned to be a complete standalone – but when I reached the end, I felt like I couldn’t say goodbye to some of the characters. I liked them all so much, and admittedly I’m perhaps a teeny bit in love with Grim. So I knew then that it would be a series. At the moment I have three planned – Slippery Souls, The Forgotten Ones & Tattooed Gods. If there’s demand for even more, I’m sure I could be easily talked into exploring Sunray Bay even further.

How do you feel about self publishing now that you have experienced the process?

I think it’s losing some of the negative stigma that was attached to it once upon a time, and I think it’s a very exciting time to be self-publishing right now. There are so many opportunities available. That’s not to say that it’s easy though – far from it! Marketing and self-promotion can be even harder than writing the book in the first place. Self-publishing takes an enormous amount of persistence, perseverance, self-belief – and an element of luck!

I’m still happy about my choice to self-publish – but that’s not to say it’s for everyone. I’ll keep on keeping on at it though, and I just keep telling myself, one day

Do you experience any challenges when writing?

Absolutely. I’m the kind of writer who needs to have a concrete plan before I can sit down to write the novel. I can’t just start writing and then see where it takes me – I’d be too worried about waffling, going off on a tangent, or forgetting what my point was in the first place (or whether there even was a point) – I constantly fret about stuff like that. So I need to have a beginning and ending mapped out first and foremost – and then I have to sit down and strategically plan each and every chapter to make sure something is happening in the middle bits. This in itself I find very challenging – when beginning a new project I just want to jump right in and start writing, but first I need to iron out all the faffy details. I perhaps find this the most challenging aspect of writing, getting the story right- especially when the timeline jumps all over the place like it did in Slippery Souls. Man, that was head busting at times!

I was recently asked in an interview if I preferred The Beatles or The Monkees? How about you? Also do you like music and does that ever inspire your work?

If I’m completely honest, off the top of my head, I’m not really familiar with what The Monkees actually sang – is that bad? But then, I’m not a massive 60s fan – it was before my time, and growing up I was brought up with 50s music – my dad was a teddy boy. So I guess the 60s era managed to pass me by completely. If I had to choose though, I’d say The Beatles – because I at least know who they were.

I love all kinds of music – depending what mood I’m in. I’m bit of a rock chick at heart, I suppose – I love bands such as Metallica, Guns ‘n’ Roses and Aerosmith. But I also enjoy chill-out music when I’m writing – I can’t really do music with vocals when writing, I find it distracts me too much.

When I was writing Slippery Souls I was influenced by Mumford & Sons – they’re sort of folk-rock perhaps. I listened to their album Sigh No More an awful lot around the time I was working on Slippery Souls – not when I was actually writing though. Their lyrics are absolutely stunning – poetic and soulful. And now when I hear the song Roll Away Your Stone, it kind of reminds me of Libby and Grim.

Do you have a favourite quote?

It’s probably a bit cheesy, but I love the quote ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. I find it very fitting in the world of self-publishing.

What authors inspire you?

Horror writer James Herbert has been my biggest inspiration throughout my life – he was the reason I decided, when I was a little girl, that I wanted to be an author. His book Fluke won me over and I remember thinking, “Wow, this is amazing. This is what I want to do.”

I’m also inspired by all the indie writers out there who take the profession seriously and who go on to make a living from their writing – proving that it can be done. I’m not necessarily talking about the size and scale of Amanda Hocking’s or E L James’ fame and fortune either – I’m talking about the people who have a loyal fan base and monthly royalty cheques that cover the bills. It’s the most we can all hope for – anything else is a bonus.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Yes! I’m currently running a competition where one winner will be selected at random to have one of the main vampire characters in The Forgotten Ones named after them.

So, if you fancy being a vampire – just send me an email to say so at rachaelhdixon@gmail.com

Oh and thanks for the opportunity to be on your blog Martin, it’s been great!

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Rachael-H-Dixon/125424854223752

Twitter: @RachaelHD

Slippery Souls Blog: www.rhdixon.blogspot.com

 

Amazon (Kindle version): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Slippery-Souls-Sunray-Series-ebook/dp/B007A451OE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1347530943&sr=8-2

Amazon (paperback version): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Slippery-Souls-Rachael-H-Dixon/dp/1908481218/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347530943&sr=8-1

 

 

I express a big thank you to Laurie who has featured me and my book Beneath the Floodlights on her first class blog:

http://lauriethoughts-reviews.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/beneath-floodlights-by-martin-tracey.html

A big thank you to fellow author Rachael H Dixon of Slippery Souls fame who has interviewed and showcased me on her very entertaining blog.

http://rachaelhdixon.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/vampires-football.html