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The very fact that I have even taken the time to Blog on this Boxing Day 2016 is a measure of the profound influence that George Michael has had on me personally. I am by no means a prolific blogger but today I felt compelled, and I guess inspired, to write about a man who sadly will never know how greatly he affected me and many others like me.

The first time I experienced this great artist was when I first heard the 12 inch underground version of Wham Rap in the early 1980s where the songwriting credit was given to Panos and Ridgely. I recall Ridgeley was spelt incorrectly, and Panos was the chosen evolution of George’s birth surname  Panayiotou before he selected the identity that we all know and love of George Michael. Wham! were not yet a household name and I had no idea what they even looked like. But still, the track connected with me in a big way. Once they hit the scene I loved the Fantastic album with its mixture of soul, pop and good vibes. But it was one sunny afternoon walking along Birmingham’s New Street where George metaphorically grabbed me. The saxophone solo of “Careless Whisper” spilled out of the HMV record store and I became fixed to the papvpavementI listened with a great sense of awe. It was beautiful, hooky and amazingly original. Suddenly I wanted to be like George Michael.

My hair was naturally curly, like George’s, and like him, I struggled to keep it in the trendy hairstyles of the day. I also had both my ears pierced and sported those trademark gold sleepers. In truth, I was told I looked like Andrew Ridgeley and not George, but that was ok because I loved Wham! as a whole.  And without Andrew’s influence, we must remember George would not even have had the courage to step into the limelight and we may never have heard any of his wonderful songs. George’s image inspired me for sure but it was his music that connected with me more than anything.

For me, not since Elvis Presley has a solo performer possessed the looks, charisma, stage presence and glorious singing voice other than George Michael. Like Elvis, he seemed to have it all, yet he could even beat Elvis in one department – songwriting.

George Michael was a ground-breaker, which perhaps hasn’t always been recognised. He really was so much more than a fantastic singer, songwriter and charismatic performer. Let’s reflect on this for a moment:

  • He wrote Careless Whisper at the age of 17
  • Was one-half of the biggest selling band of the 1980s
  • As one-half of Wham! was the first western band to play in China
  • Sold more than 100 Million records worldwide
  • His debut solo album Faith sold more than 20 Million copies
  • Won 4 Ivor Novello Awards
  • Won 3 Brit Awards
  • 2 Grammy Awards
  • He supported the 1980s Miners strike and spoke out against Thatcher
  • He was quick to understand and comment on the Bush and Blair relationship
  • He came out in perhaps the most extraordinary way ever recorded – during a police sting in a Beverly Hills toilet! And then turned that experience on its head by crafting the song ‘Outside’and its hilarious accompanying video complete with glittering urinals
  • Successfully went from bubblegum band member to successful and evergreen solo artist, creating an inspiration for the likes of Robbie Williams
  • Achieved the biggest selling number 2 of all time with ‘Last Christmas’ (he was at No 1 on Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas)
  • Had the courage to take on his record company in court as an attempt to secure rights and freedoms for both himself and other artists
  • Was an LGBT Activist
  • And of course, appeared in the first ever James Corden Carpool Karaoke!

So George leaves us quite a legacy both inside and outside his music, and like all great inspirational leaders, he was true to his beliefs and often viewed the cause of others as more important than his own credibility.

At the time of writing, stories are emerging of this very private but very friendly man who significantly donated to charity with the condition that a ‘big deal’ was not to be made of it. Social media has been alive with moving tributes by the likes of Ridgeley, Robbie Williams, Madonna, Elton John, Brian May, Boy George and Rob Lowe.

If I am to present a balanced tribute to George, it has to be stated that his private life revealed some very bizarre incidents, but which somehow still served to add a sense of warmth to the character of a superstar who was actually at the same time just a normal bloke. Through those incidents, George was simply making memories for us and instilling some talking points to keep him alive in addition to his ever-lasting music. To his credit, he was always keen to utilise these events, send himself up and use the controversy as a platform to still entertain people. Quite an extraordinary gift and sense of will. Appearances on Comic Relief, Catherine Tate Show, Extras and Little Britain are hilarious examples.

I would have loved to have met John Lennon, but he was shot dead when I was 11. I always believed that one day the opportunity may present itself for me to meet George Michael but alas it now can never be so. At least I had the great pleasure of seeing him perform live on several occasions. In 1984 at Birmingham’s NEC, my first ever concert and I was blown away by the performance of Wham! They created amazing energy coupled with such a polished performance. The night was made even more special as footage of the concert was included in the video for “Everything She Wants”. I also attended Wham! The Final which ranks as one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. As a solo performer, I saw George play live on the Cover to Cover tour, twice on the 25 Live Tour at the NEC again and Manchester City’s Football stadium, before finally witnessing George’s fabulous voice in all its glory during the Symphonica Tour. It saddens me that I will never have the chance to see him perform live again.  At the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992, he demonstrated to the world just what a truly extraordinary and amazing performer he was. He could hold his own against anybody once he graced that stage.

As a young kid, I always wanted to grow up to be a part of music myself. The Beatles and Elvis were my first influence but with those greats, I’ve always needed to look back in order to recognise their impact as I was never part of their generation. When the music of George Michael came along he was the only other significant inspiration to me, but what was great was he was contemporary so I could always grow with him and look forward to the next chapter. Like The Beatles, the music of George Michael has been a constant in my life and in particular during my own years of songwriting and playing in bands from the late 80s – 1990s. The influence of George Michael in my own songwriting is there for all to see,  although I can never claim to match it.When I hung up my keyboard I began to play with words by evolving from song writing to writing books. I love scribing but music will always be in my heart and this is why the subject finds it’s way into my novels. George Michael is referred to in all three of my published novels at the time of writing. I was always taken with the stories of Wimbledon Football Club booming out songs from a ghetto blaster in their changing rooms to motivate them before a game. In

When I hung up my keyboard I began to play with words by evolving from songwriting to writing books. I love scribing but music will always be in my heart and this is why the subject finds it’s way into my novels. George Michael is referred to in all three of my published novels at the time of writing. I was always taken with the stories of Wimbledon Football Club booming out songs from a ghetto blaster in their changing rooms to motivate them before a game. In Beneath The Floodlights I use this concept when the football team in the story blast out “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” before a match, and one of the footballers is a huge 80s fan wearing T-shirts sporting the catchphrase ‘CHOOSE LIFE’ – a slogan created by Wham! Then in Mind Guerrilla I take George’s own exploratory thoughts from his track “White Light” which he released following his near-death experience in Austria in 2011, forming the question Was it science that saved him or spirituality? The only questions on my lips today are Why didn’t something save him on Christmas Day 2016? What possible good reason is there for the world to be robbed of a talent like George’s at such a young age? In Mind Guerrilla I also make reference to his Olympic ceremony perofrmance. And finally, just 1 month short of his untimely death I released Things They’ll Never See where a failing rock star, Jake Zennor is seeking a way to emulate George Michael in the transition from band member to successful global superstar. My next book 27 will include a dedication to George Michael.

So as homes across the world were celebrating their Christmas day listening to George’s song “Last Christmas” news came through that rocked the foundations of our very being. This inspirational and much-loved star had passed away making this and every Christmas going forward somewhat of a poignant nature. George Michael owned John Lennon’s piano, the same that the great song “Imagine” had been composed on. Well, imagine that! It could have had no more deserving owner after Lennon. And George went on to compose the song “John and Elvis are Dead” as a tribute to these two musical heavyweights that have departed. George was questioning the rationale for their untimely deaths because losing inspirational and talented people so young makes no sense. Well, now we are left wondering why George Michael who penned that wonderful song has been taken from us at such an unnatural time. We wait to understand the cause of his death as a post mortem will be conducted in the next few days. The cause perhaps, the reasoning never.

I’ve been speaking today with my peers and people of my generation ever since I learned of the awful news, be it face to face or over social media. We must continue to speak of George Michael and then his energy and spirit can never really die. RIP George Michael, gone too soon but never forgotten. Your music and legacy will live on. You Have Been Loved. x

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For all you lovers of football out there I welcome Jay to my blog to speak about his exciting & informative book about Bilston Town – the other team in Wolverhampton!

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Biography: My pen name is Jay Hearst and I’m from Wolverhampton. I have lived in and around the Black Country my entire life. I started to write in 1998 and this book is my first solo project ever to be published, hopefully it won’t be the last. Professionally I have a normal, ordinary day job like so many writers and prefer to be called a ‘hobbying writer’ than an actual one. It’s good to keep things in perspective.

Tell me a bit about your writing to date?

I’ve written mostly on various authoring/writers websites since 2003 and have had a few short stories published in anthologies. I’ve been blogging on and off for about 15 years and have been writing at my current blog for about 5. In 2011 one of my posts was shared by Ricky Gervais on his website which came at a time when I was close to giving it all up but that single event encouraged me to keep trying and later that same year I had a go at NaNoWriMo which I completed successfully which was no easy task.

What inspired you to write your book about Bilston Football Club?

I was interested in reading it. In 2012 I was given a copy of the history of Darlaston Town Football Club and was fascinated to see that a local, grass roots club had been around so long and achieved so much. I wondered if other local non league clubs had history books and found that very few actually did. As someone who enjoys writing and loves football it didn’t take long for the idea to take root.

So what is the book about?

The book is a season by season record of achievements, starting in 1894-95 running up until the end of the 2014-15 season. It covers all 121 years excluding the breaks for the two World Wars and details league and cup achievements, notable former players who went on to or came from bigger teams, important and interesting events andmany team photos and newspaper clippings. I’m particularly proud of the FA Cup proper section which covers the greatest achievements in the clubs history. I was also fortunate to discover all of the clubs league results from 1985 to 2015 as well as complete post war records for the FA Cup, FA Trophy and FA Vase.

How did you go about designing your book cover?

I was fortunate on one visit to Queen Street to get a nice photo of the main stand myself so I used that for the back cover. The front cover was sent to me by an American lady who’s family had emigrated from the UK decades ago. Her great grandfather had played for Bilston in 1900-01 when they won six trophies, their best ever haul in a season, and it’s a shot of the team from that year with their silverware,it’s a superb image.

Where can we find the book?

The book is currently available exclusively via the football club’s website. I wanted to give them distribution rights as part of a profit share. They make a few quid and hopefully I’ll recover the cost of the project. The club have been extremely helpful throughout working very closely with me for over 2 and half years and its nice to give something, no matter how small, back.

Do you have any other projects in your sights now you successfully have a book in print?

At the moment no. The time spent researching and writing this book has been hard work and sometimes very stressful. I’m going to relax and enjoy Christmas and the New Year with my family before taking on anything else. But no doubt I’ll continue to write in some capacity. I’ll update the History of Bilston Town FC site from time to time and no doubt drop the occasional blog post too.

Did you experience any challenges when writing your book? 

Just the researching, compiling, writing, editing and publishing. Apart from that it was challenge free! I joke of course, there were no particular challenges that I remember. I had free reign to work when I could and as hard as I wanted to. I set myself a deadline of 1 year, which it turned out wasn’t even long enough to gather all of the information. I’d underestimated the quality and quantity of the material that was available but it was certainly worth taking my time and doing as good a job as I could with what I found or was given by so many people.

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? 

Anyone that answers ‘The Monkees’ deserves to be taken around the back of the barn with old yeller, so make of that what you will. I think everyone likes music it’s just the type and style that differs from person to person. I like most music to be honest although I feel it’s a shame that modern pop music is all the same and is owned by sofew companies and individuals who are only interested in jemmying the pocket money out of the pockets of teenage girls. There are so many bands that deserve the opportunity to shine through their amazing musical skills that are overlooked simply because they aren’t commercially viable. If the Beatles were formed today you canguarantee that no one would know who they are because they would be ignored by today’s music industry. But like many other aspects of modern life, music has had its heart and soul replaced with greed and capitalism. I love Metallica and REM and I often listen to The Killers and Kasabian when I write. I don’t think music particularly inspires me though, but it certainly keeps me company as I type.

Do you have a favourite quote?

I love quotes but I don’t have a particular favourite. This is a good one: If I waited till I felt like writing, I’d never write at all – Anne Tyler.What authors inspire you?Stephen King was the author who inspired me originally to write many years ago but I’d say that anyone, anywhere whose writing I read, inspires me. There is so much good stuff out there these days. I try not to overlook people like myself who aren’t professional or successful writers. We need to support each other as much as we can.I like to randomly pick someone and see where they take me. If I enjoy it I’ll read more and if not move on to someone else.

What footballers inspire you?

I love professional football but I’m not inspired by any of the professional players. They are generally overpaid, over-important, man-children. If you want to be inspired by a professional person go and shake hands and chat to a soldier. They deserve our attention and respect, but not footballers. They are entertainers at best,rarely are they role models or inspirational individuals. Grass roots players have my admiration and respect as they play for the love of the sport, not financial reward or fame.

Email: bilstontownfcbook@outlook.com

Twitter: bilstontownbook

Blog:https://thehistoryofbilstontownfc.wordpress.com/

 

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Okay everyone, I have real treat here for you to brighten any weekend. I am delighted to post an interview that I have conducted with fellow author, Joseph. A Pinto. Joseph focuses on the horror genre and I have connected with him all the way from New Jersey!

As well as being a quality author and poet, Joseph gives us an important insight into his support of the Pancreatic Cancer community, so please do read on…

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Biography

Joseph A. Pinto is the horror author of two published books including the poignant novella Dusk and Summer as well numerous short stories; his most recent works can be found in Midnight Echo magazine and Sirens Call Publications.  He is a member of the Horror Writers Association as well the co-founder of Pen of the Damned, a collective of angst and horror driven writers.  Indulge in his unique voice on his personal blog JosephPinto. com and PenofTheDamned.com.  Join his pancreatic cancer advocacy efforts at ‘Purple Hope’ (endpancan.com).  You can follow him on Twitter @JosephAPinto.  Joseph hails from New Jersey where he lives with his wife and young daughter.

Interview for Joe Pinto

Martin: Tell me a bit about your writing to date including any genre specifics.

Hi Martin!  I primarily write in the horror genre.  Horror means different things to different people; I tend to focus on the darker side of my characters while layering my plots with a direction and twist the reader may not expect.  I generally stay clear of narrations that rely on ‘blood and guts’ to make an impact.

Although my passion to become an author has burned within me since I was a little boy, the actual pursuit of it came about late in my life.  I’m forty-four now, but it wasn’t until ten years ago that I finally had the opportunity to take the initial steps.  I feel the past three years have really seen me grow and mature as a writer as I’ve prepared myself for the next level of things to come.

To date, two of my books have been published as well as multiple short stories.  My most recent book Dusk and Summer, published by Sirens Call Publications, ironically enough falls in the contemporary fantasy genre – my only work outside the horror realm.  It also stands as my proudest bit of writing.

I also enjoy writing poetry, often exploring and expressing the more painful aspects of life.

Martin: As well as writing I notice that you are very involved with something called Purple Hope. Could you tell us a bit more about that, Joe?

Purple Hope is a blog I started along with editor and co-owner of Sirens Call Publications, Nina D’Arcangela, in November 2014 to provide information, support and awareness for the pancreatic cancer community at large.

It all came about with the release of my book Dusk and Summer.  I wrote Dusk and Summer seven years ago in tribute to my father after he lost his courageous fifteen-month battle with pancreatic cancer.  My intent was to honor my father’s fight, as well as a way in which to deal with my own grief, which was overwhelming in the months following his death.  I incorporated my father’s love for the sea and wrote a fictitious story – not a biography, mind you – about a man who must find a way to bring his dying father’s soul to rest beneath the ocean’s waves.

I originally self-published Dusk and Summer back in 2008.  Years passed, and I went on to meet Nina, who has become an extremely respected role model in my life.  She read my book and loved it, and my book’s publishing journey came full circle from that point on.

Perhaps most importantly, I donate half of all my book’s proceeds to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research here in the United States.

The culmination of Dusk and Summer‘s publication seemed a good way to take my advocacy efforts in creating awareness about pancreatic cancer a step further.  Hence, Purple Hope was launched.  I thought if I could share my story, then why not encourage others to share their own?  I’m hoping Purple Hope will catch on as a means for others to share their memories and their hopes while venting their pain.  I also share any news and relevant information I find involving pancreatic cancer on Purple Hope as well.

Martin: Your book covers are great, who designed them?

Thank youThe cover for Dusk and Summer is an actual photograph shot by Nina D’Arcangela.  Her talent and enthusiasm are endless!  Nina came up with the vision of a live beach shot, incorporating my actual silhouette into the cover.  She believed it would lend a wonderful personal touch – the feel of experiencing my book as opposed to just reading.  We scoured the beach for hours, searching for just the right spot.  Finally, Nina nailed the money shot; it was among one of the very last photos taken that day.

Ironically, the location of our photo shoot – Long Branch, New Jersey – was struck by Hurricane Sandy not long thereafter.  The entire Jersey shore still struggles in its bid to recover to this day.

Martin: I notice that you also write poetry. What turned you on to that?

I primarily write poetry to keep my creative juices flowing, so to speak.  I express myself through a free verse medium and as I mentioned earlier, I gravitate toward the conveyance of heartache, angst and pain.

My exception is when writing about my young daughter.  That’s when the soft, sensitive side of me comes out.

Martin: What projects are you working on at the moment?

Well Martin, I’m currently writing a new horror novel.  I don’t usually give much away on current works, but I’ll share this: it involves events after Hurricane Sandy ripped apart the Jersey shore – the storm seems to have dredged something mysterious from the depths.  It will explore the possibility of a strange entity invading our world while examining the monster within my main character.  I’m having fun with it, and it won’t be along the lines of anything anyone has read before, I can assure you that.

Martin: Do you experience any challenges when writing?

I think the greatest challenge I experience when writing is overcoming the seed of self-doubt.  Facing a blank page is a daunting task for any writer.  I trick myself into believing that it’s not so much a blank page but an open road; I’m free to explore any route I choose.  And so I do.  I don’t structure or outline a story prior to writing.  I’ll run with an idea, then have at it on my keyboard.  The discovery of one’s own work during the actual process of creation is a feeling like no other.

Martin: Do any authors inspire you?

Authors inspire me as a whole.  It’s a ‘we’re all in this together’ kind of feeling.  Authors need to be read, their voices heard.  So the inspiration I find is in seeing the determination and in feeling the passion a writer possesses.  It turns an ‘I can’t’ into an ‘I can.’

Martin: Does anyone outside of the writing world inspire you?

Outside the writing world, my daughter inspires me most.  She’s gone through some tribulations during her first six years of life and still they continue, yet her smile, her love and her spirit are infectious.  She’s my inspiration to push and grind on so that what I might achieve today may provide for her tomorrow.

Martin: I was once 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?

How ironic Martin, the Beatles happen to be one of my favorite bands!  I love all their work, so my answer is an easy one – of course, the Beatles.  Although I do remember watching the Monkees when I was a kid (how I loved that hot rod of theirs!)

Music inspires my work greatly.  What I listen to depends on the piece I’m writing, or an actual scene.  Some of my best writing is done while I’m singing along to a tune – I kid you not!  Lyrics don’t distract me, but if someone should try to speak to me while in the middle of a writing session, it most definitely throws me out of my zone.  Go figure! I have very eclectic taste in music, with the exception of country and rap.

Martin: In the UK we are a bit of a soccer mad nation. Do you like soccer or any other sports?

My favorite sport is American football, and I am a die hard New Orleans Saints fan.  Since I was born and raised in New Jersey, it might seem odd to some.  But the Saints and the city have my heart.  I’ve been rabidly cheering on my team since I was a kid.

Martin: What angers you/makes you cry?

The overall state of our world makes me angry – so much violence, upheaval, and distrust.

Watching my daughter just be herself often makes me shed a happy tear.

Martin: What makes you laugh?

Okay, I’m going to share a guilty pleasure with you, Martin – I find humor in people tripping, and I might seriously wet myself if someone fell in front of me.  Of course, I’d help them up and make sure they weren’t injured – I’m not cruel, but I’d still be laughing!

Also, I don’t take myself too seriously, so I often find humor in the things I do and say.

Martin: Do you have a favourite quote?

I have two favorite quotes.  The first is ‘win the day.’  That’s my mantra upon waking.

The second is ‘never drop the ball.’  It’s the personal rally cry my father and I used as he battled pancreatic cancer.  ‘Never Drop The Ball’ is now tattooed atop my hand as a constant reminder.

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

Yes, Martin, there is.  For any of your readers who are fans of horror fiction, I’d like to throw a quick plug in for Pen of the Damned.  Nina D’Arcangela and I started Pen of the Damned in 2012.  Each Tuesday, we, along with eight other wonderful authors from around the globe, take turns sharing free horror fiction for readers.  The stories and prose are always 2,500 words or less, ensuring for quick, impactful reads.  It’s been steadily gaining in popularity and something Nina and I are quite proud of.

And if I may share one more thing, it’s to ask readers to invest a little bit of time and a whole lot of emotion into reading my book Dusk and Summer.  Even if you aren’t an advocate for pancreatic cancer awareness, it’s a story that will suspend your belief about things you think you know about life and death.

Does Heaven await beneath the waves? One man needs to know.

When his dying father whispers a cryptic message to him, he has no choice but to summon his courage and begin the quest of a lifetime. It’s a race against time to realize his father’s wish and fulfill his own destiny; it’s a discovery of the unbreakable bond between father and son. It’s a journey of the heart that unfolds where only the Chosen exist – in the moments between Dusk and Summer.

“A poignant, metaphoric conversation between son and father. A story that will warm your heart.”
–Yvonne S. Thornton, M.D., bestselling author of The Ditchdigger’s Daughters

The author will be donating a portion of the proceeds from this book to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

Dusk and Summer is available at:

Amazon: US |UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | India | Brazil
CreateSpace | Smashwords
Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes (Apple)

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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.

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BBC Radio West Midlands (WM) really is a fantastic ambassador for Birmingham and the West Midlands in general (UK). It is very supportive of the region and the people within it and of course carries the significant branding and endorsement of the BBC.

My own story with them spans over 20 years (of course my love affair with them started when I was very young lol).

In very recent times I have been interviewed by no less than 3 of the Radio Network’s presenters to showcase my vampire/football novel Beneath the Floodlights. The gentlemen who assisted in raising awareness of my novel were Mark Regan, Paul Franks and the legendary Brummie Carl Chinn.

When I wrote the song Raging Bull in 1990 , which can be found on Old Gold Anthems the songs of Wolves, myself and co-performer Gary were asked to attend Molineux (home of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club) one cold December Saturday. We had a great interview with Jenny Wilkes about the song’s subject Steve Bull: Wolves’ record breaking goal-scoring legend and about our music in general. The radio station also played it on air a few times.

Then if we jump a few years to 2005 BBC Radio WM ran a competition for a local band to join Roland Gift and The Fine Young Cannibals on stage at a forthcoming gig at Birmingham’s Alexander Theatre. The song I wrote Saturn Rising was entered and it won a unanimous phone vote from the Midlands’ public which indeed resulted in the band I was playing in at the time, Entity Fair (aka me and a great singer called Scott Stackhouse), supporting FYC and getting smashed at the pub next door to the theatre after the memorable event.

My story is just one of many who have been supported by this great radio station who work tirelessly to represent their community.

I would like to finish with a big thank you and I know my love affair with BBC Radio WM will continue….

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