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Interview with Author, Dan Sofer (part 2)

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

DS. Fifteen years ago, I decided to take my writing hobby more seriously. I bought books on writing craft, followed blogs of authors and literary agents, and devoted more time to writing.

Q. How long after that were you published?

DS. About four years later, I sold a short story to a print journal in the US. That gave me the confidence to work on my first novel, which took another seven years.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

DS. I don’t think paper books will disappear in the foreseeable future, but the bulk of readers might move to digital formats. Audiobooks are on the rise, and so I’ve produced an audiobook for my new novel, Revenge of the Elders of Zion, read by the insanely talented Audi Award-winning narrator, Tim Campbell.

Q. What makes a writer great?

DS. Writers can be great in many ways. I find the authors I love have emotional intelligence and a subtle sense of humor.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

DS. First, I write the novel concept, or “premise”, as a single sentence. I list the ideas, memorable scenes, and themes I’d like to include. After some years of writing, I discovered that this is a good time to write the book description or back-cover blurb. This helps make sure the concept will grab readers.
Then, I plan the structure of the main story arc. At the same time, I sketch out the motivation of the characters, their flaws, and arcs. I flesh the story out into a list of scenes and a two-page synopsis. By the time I start writing, I have a good idea of the story content. The writing flows faster, but there’s still room for characters and events to surprise me. Once I’ve raced through the first draft, I take a break, put the manuscript aside for a few weeks, and then return to the “real” writing, the editing.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

DS. Life experiences have deeply influenced my writing, from generating story ideas, to identifying with character motivations and relationships.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

DS. When I’m not writing and working (still have the day job), I spend time with my family, exercise at the gym, and of course, read a lot!

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

DS. My earlier novels are comedy thrillers with some magical realism: A Love and Beyond and the Dry Bones Society series (“An Unexpected Afterlife,” “An Accidental Messiah,” and “A Premature Apocalypse”).
My new novel is a comedy thriller without fantasy elements, Revenge of the Elders of Zion.
But I’m working on a psychological thriller and have story ideas for a bunch of other genres. So many genres, so little time…

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

DS. Focus. Don’t spread your time and energy too thin. We don’t live forever.

Did you miss part I of this interview?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer, May:  Joram Piatigorsky
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Books by Trisha Sugarek

 

Interview with South African Author, Dan Sofer

TS. Born and raised in South Africa, Dan moved to Israel in 2001. Most of his novels to date take place in Jerusalem, where he lived for seven years. Dan now lives near Tel Aviv with his wife and two daughters. “Currently, we’re all isolated in our apartment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Wish us luck!”

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

DS. The short answer: wherever and whenever possible. I write at my laptop either in our computer room (otherwise known as our “mess” room) or at the dining room table. I’ve been known to jot down story ideas on my phone too. One day I hope to graduate to a coffee shop with good Wi-Fi and great coffee.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat workspace, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

DS. I start with a cup of coffee. On good writing days, the coffee is cold by the time I look up from my manuscript.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

DS. I went scuba diving with Tiger sharks in Mozambique. (Unintentionally!)

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

DS. I’m a morning person. I get up early to write before life gets in the way.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

DS. Write first, do the rest later.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

DS. My characters develop along with the plot. I take my time getting to know them. Only rarely have I based a character on a person I know.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

DS. Imagination. My first novel, A Love and Beyond, developed from a first date in Jerusalem. The restaurant in a renovated Ottoman-era building had an almost mystical atmosphere at night, and I wondered whether a place could make people fall in love.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

DS. The situation comes first, the characters develop from the needs of the story.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

DS. Definitely! When writing, I shut out everything around me and often daydream about story situations and issues.

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

Available May 12th. Preorder Now!

DS. My new novel, Revenge of the Elders of Zion, is releasing on May 12, 2020.

Synopsis: In Manhattan, David Zelig decides to create a Jewish secret society based on the Elders of Zion myth. The Gentiles already think the Jews run the world; at least now a Jewish cabal might prevent the next synagogue shooting. When older and wiser community figures reject his proposal, the restless young heir of Zelig Pictures moves forward on his own. Along with two of his childhood friends—a high-strung hi-tech entrepreneur and a self-centered playboy—David establishes The Trio. But running a clandestine organization is harder than David had expected. And far more dangerous. Soon, the fledgling covert group falls into the cross hairs of some very real and very ruthless secret societies. And when law enforcement gets involved David’s well-meaning plan quickly spirals out of control. Struggling to stay alive and out of prison, the friends debunk The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, chase a priceless collection of Fabergé eggs, expose the dark secrets of Imperial Russia, and acquire a very embarrassing relic from the dawn of Christianity. Along the way, David will fall in love and uncover a complex web of conspiracy. He will discover the devastating cost of hatred and confess the true reason he created his secret society. To overcome painful injustices and prevent the most devastating anti-Semitic attack ever plotted on American soil, David will risk everything.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

Come back and join us with Part 2 on April 24th

To learn more about Revenge of the Elders of Zion, visit:
http://dansofer.com/revenge-of-the-elders-of-zion/?tag=pr

Special Offer:   Dan’ll be giving away over $500 in Amazon gift cards and merchandise for the launch. For details on how to enter, visit:
http://dansofer.com/giveaway-revenge-of-the-elders-of-zion/?tag=pr
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer, May:  Joram Piatigorsky
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Books by Trisha Sugarek

Book Review ~~ One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow

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5 out of 5 quills           ~~  A Book Review 

Look up ‘beautiful prose’ in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of this book cover.  Every word is a musical note in the English language.  The book is a lyrical and yet powerful saga about homesteading on the high prairies of Wyoming in the 1800’s. But don’t let my praise about the ‘prose’ make you hesitate. This is a page-turning story with rich characters that you will come to love. 

Tragedy brings two families together for simple survival. A pasture, and an ocean of pain, divides the two homesteads. Two women battle it out so that their children might endure. 

As a reviewer, I love it when I can read for the pure pleasure of reading a good book. This book delivered in spades. The plot kept me engaged from page to page. The characters were well drawn. 

I highly recommend this book to my readers. 
And I look forward to my interview with this author in March. If you sign up for my blog, you will be reminded of the interview when it posts. 

Check out my Interview with Olivia.

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    December: Dervla McTiernan – January: David Poyer, March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer 
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Interview with Naval Captain, turned Author, David Poyer

Naval Captain DAVID POYER grew up in Pennsylvania and attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. His naval service included duty in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Arctic, Caribbean, and ports around the world. His nearly fifty published books include THE DEAD OF WINTER, WINTER IN THE HEART, AS THE WOLF LOVES WINTER, and THUNDER ON THE MOUNTAIN. His latest is OVERTHROW . His work has been translated into Japanese, Dutch, Hungarian, and Serbo-Croatian.

Poyer holds a master’s degree from George Washington University and has taught or lectured at Annapolis, Flagler College, and other institutions around the country. He has been a visiting writer/writer in residence at Flagler and Annapolis. His fiction has been required reading in the U.S. Naval Academy.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

DP. I’ve written just about everywhere . . . aboard ship, in bars, in offices, on residencies abroad . . . anywhere with a pen or a keyboard. These days I usually write in my custom-built office, which has large windows with a view out over the Chesapeake Bay. And lots of reference books!

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

DP. Uh, not really . . . not superstitious about that, no. I check the email, look over the news, and set to work!

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

DP. One wall of my office is covered with typewriters. Manual typewriters, from all countries, that I’ve collected over the years. I came back from a research trip to Europe last year with five typewriters in a duffel bag…which interested the customs officials no end when they saw them on the X-rays!

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

DP. First thing in the morning works for me, when it’s quiet and not too much else has impinged on my day. I try to get at least a thousand words down, and then the rest of the day is mine to answer email, do research, or have fun!

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

DP. Here’s what I emphasize to my creative writing students: I think procrastination or “block” is usually just the result of a failure to properly prepare. I go through a long process of imagining my characters, daydreaming about their scenes. Eventually, I generate a detailed chapter outline that extends all the way to the end of the novel. (Things change, natch, and the outline is fluid to accommodate gifts; but having the outline there in the morning in place of a blank page removes all my stress.) When I know what will probably happen next, there’s no reason at all not to be able to do my thousand words that day. And usually more!

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

DP. They stem from various sources . . . some from people I knew . .. others are patterned after earlier fictional characters, especially in WHITENESS OF THE WHALE . . . and some spring fully born onto the page, like W. T. Halvorsen, who was a walk-on in DEAD OF WINTER but who took me through the next three books in the Hemlock County series. My wife says she’s often puzzled when I talk about my characters as if they’re people she should know! But then, she’s a novelist too, so she understands….

Q. What first inspired you to write?

DP. I tell my students at Wilkes, “One becomes a writer, not because one can, but because one must.” I realized very early, around age four, that writing was what I was sent here to do. And no matter what I did in between childhood and becoming a fulltime writer, that was preparation, rather than the main event.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

DP. Well, sometimes one, at other times the other. My continuing characters, such as Halvorsen, Dan Lenson, Tiller Galloway, usually find themselves confronted by ‘The Situation’, as you put it. Then they are called upon to react. Typically, things then get very dark. I mope around, trying to think of a way they can possibly escape. Eventually, I (or really, they) figure it out! Then all I have to do is craft the prose. Which is absorbing, too, in its way. The style of each of these series seems to differ. That, I think, is half organic and half from what my mentor Frank Green called a “felt knowledge.”

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

Join us for Part 2 of this griping interview next week
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    December: Dervla McTiernan – January: David Poyer 
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The Lost are the Last to Die ~~ Book Review

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing4 out of 5 quills ~~ Book Review

The Lost are the Last to Die by Larry D. Sweazy is a new, old west tale. 
Fans of westerns are going to love this story.  Set in the early 1900’s, the horse is being replaced by the automobile, the Great War has just ended and the lawlessness of the ‘old west’ is being rooted out.

Ranging from 1911 (flashbacks) to 1934 (present time for this story) Sweazy’s hero, Sonny Burton has enjoyed a stellar career in law enforcement. Surviving fighting in the Great War, he comes home and joins the Texas Rangers.  But life has served up a couple of career changing setbacks and Sonny must find new meaning in what seems like a meaningless life. 

The writing is superb. Larry leads the reader on an exciting chase with many twists and turns in the plot. Sonny Burton gives the reader someone worthy of rooting for. We want him to win even when it seems most unlikely.  

My Review of other Sweazy books.
Did you miss my interview with Larry Sweazy?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    December: Dervla McTiernan – January: David Poyer 
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Book Review ~~ The Summer of Sunshine & Margot

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing           4 out of 5 quills   Book  Review

 

Susan Mallery always delivers a solid story. The Summer of Sunshine and Margot was no exception.  I found the main characters (Sunshine & Declan, Margot and Alec) empathetic and charming. I had a little trouble with Margot’s career and the services her company offered. Was she a life coach? A therapist? A baby sitter for adults? It was never made clear. 

And that leads me to write about one character, in her story. Bianca. She was an aging film star who evidently had been indulged her entire life. The result was an implausible, spoiled brat. Immature, thoughtless, reckless and a bully. I worked in Hollywood many years ago and her antics would have led her to be, at the worst, blackballed. Or at best, she would have been considered a ‘difficult’ actress when casting a film and to be avoided. Difficult actors cost money.  I found her outrageous behavior tiresome and unbelievable. 

The character of Bianca was the reason I couldn’t give this book my highest rating. 
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December: Dervla McTiernan ~~ January: David Poyer  
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Other Writers Will Inspire You If You Let Them

I’m enjoying everything written by Catherine Ryan Hyde. I stumbled upon her as I searched through online book stores a few months back. Looking for  new authors to read and possibly interview….but mostly to read.  The cover of Have You Seen Luis Velez? caught my eye. Two figures (from the waist down) walking together; one obviously a boy with his worn jeans and sneakers. The other an older woman in a house dress and ill fitting coat. A white cane searching the pavement out in front of her old lady shoes. It intrigued me. It could be a grandson with his grandma but something about the image said no. It was something else. I ordered it and thanked my lucky stars I went with my instincts.  As I have said before, it is #1 of my top ten hits. It’s beautifully written and a gorgeous story. 

After that I read Allie and Bea. The joy of reading Hyde’s writing continued. Luis Velez was not a one shot wonder as I had feared. 
I am now  reading Say Goodbye For Now. The beautiful prose continues. Catherine Ryan Hyde is a master. It’s a turn a phrase, connecting words perfectly—(now I’m just plain gushing). But let me give you an example. It’s a small one but worth the mention.
 

On page 138 the two young boys are talking. It’s the dead of night and neither of them can sleep. The day had been jarring and scary. Pete is a thoughtful young boy. He isn’t quick to answer or judge or act. The two boys are exploring if it’s only scary when you’re a kid or are grownups scared too. They find it a depressing thought that just being a person, no matter what age, will be scary. 

Pete’s new friend has asked, “Just…I don’t know. Being a person, I guess. Is it just me, or is it really scary?”

“That’s a good question.” Pete says. “I’ll have to think about that.”

(Here’s the example of this writer’s thoughtfulness and mastery with words)

‘But once again, Pete didn’t exactly think. More left simple openings for thoughts or feelings to volunteer.’

AND: (on page 293)
“She couldn’t quite read his expression.  His face looked the way it always did. The way it always had, as long as she had known him. Maybe his sadness over these new events was no bigger or more powerful than the sadness he had brought with him to her door on that first day.”

These questions, thoughts, observations are on every page. They are sometimes so subtle, like this one, you have to be on your toes to even notice them. But, damn! They’re beautiful when you catch them and stop a moment to taste them.

Did you see my Interview with Catherine Ryan Hyde?

Watch for my Review and the Release of her newest book, Stay  (On sale December 2019)
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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Book Review ~ Oysterville Sewing Circle

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   5 out of 5 quills ~~ A Book Review 

Domestic violence is when a husband or boyfriend physically abuses a mate and only in the privacy of their home. Right? Wrong. Who would have thought that the bigger than life, extraordinarily beautiful models strutting down the runway, would be hiding a dirty little secret? And had the bruises to show for it? You don’t imagine their life filled with anything but exotic locations, Krystal Champaign, fancy yachts and handsome escorts.

In Susan Wiggs’ newest novel, The Oysterville Sewing Circle, she explores the fashion industry and the mental and physical abuse that regularly occurs there. But, oddly, this is not a dark story. It’s filled with love and hope and two of the most adorable children you could ever hope for. 

The characters are well drawn. The reader is rooting for Caroline and the two orphans from page one. Sewn into the fabric of the tale is a wonderful love story. And redemption for the survivors of domestic abuse. 

As my readers know, I don’t write spoilers in my reviews.  For me it’s all about the story and the writing. Susan Wiggs never disappoints. Her latest offering is filled with surprises, twists and turns. I highly recommend this book. 

Did you catch my Interview with Susan?

For more information about domestic violence:
#MeToo
www.thehotline.org
1-800-799-SAFE
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs and September: Alan Foster (Sci-fi)
 
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Interview with Author, Susan Wiggs (part 2)

Q. What first inspired you to write?

SW. It wasn’t an inspiration but a suspiration. Seriously, I thought everyone thought in stories and to me, it was as natural as breathing. I know this is true because I had a very patient mom who would write down my stories as I dictated them to her, because I was too young to read or write.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

SW. This varies from book to book. For The Oysterville Sewing Circle, the characters and situation are so entwined that they appeared concurrently on the page. Caroline, an aspiring designer, is not inherently interesting until we see her confronted with a situation of epic proportions—a shocking tragedy and the need to protect two small children. That sets the story in motion. I’m a sucker for stories about an ordinary person thrust into extraordinary circumstances he or she never expected.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

Susan’s first novel

SW. I love when that happens! When the world of the story and the characters feel as real as life itself. The downside is, there are situations and characters that break my heart, as in The Oysterville Sewing Circle. I have to confess; I experienced a lot of anger when I was researching and writing this book. I hope I did justice to the women who shared their stories with me.

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

SW. I’m desperately trying to finish The Lost and Found Bookshop (Summer 2020), set in a vintage bookshop in historic San Francisco. The main character finds hidden artifacts in the old building that turn out to be clues to her family’s past.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

SW. I wrote my first novel while studying for my master’s degree at Harvard. I wrote it on a typewriter and it was probably awful but the experience was completely exhilarating, and I never looked back.

Q. How long after that were you published?

SW. A few years. I sold my first book in 1986 and it was published in 1987. My very first editor was Wendy McCurdy and we’re still friends to this day.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

SW. No.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

SW. It’s like holding up a distorted mirror. A character might reflect an old memory of mine (Caroline’s first love in The Oysterville Sewing Circle or the first time I learned to surf…) More importantly, my world view and heart are reflected in my writing. I believe in the fundamental kindness of humanity, the power of following your passion, and the absolute necessity of opening our hearts to one another.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

SW. Reading. And more writing. I also enjoy hiking, biking, and skiing. Spending time with my mom and granddaughter. They’re both named Clara, and my daughter Elizabeth.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

SW. Sure! I want to learn the craft of screenwriting, for sure. I keep wanting to write a mystery or thriller, but I’m too squeamish.

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

SW. Probably one of the biggest life lessons came from The Oysterville Sewing Circle! Believe women. Believe your gut. If something doesn’t “feel” right, it’s not right. And if something’s not right, speak up. For some women, this takes enormous courage—but the rewards are boundless.

Did you miss Part I? Click here 

 My Review of The Oysterville Sewing Circle

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs and September: Alan Foster (sci-fi)
 
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Book Review…’Before and Again’ by Barbara Delinsky

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5 out of 5 quills           

A  Review

 

Are second chances very common? Can divorced people reconnect and put all the bitterness and heartbreak behind them? Mackenzie Cooper ran far, far away from unimaginable heartbreak and pain. She rebuilt her life and was relatively happy, until her ex-husband showed up. Not in town just for a visit but  purchased an Inn and a house.

Once again, Barbara Delinsky has crafted a beautiful story about real people and real places. The reader is immediately drawn in and becomes a resident of Devon, Vermont, until the last page. What a delightful trip.

This reviewer has been reading Barbara Delinsky for well over 20 years. She never disappoints. Rich, well drawn characters that the reader readily relates to and cares about. 

I highly recommend Before and Again to my followers. 

Did you miss my Interview with Barbara Delinsky?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde, August: Susan Wiggs and September: Alan Dean Foster 
 
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