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Fifth Tower Interview~Ciara Ballintyne

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This week I bring to you a bonus interview from a good friend of mine. She’s been very busy as of late but managed to get her to sit still for just a few minutes to answers some questions!

Hello Ciara! Welcome to the Fifth Tower. It’s been a while since we last sat down and talked. How have you been?

Life’s been busy. Work. Kids. New books. What can I say except that there is so much buzzing around in my head right now I can’t keep track of it all. The biggest things going on are making sure I meet the release date for my new book, which is Sept 22, and at the same time I am also doing a complete website revamp and rebrand.

You’ve got a new novella coming out soon called Stalking the Demon. What can you tell us about that?

Stalking Cover

It’s the sequel to my novella, Confronting the Demon. Each book is a self-contained story about the same characters, but the second story springs out of the first. You could quite correctly say that the events in Stalking the Demon wouldn’t have happened but for the events in Confronting the Demon. So you can read the first one and quite happily stop with a story resolution – if you want to.

In Stalking the Demon, Alloran is struggling to find a cure for a mysterious illness threatening to kill the woman he loves, and stabilise the failing structure of the seven hells. Someone is sabotaging his every move, but even worse – all the answers he needs are locked away in hell.

While Stalking the Demon is still short, it’s quite a bit longer than the first book in the series. It’s probably technically moved into short novel length.

You’ve mentioned that this is going to be a series; Confronting and Stalking are the first two. How many are you planning on doing?

I have ideas for four books at the moment. I thought they would all be the same length as Confronting the Demon, which is 25,000 words, but since Stalking the Demon has just cracked 40,000 I am beginning to wonder if the third and fourth books will still be short or not…. I have seeds of ideas for them but I haven’t actually planned the books out at this stage. There is always potential for more, as well, but I do intend to keep it as a series of self-contained books. My full-length novels are the ones where the stories span multiple books.

On your blog, Flight of the Dragon, you have a feature called, “Monday Morsels”. Share with us that idea and what’s currently posted there.

It allows readers to see excerpts from the first drafts of my works in progress as I write. They excerpts are short, sometimes as little as ten sentences, and they are not contiguous – so while I generally post them in chronological order, there might be whole chapter between one excerpt and the next. This is really just about giving readers a taste of what’s coming next.

The excerpts available now include some from Stalking the Demon, which is the short novel to be released in September, and also from a full-length epic fantasy novel I’m working on called In the Company of the Dead.

What progress have you made on your full-length novel, In the Company of the Dead?

I’m 60% of the way through the first draft. I can’t see the plot needing nearly as much reworking and rewriting as Stalking the Demon (which I almost completely rewrote twice) so hopefully the revisions and edits stage won’t be so painful.

Share with us what that’s about and how soon we can see it available.

Lyram is third in line for the throne, but after an altercation with the crown prince (involving the murder of his wife and a right hook to the prince’s jaw) he’s been exiled to a remote castle on the border in disgrace. He’s intent on drowning his woes in whiskey when a mysterious army arrives to besiege the castle. He believes it’s an attempt to by the prince to remove him permanently; his men think he’s losing the plot. Things really get interesting when the Battle Priestess of the death goddess arrives to protect Lyram from a necromancer dedicated to the evil god of decay. She has a secret – and he’s on the brink of compounding his problems with the prince by crossing a goddess.

I’m hoping to finish the first draft this year and have it available next year.

During the day, you are a lawyer. Have any of your ideas come from work?

Um…. No. I wish I could say otherwise, but no. I practice corporate law in the financial services sector, so it’s a little dry. The only thing I can say is that there are some references to criminal conduct and gross negligence in Stalking the Demon and that knowledge comes from my legal background.

Besides work and homelife, what do you do to get out and away from everything?

Well…. There’s books. And writing. And sad to say not much else. There isn’t a lot of time left after work, commuting (which doubles as my writing time), home and kids. I love country music, and I enjoy singing, both of which I get to do to some extent in the car – except, of course, that now audiobooks are competing for that time. I enjoy horse-riding, but I gave up my horse after my first child. I love karaoke, but there’s not much time for that either. Probably the thing I do most after reading and writing is watch movies. My husband prefers a more visual medium so that’s our shared story time.

The world of publishing has come a long way. Where do you see it headed in the next five years?

That’s a good question. I think traditional publishers need to pick up their game. If they don’t, they’ll go the way of Kodak. They need to realise they are selling stories and information, not books, and stop protecting their paperbacks at the expense of ebooks.

At the same time, they are still offering deals to authors like they have a protected market. Authors are already starting to realise that there is no value in taking a deal with a publisher where they get little to zero marketing support and poor royalties so they basically have to market the book themselves, but without the control that allows self-pubbed authors to do so effectively e.g. the ability to run sales and give discounts.

Traditional publishers either need to learn to market ebooks better, or need to stop acquiring ebook rights, as I see a decline in authors accepting bad ebook deals just to get the deal for print.

Do you ever see the demise of “Brick and Mortar” bookstores with the rise of ebooks?

Not immediately…. Too many people still say they prefer the feel of a real book. But it won’t stay that way – more and more of the newer generations will grow up with ebooks accepted as the norm. Bookstores might disappear then.

If brick and mortar bookstores want to survive they need to start adapting too. I still like the idea of browsing aisles, and many other readers do too. Maybe there is scope for physical displays of virtual books. It would be difficult to sell ebooks and add a mark-up from Amazon, but maybe bookstores can offer book displays and book advice but sell something else – food and drink is the first idea. Offer free wi-fi, so people can come in wirth their kindle, browse the shelves, buy the ebook from the retailer of choice, and stay and read over unch or a coffee.

That wouldn’t be enough in itself – book stores would need to be offering other add-on products, and I’m afraid at this point my creativity fails me and I don’t know what they would be. Maybe merchandise from books. This might move the local bookstore more in the direction of comic book stores, where you can buy all the paraphernalia and merchandise to match. I still think there’d need to be more to it. But it would be nice to see bookstores survive as they are a good venue for author signings and other activities for readers.

If you had the chance to co-write a novel with any writer, who would it be and what would be the plot of the story?

Good question…. I would have loved to write a book with Terry Pratchett. He’s a total comedic genius and I’m not, so it would have been interesting to see what would have resulted. I really can’t guess at the plot – I think that’s something that would evolve from the collaboration of two authors.

If you were given full backing to make one of your stories into a major motion picture, which one would you choose, who would direct, and why to both?

Maybe Deathhawk’s Betrayal. It’s an assassin fantasy, so you could make it like a spy thriller fantasy, which makes it appealing to a wider audience. It’s also light on magic, so there’s less CGI needed – which means less room for bad special effects or totally botched CGI, which are areas where fantasy novels can fall down as movies. Magic and the like has to be done flawlessly for a fantasy movie to be believable. And it has a kick-arse female lead.

The director is harder. I really don’t pay that much attention to directors, and I’ll admit I’m really not all that clear as to how directors influence films – as in, I can’t look at two directors and say we’ll he’d do it this way, but he’d do it that way. I’m clueless. Maybe Ridley Scott.

What’s on the horizon for your writing?

Well there’s the next two books in the Seven Circles of Hell after Stalking the Demon, there’s two more books (at least) in Vows of Blood after In the Company of the Dead. A Magical Melody is a short story that appears as a bonus in confronting the Demon and that’s the first movement in the Symphony of Magic. There’ll be three more movements to complete the symphony, and then a full-length novel to link all the characters together.

Those are just the projects I have currently published something in. Apart from that I also have three other fantasy series – The Deathhawk Trilogy, which is the assassin one, The Nemesis Trilogy, which is a sequel trilogy but the protagonist in this one was only a minor character in The Deathhawk trilogy. I have another series of which the first book will be The Blood Infernal. It’s an epic fantasy with a strong angel/demon twist. There may also be a sequel series to Vows of Blood, and I have a prequel idea for the Nemesis Trilogy.

If you would like to obtain an ARC of Stalking the Demon, head over to Flight of the Dragon blog for details.

Ciara_author Photo

Ciara can be found at ciaraballintyne.com

Ciara on Twitter

Ciara on Facebook

Ciara on Google Plus

Ciara’s page on Amazon.com

BLURB for Stalking the Demon

Alloran lost his hand to thwart his renegade friend–but the world is still going to hell.

Six months after Ladanyon’s defeat, Gisayne is fading away from a baffling illness. Alloran is desperate for a cure, but he has a secret–the seven circles of hell are unstable. His worst fear is that the terrible mirror spell cast upon Gisayne has wrought some connection between her and the demon dimensions.

As everything Alloran loves races toward destruction, he does the unthinkable and refuses to obey the council of wizards. The only people who can help him are the two research assistants assigned by the council–but he knows he can’t trust them.

All the answers are locked away in the last place anyone wants to go: hell.


Ciara Ballintyne sings American country music with an Australian accent and is slave to two cats who believe they are gods – but who graciously permit her husband and two daughters to reside with them. She holds degrees in law and accounting, and for her sins has been a practising financial services lawyer since 2004. She is both an idealist and a cynic.

She started reading epic fantasy at the age of nine, when she kidnapped Castle of Wizardry by David Eddings from her father. Another two years passed before she began her first attempts at the craft of writing. Confronting the Demon is her debut book.

She enjoys reading, horse-riding, and speculation about taking over the world. If she could choose to be anything it would be a dragon, but instead she shares more in common with Dr. Gregory House of House. M.D. She is a stalwart defender of the Oxford comma.

This concludes this interview and post! Feel free to share any questions or comments that you might have. More interviews in the future!

Happy Adventuring!



Fifth Tower Author Interview Archive

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Since I’ve just completed my series of Indie Author interviews, I thought I would the links of all of them together on one page for easier reference. Just back on occasion as I will be adding more as the year continues. Thanks to all of the authors who took time to answer my questions and thanks to all of the reader who gave comments.


Mark Shaw–Author of Keeper of the Wind and founder of Indie Books Be Seen movement.

Benjamin Wallace— Author of Dumb White Husbands and Dystopia, Inc.

Kim Scott (Lydia North)–Author of “The Spirits of Maine” series

Susan May— Author of Back Again and other Suspense stories

Elyse Salpeter–Author of “Flying to the Light” and other stories

E. F. Rose— Poet and future author

Ciara Ballintyne–Fantasy novelist, Confronting the Demon and others.


B&W Me 007

Happy Adventuring!


Fifth Tower Interview–E.F. Rose

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September is here and Summer will soon be sliding into Autumn. But before we do that, let me share my final interview of this collection. I just recently met Emily through Facebook and although she is a poet, she is soon to be releasing her first novel! I got together with her to discuss both her poetry and her upcoming book.

Hello Emily and welcome to the Fifth Tower! Please make yourself comfortable.

Thank you so much for having me! I’m so happy to be here!

Please tell us about your collection of poems in your book, Echoes.

I have written a large collection of poetry over the past ten years. Forty of those poems made it into this book. The topics of my poems range from dark, to sexy, to romantic, to paranormal. I tried to arrange them in a way that tell several stories and, in a whole, reflect the title. Echoes is my first published work.


A walk through what was, and a reminder of what could have been, in this chilling yet inspirational anthology of poems. Over a decade of poetry come together to tell a tale – and echo the lives lived behind closed doors.


The cover itself is also very personal for me. It was photographed and shot by one of my best friends, Diana Muniz, with my sister, Katie, as the model. I love everything about it and couldn’t be prouder to have it as the cover of my book.

Echoes cover


At the moment Echoes is only available through Amazon Kindle for only 99 cents (shameless I know . . . haha), but I hope to have it available through several other eBook sites as well as in print very soon.

What inspired you to write poetry?

Lets see . . . Well, I started writing poetry when I was in high school. Through the following years I wrote many poems – on anything I had around me at the time! Napkins, post-its, scrap paper, you name it! Early last year I decided that I wanted to share some of my work. I had always heard from my family and close friends that my writing was good but, as far as I could see that’s what they were supposed to say – right? Anyway, I decided that the best way to really know if I had any talent in this area was to start a blog, type up some work, close my eyes, and hit Enter. The feedback was instant and better than I could have ever hoped for.

Who are some poets that you admire?

The poet that I admire the most, and have loved for as long as I can remember, is Edgar Allan Poe. He is a true master of his craft. Not just his poetry either, his short stories are legendary. My favorite poems by Edgar Allan Poe are; A Dream Within A Dream, The Conqueror Worm, and of course The Raven.

Some other’s that I have followed are, Shel Silverstein (because his work, like Anteater, Hammock, and Messy Room are wonderfully fun!) and William Blake’s A Poison Tree is also a favorite of mine!

Tell us about your current project, Divinely Entwined.

Divinely Entwined (the Fallen Guardian series, Book 1) is my debut novel, which I hope to have published within the next few months. This is an Urban Fantasy series and follows the lives of a group of five Fallen Angels. Divinely Entwined will focus mainly on Christian and the feisty woman that stumbles into his life, Ella Roberts. You will also be introduced to a group of demons who are determined to not only tip the balance in the fight between good and evil in their favor . . . but they want to destroy the Guardians – in anyway possible! I have really enjoyed writing this novel and plan for it to be the first in a series of at least five additional books.

When you’re not writing, what do you do for fun?

I’m a huge reader of all genres. I of course have my favorites . . . such as JR Ward, Laurel K Hamilton, Stephen King, and Dean Koontz – to just name a few! I also love finding new authors! I have enjoyed finding and getting to know several Independent Authors. Many of whom I absolutely adore and look forward to reading more from.

I also enjoy going out dancing (which I haven’t been able to do as much of lately – but hope to be able to soon). I’ve always been a very social person so getting to meet new people is always a good time!

Do you have a Day Job? What do you do to pay the bills?

Unfortunately, yes . . . haha! As much as I hope to one day be able to be an author full time – I can’t do that yet! So, for the last (cough) ten years I have been working in the office of a local jewelry store. I do enjoy working there though! I love the people I work with, and besides having to deal with retail hours (those of you who have/has worked retail can join me in a general cringe) and the occasional unfriendly customer, my days are filled with fun times and new jewelry (smiles widely). What more could a girl want? Haha! I also get to work on my writing while I’m on my break so, all in all, everything is working out! I actually wrote the first chapter of Divinely Entwined one day while I was on my lunch at work! Not bad!

If you had the chance to write your next novel with a well-known author, who would it be and what would be the plot of that story?

J.R. Ward hands down! I think her writing style is absolutely amazing, her plots are filled with so many twists and surprises (which I can’t get enough of) and I LOVE her characters! I’m not sure what kind of plot I would want our story to be about, probably something within the Urban Fantasy genre, but really I think anything would be great. Just to work with her, on any level, would be a real honor!

If Divinely Entwined was to be made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles and why?

Oh wow, um . . . When I started writing Divinely Entwined I had a couple actors/actresses in mind for my characters. While I fully believe that when reading my work – everyone will have someone different that comes to mind – for me, this is who I picture:

Divinely Entwined’s main two character:

* Christian – Chris Evans

* Ella – Phoebe Tonkin

Christian’s Brothers (Fellow Fallen Angels):

* Darren – Paul Walker

* Manuel – Jake Gyllenhaal

* Cyrus – Theo James

* Nicholas – Ryan Reynolds

The reason for a lot of these are not solely based on looks (though in most cases it definitely helped – with most of my characters being fallen angels there are some features they have that well…human men just can’t have naturally! haha) so a lot of my decisions were based on how these actors and actresses performed in some of their movies. So if my book was a movie, these would be my picks! Except of course for the late Paul Walker (RIP), whom I just either can’t or don’t want to find anyone else who would be a better Darren, at least in my mind!

Once Divinely Entwined is completed and available for purchase, what is your next project?

I have actually already started on book two of my Fallen Guardian series. I’m really excited about how it’s going!

I also started working on another book, which will be the beginning of a new series – this one more of a dystopian fantasy, which I look forward to sharing more information on in the future!

I have also made notes and outlined two other possible series that I would like to write. One of which is another Urban Fantasy, while the other is an MC (Motorcycle Club) Dark Romance! What can I say . . . I’m a multi-genre author! And I look forward to sharing my work with everyone, as well as making many more friends!

Thank you for your time!

You’re very welcome! Thank you again for having me hon! I really had a blast and look forward to chatting with you again soon!

Divine Entwined

Here’s is the Synopsis for Divinely Entwined (Which I hope to have out before the end of the year!)

Divinely Entwined

By E.F. Rose

A Guardian who’s losing himself . . .

After falling to Earth the Fallen Angel Christian, along with his brothers, have stepped into the role of Earth’s Guardians. In the fight to keep the balance between good and evil, Christian has slowly begun to lose himself. That is, until his chance encounter with the feisty and enticing Ella Roberts. They are drawn to each other and begin to find feelings growing that neither can explain . . . but will it be enough?

A darkness threatening them all . . .

Danger is now lurking around every corner, and as the number of unanswered questions pile up, the balance between good and evil will be tipped. With everything on the line will Christian and Ella be able to trust in themselves, in each other . . . or will they lose themselves to the darkness?

Emily Rose

E.F. Rose (Emily) lives in California surrounded by her boyfriend, family, and friends. Her favorite things to do are read, write, dance, and enjoy life. Echoes is her first published book and is a collection of poems which she has written throughout the years. Her debut novel Divinely Entwined is scheduled to be out late 2014. Emily has always long to be a writer and hopes to one day be able to make a living doing what she loves.

My Links:

Website: www.efrose.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DarkestRose13

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Emily_F_Rose

Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/E.F.-Rose/e/B00EQGP9T6

This concludes another interview and brings this post to a close. I have another interview to post soon but apparently there is this demon that stands between me and the author. Ever have one of those days?

Remember share any questions or comments you might have on this or any of our previous interviews. If you are an indie author and would like to be interviewed for an upcoming book release, please contact me here or send me a message on Facebook.

Until next time, Happy Adventuring!!


Fifth Tower Interview–Elyse Salpeter

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Here we are, once again, with another interview from an Indie Author. I managed to catch Elyse Salpeter before she rushed off for a cruise in Alaska. The interview is as follows, please enjoy.

Your current project is “Flying to the Fire” a sequel to “Flying to the Light”. What can you tell us about this book?


These novels are about a young deaf boy who knows about the afterlife. In Book #1, our main protagonist, six-year old Danny Anderson, finds himself on the run for his life. An evil biophysicist, the FBI and even fellow Americans are all on the hunt for him for his secrets and it’s up to his older brother to keep him safe. In Book #2, I fast forward seven years and Danny is now thirteen years old. I did that because I wanted him to be the driver of the story and the novel continues “the theme” that I began in the first novel of the series.


Your MC in these stories is deaf. Was this a challenge for you to write and did readers have an issue with it?

My biggest concern was to make sure that I was creating a novel that “made sense and was respectful of the Deaf culture.” While I am a bit hard of hearing in my left ear, I can still hear and I live in the hearing world, so this aspect was very important to me. I wanted to have this little boy’s main communication to be sign language and I wanted the entire family to use it fluently to communicate with him.

For Book #2, I visited St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf and Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf and I was able to speak to the students to make some of my dialogue a lot more relevant.

I’ve noticed that you are working on a third for this series, what can you share about this one? Will this be the last, or are you planning more?

I “think” this will be the last of the trilogy, but you never know! At this time I have a rudimentary knowledge of what is going to happen. You see, I left the end of FLYING TO THE FIRE with a huge cliffhanger that needs to be resolved, so I’m going to have to do that in the next book. The tentative title is called FLYING HOME.

One of the other series you’ve written is The Children of Demilee. There are currently two books available. Do you plan to write more and what can you share about them?


I love fantasy books and in the Children of Demilee series, THE WORLD OF KAROV and THE RUBY AMULET, I wanted to create a fantasy world that was not all about pink princesses. I wanted a gritty novel where things don’t always end happily. The first book takes us into the lives of dysfunctional twins and into a world where a great evil is spreading through the lands. In THE RUBY AMULET I fast forward nearly four hundred years and bring another set of characters forward to enter this particular universe. I believe this series could have a third book, but I think it would end up being a prequel to them all. What started this evil? Who really are the Children of Demilee? I’ve written two short stories about these characters and these lands, so I know this concept is not far from my mind.

What is considered your ultimate goal as a writer? (for example: NYT Best Sellers list, movie rights, etc.)

I know that the “pat answer” should be that I should feel successful for simply finishing and publishing a book, and now I’ve published five. But that would be short changing you. I would ultimately love to write full time but with the way the industry is going, it’s very hard to do that. My “dream” is to have the novels reach the hands of a producer who would love to put my words to film or television. I think that would be the ultimate goal. Until then, I’m just going to keep writing and meeting people and hope that I build a fan base of people interested in my stories.

If you had the chance to write your next novel with a well-known author, who would it be and what would be the plot of that story?

Well, it’s no secret to anyone that knows me that I am a huge fan of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. They co-author a series of novels with a unique FBI agent. Recently they co-authored a short story with R.L. Stein. I’d love to have one of my characters “enter a story” with this FBI agent. I wrote an adult thriller called THE HUNT FOR XANADU about a girl on a mission to avenge the death of her parents, murdered on their quest to find the mystical land of Xanadu. Her name is Kelsey Porter and I’d love for her to butt heads with Preston & Child’s FBI Agent.

If “Flying to the Light” was to be made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles and why?

That’s a good question. Danny is just six, and doesn’t speak yet, so I’d need a young child who is very animated. His older brother, Michael, is seventeen and has to “come of age” and mature quickly in this book. I can picture them in my head, but I don’t have any actors in mind. In some of my novels, I’ll do character sheets and put famous faces to the different leads. In this novel, I just didn’t do that.

When you are not writing, what do you do for fun?

I love cooking and enjoy trying new recipes out on my family. I also love to garden. There’s nothing more rewarding than coming home from work, going into the garden and picking vegetables and herbs that I can use in our dinner that night.

I’ve been playing around with yoga and pilates recently and the occasional jog. But honestly, I have pre-teen twins and when I’m not writing or working at my day job, they keep me pretty busy!

What advice do you give to those who want to become writers?

Just write. Don’t worry about if it’s good, or bad, or what people will think. About six years ago I finally decided to forget how embarrassed and shy I was about showing anyone my work and decided to take the plunge and publish all these novels I had just sitting in my computer. And you know what? I’m glad I did!

I say to writers, make sure though, if you wish to publish, to get your books professionally edited, proofed, and make sure you have a strong cover and that the novels are formatted properly. You want people to respect your work so you need to put as much care into how they look to the public with the same care you took writing them.

What do you see as the future for publishing?

The million dollar question! I wish I knew. I have spent the past year building up my social media stats, hoping that it will help me have a voice within all this publishing noise. The problem is, I don’t know if things like Twitter or Facebook or Google+ really help you sell books.

As for the future, I think soon everyone will have an ereader and hard cover books are going to be hard pressed to find. Just the ease of putting a hundred books on your phone or Ipad is just an amazing thing. My hope is that the next generation is one of readers and that they will value disappearing into a fictional world occasionally.

Thank you for your time!!

You can find me at:






Author Bio:

Elyse Salpeter is the author of seven novels and a host of short stories. What she loves doing is mixing “the real with the fantastic” in her books. She loves taking different scenarios and suddenly creating worlds where things just aren’t what they appear to be.

Her New Adult Dark Fantasy Series, THE WORLD OF KAROV and THE RUBY AMULET take us to other realms filled with magic and evil… Her Contemporary Adult thriller, THE HUNT FOR XANADU is about a young girl on a mission to avenge her parents, murdered in their quest to find the mystical land of Xanadu.

Her YA novels, FLYING TO THE LIGHT and FLYING TO THE FIRE are about a young deaf boy who knows what happens to you when you die and now people are after him for the answers. The books are fast paced thrillers that keeps the reader on their toes, never quite knowing who, and who not, to trust.

When she’s not writing, she’s cooking, working out, running after her twins, caring for her crazy ferret, and eating shock food in her Gastronaut Club.

This brings this post to a close. I have one more interview this coming Monday, September 1st, but fear not! I’ll have more interviews to share in the next few months. Until then, Happy Adventuring!


Fifth Tower Interview–Susan May

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Good morning to everyone! This is my third in a series of interviews that I have done with Indie Authors. If you haven’t had the chance to read the other two, you can check them out now. The first was with Benjamin Wallace and the second was with Kim Scott.

Today’s interview is with Suspense writer, Susan May. I recently read her short story “Back Again” and enjoyed it very much. I invited her to the tower to talk about it full-length version of the story and some of her other works. Please enjoy!

Hello Susan and welcome to the Fifth Tower!

Chris, thank you so much for having me here. I’m really thrilled that you’ve invited me to meet your readers and, also, for your very kind words about Back Again.

Your current project, Back Again, is both a short story and a full length novel. Why is it both?

Back Again

I wrote the short story for a time travel anthology which didn’t happen in the end. So I finished Back Again and sent it off to my copy editor, Peg, at http://www.ebookeditingpro.com. She told me she loved the story, and made some suggestions about continuing past the conclusion. I had a few queries about the edits and the owner of the business, Christie, who is an ex-Penguin USA and St Martin’s Press structural editor, read through it for me. She also loved it. Then two days later, Christie sent me an email urging me to turn the story into a book and that, if I did, she had some contacts in publishing she’d like to send it to as a novel.

When I’d finished the short story, I always did think there was more story there. So, even though I had another project I was about to start, I thought that I may as well give this a swing. However, I wasn’t positive I could turn the story into a book because it had felt reasonably complete, except for a few niggles. I gave myself four weeks to see what I had at the end of that time because I didn’t want to waste too much time on it. It seemed tricky to pull off anyway, because I had to write around the short story and it wouldn’t be a linear write. As well short stories are pretty easy—you don’t have to explain everything; you can just allude. In a book, I would have to explain a lot of things that I hadn’t worried about and think of a different ending that went past my short story ending.

What thrilled me was that because I gave myself a deadline, I actually wrote the whole book in four weeks—84,000 words (350 pages). This book has taught me how to write and edit fast. I wrote some tips on this after writing the 12,000-word short story draft in a week. The total write time from start to sending off to my editor, including two thorough edits, was two-and-a-half months, and I think it’s the cleanest manuscript I’ve sent for editing yet.

Tell us a little bit about the story concept.

Dawn watches her son, via her rear vision mirror, killed in a vehicle accident. Then, after enduring ten days of unimaginable hell, she finds herself back again to the morning of the accident day. She thinks that she has just been given the greatest gift of being able to change the future, until she discovers that there are limitations to her return.

Do you really think it would be that difficult to alter your own timeline?

When I sat down to write this time slip story, I knew I didn’t want a setup like every other Groundhog Day type story, where the character goes back and repeats different versions of the day, with their only challenge being creating a temporal loop or something similar. So I gave Dawn a handicap that I’d never read or seen in a film or book before. Of course, readers will need to read the book to discover what that actually is.

And, Chris, I think it would be very difficult to alter my own timeline because I don’t have a time travel machine. If I did, I certainly would have Dawn’s same determination to never give up trying to save my children.

In reading the reviews for Back Again, someone held back one star because they were unhappy with the ending. Do these types of reviews bother you?

I always said I would never read my reviews, but I can’t help it—I do. If a reader is kind enough to take the time to write a review, then I feel I should read it. No, that doesn’t bother me that a reader writes something negative about my stories, because it’s so subjective. I’m a film and book critic, and the other film critics and I are always discussing our difference of opinion on films and making fun of each other’s tastes. Yet we’re all just as experienced. I know going in that some readers won’t like my work or an ending or a character, but I’m always grateful that they take the chance on reading my stories.

I wouldn’t change a story because of a review. I don’t even have a critique group. I have my husband, who is a great first reader and really nails most of the problem areas before my editors get the work. Then I have my editors. Once a story is done and published, it’s pretty much over for me. I’m usually well into the next story project. I don’t want to go back. It isn’t arrogance that I don’t listen to others. I just have a different type of team and mode of working.

You grew up reading Poe, Hitchcock, and Tales from the Crypt comics. Were you the creepy child in class everyone avoided?

I was a very weird looking—skinny with frizzy hair—as a kid and not hugely popular. I know I thought a lot differently to other kids. My first presentation in class in Grade Eight was on how they did the special effects in The Exorcist (which I’d snuck in and seen at 13—you were meant to be 18). A few kids told me that I was creepy after that. I worked out at age 11 that if you’re not good looking, you need to develop a sense of humor and a good personality. So that’s what I did, and I ended up hanging with most of the popular girls. So I became popular by association. I still use that tactic today. That’s why I initiated the creation of From The Indie Side. Having my story in a book with other amazing writer like Hugh Howey, Peter Cawdron, Kate Danley, and all the other greats in there, might make me look pretty cool by association.

FROM_THE_INDIE_SIDE_EbookEdition-Suspense Quote

Looking at your list of published works, it would appear that you could be considered a female version of Stephen King. Do you have problems with being labeled in regards to genre?

I have no problems with that. That’s how I label myself. When Stephen King first started out, I bet he was compared to writers like H.P. Lovecraft or Ray Bradbury. He would have been thrilled, as well. Then eventually you hope that your work stands for your name, and other writer’s work is then compared to yours. I’ve been reading Stephen King since I was a teenager and he does inspire me, so its no accident that my storylines feel like Stephen King set ups.

Who is your artist for your covers? Why did you choose them?

Would you believe my husband—who isn’t a cover artist or has any lean towards art? I wanted to commission a cover artist with my first book Behind The Fire, but he said, “No give me a go. How hard can it be?” He uses a ten-year-old graphic design package and we found a website with thousands of free fonts. When you’re starting out, I don’t think you should spend too much money on anything. It’s going to take you a long time to recoup that. Of course, I use him because he’s cheap—well free! However, if he didn’t do such a good job, I would have to find some other solution. I’m very lucky that my husband is my greatest supporter.

When you come up with an idea for a story, how do you write it? (start in the middle, end, or just the beginning?)

I start with just an idea or a scene. Like in Back Again, I was sitting in my car waiting to pick up my son from a music lesson (just like my character Dawn) and he went around the back of my angle-parked car to put his guitar in the trunk. I thought: this is dangerous. It would only take a driver a momentary lapse to hit him. Then my mind went to what would I do? I would wish that it never happened. I would wish that I could go back and tell him not to stand at the back of the car. Immediately, I realized that was a good story set up.

I write from the beginning until the end and I’m a pantser. I have no idea what is going to happen. I’ve been writing for so long, I’ve learned to trust my characters implicitly. They always have the story in-hand, while most of the time I’m freaking out, thinking, where is this all going. But if I’m surprised by where the story goes, then the reader will be, too. So I like that kind of process.

When you’re not writing or chasing your family around, what do you do for fun?

My family keeps me busy. I’ve two boys, 12 and 14, and they have heaps going on. I’m a film and book critic, too. If I’m not with my family, keeping house, or writing or reading, I’m in a darkened cinema several times a week. Last year I saw 130 odd films on screen. It’s the perfect job for a cinephile.

Where do you see the publishing industry ten years from now?

Who can tell? It’s so volatile. I’m watching with interest and amusement. I actually know a great many people in publishing. I work with Big Five publicists behind the scenes with reviews and author interviews, and one of my best friends works for Harper Collins. She and I spend hours, over coffee, discussing the state of the industry and its future. It’s fun to talk about, but there is a lot of spin out there.

I think the publishers are responding to the new climate, despite what some vocal groups will have you believe, and that will evolve to embrace hybrid authors. How can you look to the future when we don’t even know what technology is coming? Ten years ago, nobody could predict what the iPod would do to the world. So I can only say what I see me doing in the future for sure. And that is, I’ll be telling stories with words through whatever means is available.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

When you are first starting out you don’t realize the long, emotional road that lies ahead. The writing will be horrible and you will feel like a failure more times than you will feel great. But you must keep going. Don’t get caught up in the politics of publishing. Do what feels right for you. Trust your instincts. Most of all— You. Must. Write. Social media, studying the industry, strategizing how to get reviews, talking about writing, IS NOT WRITING. Writing well with confidence comes organically, helped along if you do some courses or study up on it. However, even authors who study writing need to write a lot to become good, to learn about the instinct you need for words and timing. Don’t stop before you become good enough. Pay your dues. Do your time. (I’m still doing this.) Most of all, write for love and because you are curious about that character or that set up and want to explore it. Stay true to you, and I don’t see how you can fail. In the end, whether you sell a million books or one, you will have enjoyed yourself and learned something.

Once Back Again is available, what will be next for you?

Even as I finished the pre-editor edits of Back Again recently, I was already working on the next story in my head. I need to write another book immediately to be sure that I can write at the cracking pace I did with Back Again. The insecure writer in me wants to be sure it wasn’t a fluke.

Now I’ve learned how to write a novel fast (by stealing time and staying focused) I will put out at least three books a year in the future. I actually have a 40,000-word novella following on from Hugh Howey’s world of Dust called Particles edited back in March. However, I’ve decided that I want it to be its own work and not set in the Wool world, so I have to rework that for release some time later this year.

Due to the success of From The Indie Side, I have a few authors asking me when I’m putting together another anthology. So that will happen in the next year or so. Now I’ve created one anthology I have the blueprint for more. They are great fun and you meet and make friends with some really great talented people.

I’ve also got a bunch of short stories I’ve written over the past four years that I’m working on with my editor. These are for a science-fiction collection. I released the Behind Dark Doors Collection in April and I have another collection ready to go Behind More Dark Doors in the horror/dark thriller genre—I just haven’t had time to put it up.

Behind Dark Doors

And that’s what I mean about making it about the writing. I’ve written plenty of stories I haven’t even published because, as much as I’d love to be earning a great living from this, at the moment, getting the stories down is what matters.

Thank you for your time!

Thank you, Chris, for having me on your blog and I wish you all the best in your career. It’s a fantastic thing to help promote other authors. I’m all about that, and I do the same. You can’t expect people to review your work or help you when you don’t pay it forward. So it seems to me you are certainly on the right writing path. There’s another piece of advice for new writers (and some old ones), don’t do this alone. Reach out to others, be part of the community. Writing is no longer a solitary pursuit. Take advantage of that community connection, not just for your work, but for your soul.

For more information about Susan and her books, check out these links…


Susan May’s books:

Amazon USA: Amazon USA

Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Amazon Australia: Amazon Australia

Smashwords: Smashwords

Scribd: Scribd

Find Susan where good social media people hang out:

Website: http://susanmaywordadventures.blogspot.com.au/

Twitter: Susan May

Facebook: Like Susan May

Google+: Join my circle

Linked In: Linked In Profile

Good Reads: Friend on Good Reads

Instagram: Instagram



Susan May was four when she decided to be a writer. But for forty-six years, she suffered from life-gets-in-the-way-osis. Cured in 2010, she has since penned several novels and multiple short stories—many published award winners in Australia, USA and UK. She pens book and film reviews and author interviews for Suspense Magazine in the USA, as well as, other popular Australian and International sites.

Although she works directly with the big five publishers in Australia and overseas with her reviewing work, Susan launched herself into the exciting new world of independent publishing mid-2013. She believes that self-publishing offers savvy writer’s an opportunity to control their writing and careers, allowing them to quickly deliver their stories into reader’s hands. Susan has very quickly made a name for herself in the speculative fiction genre, collaborating with some of the biggest names in the indie world today

 That brings this post to a conclusion. If you have any questions or comments for myself or Susan, feel free to post them here. Our next interview will be Thursdays, August 28th with Elyse Salpeter.

Happy Adventuring!


Fifth Tower Interview–Kim Scott (Lydia North)

Fifth Tower logo

Greetings from the Fifth Tower! Yes, I know it’s Thursday, and no, I don’t usually post on this day. But I am featuring Indie Author interviews for the next couple of weeks and I want to share them with you as soon as possible. Most of these authors have brand new books coming out by the end of August, and now is a good a time as any to introduce them to you, if you don’t know them already.

My guest today is Maine Author, Kim Scott, who recently took on an alter ego. We sat down and talked about her new series and her “friend”, Harvey.

What inspired you to create “The Spirits of Maine” series?

After writing six books in the Historical Fiction genre, I wanted to try something different. I’ve always loved ghost stories. The idea of setting the story in the woods of northern Maine was too good to resist. My readers were generous with good reviews so I just had to continue the series.


You’ve received a lot of praise for book 1, “Waiting for Harvey”. Tell us about the character, Harvey, and what has made this story so popular?

Harvey started his life in a small, crowded apartment in Biddeford, Maine. He was one of many children from a poor family. As a young child he worked ten hour days in the textile mill, alongside his cruel father. Years of physical abuse led him to run away from home. He became an angry, lonely young con-man. He died young and a vengeful ghost was left behind. The one thing that never changed was his loneliness and desperate need for a friend. That’s what makes Harvey so dangerous.

Book 2 of The Spirits of Maine Series.

Book 2 of The Spirits of Maine Series.

With book 2, “Lilies in the Clearing”, coming in August and plans for a January release for book 3, do you see this as an open-ended series or is there a certain number of books?


This is definitely an open-ended series. ‘A Solitary Grave in the Maine Woods’, book four in this series, should be out next spring.

Tell us about your pen name, Lydia North.

I spent a full month batting around names before I decided to go with Lydia North. After writing Historical Fiction under my own name, I knew I had to come up with a pen name for the change of genre. Initially I had planned to use a man’s name, but finally chose Lydia North. Something about it seems to go well with ghost stories and Maine.

Can we expect other books from Lydia North in addition to the Spirits of Maine series?

Possibly, I am contemplating some ideas. I am working on a new book titled Plummeting. It is not Historical Fiction or Paranormal. I am considering publishing it under my pen name.

If you had a chance to co-write a novel with any writer, dead or alive, who would it be and why? Tell us about the book you would write.

Stephen King! I would choose him because he is the Master. The perfect story would be to collaborate with him on would take place in an abandoned asylum. Set in Maine, of course, in a big, old, stone building. Someplace dark where unimaginable beings dwell. I’d be happy to follow his lead in a story like that.

What should we expect to read from Kim Scott next?

My next book under my own name will be a return to Historical Fiction. The title is ‘Forgive Me Mattie’ and it will be my first that is not set in Maine. This is the story of a young couple in the 1920s. They meet, marry, and embark on a honeymoon aboard The Transcontinental Railroad. During the three week trip they learn more about each other than they had ever anticipated. In the end, one will reveal a horrifying secret.

What made you decide to become a writer?

I developed a rare immune disease that attacked my lungs. My case is atypical even for this rare disease so it was a big challenge to get a diagnosis. It’s been a long road of experimental treatments from chemo drugs to IV therapy. There is no cure and attempting to control the symptoms is a continual juggling act. With my activities limited a friend challenged me to write my first book. I did it just to show her I couldn’t. After good reviews for that book, I wrote the second to prove the first was a fluke. It was well received and I wrote two more in the series before I accepted that I was writing books. My friends, family, and readers call me an author. Personally, I think of myself as a person with limitations who needs to stay busy.

You’re involved in a lot of pages and groups for writers, what advice do you share with others?

I share a wide variety of information because no two authors are the same. What is the perfect solution for one author might be disastrous for another. We need to support each other if we hope to succeed. The groups and pages I have created were designed to help my fellow authors and assisting me as well.

What is considered your ultimate goal as a writer? (for example: NYT Best Sellers list, movie rights, etc.)

My ultimate goal is to get my books into as many hands as possible. Whether they buy them or borrow them, I simply want my books to be read. A Best Sellers List would be nice. What author wouldn’t want that? Earning money from the sales of my books is always nice, but even having my books borrowed from the local library brings me joy.

When you are not writing, what do you do for fun?

My parents were workaholics and I inherited their need to work. I have limitations that keep me at home most of the time, but I have to stay busy. Writing, reading, marketing, and related work keeps me occupied. Beyond that I love movies. I have a big family and enjoy time with them, usually on the weekend.

What advice do you give to those who want to become writers?

Write from your heart. Don’t write what you think might sell, write the story you need to tell.

Kim Scott AKA Lydia North

Kim Scott AKA Lydia North

For more information about Kim Scott, her alter ego Lydia North, and their books, check out her page on Amazon.com

That concludes our entry for today. Tune in Monday for our next author interview!

Fifth Tower Interview–Benjamin Wallace

Fifth Tower logo

Greetings from the Fifth Tower! I have five indie authors lined up for you to meet and get to know in an interview. I’ve gotten to know this group of writers over the last several months and have enjoyed reading their works. The first interview today is author Benjamin Wallace, known for his series of books called Dumb White Husbands. He is working on a new project and I caught up to him to discuss that and other things.


You recently started a new project called, Dystopia, Inc. What can you tell us about it?

There seems to be a couple of opinions in the country today: One side says that the country should be run more like a corporation. Another says that they already do run the country through lobbyists, super pacs, close friends in the government, etc. I spent 20 years working inside some of the biggest corporations in the world and can say that corporations don’t really run the country because we are not subjected to blue jeans Fridays, “voluntary” fun runs and other unbearable corporate policies.

Dystopia Inc examines what it would be like if corporate policies and procedures were forced on the entire nation. In short the stories will be Dilbert meets 1984.

You’re writing it as a series of short stories and releasing them under individual covers. Why not a collection under one cover?

One of the things I enjoy most about writing short stories is the ability to put them out relatively quick. I can concept, write and release a short story in a matter of days. And this is very satisfying for my ego. But, more importantly, I think people like having shorter works available. Dystopia Inc: The War Room is about 25 pages. Amazon says it will take 45 minutes to read. That’s a lunch break. It’s a couple of times being stuck in line at the grocery store. It’s also not a big commitment to an author someone’s never heard of.

That’s not to say there won’t be a collected edition. The series will jump around to cover different groups and people in the dystopia. The first one focuses on the Department of Marketing but there will be other facets of the society covered. The plan was to release a couple of month (that’s not panning out yet) and, if I had enough at the end of each year, compile an annual report as a print edition.

Do you seen an increase in the Dystopian genre? Why or why not?

The genre will remain popular while the economy is in the toilet and then lose popularity when it recovers. Another dive in the numbers and the genre will surface again. Always has.

You’re well-known for your Dumb White Husband series. For those who haven’t read it yet, what can you tell us about it?

DWH series

I’ve spent a lot of years in advertising and the dumb white husband was the only character corporate lawyers were comfortable making the butt of a joke. We’ve seen it in everything from Married with Children to every TV commercial ever made. I always felt he got a bum rap and wanted to give him a chance to defend himself. The Dumb White Husband stories give us the husband’s perspective on every day events such as going to the grocery store, putting on a successful Halloween, playing the Tooth Fairy. Just everyday stuff dads do. Later on, I put them up against zombies. That was fun.

What made you decide to become a writer?

I always wanted to be a writer. I decided to do it when I realized I could get away with it. It’s funny, all through school you get scolded for being a smart ass. And even in the real world, no one likes a sarcastic prick. But if you put the things no one wants to hear in writing, everyone thinks you’ve got talent. I guess they don’t realize the jokes are still aimed at them.

What genre do you prefer to read?

I’m all over the place genre wise but I always come back to action and adventure. The bigger and more ridiculous the villain’s plan, the better.

If you could have any of your novels become a movie, which one and who would direct?

I haven’t given it much thought really. And I may be weird this way but I don’t even like to “cast” actors as my characters because I’m afraid it will affect the way I write them. So I can’t really name a director but my wife insists that Rob Corddry should play John in Dumb White Husbands vs Zombies and I can’t say I disagree.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what career would you choose and why?

My interests are extremely varied. Maybe too varied. I get bored doing the same thing everyday. If I wasn’t a writer I’d probably start a bunch of failed businesses. But, as long as I’m making things up out of nothing and I don’t have to be at work until 10 I think I’d be happy.

Where do you see the future of books going? Will brick and mortar stores disappear completely?

I hope not. I love bookstores. I find them ridiculously inspiring. Every time I browse the aisles I leave wanting to write a thousand new things. I can’t say that big bookstores will survive, but independent bookstores are doing better than ever and will probably thrive if all the giants go. But, there will always be books because people like stories.

Thank you for your time!

Thank you, Chris.


Author Benjamin Wallace

Author Benjamin Wallace

Ben has been subjecting the world to his books for a while now, and there are quite a few available. You can learn more at Benjaminwallacebooks.com. His next release is a short story about pets in the apocalypse. It’s like Homeward Bound meets The Stand and he’ll give it to you for free if you sign up for his newsletter at Benjaminwallacebooks.com

You can also find his books here on his Amazon.com page. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them here.

That wraps up today’s interview and post. The next interview will take place this Thursday. See below for interview schedule.

Happy Adventuring!!


Interview Schedule

Kim Scott– 8/21

Susan May–8/25

Elyse Salpeter– 8/28

Emily Rose– 9/1

If you are an indie author, have a book coming out soon, and would like to be interviewed, please leave a comment here or DM me your e-mail address on my Twitter account. Please no Erotica or LGBT authors. Romance authors are limited to Fantasy and/or Paranormal.