The Real Life Horses that Inspired My Writing

One of the most fun things about writing my Dark Horse series has been bringing to life the horses on the pages. While some of the equine characters in Trail of Secrets and Barn Shadows are purely fictional, others are based on actual horses I’ve met, ridden, known or loved over the years.

Louie
Louie

Let’s start with the leading man…er, gelding, Jett. During the time I was writing Trail of Secrets, I was half-leasing a wonderful appendix named Louie. Louie was a beautiful dark bay/black gelding full of personality and spunk. He wasn’t always easy to ride, but my riding improved dramatically during the year that I rode him. Saying goodbye to him was so difficult that I actually took a year off from riding after I stopped leasing Louie. He was THAT special. Jett is based on a combination of Louie and the horse I owned as a teenager, Snowman. While not black (obviously), Snowman was about as full of personality as a horse could be. Owning him was the culmination of all my childhood dreams. Whenever I write about Brynlei’s bond with Jett, I find myself reaching back into my memories of my love for Snowman.

Snowman 1988
My Snowman

Anna’s feisty mount, Rebel, is also based on a few spunky chestnuts I’ve known. Before

Edoras Wall 4.13
Edoras

Louie, I half-leased a mare named Edoras. She gave me a run for my money alright. Edoras taught me how to ride a “Whooa!” horse (Elbows bent, shoulders back, bend her in!) I’ve known other horses like Rebel, too. There’s currently a horse at the barn where I ride named Zara. She’s a sweetie, but has an accelerator that can take even the most experienced rider on an “exciting” trip around the ring. What is it about chestnuts?

In Barn Shadows, two new horses are introduced into the mix–Patches and Amigo. Patches is a beautiful Paint pony ridden by a new character, Bethany. The pony is based on an actual pony named Patches owned by my friend and her daughter (pictured below). The real-life Patches is a wonderful teacher, as is the Patches in the book. And both ponies are easy on the eyes…Don’t you agree?

An odd new girl named Grace joins the cast of Barn Shadows, along with her equally unusual mount, Amigo. Amigo does not possess the confirmation of the fancy hunters at Foxwoode so everyone is surprised when they witness the stocky horse’s natural jumping ability. This side storyline is loosely based on one of my favorite non-fiction books, The Eighty-Dollar Champion:  Snowman, The Horse that Inspired a Nation by Elizabeth Letts. Those of you who have read the book might see a few parallels between fictional, Amigo, and real-life, Snowman.

Sadly, I met my new favorite horse at the barn, Abby, after I’d already finished writing Barn Shadows. I’ll have to incorporate this special bay mare into my next book! Isn’t she cute?

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Abby

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the real horses behind many of the horses in my books. Until next time, happy reading, writing and riding!

The Surprise Benefits of Journaling

quotes-writing-virginia-woolf-600x411I organized my thoughts on journaling a few weeks ago for a guest post on another blog. Here is a revised version of that post…

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On my recent birthday, my seven year- old daughter handed me a few tattered horse stickers, a purple pencil, and a blank notebook that she’d salvaged from her bottom desk drawer. I must have given her a confused look because she pointed to the notebook and told me it was for me to practice my writing. How cute! I thought as I hugged her and thanked her for the thoughtful present. It wasn’t until later that I realized what a powerful gift she had actually given me.

I kept that notebook next to my bed where it lay untouched for several days. Before falling asleep one night, I decided to open it and give journaling a try. At first, writing down my thoughts felt awkward and strange. Why did I need to write a note to myself about what I’d already experienced? What if someone read this? Why was my handwriting so horrible? By the third entry my handwriting was still illegible, but the words started flowing easier. Now, two months—and dozens of pages—later, I’m hooked on journaling. I’ve outlined some ways journaling can help writers below:

  1. Journaling sparks creativity – Stream of consciousness writing—or writing without thinking—brings forth thoughts you didn’t know you had. Journaling has no rules! There’s something freeing about filling a blank page with ramblings meant only for yourself. A journal allows you to explore crazy ideas and exercise your expressive muscles without the worry of what others will think.
  2. Journaling eases stress – Had a horrible day? There’s little worse for your health than keeping your emotions bottled up inside. Writing it down on paper can somehow contain the situation and make it seem manageable. You can even take it one step further and write a happy ending to your sad story. Now that’s my kind of plot twist!
  3. Journaling eliminates writer’s block —Journaling documents snapshots of your life which may eventually become segments of your novel. Drawing a blank? Look out the window and describe the weather. Describe the room you’re sitting in. Write a letter to a friend you haven’t spoken to in years. Describe what you ate for lunch yesterday. You get the picture. The topics of journal entries don’t have to be life-changing. Revisit these seemingly mundane journal entries when you’ve reached a tough spot in your novel and see how they inspire you.
  4. Journaling transforms your emotions into words – When drama does occur in your life be sure to record your feelings while they’re fresh. Journaling preserves the sensations you experienced during times of intense emotions. Chances are good that the characters in your novel will experience similar periods of love, hate, despair, elation, anger, contentment, etc. Pull details from your journal to bring truth and authenticity to your writing.
  5. Journaling makes you more likely to achieve your goals – There is something about the written word that holds people accountable. Writing down a goal may prompt you to outline specific mini-steps for achieving that goal. The words may cause you to visualize and feel your own success. Make sure to take time to write down—and occasionally revisit—your goals while journaling.

As it turns out, my seven year-old daughter somehow knew  that a blank notebook sitting at the bottom of her desk drawer was just what I needed to jolt me out of my writing slump. Journaling has benefited me in all of the above ways and I’m happy to have rediscovered this simple writing tool. Do you have a birthday approaching? Perhaps you should ask for a journal!

 

 

Mystery Thriller Week Author Spotlight: D.M. Barr

It’s time to shake things up as Mystery Thriller Week draws to an end. Author D.M. Barr brings an unexpected and scintillating twist to the typical murder mystery. I was initially drawn to her novel because it centers around a morally challenged real estate agent (just like my work-in-progress.). After reading more about it, I think her novel may be the most fun book I’ve featured on my blog so far!  

dm-barr-headshotWho is D.M. Barr?  By day, a mild-mannered salesperson, wife, mother, rescuer of senior shelter dogs, happily living just north of New York City. By night, an author of sex, suspense and satire. Her background includes stints in travel marketing, travel journalism, meeting planning, public relations and real estate. She was, for a long and happy time, an award-winning magazine writer and editor. Then kids happened. And she needed to actually make money. Now they’re off doing whatever it is they do (of which she has no idea since they won’t friend her on Facebook) and she can spend her spare time weaving tales of debauchery and whatever else tickles her fancy. The main thing to remember about her work is that she is NOT one of her characters. For example, as a real estate broker, she’s never played Bondage Bingo in one of her empty listings or offed one of her problem clients. But that’s not to say she hasn’t wanted to…

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]Expired Listings Back Cover Blurb: What if people were dying around you and you weren’t absolutely sure you weren’t their murderer? Someone is ‘deactivating’ the Realtors in Rock Canyon and almost no one seems to care. Not the surviving brokers, who consider the serial killings a competitive boon. Not the town’s residents, who see the murders as a public service. In fact, the only person who’s even somewhat alarmed is Dana Black, a kinky, sharp-witted yet emotionally skittish Realtor who has no alibi for the crimes because during each, she believes she was using her empty listings for games like Bondage Bingo with her sadistic lover, Dare. And yet, mysteriously, all clues are pointing her way.

Along with clearing her name and avoiding certain death at the hands of the ‘Realtor Retaliator,’ Dana has an even bigger problem: she’s inadvertently become a person of interest in more ways than one to Aidan Cummings, the sexy albeit vanilla detective investigating the case. While his attentions are tempting, Dana is torn—does she continue her ironically ‘safe’ but sterile BDSM relationship with Dare, or risk real intimacy with Aidan?

Kink, Suspense and Satire–Expired Listings masterfully combines all three while exploring the universal need for validation and the toxic nature of revenge.

BUY IT HERE!

Author Interview:

When did you first know that you wanted to become a writer?

Pretty much when I read Harriet the Spy! It was fifth grade and we were all writing slam books (where you say “truthful” things about other people you know. Someone stole mine and I grabbed it back and ripped it up. Then I helped them put it back together so they could read it! (LOL) I also had some poetry published in the school newspaper that year and I realized how much I loved entertaining people and also being read.

If your book was made into a movie, who do you envision playing the leading roles?

I’ve thought a lot about this!

Dana Black: Mirielle Enos or Amy Schumer or even Jennifer Lawrence

Dare: Peter Krause

Cassandra Beckett: Glenn Close or Lauren Hutton or even Kathleen Turner

Melanie Wright: Constance Zimmer

Aidan Cummings: Orlando Bloom

Dr. Eleanor Lawrence: Ellen Degeneres

Endicott Coxswell: Jeffrey Bowyer Chapman

Lorelei Simpson: Kathy Bates or Rosie O’Donnell

Is writing your full-time job? If not, what else do you do?

I’m actually a former travel and business magazine writer/editor who now sells real estate (just like my character Dana Black, but that’s where the similarities end!) That’s how I was able to parody the real estate industry so well—I know where all the skeletons are buried!

How do you deal with rejections and/or negative reviews?

I plan to kill them all off in my next novel (haha). Actually I have, what I hope, is a pretty rational attitude about all this. I figure that no matter what I do, half the people in the world will love it and the other half will hate it.  Then, when I get a 1-star review—so rated not because of bad writing but because the reader didn’t bother reading the sales blurb and realized it wasn’t ‘their type of book’—I look at reviews from books I loved, like ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn and realized that if great books like that have received bad reviews, why shouldn’t I? All it means is that people out there have different tastes and preferences.

What has been the highlight of your writing career so far?

Two things. First, attending Thrillerfest/Craftfest in NYC this past summer. I’m an author groupie and to be able to meet and chat with people I’ve long admired, such as Marshall Karp, Linwood Barclay, John Lescroart, John Sanford, Gillian Flynn, Karin Slaughter, and to hear about how they write and edit their books, was enormously helpful and fun.  The other highlight was receiving a really good Kirkus review.

Which well-known authors have inspired your writing?

So, so many. Probably Carolyn Keene when I was younger (I loved Nancy Drew) and then later Ayn Rand (for the sheer persistence of writing long books in a second language as well as incorporating philosophy into a novel), Harlan Coben (great layering), Marshall Karp, Jeff Strand, Jennifer Crusie and again, Harlan Coben (for incorporating humor into other genres) ad Anne Allen for her amazing and helpful blog.

Those were great answers! Thank you for sharing your story with us today.

Stay in contact with D.M. Barr via her WEBSITE , or leave a comment for her below!

 

Mystery Thriller Week Author Spotlight: Christina Hoag

I’m thrilled to welcome thriller writer, Christina Hoag, to my blog. Sometimes you meet someone–either in-person or virtually–who you know for sure is WAY more interesting than you. Christina is one of those people. (Read her bio below if you don’t believe me!) I first learned of Christina through our mutual publisher, Fire and Ice, when they released her YA thriller, Girl on the Brink, last year. I’m excited to discover more about her debut novel, Skin of Tattoos, today!

christinahoagauthorheadshot2547Christina Hoag is a former journalist who’s been threatened by a death-row murderer, had her laptop searched by Colombian guerrillas and phone tapped in Venezuela, suspected of drug trafficking in Guyana, hidden under a car to evade Guatemalan soldiers, posed as a nun to get inside a Caracas jail, interviewed gang members, bank robbers, gunmen, thieves and thugs in prisons, shantytowns and slums, not to forget billionaires and presidents, some of whom fall into the previous categories. Kirkus Reviews praised Christina as a “talented writer” in her debut novel Skin of Tattoos (Martin Brown Publishing, 2016), a gangland thriller. Her YA thriller Girl on the Brink (Fire and Ice, 2016) was named to Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2016 YA list. She also writes nonfiction, co-authoring Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence (Turner Publishing, 2014), a groundbreaking book on violence intervention used in several universities. She currently makes her home in Los Angeles. Learn more at: ChristinaHoag.com.

skinoftattooscover2546Back Cover Blurb:  Los Angeles homeboy Magdaleno is paroled from prison after serving time on a gun possession frameup by a rival, Rico, who takes over as gang shotcaller in Mag’s absence. Mags promises himself and his Salvadoran immigrant family a fresh start, but he can’t find either the decent job or the respect he craves from his parents and his firefighter brother, who look at him as a disappointment. Moreover, Rico, under pressure to earn money to free the Cyco Lokos’ jailed top leader and eager to exert his authority over his rival-turned-underling, isn’t about to let Mags get out of his reach. Ultimately, Mags’s desire for revenge pushes him to make a decision that ensnares him in a world seeded with deceit and betrayal, where the only escape from rules that carry a heavy price for transgression is sacrifice of everything–and everyone–he loves.

View Skin of Tattoos on Amazon.

Author Interview:

When did you first know that you wanted to become a writer?

I won a prize for “writing interesting stories” when I was six years old so I guess writing was always there. It came out as soon as I literally learned how to put pen to paper. I discovered journalism in high school so I knew that’s what I wanted to do as a career. I’ve written fiction on and off my whole life.

What attracts you to writing in the mystery/thriller genre?

I love delving into crime–the seamy side of life and what drives people in that world, which is very different than mine! My characters do things that I never would so maybe that’s why I like writing them. I’m fascinated with the psychology behind the criminal mind and how people get to be that way, the risks they take. Other than that, crime makes great drama and conflict, the basis of any novel.

Is writing your full-time job? If not, what else do you do?

Lamentably, my fiction writing does not yield a sustainable income–yet! In order to eat, I do corporate communications/public relations writing:  speeches, press releases, blog posts, that sort of thing. I also edit dissertations and do some journalism in the form of big reports for Congressional Quarterly Researcher. I work freelance so I can juggle my schedule to fit my novel writing into my schedule.

How do you deal with rejections and/or negative reviews?

Develop a thick skin. It takes courage to write and show your work to the world for judgment, but you have to remember that not everyone is going to like your work, and that’s okay. You have to learn to let criticism roll off you. The nastiest rejection I ever got was from the editor of a literary journal who scornfully said of my experimental fiction submission, “Why would anyone even read this?” I kept submitting it and got the piece and another like it published in other journals. I also allow time for the sting to wear off and then revisit the criticism in a more objective light. If someone says something in your piece doesn’t work, it’s only one person’s opinion. But if two people make the same observation, you need to pay attention to what they’re saying. More often than not, it’s something that needs fixing.

What time of day do you prefer to write?

I’m a morning writer. I get up early, have my coffee, check the news and then sit down and write until I feel my brain turning squishy, usually early afternoon. Then I get some exercise and try to do some marketing and social media work. It’s amazing how much time that stuff consumes!

Which well-know authors have inspired your writing?

Probably my favorite all time author is Graham Greene. Many of his books are about the concept of being a foreigner, an outsider/observer, which I relate to on a personal level since I’ve lived in many countries both as a child and as an adult. That influence comes through in Skin of Tattoos, where the protagonist Mags was born in El Salvador but left with his family fleeing the civil war when he was a child so he doesn’t really feel Salvadoran, doesn’t remember anything about the place, yet that is his identity. He’s an outsider to El Salvador, yet as an immigrant an outsider to mainstream American society, as well. He finds his home in a gang with others from similar backgrounds. Having lived in Central and South America, I’m also partial to Latin American authors. One of my favorite books is The Goat’s Party by Peruvian Nobel prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa. This book is a fictionalization of the 1961 plot to assassinate Rafael Trujillo, the dictator who ruled the Dominican Republic for 31 years. I found it fascinating, like a window into an unseen world in the way it fleshed out historical events with the motivations and emotions of the real people. I also loved Queen of the South by Arturo Perez Reverte, which takes readers inside the world of large scale drug trafficking, and The Cartel by Don Winslow, about the current gang wars in Mexico.

Those all sound like intriguing books. You obviously know your subject well! Thank you, again, for taking the time to share your Author Spotlight answers with me. I look forward to reading more from you in the future!

Thanks for reading…I’m reaching the end of my MTW Author Spotlight series…just one more to go with Dawn Barclay. Stay tuned!

 

Mystery Thriller Week Author Spotlight: Linda Kane

Welcome back to my Mystery Thriller Week Author Spotlight series. Today I’m pleased to welcome another fellow horse lover to my blog–Author Linda Kane!

linda-kane-headshot

Linda L. Kane MA in Education, PPS, School Psychologist, and Learning Disability Specialist, is the author of The Black Madonna, Witch Number is Which, Icelandia, Katterina Ballerina, Cowboy Jack and Buddy Save Santa, and Chilled to the Bones, 2017 release date, Clyde: Lost and Now Found, and Bottoms Up, A Daisy Murphy Mystery. She lives with her husband and three dogs and six horses.

 

And here’s her newest release,Chilled to the Bones, a young adult historical mystery set in Setauket, New York.

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Author Interview:

Hi Linda! When did you first know that you wanted to become a writer?

I grew up in a very poor area where violence was common place. For me, writing and drawing was a means of escape. So, I guess, always.

If you could spend the day with any character from your novel, who would it be? Why?

Dealer, she’s a good kid, with a great heart who wants to help her father with his problems and save their home. I would want to know what makes her so strong, so resilient in the face of so much tragedy.

Is writing your full-time job? If not, what else do you do?

I am retired now and my full time job is writing and painting. My artwork has been at an art museum and is at a gallery in Pacific Grove, Ca.

What are your hobbies outside of writing?

My hobby and my love are my dogs and horses. I have four American Saddlebreds, one hackney pony, and one quarter horse. I compete nationally and my horse, Into the Cosmos is a national champion. I have three Australian shepherds that are smarter than I am and I have to work to keep up with them.

What are you working on now?

Actually I am working on a children’s story about a mini pony that was abandoned (true story), in an orchard. Our barn adopted Clyde. He was skinny, he had a broken jaw, a little timid, you should see him now. Love and food heal quite a bit.  I’m finishing up the editing for the first of a series of murder mystery books titled, Bottoms Up, A Daisy Murphy Mystery. I’m also working on a historical book regarding a man who people thought was the answer to their problems but found out to late that he was a monster, and the young people who stood against at the cost of their own lives. I am also working on a sequel to The Black Madonna and Chilled to The Bones.

Thank you for inviting me to your blog, it’s been a pleasure and I’ve enjoyed your amazing questions.

You’re welcome, Linda. It has been fun getting to know more about you and your books!

Thanks for reading…Please stay tuned for my next MTW Author Spotlight with thriller author Christina Hoag!

Trail of Secrets Audiobook #Giveaway!

Audiobook Giveaway!

To celebrate Mystery Thriller Week, I’m hosting a giveaway on my blog. Five lucky winners will receive a promo code for a free download of my YA mystery, Trail of Secrets (Dark Horse * Book One), audiobook on Audible! The second book in the series (Barn Shadows) is being released on March 14th, so there’s never been a better time read–or listen to–Book One!

The Giveaway runs February 12th-21st, 2017. Click below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And after you enter, be sure to stop by Mystery Thriller Week to discover more great edge-of-your-seat reads and giveaways!

Mystery Thriller Week Author Spotlight: Sarah Key

Today is the first official day of MYSTERY THRILLER WEEK and I’m pleased to welcome thriller author Sarah Key to my blog. I’m sure you’ll find Sarah’s unique background as fascinating and impressive as I do. Please read more about her and books…

sarah-14-of-182644Sarah Key’s working life has followed many paths; English teacher, Adult Educator, HIV and AIDS activist, mentor to apprentice jockeys and writer. She holds a Masters Degree in Adult Education and her research report focused on perspective transformation for tolerance education.

Sarah is passionate about the rich cultural diversity of her country and has gathered many powerful narratives from a range of personalities including Apartheid resistors, Holocaust survivors, initiates from a rural circumcision school and survivors of sexual abuse.

Her novels are gritty, grisly psychological thrillers set in Southern Africa with its blends of old and new, mystical and modern, city and country. Aside from being entertaining and exploring deviance in its many guises, they attempt to challenge notions and shatter taboos surrounding sensitive cultural issues.

In 2011 Sarah began her journey writing fiction and is published by Rebele Publishers (Detroit). She is currently completing the final book in The Sisters of Light trilogy.  Sarah is married and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with her husband and two daughters. Connect with Sarah on FACEBOOK and GOODREADS.

cover-weeds2645Back Cover Blurb:  When lives collide, and time runs out, will there be a final chance for redemption?

Aden Cassalotti, damaged by childhood trauma, tragedies and disappointments, is financially and emotionally insolvent and seeks solace in a crack pipe.

Volatile Noel Schuurman, Aden’s lifelong friend and business partner, feels neglected living out of town running their marijuana and magic mushroom operation. The brooding recluse has killed before and, with escalating pressures, not even his mother and sister are safe on their isolated plot.

Aden takes a job with a ruthless criminal enterprise in an urban slum where dope and flesh are pedaled. He encounters Mandipa Ndlovu, who is being held with other sex slaves waiting to be sent to work.

Kgotso Shelile and his cousin, Senatla, search for Mandipa, Kgotso’s abducted girlfriend. In the underbelly of Johannesburg, they encounter Aden. Having grown up together, the men share an immediate bond and, when fate throws the three together in a Hillbrow strip club, the potential for peril is fraught with danger.

Key’s debut psychological thriller, Tangled Weeds, is sure to get your pulse racing.

Author Interview:

When did you first know that you wanted to become a writer?

I was about 11 and walking in the bushveld with my father. We came across an abandoned tumbled-downed house. My imagination took flight and I told him that I wanted to write a book filled with villains, robbers and smugglers. That realisation has never left me.

If you could spend the day with any character from your novel, who would it be? Why?

My antagonists are downright twisted and malevolent so if I had to spend a day with a character it would be one of the Sisters of Light and probably Joanie Parks, a young artist whose background story is fully explored in The Butterfly Wind. Joanie is complex, confrontational and feisty and harbors a shameful secret. She’s also fiercely loyal and grapples with her own insecurities and need to be loved. Joanie is fun and fearless. I would have to be twenty five years younger, though, to keep up with her antics!

If your book was made into a movie, who do you envision playing the leading roles?

I feel that my debut novel, Tangled Weeds would translate well into a mini-series.  It is a graphic thriller set between Zimbabwe, the fertile farmlands of the then Northern Province of South Africa known for its cultivation of mangoes and litchis, and Hillbrow, an urban slum.

Aden Cassalotti is a complex character who becomes addicted to crack cocaine. To support his drug dependency he takes a job with a deadly sex trafficking ring and gets much more than he bargained for…

I’m not very up to date on movies and movies stars, preferring to read books. The South African accent is one that presents actors with a huge challenge. In Invictus, a 2009 sports drama about Nelson Mandela and events surrounding the 1995 rugby world cup, Matt Damon did a fair job. With his blond good looks and ability to portray emotion he could give Aden a bash!

What attracts you to writing in the mystery/thriller genre?

We didn’t have television until I was 12 so I grew up listening to dramas on the radio.  My father studied psychology when I was a pre-teen and I was fascinated by his textbooks and poured over pictures of people with anorexia, catatonia and other disorders. I have always been fascinated by the aberrant human mind and have an overactive imagination.

Thrillers are supposed to do just that – thrill. I do not enjoy reading or writing books that are uber violent or horrific having learned that the power of suggestion can just as successfully heighten tension.

With the help of my editor, I have worked hard to incorporate techniques that ensure my readers are gripped and find the experience electrifying. A fast pace and using varied perspectives that allow events to be understood from disparate characters’ points of view (particularly perverse antagonists) keep the pages turning. Enjoyed from the safety of one’s armchair, exploring the dark hearts of humans gone bad can be an exhilarating ride that is far removed from the mundanity of regular life.

What are your hobbies outside of writing?

I enjoy cooking and socialising greatly and keep fit attending a woman’s outdoor bootcamp programme most weekday mornings. I derive great pleasure from my two cross-breed dogs and am kept busy with family responsibilities. I read widely and enjoy travelling particularly locally – South Africa is an amazing, diverse country.

How do you deal with rejections and/or negative reviews?

I haven’t focused much on marketing my books until recently. For the past years I have concentrated on raising our two daughters and getting the stories that are inside me down. I received two or three rejections from local publishers for my first novel, Tangled Weeds. Reading rejection letters is not pleasant – it’s like someone telling you that you have an ugly child!

Writing is a high point in my life’s journey and I had blind faith that my books would be published. Fortunately, I was accepted in 2011 by Rebele Publishers and have never looked back. I have three books published by them and am close to finishing the final book in my trilogy.

My books are enjoying a positive response. Reading is highly subjective so it is unrealistic to expect everyone to like your work and constructive criticism is necessary for improvement. Being a writer, like most jobs in this day and age, requires resilience, determination and a personal passion that drives you to continue.

What time of day do you prefer to write?

In a block in the morning from about 10.00am – 13h00 and then for an hour in the early evening around five or six.

What are you working on now?

I am completing the final book in my Sisters of Light trilogy. It is called The Starlight Tide and follows The Dandelion Clock and The Butterfly Wind.

Which well-known authors have inspired your writing?

I studied English at university and, for a short while, I was an English teacher so I have read  many books that have had a bearing on my writing. For a while I read a glut of Scandinavian crime; Jussi Adler-Olson, Camilla Lackberg, Lars Kepler. I found them atmospheric and try to effectively create mood in my books. Stieg Larsson’s incredible trilogy inspired me to write one.

What subjects do you enjoy writing about most? Why? 

The essential themes I explore in my writing are the conflicts between good and evil. I believe that all people have the choice to take certain life paths. Circumstances and pre-dispositions will, of course, influence their decisions. If a character decides to try drugs, commit a murder or indulge in dark crafts and fantasies, there will be consequences to. Morality, or lack thereof, is a personal decision.

Living in a multicultural society in South Africa – which has an extraordinary history – I use my novels as a lens to explore diversity and different cultural belief systems. I believe that by presenting readers with different perspectives and practices, wrapped in the guise of fiction, a greater level of understanding and tolerance can be achieved.

Thanks for reading! Leave your comments and questions for Sarah here, and stay tuned for my next MTW Author Spotlight with Linda Kane!