Sunday, 27 January 2013

Interrogating Mark Faulkner

Going behind the insanity that created Bert

How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?

I’m afraid I don’t and write very much for my own entertainment.  I can only write what I want to, otherwise I’d get bored and never finish anything.    It’s probably one of the reasons (and there are many) I sell very few books.

What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.

I don’t tend to stick to a genre; my first novel was Horror and the next is more of a fantasy, although some would say it too is horror. (Horrible fantasy?).  Anyway, it’s because I can write anything I want.  Imagination has no boundaries and the only constraint is the time it takes to write it down and my limited ability as a writer. 

Do you have a box, drawer, folder etc where you keep thoughts and ideas for future stories? Such as names you have come across, bits of dialogue, ideas, characters - even if you have no idea when you might use them?

I have at least a dozen notebooks scattered around the house and random folders of ideas on each of the computers I own.  Lots of ideas.  Lines, paragraphs and a handful of rather detailed plots.

How do you manage plot bunnies (ideas that invade your mind that aren’t usually helpful to the story you’re writing but breed

If they’re persistent enough, I change the story.  Sometimes though, I go with them for a little while to see where they’ll take me but then they just dally about and go nowhere so out comes the shotgun.  I probably delete as many of these than end up in the finished story.  For me, part of the fun of writing is seeing where the story will lead me so I have to explore them. 

How much of you is in your characters? Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be? Or be with ?

I have no idea.  My characters tend not to be very nice people, whereas apparently I am.  I think writing is an outlet for my darker side.  There are bound to be some traits there though, some thought processes which are similar maybe?

Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if they're married to you or one of your characters?

I don’t talk about the book I’m currently writing very much, although this infuriates my other half as I spend way too much time with my head buried in the lap-top.  She’s also my editor though and I don’t want her to be bored of the story before she’s even begun.

What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?

I’m reading a lot of fantasy at the minute and grew up on horror so I guess I do.  Although I do tend to read anything I can get my hands on without caring too much about genre.  If I’m not ‘into it’ within five chapters I move onto something else.  It probably means I miss out on a lot of quality fiction but I read too slowly to finish books I don’t like.

What lengths do you go to to convince us readers that your book has the X factor?

I don’t.  It’s up to the reader to decide and hopefully, if they like it they’ll tell other people.

How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?

Embarrassed, although I’m not sure it’s happened yet.  I have had my English criticized by non-native speakers though and that stung.  I think it’s because I can sometimes write like I speak in conversation though, and that often makes little sense to anyone who’s not from a ten mile radius of my hometown.

What do you like most about visiting KUF/GR/forums?

Friendly and helpful.  I spend so much time writing, I can drop in anytime, even after a gap of several weeks and still be made to feel welcome.

What is on your near horizon?

I’m just putting the finishing touches on my new novel, then going through it a couple of times before passing it to my editor (see above).  Then I’ll be approaching a few select agents / publishers but I imagine it’ll be self-published sometime in the middle of the year.  I’m thinking May.  I also have another story well into the planning stages which I need to write and I also need to write some short stories.  I have a spoken word event at the end of this month which I said I’d write something new for, and the deadline’s racing up fast.

Where can we find you for more information?

I’ve never managed to maintain a blog, so my facebook page is better. 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Boy Who Kissed The Sky by David Haynes

Even though the blurb for this is about George flying when he was a young child and wants to re-learn how to do this, this book is about a whole lot more.

This is more of a coming of age / road trip story and it is all about George's journey.  He seems a bit of a hapless lad.  He's not worldly-wise and is happy to go where his gut tells him to go.  He meets some characters along the way and learns a lot about himself.

This is an enjoyable story and I smiled a lot whilst reading it.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Interrogating Cornelius Harker

Interrogating the wise Cornelius Harker.

How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?

It's sometimes difficult to know which ideas will work with a readership. In truth I believe no one ever really knows for certain, since if they did then every well written novel would be a best seller. Sometimes it's all about ticking those boxes, although much of the time I tend to avoid the boxes. What I do know is that I'm a reader myself, and I also know that there are others in existence with the same literary tastes as my own... and there was me thinking I was the only one who loved 'Dennis the Menace'.

What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in?

The unknown. I'm not a terribly big fan of the real world since I don't find it terribly interesting. I find it a great deal more inviting if I'm able to absorb it, contort it, inject it with the preternatural, add a scattering of shadows and just a dose of dark mystery... and there you have it, an unearthly buffet of bad dreams. I'm a simple soul at heart.

Do you have a box, drawer, folder etc where you keep thoughts and ideas for future stories? Such as names you have come across, bits of dialogue, ideas, characters - even if you have no idea when you might use them?

I have a notebook or two full of ideas, story titles and ingredients for curries. The notebook on my phone is full of ideas as well and so are the several scraps of paper, envelopes, jiffy bags, old receipts, new receipts and rail cards that are lying around the place. If ever I run out of paper I intend to start writing on people.

How do you manage plot bunnies (ideas that invade your mind that aren’t usually helpful to the story you’re writing but breed

I've never actually heard of a plot bunny, but I like the sound of it. If one pops up I generally pet it, feed it and sometimes create another idea for a story out of it. Failing that I just throw it in a pie and cook it on 180'C for an hour.

How much of you is in your characters? Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be? Or be with?

When creating a character, one can't help but inject just a little of oneself into him/her. There has, however, only ever been one character whom I can safely say is pretty much me, that is, beneath the flesh, bone and banter of Senor Harker. As to which character that is... 'tis a secret.

What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?

There are a few genres that I don't fully appreciate as much as I probably should, but on the whole I'm a liberal chap. For instance, a couple of weeks ago I found my 'Monster Fun Annual' from 1979 and had a quick read through.

What lengths do you go to to convince us readers that your book has the X factor?

I don't, and I never would. That's for the readers to decide. I do recommend the 'Monster Fun Annual' from 1979, though; now that does have the X factor.

How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?

Very grateful. None of us is infallible... except Peter Griffin from 'Family Guy'; the man can do no wrong.

What do you like most about visiting KUF/GR/forums?

The banter, of course.

What is on your near horizon?

For the moment I've moved away from the Gothic side of things to concentrate on a sci-fi/thriller called 'Eventide'. I shall then return to the 'Words to the Wise' Saga and continue editing the second part of Book Three. As for the very immediate future, I intend to have a bag of crisps.

Where can we find you for more information?

I have a blog that I really should visit more often:
Many thanks. Now, 'Monster Munch' here I come!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Maureen Goes to Venice by Jonathan Hill

Maureen Goes to Venice is the short story of Maureen's trip to Venice.  Maureen is too nice to upset people, but inevitably gets into scrapes without quite knowing how she does.

This is a very well written farce.  I cringed at each bumbling moment that Maureen made and there were a few "nooo, don't do it" moments.

I'm certainly interested in what Maureen does next.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Chatting with Lorraine

For my 200th post on my blog, my third guest on my Chat couch is Lorraine.  Lorraine loves indie authors, hunky protagonists and bright makeup (not sure which is top of her list)

First I’d like to thank Joo for interviewing me, and I’d like to apologise to the readers of this blog for the obvious lack of control I have over my yapping!

If you could live in the age and setting of a book, which book, and why?

It’d be any historical romance book about the regency/Georgian era. I’ve grown very fond of these recently, and I’d have loved to be one of the ton. Not only for the gowns and the corsets, but because I just like all that etiquette stuff, sophistication, the idea of honour and virtue, and to some extent the “discipline”, and I’d just love to spend the whole day reading or doing embroidery or raising my children and leaving all the worries to my husband and all the housework to my maids. It’s such a different world to the one we live in. I’d probably get bored after a while and want to visit another era, but that’s where I wish I could be right now.

Does it annoy you the book finishes well before 100% because the author mentions their other works at the back of the novel. Do you mind if the author includes a synopsis or even an excerpt?

Yes and no. I think it’s a good idea that you get a taste of the author’s other stories. That said, I’d prefer a blurb to a full chapter of the next novel. I’d read the blurb, but not a whole chapter.
I think it needs to remain reasonable as well. I’ve read a story once that actually finished at around 60%. Maybe it’s my fault I didn’t actually check the amount of pages before I started going, I’d have realised it wasn’t a 300-page novel, but yeah, I kind of thought “uh?” when I got to “The End.” Lol. And the rest was all promo. Had it been followed by a couple of shorts, maybe I would have felt different.

Are you put off if you see a book is part of a series? Or does that entice you, knowing that if you like it there are more books to enjoy?

I like and I don’t like series. I like them because you know the heroes are coming back, and I am quite big on heroes. I must fall in love about 50 times a year. And it’s good to know that there’s more added to a plot that you enjoyed (or more happening inside the plot if the plot covers the whole series). However I don’t like having to wait if the sequels haven’t been written yet. But then I’m not the most patient of people and I’m sure I’ve bugged many an author more than was necessary. If they read this, I apologise profusely.
Then you need to make a difference between stand-alone-but-part-of-a-series book and those that follow each other. If they follow each other I’m more excited to read the next one than if they were stand alone, because it’d be like reading a whole new story again.

Do you read the Look Inside before purchasing? Always? Sometimes, depending on the reviews? Never?

Rarely. I go by recommendations and then I tend to stay loyal to the authors whose stories I’ve enjoyed, so I tend to dive head first and just buy the book. Same with getting samples (I find it easier to read on the kindle than on the computer screen). I’ve done it a couple of times. I’d probably do it for a more expensive book whose author I didn’t know of. But I don’t usually do it.

Do you read for hours at a time, or in short bursts, or a mixture of the two?

That depends on how life is demanding at the time. I only live 2 minutes away from the school, but you can be sure I do my 2 minutes of reading while walking back home after dropping the little one. If I can spend the whole day reading, I will. But with a family, work and various other projects it’s hard to find time to read for a long stretch of time. But hey, you just adapt.

How important are reviews of a book to you? Would they influence your choice to buy it?

I don’t tend to read reviews before getting a book. I try to keep an open mind and if I hear of a book that I might find interesting, I’ll check the blurb but not the reviews. A lot of the reviews either give you a re-written version of the synopsis or they basically tell you the story. I can’t run the risk of coming across spoilers. So I don’t read them. However, I’ll read them afterwards. Just out of curiosity. To see what people thought of the book, how it made them feel, and to see if it was the same for me.
Actually, I’m lying. I do read reviews when I wasn’t totally convinced with the first book I’ve read by this author. Just to see if it’s worth carrying on with the others or not.

Do you think you remain unbiased when reviewing books by people you know or interact with on the internet?

I don’t really know. I don’t think I’d give you an extra star just because we’ve had a laugh together. That said, I can’t deny that the reading experience is different. And yes, it probably affects how I feel about a story. Because there’s a difference between reaching “The End,” putting a book down and that’s pretty much it, or, on the other side, reaching “The End,” and knowing that you’ll end up talking to the author about it or having a laugh about the review you’ve left for the book. However I don’t think that affects how the story makes me feel while I’m reading it. End of the day, it’s all about the words and what they convey. Whether I like you or not, if that’s not working, there’s nothing you can do.

How do you feel about leaving negative reviews?

I don’t leave them. Maybe I’m lucky that in following recommendations I end up finding pretty fine books, but I don’t come across books that are so awful that they deserve a negative review. I might point out in my review something I didn’t like in a book that I liked. But if I don’t like a book, I’ll just stop reading it and put it down to it not being the “right” book for me. I’m not someone who would say “I read two pages and got bored, here, get a 1 star”. We see it all the time. Books loved by ones, hated by others. I just don’t think it’s my place to tell people “I didn’t like it so you won’t either.” Plus I can’t really say I didn’t like a book that I haven’t finished. I might have liked it had I continued. But at that stage, it’s my decision not to carry on with it.
To me, reading is all about escapism, feelings and relaxation, at the moment. If the book is too heavy for me, it’s not the author’s fault. So I don’t really see why I should penalise him/her with a oner. Especially if it is otherwise a beautifully written story.
And in total honesty, I find the dismissive one-star reviews such as “didn’t like the story” or “there was a typo there” rather sad.
Anyway, if I don’t finish a book, I won’t leave a review. I might mention it, if it comes up in the conversation, but I won’t praise it either if you know what I mean.

Are you more lenient with regards mistakes if you know a book is self published, or do you believe the authors should have hired an editor to make sure it's the best it can be?

No. I don’t mind mistakes. Sometimes I’ll point things out to the author. But typos and bad grammar don’t affect my reading experience, really. Published or self-published.
That said, in self-publishing there are good ones and bad ones if you see what I mean. And unfortunately the bad ones stain the reputation of the good ones. Often you hear “Self-pubbed? Oh, not worth it, probably badly written.” But that’s not the case. Yes, some people pen something and just send it out there. And then others get their work edited, proofread, and as close to perfection as it can possibly be. It’s a bit sad that all this hard work is destroyed by some careless authors. I still think that the whole digital revolution is a fab thing though, and that it’s only going to get better. Well, that’s for me as a reader, because I’m not sure how well it fares for authors.
With regards to hiring an editor, I know they can be expensive. If you can’t afford one, try and maybe get a few Betas from a forum you belong to, or some reliable family members whose English is good. I know for a fact that no matter how many times you re-read what you’ve typed, there will still be mistakes and typos slipping through the net. Avoiding these as best as you can can only be a good thing. Doesn’t make any difference to me, like I said, but it might do to other readers. And I think that as a professional, you want the work you produce to be as clean as possible. It also goes for covers, and the image you project of yourself among other things.

If something an author did upset or bothered you, would it stop you reading more of their work, even if you've read their stuff before and enjoyed it?

Yes. Very much so. I can bear a grudge for decades. But then it depends. I don’t really care much for all the famous big-buck authors. So that would happen to a lesser extent. I mean if I heard from a newspaper or internet rumour that Stephen King had been a prick, it’d probably not affect me. But if it’s one of the authors I am “closer” to, then yeah, probably. If you personally hurt me or upset me, I’m done, even if I liked your stories. Behave like an arsehole and I know of other authors who are more worthy of my money and my time. If it’s just a matter of not liking the way you think, I’ll try and keep an open mind.

Which character from a book are you most like, and why?

I’m so unique I’m yet to find a character that is nearly as awesome as I am! *Head suddenly swells up to five times its normal size*
No, really, I have no idea. I know which characters I’d most like to be like, though!

Do you prefer male or female protagonists?

Male. Especially if they’re yummy. No, seriously, I’m in a woman’s head 100% of the time, I like it when I get to be in a man’s head. It’s kind of like taking a holiday!

Is there any subject matter you won't read about?

I don’t think so. I’ve really broadened my reading lately, and I’m willing to try anything. Anything that has a story, that is. It might work, it might not. If it does, then all the better for me. If it doesn’t, then I’ve tried. I have a thing about hype, though. It’s the same with music. If I hear people going on too much about it, I decide I don’t like it. I guess that’s why I’m a Harry Potter/50Shades/Twilight/Stephen King virgin. I just can’t bring myself to open those.

Where do you like to see the acknowledgements, if at all; front or back.

A very brief dedication at the front, and acknowledgements at the back. But it doesn’t really matter to me. Tell you what, I’m a nosey moo. I quite like knowing how people have helped, or who they are in relation to the author.

Do you always buy books in the same genre? Would you experiment with a different type of book if it seemed worth a try?

I’ve tried a lot of things lately. I thought I wasn’t a romance girl because of my taste for blood and guts, and now I can’t seem to get enough of it! I’ve tried a book about World War II, thinking it’d be like going back to school, and I really enjoyed it. I’ve tried something written in a local variant of the English language thinking I’d struggle with it (for those who don’t know me, I’m French), and I managed it. So yeah, I’ve been experimenting. And it’s proving to be a rather awesome experience! Everyone should do it!

Do you prefer long novels or shorter ones?

I’m not fussy. I still find shorts too short, but I’m getting used to that. As long as it has a beginning and an end, an interesting plot and some nicely rounded characters, I’m a happy reader.

Do you finish every book you start reading, no matter how bad it is?

No. If I struggle with the book, or find it hard to pick it up again, it’s a goner. Too many potentially good books raising their hands and saying “Pick me!”

Do you like it when authors put excerpts of reviews in the blurb? What about puffs from famous authors?

It depends. I’d prefer it after the blurb, because sometimes there’s a whole string of them and it’s difficult to find where the blurb is!
I’m not that keen on reviews appearing really. Obviously the author would not put spoilers in the blurb, but I just feel that I want to make my own opinion of it and not really be influenced in any way. Plus it’s obviously biased.
However, I think that if you’ve received an award for this particular book, or if you’ve been likened to a famous author by a known author, or someone who might be self-published but who has a very good track record, yeah, you should showcase it there. But don’t pretend that you’re as good as Agatha Christie just because you write in the crime genre (not targeting anyone, that’s just the first name that came to mind).
I think, more than anything, that I’d rather get my teeth into a book without any prior expectations other than that I got from the blurb/previous reads.

Monday, 7 January 2013

The Blog of Maisy Malone by Eve Ainsworth

Maisy Malone's prospects for 2011 don't seem very good.  She's 17, left school with barely any qualifications and lives with her dad and old dog but doesn't see her dad much as he's always down the pub.  So she starts a blog.

The book is set up as Maisy's blog posts including her friends comments to each day's musings.  Once you get the hang of this concept, it reads well.

It's a little bit juvenile as Maisy is only 17, but with her responsibilities, she's quite weary with her life.  She's a good kid who has grown up too quickly.  She is the one responsible for putting food on the table (and in the dog's bowl) as her dad spends his dole money down the pub.

At times I felt weary for her, but there are many light comic moments, usually with her Nanna and also with each new temp job she gets.

This book takes a bit of time to get going, but once I found my stride I didn't want to put it down. I really enjoyed Maisy's 2011 and would like to know how things panned out for her in 2012.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Natural Deselection by P.A. Fenton

This is one of them strange ones that defies description.  Chloe has left her American home and life and moved to London and has a bit of a boring office job.  In Chloe's world a job is for life, so she doesn't want to leave it, but doesn't want to work it either.  

I started reading this because Ignite said it was good (which is a top reason to read any book). I did find the first bit a bit dragging as I'd forgotten what it was supposed to be about and it didn't really seem to be going anywhere, but I stuck with it.  And what a pay-off that was.  Once it gets going there are shocks and surprises and twists and funny bits.

A top story indeed.

Interrogating Gemma Halliday

Gemma Halliday is a very successful author and has taken time to answer some of my questions. Gemma is the bestselling author of the High Heels Mysteries and Hollywood Headlines and many more.

How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?
This is an awesome question. When I first started writing, I wrote the type of book that I thought would sell well. Of course I had fun with it and added my personal voice to the genre, but I was ultimately writing a genre I didn't necessarily read but that I thought was the "right" one. I wrote four books like that before I got tired of the endless "close but not quiet there" rejection letters. Finally I decided to just write a book for fun, something that I felt strongly about, that I thought would be fun to read. That's the book that ended up winning awards, earning me recognition in the publishing communities and, ultimately, caught the attention of an editor who published my first book. So I think writing what you love is a really big part of being successful.

What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.
I love a puzzle, so mysteries are what tickles my fancy.

How much of you is in your characters? Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be? Or be with ?
My main character in my High Heels series is pretty much just like me. I didn't plan her that way, but I think in order to be authentic in your writing, you have to draw on what you know.

What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?
Actually, I really do love reading the same sort of mysteries that I write - fun, light on the violence, heavy on the humour. I also love historicals, but I would never attempt to write one. I'd be way to afraid of getting the facts wrong.

How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?
I appreciate it! I have several editors and proofreaders that go over my work before I publish it, but, let's face it, they are human. I've had books go through several rounds of edits with traditional publishing houses and come out with errors in them, too. It happens. The nice thing about indie publishing is that I can fix errors even after the book has been published. So I do appreciate people letting me know if they find one.

What is on your near horizon?
I have several projects slated for this year, including another instalment of my High Heels series, plus a couple of new series in the works with co-authors, which I'm really looking forward to.

Where can we find you for more information?
Readers can find me online at:
They can sign up for my newsletter to get coupons, freebies, and info on my latest releases at:
And they can follow me on Facebook at:

Teatime Twists by Jennifer Hanning

Teatime Twists is a collection of 5 short stories.  But with a twist at the end.

It is a competent collection, very readable and if you don't think about them too much, then the twists come out of nowhere.  If you pick them to pieces before the reveals, then I'm sure you can do a 180 and predict them.

I enjoyed all of the stories, usually in a collection, there's one or two you don't like, but not in this one.  This book is very different to Jennifer Hanning's "What Happened to Polly" which I thought was superb, but is a good indication of Jennifer's writing.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Interrogating Adam J Nicolai

An in depth interrogation of Adam J Nicolai, author of the psychological story Alex.

How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?

This is a very germane question, especially for me.  As a self-published author I have the freedom to write whatever I want, and I want to write all kinds of stuff within the realm of genre fiction.  But I recognize that all readers may not want to come along for the genre-jumping ride. 

So far, I've only published one novel, Alex, and with that I was able to write exactly what I intended to write, including a large volume of swear words.  : )  I did worry while working on the novel that the cursing might turn people off, but I'd told myself that I had to be true to the character first and foremost, and the character (Ian Colmes) is bitter, hurting, and doesn't really care what anyone thinks, so swearing was in abundance.  I've only taken a little flak for it.  One beta reader suggested I dial it down a bit to consider older readers who may not have the stomach for it.  Later, a friend invited me to a book club in Cambridge, MN, which was comprise mainly of - you guessed it - older readers, and a few of them took me to task about how the all the foul language wasn't necessary.  I thought that was apropos. 

On a broader level, though, I do struggle with this in regard to my next novel, Rebecca.  The story structure and narrative is very similar to Alex, and is even focused on a mother/daughter relationship (refreshingly, the daughter in this story is alive).  For this reason I consider it a kind of "companion piece" to Alex, but it definitely goes places Alex never went.  The main character, Sarah Cooper, struggles with a lot of questions I think every parent struggles with: Am I qualified to do this?  What have I gotten myself into?  Is my old life over?  But the birth of her daughter is forcing some other issues into the spotlight for her, issues that she has tried very hard to avoid dealing with, her religion and her sexuality being chief among them.  So the shift in theme from pure grief and how to deal with that to one that's more "sex and religion" is one I'm hoping people will come along for the ride on.

So in the short term, I'm striking the balance by writing a similar style of book that plays with different themes.  In the longer term, this will be more of an issue.  My third novel, Children of a Broken Sky, which I'm hoping to have out there by mid-summer 2013, is actually the first in a 6-book fantasy series.  I want to see how it's received before I decide exactly how many more of the books to write, though I suspect at some point I will write them regardless; I'm head over heels in love with the setting, and have been since I was 14.  After Children, I'll either do the sequel, or a different novel, which is actually a sci-fi piece.  So there is genre-jumping in my future.   In case the Alex- (and, hopefully, Rebecca-)lovers balk at all this genre hopping, I want to sprinkle around some Alex-style books (of which I have at least three mapped out) between the other genre experiments to keep them interested and keep building that base.  My plan is to publish two books a year from here on out.  Maybe in 2014 I could commit to one Alex-style and one other genre a year. 


What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.

Well, to carry over from the last question, a lot of different genres appeal to me.  It's more about the story for me; and then, whichever genre fits the story best is what I write. 

For example, I never would've set out to write "a ghost story."  It was more that I wanted to express the depth of my love for my children, and that love never aches as much as it does when I imagine losing them.  One morning I heard my son playing in the hallway - much like the first scene from Alex - and I thought, "What if he wasn't really there?  What if he was gone, and I was just imagining him?"  From that point on, it became a "ghost story."  (I put that in quotes because of course, if you've read the book, an argument can be made that it's not a ghost story at all and never was.)

I'm fascinated by smart phones and the impact they are having and will have on our global society.  I think if you run ahead 20 years or so, there are some really profound things about our entire species that these devices have the capability to change.  So that's an idea I want to explore, and setting a story 20 years in the future and focusing on technological impact makes it a sci-fi story, so that one's sci-fi.

Fantasy is really the only one where the genre itself holds a certain appeal for me, independent from the story being told, so I'll focus on that one a bit.  My favorite flavor of fantasy is the Stephen R. Donaldson type - the ones where the enemy is titanic and the odds are not just long but appear completely hopeless.  I love the ideas that success or victory is always possible, that some things are worth dying for, and that enough effort and enough willpower can manifest into miracles.  No genre really exemplifies these grand notions like fantasy does. 

At the same time, in my fantasy setting, I like to temper these ideas with rationality.  They're old ideas that I've had since I was a kid, but as I've grown older, I like to make them believable, too.  I hate deus ex machina, and fantasy is prone to falling into that trap, so it's a fine line.

Do you have a box, drawer, folder etc where you keep thoughts and ideas for future stories? Such as names you have come across, bits of dialogue, ideas, characters - even if you have no idea when you might use them?

Oh, definitely, though I'm not much for physical media.  I have a "story ideas" doc where I keep those little one- or two-sentence blurbs for ideas I've had.  The ones that come to me with a little more flesh on the bone might get a whole page, and the really big ones may get their own Word doc in the same folder.  If I'm not near my computer when the idea strikes I just email it to myself quick (see my earlier comment about smart phones!). 

So I have a little garden of ideas and I let them germinate and see which one grows fastest, and that becomes the next book. 

Incidentally, I also do this for whatever I'm currently writing.  Scenes will occur to me that don't fit the part I'm currently working (I write chapters sequentially, even though I know many authors don't).  So I'll just make note of them - snippets of dialogue, or ideas that need to be conveyed, or whatever - and when I the old writer's block hits or I'm not sure what comes next, I'll just go to the doc and pick out whatever seems coolest.  : )

How do you manage plot bunnies (ideas that invade your mind that aren’t usually helpful to the story you’re writing but breed

See last question - if they're really breeding and just won't stop, they're quite likely to become the stuff of the next book. 

How much of you is in your characters? Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be? Or be with ?

Ian Colmes, the main character in Alex, is probably 80% me.  The chapters of that book just flew by, because I was practically writing a [fictional] diary.  His reactions were the reactions I am pretty sure I would have in the same situation. 

It was precisely because he was so easy to write that I wanted to take on a bigger challenge for the second novel, Rebecca.  The main character in that one is two things I am not: a mother to a newborn, and a lesbian.  So it was more of a stretch, and it was tougher than I thought it would be in many ways.  Don't worry, I had plenty of mothers and lesbians (and even one lesbian mother) read the beta of the book and make sure it was honest.  The feedback's been really good so far.

As for who I'd like to be... this might be boring, but right now I'm just really enjoying being me.  : )

Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if they're married to you or one of your characters?

No, not usually.  When I'm really into it I tend to sit around and stare into space a lot, plotting (or scheming).  So she'll ask if I'm all right or something like that.  But generally, I don't get "sucked in" to the stories I'm writing.  I try to keep them at arm's length.  Writing is my work, and with any work, I think it's important to be able to keep myself separate from it.  Especially when I get stuck on something, taking a break to recharge is invaluable, and I can't do that if I can't get it out of my head.

What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?

I'm really all over the map these days.  I like fantasy stuff like Abercrombie's First Law, or the aforementioned Stephen R. Donaldson, which I re-read once every 2-3 years.  But I also just finished The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, which is not fantasy at all but is still fiction.  I also really enjoyed The Crooked God Machine, by Autumn Christian, which was a surreal dystopian kind of thing.  On the non-fiction side, I finished Dawkin's The God Delusion not too long ago and am reading Sex and God by Darrel Ray right now. 

Hm... from that list you'd think I was extremely interested in books with "God" in the title, which is not always the case, but given the subject matter of Rebecca has maybe been more the case in the past year.

This seems like as good a place as any to mention that the biggest single influence for Alex, stylistically, was Heart-shaped Box, by Joe Hill.  I could not put that book down, and when it was done with me, I asked, "Why was this so compelling?" and tried to work the answers to that question into Alex's structure.

What lengths do you go to to convince us readers that your book has the X factor?

I'm not sure what this means!  My guess would be that "x factor" is a similar idea to a killer app.  Like a killer book?  Outside of trying to write the best book I can, the answer is: probably not enough.  : )  Until recently I had very little time to dedicate toward publicity or marketing.  In December I was lucky enough to be able to quit my old day job and focus much more on my writing, though, so hopefully this will be changing. 

How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?

A) Grateful that they took the time to let me know.
B) Deeply embarrassed that the errors were there to start with.
3) Impatient to fix the issue as soon as possible.

What do you like most about visiting forums?

Again, this is something I haven't had a lot of time to do as of yet, at least not in the role of author.  : )

What is on your near horizon?

I just recently signed a deal to license the audio rights to Alex, something I was intrigued to look into but just hadn't time, so working with a publisher on that is really nice.  I don't have any details on when the audio book will be available, but I'll keeping readers posted through my blog and Facebook page.   

I am scrambling day and night to finish work on Rebecca, which will be available exclusively through Amazon on January 8thRebecca  is about a young, single mother who resents the impact her newborn daughter is having on her life.  She wants to love the girl but doesn't know how.  She is sinking into depression, and she's ashamed of the choices she made that got her into this position.  She prays about it, and when she does, God says He wants her to kill her baby.

After that I'll be diving straight into the final revision pass on my epic fantasy novel, Children of a Broken Sky.  This will be the fourth major revision this book has undergone, but I'm hoping it will also be the last.  That one should be available, as I mentioned before, mid-summer 2013 sometime, if not sooner. 

After that... it'll either be A Season of Rendings (the sequel to Children) or the aforementioned sci-fi novel.  I'd be thrilled to write either.  : )

2013 is going to be a very exciting year for me.  There is a lot going on.  For the first time in my life I'm going to have the time available to write at a much faster pace than I've ever been able to before.  I'm looking forward to it.

Where can we find you for more information?

My website's not pretty, but it's a great portal into all things Adam J Nicolai, including my blog, Twitter account, Facebook page, links to the books, and current news.  You can find it at 

Thanks so much for the interview!