Author Meet & Greet!

Welcome to Author Meet & Greet

Here, you will have an opportunity to meet authors and learn a little more about them.

You’ll also have a chance to connect through their social media links (if they choose to share them) and purchase their works.

The 4 most current interviews will be posted here. Older ones may be found under the Archive: Author Meet & Greet on the front page.

 

( Jack Ketchum’s Interview is PINNED below.)

 

So, without further ado, let’s get to know

Meet & Greet Author #48:

Karen Ankers

 

Name: Karen Ankers

Genre(s) of your work:

Difficult one!  I’m a poet/playwright/ novelist with a leaning towards social commentary, spirituality, mystery and romance.

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Eight short plays published by Lazy Bee Scripts between 2009-2017, (Criss Cross, Still Life, On Reflection, Red Wine And Ice Cream, Frogs, Good Enough, Dance Before Dark, and Seeing Red).  

Poetry collection, One Word At A Time, self-published in 2017, with Lulu.com

Novel, The Crossing Place, due to be published by Stepping Stones on January 17 2018.

Bio:

I live in Anglesey, North Wales, where I regularly take part in local spoken word events and teach Creative Writing classes.  I also act with two local repertory companies, one of which (Pakala Productions) I founded.  I live with my partner, dog, and seven cats.  I have three sons, who have now grown up and left me in peace to write!

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I am interested in the social circumstances which can affect people’s lives and make them act in a certain way.  I am heavily influenced by the Welsh landscape and by Celtic legends.  I am fascinated by magic and the co-existence of several layers of reality.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Writing has always been my way of exploring problems and trying to find answers.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

My favourite author as a child was Alan Garner, whose sense of magic has never left me.  As a student, I fell in love with D.H Lawrence’s mastery of words.  Favourite contemporary writers are Harlan Coben, for his wonderful gift of vivid description, and Linda Green, who is a brilliant storyteller.  Favourite poets are Patrick Jones and Kate Tempest.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

Bookstores are wonderful places, but I would rather spend money in the smaller, independent stores.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

That they will enjoy it and that it will invite them to think about the world in a slightly different way.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

A lot.  I carry a notebook with me at all times and find that ordinary everyday experiences can become crucial parts of a story.  And my characters are very good at reminding me of things from my past and helping me to understand them.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

 It all comes down to characters who are believable and who I can identify with.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?  

A clichéd story.  Uninteresting characters.  Unimaginative use of words.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

 No.  A writer needs to have the freedom to explore subjects which might be difficult, so that we can better understand them.  If a book upsets you, you don’t have to read it.  But don’t deny other people that choice.

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work? 

Self-indulgent stories which make no attempt to reach out to the reader.  Bad grammar and poor punctuation.

Where can people find you and your work?  (Please list your websites, blogs, social media links, Amazon page, etc)

 I have a blog on Write Out Loud.  I also have my own website and Facebook page (Karen Ankers, Writer).  A biography is on my publisher’s website (Stepping Stones Publishing).  Various poems are on online magzines, such as Sentinel Literary Quarterly and the Wild Word.  My plays can be read on Lazy Bee Scripts’ website.

 

Thanks so much for visiting, Karen!

*****************************************

Brian R. Johnston

 

Name: Brian R. Johnston

Genre(s) of your work: Nonfiction

 

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

The Art of Being a Baseball Fan (2016)

 

Bio:  Brian R. Johnston lives in St. Joseph, MI with his wife and two children. He is the author of the book, The Art of Being a Baseball Fan, and is also a contributor to the Wrigleyville Nation website, Public Libraries Online, Windy City Reviews, and the Herald Palladium newspaper in Southwest Michigan. In addition, Brian has over a decade of experience working in public libraries.

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I write nonfiction because I like to observe the world around me, reflect on it, and express what I am thinking. I’ve identified that as my niche in the big sea of writing that is out there. There are far more new authors trying to write fiction than those trying to write nonfiction, and while I think it’s great that so many people write fiction, I see a need for nonfiction that I want to fulfill. I once heard a speaker at a conference say that the key to writing a good book is to identify the book that you want to read but that nobody has written yet. It’s one of the best pieces of advice for aspiring authors that I have ever heard. Just writing a book doesn’t automatically create demand for it. You have to find a demand for something, then write the book.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Writing is my way of expressing myself. I always score on the far introvert part of the scale on any personality test I take. I’m not a talker. I need to write because I need to think and reflect before saying what I want. Some people do that through speaking, and that’s great. We need those people. I’m just not one of them.

One unexpected benefit of all the writing I’ve done over the past few years is that it has allowed me to capture a specific moment in my life. Some people do that through photography, including my wife. I do it through writing. I can go back later and read what I was thinking and to see how far I’ve come since then. I recently was reading through parts of my book (written in 2015) and identified several things I’d change about it. But I’m not going to edit or re-release it, because the point of the book was to capture my feelings at that time in my life. To go back and change it now would defeat the point of writing it.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I don’t have a favorite author, but I like reading mostly nonfiction. History and sports are my favorite topics, but I’m open to others. I like reading books that both are entertaining and from which I can learn something valuable.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

When you go to one of those big bookstores, you’ll find the shelves mostly filled with the same authors that everyone knows about. It’s the same with publishing houses. They go with what’s familiar because they know that’s what will sell. A couple years ago, I heard a speaker at a conference say that change comes from the fringes, not the mainstream. New voices have a hard time breaking through in the writing industry, which is a shame because for our society to evolve, we need to give as many new authors as possible a chance. Instead, we keep giving all the same types of authors our room on the shelves. It is a mission of mine to help new authors get their start, because I’ve been in that position (and still am in a way) and know how difficult it is. Thankfully, there are more ways than ever today for writers to make their own break through self-publishing. But it’s still an uphill battle.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

My goal is always for the reader to think about the world in a new way, whether it’s through a short Facebook post or through reading my book. For me, writing is not just about entertainment. It’s my way of contributing to the world and prompting others to think. Even though my book is about baseball, I believe that fans and non-fans alike can take something from it.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

For me, it’s critical. When I’m about to write something, I ask myself, “What can I say about this topic that no one else has said? How does my point of view offer a new perspective, even on a topic that we already know a lot about?” If I can’t answer either of those questions, then why should I expect anyone to read what I wrote?

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

In both writing and in reading someone else’s work, it’s a sense of accomplishment. I like knowing that I started something and saw it through, even when obstacles emerged. Two years after releasing my first book, I’m still proud of myself. It took ten months and a lot of effort to finish it, and now that I’ve proved to myself that I can do it, I have motivation to do more writing and to start a second book, which I hope to do this year.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

It’s not often that I don’t finish a book. When I don’t, it’s because I’m not learning what I was expecting or the writing doesn’t bring the subject to life in the way it should. Whenever I’m considering reading something, I always check out the reviews, paying particular attention to the quality of writing and whether the author gave the subject a fair treatment before starting to read. It takes a little time, but I know I’ve made up for it many times over by not reading something that I wouldn’t enjoy or that wouldn’t be beneficial.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

There’s far too much to be said about this topic to adequately address it here, but for now let me say this: We all need to have respect for each other’s writing. Unless the publication of a writing causes a direct and immediate threat to people’s lives – which is often hard to prove – then it should not be censored by any government body. If you don’t like what someone else is writing, then don’t read it! You can even take the time to counter it with a work of your own. But don’t try to use the force of law to tell someone else that they can’t read something. The more we share our ideas with each other, the better off that all of us are.

But respecting others’ views is a two-way street. If someone does not want to read or see something that goes against their moral, political, religious, or other views, don’t try to force your views on them, either. Just as I have the right to read whatever I want, I have just as much right to not have to see it. Having an open mind doesn’t mean that we all have to embrace everyone’s point of view. Instead, it means that we should give each person a chance to express themselves and let everyone else make their own decision of whether to accept it or not. There is far too much intolerance from all sides today, and it’s a shame.

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

There are a lot of things to which I pay attention in writing, but I will mention two here. One is tightening up language. It drives me crazy when someone uses twenty words to say what could easily be said in ten. Adverbs, in particular, are overused even by professionals. More words don’t always make the author’s point clearer. In fact, too many words can bog down an otherwise great piece of work and make it less memorable to the reader.

The other thing I’ll mention is closed-minded writing. If you’re making an argument, and you either intentionally leave out facts that harm your case or otherwise fail to address them, you’re doing a disservice to yourself and your readers. A lot of authors do this, especially when writing about controversial issues, but I suppose that’s the purpose of living in a free society. We give everyone a chance to express their point of view and to hold each other accountable.

Where can people find you and your work?

Thanks very much, Brian!

*******************************************

Jalyn Isley

Name: Jalyn Isley

Genre(s) of your work: Spirituality and Self-Help

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):
The Fruit of Your Spirit
Nine Keys to Achieving Purpose and Enjoying Life (2017)

Bio:
Jalyn Isley is a Human Resources Manager with ten years of experience in employee relations and talent development. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University in 2008 and her Master’s Degree in Human Resources from Rollins College 2014.

Jalyn relocated to Florida in 2011 to continue her HR career where she is currently responsible for managing the talent and development of the company’s leadership team. Outside of PepsiCo, Jalyn spends her time in the community by volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club.

In 2015, Jalyn founded her own company which teaches her clients how to become the CEO of their lives so they can turn their personal and professional goals into realities As a motivational speaker, author and success coach, Jalyn empowers people to drive for results and reach their full potential in every area of their lives including their careers, finances, relationships and health.

 

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?
I am a firm believer that self-discovery and awareness help people grow into better versions of themselves each day. I try to encourage people through my writing.

How has writing changed/altered your life?
I feel most alive when I write. And when I share my writing with others, it brings out the best in me.

Who are your favorite authors and why?
Deepak Chopra – he knows how to simplify a message for any audience.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?
I used to love the atmosphere of bookstores but I would like to see the customer experience evolve. It would be great for bookstores to advertise workshops, social gatherings and interactive experiences on social media.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?
I hope readers will feel encouraged to celebrate themselves and share their gifts with this world.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?
My best work comes out when I share my personal experiences. They also help me to stay grounded and authentic, which is important since I give a lot of advice!

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?
I remind myself that someone needs to hear what I have to say. It forces me to stay engaged and finish my project.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?
If I feel like there is some form of social injustice, prejudice or stereotyping, I will stop reading the book.

 

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?
I don’t believe in censorship.

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?
No pet peeves other than writer’s block!!

Where can people find you and your work?
Instagram: @JalynIsley
YouTube: Jalyn Isley
Website: http://www.JalynIsley.com

Thank you, Jalyn!

*******************************************

Jack Ketchum (PINNED)

 

Name: Dallas Mayr

Pseudonym (if you use one): Jack Ketchum

Genre(s) of your work: Horror and Suspense (and the occasional Black Comedy.)

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):  Writing professionally since 1970, first fiction 1976, first novel, OFF SEASON, 1981.

Bio: see my website http://www.jackketchum.net/and add to that, Most Recent Novel, THE SECRET LIFE OF SOULS, written with Lucky McKee and Most Recent Collection, GORILLA IN MY ROOM.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?  

I grew up loving fantasy, and horror is the dark side of fantasy.

How has writing changed/altered your life? The usual perks of self-employment — no punching the time clock, no damn bosses hovering over your desk.  But in addition to that, writing mandates continual periods of self-examination.  You don’t easily get away with lying to yourself on the page.  It requires you to scour your history and your present for your deepest faults and pleasures, to reveal and revel in them, to find the strengths in your life and work from there, reaching outward.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Far too many to list here.  I read all over the place and consequently my favorite writers come from all genres and backgrounds, from Henry Miller to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, from Raymond Chandler, Elmore Leonard and John D. MacDonald to Thomas Hardy, Philip Roth, Michael Chabon, Joyce Carol Oates, Peter Straub and Stephen King.  Why?  Because they’re smart, empathic, courageous.  Because they’re good!

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I wish we had a lot more mom-and-pop, brick-and-mortar bookstores.  I seriously miss browsing.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

The need for empathy and tenderness in the world, that the souls of beasts and humans matter.  And a few hours of just plain fun.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Depends on the piece.  Some, like THE GIRL NEXT DOOR and RED, are highly personal, others…?  I don’t know where the hell they came from!

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?  

Finishing a piece is almost always easy.  It’s getting started that’s hard.  Getting all your ducks in a row and then having the balls and suspension of disbelief  to say to yourself, this is really going to work.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

I give books a first paragraph test.  If it passes, then a first chapter test.  If it passes that, I’ll almost always finish the book — I can tell from there that I’m going to want to.   If it fails I scuttle it immediately.  Very occasionally, too much repetition will make me dump it.  I don’t want to waste reading-time.  Too much good stuff out there.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

Nothing should ever be censored.  Everything is worth discussing.  How long a discussion is another matter entirely.

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

 Life’s short.  I don’t bother with peeves.  If I’m bored, I just close the book.

Where can people find you and your work?

Website, see above. I have a list of published works there.   Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/jackketchumofficial/ Twitter, https://twitter.com/jackketchum Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Ketchum

 

What can I say?

I am honored to have snagged a bit of Jack Ketchum’s time, for him to share his thoughts and words with me (and my readers), and for his participation in a blog such as this one. Thank you so much – for the interview as well as your writing. It has and continues to be an inspiration.

Readers, I implore you to look into Jack Ketchum’s work, especially if you are a horror/suspense fan. From the mouth of Stephen King – “Who’s the scariest guy in America? Probably Jack Ketchum.”

******************************************

Pete Altieri

 

Name:  Pete Altieri

Genre(s) of your work:  Horror/Suspense

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

2016 – Blackened Spiral Down (short story collection on Amazon as an e-book)

2017 – Creation of Chaos Volume I (short story collection, physical and e-book)

Bio:

I was born in the Bronx, NY but spent much of my childhood in CT.  I got married and moved to Central Illinois in 1990 and still reside there near my children and grandchildren.  I was a finalist in the TNT Horror Story competition in early 2017 with my story, Man With Spots.  My story, October House, was purchased by American Horrors for their new publication division for release in 2018.  I have also written two novels, Six, and The Dreadful Lives of Enoch Strange, and am currently seeking representation by a literary agent.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I started to read horror stories at a young age with writers like Edgar Allan Poe.  I began watching horror movies too, such as The Exorcist and The Shining, among others and so began my affair with the genre.  I think I like things that most people find strange or horrifying, because my taste in music is much the same, with a penchant for the heaviest heavy metal.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

When I figured out that writing was my thing, I was only in 4th grade.  So, I started writing lots of stories and passing them around to friends very young.  Writing has given my creativity a place to go and rear its head with my writing, music, or both.  I think life would be boring without that expression, and so in that way, writing has definitely changed my life for the better.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I mentioned Poe already in another question.  To me, there is no one better at pure horror in the short form.  I also love Ray Bradbury and Stephen King for their short stories as well.  I also like Lovecraft, to a degree, with his simpler horror tales.

When it comes to novels, I like Stephen King as well, most of his early stuff is simply brilliant and very unique in style. He is a genius when it comes to telling a good story.  Some of his later stuff is hit and miss for me.  His son, Joe Hill, is also fantastic and I really like his books.  I also like Nelson DeMille, Greg Iles, Eric Larsen, and William Peter Blatty.  There are countless others, but those are the main ones.  When it comes to non-fiction crime writing, I really like Harold Schecter, John Borowski, Amanda Howard, and Dr. Katherine Ramsland.

In all these writers, I admire their slant on things and find it unique to their peers.  They are the reason I like to write, so I can strive to improve and emulate their success.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

The only one I use that fits that description is Barnes and Noble. I enjoy going there so I can actually look at the books.  I’m still a “physical book” kinda guy when it comes to reading.  I buy a lot of books online, but I also do like to buy them at the store.  There’s a fantastic used bookstore in Forsyth, IL called The Old Book Barn.  It’s my favorite place to go and they do also sell new books too.  For online sources, I get them used on Ebay usually, or if I can’t find what I want, I will go to Amazon and buy it there.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

With my short stories, I hope it gives them something to think about.  My stories seldom end in nice, tidy packages.  So, I would hope they were on the edge of their seat reading it and then at the end, maybe even fell down (not getting hurt of course – ha).  I have addressed some difficult issues in my stories, such as PTSD with servicemembers coming home from war, suicide, addiction, and other topics that I would hope stir some emotion.

With my two novels, since they’re not published as of this interview, I can only guess and would hope the reader would feel like they were on a rollercoaster of emotions, as they read the book, and at the end feel physically exhausted!  I like to throw multiple surprises in as my novels are nearly conclusion, so the reader has no idea just how many of those to expect.  To me, nothing is more frustrating than a bad or predicable ending.  I refuse to do it and so I pull out ALL the stops when it comes to shock and awe at the endings I write in my novels.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Quite a bit.  There is only so much you can get from Google, as handy as it is.  There is simply no better thing than to live life and experience things for yourself.  My best stories are ones that are told from first hand knowledge.  I also like to interview friends or family who know about topics I’m writing about.  That also is better than anything you would find from a Google search.  While Google has become a useful tool for simple facts, it can’t replace real world experience.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

For me, it’s got to start inside me.  If I’m not driven to do it, it’s not going to happen.  I’ve got a good friend, Chris Kovacs, who has been battling colon cancer the last few years.  He’s been helping me as a beta reader during this time, and it’s helped him with something fun to spend his time on, but it gives me a person to soundboard ideas off.  We talk nearly every week, and he gives me his feedback on what he’s been reading of mine.  This gives me accountability, so I want to keep writing to hear what Chris has to say about it.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

If I can’t get into it after the first 50 pages or so, I move on to something else. Usually it’s just slow, or the style of writing isn’t my thing.  Or I think the story is weak. If I go further in, hoping to like something, often it’s a waste.  I have so many books waiting to be read, that I have no issues about putting one away as “unreadable”.  Usually, I’ll give it to someone else or use it as trade at the used book store.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

No, I’m not a fan of censorship.  I think people should be able to write what they want to write about.  Chances are, there is an audience, albeit a small one.  I do believe that young children should not be exposed to certain things that might be too much for them, but that’s a slippery slop and needs to be handled correctly.

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

Poorly written dialog is hard to read for me.  I know it’s not easy to write dialog, but when it’s bad, it’s real bad.  I also noted in another question, that bad endings are a pet peeve of mine.  I’m also not a fan of writers who dumb down their material in an effort to give it more appeal.  To me, I usually will stop reading something when it gives me that sort of feel, or books of a series that seem to follow a formula.  That gets old real quick.

Where can people find you and your work?

They can find me on my main site (that does need some updating) www.PeteAltieri.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AltieriPete or Twitter @AltieriPete – I’m also on Amazon and Wattpad.com with some free content if you want to try something on for size.

You can purchase my new book, Creation of Chaos Volume I.  It’s a 15-story collection that is available as a physical book with a poster and bookmarks for only $20, which includes US shipping.  You can get yours at www.CreationOfChaos.com or on Amazon (no poster or bookmark that way).

 

Thanks so much, Pete! I am totally with you on ‘bad dialogue’ in books. That can really kill the mood in a heartbeat. That’s my one problem with Stephen King – some of the conversations that kid characters have is a bit hard to swallow. They sound too much like adults. (But then again, who am I to judge? 😉  )  Readers, please do yourself a great favor and check out Pete’s writing and websites. And if you happen to like screaming metal music – he’s your guy! 🙂

 

 

5 comments

  1. Hi Sue. Thank you for including me in this roundup of four writers. I read all the interviews with pleasure. The CWA includes so many interesting members. I enjoyed meeting my fellow interviewees via your blog.
    Susan Bass Marcus

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s