Author Meet & Greet!

Author Meet & Greet

All are welcome here.

Connect with authors through their social media links (if they choose to share them), learn about their writing process, and purchase their works.

The 4 most current interviews are posted here. Older ones may be found under the Archive: Author Meet & Greet on the main page of this blog by the author’s last name.

**Jack Ketchum’s Interview from December 2017 is PINNED at the bottom of this page**

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

Meet & Greet Author:  #152

Dan Klefstad

Your Name: Dan Klefstad

Genre(s) of your work: Gothic horror/vampire

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Fiona’s Guardians (2020)


Dan Klefstad is a longtime radio host and newscaster at NPR station WNIJ. His latest novel, Fiona’s Guardians, is about humans who work for a beautiful manipulative vampire. It’s getting positive reviews on Goodreads and was also reviewed favorably by the Chicago Writers Association. Dan’s latest short story, “Who Killed Publishing?” has almost nothing to do with vampires. You’ll find it in the Summer 2020 edition of Literary Heist. Another short story, “Cowboy Load,” Came out in the January 2021 issue of Resolute Gentleman. Dan writes in DeKalb, Illinois, and Williams Bay, Wisconsin.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I’ve always been fascinated by monsters, and vampires in particular, ever since I watched Bela Lugosi as Dracula. Even as a kid, I understood vampires worked on different levels. Taken just as mythical creatures, I was always fascinated at how they were portrayed as stronger than we humans, and sexier, plus they keep living for centuries unless something catastrophic happens (like a stake through the heart). As I entered adulthood, I began to appreciate these creatures more as metaphors for enervation. They could symbolize a person draining your life force, or a stand-in for a government or corporate entity you suspect is slowly making you poorer. When readers finish my book, I hope they ask themselves, “Who’s my vampire?”

How has writing changed/altered your life?

It helped me realize that creative expression, while deeply personal, is meant to be shared with the world. If you keep it to yourself, you get no feedback to improve, but you also deprive others of the chance to experience it. I’m reminded of the archaic term “man of letters” which meant a person who not only read a great deal, but also wrote – and their essays, stories, and poems were “letters” to the community that reads. It really drives home the idea that a writer – any creative person – is contributing to a global body of knowledge or aesthetic appreciation. I think it’s worth updating the phrase to “person of letters.”

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I loved John Le Carre (“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”) for the depth and intricacy of his storytelling, and his emphasis on the moral responsibility we share, especially in groups like spy agencies. Have to admit, I thought he’d live forever. Another author I miss is Robert Hellenga (“The Sixteen Pleasures,” “Snakewoman of Little Egypt”), who gave me the courage to write from the pov (point of view) of first-person female narrators.

Do you believe that audiobooks are the wave of the future, more of a passing fad, or somewhere in between and why?

I believe they’ll always be here because humans are essentially multi-taskers, and audiobooks (like radio or podcasts) allow us to consume a story or other information while cooking or driving. I love reading text, and I think that’ll stay with us too, but actually reading requires a commitment to focus on one thing – the book. But reading with your own eyes, and hearing a character’s voice in your head, is a more direct link to the author. Having a recorded narrator, bringing their own interpretations through inflection and emphasis, is a mediated experience, thereby placing your experience “once removed” from the author.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

They’re great for book buyers, as long as those companies aren’t allowed complete market dominance. A reader can order a dozen books online from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, download them to a proprietary device (Kindle or Nook) and start reading right away. Or you wait one or two days for the paperback to arrive. But large retailers have put pressure on publishers, starting with national chains in the 1980s. As they captured more and more market share, fewer and fewer corporate owners controlled the available shelf space, which meant they could decide what books to stock, how much they’d charge, and when to send unsold books back to the publisher. The once-powerful publishers responded by printing fewer and fewer titles, which helped for a while, but many were forced to merge, which meant fewer acquisition editors. All this partly explains why authors have struggled to publish and sell their books. Thank goodness for indie bookshops, which is why I always recommend my readers shop local first before finding my book on Amazon.

What have you found to be a good marketing tool? A bad one?

Social media is a good marketing tool. It’s also a terrible one. Again, we have too few people (or bots) deciding what posts get seen and what don’t. I’ve found you can gain readers on Facebook and Twitter, but you have to break the rules to get around the algorithms which are designed to crush any free promo. I’ve been hanging around FB groups devoted to vampire fans and goths to find friends who I can later message privately to promote my vampire novel. I don’t have my first sales figures yet, but views of my YouTube readings are way up since I started using this tactic. If you try this, tread carefully or you might get blocked or reported. And Facebook will start limiting your attempts to add friends once they get wind of what you’re doing. When that happened, I just went to Twitter and started DM-ing followers who allow that kind of approach. But many don’t, so be aware of who you’re spamming. And a note about spamming: I call it engagement. I recommend you think of it that too.

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

I think we’ll agree that some stuff shouldn’t be published. We know what that stuff is. I don’t believe in censorship but I do believe in gatekeepers.

Where can people find you and your work?

All the US online retailers (Amazon, Walmart, B&N). In the UK, my book is on Amazon and Waterstones. Dymocks in Australia and New Zealand. And at Prairie Fox Books in Ottawa, IL, and Books on First in Dixon, IL.

My site:

Amazon listing:

And a YouTube vid of me reading the opening chapter:


Julie Stielstra

Your Name: Julie Stielstra

Genre(s) of your work: fiction, some essays

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Fourteen short stories in various literary journals

Protected Contact and Other Stories, 2017 (WordRunner eChapbook)

Pilgrim, 2017 – historical novel (Minerva Rising Press)

Opulence, Kansas, 2020 – youth novel (Meadowlark Books)

“The Snake Lover,” forthcoming 2021 – short story, Zizzle

“County Fair,” forthcoming 1/27/2021 – short story, Voyage


  • Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan a couple weeks after Jonas Salk announced the effectiveness of the polio vaccine at Rackham Auditorium. One thing my parents did not have to worry about, at least. And yes, I am a lefty – neurologically and politically.

  • I was reading the comics in the Ann Arbor News by age 4, with an endlessly patient mom who kept answering when I would say, “Mom? What does C-A-T spell? Mom? What does “H-O-R-S-E spell?”

  • Checkered career: BA in Art History (and no, I’ve never regretted it and it even got me a job once!); state license as a veterinary technician; finally a Master’s of Library Science, working mostly in hospitals (human, animal… a spleen is still a spleen).

  • A cat shared my crib when I was a baby, and I’ve never been without at least one since (current count is 4). We bred, showed and hunted Labrador Retrievers; there have been Italian Greyhounds, a whippet, a couple of Border Collie/Lab crosses, and the world’s finest dog Pippin, an American Natural Dog, who could beat the Border Collies in agility.

  • There have been horses too – hunter jumpers, eventing, dressage. My almost 30-year-old mare went to her peaceful home far away 7 years ago, and it was time to lay that part of my life to rest with her.

  • I love birds, art, Paris, cheap wine, good wine, peanut M&Ms, lemon poppyseed muffins, spring, good movies, and the Kansas prairie. I also love well-written crime novels with a setting and characters so interesting I don’t even care who did it.

  • I hate noise, Chicago (sorry – just not a big city girl), most vegetables, winter, action/thriller/horror/romcoms/blockbuster/superhero movies, cozy mysteries, and anyone who hurts an animal.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I grew up on fairy tales, Winnie the Pooh, Black Beauty, myths and legends… just stories. All stories. I try to write the kind of stories I like to read. On the other hand, I gobble up police procedurals like popcorn, and couldn’t write one to save my life. Oddly, I have fallen into the YA genre (Opulence, Kansas; “County Fair”; and an unpublished novel Scratched), just because it seemed like the right voice and context for the story I wanted to tell. Pilgrim is set in 13th century Europe because my art history degree focused on medieval architecture, and I have long been enthralled by the pilgrimage road to Santiago. I’m working now on a historical novel set at the onset of World War I, because that time period is so overflowing with social and political turmoil in central Kansas that I just want to dig in and explore and spotlight that. So, I guess my “genre” varies depending on what kind of tale I’m trying to tell!

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I started writing stories when I was in third grade. Life has gotten in the way at times, but it’s always been there, nudging at me. It’s only been in recent years that I’ve paid more serious attention, worked at it, gotten more involved in the writing community. And damn, I wish I had done it sooner. Life is short.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I have a passion for 19th century literature: Austen, Eliot, Hardy, Tolstoy, Hugo, Dostoevsky (I took two years of Russian in college just so I could read at least a little of poor Fyodor in the original), and… Dickens. Yes, I know he was a pretty awful person and I would NOT invite him to my dead-writers dinner party. But he can always make me laugh, make me tear up, make me shake my head in wonderment at his vivid, pitch-perfect characterizations and observations. When I can’t face anyone else, I can always pull out Copperfield or Bleak House or Nickleby or Dorrit, and they will sweep me away for hours of perfect contentment. But then there’s Jose Saramago – unpunctuated, flowing blocks of words, unfurling humanity in all its greed, hypocrisy, cruelty, and love. And Camus… I could hardly talk about The Plague without choking up when I read it for the first time, and that was years ago… LeGrand remains to this day one of my heroes. Okay, I’ll stop now.

Do you believe that audiobooks are the wave of the future, more of a passing fad, or somewhere in between and why?

Took me years to even try one. I felt as though I wanted nothing to interfere or conflict with the voices, expressions, and sounds my own mind creates as I read. And then I spent 23 hours listening to a gravel-voiced Brit read me Bleak House on a long road trip. I loved it. Things that made me chuckle when I read made me laugh out loud to hear them; people I had not thought particularly funny were hilarious when voiced.  I shed a genuine tear for Jo’s death and the grave, tragic pronouncement of “and dying thus around us every day.” Movies can be a mixed bag, and while I will eagerly try any version of Dickens that hits the screen, they are often so truncated, distorted, or just at odds with my own mental version, they fail me. Audio stays with the original words, so it can be more faithful. It also takes a LONG time. I can read Bleak House in much less than 23 hours. So… I think audio has a perfectly legitimate place as a medium – not my first choice, ever, but a valuable alternative.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

Okay, here’s my bookstore story. When I was in high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan, my boyfriend came over one day and said. “I found this terrific new bookstore in town! All kinds of art books, and poetry… you’ll love it!” A narrow little hole in the wall between a bike shop and a pizza place, run by two brothers who took turns on the cash register. The mezzanine stocked dozens of inexpensive art books – I still have a bunch of them. It was wonderful. Eventually they expanded, got a bigger space on a main street, with multiple levels, a bookstore cat, author readings, etc. It was a truly marvelous place. The brothers were Lou and Tom. Their last name was Borders. I will miss Borders forever. That said, I do not buy from Amazon. I always prefer to buy from independent shops, and is a great option. I often buy through, and it’s great to be able to find old, out-of-print, obscure, or otherwise difficult-to-find books for a few bucks when I want them – but then, the authors don’t benefit from that. And… I’m a librarian. I go for library access first, and only if that fails (which, sadly, it often does) do I look to buy (and of course you’ll look at my bookshelves and call me a liar).

What have you found to be a good marketing tool? A bad one?

A good marketing tool would be some other person who would do all that stuff, and just tell me  when to show up. A bad one is me.

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

Nope. Let people write whatever they want. I have the option not to read them, or hate them, or write nasty reviews or blog posts about them.

Where can people find you and your work?

Website:, which includes my blog.

Amazon (sigh):

YouTube: Kansas Authors Club talk on Opulence, Kansas, June 2020

YouTube: Emporia State University reading of Opulence, Kansas, October 2020

YouTube: Waterline Writers reading of short story “Little Deaths” from Protected Contact and Other Stories, March 2019


Carol Orange

Your Name: Carol Orange

Genre(s) of your work: Mystery/Suspense

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

A Discerning Eye, published by Cavan Bridge Press on October 13, 2020.


Carol Orange has worked in the art world for more than twenty years. She began as a research editor on art books in London and later became an art dealer in Boston. She has an MBA from Simmons University and worked as a marketing manager at the Polaroid Corporation. Along with concert pianist Virginia Eskin who played Chopin’s music, she read excerpts from George Sand’s novels in three salons at the French Library in Boston. Her short story “Delicious Dates” was included in Warren Adler’s 2010 short story anthology. Another story, “Close Call,” appeared in the Atherton Review, Volume 02.  A recent article, “7 Great Heist Novels recommended by an Art Dealer” was published in Crime Reads.

Her debut novel A DISCERNING EYE takes off from the tragic robbery at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Art dealer Portia Malatesta is devastated when she learns that thirteen works of art were stolen from the Gardner Museum. To help uncover the whereabouts of the artwork, she sets out to construct a psychological profile of the thief. By analyzing the common theme linking the stolen pieces, she suspects the mastermind behind the heist is obsessed with the interplay of dark and light – not only in art, but in life.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

Life is mysterious so I am naturally attracted to the mystery/suspense genre. I particularly like female sleuths.  They tend to be engaging, creative thinkers, going all the way back to Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple up to Sara Paretsky’s V.I Warshawski.  By the way, kudos to Sara Paretsky for founding the supportive Sisters in Crime organization. I also connect with Amanda Cross’s sleuth Kate Fansler. Amanda Cross is the pseudonym for the feminist scholar Carolyn Heilbrun. Her mysteries are delightful to read. I wanted to write what I like best to read.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I used to work in marketing for corporations and then I owned an art gallery. My role was a supportive one, often encouraging other people’s creativity. Now I foster my own. Writing a novel is difficult. It often takes years to write a novel and there are many revisions along the way. Writing has made me a more patient person. Now I truly appreciate the craft of other writers. There are some days when I sit down at the computer and the words just flow. That’s when I lose all sense of time and place. When I stop writing I feel at peace. Writing has given me a sense of pride in my work that I never experienced before.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

My favorite writers are Graham Greene and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Marquez is the expert writer of South and Central American life.  He invented magical realism based on ancient folk tales. No one knows Colombian habits and behaviors better than Marquez. His book News of a Kidnapping gave me important insights into just how brutal cartel operatives could be, and I created similar painful scenes for my novel A Discerning Eye. The Colombian drug war ruined daily life in the country so it is understandable why Marquez left Colombia for Mexico. I’ve read all of his books. Marquez is a brilliant storyteller.

Graham Greene’s novel The Quiet American has impressed me as well. His sense of place is extraordinary.  Place is almost as important as his characters and the plot.  The Quiet American takes place in Vietnam as the French colonialists are leaving and the American involvement begins. His main characters, Phoung, a young Vietnamese woman and the journalist Thomas Fowler are survivors in this treacherous world. While this year of Covid and political unrest has been hard to deal with, at least our country is not at war. After traveling to Vietnam three years ago I’ve come to admire the Vietnamese people. I witnessed their resilience and surprising friendliness to Americans. They explained that ordinary Americans were not responsible for the war and do not bear any grudges. Their work ethic is inspiring and they have rebuilt their country. Their Communist government does hover over the country as a negative force, although capitalism is encouraged in their business lives.  Graham Greene knew the country so well he was able to predict the end of the Vietnam war.  His descriptions of the verdant countryside and the dangers they faced gave me insights into the people’s determination to survive.

Do you believe that audiobooks are the wave of the future, more of a passing fad, or somewhere in between and why?

I believe that audiobooks are here to stay and will only become increasingly popular over time. They are more portable than actual books. Talented narrators can dramatize the scenes and make the experience even more enjoyable than reading from a book. Another plus is the convenience of being able to listen to an audiobook while you are driving, doing housework, walking and/or sitting in a chair. The downside to the audio experience is that I am more likely to remember characters names and important passages in the print versions.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I love browsing in independent bookstores, reading the staff comments about new books,  getting help making hard decisions about which books to buy and just soaking up the ambiance. Browsing is one of life’s true pleasures.  What’s more a bookstore adds character to a neighborhood, and each store’s curation of books is different. Some bookstores sponsor community outreach to kids or other specific groups of people.  When I first moved to New York in 2000 I worked at Bookberries (71st and Lexington Avenue). What fun it was to help clients find books that they hoped to enjoy. Some Barnes & Noble bookstores have also provided this customized service for their clients. Amazon is the most efficient way to buy a book if you are looking for a particular title, but you can’t browse bookshelves online and you can’t touch or smell the books.

What have you found to be a good marketing tool? A Bad one?

During this pandemic the best marketing tool is zoom events. They are not easy to book, but they are interactive.  It is thrilling to reach people all over the country with one event. The Zoom experience allows participants to ask challenging questions for the author to answer.  It’s gratifying that many participants have bought my novel before they come to the event, but some are inspired to read it afterward. What’s missing are the casual chats that can happen before and after an in-person event.

A bad one? This is difficult to answer. I’m not sure there has been a bad marketing tool for me. I love the social media advertising campaign that Pubvendo has designed for A Discerning Eye using museum backgrounds and real art (with owner’s permission of course). I know how many clicks I get for each ad, but there’s no way to measure how many clicks translate into book sales.

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

I believe in a free press, First Amendment rights. Yelling fire in a crowded theatre is certainly not acceptable because it can lead to a riot. But as private citizens in an open society we can pick and choose what we like to read or watch. Parents have a responsibility to choose what is age appropriate for their children. I like the way the movie industry rates films as General ( for adults) or PG ( parental guidance recommended) or PG13 ( parents strongly cautioned for children under 13).

Where can people find you and your work?

My author web site is: https// A Discerning Eye is available wherever books are sold. I have author pages on Facebook, Goodreads and Amazon.

Here’s the link to  my Amazon page: (

An audiobook version narrated by actors Campbell Scott and Kathleen McElfresh is available on Audible, Google Play, Audiobooks and iTunes.

You can reach me on Instagram(@carolorange2) and on Twitter (@COrangeAntiques).


Victoria Zigler

Name: My name is Victoria Zigler, but I prefer to be called Tori.

Genre(s) of your work: I write poetry and children’s stories.

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Degu Days Duo:

  1. The Great Degu Round-Up (2014)

  2. A Very Degu Christmas (2014)

Kero’s World:

  1. Kero Goes Walkies (2013)

  2. Kero Celebrates His Birthday (2013)

  3. Kero Gets Sick (2013)

  4. Kero Celebrates Halloween (2013)

  5. Kero Goes To Town (2013)

  6. Kero Celebrates Christmas (2013)

  7. Kero Crosses The Rainbow Bridge (2014)

Magical Chapters Trilogy:

  1. Witchlet (2012)

  2. The Pineapple Loving Dragon (2012)

  3. A Magical Storm (2013)

Toby’s Tales:

  1. Toby’s New World (2012)

  2. Toby’s Monsters (2012)

  3. Toby’s Outing (2012)

  4. Toby’s Games (2013)

  5. Toby’s Special School (2013)

Zeena Dragon Fae:

  1. Zeena And The Dryad (2015)

  2. Zeena And The Gryphon (2015)

  3. Zeena And The Mermaid (2016)

  4. Zeena And The Phoenix (2016)

Poetry books (in publication order):

Mr. Pumpkin-Head And Other Poems (2012)

My Friends Of Fur And Feather (2012)

The Light Of Dawn And Other Poems (2013)

Waves Of Broken Dreams And Other Poems (2013)

The Leaf Monster And Other Children’s Poems (2013)

Rodent Rhymes And Pussycat Poems (2015)

The Ocean’s Lullaby And Other Poems (2016)

Catching Snowflakes And Other Poems (2017)

Puppy Poems And Rodent Rhymes (2018)

Other books (in publication order):

Bluebell The Fairy Guide (2012)

Frank The Friendly Ogre (2012)

The Great Tadpole Rescue (2013)

Asha’s Big Adventure (2013)

Snowball The Oddball Kobold (2013)

Goodies For Grandmother (2014)

Filicity The Musical Platypus (2014)

Thistle The Fairy Trickster (2014)

Jinx And The Faerie Dragons (2014)

Cubby And The Beanstalk (2014)

Vinnie The Vegetarian Zombie (2014)

Lonely Little Princess (2014)

The Forgotten Angel (2014)

Yua And The Great Wizard Hunt (2015)

Isabelle’s Runaway Racehorse (2015)

Home Squeak Home (2015)

Degu’s Day Out (2015)

Rhubarb The Red-Nosed Rabbit (2016)

Jeffrey The Orange Alien (2016)

Eadweard – A Story Of 1066 (2016)

Ulrike’s Christmas (2016)

How To Trust Your Human (2017)

Where’s Noodles? (2018)

Voyage Of The Crimson Sail (2019)

Snowlilie’s Brother (2020)

Anthologies contributed to:

Wyrd Worlds II (story title: Quest For The Purple Pumpkin) (2014)

Colouring Books featuring my petkids:

Magnificent Pets: A Coloring Book For Children (featuring Artemis the Hermann’s Tortoise) (published by Praise My Pet in 2020)

Magnificent Pets: A Mandala Coloring Book For Adults (featuring Artemis the Hermann’s Tortoise) (published by Praise My Pet in 2020)


Victoria Zigler is a blind vegan poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK, with her hubby, chinchilla, Westie, Cavapoo, and Hermann’s Tortoise.

Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, and describes herself as a combination of Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books: Hermione’s thirst for knowledge and love of books, combined with Luna’s wandering mind and alternative way of looking at the world.  She has a wide variety of interests, designed to exercise both the creative and logical sides of her brain, and dabbles in them at random depending on what she feels like doing at any given time.

To date, Tori has published nine poetry books and 46 children’s books, with more planned for the future.  She makes her books available in multiple eBook formats, as well as in both paperback and audio.  She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II, which is available in eBook only.

Additionally, Tori’s Hermann’s Tortoise, Artemis, was featured in both the Magnificent Pets Coloring Book For Children and the Magnificent Pets Mandala Coloring Book For Adults, which are available via Praise My Pet.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I’ve written poetry and children’s stories for as long as I can remember.  Poorly at first, but I tried.  Ever since I figured out how to read and write, and that I could potentially write a book like the ones I loved to read, I’ve written poetry and children’s stories.

I tried to write stories for older audiences when I got older, since I figured that’s what I was supposed to do.  But it didn’t give me the same joy writing for children does, and I guess it showed in my writing, because I had several people who read both my children’s stories and my attempts at stories for older audiences tell me I did better with the children’s stories and should stick to those.  Since I preferred writing those anyhow, I decided to stop trying to write for grownups.  I mean, plenty of adults have enjoyed my stories, but since I enjoy writing them more if I aim them at children, and people of all ages enjoy reading them more when I do that too – at least, according to reviews and messages I’ve had regarding my work – I’m going to stick to writing children’s stories.

Some of my stories are aimed at older middle grade readers, and some of my poems would be best for that age or older too.  But mostly my work can be enjoyed by anyone of any age.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

It hasn’t really, since I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write.

I learned to read and write before I officially started school, since having older brothers – plus a babysitter who was still in school – meant I saw them doing homework and wanted to, “Do homework,” too.  As I mentioned previously, I obviously wasn’t very good at it to start with.  But then, nobody is at first, are they? Regardless of the age you are when you start writing; we all start out as bad writers.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

There are quite a few, and mostly they change depending on my mood sometimes too.  But, to name a few: J K Rowling, David Estes, Michelle Paver, Dick King-Smith, Hans Christian Anderson, Monica Dickens, Bonnie Bryant, R L Stine, Charles Dickens, Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Robert Frost, William Wordsworth, Dylan Thomas, Terry Pratchett, and… You know what? I said a few, so I’ll stop now.

Do you believe that audiobooks are the wave of the future, more of a passing fad, or somewhere in between and why?

Somewhere in between.  There will always be people who prefer physical books, or who just can’t enjoy audio books.  But there will also always be people for whom listening to audio books is the easiest – perhaps even the only – way they can enjoy a book.  That’s why I think it’s important to make your books available in as many formats as you can: it increases your chance of finding readers, since those who prefer – or can only make use of – a particular format won’t be excluded, and will be able to buy your book and read it if they want to.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

With some of my poems and stories – stories especially – it’s only as much as my personal experiences influence my perceptions, likes and dislikes, etc.  But there are exceptions.

The books in my “Degu Days Duo” and “Kero’s World” series – along with my stand-alone stories, “Home Squeak Home,” “Degu’s Day Out,” “How To Trust Your Human,” “Where’s Noodles?” and “Snowlilie’s Brother” – are based on the actual lives of my real pets.  Those stories are all semi-fictionalized accounts of experiences my pets have had, told from the point of view of the pet in question.

Then there’s my “Toby’s Tales” series, which are based on my own experiences with sight loss, illustrating some of my own daily struggles.  Toby’s stories are designed to show anyone in the same situation that they aren’t alone, and maybe help them come up with creative solutions to their own daily struggles.  But they’re also designed to educate others as to what being blind really looks like, and the fact blind people can do most things a sighted person can, we just need some adjustments to how we do it, and sometimes some specialist equipment.

Also, “Bluebell The Fairy Guide” was written after a trip to walk the dog by myself where I had a scary moment where I wasn’t sure I was still on the right path, and “Vinnie The Vegetarian Zombie” was inspired by a discussion I had with my brother about whether or not I’d be able to avoid becoming a brain-seeking zombie if I was turned in to one.

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

No.  But if/when you publish the book there should be something in the book’s blurb that makes it clear what genre and subject matter you’re dealing with, so people can avoid reading it if they want to steer clear of stories about a certain topic.  We should be able to write about whatever sparks our creativity though.  There’s far too much effort put in to attempting to control what we can and can’t write/read about.  All this banned books rubbish, for example.  If you don’t want to read about a specific topic, don’t read the book.  Why should your beliefs stop others from reading it?

Where can people find you and your work?




Facebook author page:



Find Tori’s books on…



…Along with a variety of other online retailers, such as Audible, iTunes, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.


Jack Ketchum

(PINNED – Interviewed in December 2017)

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 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, Twitter, Wikipedia,

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.”


    1. Hi Donna;
      My pleasure. As an independent author myself, I know that marketing is key and getting the word out by any means is crucial.


  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

  2. It’s nice to see Teri here — always good to know a little more about her. I had to laugh about her friends being more careful about what they say. 😀 It’s funny how many people worry they’ll be “in the book” when they learn you write. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I definitely have some new books to order (Zombie turkeys – still chuckling). I just finished my fifth book and I’m taking a year off to just read and read and read. Thanks for the great interviews.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, LB! That’s the point of the interviews – to give everyone a chance to find out about each other. Thanks for reading and feel free to spread the word! 🙂


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