Annie's Book Stop of Worcester

The little bookstore that's bigger on the inside

 

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Author Kit Marlowe. No, not Christopher Marlowe of the Elizabethan era, but Kit Marlowe, who in her words is “a writer of historical fiction with humour and usually fantasy.” Kit also writes fiction under other names, such as K.A. Laity and Graham Wynd.

 

The first question I asked her was, where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)

 

 

Kit-Marlowe.com and I have a Facebook page, too: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKitMarlowe/

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

The Facebook page is usually good for updates but the website has links to everything that’s out as it comes out. The Mangrove Legacy will be out very soon!

 

 

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from The Mangrove Legacy?

 

 

THE MANGROVE LEGACY: A gothic novel of mystery, romance — and pockets!

Mysterious deaths, highwaymen, ghosts, pirates—and a surprising variety of cheeses!

Kidnapped from Lord Mangrove’s funeral cortege, cousins Alice and Lizzie get spirited away by masked criminals, then sold to nefarious seamen until they’re captured by pirates without so much as an improving book to read! The two intrepid young women discover romance, heartache, mysteries, and the vital importance of pockets.

 

I also write an ongoing series of ‘Absolute Twaddle’ which is just nonsense poetry. Just being silly; most of it inspired by odd image I find in the British Library.

 

 

 

 

What was the inspiration for [newest release/series release is part of/spotlighted release]? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

 

I originally wrote this as a serial at a time when life was terrible and I worried that I wouldn’t have enough time to write fun things. I was wrong. There is always time for fun. Make time for your own fun.

 

 

What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?

 

 

I have always loved spooky stories. Since childhood I was fascinated with ghosts. Reading gothic stories as an adult made me realise there was a whole genre that was fun but sometimes so over the top you had to make fun of it, too. Like Jane Austen did with Northhanger Abbey.

 

 

What else can we expect from you in the near future?

 

 

In the coming months I am relaunching the Medieval Adventure series which is based on actual medieval tales. The first couple are based on tales by Marie de France, who despite that name was (probably) living in the court of Henry II. In the Middle Ages ‘romance’ meant adventure. These are fast paced fun stories, not weighty tomes. I do love a weighty tome, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes you want something more breezy. Actual medieval tales tend to be compact.

 

 

Do you have any favorite foods or drinks that must be in the vicinity (or must be avoided) while you’re writing or editing a piece of work?

 

 

Tea is a must. I am so lucky that my beloved understands and supports this habit, often bringing me tea while I am writing which is a wonderful way of saying ‘I love you.’

 

 

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?

 

 

Write to please and entertain yourself. That way at least one person is happy. You really can’t do anything about the rest of the world. It’s all a spin of the roulette wheel as to whether anyone else cares. We’re living in particularly perilous times but as a medievalist I can say history shows us many perilous times even worse than this. Protect the ones you love, stay hopeful and laugh as much as you can.

 

 

Thanks for answering all our questions, Kit. Good luck with your writing in the future!

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Young Adult Fantasy and Historical Fiction author Amber Lough. I happened to meet Amber at one of our Zoom events, and she very kindly agreed to answer our Author Spotlight questions for us. I first asked her to tell us a bit about herself, and this was her response:

 

 

I’ve wanted to be a writer since 2nd Grade, but my first job after college was in the USAF. After a tour in Iraq, I decided to leave the service and put my energy toward writing novels, and I’ve been doing that ever since. I am a world traveler, a learner of languages, and a lover of the sea. I’m also a wife, a mother to two kids, caretaker of two cats, and a gardener.

 

 

Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)

 

 

OPEN FIRE can be found at all booksellers and online, but Indiebound and Book Depository are good places to go to first. After that, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

You might also find it in your library!

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

I spend too much time on Twitter (@amberlough) and Instagram (amberlough), so that’s the first place you’ll find me. Twitter is where I talk about writing and my personal life, and Instagram is where I post pictures of cats, my garden, and places I travel.

 

 

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from Open Fire?

 

 

I write both fantasy and historical fiction, but my stories are all ones that I deeply care about. OPEN FIRE has a character who doesn’t know what she wants all the time – just like me, just like many – and yet she is forced to make a decision that sometimes doesn’t sit right with her. My books aren’t all sunshine and roses, because I try to tackle some hard themes while also (hopefully) making the story exciting to read.

 

 

 

 

What kind of research went into writing this book?  What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?

 

 

SO MUCH research went into the writing of OPEN FIRE. For starters, I bought about 50 nonfiction books (ok, maybe 8) about Russia in WWI, the Women’s Battalion of Death, the Russian Revolution, etc. Then I asked a friend I met on Twitter to meet up with me in Russia so we could both research for our books. Elizabeth Wein and I spent several days in St. Petersburg (with a foot of snow on the ground!) for me and a few days in Moscow for her to research her nonfiction book about Russian women aviators in WWII, A THOUSAND SISTERS. It was the best trip of my life, to be honest. We talked about it here (https://lernerbooks.blog/2020/02/elizabeth-wein-and-amber-lough-on-women-soldiers-in-world-wars-i-and-ii.html).

 

 

What was the inspiration for Open Fire? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

 

I started writing OPEN FIRE because I was so frustrated that in all of the Russian history classes I took in University, in all the Russian and military history stories I’d gobbled up my whole life, I had never heard of the Women’s Battalion of Death. Of course, that’s because the stories of women throughout history are often forgotten or brushed aside. Worse, some are mocked or said to be more legend than truth. I was insistent that their story be told outside Russia, particularly for an audience that might want to hear about strong, determined women who are willing to die to change the world. At one point, I was asked to add a fantasy element to the story to make it more palatable to a wider audience, but I put my foot down there. I love fantasy–especially historical fantasy—but I didn’t want to blur the lines between legend and truth here. Their story had to be as accurate as can be (for a novel), because they were certainly real women, and not so different from us.

 

 

What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?

 

 

I’m drawn to historical fiction because I want to understand how we ended up here. Diving into a really good historical novel brings the reader into that time period, so they can get a realistic glimpse of it – not as some exotic experience but as a communication between the past and the present. Only then can we see our similarities to people in the past and understand why they did what they did (however horrible), and how easily it could happen again. I think a lot of readers go for the journey, but some are there for this same reason—to understand our current era better.

 

 

What do you consider the most challenging part of the writing process? And how do you overcome that?

 

 

For me, it’s scraping out time in the calendar to focus on my writing – and then protecting it to the teeth. As a mother, I often found myself brushing my writing time aside as though it was an afterthought. It’s not an afterthought—it’s vital to me, to my mental health, to my goals in life. And I want my children to see that it’s acceptable to put boundaries on your time like that. That said, there are obviously emergencies. But all in all, I’ve learned that if I don’t write down exactly when I will be writing each week, the time will suddenly fill up with things I need to do for other people and when the week is over, I’ll have written practically nothing at all.

 

 

Are there any groups, clubs, or organizations that you would recommend to other writers that have helped you in your career?

 

 

Certainly! I joined SCBWI when I first started writing seriously, in 2007, and it helped me tremendously. I’m still a member here in Germany, and it’s how I found other writers (who write in English). Community is incredibly important to us writers, because we spend so much time writing alone. We need the network and support of other writers.

 

Thanks so much for answering our questions for us, Amber!

As the year 2020 progresses and COVID-19 continues to influence many of our daily activities, we here at the little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside continue to monitor the safest ways of conducting business for our customers and our staff.

Today’s COVID-19 Dashboard for Worcester County

To that end, contrary to what we stated last week, we will be postponing some of regular in-person events indefinitely. Specifically, we are putting our weekly Spinning Yarns social and our monthly DOCTOR WHO meetup back on hiatus until further notice.


We do have events scheduled for this weekend, two virtual, one in-person.

VIRTUAL EVENT: Saturday October 17 at 2:00PM – Zoom Meet&Greet with picture book author Josh Funk, creator of the LADY PANCAKE AND SIR FRENCH TOAST series!

Please register on Eventbrite! Further details can be found there.

IN-STORE EVENT, Saturday, October 17 at 6:00PM –Rainbow Readers Monthly Meetup! The Rainbow Readers of Massachusetts is a LGBTQIA book club that meets once a month.  The title for October, IN THE VANISHERS’ PALACE by Aliette de Bedard, is available for purchase either in-store or via our website.

Please RSVP by phone at 508-796-5613 so that we may observe capacity guidelines.

VIRTUAL EVENT: Sunday, October 18 at 2:00PM – Zoom Meet&Greet with Vermont thriller writer S. Lee Manning, author of TROJAN HORSE!     

Please register on Eventbrite! Further details can be found there.


In the meantime, we still have plenty to offer you as Worcester’s independent full-service bookstore.

  • Check out our Youtube channel! We have author interviews and Halloween read-alouds all queued up for you.
  • We offer gift certificates in any amount, either for purchase in-store or via mail order.
  • And speaking of mail order, we are happy to ship purchases anywhere in the United States. The base shipping and handling cost for USPS Media Mail is $4.50, whether it’s for one book or for twenty books. Other items can be shipped via USPS First Class Mail or USPS Priority Mail, and shipping via UPS is also available; please inquire about costs via telephone or e-mail.

Our October publisher specials are flying out the door like witches on brooms! THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Ray Bradbury and DON’T TURN OFF THE LIGHTS, an anthology tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s time-honoured SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK, are each discounted 42% from retail price.

In addition, we’ve put a number of spooky and horror-themed graphic novels on sale at extra discounts for this season of frights and screams. Check out SUPERNATURAL LAW, OVER THE GARDEN WALL, GHOSTBUSTERS, and more!

Thank you for making our shelves your destination.

Best,

Patty and the Staff at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Espionage Thriller Author S. Lee Manning.  I asked her to tell us a bit about herself and her writing, and this was her response:

 

A recovering attorney, I had a legal career that spanned from a first-tier New York law firm, Cravath, Swaine & Moore to working for the State of New Jersey to solo practice. I also chaired New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, writing articles on the risk of wrongful execution and arguing against the death penalty on radio and television in the years leading up to its abolition in the state. When I decided to write my first novel, I was drawn to the complexity of the espionage thriller genre. Trojan Horse introduces Kolya Petrov, a Russian Jewish immigrant who works for American intelligence and whose agency decides to sacrifice him in a devious plot to obtain information from an anti-Semitic, neo-fascist Romanian.  A Vermont resident since 2014, I now write full time and live with my husband and two cats. On occasion, I take a break from writing thrillers to perform stand-up, and in 2019, I was a semi-finalist in the Vermont’s Funniest Comic contest.

 

Wow, that’s quite a diverse portfolio, from writing espionage novels to performing stand-up comedy! Where can people find your work? Books, of course. (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)

 

 

Trojan Horse is available on Amazon, amzn.to/3fJdEDk and it is also available through my publisher, Encircle Publications. https://encirclepub.com/product/trojanhorse/

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

You can follow me on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/sleemanning, on Twitter,  @SLeeManning1952, and on my website, http://www.sleemanning.com.

 

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from Trojan Horse?

 

 

 I write spy thrillers, with suspense that hopefully will keep you turning the pages, but with complex characters whose actions are propelled by relationships and inner conflict.  Readers can expect thrills, chills, romance, loyalty and betrayal. Along with providing a great read, Trojan Horse asks serious questions about the morality of actions taken by the “good guys” as well as questions of subtle versus overt and hostile bias.

 

What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out Trojan Horse?  How did you overcome that challenge?

 

The greatest challenge was getting the book published. This has been a fifteen year journey from first draft to publication, overcoming hurdles like the death of my first agent, a contract with a publisher who then pulled out of the mystery/suspense genre, a second and terrible agent who had to resign from the Association of Authors’ Representatives after ethics complaints, and then finally landing the contract with Encircle Publications – a great small publisher. Over the years, I’ve rewritten Trojan Horse multiple times. The first draft was laughably long – 250,000 words, which I cut down to 125,000 words, the version that landed me my first agent. For my first publishing contract, I cut it down to 84,000 words, but I felt that version left out some of the richness of the story. Last year, I did a rethink and a reedit/rewrite that resulted in the book that is now coming out.

 

What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?

I like all my characters to some extent, even the villains.  But of course, Kolya is my favorite, and he’s the protagonist. (If the protagonist isn’t your favorite character, you might want to rethink the story.) But beyond that, Kolya’s personality is modeled after my husband, who is the love of my life. Kolya, like Jim, is intellectual, feels deeply but doesn’t really want to talk about what he’s feeling, loves music, and lacks appreciation for Jane Austin. (For the record, I love Jane Austin.) He also has a quiet and understated sense of humor, and he has a strong sense of right and wrong. What I also love about Kolya is his strong relationships, not just with the very strong woman whom he loves, but with his sometime partner and best friend. Unlike my husband, Kolya is Jewish and Russian. He’s also a bit of an adrenaline addict.

 

 

What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?

I’ve always loved the spy genre, because while there are good guys and bad guys, a lot of what intelligence agencies on both sides do falls into a morally ambiguous area. I also like spy novels because – like fantasy novels, which I also enjoy – there’s a parallel world with stuff going on that the average person doesn’t know about and spies have to conceal who they really are. I wanted to write a story where there was a real danger that had to be countered, but the actions taken by the government would fall into that gray zone. So I came up with the idea of an intelligence agency deciding to sacrifice one of its own agents in order to feed false information to a terrorist and neo-Fascist. I like complex novels that are both page turners and yet have complexity of character and ideas. I also find spies kind of sexy. I hope readers are drawn to these kinds of stories for the same reasons I am.

What is your favorite part of being a writer?  Of the whole writing and publishing process?  What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?

My favorite part of being a writer is the writing. I wanted to be a published writer because doing so justifies the vast amount of time I spend in my imaginary world. I love losing myself in the world that I create. What I find fascinating is that books I write and characters I create – take on a life of their own. They’re me – and they’re not me. My greatest lesson is to listen to your characters when they talk to you – but don’t tell anyone that’s what you’re doing  – or they’ll think you need medication.

How important has the New England setting been to your writing?

 Not at all important in this book, but quite a bit of the next book takes places in Vermont.

What else can we expect from you in the near future?

I’m working on the next Kolya Petrov thriller at the present time, working title Nerve Attack. It should be out next July.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Ms. Manning!

It’s a new month at our little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside. Crunching leaves, crisp air, apples and pumpkins everywhere… our favourite time of year, with its mix of cozy and spooky.

Our October publisher specials reflect these elements… one seasonal classic, THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Ray Bradbury, and one brand-new anthology, DON’T TURN OFF THE LIGHTS, a tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s time-honoured SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK. Both titles are discounted 42% from retail price.


We are continuing to bring you a carefully-chosen selection of special events as we navigate doing business during COVID-19.

VIRTUAL EVENT: Saturday October 17 at 2:00PM – Zoom Meet&Greet with picture book author Josh Funk, creator of the LADY PANCAKE AND SIR FRENCH TOAST series!

Please register on Eventbrite! Further details can be found there.

IN-STORE EVENT, Saturday, October 17 at 6:00PM –Rainbow Readers Monthly Meetup! The Rainbow Readers of Massachusetts is a LGBTQIA book club that meets once a month.  The title for October, IN THE VANISHERS’ PALACE by Aliette de Bedard, is available for purchase either in-store or via our website.

Please RSVP by phone at 508-796-5613 so that we may observe capacity guidelines.

VIRTUAL EVENT: Sunday, October 18 at 2:00PM – Zoom Meet&Greet with Vermont thriller writer S. Lee Manning, author of TROJAN HORSE!     

Please register on Eventbrite! Further details can be found there.


As a reminder, our regular events will resume this month…

STARTING ON 10/12/2020:

IN-STORE EVENT: Spinning Yarns Craft Social, every Monday at 7:00 PM. Bring your craft-in-progress [knitting, crocheting, beadworking, writing, drawing, etc.] and enjoy an evening get-together with other crafty booklovers!

Please RSVP at 508-796-5613 so that we may observe capacity guidelines.

STARTING ON 10/25/2020:

IN-STORE AND VIRTUAL EVENT: Doctor Who Monthly Meetup, the last Sunday of every month at 3:00PM. Join us for a discussion of our favorite science fiction series.

Details forthcoming.


May your world be filled with wonderful words!

Best,

Patty and the Staff at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Science Fiction author Walter Jon Williams. These are some of the questions we asked him to answer for us:

 Walter, Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?

 

You can introduce me as “Nearly Famous Author Walter Jon Williams.”  I’ve been Nearly Famous for most of my career.

I live with my wife Kathy in rural New Mexico.  I feel that authors should enjoy activities other than writing, so in addition to being a writer I’m a world traveler, a scuba diver, and a black belt in Kenpo Karate. 

Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)

 

 It shouldn’t be that hard to find my work, in part because there’s been so much of it.  All my backlist are now available as ebooks.  For a complete list, with capsule descriptions, check out this page:  http://www.walterjonwilliams.net/ebook-store.html

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

My blog and web page are at http://www.walterjonwilliams.net.  I also have a Facebook presence, though I’m not really your go-to guy for social media. 

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from you?

 

 Expect to be surprised!  Every project I undertake is different from everything else.  No one’s more bored by the same-old same-old than me, so I strive to keep everything fresh.

What kind of research went into writing the Quillifer series?  What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the books, but you loved discovering?

 

The Quillifer books take place in a fantasy analogue of the Northern European Renaissance, and I tried to make an effort to see what the period was like from the perspective of having one’s boots-on-the-ground.  We think of the period in connection with the art of Holbein and Breughel, the rise of autocracy, and religious strife, but if you actually lived within that period, you might not have the same perspective.  The Renaissance was a lot more complicated than you probably think, and the same thing goes for the Middle Ages.  They were just weird.

Some of the delights I encountered in my research: 

Turnspit dogs

The Court of King Arthur (which is in Gdansk, Poland)

Roast swans served in their feathers

What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?

 

 By the end of a book, I’m sick of them and I hate them all.  I’ve spent months living with them, and I’ve grown to resent their intrusion on my life.  Sometimes I fantasize about having them all run over by a speeding meteor.

What else can we expect from you in the near future?

 

I have two books coming out in December 2020.

The first is The Best of Walter Jon Williams, 200,000 words of short fiction, copiously illustrated, from Subterranean Press.

The second is Fleet Elements, the latest in my popular Praxis series of far-future science fiction books.  (Start with The Praxis, which is already in print.)

What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?

 

All work and no play makes Walter sleepy and depressed.  I strive to lead an active life.

I’ve traveled all over the world.  I’ve scuba dived in most of the world’s oceans.  I’m a black belt in Kenpo Karate.  All of my adventures eventually work their way into my fiction, which I think adds an element of authenticity to the work.

What is one thing that most people don’t realize about you?

 

 Probably that I’m still alive, and still writing.

What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?

 

 I few years ago I set a novel, Deep State, in Turkey, and in preparation I traveled through much of Turkey with some friends.  The hospitality was wonderful, the food likewise, and Anatolian civilization is at least 6000 years old.  Turkey rolls deep.  It’s my favorite country.

While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!

 

 I like to play loud music and dance before work in order to pump myself up for writing.  Unfortunately my wife doesn’t like loud music blasting away at 2am, and so I’ve had to modify my work preparation.

 

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?

 

 Never stop!

Are there any groups, clubs, or organizations that you would recommend to other writers that have helped you in your career?

 

 As a writer, I sort of came up by myself.  I knew writers, but none of them were working on the sort of thing I wanted to write, so their help (while generously offered) was limited. 

By way of paying it forward to the next generations, I founded a workshop called Taos Toolbox, which is a two-week master class on writing that takes place in the mountains of New Mexico every summer.   In its twelve years of existence, our graduates have published dozens of novels, won Hugo and Nebula Awards, and created careers for themselves.  So for anyone serious about writing, I’d recommend Taos Toolbox, or any of the other professional workshops, like Clarion or Odyssey.

Walter, thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions!

Lynsay Sands

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Historical and Paranormal Romance Author Lynsay Sands.

I asked Lynsay to tell us a little bit about herself and her writing, and here was her wonderful response:

 

My name is Lynsay Sands and I’m the author of the Argeneau series and many hysterical historicals (as my readers tend to call them). I have written over sixty books and twelve anthologies, which probably tells you I really enjoy writing. And I consider myself very lucky to have been able to make a career out of it!

So, Linsay, where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)

 

Other than Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester <G>… readers can find my books at most brick and mortar bookstores (Chapters, etc); online bookstores (Amazon, Barnes&Noble, etc); Sci-Fi bookstores; stores that display mass market bestsellers (Walmart, drug stores, grocery stores, etc); Audible; iBook; Kobo, etc.

Online store links… http://www.lynsaysands.net/books/argeneau/immortalangel.html

Amazon… https://www.amazon.com/Immortal-Angel-Argeneau-Lynsay-Sands-ebook/dp/B0839LVDS2/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1585452693&sr=8-1

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

LOL… you can follow me on my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, newsletter and email. They’re all listed below!

Website: http://www.lynsaysands.net/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/Lynsay-Sands-125138040836322/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LynsaySands

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lynsaysands/

Tumblr: https://lynsaysands.tumblr.com/

Newsletter: https://sibforms.com/serve/MUIEAC4iIar0Pw8qQUY3Vf94qN9dGob6KVlkTqf7t5S9c3UZoYtbQDa0SbtOEYJX4xLBI8RjFscIxrV0YQT7n55kS4KNZkiXz75kDaFXMCDVfcC6jG9WA34G1nMixVHSjr7VPnjjz_Ui6l2CKFakay0y1NHlzks4TBb4gmSmjLgcEOPkN6qlwjUUKbUqs__MqrMYJ-PVRYQXQcTI

Email: lynsay@lynsaysands.net

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from your latest books?

With the Argeneau series, they can expect an action-packed, fun adventure where the two main characters turn out to be life mates and fall head over heels for one another as they solve a dilemma. And, of course, family and/or friends end up helping them out along the way. The story always starts with a bang and usually ends with a bang as well.

With my Highland Brides series readers can expect an action-packed, fun and funny adventure that inevitably ends up with a wedding and maybe a bairn, or two (or even three 😱) by the end of it. And their family and friends, especially the Buchanans, help them through as they get to know one another.

What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?

 

The escape from reality and the guaranteed happy ending. Life is full of enough depressing and sad stuff. I like getting away from it to somewhere that I know there will be happiness at the end, that all those struggles and the heartache suffered is paving the way for a happy ending. Guess, that makes me a sap, but . . . oh, well.

What is your favorite part of being a writer?  Of the whole writing and publishing process?  What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?

 

The stories are my favorite part. I love finding out what’s going to happen, and that really is how it goes for me. I know a lot of authors plot their stories and know what is happening before they type the first word, but I can’t write that way. The few times I’ve tried to plot first, I just couldn’t write the stories. They were already there in my head, like a movie I’ve already seen or a book I’ve already read. Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again. So, I tend to start with a scene or character who pops into my head and then I follow the characters around to find out what the heck is going on and where it will all end . . . and quite often, the characters surprise me. I’ll think they’re going to do one thing, and they suddenly take a sharp turn and do something entirely different. I love when that happens! It means the characters have kind of taken on a life of their own in my head.

As for my greatest lesson in the journey so far. . . Well, it’s that everyone isn’t going to like my stories. Or me for that matter . . . and that that’s okay. It doesn’t make my stories bad if someone doesn’t like it, any more than it means there’s anything wrong with me if they dislike me. I don’t like everyone I meet, or every story I read either. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is I’ve learned that I shouldn’t worry so much about what others think. All that noise out in the world, the anger, the put downs, the insults and so on. . . That isn’t really a reflection of me so much as a reflection of those people, and as long as I can face myself in the mirror every day and know I’m a good person doing the best I can . . . shrug . . . That’s what’s important.  

What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?

Write what you love and enjoy, not what you think will sell or what seems hot right now. If you love it, that will come out in your writing. And if you are just writing what you think others want to read, that will show too. Readers want the real deal; not fake stuff and they can tell the difference.

What else can we expect from you in the near future?

 

Book # 31 in my Argeneau series, Immortal Angel, comes out September 29th. This is about Ildaria and G.G. We first met G.G. in Marguerite’s story, Vampire Interrupted, and then again in Elspeth’s story Twice Bitten. Now it’s GG’s turn and the decision is his on whether to accept the rare gift fate has given him, a true life mate, or fight it like he has his family all these years. As for Ildaria, we met her in Vampires Like It Hot where she was one of Vasco’s most fearsome crew members. Having been on the run for so long, she has a talent for dealing with bad guys, and won’t hesitate to come to the aid of the defenseless. Unfortunately, this skill has also garnered her some unwanted attention forcing her to relocate to Toronto. Luckily there’s a job opportunity there and a potential life mate. Readers have been asking after G.G.’s story for a while so I’m happy to say it’s just around the corner!

And Book #9 in my Highland Brides series, Highland Treasure, will be coming out January 26th! This is Rory Buchanan’s story, another character readers have been asking after for quite some time. Rory is the second youngest Buchanan brother and a renowned healer. When he was younger he always had his nose in a book but as you can see by the cover, Rory is all grown up now. Also I think this story has the largest subset of secondary characters of any of my stories… an entire town! LOL

Book #32 in my Argeneau series, Meant To Be Immortal, is set to come out April 27th. This is about Mac and C.J., two new characters to the scene. Mac Argeneau is one of Katricia’s brothers. (Just to remind readers who Katricia is, she’s Teddy Brunswick’s life mate and lives with him in Port Henry with Elvi and the gang). Anyway, Mac has just moved to a small town not far from Port Henry. No one knows him there so it’s strange that arson would be the first thing to happen to his new home. And CJ is a no nonsense CSIS agent who’s there to investigate a list of complaints against a local officer. However, due to a shortage of manpower, CJ’s been asked to help out by looking into the local fire as a possible arson case and Mac quickly discovers he can’t read her.

What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?

 

Jeez, how long do you have? LOL. I usually try different projects between books, like learning to play piano and guitar, trying embroidery, etc. But, when there’s time, I like solving logic puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, and lately I’ve been getting into the monthly boxed mysteries (The Deadbolt Mystery Society boxes have been good so far, but found the Finders Keepers boxes to be a bit boring.) Of course I love to read and enjoy discovering new authors and series. I enjoy video games but need to find some new ones. And I have a couple of Bouviers, a Bichonpoo, a Lab and German Shepherd, not to mention a hubby, that need love and attention too so life is pretty busy.  

What are some of your writing-related hobbies, crafts, addictions?

 

I tend to read a LOT, especially when I’m gearing up to write the next book. And if I’m working on the next book in a series then I often will reread the books preceding it or those that had something to do with the characters I plan to write about.

What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?

 

LOL. My writing space tends to be in a perpetual state of organized clutter!

Before I begin writing I have a tendency to clean my office. Top to bottom it’s got to be spic and span clean! And then I reorganize all the items in and on my desk and the shelves around it. I also have my writing troll sitting somewhere beside me at all times and then I take all that nice neatness and completely wreck it while writing. By the time I’m done the space looks like a tornado hit it. There will be countless half empty coffee cups, my own books with sticky pad notes sticking out of them, plates with toast crumbs on them, and whatnot on my desk, plus crumpled up wads of paper, and a landslide of printed up manuscript pages with edits marked on them everywhere on the floor surrounding my chair. That’s where I throw them once I’ve entered the edits into the computer. It’s very satisfying. Another page done. Ping, it hits the floor. Of course, it’s less satisfying when I hit send on the computer to email it to my editor and then have to gather all those pages together again, but . . . oh well.

What is one thing that most people don’t realize about you?

 

Well I don’t tend to do radio, podcast or video interviews but it’s not because I don’t want to. This may come as a surprise but I can be painfully shy, which I guess goes hand in hand with being a writer. The mere thought of a live interview makes me nauseous. 😬

While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!

 

The number one thing I need is to write somewhere where I won’t be interrupted by people, or dogs coming in and out, phone calls, deliveries, etc. Interruptions really do kill the flow and I’m often forced to start a new story altogether if I have too many interruptions.

Once I’m somewhere that’s interruption free, I tend to listen to music. All kinds. Pop, classic rock and even classical depending on the story and my mood.

Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work.  Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?

 

I have five dogs who I love to bits! However, they do not help me with my writing process. The opposite actually because they interrupt me so often if I try to write with them around. Hence why I tend to isolate myself when I’m on deadline. . . Hmmm. . . although, I suppose they do help in a way. I mean, almost every one of my dogs has featured in a book, just under a different name, and sometimes with a different breed type. But, honestly, dogs can do the funniest darned things and so their antics get into my stories.

Do you have any favorite foods or drinks that must be in the vicinity (or must be avoided) while you’re writing or editing a piece of work?

 

Ice water, coffee, diet coke, and something easy I can heat up as a meal so I can get back to it or I just won’t bother with food. In fact, I used to forget to eat. I’d get so stuck in the stories that when I stopped I’d think, “Oh darn, did I eat today?” The longest I’ve written without stopping is 37 hours. Unfortunately, that kind of thing is NOT good for your health and the doc and family members got on me for it, so for a while I had to wear a watch that would remind me to eat at meal times. It died a while back, but not until after I got into the habit of eating at meal times.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer all these questions for us, Lynsay! I promise I won’t ask you for a Zoom interview…

Matt Phelan

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Matt Phelan, Author and Illustrator of children’s books and graphic novels. Matt is the award-winning creator of the graphic novels Snow WhiteThe Storm in the BarnBluffton, and Around the World, and the picture book Druthers. He is also the illustrator of many books for young readers including Flora’s Very Windy Day by Jeanne Birdsall, Marilyn’s Monster by Michelle Knudsen, Xander’s Panda Party by Linda Sue Park, and The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, winner of the 2007 Newbery Medal.

Thanks for being with us, Matt. The first question we have for you is, how can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

My web page at:  http://www.mattphelan.com/

Instagram: MattPhelanDraws

Facebook: Matt Phelan Author Page

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you do?  What can readers expect from you next (Latest cover, book, comic, movie, etc?) or what is the last thing you worked on?

I am an author/illustrator who creates picture books, chapter books, and graphic novels. I’ve also illustrated many books written by other authors, such as Jeanne Birdsall, Linda Sue Park, and Jane Yolen. I’ve been illustrating for sixteen years and have worked on more than thirty books.

I released two books this year. The first is Knights Vs. The End (Of Everything) which concludes my middle grade novel trilogy. I’ve had an absolute blast telling the adventures of the knights and Mel and this book further develops their relationships and brings the story to a satisfying conclusion (if not an ending). It is probably my favorite of the three.

My latest picture book is Turtle Walk which tells the story of a very, very slow walk with a family of turtles. The walk takes so long that they stroll through all four seasons. It was inspired by walking my daughter around our Philadelphia block when she was two. It would take about an hour and she would pause to notice everything. I loved those walks because it forced me to slow down and notice things, too.

What draws you to the particular genre or style that you create? What do you think draws customers to these works?

I began my career as an illustrator of picture books and they continue to be the most wonderfully challenging books to create. As an illustrator as well as an author, I imagine all of my books as picture books on some level. My four graphic novels can be seen as picture books for older readers, for instance. The form of the book (picture book, chapter book, or graphic novel) is dictated by the idea itself. What sort of book should this be? I’m grateful to be able to explore different ways of telling a story, and even more grateful to have readers of all ages interested in reading them.

What else can we expect from you in the near future?

After TURTLE WALK in October, I’ll have a picture book called SWEATER WEATHER out next year (hopefully). I am also working on a new, top secret chapter book that is unrelated to the Knights Vs. books. I hope that will also be ready for 2021.

     

What does your work space look like? What do you need to have around you while working?

I work in a 10’x18′ studio in my backyard. It has all of my art supplies, lots of books (some going back to my own childhood), records, CDs, and assorted musical instruments. Everything is a source of inspiration and/or creativity. Add coffee and mix well.

You can see the studio here:

https://www.mattphelan.com/studio-tour1.html

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your career as an artist/author?

Trust your instincts. And if something isn’t working, fix it.

Are there any groups, clubs, or organizations that you would recommend to other artists/authors that have helped you in your career?

The Highlights Foundation runs some of the best workshops designed for writers and artists of books for children and does so in an idyllic setting. Also, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is a fantastic resource. I had my first break from a portfolio review at one of their regional events, so I owe quite a bit to them.

Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be with us, Matt!

The Autumn Equinox is fast approaching, and that means longer nights and cooler temperatures.  It’s the perfect season to cozy up with books and audios, send out greeting cards to friends and family, and change up your home décor!  We’ve got a fresh selection of items in stock for you to choose from.

As a reminder, our Autumn store hours are:

MONDAYS THROUGH THURSDAYS – 10AM TO 8PM

FRIDAYS & SATURDAYS – 10AM TO 9PM

SUNDAYS – 10AM TO 6PM

We continue to add new and exciting highlights on our website at www.anniesbooksworcester.com.  Check out our Fresh Releases And Recommended Favorites, our Staff Picks, and our Kids & Teens choices. 

Our September 2020 publisher specials are VERY special indeed… autographed copies of ANXIOUS PEOPLE by Frederik Backman and SOLUTIONS AND OTHER PROBLEMS by Allie Brosh.  Pick up your copies at a whopping 44% discount off retail!

If you have enjoyed the time you’ve spent in our little store, consider leaving us a review on TripAdvisor or leaving us a review on Yelp. You can also review us on Facebook!

We are slowly moving back to hosting small in-store events as well as virtual events. To that end, we have launched our Youtube channel with author interviews and storytimes, and we’ll be adding fresh new content.  Please subscribe!

_________________

IN-STORE EVENT: Saturday, September 19, 6:00 – 8:00 PM –Rainbow Readers Monthly Meetup! The Rainbow Readers of Massachusetts is a LGBTQIA book club that meets once a month.  The title for September, OUR BLOODY PEARL by D. N. Bryn, is available for purchase either in-store or via our website.

VIRTUAL EVENT: Saturday, October 17, 2:00 – 3:00 PM – An Afternoon With Josh Funk, creator of the LADY PANCAKE AND SIR FRENCH TOAST picture book series! Details to be announced.

VIRTUAL EVENT: Sunday, October 18, 2:00 – 3:00 PM – Meet Vermont thriller writer S. Lee Manning, author of TROJAN HORSE!     

Details to be announced.

 

As a reminder, our regular events will resume in October 2020…

STARTING ON 10/12/2020: Spinning Yarns Craft Social, every Monday at 7:00 PM. Bring your craft-in-progress [knitting, crocheting, beadworking, writing, drawing, etc.] and enjoy an evening get-together with other crafty booklovers! IN-STORE EVENT: Pre-registration is suggested so we can observe COVID-19 capacity guidelines.

STARTING ON 10/25/2020: Doctor Who Monthly Meetup, the last Sunday of every month at 3:00PM. Join us for a discussion of our favorite science fiction series. IN-STORE AND VIRTUAL EVENT – details forthcoming.

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

Best,

Patty and the Staff at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester

Ken Follett Pic Credit Olivier Favre

Photo Credit: Olivier Favre

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on best-selling author Ken Follett. Ken Follett is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 170 million copies of the 31 books he has written have been sold in over 80 countries and in 33 languages. Ken’s first success was Eye of the Needle (1978), a spy story set in the Second World War. In 1989 The Pillars of the Earth was published, and has since become Ken’s most successful novel, selling 27 million copies.

 

Ken’s next book, The Evening and the Morning, will be published on Tuesday 15th September 2020. It is a prequel to The Pillars of the Earth and is set around the year 1,000, when Kingsbridge was an Anglo-Saxon settlement threatened by Viking invaders.

 

Ken, our first question is, where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)

 

My books are available in all major bookshops and online retailers.

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

I am on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Follow me using the below:
Twitter: @KMFollett
Facebook: Ken Follett (Official)
Instagram: Ken Follett Author

 

 

What kind of research went into writing The Evening and the Morning?  What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?

 

There were lots of laws in the Dark Ages but they were sometimes ignored with impunity. The only legal case we know much about from this period involves a lord called Wulfbald who defied the king. When his father died he took over his stepmother’s lands. Now, one of the good things about Anglo-Saxon society is that women had the right to their own property, but Wulfbald flouted that law. His stepmother complained to the king, who ordered him to give the land back; he did not. The king fined him, but he did not pay the fine. The royal court then ruled that Wulfbald’s person and all his possession were the property of the king, and Wulfbald ignored that, too. Eventually Wulfbald died, but his wife continued to defy the rulings of the king. And I think this is strong evidence for the view that Anglo-Saxon kings struggled to enforce their authority.

 

 

The Eve and Morn cover

 

 

What was the inspiration for The Evening and the Morning ? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

The Evening and the Morning started with me asking myself what Kingsbridge was like before the cathedral was built. Kingsbridge has now appeared in three long historical novels of mine, and it has come to stand for England. When I tell stories about great dramatic events in England, such as the Black Death or the Protestant Reformation, I do so by saying what happened in Kingsbridge. So the new book takes us back to the turn of the first millennium 1000 AD. It’s called The Evening and the Morning because this period is the end of the Dark Ages and the beginning of the Middle Ages. But the interesting thing is that around about the year 1000 people start to demand what we now call the rule of law, that is, the principle that legal cases must be decided according to the rules, and judges should not automatically decide in favour of their friends and relations.

 

Once I get an idea, I write an outline of the story. This is a really important part of my creative process. I spend a long time over it, six months to a year to outline a story. I get an idea in my head and I say “ok, what happened before? What happens afterwards? Who are these people? What are these people’s hopes and fears? Who do they love and who do they hate?” I ask myself all these questions and the story gets bigger and longer. It grows organically and I write it down. The first time I write this down, it’s probably three paragraphs, the second time it’s a page, the third time it’s two pages, so it grows. I want you to feel like you have to read one more page before you put the book down and never lose that feeling. You’re constantly saying “one more page” or “one more chapter” because that is the feeling I get when I’m reading a book I really like. You’ve got to have no boring bits.

 

 

What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?

 

The Evening and the Morning has four main characters. I guess the one I like the best is a young Norman princess. Her name is Ragna, and she is very feisty. Her parents want her to marry this boring French viscount but she meets a very exciting English war lord and they fall for each other. Eventually she goes to England to marry this guy and that’s when she starts to find out who he really is. I won’t tell you anymore, you’ll have to read the book. But I really like her, I think she’s great.

 

 

Ken, thanks so much for taking the time to give us your insights into The Evening and the Morning!

 

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