Debut Author Interview: Eva Seyler

Meet Eva Seyler
Eva Seyler was born in Jacksonville, Florida. She left that humidity pit at the age of three and spent the next twenty-one years in California, Idaho, Kentucky, and Washington before ending up in Oregon, where she now lives on a homestead in the western foothills with her husband and five children, two of whom are human.

Eva is the author of The War in Our Hearts, out today!

The War in Our Hearts opens in France, 1916. Estelle Graham faces a nightmare. Expecting to meet her beloved husband and bring their newly adopted daughter home to Scotland, she instead finds him gravely injured and unconscious in a casualty station. As she fights for his care, she takes solace in his journals and letters.

In a farmhouse in Somme, Captain Jamie Graham is forever changed when he meets young Aveline Perrault. Both of them broken and walled off from the cruel and cold world around them—made even crueler and colder by the Great War—the pair form an unlikely bond. She finds in him the father she never had, and with her love, he faces the pain from his own childhood.

Readers will discover the depth of love and faith in the face of brutality and neglect as these characters learn to live while surviving World War I.

Let’s get to know Eva and her debut novel!

Where did you get the idea?
I’ve felt for a long time that there wasn’t enough WWI fiction out there, and as I was thinking about what I should write, I got a visual in my head of a red-headed girl standing in a barn. That was Aveline, and when she had some trouble, Captain Jamie Graham came to her aid.

What’s the story behind the title?
My best friend came up with the title and it stuck! I was able to tuck in a line to neatly tie the title to the story after she came up with it, too, which was super awesome.

No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.
There’s a sixteen-year-old runaway fisherman’s son named Willie Duncan who’s pretending to be twenty, and he’s kind of adorable and I’d like to write more about him someday.

Tell us about your favorite character.
I have incredible fondness for Estelle Graham, my MC’s wife, who is gorgeous, graceful, and sweet, yet doesn’t take sh*t from anyone. But my very favorite is my MC, Jamie Graham, who wasn’t even originally supposed to BE the main character, but he completely took over in spite of all my intentions.

If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?
I’d pick Estelle, definitely. She has a mischievous streak that would make her a Tremendously Fun Friend.

How long did you take to write this book?
It took almost exactly nine months from writing the first words to beginning the querying process, and another six months to complete the edits and proofreading.

What kind of research did you do for this book?
Honestly, I felt like I was drowning sometimes, but the upside is that I’ve learned so much I can continue to write about WWI and already have the basic history of the era covered in my head. For The War in Our Hearts particularly, I needed information about trench warfare more than anything else. Eye-Deep in Hell by John Ellis and Hot Blood, Cold Steel by Andy Simpson were both amazing resources.

What did you remove from this book during the editing process?
Mostly self-indulgent snogging scenes that didn’t do anything to move the plot forward. I also took out a lot of rambling and irrelevant nonsense about Captain Graham’s time training troops in Aldershot.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Pantser. When I have a solid idea where the story is going, then I make my detailed timelines and write my character sketches and all that technical jazz.

What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
I like the polishing part, when I have the bulk of the story in place and I get to rearrange and reword and weave everything together into a harmonious, well-crafted whole.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
Turning it over to beta readers before it’s reached a state of perfection.

Can you share your writing routine?
I write whenever and wherever I can. I use Google Docs, so I can (and do!) write on my phone or iPad in the car, sitting around waiting for people, relaxing the the bath, whatever. I also try to make time at my computer at least once a day for concentrated writing time with an actual keyboard under my fingers.

I write by hand sometimes early in the process, and I take most of my notes and do my character sketches by hand too. Usually about halfway through writing a novel, I’ll print out the initial draft and annotate it by hand (adding scenes, indicating rearrangements, making notes of things that are still needed and where they should go) before completely re-typing the work from scratch.

Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?
If I can’t think of anything new to write that’s relevant, I’ll go back and do some editing, or draw pictures of characters/scenes, or pick my friends’ brains for ideas.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Probably I would tell it, “Someday you’re going to write fan-fiction and it’s going to change your life. You think that’s something to scoff at now, but you just wait and see.”

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have two completed works besides The War in Our Hearts: an old novel called Hide, which I will never go back to, and a novel-length fan-fiction. As far as unfinished works, I have four at the moment: a fictionalized memoir, a post-WWII novel, a novel about Belgian refugees in WWI, and a book set during the summer of 1925 in western Oregon near where I live.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a stay-at-home, homeschool mom to my two daughters. I overextend myself constantly trying to do ALL the things, because I enjoy so many things. I hate washing dishes, I’m very disorganized, and my brain retains pointless information from, say, the 1980s, whilst simultaneously filtering out 96.6% of anything someone said to me five minutes ago.

How did you get into writing?
I’ve been writing since I was little, but I never really FINISHED anything until roughly 2008, when I wrapped up a novel I’d started a couple years prior, and after that I quit writing completely until 2016, when I got sucked into writing fan-fic and realized I missed writing a lot and wanted write my own book.

Share something about you most people probably don’t know.
The wider world probably doesn’t know how actively I despise summer, sunshine, and being hot. I have reverse seasonal affective disorder (yes, reverse SAD is an actual thing).

What are you working on right now?
I’m working on my post-WWII novel, because it’s the closest to completion. It is a very ambitious and complex piece of work that isn’t coming together as easily and magically as The War in Our Hearts did, but I think it’s totally worth the extra trouble.

Where can we find you?
Website: www.evaseyler.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorevaseyler
Twitter: https://twitter.com/the_eva_seyler (I’m most active here!)
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theevaseyler
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/theevaseyler/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2263146-eva-seyler

Debut Author Interview: Andrea Rothman

Meet Andrea Rothman
Before turning to fiction writing, Andrea Rothman was a research scientist at the Rockefeller University in New York. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and was fiction editor for the literary journal Hunger Mountain. Her short stories can be viewed at www.andrearothman.com.

Andrea is the author of The DNA of You and Me, out today!

In The DNA of You and Me, ambitious young scientist Emily Apell joins a renowned research lab in New York to study the sense of smell. There she meets Aeden Doherty, a senior colleague. Their relationship is complicated by external events. Eventually Emily will have to choose between her research and Aeden. Years later, about to receive a prestigious award for the work she carried out in the lab, Emily looks back upon that choice.

Let’s get to know Andrea and her debut novel!

Tell us about yourself, Andrea.
I’m a wife and a mother of two teenagers. We have no pets though I would like to have a dog. I’m thinking about it. My day job is to write. After two o’clock it’s all about the kids and the house and reading a lot. I’d like to apply for a teaching position but worry that it will interfere with everything else I have to do.

How did you get into writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, I kept notebooks and I read all of the classics. I only started writing seriously (with discipline) as an adult, after I left science—I was a research scientist for many years.

Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?
Lately I’ve been writing essays about different topics, mainly science and nature.

Share something about you most people probably don’t know.
I’m scared of heights. I can’t stand at the edge of a building without feeling I’ll fall off.

Which book influenced you the most?
So many, but the most recent book was the novel Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I think it’s a masterpiece, a brilliant exploration about relationships, mortality, and being human.

How about The DNA of You and Me? What’s it about?
Thematically my novel is about choice: the choices we all make in our lives and our pondering them years later. The novel is a retrospect, told from the perspective of a female protagonist, Emily, looking back upon the period she spent in a research lab, and her relationship there with a colleague by the name of Aeden.

What’s the story behind the title?
Interesting that you ask! The original title of my novel is Pathfinder, but my publisher changed it because they thought people would associate the title with the popular car: Nissan Pathfinder. We brainstormed for a while for a new title, until my editor came up with The DNA of You and Me. Everyone liked it, including the marketing team.

Tell us about your favorite character.
Aside from Emily my favorite character is Aeden without a doubt. He can be headstrong and manipulative but he is also a smart guy with a big heart, who understands that love is more important than success.

If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?
I’d go to Coney Island with Aeden in the summer and have milkshakes by the beach.

How long did you take to write this book?
From conception to publication (actual pub date), it took ten years.

What kind of research did you do for this book?
I did a lot of research about Anosmia, defined as a long-term inability to smell. The research in the lab, carried out by the characters in my novel, is about smell.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Both: a pantser at the very beginning of the work and a plotter towards the end.

What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
The beginning. I love the process of not knowing anything, of discovering things little by little, allowing the words on the page to speak to me and tell me their secrets, the things I haven’t said that need to be written.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
As much as I like not knowing where I’m going (see my answer to previous question) I also sometimes find it a little nerve-racking when things seem to be going nowhere, and it happens all too often in the writing process, especially with fiction.

Can you share your writing routine?
I write creatively only in the morning, from around 8 to 12. I need absolute quiet and I usually write at my desk at home or in a quiet office space. It’s nearly impossible for me to write imaginatively in a Starbucks for instance.

Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?
I’ve had writer’s block very often in my life, I think most writers experience this a lot. To overcome it I usually just lower my expectations and write whatever comes to my mind, just try to fill the page with words, trying to keep my ego out of it. I think most blocks are a problem of the ego and having high expectations about the words and the material before the work is even done. Beginning writers rarely have writer’s block.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Follow your heart and trust yourself. It will be okay. If you love the material enough, a book will eventually take shape.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Two unpublished (a memoir and a novel) and around six unfinished novels. I also have many completed short stories I have yet to polish and submit for publication.

What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working on my next novel, trying to figure out exactly what it’s about and to nail down the narrative voice. This is usually what sets the tone for me and leads the way. In terms of plot, I think I will be planning ahead with this new novel much more than I did with The DNA of You and Me.

What’s your favorite writing advice?
Have faith in yourself, and don’t discard what comes to mind just because it may seem crazy or depressing or unlikeable. Usually this is the stuff of genius/the stuff that is uniquely yours and no one else’s. That is what will define your voice.

And where can we find you?
Website: www.andrearothman.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andrearothmanauthor/?modal=admin_todo_tour
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/rothmaa
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/andrearothmanauthor/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17662282.Andrea_Rothman

Debut Author Interview: Dan Stout

Meet Dan Stout
Dan Stout lives in Columbus, Ohio, where he writes about fever dreams and half-glimpsed shapes in the shadows. His prize-winning fiction draws on travels throughout Europe, Asia, and the Pacific Rim as well as an employment history spanning everything from subpoena server to assistant well driller. Dan’s stories have appeared in publications such as the Saturday Evening Post, Nature, and Mad Scientist Journal. His debut novel Titanshade is a noir fantasy thriller, available from DAW Books. To say hello, visit him at www.DanStout.com.

Dan debut novel is Titanshade, out next week!

Titanshade is fantasy noir thriller set in a world where magic is real and technology is at 1970s level. Dan describes it as Men in Black meets Chinatown.

Let’s get to know Dan and his debut novel:

Where did you get the idea?
Liberty Hall was a writing community site, when participants were given 90 minutes to write a piece of flash fiction. For whatever reason, I came up with Carter, the setting, and the discovery of the murder, as well as most of the action in the first act. After that, it was just a matter of following the clues…

What’s the story behind the title?
Titanshade is an oil boomtown, where a mix of greed and hard labor has allowed the residents to claw out a living in the midst of an arctic perma-freeze. So much of the story ties into the character of the streets and the citizens that there was never any doubt the book needed to be named after the city.

No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.
One particularly fun aspect of the world was figuring how different species in a post-industrial fantasy world would learn to adapt to each other, from clothing and language to eating utensils tweaked for different anatomy.

Are your characters based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?
They all come from my imagination, but my imagination is fueled by juxtapositions of real people—the attitude of a guy I met at a party with the fashion sense of the woman in line behind me at the grocery store.

How long did you take to write this book?
I wrote the Liberty Hall flash in April of 2015, so it’s just under 4 years from inception to publication.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a plotter, but I value the characters more than the plot structure. If the characters wouldn’t logically proceed from point A to point B, then it’s on me to either provide a framework where they would, or change the plot to reflect their honest reactions.

What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
Editing. I enjoy seeing the different threads of the story pull tighter, revealing a tapestry that’s richer and more complex than I first imagined.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
Drafting. I love brainstorming, and I love fixing the story once it’s built. But writing down the initial draft is like chewing glass.

Can you share your writing routine?
I work in chunks of time, usually two blocks of 2–3 hours. I start early, so I’m usually done with writing by noon, and move to admin and marketing after that.

Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?
Not so much writer’s block as much as a sudden realization that, “This is garbage and I just keep going around in circles.” The only way out (at least for me) is through.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
You’re good at revising, but you need feedback, and to get that you need to have written the first draft. So get going!

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Wow, several half-finished ones. I wrote a NaNoWriMo that’s essentially a 50k word outline, and have others that range between 5 and 20 k.

Do you have any writing quirks?
Oh man, so many! Maybe the strangest is that my first-draft characters almost always have names that start with the same letter (Steve and Sara and Sammie, etc.). I created the Mollenkampi naming convention in Titanshade as a private joke at my own expense.

How did you get into writing?
I wrote when I was younger, but I only began to get serious in 2011. That was when I found NaNoWriMo, and then the online writer communities. Once I dove into them, there was no going back!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Lately, just sleep! Carving out time for non-writing related activities is important, and I need to make myself put down the mental pen a little more often.

Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?
I love short fiction, and still return to it as a break from the novel-writing routine, and to flex a different set of writerly muscles.

Share something about you most people probably don’t know.
I can (just barely) juggle.

Which book influenced you the most?
All of them! The biggest influence on me was all the time I spent in the library, grazing on fiction and biography and history. I sampled all the various languages of prose, and fell in love with each one of them.

What are you working on right now?
The sequel! It’s been tough but rewarding, as building a follow-up that can also stand on its own has meant learning a whole new set of skills. But it’s paying off, and I’m very excited to share the next chapter in the story.

What’s your favorite writing advice?
The struggle belongs to you; the finished product belongs to the reader.

Where can we find you?
Website: www.DanStout.com
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DanStoutWriter/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DanStout
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/danstoutwriter/
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7938095.Dan_Stout

Cover Reveal: The Words between Us

It’s March, people! March may be the ugliest month of the year in Michigan, but the first day of March is the mental and emotional boost we all need as winter drags on. And one of the great things about this March 1st is that I get to show you the cover of my next book!

Head on over to Women Writers, Women(‘s) Books right now for the cover reveal for The Words between Us, coming to bookstores in September!