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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Author Interview & Contest with Paula Brackston

Over a year ago I met author Paula Brackston in Cardiff, Wales while visiting my family. I still believe it is fate that brought me to that particular book shop on that day. Otherwise I would have never met Paula and read her amazing 'Book of Shadows'.

Last year Paula was nice enough to take the time to answer some questions about 'Book of Shadows'. Now a year later her second book, 'Lamp Black, Wolf Grey', is out and of course I couldn't resist inviting Paula back to answer some questions about this captivating new book.

Enjoy getting to know the author and please make sure you add her books to your wish list! I can only highly recommend them!


Amber - It is so nice to have you on the blog again! Can you start things off by telling my readers a little about your new book 'Lamp Black, Wolf Grey'?

Paula - The story is set in modern day and thirteenth century rural Wales. Laura is an artist who, with her husband, moves from London in the hope a more natural existence will help her conceive a longed-for child. She is an painter (Lamp Black is an artist's colour), and the landscape inspires some of her best work. The historical tale involves a young servant girl called Megan, and her relationship with the seer, Merlin. The two stories become connected in what I hope is a surpirsing and convincing way!

Amber - How did you come up with the idea for 'Lamp Black, Wolf Grey'? Was it a long process or did it just come to you?

Paula - At the time I was living in an ancient Welsh longhouse in the Brecon Beacons, and that is where I set the story. The house was built in the thirteenth century, and had no telephone or electiricty, so felt almost unchanged by the centuries. I always had the sense that there were echos of past lives contained in the smooth stone walls of the place, as well as in the hills and woodlands surrounding it. Both my parents are painters, and I've always had an interest in the legend of Merlin. He is thought to have started his life not far from here, so it seemed feasible that he could have spent a summer here.

Amber - What kind of research did you have to do for 'Lamp Black, Wolf Grey'? Anything interesting or is the research boring?

Paula - I only write about things which interest me, so I'd never find the research boring. I grew up with oil paint everywhere and learned a good deal about art from my parents, so that was sort of stored up knowledge. Megan is a gifted healer of horses. I used to keep horses and work with them and often used ancient natural remedies, so again, this was familiar ground to me. I guess most of my research centered on gettting the historical details right. I found it quite hard to get information about such a long time ago. It was a very different experience from researching, say, the Victorian section in 'Book of Shadows' for this reason.

Amber - How do you pick your characters names? Are they names you like or from people you know?

Paula - Quite the opposite, in fact! I spend ages avoiding names of people I know. I researched the sorts of Welsh names that would have been used at the time. I was aware of the fact that non-Welsh speakers would find some of them tricky to read or pronounce, so that influenced my choices a little.

Amber - How much say do you have in the book publishing process? Eg. Do you get to pick the cover?

Paula - Snowbooks are renowned for producing fabulous covers, so I wouldn't dream of telling them their job. That said, they are always open to some author input. I think the cover for 'Lamp Black, Wolf Grey' is gorgeous - really atmospheric.

Amber - What are the good times and bad times of being an author?

Paula - I'm not one of those tortured writers for whom writing is agony - I love the process of creating stories and getting them on the page and manipulating words to produce atmosphere and emotion. I'm always nervous that my work will fall short of my expectations, of course, and everyone is sensititive to crisitcism. You develop a pretty thick skin. And you have to be prepared to keep at it. I had written five complete novels before I got one published - over a period of nearly nine years!

Amber - What is next? Are you working on any other projects you would like to tell us about?

Paula - Well, the American edition of 'Book of Shadows' is coming out this winter, so I've been working quite a bit on revising that for the new publishers, St Martin's. I also lecture in creative writing part time at the University of Wales, Newport, so that keeps me busy. Last month I was selected by the BBC for their New Welsh Writers scheme and whisked off for a four-day residential workshop, which was fantastic. Not sure what will come out of that yet. I'm currently working on a screenplay.

Amber - There are alot of online sites taking up peoples time lately. Are you on Facebook or any other sites? Do you think the sites are useful or do they just take up too much of your time?

Paula - I avoid them all. I just know I would lose too many valuable writing hours into them. I do think they help people feel connected, which is good when we live such separate and sometimes isolated lives these days. There are only so many hours in the day - you have to choose. I'd rather play with my children, take the dog for a walk, or do stuff to the garden.

Amber - What are you listening and watching lately? Is there any music or other media that influences your writing?

Paula - I've always got at least three books on the go at any one time. One will be a novel (currently it's 'Skippy Dies' by Paul Murray - hilarious), and two books connected with writing projects (screenplay heroes and villains just now) or teaching (texts on gothic fiction -really enjoying that).
I listen to music in the car (I drive over a hundred miles to teach every Friday) - always stuff connected to a creative project. I find it very helpful to see scenes in my head if they are set to music, whether I'm writing a novel or a screenplay.
I don't watch much TV these days - I like stand up comedy at the weekend, or a really good movie, but I'm often disappointed.

Amber - If you could be any paranormal creature, what would you be and why?

Paul a- Heavens! Would have to be a werewolf. I've just completed a comedy-horror screenplay about a village full of Welsh werewolves, and some of them were lovely. And just think, you wouldn't have to bother waxing ever again!

Amber - Thanks for visiting Amberkatze's Book Blog again!

Paula - My pleasure - thanks for inviting me!


Contest Time!

Paula has very kindly said she will send one lucky Amberkatze's Book Blog reader a copy of her new book, 'Black Lamp, Wolf Grey'.

How to Enter

Have you every discovered an author by accident? Was it fate? Tell us your stories!

No story = No Entry

Earn more entries for each place you link this contest on the net. You can post on Facebook, Twitter & MySpace but make sure you add links here for me to confirm your entries! However please do not make individual postings for each entry. Please post all your info in one post.

You can also earn extra entries by emailing your friends about the contest. Just make sure you send a copy of your email or receipt to me at Amberkatzes_book_blog at gmx dot net.

Make sure you post your links here so I can confirm your entries.

Keep the contests going by using the Amazon link below and around the site!

The contest will stay open until Sunday 30th of May 2010 4pm CET and the winner will be picked by a randomizer. Entrants should check back to see if they have won. I do not hunt down winners and will pick new winners for any prizes not claimed within 7 days.


Barbara E. said...

I've discovered a lot of new authors from reading blogs and book reviews, which is fantastic. I can't believe the great books I might have missed if not for that. I've also run across some fabulous authors at the RT Book Fair I attended in Orlando last year and learned more about them when I got home.

Nikki - Notes of Life said...

Ohh, now this is definately an author and book that I'm going to have to check out - I live in Mid Wales :)

I can't say I've ever discovered an author by accident... unless you include Jim Butcher... I discovered Jim when I found out that one of my favourite actors (James Marsters) was going to be narrating Jim's Dresden Files audio books. I'd never heard of Jim Butcher or the Dresden Files before, but ever since they have been my favourite books, I have to pre-order each book as they're announced for released.

Van Pham said...

i discover a lot of authors through blogs and on amazon, when i buy books. They always have 'what other customers' bought within the same genre.


SiNn said...

the very first romance book i ever discovered wa s totally by accident I was bored and picke dup a book out of a box of books my mom got at agarage sale ever since then i was hooked the first book i ever read was Linda Howards After the Night I love that book and i still reread that book everychance I get because its that good deff like the the concept Paulas books have shes a new to me author and i would love a chance to read some of her work

Katie said...

I've found so many authors accidentally. My favorite place to find new authors is at Powell's City of Books in Portland, Oregon. You can just have books jump out at you from everywhere. I found one of my favorite books of all time, World War Z by Max Brooks, there.

debbie said...

I discovered Joe Hill, by accident. I never even realized he was Stephen King's son, until I was looking for other books by him.

Kayla :) said...

I've often discovered new authors accidentally, especially when I need something new to read and check random books out of the library, only to find they become my new favorites!

jellybelly82158 said...

Several years ago, I bought a box of books at a yardsale. One of the books was by an author I had never heard of. I thought the back sounded good so I read it. It was great but it was the 4th book in a series. I had to find the other ones. This book was Christine Feehan's Dark series.
Since than I have read everything she has written.

jellybelly82158 said...

shared on Twitter


jellybelly82158 said...

Shared on Facebook - user name jellybelly82158

skyla11377 said...

Yes, I Have. I Discovered Author Michelle M. Pillow. I HAd Won A Book From A Blog Site And They Gave My 3 Books To Choose From. But The Thing Was There Was A Time Crunch Involved So I Didn't Really Have The Luxury Of Looking Up All Three Books Author's And Book Snipets So I Randomly Picked One. It Was King Of The Unbleassed By Michelle M. Pillow. I Was Hooked From The First Sentenced. I Loved It SO Much I Ran Out And Bought The Other Two Books In Her Realm Immortal Searies Faery Queen And Stone Queen. I Really Do Believe Fate Lead Me To Choose That Book And I Have Never Regretted It. I Have Also Come To Find Out That The Author Has Not Ruled Out Adding More Books To The Series Which Is Just Awesome In My Opinion. If I Wasn't So Pressed For Time I AM Not Sure If I Would Have Picked That Book But I Am So Grateful I Did Because It Added One More Great Author To My Repertoire.

I Posted This Giveaway On My Facebook Page (Raquel Vega-Grieder).

I Tweeted About This Giveaway On Twitter (@skyla11377).

I Shared This Giveaway On My Myspace Page (myspace.com/skyla11377).

Anonymous said...

A few years ago, I was sick with the flu and a friend brought over a bag of books to occupy me. Many of the books were by authors I liked, so I read them first. After I had read those five, I looked at the others...Christine Feehan, Sherrilyn Kenyon,and Sue Brockman. They were so good, I have followed them since. Now, I look for new authors(new to me).

Sue Brandes said...

I find new authors through blogs, book sites such as Goodreads, or other authors emails. It's always fun to find a new author. Paula your are another new author to me. I love the cover on your new book!

Persephone said...

When I was young and just started reading on my own, I never really got any suggestions from my peers or family members on what to read (plus there was not internet, for speedy searches on reviews/etc). So I just had to search for authors blindly. A lot of the books/authors I discovered back in the day were pleasant surprises. Now it seems that there isn't an author in my favorite genres that I haven't heard of, at least in passing.

Llehn said...

I've found book blogs to be excellent places to discover authors whom I never would have heard of in the first place.

SandyG265 said...

When I was between jobs I was spending a lot of time in the library since it was free. I was browsing through the mystery section and a title caught my eye. I tried the book and discovered a new mystery author - Steven F. havill.

Sweet Vernal Zephyr said...

I was stuck in an airport terminal for over 8 hours and wandered in a book shop too! I picked up "Walking in Circles Before Laying Down" by Merrill Markoe and got hooked!

Bethany C. said...

I discovered Laurell K. Hamilton by accident, believe it or not. I picked up one of the Meredith Gentry novels browsing in a bookstore one day. At the time I didn't have friends reading in the genre, and had no idea how huge she was (and had never heard of Anita Blake.) Now, about 7 or 8 years later, I even buy the Anita Blake comics.

Posted on fb-http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/profile.php?id=1625972197&v=wall&story_fbid=119861471385246&ref=mf

J said...

Haha. This happened to me BIG TIME! haha. I actually only discovered Anna Campbell through blog hopping. haha


Ina said...

through blog hopping I discover most of new-to-me-authors... the other half are autoby-authors...
I really love the internet and all the blogs - there are fantastic books out there I wouldn't know about without them :)
greetings, Ina

Unknown said...

I discovered the urban fantasy, paranormal novel universe about 3 years ago and wanna know which 3 books were the first 3 I've read in this genre? 1) Book 1 of the Blackdagger Brotherhood, 2) Book 1 in the Riley Jenson series and 3) Book 1 in Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series. To this day I can't remember how I've stumbled upon them, but I can't thank my luck enough as Kelley Armstrong became one of my favourite UF authors (if not THE favourite), and I have to read everything I can get my hands on that she has written ! :-) I have discovered amazing authors previously unknown to me through blog contests: I have won their book and when I read it, instantly became a fan!

- spread the word on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000899165880&v=wall&story_fbid=102960693084381

- tweeted here: http://twitter.com/Stella_ExLibris/status/14763230180

stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

k_sunshine1977 said...

when i worked at a bookstore, i discovered a lot of authors just by having to shelve the new stuff that came in. nowadays, i find a lot of new-to-me authors through blogs like this one...

k_sunshine1977 at yahoo dot com

emmad said...

hmm not sure how you find a new author by accident.

I find books to read by reading blogs and book reviews. Or by browsing my local library and book stores.
Have read new authors when loaned books by friends as well but that's kinda planned rather than accidental.

Ohh I've got one. My mother was sitting in a cafe about 2 weeks ago reading a book with her coffee when a stranger came up and said since she was obviously a reader would she like some books. A friend had given her some books and she didn't think she would read them so gave them to my mother :) Totally random act. And I got to read one of the books lol

Llehn said...

I discovered a whole bunch of writers by accident! If I hadn't been reading book blogs, I wouldn't have picked up their books or given them a try!

Deirdre said...

I think you're responsible for a lot of new authors that I've come across recently. Though I have found a few authors because of my job, books often pass over my desk or I'm asked to find them because of a reserve, and near them I find occasional reads.

I just read (actually listened to) J Carrolls Shakespeare secret and really enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

After reading the Twilight series, I was searchng for something like it online and I came across Alexandra Ivy's Guardians of enternity series and I loved it. But I take a chnace on new authors all the time.


I also emailed you and some friends about the contest too.


Curling up by the Fire said...

I often discover authors by accident. I often go to the library or bookstore just to browse and a book will catch my eye by an author I have never heard about before and they soon after end up on my favourite author list. I also get books to review that I have not requested and I end up loving them; add that author to my list too.

I have to say it's such a pleasant surprise when that happens.

Dawn M. said...

I found Rachel Vincent by accident. I attended a local book convention and she was there with her first book, Stray. She caught my interest because she was an Oklahoma author. I bought it because it sounded so good. And I'm so glad I did because it's been an awesome series. :0)

librarygrinch at gmail dot com