Recently, I had the great pleasure of speaking with the author of The Sea of Japan, Keita Nagano. You will certainly enjoy this audio only version of my chat with Keita, and learn a bit about his writing style.
About the book
When thirty-year-old Lindsey, an English teacher in Japan who’s been assigned to a tiny fishing town, is saved from drowning by a local young fisherman, she’s drawn into a battle with a neighboring town that has high stakes for everyone—especially her.
As their efforts to save their town backfire, Hime gets closer to falling apart—putting Lindsey’s friends, her budding relationship with Ichiro, and her career in jeopardy. To save Hime, Lindsey realizes she’ll have to become a true American fisherwoman and fight for her new home with everything she has.
Get the book The Sea of Japan by clicking on the image above, or here at the link listed below:
Keita Nagano is an award-winning Japanese author who has lived almost equally in Nevada and Tokyo—more than twenty years in each place—and he reflects the difference of the two cultures in his novels. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Keio University in Japan, as well as an MBA in global business and a PhD in management from Walden University in Minnesota.
The pursuit of the authentic American experience is his hobby: he has been to all fifty states, all thirty major league ballparks, and the top sixty big cities in America. He has published seventeen business nonfiction and eight fiction books in Japan.
In 2013, he received a Nikkei (Japanese Wall Street Journal) Award for Contemporary Novel for his missing-child thriller, Kamikakushi. He also received a Mita Literary Award in 2011 for his short story “Takino-a bank clerk.” In addition, he is an official weekly columnist for Forbes Japan.
Nagano lives in Henderson, Nevada, with his wife and Welsh corgi. Their teenage daughter is currently studying in Tennessee.
Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of nine novels–A Boy and His Dragon; A Matter of Time (Silver Medal from Reader’s Favorite); The Knight Cycle, comprised of five books: Children of the Knight (Gold Award Winner in the 2013 Wishing Shelf Book Awards; Honorable Mention from Reader Views and the Southern California Book Festival), Running Through A Dark Place (Bronze Award Winner in 2014 Wishing Shelf Book Awards), There Is No Fear, And The Children Shall Lead, and Once Upon A Time In America; Spinner (Seal of Approval – Literary Classics; Winner – Young Adult – Hollywood Book Festival; Bronze Medal from Readers’ Favorite; Runner-Up – Young Adult – Southern California Book Festival; Honorable Mention fro m Royal Dragonfly Book Awards, San Francisco Book Festival, Halloween Book Festival; Recommended Read from US Review of Books), and Warrior Kids: A Tale of New Camelot.
His horror screenplay, “Healer,” was a Semi-Finalist, and his urban fantasy script, “Like A Hero,” was a Finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival and Screenplay Competition.
He grew up in San Rafael, California, and majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University. He went on to earn a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and another master’s in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills.
He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several ultra-low-budget horror films, including “Fatal Images,” “Club Dead,” and “Things II,” the reviews of which are much more fun than the actual movies.
He taught high school in Hawthorne, California for twenty-five years, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities, in subjects ranging from English and Strength Training to Algebra, Biology, and Yearbook.
He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to eight different boys with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a thirty-year volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles.
He has been honored as Probation Volunteer of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, California Big Brother of the Year, and 2000 National Big Brother of the Year. The “National” honor allowed him and three of his Little Brothers to visit the White House and meet President Clinton in the Oval Office.
He is currently working on a novel based on his screenplay, “Like A Hero.”
His goal as a YA author is for teens to experience empowerment and hope; to see themselves in his diverse characters; to read about kids who face real-life challenges; and to see how kids like them can remain decent people in an indecent world.
In this episode, we learn about:
We learn how Michael’s disability led him to write books and how screenplays came to be the dominating field for his efforts
How his love of working with kids got him interested in writing books for teens
Insider details about his experience with kids with learning disabilities
Info about his book Spinner and how it came to be
Inspiration about his process of writing and how he turned screenplays into books
Discussion about how writing a story unfolds in our head like a movie
Information about how cross genre fiction can make marketing difficult sometimes
What Michael thinks his strength is as a creative
Where Michael sees himself in the next five years, career-wise and personally
AND SO MUCH MORE including his best advice for aspiring authors!
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Recently, Writer Groupie Podcast had the privilege of interviewing Kathleen Gerard, author of In Transit and The Thing Is. Here is the interview and you can get links to her work below.
THE THING IS (a novel) by Kathleen Gerard
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here’s a brief synopsis of THE THING IS: Can a woman mired deep in the throes of grief have her heart and soul rallied by a therapy
dog named Prozac who has supernatural wisdom and a canine Mensa IQ?
Meredith Mancuso is depressed. Ever since the death of her fiancé, she has shrunk from the world. Even with her successful writing career, she’s not motivated to work. When her sister, Monica, begs for a favor, Meredith wants nothing more than to say no. But she’s ultimately roped into pet-sitting an orphaned Yorkshire terrier named Prozac.
Blessed with spiritual wisdom and a high IQ, Prozac is an active pet therapy dog. To heal brokenhearted Meredith, he rallies his fan club at Evergreen Gardens, an independent living facility, where he visits each week.
Prozac and the community of resilient older folks challenged by losses of their own propel Meredith, often against her will, back into the land of the living. Meredith learns that most people carry some sort of burden, but it’s still possible to find meaning, purpose, and joy—and sometimes, even love—along the way.
THE THING ISis a perfect read for fans of General Fiction, Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Romance, Romantic Comedy, and Dog and Pet Lovers!
Do you have a specific writing style?
All of the books I’ve published (so far) deal with strong women who are forced to overcome challenges of some kind. Humor and romance also play a part in the stories. My first novel, In Transit, is a suspenseful woman-in-jeopardy story about a female rookie NYPD cop who falls in love with the wrong man.
Cold Comfort is more of a heartwarming-style romance about a workaholic photojournalist who comes face-to-face with an old flame who broke her heart in college.
I experimented a bit with The Thing Is, telling that story from two, very distinct points-of-view—that of a blocked romance writer who has become entrenched in grief after her fiancé dies, and a crafty, sometimes very devious, “Spirit Guide Dog,” who believes his mission is to help the writer learn how to live and love again.
How did you come up with the title?
THE THING IS was inspired by the poem, “The Thing Is” by Ellen Bass. Bass’s poem speaks to how to go on living life when we feel completely heartbroken and riddled with despair. It was apropos to the themes of the story, and I decided to title the novel by the very same name.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be a photojournalist—and I pursued that passion throughout childhood, high school and college. I always hoped that one day I would work for the Associated Press (AP) and travel the world taking pictures, including photographing in war zones. But when I realized that my personality was much more methodical and analytical by nature, I reconsidered things. And that was when the writing bug suddenly bit me.
Who is your favorite character in your books and why?
I select all of my characters–even the “bad guys”–with care, so I like them all. However, writing from a clever dog’s point-of-view in THE THING IS was very fun—and liberating.
Who designed the cover?
My publisher, Red Adept Publishing, has a great staff on board for all facets of their books from editing to book covers to marketing. The very talented Jessica Anderegg worked with Streetlight Graphics (they’re wonderful!) to make a gem of a book cover for THE THING IS
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part about writing this book was staying the course and letting the story unravel on its own—without preconceiving the plot. Once I figured out who the characters were and their goals (I wrote and wrote and threw out a lot), the story evolved very organically. When I make a concerted effort to stick to and follow through with the writing of a book, I always try to keep my heart, soul and mind open to whatever crosses my path during the process. I’ve found that if I stay attuned and pay attention to things as they happen in my real life, then, more often than not, my writing life becomes the beneficiary of that attentiveness. For example, a friend (or even a stranger) may off-handedly make a remark, or I’ll read an article in the newspaper, or maybe even a postcard advertisement will arrive in the mail…the mundane can suddenly become an aha! moment—something that unexpectedly serves the story. But trusting that process–and being patient–is sometimes very difficult.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read a lot. Write a lot. And stick to it!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Read. Hang out with my dog. I like to cook and enjoy watching cooking shows on TV. And when I want to unwind, I like to watch indie films and romantic comedies.
What do you think makes a good story?
Strong characters. Conflict and transcendence.
Quick fire questions: Favorite food: Pizza Favorite music: Lately, music by Sara Bareillis Favorite TV program: Cooking shows with Lidia Bastianich Five things you like: My dog. Pizza. Red wine. Cooking (and eating). A good story. Five things you dislike: Illness. Mean-spirited/cruel people. Phoniness/Gossip. Dieting. Traffic. Five words that describe you: Sensitive. Spiritual. Loyal. Analytical. Tenacious.
Welcome Magnus! What made you want to write a novel?
I never thought I’d write a novel. Love songs and film criticism, yes, even screenplays, but a novel – never. There just wasn’t enough time in the day, what with the teaching, the shiatsu, life in Spain, not to mention the reading, the travelling, the film-watching…
And then I started ‘Falling in Death and Love’ and everything changed. Now I can’t stop, am already busy writing the next one and contemplating the one after that.
Still, it’d nice if the days were a bit longer. Just saying
Tell us WHO IS Magnus Stanke?
I am a German national but I live in Spain and I write in English. Much to my own surprise I have just completed and published my first novel – the reason I’m surprised is that I had stopped writing about ten years ago (at the time I was doing screen plays and film criticism), and to be honest I never thought I’d ever write a novel. Until I actually started last year (well, in 2014), and now I can’t stop.
This book sounds great, tell us about it.
I’m currently working on the second book of my Retro-Thriller cycle. The first one, ‘Falling in Death and Love’ is set in 1977 on the Spanish island of Mallorca – I suppose it’s comparable for Americans with Cancun in Mexico, except that the latter is not an island.
Anyway, Spain’s long term dictator General Franco had just died a couple of years earlier and the country was in transition from dictatorship to democracy. Some old conservative powers were still at work and obviously none too impressed with these changes, this opening up to a new reality while the Spanish people were initially still afraid that the clock be turned backwards.
Mallorca was already a very popular holiday destination for Europeans and tried to present a different, modern picture of Spain to the tourists who brought their highly desirable hard currency to the country.
My story then has this as a backdrop, not exactly a free-for-all kinda place, but a disorienting time with much positive potential; however the protagonist can never be sure who to trust or where to turn for help – he is being chased by a combination of hitmen and the police.
The book I’m writing now is set in Germany in the Cold War. The story begins in the late seventies and ends in the early nineties and in a way it’s the opposite to the first one. Here everything is grey and cold…
What style of writing do you adopt?
I try to keep it light and fast-moving from the first line. My favourite crime authors are all Americans, the hard-boiled school. While I wouldn’t claim to be able to write like Raymond Chandler, Jim Thompson or Elmore Leonard I’d say it’s pretty obvious that they influenced, nay – informed my style (I’m glad I don’t have to look anybody in the eye whilst making such self-aggrandising statements; I blush even as I think these words)
What do you find challenging about the writing life?
Time. The fact that I have at best two hours per day to spend writing after my bread-and-butter job.
If you could write from any place on earth, where would you choose to write from?
Somewhere (even) warmer than Spain; maybe Thailand or the Caribbean
When asked to set goals, what do you see( for yourself or current WIP) in five years with your writing?
In a utopia, in five years time I’d like to write full-time, live in a warmer place, have finished the Retro-Thriller trilogy and started on my Time Travel trilogy
What are you reading right now?
Gone for Good by Harlan Coben, Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith, El pez en el agua by Mario Vargas Llosa and John Gilbert, the last of the Silent Stars by Eve Golden
Who is your favorite author?
Varies by season, but generally I mention Haruki Murakami, Vargas Llosa and a lot of hard-boiled authors
Give a bit of advice for an aspiring author.
Well, you have to find your own writing rhythm, of course. What helps me is to start is a detailed outline of the story, chapter by chapter. And then keep at it – inspiration: 10%, perspiration: 90%
You can find Magnus Stanke and his book at these sites:
I recently met up with Jesse V. Coffey at Imaginarium 2015, a creatives conference held in Louisville, KY. She graciously accepted my invitation to be a guest on WG. Here then is her bio, interview, images, and links.
Jesse V. Coffey wrote her first books as author, J. W. Coffey. She first published in 2001, when she completed her first novel and made the decision to “put it out there for the world to love or hate on their own.” That first book was titled The Savior and as she calls it, “the most personal of all of the books I’ve written.” Ms. Coffey is a member of ASCAP, the Kentucky Independent Writers Network, and the Erotic Authors Association. She currently lives in Lexington, KY with Whiskers, her feline queen, for whom she acts as chief cook and poo-pan cleaner.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
My latest book is the romantic thriller, Wilde Mountain Time, written under my nom de plume, Siobhan MacKenzie. I released it this past spring with Edin Road Press:
It happens so fast and seems to go on forever. He’s no longer flying; he’s smothering in a white cloud that’s appeared out of the blackness. His body is tossed this way and that, his headache turns into a brutal assault on his brain as he smacks against something hard and cold. thing grips him across his chest; it feels like he’s being cracked open like an egg.
And the sound of screaming. Screaming and the smell of burning. The sound of metal folding in on itself. Louder and louder and louder, the screaming. Who’s screaming? What the hell is going on? Why can’t he see? Who the fuck is screaming? The sound of screaming and the taste of scotch and blood in the back of his throat. And his head aching, his chest aching; every part of him is in pain.
Screaming . . . the pain . . . the taste of the blood . . .
Then, nothing again. And when he wakes in the morning, all he’ll remember is the sound of the screaming and the taste of the blood and scotch. And vomit.
And the feeling that it was his fault.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Three things fascinate the heck out of me – Religion and why we worship/feel the way we do; Certain windows of history and life in those time periods; and the idea of traveling in time. My first book was The Savior and I got to add them all together in one book. The story itself fascinated me the most, so I wrote it.
How did you come up with the title?
Wild Mountain Thyme is an old Scottish folk tale. I liked the idea of playing around with that title. Thom Mitchell is the protagonist of the story; he’s a folk/pop singer and that song is off his latest album. I also made it a fictitious mountain the Presidential Range of New Hampshire. Thom’s goal, while he’s on his vacation, is to hike/climb that peak. Everything happens in the shadow of Wilde Mountain and that became the name of the story.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Actually, there are quite a few, but I would consider Donna McDonald, Robyn Peterman, Seraphina Donovan, and Kallypso Masters to be my mentors. They are very successful indie writers in the romance genre and I’ve learned a lot from them on the back end stuff. As well as plotting and writing and all of that. They’re great examples to follow in the footsteps of.
What book are you reading now?
I’m currently reading Fashionably Dead Down Under by Robyn Peterman. Her books are funny and witty.
Are there any new authors that have grabbed your interest?
Um, new to me, but I have found some new authors – J. G. Ballard, Sabrina Benulis, David McAfee, and Rod Rees. I’m also reading Teresa Reasor and Sondra Allen Carr.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I know a particular reviewer that wanted me to change EVERYTHING but, no, I wouldn’t. I am very pleased with the story – it came out exactly as I wanted it to, which is a rarity really. Most stories will let you nudge them a little, if you’re lucky, but this one let me have full control. And it came out with lots of romance and thrills. I love it.
Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Diana Gabaldon and Stephen King are my two favourites. They have amazing abilities to write intricate plots that suck you in but never sacrifice the characters they create just to further that plot. And these people live and breathe as if they could step down off the page and walk among us. I love those kinds of books that just sneak into your being and stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Selling them. Marketing has never been my strong suit but it’s an integral part of the process – getting the book(s) out there to a reading public. And that means finding your niche in marketing, finding that audience, and convince them that your book is so amazing that they really need to read it. It’s a hard thing to do. People go to school/college to learn how to do that. I don’t have that luxury.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Get on social media and find other authors, writing groups, and soak up all the knowledge you can. Not everything will apply to you or work for you but it never hurts to learn it. And try it. Ask questions and listen to the answers. This new media has been amazing for letting you meet the people who create these worlds you come play in. If writing is your gig, then go talk to them. Engage them. Learn from them. And then sit down and apply what you’ve learned. You’ll be all the better for it.
Quick fire questions: Favorite food: My Mom’s broccoli casserole Favorite music: Indie stuff lights me up these days. Favorite TV program: Castle and Game of Thrones Five things you like: Long walks, Long walks in the rain, chocolate, hot tea and a good book, and my family around me. Five things you dislike: Ignorance, intolerance, Klingon Opera, misogyny, and reading that last page of the story when I want more of it. Five words that describe you: Scattered, devoted, protective, adaptable, and a little too serious.