An Interview with Author A.H. Richardson

A H RichardsonWe had the pleasure of interviewing A.H. Richardson – author of the Jorie series, a series of children’s chapter books, which includes Jorie and the Magic Stones, Jorie and the Gold Key, and Jorie and the River of Fire. She has also written several murder mysteries, including Murder in Little ShendonAct One, Scene One – MurderThe Murder at Serenity Farm, and Murder on Baringo Island.

Do you have a favorite quote from your book?
I do have a favourite quote, the truth is I have quite a few, but the one I think I like the most, and one I hope that youngsters reading this book will espouse, is where the Great Wizard Grootmonya thanks the children and tells them: “You have shown immense loyalty, courage, duty and responsibility, for one so young. You will go far in life with these qualities.” This summed up the Great Wizard’s appreciation for their exploits, and his recognizing that they were brave and wonderful children.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
What did I want to do as a child? Good gracious!  My aspirations were legion.  I wanted to be a vet, I wanted to be a painter (a great one), I wanted to be a writer … but what I most wanted to be was… (hang on to your hats here, folks!) — was a movie star, Capital M and capital S!
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I am embarrassed to say that, other than essays and compositions written at school, which according to the nuns, (yes, I was educated at a convent) showed enormous talent!  My first book was written when I was (slight drum roll here) 74!  I know, I know, you’re thinking ‘aren’t you a bit long in the tooth to start a writing career?’  Actually one does one’s best thinking when one is just slightly older, only because we can really allow our imagination to take wing in a way that wouldn’t have been possible earlier … at least, that is my personal experience.
How did you begin writing? Did you intend to become an author, or do you have a specific reason or reasons for writing each book?
The idea for this book had been cooking in my ‘noggin’ (cute British word for brain) for a long time, and I made myself promises that I WOULD write it at some point.  When I bought my snug little mountain house in Tennessee, I finally had some time … and that was all it took.  Just time, and a keyboard, and unleash that wild imagination, and let it romp! Becoming an author took a gradual sort of state of mind … once it got a hold of me, I really couldn’t let go.  Once I created ‘Jorie’ I realized that she could not just have one book, so I wrote a second ‘Jorie and the Gold Key’, and am working on a third, which is almost done.  The other genre I love, is writing murder mysteries, all with a British flavor, as they take place in cute little English villages, where there is more scandal and skullduggery (I LOVE that word) than you can imagine, and I have written three of those.
Do you like to create books for adults, youth and/or children? and Why?
I do enjoy writing for adults, and the who-dun-it has always appealed to me – I think we write about what we know.  Wait a minute, don’t think that I know a lot about murder, dear me ‘no’, but I do know about little villages in England, and there is something about trying chase down the wicked and the vile that is so much fun.   As for writing for children, I am strictly speaking not a grown-up yet myself, and it is not one of my goals!  You write so much better, when you can hold on to your childhood!
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have written almost six books, and it is hard to choose a favourite.  Possibly ‘Jorie and the Magic Stones’ takes the blue ribbon, after all, it is the first-born.  Among the murder mysteries, I loved writing ‘Act One, Scene One, Murder.’  Having had an interesting life in the theatre, I feel very at home writing about actors and all their nutty idosyncrasies!
How long does it take you to write a book?
It takes me about three months to write a book, because once I start, I just go!
What does your family think of your writing?
Family is very supportive of the writing, and think that mum is ‘a genius’ – I have educated them well!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I am not writing, I am painting.  On Canvas, on plywood, and they are mostly wild looking landscapes, and I paint with a palette knife.
What do you think makes a good story?
Fabulous, believable, irritating, funny, scary and wonderful characters.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating/writing your books? 
Trust your instincts, they are nearly always spot on.
What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
I loved the Bronte sisters, absolutely magnificent writers, and W. Somerset Maugham, and the indomitable Agatha Christie. AND Shakespeare, I did almost all his plays in England.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Readers tend to ask, “How do you manage to imagine all that stuff?” This is usually a huge compliment.
What’s more important: characters or plot?
Make your characters jump out of the pages; yes, you should have a good plot, but you hold your readers’ interest with the characters I believe.
Any writing rituals?
Rituals, well I don’t sacrifice a goat or anything before I begin … usually two cups of coffee, put on makeup (most important) love my two pugs, then sit and write.
Readers, I would say this, read read, and read, and IF you want to write, then do it … it takes determination, patience, drive and undying enthusiasm.
Any last thoughts for our readers?
Thanks you for your kind invitation to chat a little here.
I loved writing, even as a fairly young child, and was an observer and an absorber, and a born mimic, all of which served me in some way to become a writer later in my life.
Quite obviously, if you are writing a work of fiction, a theme of some kind is important — you have a beginning, a middle and an end, and ideally interesting things happen in between.  I can only speak from personal experience here; the characters in your book move the story along, and they must have the appearance of being absolutely real, if they are not believable, you will lose your reader, who will be uninvolved, uninterested and most likely feel rather cheated.
Hamlet is a marvelous play, with fabulous prose, wonderful imagery and so on … but it is the actors that bring the play to life … and so it is when you write a book.   What would happen without the actors or characters?   They move thee vents, they shock you, they frighten you, they make you laugh, they involve you (or they should). They should be your primary concern and motivation.  I would also say make your characters as three dimensional as you can; the villain should have a soft side somewhere, the hero should not be a paragon of virtue all the time, and your comic character should have a sad or serious side.   This is what makes your ‘people’ jump off the pages of your book and grab your reader!
If you decide to take the plunge and write a book, fiction here, think back to the past to people you remember, someone you worked for, someone you were married to, a teacher, a supermarket manager, someone who had characteristics that you remember; take some of these qualities (or faults) and build a character.  In other words steal bits and [pieces of the remembered person, mix them up a bit (rather like making a cake!) then create your person for the book, and see how real they become, Your reader must suspend their disbelief,  and really get into the book …  that is when you have a happy reader. Most of my characters are bits and pieces of folks I have known, but not necessarily loved!
Lastly, write because you love it, that’s the only reason to do it, and if there’s another reason, then you will be found out!
Thanks for so patiently reading and listening, I wish you all good things

 

An Interview with Author Iain Reading

Author Iain ReadingWe had the pleasure of interviewing Iain Reading – who is best known for the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series, a young adult series of adventure mystery stories. He is also the author of the dragon of the month club, a middle grade fantasy series, and The Wizards of Waterfire.

At what point did you consider yourself a full time writer?
Hmmmmm.  I suppose once I finished the SECOND Kitty Hawk book and put it out there, then maybe I knew that I was an author for-real.
Do you have a writing routine?
I have a dream of a writing routine….  it would consist of renting an apartment somewhere exotic and going for walks every day and night to figure things out in my head and then sitting down in-between to actually write.  Otherwise, at home I suppose I sort of do the same, in-between those annoying things like my day-job and life, etc.
How long does it take you to write a book?
The actual writing has sometimes been very fast – a matter of weeks, on occasion.  But thinking things through and figuring everything out BEFORE setting pen to paper takes a lot longer.
Do you research settings, characters types, or topic for your works?
For the Kitty Hawk series (where she’s flying around the world) I DEFINITELY do research for settings.  My favourite thing is to make an excuse for myself to actually visit a place that Kitty Hawk will be visiting and have a vacation under the guise of “book research”.
Do you belong to a writing group or do you have trusted others who read your drafts?
I have a couple of trusted friends who I have read my books and give me feedback.  But to be clear, these are VERY trusted friends – not even necessarily close friends – but when it comes to books and editting they are in the VERY trusted category.
Do you have books you read for inspiration?
There is a lot of history in the Kitty Hawk series, so I read a lot of history books to learn and research.
Do you write in multiple genres?
Yes and no.  Yes in the sense that “urban fantasy” is a different genre than “young adult mystery – female sleuths”.  But no in the sense that they are all kind of young adult to adult books.
Do you ever have epiphanies while writing?
Definitely yes!  There have been times where I’ve stopped in mid-sentence and thought…  what?!!???  In an unpublished fantasy book of mine I was busy writing away and trying to hook the main character up with a boy from another school nearby.  And suddenly, the next thing I knew was realizing…. wait….. is he the BAD GUY?!???
What do your novels start with, a plot, a character, a central question?
I think mostly they start with a character, followed by plot and if I’m lucky there might arise a question in there somewhere.
Do you see reoccurring themes in your fiction?
Exploration seems to be a recurring theme.  My Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency series focuses on a young female pilot who has decided to fly around the world.  She visits different places and solves mysteries.  And in the process she explores the world and readers explore with her.  Similarly, in my Dragon Of The Month Club series the two main characters explore a world of books, drawn from real life books.  It’s almost like Kitty Hawk as they travel from one book world to the next, exploring.
Do you have a favorite book out of the books you have written?
My current favourite is The Dragon Of The Month Club – followed close second by Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the Titanic.
What is the story of getting your first book published? Did you have an agent, did you send to multiple publishers, etc.
Sadly, no publishers or agents were ever interested so I had to publish my books myself.  A proud self-publisher, am I.
What questions do you frequently get from teacher and librarians? From students?
One of the most common questions is what inspired me to write.  And the answer is the main character of my first series – Kitty Hawk.  It was this character and her ambitious plans to fly around the world that really inspired me.  I could see that there was a lot of adventures out there waiting for her, so I had to actually write them in order to find out what happened.
What do you try to accomplish when you visit schools or conferences?
My main goal is always to connect with people, particularly anyone who is interested in my books or has enjoyed reading them, or who is interested in trying to do what I am doing – writing and self-publishing books.
What jobs did you do before becoming a writer and do any of them influence how or what you write?
I’ve had a lot of jobs.  McDonalds.  Pizza Hut.  Right now I work for the United Nations.  That is my “day job” for the moment.
Do you have any advice or suggestion for other writers?
My advice (for whatever it’s worth) is always this:  Write the book you’re capable of writing – don’t try to write a book you are not capable of writing.
Do you get many letters or emails from your readers?
Never enough of them!  Send me more!  I always try to respond.
What book have you read over the last year that seems to stick with you?
Stephen King’s The Shining.  I had never read it before and had the misfortune to read it while staying in a big hotel in Toronto where the closet had a light inside that randomly switched on and off in the middle of the night, thus totally freaking me out.  That experience led to me re-reading Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, and I was very interested to read in his new foreward to the book that this was the book he thought was his most scary.
What question would you love to be asked about your work that no one thinks to ask?
I think I’d like to be asked whether I would recommend the process of writing and self-publishing to people.  Because the answer would absolutely be yes.  I think that anyone who has a book inside them waiting to come out should go for it.  Write it.  And that’s not to say just write it and throw it out there.  But put some work into it.  And heart into it.  And yes, money into it, and make it the best book you can possibly do.  And don’t worry if it’s not timeless fiction for the ages.  Write the book you can write.

books by iain reading

Murder on Baringo Island by A.H Richardson

murder on baringo islandA.H. Richardson announced today the release of Murder on Baringo Island, the fourth book in the Hazlitt-Brandon series of murder mystery novels.
The Hazlitt-Brandon Murder Mystery Series follows a pair of clever, colorful and charismatic sleuths – Sir Victor Hazlitt and Beresford Brandon – as they scratch their heads searching for clues to figure out whodunit.
In Murder on Baringo Island, Beresford Brandon and Sir Victor Hazlitt — joined by Lady Augusta Armstrong — head for a vacation at an artist friend’s luxurious home on Baringo Island in the Caribbean, arriving to find they are not in tropical paradise, but in the midst of a murder… wait… make that two murders. After the death of a lonely and very ordinary woman, a policeman is thrown from a high cliff. Are they connected, and if so, how? While the adventuring trio investigates an intriguing variety of suspects, they discover dark secrets buried in a sinister past, as they slowly bring them to the surface and cleverly discover the ruthless killer.
About the Author:
A.H. Richardson is an outstanding storyteller, whose unlimited imagination conjures up challenging and unforgettable characters, both good and evil, weaving them into a murder mystery full of suspects and unexpected twists and turns. Born in England (yes, she grew up on Agatha Christie stories), the author has always loved tales of murder and mayhem. Her Hazlitt-Brandon series also includes Murder in Little Shendon (Book 1), Act One, Scene One – Murder (Book 2), and The Murder at Serenity Farm (Book 3).
She is the daughter of the famous composer, Clive Richardson, who always encouraged her to write, even as a small child. She paints and sculpts, plays guitar, trained dressage competitors, is a linguist, and acted on stage, film and television. She is the proud mother of three grown sons and grandmother to three adorable grandchildren. Her adopted home is in Tennessee near the picturesque Smoky Mountains, where she writes, gardens, cooks for visiting students, and supports an Earth-saving community.
Readers can connect with A.H. Richardson on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
To learn more, go to https://ahrichardson.com/