Author Interview: Kalila Smith

kalila__7 (1)What genres do you enjoy writing? I primarily write paranormal non-fiction but I love horror fiction and have a few short stories in anthologies such as the Southern Haunts series, and Luna’s Children.

Tell us about your latest book: My most recent book is Afterlife Mysteries Revealed. It is my real life journey delving deeper into the world of spirits. It examines after death communciation not only through mediums but signs,
dreams, and visitations. I am currently finishing up Seance Experiements which is a deep look at what goes on in the lives of physical mediums. It’s been a fascinating journey, and I think people will enjoy the book.

What inspired the story? Where did you get that first bit of “ah ha” inspiration? The first ah ha moment was physical manifestation of spirit during a table tipping seance. It just got better from there. I began to witness things that I just didn’ t think were possible.

How much research did you have to do for this book? Any travel involved? I spent over a year in a physical mediumship circle. I have also studied under masters in the UK and even worked a crossing over gallery in the UK.

afterlifexlg What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? The hardest part was that the story was real and inspired by the untimely death of my youngest child.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? The message is that death is not an end; there really is an afterlife and it’s a lot closer than we ever thought.

Which writers inspire you? Katherine Ramsland, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Christopher Rice

You can find out more about Kalila Smith atwww.kalilasmith.com.

Also be sure to check out Kalila’s books below:

Author Interview: Kathryn Hinds

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Dark Oak Press recently released Kathryn Hinds‘ latest young adult, fantasy novel, The Healer’s Choice. She was kind enough to sit down with us for an interview about her writing process and her works.

What genres do you enjoy writing? Fantasy (mainly epic fantasy and historical fantasy/alternate history), steampunk, poetry, and nonfiction

Tell us about your latest book: The Healer’s Choice is an epic fantasy novel that might be described as Game of Thrones meets The Mists of Avalon. It’s a very human-based fantasy (no elves, goblins, or dragons) with a naturalistic approach to magic—in fact, the characters who use magic don’t even think of it as such. The story centers on a healer and a warrior, both driven by ideals of honor and commitment to duty, whose countries are at war. Under other circumstances, these two might be friends, or more, but the war stands between them. Moreover, the war forces each of them into unfamiliar and uncomfortable roles. The healer in particular must confront aspects of herself that she has long buried, and she learns that unless she can reclaim these lost parts of her identity, she will never be able to achieve the one thing she desires above anything else: to save her people.

What inspired the story? Where did you get that first bit of “aha” inspiration? In a lot of ways, the original Star Wars movie was the initial inspiration. My favorite character was Obi-Wan Kenobi, but I really wanted him to be a woman! I felt much the same way about Merlin when I read Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave. My teenage musings over what if Obi-Wan or Merlin were female eventually joined with another what-if (a result of some of the Women’s Studies classes I took in college): What if there really was a functional matriarchal society; how might it run? Then there was a period in which I found myself copy-editing a lot of books on World War II and came to the realization that I was not, as I’d always thought of myself, a pacifist, and my ponderings on the limits of pacifism combined with the other threads to manifest my protagonist, the Kel Nira, and the situation in which she finds herself.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special? As chief of the Healers’ Order, the Kel Nira is a member of her country’s ruling council, but she’s not all that interested in ruling–her devotion is to her Order and its compassionate mission above all. She has defined herself completely in terms of this vocation for a long time, and it’s a shock when circumstances awaken her to a new understanding of herself. So not only does she have to contend with the invaders of her country and conflicts with other members of the ruling council, but she also finds herself facing some very uncomfortable personal truths.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why? Definitely the Kel Nira. She embodies a lot of the qualities I admire (but don’t actually possess, at least nowhere near as much as I’d like)–emotional and physical strength, grace under pressure, discipline and dedication–but she also has vulnerabilities and challenges ranging from dyslexia to workaholism to major identity issues.

How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you? My antagonist, Prince Dursten, has an extreme us-versus-them worldview (among other issues). If you’re part of his “us,” he is the soul of charm, generosity, and nobility. The problem is that his “us” is very small–and that, I think, is the reason for so many problems in the real world, too.

How much research did you have to do for this book? Any travel involved? I had already done a lot of research on pre-industrial cultures, since I’d written a number of nonfiction books about various ancient and medieval societies, and that research definitely fed into The Healer’s Choice. None of the peoples in the book are entirely analogous to any specific historical groups, but the Kel Nira’s people have some similarities to ancient Germanic and Celtic cultures, while Prince Dursten’s have elements drawn from the Roman Empire, ancient India, and a few other times and places. Most of these similarities, however, were not included deliberately; they just filtered through my subconscious as I was writing. The two areas I did have to deliberately research were medical procedures and military techniques, neither of which are areas in which I have any sort of expertise.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Aside from just sticking with the whole process, I think the most challenging thing was the world building. Perhaps because of my background of researching and writing social history, I always thought of The Healer’s Choice as a historical novel in a way–and it really would have been one, if I had been able to find a historical time and place in which my characters could have played the roles they play and been in the situation they’re in. It would have been much easier for me to research a particular culture’s games, dances, funeral practices, and so on, than to have to make all of that up!

Which writers inspire you? The big three for me are Terry Pratchett, Jane Austen, and Shakespeare; after that, in no particular order (except that I’m listing novelists first, then poets), are Charlotte Bronte, Tolkien, Patrick O’Brian, Elizabeth Peters, Lois McMaster Bujold, Isabel Allende, Philip Pullman, Marian Zimmer Bradley and Diana Paxson, Marie de France, Sir Philip Sidney, William Butler Yeats, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, Dylan Thomas, and A.E. Stallings.

What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser? If I’m writing nonfiction, I do quite a bit of planning and formal outlining. My fiction, though, generally starts with some situation with a character or two and then grows from there. It’s a kind of organic cinema: after the initial idea grabs me, I see various scenes playing like a movie in my head, and I do my best to transcribe the dialogue and describe the action. I often have an idea of the direction the characters are going, but I frequently have to run to keep up with them, and they sometimes head off in directions that completely surprise me.

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)? I drink a lot of coffee while I’m working, which is not so strange for a writer, except that I stick with mostly decaf. Also, I tend not to visualize the physical appearance of my characters in detail, but I do “voice-cast” most of them–for example, I hear the Kel Nira’s voice as Cate Blanchett’s in the Lord of the Rings movies or as Mira Furlan’s in Babylon 5.

What are you working on at the moment? My main project is a follow-up to The Healer’s Choice, currently titled The Healer’s Curse. I’ve also got a few steampunk stories in the works.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend? I have always loved names–their meanings, their history, their connotations, their sounds. As a grade-schooler and teenager I checked baby-name books out of the library all the time, just because I was so fascinated by names, and I was always envious of the girls in my class who had unusual ones (Zane, Darcy, Chloe, and Eleni are some I remember). It’s not surprising, then, that I take a lot of care with naming my characters. In my epic fantasy, part of the world building I do is setting up language parameters and naming conventions. Within those guidelines, I then create names that I like the sound of. For example, one of the cultures in The Healer’s Choice has an important legendary figure named Vallar, and so “Val,” from his name, turns up as an element in the names of my secondary protagonist, Corvalen, and his heir, Torval. Names are also significant in The Healer’s Choice by their absence: the leaders of Sharhaya, the country at the center of the novel, relinquish their names and go by title alone, similar to the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama in our world.

When did you decide to become a writer? I started writing poems and stories when I was seven because I just couldn’t help myself, and I’ve never stopped. As with most writers, I think, there are stories and characters in my heart and head that I’ve just got to get onto paper (or into pixels), or I feel I’ll burst. At some point, though, I suppose we do make a more or less conscious decision to publish our work in some form. With me it started by passing out stories to my friends in junior high and then submitting to magazines in high school. In college I had an interdisciplinary arts major with a dual concentration in music and writing, so I suppose that’s when I really decided that writing would form a major component of my professional life.

Where do your ideas come from? I get ideas from all over the place: history, folklore and mythology, dreams, random encounters with strangers, odd situations with friends, interesting quotations, overheard conversations, works of art, and all manner of musings on what-ifs.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I generally have some sense of where the plot is going to go, or at least I have certain “marks” that I think I want to hit as the plot progresses. Mainly, though, I focus on developing the characters and their relationships, and let the plot take shape as a result.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? I really wish I had been able to meet Terry Pratchett. His Discworld novels have meant so much to me, in so many ways, and I would have liked to thank him in person.

Tell the readers something about yourself that has nothing to do with writing. My favorite desserts are creme brulee, tiramisu, and key lime pie. If a dessert menu has all three, I will never make up my mind.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Keep reading, both inside and outside of the genre you’re writing in. And while the only way to get a book written is to sit down and write it, you do need to get up out of the chair and go out into the world, too. Pay attention: to nature, to landscapes and cityscapes, to current events, to weather, to words, to history, and, above all, to people and what makes them tick.

KHinds(color)scaledDo you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published? Write the stories you need to tell; don’t worry about labeling or selling them until later. Get the story down, get it polished (revise, revise, revise!), and then you can deal with the rest of the process.

How can readers discover more about you and you work? Visit my website (kathrynhinds.com) and follow me on social media–I’m currently on Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest, and maybe one of these days I’ll finally start Tweeting, too.

Website: www.kathrynhinds.com
Blog: www.kathrynhinds.com/blog
Facebook: www.facebook.com/kathrynhinds.author
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/kathrynfhinds/
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/Kathryn_Hinds
Zazzle: www.zazzle.com/hermiasemporium

The Healer’s Choice by Kathryn Hinds Receiving Good Reviews

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If you haven’t yet checked out Kathryn Hinds‘ new young adult fantasy novel, The Healer’s Choice, please do. Christy English, author of the SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE series, has given The Healer’s Choice a wonderful review on Amazon and Goodreads:

“This is the kind of book that I not only loved, but that stayed with me long after I put it down. The best way I can express it is to say this beautiful novel is like the best of Marion Zimmer Bradley. Though set in a fantasy world with a fantasy war, THE HEALER’S CHOICE could easily have been Britain as it fell to Roman occupation. A lovely, well-written novel with fascinating characters on both sides of the war. I want to read it again. I want to read the next one in the series. I love it so much, I am buying copies for my friends. It’s just that good.”

It’s Mardi Gras! Discover Authentic New Orleans in Kalila Smith’s Tales of the French Quarter!

Let Kalila Smith take you beyond the festivities into the heart of New Orleans in her book, Tales of the French Quarter.

French QuarterAllow Kalila Smith to take you on a personal tour of her New Orleans. Explore the food, cemeteries, swamps, bayous, Voodoo, monsters, ghosts, and the amazing cast of characters that make up the legends of the French Quarter. The French Quarter has intrigued many not only to write about it, but also spawned the desire for some to stay. Many a visitor has wandered into this magical place, only to find that they do not ever want to leave. Legend says if you drink the water in New Orleans, you must return. Some say that it is a curse put on the city by the famous Voodoo queen, Marie Laveau herself.

Click here for a sample. Introduction to New Orleans – Chapter One

The Tales:
What Lurks in the Dark * The Flaming Tomb * Le Neant
The Devil’s Bride * Milne Street Horror * Revenge of the Swamp Witch
City of the Dead * Unhinged * Over the Edge
Loved to Death * For Better or Worse * Back Upstairs
Haunted * Green Tree Frogs * Up the Mississippi
The Skeptic vs the Believer * Culture Shock * Down the Hole
The Final Corollary * The Hunt Continues * Murder and the Occult
Sinners and Saints * Vanished * Forever Unsolved
The Boogie Man * The Good, The Bad, and the Utterly Ridiculous
Moon Over Bourbon Street * Witchfest * Cult Icon
Strange Gods, Strange Alters * Ashes to Ashes * Search for the Goth Cowboy
Lights, Camera, Action * An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving * Visitor Beware
One Can Only Imagine * Final Thoughts

For Mature Readers

Buy online now:
Amazon.com
Kindle
B&N.com
Nook

Pretentious Word of the Week: Proppant

Here’s your weekly dose of vocabulary with just enough snark to make it tasty…

M. B. Weston's Official Website

This week’s pretentious word is proppant:

Proppant:noun. Sand or similar particulate material suspended in water or other fluid and used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to keep fissures open.

In the Battlestar Galactica universe, proppants should not be used while fracking.

See if you can come up with a funnier, yet pretentious-sounding sentence! (Try to keep this one as PG rated as possible.)

Fantasy, steampunk, and paranormal novelist M. B. Weston is the author of The Elysian Chronicles, a fantasy series about guardian angel warfare and treason. Weston is also the hose of The Final Cut In Movies radio show that airs on TMV Cafe Monday nights at 8:00 EST. For more information on M. B. Weston, visit www.mbweston.com. To receive notification of M. B. Weston’s book releases click here to subscribe to Dark Oak Press & Media’s e-newsletter. Click here for a full listing of M. B…

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Author Interview: The Magical Mindscape of J.L. Mulvihill

Check out this interview by one of Dark Oak’s authors, J. L. Mulvihill!

J. Jeremy Hicks -- Author

For our first author interview of the year, I have the privilege of probing the magical mindscape of J.L. Mulvihill, Southern Haunts editor and writer of fantasy, horror, steampunk, and more. She’s the author of poems, short stories, and several novels, including Lost Daughter of Easa, Boxcar Baby, and Crossings.

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Let’s start off with something basic but fundamental. How long have you been writing and what prompted you to go from amateur to professional?

Well, the funny thing is, I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I found an old journal of my mothers and there is an entry there that said “Today Jennifer made up her first poem, ‘light, light, burning bright’.” Okay so I didn’t actually write that, I was only two years old but I think if I could have written it I would have. We will just say I…

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Paranormal Investigator, Horror Author, and Spiritualist Kalila Smith Speaks of Halloween

Check out the interview Alexander S. Brown did with Kalila Smith!

Alexander S. Brown

Kalila Smith has been a name imbedded in my head since I experienced the New Orleans Ghost Tours.  The first book of hers I ever bought was New Orleans Ghosts, Voodoo, and Vampires and I was hooked since.  For years, I had wanted to meet her and when I opened the guidelines for Southern Haunts: Spirits that Walk Among Us, I was beyond thrilled to work with her.  The first time I met her face to face was at a convention and we just happened to bump into one another.  We had that pause moment, where we looked at one another like we had known each other for a lifetime.  Then after a huge hug, we immediately clicked, and I have her to thank for my level of spirituality that I now have.  It is my greatest pleasure to interview a woman that I highly respect and that I feel…

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