Author Interview with Rebecca McDowall

31183519_1847849335512388_9111189462473244672_nRebecca McDowall is the author of Regan: Snatcher of Souls and the blog Dystonia and me where she helps raise awareness for her health issues and to support other people who are also fighting them.

The book Regan is about a couple in love Cassie and Daniel who are faced with danger after Cassie’s true identity is revealed. Will Cassie’s love for Daniel be enough to keep him safe from the danger that lurks ahead?

Instagram: @rmcdowall_author

Blog: www.dystoniaandme.com

Click the picture below to buy her book! (Affiliate)

Should we start with a brief introduction from yourself, and what hobbies and interests you do outside of writing?

As a mother of an 11-month-old and student in her final year of university, I’d have to say sleep is my main hobby. I’m joking of course. I’m extremely passionate about horse riding and have ridden since I was six. Riding has taken a back seat at the moment whilst I focus on my family and degree but I hope to be back in the saddle soon. Crocheting, music, and reading I would say are my three current interests. I’m about to move to Merseyside and hoping to join an orchestra there.

You have now published Regan and are looking to work on the next novel, was there a particular moment in your life that you realized you wanted to write? How does it feel now that your book is published?

I’ve always toyed with writing. Growing up I was always jotting down lyrics and short stories. Getting my work published was something I dreamed of from a young age but I was accurately aware of the difficulties in achieving it. It was a goal I didn’t think I would be able to achieve until much later in life.

It’s surreal. Now and then readers drop me a message to tell me they’ve enjoyed the novel, it always leaves me a bit emotional. So much work went into Regan, followed by numerous rejection letters, to see people reading it is incredible.

In your book Regan your two main protagonists, Daniel and Cassie are very much in love despite everything that’s going on around them, how would you describe their relationship?

It’s pure raw love, the sort that can raise you up or crush you. Despite the nature of their love being very ‘love conquers all’ Esq, their relationship has its turmoils. It was important to me that it wasn’t an easy sailing relationship as it wouldn’t have felt as real to the reader. Every couple has their ups and downs but it’s how we respond to these tests that make or break bonds. Having Daniel and Cassie struggle but fight for their love, to me, demonstrates true love.

regan

Cassie is a very strong female lead in this story and I love her, I feel if Cassie and Daniel’s roles had been reversed this story wouldn’t have the same impact. Was your intentions to always have their roles like this?

I completely agree with you. The last thing I would have wanted is for Cassie to have been depicted as a Damsel in distress,  which if the roles had been reserved would have been a very easy trap to fall into. Cassie and Daniel are wildly different characters but they are equal to each other. They both have their own strengths and flaws but I am convinced if the roles had reversed Daniel would have come across in a manipulative light with the balance of power in his favour.

Myself as I reader would love to see more of Daniel’s point of view, can we expect any more of this in your next novel?

Yes! The working title for the sequel is currently Daniel: Eyes in the Ice. That gives you a bit of a hint about how the P.O.V is being split.

Where did the idea for the novel come from?

I was bed bound in the hospital in 2009 for six months with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome it was there that I started mapping out Regans’ character; though I wouldn’t return to this until 2011. Then during my final year of A levels, I had to write a piece of gothic literature for my coursework, and Regan’s’ story sprung to life. I wrote the final chapter and what would become chapter five during this time

Do you believe your life experiences have influenced your writing in any way?

Without a doubt, I have been through both tremendous joy and extreme pain. I think as a writer you draw on your life experiences and put a lot of yourself into your work. As a survivor of domestic abuse I have known evil and as much as I wish I had never gone through what I did it undeniably shaped my view of suffering and pain. I’m lucky to have a mother who has stood by me through everything and the love she has shown me you can see in Aphrodite.

You have an amazing strength to have accomplished as much as you have with raising awareness for your health issues and writing your own book, how would you say this affected the writing of Regan?

Thank You. Writing Regan has been a very therapeutic process for me. Being chronically ill and living with rare conditions is not easy, and at times it can be both emotionally and physically painful. Writing Regan allowed me to let those emotions out and work through them in a proactive way. You can see hints at my conditions when reading; points for anyone who can guess what condition inspired the naming of the town Regan is from.

As an author with a young adult target audience, do you have any advice for young aspiring writers?

Read. Read. Read. Familiarise yourself with what the current trends in the young adult market are but also know what titles are experiencing a good shelf life. Gain as much knowledge about your audience as possible, what are they reading? What are they looking for in the market? How do they find their books?. Also get to grips with social media! I’m 25 and maintaining a presence on social media can sometimes feel overwhelming. I’m lucky to have an amazing intern who helps me and keeps me up-to-date. I’ve only just started using Instagram stories but wow did I underestimate their importance!

Was there a piece of advice you were given as an author that you would like to share?

Don’t allow rejection letters to distinguish your drive. I can’t tell you how much this piece of advice helped me. I received some rejections which were your bog standard email, and others that told me they loved my work but as a new author, they weren’t prepared to take a risk on me. It took about a year of rejections before I received an offer and signed with Vanguard Press.

Don’t just sign any old contract either. It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of receiving an offer but try not to get ahead of yourself.  I rejected three offers as the contracts were not right for me.

Where have you travelled? Is there anywhere that you would really love to go?

I’ve not travelled that much, France has been my main destination as my grandparents live there. I would love to travel to Iceland and Norway. It’s a bucket list goal of mine that if my health is ever stable enough I would love to do.

You started out as a blogger writing your blog Dystonia and me, did you ever think you would have gotten to where you are now when you started?

I started my blog out of frustration with the lack of awareness of Dystonia in both societies and the medical profession. When I started blogging I didn’t really have an idea of where it was going. For me, it became a way of letting out what I was going through, at the time I was grieving for both my body and the loss of my ability to train as a midwife, and also a way of connecting with fellow sufferers.

What advice would you give to people wanting to start a blog?

Research your host and go where you feel comfortable. I started out on Blogger but just couldn’t get to grips with the interface, I’ve been using WordPress for almost six years now and love it. Write about what your passionate about; the reader will recognize this and your follower count will grow. Most importantly blog weekly as a minimum, my blog has been updated infrequently whilst I finished the last year of my degree but my stats are around three times as high when I post regularly.

What is your utmost favourite book and why?

Oh, that’s a hard question. I own a small library and love so many titles.

If I had to pick I’d go with Sabriel by Garth Nix. I discovered the Old Kingdom series in my early teens and still reread it, at last, twice a year. The romance, magic, and darkness just tick all the boxes for me.

What is your best/favourite accomplishment in your life so far?

My son. I was told years ago the due to extensive endometriosis it was unlikely I would have children naturally. He is my miracle and my world.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What would you like to accomplish in the next 5 years?

It’s my aim to have completed the Regan saga by then, though I may be being a bit ambitious. I currently run my own small traditional publishing house and I hope to have it well-established with a growing list by then.

What is your favourite Quote and why?

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – Albus Dumbledore

It’s so easy to consumed by negative emotions and forget to treasure the positives in each moment. When I’m having a hard time this quote helps to remind me to seek out the light in my life.

If you were stranded on a desert island and you got to take 3 things with you, what would you take?

A lighter as I doubt my fire starting skills, a writing pad, and pen.

Who is your favourite character in Regan?

Jahia. I both love and hate her. She’s cruel, manipulative and evil to the core, but she is a joy to write.

Author Interview with Nelou Keramati

BaNelou Keramati - Amazon Author1ck in 2015 I first got in contact with Nelou, when she had just started to try to publish Resonance the first book in her series – The Fray Series. Since then she has gone on to write the second part of her first novella named Harbinger.

The Fray Series follows three main protagonists Neve, Dylan, and Romer, who uncover a very shocking life-changing discovery that sends Neve’s life into a mission to find answers and discover the truth of The Fray Theory.

You can buy her books Resonance and Harbinger on Amazon using the links below.

Website: http://www.neloukeramati.com

Instagram: @neloukeramati

Click the picture to purchase your copy! (Affiliate)

Should we start with a brief introduction from yourself, and what hobbies and interests you do outside of writing?

I probably stared at this question for five minutes before admitting to not knowing quite how to answer it, lol! I often feel like I’m too random a person to properly describe in a few sentences. But I guess in short, I can say that although I’ve always been in a dream world – imagining things and exploring art – I was raised to be practical and analytical, which would explain my background in sciences. After Architecture school (a year shy of graduating) I’d decided to commit myself to acting, but then the idea of The Fray Theory derailed and made me fall in love with writing/storytelling. As for hobbies/interests, I think anything that relates to the world of cinema/film-making qualifies. Whether it’s acting, writing, editing videos, or watching YouTube videos that pertain to said subjects, it’s something I genuinely enjoy from all perspectives.

You are now writing the second book in The Fray Series. Was there a particular moment in your life that you realized you wanted to write? Or is it something that’s progressed over time?

Honestly, writing a book was probably the last thing on my bucket list. I had planned on being a performer (actress) when I got the idea for The Fray Theory, which over the next two years I developed into a comprehensive ‘theory’ and eventually wrote/published the first installment in 2016. I have to say, I never thought writing would become such a prominent presence in my life. It was supposed to be something I ‘did’ and moved on from. But now that I’ve written two books (and a screenplay), I don’t think I can ever stop! So, yes, I’d say since that late summer night that sparked my interest in the premise of TFT, writing has definitely been a progression!

Nelou

In your series The Fray Theory, you have a great team of characters who really work well together, how did you decide on names?

Great question! I’ve actually been a bit apprehensive about revealing the sources of the names. I think sometimes it’s a conscious decision where you choose names imbued with significance, and at other times, the characters just pop into your head, fully formed, and whichever name accompanies them, more or less stick. With that said, here are a few sources of inspiration:

  1. Neve: I first heard the name Neve in the context of Neve Campbell, the actress, and thought it was beautiful. When I was writing the book though, I wanted a name that somewhat resonated (pun intended) with Neve’s abilities, and I believe in Italian the word Neve refers to hardened snow? I’ll have to double-check this one, but given that she’s an Anvil, I loved the idea!
  2. Dylan: I loved the name since the first time I’d heard it. I had also known a Dylan in my life who was such a smart, interesting, funny individual, that so when the original name I’d picked didn’t quite work out, I thought, “he’s a Dylan,” and it stuck.
  3. Romer: You’ll probably laugh at this, but there is an incredible burger join in Vancouver called Romer’s Burger Bar. That’s the first time I heard the name and loved it because it reminded me of my trip to Rome. In the first draft of the novel, he was often referred to as Roan: a composite nickname of ‘Ro’ from Romer and ‘An’ from Anthony. But when I picked up a book and a few pages in encountered what I thought was a word I’d made up (Roan was a female character in this novel), I was like: ‘okay, back to Romer’.
  4. Alexander Galen: Galen was a badass character in the brilliant TV show, Sons of Anarchy, and I believe is also a historical figure (Greek physician). It was originally Alexander Fern, but Galen seemed more him.
  5. Marcus Holt: There’s a high-end department store in Vancouver called Holt Renfrew. Holt just really seemed to match Marcus’s persona. Holt was arguably the easiest character to name, and the only one whose name I never even wavered on.
  6. Victor Young: I can’t quite answer this one because it’s tied to a big spoiler ;). Ohhh, snap!

I can see how your main female protagonist, Neve, is quite similar to yourself? Was this intentional, or do you not see yourself in her?

Initially, I was just trying to make things easier on myself. I thought I’ll just base the main character on myself so that I don’t have to bother with backstory, etc. (back when I was naive enough to think I can write a novel in 3 months). But as time dragged on and I felt like I was drifting away from my dream of acting, I thought I might as well keep Neve similar to me in case the book ever becomes a movie/TV show so that I’ll be able to audition for it. Plus, once you picture someone a certain way, it’s nearly impossible to go back!

In the book Resonance, The Fray Theory is explained. Was the idea of the theory completely your own or did you need help in trying to make sense of it all?

The idea was initially a spark that stemmed from a late-night conversation with a dear friend of mine about epiphanies, coincidences, premonitions, etc., and I immediately knew I’d stumbled upon something worth exploring. I spent a year and a half working out the theory itself (trying to be as isolated as I can so that other theories/research/stories don’t influence my thought process), and once I’d come up with a narrative/characters/the idea was fleshed out, I felt like I’d created a world I desperately wanted to be real!

Do you believe your life experiences have influenced your writing in any way?

Absolutely. I think it’s impossible for them not to. Nothing happens in a vacuum, and many influences that you might not be cognizant of wind up influencing you at such a deep, subconscious level, that you often find yourself surprised at the ideas/scenes you come up with. It’s crazy fun, and a really great, cathartic way to turn your pain into purpose.

As an author with a Young Adult target audience, do you have any advice for young aspiring writers?

I guess I can say with some confidence that there is no formula. There really isn’t. There’s just what makes sense to you, what makes you so passionate about something that you dedicate years of your life to it with no regards to consequences. I’ll urge everyone to allow themselves to believe in their own powers and abilities. Don’t listen to others who think/say that you can’t. Nobody knows you better than you, so if something makes sense to you and gets you excited, pursue it! Don’t waste a minute!

Was there a piece of advice you were given as an author that you would like to share?

Make it about the characters. Exposition and descriptions of scenery can be beautiful, but nobody will care if they haven’t become emotionally attached to the characters. For this, your characters need to have what Peter Russell (Hollywood Script Doctor) calls a ‘Core Wound’. Something emotional the character must deal with/a wound they must heal in order to be able to reach their goals. If a character is perfect or has no inner obstacles to overcome, they’re not real, so why would we care?

Where have you traveled? Is there anywhere that you would really love to go?

I’ve been fortunate to travel to several countries in Europe, as well as many cities within the US. My favourite place thus far though would have to be Rome, though Barcelona, Paris, and Prague come very close! I’ve actually been dying to go back to Italy (anywhere in Italy, I’ll take it!), so hopefully one day I can find the time and arrange a trip. 🙂

Your book is set in Vancouver, which I believe to be your hometown? Is there actually anywhere that inspired some of the scenes, such as the coffee shop Neve and Dylan visited a lot of in Resonance, that you would recommend readers to go see?

Yes, the story is set in Vancouver, and I actually tried to remain very true to my beautiful city. The art gallery where Neve held her exhibition is in Gastown, a historic part of the city near the harbor. And the cafe Neve and Dylan would frequent was originally based on 49 Parallel on Main Street (which is actually not on the UBC campus, but I drew inspiration from its interior decor). The Vancouver Convention Centre and Yaletown are also spots you can visit!

Your first book was a real rollercoaster for certain characters such as Neve. Do you feel like the novella in your series will be a bit more steady?

The novella, The Harbinger, is arguably an even bigger roller-coaster than TFTR. It wasn’t meant to be, and originally just intended to answer some of the lingering questions about Dylan, but it quickly evolved and became an adventure of its own. I actually wrote several different iterations of it, with different events/themes, but the one published was the one that obviously made the cut. Given the nature of the ‘theories’, however, I supposed you could say they’re all equally credible ;).

What is your utmost favorite book and why?

Believe it or not, it’s a book I haven’t even fully read yet. It’s called ‘Call Me by Your Name’ by Andre Aciman, and I’ve only read the sample after watching the masterpiece that is the movie. I think if only a few pages can enchant you like this, it’s safe to say, yep, favourite book ever!

What is your best/favorite accomplishment in your life so far?

Oh, wow, that’s a toughie. I know my parents are proud of my Architecture degree (and the novels), but at the moment, having just finished my first screenplay, I would have to say that!

Nelou, you have so much experience in a lot of different fields, such as acting, writing, photography, blogging etc.. Would you say this has been difficult to keep up with? Would you recommend others in keeping their options open or focusing on their one or two strengths?

Great question and I feel like it’s important to stress that depending on my mood, my answer would probably be different. There are days when I feel a bit like a Jack of all trades, like a solid B- at everything I’ve ever dabbled in. On those days, I sometimes wish that I’d found my one true calling sooner and dedicated more time/energy in honing my craft/skills so that I’d be further along the way. On other days, however, I look at how all of these different paths I’ve taken have informed my work today. How my studies in Neuroscience, Psychology, Acting, and Architecture have helped enrich my storytelling from a unique perspective that transcends genres. All in all, I think the world is full of wonder, and that we’re all capable of so much more than just one career, or one identity. We are a different person to different people in our lives, so it makes sense to me that we assume different professional identities as well. If there are things you want to explore, don’t worry about it being too much, or too overwhelming. You’ll eventually recognize in yourself the things you want to prioritize, and then work to deepen those aspects of your life.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What would you like to accomplish in the next 5 years?

Oh my, given the unpredictability of the world of acting/filmmaking, I have no idea what to expect. If all the stars align, however, I would love to have optioned/sold one of my screenplays, to have finished TFT series, and to be in full pursuit of my lifelong passion: acting.

What is your favorite Quote and why?

“I ignored your aura but it grabbed me by the hand like the moon pulled the tide, and the tide pulled the sand,” by Talib Kweli. It’s just impossibly beautiful!

If you were stranded on a desert island and you got to take 3 things with you, what would you take?

My iPhone, a mini-fridge that magically stocks itself with whatever I’m craving, and a companion.