Tag Archives: Kristell Ink

Author Interview with Frances Kay

Hi Frances, and Welcome.
fb puppet fan author crop

What are your books about and what inspired you to write it/them?
Dollywagglers was written as a stand-alone picture of a society in meltdown. It’s as real as I can make it, so although it is a fictional dystopia, I hope the themes will resonate with readers, especially those who are familiar with England, where the story takes place. I’m working on a sequel, because I realised that there was still so much story to tell. My earlier book, Micka was published in 2010 and is a realistic, hard-hitting story about life seen through the eyes of two unhappy ten year old boys.

How long did the first book take to write and how many times did you go through it before it was finally done?
It took more than ten years. I revised it during that time, maybe six or seven times. The sequel took eight months!

Where do your settings come from? Are they taken from real places, made up entirely, or a conglomerate of the two?
Oh, real! :London and East Anglia are locations I’ve lived in. I was born in London. The Suffolk settings are based on my experience of living there for thirteen years. Micka was based on my experiences working with the poorest families and children in Newcastle-on-Tyne.

Who is your favorite character and why?
This is the hardest question I’ve ever been asked! As a playwright, I create characters who each have their own motivations and personalities, but the task is always to empathise with each one, to present their viewpoint to the audience as persuasively as possible, no matter how villainous or dishonest. I’m quite proud of my evil, depraved villain in Dollywagglers, as he is at the other extreme of behaviour from me. I had to get inside his horrible head, and not be afraid of what I saw there. For potential readers, this monster is called Rodney. In Micka, I chose to write in the voices of two ten year old boys, again, these are totally different voices from mine. The challenge was to tell the story only through the two of them, in such a way that adults would be gripped.

Did you change direction at any point or was it all plain sailing?
With Dollywagglers, I always knew I wanted to write a swingeing critique of our society. Dystopias are a splendid way of using metaphor. I did not realise quite how much my main character, Billie, needed to change before the end of the book. For Micka, it was about giving a voice to children that society never acknowledges. Their voices are never heard. When they speak, you may not like what they are saying.

Are you an outliner or a pantzer when it comes to start a book? If the latter, do the ideas come to you in one big lump, or are they piecemeal?
I wrote these books as I write all my novels – I write the scenes, the moments, that I feel most passionate about, and when I have enough of the patchwork I stitch it all together until you can’t see the joins. I do this because it’s more fun – my approach to playwriting is disciplined and way more structured. I guess I know the rules of drama. I make sure I have plenty of realistic drama in my fiction too. I never worry about the opening of the novel until it comes, usually by itself.

Finally, where can the book be purchased and what are your plans for the next ones?
You can order it from your local bookshop! That would be my preference. Or ask your library to get a copy. I buy lots of books on Amazon and you can find mine on the UK and US sites, along with a short story published as an ebook this year, which is called Strange Creation.

The link for Dollywagglers at all local Amazons. http://bookShow.me/B00JYGG58W

Here are the blurs for Fan’s books.
Dr Dorothy Broadhurst, a biologist, is living in 1950s Central Africa to study the local ape population. When civil war erupts and the rest of her team flees, she’s left alone in the jungle. Dorothy may think she understands the apes she has studied for so long, but she could never have predicted what they do next . . .

DOLLYWAGGLERS [pub 2014]dollywagglers cover

After the plague, most of us are dead, and some of the survivors aren’t behaving very well. But we can still have a laugh, can’t we? Letting go is for softies. I’m alone – delightfully and comfortably alone. I don’t do crying…
That’s the wonky philosophy of Billie, a dollywaggler on a far from sentimental journey. The Eppie – a worldwide flu pandemic – has left London with nothing but a few beastly survivors with appallingly unwholesome habits. Watch out for Rodney; he is particularly nasty. Oh, and don’t try to escape the madness by fleeing to the country – things may be even worse out there. Besides, a greater intelligence is planning to identify and control the living remnants nationwide, as order begins to be restored. It’s time to find out who the real dollywagglers are.

MICKA [pub 2011]mickab+flaps-1
Micka loves drawing and wants a pup, but with older brothers into violence and petty crime, and a mother who can’t read the notes his teacher sends home from school, neither he nor the pup stand much of a chance.
Then a new boy, Laurie, starts at Micka’s school. The two boys both have vivid imaginations, but Laurie’s fantasies are of magic and revenge, and he soon pulls Micka into a dangerous game where the line between make-believe and real life — and, ultimately, death — is increasingly blurred.
Written in direct, uncompromising yet compassionate prose, and with a breathtaking clarity of insight, Micka is an astonishingly assured debut — and an unforgettable story.

My five star review of Dollywagglers on the Amazons.
This is a thrilling dystopean story with a twist. Billy, the main character, is large and shambling, a disguise to hide her sex, a necessity to avoid attack. There is no longer any protection of law for anyone and so she does the best she can with the chaos that is now her life.

All is not dark as there are flashes of brilliant wit throughout this. Billy tries to live her life according to her own standards of behavior, irrespective of the choices others have made. She works towards a goal, despite setbacks. This is a deep look at what happens when society fails through misfortune and how it affects people. Billy, despite her outward appearance, is a character one can cheer on in the course of the story. Loved this. Wonderful read.

The link for Dollywagglers at all local Amazons. http://bookShow.me/B00JYGG58W

Interview with Joel Cornah, author of The Sea Stone Sword

Hi, and Welcome Joel Cornah. Would you like to begin by telling the readers something about yourself?

I’m a dyslexic Lancastrian who somehow found himself writing epic fantasy and getting published. I am also a writer and editor for The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Network which has me hopping up and down the country talking to people who were in Doctor Who on camera. I’m a member of the Tolkien Society, a drinker of tea, and I run a bookshop / cafe in Parbold village near Wigan, Lancashire.

What are your books about and what inspired you to writethem?

My first novel, The Sea-Stone Sword, is about a boy named Rob Sardan who wants to become a hero, but he gets it all completely wrong. The story is set in a world I created growing up telling stories to my younger siblings; it is filled with dinosaurs, dragons, penguins and more besides. There is a quest, a Pirate Lord, and a magic sword that slowly but surely breaks the wielder and makes them into its tool.

I have two supplementary stand-alone novellas as well. The Spire of Frozen Fire tells the story of Jareth Sea-Splitter, a pirate who travels to the gigantic prison of ice and crystal, south of south, the needle of the world. There she seeks secrets and answers, but finds something she did not expect.

The Silent Helm is my latest novella. It is the story of Eimhir, a young girl who has lived her life relying on silence, stealth, and secrets. But when she meets a community of human-dragon hybrids known as draigs she discovers a people who live their lives defined by war; those who run from it, and those who embrace it. She must chose to break her silence to save lives, or else be broken by it.

Next year I hope to have the next full novel, The Sky Slayer, out and ready for the world!

How long did the first book take to write and how many times did you go through it before it was finally done?

The Sea-Stone Sword was originally a side project. I had been working on a much longer story called The Dinosaur Prince, and one of the characters, Rob Sardan, had an interesting history. I wanted to write about his backstory and made notes on it. I’d been writing The Dinosaur Prince for about seven years on and off, but when I sat down to write The Sea-Stone Sword, it took me about three months to get the first draft done. I edited it multiple times and it was about a year before it was ready for publishers to look at. When Kristell Ink said yes it was the most amazing moment of my life and I hope the book does well just as a thank you to them if nothing else!

Where do your settings come from? Are they taken from real places, made up entirely, or a conglomerate of the two?

Much of the world was created over years and years. There are certainly aspects from the real world that worked their way in – I think bits of Finland are dotted about as well as some of the grimier and gray parts of northern England. But as much of it is set at sea, I think I took some inspiration from Liverpool’s tall ships which I saw regularly at university, and probably remember some vague nautical things from my childhood growing up near Southport.

Who is your favorite character and why?

I loved the character Eimhir! She came out of nowhere! I had not planned to put her in the story and I don’t know where she came from. I just had this quiet little girl who was able to slyly and silently make the world work to her advantage. She has such an interesting psychology and it’s probably a reflection of myself in some awful ways. She has suffered a lot of abuse and cruelty, but has come out of it so much kinder, and loving, though she may mask it and try and push those feelings away. I like to have characters who subvert expectations, and she certainly does for me!

There’s a new character in The Sky Slayer who is also becoming one of my favourites to write. She just has all the best lines – all the sarcastic and cutting jibes you wish you could say in real life but can’t because you’re too polite. Watch out for Alya Kadir.

Did you change direction at any point or was it all plain sailing?

Generally I have a good idea of where the plot is going so there are rarely moments where I change direction wildly. Details change and I may meander around a bit but usually end up where I wanted to get to.

Are you an outliner or a pantzer when it comes to start a book? If the latter, do the ideas come to you in one big lump, or are they piecemeal?

Like I said, I know where the story is going. I don’t usually plan out meticulously. I approach writing a lot like playing chess against yourself, where you’re playing both the protagonists and the antagonists (and everyone in between). Everyone has their goals, everyone has their style, and everyone has their strategy. Each character has their own ‘checkmate’ in mind, but you also realise that if things work out in certain ways, they may have to settle for a stalemate. I usually know what the antagonist is trying to achieve and how they are going to do it, so it’s a case of finding a way for the protagonists to move against them and work out what’s going on.

Sometimes, I will realise that one character hasn’t been playing chess at all – they’ve been playing poker, and they have an ace up their sleeve.

But then my analogy starts to break apart and become incomprehensible.
I tend to write with themes in mind and that helps shape the story and the characters. The theme of The Sea-Stone Sword was stories, heroes, and villains. A lot of it revolves around those ideas and different interpretations of them. As things come to mind, I write them, but it’s all centred around a framework and theme.

Finally, where can the book be purchased and what are your plans for the next ones?

They’re all available from good bookshops, (and no doubt some bad ones too). Smashwords, Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, and Book Depository.

The next book, The Sky Slayer, will hopefully be out next year. It is the story of Rob Sardan’s next adventure. The Sky Slayer’s curse is upon him, and the only way to break it is to escape from the dreaded prison at the end of the world. To do so, he will need the help of an aging doctor, a failed thief, a former pirate, and a strategist who simply cannot be trusted.

Thank you so much for having me on here!



I fully admit I get my best book ideas from dreams, but not this latest one. This was a no no from the get go.

Imagine a very nasty resort in a very swampy region with very unclean water. Now add nasty ‘things’ just below the surface with bodies like giant slugs that are dangerous and will eat people. Add to that filthy, dirty cabins and no fun things to do for tiny kiddies. This would be us and our daughters and they would be five to months old at the time. For some strange reason, only logical in dreams, we had taken the baby’s wooden cot with us. Now add a black, mist like presence to haunt the cabin and us trying to get the aforesaid cot out of the cabin so we could pack the car to leave early from this nightmare vacation. 

Nope, not one I will be using. It fails, not from the yuk factor, but because it has no ongoing plot or structure, aside from the factoid that I never write about real people. 

On the flip side, as there always is one, my next dream, after I woke from the nightmare and drifted off again, gave me the plot for the fourth book in my Shadow series. I have the main character and all the whys and wherefors. I have these written down now. 

Nope, I will not be working on this any time soon. I have the finishing touches to put to the third Shadow book and also I have Serpent of the Shangrove to finish as a sequel to Darkspire Reaches. Added to that, I am working on a very dark science fiction stand alone book I would like to finish before I start on any new projects. Shadow three, probably entitled ‘Chalice of the Shadows’, although that does depend on what my publisher thinks as to the title, and Serpent of the Shangrove, ditto,  are high priority. I am working on the three at the same time as I can get more wordage out.

 The good news is I am told Sword of Shadows is set for release in September of this year. Yay!!!!!