Interview With Author – Michael Kott

 Hello All!

I had the honor and opportunity to have an interview with Michael Kott – the author of Piasa, Cryptid and LifeShift. I have had the chance to read Piasa (read my review) and Cryptid (read my review)  so far, and LifeShift is on my TBR list.

When did you realise that you wanted to become a writer?

   I considered it at times but got serious when writing with my daughter.  After going to the Naval Academy  and serving her retired time in the Navy, she was attempting to pursue an acting career in Hollywood. She needed something to fill her time there and asked if I wanted to help her write a book about what it was like for a girl to go to the Naval Academy. This was in the early 2000s. She quit Hollywood because she could not see that lifestyle but as she followed her husband from station to station, we continued, via the internet, to continue write. While she was in Memphis, Tennessee, she had the idea of us getting together somewhere in between where I live (Chicago area) and Memphis. Looking at a map we decided on Alton, Illinois, where we found a nice Bread & Breakfast House to rent.  There I was introduced to the Piasa legend and I began writing about that.  Finally, Krystee, tired of the inability of agents to place her novel and finding herself about to have her first child, told me she was giving up writing. I continued.

 

Where do you get your ideas from?

   Our stay in Alton sparked the Piasa novel and an interest in Cryptozoology. That led to Cryptid.  Those stories are in my website blog. Cryptid contains a setup for a third novel but at present I don’t know if I want to continue them.  Most of my ideas of stories originate in the form of dreams, Usually I try to write based on the dream but it leads somewhere else. Both LifeShift and Moonglimmer started that way, as separate novels, but later merged into one idea. Many scenes are based on personal experiences, especially those in LifeShift and the currently being written, Shadow Lake.

 

Where did you get your idea for Piasa?

    I covered this above, but failed to mention that I was actually aware of this obscure legend even  before and it was instrumental in my suggesting Alton as our meeting place. I was looking up something else on the early internet and somehow came across the early pictograph which is said to be the Piasa. That sparked an interest and I gathered many stories of it, many which seemed to have now disappeared off the internet.  I was aware of a museum in Alton which had featured the Piasa myth in an exhibit, and when I found it was very close to a bed & breakfast, I suggested that as a place to stay. I have pictures of the trip (everything in Alton has changed) if you want to see them. The story started with just the Mike and Pamela characters until someone suggested it would be a good YA tale. Enter Sara Marshall.

How do you deal with a writer’s block?

   I’ve never had writer’s block, I more get Writer’s Interference. That is other things interfering with the process.  With those I let them run their course.

 

What does your writing process look like?

     I usually write in the morning’s, but sometime’s it runs all day. If Something changes, I go back and rewrite immediately. Everyone says to finish first but I can’t do that. Sometimes I switch stories when changes have put my intended outline in jeopardy.  When a story is well on its way I’ll seek someone to read it and give me feedback. Lately that’s been my editor. Being self-published, I don’t have some army of people at some publishers to fall back on. I seek out readers and I have a trusted editor in California. She is very honest with me and gives me critical feedback. When we agree a story is finished, I hire a cover creator and at the same time send it off to my formatter to create a print ready version and e-book. From there it goes to both CreateSpace and Ingram Spark.

 

How do you select the names for your characters?

   I thumb through a Baby names book I got when Krystee was having her first child. When I get an inspiration there, I use it. Sometimes I come across names I like and use them. This is for first names. For last names, I keep old graduation ceremony handouts and look for a last name that goes well with the selected first name. Real scientific, Huh?

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

   I love this question.  My secrets are that some scenes of my fictional stories are in actuality based on facts or beliefs. Sometimes they come out in the news and I worry people will think I put them in because i saw them on the news.  In LifeShift, Alex has a dream where he is living  on Mars and meets with a girl at the shore of and ocean. This was originally written about 2004-5. Two years ago, about 2015, an article appeared saying that science now believes that Mars was one day home to oceans of water. My story was based on a personal dream.  Way back when I first wrote Piasa, I included the entire scene with an escaped tiger. Several years after that scene was written a news story appeared out of Texas about an escaped tiger.

If you had to choose, Piasa or Cryptid, and why?

     Piasa because it was my first. The story line of Cryptid was a substitute as it was originally supposed to be about the Tasmanian Tiger. However, some stupid movie came out with like, killer Tasmanian Tigers, so I abandoned that as a Cryptid I would write about. There continue to be stories out of Tasmania and mainland Australia regarding sightings of thylacines, so maybe I’ll reconsider. I would need to go to Tasmania though so I can write about it.

Mike, thank you very much for taking the time to do this with me! I greatly appreciate it!

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Circe – Madeline Miller [BOOK REVIEW]

CIRCE - Madeline Miller books book review blog diary of difference bookshelf bookstagram goodreads bestseller

WHEN I WAS BORN, the name for what I was did not exist.

 

I was waiting for two whole months to get this book from the library. And I finally had a chance to read Circe from Madeline Miller. A book that everyone was talking about. The only thing you were gonna see on Instagram. Well, here I am – sitting with the cool kids now, I’ve read this book.

The reason I wanted to read this book wasn’t because I wanted to be part of the cool kids. Actually, it was because Greek Mythology has a special place in my heart. See, I was born in Macedonia, a country full of history, and so very close to Greece, where histories and cultures and traditions match and mix.

When I was in school, our teachers focused hard on history. Especially Roman and Greek Mythology. So yes, I grew up with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey  and yes, I know all the gods out there, what they do, who they married, who their children are.

I have read about Circe, but I have never given her any meaning, as she is not mentioned a lot in Homer’s works, as you might already know. And then suddenly, there is a book about her life. I had to read it!

AND I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!

 

CIRCE - Madeline Miller books book review blog diary of difference bookshelf bookstagram goodreads bestseller

 

This might be my favorite book of 2018!

 

I enjoyed Madeline’s writing style. It was so explanatory and calm, and soothing, like swimming in nice calm waters. You would just gulp her words as you read, and before you know it, you have read 200 pages.

Circe, oh Circe! Her character was so well described – such a strong powerful woman. We start with her childhood, to her growing up, and we follow the process of how she learned things the hard way, how she is naive, and then suddenly isn’t, how she discovers the power she holds within, despite everyone else mocking her and saying otherwise. We see how she decides to say no, how she is not afraid to be a rebel, and how she suffers, and loves, and protects, and cares, and survives, and lives!

You will read a story about the love a mother has toward her child, the love a woman has toward her man, the love a son has towards her mother, the love for freedom, the love for glory…

If you love Greek Mythology, you will get the chance to say hi to some of your favourite gods, nymphs, titans, monsters – Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, Prometheus, Odysseus and many more which I will fail to reveal.

I hardly believe that this is a great book for introducing Greek Mythology to new young readers. I also hardly believe that this book will change the thoughts of many people, the way they see things, the way they live, the way they think.

 

It was one of my favorite things about him: how he always fought for his chance.

 

There are a lot of side characters that give their own meaning to the story as well, and there is also Odysseus, and at times it feels as this is his story, but in the end you realised that this story belongs to Circe only.

 

Do not listen to your enemy, Odysseus had once told me. Look at them. It will tell you everything.

I looked. Armed and armored, she was (Athena), from head to foot, helmet, spear, aegis, greaves. A terrifying vision: the goddess of war, ready for battle. But why had she assembled such a panoply against me, who knew nothing of combat? Unless there was something else she feared, something that made her feel somehow stripped and weak.

Instinct carried me forward, the thousand hours I had spent in my father’s halls, and with Odysseus polymetis, man of so many wiles.

 

To all of you out there – please take your time to read this book! It will leave you breathless, inspired, motivated and it will change your life forever. It changed my life – that’s for certain!

 

The Camelot Shadow – Sean Gibson [BOOK REVIEW]

‘’I can either tell you my tale, or I can respond to your feeble witticisms. I cannot, in my mildly inebriated state, do both.’’

This is not your usual story related to King Arthur, Merlin and Camelot. This will, in fact, be quite different story and not only unusual, but one of a kind.

We go back in time when Queen Victoria was ruling over England. In a time when the author really liked to point out the fact that the characters are using trains. It was pointed out so much, that I had to do a bit of research to see if trains existed in that time. They did – apparently England had the oldest rail transport in the world. And Queen Victoria was one of the first royals to use that form of transport too.

Now, I am not even sure why I kept going on about trains… Back to the story…

The Camelot Shadow covers the story of Lord Alfred Fitzwilliam, a man whose wife is ill from an incurable illness. When an opportunity arises, giving him the chance and hope that he might save the life of his lover, he goes on a mission to find an object from the time when King Arthur was the ruler of England, and Merlin was his companion.

With a help from a group of people, Alfred digs the history and the stories of the past, only to discover that not everything he believed in was true, and not everyone that he trusted is his ally.

A story that reminded me of Dan Brown’s work. Quite similar in the sense of clues, history, what is a myth and what is a fact, though also quite distinctive, as it covers people’s characters so well, describing their personalities in a powerful way.

‘’Wealth. Status. Happiness. A perfect life. All built on an ephemeral foundation, an impossibility masking a lie that, if exposed, if openly acknowledged, would bring it all crashing down around our heads.’’

When a great disappointment comes around, and all hope is gone, people change, and people feel things. A person starts to wonder what they did wrong, what could they have done differently, what if… Alfred is one of the people where we will see his change over the chapters. For better or for worse, I’ll let you decide.

‘’It was Guinevere’s infidelity that brought down Arthur’s Camelot’’ – he said, wiping a trickle of Scotch from his chin with the back of his sleeve. ‘’It was God’s cruelty that brought down mine.’’

A book that explains good and evil in the unusual way. I thought I could explain good and evil, but sometimes my evil can do you good, and your good can do harm to everyone. And power… oh what people are capable to do for power…

‘’Power, Arthur had taught him, was not something to covet, but rather something to treat in the same manner one might handle a wild mastiff – with considerable respect, constant vigilance, and a trace of fear. ‘’

If you are a fan of history fiction, and stories about Arthur and Merlin, you would definitely want to dive in into this book and get lost into the world. And that is not the only thing that this book covers… It covers hope, faith, loss, love, good, evil, power, guilt and everything in between. Get ready for an adventure. One full of bravery and magic. And maybe… maybe some hope.

A huge thank you to the author, Sean Gibson, who was kind enough to give me an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Wrebbit 3D Puzzle CAMELOT King Arthur’s Camelot 3D Puzzle (865-Piece)

Coming Home – Fern Britton [BOOK REVIEW]

I had the pleasure to receive a copy of this book from GoodReads and HarperCollins. This was the first book I have read from Fern Britton, and I know it won’t be my last for sure!

Coming Home is based in Cornwall, England, a beautiful seaside area with loads of fisherman around. The author describes the place so well, that it made me want to go there, just to see it and be close to the characters. It reminds me of South Shields very much as well.

This is a story of one family, three generations and their difficult lives entwined with love, pain, leaving and coming back home.

Sennen is a woman that leaves her hometown, her parents and her two little children (Ella and Henry) at 17-years-old because life gets too hard to handle.

Ella and Henry are raised by their grandparents and live their whole life without their mother in their lives – until one day, Sennen comes back and wants to be a part of their lives. But are they ready for it?

We see the story through the eyes of Sennen, Ella and Henry and the grandparents. We travel from one generation to the other through the years, and we learn a lot for each of the characters. It is so well-written, that I wasn’t confused at all. Usually I get confused when authors try to do this in other books, but this one was definitely not the case.

This is one of those books that will hook you from the very first pages! The characters are so warm and close to the heart, that I felt like I have known them forever. I felt close to them and their feelings and thoughts, that I could have easily gone out and have a conversation with them. It is one of those books that fills you with anticipation, then gives you a back-story, and just when you thought things will happen as you thought, you will discover a surprise.

Wonderful plot and beautifully written – this is a book of love, family, broken and fixed hearts. This is a book that will make you cry while waiting for a train, and laugh out loud while drinking a hot chocolate in a coffee shop.

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The Help – Kathryn Stockett [BOOK REVIEW]

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

This is a book where coloured maids in 1963 are afraid to speak up.

This is a book where they gain the courage to tell a white lady what actually happens inside their lives.

No one is ready to hear the truth, everyone is scared for their future, but bravery is a strong attire to have, and the maids prove they have what it takes.

Lot of courage, lots of excitement, anxiety and me biting my nails over and over again, but definitely book that’s worth reading. And definitely a book that will open your eyes about what actually happened back then.

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