Cake Shop Food Fight With G R Dix

Here on Rock Paper Spirit, we love nothing more than to welcome other authors and writer to the site. Today we’re with G R Dix, author of the Brian Brackbrick stories, which are available on Amazon. Mr. Dix describes the world of the Brian Brackbrick stories as a world of fun, silliness, hats, cakes, books and mysteries. Well, that sounds like the perfect opportunity to visit a cake shop to me!

Garry, welcome to the cake shop! *serves us a piece of lemon drizzle* I’ve been blogging all morning so I really need a tea break. Do you find writing energises you or exhausts you?

Energise, definitely. How can it not? I think creativity and energy feed each other in a cycle, once you really allow yourself to let go. Especially when you write children’s books and spend time going into schools, reading to kids, and so on. Grown-ups accumulate a LOT of baggage from everyday life, and that can really hold you down; kids, of course, have none of that, and it’s wonderful to be reminded of that so often.

g r dix interview brian brackbrick

Have you ever been on a literary pilgrimage? *tosses you a red velvet cupcake*

Sadly, no.

I have had the idea of visiting real-life examples of the shops in my books, that would make for some great selfie opportunities. For example, I know there is a hat shop in Birmingham like Harry Hatman’s, a flower shop in Berlin called Blumen (just like Mrs. Blumenhole’s shop!), and amazingly a dessert place has just opened in my home town that’s just like Fancy Nancy’s cake shop (Delightful Desserts, Kettering).

Also, next time I’m in New York I really want to visit the Dag Hammarskjold building at UN Plaza, which is said to be the inspiration for the physical tower in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.

It’s so nice to chat to a fellow writer. Chatting to others in the same industry certainly gives me a different perspective on how we all work. What authors are you friends with and how do these friendships shape your writing career? *pours more tea*

Knowing other authors is essential, it really is. I have met some amazing writers at various stages of their own careers, and they have helped so much. People like BB Taylor, Beth Kemp, Natalie Perry, Kathryn Evans, Lorraine Hellier, Marie Basting – amazing writers and lovely people, so supportive. There are also writers I know ‘virtually’, i.e. contact through social media / email, but never met in person, such as Vashti Hardy, Liz Pichon, Lissa Evans, Peter Bunzl. I have met most through being a ‘Scooby’, a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). They are the most supportive organisation on the planet, joining them was the best thing I could have done.

I am loving the novelty cakes in here. Look, there’s a clown one! Do you think it tastes funny? *tumbleweed* Anyway… Would you rather be stuck in a lift with a wasp or a weird clown?

A clown, definitely! At least the clown would have a story, and might inspire something. Wasps, though…forget those guys!!

What did you do with your first royalty payment?

Every penny earned goes into a pot to fund the next book in the series. As I am independently published, I have to bear all the costs, such as paying my illustrator, proof copies, author copies, memberships, conferences, events, meetings…. I have a dream that one day, I might actually make a profit!

What books or magazines would you recommend for other aspiring writers?

On Writing by Stephen King is the obvious one, as far as physical books go.

If you are a member of an organisation (such as SCBWI), their newsletters, notifications, emails and articles etc. are very useful. You could also follow and subscribe to lots of book bloggers, and check out their contents and guest posts for tips and information. Use social media as a tool, find and follow the writers and/or bloggers that you think you can learn from (and don’t forget to interact with them too).

Otherwise, just read – read as much as you can, as often as you can. It is all part of learning the craft. Challenge yourself too, try to pick things that you wouldn’t normally choose. I really want to emphasise this – you must allow yourself time to read. You might notice from social media that the hashtags #amwriting and #amreading go together so often, and there’s a reason for that. As Stephen King himself said: “If you don’t have the time to read, then you have neither the time nor the tools to write.”

*dodges a flying chunk of chocolate cake* What the… Did someone just thrown that at me? Never mind… You’re at a dinner party. You can choose any one living person, any one deceased person and any one fictional character to sit at your table. Who do you choose?

Living: Stephen King. Master of the craft. (Back-up: Arnold Schwarzenegger.)

Deceased: Stephen Hawking. Overcame so much and changed our way of thinking about the universe. (Back-up: Terry Pratchett.)

Fictional: Sweep. Do I need to explain why? (Back-up: Homer Simpson.)

Hmm, Stephen King, Stephen Hawking and Sweep. That would be a very interesting party! How do you select names for characters?

Great question!

I like names that are alliterative, or that relate to the person’s character, or that sound funny, or all of the above. Names to me are a big part of the creative process, and can pop into your head a number of ways. My main character, Brian Brackbrick, was named by one of my grandsons – he just blurted it out one day when we were chatting about names, and that was it – Brian popped into my head straight away, and hasn’t left me alone since.

Other sources that might surprise you are:

Unusual village or place names – take notice when you’re driving around, or looking at a map. Some of those quirky village names sound great as character names, and can really help with sparking creativity.

Typos / misheard names or words – next time you drop a clanger on the keyboard, before you delete it, read it aloud. Is it funny? Could it work as a surname? Again, it’s about sparking that creativity.

You’re given a choice between never being able to write a full book again and never being able to read a full book again. You always miss the last page. Which do you choose? *ducks to avoid a flying meringue*

Wow, tough question. I think the first one, as you could make it a promotional angle, i.e. have a competition for the readers to write the last page for you, and the best one wins a prize.

Good idea! Now, I’m about to start a new career and part of it is helping people get out of writer’s block. Do you believe in writer’s block?

No, although the funny thing about ‘belief’ is that things tend to exist whether we believe in them or not! I think there is a tendency now with writers to try and move away from the concept of writer’s block. Periods where you’re not actually putting words on the page are actually a part of the overall writing process, and are sometimes just as important. There are times when stepping away from the keyboard and doing other things is the right thing to do. Let those ideas swirl around in your head for a while, and usually problems will resolve. I like the notion of an ‘idea casserole’, where you pop your story components in the metaphorical pot and let them simmer for a while. When you come back to the pot later, the story is juicier and more tasty!

Do you think writing is more of a creative experience or a spiritual experience? And by spiritual I mean, it’s something that you find a connection with deep in your soul in a non-religious way.

I don’t think you can separate these – one feeds the other. When you write, certainly in the ideas phase, you need to switch off all your grown-up thinking habits, the ones that tell you, “you can’t do that,” or “that’s stupid,” etc. That’s VERY freeing, you could say it’s therapeutic, definitely. I feel like that’s allowing a really important part of me – a part that was hidden away for a long time – to take the wheel for a while. I guess creativity, for me, is the process of externalising this part of you, which I wouldn’t call ‘spiritual’, but I get why others would.

Some of these cakes are so colourful! What colour are your bedroom curtains?

Err… pale blue? Teal?

Do you dedicate your books to anyone? How do you choose the dedications?

I always dedicate my children’s books to my grandsons, Dylan, Ollie and Owen. It was through them that I rediscovered the books I used to love, and all the great kids’ books released over the last few years, and Ollie provided the spark that set the whole thing off. Also, they have been my captive audience for beta testing!

Now, no Lacey interview would be complete without this question; What’s your favourite biscuit?

Chocolate digestives, you can’t beat the classics. Also Choco Liebniz, I remember when they weren’t so readily available here and family would bring them over from Germany.

And finally… Do you believe in magic?

Depends what you mean by ‘magic’. You might think it’s magic that certain large-brained mammals driven by some very basic biological needs can transcend that and create worlds-within-worlds of stories to mesmerise and transfix and entertain and inspire others. As the eminent philosopher Freddie Mercury once wrote: “It’s a kind of magic…”

Thanks for the interview! If you’d like to read some of G R Dix’s work, you can purchase the books on Amazon. Links are included in the interview.

(This post contains affiliate links for which I will receive a small amount of commission if you make a purchase after clicking)


Interview: Time Travelling With Craig Hallam

Today on Rock Paper Spirit, we’re doing something a little different. I’ve stolen a time machine and travelled back to Victorian London with author Craig Hallam, who has written the Alan Shaw books, a series of steampunk adventures set in – you guessed it – Victorian London! (Disclaimer: Neither I nor Craig have been paid for this interview, but the post does contain links to Amazon from which I will receive a small amount of commission if you make a purchase)

craig hallam interview steampunk victorian london

Craig, welcome to my site and to the 19th century! Can you tell us a little bit about the Alan Shaw books please?

Hi Lacey. Thanks for having me along on your time machine. Have you noticed that everything is in black and white? How odd.

This is the about the right time period for Alan’s adventures. The series is a trilogy with each book containing several adventures. They chronicle the life of Alan from a young orphan who has just escaped the workhouse to his world-spanning adventures as an adult.

craig hallam interview steampunk victorian london

I had a few different things in mind that I wanted to include in these books so they’re a combination of several passions, really. I’m a fan of damaged heroes who sometimes stray on both sides of the moral line, heroes who don’t always know what they’re doing, don’t always win, and don’t always get some grand destiny. Sometimes people are just people trying to do the best with what they have. Mix that with a love of the Victorian Science Fiction aesthetic and my love of B-movie titles and you have the raw material for The Adventures of Alan Shaw.

I’ve read a lot of Steampunk over the years and one thing I always wanted to see was how the era developed. It’s often a given that we’re in the 1800s and dirigibles and automatons are a regular occurrence. These kind of books are also usually set in either England or America and I wanted to see what was going on elsewhere. So, as Alan grows up, not only do we see how the steampunk era develops from the introduction of a mechanical workforce in the first story “Alan Shaw and the Fate of the Automatons” but also how the technological development affects other countries and historical events when Alan gets wrapped up in the Indian Revolution in “Alan Shaw and the Brass Monkeys”.

So, there’s a lot to pack in there while keeping the pace breezy and exciting with lots of cool and diverse characters. I’ve had so much fun writing these books, it should be illegal.

Wait, we’re in Victorian London. Maybe it is!

craig hallam interview steampunk victorian london

I love that title – Alan Shaw and the Brass Monkeys! What inspired you to write a series rather than one larger volume?

Complete accident! I only intended to write one book at the beginning but as I wrote and fell more in love with Alan and his cast of supporting characters, I realised that there were so many more stories to tell. The idea stretched to a sequel, then I realised that a trilogy would be needed to do him any justice.

I fancy some jellied eels. We should buy some at the market! But I just realised I don’t have any Victorian money. We’ll have to earn some if we want to eat. How would you go about making money if you lived in this era?

Looks like we’ve arrived around the docks, so there’s always some handy work needing doing. I’d love to say I’d be an adventurer like Alan and his Privateer friends but I don’t have the skills or bravery. Maybe there’s a pub that needs some pots washing? That sounds like my level of knowledge.

craig hallam interview steampunk victorian london

Mine too, actually. Alan Shaw seems like a steampunk version of Indiana Jones, from what I’ve seen in reviews and the blurb on Amazon. Is that how you would describe him or do you take another view?

You’re absolutely right. That’s the vibe I was going for. I love those movies and the way Indie rarely really knows what he’s doing. He’s charismatic but also kind of an idiot sometimes. I like the lovable rogue type. And the kind of adventure where the characters drive the plot is my favourite kind.

Do you think it’s important to create books that are truly original or do you think it is more important to give readers what they know and like?

That’s a tough one. I think that any creative has to be true to their own vision, style and ideals. It’s your story that you’re telling after all. How can readers know if something new is what they want if they haven’t read it yet? However, it’s always a good idea for an author to pay attention to what readers are saying. Not in a way that reviews and opinions should tell them how to write their story, but in a way that constructive criticism is vital to making sure that you improve in your art/craft. So if a lot of people are saying the same thing, it’s probably best to bear it in mind.

I’m not a fan of sex scenes or overt gory violence in my books, for instance. Some people have said that they’d like a little more…ahem…let’s call it physical romance from the Alan Shaw books. But that’s just not what I write. I think the characterisation comes in the romantic moments before a sexual encounter, and the aftermath. So that’s what I stick to. I love the “and the camera pans away” approach hahaha.

I agree. It’s sometimes sexier when you don’t “see” the act and it’s alluded to! Would you rather live in the 19th century with a successful writing career but no money or in the 21st century with a struggling writing career but with all the comforts and freedoms we have now?

Oooooh. Tough one. I think that being a starving author in the 21st century is much easier. I can get side work editing and giving writing advice thanks to the internet, I have a Patreon so that I can reach readers all over the world who help me afford to do little things like eat and get to signings across the country. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’d make it very well around here in the 19thcentury. I’m too doughy and spoiled by phones and laptops.

Ditto. These streets smell putrid. I wonder what that stench is. Oh wait…it’s industrial effluent in the Thames. Lovely. I did not expect that. What kind of research did you do on the era and the settings before writing the Alan Shaw books?

It certainly is…fragrant, isn’t it? A real treat for the senses. I’ve always been interested in the era so I had the same broad stroke information that other people have, I suppose. It was mostly researching the dates for large historic events and advancements when I started out the series. Then more engineering-based subjects to make sure that while I was stretching the limits of steam power and clockwork, that I wasn’t completely breaking them. Mechanical men powered by steam are ridiculously impractical and probably impossible, but at least making them sound plausible is great fun.


What do you think is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?

I’m not sure it is technically unethical but there is something that certainly grinds my gears. I love trees as much as I love books. I hate how much waste comes from books printed by the BIG publishers, or rather the companies that they use to do so. There’s evidence all over the internet that thousands of books a year are ruined in huge deliveries, never sold, and often just thrown away because they’re imperfect. That’s one of the many reasons that I love my publisher, Inspired Quill, they print on demand not because they have to but because they think it’s right. They’re a very progressive group of people who really care about their readers and the world they live in.

That’s a really good answer. Ok, next question. You’re hosting a dinner party in the 19th century. What three guests from this era would you invite? Bonus points for telling us which of them drinks too much wine and lets slip an important secret.

I think it would have to be Emily Pankhurst, Nikola Tesla and Karl Marx. Can you imagine putting the world to rights over a few alcoholic beverages with those three? I think Tesla would be a lightweight and would probably end up gesticulating wildly and throwing together some impressive demonstration with things he’s found in the kitchen and hidden under the sofa.

craig hallam interview steampunk victorian london

Travel and adventure seems to be a big part of this series. How important is travel in your own life? What’s the most interesting place you’ve been?

I’m afraid I don’t get around as much as I’d like. The author life is sometimes a transient one but never a well-funded one in my experience hahaha. Places I’ve loved to visit are Edinburgh, Budapest, San Francisco and New York. They all have a real atmosphere that you can almost taste. I like places like that. But if I have a choice of somewhere to be, it’ll always be somewhere more natural. I’m a lover of lakes, hills, and forests in particular.

And because no Lacey interview is complete without this question, and I like to get down to the important issues, what’s your favourite biscuit?

I’m a fan of the humble custard cream. Give me a glass of milk and few of those little fellas and you’ll have a friend for life.


Nice! I’m a Penguin kinda girl, myself. Oh look, now that it’s getting dark they’re lighting the lamps. So much prettier than the bright orange streetlights that we have where I live in the 21st century. Well, we’d better get back in the time machine and go home. Thanks for joining me Craig, these books sound really awesome and I am definitely going to download them. Can you give us some links to show us where we can find you and your books online please?

Thanks so much for having me. I hope the time machine doesn’t use up too much plutonium or anything. You can find me and my books in the usual places:




Amazon UK Author Page Author Page


Not Before Bed

The Adventures of Alan Shaw

Old Haunts (The Adventures of Alan Shaw 2)

Author Interview: Wedding Crashing With Jessica Goodwin

It’s February, spring is just around the corner and love is in the air! So, what better way to interview my next guest on Rock Paper Spirit than by crashing a wedding! I’m here with romance author Jessica Goodwin at the most glamorous society wedding you could imagine to do some writing research. I brought a toaster and added it to the gift pile so I don’t feel like a freeloader. The venue is gorgeous; chandeliers everywhere, wall-to-wall designer outfits and…oh champagne! *takes a glass* Can I tempt you to a canape Jessica?
I probably shouldn’t, because I’m struggling to lose these stubborn holiday pounds, but… one won’t hurt. Okay, maybe two.
*passes a glass of Moet & Chandon* So, tell us a little bit about your books. You’ve released four novels, am I right?
Five, actually! My latest book, Starting from Scratch, is available for pre-order now! Release day is April 20th! Starting from Scratch is the story of Cookie, a mom of three who is trying to figure out what to do with herself after her husband passes away. She lives in a small town that’s full of gossip, so she kind of wants to show everybody that she can be more than “just” a mom. She gets close with Cooper, a family friend who is going through a divorce… and everyone starts talking about them.
jessica goodwin author interview starting from scratch
That sounds like something I would love to read. What motivated you to start writing romance?
If I’m being perfectly honest… it was because I was desperately unhappy in my first marriage. I started writing romance novels as an escape. Writing became my way of bringing some life to all of the “what if’s” I’d ever had. I wanted my characters to find the ones they were meant to be with so I could live vicariously through them and their happily ever afters! It sounds crazy, but the end of my marriage in 2012 was my happily ever after! I finally realized that I deserved so much better… and I have been so happy ever since!
That’s great! Oh, the bride looks lovely! But she’s giving us a strange look, like she doesn’t recognise us. I’m just going to smile back. Have you ever gatecrashed an event before?
*waves at bride* No, but if this was 2012, I’d probably be screaming at her, “DON’T DO IT! RUN! SAVE YOURSELF!” *giggles* I’ll behave myself, though. I’m not as cynical as I used to be.
jessica goodwin author interview starting from scratch
I read and thoroughly enjoyed The One Who Got Away, but it wasn’t a typical boy-meets-girl romance since it involved some complex relationships. Do you find you try to give readers something different from the usual romance novel set-ups or do you ever strive to deliver tried and tested formulas?
With The One Who Got Away, I tried to show that sometimes it’s not always meet-cutes and love at first sight. Sometimes there are other people involved, and sometimes people get hurt. I love a happily ever after, though. I know that’s not always real life, but it’s really hard for me not to write one.
It’s time for the happy couple’s first dance! How sweet! What do you think is the most romantic song ever written?
Ooh, I’m a sucker for a good love song. James Morrison – “You Give Me Something” still gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. Give a guy a guitar or sit him down in front of a piano, and I just swoon. I love pretty much everything by Matt Nathanson. He’s my favorite.
I’ll have to check him out. This wedding looks expensive. *whistles at the sight of yet another tray of free champagne* What would you say the best money you ever spent as a writer was?
In 2017, I decided to go back to school to pursue my master’s degree in creative writing and literature. I’ve tried a little bit of everything – fiction, creative nonfiction and memoir, journalism, television… I have been having so much fun, writing like crazy, and loving every second of it. Being back in school has totally reinvigorated me as a writer.
Can you tell us about an early experience you had where you discovered that language had power?
Hmmm… The first thing that pops into my head was an article I wrote a few years ago. It was after the birth of my son, so I was reading mom blogs and parenting sites like crazy, constantly thinking, “Is this normal? Is this supposed to happen? It is? Okay, whew. I’m glad I’m not the only one…” I decided to write an article for Scary Mommy, had no idea if it was anything they’d be interested in, but they published it. And they published a few other things of mine, too. Seeing other people go, “Yeah! Me, too!” in response to something so personal was such an amazing feeling.
As an voracious reader of mom blogs, I get that! What does literary success look like to you? Do you feel like you’ve achieved it yet or do you still have work to do?
I have no idea. I’m still figuring that out. And there’s always work to do! That’s what’s so much fun. I’ve written romance novels, I’ve dabbled in journalism, I’ve done work on mom and parenting blogs, I talk about family travel on my blog Go With The Goodwins. And I love it all. I think just getting to do what I love is a success!
This is a really great party. I’ve danced so much my feet ache. I’ll just sit here for a while and people-watch to get ideas for new characters. How do you build new characters? Do you have a process or are you one of the lucky writers who has them just walk into your head without much effort?
A lot of times, a character will spring from something I’m dealing with in my personal life. A woman who is unhappy in her relationship. A mom who doesn’t really know what she’s supposed to be doing with her life. Cookie, the main character in Starting from Scratch, is a mom like that – you think as an adult you’re supposed to have things your ducks all in a row, but then things change, and a lot of times you just have to… well, start over. I took that even further with the main character in the book I recently finished writing. It’s about a mom and her friends who are all at different stages in their lives, and they’re all a little envious of some aspect of each others’ lives, because it seems like they have that area all figured out. Do we ever have things all figured out, though? I don’t know…
jessica goodwin author interview starting from scratch
What’s the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?
Managing my time. My son is almost 4 and I am constantly scrambling to get things done in the small window of time that I DO still have when he’s at preschool or when he’s supposed to be napping. There are always school assignments to do, blog posts to write, books to promote, tweets to tweet, so if I have a few minutes to myself, I’m planning, plotting, or writing. Even on the days when I’m exhausted and would much rather curl up under a blanket with a book or Netflix, I know these books and blog posts aren’t going to write themselves!
They’re cutting the cake! What’s your favourite type of cake? And because no Lacey interview would be complete without this question, what’s your favourite biscuit/cookie?
Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!  My favorite cookie is a chocolate chip cookie that is buttery-crispy on the edges with big hunks of gooey chocolate in the middle.
I’m craving them now! Oh no, the father of the bride is talking to the manager of the venue and pointing at us. Time to leave. I just hope they like their new toaster. Thanks for joining me on this research trip. Can you finish by telling us where we can find you online and where your books can be downloaded or purchased? 
I’m all over the place. Come find me and say hi!
Twitter (@_jessicagoodwin)
(Disclaimer: Neither Jessica nor I received any compensation for this interview from each other, or anyone else. We just wanted to chat about her book! However, there are a few affiliate links in this post and I will receive a small amount of compensation if you make a purchase)

People Watching At A Grand Prix With Carol Ann Kauffman

Interview time again folks and this is an interview first published back in 2013 with a writer I’ve featured previously on RockPaperSpirit. I’ve invited author Carol Ann Kauffman along to have a glass of something fizzy and some canapes at the VIP area of a Grand Prix as we chat about her books, past career as a teacher and, as always, biscuits!  Her novel, The Baslicato is actually set partly in southern Italy and features a racing driver.  A novel featuring one of my favourite parts of the world and motorsport?  That sounds right up my street!
carol ann kauffman baslicato interview
Hi Carol, thanks for agreeing to this interview.  Firstly, can you tell us in your own words what The Baslicato is about?
It’s a pleasure to be with you again, Lacey. THE BASLICATO is a full-length novel in the Time After Time series and follows a pair of quintessential lovers, Richard and Nicole, through their lives together, in different places, in different times, with different names, and sometimes on different planets. This follows the alternative theory that the relationships we forge in this lifetime, both the good and the bad, are continued into the future, and are rooted in our past.  What we do, whom we love, and the good and evil deeds we do today follow us into the future.  Unsettled issues will present themselves again and again, until they are ultimately resolved. Those people who have had a profound effect on us in this lifetime will find us again in the future. This particular story, THE BASLICATO, is set in the 1960s in Utah, Ohio, and the southern Italian town of Tursi in Basilicata province.   It’s about a doctor who agrees to help an Italian racecar driver with a head injury and an identity problem, oh, and crazy exes.
It sounds fabulous!  What inspired you to write a book with a racing driver as one of the main characters?
This book is dedicated to my father, who was born in the Basilicata province in southern Italy.  He was the best man I ever knew.  He was fearless, had a “lead foot”, and loved to race.  He taught me how to drive.  I got many speeding tickets, but he never got upset about it.
I love the cover for the book. Who designed the cover?
I did!  Thank you for very much.   I took the cover photo on a trip to southern Italy in 2006.
carol ann kauffman interview
As you mentioned, the book is part of the Time After Time series, isn’t it?  Can you tell us a bit about Time After Time and the other books in the series?
Although every one of the Time After Time books follows the same couple, they are all very different and some are in completely different genres.  BELTERRA (my bestseller and #1 on the kindle action romantic adventure list) and LORD OF BLAKELEY are more sci-fi/fantasy, but all of them are slice of life/comedic love stories.  They are not sexually explicit or graphically violent, though my heroes tend to get roughed up a bit, but never the heroine.
BLUE LAKE is the story of an older woman and her love of a younger, British actor.  It follows them across two continents and an island or two and spans thirteen years of their lives.
BENTLEY SQUARE finds our lovers stalked by an international death squad because our hero is not quite who he seems to be.
Madison’s Christmas is short story about mistaken identity.
Waiting for Richard is about finding love late in life.  It involved a children’s author and a reclusive elephant veterinarian in Australia.
Echo of Heartbreak, A Recipe for Life, is cookbook written in the form of a letter from a seriously ill mother to her unborn daughter, describing the circumstances of her birth.
Waiting For Richard sounds interesting!  Brook Wilson from the book travels to southern Italy, doesn’t she?  Tell us about your trip to Italy.  Did it inspire you to write this story?
Yes, I have travelled extensively in Italy.  I LOVE it.  Everybody needs to go to Italy at least once.  Rome is a trip of a lifetime.  Venice is absolutely fantastic.  Tuscany is gorgeous.  And I’m partial to the beautiful southern countryside.  I did not attend any racing events during my trips in Italy, but have in the US.  I remember seeing Paul Newman race here in northeast Ohio.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on MACKALVEY HOUSE, which is the story of an older man’s fascination with a young woman trying to find herself. (This girl is the baby from Echo of Heartbreak.)  Also, I have been working on the sequel to BELTERRA, called DARK RETURN, where the indigenous race appears to take their planet back, causing much grief for our hero, who is heading the planetary defense and his peacemaker wife.   And then there’s SEA WITCH, where the head of the extraterrestrial institute is missing, and her handsome infatuated assistant works relentlessly to find her.
carol ann kauffman baslicato
What would you say is the most rewarding part of being a writer?
It is FUN!  I find character development, plot twists, and storylines such fun.  I also like to edit.  Formatting for the Kindle can be a hair-pulling experience, because your manuscript can be perfect, but once you push that PUBLISH button, it’s a crap-shoot! Kindle does not recognize space bar or tab, for instance. Luckily, they don’t care how many times you go back and fix it, and there’s a little button on the Kindle that allows my readers to update the latest version of a book they purchased.  I can’t tell you why I love it, but it is the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done in my life.  It also gives me an opportunity to impart some of the things I’ve learned along the way to younger women, so they don’t have to make ALL the same mistakes.  They can make some NEW ones!  Much of my fiction is based on situations and experiences I have had.  Well, not the alien stuff, of course!
Before you were a writer, you were a teacher.  Is that right?  What aspects of teaching, if any, would you say have been useful in your career as a writer?
Yes, I taught in the same public school system for thirty-five years. I loved it. I had wonderful students (many of whom I still keep in touch), great parents to work with, and the years flew by.  I thought I would be chasing the school bus down the street when I retired, sobbing and clutching onto mailboxes as I ran down the street.  But it didn’t happen.
Teachers have to be able to plan and then see that plan through to fruition on their own.  They are given very little help and even less material.  The ability to organize and work on my own were helpful.  Teaching is a create career.
And now, I like to lighten the mood a little with a few random and silly questions!
If you were a flavour of pizza, what one would you be and why?
HA! I ‘ve never thought of it before, hmm. I think I would be plain thin crust pizza with green peppers and extra mozzarella cheese, served piping hot, tugging my cheese with your teeth and twirling it around your tongue. Yep.
If you were offered a million dollars every year for life on the condition that you could never write again, what would you do?
Wow, I don’t know if that’s a possiblity.  I would have to decline.  I like to do things my way and don’t like restrictions.  I have learned a simple life is a happier life.  I don’t want more stuff.  If you have less stuff, you an find it.  Travelling is my only expensive habit!
And now the question I ask everyone, that has nothing to do with anything… what’s your favourite biscuit?
Walkers shortbread cookies, the little scottie dog ones. Did you know they come in chocolate now? I hide them in the cupboard behind the couscous and quinoa and I rarely share them.
Thanks again for joining me Carol.  I am loving The Baslicato!  Italy and a racing driver in one book?  Heaven!
If you would like to read more about Carol Ann Kauffman, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Amazon.

My First Radio Interview at Irvine Beat FM!

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been compiling a list of all my promo links and one of my favourites is the radio interview I did with local DJ Ronnie McGhie at Irvine Beat FM back in September 2014. My first book signing was planned for the following day.  Things didn’t quite work out as planned.
On the Sunday before the radio interview, my son fell ill.  Nothing serious – just a tummy bug – but it lasted until the Thursday.  Caring for him while he was unwell left me tired with very little time to prepare.  That, coupled with the referendum happening in Scotland, meant I was totally unprepared and extremely nervous as the interview approached.  My husband was heavily involved in campaigning in our area and my mother has been unwell for the last couple of months so I was on my own during that week, doing what I could to rehearse and organise in between mopping up projectile vomit.  Oh, the glamour of being an author!
irvine beat fm radio interview

Had to wear my lucky white boots!

The day of the interview came and the mood was sombre in my house.  You can tell my family didn’t get the result we had hoped for in the referendum but like I always say, the show must go on.  So, having been up all night and feeling a bit sick myself by that point, I made my way to the studio for the interview, via the beach.  I had to go somewhere to chill out for a while first and get in the right head-space.  I’m so glad I did.
Irvine Beach – My chill out place
When I was at secondary school, they often made us stand up in front of class to give speeches or engage in debates of some sort.  It’s funny, I can’t even remember what they were about.  However, I digress.  I was so painfully shy back then that I used to cry off sick and go to the rest room so I didn’t have to do it.  Yes, it affected my grades but I was willing to lose my straight 1 status just to get out of speaking in public.  So it’s funny that I’ve chosen a career that put me right in the spotlight in such a way.  Being an author means you are constantly putting yourself in a vulnerable position.  You’re open to criticism as well as praise and the rise of social media has contributed to the opportunities readers have to tell you exactly what their opinion is of you and your work.  The only thing more public than writing books and promoting on radio and at signings is possibly being in the performing arts.  That’s why even agreeing to the interview in the first place felt like a huge step forward for me.
The Irvine Beat studios are top notch.  From the outside it just looks like any other building in an industrial estate but inside it’s everything I expected a radio station to be and so much more.  The staff I met were lovely and Ronnie McGhie who interviewed me was just fantastic.  He really put me at ease and he asked some questions that  made me stop and think!  He’s a real charmer and you couldn’t meet a friendlier or more professional person.  Ronnie is a former colleague of my Dad’s from his Glaxo Smith Kline days and while my Dad chose a low-key winding down to retirement job after leaving the plant, Ronnie, being a few years younger with longer to go until he retires, wanted to build on the career he had built up in his youth in the media.  If you want to read more about Ronnie you can check out the guest blog he wrote on my old website back in April 2013, republished in March 2018.
ronnie mcghie irvine beat fm
If you want to hear the interview here’s the link to it. I haven’t listened to it myself at all in the four years since it was recorded.  That would just be weird! I was listening to the first thirty seconds and as soon as I heard my own voice I shut down the browser.  It’s interesting to hear what people you chat to online think about your voice because they’ve obviously never heard it before.  The word “sweet” was used a couple of times and someone actually said I sound innocent, which tickled me.  I had friends listening from all over the world: Greece, USA, Canada, Finland, Turkey, France… it was really a lovely surprise to have all that support.
The funny thing is, although I was so nervous beforehand I turned those nerves into adrenaline and let them fuel me.  It helped that I had texts from a few friends coming through as I was waiting to be interviewed.  I knew I had support and if I was going to trip on my words or go mute, all those friends who were listening would be cringing and turning red along with me.  Luckily I think it went just fine. Next up was the signing.