Sunday 31 October 2021

Misha Herwin tell us all about her writing today


I write book both for adults, women’s fiction, which included, time-slip, family saga and contemporary novels and for kids, fantasy/alternative worlds.  I also write short stories and plays. Working in various genres I find challenging and exciting. It’s great to have written something for an adult readership, which deals with present day issues and then go into my alternative Victorian Bristol where twelve year old Letty and friends are battling the sinister power of the Dark Ones.

I started writing very young as an offshoot of playing with my younger sister and telling her stories.

 Much as I try to stick to a routine, it rarely works out. Ideally, I’d write all morning and deal with everything else in the afternoon, or early evening, but life has a habit of getting in the way and if it’s a question of seeing family or friends, they come first.

I’m very lucky to have an office of my own, which I absolutely love. It’s full of books I need for reference, though Google has made a lot of these redundant and pictures and photos that inspire me.

I started calling myself a writer only about ten years ago. Before that it was almost like a secret vice something I’d admit to very reluctantly. Then I decided that if I wasn’t going to get a publishing deal with one of the big companies, I’d go Indie. Now I have eight children’s books out there, plus five novels and numerous short stories, once my books started coming out my attitude changed and I realised that it’s all how you project yourself. See yourself as a writer and that’s how people will treat you.I take myself seriously so do family and friends, all of whom, whether writers or not, tend to be very supportive.

Freecycling for Beginners is my latest novel.

“The time has come for Jane to sell the family home. Downsizing to a flat means everything must go, but her late husband’s favourite chair is far too precious for the tip.

Meanwhile Robyn, balancing her precarious career as a portrait artist with raising an autistic son, is searching for a chair with panache that will allow her sitters to pose in comfort.

Elsewhere in the city Tracey is clearing out her wardrobe at the same moment that divorced and cash-strapped Debbie is frantically seeking a prom dress for her daughter.

None of these women have ever met until Freecycle brings them together and their lives are about to be changed in ways they could never have imagined.”

I’ve always been a keen re-cycler and it was a story on my local freecycling site that sparked the idea for the novel. A mum was asking if anyone had a prom dress they could let her have for her daughter. Since it was late on into the Summer term I wondered why she had left it so late. Had there been an unexpected invitation? Were they too poor to afford a new dress? Or had something happened to the original one and they were looking to replace it? I never found out what happened, but a little later there was another post asking if anyone had a posh car and could give a lift to the prom. Putting these two posts together I imagine who would reply and why.

I loved the idea that random people would be helping each other and that offering an unwanted item could bring people together in ways that would affect the rest of their lives.

I also wanted to write a novel about community and friendship and the wider issues of avoiding waste and caring for our planet. If that sounds very serious, there is also romance and humour and a general feel good factor that we could all do with at the moment.

Freecycling forBeginners is available on Amazon, other sites and can be ordered from all good bookshops.

Now that Freecycling for Beginners is published, it’s back to the Adventures of Letty Parker with book four The Hanging Tree coming soon.





Saturday 30 October 2021

A Conversation with Rebecca Redshaw


Hello, Rebecca. Tell me, what do you write? Why this in particular?

My first novel, Dear Jennifer is an epistolary novella. I love writing letters and I created characters that wrote to Jennifer throughout her life. The challenge, different from most letter books, is that I didn’t include any letters from Jennifer! Whatever you learn about the main character is from what others write to her. Other than a few short stories, Dear Jennifer marked my beginning as a serious writer, and I subsequently adapted it for the stage.

In my career I’ve written six novels, seven plays, and a number of short stories. Once I get an idea, the format, play or novel, is determined, not by me, but by the characters early on.



  Do you have a particular routine?

I am a creature of habit, and it has served me well since leaving my past career in film restoration in Los Angeles. I keep a 4” x 8” reporter’s notepad by my computer and every night I write a “To Do” list for the next day. It’s pretty consistent. Monday: Submit. This reminder insures I get my work “out there.” Other mornings, nine to noon, are for writing. I don’t answer the phone or emails and if I’m not working on a big project (novel or play), I click on my “Non-memoir File” and choose from a list of past experiences. Whatever the topic, it’s always accompanied with a cup of tea and my dogs, Stevie and Zora, who position themselves at my feet when I say, “It’s time to go to work!”

  When did you decide you could call yourself a writer? Do you do that in fact?

I struggled with calling myself a writer in the beginning. Would it be when I’m published? When I got paid? When I started teaching writing? I suppose having plays produced and hearing audiences applaud helped me over the hurdle of credibility. And, yes, I call myself a writer. 


  How supportive are your friends and family? Do they understand what you're doing?

I am very, very fortunate. My wife and I have been together for more than thirty years. Early on in our relationship, Kay went back to graduate school to become a Physician Assistant. I was working for SONY Pictures at the time, so it was my honor to support her career change. Years later, she had established her career, and I left the studio to write full time. Not only does Kay support my endeavors, but she stepped out of her comfort zone to play a role in a reading of my play, “Hennessey Street.” I know I am lucky and appreciate her support.


  What are you most proud of in your writing?

I love when readers write me a note. I’ve been fortunate to write for newspapers and, for whatever reason, two columns in particular stand out. One, was an op ed about the importance of a handwritten note or card compared to a text or email. Many people wrote to me saying they forwarded that column to their children and grandchildren, which I thought was impactful. Two, a lengthy article I wrote for the paper ran on Father’s Day. I shared memories of life with my father which triggered emotions in readers that they shared with me. “Proud” may not be the correct word, but I appreciate the interaction of human emotions inspired by the written word.

  How do you get on with editing and research?

I love editing and research, two very different processes!

For years I’ve been working on a play based on an actual event in 1904. Researching the daily lifestyles and the world events of that era was fun and vital for the characters to be believable.

As for editing? I tend to underwrite. Not like an insurance agent, but my first draft tends to be stark, so rewriting for me usually means adding more detail. After the 6th or 7th draft of a short story, for example, I’ll put it aside for a week or more. When I work on it after that, the fine tuning begins. I love everything about the process. Plus, when the occasion arises, I enjoy editing others’ work.

  Which writers have inspired you?

Zora Neal Hurston. Talk about meeting challenges head on! When I feel discouraged or frustrated, I try to imagine the courage and grit Zora encountered in getting her work published. Plus, her characters are clearly developed and memorable.

Tuesday 26 October 2021

Dawn Knox and The Future Brokers

 Today I'm talking to Dawn Knox.  We've published several of  Dawn's stories and two CafeLit serials. Dawn and I have appeared in the same anthologies together.   

 What do you write? Why this in particular?  

I write across several genres as the mood takes me. At the moment, I’m writing a historical romance set in the early 19th Century which I shall submit to be a My Weekly Pocket Novel. However, I’m also writing a quirky set of short stories about garden gnomes. From time to time, I write horror too! I don’t know why I choose any particular genre. When something piques my interest, I generally think about what sort of story would suit it best and set out to write in whichever genre it fits best.


 What got you started on writing in the first place?

I was trying to help my son with his creative writing homework and to fire his imagination. I failed miserably to inspire him but discovered I was interested myself!


Do you have a particular routine? 

No, I write every day but I usually finish my chores and then write when I can although I get up before the rest of the household and go for a walk outside if it’s light or simply walk around the downstairs if it’s dark and dictate my latest story into my phone. Later on, I tidy up the dictated text and add it to my current work in progress. 


Do you have a dedicated working space? 

Yes, I’m really lucky to have my own office up in the attic. It’s my favourite shade of blue!

When did you decide you could call yourself a writer? Do you do that in fact? 

It was several years after I had anything published that I ever referred to myself as a writer and even now, if I describe myself as such, I feel like I’m being rather presumptuous. If someone asks me what I do, I usually say I’m retired and that I like writing.


How supportive are your friends and family? Do they understand what you're doing? 

My husband and son are supportive although I suspect neither of them have any idea how much writing means to me. I suppose the best I could say is that my family consider me to be a harmless eccentric!


What are you most proud of in your writing? 

I’m most proud of my book The Great War – 100 Stories of 100 Words Honouring Those Who Lived and Died 100 Years Ago which has been a finalist in three book awards

I’m also proud – although still very surprised that I’ve had two plays about World War One performed in England, Germany and France.

 How do you get on with editing and research?

I love doing both and don’t have a problem with them. I spend a lot of time editing, trying to get a manuscript to be as good as I know how. I also enjoy researching and trying to add sufficient background to make a story seem as if it’s grounded in reality and really could have happened.


Do you have any goals for the future? 

I don’t have any specific goals for the future, other than to keep writing and to try different genres and styles.


Which writers have inspired you?

I love Sir Terry Pratchett’s writing – so cleverly funny and often completely absurd. I’ve probably taken away a little bit of all the books I’ve ever read. Some writers have inspired me, whilst from others, I’ve found things I want to avoid.


And now tell us about your new book specifically: 

I’ve written a book with fellow writer, Colin Payn called The Future Brokers . Colin had the initial idea and invited me to join with him. We started writing just before the first lockdown, so most of the writing took place with us communicating on FaceTime and via email. Here’s the blurb:

It’s 2050 and George Williams considers himself a lucky man. It’s a year since he—like millions of others—was forced out of his job by Artificial Intelligence. And a year since his near-fatal accident. But now, George’s prospects are on the way up. With a state-of-the-art prosthetic arm and his sight restored, he’s head-hunted to join a secret Government department—George cannot believe his luck. 

He is right not to believe it. 

George’s attraction to his beautiful boss, Serena, falters when he discovers her role in his sudden good fortune, and her intention to exploit the newly-acquired abilities he’d feared were the start of a mental breakdown.

But, it turns out both George and Serena are being twitched by a greater puppet master and ultimately, they must decide whose side they’re on—those who want to combat Climate-Armageddon or the powerful leaders of the human race.



Tell us about your research for this book. 

Colin and I carried out research and discovered fairly early on that as our story was set in 2050 – the near future –  real life events were catching up to what we were writing! For example, we found that a proto-type of the rescue vehicle we’d imagined and described, actually had been designed. At times, it felt as though events were catching up too fast for us to stay ahead!

What inspired you to write this?

It was Colin’s idea and I believe he wanted to write a book where Artificial Intelligence was on the side of Humanity, rather than as seen in many science fiction books, where they are pitted against each other.

What's next? 

Colin is finishing the third in his series of books about a family who own a park and I’m halfway through another historical romance, as well as submitting my short stories about garden gnomes for publication as The Crispin Chronicles. When we’re both finished, we’ll get together and plan another book, also set in the near future.

How can we get a copy of the book?

The Future Brokers is on Amazon as a paperback, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. See it here.


Finally, what for you is the most important aspect of this book? 

I like the fact that this book is a romance but that it also reminds people that we are facing a climate crisis. The Future Brokers is an uplifting book with a hopeful ending but one that Colin and I would like to prompt people to think seriously about the future of our planet.

 A link to one of our promotional videos in YouTube