7 Questions

Today’s 7 Questions is with Sci Fi author, J Scott Coatsworth. His new book The Stark Divide is out this week, and we caught up with him whilst he was on his launch tour to find out more.

1. So, you have been writing since 2014, what did you do before that?

My husband Mark and I run a number of directories for the queer community, including PurpleRoofs.com, GayRealtyNetwork.com, and PurpleUnions.com. We started the first of these in 1998, and have been working on them ever sense.

Before that, I worked a variety of jobs, but many of them related to publishing – I was the marketing head, promotions director and customer service manager for Hunter House Publishing (it was a very small publisher). I worked for a few years at Barnes and Noble selling books in a retail environment. And I was the Customer Service Key Accounts manager for Publisher’s Group West, a much bigger company than Hunter House that distributed hundreds of independent presses.

And as for writing? Well, I started that when I was in fifth grade, and stopped in the mid-nineties when ten publishers rejected my first novel.

Funny how things change. 🙂

2. In 2017, a lot of sci fi and fantasy series are trying to be more inclusive with their characters, what else would you say needs to be done to make more people feel represented in the genre?

I love writing characters who aren’t like me – I’ve written gay characters, trans and lesbian ones, bi characters, an asexual character, characters of color, and even one with OCD. I always try to be respectful of different kinds of people, and to find someone who’s a part of that community to read what I’ve written and to steer me right where I’ve gone wrong.

But I think it’s also important for folks from each of those communities (and others) to write their own stories and their own truths. And even more important, for their stories to be published, read, and celebrated. While gay male representation has greatly increased in print and in TV and film, we’re still lacking representation for the rest of the LGBTIQA rainbow, and for people of colour as well.

I’d love to see the same TV shows that proudly announce a new white gay character announce a black lesbian, or a Mexican aromantic asexual, or a non-binary Mayor of New York City.

And then we have to read and watch these stories.

3. For people looking to read more sci fi with LGBT characters, where would you recommend they start?

It depends. I have a few faves in the “mainstream” sci fi and fantasy realm.

 Swordpoint, by Ellen Kushner
 The Chronicles of Arun, by Elizabeth K. Lynn
 Ethan of Athos, Lois McMaster Bujold
 Larque on the Wing, by Nancy Springer

But there are also a lot of great writers working today, especially in sci fi romance:

Angel Martinez
 Carole Cummings
 Amy Lane
 Fletcher Delancy
 Jo Tannah
 Wendy Rathbone
 Jamie Fessenden
 Andrew Q. Gordon
 Ben Brock
 Arshad Ahsanuddin

and many more.

You can find these and more here:

sci fi

4. What inspired The Stark Divide? If you had to compare it to something else (I know, that’s always a tough question) what would it be?

It sprang off the novel I mentioned above – “The Stark Divide” is actually the backstory of that tale. But it was also influenced by works by other authors—from Peter F. Hamilton’s Commonwealth series, to which I owe a debt of gratitude for the idea of a living world—to “Rendezvous With Rama” for the generation ship/cylinder world idea.

And of course, a lifetime of reading sci fi.

5. If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, fictional or real, who would it be?

Oooh, tough one.

I think I’d have to pick Anne McCaffrey. She wrote books that really spoke to me when I was growing up—books that made me laugh and cry and sigh in wonder. And she had gay characters in her stories, even if they were minor ones.

I used to dream about going to Ireland and showing up on her doorstep to have tea with her—though when I say it out loud, it sounds a little stalkery. But still, it would have been amazing to meet her and to have a little time with her.

6. Speaking of dinner, describe your ideal sandwich.

Multi grain bread, roast turkey breast, avocado, bacon, light on the mayo, with a side of fries. Yeah. That’s it.

7. Where do you stand on the topic of pet couture?

I support every pet’s right to be fabulous. Except Shar Peis. They are fabulous in their naked skin.

And Scott is all over the internet. Find him below.


Facebook (personal)

Facebook (author page)


QueeRomance Ink



7 Questions

This week’s 7 Questions are with author of the Shiva XIV series, Lyra Shanti.  As an animal lover, we felt it only appropriate to get her views on pet couture, as well as the perfect sandwich filling and her books…

1. You love theatre, have you ever considered writing for the stage?

Actually, my husband and creative partner, Timothy Casey, and I have already written for the stage. We started off with children’s musicals, and one was even produced at a local theatre, but we have since written a full-length musical and a play. The musical is called “#chat” and is about a group of music lovers who form intense online relationships at the turn of the millennium. We recorded a concept album for it where we played and sang everything ourselves. You can find a few songs from it on my website at lyrashanti.com. We plan on writing more musicals in the future as well!

2. What inspired you to write in sci fi, as opposed to any other genre?

I’m drawn to sci-fi and fantasy because I love being taken away to another realm. I don’t like reality much, I suppose.  Life should have more magic and dreams, in my opinion!

3. I saw somewhere that you include diverse characters in your writing. Do you think this is important in sci fi?

I think it’s important in EVERY genre. The world we live in is diverse! To represent it otherwise would be silly. In sci-fi worlds, there would be even more diversity, considering we’re dealing with various alien races from different planets. There should be every kind of colour, gender, sexual preference, and anything else possible!

4. If you could make a film of your new book, who would you cast and why?

Hmm… for The Dragon Warrior of Kri, I picture its main character and hero, Meddhi, as a very handsome, broad-shouldered semi-Asian looking man. Not easy to find! Maybe if Bruce Lee could be reanimated and brought back to life?

Meddhi’s best friend, Prince Atlar, should be blond, beautiful and very masculine. Maybe Brad Pitt?

Princess Pira should look like a mix of European and Indian. I can’t imagine who could play her, but she’d be extremely beautiful!

5. Have you ever considered writing in a different genre?

Yes. In fact, I’ve done so already. I have a biblical fiction called “The Rainbow Serpent.” It’s basically a loose re-imagining of The Garden of Eden, told from the snake’s point of view. It’s quite different than any version you’ve heard before.

I’m also very close to finishing a romantic drama called “The Artist.” It is the story of a multi-talented artist named Apollo who searches for the balance between artistic genius and madness, all while looking for true love. It’s a bit erotic and totally different from my previous novels. The Artist will be released in 2018.

Also, I write free form poetry and prose. You can find my poetry collection, Sediments, as well as The Rainbow Serpent on Amazon.com.

6. Describe your ideal sandwich.

That’s a tough one! I’m all about mood, so one day, it could be a chicken salad croissant. The next, it could be turkey and avocado! Love croissants… and crusty French bread! Pumpernickel rocks too.

7. Where do you stand on pet couture?

I didn’t even know what that meant! I had to Google! Um… I like giving my cats toys once in awhile… but they’re more likely to play with a stray milk carton cap than a toy I paid for, so… I don’t bother much. As for pet clothes, they’re cute and all, but I can’t help but pity the animals who have to wear them. Some little dogs get genuinely cold though, and they seem to love those little sweaters they wear. Who am I to judge?


7 Questions

This week’s 7 Questions are with Rose Montague.  You may remember we reviewed her book in an earlier post, and it’s always fun when we get to geek out and interview someone we really admire, especially when they’re as super nice as Rose. If you haven’t read her books you really are missing out.

1. Where did the idea for Jade come from?

Jade was my first book and is the result of wanting to write what I would like to read. It had to be my most loved genre, urban fantasy. It also had to have a strong element of mystery to it and I wanted to drop clues throughout the book to give readers a chance to figure things out in advance. I think some readers will do better than others anticipating the plot twists and reveals but there are so many mysteries going on at the same time I felt it would be the rare reader that would solve everything.

Jade also had to kick butt, both physically and supernaturally. I love female heroines and the superhero theme. Having supernaturals mixed with everyday humans was a must. I love the concept of co-existence of these two different worlds. I also wanted a romance that was not the central focus of the book and was different from the norm.

I wrote Jade in serial style so each chapter brings something that keeps the reader going, either an action scene or a few surprises. I wanted a book that would appeal both to older teens and adults and I think I was able to do that. I like a little humor in my books and you will find a lot of fun stuff in Jade.

2. Did you know from the start what was going to happen with the character relationships, or did they take on a life of their own?

I had the ending in mind when I wrote the first few chapters and by that time, I had pretty much plotted everything out. Then I got to the original ending and decided to extend it a few more chapters into what was originally planned as the next book. I think that worked out pretty well. The main story is wrapped up but there is some enticement to continue on to the next book.

3. Your cover art is fantastic, do you work closely with your cover artist to come up with something that so perfectly reflects the book?

My cover artist is the amazing Mirella Santana. I saw her mentioned by several of my author friends as being an exceptional cover artist. We worked closely on all my covers. For Jade we looked at several models that would work and once we made the decision, Mirella started adding the elements I wanted. The cover reflects the various natures of Jade, the pointy ears for the fae, the bats for the vampire, the pentagram for her witch side, and another clue (don’t want to spoil the surprise) for her shifter beast. Jade is the mutt of the supe world and I wanted the cover to reflect that.

4. How do you feel about pet couture?

About the same as us wearing real fur, meaning not at all. My cats are beautiful, just the way they are. Badgers may be my only exception to the rule.

5. Describe your ideal sandwich?

Bacon and more bacon, possibly three levels of nice crispy bacon. With mayo and a few pickles. Nothing else, please.

6. Do you have a favourite vampire?

Betsy the Vampire Queen, from the series by Mary Janice Davidson. She’s all into clothes, which is something you will see a lot of with Jade. Not to mention the shoes, it has to have lots of great shoes. Melabeth from the Melabeth the Vampire series by E.B. Hood is my current love. I will be doing a blog post on this series in the next few weeks.

7. If, unlike Jade, you had to choose a type of “Supe” to be, which would you pick?

One of the big cats. A lion, tiger, or maybe a panther. They are beautiful but deadly.

And you can find Rose on Amazon and Pronoun.



7 Questions

Today’s 7 Questions is with chief tester, Huxley at Huxley Hound’s “Better than Raw” dog treats.  He is a very busy daschund, but has taken some time out from his tasting schedule to chat to Newsnibbles about Better than Raw.

1.Tell us a bit about your product and what inspired you to create it.

Well Rolo and I are raw fed boys and Mum is a bit careful about our food and our treats – so she started making her own.  She played around with lots of different ingredients, made a bit of a (huge) mess in the kitchen and we got to try everything she made.  Rolo will eat anything but I am a bit more selective – so it became clear what worked – and what didn’t.  Mum wanted to make sure the treats were low fat and healthy – nothing hidden or added. The preference was also to be organic and British.  As lowriding sausage dogs we really need to keep our waist lines in check so with this in mind, along with the industry figures that show that over 3.5 million dogs out of the 8 million or so dogs in the UK are now considered overweight – it seemed that there would be a place for our veggie treats.  Mum took to the kitchen with little shop-bought dehydrator and it wasn’t long before “our” treats were being handed out to friends left right and centre and it seemed that was the start of our story.

2.If, hypothetically speaking. you were to open a “Better Than Raw Dog Restaurant”, what would be the dress code?

Well we wouldn’t really want to be too exclusive but we do love a tastefully dressed dog.  Nice bow tie for the lads, nice colour and lead for the girls??  However we would like our restaurant to be organic, ethical etc so we would probably aim for the au naturel for the four-legs!  We have been known to dress up – sorry – I mean be dressed up!!  Mum doesn’t have the same taste as us so we usually sit and wait patiently for our treats while she humiliates us!  We do have a nice line in lumberjack shirts and red tees from our friends @animalattire who cater for the longer bodied hound – which are much better than the various Halloween (Halloweiner!) and Christmas outfits!!

3.How do you feel about pet couture, and has this influenced your answer to question 2?

I guess we are slightly governed by the family and their need to dress us up occasionally.  However – we feel each to their own and if the cap fits – literally!

4.What has been the general response to vegetable based dog treats?

It is has been a learning curve – for us and our growing customer base. Overall – it has been very positive.  You will always have some who think that dogs do not need vegetables through to those that take time out to write to us to thank us for making our new range of organic veggie treats – either as an alternative to meat or grain treats or indeed some for medical reasons such as low protein diets.  It seems like the growing trend to incorporate vegetables into dog food is growing as a whole which is great.  So, the response has been great and at our launch to trade in March we were overrun both days and our stockist list is growing every week.

5.Does Rolo feel a bit left out that Huxley got to be brand name?

We don’t think so.  Our little Rolo is slightly afraid of the world so I think he is happy to take back step from the limelight – happy in his home environment being a funny little thing – entertaining the family and friends.  Occasionally he will venture out for the organised Dachshund Walks.  Rolo obviously gets to share the Chief Tasting Responsibilities with me but whereas I am always happy to take centre stage – we don’t think the world is ready for level of noise from such a little fella!

6.Describe your ideal sandwich.

Well call me an old softy with tones of cheesy pick-up lines … if Rolo and I pin Mum down on either side – where we get fuss and treats – that seems like the best kind of sandwich a small sausage loves!

7.What’s next on the agenda?

Well … there is some rather exciting stuff in the pipeline all going on behind the scenes at the moment.  All a bit secret squirrel.  So perhaps we can talk later in the summer when all will be revealed…

And you can find out more about “Better than Raw” on Huxley’s Website.


7 Questions

Sarah Dahl is the author steamy historical romances, known for their gritty

realism and authenticity to the period in which they are set.  She is not afraid to shy away from difficult issues, and if you enjoy the occasional Viking (and you know who you are) then you’ll probably like these.  We are catching up with her to chat about her latest release: The Current – A Battle of Seduction

1. Your work seems to focus on unusual things that perhaps you wouldn’t find in other stories, can you tell us a bit more about this?

In my historical fiction I look at ‘normal’ people (as opposed to the often over-used elite and their power plays in other works of historical fiction) and show them in slightly unusual situations, which in my sensual works often turn into something sensual, steamy even. I’m interested in this often overlooked side of human lives: their passions, dreams, the force of seduction, this game between man and woman (and sometimes other constellations, as you will see in the upcoming “Monk” ;-)). So what makes my stories different is not the Viking-ness as such, but that I ignore the elite and their power plays; I’m not interested in politics and intrigues, but simpler people’s lives. I zoom in on the more common encounters, and what these characters yearn for. So that is the difference to many Viking historical fiction books, which often focus on intrigue and battle. I’m interested in the smaller worlds, not the rulers and their big worlds 😉
The other thing that I hope is different genre-wise in my stories is that I try to steer clear of a language that screams “erotica”. I don’t see my stories as pure erotica, because they are plot-focused and historically authentic, tasteful, and just happen to be sensual, often (not always).

2. What would you say was the common theme in your work?

The common theme in this collection of short stories (of which “The Current” is the first story) is that love and lust can lead to a change of life. There is so much more attached to these moments of carnal desire or sweet seduction. Men and women reveal their desires, their cores, become vulnerable. In the course of the stories, my people change, their perceptions and outlook on life change. They find love, or break free, or feel a more internal change. As J.D. Lexx put it: “Ms. Dahl has a way of making scars sexy and luring out the vulnerability in the invulnerable.”

3. New book? S’that about then?

Every one of my short stories explores one life-changing theme: In “The Current – A Battle of Seduction” it is: The right fight (a sexy one!) can be healing. My warriors use their sexy banter and physical power play to let off steam and recover, to restore the sanity of their minds after the frenzy and madness of real battle:
Marked from the latest battle, Aldaith wants to recover by a stream. But instead of finding solitude, he stumbles on the fearless shield maiden Nyssa. The fierce beauty invites Aldaith into the water to engage in a very different kind of battle — one for which his training leaves him unprepared.

4. Where do you stand on the topic of pet couture?

The Vikings had pets: dogs and cats roamed around their grounds and were vital support troops to fight the common mice and rats and other intruders. When women married, they were often given a cat as pet and to keep the houses free from unwanted little mammals. Dogs were often used for hunting and herding, and they protected the rural farms. So yes, Vikings loved their pets, but I’m not sure the term “couture” is quite accurate if you needed your animals to perform the tasks they were assigned. 😉 But then: We know that the Vikings were the best-groomed people of the era, famous for their washing and combing and general cleanliness…so maybe, maybe their pets received the same degree of grooming at least? It sure wouldn’t surprise me.

5. Describe your ideal sandwich.

My ideal sandwich would be: wedged between two well-groomed, handsome warriors … But seriously: I want my bread to have a crust that crunches. Same goes for men. As long as both aren’t limp and pale, all is good. Add some cheese, cucumber, bacon, and lots of sauce…and I’m happy 😉

6. What is it about Vikings that appeal?

It’s hard to pinpoint what makes the Vikings so appealing to me and so many other people these days…For me it’s that there is so much more behind what we remember today. They were NOT filthy, ruthless warriors. They were well-groomed farmers, or young men seeking honour in battle and by raids. They were NOT interesting in rape and harming people without reason, for that wasn’t honourable and didn’t add to their reputation at home. There are accounts of women running TO the Vikings instead of fleeing them, as they could expect better treatment from these men than most medieval men of the time (stemming from a general respect for the female sex that made even throwing a snowball at a woman a serious offence!). There was no honour gained in violating weaker humans. Plus, they were taller, more muscular and cleaner than the average early medieval guy, as far as I can tell (all that fighting training and rowing!). And their wives had their respect – and power: they controlled the farmstead, could choose exotic professions, and could get a divorce quite easily if the man didn’t perform as expected. So what’s not to like? 🙂

7. Would you grow a beard if you could?

I can totally see myself in a shield wall, so for that purpose a good, thick beard would mean acceptance. And it could help to just once live with a beard to know what I’m talking about when I write about bearded men on a daily basis. But for my everyday female life: Not so much. I’d rather ogle the bearded 😉

Additional note from Sarah:

The first in the collection “Tales of Freya” is “The Current – A Battle of Seduction”. It releases April 24th.
Available as ebook at all major retailers: https://sarah-dahl.com/book/the-current/
It is perma-FREE, and kicking off the series of sensual short stories set in the Viking age.
There’ll be a new story every two months, and I recommend hopping aboard my dragonboat here: https://mailing.sarah-dahl.com/lists/?p=subscribe&id=2 – be the first to hear about new stories and take part in awesome Viking giveaways!
My blog (not only about Vikings and/or writing!): https://sarah-dahl.com/blog-posts/


7 Questions

Today’s 7 Questions is with scifi author and sparkly badger, Claire Buss.  When she’s not co-hosting Twitter hours (Mondays, 9pm, #sparklybadgersunite), vlogging or taking care of her family, Claire is writing.  Her debut novel, The Gaia Effect is out now.

1. What is the Gaia Effect, and is it contagious?

The Gaia Effect is the name for a hypothesis developed by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis which states that despite what mankind does to the planet, Earth will re-balance itself over time.  We’re probably talking millions of years and quite possibly a mass extinction event of some kind. Gaia relates to the Greek goddess of the planet. Sadly it’s not contagious, imagine what the world would be like if it was.

2. What inspired you to first start writing?

I was inspired to start writing in 2014 after I saw a poster for creative writing workshops at the library and a writing competition. Prior to that I wrote a lot when I was young but growing up got in the way.

3. Do you have a favourite badger?

My favourite literary badger would be Badger from The Animals of Farthing Wood because I have fond reading memories.

4. How do you feel about pet couture?

I currently don’t have any pets so pet couture is a bit of a mystery to me but if I am brutally honest I don’t think animals should be dressed up in little outfits solely for the pleasure of their owners. I don’t get it. And I’m fairly sure the animals don’t either.

5. Describe your ideal sandwich.

My ideal sandwich would be….. no butter, no salad, no mayo or salad cream or weird ass dressing of any kind, no mustard, no marge, no soft cheese, no blue cheese, no prawns, no fat on bacon or cold meats, no pineapple, no pickle or relish or salsa.  I particularly enjoy, when the mood takes me, a peanut butter, Nutella & banana sandwich but never a PB&J. Jam – honey – marmalade on their own are all acceptable. Cheese & Marmite. Meat. Egg. Crisp.

6. If you could command any space ship, what type would it be?

A 03-K64-Firefly class because ‘love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down. Tells ya she’s hurtin’ ‘fore she keens. Makes her home.’

7. If you had to kill off one of your characters, which would you choose?

I’ve already killed several of my characters and I’m still recovering from the emotional backlash. There will be more trauma in the sequel.

And you can find Claire Buss all over the internet, on:

Amazon – http://amzn.eu/fKCQSBF

Facebook – www.facebook.com/busswriter

Twitter – www.twitter.com/grasshopper2407

Website – www.cbvisions.weebly.com

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16197976.Claire_Buss

Pinterest – https://uk.pinterest.com/grasshopper2407/

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWrKBeiBMQg_subFM9ot2vw

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/claire-buss-329757134/

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+ClaireBuss2407


7 Questions

This week’s 7 Questions is with a visitor to Earth Lex Kepler, who is currently in America studying human interactions.  We can only assume that she did not come in via any airport, and didn’t come the the UK because of impending “issues” with freedom of movement.  No aliens for us.  Thanks Nige.

1. So, erm, not only did you choose to study humans, but you chose to study Americans???  How’s that going?

We didn’t choose our assigned locations. The captain chose them for us. Different teams cover different countries. I think the captain chose America for us because she wanted someone to study Neil deGrasse Tyson. She wanted Beeblebop to infiltrate the Google headquarters as a programmer. Plus Xalax wanted to get a job as a zombie extra on the set of The Walking Dead. Xalax is made from the admiral’s genetic material, so he usually gets his way, but of course, in this incident, the captain assigned him to something more serious. Nepotism is the only reason he’s on this mission. I thought the captain was going to send me to study the United State’s NASA program, but she gave that assignment to Xalax instead. But I’m not bitter.
My study of Americans is going quite well. The captain has me infiltrating a college in Los Angeles called UCLA. It’s basically my cover in case anyone gets nosy. Strangely enough, the captain wants me to study human relationships. At first, I found it perplexing because I’m a physicist and cosmologist. Xalax is the anthropologist/sociologist of our team. But then the captain explained to me that my mission wasn’t your typical sociological study of the planet’s inhabitants. In fact, I could find out information that is extremely important to the survival of my race.
Americans are fascinating. They are in many ways highly optimistic, but they do have many inexplicable behaviors, as well. I am very much looking forward to learning more about them.

2. Do you have pets on your home world, and if so, do you dress them in nicely coordinated outfits?

That is quite a human thing. Kreyatons pride themselves on being a logical, efficient, productive, and work oriented people. We pride ourselves on our scientific knowledge and technological advancements. We like to study other life forms because we learn something new from doing so. We put so much focus on our work and accomplishments that we don’t put much emphasis on relationships, including relationships with animals. I am intrigued how humans find these things important. It is quite fascinating. The humans I am currently studying have viewed my interactions with them as a friendship. At first I found it kind of odd and unnerving, but now I’m strangely enjoying this thing called friendship. I’m not sure if it will lead me to having animal friends. I am still getting used to friendships with humans. Many humans want me to have a pet, and I’ve been told it is a human custom, and if I want the true human experience, I should try it. We’ll see. I make no promises.

3. Can you digest the same sort of food as humans?  How you coping with coffee?

Yes, Kreyatons are biologically similar to humans which is why we didn’t really need to drastically alter our appearances, just our ears a bit. I had them surgically altered before arriving to Earth. Otherwise, I don’t think I look that much different. I do enjoy coffee, and I love to mix mine with ketchup. People seem to find this odd. I don’t really know why. I also have an affinity for chocolate sprinkles. I find they taste best in sandwiches.

4. Have you encountered a badger yet?

I have not encountered a badger. But I have heard from multiple humans that some species of badger, and I quote, “Don’t give a s***.”

5. What do you hope to achieve from your study?

My assignment is to study human relationships, and if there is any connection between those relationships and the fact that the human population has no problem repopulating itself. Such information is critical to the continuation of my species, whose population is rapidly declining due to a low success rate in the reproduction of the next generation of Kreyatons.

6. What do you think of social media?

It is very curious. I have enjoyed connecting with other human beings on various social media platforms, because it has assisted me with my studies. At the same time, there is an alarming rate of irrational thought that occurs via social media, and I am not so certain this is beneficial for humanity.

7. If Earth could improve on one thing, what would it be?

I would say that human beings have an enormous capacity for compassion, but I wish it were applied more thoroughly. Speaking of social media, there was a quote from a fictional Star Trek character named Captain Picard that I thought sent a good message about what to strive for in the future. He stated, “The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity.”
And if you want to hear more from Lex, including insights, and hopefully cookery tips you can follow her on Twitter, friend her on Facebook
 and read more about her by clicking here.

7 Questions

Today’s 7 Questions are with fantasy author Natalia Stow.  Join us as we chat writing, sandwiches and pet couture…

1. A Siberian, living in France, writing in English about Russian? Huh?

It is as fun as it sounds.

2. What is it about Russian folklore that particularly appeals to you, and what do you think will make it appeal to the reader?

I can see many misconceptions about what it means to be a Russian. Our Soviet past is but a fragment of our history and culture, and I wanted to tell a story that would take the reader on a journey beyond received ideas and deep into the land of Slavic imagery that defines us as a nation.

3. How does writing a short story differ from writing a novel?

To me, a short story is a tiny novel. You need a solid plot and a satisfactory denouement. The difficulty in writing a short story is that there are fewer words to tell your story with. Narrational time is another problem when you want to keep the word-count down without making it all appear rushed. The three short stories I have written so far, all cover events that happen within one day. I am not saying that it is easier to write a novel─keeping the different plot lines separate and clear is its own challenge─but the pace and time-frames cannot be the same unless you want to write a “long” short story.

4. Where do you stand on the topic of pet couture?

My experience with pet couture is limited. All I can say is that it’s not very “hawt”. (Laughs at own joke in complete silence.)

5. Describe your ideal sandwich.

Mayonnaise, tomato, cucumber, onion rings, Gruyere, eggs, more mayonnaise. Bread is optional.

6. What’s next on the agenda?

I have just released my new short story inspired by Russian folklore. Like my other stories in the same genre, “Voopyre” is set in a fictional Slavic land where spirits of nature interfere with the lives of men. “Voopyre” is also a metaphor for what womanhood used to mean, for hundreds of years. My current goals include writing more folklore-inspired stories and completing work on the sequel to my fantasy novel, “Balancers: The Other Sound”.

7. If you could command an army of orcs, or an army of robots, which would you choose and why?

Robots, of course. Orcs never listen!


And you can read a sample of her latest story below:


7 Questions


This week’s 7 Questions is quite exciting for us. Do you remember our Elephant Outfits post from a couple weeks ago? Well, we found the whole thing so exciting we approached Wildlife SOS to see if they’d like to discuss it further. And here’s the exciting bit, THEY DID!  We caught up with Mr. Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-Founder & Chairman Wildlife SOS to find out a bit more about what they do.

1. When was the sanctuary founded, and how was it funded?

The Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation & Care Centre (ECCC) was founded in 2010 and is funded entirely by donations.
2. Do all the animals need special outfits?
No, not all our animals need special outfits. The rescued elephants require special care as they have come to us from deplorable conditions and have special needs.
3. What would you say the biggest obstacle is to running a wildlife sanctuary?
The biggest obstacle is usually to find committed staff who are willing to make sacrifices for the sake of the animals and financial resources for the ongoing medical treatment, feeding of elephants and other animals in our care. You can also listen to Ms. Geeta Seshamani talk about how Wildlife SOS came into being and the problems they faced in the video below.

4. We’ve seen that you care for abused elephants, but what other sorts of animals do you have?
Our organisation is responsible for taking action against animal cruelty, rescuing wildlife in distress, working to resolve man-animal conflicts while promoting and educating the public about the need for habitat protection. Although Wildlife SOS is mainly known for its work with the “Dancing Bears” of India, we also have active projects to help Leopards, Elephants, Reptiles and other animals. 
We run two Elephant Care Centres in Mathura & Haryana, with 23 rescued elephants under our care currently and our leopard rescue centre in Maharashtra houses 27 rescued and rehabilitated leopards. We also have 6 Himalayan black bears at our Dachigam and Pahalgam centres in Jammu & Kashmir. Additionally, our teams across India rescue over a thousand animals, birds and reptiles from distress situations every year.
You can watch this heartwarming recovery made by our rescued elephant, Lakhi here;

or watch how Halloween was celebrated at our centres here:


or watch Valentine’s day being celebrated with the bears:


5. Whose idea was it to knit outfits for elephants, and how much wool did you need?

The need to keep the elephants warm motivated us to design and make jackets for the elephants as a pilot project. You can watch a video of the elephants being helped into their jackets on the video below:

6. How can people get involved and help?

Wildlife SOS encourages volunteers to come and help us in various ways. People from all walks of life connect with us by emailing us on volunteer@wildlifesos.org and work with us on our projects.
Curiosity brings volunteers and they leave fulfilled and involved with Wildlife SOS. We fulfil our role of conservation education through our volunteer outreach program. You can also make donations to Wildlife SOS website to help support our rescued animals: https://give.wildlifesos.org/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1971&ea.campaign.id=52550

7. What’s next on the agenda?

Our upcoming projects include the establishment of an international elephant hospital, expansion of the elephant conservation and care centres, human wildlife conflict mitigation, wildlife research and forest restoration projects. We look forward to welcoming and involving volunteers into our projects.


7 Questions

Today’s 7 Questions are with fantasy author Daccari Buchelli, as we chat
seasons, sandwiches and pet couture.

  1. Tell us about your world, how do four seasonal realms work?

Long ago, when Peradon was one enormous, united Realm, war broke out between the different clans and sparked events that led to the segregation of the different peoples. Each one was bound in an endless season, whichever related closely to their own elemental ability. Such an arrangement was deemed to be profitable for the varying types of elemental beings. Now, as magic becomes scarce, compared to what it once was, the never-ending seasons are just another quirk of the land.

  1. What is the most useful piece of feedback you’ve ever had?

When I think of feedback, I think of depth. Character and world depth are needed in order for a reader to fully experience your story. The worlds you create must leap off of the pages and surround them, your characters needing to feel realistic enough for a reader to empathise with their plight. Having been told that some areas of my work could use more depth, I have endeavoured to provide exactly that in an upcoming second edition of Phoenix.

  1. What is it about fantasy that makes you prefer it to other genres?

I grew up with Fantasy novels left, right and centre. My sister used to leave them lying around after she’d finished with them and being a curious child (to say the least) I decided to take a peek.

Fantasy combines the impossible with the probable. It brings to life ideas that we could not imagine happening in our wildest dreams. With Fantasy, we can commune with the dead, ride upon dragons, and becomes sorcerers, all through turning a few pages.

  1. How do you feel about pet couture?

I think that every industry has its place in the world and if people enjoy high fashion for their pets, then they are perfectly entitled to partake in it. I do have a young terrier cross pup myself and while I don’t purchase pet couture, it is interesting to learn about the industry.

  1. If you had to pick, what would you choose as your theme song?

I quite like the theme song from the television show The Big Bang Theory, performed (I believe) by the band Bare Naked Ladies. It has a catchy tune and always makes me smile as soon as I hear it.

  1. Describe your perfect sandwich.

Mmm, definitely smooth organic peanut butter and crisp iceberg lettuce. I love the way that the lettuce soaks up the fat of the peanut butter and gives an overall balanced flavour.

  1. What would you say influenced you the most?

Personal experiences led me to create Phoenix. Originally created under a different title, the romantic elements of the story stem from an emotionally abusive partner that I had for three months. To this day they remain lodged in my mind, a memory that I am unable to shake.

When time failed to heal the wounds I’d been dealt, I found myself creating a world of magic, where the two main characters (polar opposites) become infatuated with one-another.

Violetta, an innocent fifteen year old and Ryore, a nineteen year old with a dark past, don’t know what fate has in store for them when they first meet.

To all of the writers out there, never give up. Read, write, and keep on doing what you love.


And you can find Daccari all over the internet on:

And if you’d like to answer 7 Questions, then get in touch.