7 Questions

Today’s 7 Questions are with the co-author of Alternative History series Dying to be Roman, E.M. Swift Hook. It is a detective series with a difference, and takes place in a reality where the Romans never left. Sound interesting?

1. How much research did you need to do on Roman history, and where did you start?

I was fortunate in not having to do too much basic research as I have studied Roman history and culture in the pa

st and knowing Jane is a secret Latin scholar helped!. But the one area I did research in depth was the life and times and reforms of Emperor Diocletian as it was his reign we take as the ‘pivot point’ of our alternate history – it’s point of divergence from the act
ual timeline. In reality, Diocletian’s reforms did indeed prop-up a faltering Roman Empire in the west for over a century.  The Dai and Julia books assume that Diocletian was far more radical and effective in his reforms and it was this which enabled the Roman Empire to endure and expand.

2. What is it about Roman times that most appealed to you?

 I suspect it is because I have read loads of Roman setting whodunits, by people such as Lindsey Davis, Stephen Saylor, Rosemary Rowe, Ruth Downie and Assaph Mehr. It is a genre I have always enjoyed and I’m sure those authors and their books have all influenced my approach and style with Dai and Julia.

3. Would you be a citizen or a Celt?

Tough call. The Roman world in a modern era as Jane and I have created it is very harsh and much as my romantic soul would want to align with the underdog Brits, if I had to live in that world I’d take all the advantages of privilege.  It could literally be a matter of life and death.

4. Describe a Roman sandwich – did the Romans have sandwiches?

Romans would eat open sandwiches, usually for prandium (lunch) when they would often have cold meats and such from the previous day on bread. There is a weird Roman link with sandwiches through – the first recorded use of the word to describe a sandwich was by Edward Gibbon – who wrote the classic book ‘The Rise and fall of the Roman Empire’ – in his personal journal in 1762!

5. Where do you stand on pet couture? Would you dress up a chicken?

I have to say I am not big on the idea of dressing up pets – unless they need it for warmth in the winter, of course. In my opinion, chickens are perfectly beautiful as they are and need no added extras at all. I am one of those people who find it all a bit cringeworthy to see little pugs, chihuahuas or boston terriers done up in dresses or peering out unhappily from under silly bonnets. I love animals and feel it is demeaning to treat them like dress-up dolls.

6. Are there going to be any more books in the series? What’s next?

Oh yes! Jane and I have already got plans for the next two novellas in the works and I suspect we might well have enough written to bring out the second omnibus next year. However, the next outing for Dai and Julia after this first omnibus is in the upcoming Inklings anthology ‘Alternate Earths 2’ which should be out in the next month.It features a short story set right after the events of ‘Dying to Be Roman’ and is aptly named ‘Dying to Alter History’.

7. What advice would you give to people wanting to write alternative history?

To be honest I am not sure I am at all qualified to do so. I suspect most who write alternate history begin by asking ‘What if this happened instead of that at this specific point in history?’ so they begin with knowing their point of divergence from regular events. Jane and I started with the idea of writing modern Roman rule in Britain and then sought an appropriate pivot point which could explain how that might have happened. But I guess my advice would be two-fold – read some alternate history of the kind you want to write first and then read up on the time around your chosen point of divergence so you can be sure to give a secure and believable reason for why your world is as it is.
And you can find E.M. Swift Hook all over the web:
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7 Questions

Today’s 7 Questions is with the multi-talented Alicia Rose.  She has had multiple careers, from yoga teacher to life coach, and her most recent endeavour sees her narrating audio books, including Badger’s vampire adventure!

1. You have had a diverse career, what would you say your favourite job has been?

I have to say that my favourite job so far has been that of ‘Press Photographer’ when I was 21 until the age of about 25 I held a Press Pass and got to photograph some of the biggest names in showbiz and the music scene in the early 90’s … I was present at the opening of Planet Hollywood in Leicester Square which was such a buzz – the three big boys, Arnie, Bruce and Stallone and their Hollywood mates. I was at The Prince’s Trust ‘Party in the Park’ for two years running, up there in the press pit photographing the likes of Elton John, David Gray, Destiny’s Child, Luther Vandross, Tom Jones (I even threw a pair of knickers at him and nearly got myself thrown out!) …. I photographed Alexander O’Neal and Dina Carroll, Madness, Jamiroquai and so many others and have fantastic memories of it all. I got to go on weekenders with the Police, Fire and Ambulance teams including Underwater Police on the Thames, Riot Police Training, 24 hour casualty and then all sorts of Community Events and Fundraisers and Local News and Reviews.  It was a busy, exciting and fun time in life.

2. What is it about a vampire series that particularly appealed to you?

I’m more than half way through my life and to date haven’t really had much of an interest in Vampires at all, but somehow, reading your small script that was to be part of the audition I submitted, tweaked my curiosity and I really liked the fact there seemed to be an undercurrent swirling around the characters, a darkness which intrigued me, perhaps this is my doorway into a new realm and the start of a Vamp attraction.

3. What is one invaluable piece of life coaching advice that you would give to anyone?

A vital piece of coaching advice I would give anyone is to have Courage. To make a firm and true commitment to yourself that you are going to succeed through all life’s obstacles and challenges by having a courageous and continual perseverance. To understand you can summon strength and create optimism by being self-aware, appreciating your limits; accepting them and in turn drawing wisdom and inspiration from them.  Your reactions to life’s challenges can then have freewill to change and with self-empowerment you can emerge triumphant in all future actions resulting in a positive outcome.

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

Pet Couture – okay, this is unique and I’m on the fence here in the sense that I personally wouldn’t want to dress my pet dog, pig, horse up because I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to nature and the animal kingdom. However, I do understand the couture part of it can be an extension of the owner’s personality. For instance, I have a showbiz friend who loves dressing up and thus he dresses his dog in the most amazing outfits too, and his dog, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel loves it, you can see his love for it, he gets excited about dressing up. So I think if it is not harming the animal and there is genuine heartfelt communication between owner and pet, then let the couture continue. All that said; I have been known to put a hat or two on my dogs!  I love hats and have a pretty big collection of them.  I once put a Santa hat on my little Lhasa Apso and he hated it. I took a photo and he grimaced at the camera – it is the best ‘bah humbug’ Christmas picture I have the pleasure to own!

5. Who is the most interesting person you have worked with, and who would you most like to work with in the future?

The most interesting person I’ve ever worked with, hmmmm this is a tough question but to give as honest answer as I can it would have to be ‘Joan’.  Joan was my Yoga teacher for about four years and it was this woman, who was in her sixties at the time (some 25 years ago) who opened a doorway for me to explore the true infinite potential of being human. To begin a journey of understanding, getting in tune with ‘self’ and the immeasurable possibilities that abound. I continue to practice Yoga to this day and can say with genuine ever-present experience, it is the only indisputable thing I have had in my life for the past 25 years. It saved me, released me, and helped me find freedom again and again and again.  I lost touch with Joan many years ago when I moved away but I always feel a connection with her because of the interesting life path she so gently and wisely guided me onto.

6. What do you like most about recording audio books?

The best thing I like about recording audio books is learning new things. Uncovering new realms. Topics which my life has not yet touched upon. I’ve had an eye-opening life already but getting into Audio book narration and recording has increased that infinitely and pro-actively. There truly is no end to the inestimable possibilities of life, living and learning. For example, I have become educated about the views on Sex within the LDS community and the knowledge I found in that book was genuinely inspiring.  I’ve found out about the ‘Furry’ community and just how massive it is in America and how people connect with Mother Nature in their own very unique way. I’ve gained knowledge about the lives of Jack the Ripper’s victims in Victorian London and it was a true thrill (and tear jerker) to act out these women’s desperate lives.  I’ve read harrowing accounts of one particular woman who was devastatingly abused during her childhood at the hands of the Church and recording the book had me extraordinarily spellbound and indeed gobsmacked at what some adult men and women in charge of minors got away with – the book ‘Trust No-One’ is as heart wrenching as it is mind boggling in respect of Child Abuse in the UK.  I’ve learned about the disgraceful manipulation of the Richard Nixon’s 1971 ‘War on Drugs’ in the USA and how this has morphed into a modern day slavery project together with the illegal motion of state funded prisons being built and then sold to the private sector with no money being returned to the common people who paid into it – there is huge injustice behind the whole facade. So many of these books are written by excellent and well educated writers and as yet have not ceased to amaze and teach me.  Second to this learning curve is the opportunity to ‘act’ out the ‘voices’ and ‘characters’ which abound in the audio book arena.  It is a challenge and a joy to produce these books and I really look forward to continuing along this new Vampire path to which you have welcomed me.

7. What’s next for you? What should we be looking out for?

What’s next for me, ah well, I still have many careers to be had I’m sure, I’ll continue to teach Yoga, be a musician, an artist and a photographer but best watch out for when I become a comedienne, I believe laughter is one of the best feelings a human being can experience and amongst the sore points of life, I rather enjoy making people laugh.

You can find Alicia in various places about the web:

And Lineage: A Beginning is out now on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. To celebrate the release, Newsnibbles is giving away 5 copies from the Audible.com site. If you would like one simply pop a comment below telling us so! First 5 comments get a download code!

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7 Questions

You may have noticed that Newsnibbles has acquired a poet in residence – Jane Jago. Truth be told, she just turned up with a suitcase and a notepad, and no-one has been able to shift her, but she works for scones, and you lot seem to like her, so we thought we’d let you know a bit more…

1.How would you say poems differ from stories? Is it easier to make a point with a poem?

The two writing techniques are actually quite dissimilar. When I write a poem, from haiku and limerick to whatever, I am hearing a tune in my head. Stories are situations so the writing is more prosaic. While prose is shaped by character, verse is all atmosphere. If I have a point to make then my first port of call will be short verse, as that is where I feel my writing is snappiest.

2. Who is your favourite poet?

That’s a trick question, how does anybody have one favourite? But if you are intent on being mean I’d have to go for TS Eliot. Specifically Prufrock.

3. What are you working on right now?

Some Dai and Julia short stories, a detective novel, and….

4. What are you most proud of?

I can swear in five languages.

5. Pet couture, yes or no?

No. Never. Nohow. Contrariwise. If anybody was to put clothes on Dog he would probably bite their face off.

6. Describe your ideal sandwich.

Brown bread, peanut butter, banana and crisps.

7. Finish us off with a limerick about a badger.

There once was a Badger called Claire

Who found idiots got in her hair

When they talked all the time

Without reason or rhyme

Which made Badger as cross as a bear

And if you enjoyed this interview, you can find Jane all over the web on…

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7 Questions

Today’s 7 Questions are with Leslie Owen, actor, writer and literary agent, so of course we had many probing and deep questions for her to consider, including her taste in sandwiches and how she feels about dressing up dogs.

1. How did you become a literary agent? Were you a writer first?

I first published at 16, but I wrote the first story I remember writing at six.  My mother claims I wrote before then.  I was a stringer for several newspapers, wrote my own sports column, and had a New England Press Association Pass at 16.  I graduated from university with a degree in writing and English Lit, and instead of going to Brown for grad school, got a job as an editorial assistant at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in NY.  Then I was hired by Henry Morrison, Inc (agent to Robert Ludlum, David Morrell, et al) as a PA and became director of foreign rights & a junior agent.  I was still writing, short fiction and libretti, involved in the opera world.  I’ve always worked in publishing until I moved to Florida and started teaching.  Now I do both.  And write.

2. What do you look for in a submission, what advice would you give to desperate, erm, aspiring authors?

I’m looking for something that excites me, something I know there’s a market for, something I know I personally can sell.  I’ve repped both adult books and children’s books, so it’s just a matter of finding the right clients.  I’m a boutique agency, very small, still getting started.  I have about 10 clients, almost more than I can handle without help.  Advice?  Write a good story.  Good stories will always sell.  Work on your craft, read widely, network.  Traditional publishing is always 3 years ahead, so anything trending now is already over.

3. Someone said you do a spot of acting, what’s that about then?

I started working in the world of opera when I was still in university, in order to write libretti.  I took play-writing classes from Edward Albee and learned the theatre from the ground up.  I’ve done props, lights, sound, tech, stage managed, directed, and lately, I’ve been performing with First City Shakespeare, a Shakespeare troupe here in Pensacola which supports our sister organisation, one of the oldest teen Shakespeare companies in the US, Southeastern Teen Shakespeare.  Just got done with 32 performances of our Halloween show, which is our biggest fundraiser for Setsco.  I’ll be writing for 24 Hour Theatre next.

4. Do you have a writing project at the moment? Tell us about it?

I’m finishing my third novel, The Mortal Part, with 25,000 words or so to go.  It’s the story of Scottish actor Sir Hugh Ross, 72, who comes home from the market and the gym one Monday to find that his beloved husband, actor/jazz singer Jonathan Weir, 58, has died in bed, from complications of diabetes.  The story follows the first year of Jewish mourning for Hugh (Jonno was a practicing Jew), from sitting Shiva to the unveiling of the headstone. 

5. What are you most proud of?

Currently?  When I said hi to Jane Yolen at DragonCon — it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen her — she told me that children’s books needed me to come home.  In general, though, I think I’ve gotten some really good writers and books published, and my children’s science book, Pacific Tree Frogs, was a top ten pick in Canada.

6. How do you feel about pet couture?

My little sister dresses up her three dogs and two of her cats.  I think it’s weird, but her photos are always amusing.  I own a Bengal and value my limbs.  The most my Border collie ever tolerated was a bandanna after her grooming. My other cat, Ole, was a feral rescue, and he’d probably hide under the bed for the rest of his life if I put a costume on him.

7. Describe your ideal sandwich.

An honest-to-goodness Reuben from Katz’s Deli in NYC.  We do have a local deli that makes a good cream cheese, lox, tomato, red onion, and capers bagel (sesame seed).

 

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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.

Website

Facebook (personal)

Facebook (author page)

Goodreads

QueeRomance Ink

Amazon

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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?

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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.

 

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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.

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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/

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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

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