Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Author Interview: Sharlene Almond

About the Author:

I live in New Zealand where I write my historical/thriller novels. My interests lie within the conspiracy theories and myths that shroud history to this day. All of my novels are based on something enigmatic happening in history that effects the present day, as well as taking the reader on a journey across the exotic landscapes of Europe, to the ancient wonders of the world in Egypt and beyond.

Mysteries and conspiracies that will continually intrigue us.

Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?

To start off with I usually write a brief outline on what I want my novel to be about, then some brief synopsis' for my main characters. After I've done this I use a spreadsheet to set out the chapters. At the top of the spreadsheet and going across I number each square for each chapter. Underneath the chapters I write a couple of sentences on what I want in that chapter

From there I begin to write. During this time as the story progresses I expand the spreadsheet, change certain subplots, change characters and even add whole chunks of new information.

With this first novel I wasn't even intending to write about Jack the Ripper, or have it part historical. But through the second draft I began to make connections from the past to the present, and through the research I did a whole other element was brought in - the historical side.

Do your characters ever want to take over the story?

Definitely. Throughout the writing process it was incredibly easy to ran off in a tangent for my main character. I had to keep on focusing on the plot, not just the main character. Which is why the spreadsheet helped putting me back on track.

What is your favourite food?

Hmmm, I am a health foodie. Love fruits and vegetables. But if I'm going toward more ethnic food then Italian is my favourite - pizza and pasta. Although I do love baking muffins, cookies and scones. It is pretty hard to beat home cooked food.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Definitely a morning person. Usually get up at six am to do a workout, take dogs for a walk, shower and breakfast; then get straight into my writing. The mornings are the most productive for me. I can concentrate better in the mornings, while the afternoons I usually do things that don't take as much concentrating, like research.

Where do you dream of travelling to and why?

That's easy. Spain, Romania, Egypt and Greece. Those countries are all the countries that my novels are based on. I would love to actually visit all the places I wrote about in my novels.

Do distant places feature in your books?

Yes, my first novel is based in present day Spain, and 19th London. My second novel is based in present day Romania and 17th century Hungary and Slovakia, while my third novel is based in present day Egypt and 70 AD Israel and Rome. The fourth novel that I am researching for at the moment will be based in Greece.

Although throughout the novels my main characters do travel to other parts of Europe, like Russia.

Do you listen to music while writing?

No, I can concentrate better when it's practically silent. I can allow my thoughts to mentally picture what I am writing about.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?

Currently I have two self-published novels available.

The first one - Initiated to kill is about a very influential organisation called the Freemasons that initiate two men to do their bidding. One man in 19th century London roams the streets fixating on women of the night. While in present day Spain a man obsesses about the female students.

My main character is deaf, so communicates by interpreting facial and body languages, and as learnt to tell when someone is lying. Throughout the novel she begins to learn how deeply involved she really is, and how her past will collide with the events happening around her.

The past and present connect because of one man. A man that paints his victims, a man that has deep hatred for women, a man that to this day no one is really sure who he was. He was only known as one of the most infamous serial killers - Jack the Ripper. And how one organisation had influence over all the atrocities he committed.

The second novel is Blood Behind the Castle Walls. This novel continues from the first, but this time instead of the main character being a fragile student, she is pursued and encouraged to join a vigilante organisation that hunts down the worst criminals and exacts their own form of justice.

The main character is hunting down a person living in Romania that is kidnapping and brutally draining blood out of young female girls, mimicking the historical plot that is based in Slovokia. Countess Elizabeth Bathory uses her power and hatred toward the lower class to bring young girls into her castle, where she tortures them and drains them of their blood.

But another plot takes place, going further back in time to Vlad the Impaler, whom some think Bram Stoker's book 'Dracula' was loosely based on.

Throughout the book two people use their power to commit some of the worst atrocities, and the only way to get them is for the main character to play by their rules.

What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?

It is harder to get published than it is to write the novel. But throughout the writing process I've learnt to focus on small details that creates a better picture for the reader. To put myself in the reader's shoes and think about what I would want from this novel.

The publishing process is hard. Because I am a new writer it is hard for someone to take me on. I decided to self-publish so at least when I contact agents, or book reviewers, they have something professional to look at.

Like many professions, it is all about persisting and not giving up.

Is there anything you would do differently?

I can't really say I would do anything differently. Eventually a publisher may have taken me on, but on the other hand I may never have published it.

Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?

Programs, books and movies have influenced me over the years. The television series 'Lie to Me' increased my interest in reading facial and body language, which is why I based my main character on that.

I've always wanted to travel, so researching some of the places I included in my novel was really interesting.

And I've always been interested in history, especially historical serial killers or events that were controversial, or were shrouded in conspiracy theories.

Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?

If you love writing, keep on doing it. Don't let anyone tell you not to pursue it because it might be hard to publish. Yes, it can be difficult to get yourself out there, but if you don't try, then you'll never know. Writing can open up so many possibilites, and you can be one of the lucky few that really loves what they do.

What are three words that describe you?

Committed, passionate, persistent.

What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?

That's a hard one. I usually like to try out a variety of authors, especially those authors that write thrillers or mysteries. But I do have a complete collection of Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwall; whom influenced some of my writing about the real Jack the Ripper.

Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book

Initiated to Kill is a psychological thriller of a novel written by Almond that revolves around two men who from two different generations were both initiated into a powerful organization that throughout history has sought control and uses their power for destruction. They leave behind a wake of murder, revenge and vengeance. The first man wreak havoc in and around the Whitechapel district of London, England while the other stalks his victims in the cosmopolitan city of Seville, Spain knowing that only he could uncover the true motives of one of the world’s most infamous serial killers – Jack the Ripper.

Both men prey on women of the night. Two of the victims in Seville that were missing were Celestina Tallez and Annabela Cordova, both studying in Seville University. Detective Rivera and Detective Andres Valero leads the investigation but little did they know, secrets and symbols of epic proportions will be unravel before them, one that will promote death as well as vengeance and in which is to be initiated by a man who belongs to a fraternal organization and his student who is supposed to help him accomplished everything. Who are their co-conspirators? Will they succeed in their evil plans or will the two detectives stop them and solve the mystery behind the series of murders.

List of previous books if any

Initated to Kill is my first novel, but I intend to continue on to make my novels into a series.

Any websites/places readers can find you on the web.

Initaied to Kill at Amazon | B&N

Blood Behind the Castle Walls at Amazon | B&N

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