I hope you enjoy this interview with Donna Carrick, an author I’ve become aware of from twitter. I’m enjoying this aspect of the site at the moment, especially when it comes to getting writers opinions of the e-book market – where they stand with it right now and where they think it’s headed. As a bit of a writer myself, the success of e-books has a natural fascination for me.

For people with an interest in Donna Carrick and her books, there is an excellent post HERE and also please see the links at the bottom after her bio for her sites.


Hi Donna, and welcome to!

DC: Thank you, Tony. I appreciate this opportunity to talk about my writing.

I know you almost exclusively from twitter. And I have to admit that as yet I haven’t read any of your books. For people like me, who haven’t read your work yet, can you explain your books and what they’re about?

DC: First and foremost, I write crime novels. My books have a literary leaning, but they are mystery/thriller/suspense. I enjoy setting my work in unexpected locations. The Noon God is set in Toronto, Canada. Gold And Fishes is set in post-tsunami Indonesia and Phuket, Thailand. My most recent novel, The First Excellence ~ Fa-ling’s Map, is set in modern-day China.

And how did inspiration hit you for your novels? What’s the story behind the stories?

DC: My first inspiration always comes from character. I see a character in my mind’s eye, fully developed. I see his face, the trouble in his past, the conflict he or she is facing at the moment.

In The Noon God, my novella and the first of my published works, I was driven to explore a handful of dark social issues: addiction, narcissism… the impact of these factors on a family. I could feel the burden carried by Desdemona Fortune after the murder of her father, renowned author J. Caesar Fortune.

The idea behind Gold And Fishes rose out of my deep concern following the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in Southeast Asia. We were celebrating Boxing Day in our northern home, 24 hours after the disaster, when the news came on CBC that something significant had occurred. At that point no one had a clear picture of the event, as phone lines were down and no one could access the region. As the news began to trickle in, I literally felt chilled inside my soul. I knew I would write about this event. When my character, Ayla Harris, came to life, there was no turning back.

The First Excellence grew from a short story I started to scribble in my note book on the plane when we were returning home from China in 2003 with our adopted baby daughter. The original story title was Fa-ling’s Map, about a grown adoptee who returns to China to connect to her past. It naturally evolved into a novel of mystery and political intrigue, but I could never bring myself to abandon the original title or the theme of finding one’s self that had inspired the book.

What are you working on at the minute?

DC: Always a loaded question for a writer! Well, Tony, at the moment I’ve got three distinct projects underway. Thanks to the wonderful reception The First Excellence has been given lately, there is some urgency to complete the sequel. I also have a futuristic “sci-fi” crime fighter with whom I’ve fallen in love. I’m about half way through that novel. But the story I’m really focusing on right now is a new one – a new character who came to me a couple of months ago. She simply won’t let go of me, so she will demand priority.

To budding writers out there, what would you say are good practices for a writer to adopt? I asked Meg Gardiner and Emma Newman a similar question. It’s sort of your advice for budding writers out there.

DC: My advice may not be the norm. Most writers will say “write every day”, or “create a quiet space”. The reality of our lives these days often doesn’t allow for such luxuries.

My best advice to any new writer is to ask yourself what you really want to accomplish. Try to understand your true motivations and embrace them boldly. If you’ve always wanted to write novels, for example, then do so to the best of your ability. Finally, strive for excellence in all you do. A strong passion for excellence will overcome most obstacles.

I recently brought a Kindle, and I love it. Do you think that ebooks are the future of the publishing industry? Are traditional paperbacks headed for extinction? Or will we find ourselves in a world that can have both?

DC: Another loaded question! I will likely land in hot water with my fellow-writers for saying this, but I do think e-reading in one form or another will be the norm before very long. There may still be a ‘shelf’ for print, but my guess is that it will be limited. I say this with all deep regard and love for the printed word. I think it’s a force of reality that can’t be denied. And yes, I too love both my Kindle and my Kobo. I also sometimes read on my iPhone.

On the subject of publishing digitally, how successful have you been so far? Without me sounding too nosey! I saw on twitter the other day that one of your novels was a fair way up the charts on Smashwords. Can you make a living writing and publishing digital books? How have you found it?

DC: Let me say unequivocally and right up front that both my husband, author Alex Carrick, and I have day-jobs. We likely will keep them, right up till the day we retire to become full-time writers.

With the recent success of The First Excellence, which reached #16 on Smashword’s Bestseller list today, I may retire earlier than initially planned. But let’s be clear. The business of writing, editing, revising, editing, formatting and selling e-books is not an easy one. Alex and I have been having some modest successes lately. That success has been hard-earned, and we are keeping our day-jobs.

Coming back to the routines of writing, how do you split your time between writing, and family life? Is it a difficult juggling act?

DC: Yes. Both Alex and I write because we have a passion for it. Otherwise, we simply wouldn’t do it. It has challenges that the uninitiated can’t imagine. Like many writers, I’m almost always plotting. The act of fleshing out stories in my mind usually overlaps with any other task, except for the most engaging ones.

Right Donna, I’m going to ask you five questions!

1. Favourite Book/Series of Books

DC: There are so many, it’s really impossible. Dickens always comes to mind first: A Tale of Two Cities and anything else by him. Tolkien, of course. For mystery, Martin Cruz Smith has developed a particularly engaging character in Arkady Renko.

2. Who would play you in Donna Carrick: The Motion Picture?

DC: Uh-oh. Really, no idea at all.

3. If you could stipulate an inappropriate song choice for your own funeral, which would it be?

DC:That’s easy. “My Way”, written by Paul Anka, committed to eternal social memory by Frank Sinatra.

4. Which website(s) would you say you visit the most on a regular basis?

DC: Amazon and Smashwords – I love books and ebooks.

5. This is the last question, I swear! Where do you see yourself in five years time? Or what do you see yourself doing.

DC: Five years may be a little early, but sometime in the next 10 years I do see myself retired. By retired, I mean writing full time and marketing part time.

Before we go, is there anything you’d like to say to your readers or the people who frequent your blog or interact with you on twitter?

DC: I’d certainly like to thank all of my Twitter and FaceBook friends for their on-going support. I’ve always been a writer, but in the early days I wrote in isolation. Now I have friends all over the world who ‘get’ me and my work, and who share their work with me. I’d also like to thank the readers who have been so very kind, especially those who have taken time from their busy lives to express through reviews how they’ve enjoyed my work.

And we’re at the end! Donna I wish you all the success in the world with your books, and I’ll see you in Twitter-ville!

DC: Thank you, Tony! It’s been a real pleasure. Your questions have given me a lot to think about!

Donna Carrick is the author of mysteries, including The First Excellence, Gold And Fishes, The Noon God and her short-story anthology Sept-Iles and Other Places. When not writing, publishing or at her day job, Donna enjoys spending time with her husband, author Alex Carrick, and their children at their home on Georgian Bay.

Carrick Publishing

Donna Carrick

About Donna

SEPT-ILES and other places (Toboggan Mysteries series)

Gold And Fishes

The Noon God

The First Excellence ~ Fa-ling’s Map (Li Fa-ling mystery series)


I recently interviewed Em Newman, the author of 20 Years Later and From Dark Places.

All links to Em’s work is at the end of the interview – please be sure to have a look. She is a very fine writer!


Hi Emma, and welcome to!

EN: Hello and thanks for inviting me.

Firstly, let’s talk about your book From Dark Places. What is it and what is it about?

EN: It’s an anthology of 25 short stories, and as the title suggests, they are united by an underlying theme of the darker side of humanity. Humanity and … other things too.

There are 25 stories in From Dark Places. As visitors to your site will know, you are a prolific short story writer, many of which you offer to your readers for free. Do you find it an easy process, determining the plot and premises of your short stories?

EN: It varies widely. Sometimes I read a prompt sent in by a club member and there is an immediate, visceral excitement. I just know that there is a story there waiting to be written. Some stories are harder to excavate than others, some flow fast, some take longer than others to get right after the first draft. Sometimes a story will pop into my head and the first draft is out in twenty minutes.

Prompts that make me ask a question are the ones I choose to work with, and I like that approach for longer short stories – around 2,000 to 3,000 words. The ideas that pop into my head – or “fly into my funnel” as my four year old boy likes to put it, are usually better for flash pieces of 1000 words or less.

I’d like to take this opportunity to mention the fact that you’ve also been featured in quite a few short story anthologies, some of which are Best Of Friday Flash, 100 Stories For Queensland, 50 Stories For Pakistan, Nothing But Flowers, and The Yin and Yang Books. How did you become involved with those projects?

EN: Twitter. That about sums it up. Friday Flash is a Twitter based community that I’ve been part of for a long time, and I took a shot at getting into the first ‘best of’ anthology and one of my stories was picked. All of the others I was either commissioned for a story, or saw an opportunity to submit a story for consideration, through being plugged into writing communities on Twitter.

I asked Russell Brooks the same question when I interviewed him: do you think that ebooks truly are the future of the publishing industry? Are traditional paperbacks headed for extinction?

EN: You know, to be completely honest I find this whole debate / argument / near panic about e-books killing off print books a bit boring. And silly. As a writer, I don’t care whether people read my books in print, on a Kindle or a Sony Touch or written in ink across their lover’s body. All I want is for them to be taken away from their lives, and how my worlds are delivered to them makes no difference to me.

As a reader, I love print books, I love my Sony Touch for use as an audio book narrator and I would love to own a Kindle now that they are soon going to accept ePub format and not lock people into Amazon alone. I find it crazy that people are running around saying the sky is falling when there are millions of people who have never held an e-reader. Everyone, calm down and have a cup of tea. I’m sure it’ll all work itself out in the end, it always does, regardless of how many people are out there writing sensationalist headlines that people love to retweet about the death of publishing.

Is that too harsh?

Not at all. You self-published From Dark Places previously – how did you find the process of putting your work into book form and selling it yourself? And how did your publisher come to pick it up?

EN: I found the production of the 1st edition fairly straight forward as it was only an e-book and I have a very talented best friend who designed the cover for me (which the publisher only tweaked slightly for the 2nd edition). But I didn’t have it professionally edited, and I regret that. There were 11 stories in the first self-published edition, and the thing I found the hardest was promoting it. I still find that hard.

It got picked up by my publisher kind of by accident. I was waiting for my novel to be published, and realised I could have done From Dark Places better, so I approached Jodi Cleghorn from eMergent Publishing to ask if she would consider editing it on a freelance basis. I asked her because she was my editor in the Red Book and Yin and Yang books, both published by eMergent who had commissioned me for two stories (after seeing me out and about on Twitter). I trusted her as an editor you see.

So anyway, we were talking about why I wanted her to edit and she told me she’d bought it the year before and had really enjoyed the stories, but could see they’d be better when edited. Then she asked if instead, eMergent could offer me a contract and publish the new edition in print and e-book formats. I nearly fell off my chair. Then I said yes!

I’m sure that’s not how these things are supposed to happen. By then I’d written lots more stories, so I picked the best of the new ones, wrote one just for the 2nd edition, sent them to her and the editing began. Four months later I was holding a printed second edition in my hand. She did a fantastic job, and found nook and crannies in the stories that I hadn’t seen.

Your other book is 20 Years Later, published by Dystopia Press – tell me about it. What’s it about?

EN: It’s set in post-apocalyptic London twenty years after ‘It’ killed almost everyone and focuses on an intense friendship that forms between three teenagers as they search for a kidnapped sister. It’s about friendship in adversity, loyalty, the loss of innocence and how people survive. My publisher wrote an ace blurb actually:

LONDON, 2012: It arrives and with that the world is changed into an unending graveyard littered with the bones, wreckage, and memories of a dead past, gone forever.

LONDON, 2032: Twenty years later, out of the ashes, a new world begins to rise, a place ruled by both loyalty and fear, and where the quest to be the first to regain lost knowledge is an ongoing battle for power. A place where laws are made and enforced by roving gangs—the Bloomsbury Boys, the Gardners, the Red Lady’s Gang—who rule the streets and will do anything to protect their own.

THE FOUR: Zane, Titus, Erin, Eve. Living in this new world, they discover that they have abilities never before seen. And little do they know that as they search post-apocalyptic London for Titus’ kidnapped sister that they’ll uncover the secret of It, and bring about a reckoning with the forces that almost destroyed all of humanity.

20 Years Later is published in May of this year, isn’t it?

EN: Yes, the e-book version is out now, and the hardback is due for release on July 5th. I cannot wait to hold a hardback version in my hands! I’ve only seen a paperback proof, so I am really excited about it.

And I believe that you’re in the process of writing the sequels too, aren’t you? How is that going?

EN: Book two (20 Years Later: Legacy) is all written and currently with beta readers. Book three (20 Years Later: Revelation) is about 30,000 words away from being finished, but so much of my time is going into promoting From Dark Places and the impending hardback release of 20 Years Later that progress is pretty slow. I’m hoping for some serious writing time again once this latest round of launches for From Dark Places is over.

To beginner novelists out there, what’s the best advice you can give them starting out?

EN: Don’t listen to advice.

Seriously! When it comes to learning how to write, it’s all about learning how you write. Everyone does it differently, and if you start fretting about whether you are a “proper writer” because you’re not cranking out 1000 words before 6am every day, you’ll get miserable very quickly.

But if people want to read what I remind myself every time I write a first draft, this might help:

Emma, tell me about your voice work. I believe you do this freelance. How did you get into this line of work?

EN: Whilst I was still struggling to find a home for 20 Years Later I started podcasting it a chapter at a time, just on my website. I started to get the most amazing (and surprising!) feedback about my voice, and thought I’d get a better microphone and give it a go.

How do you split your time between doing the voice work, writing, and taking care of your family?

EN: Poorly. Seriously, there aren’t enough hours in the day. I often work 12 hours plus, usually 6 days a week and spend time with my family when I can. I’m the main breadwinner, so earning steady money, plus building a writing career and doing audio work demands a lot of time.

Whilst we’re on this train of thought, I am a follower of yours on twitter and I wanted to ask what your favourite brand of tea is. I’m partial to regular PG, Twinings Earl Grey and Pukka Tea with Aniseed myself…

EN: I’m a PG Tips fan, that’s my every day tea. I also like English Breakfast tea too. I really can’t stand herbal and fruit teas. They always smell so promising and then taste like dishwater.

Emma I’m going to ask you five questions!

1. Favourite Book/Series of Books

EN: Oh blimey. It’s one of my many fears that one day someone will ask me this question with a gun to my head and I still wouldn’t be able to answer truthfully. I love so many, does it have to be just one?

Off the top of my head, my favourites include Shogun, Dune, Day of the Triffids, Fahrenheit 451, actually, anything written by Ray Bradbury and Bester’s ‘The Demolished Man. Oh, and Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz. And the Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami. Oh I can’t narrow it down!

2. Who would play you in Emma Newman: The Motion Picture?

EN: Look, I like to think I am imaginative, but even my imagination won’t stretch to that. Errr…. Harold Lloyd? No… Jodi Foster. If she can do a British accent and be made much less pretty. I’m much taller and uglier than she is!

3. If you could stipulate an inappropriate song choice for your own funeral, which would it be?

EN: Maybe “The Galaxy Song” by Monty Python.

Actually, I think “Dear Friends” by Elbow would be better.

I’m no good at these “just pick one” questions am I?

4. Which website would you say you visit the most on a regular basis?

EN: I think. It would be Twitter, but I don’t use the site, I use Tweetdeck.

5. This is the last question, I swear! Where do you see yourself in five years time?

EN: I know where I want to be in five years time, that may not necessarily be the same thing! I want to be writing fiction full time and earning a living from that and audio book narrating. I love both with a passion, and all of the other work I do at the moment to pay the bills is hugely frustrating! The 20 Years Later trilogy will be out there, I’ll have written my next trilogy (which is already battering the inside of my skull) and hopefully will still be writing short stories.

Before we go, Em, is there anything you’d like to say to your readers? Or any people in particular?

EN: To my readers? All I would say is get in touch! Being a writer is a strange and lonely life, and I always worry about whether people are actually reading and enjoying what I write. Come and tell me what you thought about From Dark Places or 20 Years Later, I’d love to hear from you. It’s easy to get in touch with me through my website.

And I’d also like to humbly ask that if people like what they read, tell other people! Both of my books are published by small presses and we rely on word of mouth to survive. Be vociferous!

And also; never underestimate the power of a good cup of tea.

And we’re at the end! Emma, thank you for agreeing to this interview. It’s been a delight! Hopefully we’ll chat again soon!


About Emma Newman

Emma drinks too much tea, has too many ideas and writes too many stories. You can find out more about her debut novel ’20 Years Later’ HERE and the e-book is available for sale now from all major e-book vendors. She blogs and gets up to all kinds of writing mischief at

‘From Dark Places’ is available in print and e-book book formats. You can buy a signed copy from her website and and VAT free copies of the e-book in PDF, kindle and ePub formats here:

If you like dark short stories, join Em’s Short Story Club to get an original short story for free in your inbox every month.
Emma has recorded audio books for publishers and has narrated short stories for fiction podcasts.

To find out more about her voice work go to where you can also listen to a couple of quirky flash stories written by emerging writers and find links to lots of stories. Emma loves recording speculative fiction, horror, science fiction and steampunk.

You can find Emma on Twitter: @emapocalyptic


Recently I interviewed author Russell Brooks, writer of the hit thriller ‘Pandora’s Succession’

I’d like to say a big thank you to Russell for agreeing to it, and taking the time to answer my questions. I wish him continuing success with Pandora’s Succession, and with his forthcoming work, Unsavory Delicacies.

Here is the INTERVIEW:

Hi Russell, and welcome to!

RB: Thanks, Tony. I’m glad to be here.

Firstly, tell me a little bit about your book Pandora’s Succession.

RB: It’s a fast-paced spy thriller that has been compared to The Bourne Identity. There are several plot elements that range from Cold War references to modern news events that will make the story appeal to both young and older generations of readers.

How did you arrive at the story for Pandora’s Succession?

RB: I read about the sarin gas attacks that rocked Tokyo, Japan, back in the mid-1990s by a cult. Not too long after there were the Anthrax-laced letters that were mailed to members of congress. It occurred to me that some of our greatest threats don’t originate from the outside but from within. In other words, people we normally trust to help us are actually the ones who are working against us. I thought that would be a scary plot idea for a novel.

The Pandora of Pandora’s Succession is a deadly microbe thought to have wiped out ancient civilisations – do you see so-called ‘germ warfare’ as a major threat to the civilised world?

RB: Of course, it’s already happened. The late Doctor Bruce Ivins, a senior biodefense researcher, was the main suspect believed to have orchestrated the Anthrax letter attacks in 2001. Working at Fort Detrick, he had access to deadly viruses, microbes, and other pathogens. Not to freak you out, but I believe that it would just take a deliberate oversight from food inspectors or members of the FDA for tainted food products to get onto grocery shelves across the nation.

As a writer with experience of the ebook market, what do you think the future holds for traditional ‘paper’ publishers?

RB: I don’t paper will disappear. I was in Barbados last September and most of my family and friends down there haven’t heard of eBooks. When I asked them if they’d be willing to read a novel off of their computer, blackberry, or any other handheld device, they all said they wouldn’t because it didn’t seem natural for them. That’s the common answer for someone who hasn’t tried eBooks. As they say, old habits die hard. It’s in those countries that traditional publishers still have a chance. But they’re only buying themselves time with those markets because eventually they will evolve too. Unless the traditional publishers evolve too then they’ll all go the way of VHS and BETA.

Staying on the theme of writing, when did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?

RB: It was about ten years ago. I was fresh out of university and I had aspirations of being a world-class sprinter. Since I had difficulty getting a sponsor I thought that if I had a published novel, then it might bring me some much-needed income to help me out. What I thought I’d end up doing part-time wound up being a passion of mine. Eventually I saw myself coming up with more ideas for other stories, some of which I’m currently working on.

How long did Pandora’s Succession take to write, from conception to editing, to finally putting the ebook together?

RB: 22 years.

To what extent would you say word-of-mouth has had an effect on the success of Pandora’s Succession? Would you say that as an author, especially in the digital realm, it is important to reach out to bloggers, twitter users, etc, to ensure that your work gets a decent amount of coverage and exposure?

RB: Book bloggers have been a great help in to me getting the word out and it’s also the most cost efficient. The difficulty for me as a new and as an Indie author was to get reviews from the most popular bloggers who have readership in the thousands. I haven’t given up and I don’t plan to either. But I’m happy with the support I’ve gotten from all the bloggers who have helped me out with Pandora’s Succession and the additional bloggers who are currently helping me with my upcoming release.

To beginner novelists out there, what’s the best advice you can give them starting out?

RB: Always keep reading and writing. Everything counts. Don’t reinvent the wheel, there are several writers on forums such as and as well as JA Konrath’s blog who share their experiences—good and bad, give breaking news on the latest scoops or technologies, as well as other opportunities for writers. Most importantly, the best way of succeeding is to be Patient, Passionate, and Persistent.

Russell, tell me a bit about ‘The Russell Show’ and how it started.

RB: The Russell Show originated from my weekly poetry recites on The Artist Lounge Radio Show, which is on every Sunday at 7PM on It’s open mike and I’m their resident reciter. In other words, many poets love my dramatic style of reading and have asked me to recite their poems for them. As a way of paying it forward, I started The Russell Show (couldn’t come up with a better name) on YouTube. I expanded and started reciting novel excerpts, featuring some bestselling authors’ novels, such as Barry Eisler, JA Konrath, and Cheryl K Tardif. In fact I helped Cheryl during her blog tour and featured Karly Kirkpatric on my show. It’s a lot of fun and I’m slowly getting a growing platform on that show too.

Before we finish, your new work, Unsavory Delicacies is out soon – what’s it about?

RB: It’s three short stories of suspense, all of them involve someone having very bad luck within proximity of the dinner table. Readers will enjoy the fact that CIA operative, Ridley Fox from Pandora’s Succession, makes an appearance. It will be out on April 22, 2011.

Russell, I’m going to ask you five questions.

1. Favourite Book/Series of Books

RB: It’s split between JA Konrath’s Jack Daniel’s series and Barry Eisler’s Rain Fall series.

2. Who would play you in Russell Brooks: The Motion Picture?

RB: lol. I didn’t see that one coming. Wow! I guess the first person to come to mind would be Tyler James Williams, the star of Everybody Hates Chris.

3. If you could stipulate an inappropriate song choice for your own funeral, which would it be?

RB: Goodness! You’re planning my own funeral before I am? As for bad song choice, I’d have to go with Achy Breaky Heart.

4. Which website would you say you visit the most on a regular basis?

RB: My email account.

5. I know this has been painful, so last question: Where do you see yourself in five years time?

RB: Naw, it hasn’t been that painful, lol. In five years time I see myself with triplets and having to convince my mother that no alcohol nor drugs were involved. I’d obviously be living in a bigger house, plus I’d be scouting around for a fourth child so that I’d have enough for a 4×100 metre relay team.

Lastly – when will there be a follow-up to Pandora’s Succession?

RB: I have a mystery/suspense novel that’s scheduled for the Winter of 2011 and then if all goes well, the sequel to Pandora’s Succession will be out by the Summer of 2012.

And we’re at the end! Russell, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Hopefully we’ll chat again soon!

You’re welcome. I’m looking forward to next time.

About Russell Brooks:

Russell Brooks is a former Indiana Hoosier Track Champion and Canadian Track Team member in the 100 and 200 metres. He has written several essays on his blog The Big Picture, one of which was published in the online Op-Ed section of the National Post in early 2009. His suspense short story trilogy, Unsavoury Delicasies, will be available in April 2011. Brooks has also produced his own poetry/novel-themed show, The Russell Show, on YouTube. He currently lives in Montreal, Quebec.

The Official Russell Brooks website

Facebook: Russell Brooks Fans (Group)



Where To Purchase Pandora’s Succession

Amazon US HERE


Smashwords HERE


A link to his new work, Unsavory Delicacies, will be available next week. I will update this article with the link when I get it.