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Author Interviews

Author Introduction- Barbara Ashford

I do so love talking with authors about what they do. Barbara Ashford’s first book, “Spellcast”, will be released May 3rd, and I managed to snag a few minutes of Barbara’s time so that she could introduce herself, as well as her upcoming book.

Barbara writes-

Barbara Ashford basically cannibalized her life to create Spellcast. Like its protagonist Maggie Graham, Barbara grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, began performing at an early age, continued acting in college, and – after a series of jobs in educational administration – ran away to the theatre.

She performed on the stages of opera houses and elementary school auditoriums, in theatres that had once been barns, churches, and used car showrooms. Her days in summer stock inspired the world of the Crossroads Theatre, from the hectic schedule of rehearsing one show during the day and performing in another at night to details like the roadside grill – affectionately known as the Ptomaine Stand – where the actors grab lunch.

Like Maggie, Barbara held down a series of jobs to pay the bills: retail store clerk, accounts receivable manager, merchandising director, and office temp. Like Maggie, she eventually landed at a not-for-profit organization that ran a telephone helpline. And like Maggie, she made enduring friendships during her summer stock days – and found love.

The fantastic elements in Spellcast are purely the product of her imagination, as is Maggie’s family life. But the rest of the novel comes as close to autobiography as she’s ever likely to write.

Barbara can be visited at her website  www.Barbara-Ashford.com

Spellcast will be released May 3rd, and sounds like an absolutely beautiful blend of urban fantasy and a bit of romance (right up my alley!). I have dabbled enough in theater to know I am awful at it, but I adore reading books that take place with the stage or theater as the setting. There has always been something magical about theater for me- what better backdrop for a fantasy novel could there be?


“Maggie Graham is having a very bad day. First, she loses her job. Then her bathroom ceilingcollapses. Hoping a weekend getaway will restore her spirits, she drives to Vermont – and windsup auditioning for the Crossroads Theatre.

Director Rowan Mackenzie is even odder than the misfits who comprise the company. Whatkind of director casts people in the roles they need? And never leaves the grounds of the theatre?And possesses the power to transform a train wreck of a show into something…magical?

There’s a secret at the Crossroads, and Maggie is determined to uncover it. She never imaginesshe’ll discover secrets about her past that will change her life – and Rowan’s – forever.



Interview with J. Damask

The wonderful thing about reviewing books is you often get to have fascinating conversations with authors. I am especially fond of getting in touch with newer authors to talk about their work and see what I can do to signal boost their releases. I was fortunate enough to run into Ms. Damask and merrily subjected her to a handful of questions.

Me– What has it been like, trying to publish an urban fantasy book in Singapore? What sorts of walls did you run into?
J. Damask- Brick wall. Singaporean publishers are more fixated on things that sell: recipe books, self-help books, poetry books and children’s books. Add in horror – Singaporeans seem to like local horror. As for SF/F, nadah.  I ended up publishing out of Singapore. I would say that there are many walls. Cultural wall and wall of ignorance. Not sure how we are going to change that – there are small presses/publishers who dare to publish genre fiction… but they are catering to a niche market.

Me– You have produced a good number of short stories, and now a novel, since having your daughters. How hard is it to find some good ‘writing time’ with children?
J. Damask- Very hard, especially when my girls are still young, my youngest being just one plus. They want my attention all the time. But I write at night, when they are in bed. It’s do or do not, as Yoda would day. In this case, I do – I make the decision to write at night (or when I have some free time).
Me– Tell us about the World of the Lang
J. Damask- The Lang are Chinese wolves. They are Chinese and wolves. Their world is interwoven with Chinese traditions and traditions of the hunt. They celebrate all the lunar festivals as well as honoring their wolf nature. On the surface, they look like any ordinary Singaporean Chinese – but wolf hearts beat beneath their skin. The wolves co-exist with the humans, like two worlds intersecting. They are organized in family clans or packs. 
Me– Tell us a bit about Jan Xu. How does Marianne fit into the picture?
J. Damask- Jan Xu belongs to one of the major wolf packs in Singapore. She is a bit of an anomaly in urban fantasy – she is married with two kids, juggling the roles of wife, daughter and wolf.
Marianne is her younger sister. As we know, there are always problems between sisters.

Me– What books or authors have influenced you the most? Are there any books you have utterly worn out from reading?
J. Damask- Anne McCaffrey, Robert Heinlein, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Octavia Butler, Charles de Lint … to name a few. Books I find myself going to back and back again are The Mists of Avalon and Forests of the Heart.
Me– Who is your favorite lycanthrope/shifter?
J. Damask- I would guess Lady Hawk. Oz from Buffy is a geeky werewolf. The black werewolf in Van Helsing. 😉

Wolf At the Door will be released Monday, April 4th, through Lyrical Press in digital format (.epub, .pdf, .lit, .prc)

The official book blurb-

“Being an ex-teen vigilante comes with its own set of problems.

Housewife, ex-teen vigilante…and shape-shifting wolf…Jan Xu has enough problems without adding her sister’s to the mix. Marianne is returning to Singapore and she’s filled with strange ideas. She’s also not alone. She’s coming home with a new boyfriend who has a dark agenda of his own.

With sibling rivalry threatening the inevitable: a battle-to-the-death with fang and claw, Jan and Marianne must overcome their issues if they’re ever going to find peace within their troubled relationship.”

Be sure to check out J. Damask’s blog for more updates and information about the book and her other writings!

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