Robin Lyons, Author of the School Marshal Series, lives a quiet California life in the foothills of Sierra Nevada Mountains. After twenty-nine year career in public education, Robin’s fiction aims to bring awareness to crimes taking place on school campuses and crimes involving the people connected to schools in the School Marshal Series.

Is your recent book part of a series?

The most recently published book is Mac, a prequel novella in the School Marshal Series. Mac takes the reader back in time, providing a glimpse of the main character’s roots (Cole ‘Mac’ MacKenna) and helps readers better understand the leading man in the series.

What are the special challenges in writing a series?

It’s important to keep the characters’ information and stories straight as they move from book to book. Equally important is keeping the places and settings consistent. In case I need to refresh my memory about someone or something, I keep a few books open and readily accessible while I’m working on a new book.

One aspect I love about writing a series is it’s pretty easy to pick out something mentioned in an earlier book and then twist it into a plot or subplot down the road.

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

One time, as I wrote a plotted scene with a character I had planned to also use in a future book, I felt the character needed to go another direction. I remember telling my husband about how it felt like the character made the scene turn differently from what I had intended.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

I outline the entire book using index cards before I begin to write scenes. Once the scenes are plotted, I lay the index cards out to arrange and rearrange until I have them in an order I believe flows. When it’s time to write scenes I have the entire story swirling in my mind. I start out writing in order, but I’m able to bounce around when one scene speaks louder in my head than another.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

It’s so hard for me to ignore and continue writing when I see a squiggly colored line under a word or sentence, so I correct typos and incorrect words as I go. I don’t recommend editing as you write because it brings the creative flow to a screeching halt. But for me to ignore those darn squiggly lines would be the same as not picking up a tissue I’ve dropped.

Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

Yes and I factor in other things besides whether the name feels right or not. I do an internet search of names, titles, fictional business names, fictional locations, fictional cities, etc. I change the name if something pops up that I wouldn’t want to be associated with me or my stories.

I write in Scrivener and love the name generator tool. If you aren’t familiar with Scrivener, you can select the gender and region the character is from to influence the name choices suggested. It’s pretty cool.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Don’t do what I did. I spent years learning as much as I could about writing, editing and publishing that the publishing world changed as I was learning. I thought I wanted to pursue traditional publishing, then vanity publishing. After six years of learning, researching, writing, and re-writing—in that order, I ended up independently publishing. All of what I did was necessary for me to proceed, but it didn’t need to take six years. The priority should have been writing.

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

Social media is a challenge for me. Through trial and error, I’ve learned where my comfort zone is.

I’m active on Twitter and enjoy getting know Twitter friends. Direct Messaging (DM) on Twitter can be frustrating. You get inundated with DMs asking you to buy this and like that. Often people send a DM suggesting they’ll like your Facebook page if you do the same for theirs. Assuming the person is genuine, I’ve liked someone’s Facebook page and then replied to their DM letting them know I’ve done so and include a link to my Facebook page so they can do the same. More often than not, I don’t receive the same in return as promised in the DM. Twitter Lesson #1 – Some people are dishonest.

I’m active on Facebook as well. I enjoy Facebook for providing tons of interesting and relevant content but I haven’t mastered Facebook friendships other than in groups. There are some fantastic writer groups on Facebook. I’ve found most people in the groups are super friendly and helpful.

I’m also on Goodreads and LinkedIn but seldom go there; I don’t fully understand how to interact with others on either platform.

My Instagram account is mainly personal for connecting with friends and family.

How much research was involved in writing your book?

I love research! And therefore I do too much research. To accurately write about something I sometimes get bogged down with the tiniest detail. For example, do crickets make noise year-round or only during certain seasons? If I’m going to write about a cricket making noise—the time of year must be accurate.

*Nerd Alert* For the School Marshal Series, after I researched the names of everyone and everything, I created a town map to give me a bird’s eye view of where everything is. When I write about going to a restaurant or the police department or sitting on the back porch enjoying the view, I know exactly where the character is on the map. And with each book written more is added to the map. At some point, I may have the map professionally drawn and include in one of the books.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

My covers are super important to me. I began saving book cover graphics that appealed to me long before I began to write. For me, the cover has to relate to the story. I like my covers to come alive in the first few chapters so the reader can connect the cover to the story and the story to the cover.

What would you say to a reader who doesn’t think his or her review matters?

I’d say it’s the Power of ONE.

ONE dollar donated to a worthy cause.

ONE kind comment said to someone having a bad day.

ONE instance of helping an older or disabled person cross a street or open a door.

ONE time helping a bird with its wing caught on something.

ONE call to a friend or relative you haven’t talked to in a long time, etc.

ONE review has the power to help thousands of people decide what book to purchase.

ONE review also has the power to help boost a book’s ranking.

ONE review does matter.

Have you ever started out to write one book and ended up with something completely different?

Yes, I sure have. As soon as I retired, I went to the small town in South Dakota where my mother grew up because I wanted to write her life story as a fiction novel. After the trip, I did extensive research and then began writing. Not having a clue what I was doing or that there is a structure to novels I struggled to write chapter one. I tried first-person POV, then third-person POV. All of the research was shelved, and I began writing a story about a gigolo. Upon completing the gigolo story, I sent a sample to an editor and was kindly told it was crap.

Unsure what to write next, I began to study the craft. At that time, I was an elected school board member in my hometown. Our community was suddenly thrust into a tailspin when a beloved school principal was gunned down in his office by a co-worker. I’d known him for more than twenty years; he was my children’s middle school principal and my grandson’s elementary principal. The loss felt by the school district and community was tremendous. I knew then I needed to write the School Marshal Series with an imperfect protagonist keeping a watchful eye over the school and all who are connected to the school. The protagonist doesn’t always prevail because there is no such thing as a perfect world, but he sure gives it his all. It comforts me to think if there had been a security guard or a school resource officer or a school marshal on the campus the day of the shooting, maybe the outcome would have been better.

Mom’s story is still in the queue…

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I’ve skydived. Tandem with an instructor, but still an incredible experience.

What makes you angry?

Very little. I’m an easygoing person. I may get frustrated or turned off by someone’s behavior, but I try not to get riled.

What was the most valuable class you ever took in school?



Those valuable lessons taught so many years ago now help me understand how to format. A necessary skill for an indie-published author.

What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?

Stop judging others based on your opinions.

Say two positive comments or praise for every negative remark.

Praise children for what they do right instead of criticizing what they do wrong.



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BARRIE HILL REUNION: The Very Long Birth of a Novel

When I was eighteen years old, and a drama student at Pace University in New York City, my grandmother came to visit me for the weekend.

That Sunday, she took me for brunch at the Algonquin Hotel. I had no idea what an impact this outing would have on my writing life.

While we were enjoying our meal, my grandmother told us about the Algonquin Round Table, the celebrated group of literary New Yorkers who met for lunch every day from 1919 to 1929 or thereabouts. I wish I could tell you more about what happened, but my memory of that day is so vague it barely exists. All I can distinctly remember is being fascinated, looking around at the décor, and deciding that I was going to write a story, based on a hotel like this, about the reunion of a college literary group. And I felt very passionate about it. Maybe the ghosts of members past had whispered to me. I wouldn’t be surprised.


(standing, left to right) Art Samuels and Harpo Marx; (sitting) Charles MacArthur, Dorothy Parker, and Alexander Woollcott

I can’t even remember when I actually began writing my short story. I really loved the concept, but I was not the disciplined writer I am today. I do remember the first line, though: “Leah received her invitation on Tuesday.”

In my early twenties, I was living in Queens, NY with my roommate, Gail, who worked in an office. I was working as a bartender at the time. Because I had no access to a copy machine (which everyone called a “Xerox machine” back then), I asked Gail if she could make me a copy of my story. I knew it was special, and I didn’t want to lose it.

It was so special that when Gail forgot to make a copy for me, I completely forgot I had ever asked.

Fast forward several years. I was living in Los Angeles, working at Paramount Studios. One day, I received a piece of mail from Gail. She had been going through her things, purging a lot of stuff she had saved, and found my story. She thought I might want it. Did I ever! I was ecstatic! It was like being reunited with a dear friend whose existence I’d forgotten. That said, I’ve never forgotten the existence of any dear friends. Only this one.

It didn’t take me long to turn my unfinished story into a one-act play. I mailed my nascent creation to theaters all over the country. I did receive some positive feedback, but no luck. The play was not without its fans though, as many of the people who read it had a strong positive reaction.

Years later, back East, my mother (a Journalism professor) introduced me to the director of Temple University’s theater. He read the play and really “got” the characters, but told me that it needed to be a two-act play. I agreed with him, and promptly reworked it as per his suggestion. He had been enthusiastic about reading the new, expanded play, but when I gave it to him, he simply never got around to it. For years, every time my mother would run into him on Temple’s campus, he would lament, “Oh, I never got around to reading your daughter’s play.”

In 1996, I finished writing my first novel, Squalor, New Mexico. I knew then that I wanted to write novels, not plays, and I went on to write five more novels. Finally, something in my brain decided it was time to dust off “Barrie Hill Reunion” and turn it into a novel.

 I wanted to stay true to the original characters, which for the most part I did, but there were some major tweaks in a few of them, as I was now writing a much more nuanced and in-depth story. Also, while I had never attributed a specific year to the play, I knew that the novel could not take place in the current year. Nothing about that felt right. It made sense that the characters had gone to college in the 1960s and were meeting again, twenty years after graduation, in 1986. It was important to me that there were no cell phones or personal computers involved. To modernize the story that much, would have destroyed it.

It was a really interesting process to write a novel with characters that had been with me for a lifetime. While I’ve written villains in other stories, I don’t think I’ve ever written a character as cruel as Leah Brent, one of the Barrie Hillers who attends the reunion. While writing her dialogue, I would often look at the computer and curse her out for what she had just said. Yeah, I called her some really bad names. I think my writer friends will understand this; others might think I am a bit nuts.

Some of the original dialogue from the one-act play appears in the book, but that said, I did not force it. In fact, after I while, I stopped following the play altogether. As I do in all of my novels, I create multiple story arcs, something I could only hint at in play form. So it was important to go in some new directions.

I don’t want to say too much more, only that I’m happy to finally bring this story to life. You can read the synopsis below or on

In the mid-1960s, at an elite college in the quaint town of Barrie Hill, Connecticut, a group of literary-minded students met regularly off-campus at the Vanessa Grand Hotel. Often late into the night, they would discuss the day’s news, analyze literature, philosophize, trade barbs, and socialize.

Twenty years after graduation, in 1986, the group’s founder, Clare Dreyser, organizes a weekend reunion. Seven former Barrie Hillers and one guest get together, eager to re-create an extraordinary time in their lives and reunite with old friends.

From the outset, and baffling the group, Leah Brent displays a brash, condescending attitude for nearly everyone and everything. To the chagrin of actor Bart Younger, Leah immediately lays out the unwelcome mat for his wife, Aimee. No one, not even Leah’s husband, Colin, is immune to her wrath, but Leah is relentless in her bizarre and cruel quest to bring down her primary target: Clare.

As the reunion progresses, the Barrie Hillers strive to enjoy their time together as they become enmeshed in personal dramas, struggle with matters of ethics, and weather escalating uncertainties that threaten to destroy their lives. By Saturday night, the second day of the reunion, karma makes a surprising and shocking visit. As the Barrie Hillers’ time together draws to an end, each is changed forever.

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Barrie Hill Reunion is also free to read on Kindle Unlimited.






Juli D. Revezzo loves fantasy and Celtic mythology and writing stories with all kinds of fantastical elements. She is the author of the historical fantasy Frigga’s Lost Army, the romances, House of Dark Envy, Watchmaker’s Heart, and Lady of the Tarot, the Antique Magic paranormal series and Celtic Stewards Chronicles series and more. She is also a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour.

What is your latest book?

Frigga’s Lost Army. It is an historical fantasy set about a World War II POW who survives his time in captivity with the help of the Norse goddess Frigga.

Is your recent book part of a series?

No, it’s a standalone this one.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

I’ve always written fantasy into…just about everything I write. History always seems to be blended in there somewhere, just depending on what era strikes my fancy at the time. I’ve written worlds set in the Victorian era as well as some (Lady of the Tarot) based in the 18th century, and some, like my Celtic Stewards Chronicles, covering darned near every era.

What else have you written?

 I’ve written the Antique Magic paranormal fantasy (about a woman living in current day Florida, who finds her husband plagued by demons due to a family curse. She has to embrace her witchy powers to save him), also the Celtic Stewards Chronicles, which is a fantasy romance series about a family to whom the Celtic (Irish, specifically) gods come and request the use of their property for their sacred battle; I’ve also written a few historical romances, and odds and ends of novellas and some short stories that are published in a few anthologies.

What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

That you can throw up a book in a minute and make a million bucks. Yeah, it happens, but only to a very, very few. And the other misconception, still, is that we’re all… writing a book in a minute, and not taking care with our stuff. That may be true for some, but certainly, not for me.

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

I enjoy writing the novel the most. I don’t enjoy writing the synopses! 🙂

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

It depends on the story but I do seem to jump around more than just write straight through.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

An ending, yes. Or at least, I like to have a vague idea. As for titles, I usually only need something workable to save it under, then worry about what to use as the marketable title after the fact. I usually have to bounce a list of ideas off friends. We usually end up with some keyword heavy thing I wouldn’t have thought of on day one of the manuscript. Because, you know, keywords don’t figure into some of the best titles:

Elric of Melniboné. (What the heck is that?) The Mabinogion? To the Lighthouse (what lighthouse?) , Mrs. Dalloway, Carmilla (who are they?). Or, take Pickman’s Model by Lovecraft. Who’s Pickman? What kind of model? Is he making toy cars? Or taking something as a model for his life? Is Pickman even a man? (If you haven’t read it, I’m not telling!) Ah…there’s no real keyword there, and (if you don’t know who Lovecraft is) you can’t tell the genre or what the story’s about just from the title, can you? That’s a clever title, in my opinion. 😉 Based on the long history of titles in literature, the current trend doesn’t stack up. Something as keyword heavy as The Detectives of the Elves in the Forest doesn’t work quite so well, in that light, does it? Especially if you realize, tomorrow, your “hot keywords” could very well be out of vogue. Anyway, long story short, based on my influences, that’s why I have to bounce title ideas off friends before I make the ultimate decision.

Have you ever imagined what your characters are doing after you’ve finished a book or series?

Sometimes. Ben (from Frigga’s Lost Army) is more or less settled right now. My novelette “Bicycle Requiem” tied itself to my Antique Magic series, in a way that, I didn’t anticipate when I started either one. I have tons of ideas for what comes next in Antique Magic, and some, yes, that have had me rearrange the end of what I thought would be the final book. I’m not sure I’ll write all of them, (don’t want to have a 25 book series, after all) but I do have them all written down.

After working for a very long time on a novel, many authors get to a point where they lose their objectivity and feel unable to judge their own work. Has this ever happened to you? If so, what have you done about it?

I usually have two or three manuscripts in flux at once, so when I finish one draft, I’ll put it away, and work on something else for a while. That usually clears my head of draft one, so I can go back to it objectively. Then of course, I have betas and editors go over them, as well, who help me pick out what’s wrong.

Are you easily distracted while writing? If so, what to you do to help yourself focus?

No, I’m…*squirrel* 🙂 Seriously though, if I get distracted, it’s usually a sign I need a break, so I’ll stop and maybe go poke around in the garden a little, if it’s a nice day. Or read something else for a while, or poke around on the internet, maybe write a blog post, watch a movie. Things like that. Sometimes just a little rest helps.

Over the years, many well-known authors have stated that they wished they’d written their characters or their plots differently. Have you ever had similar regrets?

Not really. I have things I’d like to tweak, but I don’t usually feel the need to tear everything down and start again. If a book ends up that messed up (and there have been times!) I’d rather move on and write something new.

How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

Constantly! I have one character right now who I wish I’d changed the name before I published the book. Too late now.

Authors, especially Indies, are constantly trying to understand why some authors sell very while their talented fellow authors have a hard time of it. It’s an ongoing conundrum. What do you make of it all?

I really can’t say. Sure talent has something to do with it, but sometimes, it seems like it all comes down to luck.

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

Least favorite part about it…. Everything. Well, not everything, but a few things: DMs on both Twitter and Facebook have a tendency to get lost, so do Twitter comments. I also dislike those ridiculous “please verify yourself” DMs. No. Please stop it.

What do you like best about the books you read?

The storylines, if you’re a fantasy writer, the magic you include. For mysteries, a clever twist. For paranormal cozy mysteries….well, the magic. J

What do you like least?

Fantasy stories where the writer makes a mythological god a villain based on his/her looks and dress, without checking into what the mythology actually says about him/her (Cernunnos is not a devil in Celtic mythology, for instance, even though he has horns). Those kind of mistakes/ uses of “poetic license” drive me batty.

How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

With Frigga’s Lost Army, I spent the most time reading accounts of how the POW’s lived life in the camps. Most of these accounts are online, so it was lot of web reading and link culling.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

I tell you what, my betas and editors prefer to read the entire first draft. They always have, so while I have a critique friend I bounce ideas off, I never let them read it until I’ve finished that draft.

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?

Interestingly, men seem to enjoy my Antique Magic series. Since the main point of view is a woman and so I thought they’d be my target audience (women who love things like the Hollows and Anita Blake series). That surprised the heck out of me.

Are you a fast typist? Does your typing speed (or lack of it) affect your writing?

 Yes, I am, but I’ve never timed it. (I’ll be humble and say I have average typing speed) How does it affect my writing? I’ve given myself carpal tunnel—which, as you can guess—tends to stop the writing, sometimes.

Do you write anything besides novels? Care to share?

I have a blog (link below) and my journals.

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

I’ve been telling stories since I was a child, so yeah. Born to write. I didn’t write my first novel, though, until I was 18.

Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?

Yes. Why? I find it hard to boil down the whole book to just a few lines. Bane of my existence! If it wasn’t for friends who graciously allow me to bounce various versions off them, I don’t know where I’d be.

If you were to write a non-fiction book, what might it be about?

 Herm….probably something about history…Most likely Medieval and Renaissance history. Or something about the Celts. J I adore them! (And as an aside, I actually wrote a little something about the modern paganism in my Antique Magic series, but it’s only available through my Patreon account)

Do you have any advice to a new author if they asked you whether to pursue the traditional route to publishing or to start out as an independent writer?

Get a team to help you decide what makes a good story, and help you flesh yours out and make it better. Even a beta reader or critique partner is helpful. Learn everything you can—yes, even cover design and (especially!) html and ebook coding. Learn to do everything you can yourself. That way if you lose, or can’t barter with, part of your team or your schedules can’t line up, for whatever reason, you’re not totally screwed. (Hey, life does get in the way! Hello, hurricane season!)

What have you done to market your novel and what did you find the most effective? The least effective?

The least effective? Giveaways. See below. And paid promo. I’ve tried a few different paid ones and never found them worth the money, or let’s put it this way, never made my fee back.

The most effective? Well, I’ve been trying different things lately, so what’s effective might be a combination of a lot of them. I can’t say, really.

I’m sure you’ve read many interviews with your fellow authors. In what ways do you find your methods of creating most similar and dissimilar?

I think we’re pretty much the same across the board, when it comes down to it.

Do you feel your latest book is your personal favorite or one of your previous novels?

Of course I love Frigga, but my favorites? Lady of the Tarot, both for itself and for being my first Audible audiobook.

Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?

Just ignore them. Really that’s the best you can do. Anything else might get you in trouble.

Many authors do giveaways; have you found them a successful way to promote your book?

No. Unless it’s a group promo where one can get in front of a larger cross audience I don’t generally find them a useful way to promote.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

Funnily, I pay more attention to designing my book covers. But as a reader/buyer? Very little. There are only a handful of books I’ve ever bought because of the cover.

(But I tell you what men with naked chest covers and covers where the woman’s head is cut off drive me insane.[That would be, I’d said, one of my pet peeves]. I will buy a romance novel, but not for that! For judging romance books, I turn right to the back cover)

Every day brings forth new changes and shifts in the world of publishing. Any predictions about the future?

I see covers moving into the gif realm. I’m not sure if Kindle will ever support them in ebooks; I guess we’ll see! More audiobooks might be in the future, too. I had fun making the two I have so far (my two historical romance novels, Lady of the Tarot and Watchmaker’s Heart) so I’d like to see them become more popular. Maybe. I’d love to see holographic novels, but that might just still be a science fiction dream.

Do you have complete control over your characters or do they ever control you?

Most of the time, we have a mutual understanding to work together.

How would you define your style of writing?

 Quirky and unorthodox. 🙂 No. To be a little less succinct, my tagline is “The Enchanted Word” and what that means is I write books that are laced with a little bit of magic, a little mythology…even here and there in my purely historical romances you’ll find a nod to the fantasy realm, now and then.

Have you ever wished that you could bring a character to life? If so, which one and why?

Yes! Gabriel (from Frigga’s Lost Army), and Aaron (from Passion’s Sacred Dance/Celtic Stewards Chronicles—or Isaac from Druid Warrior’s Heart). Because *sigh* they’re my favorite heroes of my bunch. And Caitlin. Man, I’d love to have a best friend like her! J Oh. Wait. I do, actually.

A lot of authors are frustrated by readers who don’t understand how important reviews are? What would you say to a reader who doesn’t think his or her review matters?

They do! So please, if you enjoyed the book, put a review up saying so! (Amazon’s temperamental algorithms aside) It’s important to know our work is being loved—and “word of mouth” helps spread the word to others you think might enjoy the book. And hearing you loved our books can really brighten a writer’s day.

What genre have you never written in that you’d like to try?

 I’d like to try writing a proper cozy mystery. J

Have you ever started out to write one book and ended up with something completely different?

Actually, funnily enough, I had a science fantasy series I was writing, back in 2000 and when friends got hold of it they said it was romance. That was a total knock me over with a feather” moment, let me tell ya!

Do you know anyone who has ever received any auto DM on Twitter (with a link) who was happy about it?

Depends on the link. If it’s a book link and it sounds interesting, I might look anyway. What I really hate? Those auto-verification tweets. Gah! Please, people, turn that stuff off. I also am perplexed by comments that don’t show up because the commenter marks his account private. I haven’t figured those out yet.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?

I love lasagna and …well, Italian food. Least favorite? Yucca.

Have you ever played a practical joke on a friend? Ever had one played on you?

 My little brother used to throw plastic spiders at me, now and then. Does that count?

Care to brag about your family?

 They’re the best. Always been very supportive of my work. J

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

 I’d love to be able to paint. Like, really represent life with a brush and oils. When I try to draw or paint, it all comes out like …well? What’s it called? Outsider art. Very amateur. So my main “plastic” art medium (outside writing) is photography. But yeah, I’d love to be able to paint.

What was your favorite year of school? Why?

Junior year in high school. J Because that’s when I met my husband.

If you could add a room onto your current home, what would you put in it?

 Books!! And maybe it’d be nice to have a greenhouse, an extra bathroom…

What’s your favorite film of all times? Favorite book?

 Excalibur would be my favorite movie. Favorite book? Elric of Melniboné or The Warhound and The World’s Pain (both by the fantasy author Michael Moorcock). After that, I’d say the Welsh tome The Mabinogion.

Have you ever walked out of a movie? If so, what was it?

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. This was years ago, so I don’t remember why, right now. A shame because we’d loved Christopher Lambert in Highlander, but Legend of Tarzan was very dull to us, I do remember that.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

 I’ve been collecting way too many tarot decks lately, for a non-professional reader. It’s the art thing.:)

What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?

Agree to disagree, and practice “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” That would help, for a start.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

 Believe it or not, I love it when my garden does well. And ravens make me smile. I always get excited when I hear or see one outside.







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Suzy Henderson was born in the North of England and initially pursued a career in healthcare, specialising as a midwife. Years later she embarked upon a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. That was the beginning of a new life journey, rekindling her love of writing and her passion for history. With an obsession for military and aviation history, she began to write.

Suzy is a member of The Alliance of Independent Authors and the Historical Novel Society and her debut novel, The Beauty Shop, was released in November 2016.

Time to chat with Suzy!

What is your latest book?

Having released my debut novel in November 2016, The Beauty Shop, I’m now writing the next book that I hope to release early 2018. Once again, it’s historical fiction, set mainly in France and covers the mid-1930s to 1944. I’m frantically in the middle of rewrites and edits, and as usual, my main character is shaping the story her way.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

Great question. I think it’s fair to say that the historical fiction genre chose me. It all began with my passion for history, mainly military history. Of course, like so many people, there is also a family connection to both world wars, with grandparents, great grandparents and great uncles who served in both conflicts. It’s such a fascinating period, rich in undiscovered and little-known stories and with such remarkable people. I’d like to think that those of us who create within this genre are helping to keep history alive as well as providing exceptional stories for readers.

When I first encountered the story of the Guinea Pig Club – a club for severely burned airmen, and the plastic surgeon who cared for them, I knew I had to write it. I find that I’m drawn to such real people in history – what drives them to do what they do. I’m intrigued by their choices in life and going in search of the answers often uncovers many intriguing facts. For me, I wanted to know what led Archibald McIndoe to do what he did for the burned and injured airmen in his care. Why did he engage pretty girls for his ward, encourage relationships between nurse and patient, allow beer to be freely available and so many other things? His methods were unorthodox, raised many eyebrows and caused many problems within the hospital establishment.

He battled many people to get his own way, which in his mind was the only way. His objective was simple. The men in his care faced a lifetime of ridicule, discrimination and the loss of a previous way of life. He had to change people, society, and attitudes to disability and disfigurement and of course, this is an ongoing issue although times are improving gradually, thanks to people like Archie McIndoe. For a young, handsome pilot to have his whole life ahead of him one day and to feel almost finished the next when his entire face has been burned away, is simply unimaginable and so I found myself compelled to delve into the archives in search of a story. Hence The Beauty Shop was born. The title was the nickname for Archie’s ward at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead. As the men used to say, “it’s where they send you to make you up again.”

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

It happens all the time, irrespective of how well I’ve planned each chapter. Just when I think I know where I’m heading, a character takes me on a little detour and it’s always interesting and often useful, becoming an integral part of the story. Usually, it’s my main characters who quite literally take over and re- shape the story, as has happened with my current book, and I found myself having to do further research, covering an area I hadn’t envisaged at all, although I’m so glad of it.

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

I think I prefer the editing stage, which may seem odd. Planning and writing the first draft is enjoyable but equally frustrating, especially when the writing is not flowing. Things don’t always go to plan as characters have a way of evolving during the written stage, and sometimes more research is required, which hinders my writing. Once I have the complete draft, the real work begins, and that’s the greatest stage for me. I enjoy the shaping and fine polishing phase, but I must admit I’m not so keen on proofreading.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

The title is not important right at the beginning just as long as I have one in time for the design of the book cover. As for endings, well I do like to have the beginning, the middle and some idea of the end at the planning stage, but like everything, it’s always open to change. Right now, I have three alternative endings for my current book.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

The cover is vital – it’s the first thing people will notice in the book store or the Kindle store on Amazon. It must fit your story, look fantastic, and it should stand out. It’s all part of grabbing the reader’s attention. Often, it’s the cover you spot before you read the title, author’s name and certainly any blurb. I’m not a graphic designer or an artist and certainly not competent enough to design my own covers, so I have a professional to do that.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I know many writers who edit as they go, but I simply can’t do it. For me, having tried this, I found it broke my flow and hindered my writing. I prefer to draft and then rewrite and edit afterwards. The first draft is like a free write in a sense – like turning on a tap and going with the flow. I feel it’s where the true story emerges from, and I have no wish to interrupt that.

Do you have any secrets for effective time management?

I wish I did and I’ve concluded that I need to know how to freeze time – that would be incredibly useful but alas I have no superpowers. I think that social media can so easily become a huge drain on your time, especially while you’re at the initial writing stage. I’ve found that I must be strict and limit my time there. I write when I’m most productive which is early mornings and in the evenings. I generally find myself multi-tasking, and I try to keep up with social media during non-writing periods, perhaps when cooking dinner or watching TV. I’ve also begun taking regular breaks away from social media that not only frees up more time but allows you to ‘recharge your batteries’ so to speak. Living in social media can become quite stressful and we all need an occasional rest. You must do what’s right and what works for you at the end of the day.

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

Oh, for me it most definitely came later in life. I can recall being in English class and having to write stories about our summer holidays or suchlike and I hated it. The problem for me was that I loved reading, and enjoyed stories, but when it came to English studies, my imagination took a vacation! Maybe I’m one of life’s ‘late bloomers’. One benefit of this happens to be life experience. I have so much more now in my fourth decade than I did in my second for instance and it’s a useful tool that influences and shapes my writing.

Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?

I absolutely dread writing the synopsis, which is so ridiculous! The synopsis is essential if you’re pitching your book to agents and publishers. That said, even if you’re self-publishing it’s useful and assists with writing your book blurb for one thing. It sums up your entire book, so if you know what you’re writing about, it shouldn’t be a problem. One benefit of writing the synopsis, I’ve found, is that it identifies any ambiguity and helps you to iron out any niggles with your story and plot.

Have you been involved with the Kindle Direct Program? If yes, do you believe it’s worthwhile?

I’m currently enrolled in KDP, and I believe it is worthwhile even though it means I can’t sell my e-book anywhere else for the duration. However, the benefit of the higher royalty rate and the Kindle lending library perhaps makes up for this. Like many writers I’ve discovered that I get many Kindle reads via the library which is fantastic to see my book being widely read around the world.

Are your characters ever based on people you know?

Sometimes, maybe just a little. I’m probably like many writers in that I observe and listen to people. It’s impossible not to overhear conversations at times, and it’s fascinating to do so. So, the bottom line is that as a writer I’m always collecting information to use later. Sometimes a character may be based on an actor even – I do find movies to be a rich resource and a great writing tool and even the actors themselves, after all, they’re people. There is also a little of myself in my books, which happens to be unavoidable.

If you could add a room onto your current home, what would you put in it?

I would make it a writing room specifically for me so I would have it furnished like a library, with shelves from floor to ceiling filled with books. I’d have my desk, a comfy armchair and a treadmill in the corner – keep fit while I’m creating – I’m a multi-tasker! Perhaps I’d have a coffee-maker too and a lovely wood-burning stove for winter.

What music soothes your soul?

I love music, and I particularly enjoy jazz and classical which I find to be very soothing. Also, different songs or classical pieces fit different pieces of writing and often help set the mood and even aid creativity. It’s amazing how that works and I must say it’s not often that I write without music.

If you are a TV watcher, would you share the names of your favorite shows with us?

Well, here in the UK I’m a long-time fan of a show called Emmerdale. I also love Only Fools and Horses that finished ages ago, so I watch the re-runs. Just recently I discovered the hype over Outlander and became hooked. I watched all the available episodes and am now right up to date and about to begin watching Season 3 – can’t wait!

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

I always longed to play the piano but never had the opportunity to learn. Now my youngest son is taking lessons and is becoming quite accomplished. I keep asking him to teach me, and he does try, but I seem to be a slow learner! I used to play the flute, and I can read music, write music even, but learning to play the piano seems to be out of my grasp. It’s going to take time and perseverance.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

I live in Cumbria, right near the top, so I’m within easy reach of the Scottish borders. We have lakes, mountains, literary connections such as Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter and many fabulous walks. Add to that the rich Roman heritage, Roman Forts and Hadrian’s Wall – it’s an inspiring landscape for many an artist.

If I had to move, I’d hope to relocate to either Lincolnshire or Cambridge in the UK simply because it’s ‘bomber county’ where many of the RAF and USAAF bomber bases were during WW2. There are also many old airfields and aviation museums to visit. Aside from there, I’d probably choose somewhere in the south of France. I love the French language, something I excelled in during my school years – I did far better in French than in English!

Thank you so much for inviting me here today, Lisette. I had fun answering the questions, and it has been an honour. I’d also like to say a massive thank you to all who have read my book. Lest we forget.


Universal Book Link for The Beauty Shop