Thursday, October 13, 2011

October's Highlighted Authors!

From the Wonderful Read of the Month blog comes our inaugural pair of writers. Learn more about them and their work:

X. Williamson

Q: Where are you from?
A: I'm a tiny bit from everywhere since I come from a multicultural family. I'm part Chilean, part Brazilian and I live in Uruguay.

Q: Tell us your latest news?
A: A lot is currently going on in my life and to be honest I'm a bit behind with part two of "Distract my Hunger" because of it. Though I can´t say I'm not happy… I got engaged and am amidst of wedding preparations! Anyway I recently started a cooperative piece of writing with a young Uruguayan author, and I'm really focusing on it. It is quite different from what I've written so far but that makes it very exciting!

Q: When and why did you begin writing?
A: I think I've been writing creatively ever since I learnt how to write, but the first thing I ever got published was a poem when I was eight years old. It was published in a children's magazine and it was what inspired me to keep on writing. It made me think that maybe I can write something meaningful for other people. After that I never stopped trying to create with words.


Q: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
A: Probably from the day I got that first poem published, I was just a child but my teachers encouraged me to continue writing and polishing my work. I feel writing so much a part of it that it is just like breathing; I love words and language structures: they are beautiful and allow us to create a parallel universe with our imagination.

Q: What inspired you to write your first book?
A: I started writing it a long time ago; I was going through a rough time in my life but I was happy anyway. I was sick at the time and I stayed a lot at home, so I just started writing one day. I always wanted to read about a different kind of vampire so I created my own vamp world.

Q: Do you have a specific writing style?
A: I'm not sure about that, perhaps that's something that my readers will tell me one day. What I do feel is that I have some influence from the Latin-American "Realismo Mágico" in my style.

Q: How did you come up with the title?
A: In a dream, one day I woke up and I had dreamt about that title for a book. I wrote it down in my journal and it became my first vampire book some time after.

Q: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
A: Something is always there between the lines but I'll let the readers try to discover it for themselves.

Q: How much of the book is realistic?
A: More than what people think when they read it. We are sometimes so blind to the world around us that we only discover part of what exists.

Q: What books have most influenced your life?
A: So many that I will probably not make justice to all of them. Anyway there are some that just pop in my mind right now like Alfonsina Storni's "Antología Poética". After reading that book as a child I wanted to write poetry as candid as hers. I also loved "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follet and Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches Saga.

Q: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
A: I'd have to choose three: Anne Rice for making me love vampires and paranormal stories, Alfonsina Storni for making me discover dark and complex poetry; and William Wordsworth for showing me the brighter side of poetry.

Q: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
A: To be honest quite a few, I fell in love with Kristie Cook's writing and I'm getting immersed in Eri Nelson's "A Call From Within".

Q: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members?
A: My fiancé Alejandro, he is not a fan of books and reading in general but he always supported my writing. I would also have to say my pets, specially my cat Malva. She would stay with me for unending hours while I was typing in my computer.

Q: Do you see writing as a career?
A: I'd really like it to become my full time job. Currently it is not possible to make a living out of my writing but I hope that will change some day.

Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
A: Actually yes, my editor and the way I supervised the editing… I thought I could rely more on the editor and I was wrong. I was not fully happy with the end product but it is my fault for not being more careful in supervising it.

Q: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
A: Yes, describing colours. I'm mildly colourblind and it makes me see the world in different shades from other people. Sometimes I have to imagine how things would be so as to describe them in a believable fashion (color-wise I mean).

Q: Who designed the covers?
A: I did them myself, I'm quite proud to say!

Q: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
A: Making it available for the readers. It's difficult for me to share my writing with others sometimes.

Q: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
A: To be more careful with editors and to choose wisely the publisher.

Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?
A: Be true to your writing, respect your creativity, check and recheck what's been edited, and do your research before you publish.

Q: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
A: Thank you so much for reading my writing and for your feedback. You make me improve my writing and you make my characters come to life. Thank you!

Distract my hunger by X. Williamson
X. Williamson Facebook Page
X. Williamson on Amazon
X. Williamson on Goodreads
Download "Distract My Hunger" ebook for a special price









Junying Kirk

Q: Where are you from?
A: I was originally from China, but I have lived in the UK for over twenty years.

Q: Tell us your latest news?
A: Apart from writing my third novel, the final installment of my "Journey to the West' trilogy, I also update my blog regularly with book reviews and other ramblings about different aspects of modern life.

Q: When and why did you begin writing? A: I started writing when I was at university in China, but I had the urge to put words and thoughts on paper when I was even younger. I guess becoming a published author has been a dream that has been nurtured for a very long time, and in my case, for over thirty years.

Q: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
A: Although I have published short stories in magazines, research papers and various other pieces on-line as well as contributing to writers' anthologies for a number of years, I only seriously considered myself as a writer a few months ago, sometime in February 2011 after my first novel The Same Moon appeared on Amazon Kindle. The feeling of having a full-length novel out there and read by people from distant shores has been incredible. It seems to have validated me as a writer more firmly than anything I have done before.

Q: What inspired you to write your first book?
A: The desire to share and inspire. I don't remember when that aspiration hit me but it has stayed in that secret corner of my heart, until I made a start on a novel 'The Same Moon'. The idea had been growing within me, because I felt the need to write about a personal journey from the East to the West, from the Middle Kingdom to the United Kingdom. So in 1998 after I finished my PhD In Leeds, I began in earnest and wrote continuously for a few months and completed Part One of the book, Under Chinese Skies. Then I came to a cross-road in my life and other demands came in the way, so I had to put away my half finished novel on a floppy disk. I picked it up again in 2002 and finished the second part On British Isles in 2003. I have revisited the manuscript over the past few years trying to polish it and hoping that it would be published one day. Earlier this year I decided to self-publish it on Kindle.

Q:Do you have a specific writing style?
A: I do. I tend to experiment quite a bit with my writing styles. Ideally I would like to show my characters in a way that my readers can see them from different angles, hence I have used different voices to present their stories. This can be found especially in my second and third book. As for The Same Moon, I did experiment initially but eventually changed all 3rd person narrative into the 1st person after receiving critical but constructive comments from my first cohort of readers.

Q: How did you come up with the title?
A: The Same Moon came easily - in China there was once a belief that the moon in the West were bigger and brighter :) This misguided view was attacked viciously during the times when China was shut out from the rest of the world and had very limited understanding of what was really happening outside 'The Great Wall' of China. In my book, I wanted to show both life in China and outside in the wider world, highlighting some cultural differences between the East and West, as well as demonstrating what lies as universal truth and shared characteristics, no matter where we come from. There are fundamental similarities between us human beings as well as differences and barriers to across. I hope that I have shed some light on this subject in my book.

Q: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
A: Most definitely! Here is a review I received from a reader in the USA and I think she summarized perfectly the message I tried to deliver: "The Same Moon is an account of Pearl's journey from China to Britain. Not only do we see the hardship and feel Pearl's pain, but Kirk educates the reader on culture, history, and tradition. These lessons don't pause the plot, they add to the richness and depth as the reader understands how these 'times' affect the emotions and tribulations of the characters. The characters, clearly painted and unique, are so visually present in the readers mind, they will stay with you long after you're done reading. Kirk's ability to write with such optimism, detail, and hope, shines a bright light on the story and leaves the reader wanting more of Pearl and her future. I learned about tradition, I read about pain and happiness, and throughout the entire read, I was thoroughly entertained." - Marni Mann

Q: How much of the book is realistic?
A: A number of readers have drawn from the similarities between the Protagonist Pearl Zhang to that of my own experiences and asked me if it was semi-autobiographical. It certainly is, especially in The Same Moon. All incidents in the book have really happened, either to myself or to other people I knew. There are also significant historical events which would have been otherwise recorded.

Q: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
A: As I indicated above, my books have elements of my own life in China and in the UK, as well as many other people I came to love and hate along the way. Having said that, my books are fiction so there are a great deal of creative aspects to the story-telling, especially in my later books. The characters are created by me but I have breathed life in them so they are 100 percent real to me :)

Q: What books have most influenced your life most? A: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte; Thomas Hardy's books and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Q: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
A: Since both Bronte and Hardy have gone to the Next World, it will have to be Hosseini.

Q: What book are you reading now?
A: I am a devoted reader of Scandinavia Crime fiction genre, so have been reading a lot of books from Sweden, Norway, Iceland etc. I am also a member of Scandinavian and Nordic Crime Fiction book club in GoodReads hence I get lots of good recommendations. Right now, I'm reading Jo Nesbo's 'The Redbreast' and enjoying it so far.

Q: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
A: Yes, I have bought and read a number of books from new authors, and many indie authors I have met through the Social Media in recent months. Of the books I have read, I particularly enjoyed Canadian author Donna Carrick's First Excellence: Fa-Ling's Map (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Excellence-Fa-lings-Fa-ling-mystery-ebook/dp/B003KN3G6Y). It certainly helps that the book was set in China :) I wish to add here that I am a huge fan of Stieg Larsson - we could probably classify him as a 'new' author, certainly a modern author, who became famous only in recent years and after his premature death at age 50. His Millennium Trilogy are the best books I have come across in the past ten years! Nothing else I've read come close to that.

Q: What are your current projects?
A: I'm enjoying writing short pieces for my blog, as well as working together with my guest bloggers John Kirk and Marni Mann in making my blog site a reader-friendly, info-packed fun adventure for all. Of course, typing away on my greatest project to date - the final book of my trilogy. It is scheduled to be released in April 2012, so time is passing more quickly than I want it to :)

Q: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members?
A: The On-line community I have formed around me. Many indie authors are very supportive of fellow writers and I try to do the same in return on Facebook and Twitter. I have found one particular group who are giving me unwavering support, a group of readers from Isshin Dreams on GoodReads.

Q: Do you see writing as a career?
A: Yes and no. I have and shall devote the best part of my life in writing and will want it to go on until I draw my last breath on earth. However, I am not so sure that if it will pay my bills at the end of the day, so I won't rule out doing other free-lance work, as I am doing now. Besides, variety is the spice of life and provides me with constant inspirations for my writing.

Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
A: I am sure that there are always ways to improve our work. I must say that once I get my idea on paper, they are usually there to stay. We may make changes here and there, but we can't change the style we write in or the way we present our stories that it comes out as if it was written by someone else. In that sense, we are all unique as writers.

Q: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
A: My interest has derived from all the books I have read over the years. I enjoyed fiction as soon as I was able to comprehend stories and even before I was able to read properly. That love for world literature has grown stronger and more mature as I get older.

Q: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
A: Absolutely. In my W.I.P, there is a whole new host of fascinating characters, a British Police officer Jack Gordon, with the help of Pearl Zhang, they would go into unknown territory of illegal immigrants and underworld, fighting injustice, discovering hidden lives, getting themselves into mortal danger, and hopefully solving a few crimes along the way. It is my most exciting project to date and I am making the best of it and enjoying the process of creativity and challenge!

Q: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
A: Yes, creating new and convincing characters is not always easy, and to add flesh and blood to each of them requires skill, dedication and ultimately unconditional love. Another practical challenge is to be able to prioritize and allocate time to writing, as there are so many other tasks which require our attention in everyday life. In my view, challenge is good and necessary if dealt with in a positive way.

Q: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
A: My all time favorite author is Charlotte Bronte - I have devoted a blog on her book Jane Eyre here: http://www.junyingkirk.com/?p=630. If you have read the book, you'll know exactly why, if not, please read it to find out:)

Q: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
A: Certainly! I travelled all the way from China to the UK:). All my three books are set both in China and in Europe, with Pearl's footsteps in many parts of the world, including the USA and Australia. I actually made a special trip to Fujian Province in China in March 2011 to research for my current book. My W.I.P. will take readers to countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Q: Who designed the covers?
A: An artist and great friend Yongqun Guo. She and I went to university together in China many years ago. She is now a successful artist working in the USA and her beautiful paintings go perfectly with my books.

Q: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
A: I have generally found writing quite easy for me. Nevertheless, because English is my second language, I sometimes struggle with the tenses - I am sure they were invented just to confuse us who are not born with it! Everyone thinks that Chinese is the most difficult language on earth, but we have the most basic grammar patterns! Still, I believe that having a good command of two different languages can be advantageous, as it actually provides me with a wider perspective and sometimes I could come up with words which native speakers would not have used but could be just as effective, even endearing to some readers!

Q: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
A: Yes, I learnt to appreciate my life more. I've felt a great deal of responsibility to people I have never met but they would get to know me through my books. I want to share what I have learnt and impart these valuable lessons and knowledge. I want my readers to be inspired in some way, as I have had the benefit while reading wonderful books about amazing people and their lives.

Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?
A: If it's something you love doing and you have the gift to write, then do it. Don't do it for any other reason.

Q: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
A: I hope that they will find my books informative, interesting and inspiring. I would love to hear them say: oh yes, reading these books have taught me something that I didn't know before.

Junying Kirk was born and grew up in the turbulent times of the Cultural Revolution. A British Council scholarship led her to study English Language Teaching at Warwick University in 1988, followed by further postgraduate degrees at Glasgow and Leeds. When she is not travelling to various Courts and Police Stations across the UK as a professional interpreter, she loves spending her time reading and writing books. She lives in Birmingham UK with her husband

Junying's Writing and Blogs
'The Same Moon', Amazon Kindle USA
'The Same Moon', Amazon UK
'The Same Moon', Smashwords







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