Ivana Hruba

Ivana Hruba specializes in writing bold, quirky and outrageously entertaining fiction. So she says.

Shelagh: Hi Ivana, please tell everyone a bit about yourself.

Ivana: I am the author of A Decent Ransom, a thriller about a kidnapping, which was published by Kunati in 2008. Apart from writing, I love to draw cartoons.

Shelagh: When did you first begin writing and in what genre(s)?

Ivana: I’ve been writing stories since childhood; first in my native Czech, then in English. I don’t have a particular genre I write in; for me, it’s the plot that influences the genre of a particular story.

Shelagh: When you started to write, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

Ivana: I have always wanted to entertain with my stories. As a reader I am most drawn to deeply human, meaningful stories told with a good dose of humor, and that’s what I try to accomplish in my own writing.

Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

Ivana: A Decent Ransom is a story of a kidnapping gone right. It’s a stand-alone thriller told in multiple perspectives.

Shelagh: What’s the hook for the book?

Ivana: A Decent Ransom deals with a kidnapping in which nothing happens according to plan when a woman gets kidnapped for ransom which never arrives, creating a moral dilemma for the kidnappers who are left with the kidnapped girl. Everyone’s motives are gradually revealed to the reader through the multiple points of view. And just as you think you’ve got it all worked out – here comes the surprise ending.

Shelagh: How do you develop characters and setting?

Ivana: For me, character development is a gradual process. It is something that happens as the story progresses, although I do have an idea how to position the characters from the outset. I like complex, morally sound characters who are, nonetheless, capable of great evil if properly motivated. I usually have a good idea of the setting as I need to be able to start the story from there.

Shelagh: Who’s the most unusual/most likeable character?

Ivana: In A Decent Ransom the most likeable character is the young kidnapper Phoebus. He’s the one true innocent in this story. Phoebus is a fifteen year old boy who’s been forced to take part in the kidnapping. He’s then charged with taking care of the kidnap victim and has to cope with all the unexpected turns in the situation.

Shelagh: Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Ivana: In this story, the multiple perspectives move the plot along from one event to another. It keeps the reader engaged and the story moving at a quick pace.

Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV?

Ivana: I like to tell a story ‘after the event’ rather than ‘in the moment’ as it allows me to draw conclusions and show consequences. In A Decent Ransom each of the four main characters who get to ‘speak to the reader’ have a particular style – some are telling the story in past tense, others are showing it to the reader as if it were just happening. In my new novel, I have an omniscient narrator ‘telling’ the reader rather than ‘showing’ the action.

Shelagh: How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Ivana: We all draw on our experiences to make meaning of our lives. It is inevitable that a writer will draw on their own environment when writing a story; not so much in terms of plot, setting or action, but certainly in character development. I find that my ‘heroes’ are essentially the same person, imbued with pretty much the same characteristics – witty, good-natured, a lot of fun to be around but with a dash of the unexpected thrown in. When I’m developing a character, I spend a lot of my time in that person’s company so I like to give them the human qualities that I like.

Shelagh: Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.

Ivana: I’ve been lucky to have got some great reviews for A Decent Ransom and I’m grateful for them all, but my favourite line is … “Told in multiple character points of view, the author somehow has designed a story that elegantly presents each character’s viewpoints without the need to label or overtly lead the reader.” I love the ‘somehow’; to me it show that the reader grasped the story but couldn’t quite work out how I did it, which is exactly what I had intended to happen. To read this review and others, please go to my website listed below.

Shelagh: What are your current projects?

Ivana: I am currently finishing a novel based on my life. As a child I lived in then communist Czechoslovakia which my family left in 1983. We escaped by walking across the Alps from the former Yugoslavia to Italy and we stayed in a refugee camp in West Germany before eventually ending up in Australia. The book is about my childhood, the escape and the refugee camp, and our resettlement in Australia. I am also developing a comic book series for children. For all the details, please see my website.

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Ivana: Currently, the best place is my website www.ivanahruba.com . I hope to see you there. Otherwise, A Decent Ransom is available in lots of libraries worldwide.

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J. A. Adams

Today’s guest author is J. A. Adams. This interview is from the blog tour arranged by Nia Promotions.

Tell us about Chameleon.

When dreams turn into nightmares, spur of the moment decisions test the silent codes of family honor. Diane Darhling, beautiful, scholarly, and heir to a multi-million dollar fortune, finds herself caught in a triangular web of love gone seriously wrong. Two men, Jimmy and Jerrell, whose polarized unrelenting desire to have her is felt to the depths of the soul.  One loves unconditionally. The other, a suave psychopath. Reading like a backdrop story from headline news, a twisted plan, forged in pathological and psychotic manipulation, is plotted by the Chameleon.

From where do you get your characters?

Everywhere.  Life, everyday life, personal experiences and encounters with people.  I am a people watcher. Sometimes I may meet someone and their persona matches a character I am working on or a future book in my head.  My characters are often composites of several individuals and/or personality types.  I may meet a person that stays in my head and eventually I may create a story around them.  I joint down a few notes for use when I begin working on that particular character.

For example the new novel I am working on, Pineview’s Secret.  One of the major female characters in the story came out of a bus ride I took 4 years ago traveling from Austin to Houston.  She was one of the passengers.  I did not meet her directly, she sat behind me and in her conversation with another passenger she made mention she was in the adult entertainment business. Then just a few months ago, I met another young lady which provided me with the additional persona I needed to finish out this character.  You will meet her in the upcoming novel Pineview’s Secret.

What do you want most for readers?

I hope that my books will invoke discussion about the lines and boundaries surrounding our most intimate relationships.

I want the reader to come away with the understanding there is true evil in the world.  Situations that on the surface appear to be within the normal realm of life, coincide as residents of evil.

One may discover themselves suddenly caught up in a world of mayhem with no seemingly available outlet. Incidents, commonly known as red flags, are evident throughout the story of Chameleon, but are completely ignored by the innocent and naive main female character Diane.  This shows the danger naïve young women, upon leaving home for the first time entering the adult world, can fall prey to the influences of a seemingly well meaning male whose true intention is solely personal gain at any cost.

What is your base for these theories?

My master’s work is in psychology with concentration in development. Plus, I have 25 years experience and training working with dysfunctional individuals as well as families.

What do you want most for readers?

I hope that my books will invoke discussion about the lines and boundaries surrounding our most intimate relationships.

About J.A. Adams

J.A. Adams, author of three psychological suspense novels, uses personal and professional experiences to bring awareness to psychological issues that affect our relationships.

For 30 years, Adams has worked with traumatized victims of violence and crime. Adams’ experience, paired with her writings, allude to healing the spirit and soul of victims.

Adams currently resides outside of Austin, Texas. She continues to write and volunteers with numerous organization bringing awareness to teen dating violence and women issues, as well as, advocating against intimate partner and family violence. Such organizations include the Ortralla Foundation and Recovery Ministry at Gateway Church. Moreover, she regularly speaks and mentors women using her life as proof that one can love again after trauma.

To learn more about J.A. Adams and her work visit www.jaadamsauthor.com or they can post a comment on my Facebook Fan Page www.facebook.com/fansofjaadams. She also has an author’s profile on SIR Authors at www.sirauthors.com.

* * *

This interview is brought to you by SIR Authors, a book marketing and promotions group organized by Nia Promotions featuring seven authors working together to market and promote their work. To learn more visit www.sirauthors.com

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Daniel Dinges

Dan Dinges, who earned his MBA from the University of Washington at Seattle, retired to write after careers in business management and education.

Shelagh: Please tell everyone a little about yourself, Daniel.

Daniel: Recently I moved to the Rio Grande Valley after a varied career in business, consulting, and management.  Along the way, I earned degrees in economics and business.  My life’s journey has taken me to virtually every state in the union.  I have had long-term residences in Illinois, Virginia, Washington state, Alaska, and Minnesota.

Semi-retirement gives me the opportunity to explore interests, including writing, that I overlooked in the scramble for material success.  I am also able to spend more time with my spiritual side and at this writing, am a member of the council of elders at my church.

Companion animal rescue is a passion for me.  I am active at the local shelter in the areas of adoptions, breed rescue, and fundraising.  We are taking an important step in solving the pet overpopulation problem in the Valley by opening a low cost, high volume spay/neuter clinic.  I will be the director of operations during the startup of this organization.

My two boys have families of their own now.  The eldest lives in Boston and is busy raising two sons of his own.  The younger is also raising a family.  A granddaughter joined us last fall.  They are moving to Texas soon.  I hope to see a lot more of both families in the future.

In my leisure time, I enjoy travel, golf, and long walks with my two dogs, who were both adopted from the local shelter.

Shelagh: When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish?

Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

Daniel: Writing has always been a part of my professional life.  As a consultant, manager, and trainer, I have often been tasked to use the written word to put across the results of my labors in reports using clear, concise, and complete terminology.  The goal of a report is to make the complex understandable and actionable.

Get Out of the Way is my first attempt at writing for the entertainment of an audience.

I think that all good books try to engage readers on multiple levels.  In this respect, Get Out of the Way is no different.  It refers to a time of great social change that left many without a feeling of closure.  To some, it seemed that the country shut the door on the mistakes and failures and went into a state of denial.  The message of this book is one of hope for growth through retrospection and healing through reconciliation.

I also believe that the messages in books should be tailored to the work.  At this point, I do not believe the subsequent works in this series or in future projects will be based on the same message.

Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

Daniel: Get Out of the Way is the first book in a series about America in the last century.  The series will tell the story of this amazing and in some ways frenetic period in our history through the eyes of Tom Daniels and his family.  The kaleidoscope of sweeping changes the series will examine include: the integration of the western pioneers into an emerging industrial society, the assimilation of refugees from post WWI Europe, the Great Depression, WWII, the Vietnam era, and the post-Vietnam transition of America from an industrial power to a service-based society.

Shelagh: How do you develop characters and setting?

Daniel: My characters act naturally within the context of the story.  I build profiles for each of them using a combination of available checklists plus some personal insights.  One thing I do that may be unusual is to try to add a cast of archetypes from classical literature to each of them.

Actually, I see the War and the Draft as characters, or rather extensions of the Greek God of war and one of his henchmen as opposed to back-story.  They are creators of action on the part of the protagonist.

Settings are not just places.  They also add color and action to the story.  In addition, they are important to the reactions of the characters.

Shelagh: Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Daniel: The way I went about putting together this story is similar to the way I learned to put together a consultative piece.  The entire piece needs to work as a whole before the actual writing begins.  I need to know where I am going before I start out.  I use a top down strategy including storyboarding to plan how the action progresses.  Each scene is a chapter or set of chapters.  That way there is a blueprint to go forward.

This does not mean that the final product looks exactly as it did during planning.  There are always changes in direction as the creative process evolves.  Each new development needs to be integrated into the overall plan before proceeding.  That way I avoid running into a dead end three quarters of the way through.

This process worked well for me, and I plan to go forward with new projects in a similar fashion.  No doubt, experience will dictate modifications.

Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style or preferred POV?

Daniel: I hope that I present a distinctive author’s “voice.”  Voice is as telling to a writer’s identity as an author’s signature.  My intention is to maintain it throughout my work.

POV follows from the nature and structure of the specific piece.  For that reason, the POV of Get Out of the Way is first person.  The result generates mixed consequences.  On the one hand, the work is, as one critic stated, authentic, believable, and true to life.  Another view, put forward in different review is that the work is a memoir thinly disguised as a novel.  While the work depends heavily on historical events, critical parts of the book are purely fiction.  This is intended to be an example of a relatively new genre known as Creative Nonfiction where the whole attempts to provide an entertaining yet insightful look at an important time in US history.

Shelagh: How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Daniel: A writer’s voice is a combination of a number of factors.  The environment/upbringing of the individual is part of it.  I do not know how it could fail to come through.  I think my journey through life brings on a certain skepticism and challenging of authority that is perhaps indicative of my generation and evident in my writing.

Shelagh: Share the best book review you’ve received.

Daniel: Get Out of the Way was an amazingly enjoyable read.  Written from Tom’s point of view, Daniel Dinges did a wonderful job capturing the spirit of a young man and his struggle to survive the war.  Written from the first person point of view, Tom was a likable voice.  His walk down memory lane brought to life his problems, fears, and struggles of his choice to enlist.  His account was so lifelike, that I felt like I was there along with him throughout his two years of service.

I enjoyed Mr. Dinges’ captivating style of writing.  I look forward to seeing more from this author and will be keeping him on my watch list.

– Theresa Dunlap, Library Thing & Just One More Paragraph Blog

Shelagh: What are your current projects?

Daniel: On the writing front, I am in the preliminary stages of writing the next Tom Daniels book.

I am also developing a work of speculative fiction set in the Southwest about 75 years in the future.

It takes place in a group of new United States territories located in what is left of Mexico.  The Mexican nation succumbed to the onslaught of organized crime and invasion by an unlikely coalition of socialist and Islamic jihadist powers whose ultimate goal is the destruction of America.  The remnants of the country petition for protection and the US really has no choice but to come to their aid despite the fact that it is itself on the decline.

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Tate Publishing

Daniel Dinges

Facebook

Rest of the tour:

4/5 Pop Syndicate http://www.popsyndicate.com/books (guest blog, trailer)

4/5 Once Written http://www.oncewritten.com/#MeetTheAuthor (Meet The Author essay)

4/7 Suite 101 / Reading & Literature http://www.suite101.com/readingandliterature (trailer, excerpt, QA, giveaway)
4/7 Julie Bertinshaw Blog http://burtinshaw.wordpress.com (guest blog post)

4/8 Curled Up with a Good Book http://www.curledup.com/win.htm (giveaway)

4/9 Incurable Disease of Writing Blog http://www.missyfrye.net/Blog/?cat=106 (giveaway)

4/12 Incurable Disease of Writing Blog http://www.missyfrye.net/Blog/?cat=106 (article
4/12 Incurable Disease of Writing Blog http://www.missyfrye.net/Blog/?cat=106 (excerpt)

4/14 Book Blogs Ning http://bookblogs.ning.com/group/bookbloggiveaways (giveaway)

4/20 Catch That Book Radio http://www.blogtalkradio.com/catch-that-book (podcast interview)

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