Guest Author Interview with Michael J. Dennis

Thank you so much to author, Michael J. Dennis, for taking the time to answer some questions for us. We appreciate it, and we know that your readers will as well!

1. What inspired you to write this book?

Answer: A love of my home county, it magic in every river, forest and down-land.

2. Can you tell me about the book?

Answer: It starts the life of 16 year old Almund Penny, the son of a Brythonic mother and Jute father. Left in the hands of local monks for his education (after his mother died and father went off promising to return), but not as boys of his age, he knew there was much more to the world. A chance encounter on the banks of the river Medway, lead him to search for a forbidden book, he thinks will teach him how to use the essence (little does he know its a force in each and every one of us). Upon its discovery, he is forced to kill and rob to survive. Collecting a friend and bodyguard Thunnor, on the way. They run whilst being pursued by the cult who own the book, through the forests and over the downs of Kent meeting both friend and foe, to the Cult of Achren's city of Thanatus, their mission to kill Achren's high priestess Kendra.

3. What is your writing process like?

Answer: Progressive, I have the ideas forming, they develop as I write.

4. What did you learn when writing the book?

Answer: That is story was much bigger than I had first thought.

5. What surprised you the most?

Answer: The reaction of my grandchildren when they read the first draft.

6. What does the title mean?

Answer: Each book is under the Chronicle of Achren. Achren being a goddess cast out. The first book is subtitles Thanatus, meaning they who serve. If the 'u' is changed to an 'o' Thanatos means death.

7. Was the character inspired by a real person? If so, who?

Answer: One of my grandchildren, with his inquisitive nature, of always check up on the truth of what you tell him.

8. What do you think happened to the characters after the book ended?

Answer: They've still a long way to go, so that would be telling.

9. What advice do you have for writers?

Answer: Be persistent, believe in yourself.

10. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Answer: Writing lifts me, so energise is the word.

11. What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Answer: Listening to those who tell you it's all a waste of effort.

12. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Answer: Noise and negativity.

13. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Answer: I already write other books under a pseudonym.

14. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Answer: Hopefully I can deliver on both fronts, with a little originality that readers enjoy.

15. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Answer: The Chronicle books, all have a connection. The novellas however can be read as stand alone.

16. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Answer: 6 or so, on a variety of subjects.

17. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Answer: I always carry out in depth research, much of what I write comes from a lifetimes wandering and observation.

18. How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?

Answer: Many years, in fact most of my life.

19. How many hours a day do you write?

Answer: Usually around three to four.

20. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)

Answer: All elements come into my stories, and articles.

21. What did you edit out of this book?

Answer: Unnecessary waffle, were I get carried away.

22. How do you select the names of your characters?

Answer: I have used old Saxon names with meanings linked to each character.

23. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

Answer: I'd make and build things.

24. What was your hardest scene to write?

Answer: The prologue for Ankou

25. What is your favorite childhood book?

Answer: The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe.

26. How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Answer: 130.000 word book 8 to 9 months

27. Do you believe in writer’s block?

Answer: No. Indecision upon the right route to take and sometimes over thinking scenes but writers block no.

28. What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?

Answer: Longhand and computer. I like the idea of dictation as it could move things along, but many of my characters names and the old English and Welsh I use causes problems with dictation.

29. When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?

Answer: As soon as I could put pen to paper I started story telling, but it took many years to actually think it was something I could do seriously.

30. How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?

Answer: Not very, once I pushed everyday distraction to one side.

31. Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?

Answer: No. Some days words and ideas flow much better than others, I found setting targets debilitating.

32. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

Answer: I have a rough plot in my mind, as the words form the story takes a life of it's own.

33. Any tips you would like to share to overcome it?

Answer: Are we talking about block? If so, stop what you are doing find something that relaxes your mind, inspires you to look at things differently.

34. Do you read much and, if so, who are your favorite authors?

Answer: It's possible I read to much, and love reading the classic's, as for modern writers; M. C. Scott, Conn Iggulden, Madeline Miller, Henry Sidebottom, Berwick Coates,Bernard Cornwall and the list could go on filled with many other great story tellers.

35. What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?

Answer: Its engaging, draws you in, you become part of the story.

36. How would you feel if no one showed up at your book signing?

Answer: Deflated.

37. Do you recall the first ever book/novel you read?

Answer: Beyond Enid Blyton. William Goldings, Lord of the Flies

38. How much of yourself do you put into your books?

Answer: Each book comes from the soul, so yes I do put a lot of myself into my writing.

39. Who are your books mostly dedicated to?

Answer: My family

40. Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?

Answer: My partner/wife of over 40 years Val.

41. Writers are often believed to have a Muse, your thoughts on that?

Answer: Only the inspiration of my surroundings, you'll often see me camera in hand wandering the downs, ancient sights or by the sea shore.

42. Another misconception is that all writers are independently wealthy, how true is that?

Answer: You're an extremely lucky writer if you have independent wealth, I still do other things to keep the wolf from the door.

43. Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts?

Answer: No. I don't think you would ever get anything written, I know I wouldn't

44. Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?

Answer: To date I've only used the indie route.

45. What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?

Answer: I find it an interesting proposition, but to date I've not co-authored

46. Is writing book series more challenging?

Answer: I don't find it so, you get hiccups from time to time, that's generally a memory thing.

47. Does it get frustrating if you are unable to recall an idea you had in your mind some time earlier?

Answer: I write notes all over the place. So, yes it does sometimes, my fault though.

48. Have you ever destroyed any of your drafts?

Answer: No. But I did loose a years work on a draft from my computer, after a blind panic and a general feeling of total despair, it was found. Somehow moving to an unrelated new file.

49. Can you tell us about your current projects?

Answer: The next part of The Chronicle of Achren takes Almund and Smith off to unite and arm the Norse clans, they do however inadvertently start a war.

50. Had any of your literary teachers ever tell you growing up that you were going to become a published writer one day?

Answer: Not that I can remember.

51. Were your parents reading enthusiasts who gave you a push to be a reader as a kid?

Answer: My mother is an avide reader. But I've had a love of books from a very early age.

52. Do you enjoy discussing upcoming ideas with your partner? If yes, how much do you value their inputs?

Answer: I do love bouncing ideas around with my partner, I value her input greatly.

53. Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?

Answer: I have written articles on dreams, not so much nightmares, it's a thought though.

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