Bestselling Author Alice Kuipers on inspiration, writing & commitment


Welcome, Alice and thanks for joining us here. Could you tell us a bit about yourself? At what age did you decide you wanted to be a writer and how did you get started?

LOTRDThank you very much for hosting me! I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but I started to take it more seriously when I was about twenty. I wrote several books, none of which were published, before I wrote Life on the Refrigerator Door, which was published in 30 countries. It was published as both a YA and an adult novel, but I felt that YA suited me well.

What attracted you to the YA genre?

Alice bksI love writing about that age when everything is possible and anything can happen. I’ve published three other YA novels and two picture books since then, and I have a new YA novel and a chapter book series coming out in the next year or so. My books continue to sell in lots of countries, and I’m lucky to be able to write for lots of different age groups.

Could you describe your writing process? Where does your inspiration come from?

I’m lucky to be able to work full time as a writer, although the only commitment I make to myself as a writer is to read every day. I have four children, so, while writing every single day isn’t possible, I can always find time to read–even if it’s the middle of the night.

I love the rush of getting a first draft done and normally I plan to write a thousand words a day when I’m in that phase. Then I have a lot of reworking to do afterwards. My inspiration comes from all sorts of places–books I’ve read, the newspaper, my kids, that quiet inner voice that asks the question ‘what if, what if, what if…’

Michael Crichton once said: “Books are not written–they’re rewritten.” How many times do you re-write before passing your work on to an editor?

Best ever_KuipersOh, I’m always rewriting. I spend much more time editing than writing and the number of drafts I have to do is a ridiculous. I think I wrote my first picture book–all 674 words of it–over three hundred times. It takes me ages to get things right. And then I send my writing to an editor and the process begins all over again–the editor has their own voice and ideas and that part of the process is crucial to making any book the best it can be.

I feel like there is only one opportunity for a reader to read a first draft of a book, so I want to make that first experience of my books as good as I can.

You have written, lectured, taught in class and online, and co-authored an app. How did you find your way to developing a video writing course for authors? What made you think of this format in particular?

QuickStart 3The video course seemed like a natural progression from all the other teaching I do. I’ve been teaching online at University of Toronto for a few years now and I love the online format–it means that I can be working with students when my children are sleeping.

The way this course works is the content is all there ready for you as soon as you want to start–so many people want to ignite their creativity and now with this course I hope they can.

What key things did you consider while developing QuickStart Your Writing?

I wanted to make to process of writing accessible to all the people who ask me how to become a writer themselves. Everyone has a story to tell and I know how hard it is to find the confidence and time to make that happen.

The course is designed to be done at the pace of the person using it and hopefully it’s filled with ideas as to how anyone can get their words on the page.

QuickStart 1

What was the most difficult part of producing this course? The easiest?

It’s always difficult to find a quiet moment in the house I live in to make the video content. I’m making another course now and it’s a rare time that all the children are out and I’m not going to be interrupted.

The easiest part was also the most fun part–talking about writing. I could talk about writing and how to get started writing all day long.

What should writers think about before deciding if this product is right for them? Is it more useful for fiction or non-fiction?

computer-keyboard-freeimageAnyone can go onto the site and have a look at the sample lectures before deciding to come on board. I would think that it’s more useful for people who write fiction as that’s my passion, but the ideas about how to make time, how to make a space, and how to find ideas, would apply to any aspiring writer, whatever type of writing they do.

What are you working on today? What new projects do you have planned for the future?

I’m editing. Again. And I’m working on a new course with an organization called Children’s Book Insider. That course will come out in the fall. I have ideas for two new books and I also need to write the second book in my chapter book series, which will be a pleasure to do once I’ve finished the edits of the new YA novel.

Sample promptI’m enjoying my new Instagram feed where I upload an image writing prompt every day or so. And I love making my newsletter with writing tips and book recommendations for anyone who loves books as much as I do.

The publishing world is changing fast – where do you think it will be in five years…and where will you fit it then?

If I’m lucky, I hope I’m still publishing as many books as I am now, but even if I’m not, I’ll still be writing them. Writing is something that brings me a lot of joy. Having readers is an honour and a thrill, but, just as I was writing long before I was published, I’ll still be writing as the years go by.

Who are your favourite authors? What kinds of books do you enjoy reading?

Every month I send out a newsletter where I talk about the books I’m reading and share book recommendations from other writers too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARight now, I’m reading The Summer Before The War by Helen Simonson, and I just finished The Long Road To The Deep North by Richard Flanagan. I’ve been loving Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows, which I’ve been reading with my four year old daughter, and I really enjoyed We Are All Made of Molecules, a YA novel by Susin Nielsen. I sit around and drink cups of tea, thinking big, writerly thoughts. Actually, that’s a joke!

What do you do when you are not writing?

I have four children and the oldest is six, so I basically try and keep my head above water, and make sure they are fed, watered, loved, entertained, not causing havoc, etc… When I’ve finished this, I have to take my daughter to a birthday party, then play with my youngest two and somehow edit a novel in there too…

One thing I love to do is to cook. Last night I made cinnamon buns for the first time after a weekend with the kids by a lake here in Canada. If only the baby hadn’t kept me up until one in the morning last ‘night’, I’d actually be refreshed, relaxed and ready to tackle the work ahead of me.

Thank you so much for asking such great questions. I hope to see some of you on the course. You can find me here at, at my newsletter or writing prompt feed, at my writing course QuickStart Your Writing, or on Twitter @alicekuipers and Facebook.

Kuipers_headshotAlice Kuipers has recently authored and produced an online writing course that covers ideas, inspiration, discipline, planning and commitment for writers.  It includes top tips from a top author for writers of every genre.

Alice was born in London. She moved to Canada in 2003. Her first novel, Life on the Refrigerator Door, was published in 28 countries and won several awards. Since then, she has published three further award winning YA novels internationally, most recently, The Death of Us. Her fifth YA novel comes out in 2017.

Kuipers has four small children and she began writing picture books for them. Her first picture book Violet and Victor Write The Best Ever Bookworm Book was selected as an Amazon best pick for December 2014. Her second, Violet and Victor Write The Most Fabulous Fairy Tale, is on the Winter 2015 Kids’ Indie Next List.

Alice bksAlice’s website is full of tips and hints for writers. You can find her online at:



Ben interviews Author Mary Waibel

Valendrian Nights Cover

Welcome, Mary – tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started writing?

I started writing in my late teens, early twenties, but more as entertainment for myself than with any dream of being published. Sometime after my son was born, I decided to try and take my writing to the next level and publish a book. Five books and three novellas later, I’m still working at it.

Recently I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from my writing as my real life became a bit more hectic than normal. I haven’t written anything in about six months, and I miss it. In fact, I miss it so much that I’m back working on the next book in the Faery series. So, if you’ve been waiting for that story…be patient with me. I’m working on it.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I’m a mother, wife, full-time worker. When I’m not working, I spend lots of time at the ice rink or lacrosse field watching my son play. I enjoy reading, watching TV (I’m on an anime kick right now!), and dabbling in drawing. This year I took pictures at the lacrosse games and had fun seeing how they turned out and playing with software to make them look even better.

Is Valendrian Nights your first book? How many books have you written previously (if any?)

I have a total of seven books currently available in multiple formats. There are four books in my Princess of Valendria series (Quest of the Hart, Charmed Memories, Different Kind of Knight, and Vaendrian Nights), a Cinderella retelling with a twist in The Mystery Prince, the first of my Faery series (Faery Marked), and a modern romance novella in The Boyfriend Project.

What genre is it and what is it about?

Valendrian Nights CoverValendrian Nights is a compilation of short stories set in the Princess of Valendria world. Each of the six stories features a character from the three novels and tells something from their past. See Rielle’s knighting ceremony. Experience Bri’s first day in Palindore. Ride with Kaylee as she meets her groom-to-be. See Devlin’s reaction to learning he is to wed the daughter of his enemy. Read Trevor’s love letters to Elsbeth. Watch Brody’s first encounter with Rielle under a starry sky.

What inspired you to write this book?

There were things alluded to in the other novels in the series that I wanted to give my readers a glimpse of. Things that shaped the characters into who they are when you encounter them in their own novels. Plus, with Devlin asleep for most of Quest of the Hart (not really a spoiler), I wanted my readers to get a better sense of who he really is and why Kaylee could fall for him so quickly.

What does your writing process look like?

Up until my current book, I thought about an idea, then started writing. Halfway through I’d make a change and have to go back and do a massive rewrite on the entire story. After doing this across four novels, I decided a simple outline (that I give myself permission to veer from) was needed. I wrote such an outline for Faery Cursed, and was typing right along quite merrily until I hit the halfway point, and something happened, and I was like… “Oh! I’ve been writing all this from the wrong character’s POV!” The good news, I can shift some of it to this other character’s POV. The bad news…I may have to do something to a character that some readers might get upset with me about. Guess I’ll have to see if that’s really where my character wants me to go or if he has a trick up his sleeve.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Brody is my favorite of all that I’ve written to date. Although Ryan is a close second (and might take over the lead depending on how things go with the book I’m working on). The thing with Brody is he’s faced so many things that should make him want to crawl in a hole and give up. But he doesn’t. He keeps pushing on, hoping that around the next corner is the thing that makes it all worth it.

How do you choose names for your characters? Based on sound or meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

Sometimes I name my characters based on a specific meaning. Often I search the baby name website for a name beginning with a specific letter, or a specific nationality. While not necessarily a character name, I do like to play with words. For example, In Quest of the Hart, there’s the Stygian Swamp, which was a fancy way for me to say Black Swamp. And Aureal’s (the golden dragon) name is twist on the French for gold. For things like this, I use a thesaurus or Google translate and let my mind do the rest.

Do you have a pet or pets?

I have two cats. A tortoise colored one and her sister is a black cat. I had lots of fun petting the black one as she crossed my path on Friday the 13th.

What is your favorite snack food?

Chocolate. Is there anything else? Oh, maybe Twizzlers. Yeah, chocolate or Twizzlers. That’s all I need.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? 

My favorite author is Nora Roberts. I devour her books. In fact, I tried to read her stories to learn how to write, but two paragraphs in I was hooked into the story (even though I’d already read it about four or five times) and forgot to read to learn!


Author Photo- Mary WaibelFairytales and happy-ever-after are strong influencers for multi-published YA author Mary Waibel’s works. Whether penning stories in a medieval setting or a modern day school, magic and romance weave their way inside every tale. Her works are showcased at

You can find out more about Mary at her blog, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. You can find her work at, Amazon and Goodreads.


Ben interviews Author Jaye Marie

Untitled design(2)

Welcome, Jaye! Tell us a little about yourself and your work. How did you get started writing?

DSC02093I had no intention of becoming a writer. I loved to read, and for most of my life that was enough for me. More than enough really, for I am a compulsive reader and will read anything I can put my hands on. Present me with a bookshelf full of books, and I will start at one end and read my way to the other.

Then I offered to edit my sister’s books. She hates computers, so I offered to type them up too. Before I knew it, my brain began to explore what other things I could be doing.

I tried to ignore that inner voice, for I was busy enough. Anita was writing faster than I could format, and there were all my other interests too. Gardening, DIY, dressmaking and a host of craft projects. I love to be busy, but it came to the point where something had to give, never mind add something else to the list.

jayeThat was then, and now I am busy writing the third book in my mystery thriller series. The characters just turned up in my head, one by one and nagged me for weeks until I gave in and listened. So you can never say never.

This genre came as a surprise, for I lean towards the supernatural, spooky kind of book, so I have no idea where the idea came from. If anything, I should have expected to write medical stories, as I always wanted to be a doctor, and these are some of my favourite television programmes.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I considered myself a writer when I held my first paperback copy of my book The Ninth Life in my hand for the first time. Up until that magic moment, I doubted I would ever feel like a writer. But holding that paperback copy finally convinced me.

9th lifeWhat is Ninth Life about?

It is the dark and disturbing mystery thriller of a middle-aged woman who has escaped dying so many times she would appear to have nine lives. At least that’s what the annoying voice in her head would have her believe.

Always a bit of a loner, with a failed marriage and relationships behind her, Kate Devereau’s life has not been kind, and despite her apparent immortality, death might have been welcome. Kate’s reputation as an English artist has grown, but she has no life other than art. No friends or husband.

When people around her start to die at the hands of a sadistic serial killer, she begins to wonder if she will be next. Is she finally running out of time? Is it her turn to die?

Who is your favourite character from your book and why?

Last lifeMy favourite character didn’t really appear until book two, The Last Life, and his name is Detective Inspector David Snow. The fact that my detective looks a lot like Tom Selleck should indicate how fond I am of him. I just love writing about him.

Do you have any other talents or hobbies?

Probably shouldn’t have chosen this question, as I could be here for hours. The list of my hobbies is incredibly long, so I will limit myself to my favourites. So apart from writing, which has to be number one, I love photography and am a puzzle freak. Jigsaws, suduko, PC games, I love them all. I also sew, knit and crochet and when I have the time I love to paint and draw.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I am just writing the third book in my mystery thriller series, The Wrong Life, but this might be my detectives swan song. I would love to write a supernatural story next, but anything is possible as I’m not really in control of any of it.

What would you want your tombstone to say?

Well, my life has not been easy by anyone’s standards, and now I am growing old, I sometimes look back and wonder how I managed to get through it all. So, the perfect epitaph for me would be: “She did her best…” Even though I made a pig’s ear out of most of it!

What is your favourite Fiction/non Fiction book?

My favourite fiction book just happens to be Scarlet Ribbons, my sister’s supernatural mystery romance. I was the editor for this one and fell in love with it. And no, she didn’t have to pay me to say this!

me x45Jaye Marie is the ‘oily rag’ and joint partner of the establishment and usually prefers to stay in the background.
Since Jaye and Anita decided to publish their books, all Jaye’s other interests have had to take a back seat. And as she (claims she) is not half as clever as she wants to be, they may well have to leave the country for a while.

Jaye is an avid Bonsai fan and has her own collection that demands her attention in the growing season or they will die. (It’s a bit like having children.)

Jaye has always preferred to be kept busy, although she does think that now she is over 70, she might be able to relax a bit more – but also doesn’t think that will happen any time soon. She has a need to be doing or trying something new. She makes all these plans in her head, knowing she is probably wasting her time, but just can’t help it.

two small old ladiesYou can find out more about Jaye, Anita and their work at or at Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Ben interviews YA Fantasy Author Amie Irene Winters

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00067]

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started writing?

AmieIreneWinters_SectionofMysteryWriting books never entered my mind until I completed my bachelors in anthropology and religious studies, and masters in environmental studies.

Only after having tried a variety of unique jobs – from park ranger, grant writer, natural history curator, to archaeologist – did I start experimenting with writing fiction. Why? Simply put, I thought it would be fun. And I was right. Writing has been one of the few things that I do that doesn’t seem like “work.”

Last year, I published my debut YA Fantasy book, Strange Luck. The next book in the Strange Luck series, The Nightmare Birds, will be released August 2, 2016.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

wedding-invitation-freeimagesWhen not writing, I love to be outdoors. I’m also a bit of a geek. I love playing Magic the Gathering, board games, doing puzzles, and curling up with a good book.

What is one thing that would surprise us?

Something that might surprise you about me is that I seriously considered a career as a forensic anthropologist or mortician.

Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)

I wrote three books before I wrote Strange Luck. I consider them “practice books.” Writing these books really helped me find my voice and learn more about publishing and writing.

The Nightmare Birds is actually an adaptation of one of these earlier books. I retained my favorite characters and the general concept, but rewrote it to be a sequel to Strange Luck.

What genre is it and what is it about?

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00067]YA Fantasy with a bit of paranormal and horror. It’s about a quirky girl named Daisy Darling who discovers a beautiful, secret world built using stolen memories. The more cherished the memories, the higher the risk of losing them.

She possesses the unique ability to destroy the world and set its prisoners free, but first she must find the courage to battle the dark forces at play before her identity is erased and she’s trapped forever.

What inspired you to write this book?

file2661253104452I was inspired to write Strange Luck while passing a cemetery. I started thinking about memories, regrets, life, and experiences. Having as many experiences/memories as possible has always been a personal goal of mine (don’t even get me started on my mile-long bucket list).

Anyway, my mind wandered to the idea of collecting our most cherished memories and I thought it would be a unique concept for a book. And, because I’m a huge fantasy and magical realism fan, I decided to weave in lots of supernatural elements, too.

What authors have inspired you to write?

Joanne Harris inspired me to become a writer. Having only seen the movie, I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up a copy of Chocolat a decade ago, but I instantly fell in love with it. I absolutely adore the whimsical world that Joanne Harris creates, the hints of magic, and especially the sweetness she sprinkles throughout.

Years ago, I contacted Joanne to let her know how much she had inspired me and she actually responded! Not only that, she was super sweet and grateful, which made me love her even more. I also adore Neil Gaiman, Sarah Addison Allen, J.K. Rowling, Alan Bradley, and Mary Shelley. Growing up, I was influenced by The Secret Garden and Alice in Wonderland.

Are you a plotter or a pantster (writing by the seat of your pants)?

Definitely a pantser! While I do plot out loose ideas about the story and characters, I also allow plenty of room for the story to write itself and for discovery and surprise. There might be something that a character does or that the world possesses that I didn’t think of in the beginning, but as I’m enraptured in the story, it becomes more apparent.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

I tend to always root for the villain. Even when I watched Disney movies growing up I always wondered about the villain, why they were so vengeful, and why they didn’t deserve sympathy (Maleficent was my favorite by the way). That said, the entity in Strange Luck is my favorite character.

Since he is a dark wizard, his powers are limitless, so it was a lot of fun coming up with magical, evil, and strange things that he could do. I felt it was imperative to include a backstory about why/how he became the way he was, but I’m not one for giving away spoilers, so you’ll have to read it for yourself!

What could readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Reviews are the lifeblood of authors. They are a way to let us know exactly what you liked and why. A good review seriously makes my day, even if it’s only a line or two.

What is the most difficult thing about being an author?

mocha-freeimageLoneliness. The majority of the time you are alone, usually in isolation. I’m an introvert so I get a lot of my energy by being alone in general, but after a while it can become difficult being alone so often and for long durations. I try to force myself to work at a café at least once a week.

What do you wear while writing?

I like to dress comfortably, so I usually wear jeans, a t-shirt, and slippers. I’m also one of those people who are ALWAYS cold, so there’s usually a blanket draped across my lap too.

MeandLokiDo you have a pet or pets?

Growing up, my house was like something out of Dr. Doolittle. We had every kind of pet imaginable, and yes, we had birthday parties for all of them. Right now, I have a pug puppy named Loki. He is VERY appropriately named.

What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

To visit all 50 states. This is something I’ve always wanted to do from an early age. I’m more than halfway through (yay!). Every time there is an opportunity to travel, I try to strategize to visit states I haven’t been to before.

AmieIreneWinters_HeadshotAmie Irene Winters is an environmental conservationist who’s had a lot of unique experiences – from participating in archaeological digs, camping solo in the Rocky Mountains, to designing natural history museum exhibits. But writing fiction has always been her passion. She’s the author of the Strange Luck series.

She’s a California native, but currently lives in a small western Pennsylvania town. She loves hiking, traveling, and spontaneous adventures.

You can find out more about Amie at her website, blog, facebook and twitter.

You can find her work at Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, BAM! and The Book Depository.


Ben interviews Author Katherine Dell

Katherine (55)

Welcome, Katherine! Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started writing?

Katherine (35)I started getting interested in writing a few years back; around the time my first was born. At that time my husband and I had moved to a city where we didn’t know a soul, and our families lived far away as well. Being a new mom in a new place – it was a chance to re-invent myself. I started learning all I could about the craft of writing, and reading anything I could get my hands on. (That’s an understatement! I have a reading addiction.) I guess the rest is history.

Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)

 Yes, Harmless is my first book. I’m currently working on its sequel while I wait to find the right agent/publisher. I also have ideas brewing for a YA / Military / Genetic Mutations type story –– but we’ll see where that one goes.

Harmless_JustFrontCover_FinalWhat genre is it and what is it about?

Harmless is a YA supernatural suspense. The story centers around Rachel Barnes, who has suffered a legion of losses: the death of her brother, her parents’ divorce, and now the move from a big city and her trusted therapist to a small town and a new high school. And just when the roller coaster that has become her life should finally be slowing, she’s done the unthinkable. In an effort to impress her new friends, she unwittingly releases a malevolent, leviathan-like spirit, fabled to grant wishes, that’s been locked away in small box for centuries.

When this mythical Wendigo spirit possesses her friend, Mason, giving him powers to manipulate the world around him, Rachel must decide how far she’ll go in order to cure him.

http___www.pixteller.com_pdata_t_l-298524As wishes asked upon the spirits contained within the box start coming true, Rachel learns the true, dark source of Mason’s newfound gifts; and her perception about life, death, and reality is tested. Now she must accept the very thing she’s been fighting against – the realization of her own wish, which could turn her into the very monster she tries to stop.

What inspired you to write this book?

file000553063849I’m fascinated with Aboriginal culture in Canada and the folklore that originates from this group of people. I also think, that if I hadn’t become a writer, I would have made a great psychologist. I know what you’re thinking ––– those two things don’t have anything to do with each other. You might be right, but those two things: stories surrounding the Canadian Aboriginal people, and the psychology of the human condition, inspired me to write this story.

Are you a plotter or a pantster (writing by the seat of your pants)?

 I’m a little bit of both. I know where my story has to go, just not entirely how I’m going to get it there. I usually write a point form list of what needs to happen in a scene. After that – I let my characters take it where they may.

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my cover art! I had it, and a book trailer made when I was planning on self-publishing. Now that I’m querying agents I’m not sure that I’ll get to keep this cover when it makes it to publishing. So my affection for it is a bit bitter sweet.

I had an old colleague and friend of mine, Brianna Schretlen @Curly_Bri, design the cover for me. I think she captured the very soul of the story in this image.

What is your best marketing tip?

Talk to people, be passionate about what you write, and learn how to ‘pitch’ it so other people know how great it is too.

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

castle scratch4Some day, I’d like to travel to Europe and tour the castles there. To see such old places makes me wonder what untold stories they might hold.

What is your favorite fiction – or non-fiction – book?

 That’s a hard one to answer. I read new and wonderful books all the time, but two really good ones come to mind The Messanger, by Mark Zusak, and Misquitoland, by David Arnold. I think what I like most about these books is their ‘unreliable narrators’ and the psychological twists in the stories.

Katherine (33)Katherine Dell is a voracious reader with an unending passion for the written word. When she’s not typing away at her computer, or chatting it up with her writing buddies, you can probably find her in a cold hockey arena, cheering on her kids. Her past work experience ranges widely from Equestrian Instructor to Event Planner, but she thinks her years as an Executive Assistant benefit her most when it comes to promoting herself as a writer. Kath Dell logo_28OCT15She finished writing her first novel about six months ago and has since started writing the sequel.

You can learn more about Katherine and her work at or at Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

#1 most requested Goodreads Giveaway! – Only a few hours left to enter to win


#1 most requested Goodreads Giveaway

in the Suspense category!


#7 most requested Giveaway in Contemporary!

Something in the Water

by Ben Starling

Don’t miss your chance to win a FREE copy – today is the last day to  enter to win.


Open to residents of all countries

(Giveaway ends tonight!)

Something in the Water

The sealed box Teal finds in the street contains more than just a mystery…

What if to be with the man of your dreams…you had to give up your life? On the verge of losing her job, side-lined journalist Teal Douglas is forced to travel to the South Pacific to profile a powerful businessman. But with her almost-but-not-quite fiancé Bear discouraging her every step of the way, she may not be able to save her career or her relationship.

When corporate criminals invade paradise, Teal teams up with former boxer turned marine biologist Perry Stanley to investigate. When she discovers the true intentions behind the new fishing operations, Teal must either accept the plum promotion that will save her career or—with Perry—defend the island with more than her life.

Something in the Water, An Ocean Romance is a full length novel in the soul-stirring collection from Ben Starling.

Read the first chapter here!


Ben interviews Author Anne Riley


Welcome, Anne, tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started writing?

Anne RileyYou know how people take those brain tests, and they are either right-brained creative types or left-brained logical types? Well, my brain runs right down the middle. I am some of each. This has led to a very mixed career. I have a degree in accounting, and am a logical, detailed person, but I get bored easily unless I can create new and different ways to solve problems.

I have always loved writing, but never felt it was a responsible career to pursue. About five years ago, I retired from my job in private banking and dabbled in writing as a hobby. Now I’m hooked.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

When I am not writing, I live life as I please. A few years ago, my husband and I moved from our home in Oregon (a beautiful, beautiful place if you ever want to visit), to be closer to family in Illinois (not as beautiful, but it has the advantage of being the home of our loved ones). We make ourselves available to help where we can.

I love to ride bikes and swim and run. A knee injury a few years ago has limited some of my activities, but I am happy with what I CAN do.

What is one thing that would surprise us?

Hmmm. I think it is that I am a minimalist. I have discovered over the past few years that I do not like stuff, as in, possessions. Everyone is different of course, but for me, the more I own, the more it owns me, and I have discovered that as I get rid of stuff, I feel more and more free.

When we moved to Illinois, we were not sure of our living situation, so we sold most of our belongings and rented an 800 square foot apartment. Surprisingly, I love this austere way of living. We have only what we need, and we are free to live our lives without a lot of stuff weighing us down.

AerieIs this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?) What genre is it and what is it about?

Aerie is my second book. My first book, Elusive Little Sucker, is non-fiction. It is a set of stories that chronicle my struggle to find happiness. You can find it on Amazon. Aerie is a romantic suspense novel set in the high tech world of the early 1990’s. It follows Cara Larson and Liam Scofield as they wend their way through the complicated and cutthroat world of information technology.

What inspired you to write this book?

What inspires me to write all my books is the same thing: I have something to say on a subject. I am interested in all kinds of different ideas, and sometimes I will study one in enough detail that I feel I have something to say about it to the world. The nature of the idea determines the type of book I will write.

computer-keyboard-freeimageWith Elusive Little Sucker, I thought it was best to present it as a series of stories from my life, each of which resulted in a lesson that led me to discovering happiness.

With Aerie, writing about the perils of the high tech world would be absolutely boring. But putting it in a fast moving suspense story seemed to me the best way to entertain the reader as well as shed light on an important aspect of modern life.

compass-1420688-639x954Are you a plotter or a pantster (writing by the seat of your pants)?

Definitely a plotter. I have to map out the entire concept of the book in my mind. When I write, the book will often write itself, so I need to always be open to change, but having the concept established in my own head gives me more confidence to proceed. For me, writing is like riding a tiger. I am never sure what is going to happen. Having that concept in mind keeps me focused.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

Absolutely. I won’t write about subjects I am not interested in or don’t know much about. I do not profess to be an expert on the things I write about, but I do make sure I have a working knowledge so that I can make valid points while writing an interesting story.

Also, I shy away from erotica or graphic sex scenes. I could probably write them if I could keep myself from laughing uproariously at my efforts, but others do it so much better, and I am comfortable with my limitations in this area.

ready-for-flight-free imagesWho is your favorite character from your book and why?

It is always difficult to choose a favorite anything, but I will say ONE of my favorite characters of all times is Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. He had it all, in my opinion: intelligence, patience, integrity, empathy. And if you take the movie into account, good looks, too!

What other books/authors are similar to your own? What makes them similar?

I actually tried to craft my books in the style of John Grisham. He writes legal thrillers, suspenseful books based on some aspect of the law. I would like to say I write ‘business thrillers’ but I am afraid the term would be interpreted as a complete oxymoron.

Business is boring, or so everyone thinks. Actually, there is so much evil that can be done under the guise of ‘business as usual’ that it is a field rich in opportunity. I like to weave a good suspenseful tale of evil that can be done using normal business practices.

If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? 

In Aerie, the one comment that really helped me was that it was a little too technical at the beginning. My mistake was trying to convince my reader I had the technical knowledge to write the book. I think I might have oversold the idea. What I would tell readers is to not let that get in the way. It is more balanced after those first few chapters, so hang in there!

What are you working on now? What is your next project?

Funny, I not only read more than one book at a time, I write more than one book at a time. I started a new romantic suspense novel, but have put that on hold because a new exciting idea popped into my head. I am writing a new little non-fiction book about kindness. It is very thought provoking and fun to write. I can’t say when it will be done, because I have to give the writing process complete freedom, but I can say, it is well underway.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

“She was true.”

What were you like as a child?

I was actually really anxious as a child. In fact, my anxious nature was a constant companion up until about ten years ago. Every characteristic can be both an asset and liability, and though my struggle with anxiety led to much frustration and unhappiness, it also had the effect of increasing my sense of empathy and appreciation for the struggles of others.

What is your favorite Fiction/Non-Fiction book?

Fiction: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It was the perfect combination of all the things I value: justice, integrity, kindness, empathy.

What books have most influenced your life most?

file0001486995335Wonderful Life by Stephen Jay Gould. Professor Gould was a famous paleontologist who wrote many books on how life on earth evolved. This book in particular focused on the contingency theory of life, i.e. the sheer accidental nature of how human life formed. It opened my eyes to a wider view of life and made me realize that nature is devoid of particular purpose and it is up to us to make our own meaning in life.

What book/s are you reading now?

I always have more that one book going. Right now, I am reading: From Dawn to Decadence, 1500 to the Present by Jacques Barzun – a History book about major events affecting civilization during this time period; The God Particle by Leon Lederman – a physics book about the subatomic particles that carry mass; and Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury – a classic. I read this in high school, and had the urge to re-read it. It is one of my favourite books.

Anne Head Shot 3 for FBAnne Riley was born the eleventh of twelve children in Washington state. In a family in which seniority ruled, she had no appreciable rights until a significant number of her older siblings went away to college.

She has a degree in Accounting from Illinois State University and an MBA from Portland State University. She has a wonderful husband, Tim, and three great kids, who have grown up and are now discovering the world for themselves. After spending 35 years in the lovely state of Oregon, Anne and Tim have relocated to the state of Illinois, where their parents reside.

You can find out more about Anne and her work at FacebookTwitter at @AnneRileyAuthor,  LinkedIn, Goodreads and Amazon.