Posts Tagged ‘London’

Helen Smith is a member of the Writers Guild of Great Britain and English PEN. She traveled the world when her daughter was small, doing all sorts of strange jobs to support them both – from cleaning motels to working as a magician’s assistant – before returning to live in London where she wrote her first novel which was published by Gollancz (part of the Hachette Group).

She is the author of bestselling cult novel Alison Wonderland. She writes novels, poetry, plays and screenplays and is the recipient of an Arts Council of England Award. She’s a long-term supporter of the Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture and mentors members of an exiled writers group to help them tell their stories.

Her latest book is the dystopian thriller The Miracle Inspector.

Visit her website at http://www.emperorsclothes.co.uk.

Friend her on Twitter:  www.twitter.com/ emperorsclothes

Become a fan at Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/authorhelensmith

Friend her at Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2833648.Helen_Smith

Pick up a copy of The Miracle Inspector at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Miracle-Inspector-Helen-Smith/dp/0956517056

About the Book:

The Miracle Inspector is a dystopian thriller set in the near future. England has been partitioned and London is an oppressive place where poetry has been forced underground, theatres and schools are shut, and women are not allowed to work outside the home. A young couple, Lucas and Angela, try to escape from London – with disastrous consequences.

“…this is an absolutely exceptional piece of fiction, a work of art befitting the best in socially-conscious literature.”

– Journal of Always Reviews

“…Only occasionally does a piece of fiction leap out and demand immediate cult status. Alison Wonderland is one.”

– The Times

“…Smith is gin-and-tonic funny.”

– Booklist

“Smith has a keen eye for material details, but her prose is lucid and uncluttered by heavy description. Imagine a satire on Cool Britannia made by the Coen Brothers.”

– Times Literary Supplement


Would you call yourself a born writer?

When I was a child I thought I had been born a poet but I soon gave up on that idea. I realized that, in order to be a great poet, I’d have to live a life of romantic suffering and, perhaps mostly importantly, I’d have to be good at poetry. But I have always loved reading and knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up – in that sense, perhaps I was born a writer. I love writing – there’s nothing else I’d want to do.

What was your inspiration for The Miracle Inspector?

I had been volunteering as a writing mentor with exiled writers in London through an organization called Freedom From Torture, a British charity that helps survivors of torture. I wondered what it would be like if I had to flee London because it was no longer safe. That was my starting point.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

It changes, depending on what I’m thinking about when I begin to write a book. I usually write about love, friendship and betrayal. The Miracle Inspector is about a young couple who try to escape London for a better life in Cornwall, and it’s partly about the curtailment of civil liberties in the name of the fight against terrorism. Most of my books are more light-hearted than that but I wanted to deal with some serious issues in The Miracle Inspector.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

It took about a year to write.

Describe a typical writing day.

I am disciplined but I find that life gets in the way – there’s lots of admin involved in being a writer, never mind going to the shops and cleaning the house and all the other aspects of daily life. A typical writing day involves getting up, having breakfast, checking my emails, getting distracted by whatever messages are in my inbox, and then getting started at about nine or ten o’clock. I work for about five hours – but this might not involve writing text that finds its way directly into the manuscript. I might be writing notes, working up ideas. But I rarely have a typical writing day. Each day is different. The purest and best kind of writing day involves going away somewhere with no Internet and just sitting there and writing, not talking to anyone or worrying about anything except the work. I have only managed that a few times but I would like to do it for a couple of weeks for every book.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

I wanted The Miracle Inspector to have an ambiguous ending and I wanted to give away as little as possible about what had happened to bring England to this sorry state so that readers would fill in the gaps themselves. When you’re trying to withhold information it’s tough to get the balance right but I think I have succeeded with this book.

What do you love most about being an author?

I like writing and I love it when I have just finished a project – at that point I will be pleased with the work and feel it’s all worthwhile.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I have been traditionally published in the past but I decided to self-publish The Miracle Inspector. I began by putting the book up for sale on the Kindle and it is now available at Kobo as an ebook and in print just about everywhere. I’m happy with the decision I have made. I just hope readers like the book!

Where can we find you on the web?

I have a blog at www.emperorsclothes.co.uk and I’m on Twitter at emperorsclothes.  My Facebook author page is Helen Smith. Come and say hello!

Watch the trailer: http://youtu.be/GhODz6BMZ7o

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A former journalist, Kellyann’s interest in Middle Eastern myth and legend stems from her stint as a Managing Editor of Publications for the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C. She is a published author of several genie romance novellas. One book, Angels & Genies, was included in a collection for which Charlaine Harris wrote the foreword. Kellyann lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, three children, and a jaunty terrier named Djin-Djin.

Her latest book is The Genie Ignites.

Visit her website at www.kfzuzulo.com.

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Do you have another job besides writing?

I work as a freelance editor when I’m not writing…or promoting a new book (which can turn into a fulltime job.) You could say I’m a language matchmaker: I enjoy putting wandering commas in their place, reuniting split infinitives and, basically, grooming sentences so they make a beautiful story.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

The Genie Ignites, like most books I write, started with an outline. I had a general idea of the story in my head; I knew the beginning and the end. Then I work through chapter by chapter with a glimpse of what I want to happen. Of course, once I dive into the story, the characters frequently have ideas of their own of what they want to happen. I’m flexible.

Did your book require a lot of research?

The Genie Ignites required a lot of research. I wanted to be accurate about the Middle Eastern world where genies are an accepted part of lore, both in the past and in today’s world. I’d read a lot about the legends of the jinn, how they started and how they’re perceived today. I also subscribe to some archaeological magazines, which provide great insight into how the ancient world looked and how the people lived when Zubis first fell in love with the priestess Lina. Then I drew that forward into a modern world, which is where my own experience came in.

What was your goal when writing this book?

I wanted to create a story where a reader could imagine genies and humans living side-by-side. Genies are a very real part of the mythology in many parts of the world. They’re thought to be similar to humans but with abilities we can only imagine. There are even rules about the extent of interaction between the two races. What if a genie and a human tried to make their own way together, in spite of the obstacles? That’s what this story is about.

Who is your target audience?

My audience will be anyone who loves a good story that combines romance, suspense and humor. A tale that travels to exotic locations and dips into unique customs and styles. But, especially, fans of paranormal romance will really love this book.

Describe your working environment.

My office has a lot of windows, bud-green walls, and a tabletop fountain. The sound of gurgling water transports me to the midspace between reality and imagination where a writer lives. I have a small Bose stereo to play my iPod, which is loaded with Middle Eastern music, Enya, Loreena McKennitt, and a bunch of jazz. There’s a collection of clay oil lamps from theMiddle Eastdisplayed on my desk. I’m waiting for the day when a mist begins to seethe from one of the spouts. I won’t run from the room…promise.

Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?

I write non-stop, and I mean non-stop, until the book is finished. Up at 5 a.m.for a few hours, take care of the kids and my husband in between, then back to work. When the muse has me by the hand, they are very understanding. Each morning when I check back in with the story, I do a cursory read-through of the previous scene and I’ll make grammatical changes. But the heavy edits wait until that first draft is finished. This is a piece of advice I once got in a writers workshop: Get it out. Then, fix it up.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Find your voice. That is, be who you are as a writer, not who you think you should be. Finding your voice can take years, but it’ll be worth it. 

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

My website is www.kfzuzulo.com with a blog at www.kfzuzulo.com/blog. Readers can also find me on twitter and Facebook at KFZuzulo.



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