Other World Series
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Hague Publishing
Word Count: 90,000
Cover Artist: Jade Zivanovic
Too late to save her sister’s life, Stephanie Anders must now try to save her soul from the vampire who has possessed her, Branwyre, eighteenth vampire Lord of the Aegean.
With only the aid of the ghost of a pissed-off Buddhist monk with a potty mouth and the modern day Priestess of Isis, Stephanie must take on demons and other denizens of a world she knows nothing about if she is to succeed in banishing Branwyre.
But even more difficult than that, she must learn how to forgive her sister Estella for what she did to her if she is to have even half a chance of saving her soul. Welcome to a world within our own – the Other World.
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wl_GYTFkU1c
Available at Hague Publishing
Estella had the grace and timing to wake up just after I’d hauled her dead weight, literally, into the chair and balanced it there long enough the grab the rope.
“By the Light of Isis, what do you think you’re doing?” Her tone was nearly petulant enough to be the old Estella asking me, not the new peace-and-love one.
“Following your High Priestess’ instructions.” I grunted while tying her hands behind her back as best I could, before continuing to wrap the rope around her and the chair.
“But why are you tying me to a chair now?” she asked, aghast to realise just how tight I had done it. “Branwyre can’t take over until night time. We’ve got at least another hour.”
Ignoring her question for a moment, I snatched her right foot and tied it to the corresponding chair leg. Then, ignoring the attempted kick, did the same to her left one.
“Roxanna clearly states in her instructions here to gather the required items, purify them and set it all up, you included.” I waved the note at her before continuing to wrap her legs, backside and chair in the rope. Yeah, I’d gotten a decent amount. Who says two for one sales are a waste of time? “Nowhere in her instructions does it say we should stop for coffee and a chat. When I’ve got as much of it ready as I can before moonrise, I can actually have a rest. You know, something even we non-undead need to do from time to time.”
She went to protest, I even paused to watch the show I felt she was about to perform, but other than gaping a few times like a stunned fish, she stayed quiet. Wow, this Light of Isis was amazing if it could prevent the Queen of Whinge from speaking.
“Fine then,” she finally managed, a slight sulky tone to her voice. “But how am I meant to eat dinner?”
I sighed; I hadn’t honestly thought of that, going along the lines that she was dead. Yes she was an animated corpse right now, but dead was dead. You shouldn’t have to provide meals for them.
“Nowhere in my instructions does it say I have to feed you.” I muttered. Then feeling I should relent a little as she’d found it within herself to be nicer. “But how about I order pizza, and you eat it cold later. Surely even the Light of Isis can’t have cured you of your cold pizza habits.”
She sighed, but said no more for a moment. Didn’t even pout, which surprised me even more than the silence.
“I do wish you’d be more respectful of Isis and her purifying Light,” is all she eventually said as I was adding a few more knots to the back of the chair.
“Uh-huh.” I was more interested in making sure I’d done a good job, than listen to a lecture on appropriate religious respect. Especially from someone who in the past hadn’t held any respect for anyone or anything.
“And no dinner is fine; I don’t seem to have the need to eat that often anymore.” She continued, trying to watch me over her shoulder. “I won’t have you dissing cold pizza though.”
“Sure!” I said, standing back and wiping sweat from my brow and then my hands on my dress. I remembered I was still in one of my best ‘sombre but not kinky’ little black dresses, not having had a chance to change. So Roxanna’s wodge of cash was buying me a few clothes tomorrow, too. Why not! If I wasn’t allowed to go home until this was all over, she owed me at least a pair of jeans and clean underwear. I checked the instructions again. Okay, so all items purified, sister roped tightly into chair. Salt time! Boy I hoped the motel’s maid service wouldn’t be too pissed at me, or at least wouldn’t notice until after we’d left.
Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
For a time in my teens I wanted to be a movie director as well as a writer. I wanted to run away from home and go work with Jim Henson as an apprentice. So when he died when I was 14, it was quite a blow. The dream of turning stories into movies lived on a little longer but in the end I realized the writing was just good enough for me as the people reading it should be able to create the worlds and images on their own without needing a movie.
I also wanted to run a bird sanctuary and a tea room and gift shop. Maybe when I retire now? ;-)
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
Probably since my early to mid-20’s. I wasn’t a published or even a widely known writer, but I did write as part of an online role playing game and so therefore felt I was a writer. I don’t like it when people – who write copiously and have created many great worlds and stories – say they want to be a writer. Just because this work is not published, that doesn’t mean you’re not a writer. Being published simply makes you an author. If you write and create stories, you are a writer. Don’t think any less of yourself.
How long did it take to get your first book published?
Actually, I think it only took me 4 months to be offered my first publishing contract. Took me longer to write it. I like to show off by saying it only took 4 days to be offered a contract on my second book, and that’s not even the contract I accepted. It doesn’t necessarily mean my work is over the top brilliant (it’s good, average good)… just that I’ve been very lucky.
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
I went to university and got qualified in Information Technology and have spent almost 20 years in IT support and procurement. Yes, I was the person you rang up and yelled at after you broke your computer. Is it any wonder I’ve placed a portal to hell in an IT call centre? ;-) Although I do still occasionally accept contracts in IT, my current job is being a mum and Haus Frau. Call it a stay at home mum, call it the unpaid and unappreciated help… it’s me. I have 3 kids aged 9 and younger, a house and garden (with many pets) in continuous need of my attention and I just found I couldn’t do this full time job and go out and do another full time job I was actually paid to do. So I stuck to Haus Frauing. I plan to retire from it in the next 15 years and a lady of leisure. Ha ha.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My latest book is titled Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! and the short teaser (23 words, sorry) is: “Too late to save her sister’s life, Stephanie Anders must now try to save her soul from the vampire who has possessed her.”
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
Both my books are with Hague Publishing, a small independent publisher based in Western Australia. They’re fairly new kids on the block too. My first book Bonnie’s Story – A Blonde’s Guide to Mathematics was their 4th book ever published and Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! is their 7th.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
This is hard for me to answer as a lot of my stories have been tiny snippets floating around in my head for years and it wasn’t until these snippets started to congeal together – and a beginning sprung into life – that I was able to write them down. Then, children and real life permitting, it generally takes me 8 months to a year to actually write it. If I got more time to write, I may be able to narrow that down to 6 to 8 months though.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
As Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! is the first book in a series, you can expect at least another 4 books about Stephanie to appear. I’m currently working on the next book, titled There’s no place like Hell.
I’m also trying my hand at a cosy crime series set in an imaginary town here in the Adelaide Hills. This series’ title will be Mount Loxley Murder Mysteries and I then hope to do one story for each letter in the alphabet. Currently working on the first one – The Autumnal Artist. Yes, I’m a crime fiction fan as well as a lover of the paranormal.
What genre would you place your books into?
My latest book Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! is definitely Urban Fantasy but is also described as Paranormal Adventure. My first book Bonnie’s Story – A Blonde’s Guide to Mathematics is also Urban Fantasy, but more in the Romance/ Chick lit sub-genre.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
Urban Fantasy and the paranormal/ supernatural have been genres I’ve loved to read for many years. So, as a writer, it was a natural progression to want to write in a genre I enjoy so much. I also feel that’s a good tip for all writers – write in a genre you know and enjoy to read.
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
I have to say Bonnie from my first book is my stand out favourite as she is a younger, sassier version of myself. Parts of her are based heavily on my own background and upbringing and she is almost the me I wish I could have been if such things as Maths that Stays were possible.
In my Other World series, I’d have to say the demon known as Mr Vontant is my favourite. He will feature in all five books in the Other World series and I would like to think people will grow to like him too. Yes he is an evil, nasty demon who enjoys inflicting pain and making deals… but when you get to know his origins and path in life, he may just grow on you.
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
I’ve honestly been writing stories for as long as I’ve been able to write and construct sentences. I think it’s almost been like a form of playing to me. Creating worlds and stories and adventures in my mind and letting them flow on to paper. When I was about 9 years old I used to get the old style printer paper that’s joined by perforations and draw these pictures of worlds and creatures several feet long… and then take pen to paper and translate the pictures into stories. Up to 20 A4 pages of stories! I was impressed with myself.
So I can’t honestly say what inspired me to write, it is just part of who I am. I often tell people “I breathe, therefore I write” as it really is just second nature to me.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I like to sit cross legged with the laptop in my lap and my music on. This is either done on the couch (if home alone and no kids) or in my bed. Simply as I have no writing space/ desk/ office to call my own right now. Plus I find it far more comfortable to sit cross legged somewhere than in a chair at a desk.
Most of my bed writing happens from 10pm till about 2am as it’s the only time I get to write with kids and house to keep me busy. And that is usually only during the school holidays where I have the ability to sleep in the next day while the kids make their own breakfast. I loved it when they got old enough to do that!
I do try and spend one week writing and one week as a Haus Frau… but with school runs, essential washing, appointments, etc… there really aren’t enough hours in the day to fit it all in. So night writing it is!
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
I do actually, but not to be a narcissist I hope! I like reading them to see how well I did at getting the story across and I’ve always been someone open to constructive criticism as I feel it helps to improve my skills.
It also helps me discover marketing mistakes as Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! was accidentally listed as a Young Adult book on Netgalley when we were seeking reviewers. It was never intended to be YA and so far all the bad reviews for it seem to be coming from readers of YA. It has received far more positive reviews… but that is from the audience it was actually aimed at. If it wasn’t for all the bad reviews coming from YA fans I would never have spotted it was mis-classified. Yes, don’t read it if you’re solely into YA Urban Fantasy, you won’t like it. ;-)
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
My stories always get given a title before I start writing them. Simply so I can tell which one is which (as there are just so many trying to get out of my head). However, the title they are given at the start isn’t always the one they end up with.
With my latest book, the story’s original title was actually The Darkness within but I kept calling is Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! as a joke because of all the characters in it and as a play on words to the Wizard of Oz quote ‘Lions and tigers and bears – Oh My!’
Everyone seemed to like the new title better and it just seemed to stick. And has now spawned a whole series with titles that are also joke versions of the Wizard of Oz such as There’s no place like Hell which is the second book in the series.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
The character’s names tend to just come to me, seem to be the right name for the book. Though sometimes I do actually research names to ensure I am using a name that is acceptable to a specific time or culture. And I often choose names that have certain meanings. Trishna is a perfect example of this. I not only looked up Buddhist names and their meanings from 100 years ago, I also spoke to friends who are practicing Buddhists who know something about the names and their meanings. I like to research to get those small touches right, even if no one else notices them!
Most place names are made up too, randomly pulled out of the air as I need them. They are often based on real life places, but I will change the names unless I want people to be able to relate to that place by recognizing the name. See the trip to London in Bonnie’s Story – A Blonde’s Guide to Mathematics. I did the whole place name thing via Google maps and then had a friend who works and lives in that area of London read over it. She said I got it spot on and recognized it all from the names and descriptions. Gave me the thumbs up.
I do sometimes add people’s names into my stories as street names or similar as a thank you. Bonnie lives on a made up street called Cleeves Street, named after author and friend Ann Cleeves who had been helping me learn how to pitch to publishers at the time.
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? Or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
Mostly they just happen as the story writes itself. I mean, Priestess and Temple of Isis are real people and places, just not the ones in my book. But as said in my last answer, some is researched; some is as a homage but most is really just me making it up as I go.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
As I go along. My books are very organic and just seem to grow. Yes there are occasional parts in the story that have been brewing inside my head for years, but the majority of the story – the bits that join these little parts together – just happens. I often look back and think “wow, I never knew they were like that!” I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s how I write. I’m telling myself a story and once it’s written down I may as well try and share it to see if other people like it too.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
Well, there are the meanings of some of the characters names, as mentioned. I’ve given them specific first and last names that, when combined, really do explain who they are. But not every character… just the odd one or two.
I would like to think that Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! touches on the ties that binds you to your family. As in, you can choose who you want to be with, but you don’t get to choose who your family is. So try and make the best of a bad situation. That and that the inner Darkness in all of us needs to have some Light shed on it to try and help us have a better life.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
If you’d asked me this a year ago I would have said paperback. Now, however, 80% of what I read I actually do so on my phone. Especially as my local library has an extensive eBook section I can access any time of the night and day. I tend to read up to 3 books a week (depending on their length and how busy I am) and so having the freedom to borrow and return them via the phone at any time is fantastic.
I do, however, still love my paperbacks and do still buy them. I also have one that is in my bag for the afternoon school run. It takes 2 hours to get all 3 kids from 2 different schools and some of that time is spent just sitting and waiting with my youngest… who then gets bored and demands to play on my phone. So I have a paperback as back up. That way he can Angry Bird his little heart out and I can still read.
What is your favorite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
This is a tough question to answer as I’m not the sort of person who has one specific favourite of something. I have a few favourites and they all depend on my moods as to which one I feel the most connected to and want to read again.
Some of my favourites would have to be – Empire of the Sun by J.G Ballard, The Hollows series by Kim Harrison, most things by Katie MacAlister and MaryJanice Davidson and so on.
Asking to choose a favourite book is like asking me to choose which one of my children is my favourite…I just can’t decide!
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
No, never… well, almost never. There is a picture I like that is of an iceberg seen from side on both above and below the water. The tiny little bit above the water says “Film version” while the tonnes and tonnes of ice hidden below the surface say “original book” and that is honestly my opinion on book to film conversions. And film to book conversions are even worse as you’ve taken that flat 2D world off the film and slapped it between some pages with no depth.
I will, however, say that the film version of Empire of the Sun was acceptable. But I am a very picky critic on book to film or TV when it comes to my favourite authors. Don’t get me started on my opinion of any film or TV version of Sherlock Holmes when compared to the actual written stories. I feel the closest conversion there was DangerMouse.
Your favorite food is?
Chinese food, especially Cantonese. I grew up in Darwin and the Chinese have a very strong history there and so a lot of my comfort foods and childhood treats are actually Chinese. From haw fruit, salty plums, black plums and desiccated papaya through to lemon chicken and a decent chop suey. Oh yeah!
Saddest thing is decent Chinese food is so very hard to find in other parts of Australia unless you go to the local China Town. Darwin is a China town and it’s one of the things I miss so much about it… and doubt it’s still the same all these years later.
Your favorite singer/group is?
Again, I have no one favourite… gosh I’m difficult! It all comes down to mood. I have a compilation on my MP3 player called ‘Easy Listening’ that I made and it’s what I listen to most. It’s made up of Enya, Enigma, Jonsi, Deep Forest, Clannad, Secret Garden and similar styles… though also has a bit of Bowie, Coldplay, Kate Bush and U2 in it. I’m either weird in my tastes of eclectic. Call me which ever sounds nicer.
Your favorite color is?
Ooh ohh, one I can answer with a vaguely definite answer! I like pale shades of blue through into greys and the like. If you look at the horizon on a sunny clear day, where it is that pale blue to almost white and yellow – that’s my favourite colour. Mind you, if you’ve ever flown during the winter and can look up from inside the plane on a clear day… that deep blue moving into indigo is a fathomlessly beautiful colour too. I stare at the sky a lot, can you tell?
Your favorite Author is?
And we were doing so well… not a single answer can be given but I will narrow it down to a top 10 in no particular order:
Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Kim Harrison, Elizabeth Peters (Barbara Michaels), Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Katie MacAlister, MaryJanice Davidson, Robert Westall and MC Beaton (Marion Chesney).
Janis grew up in and around Darwin, Australia, and its rural surrounds. As a child, she spent a lot of time around 'science geeks' at the Darwin University, where her father was a lecturer for many years. It took her a long time to realise that not everyone got to grow up like that or could relate to all the Science Labs scenes in the old Dr Who.
Janis now lives in the Adelaide Hills with her husband and 3 children, lovingly referred to as the ‘Demonic Hordes’. She is a semi-retired ICT Support Officer who, when not writing, takes pride in her work as a Haus Frau while dabbling in the art of translating century old cookery books into modern recipes to experiment on her family with.