Author Interviews

Author Intervew with Author Ned Hayes

Ned HayesI have the distinct pleasure of hosting today’s guest author, Ned Hayes. Mr. Hayes is a writer of poetry, historical fiction and science fiction. Rather than begin with a lengthy introduction, I think it is best to let Mr. Hayes speak for himself. Please read on! You won’t want to miss this talented author whose passion for books and writing is infectious.

Mr. Hayes, it is a pleasure to have you with us today. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?

Books are my addiction. I love books and I’ve been an avid reader for decades now in nearly every genre. I read historical fiction and science fiction and fantasy and even romance! I love books. And I think books were my refuge since an early age when I was growing up overseas and then after we came back to the United States and I was a bit of a quiet introvert. I loved living in other people’s skins, and seeing through their eyes: and I think this tendency to step out of my own reality can be seen in all my published fiction and poetry. In the last ten years, I’ve picked up my pen and I’ve written books myself, along the way acquiring one Masters in Literature and another in Creative Writing (which should be completed this year, in 2015). I’ve worked with several agents to sell my work to publishers, and I’m very happy with the publication of SINFUL FOLK in 2014.

I currently work in technology, and I write books on my daily commute to and from Seattle and Oregon. I have previously worked as a journalist and editor.

Are you interested in other forms of artistic expression besides writing? What keeps you motivated/inspired to create?

Storytelling is a powerful motivator: I love the idea of telling stories that fill people with feeling, and this is my prime motivator. My family’s support is also a big part of my motivation: they are so encouraging in my work and my ongoing exploration in storytelling. I also play music and do a little bit of art, but I’m not very talented there 😉

What drew you to write about the Middle Ages?

In the 1990s, I studied medieval literature under noted scholar Richard Emmerson. And as I read Chaucer, I came across a bit of history from the 14th century. Children died in a tragic house fire in a distant village. The families were in such agony that they took their dead children across England to the King’s throne to demand justice. The same night I read of this incident, I couldn’t sleep – I stayed up and wrote a rapid beginning to the story.

But then I put the story on a shelf for nearly ten years. Then, one day, as I was watching my children playing, I thought of the agony of child-loss, and the pain I would feel if one of my children was lost. I wondered how far a mother would go to protect her child’s memory?

So in 2007, I suddenly started writing the book again and my writing rapidly focused on one woman’s story. One mother loving her child. One tragedy. One relentless urge to find answers. I began to think deeply about children, mothers, families, and loyalty.

I picked my old pages back up and suddenly I was haunted by the character of Miriam/Mear – I almost felt that she was a ghost who wanted her story to be told, and I was impelled to tell the truth of her life.

Your writing style is fluid and lyrical. Do you write poetry, or other writing formats? What can you never see yourself writing?

I would love to publish something in nearly every genre I can think of — I love reading across genres, so I’m not interested in restricting my writing to a particular style or form.

Yes, I write and publish poetry as well. I’ve included one poem below, which originally was published in THE MID-AMERICAN REVIEW.

One of my published poems came out of the experience of being a channel for another person’s voice, and I’m republishing the poem here for all of you to read (the poem originally appeared in the national literary magazine The Mid-American Review).


White men’s bodies turn green under the billows of the sea
I have been told so; when the young are dragged from the tide
their lips have melted into a delicate slash of emerald.

Black bodies turn blue in the brine
none of the longshoremen here notice, for there are too many dead;
in Jamaica or Barbados it is rarer. There, the heavy pictish tinge
is obvious — their friends, dark and strangely indigo, found
among the flood of tourist caucasian suicides.

There is a color women’s bodies turn
the change is as oblique as the departure of the soul
when our flesh takes on the scent of waves, our skin tone melds away.
But no one has ever noticed the change of shade; these corpses often float for years.

then, sometimes, they return to shore, marry, take up jobs or clean
house, have children, laugh and talk.

I am walking
around still, tasting of ocean, undetected.

Wow! Thank you for sharing that with us.

Mr. Hayes, as a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What have you learned never to do in your own writing?

I think a good story is one that is surprising and intriguing — even for the writer. So for that reason, never assume you know what’s going to happen or that you are in control of the story.

At first, when I began writing this novel, I thought that I was in control of my characters and I was making this all up. Years ago, I had heard that the wonderful feminist novelist Alice Walker believes that all of her novels are narrated by “ghosts” from her family’s past – and that she is actually transcribing real experiences from the past, creating a living legacy for stories that have been lost. I always used to kind of laugh at that, thinking that it was silly to think of a story as being “transcribed” from ancient spirits. But my opinion of Alice Walker’s idea changed as I wrote the novel SINFUL FOLK.


Now although I never actually heard ghostly voices, I did find that my main character, Mear, became increasingly real to me – so real that I couldn’t help but find myself impelled to write down her story as her own story, not a construction I had created. Mear was insistent, in wanting her story told her way, and from her proper perspective. She ended up correcting my voice, my assumptions, and my prejudice about what she was capable of, as a woman.

(Note to readers: to see my book review of Sinful Folk, click here)

What are your strengths and weaknesses? 

My strengths are that I persevere with my writing. I write nearly every day, and I just keep plugging away. My weaknesses are that I enjoy communicating with readers and the writing community too much — and it distracts me from the writing I should be doing. 

However, I think it’s more interesting to think about my main character’s strengths and weaknesses!

I think that Mear’s great challenge is facing her own worth and her own abilities, and claiming her own voice. The outside challenges she faces are actually no match for Mear when she fully claims her own power. But for so many years she has buried her true strength, that it is a bit of a struggle for her to realize that she can step forward again, and become the powerful woman she was destined to become. 

One thing I’d like to mention is that some readers and reviewers have pointed out that they’ve found it a little unbelievable that a woman could live disguised as a man for years, without anyone noticing. What’s interesting about that is that these reviewers (often women) give men too much credit for observing people – as a man, I’d say that we often don’t notice what is right in front of our noses (my wife would agree with me). I’d also like to point out that there’s a LOT of historical precedence for women living quite successfully disguised as a man. In the U.S. alone, there are numerous examples of women successfully pulling off this feat of disguise for many, many years – sometimes helped by other women!

Here’s a short article listing some of the women (with pictures), as well as a top 10 list of women who have lived as men. It’s an interesting cultural phenomenon, and one that has allowed many women to make their own way in the world, over the centuries.

How did you publish your novels? (traditional, indie/self-published) What was the easiest and the hardest thing about your journey? Advice? 

I was represented by several different agents for many years, and pursued traditional publishing for a long time before I finally had a book come out in print — and that was thru a small press, called Campanile Books, based in New York City. I’ve enjoyed my experience with Campanile, but I’m also actively pursuing larger publishers for additional projects.

I’ve self-published some SF and fantasy work under my pseudonym’s name (Nicholas Hallum) for work that is not historical or “straight” fiction.

I find working with an agent to be a wonderful experience — you have an active, engaged reader who is part of your process. I especially enjoyed working with the stellar agent Jenny Bent for a few years on SINFUL FOLK. Her input was very helpful.

Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on? 

I am working on several active projects right now. One is called WILDERNESS OF MIRRORS, and it’s a historical fantasy, to be published under my pseuodnymn’s name, Nicholas Hallum. More details at 

I’m also working on another “Ned Hayes” “Historical Fiction” novel right now. One is called GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHT, and it is a sequel to SINFUL FOLK, and follows up on the story of Mear a few years later, during the time of the Peasant’s Revolt in England. Mear is now on the other side of the table, as a noblewoman. But during this revolt, she has to go back into disguise, as a peasant, in order to protect her property and family. I won’t say anymore about this novel, so that I don’t spoil it for readers, but I’m quite excited about it. To get early notice about the publication date of GARDEN – and receive the first chapters for free, when they are available – you can sign up on my mailing list right here. 

What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing, and how do you cope with it? 

I guess some readers would think that writing from the perspective of a medieval woman – in a first person voice – would be very hard. But actually, once I got into the truth of her life and how she saw her life, I found her voice relatively easy to write.

But the one that gave me the most trouble was my villain.

In fact, I began writing the book from the perspective of my main villain — I won’t tell you his name, because that would give away a major plot point. But as I wrote the rest of the book, I found Mear pushing herself to the foreground, and I found it more and more difficult to find the voice and motivations of my main villain.

So I found it hard to justify the murders, and found it hard to write a realistic and believable villain. You can read the book, and determine if I succeeded 😉 

Who are your favourite writers and why? 

One of my favorite books continues to be the classic WATERSHIP DOWN, by Richard Adams. If you haven’t read this book, I think you should! The other book that I think should be on every serious reader’s list is the new and amazing JONATHON STRANGE & MR. NORRELL, by Susanne Clarke. She is such a genius at evoking the era of Jane Austen, and adding a touch of magic to a very old form.

Also, I love the following books: Maxine Hong Kingston’s THE WOMAN WARRIOR, Zora Neale Thurston’s THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD, and Annie Dillard’s PILGRIM AT TINKER CREEK.

If you’re in the mood for something more complicated in terms of plot, I’d recommend Tim Power’s best-vampire-novel-ever THE STRESS OF HER REGARD, Neal Stephenson’s strange monks-as-mathematician’s story ANANTHEM and Pete Dexter’s powerful and destructive National Book Award winning novel PARIS TROUT.

For light entertainment, Garth Nix’s ABHORSEN trilogy is a new favorite in fantasy. I’ve also really been enjoying NEXUS, the award-nominated new SF novel by Ramez Naam, and Frank Zafiro’s tense and exciting crime and cops novel AT THEIR OWN GAME. 

For readers who enjoy historical fiction like my novel SINFUL FOLK, I’d recommend the following books: 

      – MISTRESS OF THE ART OF DEATH, Ariana Franklin, which features a medieval woman solving a terrible mystery. 
      – THE RED TENT, Anita Diamant, which addresses similar questions of female voices being foregrounded, and also is about historical Jewish identity. 
     – YEAR OF WONDERS, Geraldine Brooks, which also features a female narrator in early English history.
     – COMPANY OF LIARS, Karen Maitland features a troupe of travelers moving across England in perilous times. 
     – HANGMAN’S DAUGHTER, Oliver Pötzsch features a female narrator and a mystery to be solved and is set in Germany instead of England.

What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into your genre? 

Write all the time. Read more than you write. Read, read, read! 

It is hard to keep writing each and every day: it is easier to just let it go and do something else that isn’t as challenging or as mind-bending. Yet in his early book on the writing craft, Danse Macabre, Stephen King says that if you write just one page a day — 300 words or so — at the end of one year you’ll have a novel. And that has really helped to keep me going — just add another 300 words today, and soon, you’ll have a complete novel. Just keep writing!

The other piece of advice I have is to listen to your early readers and to your editors, fellow writers, and the bookish community. They will tell you what is working in your writing, and what is not working: listen to them!

I read books in every single genre I can find, and I recommend this practice to every serious reader and writer. If you don’t read everything out there, you have no context for what you are doing. Reading other work provides you with grist for your mill, inspiration for your daily life, and models to follow when you need to see how to do something.

When I’m writing in a particular genre though, I try to read mostly in other genres, so I’m not too much influenced by one particular author or book while I’m writing. 

How can readers get into contact with you? 

I’m always happy to hear from readers and talk about writing and books you enjoy. Feel free to contact me via any of the following means: 

You can sign up on my mailing list right here.
Book Website:
Author Twitter: 
Writing Blog: 
Personal Page / Blog: 
Facebook Page: 
Author Pinterest: 
Amazon Author Page: 

More about Ned Hayes:

Also by Ned Hayes
Also by Ned Hayes

Ned Hayes is the author of the Amazon best-selling historical novel SINFUL FOLK. He is also the author of Coeur d’Alene Waters, a noir mystery set in the Pacific Northwest. He is now at work on a new novel, Garden of Earthly Delights, also set in the Middle Ages.

Ned Hayes is a candidate for an MFA from the Rainier Writer’s Workshop, and holds graduate degrees in English and Theology from Western Washington University and Seattle University.

Born in China, he grew up bi-lingually, speaking both Mandarin and English. He now lives in Olympia, Washington with his wife and two children.

Mr. Hayes, it was a pleasure to have you with us today. Thank you for sharing about what is clearly your passion: books and writing. Readers, I hope you feel motivated to discover some of the authors mentioned above, and of course, read Sinful Folk (which I highly recommend). Don’t forget to leave Mr. Hayes a message here, or contact him at one of the links provided. Thanks for stopping by!

Author Interviews, Essays, Misc

Author Interview with Fantasy Writer Piper E. McDermot

Today, I am excited beyond words to introduce to you Piper E McDermot. We met a while ago through the reader-reviewer service known as Authonomy. Piper’s writing is truly some of the most beautiful, visual and sensory I’ve read in ages. But more than that, Piper is a beautiful and humble human being, and getting to know her made me appreciate her writing more. What follows is a reflection of a thoughtful, wonderful soul, fascinating in every way. I quite appreciated her smart and wise thoughts on writing as well. So pull up a seat, and settle in to meet this fabulous writer. 

Piper! I’m so glad you agreed to talk with us today. Can you tell us about yourself? 

Piper E. McDermot, fantasy writer
Piper E. McDermot, fantasy writer

Can I first say thank you for this opportunity, Dyane?  You were one of the first to ever read and crit some of my chapters, so it’s quite a thrill to be doing this with you! 

You’re welcome. And as noted above, reading your work was my pleasure. 🙂 

Righto, then  – me, me, me ….Gosh, it’s awkward, and yet the urge to jabber on is so powerful! 

Firstly, I’ve chosen to write under the pen name Piper E McDermot in honour of my Irish gran and mum – they are my good-luck charms. 

I live in a small seaside village about 50km from Cape Town in South Africa – the physical environment alone is great inspiration, with epic mountains encircling the area, and the ocean just down the road.  A husband, a daughter, a son, and two mentally disturbed border collies making up the family menagerie. There used to be several cats, a rat and a seal as well, but they have moved on.  We miss them all! 

Um…did you say a…seal??? 

My motto for many years has been that when I am really old, like reeeally ancient, and sitting in my rocking chair on a porch somewhere, I want to look back on life and think that I had a grand old time of it. 

I have both a great desire for adventure, and a healthy dose of fear.  I think I’ve managed to combine the two nicely by doing things that terrify me, surviving them, and then living for ages off the high that gives me. 

Although my formal studies at University were English, Archaeology, and Psychology, I am a firm believer in self-education.  If you can read and you have curiosity, you can learn as much as most formal courses of study can teach you. 

Wanderlust had me travelling a lot in my youth, but with age has come responsibilities and financial restrictions–but hubby plans to sell up and sail one day soon, and I’m all for it. I even have my yacht skipper’s ticket in preparation! 

I’ve never settled down to one ‘career’–I’ve done all sorts, from secretary to sales-rep, from Irish dance teacher to English teacher, and have even worked at the Cape Town Aquarium.  (That’s how I ended up with a seal in my dining room – but that’s another story.)

 No, no! I want to hear the seal story!!!

 More recently, I was a photographer– for 10 years, so I must have been doing something right! 

Right now, I wish I were heading to South Africa on a plane. You sound like the coolest person to meet. 🙂 

Are you interested in other forms of artistic expression besides writing? Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it? What keeps you motivated/inspired? 

Absolutely!  In fact, writing is what I’d call the “laat lammetjie” (late lamb) of artistic expression for me.  I’ve always felt a bit odd about calling myself an artist, but over the years I’ve tinkered with all sorts–from drawing and painting to rustic jewellery making and constructing furniture.  That one was quit a riot–I used to make quirky items for craft markets, and would end up sawing, banging, and hammering until the wee hours of the morning to get things ready in time.  At the time I lived in a small block of apartments – needless to say, I wasn’t popular with the neighbors!  

For the last ten years I was a photographer–mostly slaving away in the weddings and social events scene, but it was a good time to be involved, as this kind of photography underwent a tremendous transformation from ‘recording’ events to true artistic expression.  It was great to be a part of that, and to have contributed in a small way. 

With writing–as with all the previous experiments–I think what drew me to it, and keeps me inspired, is the sheer thrill of creation, bringing something to life that simply wasn’t there before.  I’m sure there’s all kinds of things a shrink could make of that 🙂 

No, no, you’re perfectly normal! (says the other weirdo writer in the room, lol) 

What forms of writing and genres do you prefer and why? What can you never see yourself writing?

As a reader, I’ve always been a door-stop novel girl, through and through–if I like it, I want lots of it. Greedy, that’s me!  I can remember even as a kid wishing that books would be longer, and would end up re-reading them to keep the experience going.  It’s probably not a good thing–the door-stop issue has spilled over into my writing, so editing has become a massive task of cutting things down to a manageable length. Not that I don’t enjoy short stories occasionally–Roald Dahl’s are amongst my favourites.  

As for genre, fantasy in the style of Tolkien, Hobb, and Zimmer-Bradley are my staples, but historical fiction is another favourite.  As a young teen I devoured all of James Michener’s work–now those are real doorstops for you.  What I didn’t realise until recently is what a sci-fi geek I am–it’s only when I did one of those silly surveys on favourite books and films that I realised how much sci-fi I love. 

What could I never see myself writing…hmm…a book on good housekeeping!  Domestic duties are low on my priority list most of the time, but are rock bottom since I’ve been writing.  The family suffers through it with great tolerance…bless them. 

(Coughs) I know nothing about that last one at all. Nothing at all, do you hear me? 

I’ve read books which annoyed me to the point where I wanted to throw them across the room. As a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing? 

This made me laugh!  I think the only book I’ve ever literally thrown across the room was Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code – sorry, Mr. Brown!  Not because of his writing style, or even the story, exactly.  As an adventure/conspiracy thriller, it certainly had the power to hook readers in–it hooked me.  What infuriated me was the way in which (in my opinion) he had piggy-backed on excellent and extensive research by dozens of serious investigators, and turned it all into a shallow, cheap thrill.  You see, one of my other life-long passions has been reading and researching ancient ‘mysteries’– it’s one of the reasons I studied Archaeology at University. Dan Brown’s book(s) certainly raised popular interest and awareness, but I feel they also managed to relegate the topic to the level of the lunatic fringe. That infuriates me!  It could just be all the subsequent hype around those books, but I was left with the sense that Mr. Brown did not truly respect the researchers or the material on which he based his books. 

Apologies–that was a rant, wasn’t it? 

Rants are accepted. I did ask the question, right? (Hides Mr. Brown’s books behind my back while moving on to the next topic…) 

If I had to take this specific example and figure out what it has taught me not to do, I guess I would say “Be extremely cautious. Be respectful.”  In my case, I’ve drawn much of my inspiration from various indigenous peoples’ mythology, including Celtic legends, so I’ve tried to respect and honour them without ‘rewriting’ them.  I wanted to be sure that I was clearly making my own world and story so that I don’t end up treading on anyone’s cultural toes.  I think that’s why I write in the fantasy genre – you have the freedom to use those influences, but also to make them your own. 

Very good point. 

As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses? 

I didn’t really answer your question about what makes a good story, so I’ll try to work out what I feel is crucial…erm…*steam emits from ears*…  Food?  I read LOTR 11 times during high school alone, and some of my favourite scenes were when the hobbits were eating, or making something to eat.  Could be a result of cross-identification–tough times in high school = comfort food!  

Seriously, though–at a details level, I feel the reading experience should be immersive, so that the reader can literally open the door in their mind and step into another world, with all the range of possible experiences at least given a passing nod during the tale. We want a fantasy to be just that–to take us elsewhere–but there has to be those elements of reality that allow us to hook into and care about the characters. 

Of course, the characters themselves are the keystones–I believe reading is largely role-playing. We don’t want our characters impossibly perfect, because we are not perfect. Even the character we are supposed to fall in love with needs his/her flaws, so that we can feel that perhaps, someday, somewhere, this person might really exist. At the same time, whatever their flaws may be, they have to be presented in a way that the reader can imagine themselves behaving like that, feeling like that, in whatever circumstances we throw at our characters. 

Equally important to me is sub-text–what is going on in the mind behind the characters’ dialogue, or in the plot behind the narrative.  In real life we seldom present ourselves–our motives, thoughts, and feelings–straight out and with 100% honesty.  There are things going on behind what we say and do whose influence may be recognisable, but are not stated.  I think it’s crucial that characters in the first place have this element to their make-up, and in the second place that we trust readers to recognise it when and where it shows up.  Sub-text applies equally to plot or the ‘stakes’ in a story–everything needn’t be spelled out repeatedly just in case the reader missed it the first time.  It’s a fine line to walk between mystery and confusion, but it’s important to try!  Sub-text adds layers of richness and complexity–and ultimately reader engagement–that makes for a more satisfying experience.

 I’m so glad you spoke about sub-text. I agree that it’s an essential but also difficult tool to use in one’s writing. 

Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence what your write?

Wow – the list could get quite long here!  Starting from when I read Elyne Mitchell’s Silver Brumby series as a 7yr old, works like Watership Down, T.H. White, Rosemary Sutcliffe, LOTR, Herbert’s Dune series, Jean M Auels’ Earth’s Children series, Marion Zimmer-Bradley and more recently Robin Hobb stand out–but pretty much most of the now classic, fantasy series authors. I guess as a chronic reader of series in this genre, I was bound to end up writing one!  

What appeals to me about a series is the scope to follow a character across lengthy periods of time–to experience and grow with them.  And of course, a series allows room for plenty of twist and turns in the plot. 

A couple of years ago I discovered Dianna Gabaldon’s historical time-travel series. She’s an incredibly talented writer, doing vast amounts of research that she slips seamlessly into the story, so that the reader is barely conscious of it. It’s always about the characters, and how they cope with what she throws at them via the plot. I especially admire the way in which she doesn’t shy away from the ranges of human emotion or behaviour–she plumbs the depths.  More prosaically, her female lead does in fact have everyday concerns like feminine hygiene and going to the loo in the 18th century! 

You have great taste. I’m so glad you mentioned Dune—it’s one of my all-time favorite books/series, and Auel’s series directly influenced the series I’m writing now. 

What draws you to your preferred genre? What do you think makes your genre unique? And why is it so popular? 

I was a strange child.  We used to live in the UK, and my favourite thing even as a 5 or 6yr old was to go and visit ancient ruins and castles–even old graveyards were fine in a pinch!  It was the air of mystery, the sense of the past still reaching out across time, and trying to imagine who those people were and what they were like, that enthralled me.  More than that though, it was an odd sense of ‘connection’.  I love what George Martin said about fantasy and historical fiction–that they are ‘sisters under the skin’.  That rings true to me.  I’m fascinated by the past, and epic or ‘high’ fantasy usually incorporates that sense of the bygone. 

I think that desire to connect to our past, to our roots, is what makes both historical and fantasy fiction popular.  Fantasy fiction is often poked fun at for its ‘tropes’–but I think those very tropes are what give it its appeal.  There are certain archetypes in all mythology that seem to resonate with us–well, most of us–as human beings, and I think that good fantasy usually manages to tap into that psychology. 

On the other hand, the label ‘fantasy’ does tend to put some readers off, as if fantasy were something for children or teens rather than adults.  For years I’ve been telling my parents how some of the best writing I’ve ever come across is in the fantasy genre. They never believed me until I managed to drag them off to see the first LOTR movie.  I still haven’t managed to convince them to read a fantasy book, but they are now avid fans of the Game of Thrones TV series.  *sigh* I will not give up! 

Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on? 

7th Gate bookcover-front-back-for-e-promos

The Seventh Gate is the first book in a projected series of four.  From a character perspective, it follows a relationship across the course of many years and explores how a romance grows into a more seasoned and mature love, and what it takes to keep that love alive in the face of circumstances delivered up by the plot.  In terms of the plot, I have always had a great fascination with the Arthurian saga–and particularly the mystery around its origins.  The Seventh Gate is–to a degree–based on indications that the Arthurian romance of the Middle Ages, and even the earlier Dark Ages oral tales, may well have had their roots in far older Celtic mythology, in the myths of the Celtic gods and the Invasion Cycles of Ireland. 

So … to put it in a Twitter catch-phrase, perhaps it’s “Ancient Celtic Aliens meets King Arthur in an epic, time-slip love story.”  I think I might hate that–I’ll let you know! 

Right now, the book is in its final round of editing, and The Summer Wife (book 2) is about to go through the same.  Then all my focus will be on finishing books 3 and 4.

I do have some other ideas on the back-burner–perhaps some short stories covering Elen’s journey to and early life with the Aniwaya (the people from whom my female MC, Nyani, comes), or some spin-off tales concerning the Aniwaya.  Beta-readers seem to have really enjoyed what little of these people is shown in the book, so it might be worth expanding on them.

Another completely separate project that’s brewing purely in my mind at the moment is one based here in Africa…

 I have to say, that of all the books I read on Authonomy, The Seventh Gate was one of the most beautiful. In my head, I can still remember the sound of the water as it slipped past the boat and the oars in the chapter I read. That was years ago and I still remember it to this day. Readers, this is a book you must have, once it’s available.  

Why is promoting/connecting with other writers important to you?

Writing is a lonely business–all that time spent inside your own head!  It’s important to me to connect with other writers not just for feedback, but for that emotional support and empathy–we get each other, no matter which genre we write in!

 Aside from that I believe in paying it forward, these days Indie authors need to really stand together and support one another.  The market is tough, crowded, and in a state of flux.  I really believe that working together will always have a better outcome than remaining isolated and purely competitive.  I think of it like this–I love Robin Hobb’s fantasy books, so if she were to recommend another fantasy author, I would probably buy that book.  Would I then not buy her books anymore?  Of course not!  Her support for someone else will not lose her my business–and I think that’s something we new, Indie authors need to remember.  Sharing the love doesn’t mean you will receive less of it yourself 🙂  Plus I think for many of us, our first readers come from within our author community–we can help each other up that first step towards regular, reader-only fans.

What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?

 Coffee addiction–getting up to put the kettle on every half hour is very distracting!  I think the hardest part for me has been switching into editing mode too soon.  I really wish I hadn’t discovered Authonomy and critiques until I had finished writing all the books in the series.  Switching back into full writing mode is tough at the moment–I need to find a way to turn off the internal editor and just write.

 I know all about that. Sigh…

 What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into your genre?

 If you haven’t read a lot of fantasy–go and do that first!  Chances are, though, that a writer is an avid reader, so I would say that when you start to write your story, keep going until it is finished.  Don’t read anyone else’s work while you are still busy writing–whether a published author or someone in a crit group.  It’s bound to either make you feel inadequate and insecure (published books) or maybe even worse, over-confident (crit groups).  Get your story down, then worry about measuring it against all else that’s out there. 

How can readers get into contact with you?

 I have a fledgling blog just started up –

Soon it will be the place for readers to go and discover everything about the characters and worlds of The Seventh Gate. For now, it’s a place to pop in and say hello, and perhaps enjoy some of the art, music, and mythology that have helped to inspire me.

 There’s a Facebook page too :

and I’m Google+ as Piper McDermot

 and finally, Twitter (@PiperMcDermot)

Piper, you did great! I loved getting to know you and of your fascinating life–you really have to tell me the seal story later, lol. Readers, I hope you felt the same way I did about Piper and that you will look her up at her links or drop her a line in the Comments section below. 🙂

Thanks for reading! Have an excellent week!