Interview with Learning To Surf Publishing

How do you discover the ebooks you read?
By chance through a search, from friends, and sometimes an advert. Pretty much the same way I find books at the library.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I blog, design and layout adverts or other material, and read the tarot. I also read, watch movies and occasionally try my hand at painting. I love catching up with friends, which happens less and less these days.
But what I love doing most is daydreaming of all the amazing adventurous things I could be doing, then try to do them, or use these ideas for my next story.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Hmm...Well, the first story I remember writing ever...that would have been back in school and was about a horse which pulled a cab up to 221B Baker Street, This was during my Holmes phase when I was about ten.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I guess it was one of the Amanda, The Worst Witch books. I can't remember the actual story, but it really made me want to be a witch! I was about seven at the time.
I also used to read my teacher's book of fairy-tales when I was in Grade 2. If your work was done, you could borrow it and read all the fairy-tales and look at the beautiful illustrations. I remember racing through my work just so I could read 'Rashin Coatie' and 'Musicians of Bremen'. This started my life-long affair with fairy-tales.
How do you approach cover design?
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Verulam -- a small town in Durban, South Africa -- is my home-town, and the place I keep coming back to. It's on the east coast of South Africa, almost directly west of Perth, Australia and about four hours away from the Mozambiquan border. Verulam is quite a historic town and was very colonial and industrial when I was growing up. It's grown very large over the past twenty years, and is not as sleepy as it once was. Much of the sugar-cane fields have also given way to housing and other development.
There wasn't much to do as a teenager, so I read a lot, and then decided that I had to be a writer. Boredom and my nature meant I read lots of fantasy, suspense and the odd historical novel. As a result, these are the genres I'd prefer to write, and imagining that something magical was needed to relieve the boredom means I tend to write magical realism.
I didn't get much support for my writing except from three teachers and some close family, as fantasy was frowned upon and regarded as not being 'serious' or 'literary' books.
It's only recently, in short stories like 'Strive' (see Foreigners) that I've begun to explore Verulam in my writing.
When did you first start writing?
My first submission to a publisher was when I was in Matric (Grade 12). It was a short story about a goblin. The publisher called it 'belletristic' which was a new word for me, and quite encouraging, I thought at first.
I began writing short stories in 2000, but couldn't spare the time for much writing. I consider 2009 the year I really started writing, as that's when I finished many of the stories in 'I Find Myself Charmed' and 'No Distance To Run'.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I'm very much a story-lover, be it oral, written or performed. So, for me, the greatest joy in writing lies in sharing a story -- hopefully one which eventually brings hope, joy and understanding to you. If it makes you smile or think twice, so much the better for both of us :-D
So how did you get into tarot reading, and does it influence your writing?
The tarot and other divination methods has always fascinated me. As soon as I could, I began teaching myself to read the tarot and bugging everyone I knew to let me practice reads on them. I had a lot of free time back then, so would spend 6-10 hours a week learning the cards and how to read. I was fortunate to have two good mentors in Johannesburg, and by remaining true to my integrity and original intention to help people reach their potential, my ability as a reader grows.
As for my writing, occasionally I might use the tarot to resolve a plot point if I have writer's block, or to look deeper into a character and their motivation. Then too, while all my readings are confidential, I do get a lot of inspiration from the events I see in my client's lives and the awesome people I've met while reading.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love and have been greatly influenced in my writing by Mary Stewart, especially her Merlin series; Dianna Wynne Jones; Desmond Bagley and Alistair Maclean; Terry Pratchett; Harry Harrison and Meg Cabot.
I also love Alan Dean Foster who (along with Mary Stewart), I believe, has had more influence on me personally than on my writing. Where else would I learn to question everything, learn as much as possible, accept the strange, and strive for a brighter harmonious future.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I don't honestly know. It would depend on the day :-D
Published 2016-12-27.
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