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Author Interview – Kay Berrisford

Today I’m bringing you Fiction Cove’s first ever author interview! I’m super excited for that to be with the wonderful Kay Berrisford!

Kay is the author of the Landlocked Heart series, The Merman and the Barbarian Pirate, and Bound for the Forest.

I first found Kay’s work browsing pre-order titles on the Less Than Three website while waiting for my pre-order listing for my own book to go up. Kay’s book The Lonely Merman caught my eye because of the title. I’m a huge lover of mermen so my curiosity was piqued immediately. After reading it, I connected with Kay on Twitter, and now we talk and support each other in our writing. I’m very honored to call Kay a friend!

Now let’s get to the questions!

 

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I don’t really think of myself as a writer! Whenever I try to believe I am, a voice in my head shouts loudly, “Who are you trying to kid?” On the other hand, I’ve always made up stories, and sometimes I write them down. There’s never been a time when I didn’t make up stories, so I don’t think there was ever a moment I decided I wanted to. It’s just an essential part of what I am.

 

Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?

Everywhere, but mainly from other books and from history.  I have studied history extensively, I work in a museum, and so I get bombarded with great ideas all the time. I once attended a talk by Terry Pratchett, and he said he got most of his ideas from history and non-fiction books (like me) but that, interestingly, he didn’t read much other fiction at all (quite unlike me!)

I am also often inspired by travel: new and beautiful places can inspire new ideas, settings, and characters. Much of Dragon Rider, the third Landlocked Heart book, was dreamed up on the coast of Pembrokeshire in Wales (although I set it in Cornwall!)

 

What is your favorite character type to write, and why?

I like writing angsty, tortured characters the best.  Although I started writing the Landlocked Heart series from Ben’s (the human’s) point of view, I enjoyed writing from Lyle’s (the merman’s) point of view the most, because frankly, he was the more tortured and whumped of the pair.

 

Do you have any favorite tropes?

Oh, plenty! I’m a particular fan of “enemies to lovers” stories, which are always fun to write as well as read.

 

Who (a personal acquaintance or an author) has inspired you the most, and why?

Megan Derr, Megan Derr, Megan Derr. I love everything she writes, especially her fantasy stories, but pretty much anything.  Her characters are always incredibly strong and her world-building just stuns me. Reading her books makes me want to write, to up my game, and try and create something that’s even a faint shadow of her awesomeness. She’s also been incredibly supportive of my writing. Along with Sam and Sasha at LT3 Press, Megan’s the reason I’m publishing again.

 

What draws you to the romance and urban fantasy genres?

I love reading them! With urban fantasy, I love taking the world around me that I know and adding that little ingredient of magic that transports us somewhere really special. It’s probably my favourite genre to write, although I also like writing historical fantasy. That’s a lot more hard work—all that bloody research!

 

What is your writing process like?

When I write, I’m mega disciplined. On a writing day, I sit down and aim for at least 3000 words, and usually I hit my target. I use my time at work—in between my days off to write—in daydreaming, brainstorming, and planning. Although, to be fair, apart from a couple of abortive weeks last October, I’ve only written for ten months in the past four years and not since last July. I’m kind of “all or nothing at all.”

I spend more time editing than writing, too. I actually enjoy the process of editing my own work more than the initial drafting.

 

Did you draw on any specific mythologies when creating your characters and world? What were they, and what made you want to play with those elements?

I’ve always drawn a lot on English folklore (the Green Man, Robin Hood, Herne the Hunter), which is most evident in my Bound for the Forest series.  I grew up surrounded by these stories, so it seemed a natural place for me to play.

For the Landlocked Heart series, I drew on fairy mythology, which I love, although I kind of made up my own merfolk mythology. Landlocked Heart is actually set in the same universe as my previous historical fantasy book, The Merman and the Barbarian Pirate, just two centuries later. Lyle (Landlocked Heart) is from a different tribe and species as Raef (The Merman and the Barbarian Pirate) but they are from the same origins. One of the characters explains all the history behind this in Dragon Rider (the third Landlocked Heart book) but I cut it in edits, because it slowed pace.

In the final Landlocked Heart book, The Isle of Eternal Happiness, I drew a little on the mythology of lost islands, like Atlantis, which was fun.

 

What surprised you most when writing the Landlocked Heart series?

That I loved writing it so much! I hadn’t written in nearly three years when I sat down to write The Lonely Merman, and I’d often thought I’d never write again. But once I started, I couldn’t stop. Lyle and Ben have been among my very favourite characters to write ever.

 

What’s your favorite food, and your go-to writing fuel?

I usually write in in the morning, so sorry to be mega dull, but my fuel is coffee, breakfast cereal (Weetabix) and then peppermint tea! At lunch, I sometimes treat myself with pancakes piled with banana and ice-cream, though.

 

Are you reading any good books right now, and if so, share!

I’ve just started Dragon Magic by Megan Derr, which I’m loving. I was lucky lately to get a sneak preview of the second book in the Masks series by Amara Lynn, and that was pretty awesome too.

 

If you could teleport to anywhere on the planet right now, where would it be and why?

I love Italy, so maybe a sun-kissed villa in Tuscany, with a month’s supply of yummy food, a swimming pool, (heated for April!) and endless days to daydream and write.

 

Thanks for the interview, Kay!

Kay’s final book in the Landlocked Heart series just released on March 14th, and Bound for the Forest was just re-released with LT3 on April 4th. Now is a great time to check out Kay’s stuff, since everything on LT3’s site is 29% off for their anniversary sale! Links to Kay’s work will be at the bottom of this post!

 

About Kay:

I am, and always will be, the nerdy book-loving girl in the corner. I’ll never be one of the cool, popular kids, even among fellow readers, writers, and book lovers… and I’m okay with that. I’ve been making up romance stories with m/m protagonists since the days before the internet, before I’d any idea what sex was, and when I believed I was the only little girl whose imagination worked like that. How am I supposed to stop now?

I try to squeeze in writing between a 6-day-a-week job in Customer Services. Yayz!?! My romance tales contain an unholy concoction of fun and fantasy (dragons, fairies, elves, and mermen, anyone?) alongside a strong dose of angst and hurt/comfort.

I am a bit of a social media recluse (sorry!) but I love to connect with readers. You can email me at kayberrisford @ yahoo.co.uk and I lurk on twitter a little – @kayberrisford

 

Links to Kay’s work:

Amazon 

Less Than Three Press 

Review – Welcome to Crash by Lina Langley

Today I’m reviewing Welcome to Crash, by my friend Lina, which I loved!

wtc

Welcome to Crash was an amazing, wild, intriguing ride of a book that left me on the edge of my seat the whole time. Now I know why Lina was always saying it is very hard to talk about without spoiling the whole thing.

There were some things I wasn’t keen about and I will list as many warnings as I can at the end of the review for those interested, but I think everything about this book worked and that none of that made me personally want to put the book down at all.

This story is very much a psychological, is it all just in the MC’s head type of story, and it’s great.

The story is told from the POV of Damien, a college student who accepts an internship at prestigious art studio Crash. It quickly becomes apparent that something is off, and the reader will likely figure out something is up before Damien does. That didn’t make it any less intriguing for me, though.

What I like about this book is it’s got a lot of raw emotions in it, it messes with your head, and it’s got a new adult feel to it with Damien’s struggle to be a functional part of society. My favorite thing about it though, I can’t say because it’s a spoiler!

There were a few hiccups as far as typos, but I loved this book so much that the here and there typo didn’t bother me too much.

Overall, this is a must-read in my opinion!

My rating: 5/5 stars

Content warnings are below links, and contain spoilers.

Links:

Amazon

DSP Publications

Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

Content Warnings:
-MC with epilepsy
-MC cheats on his boyfriend (it’s kind of a love triangle going on, and he is very upfront that he’s cheated to his boyfriend and feels awful about this for the whole book, which is so contrary to the mainstream media trend of casual cheating with no negative emotions attached, and so it really didn’t bother me like cheating normally would. I think it worked for this book.)
-Everyone is really concerned at one point for the MC to the point where his parents literally tell him he has to move back home so they can take care of him because he obviously can’t take care of himself. Not sure what the warning should be on that one, but there it is. It didn’t personally bother me but I recognize that it may bother some.
-John (the other love interest in the story) persists at one point he is not gay and he’s into women, but this is not a gay for you thing I promise you that. I thought it was worth fair warning though. I would say he was more a questioning individual who didn’t know the word bisexual, so I wouldn’t let this bit turn you off from the story. Just keep reading!

Review – No Rulebook For Flirting by Laura Bailo

Today I’m reviewing No Rulebook For Flirting, by Laura Bailo, which I received an ARC for!

norulebookforflirting

This is a super short contemp romance novella, coming in at 12k, so can easily be read in one sitting. It starts with a meet cute between the two characters when one steals a parking spot from the other at a board game convention. The two of them get off on the wrong foot but quickly move on to flirting over a game in the convention.

Though I’m not trans myself, I loved the trans rep in this story because it was there and it wasn’t a big deal. Aitor brought it up to Gabriel pretty early on, and then they moved on with things like it was no big deal. That acceptance was nice.

There is a side character, Raul, that is a bit abrasive during the story, which came off as him being queer-phobe, but [SPOILERS, click and drag over if you wish to reveal] at the very end of the story, this is played down as him just having an attitude but nothing actually against the characters for their sexuality, which left me feeling a bit conflicted about him.

All in all I thought this was a cute, sweet, and short read. If you like board games, D&D, and queer characters, consider checking it out. No Rulebook For Flirting releases on February 10th!

My Rating: 3/5

Amazon

JMS Books

Goodreads

 

Review – A Lake of Feathers and Moonbeams by Dax Murray

This week’s review is of A Lake of Feathers and Moonbeams, by Dax Murray.

The story is a queer retelling of Swan Lake, and is available on Kindle Unlimited if you have that!

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I found this story to be quite lovely. It’s queer, and it’s a fairy tale retelling, so I just had to try it!

It starts out with a bit of a dump of info about magic that was a little hard to follow, but it doesn’t linger too terribly much, so if you get confused at the start I’d recommend sticking it out. All does get explained better later!

The book centers mostly on Katya, who just seems to have come into being and has always dwelled within the forest. She comes to live with a sorcerer named Ivan, and the two of them have what seems to be a happy life together, eventually becoming lovers. During her time with Ivan, Katya also learns magic from Ivan’s books and becomes well versed herself. These details are explained in a sort of summary at the beginning of the book and the intro feels very fairy tale-like in style.

Things start to pick up when an escort is discovered making their way through Ivan and Katya’s forest, escorting the princess Yi Zhen on her way to an arranged marriage with Princen Alexis (an enby royal from the neighboring land!).

I loved the variety of rep in the story, all of which was portrayed in a positive, accepting light, from the enby Princen Alexis, who used they/them pronouns and is openly accepted in their kingdom, to Katya’s bisexuality, and the Princen’s parents being in a triad. It was absolutely delightful.

The story itself was quite interesting as well. I loved the descriptions, especially of the world’s magic.

The only real minus for me was a few grammatical/editing errors here and there that pulled me out of the narrative (one of which was a wrong pronoun).

All in all, this was worth the read, and I’d highly recommend to anyone looking for a sweet, queer fairy tale retelling with a variety of characters!

My rating: 4/5

Check out A Lake of Feathers and Moonbeams over on Goodreads and Amazon!

 

 

 

 

Review – Breaking Hell’s Rules by Lyssa Dering

This week I’m reviewing another book by Lyssa Dering, an older title called Breaking Hell’s Rules.

The story centers on Reth, a genderqueer demon who takes souls for one of the head demons in hell and has body hopped over the centuries, and Jude, the boyfriend of the the abusive Tyler who Reth decides to hop into at the beginning of the story.

What I really liked about this story, same as with How to Love a Monster was the romance between the two characters. Dering has a gift for chemistry and making me feel the connection between the two characters, making me fall as hard and fast for them as they do each other! I also loved Reth and their genderqueer-ness.

Jude is a mystery to Reth from the moment they meet, and the two are faced with some obstacles as Jude is at first disbelieving that Reth isn’t his abusive boyfriend Tyler, and then as Reth realizes that there is more than meets the eye to Jude.

I thought Lyssa’s take on demons and angels was interesting, especially on that of angels. It was different from the normal angel mythos one usually sees.

A few warnings for the book: There is mention of recent psychical abuse, and since Jude at first thinks Reth is Tyler, refers to them as ‘he’ for a better part of the book in his POV, until the conversation comes up about their preferred pronouns, then Jude immediately starts using they/them (I thought it was handled well thought and it was nice that Jude was accepting of Reth’s pronouns). Be forewarned, there is also side character that isn’t completely respectful of Reth’s pronouns, which may be bothersome for some readers.

All in all I thought Breaking Hell’s Rules was a clever, sweet love story that is worth a read if you’re looking for a short, sweet, queer demons and angels story.

My rating: 4 /5

Check out Breaking Hell’s Rules over on Goodreads! And if you have Kindle Unlimited it is available on there!

Review – How to Love a Monster + Halloween in Wish City

I recently read How to Love a Monster by Lyssa Dering, which was released August 12, 2017, and the halloween short that takes place after it, titled Halloween in Wish City, which was released on October 16, 2017.

I knew of this book right at its release date, but was at first weary of it due to thinking it might be a bit dark for me based on the description, and also because I’m not typically a fan of first person present tense. I’d tried reading the opening of the book and wasn’t a fan at the time it released.

Two things influenced my decision to go back and give this book a shot, one being I have kindle unlimited right now, and the other being that I’m in the middle of a very, very slow read through of A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and I’m not hating the present tense that much. So, I thought I’d give HTLAM a try because I was intrigued by the premise.

Boy, am I glad I did.

From the moment the two characters, Sera and Fiend meet, I was absolutely hooked. This book sucked me in and didn’t let go. Even after I finished it, I was craving more, probably as bad as Fiend craves brains!

Lyssa masterfully wove a romantic story with a mix of kink, horror, and angst that gripped me right until the end. I loved two main characters and their dynamic. The writing was incredibly immersive, leading me to understand fully the reason why one would choose first person present tense. When done right, it really does suck you into the story.

The short story, Halloween in Wish City takes place not long after the events of HTLAM, and should be read after it to avoid spoilers. I really liked this extra glimpse into the characters lives after the end of HTLAM. It was silly, romantic, and added a little bit of new information to the story, which was a nice bonus.

If you’re looking for a romantic, m/m story with a bit of kink and a dash of horror, I’d definitely recommend giving this book a try!

My rating:

How to Love a Monster – 5/5

Halloween in Wish City – 5/5

The next volume of the Wish City series, How to Tame a God, is due out in February! I’m excited for this one, which will delve more into the character Wish, who was a secondary character in the first book, and new character, named Lake.

Check out the Wish City books over on Amazon, which are free if you have Kindle Unlimited, but reasonably priced if you don’t!

How to Love a Monster

Halloween in Wish City

How to Tame a God

 

 

2018 Goals

Hello all!

For the first post on the new blog for 2018, it seems appropriate to talk about 2018 goals! I’ve got a lot of them so I’ll need to get busy!

I’ve already tweeted about my writing, reading, and personal goals a few times on Twitter, but to reiterate, here are my goals for 2018:

 

Writing Goals

-Have Masks part 2 and 3 novellas ready and submitted to LT3 by end of January.

-Have Into the Deep (my pirate and merman story) ready to submit by April.

-Write a new novel in April for Camp NaNoWriMo (this will probably be a dragon fantasy story that I have complete notes for).

-Between May and November, I have a gap, which I’ll probably be using for edits if my submissions get accepted, and I may also write a short story/novella during that time frame. I’ll also be working on replanning the novel I want to write in November, All That Remains.

-Write a new novel in November during NaNoWriMo (paranormal novel All That Remains).

-Write more blog posts and build up my new website, Fiction Cove! I’ll probably shoot for one blog post a week. This goal is a pretty loose one.

-Lastly I’m taking this on the end because it depends on what happens this year, but I’d like to find a home for my short/novella, Leo, which is a retelling of Pinocchio.

 

Reading Goals

-Read one book a week (so 52 books). I’ll be focusing on reading more diverse books!

 

Personal Goals

-Exercise more. I’m thinking 30 minutes a day on my gazelle.

-Get my driver’s license. We won’t say how old I am and don’t have it…

-Save money (another loose goal).

 

So, what are your goals for this year? Let me know in the comments!

“I always wanted to be a writer.”

“When did you know you wanted to be a writer?”

“I always knew I wanted to be a writer.”

This is a question and answer that I see a lot. It seems like a vast majority of writers “always knew” they wanted to write.

I didn’t always know. So, as someone who didn’t “just know” I thought I’d write a little about what made me start writing and about the little clues from my childhood that I never picked up on at the time.

When I was a kid, I played pretend. Most kids probably did. But I was always doing it. Even by myself. I had intricate stories in my head going for all my toys, I made up personas when I played, and so on.

What really got me story telling to myself was probably when I was about 13, and I discovered anime. I watched DBZ, Sailor Moon, and Tenchi Muyo all religiously. I also got really into RPGs, Star Ocean 2 was my first, followed by Final Fantasy VII.

It was right around this time that I started making up a story. I had all these scenes in my head for it, and I made up a cast of characters because I wanted it to be cool like one of the shows I watched or games I played, and I even borrowed little traits from them, like having a character with three eyes and whatnot. I would draw all of my characters in a notebook and write their names above them and act out scenes in my room and think of it this were a video game what the boss fights would be.

I thought it would be awesome if it could be a video game someday. Sadly, I’ve still never actually made a serious attempt at writing that story since realizing I like writing, only a couple of starts in the past. I’d still like to make a proper go of it someday.

So, I was really into the art side of all this stuff, and I pursued art through most of high school. By about 11th or 12th grade I realized being a plain artist probably wouldn’t get my anywhere, and moved toward graphic design/visual communications in an attempt to still do something art related but have a chance at a proper career.

One of the other things that happened in 10th grade was, I really enjoyed my English class. I got good grades on book reports and thought, yeah this is pretty nice, I like this. So in 11th grade I decided, why not take AP English.

That was a mistake for me. Picking apart books was so not my thing. I transferred out of AP English after the first semester.

For a long time, my failure with that discouraged me from any sort of path involving English Literature.

I went to college and got my visual communication degree. During college, I picked up a random book at the bookstore because the cover had a person holding out an apple on the cover, and I was big into Death Note at the time so I thought that was awesome. It was about vampires and I thought that was cool. I always liked vampires and loved the movie Interview with the Vampire.

Any guesses on the book yet? That’s right, it was Twilight.

So let’s talk just a little bit about Twilight. I don’t remember much about the writing itself, but I did read all of the books, and at the time I enjoyed them. But as I was reading them, I thought, “This doesn’t seem all that special. I could do this.”

And that’s when I decided. I should write my own stories.

I finished my associate’s in visual communications, which, sadly by the time I was finishing it I realized it too would have little use to me, and in most of my spare time I piddled around in pocket sized notebooks writing stories that I thought might never see the light of day.

For a long time, that’s how I felt. I got a full time job in an office, and worked and wrote here and there and started posting a couple things up online.

One of them got the attention of a girl who is now my best friend and writing buddy.

I’m not gonna lie, I spent a couple of years after meeting her writing with her all kinds of fun stuff that also might not see the light of day, and in that time I almost never worked on my own stuff. But I wouldn’t take back any of that.

Because of that experience, I created so many characters and worlds with my friend, and that’s how my story Masks was actually born.

So that’s the story of how I started writing.

As for why I write and will continue to? Well, I’ve got all these stories in my head, and I want to do something with them!

Fiction Cove Launch

Hello!

Fiction Cove is officially up again! I once occupied this domain and I am very happy to have it back again! I will be using this space to talk about my writing as Amara Lynn, and to post some book reviews as well!

Welcome to Fiction Cove! More to come soon I hope!

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