Author Interview, Marie-Jo Fortis

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Interview #77, with satirical thriller French writer, Marie-Jo Fortis!

Hi Marie-Jo! Describe yourself in 5 words:

Hi Jess! Okay, here goes: Determined, with sense of humor.

Cool! Share a short blurb of your work (10-100 words):

chainsaw_jane

“Fortis has a marvelous character in Chainsaw Jane…”
~ Kirkus Reviews

Now, for the excerpt, just a little sentence that describes Chainsaw Jane: “With her staccato gestures, mud-covered baggy jeans and clodhoppers, she looked like a barrel drunk with its own wine.”

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

From Balzac’s Le Père Goriot: “Holding this book in your hand, sinking back in your soft armchair, you will say to yourself: perhaps it will amuse me. And after you have read this story of great misfortunes, you will no doubt dine well, blaming the author for your own insensitivity, accusing him of wild exaggeration and flights of fancy. But rest assured: this tragedy is not a fiction. All is true.”

I chose this because I do think that great fiction, the one that gets to the core of things, is truer than what we call reality.

I agree! Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

The writing is just plain fun while the publication process is woooork! Kidding! It’s all fun and sooo easy! Okay, kidding again. Non-writers believe that writing is a simple, amusing activity, an entertaining choice. To these people I want to say, don’t choose writing if writing does not choose you. Writing is as much an addiction, a dependence, as it is a passion. Of course, you can argue that passion is a dependence. You write because you cannot imagine life without it. There are moments when you want to free yourself from it, but as soon as you take some distance from it, it calls you back. It is a love made of pain and pleasure, a mental sadomasochistic adventure. It is also work, work, work. Hitting your head against the wall every time you get a rejection slip. That’s why so many take matters into their own hands and self-publish. But that alone belongs to another discussion. This said, nothing compares to the heights of creativity, when you have found that beautiful sentence, that expression that just clicks, this “mot juste.” Nothing compares to that.

As for publishing, you have to wear a different hat, don’t you? I was the publisher of a litmag years ago, so I have a little experience, even if the publishing world has changed tremendously since. The publication process is about image and marketing. This means that today’s writer needs to double as a business person. Produce a brand. You have to act as a humble peacock. If this sounds like an oxymoron, it probably is. Let me explain to the best of my abilities. You have to show off as much as possible (that’s the peacock part) while thinking of yourself as simply a product. I don’t know many fiction writers who like to see themselves as products, so that’s the humbling part. But to market a book in today’s world, one must market oneself. The left side of my brain gets it; the right one is still pissed off. So there is still training to do on that side.

Very eloquently expressed. I’m a fan of Tarot cards, so the mention of them in the product description for Chainsaw Jane certainly caught my attention. How did you develop an interest in Tarot?:

During one of the trips my husband and I took to Lily Dale, the famous mediums village in New York State, the psychic who gave us a reading recommended Tarot as a way to develop psychic abilities. Since I am a native of France and raised to rely on rational thinking, I thought…mm…okay…whatever. But I am also very curious. Not to mention a Basque; and the Basque Country still has a number of operating “witches.” So I ordered a Tarot set and started studying it. It became a habit to the point where I started reading Tarot to family and friends. Now they come to me and ask for readings. It has basically become a reflex these days. When I am confused about a problem, I use both Tarot and reasoning. I don’t feel the right and left side of the brain are, nor should be, mutually exclusive.

You list some very interesting and eclectic influences on your Goodreads bio (Balzac when it comes to psychology; Voltaire for the bite and satire; Agatha Christie for the structure of the novel). Which of their works would you recommend to readers who would like to try reading them for the first time, and why?

For Balzac, it’s difficult to recommend just one novel from the Human Comedy, as he created one masterpiece after another. I fell in love with him when I fell in love with reading, when I was twelve and when my older sister handed me Le Père Goriot. It’s a poignant story about a man victimized by his daughters. It’s a novel about cruelty, rapacity, as many of his novels are. Balzac depicts his predators like dehumanized machines or marionettes; his victims are poetry. Cousin Pons’ main character is one example of this poetry, and the novel has powerful moments about art collecting, the love of art, the love of beauty. And then there is The Magic Skin, one of his philosophical novels and a dramatic reflection on the meaning (or lack thereof) and brevity of life. In general, the way Balzac portrays, say, the greed of bankers and 19th Century nascent capitalism, pretty much shows that society in its core has not changed.

I love most of Voltaire’ satiric tales, but Micromegas is my favorite. It announces sci-fi, as it is an interplanetary story. There, Voltaire makes fun of human arrogance. A very good lesson told with the philosopher’s customary bite and wit.

For Agatha Christie, I have grown to prefer her Hercule Poirot novels over her Miss Marple ones. To the point that one of the main characters in Chainsaw Jane is actually a parody of Hercule Poirot. Poirot is both an absurd and brilliant character, and I believe the simultaneously absurd, vain and brilliant side of him translates a little better into our world than Miss Marple, although she can be a comforting grandmother. Okay, grandma a bit on the sly side. But still, only when she’s detecting. This said, once I started with one Agatha Christie novel, I had to get another one—Miss Marple or no Miss Marple. She became an addiction. But if you only want to read just one Agatha Christie novel, read what I consider her masterpiece, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

I have a short story collection by Ms. Christie that I like a lot ;) Please share your #1 tip for writers:

I’ll repeat what Gwendolyn Brooks once told me: “Revise, revise, revise.” At the time, I was very young and thought this was the end of the day, the poet was tired or had fallen on her head somewhere, and therefore she didn’t know what the hell she was talking about. But years went by and I know now that “revise, revise, revise” is one of the best pieces of advice any kind of writer can receive.

Your websites/blogs/etc:

www.mariejofortis.com

www.mariejosvoice.blogspot.com

and of course, you can find me at Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook; Book Country on occasion. There are others, but I won’t mention them until I start visiting them more often myself.

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Much thanks to Marie-Jo for stopping by — do visit Marie-Jo’s Website for more info on her projects!

MARIE-JO’S SHORT BIO (in his own words):

mj

Marie-Jo Fortis had to fight many odds, make many sacrifices, in order to leave France and cross the Atlantic with the man she loved. She could hardly speak English when she reached the US, but that did not stop her. She attained a Master’s in English literature after studying at l’Ecole du Louvre and La Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris. Her work has been published nationally and internationally in Freedom International, Poésie Première, Talus & Scree, and other periodicals. She also founded Collages & Bricolages, a literary magazine she edited for fifteen years, which received accolades from the US and abroad.

Website | Chainsaw Jane on Amazon

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Author Interview, K.C. Finn

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Interview #75, with “compulsive, convoluted, and complex” writer, Kimberley Finn!

Describe yourself in 5 words:

Compulsive, Convoluted, Complex, Consistent and Complicated!

Share a short blurb of your work (10-100 words):

kimberley finn

The Atomic Circus: A Futuristic Mystery

A story is never a good story unless it starts with a murder. The more unusual the murder, the better the story, generally speaking. Meet Caecilius (KAI-KILL-EE-USS) Rex, a young detective in the not-too-distant future, a smog-filled post apocalyptic world riddled with crime and conspiracy.

When a new case quite literally falls at Rex’s feet, he teams up with his neighbour and associate Kendra Nai, an ex-army sergeant recently dismissed, to investigate. Little do they know that the events of The Atomic Circus will be the first step to solving the case of a lifetime.

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

– Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol

Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

The writing process is easily the more enjoyable of the two for me. Words flow like blood when I cut open the proverbial vein of imagination, and there’s nothing better than seeing the page fill up with your newly crafted ideas, even if they don’t all get used.

As a self-published author the publication process is a double-edged sword, because it’s very easy to put your work out there and be excited by seeing your books in print, but you can often feel swallowed up in the sea with the thousands of other people worldwide trying to get their work noticed. I believe that perseverance and networking are the true keys to success here, just as they would be if I was trying to secure a big time publisher, but I would rather be connecting directly to my audience and keeping my artistic freedom to write exactly as I wish.

Nicely said! What is your definition of “good writing”?

It keeps you reading, it gives you an emotional reaction (be it good or bad!), and most importantly it never inhibits your ability to understand or enjoy the story being told, because to me the story is far more important than the writing.

Please share your #1 tip for writers:

As a teacher of writing I have five top tips that I give to my
classes, so I’ll share them all here:

* Keep going, even if you don’t think anyone cares.

* If you like what you’re writing, then there’ll be at least one other
person out there who will too, so write for them if not yourself.

* Write every day. And that’s not every day that you feel like it. I
mean every single day.

* Don’t be afraid to big yourself up and make a big deal of your work.

* Take every opportunity that comes at you to show off your work and
your personality.

Cool tips! Your websites/blogs/etc:

www.theproverbialraven.blogspot.co.uk

www.facebook.com/pages/The-Atomic-Circus/148122065353125

www.goodreads.com/author/show/7145212.K_C_Finn

www.amazon.co.uk/K-C-Finn/e/B00DT76UEQ/

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Much thanks to K.C. Finn for stopping by — do visit Kimberley’s Website for more info on her projects!

K.C.’S BIO (in her own words):

finn

Born in South Wales to Raymond and Jennifer Finn, Kimberley Charlotte Elisabeth Finn (known to readers as K.C., otherwise it’d be too much of a mouthful) was one of those corny little kids who always wanted to be a writer. She was also incredibly stubborn, and so has finally achieved that dream in 2013 with the release of her first two novellas in the four-part Caecilius Rex saga.

As a sufferer with the medical condition M.E./C.F.S., Kim works part time as a private tutor and a teacher of creative writing, devoting the remainder of her time to writing novels and studying for an MA in Education and Linguistics.

Her website is The Proverbial Raven.

NOTE: K.C. is launching a new magazine in August called Indie Book Buffet. Keep a lookout for it as there’s a cool giveaway with the debut issue!

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Interview with Joe Perrone Jr.

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* Interview #74, with mystery writer, Joe Perrone Jr.!

* Note from Jess: Joe was AUTHOR #1 to be featured on this blog in Jan 2010. He’s back with another book in his “Matt Davis” mystery series! One of the books in the series was recently awarded an Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion — you know you’d like to find out which one…

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joe_perrone

Describe your latest book in 5 words:

Victim, no suspects, no motives.

What inspired the plot?

For years, as a guide on the Beaverkill River in Upstate New York, I passed what appeared to be an old abandoned hotel. Finally, I got the idea for the plot from the thoughts of that old hotel.

Ooh, exciting! Share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):

* Joe’s Comments: In my new book, Broken Promises: A Matt Davis Mystery, an 86-year old woman is found shot to death on the grounds of an abandoned, burned-out old hotel. There are no witnesses, no suspects, and no apparent motive. Here’s an excerpt from when it happens:

broken_promises

“I’m here!” she shouts at last, a broad smile spreading across her face. “I’m so sorry I’m la–”

The man turns and starts toward her, but Maggie doesn’t recognize him. As he moves forward, he trips, and suddenly there is a flash of light and a loud crack like a tree being struck by lightning. Maggie feels a dull thud, then a burning pain in the center of her chest; and in just seconds, nothing.

Share some of your favorite quotations (10-100 words): 

“It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.”
—Uncredited

“It was beauty that killed the beast.”
—Carl Denham, from the movie King Kong

“The coin don’t have no say. It’s just you.”
—Carla Jean Moss, from the movie No Country for Old Men

“Shut the f**k up, Donny.”
—Walter Sobchak, from the movie The Big Lebowski

“Leave the gun, take the canoli.”
—Clemenza, from the movie The Godfather

What is your definition of “good characterization”?

Good characterization is when an author creates a character that is so three-dimensional and real that the reader actually cries when that character is killed in the book. Really great characterization is when you, the author, cry, too!

What is it about mystery that you find most appealing?

I guess I find writing mysteries appealing because they permit me to use my imagination to the fullest, and they genuinely challenge my inventiveness.

Neat :) What are some of your plans for the rest of the year?

I am putting the finishing touches on the print and Ebook versions of Broken Promises, so I can publish it as soon as possible (hopefully by the end of July). Then, I will be listening to auditions for the narration of the audio book version. Then, my wife, Becky, and I are going to take a two-week vacation through New England and out to Lake Ontario. Rest. More rest. Then I will resume work on a literary novel I began seven years ago while I was in Charlottesville, Virginia. Of course, I am constantly working with other authors, assisting them with editing, formatting, and book cover designs.

Jeez, I’m tired already!

Your websites/blogs/etc:

My website is: www.joeperronejr.com

My author email address is:
joetheauthorATjoeperronejrDOTcom

My Facebook pages are: Author Joe Perrone Jr. and The Matt Davis Mystery Series.

On Twitter, I am @catsklgd1

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Much thanks to Joe Perrone Jr. for stopping by — do visit Joe’s Website for more info on him and his projects!

JOE’S BIO (short bio):

Opening Day was recently awarded an Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion, and in 2011, As The Twig Is Bent was translated into Portuguese as Pau que nasce torto by Rafa Lombardino of Word Awareness, Inc. of Santee, CA. Plans are underway to translate Opening Day and Twice Bitten into Portuguese in the very near future.

All of Joe’s books are available in paperback or in Kindle editions on Amazon.com

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