A Few Astonishing Moments With… Cheryl Mackey

imageWelcome back. We are once again sitting in The Last Cafe at the End of the Internet, having a cup of coffee, and getting ready to bring you another great interview with an amazing author. This week we are spending a few astonishing moments with author Cheryl Mackey.

Cheryl lives in Southern California with her husband and 2 sons. Her books The Unknown Sun and The Immortals parts 1 and 2 are both young adult fantasy and available at Amazon.  She currently has a flash fiction story published online at The Prompt Magazine.  She has a MFA in Creative Writing and enjoys games, reading and, of course, writing. Her favorite genres to write and read are Fantasy closely followed by Space Opera and Dystopian.

imageAstounding Books (AB): Welcome Cheryl and thank you for joining us today. We are seated here in the Last Cafe at the End of the Internet. What can we get you to drink?

Cheryl Mackey (CM): Tea drinker here! Mostly iced tea. I prefer plain, boring black tea but I’ve tried various flavors.

AB:  What drew you to write fantasy novels over other genres? 

CM:   I was drawn to fantasy because it is 100% imagination. As a child I could escape into a world of my own making or one made by great fantasy authors. Anything is possible and I revel in the unique, odd, or magical. Without fantasy our world would be a whole lot more boring.

AB:   You’ve been very busy with publishing three novels. What’s up next for you?

CM:   Currently I am about a ¼ of the way through the third book in The Immortals series. I hope to have it out sometime this fall. I’m really excited about this book because it’s the book that answers the questions asked in the previous two. A fourth book will follow to bring the ultimate conclusion.

imageAB:   Growing up, who were the authors that left the biggest impression on you or later influenced you as a writer? 

CM:  I was influenced by a range of authors and genres as a child/teen. Isaac Asimov, JRR Tolkien, LM Montgomery, Madeleine L’Engle, Judy Blume, and more. Asimove and Tolkien taught me that the world is limitless in your imagination and Montgomery, L’Engle, and Blume taught me that girls can do and be anything too.

AB:   What was that first thing you wrote that you were either most proud of or vividly remember as being that one piece that will always stay with you as a young writer? 

CM:   In my 20’s, when I was too cowed by my family to ever believe I could follow my dreams, I wrote a modern version of the Beauty and the Beast fable. It sucked. It really was bad, but I had zero knowledge of how to even be an author then. When I went back to college for my MFA in Creative Writing in my 30’s I dragged that terrible manuscript with me and made it the focus. I used what I learned to make it better. I am still proud of it and it will always be special to me, but I’m not sure it will ever be published either. It’s…too personal, a gauge of my life as a writer, a stepping stone to my current success.

AB:   You brought along a photo. Tell us about it.

imageCM:   Family vacation in Las Vegas approx 1983. I’m the pig-tailed girl in the middle behind the toys. We were set loose in Circus Circus while our parents gambled (several cousins and my brother and I) and essentially cleaned out the place. That’s maybe a fifth of our haul. One of our many crazy family vacations we went on up until I was 18 or so.

AB:   What are you reading right now? 

CM:  I am a weird reader. I have 2 quirks that always freak people out. I reread favorites religiously and I don’t have a to be read pile. I read what I buy, one thing at a time, and I’ve just finished a great fantasy series by Landon Porter called Rune Breaker. I really really suggest fans of classic adventure type fantasy read the series.

AB:  I’m going to take a quick break to get more coffee. Go ahead and Interview yourself till I get back…

CM:  Cheryl, Why did you waste your 20’s worrying that your family wouldn’t approve of you being a writer?

CM:   Good question Cheryl…Because I was not convinced I could ever be one. I gained confidence in my 30’s and became an author. And I was right. They don’t approve… but I don’t care.

AB:   Ok, I’m back. It was a short line. Now some fun questions: Star Wars, Star Trek or Doctor Who?

CM:   That’s not fair! I’m a big geeky fan of all 3! Literally. I fangirl.

AB:   Who Shot First (Han or Greedo)?

CM:   Come on! Everyone knows Han shot first!

AB:   That will do it. Thank you again for joining us Cheryl in The Last Cafe at the End of the Internet and good luck on your next projects.

I hope our readers will check out Cheryl’s works. Her books The Unknown Sun and The Immortals parts 1 and 2 are available at Amazon (Click on the Links). You can follow Cheryl Mackey on Twitter: @Writezalot, Facebook:  Writezalot, Instagram: csmackey_author and on her webpage: www.writezalot.com

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A Few Astonishing Moments With…Elí Freysson

Welcome to a new feature here at Astounding Books. Each weekend we hope to bring you a new Astonishing interview with an Astounding Author.

imageWe recently sat down for a virtual drink in the Last Cafe at the End of the Internet with  Elí Freysson.  Eli is the author of several novels, including The Call, the first in a trilogy about Katja, a rowdy tomboy who has been haunted by premonitions that she will face terrible foes and a lifetime of violence. Her dreams finally come to a frightening reality when she faces a marauding demon and meets Serdra, a mysterious warrior woman, who introduces Katja to the supernatural gifts they share – and the responsibilities that come with them.

Born in the town of Akureyri in northern Iceland in 1982, Elí Freysson spent a part of his early childhood in Norway, before going back to Iceland just in time to start school in Reykjavík. He moved back to good old Akureyri, where he lives today. He graduated high school in 2004, after which he started getting serious about writing an actual, full-length story. Thirteen months later Elí had the first draft of Lord of the Blind, which was published in 2011. He has since published four more novels in Icelandic, and is working to translate them into English.

Astounding Books (AB): Elí, thank you for joining us today. As we are in a virtual cafe I’ll ask, What are you drinking?

ElÍ Freysson (EF) I’ve decided to abandon the Icelandic tradition of getting terribly drunk every weekend in favour of spreading alcohol consumption out over more days. So I’m currently enjoying a Carlsberg lager beer.

AB:  Very good. We need more of these cafes! What drew you to writing novels in the fantasy genre?

EF:  The sheer, limitless freedom. In fantasy an author is limited by absolutely nothing save for their own imagination. Also, I’m most pleased with my own writing when I feel I have achieved an image that would look good on a poster. Y’kno, Deviantart-fodder. Fantasy is, in my mind, uniquely well suited to that. Just look at all those iconic moments from Lord of the Rings.

imageAB:  What’s up next for you?

EF: Firemoon, the third in my fantasy series about Katja, is coming out this spring. I’m currently doing proofreading. I’m also working on a space opera short story serial, The Golden Throne. I’m experimenting a bit with storytelling format, and telling the story of a huge space war in ten shorts. Each one is about a different character, experiencing a different turning point in the war in a different year and place. The overall war, and certain recurring characters, form an ongoing metaplot. I’m finding it an interesting approach to world-building.

I’ll also start to translate Lord of the Blind into English, but I’ll let that wait until after Firemoon comes out.

AB: If you could hang out with one of your characters who would it be and what would you do?

EF: Well, I would probably go with Princess Maraka from The Golden Throne. Since she’s the heir to a vast space monarchy, and being friends with someone like that is sure to have some benefits. Though what we would actually do together… well, I could give her a unique first-hand account of the far distant past. I’m sure she would find that interesting.

AB: Let’s try something different. If you were sitting my seat, what question would you ask yourself? 

EF: Who is your favourite character, and why? The answer? That would be Katja. Her combination of excitement and terror at the developments in her life, her understanding just how fresh she is to this stage, yet being determined to carve out her own legend, her sazz and humanity, and overall arc through the trilogy… it’s fun to work with.

AB: Where is your favorite place to write?

EF: I do find getting out of the house is good for writing. I often take a notebook to a café and jot down ideas with nothing to distract me except tea. The swimming pool is also good for the brain, I’ve discovered.

AB: Any Guilty pleasures?

EF: Well, being into my thirties now I’ve started to feel guilty immediately after eating chocolate cake. I have a suspicion that in a hundred years or so our consumption of sugar will be seen in much the same light as smoking.

AB: What current trend would you eliminate?

EF: Revenge porn. I know that’s not a witty answer, but given the chance I’d like to do a little good in the world.

AB: Now Some fun questions now:  Cats, Dogs, Fish or other? 

EF: I have two nine-month old cats in my apartment, named Lakkrís and Skotti. A dog is too much work for me, and I really don’t see the point in goldfish.

AB: Finally, probably the most important question: Who Shot First: Han or Greedo?

EF: HAN!

Thank you Elí Freysson for joining us for a drink and a few questions at the Internet Crossroads Cafe. Good luck with your career.

You can download Elí Freysson’ novel, The Call by clicking here. Stay up to date by following him on Twitter: @EliFreysson; on  Facebook EliFreyssonAuthor; or on his website elifreysson.com .