interview: Author Oana

Written by Darlyn At Tuesday, May 31, 2011 2 bookish peeps...
I would love to welcome Author Oana for visiting my blog today for an interview. She is the author of The Healing, and a very nice person. The Healing is very special to me because I think it's a great reading material for motivation and if you want to find some laugh and jokes. You can read my review here. Welcome Oana!

D: Hello Oana! First of all, can you tell us about yourself?

I was born in Bucharest, Romania. As you might know, until 1989 Romania was under a communist dictatorship. After the fall of the communism in 1989 I studied languages at the University in Bucharest, then received my Master’s at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. English is my third language; I have always loved learning languages. I have worked as a translator, as a teacher and eventually caring for animals both domestic and wild. I volunteered and worked for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centers both in the United States and Canada. Now I live in Phoenix, Arizona, where I continue to work with animals and to write. I have become a pretty quiet person, when I feel I have something to say I just sit down and write.

I am lucky to work with animals. I go to work every morning knowing that there are no small office gossips there for me; instead, thirty puppies barking happily and waiting for me to feed them, give them medications and check on their well being.

D: What inspired you to write The Healings?

Undoubtedly, being around animals. They are a great source of comfort. When I used to work with wildlife, I spent most of the time in silence. You have to be quiet around these guys; you have to avoid stressing them; besides, the purpose of your work is to release them back into the wild without exposing them to human interaction too much. They have to stay wild. In a way, this type of work implies isolation – with very rare occasions when you communicate with other fellow rehabilitators. It was a great time for insights, you know. Because I grew up going on fishing trips with my dad – and silence was mandatory; he didn’t want me to scare his fish off – it was pretty easy for me to stay quiet. And focused. Observation is a key factor in working with animals. I started seeing a lot of details that usually go unnoticed: expressions, eyes, coats. It happens that writing requires a great deal of observation as well, so in a way, my passions completed each other. When I wrote the first chapter of The Healings, there was no cat. Then I realized that my character needed a companion.

D: I love the nameless man’s cat. Do you have a cat?

No, I do not have any animals right now, if you don’t count those at work. My parents still do. They have two cats and two dogs. One of the cats is an albino that loves sun and heat. In the winter, for example, he glues himself to the heaters and he sleeps there until his coat gets burnt. In the summer, they rush him to the vet with burns on his ear tips. He is a funny character; he loves heat but heat doesn’t love him. You can see his picture on my website. Cats are fascinating and sadly, misunderstood animals. We take their sense of independence as ungratefulness or selfishness.

D: Where do you do most of your writing? Anything special you must have or do while you are writing?

I do most of my writing in my head. I think of what I want to write, and how I want to write it. I think of it for days sometimes weeks and even years. Then I just write it and it is usually exactly the way I wanted it to be. For example, I had been thinking of The Healings for twenty years. I had not written a word all this time, yet I kept thinking of it. I had not “honed” my craft. I had never gone to a writing course. I had never picked English to be my language of choice the language picked me. One day I just started writing and it was overwhelming. My hands could not keep up with my thoughts that were coming at me so fast. It was an exhilarating experience.

The only requirement I have in order to write is silence. I cannot write in crowded coffee shops or at workshops. I can think of things, I can come up with ideas, but I need quiet time to put something down on paper.

D: Did you always know that you are going to be a writer?

O: In many ways, yes. It wasn’t clear to me where I was going until I joined the Central Phoenix Writing Workshop in 2008. When I got to know the people – it is a wonderful group – I realized that I was finally home, that I belonged there with the “crazy” writers and artists.

D: What are your top 5 favorite books? What book are you currently reading?

My favorite writers are classics. I love many authors; it would be hard for me to pick five of them. I love Chekhov, Dostoyevsky, Shalom Aleichem, Franz Kafka, Isaac Singer, and Bruno Schulz. I have learned so much from them, without ever wanting to copy their style or sound like them. Only great minds can teach you that.

I am currently re-reading a wonderful book written by my friend Robert Rubenstein. It is called Ghost Runners and it is a historical fiction about the only two Jews on the American Olympic team sent to Berlin in 1936 and who were removed from the relay. I think it is an important life lesson and history lesson as well. That marginalization of the Jews is what ultimately led to Holocaust. We should learn from that.

D: Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published authors?

O: Believe in yourself. Have patience. I know many awesome writers who just waited. A good book is like good old wine. Give it a little bit of time. Each of us has their own creative ways. Some write a thousand words a day, some struggle to write five words per day. You have to find your own pace. Don’t put stress on yourself trying to “catch up” with other writers. They are not you. You want to be yourself. Listen to others but also trust your instincts.

D: Tell us 3 things that we might be surprised to know about you.

O: I don’t know about three but I can tell you one: I rarely wear jewelry. I like it, but since I work with animals it is definitely in the way. I had given up jewelry, perfumes and scarves on daily basis years ago, something I would have never thought I’d be capable of. I am still very fashionable when I can be, which is kind of funny; it is almost like having a double life. I remember one conversation I had with a fellow wildlife rehabilitator many years ago. It was midnight, cold and the wind was blowing. We were in the middle of nowhere, dirty and tired, trying to catch a baby seal. She looked at me and she said, “Hey, if you told a date what you do for living, would he believe you?” We both started laughing, “Nah...”

D: Any last word?

O: Many people have asked me why my character is nameless. Partly an instinctual response to the general opinion among writers that he should have a name otherwise the book will not be interesting, partly the fact that I wanted him to be understood in any culture.

I had seen artists who come from a certain ethnic, religious or racial background and limit themselves to the point that when they promote their works they do it almost exclusively in their own world. I think this is dangerous. Writing should build bridges, should bring people together. We should learn about each other and about ourselves. We should stand for each other’s rights. But how are we going to do it if we do not reach out? To give you an example: I am working now on a memoir about the twenty years I spent under Ceausescu. I am not going to promote my book in Romanian circles. Sure I would love my fellow Romanians to read it, but they are not my target audience. Most of them know very well the horrors that took place; they have been there as well. I want people from other cultures to read and relate to that. And I am curious too to learn more about injustice around the world. We are profoundly interconnected. Discrimination against one human being is basically discrimination against humanity as a whole.
My intention is to cross the borders, to entice readers from various cultural racial and religious backgrounds. We are all humans. We all love, laugh, suffer and are happy or depressed. And this is the nature of The Healings.

About the Author

She has worn many hats, working as a translator, as a teacher, and eventually caring for animals both domestic and wild. She volunteered and worked for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centers both in the US and Canada. She lives in Arizona, where she continues to dedicate most of her time to her animals and to writing.

Visit her at: Website | Facebook

interview: Author Spencer Seidel

Written by Darlyn At Sunday, May 15, 2011 3 bookish peeps...
Today I would like to welcome Author Spencer Seidel at Darlyn & Books. This interview is to celebrate the release of his debut book in Dead of Wynter, a mystery-thriller novel. You can read my review here. It's totally a good book!

D: Hello Spencer! Can you tell us what inspired you to write Dead of Wynter?

SS: My own family. My mother's side of the family has a troubled history. In the 1940's, an ugly rumor about a murder among cousins at a Michigan campsite surfaced. In a moment of dementia, my grandmother inadvertently revealed to my mother that there may have been some truth to the stories. Then, when my heavy-drinking uncle died (my mother's brother), I decided to combine the two tragedies into a novel. Dead of Wynter is a kind of fermented, concentrated version of those events with plenty of made-up things thrown in.

D: Where do you do most of your writing?

When I'm planning a novel, the less it seems like work the better. The creative rocket sauce is more potent that way. So, I usually sit on my sofa under my headphones with my iPad. Then, once I start my drafts, I sit at a big bare desk my father built for me writing on a laptop. Unlike many other writers, I can't write in public spaces. I need to cocoon myself, preferably in the dark under headphones.

D: Would you tell us what is your favorite book?

Honestly, I consume and like so many books that my "favorite" is usually one I've read in the last year or so. Joe Hill is in that category currently. I loved Horns and Heart Shaped Box, both of which I read this past year. A few years ago, I fell in love with Caleb Carr's The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness. Before that, I might have said Stephen King's The Shining. Ken Follett, Jack Ketchum, and Peter Straub have also written favorites for me at one time or another.

D: The whole story is awesome but which part of Dead of Wynter was the most enjoyable to write for you?

When I was about halfway through the second draft, I happened to be at my parents' house on Cape Cod. This was in the summer of 2009. There was something about the plot as it was then that had been bugging me for several weeks. One afternoon, I stepped out of the shower and out of nowhere came a new, better idea for the second half. I rushed for a pad and pen and felt incredibly happy even though I knew I would have to go back and shuffle some things around to make it work. After that, the second half of the book was a thrill to write.

D: What are you currently reading?

I'm always reading, so this is a moving target. I just finished Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis, which I liked quite a bit and read quickly. Before that, I read The Exorcist by William Blatty for the first time with my Goodreads horror group. That was a trip. I loved the whole "Captain Howdy" thing. Absolutely brilliant. Now, I'm reading Port City Shakedown by Gerry Boyle, a wonderful Maine mystery writer. In addition, for bedtime reading, I'm slowly working my way through the Harry Potter series again in preparation for the last movie. I read the books too fast the first time through, so I've decided to savor them a bit this time.

D: As a new author, do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published authors?

A lot of writers I know make the mistake of becoming too enamored with the fact that they've written a novel, so they spend years revising it, shopping it around, and trying to convince the world that they've really got something. But if no one's biting, consider filing it away for another day and get to work on something else. No shame in having a couple of novels in the back of your closet. You always learn something when you write a new novel.

Thanks so much to Spencer Seidel for his time for the interview.

About the Author

Spencer Seidel lives and works in suburban New Jersey but has also called Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine home. He is an honors graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University and attended the Berklee College of Music to study guitar, which he has been playing for over 25 years. His love of reading and books began as a child after discovering Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Later, he was drawn to darker work by authors such as Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Jack Ketchum, who continue to influence his dark novels and short stories.

His debut novel, Dead of Wynter, is due to be published in May 2011.

dead of wynter by spencer seidel (arc)

Written by Darlyn At Saturday, May 14, 2011 1 bookish peeps...
Title: Dead of Wynter
Author: Spencer Seidel
Pages: 272
Series: Stand alone
Published: May 1st, 2011
Rating: 4/5
Buy at: Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble

Summary (Goodreads):

“Dolly, it’s your mother.” Dolly. Jackie Ruth Wynter had called Alice that for years. The conversation that followed led her right back to the place she had run from for years. Her twin brother, younger by just a minute or so, had been fading, transforming into an image of their drunken, narrow-eyed father. Now her father was dead, and her brother, Chris, missing. Alice resigns herself to return, helping her mother and the local police with the mystery surrounding the crime. But there are some family secrets her mother would sooner take to the grave than reveal. Reacquainting with her past brings fresh pain and new friendships as she struggles with who to trust with the details of her father’s murder and brother’s disappearance. As the authorities come closer to solving the mystery of the men in her family, she begins to realize her past life as Alice Wynter is the missing part of the puzzle.

My Two Cents:

I'm glad to get an ARC of the book. It's a debut from new author, Spencer Seidel and this book is a keeper. I totally love a family secret and when the gave a full details and dig in into the secret, it's a wow. This book is something that I'm looking for. A book that is a book that you can't put down, totally absorbed as it makes you to keep reading and find what will happen in the end. The story has a mix between the present and the past but it easily to keep it on your reading track. I love the elements of mysteries, secrets that being kept tightly for years. What is very interesting for me about the story is that it's about family secret, being haunted with guilt and chasing them back causing murders. I was intrigued with the mystery till the end, with a shocking conclusion. I love the writing style with the author succeeded to portray each characters with a realistic feelings, but a few of characters are kind of off to me. All in all, the book is a very great mystery debut from Spencer Seidel. I personally think he's very talented, and he has a little bit writing style like Neil Gaiman, the kind of chilly and creepy. As that being said, I recommend this book to all mystery lovers and looking forward to read his next work.

Disclaimer: I received this review copy from publicist Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc. for an exchange of a review. These are my honest review and receiving a copy in no way will ever reflected my review.

Thriller Fest VI July 6-7, 2011

Written by Darlyn At Wednesday, May 04, 2011 4 bookish peeps...

Anticipation mounts as those who dare to scare plot their return to the Big Apple for ThrillerFest VI July 6-9, 2011


Imagine learning the craft of novel writing from Ken Follett, the world-acknowledged master of the thriller novel whose iconic prose has kept millions of fans up late turning pages. This fantasy will become reality when New York City brings back the world’s biggest gathering of masters and devotees of the crime novel July 6-9, 2011 at ThrillerFest VI at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.

“ThrillerFest VI is breaking records again this year!” says ThrillerFest Chair Kathleen Antrim. “It’s the only event of its kind on the planet. A summer camp for thriller fans and writers. We’re especially excited to have international best seller Ken Follett teaching the craft of writing. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Class with Follett and many other New York Times Bestsellers at CraftFest is just one loop of the non-stop thrill ride that is ThrillerFest VI. This year AgentFest, the follow-through roundhouse to the one-two punch of CraftFest and AgentFest, will be bigger than ever. Sixty of the industry’s best will be there for the event described as “speed-dating with agents.” Aspiring authors will have three minutes to pitch an agent – and they can pitch as many agents as desired within two hours. Every year new writers are discovered.

There’s felonious fun in store for fans, too. More than 200 of the world’s best thriller writers will be in attendance with the express purpose of mixing, mingling and meeting their readers. There will be talks, readings and cocktail parties where tales of suspense will intoxicate more than the libations.

This year’s Thrillermaster is R.L. Stine, a name that is sure make those young at heart shiver in anticipation. The mastermind behind the wildly popular Fear Street and Goosebumps series, Stine has written 330 books for children and four adult thrillers and has sold almost 400 million books around the world. ThrillerFest will also welcome special guests:

Robert Crais, author of the bestselling Elvis Cole series and winner of the 2006 Ross Macdonald Literary Award. His novels are bestsellers in 42 countries.

Diana Gabaldon, whose unique novels blend 20th-century science-fiction with 18th-century historical romantic adventure in a way that is impossible to categorize. A true word-of-mouth sensation, she inspires writers everywhere to keep the faith.

John Lescroart, who took 20 years to become an overnight sensation, but today has novels translated into 16 languages in 75 countries.

The dénouement of ThrillerFest is the Awards Banquet, where authors and fans alike will feel pulse-racing anticipation as they wait to find out who will win the International Thriller Writers awards for best novel, best debut novel and best short story. Two beloved authors will also be honored. Karin Slaughter will receive the Silver Bullet Award for her outstanding and meritorious achievement in the pursuit of literacy and the love of reading. The True Thrill Award will go to Joe McGinnis for the verve, guts, and ambition that have inspired three generations of nonfiction suspense and true crime authors.

To make a reservation for an adrenaline-pumped summer adventure, please visit


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