Category Archives: Interviews

Taking part in the #LlandeiloLitFest – My Book Fair Interview

I’m heading to the #LlandeiloLitFest next week – a Literary Festival from 27th – 30th April in the gorgeous Welsh market town of Llandeilo. I’ll be signing and selling books on Saturday 29th April in the Civic Hall, Crescent Road (SA19 6HN if you need SatNav directions). I’ll be offering some great deals too. While stocks last, I will be giving everyone who buys ‘A Symphony of Dragons’ paperback a free copy of ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ too…and who doesn’t want a free paperback?

LlandeiloLitFest-Llandeilo-Boook-Fair-2017

So, in preparation I thought I’d share the interview I did for Llandeilo Book Fair (find the original interview here) with you:

Please tell us about the books you’ll be bringing to the Book Fair.
L_Shambrook_Beneath_the_Rainbow_AmazonBeneath the Rainbow: Freya won’t let anything stand in her way. Not even death. Freya’s family are left to fulfil her dreams, but as time runs out final yearned for wishes remain lost. Only Freya can help as precious life hangs in the balance.

BeneathOldOak_Cover_Amazon (1)Beneath the Old Oak: Meg thinks her mother is broken. Is she broken too? Meg’s life spirals out of control and she’s terrified she’ll inherit her mother’s sins. Seeking refuge and escape she finds solace beneath a huge, old oak, but a devastating storm will change her life forever.

Distant_Star_AmazonBeneath the Distant Star: Jasmine feels like the ghost of the sister she can no longer remember and has something her sister never will – life. She fights to become her own person. Life becomes a battleground as she disregards the rules and her reckless abandon threatens to destroy what she needs most.

4. Symphony_of_Dragons_LISTINGMy newest release A Symphony of Dragons is a collection of my own short stories which connect my Hope Within books and my new chronicles, and follow the theme of dragons…A lyrical collection of seven stories featuring enchanting worlds of fantasy, contemporary fiction, romance, steampunk, and more that will let the song of dragons lead you…

Which genres do they belong to?
My three Hope Within Novels belong in the contemporary and Young Adult genres, but have delighted all ages. The short story collection embraces dragons and the eclectic genres of Steampunk, fantasy, contemporary, romance and more!

jasmine-discover-what-you-already-have-lisa-shambrook-beneath-the-distant-star

Jasmine © Lisa Shambrook

What are the characters and plots like?
My characters are real and vulnerable in the Hope Within novels, the plots cover a range of difficult subjects which will inspire those who read them.

Tell us about your newest book.
I’m currently working on The Seren Stone Chronicles which I am loving writing. This is Wales far, far into the future: ‘Centuries beyond post-apocalyptic, the landscape of Wales has turned into a whole new country…and the rumble of dragons has returned…’

crystals-gems-seren-stone-lisa-shambrook-the-last-krystallos

Seren Stone © Lisa Shambrook

Which of your books are you’re most proud of, and why?
I am totally engaged in my current writing, but I am proud of each of my books in different ways.

What is the best thing that has been said about your books?
One of the best compliments has been having my writing likened to Virginia Woolf and Mitch Albom.

Why did you decide to come to the Llandeilo Book Fair?
I have been before and the atmosphere is fun and friendly and the visitors are lovely!

Do you have a special connection to Wales?
I moved to Wales twenty-three years ago and I love it. The Welsh countryside has inspired my latest writing, and the myths, legends, and nature continue to enchant and rouse me.

author-photos-lisa-shambrook-bekah-shambrook-2015

© Lisa Shambrook

What is your personal background?
I am a quiet introvert and I live within my words! I have a lovely husband and three children, and have been writing since my youngest was born.  I also have cats and a neurotic German Shepherd!

Who are your favourite authors?
It’s always been Garth Nix and Tolkien, but Patrick Rothfuss and Philip Pullman are right up there.

So, come and see us all at the Book Fair and see if any of the weekend’s events take your fancy…Lots of great talks, classes, and a Book Hunt…check out the website and Facebook page to see what catches your eye!

Author Feature – Angela Lynn

I like to read raw stories, tales that sweep me up and tug at my emotions,
and though I’m not generally a fan of High School YA,
All The What Ifs from Angela Lynn did all that and more.

all-the-what-ifs, angela-lynn, novel, YA,
Angela Lynn radiates an exuberance that will beguile you, that’s for sure! She is a sensitive writer and her words are able to pull you right inside her stories. I met her on the Flash Fiction circuit and she immediately became someone I wanted to know. Do yourself a favour, follow her quirky brand of humour and her love of life and you won’t go wrong. In her own words she lives in the desert with her mister and their four awesome kids, and if you ask me you should engage with her on Twitter and have some fun! After reading her debut novel I was keen to interview her. You can read my review of All The What Ifs on Goodreads.

Angela Lynn, All The What Ifs, YA novel,

Angela Lynn

Angela Lynn

One of the things that struck me in All The What Ifs is the authenticity of your writing and the way you easily got inside the head of a young adult. Your dialogue is brilliant and every word, quip and comment is how I imagine a group of teens chatting. Did you find it easy to inhabit a teenager’s mind to write and did you enjoy your teens or were they difficult years? 

Oh man…where to begin!

First off, thank you SO much for having me on your lovely site and for reading All The What Ifs. I’m beyond grateful and thrilled you enjoyed it!

On finding it easy to inhabit a teenager’s mind, I’m often mistaken for one which is basically part of my master plan to never EVER grow up. 😉

As far as approaching the dialogue in All The What Ifs, I’ve been asked this question before and have yet to come up with a good response that doesn’t sound like a bunch of hot air. Ashley and her friends—Natalie, Kendra, Emma, Tyler, and Lucas—felt like close, personal friends of mine. From day one, I could hear them. Some nights they kept me up far too late with their chatter until I got it all written down. From time to time, I still hear them and I hope they’ll never leave me. We had such a good time together and I learned a lot from them.

Lastly on my experience being a teen, like most young adults, I faced many challenges as a teen. Being a young adult is terrifying and painful and beautiful in its newness and discovery. I think adults often forget that wrapped up in all that insecurity and impulsiveness is so much stinking promise. So while I can’t say my teenage years were easy or that I’d go back to them, I do try to weed through my experiences and look for the good that made me—ultimately—me.

all-the-what-ifs, angela-lynn, novel, YA,

All The What Ifs – Angela Lynn

There is a real honesty in the novel. What inspired Ashely’s character and situation, and do you fondly or awkwardly recall your own first love?

Ashley and I are two different people. Where Ashley is quiet and withdrawn, I’m loud and easily upset. Where Ashley is methodical in her overthinking, I’m a hot mess of panic attacks. But something we both share is a deep seeded desire to please the people around us and do right by them. Ultimately, Ashley wants to be loved and accepted by her father for who she is, not what he wants her to be. And when that doesn’t work for him, she tries to change for him. What I find complex about her situation is what her father is demanding she follow through with seems perfect for Ashley, but in the end, no matter how perfect the fit might seem, it’s up to Ashley to decide. At the heart of this is a universal problem we all face, do we bow down to the seemingly oh so perfect fit or do we make ourselves uncomfortable and reach for something more?

And I do remember my first love. His name was Michael Shower and I sang “True Love” by Madonna from across the playground to him. Sadly, it was an unrequited love since I had to move the next day. And yes, I’m being serious. I loved that seven-year-old boy with all the love my own seven-year-old heart could muster.

all-the-what-ifs, angela-lynn, novel, YA,

All The What Ifs – Angela Lynn

Your Nevada backdrop is evocative and I could feel the heat as I read, as someone from rainy Wales it’s always fun to drop into another location. You mention the Grand Canyon in the book too, have you ever been and where would you like to visit most?

Shockingly enough, though I live a four hour drive away from the Grand Canyon, I’ve never been! It’s most definitely on my must visit list. And right about now, I’m wishing for some rain, so how about I hop on a plane and visit you in a completely non-creepy kind of way!

I loved the scene where Ashley recalled Lucas’s visit and what she’d have said (I won’t add any spoilers) because I’ve had a similar experience in my own life. It really hit home. What was your favourite part of writing All The What Ifs?

This is a big question and I really, really suck at picking favorites.

But if I MUST, I’d say my favorite part about writing All The What Ifs was having my best friends alongside me. I dedicated the book to the two people who pushed me to follow through and believed in me and Ashley more than either of us ever could. Writing this story was a five year long journey, during which I pushed myself to not only be a better writer, but follow through and believe in my ability. My friends—from my mister and my bestie to my editor and my beta readers—made that a reality for me, which is the best part. It’s a beyond corny answer, but I’m learning to embrace that I’m a sappy soul.

all-the-what-ifs, angela-lynn, novel, YA,

All The What Ifs – Angela Lynn and Buttons/Badges

We often talk of the need to create or write because of an innate desire, what does writing do for you?

Writing helps me escape and gives me a sense of accomplishment. I started writing during a time in my life when I felt like I was losing myself in the mundane everyday responsibilities that had started to rule me. It took all the energy and passion I had stored up in me and released it onto a page. At first, I did it for fun, but soon it became something I wanted to grow and mature in. There’s always a new story just around the bend and there’s always something new to learn to stretch myself as a person, a reader, and a writer.

all-the-what-ifs, angela-lynn, novel, YA,Thank you, Ang, you’re most welcome to come to rainy Wales and swap your hot, golden desert for cool, green, rolling hills and valleys! Like I said I don’t generally read High School YA since Sweet Valley High in my teens, but this gave me something new and exciting in the genre. I loved Ashley’s vulnerability and Angela’s beautiful writing. I’m looking forward to more from this author!

You can find All The What Ifs on Amazon UK and US and your local Amazon store in both eBook and paperback. You can find out about Angela Lynn on her Amazon Author Page.

You can follow Angela’s Facebook Author Page and find her on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads and you should also stop by her Blog Ang Writes.

Author Feature: Sophie Moss

Whenever I visit Heron Island, I feel like the wind whispers through my hair,
and I can taste salt on my lips, and hear the ocean lapping at my feet…
If you love romance then Sophie Moss is the writer for you…

s-moss-wind-chime-wedding-rosesI discovered Sophie’s gorgeous sensory writing through several flash fiction contests, which led me to read her evocative Seal Island Trilogy. From there I’ve eagerly waited for more from this expressive author.
I’m honoured to close this series of Author Features with one of my favourite writers, especially after I’ve just finished her latest new release ‘Wind Chime Wedding’ and loved it! You can check out my review on Goodreads.

Sophie Moss author, S Moss Author,

Sophie Moss

Sophie Moss

I fell in love with your Selkie books, fantasy romance with fairy tales thrown in, and I quickly became engrossed in Wind Chime Café. What inspired you to change direction from fantasy to the new Wind Chime series?

I had actually written about a third of a book very similar to Wind Chime Café several years ago. It was right after the recession hit in the U.S. and the war was going on strong and I wanted to write about a military man on leave coming back to his hometown and meeting a single mother who’d moved there to open a cute little cafe but who didn’t know how to cook anything but casseroles. I stopped writing the story about halfway through for a lot of reasons (and it’s very different from the final product of Wind Chime Café) but when I finished the selkie trilogy (or at least pressed pause on it for a while) I decided to revisit it. I noticed that café books were doing really well at the time, books on Navy SEALs were growing in popularity, and small town contemporary romances were becoming huge. So there you go.

Wind Chime Cafe Sophie Moss,

Wind Chime Cafe – Sophie Moss

Your characters are beautifully drawn, with intricate histories and depth, for example Wind Chime Café has an ex-Navy SEAL, and a great baker, Wind Chime Wedding has a teacher in its main role. How much research goes into your characters and their background stories?

I do a ton of research. While writing the first Wind Chime novel, I read almost every book written by a former Navy SEAL to get a sense of who they are, what their lives are like, and what issues are important to them. I also do a lot of research online—reading articles, watching you tubes, etc. It’s very important to me that my characters come across as authentic.

Wind Chime Wedding Sophie Moss,

Wind Chime Wedding – Sophie Moss

I love the beauty of your writing which matches your locations. I know your Selkie series was inspired by a visit to Ireland, where did you get your inspiration for Wind Chime’s Heron Island?

Heron Island is loosely modelled after Tilghman Island, a real-life island only thirty minutes down the road from where I grew up. It’s a place known for sailing, fishing, and crabbing. It’s home to some of the last few hearty souls who still pull their living from the water. It’s one of the only places on the Eastern Shore that is relatively undeveloped. One of my favorite things about starting to write a new series is getting to know the place where my characters live. I’ve always been drawn to island settings, both in reading and writing. There’s something so soothing about being surrounded by all that water. The pace of life is slower. Neighbors look out for each other. Everyone knows everything about everyone.

Myself, reading Wind Chime Wedding on my Kindle!

Myself, reading Wind Chime Wedding on my Kindle!

So far, we know you for romance, are there other genres you’d like to explore, or is romance where your heart lies?

I will probably always write love stories. I’m a hopeless romantic. Nothing warms my heart more than a well-earned happily ever after.

So, if you want romance – you know exactly where to look!

Sophie Moss is a USA Today bestselling author of five full-length romance novels. She is known for her captivating Irish fantasy romances and heart-warming contemporary romances with realistic characters and unique island settings. As a former journalist, Sophie has been writing professionally for over ten years. She lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where she’s working on her next novel. When she’s not writing, she’s testing out a new dessert recipe, exploring the Chesapeake Bay, or fiddling in her garden. Sophie loves to hear from readers. Email her at sophiemossauthor@gmail.com or visit her website to sign up for her newsletter.

Find Sophie on Facebook and @SMossWrites on Twitter. She’s also on Goodreads and Pinterest. Sophie is also, like myself, a BHCAuthor.

Wind Chime Cafe Sophie Moss,

Wind Chime Café:
Kindle
Paperback

Wind Chime Wedding Sophie Moss,

Wind Chime Wedding:
Kindle
Paperback

Author Feature: Jules Vilmur

There are stories in life that should be told, that need to be told, and this is one of them.
Teenage years are stormy for most, but for a transgender teen,
life can be almost impossible.
You will come away from this book, like I did,
with both greater understanding and compassion.

Complicated

Jules Vilmur lives in California with her husband and too many greyhounds. I found this enigmatic writer on her blog, Laurustina, after her sister, Bullishink, one day posted a link. I discovered a series of pieces about Alice, which touched my heart. At the time I had no idea of the background of these snippets, and once I did, I admired this wonderful woman and her writing even more. I am privileged to feature Jules here, with a book that became an inspired and life-affirming read.

jules vilmur author, the complicated geography of alice, author,

Jules Vilmur

Jules Vilmur

When I first discovered your story, told in snippets on your blog, I was drawn to your beautiful descriptions of heart-breaking moments, what I didn’t know at the time, was that it was true. I ­understand why you wrote it, but how difficult was it to turn it into a book and share with the whole world?

I had been blogging about my life and our family for nearly a decade, tucked away in my little corner of the internet, but after Alice’s death, I couldn’t seem to string a sentence together to save my life. Then in November of 2009, my sister Ruth (aka Bullishink) challenged me to join her for Nanowrimo. Once I started writing, I couldn’t stop.

Virtually none of that first draft made the final cut but it was an incredibly therapeutic process. Taking time out between drafts was important. I waited six months between the first and second, then nearly a year between the fourth and final drafts. I also did a lot of writing aloud, inviting my family to jump in with lines of their own or whatever they thought Alice would say in a given situation. A lot of her profanity came like that and much of the humour.

The biggest hurdle was letting go of the idea of Absolute Truth in exchange for a story that made sense to the reader. Squishing multiple characters into one, shaving off extraneous subplots and rewriting family history felt like lying, but was necessary.

the complicated geography of alice, jules vilmur, book, transgender teen, transgender,

The Complicated Geography of Alice – Jules Vilmur

You tell your story bluntly, with humour, with sadness, and with love. It’s a story that will inspire and help many in similar situations. How do you think it can help the LGBT community, and if anything could change in the world for the better, after what you’ve been through, what would it be?

I wish for a better world, a safer place for kids like Alice, Leelah Alcorn and Kyler Prescott. I hope that readers will gain some understanding of and compassion for trans youth and those who struggle in these formative years. Being a teenager is tough, even in the best of circumstances. Add in issues of gender, sexuality or mental health and it can be agonizing.

A huge factor in my choice to publish with CreateSpace and Kindle, after a year with an inattentive agent, was that I wanted the book out there for the one person who might need it. If our story might help someone feel like they’re not alone or save one family from what we went through, well that’s worth it.

Alice

Alice

I came away from your book with much greater understanding and compassion. What do you think Alice would like readers to get from her, and your, story?

First off, she’d say I got it all wrong, that there wasn’t nearly enough glitter or Gwen Stefani and not a SCRUBS joke in the lot. Beyond that, I think she’d hope for more kindness and bravery. Encouraging others to live their truth was important to her. It takes a brave soul to step out into the light and be seen. When that bravery is met with kindness, we are all better for it.

Alice

Alice

I’ve read some of your flash fiction pieces and your writing is beautiful, are you writing anything more now?

Honestly, I’ve been lazy for a while now. There’s a stack of intertwined stories on my desk that I poke at when the muse strikes. But I know now that books don’t get finished without commitment and a whole lot of muse-less work.

It was important for me to tell Alice’s story simply, with all the fancy poetic language stripped away and now, as I work on other things, I find myself torn between lush language and telling a good, straight-forward story. There’s a balance there. I just haven’t found it.

Jules Vilmur, author

Jules Vilmur, author

We often talk of the need to create or write because of an innate desire, what does writing do for you?

I was an awkward kid, always felt on the outside of things, and writing was my way of dealing with that. I could escape into another world, or imagine controlling the one around me. In that way, it has always been my therapy.

I enjoy writing fiction, but even then it’s like I’m always trying to get at something – like there’s a purpose to it. My college thesis focused on the use of therapeutic writing with survivors of domestic abuse and I’m still passionate about writing therapy and its practical applications. As my friend Mateo once put it, “I’m not writing about these things as much as I’m writing myself out of them.”

the complicated geography of alice, jules vilmur, book, transgender teen, transgender,

The Complicated Geography of Alice – Jules Vilmur

I am full of admiration for Jules Vilmur, and her ability to honour her daughter’s memory, and this book is a fitting tribute. This book will be a huge support and can offer hope to those going through similar, or any, personal upheaval. I am incredibly grateful for the strength this family had to share Alice’s story. Love wins, always. 

The Complicated Geography of Alice is available in both eBook and paperback from Amazon UK, US and all local Amazon stores. Find out more on her Amazon Author Page.

You can follow Jules on Twitter @Laurustina and find her blog Laurustina, and she’s on Goodreads, Pinterest and Google+.

Author Feature – J. Whitworth Hazzard

Zombies – if you like stories about survival,
about beating the odds against the flesh-eating hordes,
then ‘Dead Sea Games’ is the book for you!
J. Whitworth Hazzard’s Deathwish will keep you biting your nails
as you urge him to outlive the forces against him…

dead sea games, j whitworth hazzard, losing is not an option, zombie book,James Hazzard resides in Illinois with his family and is another author I’ve known for a few years. His writing has enthralled me, and I seriously did bite my nails whilst reading ‘Dead Sea Games’! He has a PhD in molecular biophysics that he now uses to figure out how to scientifically justify the existence of mythical creatures. My kind of guy, I mean dragons – they exist, of course they do! It’s my pleasure to interview him in my latest Author Feature.

James Hazzard, J Whitworth Hazzard, Dead Sea Games,

J. Whitworth Hazzard

J. Whitworth Hazzard

I love the totally original Dead Sea of the title, you’ll have to buy the book to know why, but, with a fair amount of zombie television, movies and books already out there, what made you want to compete and write within this genre of horror?

The honest answer to this question is that I didn’t set out to write in this crowded space. I love the genre, but it’s a small niche in the overall horror space, and I was more interested in the action/adventure aspect of post-apocalyptic survival. Dead Sea Games started out as a flash fiction piece, and after I won the contest it was entered in, I couldn’t leave it alone. I kept coming back to the story and decided I had to know what happened to Jeremy. Thus the novel was born.

Dead Sea Games - J Whitworth Hazzard

Dead Sea Games – J Whitworth Hazzard

You appear to have quite a scientific/mathematical background, from where did you draw your inspiration?

So many years of biophysics, biochemistry, and biomechanics gives you a lot of time on your hands to think about mythical creatures. My very first attempt at a novel used a similar scientific approach to justify how a dragon could survive into the modern world.  After I read World War Z, I came up with pages and pages of theories on how a “zombie” could evolve and survive realistically. There is a huge (and unsolvable) energy transport problem that I solved using…well, now I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you. You’ll find out how I solved the problem in the sequel Dead Sea Escape in 2016.

Your characters are diverse, strong, vulnerable and fully-rounded, and I willed them on right from the start. How much of yourself did you place in Deathwish, or was he drawn completely from your imagination?

Deathwish is an extremely wilful and difficult child that’s been forced to grow up extremely fast. He’s modelled after my own kids (sorry!) with a little more sass and bravado thrown into the mix. There’s a lot of me in Jeremy’s view on life and his situation, except for that part where he yells at his mother…which I would never, never do.

They're out to get you! Dead Sea Games

They’re out to get you! Dead Sea Games

I can really see Dead Sea Games on television or on the big screen; if it made it do you have any preferences for actors or actresses and what sort of soundtrack would you go for?

It’s funny you mention the sound track, because from the very beginning I put together a “DSG Playlist” and would fire it up every time I sat down to write. Some of the lyrics and songs even made it into the book in various forms.

If Jeremy ever makes it to the big screen, I’d like an unknown to get the role. I haven’t seen a teen actor lately that have the kind of physicality and screen presence Deathwish needs, and they grow up so fast anyone I picked today would be in their thirties by the time it was made. All the rest of the cast I have pretty clearly in my head as mainstream actors. All I want in life is to have Jason Statham cast as the Khan. Come on, Jason!

We often talk of the need to create or write because of an innate desire, what does writing do for you?

Writing, for me, is one of those compulsions that builds up over time, and if I don’t write something it starts to drive me nuts. I love writing but it’s difficult to keep up a steady pace, because once I finish a project I can feel empty for weeks. I’m slowly closing in on that 1,000,000 word mark, but I still feel like a novice. For me, that feeling like I have so much more to learn is what keeps me coming back to the process and reaching out to other writers.

Dead Sea Games - J Whitworth Hazzard

So, see if you can survive the Dead Sea Games… I’m not a horror reader in general, but I love The Walking Dead, and this book had me gripped! This is the best book I’ve read in the zombie genre, and with a few other unread zombie books now residing within my kindle, this is the standard they need to reach. Now I’m so excited for Dead Sea Escape!

Dead Sea Games is available on Amazon US and UK and your local Amazon store in both eBook and paperback. Find out more on his Amazon Author Page.

Like myself, James Hazzard works with Blue Harvest Creative, our Publishing Partner.

You can find him on Facebook TwitterGoodreads and Google+. Or feel free to stop by his blog for flash fiction and book reviews at Zombie Mechanics.

Ten Things I Discovered Beneath…with Read Write Muse

I was invited by LaDonna Cole to offer up a Top Ten and the theme really made me think…so pop over to Read Write Muse and discover what lies beneath…

Read Write Muse

What have you discovered underneath or beneath? Let me know your stories too…

Inspired by my new release ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ available at Amazonfind out what Meg discovers beneath her beloved oak…

This is what LaDonna thought of ‘Beneath the Old Oak’:

‘A lightning bolt of a story that burns from the inside out.

Maneuvering through early teen years is difficult at best. Add a mother with mental illness, a family history riddled with mystery, and an ancient oak eager to share its secrets, and you have a beautifully poignant tale. Meg doesn’t know why her mother seems broken, but increasingly frightening incidents culminate in her sudden disappearance. Left to negotiate through grief and loss and the fear that she is also broken, Meg turns to her only stalwart friend, the ancient oak tree, guardian of the neighborhood’s best and worst moments. Journey with Meg through the sorrow and agony of a parent’s mental illness to discover a hidden path to healing her own bruised heart.

Beneath the Old Oak delves deeply into the helplessness of a family torn apart by depression, leaving hope scattered like fallen leaves.’

LaDonna Cole RN, BS, CAR Therapist and Author of Heartwork Village, Grief Recovery Curriculum.

BeneathOldOak_Cover_Amazon

Creative Feature: Troodlecraft

I’ve enjoyed bringing some great talent to my blog in the form of Creative Features for eight weeks, and this will be my last for a while. Though keep an eye out – when I see something special, I’ll let you know! And – I hope to be making a creative announcement of my own pretty soon! Until then I’m leaving you with cute and traditional in the capable hands of Troodlecraft.

I’ve known Trudi for a while and interviewed her daughter at Flourish Buttons just a few weeks ago, so this is another family with creativity running through its veins! I remember, when I was small, getting a clothes peg doll kit in my Christmas stocking, so Trudi’s little dolls brought back memories of something I did once myself. Her dolls are cute and cheerful and a delightfully simple idea for gifts. Take a trip back down memory lane…

Trudi Cotton - Troodlecraft

Trudi Cotton – Troodlecraft

Trudi Cotton – Creative and Doll Maker

What inspires you?

I think it is very difficult to pin point exactly what inspires me. There are so many things that I see daily that give me inspiration, whether it be a piece of art, a positive quote, or whether I hear about someone who has done something remarkable with their life.
I can remember some particular incidences over the last year or so, when I have been inspired by a particular event or a person, which has perhaps just been a fleeting moment in my life, but even so, has had a huge impact on the way I think about myself and my abilities. These incidences have inspired me to be more creative or inspired me to be more courageous, to try out new things, be more adventurous and childlike…and, I know that without these special moments, I would not have had the courage to start Troodlecraft, or to keep going when I had feelings of self doubt and low self esteem.

What inspired you to make clothes pin dolls?

When I was a little girl, and attended what they used to call Junior School, which is now called Primary School, the teacher gave us some pegs and showed us how to make ‘peg dolls’. A few years back, I remembered how much fun it was making peg dolls and decided that I would like to have another go. At that time I had no intention of starting a business, I was just purely looking for a creative experience.When I went onto the internet and typed in peg dolls, I found the clothespin dolls with lovely big heads, and I loved them.

 

I see you make both clothes pin and cotton reel dolls, which do you prefer to make, and do you create any other kinds of art?

I love making both of them…they are so different, but If I had to choose I would say the clothespin dolls. With the clothespin dolls you can give them flowers to hold or a baby to cradle, whereas the cotton reel dolls are a bit restricted by their cotton reel hands!! (Awww poor things!!) So, I have a lot of fun with the clothespin dolls!!! In fact that is what made me think about putting together clothespin doll kits, so that other people could have fun with them as well!! I also make bendy doll fridge magnets, wooden signs and, at Christmas I make nativity peg people, mini wreaths and Queen’s Guard peg dolls!

 

Do you have a favourite doll design?

No, not really!! Although, I do like the brightly coloured flowery material I sometimes use because it makes me feel light and summery, but apart from that I like them all! I find that each doll’s design is different, and I love that!

 

What are your future plans with your dolls?

Recently I made some clothespin dolls for people celebrating a special occassion, a bride and groom for a wedding, a doll for a university graduation, and someone asked me to make a gardener as a birthday present for their mum. I think it would be fun to do some more of these and perhaps expand that idea a bit more, and make some dolls associated with other hobbies like reading, computers and cooking.

Lastly, if you could commission anything for yourself, money no object, what would it be?

I love fairies, fairy houses and gardens…so a fairy garden would be wonderful. Little fairy houses and miniature fairy gardens. My husband is always saying ‘I’m off with the fairies’, so no surprises there I suppose!! Or, I did have an amazing dream once that I was travelling through Toy Town…you know, where Noddy and Big Ears might live…and I was there to look for a house to buy. I woke up feeling really happy! So maybe, I could build my own Toy Town.

You can purchase your very own dolls at Troodlecraft, and like Trudi’s Facebook Page. You can follow her on Twitter @troddlecraft, find out the latest at her blog and find her on Pinterest too.

BlueBell - Clothespin Doll - Troodlecraft

BlueBell – Clothespin Doll – Troodlecraft

Troodlecraft’s Bio

Troodlecraft is a small craft business in the town of Cinderford in the lovely Forest of Dean! All the Clothespin dolls and Cotton Reel dolls are handmade and painted, with wooden parts such as pegs and cotton reels. And for those of you who would like to have a go at making your own Clothespin doll, then please take a look in the Troodlecraft shop where I am selling Clothespin doll kits . All the dolls are sent to their new homes with a handwritten name tag and a description of their character.

 

Creative Feature: Bekah Shambrook

A Creative post today that keeps it in the family!

Pieces of a  Dream Model Jess Brown photographer Kimberely Collins Photographer Retouching Bekah Shambrook

Pieces of a Dream – Model: Jess Brown, Photographer: Kimberley Collins Photograpy, MUA: Bekah Shambrook

Bekah is one of the most creative people I know, excelling in art at school and branching out into many creative ventures. She has three businesses beneath the Masterpiece Artistry umbrella. Masterpiece Face Painting was born first and she regularly face paints at children’s parties and events. Masterpiece MUA came next and she’s worked with some brilliant photographers and models, and her latest venture is Masterpiece Design, designing logos, brands and websites. She’s a chip off the old block and is my daughter!

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Bekah Shambrook – Make-up Artist, Face Painter and Designer

Bekah Shambrook – Make-up Artist, Face Painter and Designer

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by everything around me but I think mostly by other make-up artists. It’s wonderful to see what other artists can create and I love to try to emulate techniques to create a piece of my own.

Model Abi Rose Photographer Kitty KEMS Photography Hair Owen Hair Follicle-Genius Roberts

Model: Abi Rose, Photographer: Kitty KEMS Photography, Hair: Owen Hair Follicle-Genius Roberts, MUA: Bekah Shambrook

You’re a very creative person, is your art planned or spontaneous?

The majority of my art is planned, being a makeup artist tends to be a collaborative process since you need a model and a photographer to create the finished product so I need to plan ahead. I love sitting down with my make-up kit and a mirror to create entirely spontaneous looks too though!

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Work In Progress…face charts and application

Looking at your make up artistry – do you have a favourite brand of make-up, or colours, or techniques?

I’m not one for spending lots on my make-up, I’m a believer of the skill being what creates the look and not the tools. I use a lot of Make Up Academy (MUA by Superdrug) and Sleek Makeup.
As for techniques, I just like to try everything. I have used eyelash glue to stick feathers to a model’s face and I’ve used white face paint to colour a model’s eyelashes white! If it works (and is safe) I’ll give it a go.

All That Glitters Model Vikky David Photographer Joe Prileszky Retoucher Charis Talbot

All That Glitters – Model: Vikky David, Photographer: Joe Prileszky Fashion Photography, Retoucher: Charis Talbot, MUA: Bekah Shambrook

You’ve turned people into zombies and warriors, produced delicate bridal make-up and created an eclectic variety of make-up work. What do you consider your best work to date – do you have a favourite piece?

I always love the more creative work, I feel as though my skill as a make-up artist is being challenged which is what I strive for. Your can never better yourself if you don’t try things you’ve never done before. To that end, my favourite piece is ‘ All that glitters…’ although it was one of my first pieces I love it and it would have been nothing if it wasn’t for the wonderful photography by Joe Prileszky.

Model Kirsty Walters Photographer Ginger Snap Dragon Photography Leather Gauntlets Lydia Wall Millinery

Model: Kirsty Walters, Photographer: Ginger Snap Dragon Photography, Leather Gauntlets: Lydia Wall Millinery, MUA: Bekah Shambrook

What are your future plans with Masterpiece MUA?

I’m not entirely sure, I wouldn’t really want to do it full time because I’m worried that it wouldn’t be so much fun for me.
I plan to work with Mel Davies Photography on her Nimra project which is super exciting!

Golden Mane Model Lizzy T Photographer Mel Davies

Golden Mane – Model: Lizzy T, Photographer: Mel Davies Photography, MUA: Bekah Shambrook

Lastly, if you could commission anything for yourself, money no object, what would it be?

Hmm… This is a tough one, most of the time if I want something and and can’t afford it I’ll make it myself! (or at least try to…)
I think it would have to be a costume… One of Daenerys’ stunning costumes from Game of Thrones… Or perhaps one of Galadriel’s gowns from The Lord of the Rings.

Merched y Mabinogi Model Kseniya Photographer Kimberley Collins Photography

Merched y Mabinogi – Model: Kseniya, Photographer: Kimberley Collins Photography, MUA: Bekah Shambrook

You can find Bekah’s portfolio on her MUA website, find all her websites on Masterpiece Artistry, like her Facebook pages: MUA, Face Painting, Design and follow her @bekahcat on Twitter.

Bizarre Magazine Model Abi Rose Photographer Ginger Snap Dragon Photography

Bizarre Magazine – Model: Abi Rose, Photographer: Ginger Snap Dragon Photography, MUA: Bekah Shambrook

Bekah’s Make-up Bio

As a freelance make-up artist I love to use my creative flair to dream up new concepts, looks, and ideas.
I don’t just make models ‘pretty’ I make them different, I love to take them from their comfort zones and drop them into a new realm. I will bring dreams to life.
I use make up as an art form.
I love working with models and photographer who also have ideas of their own, and I love to help bring their ideas to life to create a phenomenal shoot.

Models Kas Mason and Megan Toomer

Models: Kas Mason and Megan Toomer, MUA and Prosthetics: Bekah Shambrook

Creative Feature: Abi Burlingham

This week I’m bringing you another artistic writer, what a choice, words and pictures!

Abi is the author of several children’s books and when she’s not filling notebooks with words, she’s painting and creating works of art instead. I relate so easily to Abi, as much of my time is spent the same way! 

Abi Burlingham – Author and Artist

What inspires you?

Nature and poignancy for themes, colour and shape for appearance. I love the natural curves of nature and the diversity of colour. I really love being outside amongst trees, meadows, moors and I love creatures of all shapes and sizes. I find nature very inspiring and want to create something that the viewer feels a connection with, which is why an animal or person often feature in my paintings. Artists that have inspired me are Paul Cezanne, Gustav Klimt and Gaugin – I love their use of colour and shape and themes.

Live Abi Burlingham

Live – Abi Burlingham

Is your art planned or spontaneous?

I usually get an image in my head – it pops up without any conscious thought. Sometimes I store it in there and when I have two or three I draw them on tiny sheets of paper – about 3 x 4 inches – just in biro. They take seconds to do and are the only planning I do. Drawing the picture on canvas usually takes around 10 – 15 mins – I am a fast drawer! The painting and re-painting, as I make changes along the way, take a lot longer and I feel it as I go along, so yes, I would say my art is far more spontaneous than planned.

Matlock Abi Burlingham

Matlock (pen and ink) – Abi Burlingham

I can see you like bold colours and I’ve seen you use pencils and acrylics, but do you have a favourite medium, colours or techniques?

As a child and teenager, I loved using pencils. I still have my box of Caran D’Ache pencils. I now also use Derwent Inktense pencils which are really distinct colours and you can add water to them which increases the intensity. I love doing sketches in situ with these and a black pen. For larger pieces that are completely from my imagination, I love acrylics. They are so bold and bright and you can build them up and get a range of textures. I think they suit the bold, abstract nature of my paintings more than any other medium.

Ivy Leaves - Abi Burlingham

Ivy Leaves – Abi Burlingham

What do you consider your best work to date – do you have a favourite piece?

Ooh that’s a hard one. I think my personal favourite is the big ivy canvas I painted five years ago and have hanging in my hallway. It was a labour of love and took every day for six weeks to complete. I also love ‘The Walk’. I barely thought about the painting as I was doing it – it seemed to create itself and I was so pleased with the end result.

Grub's Pups Abi Burlingham

Grubs Pups – Abi Burlingham

You have several published children’s books, have you ever thought about illustrating them yourself? What are your future plans with your art?

I have! I really would love to one day. I have illustrated a book which I couldn’t find a publisher for and still have all the paintings for this. Maybe I’ll give it another shot one day. I need a fantastic concept that also fits in with my style and the themes of nature and animals. I am currently arranging for a limited amount of prints of my acrylic canvases and plan to sell these and the originals – I already have a buyer for ‘The Walk’ which is wonderful.

Leaf Fall - Abi Burlingham

Leaf Fall – Abi Burlingham

Lastly, if you could commission anything for yourself, money no object, what would it be? 

It would be a painting. I love sculpture too, but I am drawn to huge canvases more than anything. A really huge abstract canvas of trees and birds would be wonderful.

Tree from Website - Abi Burlingham

Tree from Abi’s website (you can all four seasons of trees on her website!)

Cloud Gazing - Abi Burlingham

Cloud Gazing – Abi Burlingham

Thanks Abi!
Check out Abi’s website abiburlingham.com and keep up to date with her projects and the future availability of prints. Take a look at her books which are available on Amazon. She also blogs on her website and you can like her page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter, she’ll be happy to see you there!

Abi’s Bio

Buttercup Magic Abi Burlingham

A Mystery for Megan – Abi Burlingham

Abi Burlingham lives in Derbyshire and teaches English to adults. She has had six children’s books published, including the Ruby and Grub series and Buttercup Magic: A Mystery for Megan. She likes to walk through fields with her rescue greyhound, paint, write and eat cheesecake. She would quite like to do all of these at once and is still trying to work out how.

Creative Feature: Alyson Fennell Photography

Photography is a passion of mine, especially nature and flowers, so this week’s Creative Feature brings you nature in close-up form!

Dandelion Diamonds - Alyson Fennell Photography

Dandelion Diamonds – Alyson Fennell

Alyson Fennell is an amazing photographer and her close-up pictures of flowers have totally captivated me over the last year or two. My own flower pictures are mobile phone snapped, fun and generally instagrammed, but Alyson’s are magical! Take a look at her Royal Crescent photograph and you’ll see where the magic resides, and you’ll understand why the Royal Crescent Hotel snapped up the pictures for their Christmas cards. Be entranced by Alyson Fennell.

Alyson Fennell

Alyson Fennell – Photographer

Alyson Fennell – Photographer

What inspires you?

I’m inspired primarily by Mother Nature, the greatest artist of all! What amazes me is that I can find beauty anywhere from the wild slopes of Dartmoor, to a humble window box in a city centre. Flowers and leaves always beckon, no matter the environment or season.

You frequent some beautiful gardens, do you plan your photography or is it spontaneous?

I find that if I plan too rigidly, and if I try too hard, the magic sometimes disappears. Indeed, some of my best shots have been spontaneous ones. The key is to be sensitive to those moments, when I feel the flowers are calling out to me,

Do you have favourite colours, flowers or techniques? Do you prefer close-up flowers or landscapes?

I gravitate towards flowers, without question. They are such ethereal beings. That said, in my search for some of the more elusive ones, a stunning landscape will appear and I can’t help but swing into action with my camera!

The exquisite ‘The Royal Crescent’ and ‘Dandelion Diamonds’ are two of my favourite works of yours. What do you consider your best work to date – do you have a favourite piece?

My favourite pieces tend to change quite often, but the red tulip series is always in my top 10. I am also very pleased with the clematis image on the homepage of my website, among others.

I love the diversity in your pictures from triptychs to landscapes to mirror images and even the occasional famous face. What are your future plans with your photography?

I hope my work will touch people around the World, whether it be in galleries, in advertisements, in hotels or at art fairs. One of my goals is to be able to travel far and wide with my photography – especially to the Valley Of Flowers in the Himalayas.

Lastly, if you could commission anything for yourself, money no object, what would it be?

You did say money would be no object!! I’d commission an architect to design a beautiful home for me in the South West. I lived in Totnes for some time, and it is such an inspiring part of our lovely island.

A lovely insight to your inspiration and process, thank you Alyson! You can find Alyson and her exquisite photography at her website www.alysonfennellphotography.com. You can like her page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @AlyFennPhoto.

Alyson’s Bio:

Hi, my name is Alyson Fennell and I’m a Fine Art Photographer based in Bath. I began my career as a hair and make-up artist in London, working alongside some of the most celebrated international photographers. Having gained invaluable knowledge and experience in this environment, I have returned to my original passion for photography, combining a love of nature with fine art.

I have recently exhibited my work at the Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath.

To stock my greetings cards or prints, email alyson@alysonfennellphotography.com

* Please do not use or copy any of these photographs without permission from Alyson Fennell.