Today I will be hosting a blog tour for Sister Hoods and interviewing the author, P. L. Blair! Enjoy!
Probably my maternal grandfather who, along with my grandmother, raised me. As far back as I can remember – maybe when I was a toddler – Daddy (my grandfather) would set me on his knees and read to me. I grew up in a home filled with books, and when I started reading on my own (maybe around the age of 4 or 5), when the book ended, I would make up my own stories about the characters. At some point, that shifted into making up stories about characters of my own, and … The desire to write those stories down just kind of took off.
What author influenced you the most?
Only one? LOL That would be JRR Tolkien, then, whose Lord of the Rings swept me up and carried me off to Middle Earth. Although I write urban fantasy, I seek to infuse that same sense of wonder that Tolkien inspired in me, to convey that same sense of “otherness” that I felt when reading his books.
And in terms of my books, and in particular my Elf character, Tevis, I was inspired also by Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. There's a bit of Holmes in Tevis. Doyle is also one of the reasons for the detective element in my books. Doyle's Sherlock Holmes tales were the first detective stories I read, and they gave me a thirst for more.
Do you have a favourite author? (Or name a few)
Tolkien (“of course”), and Doyle, for the above-mentioned reasons. Isaac Asimov for his non-fiction essays that enabled me to grasp the basics of quantum physics, and inspired me to read more. Elizabeth Peters, whose series (first book, Crocodile on the Sandbank) introduced me to a wonderful world in which archeology and sleuthing mix quite well. Dorothy Gail Sayers and her Lord Peter Wimsey novels. H.P. Lovecraft for horror.
What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
“Write something every day.” Even if what you write goes nowhere, even if you scrap every word the next day … It's all practice. It's all learning and perfecting. Not becoming “perfect.” I think “perfect” is a goal that you never really attain, but … It's what you strive for. You seek to become the compete against them, but to see if I can come closer to the ones whose writings I admire. I'm in constant competition against myself, to get better at what I do – what I love to do.
What helps you write when you're stuck or have writer's block?
Fortunately, I seldom experience writer's block. I think that's because of my background as a reporter for newspapers and, currently, a media company here in Sheridan that includes nine radio stations and an online publication (Sheridan Media). Editors and news directors are united in their disbelief of “Muses” and “writer's block.” As a writer, you get up each morning with ideas on how you'll write that day's stories and – this is key – if you don't have any stories to write, you wake up thinking about ideas for stories. The mind is always churning, always looking ahead – hours, days, sometimes weeks or months.
Do you like to listen to music while you write? If so, who are your favourite artists?
I seldom listen to music when I'm writing. Again, I think, that's because of my background in the news business. News rooms aren't quiet places. There's an almost constant din of background noise – phones ringing, people talking, maybe someone doing an interview at the desk next to yours while an editor is yelling across the room to another reporter - “Where's your copy? It's 10 minutes to deadline!”
So when I'm working on my books, I tend to have the TV on in the background, windows open so I'm catching noises from outside, and now and then one or more of the dogs barking at something they see or hear. A lot of what I call “controlled chaos.”
That said, I do love music, soft rock and some country, and movie sound tracks. Favorite artist of all time – Steve Perry, the former lead singer for Journey. The man had an amazing vocal range.
After a long day of writing what is your favourite tv show you like to watch?
NCIS is a long-time favorite. Unless I'm covering a night meeting for Sheridan Media – which happens one or two Tuesdays a month – that's my “can't miss” selection. I also like the SyFy channel show “Face Off,” which I'm hoping will be back on the air soon. I love watching the creation process as the contestants build mythological or fantastic characters. And the characters they create are amazing! I also love watching science documentaries (credit – or blame – Asimov for that!) and history documentaries.
What are you working on currently?
I just started Book 7, still untitled as yet. A bit of explanation – Book 5 is with my publisher, and Book 6 is sitting on my desk waiting for my publisher to get done with Book 5. I was actually not going to start another book for a while – waiting for my publisher to catch up with me – but the ideas for Book 7 kept intruding until I surrendered and starting writing.
And … since I do have a day job … in addition to my regular reporting for Sheridan Media, I recently completed 30 historical articles about Sheridan and Sheridan County for a special SM publication – Sheridan Chronicles – as well as several articles for our upcoming Sheridan County Fair publication.
When you're not writing, what do you like to do?
More writing! LOL Okay … seriously … I have three dogs (basset hound, dachshund-cocker mix and a Jack Russell “terror”) and a cat to love on and care for. I research pedigrees of American Quarter horses and Thoroughbreds – for fun, not profit. I read – a lot of reading! All kinds of books – I'm eclectic in my choices. Some weekends I go to the polo matches. Sheridan County has one of the oldest polo venues west of the Mississippi, a field close to the base of the Big Horn Mountains, and polo is a fun game to watch!
What are some of your most favourite books of all time?
Lord of the Rings. Most of the Sherlock Holmes books. The Making of the Atomic Bomb – non-fiction, a history not only of the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima and the aftermath but also of quantum physics. The Caliban Shore, which is the account of an East Indiaman (ship) that ran aground on the shores of Africa in the 18th century. Going back to some of the influential books of my childhood – Black Beauty, Beautiful Joe (a dog's story that influenced the founding of the ASPCA), any of Farley's Black Stallion books. Almost any book by Elizabeth Peters or Barbara Michaels.
Is there anything specific you'd like to try writing about in the future?
Science fiction and historical romance both appeal to me, but I need to do research and get myself up to speed before I tackle either of them.
Which of your characters do you love the most and why?
Tevis – because he's modeled (in my mind) after my all-time favorite TV character, Illya Kuryakin from the old Man From Uncle series. Also because he's sensitive, caring, with high moral standards – what many of my readers consider the ideal man, except in this case, the “ideal man” is an elf.
Which one of your books are you most proud of?
Among the published ones to date – Sister Hoods. I won't say more about why it's my favorite – because that would reveal spoilers.
What is an interesting or hidden talent you have?
I write songs. Well, I write the lyrics of songs. I can't write a lick of music, but the music plays in my head, so I have a small collection of songs that nobody can sing but me, and – except for a few that I've shared with friends – nobody's heard them.
Is there anything else you'd like my readers to know?
Hmmmm … Just that my publisher and I are in a close partnership, and at the moment, we are looking for an artist (or photographer) who could jazz up my book covers. Anybody who's interested, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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