Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Ready, Set & Go - Orangeberry Big Bang - Love of Shadows by Zoe Brooks

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What is your favourite quote, by whom, and why? “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” - Albert Einstein I have always loved fairytales and I think adults should read them too. We tend to discard them as we grow older but they are the purest form of stories, you can learn so much by reading them.
What is your favourite food? I love seafood. When our son was young we had many happy holidays camping in Brittany and Normandy (in France). We used to eat at restaurants overlooking where the fishing boats were unloading. Our four-year old son used consume adult-sized plates of mussels, particularly liking the ones which had little crabs inside. As he grew older we started to holiday in Greece and would eat meze beside the beach – octopus, squid, as well as mussels etc.
What is your favourite place in the entire world? South Bohemia in the Czech Republic. I fell in love with it about twelve years ago. With its forests, mountains and old castles, it is straight out of a fairy tale. I bought an old farmhouse there and it is where I write all my books. Of course I also love the Cotswold hills in England, where I was born and still live, but when it comes to writing it has to be South Bohemia.
When and why did you begin writing? I’ve always written poetry: I was first published at the age of thirteen and was regarded as one of the bright young things of British poetry, but poetry doesn’t pay the bills and I had to focus on my career. For over twenty years I had a very demanding job working with disadvantaged people and loved it, but a few years ago it all became too much and I changed my career. I decided I would follow the dream of writing novels. I had always made up stories but up until then they were for my enjoyment only.
What inspires you to write and why? I have two main inspirations when I am writing. Firstly I am influenced by my former career, during which I met and talked to some amazing women, who had been to hell and back. Those women influence both my heroines, who both are outsiders who have to struggle against prejudice. Secondly I am influenced by knowledge of history – I studied history at university – which is full of fascinating stories and themes. In this book I used the history of how women healers were persecuted and killed (as witches) between the 14th and 17th centuries.
What genre are you most comfortable writing? I have been told I write magic realism. I had never heard about magic realism before – but basically it’s realistic but with something magical or strange in it. My books are set in an unspecified place and time, which some people find disturbing. The book is also women’s fiction – I write about women, all my books have strong heroines. There’s some romance in the book, but it’s not the only thing by any means.
Who or what influenced your writing once you began? A major influence was my dear friend, Hannah Kodicek. She was a story editor in the film industry – her most successful work was on the Oscar-winning film The Counterfeiters. She also lectured on story editing and structure, so it was not surprising that it was to Hannah that I turned when I decided I wanted to write novels. I think she was nervous about critiquing a friend’s work, but she needn’t have worried. I found what she had to say fascinating and inspiring. Hannah died suddenly of cancer nearly two years ago. Before she died she made me promise that I would publish my books.
Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? Because I write magic realism, I do a lot of research to ensure the world I create is realistic. The central character is a traditional healer and perfume-maker. I knew a little about traditional medicines but absolutely nothing about perfume making. I went to the Bodleian Library at Oxford and found some old manuals about making and selling perfumes. It was fascinating – I found out  about the raw materials and how perfumes are blended. There was a lot of overlap with traditional healing. Did you know that traditional healers used to identify illness by the smell?
Have you developed a specific writing style? A recent review said that my “writing alternates between lyrical and straightforward”, which is I think a fair description of my style. I try to write accessible popular books which get under the skin of the reader.
Have you ever had writer’s block?If so,what do you do about it? Yes. I always get it fifty pages into writing the first draft of each novel. I was very pleased to see on a BBC programme that Ian Rankin has the same block, only his starts at page sixty five. I start full of ideas and excited but by page fifty, it’s not exciting any more and I have discovered any plotting problems I’ve got. My usual answer is to take a break. I might go for a walk, do some gardening or even start cleaning the house ( yes, it really is that bad).
How did you come up with the title? In the realistic world that I have created one of the fantasy elements is Shadows. The central character and the book’s narrator, Judith, has a Shadow called Sarah. Shadows are very like human beings, but they do not have the emotions of humans. Because they are different they are victims of prejudice and persecution. Judith’s love for Sarah is at the heart of why she takes action to help when Shadows are attacked, it is also why she is drawn to a man called Bruno, who too knows what it is to love a Shadow.
Can you tell us about your main character? Judith, the central character of Love of Shadows, is a loveable, complex and at times frustrating young woman. I fell in love with her when I wrote Girl in the Glass, the first book in the trilogy. In this book we see her choose to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a healer, even though traditional women healers are being persecuted and she is risking her life to do so. Judith has been badly damaged emotionally, first by her upbringing and then by a particularly nasty relationship with a man. As a result she is naturally scared of emotional attachment, other than to Sarah, her Shadow. What sort of man could get past her barriers? Then she meets Bruno.
Who designed the cover? I am very lucky that my son John is a graphic designer. He usually works in the film and television industry. He worked on Anna Karenina and is currently working on a BBC series, Luther. So when I need a cover I get on the telephone to John. He’s been brilliant and very patient with his demanding mum.
Is there a message in your novel that you want your readers to grasp? I think different readers might find different messages in the book – one is about what it takes to follow your destiny, another is about defying prejudice.
How much of the book is realistic? As I said, this book is magic realism. The time and place are not specified, but I draw on real places at different periods of history to create the world of the book. This means that the world seems very real but not specific. I like this, because Judith’s story is universal and very real, and I want people not to dismiss it either as something fictional or as something that happens elsewhere.
How important do you think villains are in a story? I don’t think having a character who is a villain is essential, but conflict definitely is. You need your heroine or hero to have to fight to achieve their goal and mission. There can be all sorts of sources of conflict and opposition to your heroine. They can be people who are well-meaning but who want something different, they can be non-human such as natural forces like a hurricane, or they can be inside your heroine or hero. Some of Judith’s worst enemies are within her head: the demons which sabotage her actions.
What are your goals as a writer? I am a relatively new fiction writer. My first goal is to produce good books that people want to read and reread. My second goal is to be selling enough books that I can live off the earnings. My third goal is to write at least one book that people will treasure so much that they look forward to sharing it with their children.
Can we expect any more books from you in the future? Yes you can. Love of Shadowsis the second book in a trilogy, so a third book is definitely happening. I also have plans for a somewhat different book – a paranormal mystery set in a central European country in the present day. I hope to have published both these books this year, as well releasing Girl in the GlassLove of Shadows and Mother of Wolves as print books (they are currently only ebooks).
Have you started another book yet? I am half way through the final book in The Healer’s Shadow Trilogy. It picks up where Love of Shadows ends and follows Judith once more. She is forced by circumstances to take a journey which will lead her to confront her past and embrace her future. And we get the final pieces in the puzzle about Shadows.
What do you do to unwind and relax? I love walking – not in order to get somewhere, but so I can enjoy looking at nature. I’ve caught the Czech obsession about foraging for wild food. There are raspberries and wild strawberries in the woods above my Czech home and best of all lots of mushrooms.
Buy at Amazon
Genre – Women’s Fiction, Fantasy (R)
Connect with Zoe Brooks on Facebook & Twitter


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Books Sold - 6 Nov 2011 to 31 May 2012

Some of you have asked me for my total number of books sold to evaluate KDP Select so here it is. Bear in mind, that results will vary based on genre and author. Good luck and remember, Keep Moving Forward.

Total - 120,836

1. Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out
Amazon Kindle - 42,559
Paperback -
Smashwords -

2. Frequent Traveller
Amazon Kindle - 35277
Paperback -
Smashwords -

3. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 1
Amazon Kindle - 462
Smashwords -

4. Mirror Me Martha (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 281
Smashwords -

5. Drive On Hope (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 190
Smashwords -

6. Blog-A-Licious Directory 2012
Amazon Kindle - 1
Smashwords -

7. Pandora's Reading Room 1
Amazon Kindle -
Paperback - N/A

8. The Cat That Barked (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle -

9. Dora's Essentials - Examining Anxiety
Amazon Kindle -

10. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 2
Amazon Kindle -

11. Elevenses from Around the World
Amazon Kindle -

12. Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability
Amazon Kindle -

Blog-A-Licius - Sherbet Blossom



Dealightfully Frugal

Blog-A-Licious - The Few, The Proud, The Wife


My Soul Slippers

Blog-A-Licous - Textbook Mommy

Blog-A-Licious - Blue Frogs Legs

Blog-A-Licious - Pretty All True

Pretty All True

Blog-A-Licious - tbaoo



Powered by

Blog-A-Licious - The Invisible Art

Blog-A-Licious - Rediscovering Domesticity

Rediscovering Domesticity

Blog-A-Licious - Quiver Full

Blog-A-Licious - Cori's Big Mouth

Blog-A-Licious - Great Fun


Blog-A-Licious - Busy Wife

Blog-A-Licious - Steps To Happiness

Powered by

Blog-A-Licious - Toby & Max

Blog-A-Licious - Amelie

Raising Amelie

Blog-A-Licious - Peas In A Pod

Blog-A-Licious - Riley

Blognostics - Poetry


My Awards - September 2010

My Awards - September 2010
Awarded By Jo Frances

My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded By Alejandro Guzman

My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded by Kriti Mukherjee

My Awards - April 2011

My Awards - April 2011
Awarded By Roy Durham

My Awards - June 2011

My Awards - June 2011
Awarded By Sulekha Rawat

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