Q & A with Athena
What are you working on now?
I am working on the fifth book in the Beyond the Grave series.
I have just completed a new novel, a contemporary standalone romantic thriller. Release info and details soon!
Do I need to read the Beyond the Grave series in order?
Books 1 & 2 are Sage and Ethan’s story and should be read in order.
Books 3 onward can be read as a standalone.
Beyond the Grave Series
#1 The Seer’s Daughter – Part One of Sage and Ethan’s story
#2 The Alchemist’s Son – Part Two of Sage and Ethan’s story – The conclusion
#3 Girl Unseen – Pia and Nate’s complete story
#4 When Darkness Follows – Daniel and Rachel’s complete story
What inspires you to write Paranormal Romance?
My love of the paranormal stems right back to very early childhood. I grew up in a house that was over a hundred years old. As a child, I often heard footsteps walking down the hall late at night (which inspired the beginning scenes of The Seer’s Daughter) and various other unexplained and spooky events.
Our family did not talk about ghosts, and although I don’t remember asking specifically about the things I’d experienced at the time, I believe that if I had, they would have been quickly dismissed. As I entered my teens, I was drawn to books and real-life accounts of the paranormal, and later in life a study of metaphysics.
Interview from the Romance Writers of Australia, The Tasting Table: Paranormal Romance – Read full interview here:
Are any stories inspired from real life events?
Daniel and Rachel’s story in When Darkness Follows is inspired by a real ‘ghostly’ shipwreck (The Alkimos) on the coast of Western Australia that is shrouded in mystery, tragedy, and of course eerie speculation of the paranormal.
As I am lucky enough to live close to a real-life ghost ship, it was only natural that it would become inspiration for a haunted shipwreck story in my Beyond the Grave Series. Book #4 When Darkness Follows.
The Alkimos is a reportedly cursed ship with a dark history of tragedy, wrecked on the northern beaches of Western Australia south of Yanchep.
Anyone who knows me, knows of my interest and fascination with anything paranormal. I love delving into the history behind old buildings, objects and artefacts, and uncovering the real-life stories behind genuine unexplained paranormal activity.
Locals at the café near the Alkimos shipwreck will tell you the stories of horses that avoid that stretch of beach, and the dogs that act strangely, barking and staring at things only they can see… Of course, my interest was piqued, especially over the sightings of an apparition of a human figure wearing rubber boots and a dark grey seaman’s coat (oilskins), known as Harry.
The Alkimos has a long dark history, and an even longer list of mysterious and tragic occurrences and illness. Too much bad luck, some would say, to be written off as mere co-incidence.
The Alkimos. Images via Jack Wong Sue
Do you have any certain routines you must follow as you write?
I don’t have any routines that I must follow, but I find myself writing my best work during the hours of 4 and 6 a.m. before my boys wake up. When I first started writing, this was the only time I could carve out for ‘me’, and now it has become my most treasured time of the day. I wake up, make myself a strong coffee, light my favourite candle, and write away! I find it’s the time where my mind is the clearest, most focused, as it is not cluttered with the million details of everyday life.
How do you juggle a family life and working with writing?
This is such a great question.
I am a partner in a family business and have two young boys, so I need to fit my writing time around life. The time I have carved out for this is during the hours of 4 and 6 a.m. before my boys wake up. When I first started writing, this was the only time I could carve out for ‘me’ but this time has now become my most treasured time of the day. I wake up without the need for an alarm, make myself a strong coffee, light my favourite candle, and write away! I find it’s the time of day where my mind is the clearest, most focused, as it is not cluttered with the million details of everyday life.
One afternoon, I was watching my son build a Lego creation that was years above his age level. He was seven at the time, and the set he was building cost hundreds of dollars and the recommended age was for a child twice his age. I wasn’t convinced he could do it. I doubted very much that I could do it. I had tried to encourage him to try a less challenging set, something recommended for his age group, but his determination was unwavering. My son worked hard for that specific set, doing jobs and achieving the merits at school that I had set as ‘conditions’. His passion and perseverance finally paid off and I bought him the set. When bag after bag containing gazillions of tiny pieces spilled onto the floor, I thought, ‘what have I done?’
My son was undaunted by the enormity of the project, working for many, many hours straight, following a complex manual to build it piece by miniature piece. His focus was astounding, his determination unwavering. He was only seven! It was a struggle for him to simply leave his project to eat his meals, and the moment he finished he was straight back to it. I knew his mind had stayed on his creation with every bite he took.
The expression on my little boy’s face when he finished it brought me to my knees. His smile lit up his whole face, his eyes were twinkling and bright. His whole body seemed to glow as he walked around his impressive accomplishment. He’d transformed, come ‘alive’. It was at that moment, something tugged inside of me.
Did I have that? What did I do that gave me a similar feeling? Sure, my job was necessary, it helped pay the bills. But I wanted that exaltation my son experienced simply through the focus of bringing something to life. I wanted to create something of my own.
I pondered on that for some time. I was busy, I had a full life, but I realised that no matter how much I crammed into the finite number of hours in one day, it did nothing about filling that hole inside of me. And now that I’d realised that something was missing, I knew I had to do something about it.
When I look back, I see that I had spent my whole life searching. I am an eternal seeker of knowledge. An avid reader, I have several books on the go at one time, both fiction and non-fiction. I was taking courses, the qualifications and certificates could wallpaper a room. But what was I doing? What was the thing that lit me up on the inside the way my son’s Lego project did for him? And more importantly, what was holding me back from finding out?
I realised there is safety in not giving anything a go, of not risking your heart by putting it on the line. It would have been easy to keep doing what I was doing, saying I didn’t have time for anything else.
That was a light bulb moment for me. I didn’t want to inadvertently pass on the same fears that have stopped me following my passions. My words were saying one thing, my actions another.
I didn’t want to be the lecturer, I wanted to be the example.
And that is the change in mindset that freed me, allowed me to embark on my journey as a writer. I gave myself permission to fail. To try something new. To have fun. But I also know there is no such thing as failure. Because failing means something has come to an end. Passion and following your dreams is what life is all about. There is no end. If something doesn’t give you the desired results, re-tweak it until it does. You have that freedom. It is your dream.
And once I understood this, not just intellectually, but in a way that I felt as the truth, a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
I took the plunge. I became a writer. I carved out the time. It is my passion. It lights me up on the inside when I release a book that I have spent countless hours making the best it can be. I put it out into the world and a piece of my heart, my very soul, goes out with it. I take that risk. Any feedback I receive I hope will be kind. Considerate. Helpful. So that I may grow to be a better person from following my dream. So that my words of encouragement to my children won’t be empty.
As George Eliot once said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
I wish for each and every one of us, the sense of wonder and accomplishment that a little seven-year-old boy once got by completing a Lego set.
They say Hind-sight is 20/20. If you could give advice to the writer you were the first time you sat down to write, what would it be?
That is such a good question. Nothing about writing or publishing has been what I thought it would be. When I first wrote Desperate, I never even considered being published. I wrote it between the hours of 4 and 6 a.m. as a creative outlet for ‘me’. There’s a certain freedom in writing that way. The novel was edited by chance when an author I followed on Facebook said she had openings in her editing schedule. A few months later she followed up with me wondering if I’d managed to get published. I hadn’t done anything with it at all! She encouraged me to submit the novel, and after I did I had three offers for publication within four weeks. I signed with Canadian publisher, Evernight Publishing, and my first romantic thriller, Desperate was published in January 2015.
After that, I set about learning everything I could about the craft of writing and the ever-changing world of publication. One thing I try to remind myself often is to tune out the negativity and often conflicting advice out there and remember the creative freedom of when I wrote my first novel just ‘for me’.
Taken from interview with JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder
Most writers were readers as children. What was your favorite book in grade school?
That’s also true for me. I have always loved reading, and always have a book or six on the go at once. My first romance was Forever, by Judy Blume. My first series was the Flowers in the Attic series, by Virginia Andrews.
Taken from interview with: JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder
Do you have a street team?
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