Interview with Christopher Nuttall, Author of ‘Trial By Fire’

nuttall_pix_med (1)Christopher Nuttall was born in Edinburgh, studied in Manchester, married in Malaysia and currently living in Scotland, United Kingdom, with his wife and baby son. He is the author of 20 novels from various publishers and thirty-nine self-published novels. More than 100,000 ebooks in theSchooled in Magic series have sold since March 2014.

Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Trial By Fire, Book 7 in your Schooled in Magic series. When did you start writing and what got you into fantasy? 

Well, I started writing seriously around 2004-2005 and … well, I write the sort of books I like to read. I began with a military thriller, then went through alternate history and alien invasion before starting to experiment with fantasy. Frankly, I’m still fond of all four genres, although military science-fiction is probably my favorite. 

What is your book about? 

Oh, a hard question.

The Schooled in Magic series follows the adventures of Emily, a teenage girl from our world who is accidentally kidnapped by a necromancer and swept into an alternate world where magic is real, dragons fly through the sky and young magicians are sent to boarding schools to learn magic. But it’s also a series about the introduction of new ideas into a static society and just what happens when those ideas are developed, then start to mutate.

Trial By Fire follows Emily as the repercussions of her actions in earlier books finally come back to haunt her, putting her at the center of a deadly plot that will force her to fight for her life – or die at the hands of a relentless enemy.

What type of challenges did you face while writing this book? 

Making it convincing, alas.

Ok, that sounds absurd; fantasy is not, by definition, convincing. A world where someone can be turned into a toad with a snap of a witch’s fingers isn’t our world. However, it does have to follow its own logic – and, if that logic is violated, people tend to protest. (They also protest if humans don’t act like humans, although creatures like Elves get a free pass – they’re not human.)

TrialByFire_med1One very notable example comes from Harry Potter (I use this because most of my readers will probably be familiar with the series.) In Goblet of Fire, Harry is forced to compete in a deadly contest that could easily leave him dead … apparently because having his name put in the titular Goblet creates a magically-binding contract that enforces participation. But we know Harrydidn’t put his name in the Goblet … which raises questions about how the contract was binding in the first place. (And why, if you can create a contract binding someone, they don’t use it on the Dark Lord.)

(Personally, I tend to think that Dumbledore was the one under contract; he’d sworn to make sure anyone whose name came out of the Goblet had to compete, which would have included Harry as well as the other guy. And it would be perfectly in character for Dumbledore to keep mum about this and push Harry forward.)

In Trial By Fire, I worked hard to put together a trap for Emily that wouldn’thave a thinking fan banging his head off the wall. I hope I succeeded. 

What do you hope readers will get from your book? 

Well, I hope they will have an enjoyable story.

Let’s be honest here. I’m not trying to write something that will echo down the ages, something with the staying power of the Foundation series. I’m writing so my readers will have fun reading the books. If they learn something about the importance of technology, the spread of ideas and just what can happen when whole new approaches are explored … well, that’s a bonus. 

Did your book require a lot of research? 

The series absorbed a great deal of research <grin>. I actually spent years reading about the Middle Ages, just to flavor my work. The Allied Lands themselves have a great deal in common with Europe, particularly in the Reformation era. I studied how those societies worked, what drove them, how their people thought and what weakened them in the face of stronger enemies.

Of course, there are differences – the presence of functional magic, for a start. 

Many writers experience a vague anxiety before they sit down to right. Can you relate to this? 

Sometimes. Oddly, I feel it while crafting the next installment in a successful series.

Trial By Fire was originally intended to serve as the end of the first arc of novels set within the Schooled in Magicuniverse. I knew it had to be spectacular, the moment when Emily steps up and takes firm control of her life, and so I was nervous about actually having her do it. I hope it lives up to its purpose. 

Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined? 

Very disciplined. Truthfully, you don’t get anywhere in writing unless you’re disciplined.

I get up, eat breakfast and drink coffee, then get to work. I set myself a goal of three chapters a day, except for the first day; that generally takes around five hours. Then there’s the task of checking the beta reader comments and editing the manuscript. Between drafts, I generally try to move to something different or edit completed manuscripts. 

How do you define success? 

Success comes in the form of people buying my books and writing good (and thoughtful reviews). I know; I probably won’t win any major awards. (I did win the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards for Bookworm.) However, I’m happy with being paid and being told I did a good job. 

What do you love most about the writer’s life? 

I get to work from home, set my own hours and generally be my own boss. And then there’s the fact I get to meet fans, even if I am a little shy. 

Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about your work? 

I have a website, a blog, a mailing list and a Facebook fan page. <grin>

The website contains free samples – I try to give away at least a couple of chapters, sometimes as many as ten – and a number of older books that are completely free. They’re really ones I wrote during my first period as a writer; not good enough to be published, perhaps, but people liked them. A couple have even been rewritten for later publication.

The blog and Facebook page cover everything from my musings to fan comments and suchlike, allowing a degree of fan participation. All are welcome. The mailing list, however, is only for new releases – I believe in trying to avoid spamming people where possible.

Where is your book available?

The ebook version of Trial By Fire is available for purchase from Amazon Kindle, Apple iBookstore, BN Nook, Kobo Books, OmniLit, etc.

The print version of Trial By Fire will be available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble Bookstores, Brodart, Coutts, Davis-Kidd Booksellers, Emery-Pratt, Follett, Ingram, The Book Despository, The Book House, etc.

Purchase links will be available on the chapter excerpt page.

What is your advice for aspiring authors? 

I think I’ve said this before, time and time again, but the best advice I can give is work hard, work hard and work hard. Writing is 10% inspiration and 90% hard work. It is very rare to get a first novel published, unless you have VERY strong connections with the publishing industry or a name you can exploit (and those books tend to be terrible). Eric Flint said you really need to write at least a million words before you have something worth reading and I tend to think he was right.

Once you have a manuscript, get a few readers to look at it and give you honest feedback. If they said “this sucks, because [insert reason here]” listen to them. They may be wrong, which is possible, or you may have failed to explain something properly. Either way, they should make you think about it … which is better than having a review that boils down to “this author is an idiot.”

And grow a thick skin. You’ll need it. 

Anything else you’d like to tell my readers? 

I offer cameos for anyone who reads a book and reports an error to me. All (again) welcome.

My interview was originally published in Blogcritics Magazine.

Candy’s Chocolate Kingdom (Book 1: Kingdom Fantasy Series) by Nirit Littaney

Candy's Chocolate Kingdom

Candy is young girl who likes sweets…especially chocolate. She enjoys it so much, she even dreams about it. But when her dreams reveal something important, Candy knows she has to change her ways.

Candy’s Chocolate Kingdom is an adorable story about taking things a bit too far. Candy wants chocolate morning, noon, and night, but her dreams show her a problem or two she hadn’t thought of before and she changes her eating habits. It’s a great lesson for kids. And it’s delivered in a subtle way, so it’s easier to hear.

The colorful illustrations by Abira Das are a fabulous complement to Littaney’s story. This is a sweet book you won’t want to miss.

Rating: :) :) :) :)

File Size: 4899 KB
Print Length: 26 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publication Date: April 6, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00VS4JHYC

 

Purchase here!

I received a copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way. 

Nirit Littaney is a fresh, imaginative author who weaves vivid images and important life lessons into endearing stories for children. After being confined to her bed for years by an incurable illness, Nirit experienced the same triumph of spirit that many of her characters undergo in their journeys through lands near and far.

Nirit’s commitment to personal and physical healing, along with her story-like travels around the world, have inspired her to pen inventive tales for families in search of humorous, insightful bedtime stories. She writes for children in hopes of making them giggle while they also learn a lesson or two.

Today, Nirit lives in Israel with her angel of a husband, who champions each of her new books as if he were the wide-eyed child she wrote them for. When Nirit isn’t dreaming up new characters, she works as a nutritionist, medical coach, and spiritual leader. She is eager to inspire and help others with the lessons her own challenges have taught her—and what better way is there than through books?

Her latest children’s book is Candy’s Chocolate Kingdom.

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’89 Walls by Katie Pierson

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’89 Walls by Katie Pierson is a must read for young adults who want a moving, emotional read that speaks to issues that were important then and remain so today.

Quinn has a charmed life. She’s a beautiful, upper middle class young woman from a conservative family, and has a bright future ahead. Oh, and she has a great boyfriend too. It’s that cynical, liberal guy from her social studies class that could derail all that.

Seth knows college is just a dream. Between working his minimum wage job to put groceries on the table and caring for his mother who has MS, there isn’t time to think about anything else. He knows Quinn is out of his league, but he can’t help but carry around that frayed love note he wrote so long ago.

Their romance takes them by surprise, and when politics becomes personal, neither one of them is sure their love will survive.

As I said earlier in the week, this book has beef. Late ’80s politics plays a big role in this book, and I feel the author did a superb job of handling those issues and making them relate to all the characters. This is when the Cold War is ending, Apartheid is in the news, and the Berlin Wall comes crumbling down. This is an intense book both for the characters and for the world as it was back then.

By the end, I was crying. And I have to admit, the author made me consider an issue in a different light. I can’t share it without revealing an important plot point, so I’ll just tell you that this is a fabulous novel and I would highly recommend it.

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing (June 8, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1940014557
ISBN-13: 978-1940014555

I received a copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

 

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’89 Walls by Katie Pierson

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Today was supposed to be my review of ’89 Walls by Katie Pierson. I’m only about halfway through with it, because I was playing catch up with reviews on vacation. Since we’ve returned home, I’ve been working crazy hours. Here’s a bit about the book:

College is not in the cards for Seth. He spends his minimum wage on groceries and fakes happiness to distract his mom from the MS they both know will kill her. It’s agony to carry around a frayed love note for a girl who’s both out of his league and beneath his dignity.

Quinn’s finishing high school on top. But that cynical, liberal guy in her social studies class makes her doubt her old assumptions. Challenging the rules now, though, would a) squander her last summer at home, b) antagonize her conservative dad, and c) make her a hypocrite.

Seth and Quinn’s passionate new romance takes them both by surprise. They keep it a secret: it’s too early to make plans and too late not to care. But it’s 1989. As politics suddenly get personal, they find themselves fighting bare-fisted for their beliefs—and each other—in the clear light of day.

Let me just say that my lack of progress has nothing to do with its content or ability to engage the reader. I love what I’ve read so far. Not only does the story take place when I was a mere twenty-one years old (making it nostalgic), but it reminds me of what school used to be like before standardized exams turns educators into unimaginative zombies teaching to a test. There’s “beef” to this book. It’s not just boy likes girl but it will never work. Real conflict is involved: personal conflict and societal conflict.

I’m eager to keep reading and see what happens between Seth and Quinn. Hope you’ll check back on Friday to read my complete review.

Katie Pierson freelances for local non-profits, using her background in public policy and grassroots organizing to overthrow the patriarchy one introverted step at a time. When she’s not writing fiction, she returns library books, makes soup, and tries to be cooler than she really is by hip-hopping at the YMCA. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in American History from the University of Pennsylvania (where she dabbled briefly in being a College Republican) and a Master’s in American History from the University of Minnesota. She grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, and now lives with her family in a suburb of Minneapolis. ’89 Walls is her first novel.

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Blogging at Christian Children’s Authors: Themes in Children’s Literature

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Check out my post at Christian Children’s Authors where I compare discuss how some of the themes from books of my youth still appear in popular books today. You can find it at http://christianchildrensauthors.com/2015/07/17/themes-in-childrens-literature-then-and-now/

Free for Kindle: True Calling by Siobhan Davis

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TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS. ONE SHARED DREAM

Planet Novo, nestled in space twelve hundred miles above the surface of the Earth, is the new home of 17-year-old Cadet Ariana Skyee. Confused by the government-sanctioned memory erase and distressed at her impending forced marriage and motherhood, Ariana’s plans for the future are thrown into complete disarray.

As the traumatic events within her family life enfold, Ariana grows increasingly alarmed at the authorities apparent pre-occupation with her and feels progressively more isolated and alone.

Her growing feelings for fellow Cadet Cal Remus intensify as the recently announced pageant, ‘The Calling’, gets underway. Struggling to comprehend the continuous, inexplicable dreams of the mysterious Zane, discovering the past helps shape her future, with devastating personal consequences.

 

File Size: 961 KB
Print Length: 410 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Siobhan Davis; 2 edition (January 28, 2015)
Publication Date: January 28, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00SX1PG2A
Purchase here!

The Baked Potato Boy by Dorris Fortson

baked potatoe

A delightful story of Elliott and how he thrives.

When Elliott was left at the orphanage, he was small, like a baked potato. He drank milk from a dropper and was carried in a Khanga to stay warm. Dorris Fortson, a missionary in Africa, tells Elliott’s story, explaining terms like orphan and kangaroo style, and helps the reader to see through her descriptions just how tiny Elliott used to be so they can appreciate as he grows.

The endearing and fun illustrations are by Chance Alvis and Julia Treesfeld of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Applied Design Studio. Love the cover art on this one.

Something important to point out is that all the proceeds from the book go to an orphanage for abandoned, orphaned and at risk babies in Arusha, Tanzania East Africa.

A great book with a unique story. The Baked Potato Boy by Dorris Fortson is entertaining and educational.

 

Rating: :) :) :) :)

Paperback: 16 pages
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc; large type edition edition (May 24, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616336463
ISBN-13: 978-1616336462
Purchase here!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.