Tuesday, August 30, 2016

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: McKenna Grey & Everly Archard, Authors

McKenna Grey, Co-Author
Everly Archard, Co-Author
Just-released, THE DRAGON’S STAIRCASE is a romantic suspense novel by award-winning authors McKenna Grey (pseudonym for historical romance and mystery author MK McClintock) and Everly Archard (pseudonym  for paranormal and fantasy romance author D.D. Piers). It is the first of their Kyndall Family Thrillers. Reviewers say it’s a “heart-stopping non-stop, thrilling suspense….with a romantic touch!”

The two authors found that “the collaboration was a lot of fun” and are currently working together on  the next Kyndall Family Thriller, Shadow of the Forgotten. Both authors are avid readers—when they can take a break from writing. McKenna likes the outdoors and also enjoys baking. Everly  loves to garden and take photos. 

Don't miss the except following the interview.

Q: You have described THE DRAGON’S STAIRCASE as contemporary romantic suspense and reviewers say, “The suspense level is amazing.” What makes the novel suspenseful?

McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: I believe it’s the build-up and intensity emanating from the characters and the events in their lives. We really wanted to take the reader on a roller-coaster ride. No matter how detailed the outline or notes, we didn’t restrain the characters, even the “bad guys,” and we ended up surprising ourselves a few times along the way.

Q: What are the characteristics of a compelling romance? How do you build the romantic relationships? Do your characters love each other at first sight? Do opposites attract? Does the suspense increase the romantic interest? Or vice versa?

McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: Romance should feel natural, as though two people have no choice but to acknowledge that they’re better together than apart. In this story, the characters’ passion is heightened by the intense situations in which they find themselves. There isn’t a chance to begin as friends and build up. However, they build upon trust, the need they both have to believe in each other and trust themselves.

I definitely think opposites can attract, but I also believe that a relationship has a much stronger chance when there’s a common ground, an accepted belief system about life in general, that they both share.

The suspense plays a major role in the romantic interest, but only in the beginning. They may be thrust together because of circumstances, but what happens afterward is all about two people finding their way to each other.

Q: One of your reviewers appreciates the “well-developed characters.” How do your characters connect to your readers? Why will readers care what happens to them?

McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: I love when someone comments on the characters because they’re always my favorite part of writing. I enjoy spectacular scenery well-described, but it all comes down to the people in the story. Alexa and Craig, I believe, are relatable. They have strengths, weaknesses, they experience fear, loss, passion, love, hate—they’re human, and they matter. What happens to them matters because on some level, most people have felt the same emotions, and they want their own happily ever after . . . or as close to it as possible.

Q: Does the concept of “hero vs villain” apply to THE DRAGON’S STAIRCASE? What makes an effective villain?

McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: Definitely. Except in this case we really have more than one hero. Both Alexa and Craig bring their own set of strengths to the mix, and both have to use those strengths in order to defeat both their metaphoric and real-life villains.

An effective villain, I believe, is one who is somewhat average. If you strip away whatever makes them “evil,” you’re left with an oftentimes pathetic human being who couldn’t find a way to live a better life. Perhaps they’re intelligent, but misdirected their smarts down a dark path. Something in them chose to become who they are, and I believe no matter what their reasons, something is behind why they do what they do. It doesn’t make it right, but it makes them less than the hero, less than a person worthy of a happy ending.

Q: Did you write THE DRAGON’S STAIRCASE strictly to entertain your readers? Or did you embed a few messages along the way?

McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: I believe any story can contain a few hidden messages, whether the writer realizes what they’ve done or not. In truth, I’m not sure either of us really thought about an underlying message, but you have me thinking now! Really, it’s ultimately about having confidence in yourself and believing that no matter how difficult, how challenging life can become, there’s always a way out, and there’s always someone to help. We don’t have to stand on our own; it’s okay to lean on a friend, a lover, or a stranger if that’s what it takes . . . And we wrote it to entertain our readers.

Q: Do you use your setting to either enhance your plot or add to your characters? 

McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: I’ve always thought of settings as characters. The setting plays a part, albeit in the background. The area of North Carolina where most of the story is set, is beautiful. The vibrant colors of autumn and the lush forests covering the Blue Ridge Mountains can be quite breathtaking. Contrast that with murder and mayhem, and you bet, the setting plays a definite role.

Q: How helpful is humor to create your characters?

McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: A bit of levity is always appreciated in a story, but when you have a suspense or thriller, a touch of humor here and there is necessary if for no other reason than to give both the characters and the readers a break from the intensity.

Q: Given that you are two authors, how do you divide the tasks of writing? Do you brainstorm the plot? Is one of you responsible for creating a character? Do you assign tasks before you start?

McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: We certainly share in the creative process. I (McKenna) had developed the plot and characters for the first book and the series long before I met my co-author or even wrote a book, so I took point on the first outline. However, Everly also added her thoughts and notes to the outline, so by the time we started to write, it was two minds as one sort of scenario. For the other books in the series, we’ve both shared in the brainstorming for the plots and outlines.

We don’t assign tasks, but we do assign chapters. We work off of one manuscript and each take three chapters from the outline, moving in chronological order. When we pass off the updated manuscript, the other person will read through our chapters, offer notes, and then write their three chapters. We go back and forth until the book is complete. It just worked out to be a great way for us to collaborate, and to each have an equal voice in the story.

Q: What’s next for both of you? Will you write another in the Kyndall Family Thrillers?

McKenna Grey and Everly Archard: Absolutely! We’re already 1/3 the way through the second book, Shadow of the Forgotten, and it’s coming along great. There will be two more Kyndall thrillers in the series. After that . . . well, we’ve discovered this is such a fun process, we’ve planned more series and we’re currently developing those storylines. I’m certain we’ll each write our own books under these pen names (we both write under other names as well), but for now, the collaboration is a lot of fun.

Q: What do you both like to do when you’re not writing?

McKenna Grey: When I’m not writing . . . doesn’t happen often these days! Reading is a given; I’m never without a new book. I love spending time outdoors, whether it’s hiking, walking my pup and taking photographs, or gardening. I like to sit on a rock by the river and read a book, or walk along the lake and watch the sunset. I also love to spend time in the kitchen. Baking and cooking relax me.

Everly Archard: I love, and I mean LOVE, to read. So if I'm not in the middle of a good book, I'll be searching for something new to read.  I also love to garden or practice amateur photography. If I'm in the mood to stay indoors and burn brain cells, I indulge in my favorite guilty pleasure, Bravo TV.

About McKenna Grey

McKenna Grey is the contemporary alter-ego of award-winning historical romance and mystery author MK McClintock. Never one to limit her imagination or ignore possibilities, she decided to venture into the realm of contemporary romantic suspense and thrillers.

About Everly Archard

Everly Archard is the pseudonym of award-winning paranormal and fantasy romance author D.D. Miers. Her passion for romance with an edge led her to explore the world of romantic suspense.

From two award-winning authors comes the first riveting novel in the Kyndall Family Thrillers, a contemporary romantic suspense series filled with spine-tingling thrills and alluring romance.

A woman haunted by her past.

FBI Agent Alexa Kyndall devoted eight years of her life to the search for justice, showing no mercy to the guilty and depraved. When she joins a special task force to bring down a serial killer, Alexa encounters the most unexpected criminal of her career.

A man willing to do whatever it takes to save her.

When a child witnesses a brutal slaying, Alexa’s life becomes intertwined with Craig Pierson’s, a man with his own haunted past. They join forces, only to discover they must put everything on the line in a pulse-pounding struggle to protect and survive.

A killer closing in.

Nestled in a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, The Dragon’s Staircase is an intriguing, nonstop adventure that will keep readers enthralled from start to finish.

“Oh, shut up.”
The alarm beeped until she punched in the code. Alexa dropped her keys into the wooden bowl on the stand by the front door, dropped her handbag over a coat rack peg, and leaned against the closed door until she heard the click. She had seen in Craig’s eyes what must surely have been reflected in her own. The wanting, the need, and the impossibility of any kind of liaison between them. She was a wasted effort in the relationship department, and the sooner they both figured that out the less chance of heartache later.
She noticed the cold for the first time since entering, and this time the shiver through her body wasn’t from Craig. She pulled the pistol she’d slipped into her handbag back at Craig’s house. Jordan would still be out on the wilderness journey, or “trek” as they called them in their family. Why then did she not feel alone in the spacious house set back in the woods and away from anyone who could hear her scream?
“Get a grip, Alexa.” She walked through the lower level, checking every window and door, and did the same upstairs. The coldest of the air emanated from her bedroom and it was in the doorway she stood and surveyed the dark room. Everything was as she left it, except for the envelope propped against her mother’s old jewelry box on the dresser.
Her finger lay loose and ready near the trigger as she walked across the room, moonlight guiding her way. Alexa. The script on the front of the envelope appeared all too familiar and Alexa knew the nightmare had returned, but this time he was real.


Purchase Links
Authors’ Links
McKenna Grey Website 
Everly Archard Website 

Monday, August 15, 2016

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: J. J. Knights, Author

J. J. Knights, Author
J. J. Knights’ novel, the BENJAMIN'S FIELD Trilogy, tracks three generations of a family in the U.S. from WWI through WWII.  Knights has taken care to assure historical accuracy and believes that fiction can help educate if entertaining and accurate. Reviewers praise the “themes of loyalty, personal liberty as it relates to society’s demands, religious prejudice, racism, intolerance, and the overwhelming need for humans to forgive one another.”

A retired FBI Special Agent, Knights is currently working on his next novel based on actual events occurring in the American Civil War. When he’s not writing, he participates in Team Rubicon, an organization that provides disaster relief services. He loves spending time in Canada, volunteering his photography services, and beekeeping. And he enjoys chasing his 18-month old granddaughter around.

Q: In what genre would you place your BENJAMIN'S FIELD Trilogy? Literary fiction? Historical fiction? Why?

J. J. Knights: The BENJAMIN'S FIELD Trilogy is definitely historical fiction. 

The story is a saga covering three generations from World War I to World War II and beyond.

My research was painstaking and involved not only online sources, but actual books.  In addition to life’s lessons the story teaches, I want my characters to bring the historical events that shaped the 20th century alive for my readers. 

We live in a much more permissive society today than existed one hundred years ago.  Do young people today understand what it was like for an unwed mother back then?  How about for a child born with a disability?  What about the effects of organized religion or the importance of fraternal societies?

Does anyone remember the Golden Age of Aviation and how every child dreamt of becoming an aviator?  Do today’s young people know what an aviatrix is without looking it up on their smart phones?

Seven decades before 9/11 there was Pearl Harbor.  Like the attacks on 9/11, Pearl Harbor galvanized the American people.  Unlike 9/11, that galvanization wasn’t short-lived and helped bring us to victory.

How many people know an organization of civilian pilots sunk at least one German U-Boat during WWII or that such an organization even existed?

Well-written and accurately researched historical fiction has an important role to play in education.

Q: Reviewers say about the trilogy that “once the plot catches you it won't let you go” and that the series is “enormously entertaining and instructive.” How do you manage to entertain and also instruct readers?

J. J. Knights: To instruct seriously and well, one must be a bit of an entertainer.  If not, you will lose your audience, be they university students, student pilots, or readers who can easily put your book down and pick up someone else’s.

Imagine sitting in church or some other place of worship, a university classroom or some similar place.  If the priest, minister, rabbi, professor  or whomever simply stands there and drones on, you’ll fall asleep.  On the other hand, if he or she moves about in front of you and injects drama and humor into the sermon, they’ve got you.  We’ve all had boring teachers.

In the case of writing a story like BENJAMIN’S FIELD,  I used intensely emotional scenes and drama tempered with comic relief to keep the reader engaged, but not overwhelmed.  Humor is necessary to relieve the pressure created by the drama and emotion.  You don’t want the reader to feel bludgeoned.

In Book One, RESCUE, Benjamin, the protagonist, and the priest Templeman, have issues to resolve, so I put them in a very emotional, soul-baring encounter.  The pressure builds until Benjamin’s hired hand, Hiram, appears unexpectedly with a one-liner that will cause the reader to smile or laugh.

The reader must also be able to relate to what the character is experiencing.  That’s why I put the characters in highly charged situations that we’ve all experienced or at lease can understand.

For instance, throughout history, there have always been young men who terrified their parents by saying, “The country is at war. I’m joining the army.” It’s been said in different languages and accents, but it’s been said since humans have walked the earth. My brother and I did it to my parents and my son did it to my wife and I.  Even if it hasn’t happened to you, you can still relate to it. 

This, and much more, happens in the story.

Q: Your trilogy covers much of the 20th century. What kind of historical research did you do? How important is historical accuracy to credibility? Were you able to use history to support or amplify your plot and themes?

J. J. Knights: Since BENJAMIN’S FIELD is a historical novel, I did a great deal of research.  The Internet has made this chore much easier and economical (no need to travel to distant libraries, etc.), so I did much of the research online.  However, I also used real books.  Some I borrowed.  Some I purchased.  Actually, I enjoyed the research and found it very educational even if much of what I found didn’t make it into the story. 

I also spoke with subject matter experts, among them priests, a Catholic sister, an expert on canon law, a Freemason, a retired orthopaedic surgeon, a rabbi, a representative of Shriners Hospitals for Children, and an expert on the history of rail travel in western Pennsylvania.  I even took advantage of my own family genealogist and put my great, great grandfather, a Canadian sea captain, in the story, though I changed his role and place in the historical timeline.  I thanked all of them in the Acknowledgements.

I was very careful to make the story as historically accurate as possible, but sometimes I had to tweak history for the sake of the story.  For example, In Book Two ASCENT I have Jeremy Kyner, the protagonist, attending the 1932 Cleveland Air Show.  The airshow took place in August of that year.  I moved it to September for reasons explained in the Afterward. 

How important is historical accuracy to credibility?  I suppose this is subjective, but I’d say it’s very important.  Why should someone take what I’m saying seriously if I can’t get the facts right?  For instance, I wanted to refer to actual newspaper headlines and stories in Book One RESCUE.  I have Benjamin Kyner, the protagonist, reading that America had declared war against Germany in the April 6, 1917 edition of the old Pittsburgh Press.  I was able to quote the paper exactly thanks to the assistance I received from the Hillman Library at the University of Pittsburgh. The staff put me on to an online source for digitized newspapers going back to the 19th century. 

Depicting historical events accurately was very instrumental in amplifying the plot and themes.  A main theme in BENJAMIN’S FIELD is overcoming prejudice and intolerance.  In the previous paragraph, I spoke about using actual headlines from real newspapers from the period.  So, in the same issue of The Pittsburgh Press, we see Benjamin’s son, Francis, reading glorified front-page reports of courageous aviators.  A bit later, Hiram Bolt, Benjamin’s African American hired hand, picks up the paper and notices that stories about Black military units are buried in the back pages. 

So, yes, history is very important to the themes in the story.

Q: Who do you intend to read the trilogy? Young adults? All ages? What do you want them to walk away with?

J. J. Knights: I consider BENJAMIN’S FIELD to be in the Young Adult genre, though I believe it would be both entertaining and valuable for older readers, as well. 

As to why, here’s an excerpt from the Forward by retired astronaut Jay Apt:

Especially useful to young readers, but valuable to us all, are the story’s lessons about this journey: our greatest achievements are for others, not ourselves; overcoming difficulties makes us stronger; disappointments can be blessings in disguise; help can come from unexpected sources; sometimes one door must close so another can open; it’s futile to blame the universe or a higher being for pain that’s inflicted by our fellow human beings.

Q: Reviewers are pleased that you were able to integrate themes such as “loyalty, personal liberty as it relates to society’s demands, religious prejudice, racism, intolerance, and the overwhelming need for humans to forgive one another.” Did you intend to leave readers with some messages? Or did you write purely for their entertainment?

J. J. Knights: Authors write for different reasons, of course.  Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, once said that he doesn’t feel the need to write constantly, but only when an idea insists on getting out of his head and onto paper. 

That’s the way I felt about BENJAMIN’S FIELD.  The story was in my head begging to get out.

I didn’t write it merely for the sake of putting words on a computer screen. I certainly didn’t write it for the money!  I wrote the story because I truly believed it has socially redeeming value.  I wrote it because I think the themes and lessons presented in the story can be helpful to young people, especially those who may feel marginalized for whatever reason. 

I should explain that while aviation plays a strong supporting role in the story, it’s not what the trilogy is about.  My goal was to use aviation and flying as sort of a philosophical metaphor.  Jeremy Kyner is being held down by society, but uses aviation to lift himself up and eventually find final emancipation.  I hope the reader sees this.  Also, we use airplanes to take us places.  That’s how I use them in the story; to take the reader on a journey.  To underscore these concepts, I don’t use the words ‘airplane’ or ‘aircraft’ anywhere in the story.  That was a challenging feat to accomplish.

Q:  How helpful was your career as an FBI agent in creating your plot or characters?

J. J. Knights: As far as I can determine, I did not draw on my experiences in the FBI to write BENJAMIN’S FIELD.   That being said, the characters in a work of fiction are born in the imagination of the author.  Since we are the sum or our experiences, it’s inevitable that we’ll draw on our experiences and the people we’ve known to create the personalities that populate our stories. 

For instance, there’s a bit of my father in Benjamin.  Although he had no religion and often ridiculed it, as is the case with Benjamin, one of my father’s best friends was a Catholic priest.  As for the priest, some part of him is alive in the story’s Fr. James Templeman.

So, a psychologist might be able to dig out how my FBI career may have influenced my writing of the story, but I really can’t.

Q: Does the approach of heroes vs villains apply to your story? Or are your characters mostly a mix of heroic and not-so-heroic behavior? –flawed but well-intentioned?

J. J. Knights: There are villains, both without and within.

Since we’re all flawed, so are the characters in the story, both major and minor.  Both Benjamin Kyner, the protagonist in RESCUE, and his grandson Jeremy, the protagonist in ASCENT and EMANCIPATION, are definitely flawed, but in different ways. We follow them through their stories to learn how they overcome their flaws. Other characters, such as Fr. James Templeton, Randy Bridgewater and Phil Anders have glaring flaws, which are critical to helping Benjamin and Jeremy overcome theirs.

Yet, there are also real ‘external’ villains in the story, such as Jeremy’s eighth grade teacher, Regina Vilis (translate the Latin!) and the U-Boat commander in Emancipation. Why villains without and within?  Evil is necessary.  Without overcoming evil, we cannot find the good in ourselves and each other.

Q: How helpful was the use of humor to developing your characters or telling their story?

J. J. Knights: As I discussed earlier, humor is necessary as comic relief for the reader.  There are several very intensely emotional scenes in the story, and I don’t want the reader to feel as though I’m beating them up.  Also, I want the characters to be as real to the reader as they are to me.  Most people like to laugh.  So do the characters in BENJAMIN’S FIELD.

Q; What’s next? Will you continue to write novels?

J. J. Knights: I’m currently working on another historical novel based on actual events during the American Civil War.  I was inspired by my many visits to the Gettysburg National Battlefield in eastern Pennsylvania as well as my close association with Canada.  How are the two connected?  Stay tuned.

Q: Tell us about J. J. Knights. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

J. J. Knights: I recently joined a veterans’ service organization called Team Rubicon that provides disaster relief services both domestically and abroad. As a matter of fact, just prior to writing this, I spent several days in Wisconsin participating in a joint disaster response exercise with Team Rubicon and the Wisconsin Air National Guard. 

I’m an avid amateur photographer and perform a lot of ‘pro bono’ shoots for different organizations.  Very recently I was asked to cover the 2016 annual convention of the National Association of Priest Pilots in Pittsburgh.  As their name implies, NAPP is a group of priests who own or fly general aviation airplanes, often in support of their ministries.

I spend a good deal of time in Canada where I maintain a rental cottage (Northern Knights Sea View Cottage) on Canada’s smallest and most beautiful province, Prince Edward Island. Coincidentally, PEI was home to Benjamin Kyner’s wife, Delinah.  Delinah’s character was inspired by a real French Canadian woman of the same name I knew as a child on PEI.

I have to mention that I have the fun of chasing around my 18-month old granddaughter, Lillian Noelle, and, as I mention on the back of my books, I’m also a beekeeper.  

About J. J. Knights

J. J. Knights is a retired FBI Special Agent. His assignments included violent crimes and fugitives, property crimes, civil rights investigations, and foreign counterintelligence. He was a surveillance pilot, SWAT sniper, media representative, and worked in the FBI's technical investigations program. Knights also volunteered as a Civil Air Patrol pilot, squadron commander and public information officer. He is an emeritus member of the Imperial Public Relations Committee of Shriners International and Shriners Hospitals for Children. A native of New England, Knights resides in southwestern Pennsylvania with his wife and honeybees. He has authored several published articles on law enforcement recruiting. Benjamin's Field is his first novel.

Book One: RESCUE

Forward by retired NASA astronaut Jay Apt, PhD, veteran of four space shuttle missions.

Benjamin’s Field: Rescue’ has been awarded a five-star review by the literary site ‘Reader’s Favorite’ (readersfavorite.com).

Benjamin’s Field follows a rural farm family over the course of sixty years from the viewpoint of the youngest member, Jeremy Kyner. Beginning with America’s entry into World War I, Jeremy and his family are followed through war, peace, triumph, tragedy, heartbreak, and final happiness as the reader examines the role of family loyalty versus individual need, personal liberty and how it relates to society’s demands, religious prejudice, racism, intolerance, the role of charity, and the overwhelming need for humans to forgive one another.

While still in manuscript form, Benjamin’s Field, Book One RESCUE, was advanced to the “Best Sellers Chart” of the peer review website YouWriteOn.com. In Book One RESCUE a widowed farmer suffers an unspeakable loss during World War I. Burdened with grief, he learns from his nemesis, a dogmatic Catholic priest, that his son’s fiance has given birth to their crippled child. Unable to cope with the child’s deformity and confounded by his illegitimate birth, the farmer is battered by those closest to him with accusations of cruelty and intolerance until he finally reveals his true feelings and the reasons underlying his apparent bigotry.

Set in a historical context, BENJAMIN’S FIELD is a compelling story about human dignity overcoming adversity, prejudice, and hatred. Interwoven with lighter moments, this dramatic and moving tale will take the reader on an emotional and sometimes humorous journey.

Book Two: ASCENT

In Book Two ASCENT Jeremy Kyner, now a teenaged boy, becomes the focus of his teacher’s animosity because of his infirmity. With the help of two dedicated school friends and an unconventional Jewish blacksmith, he takes to the sky, defeating his teacher’s plans to institutionalize him and forcing her to divulge her own, dark, secret.

BENJAMIN’S FIELD is a historical novel about human dignity overcoming adversity, prejudice, and hatred. Interwoven with lighter moments, this dramatic and moving story will take the reader on a journey of inner exploration.


Book Three EMANCIPATION opens as America is on the cusp of World War II. Jeremy Kyner, now a man, is barred from military service at a time when America is almost defenseless against marauding German submarines. Finally joining a group of volunteer civilian pilots that represents the country’s best hope to counter the Germans, Jeremy confronts a deadly enemy from an unexpected quarter and is offered a chance of achieving final emancipation.

BENJAMIN’S FIELD is a historical novel about human dignity overcoming adversity, prejudice, and hatred. Interwoven with lighter moments, this dramatic and moving novel will take the reader on a journey of inner exploration.

“Ben, what in blazes is going on?” asked Hiram. “Is that what I think it is?  I never saw one before.”  
“It sure looks like a flyin’ machine,” Benjamin answered. “I’m as surprised as you, but I’m gettin’ mighty damned mad that some fool just scattered my cows and knocked me into the dirt.”
Hiram doffed his hat and wiped his forehead.
“Why is that thing buzzin’ around here?” he asked.
“Hiram, you know as much as I do.  But if I get my hands on him, whoever is in that thing’ll wish he hadn’t come here to show off.  Damned idiot.”
Together, they watched as the machine flew east parallel to the field.  Then suddenly, just as they began to think it would continue on and leave them in peace, the strange craft turned left again and began to drop from the sky. As it neared the end of the field, it turned again, lowering its nose and aligning itself with the field. Just as it appeared to the two men that it would again scream over them, the tempo of the engine’s roar slowed.  The machine neared the ground and leveled off a few feet above the grass. The cows, now scattered, were no longer a danger to the flying machine.
Benjamin and Hiram stared slack-jawed as the boxy kite-looking thing approached them.  The roar of its engine dropped to a murmur and its wheels touched the grass. It bounced along the rough field, wings wobbling, toward the two gawking spectators.
Benjamin, alternately amazed and then angry at what he was seeing, began to allow his anger to hold sway.  Resentment was welling up inside him as if it had a life of its own; resentment at this intruder who surprised him; resentment at having to hurl himself to the ground like a frightened fawn; resentment at having no control over what was happening on his own land. 
Hiram, sensing Benjamin’s coiling anger, looked down at his fists. He placed his hand on Benjamin’s shoulder and said, “Ben, let’s take it easy. We don’t know what’s goin’ on here.  It could be he’s in trouble.”  
The quivering, cloth-wrapped machine trundled to a stop a few feet from Benjamin and Hiram. The long, slowly swinging wooden propeller emitted loud clicks at longer and longer intervals as it finally swung to a stop and puffed out one last gasp of blue-white smoke from the exhaust pipes on the top of the cowling. The machine had two wings, one above the other, just like in the newspaper photographs. Under the top wing, Benjamin could see two leather-encased heads protruding from the machine’s body.  One was a few feet behind the other. Both wore goggles that gave them bug-like appearances.  For the second time that day, Benjamin was speechless as the bug figure in front lifted his goggles to his forehead, waved at him and with a big smile said, “Hi, Pa!”


Exclusive to Amazon

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Lynn Steward, Author

Lynn Steward, Author
Reviewers describe Lynn Steward’s literary fiction novel, WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN, as “a perfect Time warp read for all fashionistas” that  “offers a detailed and somewhat prosaic insight into the operations of retail fashion in New York in the Seventies.” It is the second  novel in the Dana McGarry series.  Alathough set in the 1970s, Steward says her “theme of ambition and the consequences of life’s choices” can be followed regardless of the time period.

Steward, who had a  career in the New York  fashion industry, is currently pitching the Dana McGarry series as a TV series. She prefers indoor activities and enjoys cooking, reading, and redecorating.

Q: In what genre would you place WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN? Is it romance? Literary fiction? Historical fiction? 

Lynn Steward: Literary Fiction

Q:  Why did you set your Dana McGarry series in the 1970s?  Were you able to draw from this time period to tell your story?

Lynn Steward: Yes. It was the time of my career in the New York fashion world.

Q: As a participant in the New York fashion industry, did you base your characters on real people? How do you engage readers to care what happens to Dana McGarry?

Lynn Steward: The main characters were not inspired by fashion leaders. I do introduce real people from the fashion world but they are woven into the plot in their real-life role.

Q: Could your novel have been set in a different place and time and still have told your story? Did setting and time period contribute to your plot?

Lynn Steward: Yes. The theme of ambition and the consequences of life’s choices are universal and transcend any period.

Q: Did the role of heroes vs villains play a role in telling your story? If so, what makes an effective villain?

Lynn Steward: An effective villain gets under your skin – he/she is a person you love to hate.

Q: Did you write WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN to entertain solely, or did you embed a few messages along the way?

Lynn Steward: No embedded messages, although I’m finding that readers bring their own experiences to the story, either relating to the period or their career journey.

Q: WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN is part of a series. What do you find are the benefits of writing a series? Should we read them in order? Or are they standalone?

Lynn Steward: Reading the series in order gives you the benefit of seeing the characters grow and you have a better understanding of their new circumstances, and the choices they are making. They are building on their life experiences – for better or worse.

Q: How helpful is humor in creating your characters or telling your story?

Lynn Steward: Ironically, one of Dana’s antagonists injects the best humor.  As snarky as she is, she often makes me laugh out loud. I don’t think, however, that I make a concerted effort to inject humor, it only comes naturally for a few characters.

Q: What’s next?

Lynn Steward:  I am currently pitching the Dana McGarry Series as a TV series.

Q: Tell us about Lynn Steward. What do you like to do when you’re note writing?

Lynn Steward: I’m an indoor girl. If I’m not in the kitchen cooking, I’m in a comfortable chair reading, or redecorating a room. I always have a few projects in motion.

About Lynn Steward

Lynn Steward, a veteran of the New York fashion industry and a buyer on the team that started the women’s department at Brooks Brothers, created the Dana McGarry series, set at a transformational time in the 1970s world of fashion and in the lives of multigenerational women. WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN is the second volume in the series. A VERY GOOD LIFE Steward’s debut novel, was published in March 2014.

About WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN  vol. 2 in the Dana McGarry Series 
As a fashion buyer at one of New York’s most glamorous department stores, Dana McGarry is a tastemaker, her keen instinct for fashion trends and innovative ideas coupled with a razor sharp business sense. But like the elegant and conservative store that employs her, Dana is caught between two eras—between being liked and standing her ground, between playing by the rules and being a maverick. Dana is sensitive and beautiful, but what you see is not what you get. Behind the cool and attractive facade, Dana is both driven by her need to control yet impeded by her expectation of perfectionism. As she competes to replace women at the top of their game, she is challenged by jealous colleagues. And when a wealthy love interest wants to open doors and support her ambition, she embraces Coco Chanel’s mantra of “never wanting to weigh more heavily on a man than a bird.” As the women’s movement paves the way, Dana finds a path to the career she wants at the expense of happiness that will have to wait.

About A VERY GOOD LIFE – vol. 1 in the Dana McGarry Series 
Although Lynn Steward’s debut novel, A VERY GOOD LIFE, takes place in 1970s New York City, the emotional story transcends any period.  Dana McGarry is an "it" girl, living a privileged lifestyle of a well-heeled junior executive at a glamorous department store. With a storybook husband and a fairytale life, change comes swiftly and unexpectedly. Can Dana find her place in the new world where women have a voice, or will she allow herself to be manipulated into doing things that go against her growing self-confidence?

A VERY GOOD LIFE chronicles the perils and rewards of Dana’s journey, alongside some of the most legendary women of the twentieth century. From parties at Café des Artistes to the annual Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony, from meetings with business icons like Estée Lauder to cocktail receptions with celebrity guests like legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. Steward’s intimate knowledge of the period creates the perfect backdrop for a universal story about a woman’s quest for self-fulfillment .


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Twitter: @LynnStewardNY