Author Interview with Brigitte Morse-Starkenburg!

If you’re a frequent reader of my book reviews, you know that I have read and loved each of Brigitte Morse-Starkenburg’s books. They are my lifeblood during these trying times.

So, I was extremely excited to be able to sit down (virtually anyway) with her to complete this interview. Without further ado, a word from one of my favorite self-published authors!!

  1. Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I was born in the Netherlands and lived there until I was 23 years old, when I decided to join my fiancé after having had a long distance relationship for 3 years. We met in Assen (where I lived and he worked), but he had to return to England after a year, and we decided to give the long distance thing a go. It was the best decision as we’re still together and have a family with three gorgeous teenage children (if you leave out all the teenager horrendousness lol).

  1. What does a normal day look like for you?

What a day in the life of Brigitte looks like, depends on whether I am working or not as I still have a part time job at a secondary school. I used to be a teacher of geography, but now I invigilate during exam times and go on school trips! Obviously due to Covid, they have all been cancelled and exams have only just started again, so haven’t worked much over the last year. When I’m not working, I get up fairly late, do a couple of chores and shopping, walk the dog around lunch time, have some lunch at a pub occasionally when Steve joins me on my walk, do some writing in the afternoon, be a taxi driver for my kids when they get back from school to their sports and activities and nag them to do homework, do some more writing, cook some dinner, read for a while, watch some Netflix with youngest daughter or oldest when she’s home, Get the youngest to bed, sit down, do some more reading with a glass of wine (though not on Monday and Tuesday, our dry days) Then stay up way too late doing some more reading and watching Netflix with Steve and, by then, with some rum and coke. Go to bed way too late, rarely before 1am.

  1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I used to write when I was a teenager. I always wanted to tell a story. I loved reading and the world it transported me into, and I wanted to create worlds myself. Unfortunately, I never managed to finish one book! Then years later, when my children were a little older and I wasn’t working a demanding job the itching to write started again.

  1. What does your family think of your writing?

I think my family is quite proud but they are also extremely down to earth. Steve supports me with my terrible computer skills and gives me the time to write. My youngest is the most keen in that she has listened to me read my books out loud to her in the editing process, and she loves them! (I had to edit some of the language whilst reading, even though I damn well know she knows and probably uses the words with her friends!) My eldest occasionally chips in with helpful suggestions, but my son probably doesn’t even know what the book is about!J

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

The actual writing of the story excites and energizes me. It is the best part of writing; making up a world where you have ultimate control! I think I am a bit of a control freak and in real life that is not practical as more or less everything is compromised by events and other people. This does make me sound rather weird, but it is the main reason I love writing! The editing phase of writing generally exhausts me and so does the promotion of the book. Not my favourite parts at all.

  1. What inspired you to write The Sensorians?

A little idea started playing in my head based on the  sensory issues my daughter experiences due to her ASD. For her, quite often it has been a negative experience as smells particularly can be challenging, but I was thinking what if it was actually a gift, and something you can use in a positive way? That was where the idea came from. Then there are different aspects of ASD in the characters, but ones that are quite often not associated with ASD but presents quite often in girls with ASD, like extreme empathy, almost making you really feel other people’s emotional pain.

  1. How long did it take you to write The Sensorians: Awakening? What about its sequel Trust? Will there be another?

The first draft of book 1 took about a year and a half to write, then I tinkered with it for ages, started writing book 2 at the same time as editing book 1, to finally dive into the world of publishing after about three year from the start. Lockdown gave me the time to really look into how I wanted to publish and I decided to go independent with KDP. I published book 2, Trust, 5 months after I published book 1. I plan to have book three in the trilogy published in June/July 2021. After that, who knows! Hopefully a new project! I do have some ideas swirling around in my head.

  1. What is your favorite part of The Sensorians? No spoilers, of course!

My favourite parts to write are the ones with Zack in it. I love his mainly grumpy arrogant dominant character. I like the attraction between the three main characters, how it develops and how they deal with it, but I also like the action parts.

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

My spirit animal is a black feisty horse or a wolf.

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

Literary success to me is finishing a book or in this case the Trilogy where I feel happy with it, but the icing on the cake would be that people read my books and have an opinion about it, hopefully a positive one!

  1. What advice would you give a fledgling writer?

 Advice to fledgling writers, coming from an not very experienced writer could be pointless, but I would say; just start writing, don’t keep postponing.

Reader Questions!!

  1. What sort of books do you read?

I have a very eclectic taste in books, including young/new adult, fantasy, literary thrillers, classics, women’s lit, erotica, psychological thrillers, dystopian, sci-fi, detectives. Anything that interests me I will read, no matter the genre.

  1. What’s your favorite book?

How can one answer that? One of the books that I often recommend as it made a big impact on me is the Book Thief by Markus Zuzak,  another favourite was the Secret History by Donna Tartt, and Wild Swans by Jung Chang, but I’m not ashamed to say that The Twilight Series are a little obsession for me!

  1. Book that made you cry?

Lots of books make me cry. An obvious one was You Before Me but also New Moon in Twilight!

(The interviewer would like to point out that while she shares a love of Twilight with Mrs. Brigitte New Moon is her absolute least favorite and she thinks it should burn in a hell fire.)

  1. Book that really inspired you?

Books that inspire me are any books that I am reading at that moment! Every book inspires me in a different way, even if I hate it or can’t finish it (inspiring me never to write like that). 1984 by Orwell, inspired me as a teenager and A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley really got me into the dystopian genre. Enid Blyton gave me the love for reading as a child.

  1. A book you didn’t like at all? (Maybe one you felt like you were supposed to like.)

I hated the sequel to The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Such a disappointment. Also cannot finish When The Crawdads Sing, hate it.

  1. What’s your perfect reading environment?

 I can read anywhere and everywhere, but I love to snuggle up on the sofa with a glass of wine and read.

  1. Do you listen to music while you read/write, or do you prefer silence?

I don’t specifically listen to music when I read, but I don’t mind it.

Well, that’s it! You can pick up Brigitte’s two AMAZING books at the links below! Follow her on ALL the social media platforms! Until next week, then. 😉

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheSensorians/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brigitte__books/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Brigitte-Morse-Starkenburg/e/B08BTH1CDT

Author Spotlight: Paul McMurrough

So, this week on all my social media platforms, I’m featuring a fellow friend and author named Paul McMurrough. Paul is the author of a dystopian novel called Reliance.

About the Book

I did a full review on Reliance before (which can be found here). It is literally the best book I’ve read this year. Well written and an absolute page-turner, this book.

Because I loved it so much, I asked Paul if he would be willing to answer some questions about his career, life, writing habits, and reading habits. He was more than happy to oblige. I’ll drop lots of social media links below, but now, without further ado, my interview with the lovely Paul McMurrough!

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I am a native of Belfast, N.Ireland. I lived briefly in the US and have travelled extensively throughout Europe and America, mostly through my work as a business and management consultant. My educational background was more Maths and Science focused rather than the Arts or Literature due to a struggle with dyslexia in my early years.

What does a normal day look like for you?

I mostly work from home (more so now in this Covid era). My home office is a small room with french doors out onto a balcony. A typical day will see me nose deep in project plans and spreadsheets. I try to make time in the evenings for writing (either research, outlining or the actual good stuff of writing itself).

Do you still have a “day job,” or have you promoted yourself to full-time writer?

Unfortunately yes. As much as I would love to, I have no illusions of ever being able to give up my day job to pursue writing full time. For now writing is a hobby. The process is cathartic and the feeling I get from seeing my words printed in an actual book is amazing.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

It was only in the past couple of years that I seriously considered writing. Until the age of fifteen I could barely read and so the thought of being able to write something of my own would have been shut down very quickly. In my earlier days, before I learned to manage and work around my dyslexia, my inner critic would have been more like an inner bully who knew my darkest secrets, fears and weaknesses – he would never have let me even consider that I could have the ability to write a book.

What does your family think of your writing?

I worked on my first book for about 12 months and didn’t tell any of my family until I held the physical copy in my hand. To say they were surprised would be an understatement. Since then, they have been nothing but supportive and are now quizzing me about the timeline for the next book in the series.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing definitely energizes me, when I get into a flow hours can pass like minutes. Reading on the other hand is exhausting for me as it takes total concentration.

What inspired you to write Reliance?

I have always liked posing the question “What if…?” usually related to a slight variation on reality. In the case of Reliance that “What if” concerned the sudden loss of power and what the immediate impact would be on society. For example what would YOU do if the power went off with no warning and was off for say a day, a week or even a month? The more research I did the more alarming were the answers – there are no aliens or zombies involved but it is frightening how quickly the mundane everyday things which we take for granted, can cause serious issues when they are no longer available.

How long did it take you to write Reliance?

When I first made the decision that I was going to commit my daydreams to paper, it was important to me that everything in the book would be realistic and believable (as much as possible). With that in mind I think I spent about six months researching a myriad of topics; everything from Space Weather, electricity grid infrastructure, the mechanics of gas and water supply, right down to how petrol stations work. I was a little nervous though (particularly living in Northern Ireland) when I started Googling things like – “How many active soldiers are present in N.Ireland?” or “What kind of weapons do prisons have and where are they kept?”  – I wouldn’t have been overly surprised to hear a size 10 boot kick my door in and uniformed men haul me away in the middle of the night. Thankfully that didn’t happen and after about 6 months of research and planning it took another 6 months to get it written and published.

I know that Reliance is the first book in the “Powerless Earth Series.” How many more books will there be in the series?

Book 2 of the series has been researched and outlined however, I have paused work on it to do a short novelette based on two of the characters from Reliance. The working title is “Dr Death”. It’s turning out to be much darker than Reliance. I am aiming for a release at the end of November. The second full novel should be published in the Spring of 2021. There will likely be a third novel in the series and possibly one or two more novelettes.

What is your favorite part of Reliance? No spoilers, of course!

There was a scene involving Martin (the Physics Professor), writing the scene took a lot of me, I found myself getting very emotional and actually had to take a break after writing it. 

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

An eagle.

What does literary success look like to you?

Success for me is keeping the self-doubt monster at bay long enough to get the book finished, once it is out there I know that not many people will ever hear about it but as long as those who do, find it entertaining, then that’s enough for me.

What advice would you give a fledgling writer?

Learn the technical skills required and the rules that should be followed. You don’t always have to follow the rules but, to knowingly break the rules for a reason is one thing, to break the rules because you didn’t know them is something else.

What sort of books do you read?

A wide range – mostly thrillers, dystopian and post-apocalyptic.

What’s your favorite book?

More the series than any one book out of it – The Remaining Series by D.J. Molles.

Book that made you cry?

Don’t think I have ever cried while reading a book but I’ve certainly been close to it a couple of times when writing.

Book that really inspired you?

The Creative Writer’s Toolbelt Handbook by Andrew Chamberlain helped me when I first embarked on my writing journey (and his podcast of the same name). As well as teaching the techniques and skills he also interviewed many guests from across the industry.

A book you didn’t like at all? (Maybe one you felt like you were supposed to like.)

The Stand by Stephen King (How dare I?) – Because reading is so exhausting for me, I prefer shorter books and at near 2 million pages The Stand is not a short book. It just seemed needlessly long winded to me.

What’s your perfect reading environment?

By a pool in the sun but I don’t have a pool and I live in Ireland so I don’t have the sun – so sitting on the balcony or in the back garden on a good day, or in front of the fire on a bad day.

Do you listen to music while you read/write, or do you prefer silence?

Have tried listening to music while writing, just doesn’t seem to work for me. I need total silence when reading so music would not be an option there.

Author Page: Reliance.fyi/Home

Amazon: Reliance.fyi/AmazonUS

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pmcmurrough

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pmcmurroughAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pmcmurrough

I seriously cannot recommend this book enough. You will not regret picking up a copy! Good news: It’s free today and tomorrow!!