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Check It Out: Author Interview with Zach Chopchinski

Some of you might remember that for the first time last April, I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, hanging out in a virtual “cabin” with a bunch of other crazy Wrimos and having wild pillow fights supporting each other in our writing efforts, in the process making some neat new friends. One of the friends in question is ZachChop, aka Zachary Paul Chopchinski.LLP_5958

Zach’s written a novel called The Curious Tale of Gabrielle, and he is re-launching it in a new & improved version (it’s always good to make a good thing better, no?). To this end, he’s doing a blog tour, suitcase full of novels in hand, to promote his book, and he asked if our little corner of the web could be one of the stops on the tour. Now, we love having friends over to stay, so of course I said yes.

So here we are, sitting at the kitchen table with cups of coffee, tea, hot chocolate or double-malt whiskey in front of us, embarking on amo vitam‘s first ever author interview (ta-dah!). Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cuppa, and have a listen-in.Gabrielle_Final_525x8_BW_290_Front_PROOF

  1. So, Zach, seeing as I’ve not yet read your book, I don’t really know anything about it. What’s it about? What happens?

 The Curious Tale of Gabrielle is about the journey of a young girl named Gabrielle who receives a mysterious bracelet from a stranger. The bracelet allows her to go back in time and re-live the lives of those who previously owned it. In this book, Gabrielle finds herself 500 years in the past, in English-ruled Scotland. Here, she finds herself in a battle between the town and the lord who wishes to take Gabrielle’s friend, Heather, as his bride against her will. Suddenly, Gabrielle finds herself in an adventure to end all adventures as she tries to save Heather and figure out why she is having this journey.

  1. That sounds really cool. What inspired you to write it?

One day, I was checking out an old antique shop near where I worked in Portland, Maine, when I came across a really cool silver bracelet. The shop owner told me that the bracelet was 500 years old and I remember thinking to myself WOW, imagine if this was a human, what stories it would tell!

  1. Wow, I’d love to see that! By a weird coincidence, I just wrote a story that prominently features a mysterious silver bracelet, myself – silver-bracelet inspiration must have been in the air. So, why the re-launch of Gabrielle?

I decided to re-launch TCTG because I felt like I didn’t do it justice the first time. I was really just excited to publish my first novel and there was a lot of things I rushed through. Once I was published and I actually sat back and thought about it, I realized there was more of the story to tell. Through many, many long discussions with my wife about plot twists and story lines, I decided to introduce another main character, Morrigan, in the first book rather than wait.

  1. As I said, making a good thing better is excellent work. Tell me about your life as a writer. What gets your creative juices flowing? Where and when do you do your best writing?

I generally do my best writing at night. I also have to be secluded in my office with incense and my writing play list. Having ADHD, routine is really important to me. It is equally—if not more so—important in my writer life. If the conditions aren’t perfect, I just don’t get any writing done, no matter how much I want to. So, when I do find myself in the perfect conditions, I have to take advantage of it.

  1. I hear you – writing conditions matter a lot to me, too. What’s the hardest thing about writing for you? The best thing?

I find that the hardest thing about writing, is actually sitting down and creating. When you’re still in the conception phase and everything is in your head, it remains perfect and without flaws. Once you start drawing it out, imperfections emerge, difficulties arise and the work becomes staggering, and can become quite discouraging at times. With that in mind, I would have to say that the best thing about writing, as despicable as it sounds, is just driving through it and accomplishing your goal.

  1. Yes, getting a story finished is hugely rewarding! Now, if you could only achieve one thing with your writing, what would it be?

For my writing to remain loved and cherished after I’m gone. I want to create something thats beautiful that many people from different walks of life appreciate and come together on. This may seem like a tall order to fill, but it’s all I really want out of my writing.

  1. What’s next on your drawing board (or plot pile, as it were)? Is there something?

Presently I am working on the second book in the Gabrielle series, but more excitingly, I am now developing a more in depth plot line that will span the remainder of the books. Without revealing too much information, lets just say that Gabrielle doesn’t yet know what she’s gotten herself into. Developing Gabrielle into the song character that she is destined to become, there needs to be an equally powerful force in direct opposition that compels her to rise to that challenge. I have a feeling that Gabrielle will be meeting with this character sooner than she thinks.

Something else that I have been working on—well lets say toying with—is something called Webley and The World Machine. I don’t have much down on it yet but the idea that I have floating around in my head is something along the lines of steampunk fantasy meets Dungeons and Dragons meets The Chronicles of Narnia (without the religious undertones).

  1. Ooh, that sounds really interesting! But now for something completely different: What was your favorite treat when you were a kid? You know, the kind of thing you’d blow your allowance on (if you got any)? And when’s the last time you had some?

WOW, this made me think. I would have to say that my favorite childhood treat was Rice Crispy Treats. I remember every Friday afternoon my grandmother would pick me up from school and we would start the drive to the ferry boat that would take us to Kelley’s Island. I remember jumping in the back seat of the van and there would always be a baggy of Rice Crispy Treats for me to nibble on for the drive. I would have to say the last time I had one was when my wife worked at Starbucks…so probably last December.

  1. What about Gabrielle – what’s her favorite treat? Does she get to have any in the book?

Gabrielle’s favorite snack is Chamomile tea with honey and ginger cookies. Yes, she gets some when she first meets Alexandria who mysteriously knows that these are her favorites. This scene sets an ominous tone for the book and probes Gabrielle’s curiosity. 

 I must say, I like chamomile tea myself. I’ll have to go hang out with Gabrielle and find out if we share more than those preferences.

Well, thank you very much, Zach, for stopping by here on amo vitam and sharing your book with us!

And that, folks, was Zachary Paul Chopchinski. He can be found at his website, zachchop.com, where you can find links to get The Curious Tale of Gabrielle in any format you’d like.

Life, the Universe, an Author Interview and a Book Re-launch. Go check it out!

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Check It Out: MAGIC MOST DEADLY, by E. L. Bates

I just finished re-reading E. L. BatesMagic Most Deadly. It’s Agatha Christie meets Harry Potter – or, to put it another way, Christie’s Tommy & Tuppence crossed with Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer’s The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (which, in turn, is Jane Austen/Georgette Heyer with magic). Ugh, too many analogies, which only the true aficionados among you will understand.

To put it quite plainly: Magic Most Deadly is a 1920’s murder mystery with magic. And it’s great.

The main character is Maia Whitney, a young woman who served as a nurse in the Great War. Maia is eminently likeable, and what’s more, quite real. She’s intelligent, she’s capable – but she reads quite true as a young woman who needs to find out who she really is. What I particularly like about her is that even though she has no qualms about taking  drastic action when the situation calls for it, she doesn’t just shrug off the experience and go on her merry  way – she needs time to process it, to come to terms with her actions and with its consequences. Maia is both sensible and sensitive, and the reader gets to appreciate both of those sides to her, and to enjoy her growth as she makes her way through the events of this story.

Maia’s relationship with Len is very believable, too, and the more so for Maia’s not spending most of the book bellyaching about him and how she should react or relate to him – and vice versa. The focus of the plot is the mystery – in a sense, a “magic mystery” as much of a “murder mystery”. We know fairly early on “whodunnit” (at least we think we do – did he actually do it, or not?), but the real question is what is really going on – and what’s it all have to do with magic, which Maia is only just discovering exists.

It’s an intriguing story which keeps me reading, and keeps me rooting for the characters. And at the end of it it leaves me wanting more. I sure hope to see more Maia and Len stories in the future!

And here’s the official blurb, with links to where to buy it at the bottom:

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Magic Most Deadly

Book One in the Intelligent Magic series

by E.L. Bates

For Maia Whitney, life after the Great War is dull, monotonous, and drab. Nursing soldiers in the bloody fields of France hadn’t been easy, but it was better than life at home, standing in her sisters’ shadows. There seems no chance for a change until the night she witnesses a murder in the woods.

The last thing Magic Intelligence Agent Lennox Davies needs is this outspoken, independent lady crashing his investigation. Bad enough that a murder happened on his watch; much less that she had to see it happen. He works alone, and he does not have time for Miss Maia Whitney’s interference.

But as Maia’s own magical talent blossoms and danger thickens around the two with every step they take, before long Len and Maia must rely on each other in a fashion neither has ever done before. If they can’t learn to work together, England itself might topple. Even worse, if Maia doesn’t learn to control her magic soon, she might do more to destroy them even than their shadowy enemy.

Can they set aside their stubbornness and self-reliance in time to save themselves—and all England?

Available through Amazon, Smashwords, Nook, and soon-to-come iTunes.

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