Monday, February 27, 2017

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Mark Flagel, Author

Mark Flagel, Author
Mark Flagel offers PEACH MOMENTS, his new short piece to inspire readers to realize that recalling their “peach moments” can help guide them through tough times. He believes that these special moments of happiness and exhilaration can help overcome some of life’s hardships.

In a previous interview here, Flagel discussed his novel PRICE OF GOLD based on the East German secret doping of its female athletes in the 1976 Olympics—an occurrence that he believes needs to be better understood. 

He is currently considering setting up a web page for people to describe their “peach moments” and writing a new book with the working title “A Millennial Handbook”.  Flagel is a retired lawyer, who has always wanted to write. 

Q: What drove you to write PEACH MOMENTS?  Why reach out to people to get them to savor their best moments?

Mark Flagel: We live in a complex, mysterious, painful, unjust, yet magnificent and wondrous world. When I was 18 years old, I was a bit pissed off at the world, at what I perceived to be the unfairness of having to work 30 hours a week to help support myself through college, at the fact that so many people had so much more than I had. Then I bit into that peach and dissolved into a state of pure euphoria.

When I emerged from that moment, I felt maybe, just maybe, my and anyone else’s relative disadvantages didn’t matter so much, because I knew no one on earth, no matter how advantaged they were, could experience more bliss than I just had in that moment, and everyone is capable of having similar moments. Disadvantage and injustice and hardship abound. We see it everywhere. It can be debilitating.

So I felt it important to reach out and write a very short piece that will (I hope) be inspirational, motivational and contemplative, and suggest to everyone that peach moments are one of life’s great equalizers, and that a reflection on the peach moments of your life can lift you up through difficult times.

Q: One of your reviewers says PEACH MOMENTS is “an inspirational book for all ages.” Did you intend for it to be for a specific age group? Or do you believe that even the “youth” should take the time to relish their special moments? Who can benefit most from your book?

Mark Flagel: I didn’t intend to be limiting. Peach moments are blind to age. They're for everyone, and the idea of taking time to relish special moments is a universal one. It’s my hope that everyone who reads PEACH MOMENTS will benefit in some way, either by focusing on, remembering, and looking forward to their own peach moments, or just by thinking about some of the complexities of life addressed in the book. Of course, some parts of the book are intended for mature audiences, as peach moments can involve physical intimacy and other adult oriented situations, so parents might want to exercise some discretion with children.

Q: What is there in your story to make people cherish their best moments? How do you make readers care about your “character” or comprehend your message?

Mark Flagel: The goal of PEACH MOMENTS is to have readers focus, not on me or my character, but on themselves. The articulation of some of my own peach moments is intended to evoke reactions like: “Wow, I remember a moment like that;” or: “I felt the same way when [fill in the blank]”. Jumping back and forth between some of life’s complexities, injustices and mysteries, on the one hand, and peach moments, on the other, is intended to get readers to think about their own views on these issues, but to end up back within the realm of blissful remembrances of their peach moments.

Q: Do you believe that your message is relevant universally?

Mark Flagel: I do. Mysteries and complexities and ups and downs follow everyone through life. Everyone should be reminded that, no matter their circumstances in life, they can experience moments that take them to the highest of heights, and that eliminate or at least lessen some of the disparities they feel and injustices they see around them.

Q: Can you provide 3-5 tips to help us cherish our special moments?

Mark Flagel: Take a moment, every day, to reflect on the positive. If you feel sad or angry or stressed out, pull out a photo album of your last family gathering or vacation. Then think about the next time you’ll be seeing family or good friends or celebrating a special occasion. Put your favorite music on, turn it up, and let it envelop you. Dance. Call someone close to hear the sound of their voice. Think about some of the simple things that add joy to your life.

Q: What do you believe prevents people from appreciating their special moments?

Mark Flagel: I don’t think of anything as preventing people from appreciating special moments. That said, life has a habit of knocking people down. The world is full of hardship and injustice. Difficulties can be suffocating, and the swirl of life can cause anyone to feel angst and sadness and stress. PEACH MOMENTS is really just a simple way for me to suggest a path to rise above and know that each and every one of us, despite the difficulties of life, can pull ourselves up to the highest heights of bliss, happiness and serenity.

Q: You’ve also written PRICE OF GOLD, a novel about the East German secret doping of its female athletes in the 1976 Olympics. Did you enjoy writing one more than the other? Do you prefer fiction over inspirational writing?

Mark Flagel: The books are very different, and I greatly enjoyed writing both. PRICE OF GOLD allowed me to fictionalize a very real and troubling doping story that I still feel has been largely and unfortunately overlooked. PEACH MOMENTS, on the other hand, allowed me to express a message of hope, optimism and egalitarianism, with emphasis on this last notion – that peach moments are great equalizers; they are for everyone, and allow everyone, regardless of circumstance, to reach the highest heights imaginable.

Q: You spent most of your life as a lawyer. What caused you to want to write?

Mark Flagel: Ever since I can remember wanting to be anything, I wanted to be a writer. I decided, though, early on, to focus on making a living first, so I chose law. It was a good choice for me, as I greatly enjoyed my 31 years as a practicing attorney. But the yearning to write things (other than legal stuff) never left, so I decided to pull the trigger and indulge that yearning.

Q: What’s next?

Mark Flagel: I’m considering building a website to allow people to post their own peach moments and comment on the peach moments of others. I’m also working on a book that’s tentatively titled “A Millennial Handbook”. Stay tuned on both fronts.

Q: Tell us about Mark Flagel. In a previous interview you said you like to play poker, walk and think, and spend time with your family. What special moments have you had recently that you’d like to share?

Mark Flagel: All those things are still true! I’ve been very blessed this past year to have taken some fun trips with family, to Galway and London and Paris and Berlin and good old Big Bear, California. There were many special moments, and I’ll share one. My older son is in the Army. My wife and I took him, three of his Army and one of his Navy buddies up to Big Bear just before Christmas. One evening we all sat around the dinner table, and I asked them if they were happy having chosen a path that will likely call on each of them to put their lives at risk defending our country. To a man, they didn’t blink, they didn’t flinch, and they each, with gleams in their eyes, said they couldn’t be happier or more proud and they couldn’t conceive of doing anything else. There were many reasons for the tears in my eyes at that moment. We are the free; they are the brave. I, too, could not have been more proud. It was a very special moment.

About Mark Flagel

Mark Flagel was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1958. Westminster, the neighborhood he was raised in, was a blue-collar, middle-class environment that did much to shape his future values. Flagel moved to Long Beach in 1974 before attending UCLA to study political science. He graduated magna cum laude in 1980 and went on to law school at UC Berkeley. He practiced law for thirty-one years before retiring in 2014 to pursue his lifelong passion of writing.


Peach Moments are the great equalizers. They’re the blissful, euphoric moments that can arise from love, achievement, beauty, a spiritual experience, and so many other, simple sources (including, for example, biting into a juicy, succulent peach on a hot summer day). No matter who we are or how much money we have, our Peach Moments can take us to the highest heights imaginable. No one—not your boss, not the millionaires or billionaires of the world, not the royal families or politicians of the world—has ever experienced a higher level of bliss than you did in your Peach Moments.

PEACH MOMENTS describes author Mark Flagel’s original “peach moment,” then alternates between observations regarding some of life’s mysteries and other Peach Moments from Mark’s life, as food for thought and to remind you of Peach Moments from your own life—those moments, there for every single one of us, that take us to a blissful, euphoric, serene state of mind.

Author Twitter: @peachmoments

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Christopher Hansen & J.R. Fehr, Authors

Christopher Hansen, co-author
Volumes 1 and 2

Christopher Hansen and J.R. Fehr bring us THE MAGICIAN’S WORKSHOP, volumes 1 and 2, described by one reviewer as “Whoo whoo whoosh! A mega magical experience!---- A wonderfully written story of a world where everyone has magic and can do magic, the authors take it one step further into the world of augmented reality.” Both authors value their characters and even learn from them, have an appreciation for the rules of world-building and magic, and combine approaches of “reflecting” images or feelings along with “echoes” of real life.

Although they live 1,000 miles apart in different countries, they collaborated on all parts of the two volumes. They plan to continue to write together. Christopher Hansen enjoys spending time with his family and exploring with his three children. J.R. Fehr has a day job working with people with disabilities but also finds time for an active social life in Vancouver, British Columbia.

J.R. Fehr, co-author
Volumes 1 and 2
Q: What led you to write THE MAGICIAN’S WORKSHOP? Are you a fan of fantasy stories? Do either or both of you have a favorite fantasy author?
Christopher Hansen: Yup I’m a fan of fantasy. But I’m not a fan boy; I don’t have a real sword hanging on my wall and I don’t have the slightest clue how to speak elvish. I have plenty of fantasy authors I enjoy, but there is one I think is way-WAY-way above all the rest. This may seem nutty, but it’s whoever made all of the fantastic stuff we see here on earth.

Take geckos for example. They are so cool. I once spent the night in a rundown wooden hut in Hawaii. It was awful. But there was a gecko climbing around on the walls chirping all night long. And somehow, it transformed this nightmarish hut into something wonderful. 

Or take volcanoes. Think of lava exploding up into the air or rivers of hot red, liquid rock. Who could have thought up something like that? It’s absolutely crazy. And then don’t get me started about all the photos the Hubble telescope has taken of the stars. Geesh, if I could invent a fantasy story one billionth as fantastical as that I’d be happy. 

J.R. Fehr: When I was younger, I was a big fan of The Wheel of Time, but I’d have to say my favorite fantasy author is C.S. Lewis (and not just Narnia either). I took a class on his fiction in university and loved every second of it. His final novel, Till We Have Faces, was one of the biggest influences on my first novel, Skyblind.

As to the bigger question, what led me to write THE MAGICIAN’S WORKSHOP . . . well, that is a bit of a story. It all started when Chris Hansen, my co-writer and friend, was up visiting me at my home in Vancouver, Canada. One day, we decided to meet with another artistic friend of mine who had just completed a new project. And, much to his dismay, the initial reception was not great. This friend was deeply discouraged and was on the brink of giving up his art altogether.
This encounter left a lasting impression on Chris and myself. Without saying too much about it, this experience ended up being one of the key pieces in the formation for the original idea of THE MAGICIAN’S WORKSHOP.

 Q: Who are the target readers for THE MAGICIAN’S WORKSHOP? Young adults? Would you also characterize it as a “coming-of-age” story?
J.R. Fehr: It is definitely a “Coming of Age” story, and the target audience would fall to teens, but I wouldn’t want to limit it to just them. I feel like the themes discussed here are relevant to all ages, and that this story is full of characters that (hopefully) anyone can relate with. Most of the characters are 16, but there’s a few point of view characters who are older.  

Q:  Did you create “rules” for the magic of your characters? Do these rules help to offer a sense of credibility?
Christopher Hansen: Did we create rules? Wow. That’s like asking if presidents create executive orders or if Texans like BBQ. (Texans generally do, by the way.) 
Yup, we spent a lot of time creating rules. We did this primarily because we, as authors, needed to stand on solid ground when we were writing the story. We needed to know what could happen and what could not in this world. 

J.R. Fehr: Oh yes. We spent a significant amount of time working out the rules for the magic, as well as the rules for everything else. This was part of a “world building” phase that we were in. I’d estimate that we spent about 5-6 months working steadily on this, as the “magic” in our story is quite different than traditional magic.

Q: Are there heroes and villains in THE MAGICIAN’S WORKSHOP? What are the characteristics of a compelling villain?
Christopher Hansen: Yes there are. But the heroes and villains might be difficult for some people to see. I wanted the characters in the book to reflect ordinary people in our world. So there aren’t Super-heroes or Super-villains. There are people who have aspects of themselves that are heroic as well as aspects that are villainous. We had fun taking characters and flipping our understanding of them upside down and then upside down again. In one chapter a character will act heroic, but then later on they will be a real stinker, only to later on do something marvelous. 

This said, there is one primary villain in the series of books. He/She/It is very hidden. But he/she/it is hard at work, doing diabolical, villainous stuff. Muwah ha, ha. Cackle. Hiss. 

Q: How do you engage your readers to care about your characters? How will we relate to characters who make magic?
Christopher Hansen: For me, THE MAGICIAN’S WORKSHOP is all about the characters. Writing it was such a joy, primarily because I fell in love with the characters. I spent a tremendous amount of time listening to them (which, I’m sure must sound utterly strange and maybe preposterous) and getting to know them.  
I never know if readers will relate to my characters. But people really have connected to the characters in these books. I have no idea how this happens.

Practically what I do is rather straightforward. I assume no one will care about my characters unless I care about them. I figure if I can relate to them, others might also. I also think it’s important for characters to feel real, or believable. This is especially true with characters who have magical powers. So we spent a lot of time working out the rules of the magic so that what the characters did with magic felt “real.” 

J.R. Fehr: The simplest explanation is just giving the characters time to be real people. Both Chris and I try to let the characters speak to us out of their own characteristics, rather than force them to say or do things to advance a plot. As a result, this is a story full of rich characters. 
As to relating to characters who make magic . . . all fiction echoes real life. It is my hope that when people read the things I write, that they’ll get a sense of themselves. Readers can think “What would I do in that situation?” or “How would I act if I faced those obstacles?” Everyone can’t cast out magical projections in our world, but we can do other things that are similar. I encourage any readers to ponder that, and consider what the equivalent of making magical projections would be in our world. We may not be able to make a magical blue wallaroo appear, but we can certainly create other things with our talents.

Q: Is THE MAGICIAN’S WORKSHOP primarily for entertainment or did you embed a few messages along the way?
Christopher Hansen: Can I say, “Neither”? I sure hope people find the books entertaining. I love fun stories and I love to write things that interest me and make me laugh. As a result there are many silly, fun things in the books. And I also hope some readers find some message in the books that helps them in life. However, neither of these things was a goal. 

Instead the objective was for the books to reflect something. Think of a painting. A painter takes something they see and then attempts to reflect that something onto a canvas with paint. It may be something they can see with their eyes, like a waterfall, a buffalo, or their daughter. Or it might be something imaginary, say a dragon or a person they’ve never seen. It can also be something abstract, say a feeling or an idea.

Before I set out to write a book I generally want to know what it is a reflection of. Sometimes I don’t know what this is until I’ve written an entire first draft of the book. On occasion it may take even longer. Other times, like with THE MAGICIAN’S WORKSHOP, it was clear in my mind right from the beginning. For me this isn’t a message. It’s something that exists in reality. To give you an example, it may be childhood friendship. You know those relationships that you have before puberty, hormones, and dating seem to scramble our brains and change what friendships are. That’s not the theme of  THE MAGICIAN’S WORKSHOP, by the way. I’m just giving an example. 

It’s generally wise for an author to keep the specific thing a book is reflecting a secret. This is because the thing it reflects is often killed when the author reveals it. It’s like taking a living frog and dissecting it. While this does have value to help people understand frogs, it does end the frog's life. After you look at the heart, lungs, and gall bladder of the frog, it’s not going to get up, start hopping around the table, or make its cute croaking sound. I as an author desire to create living things, but I’m happy for others to dissect the books I write. Thus, I’ll leave it to you to open up THE MAGICIAN’S WORKSHOP and see what reflection of reality you find inside. 

J.R. Fehr: Just as I said “all fiction echoes real life” I’d also say that fiction is very rarely (if ever) purely entertainment. I believe that every story has some meaning and is filled with messages—even if the readers (or authors) don’t recognize them.

Q: How do you use your settings or worlds to propel the story?

Christopher Hansen: For me stories consist of a world, the characters that exist in that world, the actions the characters take in that world, and finally the way the world changes because of those character’s actions. Thus, I need to know a lot about the setting/world and characters before I can begin to craft a story. 

Put another way: Stories are propelled by characters. But those characters exist in a world that has rules, history, geography, weather, and all kinds of things that affect those characters. The more solid the world, the more solid your characters can be. And if you have solid characters who have clear dramatic desires the story usually flows pretty easily. 

Q: How do the two of you work together as authors? Do you divide chapters or character development between you?
Christopher Hansen: We have loved working together; co-writing has been the best experience. 

The short answer is that we did everything together. This was easier than we expected even though we live in different countries, about a thousand miles apart. But it took a lot of time, about three to four times as long as it would take writing a book alone. Most of our work was done over the phone. We must have racked up thousands of hours. Pity the cell phone company that sold me an unlimited international calling plan for $5 a month. 

J.R. Fehr: Ah, yes. Co-writing is quite the interesting endeavour. It was really easy in the beginning. It was just a matter of brainstorming ideas and coming to agreement on things. When we actually started writing, we divided up pieces of the plot and assigned certain characters to each-other to work on. We’d write an initial “1.0” pass on a chapter, then share that with the other person, who’d go through and improve it with a “2.0,” which they’d then send back. We’d go back and forth like this, editing each-other’s work and improving areas where one might be weaker. Honestly, it was so much fun. I’ve been writing all my life, but I definitely think co-writing is my favorite. It’s so nice to have someone else to bounce ideas off of and to help me out when I get stuck.

Q: What’s next? Will you continue to work together?
J.R. Fehr: That’s the plan! I’m mega excited to share the rest of the story with you!

Q: What do you both like to do when you’re not writing?
J.R. Fehr: I have a day job working with people with disabilities, which—when combined with writing—takes up most of my week. I’m pretty active in my community here in Vancouver, and I have a rich social life. I don’t have any hobbies that are anything that exciting, but I do enjoy board games, hiking, movies, and traveling.

Christopher Hansen: I spend most of my free time with my family. I have three kids and we do all kinds of things together. One of our favorites is to be out in nature. Just last weekend my son and I went on a nighttime snowshoe hike. We trekked in the dark up to the top of a mountain where the wind was blowing at forty miles an hour. It was so strong it was constantly knocking us over. Bits of snow were flying through the air and stinging our nearly frozen faces. We were hungry. Our hands were damp and numb. 

But despite all this it was absolutely incredible. A huge wall of clouds covered the full moon. Every so often the wind would blow the clouds in a way that allowed the moon to peek out. Whenever this happened the moon was so bright that it was able to light up everything, almost like it was day. By its light, a nearby mountain range would appear. The valley below us would light up. The snow covering the grove of trees behind us would glow. It was an utterly inhospitable place for humans, yet there we were, witnessing something incredible. 

We stood, fighting against the wind, watching the world blink in and out of existence, like someone was switching the light switch on and off in their bedroom. One moment we would be standing in nothing but darkness, then the moon would break free and the world would light up. This only lasted for a brief moment before a new patch of clouds would rush in and cover over the moon once again, thrusting everything into darkness once again. Back and forth it went, like some cosmic battle. But all along, the moon kept on rising. Bit by bit, it traveled higher in the sky. Eventually, it was well above the clouds, and there was no fear of it being covered again. Everything remained lit up. 

And in this light we hiked down the mountain. It was easy to see; there was no fear of getting lost. The whole experience was magical.

About Christopher Hansen
The first glimmering Chris Hansen had that there was far more to reality than he had ever imagined occurred six days after his ninth birthday. “Christopher!” cried a wise, old sage. “Life is full of deep magic. Miraculous things happen all the time and all around us, if you know where to look for them.” Full of expectation and childlike optimism, Chris began searching for this magic, prepared to be surprised and amazed by it. And he was: he found Wonder! Now he’s chosen to write stories about it.

When J.R. Fehr popped out of the womb, he knew there was more to the world than the four boring hospital walls that he was seeing. “Zango!” his newborn mind exclaimed as he saw people appear and disappear through a mysterious portal in the wall. As a child he found life wowtazzling, but as he grew older the cold water of reality hit him, and the magic he once knew vanished. After spending some wet and shivering years lost in a joyless wasteland, he once again began to see magic in the world. He writes because the Wonder of true life is far grander than anything he ever thought possible.

Everyone in the islands of O’Ceea has a magical ability: whatever they imagine can be brought into existence. Whoever becomes a master over these powers is granted the title of magician and is given fame, power, riches, and glory. This volume of books follows the journey of a group of kids as they strive to rise to the top and become members of the Magician’s Workshop.

Layauna desperately wants to create beautiful things with her magical powers, but all she can seem to do is make horrible, savage monsters. For years she has tried to hide her creations, but when her power is at last discovered by a great magician, she realizes that what she’s tried to hide might actually be of tremendous value.

Kai just wants to use his powers to have fun and play with his friends. Unfortunately, nearly everyone on his island sees him as a bad influence, so he’s forced to meet them in secret. When one of the creatures they create gets out of control and starts flinging fireballs at their town, Kai is tempted to believe that he is as
nefarious as people say. However, his prospects change when two mysterious visitors arrive, praising his ability and making extraordinary promises about his future.

Follow the adventures of Kai, Layauna, and a boatload of other characters as they struggle to grow up well in this fantastical world.


In Volume Two, the Festival of Stars has finally arrived, and the Color Ceremony is about to commence. As children from all over the islands gather to stand before a puller, one question remains: who will have a Color, and who will be found void?

Rejoin your favorite characters as they step forward and receive a label that will have the power to dramatically alter the course of their lives forever.

 Purchase links
            In Canada 

Author sites

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Ashley Borodin, Author

Ashley Borodin, Author
Ashley Borodin wants to start conversations by getting readers to think. He believes that writing in the “older style of English novel,”—from Joseph Conrad to JG Ballard— will fuel those conversations. He targets THE JEALOUS FLOCK at that purpose. One reviewer said, “This story dives deep into your thoughts and twists open the cap on unique thinking and encourages ideas of change and acceptance.”

Borodin also writes short stories and poetry and claims that “Writing chooses me at the moment,” which drives his output.  At the moment, he is working on releasing an anthology of his poems and also writing his next novel. When he’s not writing, he likes to play his fretless guitar, sing, design games, sculpt, animate, go on walks in nature, take photos, and collect “cool things.’ Plus he enjoys antiques and garage sales.

Don't miss the excerpt at the end of the interview.

Q: How would you characterize THE JEALOUS FLOCK? In what genre would you place it? What inspired you to write it?

Ashley Borodin: Part of the problem with getting people to read it is how I tend to characterize it I think. I either call it a ‘normal book’ or ‘philosophical’ and things like that. I don’t have the same values as most of the book buying public evidently, and I’m not sure how to relate it to their interests.

To me it’s like the older style of English novel, from what I consider the ‘great period.’ Joseph Conrad up to JG Ballard. Books that challenged you, that spoke about truth and taboo unabashedly.

I suppose broadly it falls into Literary Fiction, but then readers have arbitrary expectations of that slot as well.

As to inspiration, it was a mixture, a synthesis of the underlying trends changing society around me, the taboos no-one wanted to address and the stories bumping around in my own head. They coalesced through short stories initially, and then I began to weave those stories together into a cohesive plot. So it gradually evolved from its constituent parts.

Q: Who are the most likely people to read THE JEALOUS FLOCK?  What will they gain from it?

Ashley Borodin: I’d like to know that myself. I haven’t found my tribe yet. But I think it’s for the mature reader who doesn’t mind a bit of hard graft in their reading. People like me who will read a chapter and then put the book aside and just ponder it for a while, soak it in.

Q: A reviewer says that you present “well rounded characters that are both uniquely interesting and deeply complex human beings.” How do you create characters that are both interesting and complex? Why will readers engage with their “complexities?”

Ashley Borodin: Another reviewer said my characters lacked depth. I think it depends on the insight of the reader and also the allowances they are willing to make. I did skim on character development. Not consciously, but I had to make a choice between ever finishing the book and making it perfect, where perfect would involve a five year break at least, then overcoming Autism so that I can relate to people properly.

I’m working on the Autism now.

But as far as somewhat succeeding with character development - they grew out of an interaction with the environment in which I placed them. So basically I’d dim the lights and start narrating into a voice recorder. Placing myself in the scene, looking around in the dreamscape of my mind and seeing where I’d left my keys the night before, the surface of the bench, the fear, my expectations of myself in this person’s shoes. Method acting I suppose. And over the course of the story the character develops on their own.

Q: One of your reviewers said that your story “teaches how one needs to look beyond their own ideologies and thinking.” Did you write THE JEALOUS FLOCK to entertain, or were you more interested in delivering a message or getting readers to think?

Ashley Borodin: Thinking is something we need a lot more of in the world right now. But even moreso thoughtful conversation. I wanted to start a conversation, a bunch of them if possible.

Three years ago when I’d finished the book, no-one was talking about these things. Now they’re all over the news. But there is still a large proportion of society with a heavily vested interest in denying reality.

I’m not a very entertaining person, but I like to engage and debate ideas. The book is an honest representation of myself. I don’t care what side of the argument you are on, as long as you’re willing to talk, think and be rational.

I entertained myself in writing it, but my sort of entertainment clearly isn’t held in high regard by the masses. You wouldn't recognize the world if it was.

Q: How relevant is “setting” to tell your story? Could your characters be located anywhere for their story to unfold?

Ashley Borodin: These days, yes. At the time of writing, less so.

Q: You also publish poetry and short stories in addition to novellas. Do you have a favorite? When do you choose to write poetry rather than a novella or short story?

Ashley Borodin: Writing chooses me at the moment. It’s always been capricious like that. But it’s not just writing. Everything chooses me. I hope in the years to come that I gain some mastery over it, over my life. It remains to be seen.

Q: What are your favorite topics to write about?

Ashley Borodin: I like to sink my teeth into things. Anything really. Mainly ideas if I’m honest.

Q: Do you use humor to develop your characters or tell your story?

Ashley Borodin: I think I do. Whether that works for readers is another matter.

Q: What’s next?

Ashley Borodin: At the moment I am engaged in the thankless task of marketing.

I’d like to release an anthology of my poems - as a coffee table book.

I’ve also started a second novel, which might be more relatable, but I don’t know where it’s going yet.

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

Ashley Borodin: I play the fretless, try to sing and make tunes on my ipad. I tinker with game design, 3d sculpting and animation. I also like getting out into nature, walking, photography, collecting cool things I find. And I love antiques, op-shops and garage sales.

About Ashley Borodin

Ashley Borodin has published poetry, novellas and short stories. His first novel is THE JEALOUS FLOCK, which has been variously described as 'philosophical', 'over my head' and 'too short'.

Most advanced readers agree that of all contemporary fiction novels, this kindle book will linger with you long after you put it down. It may one day even be ranked among the modern classics of 2017.

Ashley comes from a poor, Fundamentalist background, so it seems natural that he would be drawn to write about experiences similar to his own in contemporary fiction.

He tends to wax Contrarian, and possibly due in part to his Autism (undiagnosed until late in life) his writing tends to dispense with the usual hand-holding of many modern authors and gets right to the cerebral matter.

He's not really influenced by anyone but if pressed to answer this, of all demeaning questions, he will point you in the direction of authors such as:

Iris Murdoch
Aldous Huxley
Charles Bukowski
John Wyndham
David Malouf
J G Ballard
Ayn Rand (yes, Ayn Rand - remember he's Autistic, so to him she's just another author with ideas worth debating).

Forced from their collective comfort zone, all three members of Martin’s family come face to face with the realities that underpin their urbane way of life. Each is faced with a paradox that will test their belief in themselves and their image of the tolerant, liberal society they believe they inhabit.

A Literary Epic in Miniature, THE JEALOUS FLOCK takes readers from the cloistered air of Professional London through the harsh realities of the Middle East and on to the culture war simmering beneath the surface in Australia.

Through their interwoven narratives each character tries to grapple with change as they question their authenticity and value as individuals amidst THE JEALOUS FLOCK.


Perhaps it had always been there, unrequited on the kitchen wall. Every morning this Sufi poem had spoken to me of its longing while I buttered my toast. Now here I stood for the first time gazing back into it. The script held out the promise of golden wisps of sand blowing in from the dunes. It spoke of the mystery of the desert, the beauty of the word, and a god that can’t be seen. The Arabic font curved and undulated; snake-like, simple yet elusive.

Fear and anticipation had coiled up inside my chest, and I closed my eyes, frowning earnestly. I was out of my depth. Maybe I should call it off, I thought. I could back out now and no one would think the less of me.

Through the kitchen window the suburbs were grey and listless; they had nothing in particular to say on the subject. Staring into this drizzling scene only deepened my resolve, and I knew what had to be done.

He’s not called Rumi, you know,” Doris’s voice broke in.

I must have been muttering the whole time. Embarrassed, I tried to steady myself against the window sill, turning my back to the muted streetscape beyond.

...And you're not called Doris.” I made my first sleepy attempt at wit, accompanied by a reassuring smile. The angle of my mouth implied everything was normal while my eyes drifted far beyond where she stood. We weren’t exactly fighting, just a little unhinged. Doris by the secrecy and anguish she had seen in me lately, and I by the effect it was having on my family.