Wednesday, August 24, 2016
11:37 am pdt
Eva Blaskovic, Author
Author, Eva Blaskovic
I am happy to have Eva Blaskovic as my guest today. Thank you, Eva, for joining me on my website.
Eva: Thank you, Jess, for inviting me.
Eva, can you tell us about yourself and your background?
What do you currently do outside of writing?
My background is multi-faceted, encompassing both the sciences
and the arts. Currently, I am a teacher and learning strategist at the Centre for Literacy on the south side of Edmonton,
Alberta, where I work with students who have reading, writing, and math disabilities. My students range from grade two to
grade twelve, with each lesson and program tailored to the individual, so I often plan and teach 30 to 33 different lessons
per week in addition to attending professional development sessions.
My work has given me the opportunity to teach
writing in many forms. I have mentored interested young authors. One 12-year-old student had the opportunity to experience
book production when she published her novelette under my guidance. An 11-year-old student wrote a business article for a
blog, emphasizing features, benefits, and the set-up of living walls (indoor or outdoor walls decorated with plants and vines).
I was born in Prague, Czech Republic, grew up in Ontario, Canada, and moved to Alberta in 1988, where I raised
four children. Parenting has been a rewarding experience (my youngest child is now 17 and the only one left at home) that
has benefited both my teaching and writing.
I have a passion for music and numerous musical genres, have
played eight instruments, and spent many years immersed in Taekwondo and Karate. I garden, play classical guitar, and enjoy
concerts, theatre, Edmonton’s summer festivals, and farmers’ markets. Indian food, mango lassis, and fine espresso
lattes are some of my favourite things.
Eva playing guitar, Ontario Eva's Guitar Recital
What books have you written, and what are their genres? What audience are they aimed at?
Book Cover for Beyond the Precipice
The second edition of Beyond the Precipice will be released in late fall 2016 by Dream Write Publishing, a local publisher. The book’s genre is literary fiction/psychological suspense, set to a backdrop of music. The book
is aimed at adult audiences of 16+; however, since it requires some life experience or prior knowledge of grief and abuse
psychology to fully appreciate, readers who have liked the book most were typically older adults.
Book Signing in
Tom Hyman, my critiquer, has stated on several occasions that the book would make “a hell of a movie.” If artists
were to compose original music that emulated the tones and moods of my compiled playlist, I am certain the resultant movie would make an impression. I have only seen Whiplash recently, but there is an example
of a music movie that did well because of its story, characters, and conflicts.
Beyond the Precipice
contains elements of Dead Poets Society, Stand by Me, Lion King, Amadeus, and quite a
few other books and movies. However, nobody to date has been able to tell me what well-known novel(s) Beyond the Precipice
is most similar to. People consider it an original, which has made it difficult to classify, but it is actually based on pretty
universal human condition themes and conflicts.
What’s next for you after Beyond the Precipice?
Beyond the Music is a companion/sequel to Beyond the Precipice, but I don’t expect it to be completed for a few
more years, since it is as complicated to write and requires even more research. I have embedded music selections from YouTube
on my site to give a sense of the mood for each of the two books.
In the fall of 2017, I hope to
release the novelette Ironclad (supernatural adventure) and novel Druyan (fantasy adventure, NaNoWriMo 2014 “winner”), also through Dream Write Publishing.
material for a parenting (and educator?) non-fiction book, but that is a project I will take up after the above two 2017 releases
Eva book signing in a lab coat
What prompted you to write Beyond the Precipice? Where do you get your writing
inspiration? What message(s) do you want readers to take away?
Beyond the Precipice was conceived in 2006, its first scene (not the beginning of the book)
written for a writing class. The story and conflicts began to develop, and in less than a month, were further influenced by
the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival. Ironically, the Fringe scenes were eventually taken out because they didn’t
fit the timeline of the book, once the inciting incident was identified.
For a writer, everything—absolutely
everything—is fodder. I have always drawn my inspiration from the natural world, everyday life, people, conversations,
books and movies, other people’s experiences, and my own experiences. Sometimes I augment these with research. Writing
is like building with Lego. You take the blocks of humanity and recombine them into new structures, new stories.
If readers see a part of themselves, or can relate the story to someone or something in their lives, then it becomes
meaningful to them. I like to present personal or societal problems, but balance them with solutions, either direct or inferred,
and temper them with hope (except for a couple of my short stories, where the message lies in the demise of the protagonist).
In all cases, I want readers to feel something, some kind of empathy with the characters.
Do you write short stories, articles, or have a blog? Where can we find
I have written a number of short stories (paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy, human interest, and children’s)
and articles (writing, parenting, travel), for which links can be found on my site or on Angie’s Diary e-Magazine (Amsterdam) and Storybird.
My blog can be found on my site at www.evablaskovic.com.
What do you
find the hardest about writing? The easiest?
Everything is hard about the process of writing. Production
is even harder.
Long fiction is the hardest because of its length. Of that, reality fiction is the most difficult.
Beyond the Precipice bears a decade of my blood and sweat. However, reality fiction is often the most personally
rewarding, perhaps because it is more relatable, more relevant, less escapist.
The easiest thing is creating scenes
in my head while listening to music in the dark. The scenes unfold like a movie, and I can choose to be an observer or in
one of the characters’ heads.
What special thing about yourself would you like to share with readers?
I like math as much as writing and have been known to change math-hating students into geeks like me.
How can we follow or contact
You can follow/contact me on
www.evablaskovic.com – Blog
Facebook page: Beyond the Precipice
Facebook page: http://facebook.com/eva.blaskovic1
Many of my stories, articles, and book excerpts are posted on Angie’s Diary e-Magazine.
Where can readers buy your books?
Beyond the Precipice
Second Edition will be available for sale in paperback and e-book formats in late fall 2016. It will be sold through Dream
Write Publishing, Amazon, some bookstores, at local book and library events, and at book signings.
A description of the story is available on my site. I will also
be updating publication details and providing purchase links once they are known.
Awards & Recognition
In 2014, I was awarded the Seal of Excellence for
the Top 100 Certified Writers.
In November of the same year, I received my “winner” stamp for 50,000
words in 30 days—quite a feat considering I worked six days a week, was a single parent, and had recently undergone
major surgery that left me exhausted for many months afterward.
In December 2015, my 2,800-word children’s
story, “Peace Giver,” was selected as one of seven featured stories on Storybird for the contest theme You Are
Monday, August 22, 2016
Interview with JSH by Canadian Author Eva Blaskovic
9:40 am pdt
Interview with Jess Steven Hughes, Author
by Eva Blaskovic
I am delighted to
have Jess Steven Hughes as my guest today. Thank you, Jess, for joining me on my website.
can you tell us about yourself and your background? What do you currently do outside of writing?
Jess Steven Hughes, Author
I am a retired police detective sergeant with twenty-five years of experience
in criminal investigation and a former U.S. Marine. I hold a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and a minor in
Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations from the University of Southern California. I have traveled and studied extensively in
the areas forming the background of my novels, which brings vivid authenticity to the unique settings for my historical novels,
The Wolf of Britannia, Part I, The Wolf of Britannia, Part II, and The Sign of the Eagle. I currently live with my wife, Liz,
and our three horses in Eastern Washington. I am currently working on two more historical novels from the First Century A.D.,
The Broken Lance and The Peacekeeper.
Besides writing, I have a passion for model railroading. I have an outdoor G-scale
layout that encompasses 6,500 feet, operating 660 feet of track. These trains are the largest commercially manufactured trains
available. Any larger are custom made. They are three times the size of HO gauge.
What books have you written, and what are their genres? What audience are they aimed at?
I have written three historical
novels: The Wolf of Britannia, Part I, The Wolf of Britannia, Part II and The Sign of the Eagle. The novels
are set in ancient Rome and Celtic Britain between 27 – 71 A.D. The books are targeted for readers age 16 and above.
Not only are they for those who like historical fiction but for a general audience as well who like to learn more about Rome
and Celtic Britain.
My books are published by Sunbury Press, a traditional small press. These are not indie books.
What prompted you to write what you
did? Where do you get your writing inspiration? What message(s) do you want readers to take away?
always wanted to write, but it wasn’t until I was in my early 40’s that I started. I was not interested
in writing non-fiction. Several factors led to that realization. At the time, I was a police detective sergeant on the Long
Beach Police Department in California, and my major in college was Public Administration. However, my minor and academic first
love was Ancient Mediterranean History–I have traveled extensively throughout the Mediterranean World.
I had received my Master in the above at the University of Southern California, I asked my Classical History Professor, Dr.
David Hood, what were the requirements to teach Classical History? He answered in order to teach you had to have a Doctorate
in Classical History, but you also had to be proficient (read and write) in six foreign languages. These included French,
German, Greek, Italian, Latin and Spanish. I had taken only Greek, Latin and Spanish. I decided that I should seriously consider
writing historical fiction instead, which was my favorite genre, especially, stories of the Classical Period.
Signing copy of THE SIGN OF THE EAGLE for new reader, Rita
there are many gaps in the historical timeline, I knew I could write about the Classical Period with greater leeway than many
other historical eras. This allowed me to be more creative and imaginative about the events of the time.
I wrote my first historical novel, The Sign of the Eagle, and later, The Wolf of Britannia, Parts I and II, I had to learn
the fundamentals of writing fiction. This included plot, characterization, scene, setting, dialogue, descriptive narration,
the difference between showing and not telling, etc. Only after I had attended writing seminars and workshops for several
years did my abilities as an author of novels finally emerge.
Always keep in mind, I don’t write HISTORY.
I use historical events and backdrops for my stories. My historical novel, The Sign of the Eagle, published by Sunbury Press, a traditional small press, takes place in Milan and Rome in 71 A.D. The main character, Macha, is a Celtic woman married
to a Roman officer, Titus. He has been wrongfully accused of treason and conspiring to assassinate the Emperor Vespasian.
Macha must almost single-handedly prove his innocence.
Signing copy of THE WOLF OF BRITANNIA, PART I, for new reader, Bob
Historians have speculated there were several conspiracies against the life of Emperor Vespasian, but only two appeared
to have been recorded as found in The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius or in The Histories by Cassius Dio. Therefore, my story is a fictionalized account of one possible unrecorded attempt
on Vespasian’s life. He was considered one of Rome’s five “good” emperors and my favorite. I wrote
from what I believe to be a different perspective using an unlikely protagonist, a Celtic woman. Why not?
I could fully develop The Sign of the Eagle, I had to conduct extensive research.
For this I turned to my private library of over 500 books on Classical, Celtic, and Mid-Eastern history. I started with the
overall history of the Roman Empire and the Celtic world. I continued with geographical locations, narrowing down the story
to Milan, Rome and the Italian country side.
I had to consider historical events that occurred prior to
those in my novel, which were important to the story’s background. Among these I included the great civil war of 69
A.D., known as the Year of the Four Emperors (Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian). In my story, Macha’s husband, Titus,
fought in this war against the forces of the short-lived Emperor Vitellius at the Battle of Cremona. Titus was part of one
of Vespasian’s advanced units.
Signing for new reader, Chris, at Hastings, Shadle
Park, Spokane, WA
Other events included the invasion of Britannia in 43 A.D (The Wolf of Britannia,
Part I & II) and the eventual capture of the British Chieftain, Caratacus, Macha’s father. He was brought to Rome
along with his wife and daughter and ultimately pardoned by the Emperor Claudius. We don’t know the daughter’s
actual name; I chose a good Celtic name, Macha. Caratacus was pardoned and disappeared from history, but there was no reason
why I could not use his daughter for a story.
For her background, I described her growing up being Romanized
but clinging to many Celtic customs. Prior to the story, she married Titus, who was a born in Rome. His parents were Gauls,
but his father was a Roman Senator, one of the first Gauls admitted to the Senate under the Emperor Claudius.
I used a Celtic protagonist, I had to research Celtic as well as Roman customs re: daily living, the role of women in the
Celtic and Roman worlds, the gulf between the classes, slavery, religion, the military (Celt and Roman), descriptions of city
life, especially in Rome, etc.
It was only after I had conducted sufficient research that I wrote my stories.
However, I wasn’t finished. I had to run the gauntlet of two writers’ groups, the Spokane Novelists and the Spokane
Valley Writers Group, which month after month reviewed and bled all over my chapters until the manuscript finally met their
expectations. Even then I wasn’t through; I sent my manuscript to a “Book Doctor,” an editor who had spent
many years with Harper-Collins before going into private business. Fortunately, she is a very ethical person (there are some
real charlatans out there) who was thorough and answered all my subsequent questions after she had reviewed and returned my
novel for more work. My efforts paid off. After many rejection slips, The Sign of the Eagle
was accepted for publication, followed by The Wolf of Britannia, Parts I & II.
Do you write short stories, articles, or have a blog? Where can we find them?
I have written only one short story, Death Most Poisonous.
This is a mini-sequel to The Sign of the Eagle. It was published in 2010 by
the literary magazine Down in the Dirt.
What do you find the hardest about writing? The easiest?
Signing copy of THE WOLF OF BRITANNIA, PT. II, for new reader,
Dealing with writer’s block
and starting a new chapter are the hardest. For me they seem to go hand-in-hand. Sometimes it will take as long as two weeks
to finally develop an idea before I can put it down on paper. Usually, I make several false attempts.
Since I love history, doing the research is the easiest part for me.
next for you?
I am in the process of writing two more historical novels, The Broken Lance and The Peacekeeper. The first takes part in Celtic
Britain and Rome, and the second, which is a sequel, takes part in Rome. The time period is 44 – 69 A.D. These are epic
novels seen through the eyes of a Spanish centurion in the Roman army.
What special thing about yourself
would you like to share with readers?
Although I have a passion
for writing and am an avid model railroader, I’m generally an easy-going guy with a lot of interests (I am also considered
to be type A). I can just as easily attend a baseball game in the afternoon and then follow that up by going to a symphonic
concert in the evening.
How can we follow or contact you?
You can contact me on Facebook: Jess Steven Hughes
Where can readers buy your books?
Sunbury Press (www.sunburypress.com)
Amazon.com — Amazon.ca — Barnes & Noble (bn.com)
Books can also be ordered from any brick and mortar store. All books are published as trade paperbacks
and as e-books on Kindle and Nook (The Sign of the Eagle only).
--end interview with Eva B.
Read the full interview on Eva's website: Author, Eva Blaskovic