Category Archives: Author Interviews

Author Interview: Tereza Mackova (Tokyo Story)

Recently, I had the chance to conduct an author interview with Tereza Mackova.

Wolfe: Hello, Tereza, and welcome to my blog!

Tereza: Hi, thank you for inviting me!

Wolfe: Let’s start by learning a little about you. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Tereza: I’m 33 years old, a mother of two, a coffee lover, not a morning person, and a Japanese freak. I love traveling, meeting new people, and long night talks over a glass of wine.

Wolfe: When did you start writing?

Tereza: It was about three or four years ago. I left my job for maternity leave with my older son. Suddenly, I had more time to think and began to consider whether what I had been doing so far was really my “dream job”. I concluded that it wasn’t. I’ve always enjoyed inventing stories, just in my head. And suddenly I thought, what if I tried to write it down? So, I tried. And it went pretty well.

Wolfe: It went very well. Where do you most like to write?

Tereza: In a café. I order my coffee, put on my headphones, and focus on nothing else than writing.

Wolfe: You mentioned to me that English is not your first language. Why did you choose to publish your first book in English?

Tereza: There were many reasons. I have a lot of friends from different countries. Every time when I mentioned that I wrote a book, they immediately asked, “Really? Can I read it? Is it in English?” Also, I haven’t found a publisher for my book in the Czech Republic so far (I believe finding a publisher is difficult for new authors in every country). So, I decided to take this hard but exciting and adventurous way of self-publishing. Self-publishing isn’t that common in my country. People are not used to buying e-books, especially not from independent authors, and the market is very, very small. I knew a few people in the U.S. who published their novels through Amazon. Therefore, I’ve decided to give it a try as well.

Read the review of Tereza Mackova’s book by clicking below.

Book Review: Tokyo Story by Tereza Mackova

Wolfe: Now let’s talk about your great book, Tokyo Story. What was the inspiration behind the story?

Tereza: As I mentioned before, I love everything connected to Japan. My obsession started about five years ago when I visited this beautiful country for the first time. When I came home, I enrolled in a Japanese language course and watched a lot of Japanese movies to hear the language as much as possible. When I started writing, I knew immediately I wanted to set my first book in Japan. Then, piece by piece, I put the whole story together until I got it where it is now.

Wolfe: Tell us a little more about the main character, Alice. Is she modeled after anyone in your real life?

Tereza: Not particularly. Well, I think you could find some autobiographical elements in her. She loves coffee and everything from Japan, and she lost her mother in her young age. But otherwise, she is a unique, distinct person.

When I started thinking about the heroine for my book, I knew she had to be Czech. Also, for a young girl to go to an unknown city by herself, she must have had a good reason and a strong determination and a little carelessness in her nature. And so, Alice came to the world.

Book Review – A Sword in Time by Cidney Swanson

Wolfe: What about the suave Hikaru? Where did he come from?

Tereza: Hikaru is somebody I’d love to meet when lost in a foreign country. I would certainly want to be his friend. Life is more fun with this kind of bright and cheerful person. Even though he has his own flaws, he’s a little bit of player for instance, he has a pure heart, and he would sacrifice his own happiness for Alice.

In Asian movies, it’s quite common that the cold and rude main hero wins the girl over, someone who is much kinder and more considerate. I wanted to set this straight in my story. That’s how I came up with both, Hikaru and Katsu.

Wolfe: The cover for Tokyo Story is very eye-catching. Who designed it?

Tereza: I was very lucky to meet a wonderful designer through the website called 99designs. The nickname he uses is Kid Mindfreak. An excellent choice to work with. He’s professional, polite and very responsive. I think we got along really well from the very beginning, even though I initially had quite a vague idea of what I wanted on my cover.

Read the review for Contained.

Book Review: Contained by S. L. Harpel

Wolfe: What do you like most about writing?

Tereza: I love working with my imagination which drives me into completely different worlds. It’s up to me where to go and what it will be like. When starting a new story, it’s like an empty, wide field in front of me. One after another, I can pull out the elements of the story, characters, plots and places, until I create a unique piece of work. Sometimes I get so lost in my own world that I have a problem coming back to cook dinner for my kids.

Wolfe: I think we’ve all been there. What advice would you give to writers that are just starting out?

Tereza: I’m the one who’s just starting out, ain’t I?

Wolfe: (Laughing) Yes, you are.

Tereza: But if somebody asked me, I would say: It will be hard work, probably the hardest work you’ve ever done. But if you are serious and believe it’s your way, don’t let anything discourage you.

Wolfe: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve been given?

Tereza: I’ve received so much excellent advice along the way. It’s really difficult to pick just one, but the most significant one, I would say, is working with five milestones. It’s a concept I learned from my writing coach, Ramy, from Self-Publishing School. Thanks to this, I’ve learned how to quickly and effectively build a storyline. When I originally started writing, I had no idea what I was doing. It took me three years to put the story together and finish the book, but now, I’m pretty confident I can do it in just a few months.

Get to know your characters better.

How To Get To Know Your Novel Characters

Wolfe: What project are you working on next? Will there be a sequel to Tokyo Story?

Tereza: Honestly, I haven’t decided yet. I have so many stories in my head that I don’t know where to start. A sequel to Tokyo Story is one option, but not the only one. Now, after finally publishing my first book, I have to sit down, close my eyes, and give it some serious thought.

Wolfe: You’ll have to keep us posted. What do you like to do when you aren’t writing or editing?

Tereza: Most of the time, I take care of my kids. They are still small and watching them grow up is the most amazing thing in the whole world. When I’m not with them, I try to master the Japanese language, which seems to be an impossible task. And well, I admit, I also watch Netflix quite a lot.

Wolfe: I think a lot of us are secret binge watchers. If you could go on a six-month writer’s retreat anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

Tereza: If I could spend six months only writing? It sounds like an absolute dream! I would definitely go somewhere alone. Just me, my laptop, beautiful nature, a study with a lake view, peace and quiet… I would probably travel to some Asian countries where I can meet some locals and chat with them to find new story inspiration.

Read the interview with S. L. Harpel.

Author Interview: S. L. Harpel, Author of Contained

Wolfe: Now let’s do some fun, rapid-fire questions. What’s the last movie you watched?

Tereza: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. I’m always behind with movies and watch them many months after their release.

Wolfe: What’s your favorite music to write to?

Tereza: Anything that doesn’t disturb me from my thoughts. I have a ritual, though. I always listen to Miyavi, my favorite Japanese singer and guitarist, before I start writing.

Wolfe: What are three things you can’t live without?

Tereza: Coffee, coffee, coffee

Wolfe: What’s the last book you read and/or what are you reading now?

Mhairi McFarlane’s You Had Me at Hello.

Wolfe: It’s been great talking to you today. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview.

Tereza: Thank you!

Keep up with Tereza by following her office website:

Pick up your copy of Toyko Story:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

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Read the author interview with Tereza Mackova, author of Tokyo Story

Author Interview: S. L. Harpel, Author of Contained

Recently, I had the chance to spend a few minutes conducting and author interview with S. L. Harpel. S. L. recently released her novel, Contained, which is a dystopian, young adult tale about a girl name Ella that is struggling to find her place between two societies. You can read the review of Contained by clicking this line.

S. L. Harpel, Author

About the Author

Wolfe: Hello, and welcome to 

S. L. Harpel: Thank you for allowing me be a part of your amazing website.

Wolfe: Let’s start by learning a little about you. Please tell us a little about yourself and where you are from.

S. L. Harpel: I was born and raised in Northern California, and I defiantly hold that area near and dear to my heart. I went away to College in Idaho where I met my husband. From there we joined the U.S. Navy, and the world has really been our home for the past ten years.

Wolfe: When did you start writing? How did you decide to become an author?

S. L. Harpel: I have wanted to be an author since I was about seven years old. My best friend and I sat down to write the greatest fiction novel in the world one summer, and I have had a passion for writing ever since.

Wolfe: That’s awesome. How far did you get?

S. L. Harpel: Honestly, I would say we got about halfway through and then I moved.

Wolfe: That’s too bad. Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you write as it comes, or do you prefer to outline the book first?

S. L. Harpel: I do a lot of outlining and reorganizing and character plotting…sometimes I think its a little bit of an avoidance tactic, but for the most part it is all a part of my writing process. Once I have the main outline to my novel, I do like to just write as it comes, and sometimes that means big twists and turns or new characters that I didn’t see coming.

Book Review: Tokyo Story by Tereza Mackova

About the Book

Wolfe: Now let’s switch over to your intriguing book, Contained. How did you come up with the story idea?

S. L. Harpel: I am a big fan of dystopian and apocalyptic type novels to begin with. The idea actually came to me as I was researching and writing Regency Romance. I found all the social rules, classes, etc. kind of comical and just thought, “What would happen if we brought that back and judged everyone based on the society they were born into?”

Wolfe: That’s a scary thought. Your main character, Ella, is a little complicated. Does she mirror anyone in real life?

S. L. Harpel: I feel like for a character to be good, you have to draw from several different inspirations whether they are in real life or inspiration from other books/media. My biggest focus for Ella is that I wanted her to be relatable for my target audience which is Young Adult readers. She struggles with several different forces being thrown into her life all at once and mixing with her own personality. I feel like so often characters will be portrayed on a single line of thought or emotion but that isn’t real life. You have to juggle several different connections and societies all at once and figure out which one fits you best or maybe even none of them.

Wolfe: That is very true. While writing Contained, what were your biggest challenges?

S. L. Harpel: I would have to say my biggest challenge is not allowing myself to write too much! I have these characters in my head as real living people, and I don’t want to leave anything out for any of them. Even the simplest side character seems just as important to me, and I feel like they want their story to be heard too. Remembering to keep my focus on Ella, because she is the one telling us her life story, has been the biggest struggle for me.

Wolfe: What are the plans for Book Two in the series?

S. L. Harpel: Book Two should be ready for Pre-Order Sept 2018. Ella is going to find herself traveling deeper down the rabbit hole that makes up her world and may even finally find the one person she has been looking for all along but in the worst possible place!

How To Get To Know Your Novel Characters

Writer Advice

Wolfe: What do you like most about writing?

S. L. Harpel: Getting down the voices in my head. 😉

Wolfe: (Laughing) That I understand far too well. Tell us, what advice would you give to new writers?

S. L. Harpel: Write all day every day. Don’t be afraid to use someone as your inspiration, hurt someone’s feelings, or write what has already been done. You will do all of that, but in your own way, and that is what will make it amazing!

Wolfe: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve been given?

S. L. Harpel: I would say the best writing advice was from Anne Lamott: “I don’t think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good enough at it.”

Wolfe: What are your three favorite books of all time?

S. L. Harpel: Three is a hard number…So I guess I will say the three authors that I have read all their books over and over again! Diana Gabaldon, Margaret Atwood, and for YA Fiction, I have really been falling in love with Bella Forrest lately, though I don’t think I could ever hammer down that genre to one favorite author.

Wolfe: If you could go on a six-month writer’s retreat anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

S. L. Harpel: Honestly, I would say all of the UK! I love, LOVE the classic romances such as Jane Austen, The Bronte sisters, etc. I would want to visit all their landmarks. Then I would go up to Scotland to see all the Outlander spots, because I really am a nerdy Obsess-ssanach. I love mythology and folklore, so I would go all over Scotland and Ireland just soaking up every castle, fairy hill, and standing stone that I could manage

Book Review: Contained by S. L. Harpel

Rapid Fire

Wolfe: You sound just like my wife. Now, let’s do a rapid fire round. Try to answer these questions as fast as you can. What is the last movie you watched?

S. L. Harpel: I never go to the movie theater, but I just went to see The Darkest Mind.

Wolfe: What’s your favorite music when writing?

S. L. Harpel: I love listening to classical stations, or my recent favorite has been shuffling through Piano Guys songs.

Wolfe: What are three things you can’t live without?

S. L. Harpel: My planner notebook, my computer, and the three little rugrats and one large man child that I call my own.

Wolfe: What’s the last book you read and/or what are you reading right now?

S. L. Harpel: I am in the middle of reading the Gender Games series, and before that, I read A Town Called Wonderful by Michael Lacey.

Wolfe: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview!

Connect with S. L. on social media:




Contained Links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Author Interview S L Harpel #author #interview

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