Interview with self-published and Pfoxchase author Mandy Ward
You got to love your friends! Oh, but how easy is that when they are kind-hearted, patient and eloquent? Mandy Ward aka Kira Morgana is all that and much more. I could not introduce a lovelier and more talented lady after my break from interviewing.
Though I’m not well-up in fantasy, it is ever so easy to become mesmerised by Mandy’s enchanting stories. She mixes unbridled imagination with fresh-flowing prose and a pinch of mysticism. Next to that, Mandy knows her genre inside-out and I’m truly impressed by her knowledge of the Greek and Hindu religions. She effortlessly weaves these mystical beings into the tapestry of her short story The Necklace of Harmony. Mandy’s poetry experience is also clearly visible in her work. She possesses a rich, capacious vocabulary that sings in the wind.
To introduce Mandy’s first instalment in the series The Tower and the Eye, I’d love to repeat the words Maria Kuroshchepova used in her review on Amazon:
Have you ever read something filled with images so evocative that you could
literally see them as clearly as you do the surrounding reality? To me, such is the writing of Kira Morgana. Her environments are expansive, exquisitely detailed and possess limitless variety. She is as fearless with her characters and story lines as she is with her settings. They are many, they are wonderfully alive, powerful and flawed at the same time, they overlap, they interact, they diverge, creating an often complex and very involved but unfailingly enjoyable conglomeration.
Maria’s words mirror my own feelings about Mandy’s work and I whole-heartedly recommend her books. I’m also sure she’d love to hear what you think of them! I’m really thrilled to be able to introduce such a lovely person and a fantastic writer on my blog. Rest assured we’ll hear a lot more about this new fantasy kid-on-the-block!
Where do you live (town, country)? Were you born and bred there?
I live in a small village near Cardiff in South Wales. It’s a beautiful, calm place with a rocky beach and rolling fields…quiet, except when there is a plane taking off from the nearby airport!
I wasn’t born here though. That somewhat dubious accolade is reserved for Ipswich, the county town of Suffolk. I lived in various places in Suffolk – I spent the first six months of my life in the home of Benjamin Britten, Aldeburgh; the next ten years were conducted on a little piece of the USA known as USAF Bentwaters and the last nine years of my life in Suffolk were spent cycling around the town of Woodbridge.
After that, I went to Plymouth in Devon, up to Bristol for six months and back to Devon to live in Exeter for a couple of years before ending up in Wales.
What kind of food do you like? Are you a good cook? How important is food to you?
I like anything that I can eat – I’m on a seafood diet… I see it, I eat it! Sadly while I like food, it doesn’t like me, so I end up avoiding a lot of things that I love like Italian food and spicy food.
I’m not a bad cook… I’m what I think of as a recipe cook. Give me a recipe and a list of ingredients and I can cook it. I’m not good at making things up as I go along though.
Food is something that I need to survive, so I eat. I get so engrossed in my various projects (and there are a lot of them) that I often have to be forced to eat by my long suffering partner.
Do you do any sports? How often? What does exercise mean to you? Any other hobbies?
Does speed typing count as a sport? *grins*
I’m lazy. I don’t move further than I have to most of the time. I force myself to walk to Guides once a week and I like swimming and yoga, so I’ll do them from choice, but I tend to be an armchair sports fan – especially of rugby!
I used to do Aikido (a Japanese Martial Art) at university and got to my 3rd Kyu… but that fell apart when I became pregnant with my son. I wasn’t allowed on the mat by my sensei and after my son was born, I never managed to get back on the mat due to baby-sitting problems. I miss it though.
Do you have kids? If so, please tell us a little about them?
NOS is almost a teenager (in his mind at least) at eleven. He’s obsessed with Pokémon, video games, his bike and eating… not necessarily in that order! He has Asperger’s Syndrome which hampers him a little in social situations, but otherwise he is a polite, well behaved boy.
PT is everything a little seven year old girl should be: pink obsessed, imaginative, cuddly toy orientated with definite interests in Horses, Ballet and Music. Her recent birthday requests included her own real pony, a guitar and more ballet lessons. However, she is also a little bit of a diva and a bit of a tomboy. She’s always stamping her foot and pouting, as well as trying her hardest to keep up with her big brother and cousins on Video games and in tickling matches.
Do you like travelling? Where do you go then?
I’d like to travel, just don’t have the money at the moment. I’ve got so many friends in other countries – I want to go on a huge road trip and visit all of them! I also want to visit Japan and New Zealand and Canada.
Do you have another job apart from writing? For how many hours? How do you feel about the ‘other’ job?
You want the list? My main (i.e.: trained in) employment is Teaching, but due to there being a shortage of jobs in my area at the moment, I am currently floating free. My second job is more of an obsessive interest at the moment; I design and make jewellery and accessories.
Then of course there is Head Cook and Bottle Washer, Barista and Laundry maid of the Court-Ward Residence – not a job that I can get rid of either!
How do your family/friends react to you being a writer? Have their opinions changed since you became a published author? Which remark from your surroundings has stuck most with you?
My Mum is very proud of me – she’s always talking about getting people to buy my books. The rest of my blood kin don’t seem interested. My Friends on Facebook (many of whom are writers, artists or creatives of one sort or another) are always supportive.
TOH (my fiancé) is tolerant and supportive of my writing ambitions. He does complain that I spend too much time with the computer rather than him though! PT and NOS love the fact that I write and have helped me on a number of occasions with my children’s rhyming stories; either by creating characters for me (Pika the Phluph is PT in essence) or being an audience.
Would you call yourself a social human being? Do you have time for going out and spending time away from the writing desk?
I’m happy to go out and be social – I deliberately became a Guide Leader to make sure that I had something different to do outside of the house.
I love going to the cinema and swimming with my kids and going for a walk along the beach on a sunny day is one of my favourite ways to get fresh air.
Which character trait do you like best about yourself and why? Which trait would you rather do without?
I try very hard not to give up on anything – it’s the main cause of my Hard Drive being filled with unfinished work! If I could erase anything from my character it would be the arrogance that I get when I am certain that I am right – it annoys other people and makes me sound horrible.
Can you describe the place where you write + the view?
I write in a little cubby at the far end of our Lounge Diner. Dead ahead of me is a wall, where I have various things Blu-tacked to the wall; a map of “Quargard”, a map of “The Land Far Away”, my “Writer in Residence” sign, a reminder of how to use apostrophes properly (something I always get wrong) and a quote from Terry Brooks:
Read, Read, Read
Outline, Outline, Outline,
Edit, Edit, Edit.
To my left is a calendar and a couple of pictures of my children, next to the window that looks out onto our tiny garden. I am pretty much surrounded by books here and my favourite ones are well within reach.
Is there something you always need to have near you when you work (beverage, cigarette, mascot, music, quote, etc)?
I need peace to be able to write properly – something which is very rare in this house! I always have a cup of tea or a glass of Lime & Soda with me.
What genre(s) do you write in? How did that develop?
I started my writing career in poetry. It’s not really developed all that far – I don’t really count myself as a Poet.
Then, because I adore reading Fantasy (everything from Paranormal to Epic; yes, I have more than one copy of “The Hobbit” and more fantasy books than I can count easily) I dove into writing it head first.
My first epic fantasy novel (which has conveniently been lost) was well over 160,000 words! I’ve developed that Genre a lot further – I write Sword and Sorcery, Science Fiction-Fantasy, Paranormal Fantasy and Contemporary Fantasy.
During 2008, I slipped into writing horror stories (that was where I first got published!) and I write a passable horror story. I can’t scare myself, just other people though, so I went back to Fantasy in 2009. Those are always written under the pen name of A.E. Churchyard.
The Children’s Rhyming Stories developed from a brief surge of poetry writing I had in 2008. I’d been reading Dr Seuss to my children, as we were doing NOS’s homework (to do with rhyming words) and Pika the Phluph appeared in my mind. The reason I use difficult spellings in these stories is to broaden children’s minds to the way that words can be used and alternative spellings, such as PH instead of FF.
When was your first book released and how did that make you feel? Have you published more than one book?
When I had my first short story published in an anthology and actually got a copy of the book as a contributor, I was hooked on writing. There is nothing quite like the smell of a brand new print book and the joy that I felt with seeing my story within the pages was a better rush than anything, even chocolate! I’ve had over twenty short stories published in various anthologies.
The first book that I self- published was “The Necklace of Harmony” in February 2012. It’s an e-book, but I am working on a print version.
The second book of mine: “Pika the Phluph and the Gribblebid Tough” was published through TSK Group and is a collaboration between myself and Illustrator, Maria Kuroshchepova.
Can you tell us some background information on the book? (How did you get the idea, how long did it take you to write and edit it, is it part of a sequel, how does the published book make you feel now?)
The Necklace of Harmony is a collection of short stories written for competitions and contests. Each one has it’s own history and I included a little introduction for each one.
Pika the Phluph and the Gribblebid Tough is the first of a series called “The Land Far Away”. There are four books in the editing stage, four still being written. If we get enough interest in the series, then we may package ten stories together in one book as a limited edition hardback.
The Tower and The Eye: A Beginning is really a Sword & Sorcery Novella. In fact it is the first one in a series of five being published through Pfoxchase. I’m hoping that the next one will be out in the
What are your writing habits? (every day, number of words, etc.?)
At the moment, I write when I get the time or the peace available. During holidays that’s most of the time (unless TOH needs the PC). During term time, I try and write at least 100 words a day.
Who’s been your biggest inspiration and why? Since when?
I have a number of fantasy authors whom have inspired me, from Piers Anthony and Terry Pratchett to David Eddings and Robert Jordan. But my biggest inspiration was Tolkien – wizards and dwarves and dragons and hobbits and elves… all the things that I adore about fantasy!
Thanks so much, dear Mandy, for this interview and for your patience!!
Bio & Links:
Kira thought she was a Teacher, until Life pointed out to her that she is actually a writer. As her Cats, Kids and Partner approved, she decided to agree with Life.
Currently she is working on a five book Novella Series for Pfoxmoor Publishing as well as a number of other projects. As If that weren’t enough, she spends a week or two a month putting together “Welcome to Wherever”, along with trying to juggle Cats, Kids, Partner.
She does all this from a body in South Wales, UK. Where her mind is, she hasn’t yet worked out…