Interview With ‘Apparitionist’ Author, Rogan Whitenails

Today I am pleased to share an interview with Rogan Whitenails, the author of Apparitionist. This particular piece of work and correspondence has been of great significance to me, as the collection touches on very familiar & relevant themes. I am currently absorbing it all at a slow pace, as some things must not be rushed.

The Book

apparitionist.jpgApparitionist
By Rogan Whitenails
Publisher: Indoor Fighting Press
ISBN: 9780953456635
Pages: 88
Genre: Poetry

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This unique book of prologue poems with frayed ends, rhyming couplets with obsessively counted syllables, at 6 by 9 inches may not fit into your back pocket, but you will want to carry its secrets around with you always. Together the poems form an existentialist novella about a man outside his own time and a study of empathy and pity. The front cover painting by Andrew Salgado is another secret, a parergon to the artist’s Storytelling era, which has never been exhibited. The book is introduced by Ned Raggett who offers his own thoughts on the Apparitionist.


Interview With Rogan Whitenails

Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself? How would you describe yourself as a writer?

Whenever I greet people in the street, I’m likely to simper at them slightly as I say “Morning” or “Hello”, and then I invariably let out a weak laugh, which is involuntary. I’ve often tried to suppress this laugh, but can’t seem to bottle it up. It always comes out, a little nervous giggly sound, and, despite it only being audible to me, I find it infuriating. Then there are sides to my character that show me to be far less worried about public approval or validation, a side that allows me to cope well in an emergency, so that I can talk fluently to paramedics, and a side that can tear a strip off someone who’s upset one of my loved ones in some way. This disregard for approval is evident in my writing, but so is that irrepressible simpering laugh. I do have a strong sense of empathy, however, which is perhaps what defines my work more than anything, though I resist the didactic approach.

My speech patterns in social situations mark me out as an eccentric, and can alienate me quite quickly, and these ways of speaking mirror my literary idiom. I will often use highfalutin and bamboozling language in a social setting, and, as with that little laugh, I can’t seem to stop myself. But then in contrast, for example, someone will express some uncalled for annoyance with my driving, and, without thinking, I’ll get out of my car and hear myself shout in a Basildon accent, “You got a problem mate?” Going from eloquence to base inarticulacy manifests in my writing as bathos.

I know that you and I have spoken about Apparitionist, but could you please share some of your inspiration behind the collection for others?

I was interested in making use of several techniques in the writing of my book. I’ve already mentioned bathos. I find it a useful, playful way of wrong-footing the reader: just when they think they have me pegged, the prevailing colours in a poem will digress.

Colour was at the forefront of writing the poems, not only because I’ve always seen colours whenever I hear sounds, but because I’d made a decision to work closely with painters, mainly Andrew Salgado. Andrew’s style of painting is always developing, and he too seems to enjoy wrong-footing people, but essentially his style is recognisably gestural. I would write to/stalk Andrew, and he would occasionally reply, and my book took some if its shape from my thoughts about his work.

One other technique worth mentioning is a process that I call “Evanescing”. “Poets ninth removed from the Somme, deprived of generous hell, will glom onto trifles,” is a line from one of my early poems, and the motif that runs through much of my work. Of course I feel immensely grateful and privileged to have never seen conflict first hand, but I’ve often wondered what my role as a poet might be potentially. I wanted to write about conflict in our world, the devastation in its wake, but was unsure how I could go about this without appearing crass. I also wanted to stay clear of didactics. I came up with the idea of using this evanescing approach, which allows me to travel without moving from my location, at all times making clear that I know who I am and where I am, but seeing through empathy others’ desperate situations.

What has been the most challenging aspect of writing Apparitionist?

The words fall into place pretty fast when they do come, and so on a practical level it has been hard to get them down quickly enough on occasion, especially when I’ve been interrupted by prosaic but unavoidable activities like needing to go to the toilet or eat. In fact, there is much about going to the toilet in this book, as there is about eating. I explore why, oddly, notions of both promote strong feelings of empathy within me. It has something to do with how these bodily functions are related to milestones in our early development, and can be taken away in a stroke.

Likewise, what has been the most rewarding part of the writing process?

There was a realisation, after I had written quite a lot of the poems, that they were not simply individual pieces, but were instead forming a homogenous narrative about someone who is reviewing their life after their death. It was unexpected, perhaps, but felt very natural at the same time, and has sparked a new energy in my work: keep writing, revisit themes, and a wider story will emerge.

Do you currently have a work in progress that you could tell us about or any upcoming ideas?

Since publishing my book, I’ve realised that the reference point for my narrative has shifted away from the Apparitionst towards a different character, which I’m calling Flâneur-fabular. For anyone who is interested, this subtly new perspective is unfurling and free to read on my Blogspot.

Do you spend a lot of time reading? If so, what would be your favorite genre?

I do spend a lot of time reading novels, but because of my obsessive tendencies, I make painfully slow progress, and tend to get slower towards the end of a book as I re-read each passage. To counter this obsessiveness, I intersperse novel-reading with poems. At the moment I’m reading The Book of Monelle by Marcel Schwob in tandem with the selected poetry of Herbert Read. I like a central character that is profoundly introspective, I suppose, which one finds across the genres.

Do you have one book or author that you draw inspiration from and would recommend?

A poet I hold in the highest esteem is Gerard Manley Hopkins. He illustrates to me why poetry is the greatest art form. That’s my view. People will often praise a poem by saying it’s so good, it is close to music. Poetry is not “almost” music; to say that is doing it a disservice. It has an oral dimension and tradition, obviously, but its power lies in the fact that it makes use of quietude and is ineffably inside of you, as much like a prayer as a song. Other poets I like very much are Nizar Qabbani and Celia Dropkin, whose work is hard to find in print.

I’ve also been a long-time admirer of the lyrics and literary work, blogs etc, of Nick Currie, aka Momus. I find him fascinating, how much of his work manages to be simultaneously tender and unnerving. I write to him/stalk him sometimes too.

Can you please share something with us about yourself that we would not know from your bio?

People may be surprised to hear this, but I spend rather too much of my time wondering why I’m not more liked, why my work is not more recognised. I confess that I would like to be more popular, but at the same time, I can never compromise. No space but this thin place for me, as art’s consensii sits entrenched, but I will not mimic.

And I have to ask, as I always do, do you drink tea? If so, what would be your favorite blend?

My favourite is camomile tea, which I drink with the bag on its string left in the cup.


image1About The Author

Whitenails is a writer of prologue poems and rhyming couplets with obsessively counted syllables. Since the age of 21, he has suffered from a neurological condition that affects his balance. His book, Apparitionist, a study of empathy and pity, was published by Indoor Fighting Press in November 2017. Its poems build to form an existentialist novella about a man outside his own time. He is seen as an outsider, and is rarely published in magazines. His poems are more likely to appear in the exhibition catalogues of artists with whom he has established a creative bond.
 
Buy his book:  Amazon.com  Amazon UK

Follow his blog here.


I want to extend my appreciation to the author for this wonderful review and my copy of Apparition.

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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Please Hear What I’m Not Saying: Guest Post & Spotlight

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Today I am delighted to be featuring a very important poetry anthology, Please Hear What I’m Not Saying. This is a charity composition that raises money for the UK mental health charity, Mind. Editor & author Isabelle Kenyon has been kind enough to lend her time to discuss this collection today.


 

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pleasehearPlease Hear What I’m Not Saying
Isabelle Charlotte Kenyon (Editor), Karan Haveliwala(Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781984006646
Poetry Anthology
Pages: 231

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Synopsis

With over 600 submissions, poets from around the world put their pens to paper to create this anthology, enthused by a common goal to raise money for UK mental health charity, Mind. With poems focusing on mental health from a wide range of experiences, this book aims to continue the worldwide conversation about mental health.

‘These poems crackle with the electricity of experience and sing with the effort of rendering that experience in language. This is work that stands a few inches away from your face and tells you tales that shudder with a terrible beauty; these voices must be listened to because what they are saying is something that all of us, whoever we are, need to know.’ Ian McMillan

The profits from this book go to UK Charity, Mind.

Trigger warnings by chapter: Section One: References include war, depression, grief, alcoholism, bulimia, trauma, suicide Section Two: Sexual abuse, self harm, suicide threat, Borderline personality disorder, electro shock therapy, razors Section Three: Postpartum depression, hospital ward Section Four: Anxiety, pills, Borderline personality disorder, eating disorder Section Five: Poverty Section Six: Alzheimer’s Section Seven: Depression Section Eight: Therapy

Purchase links: Amazon.com  Amazon.UK


guest post

Thank you to Danielle for letting me guest blog today! I wanted to spread the word about the MIND Poetry Anthology which I have compiled and edited. ‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’ has recently been released on Amazon. The Anthology consists of poems from 116 poets (if I include myself!) and the book details a whole range of mental health experiences. The profits of the book with go to UK charity, Mind.

The book came about through my desire to do a collaborative project with other poets and my desire to raise money for a charity desperately seeking donations to cope with the rising need for its work. I received over 600 poems and have narrowed this down to 180.

I believe that what makes this anthology different, is the collaborative nature of the project – although I have had the final artistic control, all the poets involved are passionate about the topics of mental health which they have written about, and about the wider aim of the book to raise money for Mind. Truly, our voices are stronger together.

As an editor, I have not been afraid to shy away from the ugly or the abstract, but I believe that the anthology as a whole is a journey – with each section the perspective changes. I hope that the end of the book reflects the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for mental health and that the outcome of these last sections express positivity and hope.

I would love to share with you a few poems from the book:

Performance
By Sarah Evans

Everyday, projecting an invention of myself,
talking too much, speaking too little,
wrapped in layers of self-defence,
needing to be understood, not knowing
what to say, always perched outside
the magic circle of belonging,

poised at the party’s edge,
heart thumping, sweat crawling,
nausea pressing, world swimming,
longing to fit in, but reluctant to conform,
yearning for acceptance for
my unacceptable self,

this strange being, performing
amongst strangers.

Waste
By Sallyanne Rock

Immobile, I lay waste to days
Letting dust gather at my toes
Pins prickle sat-on hands
I wait, resenting daylight

Purpose passes by the window
Stillness stares back
From a crumpled pile on the sofa
Blanket-soft, nose cold

Standing to swallow cheap comfort
I face down the silent wall
Fruit furs and collapses
I watch it drip through basket holes

This poem was previously published for World Mental Health Day at https://worcestershirepoetlaureateninalewis.wordpress.com.

*Learn more about the project here.


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Isabelle Kenyon is a
Surrey based poet and a graduate in Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance from the University of York. She is the author of poetry anthology, This is not a Spectacle and micro chapbook, The Trees Whispered, published by Origami Poetry Press. She is also the editor of MIND Poetry Anthology ‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’. You can read more about Isabelle and see her work at http://www.flyonthewallpoetry.co.uk

Follow Isabelle Kenyon: Facebook  Twitter  Instagram


I want to extend a special thank you to Isabelle for providing this post and the above information. I am a firm believer that mental health awareness is more important now than it ever has been. I hope that each of you will take a bit of time to explore this collection and incredible cause.

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

Connect With Me: FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram

Author Interview with Erin Jensen

EJ Author InterviewI am excited to have Erin Jensen, the author of the Dream Water Series, back on the blog today for an interview and to share the latest installment in her series, Dream Sight.


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1. Dream Waters was a truly unique and beautiful experience for myself as a reader. Can you describe where your drew inspiration for the story from or how the idea first came to you?

Thank you, Danielle. It’s always touching to hear a reader say that my story my story spoke to them. I work as a pharmacist by day, and my career has given me the opportunity to converse with mentally ill individuals at many points along the spectrum of sanity — from the unmedicated schizophrenic to the well-adjusted, high functioning properly medicated patient. In every conversation I’ve had with these individuals, no matter how coherent, I’ve looked into their eyes and seen a soul struggling to connect—to be understood and respected. These poor souls carry such an immense burden, living in the same world as the rest of us and yet perceiving it as something entirely different. It’s heartbreaking to witness. I suppose at it’s heart, DREAM WATERS is my completely fictional attempt to comprehend why mental illness exists.

Originally, DREAM WATERS was meant to be Book 2 in my series. It was going to be the backstory for one of my side characters (Charlie), who was the cousin of one of my original main characters. A few chapters into the writing of my original Book 1, I felt the need to step aside and write a bit of that backstory to get a better feel of where Charlie was coming from. Several chapters in, my husband asked when I was going to get back to writing Book 1. That’s when I realized that this was Book 1. Who knows? Maybe I’ll go back to that original story one day—although, I suspect it’d need a massive overhaul because my writing has matured quite a bit since that original project.

2. Charlie felt incredibly familiar as a protagonist. I found myself establishing a connection with him almost immediately. Was his character or traits influenced by anyone in your life?

No, Charlie just sort of came to me. He’s not modeled after anyone real. Although, I always picture my books playing out like movies in my head. In fact, when I create a character, I almost always pick an actual actor to play the role in my mind. When I describe their physical traits and mannerisms, I am usually describing that actor. I’ll often watch YouTube clips of their movies and interviews before sitting down to write to keep their mannerisms fresh in my mind. Charlie has always been played by Rupert Grint (minus the red hair) in my mind.

3. Has the experience of publishing your first book in this series changed your writing process with the 2nd and 3rd books in anyway?

Absolutely! There is definitely a learning curve to every step of the writing, editing and publishing process. I’ve learned (and continue to learn) what works best for me along the way. It’s a much smoother process once you develop a rhythm. To be truthful, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing the first time around. Now, I almost always begin with a rough outline, written on index cards. Each scene I envision becoming a part of the book is jotted down (just a brief sentence or two) on a card. That makes it easy to rearrange the order of events, just by rearranging the cards, adding and subtracting new chapter ideas as I go along. When I’m not sure what should happen next, I can flip through the cards to decide what direction to take in the next chapter. I’ve also found a great group of beta readers to give me feedback on my first drafts. And once the manuscript goes to my editor, I start right in on the next book.

4. I obviously hold Charlie very close as far as protagonists go. Who are your favorite character(s) in the series and why?

I do have my favorites, but I don’t share them because I don’t want to give anything away to readers who haven’t read all the books yet. I love all of my characters (with the exception of Frank. He’s not very lovable). My favorite chapters to write are the ones from the point of view of characters who are nothing at all like me. There’s something thrilling about slipping inside the mind of a villainous character or a crotchety old man and telling their tale. Every character is a product of their circumstances and life experiences. There is always a reason for the rage or hatred or whatever sort of passion drives them. I find it fascinating to unravel what makes them tick and what drives them to do the despicable things that they do.

5. If I understand correctly, there are at least 4 books planned for this series. Do you have a conclusion in mind at this point or are you sort of just seeing where the story takes you?

Yes, there will be at least four books in the series, maybe more depending on how long it takes to cover everything I intend to. The conclusion will be a little of both. There are some plot points that are set in stone, and have been from the beginning—but even stone can be smashed. Sometimes the characters have a mind of their own and when I sit down to write, their veer off in an entirely different direction than I intended. Sometimes you just have to go where the story (and the characters) take you. I suppose that’s only right, considering it’s their story.

6. The cover art for the series is gorgeous! Could you share a bit with us about the process and how it came into existence?

Thank you! I adore my covers and their designer—who also happens to be my husband.
I originally hired a professional designer for my first book cover. After months of anticipation, he sent me a cover that was a complete disappointment. I’m pretty picky about my cover art because that’s what first grabs the reader’s attention. They always say “don’t judge a book by its cover” but let’s be honest, everyone does. If the cover doesn’t catch your eye, you’ll never even pick up the book. Fortunately, I discovered that my husband is amazing at bringing my visions to life. He always gives me the credit because the concepts are mine, but capturing the feel of the book in an eye catching way is an impressive skill. I’m lucky that we make a pretty great team!

7. I know you have a family and work as a pharmacist also. What has been your biggest challenge as a writer?

Time!! Finding the time to write, edit and promote my books is always a challenge. But I squeeze it in whenever I can because it’s absolutely worth it to me. I rarely sit down to watch television before eleven o’clock at night — and more often than not, I fall asleep ten minutes into whether we’re watching. I spend most free minutes during the day doing something bookish. If it isn’t writing or editing, it’s promoting my books on social media or answering interview questions or—my current project—tying ribbons on bookmarks to hand out at signings. If I could add a few extra hours of uninterrupted writing time to my day, I definitely would!

8. Have you written or are you working on or planning any titles outside of the Dream Waters series? What’s next?

Yes, I have been working on an unrelated book lately. I don’t want to give too much away just yet, but the concept for the book was inspired by a character from the show Supernatural. I recently posted a picture of the characters on Facebook with the caption “Random question: Do any of my FB friends watch this show?” because I was hoping to find some Supernatural fans to beta read and it turns out, a ton of my friends watch the show. My favorite response to the FB post was a reader who said “My youngest son is named Dean Samuel!” The book is still in its infancy, but I’ll be sure to share more details with my readers later on!

9. What is the most important thing you have taken away from your experience as a writer?

I would have to say self confidence. I have a lot more self confidence than I started out with. It’s a terrifying step to put yourself out there and share your labor of love with the world. I didn’t even tell most people in my life that I’d written a book until shortly before I released DREAM WATERS. The response from everyone I know—coworkers, friends, family, former fellow students, pharmacy customers, etc.—has been overwhelmingly positive. I am so glad I worked up the courage to share my stories with the world because there is nothing I would rather do.

10. Last but least, I always ask: Do you drink tea and if so, what is your preferred cup?

I do drink tea, although I am more of a coffee drinker. My favorite is chai tea with a splash of milk.
Thanks for the interview, Danielle! As always, it’s been a pleasure chatting with you!


dreamsightbk 1
Dream Sight (Dream Waters #3)
By Erin A Jensen
Publisher: Dream Waters Publishing
ISBN: 9780997171273
Pages: 496
Genre: Adult Contemporary/Fantasy

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Synopsis: 

The clock is ticking for Emma Talbot—if her dormant memories don’t resurface soon, her past will be forever lost to her—but that’s the least of her worries. Abducted from her home by her husband’s worst enemy, Emma is running out of time in more ways than one.

No longer bound by any limits—moral or physical—the Dragon King sets off on a rampage to discover the whereabouts of his missing wife and retrieve her from the monster who took her. And any creature who is fool enough to stand in his way may well condemn himself to a fate worse than death.

As the royal family’s crisis escalates, Charlie has his own struggles to deal with. The weight of the world now rests on his shoulders and although he is physically capable of shouldering the burden in his emergent form, his ability to control the bestial urges that accompany his newfound power might be another story.

Purchase: Amazon.com

dreamwatersDream Waters (Dream Waters #1)
Purchase: Amazon  iTunes  Barnes&Noble  Kobo

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dreamworldDream World (Dream Waters #2)
Purchase: Amazon  iTunes  Barnes&Noble  Kobo

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Erin Jensen is the international best selling author of the Dream Waters series. A part-time pharmacist and a full-time creator of imaginary worlds, she lives in upstate New York with her ridiculously supportive husband, two sons (who are both taller than her) and a Yorkshire terrier who thinks he’s the family bodyguard. She once vowed to get a dragon tattoo when her books reached a milestone number of reviews, but she no longer divulges that number— for fear that she might actually reach it and have to go through with it!

Follow Erin: Website  Twitter  Goodreads


I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Erin for her time today and also a huge congratulations for making the best-selling list!

Happy Reading!

Danielle ❤

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