16 Questions with Kurt Hansen, author of Daughters of Teutobod.

Daughters of Teutobod is a story of love triumphing over hate, of persistence in the face of domination, and of the strength of women in the face of adversity.

Gudrun is the stolen wife of Teutobod, the leader of the Teutons in Gaul in 102 BCE. Her story culminates in a historic battle with the Roman army.

Susanna is a German American farm wife in Pennsylvania whose husband, Karl, has strong affinity for the Nazi party in Germany. Susanna’s story revolves around raising her three daughters and one son as World War II unfolds.

Finally, Gretel is the infant child of Susanna, now seventy-nine years old and a professor of women’s studies, a US senator and Nobel laureate for her World Women’s Initiative. She is heading to France to represent the United States at the seventy-fifth anniversary of the liberation of southern France, at the commemoration site where her older brother, who was killed in action nearby, is buried. The site is very near the location where the Romans defeated the Teutons.

 

Daughters of Teutobod Front Cover

How did you do research for your book?
Online searches for everything about the Teutons to pre-war Pennsylvania and the earliest training of American Rangers, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and modern-day sites in Paris and Southern France.

Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?
Hardest? Ada.
Easiest? Gretel.

How long have you been writing?
After heart disease forced early retirement, I began attending the Iowa Summer Writer’s Festival in 2014. I began writing poetry, but soon began writing novels.

What is your next project?
A book entitled Chameleon, about a man in treatment for Borderline personality disorder.

What genre do you write and why?
I write character driven stories and historical fiction because those are what interest me.

What is the last great book you’ve read?
Chances Are by Richard Russo

If your book were made into a movie, who would star in the leading roles?
The only one I’ve had an instant intuition for is the elder Gretel, who would surely be portrayed nicely by Meryl Streep.

If your book were made into a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack?
Not sure, but during closing credits, I could suggest Respect by Aretha Franklin.

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing your book?
Greatest reward is the coming together of the various story elements. Greatest challenge is slogging through the research and persisting through the dialogues.

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like?
It was painful and frustrating.

Which authors inspired you to write?
Philip Roth, Harper Lee, Richard Russo, Flannery O’Connor, Charles Dickens, Michael Crighton, Dan Brown, Kurt Vonnegut, Amy Hassinger
 

Fun stuff:
Favorite travel spot?
Toledo, Spain.

Favorite dessert?
Sour cream raisin pie.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, which 3 books would you want with you?
To Kill a Mockingbird, A Tale of Two Cities, and the Bible.

Any hobbies? or Name a quirky thing you like to do.
I collect rock-n-roll memorabilia. Signed record albums and photos and so forth.

What is your theme song?
“You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor

Kurt Hansen HeadshotAuthor Bio:

Kurt Hansen is from Racine, Wisconsin, and has lived in Kansas, Texas, and Iowa. He has
experience in mental health and family systems as well as in parish ministry and administration.
He holds degrees in psychology, social work and divinity. Kurt now lives in Dubuque, Iowa with
his wife of 44 years, Dr. Susan Hansen, a professor emerita of international business. Kurt is
the author of Gathered (2019). Daughters of Teutobod is his second novel.

Website: https://www.authorkurthansen.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/revkurthansen
Amazon: Kurt Hansen Author Page
Goodreads:  Kurt Hansen

Kurt Hansen blog tour Image

© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

14 Questions with Reenita M Hora, author of Operation Mom.

Ila, a Mumbai-based teenager, is going nuts with Veena, her controlling, single mother who prevents her from stalking her pop idol, Ali Zafar. Veena wants her daughter to date real guys in the lead-up to finding a husband. But Ila decides  that the only way to get her mom off her back is by finding her a boyfriend instead. With the help of her best friend Deepali, her crush Dev and her mother’s best friend Maleeka, they will come up with a plan to make it happen by setting up a profile in dating apps.

 

Operation Mom cover image

This interview has to start off with this question. In your book you make a reference to George Michael, how did you come up with this idea?

In my book, I make reference to George Michael of Wham, the famous English pop singer who I was desperately in love with in my teen years. And I know that I speak for just about every woman who grew up in the 80s!  The George Michael anecdote is taken directly  from my life – I stalked him in my teen years, and in mind you in those days there was no such thing as social media, cell phone – smart or dumb or the internet. So the fact that I traveled from Mumbai to London one summer and tracked him down is a real life example of investigative research that I take great pride in!

I guess here is the story – a year or two before I wrote the book, I was chatting with my brother’s friend at a party and somehow, we got talking about the whole George Michael episode. The guy listened with rapt amazement as I gave him the details of how I stalked the pop star through his cat. He said to me ‘That would make a great chick flick, you know!’

I was intrigued but know nothing about film so decided to turn it into YA chick-lit instead!

There are many books out there about the life of women in India, Mumbai in this case….What makes yours different?

Oh my goodness, do you like to laugh? If so then Operation Mom will hit your funny bone. I think that many of us Indians take ourselves too seriously and cliched as it sounds, laughter really is medicine for your mind-body. The BBC has done huge amounts of research on how it helps the aging process, supports fitness and keeps couples together. But this book is not simply about LOL moments, it’s about LOL moments in the Bombay context — it offers a real window into the trials and tribulations of the feisty Punjai woman in Bombay.

And then there is that whole element of predictability and safety in India. You don’t find stories where the daughter is setting the mother up – usually it happens the other way around. You don’t find stories which expose you to a variety of ethnic situations strewn around Mumbai – all ripe for comedic interpretation. That’s what I wanted to do. As a Mumbaikar…or a Bombay-ite, I feel like I have many affinities – to the Punjabi way of life, to the Parsi community, to places like Swati Snacks and Worli Seaface…these all found their way into my book.

How did you do research for your book?

Having grown up in Mumbai, the research was easy. I knew the places I wanted to set the story in. I knew what they were about and the kind of crazy character chaos that I would find in those locations.  Of course, this being a YA book, me now being a full-fledged adult (at least in size if not maturity levels), I knew I had to be up with the ‘method of madness’ of the current Mumbai young adult. So I had huge amounts of fun talking to my school going nephew and his friends to learning the lingo, compare the mindset from my time to theirs and quickly adapt to the change. Then of course I had fun taking long bus rides through town and hanging out at places like Swati Snacks and Kalaghoda Cafe (locations referred to in the story) to people watch and eavesdrop on conversations.  Research is really one of the most fun parts of creating a story.

In your book you seem to look at relationships between flawed characters….why is that?

In my book I talk about relationships among flawed characters because isn’t this who we are and what makes us tick? I capture the sometimes-difficult relationship between mother and daughter, friend and friend, husband and wife, and boy and girl. My exploration is that of coming of age in a world filled with imperfect people. I aim to be both humorous and heartfelt, and from beginning to end, I resist any attempt to apply makeup to innocence, or hide the stubbornness or intelligence of my characters.

If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?

Another hard one. While in many ways I myself identify with the plight of Ila and her mom, Veena, it’s hard not to fall in love with the wild and wacky Aunty Maleeka or Deepali. They are the very antithesis of the classic Punjabi woman and in many ways they are who Veena and Ila live vicariously through. Truth is, I think we all need a bit of Aunty Maleeka or Deepali in our lives!

Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?

Oof, this is hard to say. Ila and Veena (mother and daughter) are essentially the same woman in two different generational bodies. So when I look at the zany women in my own household, Yours Truly in particular, it isn’t hard to come up with traits and quirks that easily define these main characters. As to the hardest character again…there has been.

How are you similar to or different from your lead character?

Like I alluded to earlier, in many ways I identify with the plight of Ila and her mom, Veena. Both of these characters are essentially the same woman in two different bodies. When I look at them, I see aspects of my teenage self and my adult self. My traits ring through in both — obsessiveness, zest for life, indomitable free spirit, my insecurities….oh yes!

What is something you had to cut from your book that you wish you could have kept?

I am not sure about the book but there is plenty I have to cut from the screenplay…like the whole flamenco dance class scene.

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?

Readers tell me that they can totally identify with my characters even if they are from a different culture. This makes me happy  😊

Also Chanticleer Reviews said: “This book will have you laughing out loud. It will keep you reading into the night to see what life has in store for these lovable characters who leap off the page and capture your heart and your imagination. Reenita Malhotra Hora’s novel, Operation Mom: My Plan to Get My Mom a Life and a Man, is a highly recommended and delightful five-star read.”

This made me happy too 😊

Which authors inspired you to write?

Oh goodness! So many!

As a child – Enid Blyton. Not the choice of children’s author for anyone who has been a child since I became an adult!

As a child and an adult – Lewis Carrol, Gerald Durrell, Eric Segal

As an adult – David Sedaris, Nora Ephron, Andrew Ross Sorkin.Walter Isaacson, and of course the inimitable JK Rowling.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

1980s. Bombay to relive my teens and London to see George Michael 😊

What song is currently playing on a loop in your head?

Duran Duran’s – Wild Boys.  I just saw them in concert, that’s why.

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

George Michael of course!!!!

What is your next project?

Oof, which one?! As far as books and stories go, I would say Shadow Realm – Part 1 & 2 of the Arya Chronicles series.  This is a YA fantasy fiction story. Part 1 is already out as an audio series which you can check out here: www.thearyachronicles.com/podcast. We are currently in production for Season 2 which will launch in Spring 2023.  The print book version of Shadow Realm will be next as far as books go, followed hopefully soon thereafter by a graphic novel.

I also have a historical fiction novel in the works – Playtime at the Bagh and Ace of Blades, the “Succession-like” memoirs of my later father, RK.Malhotra, the dynamic creator of India’s home-grown shaving products industry.

Operation Mom: My Plan to Get My Mom a Life… and a Man is available at

 

 

 

Reenita M. Hora Author PhotoAuthor Bio:

Reenita Malhotra Hora is a founder, executive-level content, operations & marketing leader, and prolific writer. With multiple years of experience in media, entertainment, communications, tech/innovation and wellness industries in the USA and Asia, she grows organizations, ranging from early stage startups through mid-size businesses, through storytelling, creative marketing and business strategy.

Reenita has written seven books – five non fiction and two fiction. She is the writer, anchor and executive producer of Shadow Realm and True Fiction Project podcasts and founder of the Chapter by episode fiction app. She has contributed to The Hindu, South China Morning Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNN, Asian Investor, Times of India, National Geographic Kids, Cartoon Network Asia, Disney, and more.

Website: http://www.reenita.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReenitaMalhotraHora
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reenita_storyteller/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/reenymal 

Reenita Malhotra blog tour dates and sites.

© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

11 Questions with Edna Dratch-Parker & Jeri Solomon of Guide To Smart Wedding Planning.

Smart Wedding Guide Planning Book Cover.

GUIDE TO SMART WEDDING PLANNING 

Edna Dratch-Parker & Jeri Solomon

On writing:

How did you do research for your book?
Being in the business of weddings for years, our work was our research! We also interviewed our clients to ask them what information they wished they had known at the start of their planning journey.

Do you have another profession besides writing?
Yes! Edna is a wedding planner, designer and brander. Jeri is a floral designer. We have decades of experience in the world of weddings. We’ve collaborated on many events and even won some national awards.

What is your next project?
Currently we’re working on a companion workbook for Guide to Smart Wedding Planning. We also have other planning tools in the pipeline so stay tuned!

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing your book?
The challenges- writing while also running a business full time. The biggest reward is holding the book in our hands and having people tell us that the information made a difference in their wedding planning experience.

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like?
The road was steep and winding!

What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Just keep at it. No matter how long it takes

 

Fun stuff:

Favorite dessert?
Anything chocolate

Any hobbies?
Jeri is a certified yoga teacher. Edna likes to go on motorcycle rides with her husband. We are both cat lovers.

If there is one thing you want readers to remember about you, what would it be?
The Real Deal Wedding Insiders® are your go-to source for wedding planning info!

What is something you’ve learned about yourself during the pandemic?
In March of 2020 we were getting ready to publish our book and then the world shut down. We had no idea what the future would bring so we paused. We did make some edits to the book post pandemic about the wedding planning process, but our general advice did not change. We’re very happy about that because that means our advice stands the test of time!

Tell us about your longest friendship.
Our friendship! It is not the “longest” but the reason why we wrote this book. We first met at a networking event in Boston. Then we did a few weddings together and started to learn that we had so many things in common. For example we grew up in neighboring towns, we each have 2 sisters, our fathers were physicians, we’re married to men named Jim.  But then we discovered some unique connections; Jeri’s older sister was born in France while her father served in the Air Force and Edna was ALSO born in France while her father served in the Army. Then one day, Jeri was helping her aunt Eleanor plan her anniversary party. They were in a common area in her retirement home, discussing how to set up the space. There was a woman eyeing them from a corner. After a little while she approached Jeri and Eleanor and asked “are you planning a party?” Eleanor explained that Jeri was in the “wedding business” and was helping her. To which the woman responded “Really! My niece is a wedding planner!” Of course her niece was Edna! Jeri immediately texted Edna to tell her that “Aunt Mary says Hi.” At that point, we knew for sure that we were more like family than friends.

Author Bio:Edna and Jeri Profile Photo

With a combined 30 years and hundreds of weddings produced, Edna Dratch-Parker, founder,
and creative director of EFD Creative—Event Planning & Design, and Jeri Solomon, owner of
Jeri Solomon Floral Design, bring their depth of knowledge and real-life experiences to help
couples avoid common mistakes, reduce stress, and truly enjoy the wedding planning process.

 

Website:  https://www.realdealweddinginsiders.com/
Facebook:
@RealDealWeddingInsiders
@EFDCreative
@jerifloraldesign

Instagram:
@weddinginsiders
@efd_creative
@jerifloral

TIKTOK: @RealDealWeddingInsiders

Twitter:
@RDWedInsiders
@EFD_Creative
@JeriFloral

 

Jeri Solomon blog tour Image with All site addresses.

© 2014-2022- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

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