Month: July 2016

An Interview With Writer Tantra Bensko



Tantra Bensko is the author of the book Glossolalia; here is a link to the website:


Q: What is Glossolalia about?


A: Nancy can only keep a job at her uncle Geoff’s pesticide company, because she has amnesiac fugues, and she’s addicted to the drugs he gives her to stave off strange visions, which present themselves almost like surreal memories. When she sees a crime happening at the company, she has the choice to risk her job and life in order to turn him in. But there’s a catch. A big one.

Her pursuit of a waste truck carrying away a poison legally deemed too toxic to dump leads her to a world of political intrigue, occult practices, shocking revelations, and her own involvement in layer after layer of a conspiracy.

It’s about the need to become authentic, and the power of determined individuals to transform themselves and the world. The series is about the heroism of recognizing, resisting, and exposing social engineering.


Q: What inspired you to write it?

A: I feel empathy for people who have gone through trauma induced by US intelligence agencies. I also feel empathy for the agents, and sometimes, they are one and the same.



Q:  What makes Nancy a sympathetic character?

A: She cares about the environment and wants to do the right thing, though she struggles, like many people, with being forced to take a job that bothers her conscience.



Q:  Are the characters in the book based on real people?

A: They aren’t portrayals of specific individuals but they’re influenced greatly by reality: the globe-trotting politically connected evangelist, the businessman with a conflict of interest, a president of a country trying to get off the dollar standard, the manipulative handler, the YouTube activist. The pills Nancy takes illegally are called Jolly Wests. That’s a nod to the famous MKULTRA doctor of that name.



Q: You teach fiction writing on several different websites. How did you get your first teaching jobs?


A: Part of getting an MA involved teaching in labs, which I’d already done in high school, so I was well prepared to teach at FSU while studying. I then simply applied to Memphis State and taught years there before teaching at Iowa while I got my MFA. I was happy to be offered the teaching jobs while studying and to accepted to the application to the instructorship in Tennessee. It was a simple process to be accepted everyplace I applied, possibly largely because the people hiring me liked reading my publications, and maybe were also impressed by the number of them.

I never wanted my path to be academic straight though, partly because that wouldn’t let me live a varied enough life to write deeply in the way I want. It was a long time before I applied to online teaching jobs and again, I think I was originally accepted partly because of the quality of my writing and my reputation in the Innovative Fiction scene as well as the classes I proposed in experimental fiction, which was not being taught much. I think I helped raise awareness of that style a bit through my popular resource website about it. I then very quickly expanded to also teach other forms.



Q:  What are some of the most memorable questions students have asked you?

In a 10 weeks fiction writing class: “I dont rely no Enlish. Can you maeke all the editos at all my assignments for I learn English?” (I did.)


“Do you mind if I announce to the class that the story I wrote in the last class with you just won an award?”



Q: What are some of the qualifications for your job?


A: MA in English from FSU and MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop. Getting my early teaching jobs rested partially on my good grades throughout school, publications, reference letters from impressed professionals, and the quality of my writing. Having those jobs in tow and letters from pleased superiors, I could apply to the online schools. Being a consistent teacher students got a lot out propelled me forward from job to job, as well as continuing to be published and do a lot online to promote literary awareness.

I live the kind of life expected of a writing instructor to obtain and keep a job: participating in panels such as at the &Now Festival of Writing, winning honors here and there, guest editing a magazine and putting out my own magazine as well as a resource site about experimental fiction and publishing people’s chapbooks, doing readings locally and at conferences. I continued to get work out to the public, with hundreds of short stories as well as other genres in magazines and anthologies.

My love for helping students prioritize their passion for writing I think is an important qualification for actually teaching, though. I’m patient, encouraging, friendly, and can appreciate a wide variety of genres: I studied them all to be prepared for anything a student might write. I’m sincerely thrilled by their stories and progress.

Q:  What kind of music do you listen to when you write?


A: I don’t. I pay attention to the rhythms of the words and make that musical instead. It’s subtle and I wouldn’t want to override it. I get up and dance regularly when writing fiction, to silence. I hear the music in my head of the plot arc, how the audience should feel at a certain moment. I act out the characters, scenes, the mood of what comes next.



Q:  What has been the most effective thing you have done to promote your book?
A: I have a Facebook author page, and I took out ads to attract people with interests related to the book, such as Conspiracy Fiction, Barry Eisler, Psychological Thriller Novel. I wrote a guest post about how the rise of indie publishing and movie production allows for a new paradigm of spy novels that flip the old default good guy – US intelligence VS bad guy formula. I posted about it on the author page and then boosted it. No one sees posts on pages now unless you do that.

225 people liked the post as they saw it scroll through their news feed. I then invited them to like the page, and those who did are perfect for my book. In any case, they read the information with links I included about the historical facts about the CIA, and that’s an end in itself. I cover many of the topics in my blog as well. Promoting the book is finding people intrigued by the series and also fostering awareness about a reality that’s important to address, whether the people buy any of The Agents of the Nevermind or not.



Q: If this country turns into a dystopia would you want drugs to anesthetize you or would you stay sober and fight?

A: I wouldn’t take drugs. I completely avoid pain killers as it is, and I’ve been in a lot of pain in my life. Pain is there for a reason. I listen to it rather than ingest a chemical with lasting side effects. Still, if I’m stuck under a truck that’s run out of the last of the gasoline, and I’m flailing around, yeah, if you don’t mind, a little morphine over heah.

Also, are you saying it’s not a dystopia now?


Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.




An Interview With Author Kamlesh Thakur



Kamlesh Thakur is the author of A Middle Class Dream; here is a link to his website:


Q: What is A Middle Class Dream about?


A: AMCD (A Middle Class Dream) is a story of little boy who was born in India, discovering and nurturing his uniqueness, finding his purpose in life who challenges and breaks through numerous rhymes, reasons and sometimes superstitious beliefs of a highly discriminatory society filled with inequality in every walk of life.


It provides a comprehensive perspective of the many highly diverse cultures that coexist in the world’s largest democracy. It highlights the struggles this kid had to go through, the obstacles he had to overcome before becoming successful. It highlights the feeling of satisfaction in sharing the tools of success discovered, the skills and values learned so others may benefit and apply it in their own ways to replicate this process of success.


The message of AMCD is “no matter who you are, where you come from, or where you’ve been – as long as you have a vision of your life, a purpose to strive for, you will achieve anything you desire and some more





Q: What caste does Krish belong to and where is that caste raked in the social structure?


A: Krish is a blue blooded “Rajput” – the warrior caste (also known as the Kshatriyas). Ancestors of this caste were royalty (kings & queens) that have fought numerous historic wars. The Hindu scriptures have all documented Lord Rama as a Kshatriya.


After the British (East India Company) rule for decades many palaces, their history and heritage were forfeited under the doctrine of lapse policy. Since independence the popularity and prominence of this caste diminished and is today one of the many hundreds of caste’s.



Q: What is the overall theme of the book?


A: Victory in any endeavor of life belongs to those that believe in it the most, that believe in it the longest. We have to be the change we want to see, and we already have everything we need. So, we need to do what we can, wherever we are with whatever we have, because what we have is indeed plenty. And oh, be content, but never be satisfied.



Q: What makes Krish worth reading about?


A: If you want to experience extreme cultural diversity (cultural, educational, customs etc.) as if you were there in flesh – you would find this to be a worthy read.


Q: What do you think motivates the Sweetie character?


A: This is one character that is not motivated by anything of her own. If anything came close, it was the need to conform to societies whims and fancies, dictates. This included parents, siblings and oh, how can I forget – the dreaded CASTE barrier. Outer suggestions ruled and shaped her life, her destiny was written by others – as is for many million women (and men).


Changes are taking place, but at a snail’s pace, and for a country with 1.4 billion people, how quick will the changes take place is anybody’s guess.


Q: What sort of day job do you have and how does it influence your writing (again you do not have to name your employer, just the industry)?


A: I am a Software Program Manager, and have worked for some of the biggest technology brand names in the business. I enjoy what I do in my day job as well. In the first 10 years of my job career, I’ve had the opportunity to travel and experience numerous places, cultures and cuisine. I love interacting with people from all over the world. Through my interactions I found that though we’re different in how we look, our basic human needs, wants, desires are more of less the same.


Our perspectives are different, and that partially became the reason for me to look inside of me, to discover what I had learned, and how I could share that with the world.



Q: What is the biggest misconception Americans have about India?


A: This is an interesting question. There are a few that I’m aware of. First, it’s not all snake charmers and elephants (though that’s a small part of life in certain pockets of the country)


Everyone is Poor: This is one of the biggest & common myth. Just look at the amount of money spent at any Indian wedding and it’ll change this perspective. It’s one of the richest countries on earth (still is). The issue there is “in-equal distribution of wealth”. For this reason, you’ll find some of the world’s richest and the poorest of poor live next to each other in the same city (Mumbai is a classic example of it).


Very recently, a temple vault was opened which revealed tons of solid / pure gold. Its worth was estimated to be in billions of dollars. That was just 1, there are many more vaults in just 1 city. It was estimated (per local news) that two other vaults if opened will make at least $ 1 Trillion available in gold.


There are dozens more spread throughout the country – kept secret. You do the math (it’s in trillions of dollars – that’s certain). Check this link out.


Indians don’t speak “Indian” – There are about 2500 or more languages (not dialects, but languages), none of them are called “Indian”. That said, Hindi, English are the most commonly spoken throughout the country.

Everyone is Hindu – Though the vast majority of the population is Hindu, minorities, such as Christians, Jain, Buddhist, Muslims, Sikh, Zoroastrianism make up for more than 20% of the country’s population.

Everyone is Vegetarian – Untrue, though roughly 50% of the people are vegetarians, the rest are not.



Q: Who are some of your writing influences?


A: Brendon Burchard is one of my favorite writers. I also like Jack Canfield, Tony Robbins and Wallace Wattles


Q: How do you deal with writer’s block?


A: Ballroom Dancing of Course. When I feel like I’m experiencing a block, I temporarily off the brain, and dance Tango / Waltz or Roomba routine. The music and dance rhythm opens up my neuro-pathways almost immediately or within the next day or so, that most definitely helps me get past the writers’ block.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: During my spare / free time, I am working on a project for empowering women (it’s called the V2 project).

I also speak to groups (women’s empowerment groups in Asia) for a good cause, groups & institutions related to Leptospirosis (I’ve had that dang thing twice as a teenager). I do this outside of my day job, during holidays / vacations and sometimes weekends.



Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.


An Interview With Writer R.T. Truehall

 Me for Interview

R.T. Truehall is the author of Not Dead; here is a link to her website:


Q: What is, Not Dead about?


A: Not Dead is—in a nutshell—about vampires.  It centres around two main characters: Ellison and Ulysses.  Ellison is over 800 years old and can control people’s minds.  Ulysses is an idiot and delivers pizza for a living.  Not Dead is the first in a series featuring these two, and in this initial book the reader is taken through the story of how Ulysses becomes a vampire


Q: Why a vampire book?


A: I like vampires.  I mean, who doesn’t?  But I just got a bit sick of them being so perfect all the dang time.  It’s one or more of the same old chestnuts every vampire story: they get super strong and beautiful, they’re charming and irresistible, they’re always cool and scary.  I got to thinking what would it look like if a vampire was a bumbling fool?  What if they were terrible at being a vampire?  That’s when Ulysses was born.


Q:  How is it different from other vampire books?


A: Well, for a start, when one becomes a vampire, it takes time.  It’s not an instantaneous thing; it’s like a creeping disease.  Also, there is no guarantee the new vampire will be any stronger whatsoever, and they can’t suddenly fly, or run ridiculously fast.  They don’t have fangs and they don’t all hunt.  They don’t burst into flames in the sun, they’re not allergic to silver and holy water will only make them soggy and irritated.


Q:  What makes Ulysses worth reading about?


A: Ulysses is worth reading about because he’s you and me.  He’s not a Hollywood stereotype.  He’s a completely average guy: not particularly good-looking, not particularly smart, not particularly talented at anything, actually.  He’s clumsy, easily distracted and lazy: pretty much the polar opposite of what one would expect a vampire to be.  Ulysses is what happens when the average Joe is given immortality, and doesn’t have even the slightest inkling of what he wants to do with it.


Q: What have you done to promote your book?


A: Well, I published through Austin Macauley, so they do their thing.  I figure every little bit helps, though, so I’ve been working to boost my Instagram and Twitter presence also.  I recently ran a giveaway competition on Goodreads, and Austin Macauley were gracious enough to foot the bill for the prizes, which was awesome.  I have an author facebook page as well.  I’ve also been reaching out to Instagram and Twitter book enthusiasts and offering them a copy in exchange for a review.


Q: You are a Peer Support Worker in the mental health sector. What does your job entail?


A: A Peer Support Worker (also known as a Lived Experience Worker) is someone with a lived experience pertaining to the field in which they work.  So, for me, that means I support people with mental illness in their recovery, sort-of as the embodiment of what they can achieve.  It doesn’t mean they have to aspire to be anything like me, or model their recovery like mine; everyone’s is different.  My job is to show them that you can slip down to the depths of despair, but that there is always hope for a way back out.  I’m very passionate about fighting (and eventually eliminating) the stigma surrounding mental illness.


Q: How did you end up getting the job?


A: Actually, a friend recommended it to me.  I’d not heard of Peer Support Work before, so I had to Google it.  I was like ‘I can make a LIVING out of my mental illness?!?  Where so I sign?!?’  So, I applied for the job, knocked their socks off with my charisma and enthusiasm, and the rest was history.  Sadly, a lot of people still don’t really know how to utilise the skill set of a Peer Worker properly, but the industry is slowly getting there.


Q: What has been your most frustrating work experience?


A: The most frustrating thing when working in Mental Health is when you come across people who are full of potential, but they can’t see it.  As a worker, you can have all the strategies in the world in your tool kit, but all you can do is show people how to use them.  Sometimes, they do, and you can guide them through the process, and they develop skills to better deal with their mental illness.  Sometimes, they won’t try.  Those are the days it’s hard to go home and feel like you’ve made a difference.  But, as they say, you can lead a horse to water, but ain’t nobody gunna make that beast drink.


Q: What trends in literature do you like?


A: I’m really loving the bookish trend on Instagram.  I was afraid that as the technological realm grew, people would be steadily less interested in physical books, until they were just a quaint memory.  But there are so many users who are absolutely mad for books!  They take these beautiful photos, post them and thousands of people love them!  It gives me hope for the future.


Q:  If a vampire came to you to be treated for his addiction to garlic, what would you do to help him?


A: Hm.  Very interesting question… let’s imagine that this vampire is from a realm where garlic is harmful to him, but he loves it like a smoker loves that first ciggie in the morning.  Let’s say his name is Logan.  It would go something like this:


I was sitting on my chaise lounge with—as my Scottish friend would put it—my legs ‘in a basket’, sipping a too-hot black coffee, wincing each time.  I heard the crunch of gravel as someone approached my front door, though there was a frantic, scattered quality to it and a hunched figure lurched past the window onto my porch.  I put my coffee down as my visitor hammered on the door.

‘It’s open.’

He threw the door open, but remained on the porch.  He was red as a beet, and blistered.  He hunkered under a blanket, clutching it, white-knuckled.

‘Well?  You just gunna stand there?  Waddaya want?’

‘You have to invite me in.’  His eyes darted.

‘No I don’t, and you know it.’

‘Yeah’ he shifted from foot to foot, ‘but I like the tradition.’

‘Are you kidding me?’

‘No… please… invite me in.’

‘Ugh.  Fine.’  I waved my hand in a grandiose gesture across my living room.  ‘You are cordially invited to entre my home, mister vampire.’

He sprang in, slammed the door and leaned against it, eyes closed, panting.  I picked up my coffee again and took a sip; it burnt my lip.  ‘What’s your name?’

‘Logan.  Can we close the blinds please?’

‘Stay there.’  I got up, closed the blinds, fished a towel out of the linen closet and spread it on the couch.  ‘Sit on that.  I don’t want any blisters oozing on my couch.’

He grunted, shuffled over to the towel and sat.  He studied the floor.

‘Well?  What is it?  I’m busy.’

‘I need help… your help… please.’

‘With what?’



‘Yeah…’ he looked up, ‘I can’t stop… I love it.’

I felt my face scrunch up in distaste.  ‘You serious?’


‘How long have you been a vampire?’

‘Eight months’

‘Why can’t you stop eating it?’

‘I’m Italian.  My Mother cooks everything with it.’

‘You should be trying to wean yourself off human food, Logan.  Surely you know that.’

‘I know, but she’ll be so sad if I stop eating her food.’

I rubbed my forehead and let out a long sigh.  ‘Do you only eat it when she cooks it?’



He sat up straight, looked at me and let the blanket fall from his shoulders.  He was covered in blisters, and most of his head was bald, featuring new and old scabs, amongst sparse clumps of hair.

‘Because it reminds me of my old life.  I’m lonely.’  His eyes were a dull shade of green-grey, and he began to cry as I watched him.

‘Logan, you do know that garlic makes you so much more susceptible to sunlight, and it hinders your immune system.  It’s going to take ages for those blisters to properly heal if you keep eating it, and going in the sun.

‘I know.’

‘Where is your maker?’

‘He dumped me.’


‘Because I’m useless.’

I sighed.  I was just getting used to living on my own, and enjoying my space.  ‘You need to detox, Logan.  Away from your Mother.’

‘I live with her.’

‘Not anymore.  Down the hall, first door on the right.  There’s a bed, and clean clothes in the cupboard.  Towels are in the linen cupboard in the hallway.  Have a cool shower, get dressed and then we can chat.  You’ll be ok.’

‘For real?’

‘For real.’

Why are you helping me?’

‘Cos someone helped me.  Now get in that shower, you reek of garlic.’


Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.


An Interview With Actor Dhruv Bali



Dhruv Bali is an actor who appeared in the one man show, Pain is Temporary, Quitting Lasts Forever; here is a link to his website:

Q: What made you decide to pursue acting?

A: While working on my Major in economics at The University Of San Francisco, I started taking theater classes. Since I loved doing Drama/acting in school I instantaneously fell in love with acting all over again, something that has been always close to my heart. After graduation I knew that I wanted to pursue it as a career since I have always believed that if one chooses what they love doing or are passionate about success is bound to come and you are happy doing it.

Q: What is “Pain is Temporary, Quitting Lasts Forever” about?

A: Pain Is temporary is a play/Solo performance which I wrote, directed and acted in. It is about the idea of ‘never giving up” as often times we give right before we are about to chieve our goal. There will be hardships along the way, life is tough and often when we are trying to achieve something we will be faced with obstacles but those are ust temporary if you have the tenacity to keep going and working hard towards what you want.

The play itself is about the hardships I had to face in my life in my prime years 19-22. I had gotten sick and had to take a break from college, spent a whole year going in and out of hospitals, suffered complete muscle atrophy to the point where I could not een climb stairs on my own. For a 20 year old who should be in college growing up I was suddenly scooped out of that life.
But I did not give up I kept fighting, got better and stronger came back to college, got my degree with a 3.97 GPA and was offered to be the valedictorian. I also achieved a physique for which people commend me to this day and aspire to look like.

We often times doubt ourselves and our potential, Pain is temporary is about the ideology that anything is possible if you set your mind to it and not give up until you achieve it.
The play was a very cathartic experience as I played 7 different characters in it all people who were somehow involved in my life during my tough time
Q: What inspired you to write it?

A: I have always been passionate about motivational speaking and the affect it had on people. I knew my story in itself was very inspirational and would help a lot of people who are going through tough times and don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. So when the opportunity came create a production of my own and open it to the audience at The University of San Francisco I knew this was the time.

Q: How did you go about getting it produced?

A: The head of the department at my college at USF were very supportive since they saw me get to where I was physically and mentally since I started at USF. They knew that it would be a very inspirational story for the students at the college as well since often times college is a place where people wanna quit or face a lot of obstacles.

Q: What do you hope to express as an artist?

A: I hope to tell true stories, inspirational stories and stories which inspire people to bring about a change. We often get so caught up with the fame and media attention that we forget that the real stories aren’t being told. The inequality between the rich and poor, environmental degradation, the affect of media and brainwashing our minds are all topic that surround but not everybody wants to talk about it.

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your acting?

A: Since my time at Penn State where I was a finance major I have been very passionate about economics and stock market trading, so I decided to do two things I love doing : Acting and finance. I call them both gambling since both my proffesion do not have certainity but a certain adrenaline rush which only the ones involved in understand. It has actually helped my acting since I can make my own hours now.

Q: What is your oddest Hollywood story?
A: Shortly after moving to Hollywood, I was walking to a CVS after midnight which was very close to my apartment. On my way, two gangs very having a fight. I continued walking by them when all of a sudden two of the gamg members came up to me started trash talking and hitting me out of no where. Since I am an actor all I was thing was please “don’t hit my face “. I ran to a a bar nearby and the bouncer came out and stopped them. He later told me that they were even carrying guns so I should be happy that I am alive. That was the oddest Hollywood experience I have ever had.

Q: What famous character from literature were you born to play?

A: A couple of characters come to mind. My top picks would be, Romeo, Robin Hood, Alexander the great, Tarzan and Don Juan. I will pick Robin hood though since he was the poor mans prince as I have always been very passionate about helping people, paying it forward.
Also Alexander the Great was such a great warrior and conqueror and his stories are just awe inspiring, he embodies my ideology of never giving up and believing in yourself and not stopping till you achieve your goal.

Q: What is the most useful advice you have ever received about show business?

A: Well one of the most useful advice has to be that its not about what you can do or how talented you are but who you know in the indusstr. Its all about networking, who you know and what they can do for you if you wanna get ahead in showbiz.

Q: What makes you fameworthy?

A: Like the famous line from Spiderman “With great Power comes great responibilty” same goes with fame I feel.
I feel with fame comes a certain responsibility, the power to affect people and bring about change. Too many people are famous for the wrong reason. I do not question someone elses hustle but I feel I will do things different if I am famous.

Personaly I know I am talented, hardworking , driven and very passionate about telling stories. I grew up in India so I have feel I understand the eastern mindset as well as the western philosophy. It has made me the person I am. I have a personable personality whit the charisma and charm that is needed to be a star. I feel those two are a lethal combination in todays world of social media as people want to know more about you. I feel I have what it takes to connect with my audience and tell true meaningful stories.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Swedish Country Singer TJ Leonard


TJ Leonard is a Swedish country singer; here is a link to his Facebook Page:


Q: What made you interested in country music?


A: For many years I had written and produced pop, r&b and other genres and all were computer programmed. I longed for a more organic sound with acoustic instruments. Then Keith Urban released ”Somebody like you” and that banjo intro really cought me. I thought -I could do this, so I shut out all the other genres and started to listen to country music both old and new as an experiment to see if and how my musical language would change. It did change and since then I only listen to counry.


Q: What attracts Swedish people to country music?


A: We have a country audience here that for the most part listens to older country but what is exciting to see is that people now discover the contemporary country and doesn’t even now that it is country influenced. I think that ”pop country” is easier for us to take in because of the pop culture here in Sweden. However, this can lead to an interest for more true country. Just look at me!


Q: What inspired you to write, “The River?”


A: I wanted to write a song about my youth and I sat down and  thought about how it was back then. Me and my friends spent most of our time by the Mörrum River fishing and having all sorts of fun and the thought of writing a ”big thanks” to my old friends popped up. In the video you can see a couple of us in the old pictures. It was quite hard to get a hold of those photos. Back then we only had cameras and no mobiles and it was expensive to develop photos.


Q: What themes do you like to write about it?


A: I like to write about things that happens in my life or events that happens around me. I like to have a conection to the subject. Sometimes you have to add a little spice to it to make it more interesting though. I try to write lyrics that people can conect to. Every day things. I try to keep it simple.


Q: What kind of day job or income source do you have?


A: I work at a place called Anticimex as a house inspector. When you buy or sell a house I’ll go there and check out the condition of the house so that the buyer knows what he or she is buying and if there is something that has to be done with it. The inspection is a foundation for an insurance. I love the job. I get to meet a lot of exciting people that inspires me musically. In almost every house there’s a guitar or a piano so we often have a music talk during the inspection.


Q: Who are some of your musical influences?


A: I’ve played so many genres so I have a lot of heroes. Stevie Wonder, Frank Sintra, TOTO and all the other west coast bands. On the country side, Randy Travis, Travis Tritt, George Strait, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Brad Paisley, Toby Keith and Tim McGraw among others.


Q: What do Americans not understand about Sweden?


A: Well, that’s a tricky question but let us once and for all get this sorted out: We don’t have polar bears walking around in the streets LOL!! And we’re not Switzerland 🙂


Q: What makes your music worth listening to?


A: As I said before I try to write lyrics that people can relate to. Things in our daliy life. Me not being from the US can maby add a little twist to the music that sticks out a little bit.


Q: What classic country song sums up your life?


A: It’s hard only to chose one. But here are a couple of songs that means a lot to me.

Three wooden crosses with Randy Travis that I think describes how great God is.

Live like you were dying with Tim McGraw that tells us that live a full life here and now. You never know what will happen tomorrow.

Kiss my country ass with Rhett Atkins, you must have a little attitude in your life LOL!

I owe it all to you with Michael Peterson. That song IS about me and my whife for shure.

Proud of the house we built with Brooks & Dunn because of the both hard and  wonderful.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.




An Interview With Marsalis Members Adam Bishop and Theresa Cadondon


Adam Bishop and Theresa Cadondon are members of the band Marsalis; here is a link to the band’s website:


Q: How was Marsalis formed?

Theresa: Dennis and Adam have been long time friends through music projects in the early 2000’s.  In fact, I also met Adam playing in a local hip hop band in 2009.  Adam and I grew a strong friendship outside of playing music, so whenever Adam needed a keyboard player I was usually the one he would look to first. I also met our buddy, Phil, through Adam and we have played many shows together before Marsalis took off.  I met Dennis in 2014.  Him and Adam talked about creating a band with collective songwriters to make good music, which really appealed to me.


Adam:  I had played with Dennis, Theresa, and Phil individually in different groups throughout the years and I knew we would all get along great. Dennis, Theresa, and I started working together and writing music together.  When we approached Phil, the timing was right and everything went great.


Q: Who are some of your musical influences?


Theresa: A lot of my style comes from classical music.  I started piano lessons at five years old and studied classical composers when I was a teenager.  My Piano teacher Anne Healy introduced me to classical music and I remember her saying that my small hands and the way I played octaves reminded her of Chopin.  So that started my love for classical music, especially for Frédéric Chopin.


I also grew up on R&B and soul music. Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson, Prince and many more.  The more current influences are Alicia Keys, John Mayer, John Legend, Chris Martin of Coldplay, & Tom Simpson of Snow Patrol.


Adam:  I grew up listening to a lot of country (Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, Brooks n Dunn, Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, Reba, George Strait, Kenny Rogers) and then listening to and playing jazz (Ray Brown, Miles Davis, Ellington, Christian McBride, Lionel Hampton, Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Clifford Brown, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson). As you can imagine, not many of my peers thought of either of those music genres as being “cool” as we were growing up.


As weird as it sounds… I think of Puff Daddy as the one that eventually led me down the road of listening to more and more rock/alternative and pop… but that’s another story.



Q:  What is the overall theme of your new album?


Theresa: The overall theme is uplifting and positive, most of it is about love and trials of love.  We have incorporated synth and nature-like pad sounds in most of our songs that sound organic.


Adam:  We wanted to incorporate the feelings behind all different types of situations/events in life. Everything from simple day to day stuff to super complex or eventful things in life. We wanted to blend together some organic sounds/feelings with digital ones, to go for an interesting blend that wasn’t too much of one or the other.


Q: What kind of formal training do you have?


Theresa:I took piano lessons at the age of 5 and went through 3 different instructors.  I stopped taking formal piano lessons at 16 years old.

Adam:  Orchestra from 5th to 12th grade, Jazz from 7th to 12th.


Q: How do you settle artistic disagreements?


Theresa: We all respect each other so when there is a disagreement we talk about it openly and we all listen to all points of views.  The key is open communication.  We’re a team, we are all in it to make good music and there are no egos.  We always find a middle ground and play on each-others’ strengths.  If we play on idea and one person strongly disagrees and does not like the song, then we table that idea.  We don’t disregard it, we just put it aside because there may be a time where we could use that idea in the future.


Adam:  Yes, we always will table an idea if there’s one or more people that absolutely can’t stand it. Many times we end up coming back to those ideas with some ideas/tweaks that end up making everyone happy. We are constantly having mini discussions of how we all just want the music to be as good as it can be and we are always trying to balance between what we personally “like” and what we think is “good”. We are good as a group about talking things out… no egos involved.


Q: What kind of a day job do you have and how does it influence your music?


Theresa: I work in corporate finance.  So I deal with numbers all day and sitting in front of a computer.  During work I tend to have music playing in the background, which actually helps me be productive and helps me de-stress. Believe it or not, a lot of my music ideas come to me when punching away at my calculator!  Melodies, riffs, and ideas of sounds pop up in my head.  When that happens, I run outside and record the ideas in my head on my iPhone.  Then once I get home I hash it all out.


Adam:  I am a fully licensed Financial Advisor. I’ve found that my music life is actually the influencer rather than the reverse, as far as attitude and feeling good about things day to day. If I’m productive with music, it makes me much more productive with all other aspects in life that are important to me.




Q: What is your strangest performance story?


Theresa:  In 2009I was asked to play a show with a singer that I have never met.  I was emailed a list of songs that I needed to learn and a week to prepare.  When the night of the performance came, we only played half of the songs on the list.  The rest of the set were songs I never heard before.  At the time I wasn’t the best at playing off the cuff so it was a challenge for me.  The worst part was during the middle of a song.  He called me out and said “Theresa on the keys!’ provoking that I do a solo and all eyes were on me!  HAHA! When that happened, stage freight settled in and I felt like I shrank into a microscopic size.


Adam: One time, playing a sold out show of about 1600+ people… someone that was a part of the sound crew at the venue popped over on the side of the huge stage by where I was standing and told me “last song!” Before the band started up the next tune… I got the attention of 2 or 3 of the other band members and said “last song!” “last song!” They all gave me a nod in agreement.


After that song was over… the band immediately went into another song. Uh-oh! So I played along. The sound person was NOT happy. Then….the band went into ANOTHER song after that. I was newer to the band and knew the songs pretty darn well, but not the NAMES of the songs. Turns out when I shouted out “Last song!” they all thought I was just referring to the next song that was on the set list. The song everyone else knew as “Last Song”. Ooooops.


The sound crew was irate, not just annoyed. They ended up turning off all the house main speakers, our monitors, and even turned on all of the venue lights as we kept playing, finishing the tune we were playing. Wasn’t the best ending to a set, to say the least. Then I got a mouth full from the sound crew, before I even had known what happened.


Q: What do you like about the Seattle music scene?


Theresa: Seattle has definitely made its mark on the music map with popular rock bands in the past such as, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and so forth.  However, it seems like now a days, Seattle is saturated with musicians and also electronic DJs that are categorized as musicians.  This isn’t a bad thing, but its a little more challenging to be heard.


Adam: I love how many big bands/artists, that have been so influential, have come out of Seattle. Hendricks, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Macklemore… and don’t forget Quincy Jones!


Q:  What would you change about it?


Theresa: There are so many Seattle musicians and bands, but very few venues around the great Seattle area.  That said it is harder to get venues to want to play local acts unless you are already popular in the music scene.  From a business stand point, it makes a lot of sense to focus and showcase artists from around the country that bring in money.  However it does not promote or support local acts as first priority.


Adam:  it would be great to have some more comradery with bands/venues working together to really highlight the local music. There’s pockets of it here and there. I’d also love to see Alki music fest to come back!


Q:  Who is the leader of the band?


Theresa: HAHA! I’d say Adam has been a good leader.  He’s more like the glue that holds us together as a band; our point of reference and the one we look to when there is any questions or uncertainties.  We all bring something different and valuable to the band.  Adam has a lot of experience in all areas of music and has the business smarts so he brings a lot to the table.


Adam:  I like to think we all do our part. There’s a lot of overlap with the different things we do, but we are a unit that works and moves together and it feels so good to be a part of something where everyone carries their weight and pushes one another to be better!

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Writer S.M.W. Claw




S.M.W. Claw is the author of Goggles Gone Strong; here is a link to her website:

Q: What is Goggles Gone Strong about?


A: Goggles Gone Strong is about 11-year-old Calypso Blue, who finds herself on a strange island with a strange family, wearing an absurd pair of goggles. She has to save the dad from a giant saltwater crocodile, the mom from a sacrificial ritual, herself from mauling by the evil guy’s vicious tigers (oh, and a shark!) before she can figure out those danged goggles and nab the treasure to bring it home.


Q: What inspired you to write it?


A: I came to writing a book a little bit differently than most, I think. I’ve never aspired to be a writer, but I have always been a voracious reader–cereal boxes, junk mail, calculus textbooks… anything!


I had to give up my novel reading habit when I started having kids. The problem was I’d stay up until 4 AM trying to finish the story and wake up as the Wicked Witch of the West (not exactly the mother or wife of anyone’s dreams). My nighttime routine had gradually devolved to me reading Facebook and design and political blogs to unwind.


Eventually it occurred to me that I’d been spending every evening for a couple of years in this way and I had nothing to show for it. I wasn’t a better person. I wasn’t better friends with anyone. I had no new talents or skills.


What if I used that time to do something productive? Something that could potentially stand the test of time? Something I could hand off to my kids and grandkids?


I decided to try and write a book. It took me three years, but I did it!


Q: What sets it apart from other children’s books?


A: This is great question. Thank you, Eliza.

  • Goggles Gone Strong has a very unique setting on a somewhat magical tropical island.
  • It has a large cast of characters from all over the world populating the beach.
  • Calypso Blue speaks Latin–when it comes to spiders’ binomials.
  • Delicious exotic and tropical foods are mentioned often.
  • Calypso finds herself thrown into a large family and interacting with people of all ages–from baby to ancient.
  • The baby can swim ahead of a shark, throw a grappling hook, grip to the wall and fly. The ancient can too.
  • The Blues are saved from a springing cobra by the well-timed introduction of a beloved plastic doll. Thunk.
  • I can’t think of a single other book where the main characters wear safety goggles.
  • A mysterious man in a filmstrip interacts with the Blues and transfers gifts to them.
  • The Blue’s Hideout is powered entirely by lava–lava pulsing through piping hot tubes in the ceiling.

Is that enough yet?


Q: What makes Calypso series worthy?


A: Actually, Calypso is not the main character for the entire series. There are a bunch of children in her group and each book in the series will be told from another child’s point of view.


The next book, True Tuesday, is from Reggie Blue’s point of view. He’s a bit of a know-it-all and a hothead, so things are off to a bad start from the very beginning.


Q:  What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your writing?


A: I am a mother. I like to think I understand children’s characters and motivations pretty well.


Q:  What is your strangest work story?


A: I don’t know if this is the strangest story, but it’s the most memorable to me because I felt so badly about it. In college I worked on the grounds crew at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT (The place most Mormon missionaries go for a few weeks to learn the ropes.)


I held the coveted position of “sprinkler girl,” which meant I didn’t have to do the grunt work of mowing or weeding. I got to ride around the grounds on a four-wheeler inspecting and repairing the sprinkler systems.


At the time there was also a construction crew on the grounds installing new water lines. They would dig giant holes in lawns outside dormitories and I’d have to turn the sprinkler system off in that area, then water the dying grass around the holes manually.


I was a pretty unmistakable figure on the grounds, roaring my four-wheeler through the throngs of white-shirted missionaries, and the construction crew was always very friendly to me, waving and smiling, until one day when I pulled up to their largest hole yet. It could’ve swallowed a nose-diving truck. And next to it was a large patch of nearly dead lawn.


They jokingly told me I could only water the lawn if I made very sure to not get any water in the hole–they were going to work in there next. And I laughed, because there was no way I was going to get water in the hole–I knew how to set up a simple pulsating sprinkler, and I’d watered next to their holes dozens of times already. I set the sprinkler’s back towards the hole, carefully set the boundaries to not be anywhere even close to approaching it, watched it carefully through several rotations and then left.


And you guessed it. When I roared up a few hours later, the entire construction crew was glaring at me. The sprinkler had broken, wasn’t rotating at all and was spraying water backwards, straight into the hole, which was now full of water.


That construction crew turned their backs whenever I passed and never smiled at me again. I had to deal with that for several weeks before they they left, but now that I’ve had time to think about it… if a dry hole was so important to them, why didn’t one of them just walk over and turn the sprinkler around as soon as water started hitting the hole?? Or just turn the danged thing off???


I’ll never know. Anyways, that felt good to get off my chest. Thanks!


Q: What have you done to promote your book?


A: Hmmm, I’ve done press releases, interviews, a giveaway, and posted links on Reddit and SlickDeals to my free eBook. I think the SlickDeals link has given me the most obvious bump in downloads.


Q:  What would you like to tell other writers about self-publishing?


A: It’s surprisingly fun. Maybe it’s just because I’m a very independent person, but I love being in charge of what I do and when. I hate people breathing down my neck about deadlines. That’s half the reason I never went to grad school. Oh, and quit my desk job before I even had kids.


And really, what do you have to lose?


Q: What were some of your favorite books as a child?


A:I loved The Chronicles of Narnia. I read the entire series every summer. I also read one of The Three Investigators every week. (Maybe someday I’ll have a child named Jupiter.) I also read Joan Aiken short stories, and adored Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle–where is that woman when I need her?!


For years I listed The Fragile Flag by Jane Langton as her favorite book ever. (And don’t forget The Diamond in the Window or The Swing in the Summer House!)


Harry Potter wasn’t around until I was in college, but I’ve read all the books many, many times.


But most importantly, since I was 9 years old I’ve read every day from The Book of Mormon. Back then, I understood very little of what was going on, but it made me feel awesome!


Q: What trends in literature annoy you?


A: I don’t know if this is a literary trend, but I’m kind of annoyed with the books I see today that have an awesome premise and a sizzling first few chapters, but peter out quickly until they barely limp over the finish line. And then the next book in the series is a watered down version of the same.


I understand why this is and I have no good solutions, but I like a book that when I get to the end makes me want to stand up and say, “Hooray! Hooray for this!!”


And then start it all over again.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.