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Author Interview | Poohsticks Bridge by The Birch Twins | Book Tour | Silver Dagger Tours Presents Romantic Fiction

Poohsticks Bridge by The Birch Twins is on virtual book tour. The romantic fiction stops at the blog with an author interview. Be sure to e...

Poohsticks Bridge by The Birch Twins is on virtual book tour. The romantic fiction stops at the blog with an author interview. Be sure to enter for a chance to win the giveaway for a $50 Amazon GC and follow the Silver Dagger book tour (for other dates see the link at the bottom of the post).

What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?

I don’t really have a top ten. I’m mostly a comic book reader. Alan Moore’s halo Jones would be up there, as would any works from Floyd Gotfredson and Carl Barks.  I have a love of Rowling’s Harry Potter novels and the works of Ian Fleming and Charles Dickens.

What book do you think everyone should read?

Charles Dickens Bleak House

How long have you been writing?
Since I was eleven

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?

One leads to another. I get one anchor character and suddenly the rest appear as I follow anchor characters story along in my head.

What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
Extensive.  Research can include the general area, the weather, road systems, radio stations.  For tales from Belle-Starr House, which is based in Gold rush Yukon territory and Skagway Alaska, I have been researching riverboat gambling, ranching, and gold mining.

Do you see writing as a career?

Definitely.  Whether I’ll be rich is another matter…

What do you think about the current publishing market?

Hard to break into. It’s like the movie industry.  Nobody wants to gamble and take a chance on anything anymore.  It is easier with the internet, but there’s so much out there its sometimes harder to be seen.  And often with indie publishing, there’s a stigma attached to it as a lot of “self-published” books are pretty piss-poor and badly edited

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?

Usually silence.  If I have music on, then I’m listening to it, and doing nothing else

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?

I prefer to concentrate on one at a time, and give it my whole attention.

If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?

The Harry Potter series.  Blindingly clever. Mix Enid Blyton’s popular and fondly remembered boarding school novels with magic and wizards.  What an idea.

Pen or type writer or computer?

Computer.  Writing by hand seems to be an exercise in futility.

What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?

I was sat there one day playing this game, years ago.  And suddenly a cut scene came on, and I thought

“NO!  I didn’t want that to happen, I wanted..this….to happen”

I felt so frustrated that the character didn’t do what I wanted.  And so I wrote a short story in which she DID do what I wanted.

A day in the life of the author?

If I’m not doing my paid job, then, if there’s a book released recently, I’m marketing it, answering queries, sharing new social media posts and links for the book, going to the post with books for customers, following up with people who haven’t paid.  Mix that with research for new books, structuring and plotting…and finally writing. Possibly some beta reading for people who have done me favors. Somewhere in that I’ll have time for coffee and food. Maybe a wash, change of clothes?

Advice they would give new authors?
  1. Don’t expect to be either famous or rich.
  1. Writing can have several different aspects to it – research, structuring, writing, editing, marketing, cover design.  Even if you’re not doing ALL of those yourself, a new writer will still need to know how they work.
  2. Have something on the desk to play with.  I have my desk dolly, Valerie who sits and glares at me and tells me to work harder.  And a red snooker ball to roll around when I’m thinking.

Describe your writing style.

I’m full of action, cuss words, and fights.  When Helen’s voice takes over, she’s quiet, wistful, reflective with very little movement.  We work well together.

What makes a good story?

I prefer things that are told over a long period of time.  I’m a massive fan of the old Mickey Mouse dailies, from Gottfredson, and Barks’ Uncle Scrooge, with their long meandering plots that take place over vast distances and time.  I prefer simplicity of plot, rather something really convoluted

What are they currently reading?

Out of the Black by David Whale (a sequel to the excellent Radko’s war)

What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?

I outline everything to the nearest inch and have a massive chart of events that overlaps into other books.  A car driving down the highway in the 1981 chapter of Poohsticks Bridge might have a significance in the new Ballad of Bobbie May Moses short story.  It might not, but it’s there if I need it. Everything is planned quite carefully.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I think there’s a tendency to start too many things at once.  Plot bunnies. New ideas hit thick and fast.

I never used to know where my stories were going, and didn’t really plan for an ending. It was all “let’s see where this thread leads.”  So a lot of stories didn’t get finished as I lost control.

The belief than upon release on Amazon, the author will instantly be a writing legend and the book a number one bestseller.  And when the book sells four copies, disappointment hits and the pencil gets snapped.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I’m a lover of tragedy, and whipping out the rug from under a reader when they least expect it.  Take with my occasional comic strip about Natalie, a wheelchair bound cancer sufferer. Just as she got better and her teenage daughter began to relax, I wrote an episode in which Natalie suddenly died. Dropped a ton of bricks on the reader.  I like that “unpredictability of life” appearing. But at the same time, this is often a hard, nasty world. I want someone to read my book, go through all the troubles and come out the other end with a reasonably happy ending. I don’t want people to put it down feeling worse than when they started.

The original version of my first novel, The Life of Lol, just as gangster and badass chick Lol learned a lesson about life, she was caught with a gun in the trunk of her car and returned to prison for life.  But the released version has this edited out, and her reunited with her lover and destined for a happy life.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Go out sometimes, drink more alcohol, talk to more girls and do less drugs.  Live life. And when you meet Keira Knightley in July 2002 out with her mates in that pub, ask for her number instead of acting like a right berk.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I’ve never found it hard to write female characters.  I grew up in a house full of women so, for me, writing male parts was always trickier.  

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

I really have no average.  The Life of Lol took five weeks from start to finish, whereas Poohsticks Bridge was three years.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I dunno, maybe.  With me it’s just laziness.  If I don’t want to write, I won’t.  I’m just as happy watching football. When I’m ready, it’ll happen.  If I don’t know what to write, I go poke one of my characters and we have a chat, and see what emerges.  I get mass amounts of story ideas out and about, and I’ve always spent plenty of time involved in daily life on the streets so I’ve never struggled for ideas or characters.

Poohsticks Bridge
by The Birch Twins
Genre: Romantic Fiction

Beginning as a childhood game, Poohsticks Bridge tells the sweet story of a friendship between two children that, through the years, blossoms into adult love with an unbreakable bond and faith in one another. John and Melissa are tested throughout their lives by hardships, pain, and separation, yet their love and determination to live life together to its fullest never falters. In today’s culture of having everything, this couple shows us how a few, simple things can lead to a satisfying and fulfilling life. 

Poignant in the extreme, you’ll want to keep the tissues nearby. These two will make you laugh, cry, and fall in love … with life and with them.

I write under the name “The Birch Twins.” Helen, my twin, didn’t live to see life, and so I write for her. I’m a full time poverty stricken doll artist who took to writing as I seemed to spend more time writing out little back stories for the characters I created. My first book The Life of LOL was written in five weeks, and was about gangsters, grifters and drifters. Lots of cartoon slapstick violence mixed with a serious message.

Poohsticks Bridge, the new novel, shows my twin’s voice at is strongest as it tells the story of a little boy who begins to grow up lonely and alone, until he meets a little girl. It’s a glimpse of a life that Helen and I could have had together. She writes through me, I can feel her presence and hear her voice. Her tone is often wistful, low on movement, mature and often quiet, while I am brash and loud and full of silly car chases and boyhood dreams of rockets to the moon. We have the perfect writing partnership.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

After being tricked by his brother, John returns.

The Mason Corp offices were grander these days.  Grandpa’s money had obviously bought Ed Mason Junior a swanky new base from which to run his father’s company.  All smoked glass and brushed steel. The girl on the desk had been checking her hair, which was slicked back, and her crisp suit when he’d walked in.  His clothes were old, and looked like they belonged on a ranch hand, but this guy wasn’t a ranch hand. Noting the vague resemblance to her boss, Ed Junior, she watched the darkness swirl around in the man’s deep brown eyes as he walked straight towards her.
“Can I help you, Mr …errr….” She began, as he came to the desk.
“No,” he said ignoring her veiled question regards his name.  “No you can’t. Direct me to Mr Mason’s office please, if you will.”
She shook her head politely.
“I’m so sorry,” she said sympathetically. “Mr Mason isn’t taking calls without an appointment this afternoon.”
“Please call him,” the man said quietly. “And tell him that a man from Mexico is here to see him.  It’s most urgent.”
The girl nodded, and John listened as she made the call.
“He’s standing right here,” she whispered into the handset. “I can’t, he’s right here.”
“Edward,” John shouted. “Your brother is here.  Time for a family reunion. Should I just come up?”
The girl put the receiver down.
“He says to go on up,” she said nervously. “20th floor.”
He bowed his head in her direction.
“Thank you, Olivia,” he said noting her name tag.
She sighed with relief as he left the entrance foyer.  Olivia had heard there’d been a feud between the two brothers, and that the elder brother was a drug dealer and a fugitive or something.  She wondered whether she should call the police. Better not get involved, she thought.
For Ed Mason Junior, the day had started so damn well.  He’d taken over another trucking company, and taken on the staff (at a much-reduced wage of course) and over the course of the morning, had made more money for himself and his father.  Things were going great. He and Lizzy were enjoying their marriage, and their life of opulence, and dad had even said that he might be able to get him a job in the capital. Maybe even President someday, he’d joked.  Ed Junior hadn’t thought of his half-brother in a long time. Buried him in Mexico somewhere. Wasn’t so fucking superior now, was he. Now the rightful son had the inheritance. It had been a shame that dirty conniving bitch of a girlfriend hadn’t gotten longer in jail, but that couldn’t be helped.  And then THAT call. He’d hoped that the bastard would get killed in South America, but he hadn’t. Ed Junior steeled himself as his brother came up the stairs suddenly feeling trapped up here on the 20th floor penthouse office.
The door opened, and he walked in.  He looked dirty and dangerous. More dangerous than he’d looked when he had suits and nice clothes.  He looked like a gangster now.
“Brother,” John said holding his arms open. “It’s wonderful to see you.”
“It is,” said Ed nervously, remaining seated.
“After all you did for me?” John said, still holding open his arms. “I owe you my life.”
Ed thought fast, and nervously.  Could the guy be so dumb he didn’t know he’d been set up.  He stood and went to return his brother’s embrace.
They held each other for a second, then he looked directly and deeply into his brother’s dark angry eyes.
No. he wasn’t so dumb.
“Now,” John said releasing his brother. “Here’s what’s gonna happen.  You’re gonna get my wonderful father on the phone. He’s going to sign the house and the company over to me.  Right now.”
“What?” said Ed Junior, smiling somewhat. “Mexico has done something with your brain, brother?”
John held up his hand.
“We haven’t much time.  Its 1:30 now, and I arranged for the police to come down here at 1:45, so we have to be fast.”
“Cops?” said Ed nervously. “What are we doing with cops?  You know they’re still after you.”
John shook his head.
“No,” he said decisively. “No they’re not.  I checked. Or at least a Mexican acquaintance of mine checked for me.  No brother, the police are here to talk to you. But that’s later. First, get my dad on the phone.  Tell him to sign the old Belle Starr house over to me, and the CEO job that I had before.”
“But that’s my job now,” replied Ed.
“Not for long,” said John. “Please call dad.  You haven’t much time.”
”Fine,” sighed Ed, speed-dialing the number.  His father’s gruff voice came over the speaker.
“Dad…,” ED Junior began.  He was cut off.
“Hi, daddy”, said John, sounding like a cat that about to kill a canary, “guess who’s home”
“Son”, the voice came curtly, “I didn’t know you were home.  I…that is…we…”
“Save it, daddy dearest,” replied John. “Here’s what’s gonna happen.  First, you’re gonna sign the house over to me: land, deeds, everything.”
“Impossible,” his father’s voice came. “We’ve sold it for demolition.  You couldn’t afford to match their price, and I can’t just give it away.”
John sighed.
“The second thing,” he continued. “After you’ve given me the house, is the CEO job here. You’re gonna give me that back.”
Ed Junior laughed.
“Just one problem,” he laughed slightly. “I’m still here.”
John looked at his watch.
“1:30,” he mused. “Yeah, for about fifteen minutes.  So, dad, in about a quarter of an hour, there’s gonna be a vacancy in the boss’s seat right here.  I figured I did pretty good before, so…”
“John,” came the gruff voice.  “The house is out of the question.  But now you’re home, why don’t I fly over, and we’ll talk.  We’ll talk and find you something.”
“Here’s the thing, daddy dearest,” answered John. “Point one.  The detective I hired to find Jake located his car. Turns out it was covered in shit from that quarry.  Now, he tells me that you sold the car two days after Jake took off, while we still thought he might come back.”
John’s dad sighed loudly into the phone.
“It’s not what you think,” he said angrily. “And if this is blackmail, then you know you haven’t enough to prove anything.”
“I know,” countered John. “I know that.  It’s just…you know, what with you being involved in politics and all, mud has a nasty habit of sticking.  Plus, there’s the second thing…”
“Go on,” said the voice, quieter now.
“It’s a colt pistol,” came back John. “Silver, nice piece.  Registered to you, I believe.”
“You little bastard,” the voice said. “I lost that eight years ago.”
“As I remember,” laughed John. “You didn’t report it missing.  Turns out that two days before it went missing, two drug dealers were shot to death behind your eldest son’s school with a weapon matching the description of yours.  Be a shame of that weapon turns up in the hand of the cops, wouldn’t it. Like I said before, there’s hardly enough to send you to jail, but…there’s that mud again, sticking to that nice shiny grey suit and ruining a political career.”
“John, listen,” came the voice.
“Time for talking is over,” John said harshly. “I’ve had three years sitting in the dirt in Mexico to think this through.  I’m cross with you, Ed. And I’m through with both you and mom. Give me the house and make me CEO again. I’ll make you money like a good dutiful son and, as a bonus, I’ll keep fucking quiet about all your backroom underhand shit.”
“You know nothing, you ungrateful little …”
“I know enough,” laughed John looking at his watch.  1:34. “Now let’s wrap this. You send me a signed document to the effect…fax a copy over right now.  Then put the original in the post and I’ll learn to keep my mouth shut. Maybe I’ll send you a nice silver Colt pistol for Christmas.”
“John, don’t hurt him…,” came the voice of his father.
“Relax,” laughed John. “Your golden son is safe.  He’s gonna be real safe. Just relax.”
John cut the connection and the line went dead.
“You’re crazy,” said Ed Junior, shaking his head in fear.  “You can’t blackmail dad.”
“Brother,” said John, picking up a fresh fax off the machine. “Turns out I can.  You know what though…three years sitting in the dirt in a piece of shit farmhouse tends to make a guy sort out his priorities.  You know what? I missed rain? Can you believe that? Fucking rain? I never had a dry day all my childhood life at Belle Starr, and there I am sitting in the dirt crying because I forget what it feels like to have rain on my tongue?  Can you figure it?”
Ed Junior shook his head and watched his brother move around the side of him.
He read the fax copy.
“I guess dad think more of his political career than he does you,” he said showing him the fax. “You’re in my seat.”
“You won’t get…”
“We have about seven minutes left,” he said looking at his watch. 1:37. “Maybe eight, depends.”
“What the fuck are you gonna do?” Ed Junior said nervously. “Come on, we can work together.  You screwed the old man, he deserved it for the shit he put you through. You and me, brothers.  Together, back to back.”
“We’re gonna sit down,” said john, sitting in the visitor’s seat. “It’s ok, stay right there in my seat, I don’t mind.  I’m gonna tell you a story.”
“John I…” broke in Ed Junior
His brother held up his hand.
“We have six minutes for me to tell this story,” John said. “Now…if you keep interrupting me, then it’s gonna take longer, I’m gonna have to keep stopping and starting, and it’s gonna get all disjointed and ruin things, ya know?  So do me a favour…keep your pecker closed. Let me tell the story. If there’s time, we’ll have a question and answer later.”
“John, please,” pleaded his brother. “I don’t wanna die.”
John shook his head.
“Me neither,” he laughed. “I think we’re both too young.  Anyway, |I promised Dad. Like I said, I’m telling a story.”
Ed Junior was quiet, and his mind raced as he wondered how to get away from his obviously lunatic brother.  He had the money, sure, lots and lots of it. But it wasn’t worth this. His elder brother had a murderous look in his eyes.  And he’d taken Dad down without even thinking about it. This guy wasn’t the guy they’d sent to Mexico to be rid of him for a while, this guy was someone who’d learned how to handle the world, someone dangerous.
“We begin years ago.  A nice young man – let’s call him John - and a girl: every story needs a girl.  Let’s call her…oh I don’t know…let’s call her Melissa.”
“Please,” Ed Junior broke in. “What happened was…unfortunate… but…”
John held up his hand.
“What did I just say?” he said looking annoyed.  “Let me tell the story, for fucks sake. Anyway, John and Melissa were friends.  Good friends. Best friends. Later on, they fell in love, but not before they learned one thing.  They were stronger together. There’s a proverb ‘no man is an island,’ and you know fucking what? It’s true.  John and Melisa figured out that, if they stuck together, nobody could hurt them. The knights in medieval times figured this out first. If they fought back to back, they were safe: if they split up, they were dead.  So, back to our heroes. People tried to split them up. John’s father tried to split them up and…you know what?”
John paused for effect.
“You know what?” he continued. “It cost him.  Cost him his son, and his son’s respect. And the father knew, deep down, that by treating his son badly, and forcing his son to fight for himself, that he’d taken away a part of his son’s humanity, part of his gentleness, for in the future, the son…John…would be hard against the world.  But the worst sin was committed against our hero and heroine by John’s brother.”
John looked at his watch.  1:43.
“John,” began Ed Junior. “I…”
His elder brother ignored him and continued.
“Not only did the brother try to take Melissa away and put her somewhere that she could never be found, when she was away, she got hurt.  Hurt badly. Now…the hero of our story knew that he could find her wherever she was, but to hurt her…to cause her pain and suffering. That was inexcusable.”
“I had nothing to do with her being in jail,” he began. “There’s nothing you can prove…”
“Be quiet,” ordered his brother standing up, ”You had her put in prison.  You set her up. For money that I was due and that you wanted. Truth be known, all I ever wanted was her.  If you wanted Grandpa’s money so bad, you could have had it if you’d have asked. We could have run dad’s firm together.  Done up the house like brothers. I’m ashamed of you.”
Ed Junior was silent, and he watched for John’s hand going for the gun in his coat, but there was no movement, except from the elevator outside.
“Anyway,” John continued, hearing the noise, “the story concludes.  The hero’s brother, having chosen illicit wealth over love, realises too late that love is the most powerful emotion of them all, stronger than either money, power or any amount of wealth.  I need you to realise what’s important in life, Ed. I really do. That’s why I called the police, and gave them the tape yesterday.”
John opened the door and several police officers walked in, straight to Ed Mason Junior.
“Mr Mason,” the sergeant began. ”I have a warrant here for your arrest.  You have the right to remain silent…”

Downstairs, Olivia waited a long time.  What a day. What a job. Did she even still have a job?  Her CEO and boss dragged off in handcuffs by police, and his elder brother, who looked like a cross between a gangster and a hobo had been upstairs alone for a half hour.  Then the buzzer rang. It was the CEO’s office.
“Olivia,” the sharp voice came. “Come up here, please.”
This was it then.  The end of a good job.  Fired. She wondered what Ed Mason Junior had been doing to get hauled off by the police.  She’d always thought the young man was a little smarmy and creepy, but this new guy was just plain scary.  She went upstairs and knocked on the walnut door.
“Come in.”
She peeped around the door.
“Mr, err…Mr Mason, sir.”
“Come in, come in,” he replied.  
He was sitting in her boss’s seat, looking through files on the desk.
“Olivia, right?” he said, pointing at her with a smile on his face.
She nodded.
“OK,” he replied.  “here’s the thing. My brother has stepped down from his…err…post.  I’m in charge now. I need a PA that I can trust. I don’t need a stupid girl that’s gonna run her mouth to her boyfriend, or sell me down the river, I don’t need some bimbo who’s gonna flash her tits at me, I need professionalism, respect, and integrity.  Can you give me that, Olivia?”
“Of course, sir,” she said, nodding.  A promotion!!
“One more thing,” he said. “There’s probably a lot of guys like me gonna come knocking on my door, trying to get to me.  I don’t have time to throw them all out of the window. I’m gonna need you to toughen up a little. If you tell them they aren’t comin up here to see me, I want you to mean it.  You got me?”
Ye sir,” she said. “I got you.  You won’t regret it.”
He nodded.

1 comment

  1. This looks like a sweet story, but the cover doesn't give much away.