Author Spotlight - Phetra H. Novak
The real world is strange, in a very non-humorous way, and people in it complicate it to the point of wearing you out. In the written word world, whether it’s someone else's words or her own, things might get busy, complicated, and even downright painful, but somewhere along the line, a hero's always on the horizon. He’s probably not a prim and proper, church-going pretty-boy since the author prefers rebellious men and women who don't follow the protocols of society.
One of her favorite sayings is that “Only dead fish follow the stream” and well, she ain't no dead fish.
Phetra lives with her family—two children, a domestic partner, and their two cats in Gothenburg, Sweden. When reading her books, you’ll notice she always finds a way to bring her own culture into her stories.
The joy of reading and writing comes from her childhood and is something she has always loved, and been passionate to share with others. Phetra loves hearing from her readers, even with ideas of what they’d like to come next.
If you are looking for her, the best place to start looking is at home in the quietest corner of the house, where she'll be curled up with either her Kindle reading or with her laptop typing away.
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Phetra-H.-Novak/e/B017Y3ORCC
Why do you write?
That’s not an easy question to answer because writing isn’t something I just woke up deciding to do one day. I found the love of the written word when I was in fourth grade and entered a reading challenge at school. I remember it taking me a few books that really were too easy or basic for me before I found Tim written by Colleen McCollough. I read that book and fell in love for the first time in my life, only 10 years old. After that, I was hooked and I never went without a book in hand.
People think I joke when I say I was, and still am, like one of those book nerds on TV who walk around with a book (or Kindle these days) in their hand and literary walk into things because they are so busy reading.
It was when I found my love for books that I somewhere down the line found my love for daydreaming up stories in my head, and at first, that was all there was. I often say that if I’d written down all the stories my mind created since then, I would have thousands of stories to my name by now.
There’s nothing more thrilling, energy giving and pleasurable then reading and writing to enter either another author’s or my own fantasy world and get lost. It’s what drives me and energizes me.
When did you start writing?
I can’t remember the exact age but I was maybe thirteen or fourteen when I started with real journals, short stories, and at least, tried to write down what was in my head. Then there was a long period between the end of secondary school and finishing the university where I really didn’t write much besides my journals.
What genre(s) do you write?
At the moment, I mainly write within the LGBT genre if that is what you want to call it. But I don’t see myself as a writer stuck in one box. I’m not fond of boxes (as we say in Sweden) or labels. I have several stories in mind for future projects that could be categorized as LGBT but to me, all books are about people and how these people make you feel.
What does your writing routine consist of?
Getting up early and by that I mean, EARLY! With two kids, a full-time job and all that entails, the only time I have for writing uninterrupted is between 4 am and 8 am. After that, I might still write for several hours but that usually means a lot of “mommy” interruptions. So, up early, strong coffee, couch and laptop, and then straight to writing. On weekdays, I try to write 1K words a day but that is far from doable each day. Some days I can do more, some days I can’t do any.
What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?
Can I say that I hate this question without sounding rude? I have no idea. I couldn’t tell you if I write well or not. I just write what’s in my head, try to map it out to something good and then do the dreadful editing, scratching my head the entire way, wondering how the hell I am going to get myself out of the hole I dug myself into.
I love real characters. I like true feelings from characters and not sugar coating it and I think that might be one of the things I do best ... developing real characters that are easy to relate too. And that might go hand in hand with my persona in real life since I am an observer and love studying people’s behavior, especially when in a group setting.
Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
I find my inspiration from a lot of things: music, movies, a lot from other authors, real life and people in it. I don’t think out plots or characters. Usually, a character develops in my head demanding to have his or her story told. I don’t walk around thinking about what to write next. The day my mind shuts off is the day I stop writing, it’s just there. Always has been. Did I say I’m a dreamer?
Do I put myself in my stories? Yes, all the time. I don’t think there’s one story without at least one character that carries some or a lot of me in them. Haven is very much like me or vice versa, at least personality wise.
Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
I would have to say both because to a point, I do outline. For Haven’s Revenge, and the rest of the Caddo Norse Novels, I have written chapter outlines to plot what comes next because that story is complicated with so many different stories, folklore and myths going on that I need to know where I am going and with whom. Finding Home was all improvising, I didn’t outline one word or one scene I wrote it and that was that.
I would say fast but I think in all honesty I’m slow, I just think I want to be fast. If I’m on a roll, I can get down 2.5K words in an hour which for me is half a chapter but then you have to look at what you’ve written ... are the words written down any good or is it just a waste of space?
Tell us about your latest book.
I have two books that I can say that I’ve published even if, Finding Home, at this stage, is off the market. Haven’s Revenge being the second one. I love Haven’s Revenge for so many reasons. I love it because of the originality in this shifter story where I managed to incorporate Norse Mythology and some Native American history and folklore. The characters in it are real, they all serve a purpose and Haven’s Revenge isn’t just some random love story about boy meets boy and lives happily ever after. It’s complicated in that the love isn’t easy or even in some cases returned.
As for Finding Home, it is a sugar sweet contemporary romance where boy meets boy and falls in love, but not without trouble of course. Luca’s and Kai’s story was not written to make the earth shake, it was written to show that we are never done fighting for equal rights.
I think I can say without a doubt that Sweden technically has some of the most liberal laws when it comes to equality not only for the LGBT (or as we say HBTQ) community but for all citizen no matter one’s gender, sex, religious beliefs or political views. However, we have an undercurrent in our country that proves this to be very wrong.
Men and women of the LGBT community are threatened, beaten and harassed much too often because of their sexuality. We close our eyes to it because often it is someone with religious views and ethnicity beyond just Swedish that has done the attacking. Instead of talking about it and being transparent about it, and not dragging everyone over the same line, so to speak, it is shoved under the carpet. Why? Well, because accusing a Swedish citizen with another ethnicity than just Swedish for committing a crime or breaking the rules is being a racist in my country.
Many Scandinavians see Americans as uptight, religious fanatics who run their country by religion instead of secular laws and believe that Americans have no interest or knowledge of the rest of the world but still go out and tell the rest of the world what to do and not to do. This is all people see, even if some of it is true, most of us know this is not the whole truth.
In Finding Home, I turned the tables making Luca’s situation that of how many Swedes see Americans and made Kai’s family situation the way many Swede’s see our reality here to be. Why? Well, to play devil’s advocate, of course, and to push boundaries, to cause emotions to stir, to make people think. Again you may ask yourself why? Because we are never done working for equality, there is always more work to be done. Always. Yes, be happy for the blessings you have but never stop fighting for the things still to accomplish.
Indie publishing or traditional publishing - and why?
I’m actually trying both, but without the full experience yet of going with traditional publishing I still think I am going to say Indie. I like being my own boss, doing things as I please and then hiring someone to help me edit when I’m at that point. For all my books, Indie or traditional, I’ve done all the work myself, using my own cover artists and the money to pay them has come out of my own pocket. Unless all of a sudden, a huge publishing house were to come and offer me some deal I don’t see the monetary benefit of going with a PH. There might be other benefits such as getting a “free” editor but it really isn’t free because you have to sign off 50% of the sales to the PH so, in the end, you are paying for it. This is, of course, perfectly fine but from my experience so far, indie is the way to go.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
I have many, so many, I won’t have time to complete them all. All in all, there are 6 books in the Caddo Norse Novels and one short story of about 10K words that will be a freebie called Fated Future. Following Haven’s Revenge is Saving Sean, Law and Order, Hiz a Lot, Wild Horses and The King of Wolves.
I also have this hockey/alternate lifestyle series. The first book will be out sometime this year and is called Love of the Game. Other planned books for the same series is Love of the Fight, Love of the Penalty Box, Love of the Cage, and Love of the Paddle. (All hockey terms for those who didn’t know ;) ). These books will, of course, go under the collected name Love of ... Novels.
I wouldn’t go so far as to calling these books BDSM because they really aren’t but they touch upon the subject. I decided to write these because the character of Charlie just wouldn’t leave me alone. I was sort of “scared” of writing this series because all I know about the subject is what I’ve read myself, researched and talked to those few I know who live in the lifestyle.
Human behavior fascinates me; therefore, I am very intrigued with the BDSM lifestyle. The people in this lifestyle choose something that obviously suits them but many people don’t understand or want to understand. I want to understand. I like trying to figure people out and understand why they do what they do because at the end of the day, I might learn something about humanity and I might learn something about myself.
The last project or projects are the Silent Terrorism book(s). I have the first one coming out this year too I hope, and it’s called Silent Terrorism: Saudi Arabia. It is a very political book about what happens when a country fails to protect its citizens because the politicians are weak and lame and more interested in protecting their relationship with a country that openly kills men and women for being gay and not supporting the regime. It is about fighting for what is right and helping those in need even if it might mean giving up your life.
For this series there is, at least, one more book although there may be three, all called Silent Terrorism but set in different countries: Russia, USA, and Sweden.
Half of the proceeds from Silent Terrorism: Saudi Arabia will be donated to an organization called Erasing 76 Crimes. They work towards erasing illegal crimes against LGBT communities all over the world. http://76crimes.com/
What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
In many ways, I feel that I have already reached my goal. I set out to write and publish one of my books and I have. Haven’s Revenge is out there and he’s mine. I don’t care how many copies I’ve sold, although, of course, I hope people read him and love him as much as I loved writing him. However, at the end of the day, I wrote his story and if I don’t do anything else with my writing, finishing the Caddo Norse Novels is something I will do. It is a story worth telling. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
What is the best piece of writing advice you've ever been given?
Don’t lose your voice. Don’t compare yourself with others, you are who you are and be proud of that. I have a hard time being proud of myself because I am my own worst enemy, but this piece of advice has stuck with me.
Alexander Prescott is the younger of the two Prescott boys and comes from a large werewolf clan. But things are bigger than that. Alexander, is the true vessel of the Fenrir Ulv and is to become the leader of all supernatural beings, the King of Wolves. On top of that, he’s in love with Haven. He’s known since he hit puberty that Haven is his true mate. But there’s one problem, Haven hates what he can become. However, Alexander has a plan on how he is to charm his, and his wolf’s way into the grumpy Caddo Indian man’s heart.
But fate has other plans for them. The Asa Guard enters their calm country living, determined to use their own kind against them and kill the true vessel—Alexander Prescott.
When war between the Asa Gods and the Fenrir Ulv starts knocking on their door, what side will the damaged Haven choose? Will he find a way of trusting those, especially Alexander, who he feels has betrayed him and let his animal, the eagle, lead him straight to his fate by his mate’s side? Or will he trust the words of strangers, who come to make his quest of seeing all shifters dead a reality?
Haven’s Revenge is a story of an emotional journey for a whole community. It’s about finding acceptance not just from others but in yourself.
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In comes Kai, an American cowboy in Gothenburg. He’s doing his thesis overseas to broaden his horizon before he does what he has always wanted to do, which is to go back home and run the family ranch. He just happens to see Luca one day leaving class and can’t stop watching the shy guy as he wades his way through the crowd with quick, silent steps, and his head down to avoid eye contact with anyone. For weeks Kai watches Luca from a distance, trying to figure out how to approach him.
Had he known that spilled coffee and slippery, awkward book bags would have gotten him close to the guy, he might have physically bumped into him a long time ago.
Finding Home is a book with star-crossed lovers meeting and the evil of the wicked witch in the west threatening to crush young loves every dream!