IAM Interview with…Jewel Thief, Michael Crandon

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Look whose back again! Our indie guest today is author Hazel West, who is joining us for a very special feature: interviewing jewel thief Michael Crandon, the lead character from her latest book… A Company of Rogues.

We’ve featured Hazel several times before on the blog, reviewing her books, as well as in interviews, so it’s a great pleasure to have her join us again to share her latest book with us – we hope you enjoy her character interview as much as we did, it certainly got me wanting to read the book! If you’d like to know more about Hazel, check out our previous features with her here.


Company of Rogues coverMichael Crandon used to be an impeccable thief, never leaving a trace and never getting caught–that is until he takes a job with a flamboyant millionaire, Charles Randall who has got it into his head he wants the Dalton Emeralds, famous for belonging to Elizabeth I herself. When the heist goes horribly wrong and Michael is forced into hiding, he decides to swear off thieving and turn to more cultured and safe pursuits, such as knitting and drinking tea–oh, and consulting for other thieves on the side; he has to make a living somehow, after all. Then his comfortable world is turned upside down when the Emeralds are stolen and his old partner tells him Randall is out for his blood thinking him responsible. And as if that weren’t bad enough, he’s found himself forced into the company of a young, naive con man who’s got himself mixed up in the mess as well. Reluctantly, Michael agrees he has no choice but to find the Emeralds himself before Randall exacts his pound of flesh. Along with Reilly, the young grifter, Justine, a romance writer and Michael’s lady love, and Victor, the huge, yet friendly, Russian pub owner, Michael conducts this unlikely company of rogues to the ultimate goal of finding a peaceful existence once again–if that could even be possible for the ever unlucky Michael Crandon.


Hi Michael, thanks for stepping out of the pages of A Company of Rogues to be with us today, it’s been a while since we’ve interviewed a character. So, let’s get started – can you describe yourself to me?

Describe myself? Very well. I’m a middle-aged, retired jewel thief, now running a consulting business for other thieves when they need help on a heist. I’m rather plain in appearance, nothing special—no flash and dash like everyone seems to think jewel thieves should have—and I rather like a good cup of tea and knitting at the end of the day.

How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?

Well, as of now, I finally have a somewhat normal and peaceful existence, and I’m quite happy with it. I run my own business and have plenty of time for the things I like to do, mostly living a peaceful life while knitting and drinking tea as well as pursuing my relationship with Miss Aberline. Yes, it might sound a bit dull, but if you’ve had the misfortune I have in my life, then you would understand my love of the mundane.

How do you feel about your family, now that you’re an adult?

Unfortunately I didn’t really get to live with my family as long as I should have. My mother died when I was very young and I don’t remember her, but my father always told me she was a sweet and loving woman—whether or not that was actually true, I liked to believe it. And my father was killed when I was thirteen so I had to fend for myself on the streets after that. I did love my father, and even though he wasn’t able to provide everything for me I never thought any less of him. I could have had it a lot worse.

What do you want from life?

What do I want from life? Survival! Peace from my past and those who come with it and also eventually a life with the woman a love. I hope to quit the criminal business as soon as I get enough funds to live happily away from it all.

How do you fall in love? At first sight? Over a long period?

I hate the idea of love at first sight. I really do. How could it be possible? And I really hate talking about it. And yet, I can’t deny that when I first met Justine Aberline, I knew I loved her. But it wasn’t just love at first sight fairy tale tripe either, it was just that we knew we belonged together. She read me and I couldn’t let her get away then, could I? But after our initial reaction, yes, our love has grown. It’s only a natural occurrence.

How do you decide if you can trust someone?

Well, first off, it’s a good thing if they don’t instantly try to kill me. Besides that, I am not much in the habit of trusting anyone unless I have known them for a long period of time and even then I can only count the number of people I trust on one hand. Being a thief and having to work with questionable characters has taught me how to read people and most of all not to trust anyone when it comes to money or power.

What really moves you, or touches you to the soul?

 I don’t like to say much about that. I’ve been so many years pushing my feelings aside, I hardly knows what moves me anymore, and I don’t like people to pry into it!

 What do you consider your special talent?

Well, if I do say so myself, I was a very good jewel thief and still am when I want to be. I never got caught, and only got on the wrong side of the Yard when I took on inexperienced partners who messed up an entire heist—thus forcing me to retire prematurely.

What do you wish your special talent was?

Hmm, that’s a tough one. I really would like to be better at fighting. I’m rubbish at it and I end up getting beaten a lot for my troubles. Now, don’t get me wrong, I try to avoid a fight if at all possible, but when there’s no way out, I would like to be able to hold my own.

What are you most proud of about your life?

Very little. Nothing in fact, apart from Justine. She’s truthfully the only good thing in my life.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? Why?

When I was young, my family could barely scrape up enough money for one square meal a week, so I got in with some bad people and did some illegal things for them (moving certain items) but messed up and ended up getting my father killed for it. I’ve lived with that every day since.

 (The first book of Michael’s series “A Company of Rogues” will be out September 2014)


DSCN1821_3 About the Author 

Hazel West lives in Florida and took up writing mostly as an excuse to stay out of the heat. Apart from being an Indie author, she also enjoys reading, drawing, drinking coffee, and knitting and crochet. A lover of all this historical and a good deal of folklore and mythology and enjoys seeing how those things can be written into stories.

And here are Hazel’s answers to our tough, but fun, Gimme 10 ‘mini interview’ – each question has to be answered in ten words or less. Let’s see how it goes…

Where do you find your inspiration? Everywhere, anything has been known to inspire me


  • What is your favourite aspect of A Company of Rogues?

The characters are thieves and cons but yet good people.


  • Who is your favourite character from A Company of Rogues and why?

Reilly. He’s adorable, and if flawed, a good kid at heart


  • What are you working on now?

An urban fantasy about the descendants of legendary Irish warriors.



  • hat do you love about most about writing?

Crafting characters that can become real to the reader.



 Want to know more? Check out the links! 

Blog: http://hazelwest.blogspot.com

Tales From a Modern Bard (short stories/fiction): http://talesfromamodernbard.blogspot.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/artfulscribbler

Pintrest: http://www.pinterest.com/artfulscribbler/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5289626.Hazel_B_West

You can find all my books here: http://hazelwest.blogspot.com/2013/03/purchase-links.html

Guest Post…from Deanna Proach

 Our guest post today – a piece told from her character’s perspective – is by Deanna Proach, author of Day of Revenge, a historical fiction set in revolutionary France, and To Be Maria, featured below. Aside from writing novels, Deanna is actively involved in her local theatre community as an actress and she’s learning the art of medieval sword fighting. You can find out more about her and her books at http://deannaswriting.wordpress.com.


Seventeen-year-old Anya Preschnikov wants to become a famous actress but she’s faced with two problems. Her father ignores her and doesn’t have any money to support her. At school, she’s bullied on a daily basis, yet she believes that she will gain her stepping-stone to stardom if she’s accepted by her peers.

All of this changes when Maria Hernandez–an immigrant from Spain–comes to Peach Valley Senior High. Maria knows what it takes to fit in. She’s assertive, confident and she dresses suggestively, characteristics that all of the popular kids admire. Yet she sees in Anya what no one else sees: beauty and talent.

When Maria extends her hand of friendship, Anya is elated. Her rise to popularity is about to become a reality, but it ends at a house party when a boy’s rude comment sends her into a rage.

Desperate to belong somewhere, Anya and Maria seek new friends outside of school. They meet Alex and Marissa, a young couple who eagerly welcomes them into their world of parties and drugs. Anya and Maria soon find out that Alex is a drug dealer, but they are so lured by his wealth, good looks and aggressive confidence that they can’t resist his friendship. They don’t know that Alex’s gang is at war with a rival gang–one that’s run by Anya’s older brother, Adrik–until one incident puts their lives in danger’s path. To make matters worse, Alex won’t let Anya and Maria out of his sight. The two teens are forced to make a decision that’s a matter of life or death.


Christmas Through The Eyes of Anya Preschnikov (MC in To be Maria).
It had been published on my blog last year, then in the July Issue of ‘Supporting Authors One Read at a Time’ emagazine. But since November is closer to Christmas, I think this will go well.
Christmas. As far as I can remember, no one in my supposed family has ever celebrated Christmas. I mean, my dad’s a chronic alcoholic. And a loser. He can’t even hold onto a job. I mean, I don’t think he can. He hardly even talks to me, so I don’t know anything about the latest job he works at.Sophia, my younger sister, apparently got invited to a friend’s place for a celebration on Christmas day. I didn’t think she had any good friends. She’s quite the bitch you know. So, when I heard that she was invited out, I was quite surprised. And jealous and hurt. Of course, Sophia had to tell me that she’s spending all of Christmas Eve with that friend’s family.

“I can’t wait to spend Christmas with my best friend,” she had to tell me.

I felt incredibly insulted by that comment, so I had to ask, “Well, what about your older sister? Am I not good enough to spend Christmas with? I’m your sister for god’s sake.”

You know how she responded? She cast me a side glance and said, “Dream on, Anya. You can’t give me what I want. Besides, I’d far rather be with my friend than with you, Dad and your stupid boyfriend.”

Boy did I lay into her. “Fine! Go! A very Merry Christmas to you too. I hope you choke on your friend’s turkey while you trip over a gift.” I still don’t regret saying that to her. Ever since she entered sixth grade, she’s been a self-serving, snot-nosed little bitch. I’m so sick of her shitty attitude. Now that I think about it, I’m glad I don’t have to see her over Christmas. Hopefully, she’ll stay with her friend for the entire holiday. I’d rather spend Christmas alone than with her.

At the beginning of November, Patrick told me that his family will be spending Christmas with his relatives in Ireland. Like I said earlier, I’ve never celebrated Christmas and frankly, I’ve never liked it, but I don’t want to be alone. I’ve spent Christmas with the O’Connell’s the last four years and we’ve always had a really good time, despite the fact I don’t like Christmas. They sure know how to celebrate. Their house is always decked out with bright lights that make the snow sparkle at night.

I really like the nativity scene that they put on display in their living room. I’m not a Christian, yet I get so drawn in by the baby Jesus and his father and mother. I’ve heard the Christmas story so many times, I always think about how tough their lives were in those days and I can relate to them. They were poor, like me. There was no room for them in the inn. They had no house, no family to take them in and then they had to run far away because, if they would have stayed in Bethlehem, King Herod would have killed their only son. Whenever I think about them, I don’t feel so bad.

When I first heard that Patrick won’t be here, I was really upset. I cried for several hours after I got home from school. I’ve been secretly hoping that they’d take me with them to Ireland, but Patrick hasn’t asked me and I don’t think it would be right to invite myself. Besides, his relatives don’t know me. It wouldn’t be the same. So, I guess I’ll have to do something to keep myself from going nuts. I could really use some steady income, so I think I’m going to get a job. I’m also going to get ready for my auditions.

We have to audition for Mr. Hawthorne’s–my acting teacher–advanced acting class. The auditions are in the middle of January. I want to be an actor so bad, so I have to get into this class. It means all the world to me. So, I better get ready for it, like now.


Want to know more? Check out the links!

Amazon   Barnes and Noble

 Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/deanna.proach

Twitter: @deannaproach

 Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4388748.Deanna_Proach

Interview…with Nicholas from Blue Sky Days


Today we’re interviewing the lovely Nicholas from Marie Landry’s novel Blue Sky Days. Definitely our most interesting character interview so far – take a look and you’ll see why.


Hi Nicholas – thanks for joining Aside from Writing today, we’re really pleased to be in Riverview to meet you. For people who are not aware of your situation, would you mind giving us some background?

Thanks, it’s great to talk to you today. I was diagnosed with leukemia around the beginning of September. I work in construction, so I’m used to long hours of hard work. It can be tiring, but I’m a pretty energetic guy, and I like to stay busy. When I started waking up tired, and then staying tired and listless during the day, I knew something was wrong. I hoped it was the flu, but I didn’t have any other flu-like symptoms. My mom died of leukemia when I was a kid, so that was always in the back of my mind. I went to the doctor almost right away, and within two weeks, they’d diagnosed me, and shortly after that I started treatments.

And so – you’ve just spent the last few days in hospital and had your first chemo sessions this week. How’s that been?

Not as bad as I expected, to be honest. I know it’s going to get worse as time goes on, but this week was more…strange than anything, I guess – having to leave home, check into the hospital, be away from my normal life. It was easy to pretend that the doctors were wrong and I didn’t really have cancer, but when they stuck that IV in me and I started my first treatment, it was impossible to deny.

This is obviously a really tough thing for anyone to go through – what helps you to cope with the difficulties you’re facing?

Love and support from friends and family. I don’t think I could get through this without my dad, my girlfriend Emma, my two best friends, and Emma’s aunt Daisy. They’ve been incredibly supportive, and they don’t treat me like a cancer patient who needs to be protected or coddled.

We met Emma outside 🙂 you guys are obviously very close – how have things been for her since you found out about your illness?

Well…it hasn’t been easy, but she’s been…god, I can’t even tell you how amazing she’s been. When I first found out I was sick, I wanted to keep it from her, to protect her. We’d had this incredible summer that was the stuff of daydreams, and dumping all of this on her just seemed like such a huge burden to put on someone so young. She might kill me for saying this, but she’s got this sweet innocence about her, and I didn’t want to ruin that. I know how stupid I was now, though. She’s been so strong, and she’s been there every step of the way, from doctor’s appointments, to walks to help me keep my strength up, to spending time with me in the hospital and sitting with me during my chemo treatments.

So – you’ve not been together a huge amount of time then? OK – then let’s talk romance if that’s alright…? How did you and Emma first meet?

I met Emma when she first moved to town to live with Daisy. I was walking in the park one day and I sat down to read, and she was sitting at the top of the hill. The minute I saw her, I knew I had to go talk to her.

And – can we ask – was it love at first sight or do you not believe in that?

As cheesy as it sounds, yeah, it was definitely love at first sight – for me, anyway. I saw her sitting there at the top of that hill, looking like an angel with the sun streaming down on her, and that was it. My whole life changed in that one instant.

Well – I’m sure she’ll be pleased to hear that if she’s listening outside right now 🙂 So – tell us what else are you doing while you’re home this weekend?

This weekend is all about normalcy, or at least as close to normal as you can get when you’re exhausted and weak. For months, it’s been the six of us – Dad, Daisy, Vince, Maggie, Emma, and me. We’re going to spend as much time together as possible before I have to go back to the hospital on Monday.

Nicholas – thank you so much for joining us today – we hope you have a great weekend at home and wish you all the best for your ongoing treatment.


A year after graduating from high school, nineteen-year-old Emma Ward feels lost. She has spent most of her life trying to please her frigid, miserable mother – studying hard, getting good grades, avoiding the whole teenage rebellion thing – and now she feels she has no identity beyond that. Because she spent so many years working hard and planning every moment of her life, she doesn’t have any friends, has never had a boyfriend, and basically doesn’t know who she is or what she really wants from life. Working two part-time jobs to save money for college hasn’t helped her make decisions about her future, so she decides it’s time for a change. She leaves home to live with her free-spirited, slightly eccentric Aunt Daisy in a small town that makes Emma feel like she’s stepped back in time.

When Emma meets Nicholas Shaw, everything changes – he’s unlike anyone she’s ever met before, the kind of man she didn’t even know existed in the 21st century. Carefree and spirited like Daisy, Nicholas teaches Emma to appreciate life, the beauty around her, and to just let go and live. Between Daisy and Nicholas, Emma feels like she belongs somewhere for the first time in her life, and realizes that you don’t always need a plan – sometimes life steers you where you’re meant to be.

Life is wonderful, an endless string of blue sky days, until Nicholas is diagnosed with cancer, and life changes once again for Emma in ways she never thought possible. Now it’s time for her to help Nicholas the way he’s helped her. Emma will have to use her new-found strength, and discover along the way if love really is enough to get you through.

(Read the Aside from Writing review of Blue Sky Days)


About the Author

Marie Landry has always been a daydreamer. She has created imaginary worlds for as long as she can remember, so it only seemed natural that she would become a writer. With a passion for words that started in early childhood, Marie has written a varied range of works, and has been freelance writing since 2009. She resides in Ontario, Canada, and most days you can find her writing, reading, blogging about writing and reading, listening to U2, or having grand adventures with her two precious nephews.


Want to know more? Check out the links!

Facebook – Author Page

Facebook – Blue Sky Days – Book Page 

Twitter – http://twitter.com/SweetMarie83

Book blog – http://sweetmarie-83.blogspot.com

Author blog – http://marielandry.blogspot.com

Buy Blue Sky Days…




Barnes & Noblehttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blue-sky-days-marie-landry/1108336817

Interview…with La-ren from Twin-Bred

Hi La-ren, welcome to Aside from Writing, thanks for joining us today. You are the second ‘outer space’ alien character we’ve interviewed for the blog – so can you start by introducing yourself to our readers? 

My name is La-ren. The hyphen represents a sound that humans usually compare to a hiccup. Any approximation will do. I am not easily offended.

How did you come to know any humans?

My species, the Tofa, is acquainted with humans because a small group of them came to my planet, Tofarn, approximately 85 Terran years ago and established a colony. I personally became acquainted with one human, my twin sister Judy, from the moment I can be said to have existed at all. Our host mother Laura carried us both. (Actually, Judy is Laura’s biological daughter as well, but I do not believe it has made much difference.) Judy and I lived with Laura, in a cottage on the grounds of the L.E.V.I. Project, until our early teens, when we moved into the main compound to share a room near other Twin-Bred pairs. We are very fond of our host mother, but it is more entertaining and less constricting to live near our peers — even with the constant oversight of Project staff.

What is the L.E.V.I. Project?

The initials stand for Long-term Emissary Viviparous Initiative. The acronym has a significance that I am not at liberty to explain.

The goal of the Project is to enable the human and Tofa communities to understand each other better. Before the Project was initiated, and even while it has been underway, our mutual inability to comprehend each other’s attitudes, motivations and behavior has led to many confrontations, any of which could have escalated into a major conflict.

What do you think of humans?

My experience of humans is somewhat limited so far. I cannot expect those humans who chose to join the Project to be typical. If I did make that assumption, I would believe humans to be dedicated, curious, hard-working, friendly, and relatively hard to startle. But if that were the general human profile, I doubt the Project — and Judy and I — would exist at all.

What is your role in the Project?

I am meant to serve multiple functions. From birth onward, I and the other Tofa Twin-Bred have been accessible for human observation and study. The difficulty is that we present a perhaps extreme example of the observer altering the phenomenon observed. We were altered in small ways at an embryonic stage in order that human women could carry us. We shared a womb with a human fetus, with results difficult to isolate. And we have been raised around more humans than Tofa. I wish I could tell you — I wish I could know — how much we differ from what you might call “normal” Tofa.

I hope to have the opportunity, before too long, to answer that question. We — all of us Twin-Bred, Tofa and human — have been trained to act as mediators between the human and Tofa communities. That is the second essential function we are meant to perform. There appear to be political obstacles. My friends and I are becoming impatient.


Thank-you for joining us for an interview La-ren – we wish you a safe journey home 🙂 

Buy the Book:   Amazon     B&N 

La-ren appears in Twin-Bred by Karen A. Wyle – a sci-fi novel which reviewers have recommended for all ages.


About the Author: Karen A. Wyle was born a Connecticut Yankee, but eventually settled in Bloomington,Indiana, home of Indiana University.  She now considers herself a Hoosier.  Wyle’s childhood ambition was to be the youngest ever published novelist.  While writing her first novel at age 10, she was mortified to learn that some British upstart had beaten her to the goal at age 9. 

Wyle is an lawyer, photographer, political junkie, and mother of two daughters.  Her voice is the product of many years of reading both literary and genre fiction.  Her personal history has led her to focus on themes of family, communication, the impossibility of controlling events, and the persistence of unfinished business.

Want to know more? Check out the links!

–My author page: www.KarenAWyle.net

–My author Facebook page: www.facebook.com/KarenAWyle

Twin-Bred’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/TwinBred (no hyphen)

–My blog, Looking Around: http://looking-around.blogspot.com

Interview…with Pike from Pike’s Quest

So far our character interviews have been attracting a rather varied mix of…erm…people…with aliens and big feet popping onto the blog for a chat. We’ve got some more interesting ones scheduled throughout March and April – then a whole month of author mini-interviews as part of our Indie Author Month.


Q: Hello Pike, welcome to Aside from Writing, it’s great to have you here today. It’s not every day that we can welcome a bona fide visitor from the New Dawn to our site – or our era, for that matter. Can you tell us a little about yourself and, maybe, what the New Dawn actually is?

A: Me? Well, I’m in my sixteenth year and up until the longest day I had no idea we were even in the New Dawn. I was happily assisting Molag the Melon Mogul to harvest his crop of juicy watermelons, but I had a memory: many years before, my mother sent me to the Fertility Stone of Ooze – Ooze being the name of my village – and there I met Moorlock the Warlock. He told me that I was the one who was chosen and that I must return there on my sixteenth birthday – the longest day of the year.

Apparently, the New Dawn comes after the destruction of most of the world. Ancient Magicks resurfaced and the technology you know is all but gone. Certain fallen wizards and despot tyrants want to rediscover the bad technology and use it along with dirty magicks to merge our world with the demonic one and to gain ultimate power.

Q: A quest? What did that involve?

 A: A sparrow, a horse and a tub of moisturising cream, mostly.


Q: That just sounds bizarre. 

A: It was. You see, horses are gifts from the gods. No one owns them, no one rides them, yet there I was befriending one and riding on its back, with his permission. I’d never have done it if Robyn hadn’t made me.

Q: Robyn, who’s Robyn? I thought you said you were with a sparrow?

A: Yes, a sparrow called Robyn. Robyn Fynch, actually.

Q: So, Robyn persuaded you, and the horse gave you his permission?

A: Yep. That about sums it up. Did I mention they can talk to me, and that I can talk to them?

Q: No. I suppose the horse is call Mule, or Donkey, or something?

 A: Don’t be stupid, he’s called Horse.


Q: OK…What are actually happens on the quest then?

 A: Quite a lot: we get captured by Lord Nairy du Well – otherwise known as the Lisping Lord. He finds out about my riding of Horse and decides that he’s going to supply me with an army to continue my quest on the agreement that I train his troops to capture and ride horses as well. I had to agree, but had no intention of keeping my side of the bargain. Then he sent out a huntress to track us – Scarlet Deadnight. She nearly succeeded in stopping me. I don’t understand why he did that after supplying me with troops. Maybe I’ll find out in the future.


Q: What were the most challenging aspects of your Quest?

A: Mostly it was all a nightmare: the Stinking Peat Bogs of Lanklandishire were tough, giant sabre-toothed worms, one-eye winglekrats, treachery, man-eating flowers … and then there was the Fair Maiden.

Q: Ah, there’s always a fair maiden.

 A: Yes there is. But this one was central to my quest: I was to win the heart of the fair Maiden and rescue Moorlock from the clutches of his arch enemy.

Q: And how did that work out for you?

 A: Well, I found out that things weren’t quite what I had been told. The Fair Maiden, for example: not what I was expecting, and certainly not fair … nor a maiden. If you want to know the rest I suggest you read the book and find out; my biographer, K J Bennett, did quite a good job, you know?

Q: And you mentioned moisturiser: what’s that all about?

A: I have this really bad skin condition, and du Well’s handmaiden sorted it out with a moisturiser. I didn’t know that it also had magical properties, which would come in very useful.

Q: We’ve got some random questions for you now about books – hopefully you’ll have learned enough stuff from the 20th and 21st century to be able to answer them.

If you could be any character from any book – who would you be and why?

A: In the New Dawn we don’t have books for pleasure. I was given a copy of the Great Book during my quest, but that was full of esoteric stuff.  I do rather fancy myself as a dashing hero, but I’m more of a dashed one!


Favourite fictional world – where would you love to live?

 A: K J Bennett showed me the Lord of the Rings movie. Hobbiton – or the Shire generally – is a bit like Ooze, except for the hairy feet. I like the look of that place.


Best super-evil book baddie?

 A: That big eye thing in LotR.


Thank-you for taking time to talk to us today!


Pike’s Quest, by K J Bennett, is currently available as a Kindle e-book. Want to know more about the book and the author? Check out the links!

The Author: Web   Facebook   Twitter – @kj_bennett

The Book: Amazon US   Amazon UK   Goodreads