An Interview with J. S. Emuakpor

The Local Authors Book Fair is almost here! We’re so excited about our fabulous list of guests and hope all of you will come out to support our vibrant local writing community. We’re so fortunate to live in a place with so many talented locals!

To whet your appetite for the readings and book fair, we’ll be offering interviews with some of our guests across the next few days. Let’s meet J. S. Emuakpor. 

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FOCPL: What should readers know before they pick up one of your books?

My book is not for the easily scandalized. There is some mature content, and graphic battle scenes.

FOCPL: Why are you a writer? What drew you into a writing life?

Technically, I’ve always been a writer. Just not a published one. I distinctly remember drawing stories before I learned how to spell. Being a novelist, however, isn’t something I chose. I wrote “Queen of Zazzau” because I felt a compulsion to do so; Amina of Zazzau chose me. She wanted her story told and she wrote it through me.

FOCPL: Where do you write? Do you have a particular routine you follow?

I prefer to write in the evenings, after my family members have each retired to his/her own domains for the night. It is then that silence descends upon the house and the magic can manifest.

FOCPL: If you came with a warning label, what would it say?

Warning: Does not suffer fools lightly.

FOCPL: Do you have a favorite among your own works? Which is it and why?

Seeing as how I’ve only completed one novel, my favorite is Queen of Zazzau.  As for my characters, I like the God of War (Queen of Zazzau/Descent) best. I like that character because he is the most like me of all my characters. I’m a touch narcissistic.

FOCPL: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

As a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I also wanted to be a geneticist.  I ended up getting my bachelor’s degree in Zoology with a concentration in Genetics, then I went on to get my Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine.

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An Interview with Anna Jean Mayhew

The Local Authors Book Fair is almost here! We’re so excited about our fabulous list of guests and hope all of you will come out to support our vibrant local writing community. We’re so fortunate to live in a place with so many talented locals!

To whet your appetite for the readings and book fair, we’ll be offering interviews with some of our guests across the next few days. Let’s meet Anna Jean Mayhew. 

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FOCPL: What should readers know before they pick up one of your books?

That I am first and foremost a Southern (USA) woman, inexorably connected to place; my writing always reflects my life growing up in the North Carolina Piedmont, both at the foot of the Appalachians and at the coast. I am drawn to stories set in the Jim Crow era, and I enjoy the research required by historical fiction.

FOCPL: If you came with a warning label, what would it say? 

I used to tell people to be careful around me because they might wind up in one of my stories; however, over the years I’ve learned that such a warning isn’t necessary: if I do use people as models for my characters, they never recognize themselves in my work.

FOCPL: What part of writing brings you joy? What part do you struggle with?

Revision, hands down; I’ve often quoted Ray Bradbury, who I heard at an SF convention in 1985; when asked about his writing habit he said, “I throw up in the morning and I clean up in the afternoon.” The cleaning up part of writing is what I find most fun. The first draft is always my hardest, can take me years; then the revision comes so easily.

FOCPL: What do you dream about when it comes to your writing life?

Fame and fortune, doesn’t everyone? But while fame and fortune would be nice, I dream more about making a difference through my writing, of opening someone’s eyes when it comes to the social issues that are at the core of my novels.

FOCPL: Have you had any important mentors in your writing life? 

My first novel is dedicated: “for Jean-Michel and for Laurel.” Jean-Michel is my husband, and while he has been incredibly influential in terms of helping me make space in my life for my writing, my true mentor is Laurel Goldman. For 32 years she has led the group of writers with whom I meet every Thursday morning in Chapel Hill. She’s handed me Kleenex when I cry and has laughed with me in moments of joy; her brilliant and always well-meaning critique has given me the equivalent of an MFA in writing.

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An Interview With Samantha Bryant

The Local Authors Book Fair is almost here! We’re so excited about our fabulous list of guests and hope all of you will come out to support our vibrant local writing community. We’re so fortunate to live in a place with so many talented locals!

To whet your appetite for the readings and book fair, we’ll be offering interviews with some of our guests across the next few days. Let’s meet Samantha Bryant. 

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FOCPL: Why are you a writer? What drew you into a writing life? 

I am probably a writer because I was first a reader. Books were my first love, even before chocolate! My mother and I lived in the library when I was a child. Dr. Seuss was probably my gateway drug, with his love of whimsy and rhyme. Of course, there’s also Spiderman, whose comics I got secondhand at a used bookstore when my mom could spare a dime for that. 

More directly, my first grade teacher, Mrs. Aldsorf, might be to blame. She was the one who leaned down by my desk one day and whispered, “You know, you could write poems, too, if you want to.” I’ve written ever since: poetry first, now more novels and short stories. 

FOCPL: Where do you write? Do you have a particular routine you follow?

Over the years, I’ve learned to write anywhere. In fact, I’m writing this sitting on the couch at a beauty salon while my daughter is having her hair colored. I wrote one of my novels mostly on the mom couch at Krav Maga lessons. I’ve written standing in the kitchen, hiding in the bathroom, in a moving car (while someone else drives) and sometimes even at a desk like a normal person!  Thank goodness for blank books and laptop computers. Portability is key for me. 

Now that my eldest has gone off to college, I’m converting the smallest bedroom into an office, and it’s a joy to have an actual designated place to write! 

As for routine, I have two, depending on the time of year. 

menos-seriesI’m a full time middle school teacher and mom to two daughters and a rescue dog, so writing has been something I’ve had to fit into the edges of my life. During school recesses, I begin my day with a walk and some caffeine, then settle in for a couple of hours of writing time before anything else. 

During the school year, that’s not possible unless I want to take my walk at 4:30 in the morning in the dark. (spoiler: I don’t). So, my writing time is squashed into an hour or two after supper, if the rest of my life allows. I do write every single day, though, even if it’s only fifteen minutes and a couple of hundred words. My daily writing chain is now nearly six years long. 

FOCPL: If you came with a warning label, what would it say? 

Dangerous When Bored, which is also my planned name of my indie imprint. I’m working towards putting out my first independently published project this fall, a collection of short stories, weird tales set in a suburban neighborhood suspiciously similar to the one I live in. I plan to release Stories from Shadow Hill for Halloween. Seems apropos. 

FOCPL: What part of writing brings you joy? What part do you struggle with?

Writing itself brings me joy. I process the world through story, and I find it exhilarating to turn my weird little thoughts and questions into fiction. Beginning to write something new always feels like I’m leaving on an exciting trip. 

Finishing things was my struggle for many years. I’d start project after project and never finish anything. I didn’t really start trying to develop the personal discipline I’d need until my 42nd birthday. That year, I decided to take Douglas Adams to heart: since 42 is the answer to life, the universe, and everything, it was the year to make a real commitment to my writing. Two years later, my first book (Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel) was offered a contract. 

These days, my struggles aren’t so much with the writing itself, but with career management: balancing writing time with promotional work and handling the business of publishing. 

FOCPL: What do you dream about when it comes to your writing life?

I’m a simple girl. I’d like to see my work find a wide enough audience that I could give up all my other money-earning schemes and focus solely on my writing. Since I’m a teacher by trade, in North Carolina (a notoriously low-paying state), it’s not that wild a dream. It’s entirely possible, in fact, which is exciting and a bit frightening at the same time. 

If I’m being crazy, I dream of my life of words finding a level of success that funds my travel dreams and takes away my worries about funding college for my girls. The problem with that is that I’m on the introverted side. Can my books be famous without anyone actually knowing who I am? That would be perfect!

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An Interview with Thomas Fenske

The Local Authors Book Fair is almost here! We’re so excited about our fabulous list of guests and hope all of you will come out to support our vibrant local writing community. We’re so fortunate to live in a place with so many talented locals!

To whet your appetite for the readings and book fair, we’ll be offering interviews with some of our guests across the next few days. Let’s meet Thomas Fenske!

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FOCPL: What should readers know before they pick up one of your books?

I actually queried one of my fans about this … here is what they said: They are hard to put down once started. Expect the unexpected. You will be pulled along and become one with the characters.

LuckyStrike-WEBFOCPL: Where do you write? Do you have a particular routine you follow?

 I write best when the house is quiet, early in the morning. I sit in a big easy chair with my mouse on the arm of the chair. When I’m working on a new draft I generally get up earlier than I normally do: when I am in “novel mode” I find that I am driven to continue working.

FOCPL: If you came with a warning label, what would it say?

 CAUTION, NOVELIST: Anything you do or say could end up in one of his works.

FOCPL: What part of writing brings you joy? What part do you struggle with?

Completing a draft is quite satisfying.
Revision is harder and I wonder to myself sometimes, “Who wrote this crap?”
Being offered a contract is great.
Marketing is the pits and I find I must grapple with its realities constantly.

FOCPL: What famous authors (dead or alive) would you like to visit with? Why?

 My first choice might seem like an odd one.  Ernie Pyle. He was a non-fiction writer who tackled some of the most difficult writing imaginable, under horrendous conditions as a war correspondent. He hated what he had tasked himself to do, yet he told the stories that needed to be told and continued to return to the battlefields, where he ultimately gave his life. He was a marvelous wordsmith and he brought the nitty-gritty of World War II to everyday Americans in a way no one else could.  He is easily one of the best writers of the Twentieth Century. Another would be Tolkien, but I’d query him on his World War I exploits, not on his tales of Hobbits and Elves. 

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An Interview With Suzanne Adair

The Local Authors Book Fair is almost here! We’re so excited about our fabulous list of guests and hope all of you will come out to support our vibrant local writing community. We’re so fortunate to live in a place with so many talented locals!

To whet your appetite for the readings and book fair, we’ll be offering interviews with some of our guests across the next few days. Let’s meet Suzanne Adair!

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FOCPL: What should readers know before they pick up one of your books?

This won’t be the sanitized American Revolution pabulum you were fed in high school history class.

FOCPL: Why are you a writer?

I’m a writer because I enjoy tormenting imaginary people.

180214KillerDebtEbookCover700x1050FOCPL: What drew you into a writing life?

It was the power of nature unleashed in the hurricane I experienced when I was in second grade, plus (in the same month) a case of the mumps, which got me quarantined from school. I almost went out of my mind with boredom until I realized how well I could entertain myself by writing stories.

FOCPL: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An author (from second grade). To please family members, who believe art isn’t an legitimate career, I was a scientist for a while. I think they’ve given up on me.

FOCPL: Have you had any important mentors in your writing life?

Aside from the hurricane? Several teachers encouraged me when I was young. And one of the first things my editor said after he’d read my manuscripts fifteen years ago was, “You realize you write the Hero’s Journey, don’t you?” Hero’s Journey? (Cue deer-in-the-headlights stare.) I made the acquaintance of Joseph Campbell, Christopher Vogler, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Carl Jung, and others who have described archetypes and the stages of psychological journeys.

FOCPL: What famous authors (dead or alive) would you like to visit with? Why?

Robert Louis Stevenson and Daphne du Maurier. Both of them were experts at  plunging readers into high adventure.

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Read Books, Win Prizes

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Did you know you can win prizes for your reading this summer? Summer Learning isn’t just for kids. Adults, too, can track their reading and community involvement at the Main Branch in Hillsborough, and maybe get an extra reward beyond the joy of service and enrichment.

The display and tickets can be found on the second floor, just across from the Teen section. Come down and let us know what you’ve been up to this summer.

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Book Sale May 11-14 (and More!)

We on the Board of the Friends of the Orange County Public Library are looking forward to a fun and productive 2017.

First, we’d like to thank all of our Friends members as well as members of the community who supported the Library after it was flooded in January. The Friends held an impromptu fund raiser to cover the insurance deductible, and with your generous help, we exceeded our goal in just a few days. 

Last year, the Friends sponsored a pilot project to fund Book Harvest’s Books on Break summer-reading program at New Hope Elementary. This year, we were pleased to continue our support of this important and successful effort to provide children with books for summer vacation reading.

We have also continued our support of the Library’s terrific Summer Learning program by providing funding for activities, prizes, and events all summer long. Summer Learning kicks off June 3 with a fun run and a day of events at the Library. Stay tuned for details on how you can get involved! If you or your organization is interested in sponsoring any Summer Learning events, please contact us.

The Spring Book Sale is coming up: May 12-14 at the Library. Friends members are invited to attend a reception, auction, and sneak peek on Thursday, May 11, 5-7:30. We need volunteers to work the book sale! Please click here to sign up to volunteer.

If you have not renewed your membership for 2017, now would be a great time to do so. Please click here to download an application form, which you can drop off at or mail to the Library. You can also easily renew your membership at the book sale.

If you would like to contribute, volunteer, or join our Board, please contact us at focplnc@gmail.com. Thank you for being a Friend!

Book Drop At Your Service

The Main Library has a new drive-by book drop, located at the Margaret Lane entrance to the Eno River Parking Deck. Library staff members pick up items from the book drop twice per day, typically in the morning and then again in the late afternoon. However, times vary because staff checks in any materials that are left at the internal book drop first. You may deposit any library materials in the book drop, except kindles; return those inside. Note: please bring all donations into the library during operating hours so that you may get a tax receipt.