Noahan Author Issue #5

Welcome back to Noahan Author, the best place to get to Know an Author! The weather has just started to get very cold and there's a hungry wind outside. I think it's a good day to stay in and get some reading and writing done!
Please enjoy these three new interviews:

Noahan Author Interview – Luke Spychalla

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: Tell us about A Place of Rest.

LUKE SPYCHALLA: A Place of Rest is the story of William and Adriana, a young pre-Civil War couple fighting to find a place for their love in a world seemingly opposed to it at every turn. Their struggle must overcome the class restrictions of an unforgiving Georgian society, a scornful family, as well as the couple’s own inherent weaknesses. William and Adriana come to pin their hopes of a life together on the island plantation belonging to William’s family, San Avellino. The island is soon revealed to be a most curious locale, a sanctuary in the path of powerful forces which provide refuge and ruin in equal measure, and which hold the secret to triumphing over life’s ultimate obstacle.

Working in the periphery of William and Adriana’s conflict are Nick LeMay, a young husband and father who finds himself woefully trapped on San Avellino, and Claude Merservier, a man who has been driven to mania by loss and who will stop at nothing to claim San Avellino as his own.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: Tell us about Nick.

LUKE SPYCHALLA: Left alone on the island after his biosafety suit breaks a seal, Nick LeMay is a biologist who discovers San Avellino is far more than a tropical paradise. He soon finds himself in a battle for his freedom and for the fate of those in his life he holds most dear.

I feel Nick is a protagonist who is easy to like, because despite his best efforts, he is unable to stop himself from stepping forward to help those in need even when it means putting himself at risk.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: Tell us about William.

LUKE SPYCHALLA: William is really just a kid who’s finding himself in the world. He’s ready to strike out on his own and escape the ways of his haughty family to live simply and with dignity. And he comes to know that Adriana is the right girl for him to do this with.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: The action in A Place of Rest takes place in different eras. Can you talk about this a little bit?

LUKE SPYCHALLA: The book is part thriller, part historical romance, and part science fiction, and brings together three story lines from different time periods: the mid-19th century, a few decades from the modern day, and a century into the future. As the book progresses these storylines begin to knit together and ultimately converge into a unified ending. We are able to see throughout the plot that the sins of the past cannot always be wiped away by time.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: Early on, I expected A Place of Rest to turn into a Zombie story, but you went a different direction. Can you talk about this a little bit?

LUKE SPYCHALLA: A Place of Rest” is about the struggle of love, our most admirable emotion, to overcome the basest behaviors of man that can tear it down. The concept of zombies serves as an allegory for our overzealous use of technology to easily correct the problems mankind has caused the world out of greed, rather than correcting our bad behavior itself.  

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: I love Giant Sloths! One of my favorite animals of all time! What are your thoughts?

LUKE SPYCHALLA: The history of life on earth is a long and strange story; over 98% of all species that have evolved on this planet are now extinct. My book delves into the history of an island, and although it focuses on a range of a few hundred years, there are echoes from the more distant past. 

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: What have you done and what are you doing to promote your work?

LUKE SPYCHALLA: As a first-time independent author, I find my options for promotion are limited. I plan to continue to write to the best of my ability and hope to earn an audience, no matter how small, that enjoys my work.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: What sort of research did you do for A Place of Rest?

LUKE SPYCHALLA: My research was focused around 19th century culture, African and Caribbean folklore and religion, and plantation life, especially on the living conditions of African slaves. The science parts of the story came more easily, as I have a degree in genetics, and I teach biology and biotechnology.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: What upcoming projects can you talk about at this point?

LUKE SPYCHALLA: I am currently writing a second science fiction novel that is centered around an underground urban cult.  

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: I have recently heard authors say that conventional three-act storytelling doesn’t work anymore: To grab a modern reader you have to start basically at the second act, in the middle of the action. What are your thoughts on this?

LUKE SPYCHALLA: I do feel that readers are less patient today with the building of atmosphere, and demand an effective hook almost immediately to keep with a story. Perhaps it is because we have less leisure time than previous generations and don’t want to gamble it on a potentially tedious plot, or maybe we’ve been trained by our culture to expect a blockbuster standard. Or, perhaps, being able to hook a reader quickly has always simply been a tenet of good writing that must be accentuated in a smaller market. No matter the cause, I agree that grabbing the interest of a reader as early as possible is essential, but reordering a plot is only one way to accomplish this.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: If you could leave your body and travel astrally, would you? Where would you go?

LUKE SPYCHALLA: Science has identified a number of possible Earth-like planets; I would love to have a look. The independent author is always seeking new markets!

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: What is your deepest, darkest secret?

LUKE SPYCHALLA: I’m convinced that someone is living under the stairs of the house I grew up in. Even as an adult while visiting, I do not stay in the basement at night alone.

LUKE SPYCHALLA: Question for Noah:   In your book “The White Hairs”, what significance do the giants have to our world?

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: I don't believe that an author should ever tell you the "meaning" of their work, as if it were a fact. Once a work is finished, we cease to be authors and become just the same as any other careful readers. It can tell you what I find the giants to signify in the work based upon my close reading, and I can even tell you what I may have had in mind when I wrote the book, but that doesn't mean that it's the objective answer. Another reader may find another answer and it is just as valid. Perhaps they will discover a deeper meaning than I have? Finished works do take off on their own…

To my mind, the giants had two purposes. First of all they represented ancient wisdom. Secondly, they were as far above the White Hairs as the White Hairs were above humans. It was the same relationship of mysteriousness and incomplete understanding. As we experience Farshoul thinking about the giants, and even seeing them, he is experiencing something similar to what we do when we ‘see’ him.

To put it another way: If Farshoul is mythological to us, the giants were then mythological to him.

Noahan Author Interview – Karen Wojcik Berner:

 NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: What is “A Whisper to a Scream” about?

KAREN WOJCIK BERNER: My novel, “A Whisper to a Scream,” is the story of two women. One is a stay-at-home mom; the other, a P.R. executive with fertility issues. When they meet through a Classics Book Club, each thinks the other ones’ life is so much better than her own. But, ultimately, they learn otherwise.

The book tries to speak to a longing inside all of us, a yearning that might start as a vague notion, but eventually grows into an unbearable, vociferous cry. Annie desperately wants a baby. Sarah wishes her work-obsessed husband would rejoin the family.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: Tell us about Sarah.

KAREN WOJCIK BERNER: Sarah Anderson feels invisible. It is a part of motherhood few women are ready for. One minute, you are vibrant and sexy. The next, you are completely exhausted and shower only if you are lucky. Sarah realizes it is not about her anymore. She is merely a vessel. She wants to keep her family intact, but can feel her husband pulling away as his job begins to overshadow his family in importance.

She is contrasted with Annie Jacobs, the books other protagonist, who wants to have a baby so badly she is willing to risk almost everything.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: The free sample of “A Whisper to a Scream” is all about family. How similar is your family to Sarah’s?

KAREN WOJCIK BERNER: I think almost every family, especially those with young kids, can relate to Sarah’s house-- the toys scattered everywhere, the chaos. That is where the similarities end, however. I like to think I am a bit more organized than Sarah, but I could be delusional.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: What led you to decide to self-publish “A Whisper to a Scream” as an e-book and will you also be making it available in a physical edition?

KAREN WOJCIK BERNER: What do you do when agents tell you, "It's really good. Good, relatable characters. Well written. I just don't know how I can sell it?" I could not just let it go.

Lucky for me, self-publishing is a viable option. I went with first to test the waters, and I’m glad I did. It is exciting to be a part of a new, growing industry.

I am not sure whether to make it available in physical form or not. E-books are the wave of the future, but I do not want to limit myself either.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: What have you done and what are you doing to promote the book?

KAREN WOJCIK BERNER: I have a fan page on Facebook ( and a website (, as well as a blog ( on which I discuss various writing and publishing topics. I have also used internet marketing, such as the Kindle Boards, the Amazon discussion boards and goodreads.

A Whisper to a Scream will be available for Nook, Smashwords, Kobo and the Sony e-reader in September.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: What effect do you hope your novel will have on your readers when they are finished?

KAREN WOJCIK BERNER: I hope readers come away with the sense they have peeked through the windows of two typical American homes and caught a glimpse into the characters’ lives. In a sense, Sarah and Annie are “everywomen.” Who knows? One could be living right next door.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: A Whisper to a Scream has a very eye-catching cover. Who created it,  and what can you tell us about that process?

KAREN WOJCIK BERNER: I would like to say that it was a long, intense, creative process, but the truth is I designed the cover using a Mac template. I was a magazine editor before I took time off to raise my children, and we used to layout our own pages eons ago before every publication had an art director, so I thought I would give it a try.

I took the photo last Christmas. We were hit with a huge ice storm. Although it was treacherous, it was beautiful. Rather like life, don’t you think?

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: You recently wrote a blog post wherein you discussed your own self-definition of your work as “women’s fiction.”

Do you think that a definition like that limits your audience, or do you think it is more likely to expand it? Why?

KAREN WOJCIK BERNER: Women’s fiction gets a bad rap. People misconstrue it as fluff, but the reality is good women’s fiction chronicles the era in which it was written, echoing the experiences of more than fifty percent of the population. That is a pretty wide audience.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: If you could leave your body and travel astrally, would you? Where would you go?

KAREN WOJCIK BERNER: I would like to go to wherever it is we end up after we die, without actually dying of course, to finally have the answer to what happens. After receiving enlightenment, I would go for something more fun, like time travel to Regency England to attend a country dance with Jane Austen and her family. Then I would zoom through space and fly through Saturn’s rings.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: What is your deepest, darkest secret?

KAREN WOJCIK BERNER: Sshh, don’t tell. I am scared of heights. I used to be a fierce roller coaster person when I was young, but am a complete whimp now. I am heartily ashamed.

KAREN WOJCIK BERNER: How did you choose Yeti for your astral travelers, as opposed to other creatures?

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: I had had an idea bouncing around in my mind for some time that involved people traveling in outer-space using astral projection instead of space-ships, but it had always felt like an incomplete idea.

It was the visual image of a great white furry being high in the mountains amid the snow and the wind that completed the idea for me. If it hadn’t been the creature that it is, the story would probably have featured humans, rather than any other mythological being. Making Farshoul’s people ‘White Hairs’ (The words Yeti and Abominable Snowman do not appear in my novel) allowed me to have them actually start the story as already one stage removed from physical reality; which then allowed me to take the story very deep down that passage indeed…

Noahan Author Interview – J.A. Titus

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: Thank you so much for your time! Tell us about your background

J. A. TITUS:  I began writing at ten years old as a way to express my feelings and to note down what was going on in my life (think Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I was most definitely the wimp).  After a while I wrote my first novel, which was a mystery about stolen money from a dance studio, which I eagerly sent off to Scholastic hoping they would publish it, but was promptly rejected.  I still continued to write with the encouragement of my adopted father and religiously sent off my stories and poems to different publishing houses and contests.  I won honorable mention in a writing contest for the Boston Herald (a city paper), I had several short stories and poems published in my high school’s literary magazine (under the pen names Spencer Collins and Julie DelGrosso) and had a poem printed in an anthology titled Shadows and Light (though I've never seen it in print and haven't ever found it).  I stopped writing briefly, following the death of one of my best friends at age sixteen, as everything I seemed to write about was dark and depressing (something very unlike my true character, which is pretty lively and upbeat).  I decided to pursue a degree in elementary education, with a minor in English and Psychology, and attended one year of college at Bridgewater State College.  I received several scholarships, which covered most of my first year, thanks to my ability to write an essay on what influenced me to pursue a degree in education.  Unfortunately one year was all I was able to complete, but I do hope to go back to school some day.  I am currently working full-time as a supervisor of software support for an immigration and taxation software company, here in MA.  And I'm a wife and mother of three young children.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: Please tell us about The Kindness of Strangers.

J. A. TITUS:  The Kindness of Strangers is a story loosely based upon my biological mother's life prior to her having me.  When I was a young child, I remember her telling me about her life as a teenager and it always upset me why no one ever came to her rescue.  Her story was riddled with one bad episode after another and the only positive outcome was that she was still alive despite it all.  I wanted to write a story that showed that even when life pulls you down, there are people out there that will go above and beyond to get you where you need to go.  In my book, Sydney deals with so many heavy issues such as child abuse, alcoholism, homelessness and teen pregnancy.  Yet after meeting several strangers throughout her journey, who help her in many different ways, she learns to go beyond those issues to lead a more successful, productive life.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: What can you tell us about Sydney?

J. A. TITUS: Sydney initially is a sixteen year old girl who, after years of suffering abuse, finally runs away only to discover she is several weeks pregnant.  She struggles with working while pregnant, being a teen mother and being homeless and having no where to turn.  She is insecure, lost and alone.  That is, until she meets Irene.  After befriending Irene, who is child-less and divorced, Sydney builds up her confidence, learns to live on her own and begins the journey forward.  With Irene's, and eventually Ian's, love and support, Sydney goes beyond her abuse to make a better life for herself and for her daughter, Elizabeth. 

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: As I read the free sample I was struck by the emotionally charged violence. It wasn’t described in exact detail, but I found it much more real and difficult to read than your average zombie or pirate violence. Can you talk about this a little?

J. A. TITUS:   I didn't really want to write for shock value, I really wanted to pull the reader in and make them see the dark side of society and what could really happen behind closed doors.  It's a sad, realistic take on how things can be so different in the public eye compared to what happens in the privacy of one's home.  Growing up in foster care as a child allowed me to infuse some of the passion and pain that an abused child really faces.  I didn't want to specifically state what was happening (spell-it-out), because even just the concept is hard to sometimes stomach and it makes it a more powerful story. 

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: What effect do you hope The Kindness of Strangers has on your readers?

J. A. TITUS: There are so many girls and boys who have dealt with the exact topics my book discusses; whether it is the alcoholism aspect, the homelessness and pregnant aspect or even the physical/sexual abuse aspect of it.  I want them to know, that those walls (which most abuse victims build up) can be taken down, so that they can open themselves to new experiences and new support.  An abuse victim usually shuts themselves off from the real world and never allows themselves the privilege of moving on.  Always in the back of their mind they're thinking, will this person hurt me.  I want them to know that there are people who will never take advantage of them and who will love them unconditionally, they just have to open themselves to it when it happens.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: What path led you to independent publishing?

J. A. TITUS: As I've mentioned before, my book deals with some pretty heavy topics and when I queried agents, I was constantly rejected as they felt they couldn't sell my work.  There are more than enough A Child Called It type stories out there already, and unless it’s a memoir no one really wants to read it.  Most people want to be entertained when they read (get that warm fuzzy feeling).  They don't want to be brought down, per say, so it makes it difficult (and understandably so) to sell a book that can be considered heavy.  I give the credit to a friend of mine for my going the independent route.  After hearing about my rejections, she told me about Amazon and I did a little research myself.  I ended up publishing my book as a paperback on first and then decided to upload it for kindle (after having several of my friends on Facebook ask if it was available in that format).  It's been a great experience and it's wonderful to be a part of the Kindleboards community!

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: What have you done and what are you doing to promote your work?

J. A. TITUS: I have a Facebook fan page dedicated to my writing (so that I wouldn't overwhelm my friends with all my writing nonsense, lol), I've posted in threads on and I've requested a few reviewers to read my book.  I've been fortunate enough to also receive some great exposure by being interviewed by several authors on their own blogs.


J. A. TITUS: I'm currently in the process of writing two more books.  One is titled The Last Curl and it is available to read for free on my Facebook fan page, up until chapter 6.  I've stepped away from that book for a bit to focus on my 3rd book, not yet titled, which is geared to be a YA style book about a girl named Sunny, who must be protected from the devil.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: If you could leave your body and travel astrally, would you? Where would you go?

J. A. TITUS: As creepy as this sounds, I believe I have done this.  When I was about 21 years old, I had a heart condition that made my heart speed up and slow down intermittently.  At one point my heart rate was up to 210 reps a minute (a normal person’s is about 90 reps a minute) and if I hadn't been rushed to the hospital by my husband, I would have most likely had had a heart attack and died.  While my heart was beating so rapidly, I felt like I was being lifted into a bright blue lighted room (or box actually).  There were no sounds and I could see my hands in front of me.  It was very peaceful.  So yes, I think I wouldn’t mind having another ‘out-of-body’ experience so long as I'm not having a heart attack and I can resume my normal, every day functions afterward (without fear of having another surgery, lol).  Where would I go?  Anywhere peaceful and relaxing.  Life is too hectic right now and I'd like to relax.

NOAH K MULLETTE-GILLMAN: What is your deepest, darkest secret?

J. A. TITUS: That, my friend, is between me, the floor and the walls of the room in which it happened. :)

J. A. TITUS: My question to you, Noah.  What do you see in this Rorschach ink blot?


The first thing that I see is a skeletal pelvis. I look again and I see an alien's face with two long flower-stem eyes and sharp little fangs that recall bunny rabbit teeth....Yeah, I think it's frozen into the alien's face for me now! :)

That’s all for this week! Thank you again for visiting. If you found this issue interesting, feel free to go back and read the first four issues of Noahan Author and get to Know some authors! In any case, I hope you’ll be moved to at least read the free sample for one of our authors? That’s a great way to give an author a chance without taking a risk! Widgets drupal hit counter