Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mariam Kobras Interview - The Distant Shore

Read my review of the Distant Shore HERE

The Distant Shore is the first book for Mariam Kobras. Mariam describes the story as a contemporary romance with a light twist of suspense.

Born in Frankfurt Germany, she currently lives in Hamburg with her husband and two sons and to say she is excited about the launch of The Distant Shore is an understatement.

Mariam’s road to publication is an interesting one, having been discovered on Twitter by her publisher Buddhapuss. Read on to discover the inspiration for The Distant Shore, what genre she loves but wouldn’t dare attempt and her thoughts on the digital age of books.


Susan May (SM): What were you doing when the idea for ‘The Distant Shore’ came to you?

Mariam Kobras (MK): If I remember correctly, it was inspired by a song. I’m not going to tell you which one, though, because you might think the book is about that songwriter. Which it isn’t. To be honest, the scene in the hotel lobby where Jon and Naomi meet again after all that time was inspired by that song. The rest fell into place. Something like that.

(SM): What do you enjoy most about writing?

(MK): I love the writing, the shaping of scenes and situations, of scenery and people’s thoughts. Actually, writing is nothing more than describing things very, very well.

(SM): In what genre would you love to write but wouldn’t dare?

(MK): One word: SciFi. I love reading SciFi, I’d actually go so far and say it’s my favorite reading genre. But I don’t know enough about physics, astrophysics, the Universe, and all that to write it myself. But I’d love to.

(SM): If you could co-author a book with any other author—alive or dead, who would they be?

(MK): I’m thinking I’d really like to collaborate with my editor at Buddhapuss Ink some day. That would be amazing fun. And there’s still the idea of writing a book with Sam Hilliard, the author of The Last Track.

(SM): As an author, how have you adapted to the Digital age and what are your thoughts on it?

(MK): I take it you mean digital publishing, and not twitter and facebook and how they can help one get established as an author

To be honest, I’m totally in two minds about e-books. Margaret Atwood said at the Tools Of Change conference in NY that there are always three sides to each tool, an upside, a downside and a dumb side, which is the one you hurt yourself with. She made a rather passionate plea for paper books, and I tend to agree with her. From the author’s perspective, it’s a great thing to hold your book in your hands, feel the cover, read the words on paper. It’s also rather cool to sign it at book readings. I know they are working on making “digital signing” possible, but really. How would I sign on a kindle with my Montblanc Meisterstück, with my rose-scented, dark pink ink?

Margaret Atwood said, “When all technology fails, you can still read a paper book with the light of a candle.”

She also mentioned that a lot of people make their living by publishing books. Publishers, editors, cover designers, AUTHORS, book store owners, and so on. I don’t think every kind of progress is necessarily good progress. Do you remember the old version of the “Stepford Wives”, where the woman asks the men at that “club”, “Why do you do this?” and the reply was, “Because we can.”

It’s a bit like this. Destroying the paper book market is a bit like destroying a piece of culture. On the other hand, when I’m on a plane, I really do appreciate the handiness of an eReader. I just think there should be room for both.

(SM): Is there any character that has inspired you in life?

(MK): In my books? Or in someone else’s? In my books, I don’t know. I don’t think so. Not in other books either, no. Cetainly not inspired in the sense of, “They made me want to write.” I know the people in Peter F. Hamilton’s Reality Dysfunction made me want to be a space explorer, and see the things they saw. Well, not all of them, but some, for sure.

(SM): What has been the best part of having your first book published?

(MK): EVERYTHING! There is no specific best part. It’s just a long, lovely thrill ride, and I hope to be on it for a long time to come!

Thank you Mariam for taking the time to share your thoughts. We all look forward to your next book in the “Stone Trilogy.”


This was the sixteenth and LAST stop on Mariam’s The Distant Shore “Love is in the Air” Blog Hop & Giveaway. We hope you enjoyed this and all the stops along the way.

Buddhapuss Ink is giving away copies of Mariam’s book, along with some pretty terrific (and very romantic) gifts, as we count down to that most romantic day of the year—Valentine’s Day!

Want to enter the giveaway? There’s still time! Entries will be accepted until 11:59 PM ET tonight – 2/13! Leave a comment for this post for one entry. We also encourage you to “Like” this blog and follow it! Tweet a link to this blog including the hashtag #TDSBlogHop for another chance to win.

Want more chances to win? CLICK HERE for all the info!

The Distant Short by Mariam Kobras

Read my interview with Mariam Kobras HERE


The world of fame and fortune is always a fascinating topic. What girl doesn’t love the idea of being whisked away from her life to trot around the world with a gorgeous famous singer loved by millions? And then who wouldn’t want to discover sixteen years later that said singer is still besotted with you even though you have run away from him carrying a secret.
Well the protagonist of The Distant Shore, Naomi is the one girl who chose to walk away from Jonathon Stone, famous singer, and he doesn’t know why.

The Distant Shore opens with Jon, now in his forties, but still confident and gorgeous as ever, receiving a letter from an unknown teenage son, born to Naomi the woman he has never forgotten.  He immediately sets out to meet his son and confront Naomi and beg her to take him back.  In all these years, he has never managed to understand her sudden departure.

When he sets out for an isolated fishing village in Norway, where she is managing a hotel, he is desperate to see Naomi again, as much as he fears her rejection of him. What follows is a tussle between two passionate people who are so afraid of losing love again that their fears may doom them to forever live apart. And it’s this tussle that provides the high romance and passion in the book.   There are also shadowy secrets Naomi is determined never to reveal to Jon that also haunt their rekindled love.
The Distant Shore is a window into the rock world and all the craziness therein.  Mariam has populated her book with characters and scenarios that test her two protagonist’s love for one another as they travel around the world in support of Jon’s career, at a cost they will only discover much later.  We all want to peek behind that showbiz curtain and this story is packed right up until the last page with dramas, steamy love scenes and even assassins.

If you enjoy your books romantic and filled with longing and angst, then grab yourself a coffee, and a box of chocolates and curl up in bed for the weekend with this book.

This is a debut novel for Mariam Kobras and there are two follow books in the trilogy to come.  So, there is no need to worry as you near the end of the book, the next installment will be released later in the year.

If you want to know more about Mariam, CLICK HERE to read my interview with her.

Read a sample of the “The Distant Shore” and learn more about its author at her publisher’s website, CLICK HERE

Purchase The Distant Shore online from Amazon


This was the sixteenth and LAST stop on Mariam’s The Distant Shore “Love is in the Air” Blog Hop & Giveaway. We hope you enjoyed this and all the stops along the way.
Buddhapuss Ink is giving away copies of Mariam’s book, along with some pretty terrific (and very romantic) gifts, as we count down to that most romantic day of the year—Valentine’s Day!
Want to enter the giveaway? There’s still time! Entries will be accepted until 11:59 PM ET tonight – 2/13! Leave a comment for this post for one entry. We also encourage you to “Like” this blog and follow it! Tweet a link to this blog including the hashtag #TDSBlogHop for another chance to win.

Want more chances to win? CLICK HERE for all the info!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Many Lives of Sarah Kernochan


An interview with Sarah Kernochan

When the almighty afterlife powers were handing out talents for this lifetime, Sarah Kernochan must have stood front row in many lines. She has enjoyed remarkable success over many decades in fiction, film and music. In her latest endeavor, JANE WAS HERE, a fascinating and gripping tale of reincarnation, she explores the dark side of karma and its impact on her character’s present lives.

Sarah scripted such films as the notorious "9 and ½ Weeks," "Sommersby," "Impromptu" (her personal favorite), "What Lies Beneath" (storyline), and "All I Wanna Do," which she also directed. Her two documentaries "Marjoe" and "Thoth" won Academy Awards 30 years apart. However, Sarah’s first ambition was always to write novels.

I am grateful and excited Sarah has taken the time to share insights into her life, writing and why she believes in karmic comeuppance.

Susan May (SM): Your biography reads like the heroine of a book. You were a musician in the seventies; friends with some of the biggest names in the music industry, like John Lennon and Harry Nilsson; you write a successful book, and then turn to writing Hollywood screenplays for thirty years, along with directing. Along the way, you win two Academy Awards for both your documentaries. Now, you have returned to novel writing. Was the transitioning planned?
Sarah Kernochan (SK): I didn’t set out to be professionally mercurial. I take my cues from my inspiration. Stories come to me in different forms – sometimes as films, sometimes songs, sometimes (most recently) as a novel. But forging a career out of any one of those forms is another matter. In that sense, my transitions weren’t planned—anything but. After my first Academy Award, the natural follow-up should have been directing another film. But it became plain I was not going to get that opportunity, Oscar or no Oscar. Except for Lina Wertmuller there were no women directors in 1973. Thus, I had to quickly switch paths: I became a singer-songwriter. Then when my second album didn’t sell well, RCA let me go and I had to switch yet again—to novels. I would have been happy to settle into a career as an author following the publication of my first book, which was a success. However I found myself stranded when my second book was cancelled by the new editor, and suddenly no one wanted me. I turned to screenwriting, where I had better luck and a much better income. So I stuck with that until I turned sixty. At that point, it became hard for me to find work. Older writers (particularly female) are weirdly dismissed as has-beens by the film business. Even though I’m still lucky enough to find script jobs, they are fewer and far between. So I have gone back to the novel. Now that JANE WAS HERE is published, it still remains to be seen whether I can succeed with books. I would love to settle into the life of an author, since my earliest ambition was to be a novelist, and obviously I got sidetracked along the way!

SM: Was the plot for “Jane Was Here” a light globe moment or did it haunt you for years?
SK: For years, I played with the idea of an ordinary woman who discovers she murdered someone— in a former lifetime. I never managed to figure out how to construct a plot around that premise, though I’m sure it can be done. The light bulb moment came when I realized the central character should be, not the murderer, but the murder victim, who is reborn into the present with the task of finding out who killed her in the past. The moment I received that notion, I started to write immediately – though at that point I had no idea where I was going.

SM: Most people have a fear of change, yet here you are embarking on a new adventure, and embracing the digital age with eBooks, twitter and blogs. Thirty years after your first book, have you approached the writing and promotion of this novel differently?
SK:Obviously the mechanics of writing have changed—when my first book was published we didn’t even have computers, and word processing had to be done in the brain! “Cut and paste” used to be an actual physical chore, and liquid white-out was the only way to change words. Or you had to retype everything. It was laborious enough to put you off revisions. You would do anything to avoid it, so you were more accepting of flawed writing. I think I became a better re-writer with the advent of writing software. Now it’s so easy to try words and phrases out for size before you commit to anything. You can be a perfectionist with little effort. As for eBooks and online marketing techniques, one constant in my life has been my craving to be in control of my own work, and not to be under the thumb of editors or movie producers or recording executives, as the case may be. There’s a tremendous democratization that’s taking place: power to the people is a very recent phenomenon both artistically and politically. The downside is that there’s chaos. Suddenly no one’s in charge and everyone wants to be heard. So how do you raise your literary voice above the crowd? Also, the social networking process is so time-consuming (though it’s fun) that you don’t have any time to write your books! All in all, I’m pretty ambivalent about the new lay of the land. It will be fascinating to see how it all shakes out. Then I’ll have to figure out how I fit in.

SM: After three years working on “Jane” part-time you mentioned you rewrote the whole thing—quite a task.
SK: In my first draft, my reincarnated heroine Jane remembered everything about her past life and her murder. She arrived in town to make people remember what happened there, and what part they played in her demise. It was horrible to get to the end of the writing only to discover that the book didn’t work. Thankfully, my agent suggested that maybe Jane shouldn’t have any memory at all of who she was, and suddenly it all became clear to me: that the audience could find out the truth at the same time Jane does, piece by piece. Suddenly I had a much tauter, tenser story. It was actually a pleasure to rewrite everything because I could tell I was on the right path this time.

SM: Did you have to adjust your writing technique for screen to novel writing to create“Jane” or was it quite natural for you to return to it?
SK: I was relieved to return to narrative prose. Screenwriting is very limiting in style, and I really wanted to stretch my limbs for a change and enjoy the language. My one worry was that I wouldn’t have a narrative “voice.” There’s no room for voice in scripts. It’s all nuts and bolts: Jane exits, Jane enters, close-up shot of Jane screaming. Fortunately, I found I did have a voice, one that was heaps more mature than my first book. It’s one of the miracles of aging that you actually do get wiser; and that wisdom works its way into your observations about life and people. I would say JANE WAS HERE benefited from the plot skills I developed from writing films. Also, because a script has to be read quickly, you are always trying to distill prose and dialogue to the minimum—and I think that lesson served me well, too, when I returned to narrative writing. I don’t indulge myself; even when there’s a passage or bit of dialogue I’m in love with. I don’t hesitate to cut it if it’s extraneous or slows the rhythm. In movies, you learn not to cling to anything you’ve written. You can’t: you’re an employee; you don’t own your own work. If you don’t change it, they’ll find someone else who will.

SM: You have said that you waited to get the one book idea that would seize you so hard that you had to write it, but that over the years, the ideas that sprang into your head were for films. Since so many books become films, what makes a story idea more suitable for film than a book?
SK: That’s a really interesting question. In many cases, writers want to work out the story in book form first, to explore the characters and work out the plot without the limitations of a screenplay. Then, if fortune is kind, the book will come to the attention of movie people who will purchase the rights. However, if you have an idea that’s good for either medium, and you can’t choose, then practical considerations come into play. Which project involves the least risk? For example: is it more likely that your story would be published as a book than it would sell as a script? Is the story more literary, different, cerebral, edgy, or slow? Chances are that movie types will not be interested until they’re persuaded by a book’s critical reception or readers’ embrace. You couldn’t sell a script of LIFE OF PI without it first having been a sensation as a book. Another factor in deciding between book or film could be your time and patience: do you want to spend three months writing a 100-page script, or a year or more of your life writing a 300-page book?

SM: You suggest there is justice in reincarnation: “that people, who profit from evil and receive no comeuppance, flourishing until their death, are then reborn into a life of suffering.” What makes you believe so strongly in reincarnation?
SK: Maybe it’s foolish but I have always believed that there is an overarching design to existence—that everything has meaning—just as every aspect of a novel originates from the writer’s intention. I suppose I want to believe that God is a writer, and not one word is without significance—that heaven imitates art (or vice versa). If I subscribe to the idea of reincarnation, then I can make sense of things that otherwise defy explanation, such as, “How could a loving Deity make innocent people suffer? Is God cruel, or just uninterested?” And I play with the idea that maybe certain people are not so innocent, that they are atoning for bad choices in previous lives.

SM: With ‘Jane Was Here’ receiving great reviews, are you now firmly reincarnated as a novelist or will you still write and direct films? And what is your next project?
SK: Film writing remains my day job because one needs money to survive. I enjoy writing scripts; it’s the business I’m tired of, after 30 years of peaks and valleys. It’s getting harder and harder to compete for jobs that I don’t really want to write. The projects are all someone else’s idea; they’re assignments. I have so many ideas for books that I would be ecstatic to bid goodbye to the movie business if I could have a remunerative career as a novelist. But that hasn’t happened just yet. My current project is, of necessity, a side project since I have an ongoing script job. I have been writing a true and highly personal ghost story in installments on my blog. People have suggested that this is, in fact, my next book. I guess that would make it a supernatural memoir.

SM: What interview question do you wish someone would ask you?
SK: I wish someone would ask why I am drawn to write characters with a lot of darkness on display. It’s a matter of personal perception of human beings that I see the dark in human beings more than the light—and, in the case of my characters, I can gradually move them toward the light in the course of the story. Perhaps it’s true too that I’m more forgiving of their flaws than the reader is prepared to be. In fact, I love them all, heroes and villains alike. Probably my first literary exposure to an unsympathetic central character was GONE WITH THE WIND—who doesn’t love Scarlett O’Hara? I adore Faulkner, too; his invented family, the Snopses, are the most sublime scum ever. Balzac is another favorite: his books are full of rapacious connivers, vain weaklings and pawns. It’s the divine comedy, what can I say.

Thank you to Sarah Kernochan for this fabulous interview. Learn more about Sarah at her website

JANE WAS HERE is available in Hard Cover and Digital Download at Amazon.

Jane Was Here by Sarah Kernochan ★ ★ ★ ★

A Haunting Fate

One of the most talked about books of the late seventies was “Audrey Rose” by Frank De Felitta.  A frightening tale of reincarnation, it not only sparked a movie adaption but also began an era of passionate discussion on reincarnation. 

For years after, I devoured books on reincarnation finding convincing supporting anecdotal evidence.  Even the actress Shirley MacLaine is adamant she has lived multiple lives—one, famously, as a lover of ancient emperor Charlemagne.

So when I first discovered Sarah Kernochan’s book, ‘Jane Was Here’, there was an immediate sense of Déjà vu.  All the memories of my pleasure and wonder when reading “Audrey Rose” flooded back.  A reincarnation novel, I thought—it’s been too long between past lives.

 In the first part of “Jane Was Here” we meet the strange mannered twenty-three year old Jane, knocking at an ungodly hour, on the door of Brett, claiming it to be her house.  Also mysteriously drawn to the town of Graynier, Brett is renting the home with his ten-year-old son, Colin.  Brett immediately overwhelmed by strong feelings of love for Jane, aids her in a determined search to discover her past life identity.  Colin, less enamoured than his Father and, guided by his superstitious friend Gita, believes Jane’s real purpose is evil.

Eighteenth century Jane Pettigrew tells her story, in part two, through a section of letters from herself to her lover.  These letters are a window into the innocence of this Jane, and they build dramatically to the ultimate question of the story: what happened to this Jane?

Amongst the present day townsfolk is another group of characters, all with their own dark stories whose paths, in a karmic twist, will eventually intercept Jane’s. The revelation of these character’s roles in Jane’s previous life brings the reader a satisfying ending that they will not see coming.

Sarah Kernochan is an Oscar winning screenwriter, and there is a spellbinding cinematic mood to this story.  You will close this book but find days later that the idea has seeped into your consciousness.  Kernochan’s poetic vision of reincarnation and fate will truly haunt you. 

Click through to learn more about Sarah & to purchase “Sara Was Here”

About the Author
Sarah is a writer of fiction, film, and music. She scripted such films as the notorious 9 and ½ Weeks, Sommersby, Impromptu (personal favorite), What Lies Beneath, and All I Wanna Do which she also directed.
Both her documentaries, Marjoe and Thoth, won Academy Awards. Sarah says, “attending the Oscars as a nominee in the documentary category is fairly humiliating as everyone ignores you.’’
Her first ambition was always to write novels. William Morrow published Dry Hustle in 1977. It had a healthy success and is now being reissued as an ebook. Sarah hopes people will at least download a sample on amazon. Fair warning: the book is really raunchy. She was anything but respectable in those days.
Her second novel, Jane Was Here, is something completely different. She has long believed in reincarnation, so she really enjoyed devising a mystery-suspense story that spanned 150 years, examining the karmic links between a woman's mysterious disappearance in 1853 and her reincarnated self in the present day.
Formerly an RCA recording artist, Sarah continues to write music, posting songs on her website and myspace. She lives in New York with her husband James Lapine.

To learn more about Sarah visit her website