"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!" (Mary Quallo, St Louis)

"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!"  (Mary Quallo, St Louis)
Coming next week - Carla Eatherington

Friday, 24 August 2012

An Interview with Monique Rockliffe

Up and coming Johannesburg
scribe, Monique Radcliffe.

Her fantasy writing 
is attracting rave reviews from readers of Indielit.
The Sword Bearer bares all...

...it's my pleasure today for the second time this year to meet Monique Rockliffe. 

Monique at the Independent Paperback News

It's always a pleasure to talk to her because a) that name and b) she's such an enthusiastic, approachable and warm character to talk to. She is easy to like.

I got on the Wizphone to Johannesburg and caught Monique coming back from yet another intense dance class. Here's what she had to say to Wizardwatchers about a a writer's life, universe and everything.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Who you are? Where you are from? Do you work? Write full time? 
Firstly, thanks for this great opportunity to tell you about myself. I appreciate the invitation, Wiz.
You're welcome anytime, Monique!!
Jazz Dancers
My name is Monique Rockliffe, and I live in Johannesburg, South Africa, where we are just moving into glorious Spring! I was a dancer since the age of five, and I was so good at it I became a professional dancer, specialising in ballet, jazz, contemporary, and tap dancing.  
Choreography is also a gift of mine, and I frequently choreographed for the three dance companies I was part of , and when I began teaching kids it was still something I could do when the body didn't want to dance all day, every day anymore! To this day I continue to teach ballet at a studio where I work for the owner. I once owned my own studio, but decided it was too boring and found I enjoyed the freedom of freelancing a lot more.

I teach mainly in the afternoons, about three times a week, and the rest of the time I write and do tons of Social Media to promote my books. If I could afford to write full time believe me I would! 
Oh, and during my childhood years, before television came to SA, I devoured every book and comic I could lay my hands on. I guess deep down I always knew I'd become a writer!
Monique influence?
First appearance of eighties disco dancing
mutant superheroine - The Dazzler. If you have to ask
how much this comic is worth, you can't afford it.

What type of writer are you? Methodical? Freeform? Do you lock yourself in a room or do you space it out by the thousand words? What are your ambitions as a writer?
Interesting question 'cause, quite honestly, I'm not sure! The Sword Bearers tetralogy or quadrology is my first work, and the story started coming alive inside me since I was eight years old when I saw the first Star Wars movie.
Star Wars - Major Influence
  I have a brain that can contain every aspect of a story - characters, plot, sub-plots, locations, the goal of the antagonist, the protagonist's mission from start to finish, etc - all at the same time, so I jump around all over the story, testing each aspect, seeing what fits and what doesn't, like a giant mental puzzle, while I make copious handwritten notes, and slowly it begins to take shape. 

Then I finally sit down and type it out. For this series I actually wrote Book 3 first. It was a rough layout, but it was the crux of the story. Then I went back to the beginning and wrote Book 1, The Sword Bearers, my debut novel, in 2009.
I write as much as I can everyday with no limitations because I don't believe in dictating to my Source (from whence all magic comes!) how much to give me and how to give it! I write in a room where I'm by myself with no distractions (except the occasional visit by my one cat who thinks its funny when she bites my feet because I'm ignoring her).
I have every desire to become a great writer, but perhaps what I want to be known more for is being a great storyteller.
 All my favourite authors and movie makers are consummate storytellers and masters of their craft. I want to be just like them.

I want to write the Perfect Paragraph!!! Isn't it wonderful how different we all are, Monique! Tell us about your latest work?
Monique Rockliffe
Book 2
Book 2, The Sword Bearer's Journey, continues the exciting and moving story of KC, who is the main character and the Sword Bearer of the Sword of Heaven, and the most powerful being in the Universe, as she faces even greater challenges than she did in Book 1, The Sword Bearers - both within herself and in her new and alien environment.

 The story continues off her home-world, Theras, and into the galaxy known as N'varda, a place she never dreamed of seeing and exploring. She flees the arch demon, Drakoor s'et, who wants the Sword of Heaven and her soul. He wants to destroy every mortal being, who he hates absolutely, and free his brethren from the Void, a prison for Kurrn's (the Creator God's) fallen angels. The danger for KC and for those she loves continues to escalate as a galactic war ravages N'varda, and she has to find a way to accept who she is and what she is capable of doing before its too late. She has suffered great loss and torment while in the midst of it all finding a love powerful enough to sustain her and keep her focused and strong. Yet still she doubts her preternatural abilites and struggles to truly believe in herself and recognise her enormous potential and the God-power she possesses inside her. While she faces her inner-demons, the Universe waits with bated breath to see if she will be ready to meet Drakoor s'et in the Final Battle, the outcome of which can either mean the end of the Universe's existence or its salvation from the greatest evil it has ever known! And KC is the only one powerful enough to save mortal-kind!
I also have a Sci-Fi short story ready for publication right now that I want to publish straight to Kindle, called The Door. I'm hoping to have that available for the public soon, as well.

I'm sure your many readers will look forward to reading that, Monique. How do you relax away from the word processor? 
When I'm not teaching - which is a great physical workout - I watch all my favourite television programmes at night, and during the day (if free time exists) I read or spend time outside in the garden with the kitties.
Hubby and I love the same kinds of movies so we go as often as we can, and they can be anything from Fantasy to Sci-Fi, action, adventure, paranormal, and good, clever comedy.
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life - Uplifting Comedy
Basically, stories that have as little to do with reality as possible and that make me walk out of the theatre feeling exhilarated and full of ideas for more novels!
Are you one of those writers who never stop thinking? Is everything and everyone around you fair game? Inspiration for your next book?

I think I am completely incapable of quiet mind! I've tried mediation but the brain just won't shut up! Interestingly, I sometimes get ideas for my stories by taking a typical/fashionable theme, ie doorways to other dimensions, and asking myself how I can come up with an original story.
Doorways into another dimension
 I believe that's what makes a novel a best-seller, when the reader goes, "Wow, I've never read anything like this before!" That's my goal as a writer, too. I believe I've done that with The Sword Bearers series because - and I'll let you and your readers in on a little secret in the books - the Sword Bearer doesn't actually carry a physical Sword. You'll have to read the books to find out what I mean by that! 
Your known as a prolific marketeer amongst Independent authors. What's your marketing plan? What would you advise a novice writer to do to get their book noticed amongst the multitude?

As an Indie author this can end up being a very long answer. For me, publishing through a self-publishing company for this series, I have great professional marketing packages available from them, BUT they all cost money!
 If you have the cash then there are endless ways you can market your books, from advertising on every website, book site, book/review blog, and social media site that you can find, or you can do it all for free!
I must say, though, that with the marketing packages self-publishing companies offer they do end up doing all the work for you which can be a good thing in that their reach is much wider than yours as a newbie author with no contacts.
The way I did it was to start a massive social media campaign as money is scarce if you're paying for everything in SA Rands (at the moment around 10:1 to the American dollar). I only joined all the major SM sites, like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, to name but three, in March so I'm still pretty new at it. 
Yet already I have almost 400 Likes on my FB Author Page, and over 1400 Twitter followers. This is a fantastic way to meet other authors, especially when you reciprocate and share and support them, as well.
You need to introduce yourself to the writing world: start a blog and write a post every week then tell your FB and Twitter friends/followers about it; after setting up your own Author Page search for other FB pages for authors and also readers and reviewers and promote yourself there; ask for help and advice from the more seasoned authors who are always willing to help; join sites for authors and readers like Goodreads and World Literary Cafe and Authors.com where thousands of people meet.
 Some of these sites offer inexpensive advertising and the exposure you get is quite extensive. The trick is to tell everyone you meet and come into contact with - people in your life and cyber-friends - who you are, what you're doing, and where to find your books.
I read some great advice once:
Keep marketing, keep telling everyone about your books, and eventually they'll take notice and start buying them. 
You have to build relationships first, and from friendship comes trust. And then from trust comes a willingness to lay out their hard earned money to buy your book just because, as a friend, you told them it was worth it! I have personally experienced this, so I know it works. Whatever you do, don't stop working at it! You have to create the snowball effect: once its rolling nothing can stop it!
Build friendships and relationships
before the big sell! That's Monique's shrewd
advice for novice writers of Indielit.
Thats fantastic advice, Monique. Thank you for that. Okay, the Wizard 3-2-1 question. You have been kidnapped by Somali pirates half way through a cruise. Luckily, they are benevolent Somali pirates and they have allowed you three books, two CD's and a DVD to while away the time in your Mogadishu cell. What would you ask for?
Seriously?? Um, well, okay let me try this. The books would have to be one from each of my favourite authors because these guys are consummate storytellers and each have, in their own way, inspired and encouraged me to become a writer. I've learnt style, rhythm, how to thrill, frighten, exasperate, surprise, and delight an audience from these guys: 
1) The Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub

2) Magician by Raymond E. Feist; 

3) The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks.  

CDs: 1) Chicago - the movie soundtrack starring Catherine Zeta Jones (awesome music and songs!); 
2) An 80's compilation. Yes, that's what I said! Don't laugh! I can boogie all day and night to the music from that era. I was a teenager then so it's part of who I am. (Ed: Wiz - stop giggling!) 
Early eighties Classic - The Associates 

Whitneh (RIP)- Archetypal Late Eighties SuperDiva

DVD: Oh boy, a toughie! Can't I have two?? Okay, if it HAS to be one then no question: it's Star Wars, the 1977 film that changed my life!

There's a knock on the door, chez Rockliffe. A writer and a creative artist (any) have come to dinner. They're holding a bottle of bubbly and some peanuts. Who, in your fantasy, would you like the pair to be?
The writer is definitely Stephen King. 
Monique dinner guest Horror King King
 This man's mind is like no other I've come across. His imagination is just incredible, and no other horror/supernatural/dark fantasy writer I've read has yet to match him. I'd love to pick his wacky brain!
The creative artist has to be Bob Fosse, one of the most brilliant dance choreographers of all time! He choreographed the original musical Chicago and one of my all time favourite movies, with an actress that is simply brilliant as a dancer and singer as well, is Sweet Charity starring Shirley Maclaine!  
 Eighties Icon Tony "Gold" Hadley plays Chicago
Bob Fosse is another person whose unique mind and ideas changed the way dance was performed and even thought of. He is utterly unique, and that's why he fascinates me. Perhaps understanding how he thinks can help me become a better and utterly unique artist, whether I write or choreograph dance.

What do fans of Monique Rockliffe have to look forward to this year?

Book 3, The Sword Bearer's Awakening, will be out before Christmas!
The tension in the story, and the evolution of KC, the Sword Bearer, continues in this book, and many things that were building up in Book 2 come to a head! A must-read for your Christmas stocking! It will be available as an ebook (Kindle and Nook), paperback, and hardback.
 Monique, it's been an absolute pleasure. Make sure you let Wizardwatchers know how things are going and don't be a stranger!

 won't Wiz. Thanks for the opportunity! 


  1. Love humanizing authors. Great interview.

  2. Thanks for your support, Mary Ann.

    Looking forward to having a natter with you again in January when "Concordia" is ready for the hot plates. :-)


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