Welcome to the interactive Book Reading at the Cafe and my guest today is fantasy and paranormal author and short story writer Ailsa Abraham.
First a few of my observations about Ailsa and I hope she won’t mind me being a little personal.
Ailsa and I go way back in social media and blogging terms to when I started Smorgasbord three and a half years ago. Otter or Ottie to her friends (many) has a passion for animals as you can tell by the affectionate nickname that she has. She has oodles of charm and can also get quite sparky when people take liberties, especially if it involves bullying and abuse of two and four-legged creatures.
This last couple of years have not been easy as Ailsa had a terrible motor-bike accident has been diagnosed with some serious health issues and at this very moment is propped up in bed with her laptop resting (Ailsa’s definition of that word is not the same as her doctors!) prior to an operation. She is energised and energising and fiesty as they come. She is also very supportive of her friends be they writers or not.
She lives in rural France in a small village out in the sticks. She welcomes authors virtually (and sometimes literally) to her Bingergread Cottage (an upside down house). From this magical place, she practices what she preaches, which is shamanism, healing, how to eat croissants from mad baker Pierre (delicious by the way and she has brought some today) and of course writing with the help of Lily a wee dog with a large appetite for croissants.
What the readers are saying
Ailsa Abraham’s ‘Shaman’s Drum’ sucked me in and swallowed me whole. In the near future where today’s organized modern religions have been outlawed, people seek the old beliefs. Magic is prevalent and regularly accepted. Ailsa spins these distinct “old” beliefs from different time periods together in a way that makes everything flow effortlessly. This world she creates by bringing the past alive in modern times is genius. I’ve never read anything like it and cannot wait to read more of her work. This writer can weave a great story! Next up, another book by Abraham….Alchemy!
Ailsa Abraham’s novel Alchemy starts with a premise that would be the perfect ending for many novels, in appearance promising an idyllic utopian future for all. With a mysterious thriller-like beginning, a discovery that for once falls in the right hands, and a deal too good for all governments to ignore, one wonders where the story will go from there. Fascinating and enlightened characters appear and then quickly get to work, and new characters, whose relationship to the previous ones is not always evident at first, make an entry.
There is magic related to Pagan religious practice, and we follow two young children, a boy and a girl, as they discover their faith and are trained to reach the highest ranks. Do not worry if you’re not very versed in the different pagan practices and groups, as Adrian, a Professor in Ancient Religious Studies and once born (not magical) and his girlfriend, Helen, a thriller writer, serve as a point of contact and questioning guides into the ins and outs of the new world religious order. And if you thought everything seemed too nice to be true, there’s evil at work and dangerous alliances that put humanity at risk. A pair of unlikely hero and heroine will have to step forward and pay the price.
If you think fights over fuel and religious wars are responsible for all that’s wrong in our world, read this book and you might think again. Alchemy is a novel that combines a plot interesting from an ethical and philosophical point of view, with a good story and fascinating characters that I hope will be further developed in other books in the series. And if you like a good romantic story of impossible love, Riga and Iamo are far more interesting than Romeo and Juliette. (And two of the most intriguing characters I’ve met in recent times).
If you have an open mind and like to explore big questions whilst being transported to worlds both familiar and completely alien to ours, you should read this book. If you love adventures that go beyond the usual, don’t miss it. If you love beautifully written books with great characters, this one is for you too. In summary, if you have a bit of imagination and enjoy reading, give it a go. I am looking forward to reviewing Shaman’s Drum soon.
Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Ailsa-Abraham/e/B00AYKUBQ4
Now it is time to meet the lovely lady herself, no doubt cuddling Lily, with laptop balanced on her knees nibbling on pastries… Please put your questions to Ailsa in the comments section of the interview and she is looking forward to answering them over the next couple of days.
Welcome Ailsa and Lily and shift over a bit so I can sit down and get at the plate….
Thank you so much for inviting me over, Sally. Fabulous to see you again and I’ve brought some lovely patisserie from the mad baker, Pierre. You remember? The one who kisses my hand and pretends to be a musketeer when I’m in there buying bread!
I have been very busy organising the launch of my latest book, Attention To Death which was released on 10th March with a riotous Facebook Party.. Sorry if you missed the fun.
It’s a departure from my better-known style of magical realism. I’ve gone into mystery romance including a very gory murder. I don’t know why except that I have a limited attention span, love watching detective shows on TV and wanted a change.
Here is an extract from where our investigators have arrived in Germany on the British Army base where the murder happened and Angus, our Chief Investigator is having a bad time with the MO. She is Edinburgh and he is Glasgow, so it hasn’t started off well.
Extract from Attention To Death – The Autopsy
He was rewarded when she was removing the brain and gave a squeak of surprise.
“There’s a bullet in here!” She fiddled with a pair of forceps and held up a 9mm standard NATO round.
“Cause of death, Ma’am?” Angus inquired politely, and was delighted to see her flush scarlet from her thick neck up to the roots of her hair. He had been right to stay and watch.
“I’d say this was the coup-de-grace, Captain,” she replied. “At a guess, given the amount of blood loss at the scene, the man was already hemorrhaging badly and then was shot. There’s no sign of an entry wound on the body, so I have to conclude…”
“That the broom handle was removed, replaced by an automatic pistol and the trigger pulled?”
“Its location in the brain, Ma’am? Any ideas on that?”
“The passage through the soft tissues all the way through the body would have slowed the bullet down. When it finally hit the cranium it didn’t have enough force to break through; hence no exit wound either. I think, Captain, that whoever did this knew what they were doing.”
“I’d have to agree with you there, Ma’am. Because it was most probably a soldier.”
The most recent review for the book
A cracking read from start to finish. No waiting for page thirty five, the steam is rising from page one. A change in direction from previous novels, this is a detective saga, but from an unlikely source, and that’s just the backdrop.
Better suited to those who read alone, as the chuckling and “Wow”s will be a giveaway. Hehehe….
Read the reviews so far and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Attention-Death-Ailsa-Abraham-ebook/dp/B01MRBTYLX
Time to find out what Ailsa has to say in response to my questions.
If you could be a character in any book you have read.. Who would it be and why?
Nanny Ogg in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. This is cheating because I already am. I have several of her characteristics including the inability to NOT chat to people and get their entire life histories in ten minutes. I do have a few more teeth but she doesn’t wear dentures! Like her, I am family obsessed but with me it is my huge extended family which I have adopted. I now have relations all over the world thanks to social media and they mean as much to me as the Ogg Tribe do to their Mum.
It would be instantly recognisable to people who I am and they wouldn’t keep saying to me “You are SO Nanny Ogg!” Some even ask if I were the prototype and apparently Sir Terry was sick of being asked as he had never heard of me. I have, therefore, adopted Nanny Ab as my alter-ego and mentor, so it might well be she who relates my memoirs which are due with the publishers at the end of April.
Do you have a favourite quote? What does it means to you as an individual?
Yes. “The sky is my father, the earth is my mother, every being between is my sister or brother”. It is a pagan prayer that comes from an old Navajo saying. I say this every morning when I first see the sun and it has ruled my adult life.
It teaches me compassion and to remember that we are all completely equal in the eyes of Nature. Interdependent and responsible for each other. I don’t always live up to it but when someone is rude or unpleasant to me I try to remember that they are my brother or sister and probably working under some stress about which I know nothing. It is a saying that keeps me grounded and knowing my place in the Universe. By living this way I know that all beings are of equal value and importance, all lives are of worth.
What would you tell your 16 year old self that might benefit them?
I know that you think you have to “live fast, die young” but don’t try to do it all at once. It’s amazing how much you can fit into sixty years if you have an open mind and accept challenges. Say “yes” and make the most of all the experiences, good or bad because you will learn from the bad ones and the good ones will make fabulous memories to live on when you are older. Never, ever think you are better than anyone else even while you are young and pretty. Pretty is on the inside, strive to achieve that instead. Be kind. A long time after people have forgotten your looks, they will remember your kindness.
Could you tells us more about Shamanism please?
Oh yes, that is a big part of my life and a subject that appears in my Alchemy series. I studied under Mike Williams PhD and I can only recommend his books to anyone who is interested in the subject. Very briefly indeed, shamanism is the belief that everything has a spirit with which it is possible to make contact. From stones, water, air through to illness and injuries, it is possible to reach out and work with them. Obviously sentient beings are easier which is why I appear to be fluent in many animal “languages” and can shape-shift to suit. When with a cat, I behave like a cat, avoiding “big eyes” contact, squeezing my eyes into a cat-smile and not touching them unless invited to. Horses I also do quite well but with them I can whinny and do the head-tossing that is an invitation to come and be friends.
In my village I am the shaman, responsible for healing, protecting the countryside and seeing to anything that is going wrong, like springing traps set for coypu. Yes, I am a bit of a menace to hunters who are killing for fun.
You come from a long line of Scottish witches.. How did you discover this and how far back were you able to trace your family history?
Hard to say. I knew the rest of the women in my family were on the path from birth and my own gifts were revealed as time went on. I don’t have to wish ill to anyone who does the dirty on me, it just seems to happen. I noticed that and my mother told me to NEVER wish return on anyone because it would come anyway. My first patient as a healer was my mother when I was about 7 (yes, significant number!). She had a blinding headache and I automatically put my hands on her head and “drew the pain out”. From then on it was clear what kind of witch I was destined to be. I couldn’t make filthy potions because I don’t approve of killing hahahaha.
Can you tell us about your pen-names and the work published under them?
We come back to “Attention To Death”. I used to write gay fiction under the name of my late twin brother, Cameron Lawton. I kept the names separate because my genre of magical realism is so far removed and I felt readers might be confused or disappointed.
Eventually “his” publishers released his work back to me and I decided to combine some of the ideas from that work into my departure into murder mystery. This is why the two investigators who are working on the murder are Military Police so have to keep their relationship secret. Their sexuality gives them insights into the case. It was delightful to bring them back under new names.
I hope that Attention to Death is a success so I will be able to write more about the boys. They are a joy to work with.
My thanks to Ailsa, not just because she is a wonderful guest but for all her kindness and support for me over the years. I am sure you have questions for her and please leave them in the comments section below..
Connect to Ailsa.
Thank you for dropping in today and look forward to your questions and comments. Thanks Sally