Author Interview with David Fraser

Yes, David Fraser is my writing partner here at Driving Blind Productions. So why am I interviewing my own writing partner? Well, we both branch out and work on solo projects from time to time. (Such as my YA paranormal romance Dream Shade, a blend of mystery, ghost story, and teen angst.) Dave decided to launch a blog tour promoting his latest solo project, The Dragon-Kitty. My son Cale stepped in to take Dave’s place and help me conduct this author interview with, er, Dave. Confused yet? We are, too.

dk2

The, um, unique cover.

Part 1 of Dave’s blog tour can be found on Stuart R. West’s site. We highly recommend reading that part, too. It’s totally worth the click. Okay, so without further ado, here’s David Fraser, author of The Dragon-Kitty, interviewed by Cale Gillan and Heather Fraser Brainerd…

Heather and Cale: What inspired you to write The Dragon-Kitty?

David Fraser: I have a regular writing partner with whom I write. See that? That was some fancy wordsmithing right there. Anyway, back to the question. I felt like it was time to see what I could do solo. I felt the need to spread my wings and soar like an eagle. Or possibly a buffalo rushing over a cliff.

H&C: Did you take inspiration from any other novels?

DF: Yes.

H&C: Which actor do you envision portraying Percy Potter in the movie?

DF: Well, nobody, since the Percy Potter character was eliminated in the final round of edits. I guess you must have read an early version. I found that the book became too overpopulated once the rocket crashed on Mars and all those Martian vikings came into the story. I had to get rid of some characters. One of the first casualties was Percy, whose parts were divided between President Obama and Rudolph, Percy’s talking dog. So to sort of answer your question, I can see President Obama playing President Obama and Anthony Hopkins as Rudolph.

H&C: Do you plan on a sequel to The Dragon-Kitty?

DF: No, but I’m considering a prequel trilogy. Those never go wrong. (Question: Did I just give a subtle jab at Star Wars Episode 1-3 or The Hobbit? The answer: Yes.)

H&C: And speaking of Star Wars, favorite Jar Jar scene?

DF: Oh, gosh. There are just too many great ones from which to choose. That was me wordsmithing again. I’d have to say the part where he starts freaking out in the submarine and Obi-Wan uses The Force to put him to sleep. For those who have not seen the movie, that’s “put him to sleep” in the literal sense, not the “my dog was getting too darn old” sense.

Interesting. Time for the rapid fire round!

Han or Greedo?

We must examine the situation from both cases:

1) Greedo shot first.

If Greedo was sitting two feet away, with his weapon drawn and aimed, and he still missed, he deserved to get fried. If you’re out there trying to be a bounty hunter, but you can’t hit a target that close, you won’t last long regardless of whether you shoot first or second. But let’s suppose for a moment that he was trying to miss. Why? Probably just to put a little scare into Han. If Greedo is such a great bounty hunter, he should know his quarry’s propensity toward violence. Firing a warning shot into the wall right next to Han’s head? That’s a great way to provoke return fire.

2) Han shot first.

While we don’t know all the details of Han’s background, we can tell by the fact that he frequents this hive of scum and villainy, not to mention his work for the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt, that he…hang on a second. This is supposed to be the rapid-fire round, isn’t it? Sorry.

Han.

Sebastian Shaw’s ghost or Hayden Christensen’s ghost?

Patrick Swayze’s ghost.

Merry or Pippin?

Mary Poppins.

Legolas or Will Turner?

Legolas, but from LotR, not The Hobbit.

Cedric or Edward?

And here we are. The Sophie’s Choice of Pattinsonian greatness. It’s common to say that something like this is an impossible decision. That it’s like having to choose a favorite child. Well, it really isn’t impossible. Even if they won’t admit it, every parent has a favorite child. Mine is Becky. I pick Edward.

Excerpt from The Dragon-Kitty:

“Holy cow, Rudolph,” said President Obama as he peered through the keyhole of the conference room door. “They’ve got the whole kit and caboodle in there.”

“Both the kit and the caboodle? I didn’t think Mars had any caboodles left,” said Rudolph. The lack of caboodles was one of the reasons he had signed up for the mission. If there was one thing he hated, it was caboodles. If there were two things, it was caboodles and coconuts. Stupid, hairy coconuts. What even were they? Fruit? Seeds? Nuts? Some weird hybridization of all three? Just the thought of them made Rudolph growl.

“Stop thinking about coconuts. We’ve got work to do,” said President Obama.

“How did you know I was thinking about coconuts?”

“I’m psychic, remember?”

“Well, do your psychic thing through the door. Why do they need a caboodle?”

President Obama pressed his forehead against the door, one eye open and one closed. A single bead of sweat trickled down the back of his neck and disappeared into his spacesuit. “I can’t quite make out what they’re thinking. Something about…someone listening in at the door. I wonder what that’s all about.”

He found out soon enough, as the door flew open and President Obama found himself staring at a Martian viking, complete with green skin, outfit made of fur, and horned helmet tipped at a jaunty angle.

When Rudolph was younger, he thought jaunty referred to a skin discoloration due to liver issues. It wasn’t until his sophomore year at Harvard that he finally learned that was called jaundice. But that doesn’t really play into the current story. It was just sort of an interesting aside. Well, it was an aside.

The viking, who stood more than eight feet tall, grabbed the front of President Obama’s spacesuit and lifted him until they were eye to eye. “And who might you be?” asked the viking with his Swedish/Martian accent.

“I’m President Obama,” said President Obama, “and I’m here to bring you hope.”

“And change,” added Rudolph.

“Yes, and change.”

The viking grinned. “Oh, goody. We need some hope and change around here. And some new patio doors. Did you bring any of those, too?” He turned and took President Obama into the conference room.

Rudolph rushed to follow, but the door slammed in his face. Lacking opposable thumbs, he wasn’t able to turn the knob. You’d think evolution would have provided him with proper thumbs before the ability to speak, but no. He’d have to find another way in.

David Fraser's author photo

David Fraser’s author photo

There you have it. More typical zaniness from my brother and writing partner, David Fraser. Since The Dragon-Kitty isn’t in stores yet and has no release date (and, to be honest, I highly doubt its existence at all other than a few random excerpts), you can find our real books here and here. Happy reading!

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Tune into Hummingbird Place

Please join me tonight at 7 pm Eastern for my guest appearance on the Hummingbird Place podcast. If you don’t have time tonight, no worries – just click on the link and you can listen anytime. Since it’s a ghostly time of year, we will be discussing my YA paranormal romance Dream Shade. Hope you can join us!

dream shade 300dpi

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Kick(starter) It!

Last year, we interviewed fellow Upstate New York author Paul D. Smith about his debut novel, Jason and the Draconauts. (You can read the interview here.) Paul has been working on the sequel to this rave-review-garnering YA Fantasy. Now he could use our help to get the sequel out there. Check out his Kickstarter campaign here. Not only can you earn some cool rewards, but you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping produce quality books for kids.

Help Jason continue his tale.

Help Jason continue his tale.

Find Jason and the Draconauts on Amazon. Connect with Paul D. Smith on Twitter and Facebook. Our best wishes go out to Paul for continued success!

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Our Summer Travels: Cedar Point

Cedar Point sign

I’ve had Cedar Point (“The Roller Coaster Capital of the World”) floating around in the back of my mind for a few years now. I was waiting for that perfect moment when our three boys would all be old enough for the coasters and my husband would still be young enough for them! 🙂 This summer seemed like the perfect time, so off to Ohio we went! After almost six hours in the car, we were pretty happy to arrive at the beautiful Hotel Breakers. This hotel just underwent a massive renovation and is gorgeous! It’s right on the beach at Lake Erie, yet steps away from the amusement park. The location could not have been more perfect.

Hotel Breakers

Our suite was pretty awesome! It was made even better by the gluten-free baked goods I’d arranged to have delivered by Jam Gluten Free Bakeshop. It was nice to walk in and find our GF goodies waiting for us. They were the best we’ve tried so far!

boys in room

Mmm... gluten-free goodness!

Mmm… gluten-free goodness!

As soon as we settled our things into the suite, my husband and the boys headed for the park while I sorted out a small question about our tickets. While we’re on the topic, a few thoughts on Cedar Point park tickets…

  1. If you’re staying at a Cedar Point hotel, purchase discounted tickets at the front desk rather than paying full price at the theme park.
  2. If you plan your trip way in advance (like I did), check for a special package deal. I booked our trip last December and was able to take advantage of a deal where we received our suite plus 1-day Fast Lane Plus park tickets for all five of us for a really good price! With the long lines of summer, those Fast Lane Plus wristbands sure came in handy!
  3. If you arrive in the late afternoon or early evening on your first day, you can purchase “after 4pm” park tickets for a reduced price. Again, buy these at the hotel’s front desk to get them even cheaper than at the park.

On my way to catch up with my fam, look who I ran into!

It's Snoopy!

It’s Snoopy!

The first night at the theme park was super fun! By the time the park closed at midnight, the crowds were pretty sparse and the wait times were low. Plus the park lights were very pretty.

The view from the Sky Ride.

The view from the Sky Ride.

The next morning, we took advantage of Early Entry. Because we were staying on-site, we could get into the theme park at 9am instead of 10am. Short lines again – yay!

Morning at Cedar Point

Morning at Cedar Point

I can't believe I let me kids go on this thing!

I can’t believe I let my kids go on this!

We even found some good gluten-free options in the park.

joe cool cafe

GF at joe cool

And I found something historical!

Commemorating Helen Keller's appearance at Cedar Point in 1925.

Commemorating Helen Keller’s appearance at Cedar Point in 1925.

And educational!

dinosaurs alive

dino sign

Controlling an animatronic dinosaur. How cool!

Controlling an animatronic dinosaur. How cool!

A mock archeological dig site. With a degree in Anthropology, this part really appealed to me.

A mock archeological dig site. With a degree in Anthropology, this part really appealed to me.

big dino

The next day, we slept late, went into town for lunch, lazed on the beach, played mini golf, and had a fun hibachi dinner.

Lake Erie

Lake Erie

On day four, it was time to head home. However, since our route took us right through Cleveland, we simply had to stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Rock and Roll HOFThey were having an exhibit called Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits. It was amazing!

My favorite of the Herb Ritts exhibit: Dizzy Gillespie.

My favorite of the Herb Ritts exhibit: Dizzy Gillespie.

View from inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

View from inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

After enjoying a few hours in Cleveland, we were back on the road. A mere five hours later, we were home, and trip #4 of the summer was on the books!

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Our Summer Travels: The Lewis County Fair

My brother Dave lives in Lowville, NY. It’s up north, not far from the Canadian border. Oh, and “Lowville” rhymes with “cow-ville.” That’s pretty appropriate, considering there are more cows than people in Lowville. The dairy and cheese industries are very important here. There also happens to be a bowling pin factory. And, my favorite bit of Lowville trivia, Peter Ostrum is a veterinarian here. He takes care of cows, of course.

The view from Dave's front porch. Yes, it's a cornfield. The cow pasture is a bit to the left.

The view from Dave’s front porch. Yes, it’s a cornfield. The cow pasture is a bit to the left.

One of Lowville’s biggest claims to fame is that, each July, it hosts The Lewis County Fair. This charming little fair dates back to 1821. For the past few years, my boys and I have made the 3-hour journey for the fair. It’s so worth it! The first night, always a Tuesday, boasts the big parade.

Waiting for the parade to begin.

Waiting for the parade to begin.

Should every parade have an antique cheese cart? And yes, they're throwing cheese off the back.

Shouldn’t every parade have an antique cheese wagon? And yes, they’re throwing cheese off the back.

She caught one!

She caught one!

I <3 volunteer firefighters.

I ❤ volunteer firefighters.

Shouldn't every parade have a float featuring a robot, kids in a cast iron bathtub, and a shack with a working chimney?

Shouldn’t every parade have a float featuring a robot, kids in a cast-iron bathtub, and a shack with a working chimney?

The Lewis County Dairy Princess and her court. Because cows.

The Lewis County Dairy Princess and her court. Because cows.

The next day, we went to the fair!

The midway from afar.

The midway from afar.

Naturally, we stop by the dairy industry building.

Naturally, we stop by the dairy industry building.

Then we check out some award-winning quilts.

Then we check out some award-winning quilts.

At the Historical Building, these strange contraptions were on display. They're like computers, but without the screens. Hmmm...

At the Historical Building, these strange contraptions are on display. They’re like computers, but without the screens. Hmmm…

Time for a taffy break!

Time for a taffy break!

Between the rides, displays, shows, and the amazing fair food, it was quite a day! We made our way back to Dave’s house and collapsed, exhausted and sugared out, onto the couches. After a good night’s sleep, we had a nice day of swimming and playing board games with Dave and his family. Doesn’t that sound like a sweet, old-fashioned kind of vacation? We’re already looking forward to next year’s fair!

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Our Summer Travels: New Orleans

My husband and I just returned from our third trip to New Orleans. Why do we love this city so much? Well, it was perfectly summed up by a young woman from Taiwan with whom I chatted while waiting for a music club to open. I asked her if she’d been to New Orleans before, and she said that this was her first visit. When I asked her what she’d done so far, she said, “I have taken many pictures of the architecture, but I am here for the food and for the music.” Architecture, food, and music – yup, that about sums it up!

This time around, we decided to stay at the Cornstalk Hotel. As the story goes, in the mid-1800s, the homeowner’s wife was homesick for Iowa. To ease her sadness, he had a fence made in the shape of a row of cornstalks. The grand Victorian home has since been turned into a hotel. We loved it there.

Cornstalk Hotel

The Cornstalk Hotel

the famous fence

the famous fence

The only problem was that our beautiful leaded glass window, as seen in the photo below, had no blinds or curtains! This made for quite a bit of street noise and sunlight coming in.

Cornstalk room

So, we didn’t get to sleep in… but the room was lovely!

On our first night in town, we had dinner at one of our favorite New Orleans restaurants, The Green Goddess. We sat outside and enjoyed the nice, warm evening and delectable food.

Balsamic watermelon burruta salad

Balsamic watermelon & burruta salad

Smoked duck breast slices with roasted fingerlings

Smoked duck breast slices with roasted fingerlings

Berkshire pork with plantain cakes and purple rice

Berkshire pork with plantain cakes and purple rice

After stuffing ourselves silly, we strolled around the French Quarter for a bit. When we were finally ready for dessert, we stopped in at Sucré for coffee and macarons.

macarons

Mmm… macarons…

The next morning, we slowly made our way over to the Jackson Square area for a leisurely Sunday brunch. Sunday brunch is a VERY big thing in New Orleans. Along the way, we admired the beautiful old buildings and their ornate iron balconies.

I loved the cute flowerpots on this balcony!

I loved the cute flowerpots on this balcony!

Jackson Square, a historic park.

Jackson Square, a historic park.

We opted for brunch at Stanley.

We opted for brunch at Stanley.

Mimosas!

Mimosas!

Bananas foster French toast. To. Die. For.

Bananas foster French toast. To. Die. For.

After brunch, we slowly made our way to Frenchmen Street, stopping in at little galleries, art shops, and antique stores along the way. Once on Frenchmen, we went to our favorite club there, The Spotted Cat. As always, the music was excellent!

Yvette Voelker at the Spotted Cat.

Yvette Voelker at The Spotted Cat.

We hit some other little music clubs along Frenchmen Street, had a lovely dinner at Sylvain, and called it a night.

Monday started with beignets, of course!

Beignets and café au lait at Café du Monde

Beignets and café au lait at Café du Monde.

We then walked along the Mississippi for a spell.

The river was quite high!

The river was quite high!

Just for something different, we decided to take the ferry across the river to Algiers Point, a quiet and charming little neighborhood. At $2.00 per person each way, the ferry ride was the best bargain of our trip!

View of New Orleans from mid-Mississippi River.

View of New Orleans from mid-Mississippi River.

Back in the French Quarter, we decided to hit Latitude 29 for drinks and apps. This tiki bar is both delicious and fun!

Tropical drinks!

Tropical drinks!

The Lapu Lapu, a drink meant to be shared!

The Lapu Lapu, a drink meant to be shared!

After our little happy hour, it was time for a rest. Once refreshed and ready for dinner, we made our way to Angeline for an excellent meal, stopping to take more pictures along the way.

Beauregard-Keyes garden.

Beauregard-Keyes garden.

After dinner, we went back to Frenchmen Street for more musical entertainment. We enjoyed a street band, wandered through the Frenchmen Street Art Market, and ended up at Snug Harbor for a performance by the Charmaine Neville Band. Ms. Neville’s cousin, Garrett Morris (one of the original cast members of SNL and currently on the sitcom 2 Broke Girls), was in the audience (which was only about 30 or 40 of us due to the intimate size of the venue). He even got up onstage and joined in for a song. What a great show!

Tuesday was our last day in NOLA. We packed our bags and left them at the hotel, and then wandered back to the Jackson Square area. We stopped by the St. Louis Cathedral before having lunch at Muriel’s.

St. Louis Cathedral

St. Louis Cathedral

The gorgeous interior of the cathedral.

The gorgeous interior of the cathedral.

Muriel's has become our last-lunch-in-NOLA tradition.

Muriel’s has become our last-lunch-in-NOLA tradition.

A po boy and fries.

A po boy and fries.

With just a few hours left before heading to the airport, we decided to visit The Presbytere, one of the Louisiana State Museum locations. The first floor was all about hurricanes, mostly Katrina. It was very moving. The second floor was all about Mardi Gras. It was very entertaining!

There were many gorgeous costumes on display.

There were many gorgeous costumes on display.

Even the restrooms were themed to Mardi Gras!

Even the restrooms were themed to Mardi Gras!

And with that, we headed back to the hotel to catch a cab to the airport. As it turns out, there was no need to hurry. Our flight out of New Orleans was delayed due to weather, which meant that we missed our connection in New York. Which meant that we spent the night at JFK International Airport. But that’s a story for another day.

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Our Summer Travels: Philadelphia

With Independence Day right around the corner, what better way to celebrate than with a quick trip to Philadelphia? We were there last weekend, and it was amazing! I’d never been to Philly before (except for many, many layovers at the airport, but that doesn’t count), and found myself almost overwhelmed by the sense of history. Here are a few pictures that totally don’t do the city justice, but will hopefully convey the feel of our long-weekend getaway:

Our first glimpse of Philly from afar.

Our first glimpse of Philly from afar.

First night's dinner at City Tavern: smoked pork chop.

First night’s dinner at City Tavern: smoked pork chop, 18th century style.

long gallery

The “long gallery” at City Tavern.

View of City Hall from Love Park.

View of City Hall from Love Park, en route from our hotel to Reading Terminal.

The Liberty Bell as seen through a side-view window (the line to get into the building was hours long).

The Liberty Bell as seen through a side-view window (the line to get into the building was multi-hours).

Visiting Betsy Ross at her home.

Visiting Betsy Ross at her home.

Elfreth's Alley - America's oldest residential neighborhood.

Elfreth’s Alley – America’s oldest residential neighborhood.

Eastern State Penitentiary, now a museum.

Eastern State Penitentiary, now a museum and National Historic Landmark.

My 11-year-old's breakfast buffet plate. Future food stylist, perhaps?

My 11-year-old’s breakfast buffet plate. Future food stylist?

We loved our trip to Philadelphia, but left wishing we’d had time to do so much more. Methinks a return visit is in order. Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

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