Welcome to another edition of Authors & Inspirations! I’m excited to welcome author S. M. Traphagen to the blog. Her first novel, Finding Morgan, a fantasy that puts a new spin on the Arthurian legends, is out now. Read on to learn more about the book and about her inspirations!
What artist (of any medium) has had the biggest influence on you as a writer?
Alice Walker, Albert Einstein, and J.K. Rowling. Alice because she has a similar background as mine. Her journey led her to use writing as her tool to effect change and make a difference in the world while still entertaining people. Einstein because his science came from a place of creativity; it transformed the way we view relativity and universal matter, and I’ve always been inspired by his creative process.. J.K. Rowling because her path to success started rough, and she lived by meager means, and yet persevered and made her dreams happen no matter the rejections she got at first. I connected to that and the hard road traveled.
Do you listen to music while you write? Why or why not?
Oh yes—not all the time, but when I do its always classical music. And, I’m a huge fan of Claude Debussy and Strauss. Ironically, Debussy features in the novel—Finding Morgan, (just a brief mention), but I must have been listening to him at the time.
If you do listen to music while writing, share a few songs on your current writing playlist:
Strauss II, Rossini (The Barber of Seville is one of my favorites), Debussy, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi (The four seasons: Spring—Allegro); those are off the top of my head. But I also love Jazz and opera music (my absolute favorite is Andrea Bocelli), so I alternate between those three a lot.
Are there any musicians who have had a big impact on your work?
Tchaikovsky and Miles Davis. Tchaikovsky because his music moves me to the core. I was also a ballerina for more than twelve years of my life, so his music is in my bones.
What was the last live concert you attended?
Oh gosh, um…. It was either Journey or Trans-Siberian Orchestra. My husband took me to see them. The Christmas Canon was the song I walked down the aisle to when we got married.
What’s the farthest you’ve ever traveled for a concert?
Pescara, Italy. I saw Irena Grande (Italian rock artist) live, in my early 20s.
Share some of your favorite song lyrics:
Katy Perry’s “Rise”, X Ambassador’s “Renegades”, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”, Andrea Bocelli’s “Because We Believe” and Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling”. There’s a trend, LOL, if you couldn’t tell. I love songs that motivate me to rise above, keep pushing, and find a way to succeed.
Your favorite band is going to write a song based on one of your books. What band is it, and what should the song be about?
Well, it would have to be Blackmore’s Night (a Celtic group), and the song would have to be about mystery, legend, the roots of our past. All I can picture right now are the wheat fields of the English countryside, and the rolling hills of Ireland, LOL.
What band is on your bucket list to see live?
Hmmm, that’s a tough one. Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons, and Mumford and Sons for sure.
You are magically going to be granted the ability to be a virtuoso on one instrument. Which do you pick?
Hands down, the saxophone. I played clarinet in school, but the sax was my dream.
What are your all-time favorite TV shows?
Oh, good question. Charmed—the original, As Time Goes By (I’m a big Brit Com fan), Grimm, The Librarians, Stargate SG-1, Farscape, NCIS, Once Upon a Time, Mad About You, Gilmore Girls and Dukes of Hazzard. Seriously, all of these; I watch these all the time, still to this day.
What TV shows are you loving lately?
Hands down Seal Team, The Flash, Supergirl, Expedition Unknown, Madam Secretary, and God Friended Me.
Is there a TV show that’s had an impact on you as a writer?
West Wing and Gilmore Girls. The dialogue in those shows—while very different, had a huge impact in how I approach dialogue in a story. I want it to feel fast paced, witty, real. The writers for those shows were top-notch, and the dialogue was always rich, colorful, and had real zing.
If you got the opportunity to write an episode for one show (past or present) what would it be?
The Flash—that may surprise some.
If Netflix were to option one of your books for a TV series, which book would you choose, and who would play your main characters?
Well, Finding Morgan: A LeFay Trilogy will make a great show, especially when you see books like A Discovery of Witches and Shadow Hunters that were picked up. I love Katie McGrath; I always had an image of her in my head when writing Morgan’s character.
What are your all-time favorite movies?
These are so hard to answer. The Mummy, Star Wars (the originals), On the Town, Singing in the Rain, White Christmas, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Top Hat, Breakfast Club, Pretty Woman, Sixteen Candles—am I dating myself here? Harry Potter, any and all of the Avenger/Marvel movies, the Transformers.
Who are your favorite actors/actresses?
Past: Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Maureen O’Hara (just to name a few). Present: Katie McGrath, Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Mathew Goode, Amy Adams, Benedict Cumberbatch, Margo Robbie, Matt Damon. I’m sure there are more.
Is there a movie that’s had a big impact on you as a writer?
Off the top of my head—The Help, Hidden Figures, and Avatar. All these movies held hidden messages; inspiration that allows the viewer to be transformed. As a writer, I remember walking out of Avatar and just saying, “Wow.” The message of our planet, and how we treat the environment, it was hidden, subtle but so powerful and that’s how I want my writing to affect readers.
Which of your books do you think would make a great movie? Is there a book of yours you WOULDN’T want to see as a movie, and why?
The LeFay Trilogy—it’s got great adventure and magic; the story is such a great spin on the mythology. And, my romance book: Love on Jay Mountain (not yet out) would make great movies. Love on Jay Mountain I could see as Hallmark movie—I don’t write much romance, but this story was inside me, so I had to write it.
Are you a theatregoer? If so, what was the last play/musical you saw?
I saw Momma Mia in Toronto; the Abba music was great. That was a great show.
What are your top five favorite musicals?
Top Hat, Singing in the Rain, Sound of Music, On the Town, White Christmas.
Do you ever draw on visual art in your work?
Photography is a hobby of mine, so I draw on that for inspiration sometimes.
Has a place you’ve traveled ever inspired you in your writing?
Ireland and Italy.
You can go on a two-week, all-expenses paid writing retreat to the location of your choice. Where would you go, and why?
It would have to be England and Egypt. There is so much of our world’s history in Egypt; so much archaeology, art. To see and understand this history and culture will benefit my writing and the reader. England because much of the Arthurian legend derives from England—I would love to dig into that history a bit more, learn more about where some of the myths came from. I’ve also always dreamed of doing research at Oxford and the Bodleian for one of my upcoming books.
Are you a podcast listener?
What authors have most inspired you in your own work?
Madeleine L’Engle, Deborah Harkness, Shel Silverstein, and Amanda Hocking.
What was the last book you read?
The biography of Mark Twain and The Time Keeper.
What’s your favorite book you’ve read recently?
Shannon by Frank Delaney.
What’s a book you’ve loved that you feel more people should be talking about?
There are two: The Autobiography of Santa Claus as told by Jeff Guinn, and Shannon by Frank Delaney. The first is such a unique way of sharing real historical events, with the rich traditions of the holiday season and why and how Santa Claus became Santa. The story of Shannon is beautifully told, and really gives a peak into some of the struggles of church and state. Delaney’s description of crossing the ocean via boat to Ireland is so artistically told and descriptive, the words just never leave you.
What are your very favorite kinds of scenes to write?
I love writing travel/adventure scenes, and I love writing dialogue. I have to say, writing dream sequences are a challenge for me but I’m getting better.
When you need to recharge your batteries/refill the well as a writer, what forms of media do you most often turn to?
Honestly when I need to recharge, I tend to meditate, go cycling and for hikes, and I tend to try and read in genres that aren’t closely related to the genre I am writing in—it helps me get out of my own head. I also love 80s music.
What artistic/creative talents do you have outside of writing?
I can sing a bit, I was a ballerina, I can speak some Italian, as I have family from there, but I’m not yet fluent, and I have an orange belt in Krav Maga.
What artistic/creative talent do you wish you had?
I wish I could speak multiple languages.
If you could have a drink/cup of coffee/beverage of choice with any three people alive in the world right now, who would you pick?
Amal Clooney, Scott Kelly, and J.K. Rowling.
Let us know what’s coming up next for you: new books, new projects; what are you working on?
Right now, I’m working on the second book in the LEFAY Trilogy. It will be out in 2020. I will be on the radio, on 1520 AM ESPN on Sunday May 12th talking about my first book in the trilogy, FINDING MORGAN, which is out now. I will also be doing some book club readings at Barnes & Noble, the Buffalo Public Library, and at Birchfield Penney in May and June. I have some upcoming radio appearances nationally for FINDING MORGAN, and will be doing some traveling for appearances and signings for the book as well. So, I’ll be pretty busy.
Finding Morgan: A LEFAY Trilogy is a debut novel by author S.M. Traphagen. It is currently available wherever books are sold, including, Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, Gardner’s, Book Bub, Barnes & Noble (online), Google Books, GoodReads, Book Baby Book Shop, Kobo, and many more. Wholesalers may order from Baker & Taylor, Gardner’s or Ingram.
The Arthurian legend. A desperate young woman. A past she can’t escape.
Growing up, Morgan’s mother was convinced they were descendants of the Arthurian legend—Morgan was convinced her mother was mentally ill. After years of emotional abuse, Morgan flees London for America, leaving her mother and all the insanity behind.
Creating a new life on the New England Coast, Morgan has everything she’s ever wanted—a husband, a home, a child of her own that she adores. But it isn’t long before Morgan starts suffering from the same symptoms as her mother, fearing she now has the same mental illness. Her recent friendship with the enigmatic Irishman Roan McNally isn’t helping matters. Every encounter with him leaves her confused and deeply shaken…a feeling of familiarity and attraction like none she’s ever known. Hiding her symptoms from her husband, Morgan trusts only Roan to be by her side as she tries to untangle the threads of her past. As tragedy strikes, Morgan is forced to leave her old life behind, and all she dreamed of having, to discover who she’s meant to become…
S.M. Traphagen is a local author from upstate NY and an Associate Publisher for a regional magazine. Follow S.M. Traphagen at www.smtraphagen.com (sign up for her newsletter and upcoming media appearances), Twitter: Shannon @fictionandfood, or Instagram: @smtraphagen_writelife.
You can contact S.M. Traphagen via her website or her publicist Jackie Mangione at email@example.com.