Book Name and Description: Red Days is a short novella about the Taiji dolphin slaughter. Though it focuses on the life of a fictional character, Keiko Saito, a Japanese-English reporter, Red Days is based on true events and website links are available at the end of the book, as well as other reading material that I found useful, so that readers can look into the real-life events further if they desire.
2017: 235 taken into captivity, 570 slaughtered.
Keiko never set out to be an activist, but when she’s sent on an assignment to Taiji, Japan, the ball is set in motion. Reporting on the brutal yearly slaughter of hundreds of dolphins alters her life.
Over the course of ten years Keiko follows the highs and lows of the campaign to stop the slaughter of dolphins in Japan and attempts to bring change through her articles. Will her efforts and that of many others be enough?
*Though fictional, Red Days is based on a series of true events up until January 2017*
What gave you the idea for Red Days?
The documentary The Cove, about the Taiji dolphin slaughter, inspirited Red Days; watching it I was filled with a sense of injustice and anger at the selfishness of the human race and I wanted to share my thoughts and outrage, so I decided to write a story. At first I only thought to write a short story, more of an essay really which would probably have been for my eyes only, however, the more research I did into the slaughter the more the story developed.
What got you into writing in this genre?
I don’t write in any set genre. I enjoy reading all sorts of genres, from romance to horror, YA to erotica, and I have the same varied tastes when I write. As well as Red Days, I’ve written two YA Sci-fi’s, a YA coming-of-age novella, an adult romantic fantasy and a contemporary romance. Currently I’m working on an epic medieval fantasy and another contemporary.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, as a child I filled notepads full of little stories and even drew pictures to go with them, though I’ll admit I’m no artist! In school I had a couple of short stories and a poem published, but I only really started taking my dream to become an author seriously and taking steps toward it when I was eighteen and I began to write No Rest for the Wicked, which I self-published a few years later.
Tell us about your past books and stories?
As I’ve already mentioned my books vary in genres. No Rest for the Wicked, the first story I actually completed, though the third to be published, is an adult romantic fantasy about a young woman, a wizard, an enchanted necklace and a grumpy old mutt!
Ghetto and The Demon Inside are both Young Adult Sci-fi’s, although Ghetto is futuristic, whilst The Demon Inside is apocalyptic, both will introduce you to characters that you’ll be cheering on as they struggle to overcome the obstacles in their way.
Player is the first book in my What Happens on Campus Series, which was my first foray into the world of contemporary romance after writing sci-fi and fantasy! Some may find it stereotypical, however, I’ve always enjoyed books like this, however, I always rolled my eyes at the heroes being so possessive and talking with their fists and I wanted to right one where the hero and heroine actually have a healthy relationship, despite a few ups and downs.
Then there’s A Tangled Web, which is a short novella set in Japan. It is a coming-of-age story based on the life of a high-school girl and her two best friends as she finds herself entangled in her own lies as they draw closer to the fateful date of March 11th 2011, when a devastating tsunami hit.
As well as my full length novels and novella, I’ve also had several short stories published with more due to be published soon in various anthologies by JEA publishing. A full list of short stories can be found on my website.
What is your favorite book (other than your own book, of course) and why? What book disappointed you and why?
This is a dangerous question to ask a bookworm! There are many, many books on my favorites list. Two of my favourite authors are Nalini Singh and Kresley Cole and I recently read the Captive Prince trilogy by C.S. Pacat which I loved. Wuthering Heights (though I don’t agree that it’s a romance), Alias Grace, A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Book Thief and The Iliad are also among my favourites. They are all favourites for different reasons, whether it’s the introduction of a world I know little about (A Thousand Splendid Suns), characters you can’t help but love (Captive Prince), or just an epic, unforgettable story (The Iliad).
As for books that disappointed me… I can’t think of many to be honest; I tend not to continue reading books that can’t keep my attention. However, one book I remember is Nerve by Jeanne Ryan. I absolutely loved the film adaptation, but when I went to read the book I found it childish and I thought the film was far more developed in both plot and character development.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
I have a whiteboard above my bed which I find really useful and I wonder how I ever got by without it. I get some of my best ideas whilst drifting off to sleep and can’t always be trusted to remember them in the morning, so a whiteboard is good to be able to jot things down.
A good laptop is also essential I feel. After years of struggling with rubbish computers, I finally decided to save up and shell out for a fancy expensive one and now everything is so much easier!
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Marketing is something I actually find very hard – I’d rather be writing! – however, over the last couple of years I’ve explored many different promotional avenues, from Twitter blasts, book tours, magazine adverts, ect. It’s hard to tell what really works, especially if you’re combing different campaigns, but I have found that reviews are so, so important and often inspire people to buy books. Coincidentally, it is also possible to get reviews without paying through the nose for them! It’s time consuming and often tedious sifting through relevant book blogs and contacting bloggers, however, I’ve found it’s really worth the time and although I do continue to use other marketing methods, my main focus is on getting reviews and building an audience for my work.
For those who haven’t read any of your stories, what story/book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?
That’s a difficult question; since I write varying genres, each of my books appeals to a different audience and they all have slightly different styles to suit their genre and the age of readers.
Red Days is a work of passion, it was a story I felt compelled to write, since I think more people should know about the Taiji dolphin slaughter and should be trying to put a stop to it, whereas A Tangled Web, also set in Japan, is more hopeful. Despite the cataclysmic, real-events that happen at the end of the story, it is essentially a story about young love, mistakes and growing up.
What are you doing next?
I’m currently working on Flirt, the second book in my What Happens on Campus Series, which began with Player. It is a contemporary romance set at a University in Texas and the series focuses on a group of friends as they each battle with different issues.
I’m also working on a outline for an epic fantasy which I hope to start writing later in the year and am trying to find a suitable home for my first erotic short story, The Making of Lilith.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Just keep writing. Do a little everyday, even if it’s just a sentence, even if you end up deleting it later. And read. That’s the best advice I can give to any author and it’s something I believe in; reading teaches you to write.
M L Sparrow is currently the author of four full length novels, two novellas and a slew of short stories due to be published in various anthologies. Her novella, A Tangled Web, was a finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
She will write pretty much anything that pops into her head, no matter the genre, and enjoys keeping her readers guessing as to what she will write next, though you can almost guarantee that there will be some degree of romance in it!
As well as writing, she enjoys travelling and has been to some amazing countries, where she never fails to gather inspiration and has an endless supply of ideas for future novels…
Website – http://mlsparrow.wix.com/mlsparrow
Twitter – https://twitter.com/MLSparrow1