On The Page With . . . Ailsa Abraham

Hello, Ailsa, welcome to On The Page With . . ., I see you've brought your two fur-babies, Lily and Titch, with you. My fur-baby Jed will be so pleased he has doggie friends to play with! Can you tell us a little about you?

I'm totally eclectic, very spiritual and have a mania for boots. “Old enough to know better, too daft to care” about sums it up. I live in France with two hounds and a husband.

I love boots . . . well, any footwear! I've read your magical novel Shaman's Drum and really enjoyed it. I'm a sucker for a good fantasy tale! Do you write in other genres?

Under this name I write about real-life magic, rather like yours, but mine is based on a future where pagan religions have become the mainstream. There is a lot of adventure and big love interest. Under my other name I write detective fiction.

Excellent! There is certainly a lot of adventure in Shaman's Drum! How long have you been writing for?

All my life. I didn't like the books I was given at school so I wrote my own. Yes, I've always been that way. Eventually I started writing to amuse friends and when they pestered me to publish, I did.

What a good, supportive bunch of friends - and how right they were to pester! Do you have a writing routine?

Routine. What is that? The only routine in this household is dog-walking and medication taking.

Yes, I'm a slave to the ritual of dog-walking, too! If I'm late getting ready for the walk my dog sits staring at me with big, soppy eyes until I hurry up! Let's talk beverages, do you have a favourite tipple to consume while writing? I never seem to be without a mug of something hot on my desk!

Coffee, as strong and as black as it comes. Over here, proper ground coffee is the order of the day and we always have a big pot of it on the woodstove. I've just discovered “Irish Coffee” flavoured ground coffee which is fabulous. My favourite drink but without the alcohol which I can't take.

Coffee on a woodstove? That sounds divine! Good fuel for writing, what are you currently working on?

The prequel to Shaman's Drum. I'm delighted to say that this is in reply to the readers who asked for it. They wanted the back-story to the original so I'm doing that now.

I'll look forward to reading it. Now, if you're anything like me I can guess the answer, so how huge is your TBR list?

Enormous! I need to go into hospital again to get through it!

Do you have an end to your writing day?

I don't – when the rest of the house goes to bed, that's often when I get started. I am very erratic and can write 15 hours non-stop or not touch it for a couple of days. Indisciplined is my middle name. I do appreciate a mug of hot chocolate before getting back to writing stuff once it is beautifully quiet.

Tell me something non-writing related about yourself - hobby/interest/hates/passions etc., I love fashion, spending my time creatively - be it creating book covers, making something to adorn my house . . .

Oh yes – I craft. I knit and crochet. I'd like to make things for myself but I end up doing them for friends or giving them to charity or deserving cases. The jumper I'm wearing in the photo is one of the few I saved for lil ole me! Boots because I can't wear heels, so I go for the fanciest most outrageous boots I can find. Baking I adore too although I 'm not that fond of eating cake – go figure!
I dabble in so many things – making jewellery out of junk, dressmaking, embroidery, motorbikes. My biggest passion is animal welfare. I'm vegetarian and get involved in campaigns to save rainforests etc.
Hates? Cruelty in any form. Bullying, excessive competitiveness, meanness of spirit, prejudice.

It certainly sounds like you are very busy! Share a bit about your most recently released book:

Shaman's Drum was nominated for the People's Choice Book Award. It is the story of how two lovers from opposite ends of the religious spectrum have to undertake a mission for the right to be together. They fight demons, solve a mystery and make friends with some very unlikely allies including an undercover Christian Granny and three very energetic Goths. It's been very well received and yes, I am in love with my two main characters, Iamo the priest and Riga the female Black Shaman assassin.

Read my review of Shaman's Drum here.

They are wonderful characters, there is one I really detested but I won't say who as to not spoil it for those who've not yet read it! Can you describe a little about your path to publication?

I feel awkward saying this but I was accepted by the second publisher I approached. I didn't think the first one had read my extract because she hadn't understood that there were two of them involved. Knowing how many other people have had rejection after rejection, I am diffident about revealing this because it sounds as if I'm crowing. I'm not. I just hit the right publisher at the right time with the right work. That's all that happens to anyone but for me it happened quickly.

Congratulations, that is fantastic! What did you do when you found out the news?

I yelled my head off and did a very clumsy war-dance around the living room invoking all the names of every deity I know. Scared the hounds to death and gave myself a panic attack!

Sounds hilarious (not the panic attack part)! What do you love most about being traditionally published . . .

I'm fortunate to be with an independent publisher called Crooked Cat. They are only two years old and so it is a very close-knit community. I feel that all the authors support and help each other and I love having an editor who understands my work and is very sympathetic in her corrections and suggestions. I really fell on my feet there. Although we all have to do the self-promotion stuff these days, I appreciate the cover art, proofing, edits, formatting etc being done by someone else. That doesn't mean to say that I won't self publish again in the future. I have in the past but I'm happy with my situation now.

Can you offer a nugget of advice for other writers?

Learn to take constructive criticism. You aren't perfect and if you don't listen you will stagnate. It's very hard but essential. Don't listen if people just say “It's rubbish” and don't elaborate, that is not constructive. If you are told “ too flowery, too gushing etc” listen!

Good advice, what has been the most useful piece of advice you have read/been given?

…. Edit... edit... edit some more and then if you are bored...edit.

Before you go, we'll share snaps of your pooches:

We only have two hounds now – up til last year we had four but our old fellers went to the rainbow bridge within a year of each other which left a huge hole in our life. I'll include photos of all four because Gubbie and Dogge-Dogge still live on in spirit here.

Cute! And finally, Ailsa, your links and bio:

About Ailsa:

Ailsa Abraham retired early from a string of jobs, ending up with teaching English to adults. She has lived in France for over twenty years and is married with no children but six grandchildren. Her passion is motorbikes which have taken the place of horses in her life now that ill-health prevents her riding. She copes with Bipolar Condition, a twisted spine and increasing deafness with her usual wry humour – “well if I didn't have all those, I'd have to work for a living, instead of writing, which is much more fun.”. Her ambition in life is to keep breathing and maybe move back to the UK. She has no intention of stopping writing.

Writing as Ailsa Abraham :

Shaman's Drum published by Crooked Cat  (nominated for the People's Choice Book Prize)

Four Go Mad in Catalonia – self-published, available from Smashwords

Twitter - @ailsaabraham    Facebook page – AilsaAbraham    Facebook profile - Ailsa Abraham

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Thanks for stopping by, reading, and joining our conversation! Check out all of the author interviews for On The Page With . . . here.  If you'd like to feature in On The Page With . . ., showcase a book, or guest post, please see my contact page here (or use the contact form in the sidebar).


  1. I really enjoyed Shamans Drum too Gina and can guess which character you disliked, though it's a fabulous example of show not tell writing! Thank you for inviting Ailsa to your blog. She is a lovely lady with a big heart and plenty of talent!

    1. Thanks for reading, Di. I love to dislike a character, it shows the writer has made me feel something and created a vivid character, which is always a good sign! And look at Ailsa's jumper she made - perfect for winter!


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