Greetings everyone! Unleashed here. It has been quite a while since I’ve done an Author Spotlight. It gives me great pleasure to sit down with Inge Borg and find out more about her and what she’s been up to since I last reviewed her work Shadow Sanctuary (now called Shadow Love) a little over a year ago.
Without further adieu, Author Unleashed with Inge Borg, one of our September spotlights.
1. What was it like coming from Austria to America, particularly the Southern part of the States? Describe in detail the differences as well as similarities between your old home and current home.
I am a gypsy at heart. Having already lived in London, Paris and Moscow, being sent off to the States was enormously thrilling. My Viennese company knew that when they transferred me to Chicago. Nothing “southern” about that. The edict from up above was, “You! Gypsy! Be there next Tuesday!”
After three years, I got it into my head to move to Boston. Loved that town! Worked first for a prestigious law firm and then for the Museum of Fine Arts. Now, that was right up my alley with my silk suits and Italian high heels. But it was hard work (evening meetings, taking minutes —30 trustees arguing, curators pleading to fund their acquisitions—exhibition openings, documenting paintings with dicey provenance to a demanding international art community). There are similarities to some of that in Sirocco, Storm over Land and Sea.
Then, I was lured to a tiny town in New Hampshire by a multi-national corporation and their fabulous salaries – acquiring a broad New England accent along the way. We had everything. The Mercedes fleet took execs to the waiting helicopter to be flown to the revving jet nearby. The manmade lake supporting swans and opportunistic foxes, while the company chef tried his best to expand the waistline. Somehow, I got to be in charge of the company’s center box at the Met (talk about dumb luck). With the N.E. weather, I couldn’t give those seats away. My little intrepid car put on many happy miles back and forth to New York, rain, sleet or snow. Except, one night, I racked up three tickets in three different states.
Finally, the cold got to me. I sold my little house and drove cross-country to San Diego where I hoped “they were waiting for me.” Somebody was, paid me well to boot. I then met a man with a boat. We spent six months sailing along the coasts of Mexico. (How it turned out is told in my slightly sarcastic poem “Pacific Ode,” in Moments of the Heart.)
The years flew by; suddenly, I thought of retiring (early). Once again, sold my townhouse, bought a sweet cottage I liked off the Internet. Trouble was it was in Arkansas. Drove halfway back across the country. This state reminds me of the southern part of Austria. Green serene meadows, huge lakes nestled against the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. Not much traffic, and the people are really friendly (as long as you stay out of the hills where shotguns and hounds tend to discourage intruders).
2. If you and I were to meet in person, what would be your take or suggestions in the following scenarios:
- Where to go for a pleasing opera for a budding enthusiast
Definitely San Diego, with a glass of champagne afterwards at the Westgate Hotel (to let the parking garage empty out). I really miss San Diego as it has an excellent opera company. The more I treasure all the Great Performances I recorded on my (don’t choke) BETA tapes – being young, do you even know what those are? They still tick happily along (just like some of us old folks).
- A wine to encourage relaxation and creativity
Have you ever met an Austrian who doesn’t like a good sip of wine? While it does encourage relaxation, I am afraid the creativity might suffer (unless one writes Erotica—which I don’t. I am strong on research. None of that available in this retirement community; and memories are beginning to fade a bit).
- A location you’ve visited that you highly recommend and why
For that, I suggest we jet back to San Diego and choose a wonderful outdoor terrace right on the Pacific, the smell of the salt air, and the sound of the waves flirting with the rocks below. The seafood will be great, and before we know it, the sun begins to set over the water. (Unless you want to fly to Maui or Tahiti, favorite spots as well).
- A poetry collection that you’ve been featured in that I should read
In my early days of writing (and submitting), I received special mentions in several poetry anthologies –from among those, I published my own Moments of the Heart, A Book of Poems and Short Prose.
3. How did you get introduced and selected to perform professionally recorded readings, and what advice do you have for someone who wants to do audios of their works?
Actually, that came out of the anthologies I mentioned and – with my permission – they included my poems in those recordings. I was not part of the production (blame it on the accent). I have not delved into the possibility of audiobooks these days. That should best be left to the professionals and their specialized equipment. Many people do like to listen to books rather than read them, and it is definitely something to explore for someone whose books sell like hotcakes; so far, I am not in that particular bakery.
4. Between poetry and novel writing, which one do you enjoy the most and why?
The best poetry often emerges from an unhappy soul yearning for love or bemoaning lost loves; as I am quite happy with myself these days, concocting plots for my novels comes a lot easier.
5. Around the time I first read Shadow Sanctuary, you had experienced some unfortunate episodes of nonconstructive feedback and awful shelving with some of your works on Goodreads. How has this unscrupulous behavior of a small few impacted your view and use of Goodreads, as well as social media, on a whole?
At first, this prissy pearl-wearing lady was shocked at the crassness of the shelf-titles—there was never any “feedback” as such. I still have no clue how I got onto the radar of those poor misguided individuals. Miserable beings are simply an aberration of our society. One attacker finally got ousted from GR, but one of her minions still follows me, periodically re-dating her one-star on all my books (even the unpublished/superseded editions—well, duh). Readers are smart enough to realize that someone with 2270 one-star ratings (not reviews, mind you) is best to be ignored. Which I did and do.
I am still a member of several GR groups and over time have met such interesting writers and readers, made friends, and participated in some great discussions. The GR Librarians are always lifesavers helping with re-designed covers. While I am not on FB, I have two blogs and through some “hopping” have come to know fascinating people. When you can pick and choose, I choose the “kindred spirits” who love books as much as I do. The talent out there is mind-boggling.
6. I noticed that the title of Shadow Sanctuary has been changed to Shadow Love, as well as the cover. Do you think the new title and cover is well suited and what prompted you to change both?
That darn little novella has given me more grief than any of my long novels. First, it was “Clouds of the Heart” with a soppy cover. Then Shadow Sanctuary featuring a mountain chapel (from my father’s photography), then I changed that for dusky hills, and now this. Whatever comes of it, I am leaving it alone.
By the way, because of your constructive comments after reviewing Shadow Sanctuary, I endowed Monika with eye color, and rewrote some insipid scenes (remember the spaghetti conversation—yikes), while strengthening the ending as well. So you see, I do listen to my reviewers/readers.
7. Seeing pictures of your cat Pasha makes me think of my two cats, Colby and Franklin, who died a few years ago. They were adopted from an animal shelter. Give a bit of background on Pasha and how you came to write his story.
Greatest cat ever! He, too, came from the animal shelter. Dare I invite you to read his story in Pasha, From Animal Shelter to A Sheltered Home?
8. I’ll definitely have to squeeze Pasha into my busy reading schedule. By the way, congratulations for making the Historical Novel Society 2014 Indie short list for your work Khamsin! Tell us more about the work and why this HNS distinction is so significant.
This came as a complete surprise; it was not something I had applied for. The prerequisite was to have been nominated previously as an Editor’s Choice by an HNS reviewer (which Khamsin was in August 2012). From that two-year list, they chose nine of us – now, that was thrilling as the other books are all awesome. Since then, four finalists were selected – alas, while Khamsin was not one of them, my book will still be displayed at the London Conference, and I was asked to contribute an article to their blog to be featured in September. So, it is not yet buried in the sands of the Sahara—for which I am grateful.
9. How did you come up with Devil Winds as a title for your site?
Once I had a khamsin followed by a sirocco (both nasty sand-laden dervishes spawned in North Africa), the third title in the series was also going to be something windy, like “Southern Trades.” But – except for sailors – I felt it was too nebulous…hence, the After the Cataclysm title. Still, I thought the blog title was fitting (and hopefully intriguing).
10. Do you think every author should attempt to write in multiple genres or is it more beneficial to stick with one genre and continuously aim to be the best in that field?
I am an “author reader.” Therefore, I want my favorite authors to come up with different genres/settings – although, these days, “same old, same old” seems to be the slyer marketing tool; it certainly sells better.
11. What is your overall philosophy on life and does it make itself prevalent in any of your books?
Looking in the mirror, the person glaring back is “way past the blush of youth.” But in my heart, there is no timeline that weeps for “what has become of the nimble Austrian Mountain Goat.” I am still me.
While I have always been a rather solitary creature, I am really happy with myself, my life, and – of course, with Pasha (and let’s not forget Lilliput, my other Maine Coon). I no longer need the glitz and hassle of the big city. Living among the trees, on a big lake, within an astoundingly artistic community is the ticket for me now. But I’d be really ticked off if somebody messed up the Internet! It’s become the lifeline for my research, and lets me talk to my European cousins via Skype. What a great gift!
So much for the happy side. To make my novels interesting, I have to dream up some nasty stuff that’s far from my real life. Let’s hope it stays that way.
12. Time to play a little C.P.A. (Characters, Plots, and All)! Give your best answer to the following probes based on your published works.
- Characters your audience can most identify with
- For my historical fiction, that would be a bit of a stretch. Although, that being said, with questionable paternity, forbidden love, greed, adultery and murder, not much has changed.
- In Sirocco/Cataclysm, there is a lot of sailing going on and those who love boats and the sea can definitely identify with the joys and fears being on the open water.
3. As to Shadow Love: I have been asked if it is autobiographical (NO! Not when the lady drinks a bit; she also goes somewhat off her rocker.) On the other hand, we all have dreamed of finding the perfect love at some point in our lives—just not through the bottle.
- Plot that was the most difficult to write
Love scenes are—to me, definitely. Brought up in a discreet family, I am a strong believer in having the reader imagine what might be. Hence, I shy away from anything too explicit—because it’s tough to write that—and write it well.
- Male character you would have a love affair with in real life
Now, Ramose, the High Priest in Khamsin, definitely fascinates me as such a wise and strong character—good-looking, too; but he is “forbidden fruit.” I’d settle on General Barum (although he already tussles with his desert mistress on soft lion pelts).
- Exotic location you described with the most ease
“…the most ease” comes from a lot of research. All my locations a real; from the Rock Castle in Marblehead to the backpackers’ Boomerang Motel in Luxor, to private Necker Island (owned by Sir Richard Branson, by the way). In Khamsin, the old settlements were real ones as well. I love exotic locations (obviously).
- Plot twist that was a surprise, even to you
In really liked Beir, King Aha’s royal steward. It was shocking when he turned traitor. Sadly, I had to deal with him as such, but how? And then it came to me: There are deadly creatures scudding over the desert sands…
- Book that ended up with a different ending than expected
One of my patient reviewers got a bit impatient with my ending in Sirocco. He wrote “For heaven’s sake. I want Jonathan to be laid – not “dayed.” (He is a poet, so it had to rhyme). I changed the ending accordingly – which (having left Jonathan alive) happily led to Book 3.
- Female character that is the polar opposite of you
Dare I say Dr. Naunet Wilkins né Klein (Sirocco and Cataclysm). She is exotically gorgeous, has achieved international recognition as an archeologist, and – she got her man (thanks to my reviewer). Oh, and I insist that we not forget Monika in Shadow Love!
- Passage or excerpt that leaves you breathless each time you read it
A reviewer from the Underground Book Reviews wrote:
“I’m sick of hearing agents and publishers disrespect the prologue. If written well, prologues work just fine. In fact, it was Sirocco’s intriguing prologue that snagged my attention. A few lines into Inge H. Borg’s thriller and I wanted to read more.”
I worked really hard on my three prologues—they set the tone, the time, the tempo. Anyone tries to mess with them, and I’ll slam into the poor soul like a German wrecking ball.
13. What future work(s) do you have on the horizon?
Books 4 and 5 of the Legends of the Winged Scarab series:
“Crystal Cave” – modern-day sequel, playing out on Crete.
“Khepri, the Winged Scarab” – stand-alone pre-quel about the originators of the Legends and perhaps founders of Egypt’s Badari culture – 6,500 BC (May Horus help me to pull that one off).
14. You are on a desert island.
(Couldn’t we make it more lush? Like somewhere in the South Pacific, please? I still have enough desert sand between my teeth from Khamsin and Sirocco.)
Okay, fair enough. You are on the isle of Tonga.
- Your one book would be?
Kobbe’s Opera Book – it’ll last me until I am rescued by Dirk Pitt or—even better—Clive Cussler himself.
- Your one record would be?
Aida – Luciano Pavarotti as Radamès, Sherrill Milnes as Amonasro (what a handsome hunk), Joan Sutherland as Aida (greatest sounds you’ll ever hear). Oh, and perhaps Marti Talvela or Samuel Remy as Ramfis. I love a good bass. I have a great recording of Rigoletto with them – on a “real record,” too.
- Your one luxury would be?
A gauzy sarong wafting in the soft breeze around my nicely bronzed body while I sip something cold from a coconut shell (I can dream, can’t I).
Unleashed: Yes you certainly can! That sarong does sound kind of nice!
Inge: And there you have it. You really dug deep, young lady, to have me spout all my little secrets. You also did your homework with your poignant questions. I just hope you didn’t get more than you bargained for – as to me, I really appreciate the opportunity to let you and anyone interested to get to know me a little better. It was a pleasure and I thank you for having me.
Unleashed: Thank you for taking the time. I’m sure the readers have enjoyed getting this opportunity.
This concludes the Author Unleahsed September Spotlight on The Review Board. Likes, shares, subscribes, and comments are welcome. Have a terrific day!