Name M Pepper Langlinais (aka Manda)
Age A lady never tells; let’s just say I grew up in the 80s.
Where are you from
Originally or most recently? I currently live in Livermore, California USA, which is known as the “East Bay” (San Francisco area).
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I’m an only child and loved school, though my school experience was somewhat atypical because I was in a special program. I went to the University of Texas for an undergrad degree in media studies (emphasis on screenwriting, and I interned on the film set of Hope Floats) and then on to Emerson College for a Masters in Writing, Literature and Publishing. It was at Emerson that I met my husband, also a grad student. I went on to intern at Houghton Mifflin, and that turned into a job post graduation, and then I moved on and worked for Pearson for a while before deciding to focus on my own work. I basically left the work force when I had our first child and began writing during nap times.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
That Tirgearr has picked up my novel The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller! They’ve set a pub date of 20 January 2016.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always been a reader, and I guess at some point I had stories I wanted to tell. I remember a distinct feeling of no one ever listening to me, so I thought if I wrote it down, maybe someone would at least read what I have to say. By the time I was seven or eight I was writing stories for the kids in my neighborhood and filling notebooks with bad drawings and poetry. My second-grade teacher really encouraged my efforts, and the program I was in, too, gave me many opportunities to explore writing as an outlet.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In 2004, when I had my first works accepted to magazines and journals. I mean, I know now that a writer is a writer regardless of publication, but at that time it felt like I’d taken a big step and was “really a writer.”
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book was my Master’s thesis. I wrote it because I had to, or really because it was either write a book or write a really long paper and I would much rather make stuff up! But the source of that book, which was a middle grade novel, came from work done with Dr. Douglass Parker at UT. He was a professor and mentor of mine, and he taught a course on Parageography that was really a fantasy writing course disguised as Classics.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Probably. Though I wouldn’t be able to say what it is.
Fiona: Why did you go with Tirgearr Publishing?
I’ll admit I hunted for agents first, and I got a lot of great feedback and encouragement, but then also a lot of rejections. And I began to wonder why I was putting myself through all that? After all, I knew Peter was sort of a specialized book that agents probably would balk at trying to sell. And even if I did get an agent, that agent would then have to try and land a publisher. Why not go directly for a publisher and cut the middle person? After all, a smaller publisher means more attention per book. And even with big houses, you’re going to have to do leg work on marketing.
So then I actually received an offer from a different publisher, but I didn’t much care for the way they behaved during the contract process. And some research on my part showed they weren’t recommended by authors. So I turned them down and kept looking. Then Tirgearr offered and when I researched them, it seems their authors have been very happy.
Fiona: Would you recommend other authors to go with Tirgearr Publishing?
I already have! I’ve encouraged a writer friend of mine to submit.
Fiona: What help does Tirgearr Publishing give a author?
Well, it’s early days yet, but they seem to give what most publishers would: an editor, a cover designer, typesetting, copyediting and proofreading, a modest amount of marketing help.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Honestly, I polled people! This wasn’t my favorite title, but everyone else seemed to like it.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There’s probably one in there somewhere. I often find, when I look back, that there is an underlying message or meaning to my work. But I don’t consciously program in a message.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Most of it, I suppose. I mean, it’s set in the “real world,” but it’s a spy story, so . . . It isn’t action, though. It’s a quiet, thoughtful story, character driven.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
No. Though I once had a psychic tell me that some stories that come to us so fully formed may be echoes of past lives. I thought that was interesting.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I mentioned Dr. Parker. He influenced my fantasy writing. I’m not sure I have any short answer for which books—I read so much and I believe everything sort of becomes an inner stew of influence.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I just finished Us by David Nicholls.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
New to me or new in general? And how new is new? I’ve recently discovered Kate Morton and have enjoyed a lot of her books. Love Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant books, too, but those aren’t particularly new.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
A YA fantasy, another Sherlock Holmes story, a contemporary YA retelling of Hamlet, and I have seeds of a new play and another new project planted and growing in my brain. Plus a potential sequel to my novel The K-Pro.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My critique group!
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
It IS my career. I have a home office, and this is what I do.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not yet, but I haven’t spoken to the editor yet either! I would almost certainly go back and make changes to The K-Pro though.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Well, as I’ve mentioned, the book hasn’t been edited yet, but here’s a passage from early on. Peter has just met Charles at a party and rather impulsively invited him back to his flat:
Peter was used to knowing what he wanted; feeling ambivalent made him uneasy. A streak of decisiveness was key to his trade, and Peter liked to know his own mind. So he traced his feelings back, like Ariadne’s thread. He knew he’d seen something interesting in Charles at the party; more than just sympathy for Charles’s discomfort, there had been an attraction, despite some awkwardness. He wouldn’t have made the move of inviting Charles over otherwise.
Peter looked at Charles, who met his gaze steadily and, seeming to understand Peter’s conflict, once again eased the pressure by saying, “It’s late. I should—”
Something in Peter’s throat tightened. “I don’t want you to go.” It was a realization more than anything, a moment of self-discovery given voice. He was quick to add, “But if you want to, or need to . . .”
Keeping his eyes on Peter, Charles gave his head a little shake. “I’m just not entirely sure why I’m here.”
A chill ran through Peter, the terrible harbinger of rejection. “You don’t want to be?”
“That’s not it at all,” said Charles. “I wouldn’t have come if I hadn’t been . . . Hadn’t thought you . . .”
Peter recognized the resurgence of the discomfiture Charles had shown at the party earlier in the evening. “Interested,” Peter supplied. “You thought I was interested. And . . . Maybe you were also a little interested in me?”
Charles’s cheekbones became highlighted in a pink flush. They were nice cheekbones, Peter decided, even with a slightly too much meat over them, and Charles was handsome after all, not in the spectacular way of someone like Jules Maier, but in the easily overlooked way of ordinary men.
“I like you,” Peter said.
Those blue eyes again, bright and wide. “You hardly know me.”
“My work requires me to be a swift and accurate judge of character.”
“Paperwork . . .” Charles’s voice trailed as Peter leaned in. As if taking a measure, their lips touched briefly once, twice, before making the third time count.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
When I was in high school, I used to write this ongoing story, a kind of soap opera that would get passed around, and one of my classmates/readers said, “You never describe what they eat. You have them eating, but you never say what it is.” And that sort of indicated to me that, while I’m good at dialogue (that’s the screenwriting) I have to make an effort with description. I have to remind myself that the reader can’t see it (or smell it, or taste it) until I put it on the page.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I don’t know that I have a favorite! I seem to go through cycles, and I think it has to do with where you are in life, which authors speak to you at any given time. I guess I’ve always loved Shakespeare’s plays, though. That’s such a crap answer, and I can’t even tell you why I like them except that Hamlet’s antic behavior spoke to me from an early age, as did Ophelia’s impossible position—for some reason I find them far more tragic than Romeo and Juliet.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I don’t have to, but I like to. While writing Peter I visited London many times over, though I’d go even if I weren’t writing something set there. I love to travel.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Well, I originally considered self-publishing the book and I went on 99 Designs and got a designer that way. The cover I settled on—and the one Tirgearr says they will likely go ahead and use—was designed by Phil Poole.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Stopping. Or finding the right place to stop. But I wanted a hopeful, if not pat, ending. I’m considering making it a series, so I wanted to leave room for that, too.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
You have to put in the work, even when only crap is coming out. It won’t be perfect on the first go, so resign yourself to that and just get it out. Then you can go back and fix and rewrite. But you have to have something to work with first, and that’s the first draft. So sit down and get that out of you first—and fast, if you can. (Though I’m notoriously slow with my first drafts, so . . .)
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Only that I hope they enjoy it.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I was reading from the time I was three, so . . . Probably something by Dr. Seuss, but I don’t remember.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I laugh at the absurd. I almost never cry, though The Fox and the Hound made me blubber. Where the Red Fern Grows, too. I guess animals make me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Oh, I’m sure there are a lot of people I’d like to meet . . . I’m embarrassed to be specific, though. How about David Tennant? He seems cool.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Maybe a line from one of my works, though I don’t know which one. I should have people submit their favorites then put it in my will!
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Tarot. I do Tarot readings and some astrology chart readings.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I enjoyed Community, which so recently ended, and Parks and Recreation, also now gone. Don’t know what I’m going to do for comedy now. As for drama, of course I watch Game of Thrones and Elementary and Sherlock and I absolutely love Broadchurch, which is so brilliantly written and well done. And I can’t miss John Oliver every Sunday night. Have to end my week with him, even though it means staying up later than I like.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Foods: chocolate ice cream with marshmallow topping; cheese
Colors: deep blues and purples, indigo, jewel tones
Music: Rob Thomas/Matchbox Twenty, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers/The Refreshments, Jimmy Buffett (I have embarrassing taste in music)
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Tread the boards? (That is: acting) Or maybe architecture. Or astronomy. Basically things beginning with “a.”
Fiona: What is your I don’t have a Tirgearr page yet that I know of. My site is:
And I post TV, movie and book reviews at: