Q&A Feature: K. Sankofa

DSC_0367.MOV.00_00_35_09.Still003K. Sankofa isn’t your ordinary music artist. With a dab of hip, a splash of jazz, and a spruce of Caribbean flow, he surely knows how to keep his sound original, while eclectic in the ears of his listeners. That isn’t the norm produced in the music rooted from Wisconsin, or from the stereotype from Wisconsin, but here we are. K. Sankofa isn’t going anywhere else anytime soon. Music isn’t the only knowledge K. Sankofa possesses. He proves that with us in this recent interview with the young man, himself, as well as the song lyrics he creates for his content.

K. Sankofa is such a unique stage name, yet a beautiful name as well. Would you tell us the story of how you came up with that name for your musical presence?

K. Sankofa: For the most part, I learned of the term ‘sankofa’ while in college. It is a proverb from Ghana, Africa that means, “Go back and get it.”

Being involved in many social justice efforts I was able to see how the term was used in fighting for justice. Reclaiming culture and heritage in roots of indigenous, as well as, revitalizing the spirit of justice that swept over those who fought through momentous periods like the Civil Rights Movement.

For me, personally, it has become a motto for continued self-development, while never leaving behind the upbringing that made me who I am. I celebrate every part of my past and every lesson that I have learned. This includes being raised in south central L.A.,  and being raised to reverence God in everything.

I started writing and experimenting with music early on in life. However, when I got to college, I told myself that I’d have to leave music behind to focus on things that I believed to be more important. I soon realized that when times got hard it was music that could make me feel whole and revitalize me in the way that I needed to move forward and carry on. With that I took on the stage under the philosophy of sankofa, going back, and getting the music.

For someone who might not have listened to your music before, can you tell us a small description of what your music is about?

KS: My music is about liberation. For me, I feel a sense of freedom in the creation of my music. Even more, I hope to reflect the struggle of the people who may not have the voice to speak out against injustice. My music is spiritual. I try to keep God in everything I do.

My music reflects my own pain and my own adversity that I have experienced. I feel like it might have a blues feel to it with how saddening the content can be sometimes. My music is about rising up against the forces that are here to keep people in inequitable socioeconomic conditions. My music is about love, hope, truth, and justice.

DSC_0380How did you find your voice for the music industry and how did you find your gift for writing music and your ability to rap?

KS: I started rapping in the 7th grade. I first discovered my love for rap music during that time, because a friend of mine urged me to get into some writing sessions with him. I loved putting the pen to the paper and expressing my thoughts. I try to make sure I let my influences and life philosophy speak through me. I try to stay in tune with God. I think it is a confluence of these thing that helped to develop the voice that I have.

Are there any current musicians who have helped influence your style of music?

KS: Definitely. Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Jay-Z are a few people who influenced me the most, but even today I have been influenced by newer artist like Chance The Rapper.

Even though your music focuses on your life stories, music is actually not your priority goal is it? Care to tell us what is your main goal in life is?

KS: My main life goal is do what I believe is right. I want to do what God has set out for me to do in this world. I believe that encompasses organizing towards justice and being a voice for the oppressed and the unheard. I believe that it is our great mission as a race of humanity to serve our fellow man and put our focus into achieving a well-fare state. I know that the task is endless and bigger than any one individual but I believe that we all have a part to play. My main goal in life is figure out the part that I am best suited for and fulfilling the duties of that role to the best of my ability.

_DSC0008You’re not actually from Wisconsin, but you are originally from California. How did you find yourself in Madison?

KS: I got the Posse Foundation full-tuition scholarship to come to UW-Madison.

Not only are you gifted and talented, but you are a young, well-educated human being. Can you tell us what you are studying and/or majoring in for your Bachelors degree? What drew you to choose your field of study?

KS: Sociology was my major. I chose this, because I had a mentor who opened me up to the major. I fell in love with the pursuit of understanding the development of our world through a societal lens. I was drawn to how interdisciplinary sociology is. You will learn about the law, history, the economy, politics, and so much more. I graduated back in May.

Does Sociology have a part in your influence to make music?

KS: Most definitely. It gives me perspective. If there is one thing that I have learned it is that we are social creatures, and that people are generally a product of their social environment and upbringing. I try to equip a broader lens of understanding of this in my music.

_DSC0250In December, you dropped your first mix-tape album, The Audacity. I must say my top three songs on that album are “Young, Gifted & Black”, “Surrender”, and “Say Less.” What were your top three songs you enjoyed creating the most in the studio process on this album? Why?

KS: I enjoyed creating every song because they are all different and require different approaches in the creation process. But if I had to pick a top three it would be “Sing Sankofa,” “Surrender”, and “Go Down.”

“Sing Sankofa” was the first song I recorded for the tape, so it was exciting to jump into it with full intensity. I got to work with the brother, Lucien Parker, at Strange Oasis Entertainment. Lucien is cold with the audio setup and the vocal production.

“Surrender” was an interesting recording process, because we incorporated live instruments. I was literally rapping the track to the beat while the homie, Mandell, went to work with the saxophone. Then, later on, we brought in the home girl, Jada, to hit a violin outro. So overall, music collaborative process was just powerful in “Surrender.”I can’t forget to mention that I was able to record the first hook with DJ Pain 1 who actually made the beat for the song.

Last, but not least, I gotta go with “Go Down”, because of the intensity of the recording process. I felt like I put my all into the spitting that song in the booth.

With all the access to many independent artists on various music platforms like Spotify, ITunes, SoundCloud, and ReverBNation, I see a transition within the music industry in itself. Do you see or feel a change with the music industry changing or reconstructing?

KS: With social media and a wave of independence it seems like music is in the hands of the people. There is no telling what’s to come. Hopefully major labels don’t get to control what we listen to in the future. Hopefully that power is transferred to the hands of the people.

Do you feel the polarization of modern politics has an influence with the transitions of the music industry? Why or why not?

KS: Not really. I think the music industry changes are because of social media, technology, and massive access to information. However, I think these same factors have shifted modern politics too.

Where do you see the music industry in five years from now? Where do you see yourself?

KS: Nothing new is under the sun. I think the music industry will still reflect a variety of perspectives and thought. However, I do think as we evolve as a society drawing nearer knowledge, purpose our music will reflect that growth. Hopefully we elevate the musical leaders in such a society. I hope to be one of those leaders.

Majority of artists out there, whether it be actors, musicians, painters, singers, or whatever, always has that one role model or influence with their pathway in life and/or artistic missions. Who has been the most significant role model in your life?

KS: My older brother Eric. He was the first in my family to go to college. He was amazing. He lived a life of service and integrity. He was also a rap artist.

If you could write a letter to your younger self in one sentence, what would it say?

KS: Don’t let anyone try to define you and always stay tight with God.

This is simply a challenge, rather than a question. Give us a random playlist with the first ten songs that come to your mind.

  1.     Jay Rock: Win
  2.     Michael Jackson: Human Nature
  3.     Outkast: Ms. Jackson
  4.     Ice Cube: Today was a Good Day
  5.     Kendrick Lamar: Mortal Man
  6.     Tupac: Changes
  7.     Lauryn Hill: Ex-Factor
  8.     Cardi B: I like it
  9.     Beyonce: Halo
  10.     Bob Marley: Get Up Stand Up

Oh, there is plenty more coming from this young individual. Currently on a light tour, just to increase his presence in the scene. K. Sankofa also has a new album in the works! Stay tuned for how the founder of #RebelGang turns up!

For now, enjoy the new single, “State of Emergency.” Make sure to just hit play right down below and check it out.

It’s. That. Simple.

Just. Push. Play.

 

Q&A Feature: Saul Pincus

unnamed (1)This is certainly a first. A film recommendation becomes a two part with a interview feature with the director and writer, himself! Saul Pincus, thank you for taking the time to sit down with me and discuss the world of film! It’s truly an honor to be able to do this with you. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

How long have you been working in the film industry? What or who influenced you to dive into the film industry?

Saul Pincus: I’ve been doing this for the better part of four decades, roughly four fifths of my life. The first ten years were comprised of a lengthy string of experiments on Super 8 – experiments that grew and grew in challenge and complexity, thanks in part to the fact that it was the heyday of Super 8, and there was a lot of advanced gear available to get you results not possible with just a consumer camera and projector. I would cavort around Montreal, my hometown, with my camera, having a blast.

My dad, an astronomy buff, had played ball with William Shatner when they were in high school together, but no one in my family was in the entertainment field. The original Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind opened when I was seven. I went to the library to research how these sorts of films were made – but there was nothing available, only a book on “trick photography” with still cameras. But I was hooked – and at just the right moment, because for the first time in the history of cinema, science fiction was no longer a ghetto genre. We got rafts of films with new visual achievements every six months, and some of them had great stories, too.

For me, the thought of making films professionally was never much of a question. But when I left Montreal for Toronto in the mid-90s, I was starting from scratch.

What were some of the greater aspects working on the production of La Femme Nikita in the ’90s? What are some things on the production end that were difficult to do then, that might be easier now to do? What parts of the film industry hasn’t changed since you started in your career?

SP: LFN was a cool show, in part because it a show with a large international audience that was produced by American and Canadian minds hand-in-hand. It was also well-budgeted for an off-network show of that time, so it could look the part and not often look silly doing so. That was unique, and it helped lend the show the kind of character it has.

The difference between any series or film now, versus then, is the ease with which you can lend scale or realism to the images after the fact. But if you take a look at season two versus the first season, you can already see an improvement in the visual effects, which is less due to the artistry in this case, and more due to the availability of new tools – tools which were still evolving. The first season VFX seem a bit too “video-ey.”

But other than technology, the basic process of producing a series really hasn’t changed since the advent of the medium. You still need money, great writing, a great cast, a great crew, a supportive broadcaster and a loyal audience.

Could you go into detail on how your day went while you were an assistant editor on the show?

SP: When I was there, two assistants would alternate odd and even numbered shows, which meant we’d work with one editor though the season. LFN was shot on Super 16mm negative film, which meant that the previous day’s footage would be have to be first processed by the lab in a chemical bath overnight. Then it would go to Magnetic North, a post facility, and into the hands of Bill Holley, who would transfer it with care and a keen eye to Digital Betacam tape. This process would take till the early afternoon, so I’d arrive at work around 4pm.

I generally worked with Dave Thompson. When his episode would be shooting, I’d check his dailies and feed them into his Avid, ready for him to edit. There are many checks and triple-checks when dealing with film transfers to video, especially at that time, when you’d be shooting @ 23.98fps and wind up with 29.97 video. And it wasn’t just a one-way street, because Warner Bros. would want to archive a cut negative of the finished show. So you had to be certain the metadata of each and every piece of camera negative was correctly transferred to tape, and in turn, made it into your Avid intact. Otherwise you couldn’t instruct the negative cutter with confidence. Today, that process is much simpler, because we rarely use film.

It’s a technical job, yes, but it’s also a political job. And creative – though how much depended on the project and the editor.

So, you are not from Toronto, but from Montreal. What helped you decide to relocate to Toronto, from Montreal? Was it for work purposes? What helped you to decide to stay in Toronto, instead of returning to Montreal?

SP: I left Montreal largely because my girlfriend was returning home after going to school there. She and I later married, so I guess I made the right call!

But the other reason was the political climate in Montreal, which was in the throes of Quebec’s second referendum on sovereignty in two decades. It was not a healthy environment in which to seek gainful employment or a predictable financial future.

I always believe you can read a city by its food. Toronto was just starting to get interesting food-wise. On several levels, Toronto of the mid-90s was transitioning, getting more inviting.

You are still based in Toronto decades after shooting LFN. I understand access to budget for films in Canada differ than the access here in the United States. Could you share the difference between the Canadian film industry compared to that of the US and can you share the process that is done to get budget for a film project in the industry up there compared to what is done here in the U.S.?

SP: Well, that’s a really big question with a week-long answer. In a nutshell, the English-speaking film/television world is driven by the U.S. market. Traditionally this had meant we in Canada have taken the scraps, or produced alternative programming in a bid to secure what we consider to be our Canadian identity in broadcast or theatrical form. There are government agencies set up to ensure projects with a Canadian identity get made. But as with any project anywhere in the world, the total project budget comes from several sources. Cobbling all those sources together is the big challenge.

The US isn’t as concerned with its cultural identity per se in large part because the machinery to export American movies was set up over a hundred years ago, and is still functioning at top efficiency, in great numbers, with well-worn distribution channels allowing access into nearly every country on the planet.

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Mary, Ted, Chris, Me, Dave, Natalie, & Saul

I actually had the privilege to personally meet you with numerous cast and crew of LFN back in May 2017. When you walked into the reunion convention, what was your first expression and/or your whole experience like all weekend spending time with the fans and your previous coworkers?

SP: I was amazed, in part that so many had traveled so far to celebrate it. But I’ve gotten on planes to see the late Jerry Goldsmith and then John Williams (both widely considered the greatest film composers of our time) conduct concerts, so I get it.

I’ll admit though, that the first time I was approached to autograph Chris Heyn’s book on the show, it was a strange feeling. Strange because I didn’t create this show, nor was I a key creative force. I was more like red shirt #28576 at a Star Trek convention. But it’s all about love, and that’s a beautiful thing.

Do you feel there is more expression freedom in the art of film in Canada as a whole compared to the film art expressed here in the States?

SP: Not necessarily, because if someone trusts you with a million dollars, no matter where you live, very few people on this planet are going to ask you if you achieved maximum artistic expression. They just want to know if what you’ve made is exploitable and whether it will bring returns. It’s probably healthier to find an exploitable concept, but carefully craft it and then lace it with artistic expression that does not undermine the exploitable aspect.

NOCT_still_1-tw2
Still frame from Nocturne.

Your most current project is the independent film, Nocturne. Was there a specific person or event that influenced you to write the story for Nocturne?

SP: Nocturne was borne from my desire to make a silent film about characters that struggle to communicate. Obviously it’s not a silent film, literally – but it’s a story lends itself to visual language and I hoped to stress that. It’s about an insomniac who falls for a sleepwalker, and how they eventually must come to grips with the fact that their intimate, almost myopic “relationship” has larger implications for them both.

How long did it take to create a film project like Nocturne?

SP: About a year to write, a few months to shoot, and several years to finish. The reason is because it was entirely self-financed, but also because the film contains five minutes of hand-drawn animation playing in tandem with the dominantly live-action portion of the film. That took a year to actually produce, but before doing so, I had to cut and shape the live-action very precisely to know exactly how much animation I really needed. So it took time to finish, for sure, but once we started getting invited to film festivals in the US, Canada, and in Europe (Nocturne had its World Premiere in the Free Spirit Competition at the Warsaw Film Festival), won awards for best feature film (at the New Jersey International Film Festival and at Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival, with an excellence award from the Rincon Film Festival), and landed our distribution deal with Random Media, it left me feeling gratified.

What was the difference between working on La Femme Nikita and your work with Nocturne? Do you feel you had more control as an editor or as a director/writer for a project?

SP: LFN was Joel Surnow’s vision; Roy, Peta, everyone – we were all hired to execute it. Your own project is just that, and you work with or hire people to help you execute it. Depending on what your arrangement is with your investors, you are answerable to them to some degree. But in the end, we make things for audiences, and you are always answerable to them on the basis of the work itself!

What is the difference between working on a film, compared to working on a television series in general?

SP: In the late 90s, you worked on a TV show for the better part of a year, there were semi-regular hours, each episode took roughly eight days to shoot, and you shot six to ten pages of script per shooting day. There were distinct limits as to how many locations you could visit in that eight day schedule, what caliber of guest stars you could cast, etc. And each episode had to run a specific length.

Even low budget features of the day shot for at least four weeks, often months. So you shoot less per day, meaning you can introduce more detail into the story and take a bit more time to craft the result. But the hours were crazier.

Today, the lines are a bit more blurred. A season no longer equates to a definitive number of episodes, and even the duration of individual episodes doesn’t matter as long as they remain under a certain length. In general, series work is much better funded across the board, with broadcasters (including the likes of Netflix and Amazon) having realized that to compete with features, their product must be as good as features traditionally were.

NOCTURNE_DSC_8818
Still frame from Nocturne with Actress Mary Krohnert

 

Do you have any new projects you are currently working on or a part of whether it would be in pre-production, production, or post-production phase? Can you tell us what to expect from you in the near future when it comes to projects or work?

SP: Well, oddly, Nocturne is still very active. Earlier this year, Nocturne was released on special edition DVD – which means that the two lead actors, Mary Krohnert, Knickoy Robinson and I, went into a studio to record a screen-specific audio commentary that describes how we made the film. And we had fun – but we were serious about it, too. If you’re curious about movies, it’s a great way to learn – sort of a film school in a box.

Also exciting for me is that Tribeca Shortlist, the digital arm of the Tribeca Film Festival, has just licensed Nocturne for a two-year run in the US. Tribeca Shortlist is a real home for the kind of “filmmaker’s film” that Nocturne has often been called. It’s also available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox and certain broadcast networks in more than 50 countries across the globe. This is the thing about movies – they can go on for years, even after they’re done!

And yes, I have other projects in the works. Sorry for being coy, but that’s all I can say at this stage!

The film industry isn’t an easy career to pursue in general. What helps keep you motivated in your craft to help keep you focused and allows you to keep pushing forward in your career?

SP: The simple answer: it’s just what I like to do, and has been for as long as I can remember. I like to build things.

What is some advice would you like to share, based off of your own experiences, for those who are in film school or interested in the film industry?

SP: Another simple question! But seriously, the real trick is just knowing yourself, what you want to eventually be doing, and chart a path from there. And remember, it’s not so much about where you see yourself in a year, but where you’d like to see yourself when you’re fifty or sixty. Pick an area that will keep you passionate on little or no sleep, in horrible weather, even if your health fails. I’m being dramatic, but also truthful. If you can’t do that, walk away!

NOCTURNE_DSC_9047
In Between Scenes with the actors of Nocturne

I don’t know about you, but I would love to see what other film art you have the ability to cook up in that articulate mind of yours. Any last words you’d like to share for the following readers before we conclude this interview?

SP: Well, I’m going to put in another plug for Nocturne. From the story, through the performances, through the crafting of the film, I never approached it as a date movie, never frivolously, but made it hoping it would satisfy in a similar fashion to the way you return to good book that’s been waiting patiently on your shelf, tempting you to return to it for another read. And when you told me you had to watch Nocturne twice, but still found that second viewing rewarding, you gave me hope that my plan may not have been in vain.

*Disclaimer – All photos are of courtesy and rightfully owned by Saul Pincus.

Q&A Feature: Patrick Barnitt

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Photo Credit: IMDb

Now let’s take a moment and get to know who Patrick Barnitt is in Patrick’s world and what else he is wanting to accomplish in his career.

In seven words, who is Patrick Barnitt?

Patrick Barnitt: Crooner, actor, recovering Borg, and occasional rascal.

How long have you been working in the film industry? What are some of your experiences you’ve had during your years in the industry?

PB: I’ve been in the film industry since 1990. I’ve been lucky enough to make it onto the Star Ship enterprise, run around in the desert in the movie Se7en, and sing on a Fred Savage television show, just to name a few.

What has been the most memorable memory in your career?

PB: That’s a tough one. Here’s a few. Working with Danny Trejo on Chronology, going round for round with Bruce Davison in Coffin, and working with the late, legendary Dennis Hopper.

Do you consider yourself more of an artist, or just an actor in the film industry? In your own words, what defines someone to be more than just an actor in the industry?

PB: At the risk of sounding like a complete tool, I would consider myself more of an artist. *he says as he adjusts his beret, and slowly takes a drag of a clove cigarette*

It kind of covers it all. I spend time acting and also singing, performing. Depends on the day, the project, or the gig. At the end of the day, it’s all performing. It’s all storytelling. It’s all art.

I was introduced to you by the character of Jack Samms from the Coffin franchise. Can you tell the readers about your character in the films?

PB: Jack is a man caught in a trap. A man of wealth. A guy who seemingly has it all. A

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Patrick Barnitt as “Jack Samms” Photo Credit: IMDb

great career, a beautiful wife. Lots of dough. Security. A lot to lose. He’s achieved quite a bit in life at the expense of his marriage.

Things are crumbling. Things aren’t always what they seem.

Coffin isn’t your first project that you worked with Derik Wingo and Kipp Tribble. You have worked with them before on Derik’s film, The Waiters. Was that the first time you have ever worked with the two? How has your experience with the guys been over the years?

PB: I go way back with Derik Wingo and Kipp Tribble. I met direct on First Contact on the lot at Paramount years back. We went on to work together on The Waiters up in Portland. Good times.

You can hear me on the soundtrack. Kipp produced The Waiters, but we didn’t meet until a few years later. They’re quite a team. They can finish each other’s sentences. It’s pretty hilarious. We always have a blast. Four projects later. Incredibly talented and great guys.

Is Coffin the first project you’ve worked with actor Johnny Alonso on?

PB: Yes, I met Johnny on Coffin. Terrific guy. A real East Coast cat. When I met him I felt like I knew him for years. It was a real rush working with him on Coffin 1 and Coffin 2. He is a tremendous actor and a real Paisan! We spent a most of our time together in the first Coffin with night shoots, including driving around Los Angeles, and one crazy kitchen scene. Check it out!

Johnny’s a great singer and guitarist. We sang duet at the Dresden at the party for the premiere of first Coffin film. It was great fun.

Here’s a snippet of Johnny Alonso and Patrick Barnitt
in the bar scene in the first Coffin film.
Enjoy the sneak peak if you have not seen the film yet!

As artists, acting isn’t the only thing you and Johnny Alonso have in common. You both are also musicians. How long have you been singing? What got you into music?

PB: As long as I can remember, I’ve been singing and listening to music. Great FM rock radio of the 70s and 80’s. My brothers had an intense record collection. The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Cars, Elton John, Chicago, The Police, etc.

I was also surrounded by a lot great musicians as a kid. We formed a band. My grandfather was a great singer and played the ukulele, so he was a big influence on me. I started singing standards in college, and then I got hooked on Frank and Tony Bennett, Chet Baker, Nat Cole, etc.

Particularly, you are known as a ‘crooner.’ Can you explain that term to the readers who may not be familiar with music terms?

PB: The term ‘crooner’ suggests a singer who sings songs of the great ‘American Songbook’ standards. (The Great American Songbook, also known as “American Standards”, is the canon of the most important and influential American popular songs and jazz standards from the early 20th century.)


Patrick’s music video for his Frank Sinatra cover,
“One for My Baby (and One More For The Road).”

What are your favorite genres to sing? What genres do you find yourself listening to?

PB: I love singing all genres. Especially Rock & Jazz. Recently, I’ve been singing more R&B. I’m currently working on a new record. I listen to everything from Jazz, to Rock, to Hip-Hop. Whatever suits my mood. 

What is on your bucket list for the film or music industry that you haven’t done yet in your career?

PB: As a far as a bucket list goes, I would love to do a Western, be in an Asian action film (I’m a big fan of Korean Action Films), play at the Hollywood Bowl, and work with David Fincher again.

Is there anyone in the industry that you haven’t worked with that you would love to work with?

PB: I would love to work with Spielberg.

If you aren’t acting or singing, what are you doing with your time?

PB: If I’m not working, I’m usually at the gym, playing basketball, traveling, people watching, or catching a new film. I also love live music, and I am a news junkie.

Do you have a ‘hidden’ talent that people are not aware of beyond your music and acting?

PB: I’m an excellent whistler. I’m also a Christopher Walken impersonator.

The closure of this interview: A simple, but fun questionnaire of this or that:

Pepsi or Coke? Pepsi
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate
Superheroes: DC or Marvel? DC
Music Genres: Hip-Hop or Country? Hip-Hop
Movie Genres: Documentary or Action? Action
Dinning out or dinning in? Dinning Out
Acting or singing? Today, it’s singing. (smiling).

Thank you, Patrick, for taking some time with me and allowing me to ask you some questions and to get to know you more beyond the Coffin franchise. I can’t wait to hang out with you and interview you again on the set of Coffin 3 soon enough (smiling).

Q&A Feature: Shannon Ahn

ShannonI met this author a year ago at the La Femme Nikita Reunion Convention in Toronto, Ontario. A friendship blossomed through similar articulate discoveries inspired by the one show we all are known to love. I want to take a moment, put a spotlight on, and get to know this up and coming author.

Right off the bat, can you give the audience an elevator speech to sell them on who Shannon Ahn is?

Shannon Ahn: I’m a genre-blending author who combines science fiction, action, romance, and mystery in my books to create entertaining stories that readers can get sucked into and escape reality for a little while.

Can you tell us the synopsis of your Crossing Realms series?

SA: Crossing Realms is about Nina Adler, a young woman who discovers that her dreams are a window to another world. When Nina begins to have intense, action-packed dreams about being an FBI agent, she dismisses them as nothing more than fun distractions from her mundane life, but when she falls in love with a man in her dreams and he appears in her real life, she finds out that her dreams contain deeper meaning than she first thought and that she possesses incredible powers.Crossing Realms Part One Amazon Cover

*ALERT ALERT* You can download Crossing Realms – Part One from Amazon for FREE from July 2 to July 6, 2018myBook.to/CrossingRealmsPartOne

What inspired you to become a writer in the first place?

SA: My dad was a writer. He was a journalist for many years, and he also wrote a novel that won an award in South Korea. He told me his dream was to write a memoir, but unfortunately he passed away before he could do that. So I’ve always thought maybe I should be a writer too, but I never considered it seriously until a few years ago when I was at a crossroads in my life and had the opportunity to pursue my interests.

What is your favorite genre to write?

SA: Apparently I can’t decide because I mix different genres!

One advice out there is that to be a great writer, you need to be an avid re

ader. Are you an avid reader when you aren’t writing, or are there other interests that spark your writing and creativity?

SA: I’m an introvert, so I love being alone and lost in a good book or a TV show. I’m definitely a bingereader/watcher. I try to read as much as I can, but when I’m in a writing phase such as when I’m working on a first draft, I tend to focus more on watching things because I get inspired by visuals. Before I write anything, I have to see it in my head first like a scene in a movie. A cool song can also help me come up with characters and scenes.

What is your go-to genre to read when you aren’t in a writing spell?

SA: If I can pick any kind of book to read just for fun, I’d go for chick lit, something light and funny.

LFN TRIBUTEAs I started reading the first part of Crossing Realms, I immediately noticed how “Nikita-esq” the details are. Has the show inspired you to write this particular story?

SA: Some parts of Crossing Realms were definitely inspired by La Femme Nikita, one of my favorite shows of all time. In fact, there is an Easter egg for La Femme Nikita fans in all three parts of Crossing Realms. But the original inspiration for my series was my dreams. I’ve had many dreams where I fell madly in love with a man and became completely immersed in another world, and when I woke up, I was disoriented because the dream and my emotions in it felt absolutely real. So when I decided to try writing fiction, I wanted to write a story about a woman who finds out that her dreams are special. What if your dreams are more than just dreams?

You just published the third installment for Crossing Realms. Will there be a fourth part? How many parts total do you have in the works before this story-line is complete?

SA: Crossing Realms has three parts total. Later this summer I’ll be publishing a “box set” of the complete trilogy as one eBook and also a paperback which I’m really excited about. I’ll finally get to hold my book in my hands! There will be a sequel to Crossing Realms that continues Nina’s story, but I’m going to expand the scope of the story and tell it from multiple characters’ points of view. After that, I don’t know if there will be another book in this series. I’m going to see where the story takes me and stay true to the characters.

Are you working on any other stories, or just focused on the series you currently have?

SA: My main focus is writing my current series, but I’m also interested in writing short stories. I plan to take some time this year to learn more about writing short stories and maybe enter a short story contest.

What’s something you would like to share about the writer’s life that many probably wouldn’t know in general?

SA: Hmm… Well, I used to think of being a writer as something romantic and kind of glamorous, like an interesting and intelligent person sitting in a chic café typing away on their sleek laptop and effortlessly coming up with gorgeous sentences that magically flow together to create a moving story that changes people’s live, or something like that. But that’s not how it is for me at all. I write at home because I wouldn’t be able to concentrate anywhere else. I write very slowly and agonize over every sentence. And rewrites… There are so. many. rewrites. I didn’t know before writing my books just how much editing and proofreading need to be done before publishing.

Can you share the most highlighted moment in your life currently?

SA: My husband and I recently booked a trip to Paris for September to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary! It might seem kind of cliché, but Paris has a special meaning for me. I went there in the summer of 2006 with a friend. I’d been dating my now-husband for about two years, and I was trying to decide if I should continue our relationship because it was getting serious and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that. But when I went to Paris and saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time, all I could think was how much I wished he was there with me. That was when I realized how important he is to me and that I want to spend the rest of my life with him and see the world together. So I’ve been dreaming about going back to Paris with him since then, and it’s going to happen this year!

Outside of writing stories, what are your other interests and hobbies that you invest your time in?

SA: I love traveling, so I’m constantly researching or watching videos about different places I want to visit someday and foods I want to try.

Do you have a visual of where you see yourself in five years? How about ten years?

SA: Professionally, I’m really enjoying writing, even with all the challenges that come with it. For the first time in my life, I’ve found something that just feels right to me. So I hope I’ll still be writing in the next five and ten years, learning more about the craft and improving my skills along the way. On a more personal level, I feel extremely grateful for the life I have, and I look forward to finding out what the universe has in store for me in the future. Hopefully more trips abroad, new adventures, exciting plot
twists, and lots and lots of yummy food.

Thank you Shannon for taking the time for this interview. I really enjoyed my time with you. Don’t forget, readers, you can check out and download Crossing Realms – Part One from Amazon for FREE from July 2 to July 6, 2018.

Follow the link–>> myBook.to/CrossingRealmsPartOne

Also you can check her out at her website, shannonahn.com.

Q&A Feature: Mike E. Winfield

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Photo Courtesy of http://www.mikewinfield.com

This comedian has been on the Arsenio Hall Show, NBC’s The Office, and even got his debut on The Late Show with David Letterman. He’s now breaking barriers now by teaming up with one of the top country stars, Brad Paisley, on a Netflix special, Brad Paisley’s Comedy Rodeo, currently streaming, as well as, having a new film project called PIMP with the rapper and actor, DMX.

However, what is Mike E. Winfield about? Who is he really? What gets him going on his craft? I recently had the privilege to take a minute with Mike E. to ask some of these questions and more. Let’s see who he is behind his jokes and art. But before we do that, check out his newest trailer for his most recent comedy special, My Side of the Story.

Thank you for taken some time to answer some questions, Mike. Let’s get right to it now. In your own words, who is Mike E. Winfield?

MIKE E WINFIELD: I’m just a guy who started from the bottom. Now I’m here.

Is there a certain event or experience in life that influenced you to go the comedy and/or acting route? Could you take a moment and share your story?

MEW: Through the course of my life, I’ve always considered myself a funny person. The reason I decided I should share it with the world is, because of all the moments I spent with some of my closet friends. We spent a number of nights going to clubs, hanging out at parties, laughing and joking, and creating quality efforts to make each other laugh. After a while it becomes a skill. The combination of that and my college speech class equipped me with the tools to take it to the stage.

Do you consider comedy a form of art, or just strictly entertainment?

MEW: Comedy is definitely art. I pride myself on being an artist first. My favorite thing is spending many days and nights in a room, with coffee, and creating content that I can take to the stage. It’s really only art to me. The entertainment aspect comes from those who decided to stand around me and enjoy it.

Which comedians and/or actors influence your work and/or performances?

MEW: I think influence is huge. I’m a fan of several comedians, but not one of them has influenced my work. My material is raw, unique, and not stolen. I don’t think I can say that one has influenced me. What I will say is, I’m influenced by the grind in hip-hop, and how many artists’ goals are to rise to the top. That fires me up!

When did you realize that comedy would be your career route? What were you doing before acting and comedy?

MEW: I used to work at a grocery store. I hated it. I worked in the self-checkout lane, so I would watch people steal all day. When I started comedy, it was hard to maintain the two. I had this co-worker who hated me. She thought she was the boss, but she wasn’t the real boss. She was one of the little people, but with a key. When I called in, this lady would check my social media to verify that I was really sick. If I wasn’t sick, she would tell the real boss that I actually had a show that night. It was impossible that I was suffering from pneumonia. I eventually decided it was time to pursue comedy full-time.

You did a comedy special with Brad Paisley last summer. What is the story behind this opportunity? How did you get involved? Was there some kind of audition for comedians for this special?

MEW: I actually got booked to work with Brad a year prior to the comedy special. I performed with him in Nashville, and took one of his songs called “I’m Gonna Miss Her” (the song was about him choosing to go fishing, instead of spending time with his lady), and I made a joke about how that exact same scenario would go down in my life. Let’s just say it went over well. He loved the joke! That is how I got the booking for the Comedy Rodeo special.

What was it like teaming up with one of country music’s top celebrities?

MEW: It’s fun to find out that a celebrity is just a real person behind the glitz and glamour. He’s just a down to earth kind of guy that loves what he does. That’s something I can really cling on to.

Did Reba ever find out what happened to her horses?

MEW: (Laughing). I need to follow up on that, and get back to you.

Brad Paisley’s Comedy Rodeo is a Netflix Original currently streaming right now. Do you feel the expansion of the streaming services, and their ability to produce their own material, have opened more doors for artists/actors/etc. in general?

MEW: Absolutely, all it takes is a video to go viral and you’re famous. That’s the era we live in now. People have their phones accessible at all times. You don’t have to leave the house to support someone’s live show. All it takes is a watch and a like. I’m such a fan of streaming that I added that feature on my website for my newly released standup comedy special.

Currently you are touring around the States. Which cities have been your favorite to experience?

MEW: I’ve been touring a bunch and that question is so tough, because everywhere I go people show me so much love. I did a Facebook live video, and so many people tuned in; a fight started about which city loved me more. If I had to choose though, I’d say New York City. I’m a fan of so many great artists that came out from there. 

You have a new comedy special coming out soon. When and where it will be released for your fans?

MEW: It’s available now on MikeWinfield.com. It’s called My Side of the Story.

Can you tell us a bit about it?

MEW: It’s easily going to be the most world changing special in the 2000’s. It’s based off of my life experiences. I’m married to an older woman, and I give my take on how it is being with an older woman who treats you like a kid. To be honest, I’m actually surprised how fast it’s selling. It’s great to see so many people interested. I mean, I believed in it, but to see others believe in it, it’s an amazing feeling.

What is your long-term goals for your craft in the entertainment industry?

MEW: I just want to create more television, movies, and stand-up comedy.

Is there anybody in the industry you haven’t worked with yet that is on your list of people you would like to work with, whether it be a comedy segment or a film?

MEW: I want to play opposite of Wood Harris in a crime drama.

What’s next for Mike E. Winfield after your tour?

MEW: (Laughing) There’s no ‘after’ the tour.

Thank you for your time, Mike E. For comedy fans, please take a moment to head over to Mike’s web site and check out his most current comedy special now available for streaming!!! I hope he truly does follow-up with the Reba’s horse incident.