08 Jan 2015

“The Human Forged” by Anthony J. Melchiorri

3 Comments Book Reviews

amazonToday I’m pleased to introduce you to a very talented science fiction writer and share my reviews for two of his books.

“The Human Forged” by Anthony J. Melchiorri is a dark and deep psychological science fiction thriller about modern technology and cloning that follows a former US Army Specialist Nick on a misadventure.
Set in 2094 the world has technologically advanced and living ‘natural’, i.e. without technological enhancement or net connection, seems dangerous, particularly as Nick enters an underground rave in an abandoned Estonian prison with a Costa Rican and a Russian girl he literally just met.
To me the technology part of the story seems only too realistic as applications and technological advances replace natural skills and knowledge these days and the book captures current themes and places them into a fascinating future scenario. Melchiorri does a great job at showing us how this has both, advantages and dangers.
Not surprisingly Nick is abducted at the rave and on his break to freedom and back to civilisation we witness with him and his clone James a lot about cloning and some other ongoing conspiracies.
The book has some well paced action scenes, great inventive ideas about a future society, and it reflects well on the human condition and the dangers of cloning. Almost philosophical at times this is a feast for readers who like more substance to their science fiction stories.
A great read.

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Interview with Anthony:
Tell us a little about yourself as writer and as person.

When I’m not writing or reading, I’m finishing up my PhD in bioengineering. My research focuses on developing new 3D printed medical devices to treat children born with heart defects. Research constantly exposes me to new ideas and technologies that help inspire each new novel I write. Outside of my research and writing, I’m an avid runner and love to travel when I can.

Tell us about your books.  When did you have the first idea for it? And how did you decide on the characters, plots and title?

My most recently published book, The God Organ, was inspired by the idea of ever-advancing medical technology. Over the past century, we’ve practically doubled the life expectancy of human beings born in developed countries, with developments in medicine and biotechnology a major factor in improving our lives. But I wondered what would happen when certain medical technologies become a luxury. For example, if a company were to develop an artificial organ utilizing tissue and genetic engineering technologies that we are research today, what would happen if only some people could afford the organ? And what would happen if others resented it, if they wanted to destroy that technology?

All the characters and the resulting plot spawned from those questions as I delved into various people and their conflicting roles in the development of the artificial organ, the god organ, that imparted virtual immortality in its recipients.

Did anyone influence you / encourage you to become a writer? Black Market DNA - High Resolution

Since I first wrote “The Bunny Family Goes to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s” in first grade, I loved writing stories. I dabbled in writing while I grew up, concocting short stories and awful poetry. At the University of Iowa, I majored in biomedical engineering and earned a second degree in English, reigniting my passion for writing. At the advice of one of my instructors, I started plugging away more seriously, writing down 500 words a day in a short story or a start to a novel. Making writing a habit, like exercise, was the turning point in my productivity and seriousness as a writer.

Which genre are you most comfortable with and why?

I am most comfortable in the realm of medical thrillers and science fiction. The easiest explanation for that is not only in the books I like to read, but also my experience in the medical device and biomedical research arena. My constant exposure to biotechnology has inspired me to ask many “what if” questions that naturally spawn stories spiced with medicine and technology.

Would you say there is a message in your books beyond the story? Do you find it is well received and picked up by the readers and reviewers?

I try to not to proselytize too much in any of my books, but I do try to incorporate questions that I hope make readers think by addressing the potential implications of constantly advancing technology. It’s fun to see how readers see these questions in the books but will have drastically different opinions on what they think I meant when I wrote these stories. However, my number one goal has always been to write an entertaining and thought-provoking story without trying to push any specific agenda.

Did you have it all planned out before you write your stories or do the characters and story surprise you?

I do my best to outline my stories. But I often find, about half-way or two-thirds of the way through the book, my characters end up twisting the story and pushing it in new directions. That’s fine with me and I’m constantly adjusting my outline to fit the characters’ decisions.

What is your writing environment like? Do you need silence or music to write?

Most of the time, I write at my kitchen table with a drink within reach of my laptop. Depending on the time of the day, I might have a constantly refilled cup of coffee or just a pint of whatever ale I’ve got in my refrigerator. Music is a constant companion while I write and I couldn’t write without it.

Hot or cold?

I tend to prefer a bit of cold. I find I can always layer up to stay warm, but when it’s too hot out, there’s only so much I can take off before I get arrested.

How do you handle criticism of your work? 

1.) Not everyone is going to like your writing, and that’s okay. And 2.) you can learn from readers’ criticisms to constantly improve your writing. In my opinion, writing is a craft that can constantly be honed and I hope to continue doing so for the rest of my life.

Buy links:

The God Organ – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NPKZ87C

Enhancement – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L00LWBU

The Human Forged – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NBGD8EK

 

Social media:

Website: http://anthonyjmelchiorri.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anthonyjmelchiorri

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tony_melchiorri

 

God Organ B“The God Organ” by Anthony J. Melchiorri is an accomplished and thought-provoking medical thriller that touches upon a lot of contemporary issues within a plot rich and well paced storyline.

Immortality is within reach.

In 2063, a biotechnological revolution sweeps the nation. Behind this movement is Chicago-based medical giant LyfeGen. The company dominates the biotech industry with their Sustain, an implantable artificial organ designed to grant its recipients near-immortality. But many of those recipients are suddenly dying.

Biomedical scientist Preston Carter developed the Sustain to improve and save lives. Yet there are others that would see him fail. Extreme religious groups, radical movements, and competing corporations would prefer to see LyfeGen collapse rather than allow “the god organ” to fundamentally alter medicine and the human body. In a race against time, Carter must learn to trust resourceful journalist Audrey Cook. She may hold the key to discovering who is sabotaging the Sustain. And with the organ already implanted in his own body, Carter must uncover the truth before he’s killed by his invention.

THE GOD ORGAN is a near-future medical thriller that takes the reader on a suspenseful ride filled with sinister conspiracies, intriguing biomedical science, and rampant corruption that will leave readers wondering just how dangerous becoming a god may really be.

The book raises a lot of questions, such as medical and industrial ethics and the clash between technological advancements with religious beliefs. As the title gives away, there is controversy around the ‘god organ’.

The book is entertaining with a good pace, interesting characters and a really well chosen subject.

Very enjoyable.

04 May 2014

Adriano Bulla: The Road To London

2 Comments Book Reviews

Through a Goodreads Discussion Group I came across “The Road To London” by Adriano Bulla, which was Book of the Month.  The book was up against a traditionally published and commercially successful book but to my surprise I clearly preferred “The Road to London.” 
It is a very artistic account of a personal journey, from youth to growing up, from Italy to London, from in the closet  to being ” out”, from group member to individual. 18990618

Told in an episodic narrative the book also includes poems, music lyrics and letters. 


A light… A birth… A journey… An escape-not just from the whispering noise of expectations but from the growing awareness of a different life, a different path, a different quest. The greatest love letters are written in prose but bring forth the poet’s heart, awakening in the receiver an equal passion-or so the writer hopes. This love letter tells the story of how I reach London, how I reach you, My Dear, how I come to love so deeply, so truly and completely. The journey was not easy, beloved. I faced many ugly trials on this narrow path-but also tests that were… Fun, naughty, spicy and the stuff of memories which will make me smile into my old age, whether you are with me or not. I have no regrets, My Dear, except one… Just one…

I fed off the athmosphere and the compelling tone of the writer and am glad to present him today in an interview.

ME
Tell us a little about yourself as writer and as person.

As a writer, I love experimenting: I could never stick to a format, a style or a structure. I have to try something new every time I write. I also have big issues with the whole idea of ‘genre’… I don’t have any problems mixing different genres, even mixing prose and poetry, I don’t want to be constrained by predetermined rules, and I hope I never will. As a person… That’s harder to say. I am actually a joker. I know people who know me as a writer think I’m dead serious, but the reality is that I can turn anything into a joke, in particular into innuendos. I can’t help it.

Tell us about your writing history. When was the first time you decided to write and when was the first time you did?

I started writing poetry as an adolescent; I guess I did it in order to create a world I alone could understand. Like most teenagers, I was, and in many ways still am, afflicted by angst, and like most teenagers I had no one to talk to about the deep uncertainties that were troubling me: confusion about my own identity as a person, especially because I was leading the life of a bohemian young man outwardly, yet, deep inside,  I felt totally insecure about who I was, both in terms of my intellectual identity, fought if you wish between James Joyce and Pink Floyd, and, of course, my sexuality, as I never fully identified with a typical gay man, but never really felt I was straight either. I was a boy suspended between contradictory realities and without the courage to come clean about either of these worlds, so, I created my own world, an almost impenetrable world of words.

Tell us about your book and how it came about.

I had never thought I would be writing a novel until she (The Road to London is a ‘she’) came to me unexpectedly, like most beautiful things, while dancing in a gay night club in London. The words just started coming to me, and they did so for a couple of months, every Friday night, and I simply wrote them down when I got home on a Saturday (or Sunday). The whole novel was born in club, apart from the last chapter, which I wrote on a sunny day sitting on a bench in the Rookery, a park in South London near where I live. The difference between The Road to London and my poems is that the novel is open to the reader: although she is in both prose and poetry, I think she is accessible. My poems were written as a way of hiding from the world, The Road to London was written as a way of talking to the world.

When did you decide to publish your story?

The Road to London was first meant to be published in 2008, I had a publisher, but the recession hit and they folded. Then I left her in a drawer for years, till I hit rock bottom: in 20013, I found myself in a state of total and utter depression, I had lost all confidence in myself, and was about to do something very silly. But then, the very first words of the novel came back to me, ‘Yes, I will, yes. I will save the world, the universe and you.’ I myself had never fully understood what they meant. I’d never worked out who ‘you’ was. In a way, I am sure that ‘you’ is my best friend, Stephane, to whom the novel is dedicated, but I also think that ‘you’ can be me… What I mean is that the novel gave me a reason to live, to pick myself up and show to myself that I was not worthless, that there was still something I had to do in this world, that I still had words I wanted to share with other people. So, I looked for another publisher; I must say that I was lucky, as it did not take long before I received offers, and ended up choosing Glastonbury Publishing / Mirador because they ‘gave me good vibes.’

Did anyone influence you / encourage you to become a writer?

Lots of my Italian friends have always believed that I was ‘wasted’ as a teacher and should become a full-time writer, and I have kept them waiting for years and years. One in particular, Daniele, has been nagging me to publish for a long time now, but I am at heart a very shy person, and because The Road to London does have some autobiographical elements (though it is by no means my autobiography, as some people seem to believe), I hesitated for a long time. On the other hand, I don’t think I could write about something in any credible way if I had not lived it myself, so, for example, even if the story of the Boy in the novel is not my own, lots of his dreams are actually ones I have had.

Would you say there is a message in your books beyond the story? Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers? Are you happy with the reception so far?

Yes,  there is a message beyond the story: The Road to London is a cry for freedom, the freedom to be whoever you want to be, the protagonist, whom readers simply call the Boy, grows up un a very homophobic environment; he is not a perfect person, not at all, in fact, in his early life, he is himself a bully, and, having enjoyed the approval and respect of his friends as a leader in his small ‘gang’, he finds it hard to admit to himself that there are areas of his personality, in particular his sexuality, which do not conform to expectations. In a world where boys are meant to be dominant and masculine, his gay and fetishist/ submissive sexuality is something he cannot admit to himself. Thus, he finds himself divided between his thirst for social acceptance and his need to be himself. This is possibly why he starts lying not just to his friends and family, but to himself, then seeks shelter in his dreams, by which I don’t mean his ambitions, but the dreams he has at night, yet, the days remain grey and offer no space where he can express himself, so, he starts taking drugs and drinking excessively, and hallucinations start replacing reality. His romantic life takes place partly in impossible love stories with his mainly straight friends, and in part in mysterious letters he writes to his great love, called My Dear, maybe an ‘imaginary lover’ he meets in a gay club in London.

I am impressed with the way the novel has been received by reviewers and critics so far: although different readers seem to have read the novel in totally different ways, but this is one of the peculiarities of The Road to London, that she is not a story that’s ‘written in stone’, and she allows, actually she asks, readers to contribute to her meaning, to add their own stories and perceptions of the world to hers, the reviews have been incredibly enthusiastic. I’m not just happy with how the novel has been received so far; I’m ecstatic.

Who would you hope plays them in a movie version? download (4)

The name that comes to mind is Xavier Dolan: he likes to explore impossible relationships and has a very artistic flair in his films; I think he would be ideal for The Road to London.

Did you have it all planned out before you write your stories or do the characters and story surprise you?

No, I never plan what I am going to write. I don’t even decide if I want to write… I could never be a poet laureate. I find it impossible to predetermine what a book is going to be about, what will happen to a character, how they will speak, behave or react to an event. When I start writing, it’s because I feel an urge to write that I cannot resist, and I haven’t got the foggiest idea how the story is going to turn out, what will happen next and how the characters will fare in it. All I do is put emotions and feelings into words; if an event is necessary to create a feeling, then that will take place in the story, otherwise not. I am much more concerned with human beings’ reactions to events, meaning their emotional and psychological reactions, than with the events themselves.

What would your character(s) say about you?

I think each one of them would find something in common with me. Even those who seem evil at times would say that the origin of all that evil is in me, not in them.

What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favourite thing?

Words have their colours, their rhythm, their sounds, their smell, and their flavours for me. When I write, it’s as if I am totally engrossed in an explosion of senses: they mix, they match, they literally dance and sweat in front of me. I love that. I see myself more as a ‘facilitator of words’ than a writer: I see my task as putting them down on paper the way they wish to be. I find that beautiful. I like to be part of this process of finding new ways of expression, rather than forcing words to be written down the way I want them. It is the words that tell me what to do, not I who tells them where to take their place on the page. My least favourite thing must be a consequence of the way I write: I never know if I will be writing again; as I don’t force myself to write and I don’t plan what and when I am going to write next, I never know if will write a new novel, a new story or a new poem.

Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it?

Yes, I did have a say in the cover art: I chose seven possible options and then discussed them with my publishers. I actually love the cover of The Road to London: to start with, and this has happened purely by chance, but I believe in Fate, all the covers of my creative writings have a bold head / face that resembles mine. I like to think that the face crossed by the stars and the clouds on the cover of The Road to London is just the face of the human soul in general lost in the cosmos. It could as well be the Boy’s face, or Seb White’s (a key character in the novel), looking down on us from the stars, but I don’t know. I know it is not the typical cover you would expect in what is regarded as a ‘gay novel’: we didn’t want two hunky men in an erotic position; the novel is very sensual and very much about sexuality and even sex, but she is much more about how the individual can find his (or her) way in life, against all odds, against the ‘thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to’. I also feel that those green eyes looking out of the cover see a whole world in front of them, the whole path to freedom, the future, the road to London, in fact.

What is your writing environment like? Do you need silence or music to write?

I write wherever words happen to come to me. I cannot distinguish between silence and music when I read or write, because I confuse signs, colours and sounds: I’m synaesthetic, you see, so, if you say a word, I see flashes of colours in front of my eyes, if I write a word, I hear music, sometimes I even see shapes moving in front of me. It’s a funny condition, but I quite enjoy it.

How many rewrites does it normally take you for each book?

I write once, and I do not type: I write with a fountain pen on paper. If I change something, I tend to do it straight away as I am writing, I don’t go back to it and re-read it and maybe cut and paste or change sentences like people can do if they use a word processor.

What is your advice to new writers?

Write from the heart. Hide part of yourself in every one of your characters. Even if it’s a trait of your personality you do not like.

Who are your favourite authors?

There are so many… Woolf, Emily Bronte, Joyce, Milton and Dante very likely top my list of favourites, but I could go on for hours and hours. I tend to read the classics, all of them, and I find it hard to put them down. My favourite living novelist is Toni Morrison: she’s a genius and my favourite living poet is Derek Walcott.

What is your life like outside of writing?

I love History and I love Art. I used to go clubbing a lot, but now I’ve calmed down a bit… maybe it’s time to for me to go out a bit more.

What makes you laugh?

Satire, especially political satire and innuendos (I think I said that). I like puns and verbal humour more than slapstick.

Who would you like to invite for dinner?

Plato, for sure. If it’s true that the whole of human knowledge is only a footnote to Plato, I have so many questions to ask him. I would also like to invite Leonardo Da Vinci, I can literally burst into tears in front of his paintings.

What would your friends say are your best and your oddest quality? What would you name as those qualities?

Oddly enough, I don’t think my friends really know me that well: I’m sure they would all say that my best quality is my intelligence, and that would also be my oddest quality for them. Instead, I would think that my best quality is my heart, not my mind, and I would think my oddest quality is that if I give my word, I stick to it, no matter what.

Tell us about your other books?

Tales is a collection of short stories based on ‘minor’ characters or events in The Road to London, my favourite story in there is ‘The Housekeeper’s Innocence’, the story of a woman who gets raped when leaving mass, then decides to become a nun, but a sister shows her that she is a lesbian, so, she becomes a priest’s housekeeper instead, but when she sees the man who raped her in the congregation, she burns the church down. It’s based on one of the dreams of the Boy in the novel, a Kafkian dream. Ybo’ and Other Lies is a collection of poetry that I first published in 2005, it is quite experimental, there is a lot online about it, including articles on its erotic poems and on the ‘flickers’ a form of poetry I have allegedly invented. I have also written a grammar book, The Labyrinth of Grammar and a study on Dante and Coleridge, The Mariner’s Inferno.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

The ‘soundtrack’ of the novel is mainly provided by Pink Floyd, though there is a reference to ‘Live to Tell’ by Madonna, and other songs, however, the one I would choose to capture the feel of the heart of the novel, which is also quoted, is ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’ by Jaques Brel.

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.

The weird thing very few people know about is that the first English Dictionary was written in Streatham, South London, where I live. A nice thing about Streatham is that is a very safe place and it has a real mix of people, and a fact… It’s still affordable to live here despite being a stone throw away from Central London.

Find Adriano and his books on
Twitter: @Bulla_Adriano
Bio
Born in Milan, Italy, and Londoner by adoption, Adriano Bulla has been publishing since 2005, when his first collection of poetry hit the shelves. Over the years, he has always tried unconventional and experimental ways of expressing himself, often crossing genres and refusing stereotypes in content, style and form. His style has often been praised for being intense, dense and surreal, and his themes have become more and more conscious of social inequality, in particular when concerning homophobia and the LGBT community, yet always exploring the emotional and spiritual dimension of the individual in search for freedom in an oppressive society.

 SYNOPSIS

When time and place play tricks with your birth, what can you do apart from creating your own imaginary world, then run away from your own creation, to a new life?

A boy is born, some time in the recent past, in Milan, Italy, yet backwards when concerned with ‘different’ sexualities, and Fate wants this boy not only to be of an intellectually and socially dominant nature, but of a sexually and emotionally gay and submissive disposition.

Unable to explain himself to himself, unable to relate to the world, this soul creates his own world, through dreams, drugs, alcohol and lies, while from a distant place, a club in London, and maybe from his future, if he ever learns to fly, letters to his beloved My Dear look back at his life in Italy with parallels in a romance yet to be.

He tries to be ‘normal’ and have relationships with girls, he tries to be honest, and open himself up to his love and friend, but life has decided only pain, rejection and suffering should come of it, for the time being at least.

But little glimpses into another, maybe possible life, sparkle here and there through his life, his dreams and into his heart….

07 Apr 2014

Author Interview: Crime fiction writer Stefania Mattana

Comments Off on Author Interview: Crime fiction writer Stefania Mattana Book Reviews, News

“Into the Killer Sphere (Chase Williams detective stories #1)” by Stefania Mattana is a very enjoyable and well written thriller set in a atmospheric medieval-looking city in contemporary Italy. 18640159
Chase Williams from the UK is called upon to assist his friend Inspector Angelo Alunni in a case that seems like an accident but highly likely isn’t.
Together the pair combine forensic and personal intelligence to get to the bottom of the case.
The investigation is one wonderful and charming journey through Italian idiosyncrasies with amazing colourful characters.
The plot is cleverly woven and told with attention to detail. 
This is a great crime story with a beautiful setting, entertaining but sophisticated enough to distinguish itself from mere beach reads – although it would certainly work as such, too.
Highly recommended. chase_avatar

“Cutting Right to the Chase” by Stefania Mattana is a selection of several very short crime stories, all rather unusual and very entertaining. With powers of oberservation, wit and some with great humour they describe odd cases and mysteries solved by former British detective Chase Williams, who now lives and works in Italy.
The stories are anecdotal in nature, clever, well told and very worth while reading. 
Great entertainment.

Captain-Pinnera2

 

 

Interview with Stefania:

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and as person.

I am probably one of the very few people in the world who has a nickname with first and last name, Erania Pinnera. My sister’s fault!

I’m turning thirty and I’m happy about it. Some people are afraid of leaving their twenties, I am not! My main passions are reading and running. I’ve been both running and reading since I was six, I guess it’s not a coincidence. I’m a mens sana in corpore sano kind of girl.

If I have to quote a weakness of me I would probably go with the perfectionism mania. Perfection should be a tool to reach a moving target, not an achievement. Sometimes I forget it and I get fussy.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

I should say my main character, former MET detective Chase Williams, but I will say his friend, Inspector Angelo Alunni. Angelo is Italian, few years older than Chase, single by force of circumstances and with the odd idea that he can attract more girls with a Montalbano-style shaved head.

Angelo is the most lively and irascible side of the partners in crime (Chase always helps Angelo solve murders or mysteries) and I like depicting him as a genuine Italian prototype. And trust me, Italians pull through extremely well.

What would your characters say about you?

They’d probably say that I let them do whatever they want too often! Sometimes it’s like I lose the control of my characters and I end up writing things that subvert my plot – I guess you can understand me, dear Chris.

Maybe my characters would like more discipline from me, but I don’t change this balance until readers keep appreciating my stories and I receive an official complaint by my characters themselves!

What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favourite thing?

I like creating way outs for murderers and triggering reasons that lead normal persons to kill somebody else. This is my most enjoyable point, the way Chase and Angelo will find the truth is pure deduction practice. I like also putting little clues for my readers to help them find the murderers before Chase. I don’t want readers to think they are “inferior” to Chase or Angelo. The perfect murder doesn’t exist and anyone could find the truth, it’s just a matter of method.

Maybe the least part is – paradoxically – reviewing the drafts. Every time I read something I wrote, I see there’s something that needs to be changed, or modified, or that can be improved. No matter if it’s published or not – there’s always a way to write it, show it, tell it better. I mean, that’s good, but sometimes I realise I’m getting too fussy again!

What is your life like outside of writing?

I like running outside, especially on track. I love the smell of the track and the noise of the spikes on it. When I was in Italy I enjoyed long walks with my sister and our dog, I really miss them. Oh, I love dogs, any kind of dogs. If it was for me I’d have a hundred dogs in my home. My partner and I go out quite often in London, discovering the city and enjoying all its wonderful attractions. We are also planning some interesting travels abroad, armed with cameras, good walking shoes and – guess what? – a couple of Kindles in our bags 😉

Hot or cold? Hot!

Salty or sweet? Definitely salty.

What are you working on now? 

Pull the Trigger, the first Chase Williams long length novel, is on the fly. It will be out approximately at the beginning of the summer, ready for the beach!

I’m also defining the plot of the next new novel along with two new books for the Cutting Right to the Chase series, as readers really liked both the Volume 1 and the Volume 2. For many reasons I don’t think I’m going to replicate the novella experiment, although Into the Killer Sphere is receiving lots of positive feedbacks, but never say never!

Stefania Mattana is a crime fiction author whose stories and essays have appeared in numerous publications, websites and anthologies. Her first self-published short stories collection Cutting Right To The Chase, featuring the former Met Police Detective Chase Williams, was released in June 2013 to great acclaim. She also blogs for Huffington Post UK, her own DailyPinner and other webzines.

Book links:

CUTTING RIGHT TO THE CHASE VOL.1

CUTTING RIGHT TO THE CHASE VOL.2

INTO THE KILLER SPHERE

PULL THE TRIGGER

 

Mailing list: free preview of Cutting Right to the Chase vol.2 for the subscribers.

 

Author website

Facebook

Twitter

Twitter Chase

05 Apr 2014

“Shimmer In the Dark: Rogue Genesis” by Ceri London, Review & Interview

3 Comments Book Reviews, News

Rogue One man. Two worlds separated by a universe. Space-time warped by black holes. In the passing of seconds on Earth, Major Niall Kearey has witnessed the birth and death of generations on Astereal. His mind shortcuts light years to visit a fantastical world of floating sky cities populated by telepaths.

Astereal is in decline, the dueling forces of black holes threaten extinction. Ancient prophecy predicts their interstellar visitor brings salvation. As Niall faces the staggering truth – that his alien dream world is real – he and his family are targeted by secret societies, scheming politicians, and the US military.

Time is running out as Astereal races towards annihilation and temporal alignment with Earth. Power brokers vie for control of his capabilities. Niall must act, balancing the needs of Earth, his family, and the alien civilization he has come to know and love. The fate of two worlds rests on Niall Kearey’s shoulders.

My review: Shimmer

“Rogue Genesis” by Ceri London is a complex, highly intelligent and competently written Science Fiction / fantasy thriller. I don’t often read Science Fiction and only let my curiosity get the better of me because several of my friends raved about this book. They were right to do so.

The story is based on a excellent idea: A man from Earth who kind of lives in two worlds at the same time.
The other world, Astereal, is in danger because the fragile balance of black holes holding it in place is coming loose. The concept of time folds, time warps, astral travel or whatever phrase you would like to use for this double excistence is highly original, fascinating and certainly unique. It made the story stand out from others in the genre just for that. With this creative set up, the subplots and the competent military/ technological writing it is impossible to find fault with this book.

Our protagonist, US Air Force Major Niall Kearey, is a splendid character with his own family life, deep thought and with – literally – A LOT on his overloaded mind. The way the author blends the telepathic fantasy side with more technological science fiction and fantasy is brilliant and made me think that maybe I should read scifi books more often. This is a far cry from repetitive and formulaic writing; this novel is innovative and therefore hugely rewarding. 
It is also a gripping thriller, a family story and simply a must read.

Scroll down for an excerpt from the book at the end of this feature and watch the stunning Book Trailer here:  
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CI9X6qsXtc8&feature=youtu.be

Interview with Ceri:  7055294
Tell us about your writing history. When was the first time you decided to write and when was the first time you did?  

My first stab at writing a novel was about twenty years ago. I wrote a Star Trek story for fun and, in a moment of delusion, submitted it with high hopes to the authorised publisher of ST novels. Naturally, it was returned in due course. What was I thinking?  Undeterred, I took a writing evening class and wrote several stories that I shared on the internet under a pseudonym. They’ve been long removed and will probably never see the light of day again unless I rewrite them from scratch. Thankfully, writing is a labour of love that can’t help but improve over the course of time. I enjoy crafting an imaginary world and developing the discipline for writing a story that holds people’s attention, although there’s always room for improvement. Then real life got busy and the writing muse went into hibernation up until a few years ago when I enrolled on a Writer’s Bureau course. That got my creative juices flowing again.

Tell us about your Rogue Genesis. When did you have the first idea for it?

Much of the premise behind Rogue Genesis originates from stories I wrote ten years ago. I researched various ideas at the time, so I looked up old bookmarks, and started to research Earth history, related mysteries of the world, electromagnetism, psychic gifts, and anything else that interested me.  That’s when the Shimmer in the Dark concept properly came into being with Rogue Genesis being the first book in the series.

Rogue Genesis is a story about a military man, Major Niall Kearey, who has the unique ability to project his mind through tiny holes in space. I created a doomed world across the universe that exists in a faster timeflow, so he could live on and off with the telepathic civilization that live there, without ever leaving Earth. These aliens have a prophecy that a man from across the stars can save them from extinction, and their time is running out. Niall thinks Astereal is a dream, but he has an uncanny sixth sense for danger that’s been noticed by sinister forces on Earth. They secretly arrange his transfer to an environment that encourages psychic ability, and that’s when Niall begins to wake up to his destiny. The impact on him, his life, and his family, is dramatic, a thrilling rollercoaster ride set on Earth and spanning the universe.

And how did you decide on the characters, plots and title?

I wanted a military man, at home in Special Ops, ruthless when he needs to be, but someone whose prime motivation is saving life. So after a lot of research, I wrote a character with a career based in the US Air Force Special Tactics, whose mission includes retrieving allies and US military in trouble behind enemy lines. I made him a family man who loves his wife and kids, giving him a lot to lose. Although he’s generally a well-adjusted guy, Niall keeps his psychic gifts secret, an issue stemming from his childhood. That secrecy will come to haunt him.

I wrote the outline of the plot as part of my Writer’s Bureau course, but it was frontloaded and centred on the alien’s plight, Niall’s growing abilities, and the different timeflows between the alien planet and Earth. The back end was in my head, but it was too complicated to write down, so I captured it in one line, maybe two. As it turned out, the end changed one night when I hit upon a solution to a problem and that radically altered the scope of the series. It did make the whole project infinitely more complex, but much more interesting to write.

I chose the title Shimmer in the Dark a long time back, and eventually settled on The Boat People as the title for the first book in the series. The aliens were facing extinction, they needed refuge and I thought The Boat People was a really apt title that resonated atmosphere. However, feedback suggested readers would connect it to a Vietnam refugee story, and it wasn’t sci-fi enough. So I looked for an alternative. It took a while to hit upon Rogue Genesis, but now I’m very happy I changed it. Rogue Genesis has more than one meaning that encompasses the story, but that doesn’t become obvious until the end.

What do your family or friends say about your books. Do they mind you taking so much time to write?

My family is very supportive, although they do think I spend way too much time on my laptop. Right now my daughter is having a fascinating, in-depth conversation with her boyfriend, but because I’m typing away, chatting to you, they’re oblivious to my presence. They think I and my laptop are one with the furniture, cocooned in our own little world. Little do they know I can type and listen at the same time!

I must admit I cringe when I discover friends or family are reading Rogue Genesis, I’m so convinced they will decide I’ve left this planet and wonder what possessed me to think I could write let alone publish a science fiction novel. They don’t know I’ve been secretly writing for years. It’s wonderful discovering several of them genuinely got caught up in the story. Their eyes light up as they tell me what they enjoyed most. Some love the science aspects. Others got caught up by the emotional drama. One friend doesn’t usually read science fiction, but it felt so real to her, she ended up feeling that some of it could be based in truth. Another friend’s daughter told me their dad was raving about my book to his family (good raving I hasten to add). That reaction makes all the work worthwhile.

When did you decide to write science fiction? Would you consider writing outside of the genre?

I’ve always written science fiction, but I have dabbled with romance along the way and recently published a racy sci-fi short story for a romance anthology. Any story I write has a thriller edge to it with dark overtones, so I won’t be churning out any chick-lit romance soon.

There is a military side to the story, a futuristic side and a family / personal side. Which one are you most comfortable with?

I carried out a lot of research to get the military side right. One of my earliest beta readers is US military. Generally, I’d got the military aspects right, but his main feedback was that the military characters were too generic—I needed to differentiate my hero as US Air Force.  More research followed, and I found more military beta readers who helped me craft realistic scenes. I also had two excellent beta readers (critique partners/editors) who constantly berated me to stop being so motherly and to let my hero toughen up. Of course, when I did let go, it was great fun. I’ll keep working at it, because I love writing military characters and they are an important ingredient for this series.

I’m definitely more comfortable with the futuristic scenes. Anything feels possible. Of course, the science needs research! Oh, to have a geologist, an anthropologist, and a theoretical physicist on my team. I tend to include too much research in the story and I’m often told to dumb it down. Every now and again I rebel, and some people have commented that they glossed over the science bits, but that it didn’t slow them down, or affect their enjoyment of the story.

So, to answer your question, I’m most at home with the family stuff. In my mind, the story is all about the emotional drama driving a character’s motives and hang ups, and I invest a lot of time on this aspect. My editors then invest a lot of their time cutting it out. I admit, I fret over the most ridiculous stuff, like making sure the kids have had their shots, because I can’t possibly risk them getting malaria—the lectures I got over that one!

Would you say there is a message in your books beyond the story? Do you find it is well received and picked up by the readers and reviewers?

I didn’t set out to sell a message or theme. Various themes evolved. If I was to try and pinpoint one theme in this story, Rogue Genesis explores what happens when the corrupt and powerful try to direct one man’s instinct to protect and serve in order to secure their selfish interests. In one wonderful review I received, the reader instinctively encapsulated several themes in the book, all without giving the plot away! In many ways she opened my eyes to my own story.

“Yes, a lot of the book made me sick. I want to howl in despair at the horror of the reality of what humans truly are, what they are truly capable of. Of human avarice, hatred, brutality and vicious self-aggrandizement, the truly black and horrific souls within. Sick, in that everything that London writes is so very gut-wrenchingly believable in so many ways. So real within the fictitious world that she creates. Amidst the black holes, space-time jumps, dark matter universes and other fascinating and well-researched portions of the book, London delves into the human psyche, and lays bare its soul. Leiah “So, I Read This Book Today . . .” Amazon

Which part are you most proud of?

There’s a section midway when all Niall’s secrets are leaking out and his family get caught in the crossfire. All hell breaks loose, Niall’s life is upturned in a way he’d never anticipated, and he can’t escape his responsibility for the train wreck that follows. From that moment, he’s in a fight for his life, for his family’s survival, at a time when he’s in turmoil and struggling to work out who he can trust. It’s a pivotal moment for Niall and the story.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

I get a kick out of writing Senator Charles Biron. He’s a complicated antagonist—ruthless, cynical, and manipulative, but his love for his niece is as genuine as it is selfish and controlling. His interest in Niall Kearey is scientific at first, but as the story evolves, and Niall frustrates Charles ambitions, the senator has no qualms messing Niall’s life up even more. And yet, he does have a heart. In the end, his feelings for a woman will prove pivotal to the story, although that will emerge more in the sequel, and it will be very subtle. Blink and readers might miss it. If one of my beta readers had his way, Charles Biron’s atoms would be spread across the cosmos by now, but I continue to defend him to the last. Shimmer

Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it? Tell us about the artist.

My brother is the cover artist. He has experience in special visual effects and would disclaim he is a cover artist, but he did me this huge favour, and I love the cover he conjured up. It has a dynamic quality that is quite stunning. I had a lot of say in the cover, but we fought over the colours. I wanted warmer tones, more vibrant. He put his foot down, and I must concede he was right. There is a beautiful purity to the star background that is magical, and it blends in amazingly with the magnetic forces of the planet. His cover art draws many compliments.

Who are your favourite authors?

I had to name fifteen authors recently for a friend. All these authors wrote books that captured my attention and their stories stayed with me for a long time: Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov, David Eddings, Clive Cussler, Anne McCaffrey, James Clavall, Jean M Auel, Patricia Cornwell, Catherine Cookson, Jack London, Richard Adams, John Grisham, James Patterson, Julian May, Stephen R Donaldson. Not in any particular order!

What is your life like outside of writing? 17826638

I tutor piano, so on Saturday mornings and weekdays after school, my home is open to children and their parents. Sometimes, I’m awestruck by the young talent coaxing my rebellious piano to life and it’s fascinating to see them develop. My family is my main focus, and my parents live nearby. My daughters often have friends around. The house veers from quiet during the day to noisy and busy from three to evening. Usually, it’s quiet again by nine p.m. when I get back to writing or editing. I used to watch a lot more TV, but recently it’s become a treat to sit down with my daughters or husband to watch a favourite show. We got behind on one show by a year! Thirty-three episodes stacked up on the viewer.

What makes you laugh?

My daughters. We can have the most insane conversations. My youngest especially can give me a raised eyebrow with an “I can’t believe you just said that,” look and I instantly crack up. Proper tears of laughter.  Once I start, she joins in. We get so hysterical I once had to stop the car.

What (not who) would you like to take to a lonely island?

I don’t read as much as I should. I save reading up for holidays when I devour book after book. So I would take a stack of books, paper or e-books, I don’t mind.

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.

Winnie the Pooh lives not too far from us. The High Weald is to the north, the South Downs to the south, so it isn’t far to reach beautiful countryside. It’s a bad idea to cross town during the London to Brighton Cycle Ride.

What are you working on now? 

I am working on the sequel to Rogue Genesis. I have completed the first draft, and have nearly completed all the revisions following a developmental edit, and will soon start a first full edit. I’m thrilled because my editor did not predict where the story was going to go, despite a glimpse of the world ahead in the rest of the series, and there were enough twists to keep him happy. And <drum roll> I’ve just had a short story published in World of Worlds, an ASMSG anthology of science-fiction and fantasy. Bridge Builder follows the fate of a character from Rogue Genesis and offers a teasing glimpse of the story to come in the Shimmer in the Dark series. It’s free and full of great stories by indie authors.

Christoph, thank you so much for having me on your blog today.  I’ve had a great time and I’ve loved answering your questions!

Links:

http://cerilondon.wordpress.com/shimmer-in-the-dark-rogue-genesis/

https://twitter.com/CeriLondon

https://www.facebook.com/Ceri.London.Author

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7055294.Ceri_London

Places to buy Shimmer in the Dark: Rogue Genesis

SPECIAL OFFER: Shimmer in the Dark: Rogue Genesis will be on special offer on Saturday, APRIL 5th at $1.50 via Amazon and Smashwords.

Amazon: http://smarturl.it/ShimmerRogueGenesis

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/335025

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rogue-genesis-ceri-london/1116227104

Kobo US: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/rogue-genesis-shimmer-in-the-dark-1

 

Excerpt from Shimmer in the Dark: Rogue Genesis

~oOo~

Niall pressed back against a stone feed barn for cattle and primed a device best described as a shock grenade. He caught the tiniest of movements in a drainage ditch several yards south east of his position.

Earlier, when an enemy scout failed to detect his presence, Niall had let the young Morrígan pass. Their job was to ambush the main force, and he was certain Paladin’s huge powerhouse of an engine had to be their next target. Now, his every instinct screamed that the bulk of the Morrígan forces was seconds away from overrunning their position.

He bit his lip in an effort to keep his mental shields strong as his body sweltered in the torrid humidity of the northern hemisphere. No wonder the Astereans preferred the upper atmosphere with its comfortable temperature and clean air. Action would be a relief after the long hours of waiting. Failure wasn’t an option. Paladin must not fall.

The stakes wouldn’t be so high if the city was already grounded.

He understood why the High Council vetoed his suggestion. He wouldn’t want to face the ire of its residents either. But something was driving the Morrígan, and it was noteworthy that refugees from the downed cities were allowed to pass into Asterean territory unchallenged. Understanding the enemy was key to defeating it, and if turning off the magnetic fields supporting Paladin diverted the Morrígan to another target, it would have been valuable strategic information.

In ten.

Niall tensed as his young lookout on the barn roof began a mental countdown.

Nine. The number passed through his mental shields like osmosis, a neat trick that Niall had not mastered. Pwyll was a seriously talented telepath.

Seven.

On five, Niall released the pin.

On three, he drew back his arm.

One.

Niall stepped out and hurled the grenade high into the air. He dived to the ground and rolled behind the building. For a split second, he thought he had escaped unseen and unscathed. A quick body check revealed a circular blade embedded in his thigh. A searing agony from the severed muscle in Miach’s leg threatened to cut out his mental shields.

“Shit!”

The shock wave from the exploding grenade drowned out his curse. Sweat beaded on his brow. Pwyll dropped down beside him and they both ducked beneath the meager cover the stone building afforded them. Niall choked back a cry of pain.

The pulse mines detonated by the shock frequency obliterated every unprotected ear in range, and would, in theory, knock their enemy unconscious en masse. The agony torturing Miach’s central nervous system was a good indicator their ear protection worked.

“Your leg,” Pwyll mouthed, pointing at the semicircle of blade sticking out of Niall’s thigh.

For a moment Niall forgot why he couldn’t hear him. Then he took out his ear-plugs as sweat broke out on his forehead. His leg burned like fire.

“Don’t take it out,” he said when Pwyll moved to grasp it. The razor-sharp blade was cutting deep into muscle tissue, possibly a major artery. “Don’t want to bleed out. Rip your shirt up. Then we wait for the falc’hun. Let a healer deal with it.”

Pwyll gave him a strip of his shirt.  Niall tied a tourniquet above the angry wound then banged the back of his head on the shed to help him think.

He nodded to the corner of the building. “Take a quick look and tell me what you see.”

The kid moved so fast Niall wondered that he saw anything at all.

“Everything is quiet. Do you think they are waiting for us to check they are dead?”

“Maybe, which is why we’re gonna sit tight and wait for the falc’hun.” They sat quietly for several moments. “At least we have falc’huns,” Niall added.

The young Asterean guard snorted; even rookies knew about the enforced ground surveillance at Zorachi Plains when the magnetic grid shifted. Niall’Kearey had instigated new protocols for navigation updates. Astereal would not be without air support for so long again.

Although . . .  Niall thought about it, the grid would become increasingly unstable as Alignment approached.

Pwyll remained nervously watchful. “They were close enough to get you,” he explained, his voice little more than a whisper.

The boy would go far. Good instincts. Fire shot up Niall’s leg. Fuck. Mustn’t. Scream. Think of something else. “Are those mines as good as I’m told?”

Pwyll grinned. “Better.”

Niall nodded. Miach would be fine. Asterean weaponry might suck—with the possible exception of these pulse mines—but their healers were second to none. At least he could report his host’s nervous system fully intact and functional. They both heard the approaching whine at the same time.

Niall released a chunk of lower lip from between his teeth. “Exfil’s here.”

The familiar words churned the permanent knot in Miach’s gut. The falc’hun wouldn’t take Niall home. Nor find his family.

~oOo~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 Mar 2014

Author interview with Tom Winton

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I recently reviewed a few of Tom’s books and was so impressed that I contacted him to come for an interview. Here is a link to the review of Four Days with Hemingway’s Ghost. 


Hello and welcome Tom. Please tell us about your writing history. When was the first time you decided to write and when was the first time you did?

Christoph, the first time I wrote something was two years after I decided to take a crack at writing. For those two years I could only look at the same blank page of a spiral notebook. I just didn’t know if I was qualified to string words together, or even where to start   I’d read quite a bit and had a hard time finding books that could hold my interest to the very end, so I thought to myself, Hell I can do better than most of these guys. Ha! That’s easier said than done when first you’re starting out.

Tell us about your first book? How did you decide on the characters, plots and title?

My first published novel was Beyond Nostalgia and parts of it are what they call “autobiographical fiction.” Some of the book’s characters are based on people I’ve known, some are not. Some of the scenes I have lived out, some I embellished, and some are purely imaginative. As for the plot, I got into the main characters shoes at the outset and walked in them all the way to the part that said “The End.”

When did you decide to publish your stories?

Many folks have heard the story about how, after three literary agents rejected it, I threw the manuscript for Beyond Nostalgia into a closet for eleven years, so I won’t go into that. But finally, after reading a magazine article about online writer’s groups like Harper Collins’s Authonomy and Random House’s YouWriteOn, I carried the paper manuscript out of that closet and posted the opening chapters. Right after they were posted on Authonomy I was blown away. Most folks absolutely loved what I had done. Nevertheless, although Beyond Nostalgia was well on its way to the top of the site’s 6,000 book heap, I soon burned out from having to do so many reads and stopped participating. Shortly after that, I uploaded the book onto YouWriteOn and in just five weeks it became what they called “a best seller” and was in the running for their book of the year.

Did anyone influence you / encourage you to become a writer?

What sort of influenced and encouraged me to become a writer was a phone call I received one day. Ten years before I wrote my first word of fiction I owned a fishing tackle and marine supply store on Florida’s West Coast, and the man who wrote the weekly fishing column for the local newspaper asked me if I’d fill in for him because he had to go into the hospital. I wound up writing a half dozen articles and one day an old timer I hadn’t seen for quite some time called me at my store. He said he loved the articles. He called them lively, and told me that I had talent. Again, I didn’t rush right into writing at that point, but his words replayed in my mind quite often.

What do your family or friends say about your books. Do they mind you taking so much time to write?

During the four years I’ve now been back at writing, my wife has taken more than her share of lumps. When things aren’t going well at the keyboard, I’m not the most pleasant person to be around. If I have a few bad days in a row, watch out. It’s deep depression time. On the other hand, on the days when I have a good writing session I’m not all that hard for the missus to love. I walk around all afternoon with this tremendous uplifting feeling of fulfilment inside. It’s what I call “a writer’s high.”

When did you decide to write in this genre?

Commercially, it’s unwise to jump genres. A writer who sticks with, say, mysteries or romance books has a far better chance of creating what they call “a brand” and being successful. But I can’t do that. The hardest thing for me is to come up with an idea that I feel is worth racking my brains over for six to nine months. But, when I finally do get that idea, I run with it. I don’t care if it’s a bouillabaisse of seven different genres.

As for the books I’ve written so far, I suppose they could be called a combination of romance and suspense with a slight literary edge. Sometimes there’s a bit more romance, sometimes there’s more suspense. But no matter how someone wants to categorize my stuff, what’s most important to me is that readers are moved by what I write. That’s my main objective. I want them to feel the words as they read them.

Would you say there is a message in your books beyond the story? Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers?

The funny thing is that even though I never set out to write stories that will teach lessons quite a few readers seem to think my books do exactly that. For example, when I was writing Four Days with Hemingway’s Ghost the farthest thing from my mind was for the story to be inspirational. But if you look at some of the books 299 reviews, you’ll see that many readers have said they found the story to be very uplifting. Now that they have said that I can clearly see why they felt that way.

Did you have it all planned out before you write your stories or do the characters and story surprise you?

All I have to work with when I begin a book is a very rough idea what it’s going to be about. Some authors like to have an outline, but if I were to do that I’d feel like I’d been there and done that, and I’d quickly get bored with it. Sure, I like to know where I’m headed when I’m writing, but I don’t like to know what route I’m taking until I get on it. It’s like taking a long road trip. Who wants to go up the same highway they’ve been on a dozen times when there’s another available route? Why numb the senses with the same old same old when you can stimulate them?

What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favourite thing?

The thing I like best is typing The End. Ha! The thing I like least is being stuck somewhere and not sure where the heck I’m going. I’ve learned that, when I’m stumped like that, I shouldn’t wring my brain out too much. Yes, I often become disgusted with myself when hitting those roadblocks, but a terrific idea of how to progress always seems to come to me—usually when I’m not even thinking about the book. Ya gotta let your subconscious do its job sometimes. It’s constantly working, even though you usually don’t realize it.

What are you working on now?

For the first time ever I have three books going at once—two that I had previously abandoned and one newbie. Which one will I give the most attention to and publish first? That’s totally up to my muse. I can’t argue with him. Stubborn and vindictive as he is, he’s the one who makes all the decisions at the desk we share. It’s got to be that way. If I don’t stroke him often and give him enough breathing room, I can get into some serious trouble. My muse is touchy. And if I aggravate him he’s got this irresponsible habit of going AWOL when I need him most.

Thanks so much for having me here today, Christoph. I had a really cool time.

Social links:

Tom on your Amazon site ( his books are universally available)

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tom-Winton/206609429356346

Twitter  https://twitter.com/TomWinton

His Website  http://tomwintonauthor.com/

US Links 

Born with blue in his collar instead of his veins, best-selling author Dean Cassidy chronicles his soul-scarring rise from New York’s darkest alleys to a place high atop the literary world. As difficult and unlikely as such a climb is, there’s yet another force working against Dean. He’s forever haunted by treasured memories of his long-lost teenage soul-mate. Theresa! Theresa! Theresa! She just won’t go away! Despite all Dean’s hang-ups and mental baggage, he eventually does marry another woman. And for twenty years his wife, Maddy Frances, remains so giving (and forgiving) she deserves to be canonized a living saint. Even after she finds Dean unconscious at a botched suicide attempt–a time-faded photograph of Theresa clenched in his hands-her love never wavers. But is Maddy’s loyalty enough to keep them together? Or will a force far stronger than fate alone change everything? (Be sure to check out Tom Winton’s newest novel, The Last American Martyr.)
“Beyond Nostalgia” by Tom Winton is a tragic love story about young love and a youthful mistake.
Two strong characters and smooth writing drive the story along as Dean falls for Theresa. Young and stupid Dean loses Theresa but never gets over her.
As simple as the story is, it is very well written and the sentimental and nostalgic tone made this a very beautiful read. The side characters, such as Theresa’s mother, are impressive, as is Dean with all his honesty and his flaws.
With a very authentically portrayed setting back in the 1960s the story is well accomplished and worth a read.
01 Mar 2014

Interview with Jackie Williams

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 I have featured some of her books already but today I finally managed to get a proper Interview with Jackie Williams: 

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Tell us a little about yourself as writer and a person.

I’m a lady of a certain age ; born in the 60’s but not old enough to enjoy them (shame).  I always like to see the lighter side of life (though I am anything but light myself) Positive thought and attitude goes a long way to keeping the wrinkles at bay. Running Scarred Book

In real life I am a professional pearl stringer. I repair broken strands of all types of pearls and beads, from the plastic fun ones from Christmas crackers to those worth thousands of pounds worn by royalty. Every day is interesting and every single job is different but I have done this for over thirty years and I don’t mind telling you that I am pretty good at it. When I am knotting between each pearl I no longer have to look at what I am doing which is where my absolutely favourite piece of technology comes into its own. My Kindle has been a complete revolution to me. I can’t think what I ever did without one. I read at least a book every single day and if I am not reading, I have plenty of time to let my imagination get the better of me and I jot down the odd note for my next book.

I often think up book ideas when I am sitting at my pearl stringing board. The mind can wander freely when I have a 300 pearls to knot between.

What made you become a writer? Have you always written?

Although in the past I wrote long and detailed letters to friends I hadn’t attempted to write a book but two things made me.

The first was a competition on a TV programme. I was broke and there was a ton of money being offered if you wrote a book and this TV programme featured it. So I thought, Okay, I can do that,(I’m nothing if not determined!) so I go and start typing and my husband comes through to my office and starts to laugh at me and said something like. “Don’t be daft woman. You can’t write.” Or words to that effect…well, I do like a challenge so I quietly thought… “I’ll flipping well show you!” (as you do) And the other thing was that my lovely daughter asked me to write a book just for her.  She listed her essential ‘Ingredients’ and I wrote A Perfect Summer for her. Forever Scarred Book

When did you decided to write in your chosen genres? Do you have a favourite genre? Do you read the same genres as you write?

I decided to write romance right from the start. It’s what I write best. I read just about anything but I do like a good mystery. I have a funny story about my reading matter.

When I first published I was so excited. I told my family and they were excited too but my dear old mum just wouldn’t download my book. After a few weeks I asked her why and she suddenly burst into tears and said that she couldn’t read my book because it might be my own diary (it’s not – I have no idea where she got that idea from.) Anyway, I assured her that it wasn’t my diary.

 I didn’t mention it again until I published A Perfect Summer as a paperback later in the year. I gave her a copy and she was thrilled and promised to read it.

After a few more weeks had gone by the family went out for a Christmas meal and I quietly asked my mum if she had read my book.

 “Yes!” she says, and then she glances around the table and whispers back to me, “I liked it, but I don’t think you will…It’s a romance and you like mysteries!”

Needless to say, I was speechless. Treasured Dreams Book

How long does it take you to write and publish a book?

It differs. Last year I went on holiday to France on my own (I often do, not unusual for me at all) and an hour out of port my car broke down. It was the middle of nowhere in the middle on the night and I had gone from 60 miles an hour in a perfectly functioning car, to nothing, nada, zilch. No motor, no lights, no steering, no brakes. Bit scary actually but I was a Girl Guide, I am prepared for anything… anyway to cut a long story short (I can waffle for England) I ended up spending  2 weeks with a very uncomfortable hire car and nothing much to do. (hire car was an extremely small machine with seats fit only for a very slim 17yr old boy and I am a good size 20 with flesh to spare so didn’t fancy going very far.) So in my forced idleness I wrote Forever Scarred, a 70,000 word book in the two weeks, Including all the editing, formatting and proofing. I uploaded it to amazon the day after I eventually arrived home and it has subsequently become my best seller! 

Echo Beach on the other hand, was a complete nightmare. Took over a year and it was just as well I had other projects going on at the same time or I would now be bald and sitting in a padded room!

What is the easiest about writing and what is the hardest?

Thinking of the story and writing it are the easiest. Proofing is just the worst thing ever!

How do you balance life and writing? Silent Treatment book

With difficulty. I do promotion tweeting etc. first thing in the morning and then get on with pearl stringing. In the evening I pack pearl stringing things away and move to the other side of my table and begin writing for as long as my mind lets me. Everything else fits around that.

Would you say there is a message in the books beyond the stories? Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers?

Some of my books have a message somewhere but that wasn’t the original purpose of writing them. Some reviewers get it but most don’t. I particularly hate any reference to ‘Beauty and the Beast’ concerning my Scarred series. It wasn’t written that way and I detest how shallow the reference sounds.  The thought that some people think that a scarred person has to be horrible makes my blood boil. Scarred people are not beasts! My scarred characters are just fabulous; strong, gorgeous, courageous, PERFECT…Exactly as they are! The baddies in my Scarred books are the beasts…they are vile!

What do you like most about your characters? Which one is your favourite?

I like the vulnerability of the men. They are all strong and good but each has that tipping point where they hurt so badly that they lose it…big time. I love all the men in my books. They all have their best/worst points but I simply adore all my ‘Scarred’ characters. Kick-arse but cute as. Strong but vulnerable.  And that includes the girls too.

Which is your favourite book that you wrote and why? Which was the most fun to write?

My fave book is Running Scarred. Patrick is just the most  perfect hero. The book was so easy to write and conveyed a lot of strong messages.  I also had plenty of inspiration with the ruined château. The Château Coat an Noz is right near to my own house in France. The place is gorgeous and if I had enough money I would make the book come true. Coat an Noz now has new owners who are restoring the castle to its former glory. I took them a copy of my book and they gave me a ‘grand tour’ of the place. I have an open invitation to go back any time I like too.  Just fabulous!

The most fun book I have written so far is Tinted Lenses. I sniggered a lot during that one.

Who would play the characters in a film? A Fallen Fortune Book (might change)

Absolutely no idea.  I’ll let the readers decide.

What are your next projects? Tell us about your other books.

Scarred 4 (no title yet) is already on its way. Gemma is getting the treatment this time, and I am also dipping into ‘historical romance’. All those Earls and Lords and blue superfine and cravats and valets and footmen and horses and the gossip of the ton…Ahhh! gush…it just has to be done.

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

I like to read. I read loads. I also love going to France. I like going for a drive and seeing where I end up. I never mind getting ‘lost’ (I have a map and a compass, I can find my way home.) I like cooking and trying new recipes too and my favourite thing is to go on a ruined château hunt. Nothing quite like finding a deserted ruined château in the middle of a forest in the middle of nowhere. Lovely!

Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

He’s not an influence (I don’t think) but I love a Lee Childs book to read. Jack Reacher is perfect. But I also adore Pride and Prejudice and Harry Potter. 

I can’t tell you my favourite film. I love everything from ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ to ‘Twilight’ (Yes, I am a team Edward fan) I like stuff like ‘Step Up’ and ‘Star Wars’. I’m not keen on sad films. ‘Green Mile’ broke my heart. I can’t bear to think of it. 

Music albums – I am a massive MUSE fan, so anything by them and I love Biffy Clyro, Blue Foundation, 30 Seconds to Mars, Lifehouse, Local Natives…Loads…too many to mention. I love a good festival and we are lucky enough to have V festival every year here in Chelmsford.

What are your views on independent publishing?

It’s brilliant. Go for it!

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

Historical Western – Rebecca de Medeiros, Delicious Desires Book

Apocalypse – Thomas Wolfenden

Vampire – Travis Luedke

Romance – Laura Taylor and Danielle Rose-West

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

I’m a great cook. I’m also a really positive person. I love a good giggle. I never assume anything about a person, and I’m always willing to help if I can…Odd things about me. Am I odd? Hmmm. You would have to ask everyone else.

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

Fave animal – I like gecko’s (No idea why and I don’t want one, I just like to see them)

Fave colour – pink

Outdoor activity – ruined château hunting or swimming in the sea when there are some nice waves (not too big or too small) or going to a music festival (right up the front)

What would you take to a remote island?

Easy – My kindle (with solar charger) and a laptop (again with charger) so I can write a million romances.

Who would you like to invited for dinner and why?

Louis Theroux (interesting guy) and my family (because we don’t get together often enough.) but not at the same time. Louis I would want on my own.

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

I am writing the historical romance and Scarred 4 at the mo. I always have several projects coming along at the same time. I haven’t yet, but I will add a page to my website so that my readers can find out what my next projects are.

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

You can ask me anything you like if you either email me or ask on FB. My answer will depend on how much champagne you can bribe me with. 😉

Her Website is www.romanticsuspensebooks.org where there are snippets and insights to my books.
MHer links to amazon are as follows (I only sell on amazon)
Running Scarred  viewBook.at/B0089UMGAK
Forever Scarred     viewBook.at/B00EMMD1Y4 
Scarred Horizon      myBook.to/ScarredH 
A Perfect Summer viewBook.at/B0088A4YY2 
Silent Treatment     viewBook.at/SilentTreatment 
Treasured Dreams  viewBook.at/B00948Q29M 
Tinted Lenses         viewBook.at/B00AUVVJK4 
A Fallen Fortune    viewBook.at/B00CVAZ0NO 
Echo Beach           myBook.to/EchoBeach 
Delicious Desires viewBook.at/B008UD2LCE 
28 Jan 2014

Drew Avera: “Reich”

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“Reich” by Drew Avera is a cleverly told story with intrigue and some surprises. Told from changing viewpoints we get to see different perspectives of what has become of Germany 158 years after Hitler’s death.
I was hesitant to read yet another ‘what-if’ scenario about post-WWII Germany but let me assure you that there is much more to the story than just that one idea and narrative and characters are expertly done.
It is a fast paced, well plotted and gripping thriller that surprised me throughout and made it difficult to stop once I had started. The futuristic set up is well explained in the first action packed scenes that see a young boy run from the authorities. Chapter 2 moves across to the law enforcer who pursues the young man and ultimately the perspective shifts to the young man’s mother. This accomplished set up allows for the story to remain centre stage, which I felt was one of biggest achievements in a book that I feared might rely only on one particular idea.
Not what one might expect, but actually much better.

 
7021546Interview with Drew:
Tell us a little about yourself as writer and a person.
My name is Drew Avera (pronounced Avery). I was born and raised in Mississippi until I was 17. That was when I joined the Navy and work as an aviation electrician. I have been in the Navy for over 13 years. I am married with 2 daughters and we live in Virginia. I also play guitar in a hard rock band. My favorite band is Alter Bridge and I’m listening to them while I fill out this question form.
 
What made you become a writer? Have you always written?
I had an idea of becoming a writer when I was a teenager fascinated with comic books. It wasn’t until I turned thirty that I decided to do anything about it. I’ve been writing for about a year and a half now and I love it. I just wish I could go back and light a fire under the younger me’s butt to get started earlier.
 
When did you decided to write your chosen genres? Do you have a favourite genre?
I was huge into comic books growing up so it seemed like a natural place to start in science fiction. After writing a couple of stories I decided that I really enjoyed the thriller element in books that I had been reading. I tend to mix genre a bit within the same story. I will be publishing a load of novellas and books this year that range from serial killer science fiction to urban fantasy with a romantic quality to it. I’m branching out and dipping my toes to check the water in a lot of stuff this year.
 
How long does it take you to write and publish a book?
That varies on length, I am about to publish a novella in the same month that I started it, but usually the process for a book is a few months or more.
 
What is the easiest part about writing and what is the hardest?
The easiest for me is coming up with the story. I have a hyperactive imagination. The hardest part is staying on task with my butt in the chair, I tend to want to write all of the stories at the same time. I need to focus in order to get any of it done.
 
Would you say there is a message in the book beyond the story? Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers?
There is an underlying message in everything that I write. It is about hope, either the absence of or the existence of. It is when we are in dark times that true humanity reveals itself and we see the depths to which someone will go to survive, to save a loved one, etc. Most of the time my stories are well received, but there is the case of people who don’t get it. Having a book with Hitler on the cover doesn’t help, they tend to think I am a racist pushing an agenda. Reich is a story that has no heroes, I’m not glorifying anything, it’s just a story to make you think about who the villians really are.
 
What do you like most about your characters? Which one is your favourite?
I enjoy writing characters with flaws, either personal flaws or flaws that the society that they live in would identify as such. My favorite is peobably Serus Blackwell from my Dead Planet Series. My least favorite would be Jenna in Reich, I modeled her behavior and how she handled herself after my own mother (we don’t have a relationship due to bad blood between us, that probably shapes a lot of other things in my books as well).
 
What are your next projects? Tell us about your other books.
I am about to release a novella called Mr. Grimm which will be part of a serial series called “The Twin Cities Series”. I will be writing episodes along with some other authors. Mine will be the first one published and we plan on having at least one story published per month. It’s going to be a lot of work, but a lot of fun as well. Mr. Grimm is an old man who is enslaved by a vampire who calls himself the Raven. His sentence is carried out because he killed his wife who had been turned into a vampire. He did so in order to protect their daughter, so now he is between a rock and a hard place. He will either lose his soul as a heartless killer, or allow his daughter to die if he does not.
 
What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?
My life is busy with a family, full time job, and trying to break out in the writing world. My wife and I tend to watch a few shows on television pretty frequently, shows like The Big Bang Theory, Breaking Bad, Once Upon a Time. Then I have shows that I like such as Arrow.  The kids both take dance classes which keep them busy. I also play guitar and jam with some friends in a band. I also love to read.
 
Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?
I don’t know if I have a definitive answer on this, but I do read a lot of independent authors as well as traditionally published authors. James Rollins, Hugh Howey are two towards the top of the list in each realm. I enjoy the closeness that indie authors have with each other, we are all genuinely excited about publishing and helping each other out.
 
What are your views on independent publishing?
Love it, I can do what I want and succeed or fail on my own terms, just how God  intended it to be…
 
Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?
Hugh Howey just released Sand which I am wanting to read based on the raving reviews. I am also reading some serial novellas by David Wright, Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant. I highly recommend Yesterday’s Gone and The Beam, those two series are quite good.
 
What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?
That I’m kind of weird, some people find it endearing, others find it kind of weird, lol.
 
What would you take to a remote island?
My family, a crap load of books, and enough survival gear to make living there a bit easier.
 
What else would you like us to know about you and your books? You can find my books on amazon at
www.amazon.com/author/drewavera  I have a lot of upcoming releases around the corner.

 

22 Jan 2014

Guest Blogger Dianne Harman: “THE MAKING OF TEA PARTY TEDDY’S LEGACY”

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Today I have the pleasure of welcoming the wonderful Dianne Harman, who just released TEA PARTY TEDDY’S LEGACY. Dianne has already been my interview guest on this blog [Link to this interview ] and today she is letting us look ‘behind the scenes’ of her new book. Scroll down for my excited 5 star review! 

Author Dianne Harman on

THE MAKING OF TEA PARTY TEDDY’S LEGACY

(for my review and the Amazon link scroll down)

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          A common question writers get is whether or not the people and events in their books are real. If one is writing about events and people in the now, I don’t think they can escape from bringing in parts of themselves, knowingly or unknowingly. In other words, we bring to the table the sum of our experiences. Certainly, that’s been true for me.

          I wrote Tea Party Teddy after I’d been seated next to one of the most bigoted, biased politicians I’d ever met at two dinner parties two nights in a row.. And since my husband was a California State Senator and the number three man in the Republican Party in the California Legislature, I had met my share of them. We entertained Congressmen, Governors, Legislators, and Lobbyists of all political persuasion. I was one of the few people privy to the inside workings of politics, and trust me, it’s often not a very pretty picture.

          After I sat next to this politician, I began to wonder what his wife and family were like. I was also curious why he hated the illegal immigrants and even the legal immigrants. Where did that come from? His views were not “politically correct.” The story I made up in my mind became the book. The response to Tea Party Teddy was huge. Political papers and blogs featured it. People loved him or hated him and reviews reflected it. There were even a couple of low reviews from people who didn’t like my husband’s politics! My poor husband was never part of the book other than to read it

          What so many people missed was that the book was essentially a satire – a look at a minority of people who have a stranglehold on one political party. But make no mistake, money is mother’s milk in politics, and this minority can be counted on for big bucks! The book tells of a man whose fall stems from the need to get money to finance his campaign.

          I remember a Saturday morning many years ago when my husband mentioned he had a coffee meeting with a constituent in an hour. He’d just returned from a week of meetings in Washington, D.C. and I told him I thought he needed to take a break. His response: “So and so is a very heavy contributor to my campaigns. If he wants a meeting, he’s paid enough to get the meeting.” In other words, if they pay to play, a politician will listen to them – and probably vote for whatever it is they want.

          Tea Party Teddy’s Legacy was a natural offshoot of the first book. Nina and Bob, Teddy’s ex-wife and arch enemy, fall in love and get married. Bob decides to run for the California Legislature against a minister who has the same political beliefs and ethics of Tea Party Teddy. True? Not really, but some traits of politicians, donors, and aides I’d known found their way into the book. There are many good politicians and I made sure Bob was one of them. There’s a line in the book about politicians willing to trade their first-born if they could win a political race. Often, this is sad, but true. Legacy was probably motivated by a need to show there are still some honest politicians. I’ve noticed that once a politician gets beyond the local school board level, the monies they’ve taken to move up the ladder usually means they’re beholden to someone. If you doubt it, look at some of the bills that are passed, locally and nationally, then look at the politician’s voting record and check out his/her supporters. There’s usually a very clear nexus.

          I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Slade Kelly, the lovable reprobate private investigator. So many people have told me he is their very favorite character in my books. Since none of us is perfect, we can all probably identify with a less than perfect character – which may speak to why people love it when a politician is caught in a scandal. And those scandals are only the ones that see the light of day!  I’m in the midst of writing my third book in the Coyote series, and due to public demand, Slade Kelly is the pivotal person in the book!

Link to the book on your Amazon website: http://bookShow.me/B00HWXB8WC

Tea Party Legacy

My Review:

“Tea Party Teddy’s Legacy” by Dianne Harman is a great political thriller about the election campaign for the California State Assembly. Bob Silva, hero of the first book, Tea Party Teddy, runs against far right-wing Reverend Jim Thurston. Silva’s wife used to be married to Tea Party Teddy and is now heavily pregnant.

Harman sets up the rivals brilliantly within a short space of time and with excellent eye for details, background and characterisation. When Silva retreats from the election campaign for private reasons the Reverend needs to step up his game by all means necessary.
With dry wit, great observational skill and humour and with clear knowledge of political processes the author has delivered another excellent story that exposes greed and hunger for power and the extent to which some individuals will go to get what they want.
The term `legacy’ from the title reverberates throughout the story – a well-chosen title. The story is relatively short which is perfect for the tightly edited plot. Nothing is superfluous in this story, this is a well-paced and skilfully narrated novel full of suspense. A compelling and intelligent read that I most enjoyed. 5 enthusiastic and well deserved stars.

21 Jan 2014

“The Succubus in a Red Dress” by Daniel Garcia

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“The Succubus in a Red Dress” by Daniel Garcia is a very entertaining short novel about a woman who turns into a succubus. While we follow Delilah and her personal transformation and her adjustment to the new lifestyle there is also some complicated romance and the evil succubus Queen and her ‘society’.
Written in a refreshing and often humorous style this is hugely enjoyable. Colourful characters, unexpected twists and a great pace made this a big pleasant surprise on my reading list.
Highly recommended, not just to the many fans of the supernatural and paranormal.

Interview with the author:

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and a person.

My goals as a writer are to make others laugh and to surprise them. After reading my stories, I hope people say “I didn’t see that coming” or at least “that was different.” As for knowing something about me, I’m a fairly private person, so I love the idea of being enigmatic and cloaked in mystery. I probably need to get over that. One thing I will offer up is that I’m a bit of a clown in real life, too.

What made you become a writer?

Ideas kept popping into my head, and they wouldn’t go away until I jotted them down. I actually started off writing screenplays, but I didn’t feel in sync with the Hollywood process. Everyone wants to re-write you. It finally occurred to me that I should turn my stores into novels and go the independent publishing route, and I’m much happier with this process.

Have you always written?

No. Though I’ve always had an over-active imagination, I never thought of myself as a creative person, not until college, when I had an internship reading screenplays for a production company. After doing that for five years, I grew tired of critiquing others’ creativity, and couldn’t resist the idea of telling my own stories.

When did you decide to write paranormal humour?

When I started writing “The Succubus in a Red Dress.” I never plan things out, I just write what pops into my mind, whatever genre that may be.

Do you have a favourite genre? 945793_1388606571365439_573633095_a

I can see myself trying out different genres, but what I particularly enjoy about paranormal is that it allows one to take the world around us, and deal with it in a slightly heightened, fantastical fashion.

Tell us a little about the history of “Succubus”! How long did it take you to write and publish?

I had thought about “Succubus” for years, it was one of those ideas that lingered in the back of my mind. It all stemmed from the alley scene, after Delilah’s date with Ken, and also the vision of Chloe charging up in a red Ferrari to save her. I had a break over the holidays last year, and wrote the whole thing in 10 days. I spent another two months perfecting it, and published in a couple days.

What was the easiest about writing the book and what was the hardest?

“Succubus” leapt out of my mind almost fully formed, perhaps because I carried it around for so long. However, the hard part for me was that it’s a bit short. I kept wanted to expand the idea, but in my gut, I knew Delilah’s adventures would be more fully developed in the sequels. Yet, it was still a struggle for me to leave it the way it was.

Would you say there is a message in the book beyond the story?

For me, it’s all about empowerment. Though the succubus myth is an interesting one in certain ways, I wanted to subvert the idea of these women being evil or demons. I love the idea that maybe they could be heroes. I also enjoy that Delilah constantly rebels against what people assume she is or the labels they might try to slap on her. I love that she simply refuses to be what’s expected of her, and forces the people around her to re-examine what they believe.

Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers?

I don’t think any reviewers know “Succubus” exists. I am happy that readers on Amazon and Goodreads have left some positive feedback.

What do you like most about your characters?

I love it when they say something that makes me laugh or do something that surprises me, which happens quite often.

Which one is your favourite?

Chloe and Benito were my favourite characters for the longest time, but Delilah eventually took the top spot. I find something endearing about the fact that she has superpowers, yet is shy and awkward. I also like the idea that the world conspires to make her a hero, when it seems like the last thing she should be.

Who would play the characters in a film?

Selena Gomez for Delilah, Armie Hammer for Ken, Becca Tobin from “Glee” for Chloe, Julianna Margulies for Ken’s mom, or maybe Sigourney Weaver. I would love to see the Succubus Queen played by Salma Hayek or Monica Belluci … maybe even Jennifer Lopez.

What are your next projects? Tell us about your other books.

My next project is the sequel to “Succubus.” It’s called “The Succubus and the Crown.” Delilah finds herself having to navigate the world of paranormal politics over the course of one very long night. I also have another book out called “The Meridian Gamble.” It’s about a woman who falls for a vampire, who realizes that they have known each other over her various past lives.

What is your life like?

Sleep, eat, write, dream of being able to write full-time. Rinse and repeat.

What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

Sleep is my favourite hobby. I play a bit of videogames, mostly ones that aren’t too challenging, like Animal Crossing, and sometimes World of Warcraft. I also watch some TV shows on the Internet or rent movies on ITunes, but mostly I write.

Who are your literary influences?

Though he’s not literary, I love Joss Whedon. I enjoy his snarky sense of humour, and the balance of comedy and drama he creates. He strikes a certain chord of silliness that still allows you to get caught up in the drama of his stories. If they did another season of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” I would be ecstatic. Or maybe he could just turn “The Succubus in a Red Dress” into a series. Hmmm …

What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

Favourite book; “The Life and Loves of a She-Devil.” Favourite films; “Pitch Perfect” and “Enchanted.”

What are your views on independent publishing?

Indie-Publishing is a powerful medium. It’s amazing to be able to get your book in front of millions of people without having to hear “No” from agents, managers, publishing houses. I can’t even imagine wanting to sign a publishing deal if one came my way, because of the freedom self-publishing allows.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

“Jack Who?” by Lisa Gilles, “The Casquette Girls” by Alys Arden and “Bad Company” by Wendy Nelson, “The Key to Erebus” by Emma Leech, “Diviner’s Prophecy” by Nicolette Andrews.

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

My friend’s might say my best quality is my wry sense of humour. My oddest would be that I sometimes tell people things before they happen. I have a pretty strong intuition.

What are your favourite animal/colour/ outdoor activity?

I love cats, but I’m horribly allergic to them. Favourite colour is blue, outdoor activity – walking to wherever I have to go.

What would you take to a remote island?

A laptop with cellular connection.

Who would you like to invite for dinner and why?

Chelsea Handler, the talk show host. I think she’s hysterical, though I would be crushed if we didn’t wind up becoming BFFs.

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

I’m writing the sequel to “The Succubus in a Red Dress,” which I’m hoping to finish by January 1st. That will make my New Year very happy. The best way to find out about my projects is to buy a copy of Succubus and join my mailing list. I use it exclusively to announce a new book, so those on the list get to hear first.

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

That you can visit me on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/dan.garcia.58958343

And on twitter at: https://twitter.com/ddgbooks.

And on Amazon: http://bookShow.me/B00CN3ZWNW

18 Jan 2014

Amalie Jahn: The Clay Lion

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“The Clay Lion” by Amalie Jahn is an amazing piece of heart-breaking and uplifting fiction. Aimed probably at young adults as main target audience the book however has a lot to say that is relevant to people of all ages.
It is the story of one brave young woman that choses to go back in time to try and save her fatally ill younger brother.
The idea of time travel did not appeal to me at first since it has been done many times and some authors in the genre can try to be too clever for their own good. 
“The Clay Lion” is way above that level and raises some fascinating and worthy questions about regrets, missed opportunities, second chances and destiny. By doing so successfully the book qualifies – in my humble opinion at least – as literary fiction and philosophical offering on the subject of turning back time. It made me think hard about what I would chose to relive and try and change in my life.
The main story – the disease of her younger brother – is often sad but always full of hope and positive and important messages, a tribute to courage and an appeal to the good side in all of us.
Written with charm and emotional wisdom this is hugely rewarding and captivating. A powerful and important read and a talented author to watch.

Interview with Amalie:

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and a person.

Writer is about the tenth thing on my list of things that I am, behind a lot of other things that often take precedence over sitting down at the computer and telling the stories that want to come out.  I’m a wife.  Mom.  Carpool driver.  Laundry folder.  Cook.  Maid.  Handyman.  I can fix a toilet and change the oil in my car.  I’m also a triathlete.  When I’m not writing, I’m running, swimming or biking.  Right now I’m training for an Ironman in April.  You can read about my journey here if you’d like: http://foamrolling.tumblr.com/

What was the first thing you wrote, and how old were you when you wrote it? 6995709

I used to have a little hardbound journal when I was in about second or third grade.  I’d write little stories but mostly about stuff going on in my life.  In fifth grade I wrote an autobiography.  It was short.  

What have you written since then?

I’ve written a lot.  You remember school and all the writing?  The essays?  The forced short stories?  I went to college and made a lot of stuff up.  I was pretty good at writing around a subject.  I became a teacher and wrote lesson plans.  And report card comments.  Those are fun.  How many different ways can you tell someone their kid’s a genius?  Or not living up to their potential?  Or crazy?  I’m most famous for my to-do lists.  I have at least six going at all times.  I will add something I’ve already done to the list to make myself feel better. 

Oh, and I’ve written a couple of novels.

What made you choose your genre of writing, and what about your genre fascinates you?

My first novel, The Clay Lion, is young adult fiction.  What I love most about YA is that the young are impressionable.  They’re not jaded yet.  You can reach them and make them feel important things.  And you can make them fall in love with the written word.  It’s what I set out to do.

I also love that YA is not just for the young.  It’s also for anyone who’s ever been young.  And we all have been.  We remember all those firsts and how wonderful they were, even if they didn’t feel so wonderful at the time.  It’s fun as an adult to go back to those times when life was… simpler.  Reading (and writing) YA allows us to do that.

Would you ever consider writing in a different genre?

Yup!  I’m convinced my second novel, Among the Shrouded, is unclassifiable.  It’s adult for sure.  A little bit paranormal.  A little bit thriller.  Crime drama.  Social awareness.  I guess I need to spend more time classifying my ideas before I write them!

Much has been written about how a book will change from the original intent of the writer, as it’s being written. How did your book change as you created it, and did it surprise you how it came out?

The Clay Lion definitely did.  I started out writing it, but somewhere along the line, my main character Brooke took over and finished it herself.  She wrote the story for me.  At one point I was sitting at the kitchen table finishing one of the hardest chapters of the book.  I started crying because I was devastated by what I had just written.  My husband looked up at me from across the kitchen and asked what was wrong and I had to tell him that I was upset at what Brooke had done.  He stared at me like I was nuts and asked how in the world I could be surprised by what had happened when I was the one writing the book.  To this day, I have no idea.  Brooke took the book in a direction that I hadn’t even fathomed.  It was amazing.

Tell us a little about the history of your book.

I’ll talk about The Clay Lion, my first novel.  The idea was born of two converging ideas.  The time travel element came to me in a dream.  My sister and I were some type of superheroes and we were traveling through time saving people’s lives.  When I woke up, I wrote down as much as I could remember.  As I was writing down my ideas, I began thinking about a little girl named Lauren who happened to be one of my daughter’s good friends.  She had recently been hospitalized with leukemia for the second time and was searching for a bone marrow donor.  I couldn’t help but wonder how her older sister would react if she should die, knowing that her sister had been her first bone marrow donor.  The two were probably the closest sisters I’d ever had the privilege of knowing.  The idea of a sister going back in time to save the life of her beloved brother was born and The Clay Lion is a testament to the power of sibling love.  Lauren passed away just this past October.  A tragic ending to a beautiful and very short life.  I hope that The Clay Lion brings solace to grieving families everywhere and honors Lauren’s memory.

How long did it take you to write and publish?

My first manuscript only took about 4-5 months to write.  But the editing seemed endless.  Publishing too.  All toll, The Clay Lion took about 9 months start to finish.

What is the most difficult part of writing a book?

EDITING.  No question.  I’m a perfectionist.  I question every word choice.  The structure of every sentence.  Every plot choice.  I trim a lot of fat.  I hate it.  And also, I love it too.

What is the most difficult element in selling your book, and how do you overcome it?

Reaching new readers is really difficult without the help of a huge publisher behind you.  I had no idea how hard it would be and I honestly think if I had known I may not have ever published to begin with.  But I’m here now and I’m learning.  There are a lot of wonderful, knowledgeable people out there and I’m happy to accept help!

Would you say there is a message in the book beyond the story? 

Oh definitely.  I don’t want to give too much away, but I have strong beliefs about life and why we are here and our place in the world.  Most of our day to day experiences have less to do with what happens to us and more to do by how we react to what happens to us.  I think someone wise probably said that at some point, but you can quote me on it here.

Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers?image1

I’ve gotten fan mail from teenagers thanking me for writing the book because it made them feel peaceful in a way that other YA books have never done.  I’ve received emails from people who have told me how much comfort they found in the pages of The Clay Lion.  One woman even told me that she had never come to terms with the loss of her brother, but after reading the book had slept soundly for the first time in years.  So, yes, I think it is both well received and duly noted.

What do you like most about your characters? Which one is your favourite?

I’ve been told that my character development is one of my greatest strengths as an author.  People have connected with my characters and can’t stop reading because they need to find out what happens to them.  I think it’s a good thing that my readers take a vested interest in what happens to my characters.  So I guess what I like most about my characters is that people seem to like and relate to them.

My favorite character is Thomas from Among the Shrouded.  When I first started writing I didn’t connect with him.  I had trouble writing from his point of view and I think it was mainly because he was the first male character I’d attempted to convey.  I kept asking men, “what do you think Thomas would think about this?” to which the men would respond, “Nothing, men don’t think!”  Thomas eventually found his voice once I got to really know him and he became my absolute favorite.  He grew as a character and yet remained true to himself.  I love that about him.  And he’s cute in my head, so there’s that.

Who would play the characters in a film?

Is it egotistical to say that I’ve actually thought about this?  I picked out a few songs I’d like to have featured as well!  My best friend wants to see Zac Efron play Charlie from The Clay Lion, except not the 26 year old, just out of rehab Zac Efron, but the one from High School Musical.  So it seems we may need an actual time machine for that.  I see Michelle Trachtenburg as Brooke.  I loved her in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Again, I need the teenage version of her.

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

My oddest quality is easy.  I have a full blown anxiety disorder.  It is undiagnosed and I am unmedicated.  My biggest anxiety producer is germs and illness.  My favorite gift is hand sanitizer.  I use it all the time.  I may ask you to use it as well should you be in my company.  This quirk, as I choose to call it, drives me as crazy as it does everyone else, but luckily the people who love me have learned to accept me as I am.  I don’t know that I am qualified to speak to my best quality.  I do the best with what I’m given to help others along the path of life.  I hope that it’s enough. 

 

Tell us a bit about your current book, and where it’s available.

A,ong the Shrouded released on October 31 and it’s about three main characters (Mia – a police officer, Thomas – a busboy, and Kate, a Ukrainian student), who are each born with a different ability.  They don’t realize their gifts have a purpose or that they are fated to meet one another to fulfill their common destiny.  It’s available exclusively through Amazon in both print and Kindle editions.

Do you have an idea for your next book?

Of course!  I had every intention for The Clay Lion to be a stand-alone book but so many readers have asked specifically for more of Brooke’s story, I’m working on a sequel!

How do people get in touch or follow you?

I have a website at www.theclaylion.com

I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmalieJahn?ref=br_tf

My twitter handle is https://twitter.com/AmalieJahn

Here I am on Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6995709.Amalie_Jahn

And Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Amalie-Jahn/e/B00C3H3TWO/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1384883602&sr=1-2-ent

 

 

 

 

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