02 Feb 2014

M. Joseph Murphy: Groundhog day Author Interview, “A Fallen Hero Rises (Sword of Kassandra)” and “Council of Peacocks (Activation)”

1 Comment Book Reviews

“A Fallen Hero Rises (Sword of Kassandra) by M. Joseph Murphy is an accomplished piece of fantasy / science fiction writing and a very enjoyable read. 1614427_10152145734570546_1830065818_o
Set on the distant planet of Maghe Sihre seers have ominous premonitions when an earthling crashes down through the void and onto their planet. The damage to the void is seen as a threat to the planet but there is also the mystery to resolve as to why the boy has landed on their planet. A separate narrative tells us about earthling Tadgh Dooley’s background as he gradually regains his memory.
From the first dialogue it was clear to me that the author has created some memorable and colourful characters that go beyond the often found fantasy stereotypes. With the – to my ears sometimes – obscure names and parameters of the new world it took me a little to get the hang of the story but the narrative that deals with Tadgh’s past hooked me into insisting and I am very glad I did. What follows is classic fantasy and science fiction fare with action and outworldly technology and fighting tools. However, I found much of the dialogue and the presented concepts of human and supernatural powers quite deep and meaningful. Tadgh has such powers and needs to control them. With wise men but also some villain figures around him the story has some truly great suspense that kept my interest on several levels.
As this is the first book in a series it does not come to a complete conclusion but leaves us craving for book 2.
I don’t often read fantasy and when I do I frequently feel it has been done before. “A Fallen Hero Rises” has some unusual and profound components that made me enjoy the read very much.
Recommended for fans of the genre and those who are curious and for those who like myself like gay characters in stories without it becoming a gay story.

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To celebrate Ground Hog’s Day, A Fallen Hero Rises, will be free for one day only on Feb 02 2014.  myBook.to/AFallenHeroRises 

Please consider getting it and “like” the book on Amazon. You’d be amazed at the power of a “like” on potential readers. If you like what you read, the author would naturally appreciate a review but it’s not required.

Maybe if the book gets enough downloads it’s a sign that winter’s almost over.

Interview with M. Joseph Murphy:

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

Not much to tell. I’m a man. I write stuff. I have cats. Oh and I was abducted by aliens as a child but we won’t talk about that.

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

I wrote my first novella at 13. It was a horror story about a abandoned one-room school house. The idea still creeps me out. As for what made me become a writer, I’ll credit my high school teacher Ms. Elizabeth Christie. She pulled me aside one day after class and told me that, of all her students, only me and one other person could actually make a career out of it. Having someone show that much faith in me changed my life. It also made me want to be a teacher.

When did you decided to write your chosen genres? Do you have a favourite genre?

It was never a conscious decision. When Stephen King was asked why he wrote horror he gave the perfect analogy. He talked about people fishing on a lake and each person has a unique net. They’re all going into the same area, the unconscious dream world, but each person catches different things because they have different nets. Fantasy is just watch catches in my net.

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

I write 5 pages a day, normally. That means I can get the first draft done in 2-3 months. That’s when play times over and I get to work. When the first draft is finish, I normally spend 5-10 hours a day revising. After that it’s off to beta readers followed by another round of revisions. Then it’s off to the proofreader and another round of revisions. All in all, it takes about 6 months to write and publish a book. That means I can put out about 2 a year at my current pace.

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

There are few things in life as much fun as writing a first drafts. It’s like dreaming with my eyes open. Editing for grammar and punctuation sucks monkey butt. However, the hardest part is cutting out the cool scenes that are messing with the pacing. For A Fallen Hero Rises, I removed over 80 pages focused on Eiodeesh and Gnocko. They became minor characters because it helped the pacing.

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

I have a love/hate relationship with subtext. I majored in English so I could talk about how Council of Peacocks is about fate and whether or not you have control over it. But honestly, I hope people read it and say “Woah. That was cool.”

For A Fallen Hero Rises, it was really important for me to have a gay character, something that is almost non-existent in the fantasy genre. There are, of course, a few examples, but I had to go searching for them. I also wanted to make sure it wasn’t a “gay story”. It’s just a story in which one of the characters happens to be gay.

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

I’m overwhelmed by how well it’s been received. Even from people that don’t generally read my genre. The only negative reviews I’ve had were on grammar and spelling errors in Council of Peacocks when it first came out. I sent it off for another round of proofreading to fix that. I can’t believe how well A Fallen Hero Rises is selling. I’ve barely done any marketing but it’s already outselling Council of Peacocks.

What do you like most about your characters? Which one is your favourite? Who would play the characters in a film?

It’s weird. I’ve read articles where writers say their characters are like children and you can’t ask them to pick a favorite. But most parents know they actually DO have a favorite child. We’re just not supposed to admit that because we don’t want to hurt the other children’s feelings.

I love Wisdom. He’s in my head. I think about him even when I’m not writing. His relationship with Echo is complex to say the least. I feel the same way about them that I do the characters in the Notebook. I also have a soft spot for Jessica. She’s hilarious and brutal. Totally kick ass. I think the character that will surprise people the most is Elaine. She has an incredible journey ahead of her. I can’t wait to show everyone where she goes.

As for who would play them in a movie? For Council of Peacocks,  I did a blog post about this. Lucas Till as Josh, Peter Mensah as Wisdom, Emilia Clarke as Echo.

http://councilofpeacocks.blogspot.ca/p/works-by-m-joseph-murphy.html

For A Fallen Hero Rises, I picture a young Landon Liboiron from his days on Degrassi. Not the dirty version we see on Hemlock Grove.  I picture Liam Hemsworth as Menphis and Garrett Hedlund as Shonn.

One of the things I like most about your books is the unexpected depth. You write fantasy but the characters have bite. Do you find that fantasy reader appreciate this?

I hope so. I know I do. I can’t stand one-dimensional characters. One thing I admire about George R.R. Martin is he’s able to convince the reader that even the most despicable villain could be seen as a hero by someone. I especially want to make sure my female characters are strong. I’m a fanboy for Joss Whedon and I call myself a feminist. It’s important to me the women in my stories are real. I know that doesn’t often happen in fantasy.

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

Well, I am a planner. There will be five books in the Activation Series and 5 books in the Sword of Kassandra series. I’ve already got them all plotted out because I’m a bit crazy like that. I plan on releasing one book from each series a year. That means I need to write and publish two books a year which is doable.

I also have five books I wrote over the last twenty years that aren’t related to either series. At some point I’ll take them out, revise them and help them see the light of day.  

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

My life is amazing. I’m recently married. I teach at a local college. I have the best job in the world. Every day I have a current or former student tell me “Thank you for helping me change my life.” It doesn’t get any better than that.

When I’m not writing I’m an obsessive video game player. I’m currently addicted to Puzzle Quest and I’ve recently started playing Final Fantasy XIV.

Who are your literary influences?

The books I read a s kid made me want to be a writer. For fantasy that was Robert Asprin’s Myth series. Lloyd Alexander’s the Chronicles of Prydain. I’m also a massive horror fan. I’ve always proclaimed Stephen King is one of the greatest writers of our life time. I got lots of slack for that in university but Stephen King got an entire generation of people interested in horror and reading in general. Who the heck cares if you win a Booker Prize if no more than 10 people read your book?

Also Chris  Clairmont’s run on the X-men pretty much defined what I think cool is.

What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

Perhaps my all time favorite book is The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It changed the way I looked at fantasy as a genre and also affected the way I looked at the world. I also love the Wheel of Time series. I’d pick Robert Jordan over George R.R. Martin any day.

Favorite movie: The Color Purple if I want to cry or Scott Pilgrim vs. The World if I’m just looking for a good time.

Favorite album: I’m a massive music fan so this is nearly impossible. I could write a book on all the great albums out there. Best albums ever would include The Beatles White Album and Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails.

What are your views on independent publishing?

For good or bad it’s the future. Recently Amazon revealed that 25% of their ebook sales are for self-published books. The good news is it’s easier to get published than ever. The bad news is that too many people publish books that aren’t ready to get published. And don’t even get me started on the junk that some people put as their cover art. The tricky thing for those of us that are truly serious about our writing is distinguishing ourselves from lazy writers. But I guess that’s always been the case.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

So many good writers. I love Travis Luedke. His Nightlife series is amazing and his books the Shepherd is so much fun. He writes like Richard Laymon. The fact that Travis treats me like a peer helps me realize I really am a writer. It also shows that he’s an amazing guy.

Also, if you like Douglas Adams, I’d recommend Canterbury Tales by Luke Bellmason. It’s beautifully written. I kind of hate the guy because it’s so perfectly written.

Helen Boswell’s Mythology series is perfect if you’re looking for YA.

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

They’d say my best quality is my ability to stand up for what I think is right. I’m a confronter.  I’m willing to have the hard conversations but I’m not willing to throw chairs like on Jerry Springer. My oddest quality is my OCD traits. I have to have all the cans in the kitchen facing outwards. I occasionally refold all the towels and sheets in the linen closet and color-coordinate the clothes in my closet. All of these make total sense to me but apparently is a sign of mental illness.

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

Animal is an otter. Seriously they are like swimming cats. How can you not love an otter. Favorite color is blue. As for outdoor activity, I love camping. For a few days the whole world slows down.

What would you take to a remote island?

My first thought is a shotgun. I would go a little bit mental on a remote island. I’m not the type to sit and relax on a beach. I like to keep super busy. But if I was stuck on a deserted island and decided not to kill myself I’d probably take my tablet and a solar powered recharger. That might finally give me time to catch up on all the books I’d like to read. 

Who would you like to invited for dinner and why?

Right now, you to thank you for the interview. Aside from that I’d love to have Jane Epsenson over. If you don’t know the name, she’s a big-time writer and producer. She’s worked on Once Upon a Time as well as little shows like Battlestar Gallactica and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She’s my hero and also one of the nicest people on twitter.

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

I’m about 180 pages into the sequel to Council of Peacocks, Beyond the Black Sea. Yesterday I wrote about Josh and Wisdom traveling into the Axeinus. Today I’m writing a scene in which we learn the history of the Orpheans and how they were imprisoned in the Axeinus. As soon as it’s off to beta readers, in March, I start work on the sequel to A Fallen Hero Rises. That will be called  Rise of the Graunskyegs. I can’t wait to write that one. It will be super fun. Imagine Jet Li fighting a zombie invasion.

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

I don’t know. I think you know more about me know than the NSA. I will say this. I ain’t going anywhere. I take my writing very seriously and I’m not leaving this planet until all my books are done. I think about what happened to Robert Jordan. He passed away before he was able to finish his monster series, The Wheel of Time. It’s being handled now very well by Brandon Sanderson but I don’t want the same thing to happen to me. It was the final kick in the butt I needed to get my story out there.

I humbled beyond anything that so many people enjoy those stories. Me and my characters thank you.

Social Media Links

Twitter https://twitter.com/Windswarlock (@windswarlock)

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/joseph.murphy3

Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MJosephMurphy/posts

Blog http://councilofpeacocks.blogspot.ca

Website http://mjosephmurphy.info

Joseph Murphy was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. He earned his geekdom at an early age. He read X-Men comics from at the age of 8 and it only went downhill from there.

As a teenager he wrote short stories and wanted to be the next Stephen King. Instead of horror, however, he kept writing fantasy stories. After surviving high school as a goth with a purple mohawk, he studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Windsor.

When not writing, Joseph works as Lead Accounting instructor at Everest College. He also lectures to other businesses on outside-the-box marketing. He lives in Windsor, ON (right across the stream from Detroit, Michigan) with his husband, two cats, and shy-but-friendly ghost.

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“Council of Peacocks (Activation)” by M. Joseph Murphy is a highly entertaining and clever paranormal thriller. 
It is a fun read with some unexpected depth. Set between Canada and Greece it involves amongst other great ingredients time travel, djinns and wizzards. 

While out camping a group of six youngsters get attacked and run from what appears clearly not human creatures.
As they are on the run we learn more about how they link to a much bigger picture.

The Council of Peacocks, a group of ruthless wizards under the leadership of Propates are taking on the world while Wisdom, an immortal scorcerer and his team of ‘gifted’ youth, the Anomolies, fight back.

It is the classic battle of good versus evil, but not in as simple a way at all. The plot is highly evolved and complex, cleverly constructed and very engaging. Human kind is evolving and threatened, different groups of beings fight each other and battle for the ultimate tool to wipe the other out, time and events are muddled up by repetitive time travel to alter history, so there is a lot going on.

The book is written with great suspense and action that cleverly involves the hero and the anti-hero. The characters top me are clearly one of the biggest strengths of the book; they are not your average and boring stereotypes, they have issues, contradictions, a past and they make for some excellent entertainment. They even add some serious thoughts and a philosophical dimension to the story at times.

The paranormal or fantasy part of this thriller is very engaging with lots of great ideas and imaginative creations. You dive into this world and feel for once someone has not re-told the same story with just a different colouring.

There are surprises in the plot that save us from predictability, the language is superb and the humour in the novel was just right for an epic fantasy like this to ‘keep it real’.

I don’t often read fantasy books but this one pressed all the right buttons. .

Well done and highly recommended.

08 Oct 2013

Ben Manning: The Vril Codex

2 Comments Book Reviews

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Vril is a force which to its believers can heal or destroy.’ For famous journalist Jane Wilkinson, a peaceful architectural assignment in Berlin is a chance for some much needed relaxation. Until she notices that something very sinister is happening… she is touched by an occult evil more terrifying than anything she has ever known. An evil that will engulf her and reach out remorselessly to her husband Bob who is literally haunted as he tries to discover her fate and what lies beneath the ancient legend of the VRIL CODEX’
Part romance, part conspiracy thriller, involving Nazi’s, and the mysterious cults of the “Thule Society,” and the “Devils Bible.” Supernatural forces and conspiracies combine, leading Bob and his companions into danger and a confrontation with the ancient Vril power’.

“The Vril Codex” by Ben Manning is an unsual and to me a highly original read.
While the main protagonist is a widower and tries to overcome his grief with a work trip to Berlin, the plot edges into paranormal area and sheds light on some supernatural cult around Hitler and his hardcore followers.
I have read quite a few stories and articles about it, all handled as rumours, but their existence is so persistent that the plot – speculative conspiracy as it may be – sounds very plausible to me.
The book is well written and held my interest throughout.
The most pleasant aspects of the book are that the characters are so real and believable, more dimensional and that the storyline is far from flat, as I find so often with books in the genre.
I found it a compelling and fascinating read.

 

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Hi Ben

Your novel has quite an unusual theme. Can you explain it to my readers quickly. How did you hear about it and when did you decide to write this story?

Sure I was influenced to write this novel series  – the Vril Chronicles – by reading “Morning of the Magicians”- a cult new age book that covered everything from secret societies to the unexplained.  It was strangely written and published back in 1962 ish but influenced me as did a rather tacky but interesting history channel documentary aired in 2009.  It was in 09 that I completed my first draft, which I rewrote at author workshops in 2010.  Then I got it published in 2011 and 2012 but the final edition with a reputable publisher has come out in 2013. 

How did you research for it? Especially since so much of the information is contested. What was the most fascinating aspect in the research and the writing for you?

I enjoyed travelling to Germany a lot and finding obscure libraries and meeting characters that influenced the book.  To be honest the internet was useful but I enjoyed meeting real people such as Anthony J Hilder who is probably the most unusual conspiracy theorist out there with a fascinating past in entertainment. I also wrote off to lots of obscure people and cults to differentiate what I was writing with what’s really out there, when it comes to Vril.  There are some rare books on the subject but not a lot is out there.  Not many people realize the esoteric traits of Hitler and especially Himmler, either with the Vril Society or the Thule Society or the Black Sun.  There is some on youtube and many obscure pamphlets were printed about it after the war.        

Were the plot and subplots completely planned from the start or did they change during the process, and if so, how?

Well the plot was kind of roughly planned but I added to it as I went along. I knew nothing much had been written on Vril and the Nazi’s but paranormal Nazi’s have been written on a lot – from Indiana Jones to James Herbert – so I wanted to create my own myths and figures rather than just using Norse myth and Hitler.  That would have been obvious; they were just the starting point.  Hence my characters such as Helena Hister and the whole mythos around that, that I invented. More recently there have been a few more vril novels out there but it is still few and far between.  There are hundred on the spear of destiny and the Nazi’s for example. As I often say – mine was the first ever on vril and the nazi’s – a fact I am proud of.    

This is part of a series. How many books will there be and can you tell us where this will be going – without any spoilers?

Well part 2 was self-published in 2012 but that will have a proper final release, possibly with Double Dragon Publishing.  That is set in Dresden and is called the Dresden Benefactor.  It is more of a mystery and the one I am working on right now is more of a thriller perhaps.  

How did you choose the characters for the story?

I wanted characters people could relate to.  It is hard trying to be original because you have to produce characters that are familiar so to an extent they have to be based on universal types.  I did base Warwick Blake – a psychic archaeologist – on the late Michael Baigent who was co-author of “The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail”. 

How did you come to writing in the first place? Apart from this historically themed blend did you have other genres in mind, too?

I wouldn’t call the Vril series historical fiction as it is set in the present but yes there are historical elements.  I did think of making it more science fiction like because of the aliens and UFO’s but then the whole vril universe is very “Fantasy” too – couple that with the fact that there are paranormal romance elements and crime thriller ones that we have one of the strength’s to critics a possible weakness .  It is primarily a thriller but does genre hop.  But why not break the rules?!  

I wrote short stories as a small child and poetry (cringe!) and as a teen and in my twenties mainly did journalism.  Then in my thirties I decided to turn to novels as I felt the need to be creative. 

Who is your favourite character and why?

Warwick Blake- 

This is simply because he is an interesting outsider.  I imagine him portrayed by Michael Gambon. 

Are you like any of the characters (and how so)?

Yes –

I guess Bob is loosely based on me.  Make of that what you will!

Did you have any say in the cover art and who was that process?

To be honest both covers came largely from my idea.  I still do not think there has been a definitive cover and vril 2 and 3 are yet to have a professional cover done.  I do like vril codex’s second “alien” cover most which I designed with Riley Steel. 

What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?

Best aspect is when people like it and the worse is when people don’t but then no writer in history is liked by everyone.  I love the creative highs but I don’t like the writer’s block lows.  I am also dyslexic which makes me a slow writer. 

How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?

With difficulty!  I know the internet has opened up some opportunities but it is also a boon to criminal publishers.  I worked in marketing and part of me is repulsed by mixing it with my creative side.  In the past, if you had the money to self-publish  – pre web – marketing had to be done by the writer or paid for.  These days whether you self – publish or go with a publisher you still have to promote which is kind of a shame as it used to be more the domain of marketing at the publishers.  

What do you do when you don’t write?

I am a keen actor. 

What would be the cast in a Hollywood or British film?

Michael Gambon or Bill Nighy as Warwick

Rufus Sewell as Bob – depending on budget!  If not – me! 

Romola Garai as Jane

Who are your biggest influences?

Rod Serling

Alfred Hitchcock

Roald Dahl

Gothic Horror

M.R James

Hammer Horror and Amicus  – Vincent Price, Peter Cushing ect…

Which are your favourite books and authors?

I have always loved I Claudius by Robert Graves.

Other favourites are Douglas Adams, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, James Herbert and Isaac Asimov.

I would also pick Roald Dahl as an author and Samuel Taylor Coleridge as a poet.
Dahl always fascinated me with his short stories for “Tales of the unexpected” on the TV from “someone like you” and “kiss kiss” – but what im most impressed by is that he could write, horror, humour –in a book like “my uncle Oswald” and for children with stories like “Charlie and the chocolate factory”. I think he understood the way people think – in terms of how children feel and react and also the very adult world of intrigue, where there is always a moral twist. A tribute I wrote to both him and Coleridge is at the Roald Dahl museum here in the UK.

ST Coleridge – I would love to know his theories on the universe and life in general, as well as the subconscious and life after death.  Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner is incredible and I used to work at his cottage where he lived in 1797 and wrote it. 

Douglas Adams – “The Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy” 
Aldous Huxley –”Brave new World”

Voltaire – “Candide”  *** Charles Dickens –”A Christmas Carol” *** George Orwell – 1984

 *** Edgar Allen Poe – Murders in the Rue Morgue *** Mary Shelley – Frankenstein.

Which indie writers can you recommend?

Terry Ravenscroft.  His books make me laugh a lot. 

What would you take to an isolated island?

A cat

Who would you like to invite for dinner?

David Bowie

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

I am in a forthcoming major horror film called “Zombie Snuff Movies”  and I am interviewed in the major magazine “Haunted after Dark” who are sponsors of the British Horror film festival held in Leicester Square, London. 

Links –

http://vrilcodex.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Vril-Codex/151342004886833
http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Vril-Codex-Fanpage/192024584186066
Twitter – “@TheVrilCodex”

New from DOUBLE DRAGON publishing…the number one award winning publisher…the VRIL Codex…a paranormal thriller and the first to ever be written on vril and the Nazi’s…conspiracies and norse myth…

http://www.amazon.com/The-Vril-Codex-ebook/dp/B00EPQT0GA/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1377430967&sr=8-1&keywords=vril+codex

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Vril-Codex-ebook/dp/B00EPQT0GA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377432705&sr=8-1&keywords=vril+codex

 

 

 

 

 

 

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