30 Oct 2014

Review of “Native Lands” by P.C. Zick guest post from the author “Florida Fiction Origins”

6 Comments Book Reviews, News
Native Lands by P.C. Zick

Today I have the honour of  sharing  my review of “Native Lands” by P.C. Zick , a guest post by the author, an excerpt and a rafflecopter. Please scroll down to the end of this post to find details of the giveaway and read the excerpt.


The book is a wonderful novel and a gripping thriller at the same time. Handling several plotlines and many characters with ease Zick has a story rich in plot and full of fabulous characters.

One narrative focuses on members of a native tribe in Florida from 1760 onwards. The instantly likable characters strive to preserve their heritage against the forces of the English and Spanish intruders. The peaceful and nature loving characters form a wonderful thread through the rest of the book that deals with more contemporary issues.

Journalists, politicians and business men crowd the stage in a cleverly plotted and excellently told thriller. Exploitation of nature, affairs, family secrets and murder are just some of the many spicy ingredients that make this novel so entertaining. I was warned that there would be a lot of characters in this book and that is true, but the narratives focus thoroughly on each party in turn and are easily discerned , the characters evolved and memorable enough to make it very easy to keep track.

 Florida Setting 2There are some surprising connections and twist within the political plot which focuses on a controversial housing project and the outrageous plan which lies behind it, poachers, environmentalists and an election. As people are being bumped off the plot thickens and keeps the pace fast and captivating.

I loved the way in which the past and present story lines turn out to be connected and I loved the well planted parallels between the two narratives and the warm feel of the book. This was an excellent and uplifting moral tale to me that did not lecture or patronise, a gripping and entertaining thriller with depth and wonderful characters. 

Native Lands is a gripping and entertaining thriller with depth, wonderful characters and well-planted parallels between the two engaging narratives. There is a beautiful and warm feel of Native Lands and an excellent and uplifting moral that won’t lecture or patronize. A truly great read.

Here is a guest post from P.C. Zick:

Florida Fiction Origins

By P.C. Zick 

With the publication of Native Lands, my Florida Fiction Series, which also includes Tortoise Stew and Trails in the Sand, is complete. They all contain complicated love stories, with ecological threads running through all three.

 Florida Setting 1

Why have I chosen Florida as my setting? The answer is simple—I fell in love with the landscapes, wildlife, and people when I moved there thirty years ago. This excerpt from Native Lands expresses that love:

 

When he finished, Locka stood and looked east to the estuary and the river beyond. The sun was higher now, and the water was receding from the mud flats. On the opposite bank of the river, Locka could see the dunes thick with the orange sunflowers and yellow daisies of spring. Tall and spindly sea oats waved in the wind. He couldn’t see the ocean beyond because the land was so flat and the dunes were taller than his six-foot four-inch height, but he could hear the waves.

He watched as the egrets and ibis pecked in the mud for food. A lone great blue heron stood on the edge of the water, patiently waiting for a fish to appear. A pelican flew close over his head spying to see if he had any fish he was willing to sacrifice. His village lay to the west in a low-lying canopy of live oak trees weathered by the constant salt breezes. He surveyed the river immediately in front of him and let his gaze wander south to the settlement of St. Augustine.

 

At first, I was reluctant to move to Florida from my childhood home in Michigan. Not because I loved winter—because I didn’t—but because I imagined Florida as Miami with turquoise and pink motels and Disney-fake landscapes. When I did move there with my first husband and young daughter, I was scared of the wilderness of north Florida where we settled.

 

Wilderness? Florida? Yes, when I moved there in 1980, remnants of lonely beaches and unfettered roadsides still existed. Woods thick with deer, bobcats, and gopher tortoises made up my backyard.

 

Slowly, I watched portions of it disappear quickly as the population exploded beyond 15 million. In the meantime, I slowly fell in love with my new home.

Florida Setting 5 (1) 

I’ve survived hurricanes, the Storm of the Century, droughts, and floods. I even survived a “snowstorm” with a sprinkling of the white stuff on the road and southern drivers who either slammed on the brakes or hit the accelerator when they hit ice. I learned to accept the bugs and snakes, as I gloried in the shorebirds and lizards.

 

I found the people fascinating. The stories of Florida’s refugees, miscreants, and renegades made me cry and laugh. When I began working as a reporter in 2001, those characters cropped up in almost everything I wrote. Once I started covering small town politics in a state known for its urban sprawl and devious good old boys, I began to see elected officials, activists, and ordinary citizens as characters in a novel.

 

I wrote Tortoise Stew, published in 2006, during contentious Commission meetings when Wal-Mart hoped to build both a super center and a distribution warehouse on the outskirts of a small town near the University of Florida. Some of the most outrageous things were said and done at those meetings that I started recording them in my laptop. The novel became a treatise against corrupted officials and the wholesale destruction of the environment. Here’s an excerpt from the novel that shows a scene in which I used my notes from the meeting to create dialogue.

 

Junior banged the gavel. “No noise from the audience. Now, Luddy, we didn’t break any laws, and that should answer your question. We aren’t going to do anything about it.”

“Then you all need to go to jail.”

“Luddy, you’ve gone too far this time. I’m going to have the Chief escort you out if you continue.”

“You’re going to have the Chief escort me out? What have I done?”

“You’re making slanderous statements and personal attacks against elected commissioners,” the mayor told her as he signaled for the chief of police with his head.

“I don’t need Chief Thomas Jefferson here to escort me out of my city commission chambers. I changed his diapers so he doesn’t know anything I didn’t help teach him. This place belongs to all of us not just you and your cronies.”

 

Trails in the Sand, published in 2013, again visited the environmental issues facing the state when BP’s oil spill in 2010 threatened the sea turtle nests on Florida’s beaches. I’d moved my focus from rural politics onto the national stage as big energy companies put profit ahead of safety and human and animal life.

 

I began writing Native Lands in between the publication of the first two, but life interrupted, and I put it aside until 2014. I remembered why I wanted to write this book when I dusted off the pages. My reporting had shifted from local politics to writing environmental pieces for state and national publications, and I looked to the bigger picture. I wrote articles about the wholesale destruction of mangrove forests in south Florida, the near decimation of the Florida panther, and the extinction of north Florida’s native people, the Timucuans. All of these stories fascinated and saddened me, and I wanted to write a novel that showed how the destruction of one thing diminishes us all. That’s the basic premise behind Native Lands, where the Timucuans do not go extinct. They merely go underground, and through their story, I wove the stories of the mangrove and the panther.

 

However, I am a romantic deep inside—albeit one with a cynical side—and love always stands at the forefront of all my stories. I don’t know how to write any other way. In Native Lands, there are several love triangles adding to the excitement of the novel.

 

However, the biggest love story is the one I have with Florida—beauty, warts, and all. While I’ve said Native Lands is the final book in this series that does not rule out another series. I certainly have enough stories to tell.

Native Lands is a gripping and entertaining thriller with depth, wonderful characters and well-planted parallels between the two engaging narratives. There is a beautiful and warm feel of Native Lands and an excellent and uplifting moral that won’t lecture or patronize. A truly great read. –Christoph Fischer, Author

 
 
Native Lands is a novel rich in intrigue and history as a tribe of Native Americans, thought to be extinct, fight to save their beloved heritage. They join with others willing to sacrifice everything to save further destruction of the Everglades and St. Augustine.
Forbidden loves, deceptions, and murder threaten to destroy nature and families in a saga stretching from the 1760s to the present day.
 
 
Join Locka and Mali as they lead their tribe of Timucuans away from the Spanish near St. Augustine in 1760 and settle into a new life in the Everglades alongside the Calusa Indians. Their progeny grow up in the Everglades, attempting to keep their bloodlines pure.
 
 
By 2010, Mangrove Mike, Joey Cosmos, and Rob Zodiac live among the white people and learn that the human connection transcends the fear of extinction of their people. Barbara Evans in the Everglades and Emily Booth in St. Augustine are the glue as the different cultures combine forces to fight a conglomerate of international interests.
 
 
It’s a dangerous journey as this oddly matched group attempts to halt the destruction of the natural world they treasure. Cultural boundaries established centuries ago are erased as love and nature seek the balance lost during the battle for power and control of the last of the Florida frontier.
P.C. Zick is the author of several contemporary novels. Native Lands is the third book in her Florida Fiction Series, which also includes Tortoise Stew and Trails in the Sand. She may be contacted through her website at www.pczick.com.

Barbara Evans sat in the living room of her house on the western edge of Chokoloskee Island, leafing through past issues of Sierra magazine, searching for an idea for her next column. She listened to the news from the television, only looking up when the local weather presented NOAA’s prediction for an active hurricane season. Then the newscaster began a report that caused Barbara to put down the magazine and devote her full attention to the screen.

“Yesterday, wood storks in Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area attacked a young boy as his mother shot this video of the assault,” the announcer said.

Barbara watched as a boy, approximately ten years old, was crying as a wood stork’s beak poked at the Mickey Mouse portrait stamped on the front of his T-shirt. Another stork approached and began nudging the foam snout of the alligator hat on the boy’s head. A man ran into the frame of the video, yelling and scaring off the wood storks as the boy howled.

“Officers from Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Commission are handling the situation. Here to talk with us is the agency’s spokesperson, Larry Castle. Larry, what’s your agency doing to make sure the tourists are safe in the Everglades?”

“Along with the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we’re asking residents and visitors to our great state to keep their distance from wildlife,” Larry said, wearing a green shirt and hat with the logo from the state’s fish and wildlife agency. “They shouldn’t feed wildlife or make any attempts to capture or touch them.”

“The parents say the wood storks just came up and attacked their child,” the newscaster said.

“Wildlife usually keeps to itself unless tempted by food. We’re investigating, but the safest thing anyone can do is to enjoy wildlife from a distance with a zoom lens on the camera.

“Thank you, Larry. The family told us they are cutting short their vacation because of this unwarranted aviary violence. Governor Rick Scott offered the family a week’s stay in Miami to make up for the attack, but the family declined the offer.”

“My son may never get over this attack.” The mother, wearing a white visor with a Minnie Mouse label on the front, appeared on the screen. “His favorite hat is now in shreds in the swamp. It has been one horrible experience.”

The newscaster came back on the screen. “The video of the attack was recorded by the mother on her cell phone.”

Barbara ran her fingers through her short curly red hair, and with the other hand reached for her phone to call Stan Hogan, her editor at The Miami Herald.

“Stan, I’ve got to write the story about the wood stork attacking the family at Big Cypress,” Barbara said. “You’ve got to let me do it.”

“If I let you write the article, it’s off limits for your column,” Stan said. “You write an objective piece, but no editorializing. Agreed?”

“Then I can write a column about it in a few weeks.”

“No. You’ve been hired as a columnist. If you want to go back to reporting, then we’ll start you on covering the commission meetings in the communities around Lake Okeechobee.”

“Come on, Stan. You know I can write a good piece. I don’t know why you won’t let me.”

“That’s my final say on the subject. You write your column or you start working the Glades County beat.”

“All right, all right.” Barbara knew being assigned the rural beat near the shores of Lake Okeechobee amounted to a death sentence for a writer. “The column is better because I can ask, ‘why the hell was the mother recording the attack instead of protecting her child?’ The kid deserved getting attacked just for wearing that stupid alligator hat. Tell them to pull the column I wrote for this week. I’ll have the new one to you later this afternoon.”

“No ‘those tourists deserved it’ crap. You got me into a load of trouble with that last piece about the pigeons and doves at that wedding in Disney World. One of the copy editors should have caught the line ‘anyone who chooses to get married in the land of Mickey Mouse deserves dead doves floating down during the vows.’”

“I can’t help it if nature keeps biting back,” Barbara said. “Just be sure they pull my old column.”

 

P.C. Zick began her writing career in 1998 as a journalist. She’s won various awards for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction. She describes herself as a “storyteller” no matter the genre.
She was born in Michigan and moved to Florida in 1980. Even though she now resides in western Pennsylvania with her husband Robert, she finds the stories of Florida and its people and environment a rich base for her storytelling platform. Florida’s quirky and abundant wildlife—both human and animal—supply her fiction with tales almost too weird to be believable.
She writes two blogs, P.C. Zick and Living Lightly. She has published three nonfiction books and six novels.
Her writing contains the elements most dear to her heart, ranging from love to the environment. In her novels, she advances the cause for wildlife conservation and energy conservation. She believes in living lightly upon this earth with love, laughter, and passion.

Works by P.C. Zick

Florida Fiction Series
Tortoise Stew (Florida Fiction Series, Book 1) – Politics, murder, and chaos in rural Florida reign supreme in a story where love triumphs over it all.
Trails in the Sand (Florida Fiction Series, Book 2) – Family secrets, an oil spill, and redemption create a roller coaster ride for journalist Caroline Carlisle.
Native Lands (Florida Fiction Series, Book 3) – A novel rich in intrigue and history as a tribe of Native Americans, thought to be extinct, fight to save their beloved heritage.
Other Fiction:

A Lethal Legacy (Psychological Suspense) – A fascinating study of human expectations, failings, and redemption filled with lust and forbidden lovers.

Live from the Road (Fiction takes the reader on an often humorous, yet harrowing, journey as Meg Newton and Sally Sutton seek a change in the mundane routine of their lives. Joined by their daughters, they set off on a journey of salvation enhanced by the glories of the Mother Road.
Behind the Altar (Romance – Behind the Love Trilogy, Book 1) – All seems perfect in Leah’s life until tattoo artist Dean rides his Harley into her heart in this story of forbidden love.
Nonfiction
From Seed to Table (Blog posts) Gardening techniques, organic gardening, canning vegetables, and recipes galore
Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier (Memoir nonfiction) – My great grandfather’s journal from his days as a soldier. It’s a personal account of war and all its sundry causes and effects from the eyes of a man who fought it.
Odyssey to Myself (Essays nonfiction): The people of Morocco, Italy, Panama, and Chile come to life through the experiences of the author as she absorbs the cultures so different from her own.

 

 

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10 Apr 2014

New Release and Review: “Memento Mori” by Katy O’Dowd

1 Comment Book Reviews

21795048“Memento Mori” by Katy O’Dowd is an excellent, inspired and unusual Victorian period piece about the Lamb family and about O’Murtagh, a female assassin in London in the 1850s. It is a playful portrayal of organised crime in London in those days, and in the novel the crime comes in many forms and shapes: pick pocketing, prostitution, smuggling, extortion, murder and deceit.
Told in two main narratives, the book follows not only the Lamb family after the father’s ominous death, but it also follows the fate of a 5 year old girl from the 1830s onwards. She is presented with a memento mori from her mother by a stranger and survives as orphan on petty crime and trickery.
The plotlines are brilliantly interwoven and all is told in wonderfully authentic style. The book is playful and entertaining, yet historically accurate, authentic and convincing.
O’Murtagh is a great character with her coldness and ambiguous feelings, and many other players in this gem of a book are equally fascinating and colourful: An Abbess, the Lamb brothers and some of O’Murtagh’s lovers and victims. 
The rivalry, plotting and scheming mostly play out with some unexpected twists and surprises, while some plot parts are more obvious and deliberately put in place for us to enjoy watching as they unfold for the characters in the story. There are also some mechanical inventions and a clever raven that add to the magic of the book. 
The memento mori theme from the well chosen title is beautifully put in all the right places to add an element of sentiment and nostalgia into the story.
All comes together in a great ending for this hugely enjoyable and accomplished piece of art. Very well done.

Take tea with the Victorian Mafia – organized crime has never been so civilized

Revenge is a dish best served cold. At the Lamb residence, it is also served on fine bone china.

The untimely demise of Thaddeus Lamb leaves his son Riley in charge of the vast Lamb empire, which imports tea, picks pockets, extorts, and keeps men warm on cold winter’s nights. And so the Lambs grieve for their father in the best way they know how… Retribution.

Hired by the new head of the Fox Family, a position recently vacated by another untimely demise, the assassin O’Murtagh is tasked with the utter destruction of all the Lamb Family’s business associates. They learn the hard way that there is no better hit man than a beautiful woman with tricks and weapons up her finely coiffed sleeves.

Treachery and deceit abound in the streets of London, and no one is safe. Honestly, it’s enough to make anyone drink. Would you care for one lump or two?

eBook Buy Links  5311518

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Memento-Mori-Katy-ODowd-ebook/dp/B00JG3NQ4O

Amazon Smart Url: http://bookShow.me/B00JG3NQ4O

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21795048-memento-mori

Author bio:

Katy is an arts and entertainment journalist and has worked for Time Out, Associated Newspapers and Comic Relief and her articles have appeared in The Times (London), Metro (London) and many other arts and entertainment publications, paper and online.

Alongside writing with her Dad under the pen-name Derry O’Dowd, whose first book ‘The Scarlet Ribbon’ was chosen to launch the History Press Ireland’s fiction line, she writes under her own name. ‘The Lady Astronomer’, a YA Steampunk tale was released by Untold Press in 2012.

Katy reviews for the Historical Novels Review and the British Fantasy Society.

Link to my previous feature on Katy

and my feature on her joint project with her father

Connect with Katy: [Webpage][Twitter][Goodreads]

Links:

Katy blogs at www.katyodowd.com

Twitter: @katyod

Facebook: www.facebook.com/katy.odowd

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5311518.Katy_O_Dowd

Contact:

katy@pictureandword.com

Excerpt

Snip. The jewelled secateurs caught the soft light thrown by the candles. Snip. Dark orange on green. Snip. Tiny white blossoms fell to the stone floor. Snip, snip.

Carmine Fox took an orange in her gloved hand and turned it over, this way and that, examining the pitted skin and running a finger along the bumps and grooves in the fruit.

In an alcove, the huge Brass Lady statue gleamed, her beautiful features painted buttery gold, eyes looking blindly at nothing at all.

Carmine’s dress swept the floor, not a mourning dress as you might expect, having lost her father, but rather dove grey and lavender picked out with black trim along the panel, cuffs, hem, and bustle. Her hair, long and coiled, was the color of Grip’s wings, as were her eyes. The muted tones of her dress made her sallow, or maybe it was just the lack of light.

Years of water and living things within the man-made lake had given the huge cathedral style glass ceiling and everything beneath a greenish hue and made the walls bleed rust.

She looked up from her study of the orange and threw it across the room, faster than the eye could see.

The woman standing in the shadows caught the orange, her arm shooting up to stop the fruit, as it nestled in her palm.

“Oh, brava.”

O’Murtagh stood silently before Carmine Fox who walked toward her, the secateurs dangling lazily from her hand.

“Quiet little thing, aren’t you?”

Fox peered at her intently, taking in the pale face and brown eyes framed with a veil of auburn hair.

“Well, quiet suits my needs. Feel free to eat the orange, which will be sweet and ripe. Ah, but how could such a thing grow here you wonder?” She paused. “It didn’t, of course, there is a vast orangery in the house, but I like to be here to prune, the setting eases my mind.”

O’Murtagh made no move to peel the fruit; instead she put it in one of the many pockets of her skirts.

Carmine Fox shrugged. “No matter. When you come to eat the orange, you will find it as I say. But now, we have other matters to discuss.”

She walked back to the table where the plants stood and put the secateurs down.

“You have come highly recommended.” Her heel tapped on the black and white tiled floor. “I have been told of your merits, misdeeds, and probably know more about you than your own mother, whom I believe has been dead a long time. But that doesn’t interest me, your skills do.”

O’Murtagh nodded imperceptibly.

“This is not a pretty tale, but then I suppose these things never are.” Fox sighed and smiled, pacing the room, warming to her tale and the task ahead.

“Tell me, O’Murtagh. Do you believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth?” Fox waved her hand airily. “We are not here to talk about the philosophy of doddery old men falling asleep and drooling into their beards. I mean vengeance, retribution. Honor, even if it is only the kind to be found among thieves.”

Fox stopped pacing, abruptly, and O’Murtagh could feel the heightened tension in the room under the still water.

“There is no need for you to know everything, but know this,” Carmine resumed talking and walking, “I am not sorry that my father is dead. Vile man. He made my mother’s life a misery. Drove her to her death. I had this statue of her made. You know, I talk to her as I prune.” She gazed fondly at the Brass Lady.

“But he didn’t do this alone. No. Rather he was fuelled by his once great friend turned great enemy. Interesting that they should have died in the same week, is it not? Thaddeus Lamb and my father climbed the tree to the gold at the top, from ragged boys to prosperous men, branch by branch to the prize at the end. Suffice to say there was a falling out and my father the Fox did everything in his power to bring the traitor Lamb down.”

Carmine went to the Brass Lady, and standing on tiptoe, ran her hand down the statue’s cold cheek.

“My mother would have hated to see this. Hated to see what he made me. But my father not only left me his riches, he left me his hatred. After my mother died, all I heard of was how he was going to get his revenge. Now that he is no longer here, it is up to me to see this thing through. You do understand, don’t you?”

“I do.”

O’Murtagh’s voice was so quiet that Carmine Fox wasn’t sure she had heard her in the first place.

“I suppose you do, why would you be in your line of work otherwise?”

The assassin kept her brown gaze on the woman who had hired her, but held her tongue.

“Very well. Your job then, is to take the family down. Not directly, but by hitting them where they will hurt the most. Trade routes, business associates, and so on. My father left a diary full of any information you should need. I shall release the names of four people to you when the time is right. None of this shall be traced back to me, and if you should fail, I will make your life one long misery.”

“I have no doubt.”

“Good. So,” Carmine Fox rubbed her hands together, almost gleefully, “Thaddeus Lamb, the Head of the Family is out of our way. I have been told that other factions are gathering like vultures over the rotting corpse of what remains and that the Lambs–when they are able to act–will find other matters to occupy their time. Such as a nasty little turf war. At which point we shall have progressed to a point where we will be able to muzzle them entirely.”

She laughed, and O’Murtagh, seasoned as she was, felt the small hairs on her arms raise and her skin became as pitted as that of the orange in her pocket.

Fox pirouetted, her skirts spreading out and then settling.

“None of it shall ever be traced back to me,” she delighted in her glee, before quietening. “Then I can get straight to the heart of things.”

O’Murtagh’s place was not to ask. She was being paid handsomely and had more time than she cared for to do these jobs. Nor was she squeamish, her body-count was impressive. Though she stopped short at children, babies, and pregnant women.

“Now, my dear.” Fox clapped her hands together. “Time for tea. Would you care to accompany me back to the house?”

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~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

04 Apr 2014

New Release & Review: “The Reluctant Jesus” by Duncan Whitehead

1 Comment Book Reviews

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Today I am thrilled to present an outstanding book, a novel that literally saved my Christmas spirit single handedly last year with its irresistible humour.  I have been sitting on this review for far too long. Finally, the book has been published.

A wild and romping comedy from Duncan Whitehead, the author of the best selling and award winning novel, 
The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club (2013 Reader’s Favorite International Book Award Winner and Gold Medalist)

 

“The Reluctant Jesus” by Duncan Whitehead is a hilarious satire set in 1999 New York and depicts the story of Seth Miller. A regular Jewish guy with a good life discovers that he is the second Messiah, son of God. At first he turns the job down but reluctantly he changes his mind.
The story is told with a dry witty voice that lets you know from the first page that you are in for a real comedy treat. Playful and entertaining, the characterisation of God, Jesus, Satan and Irma Miller, Seth’s mother are very accomplished. God calls, Satan emails and Virgin mother Irma Miller knows passive aggressive as good as any Jewish mother would.
The story is based on a clever idea and told in a manner that should not offend religious people more than Ephraim Kishon or Woody Allen do. I dislike using the phrase in reviews but I laughed out loud throughout the read and it cheered me up tremendously during a very trying time in my personal life.  
Whitehead is a great story teller – you never quite know where the plot is going although the strength lies much more in how it is told than what is told. The book is full of great observational and situational humour, showing someone who knows, likes and draws human nature with great skill, even when describing Satan or God. I have read the author’s award winning “The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club” and expected this new book to be good, but Whitehead proved to be more than a one trick pony, not relying on formula or repetition. With The Reluctant Jesus the author shows his versatility and delivers another great piece of entertainment.

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Duncan was born in England in 1967. 
After a successful career in the military where he served in British Embassies throughout South America and saw service in the Gulf War he joined the world of super yachts as a Purser aboard some of the world’s largest private vessels, working for many high profile individuals, being fortunate enough to visit some of the world’s most luxurious and exotic places. 
Eventually retiring to Savannah, Georgia, he began to partake of his greatest passion, writing. Initially writing short stories he finally put pen to paper and wrote The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club, inspired by the quirky characters and eeriness of his new environment, the book, a thriller, which boasts an assortment of characters and plot twists, set in the leafy neighborhood where he lived. 
His passion for comedy saw submissions to The Onion and a stint performing as a stand-up comedian.
He is a former boxer, representing the Royal Navy and an English under 19 team as an amateur and is a qualified teacher of English as a foreign language as well as a former accomplished children’s soccer coach.
In 2011 Duncan returned to South America, spending six months in Brazil and a few months in Paraguay before travelling to the Middle-East and Europe before returning to the United States. 
He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, gets by with Russian and Arabic and lists his hobbies and passions as cooking, the Israeli self defense art of Krav Maga, Esgrima Criolla (The South American Art of knife Fighting)and the deadly pressure point martial art Dim-Mak.
Duncan has written over 2,000 spoof and comedy news articles, under various aliases, for an assortment of web sites both in the US and UK. 
As well as his other activities he performs volunteer work, as a hospice visitor.

AN ACTOR’S LIFE ON AMAZON

 

 

The year is 1999 and the millennium is fast approaching. Baseball fan and thirty two year old confirmed bachelor and architect, Seth Miller, is content with his life, as long as the Yankees win and his mother stays away from his Greenwich Village apartment. Seth’s life though, is turned upside down when he is informed by his overbearing and overprotective mother, that he is actually God’s youngest son; and by default the second coming of Christ. 

Initially convinced that his parents are crazy, his thoughts of their committal to a suitable care facility are superseded when he receives an unsolicited telephone call from God himself. With Armageddon fast approaching, and due to some poor editing and proofreading of the Bible, Seth must assume the role of Christ and fight God’s corner in the ‘Final Conflict’ between good and evil. Despite his initial reluctance and attempts to shirk his new responsibilities, God is insistent and Seth is cajoled into undertaking the role of Messiah. 

With his best friend, and chief follower Bob Nancy, Seth embarks on a calamitous sequence of miracle doing and disciple gathering, all of which fail to inspire the legions of followers expected by God, but leads to a bout of food poisoning for a troop of visiting boy scouts and a suspected attempt on the life of Mayor Giuliani. 

God, a somewhat nonchalant character, is far more preoccupied by the lack of IT and administrative support he is receiving in heaven, than actual events on Earth; and is already planning to move on to other planets that he and Lucifer are in the process of developing for ‘future projects’.

Enter Maggie De Lynne, as Seth’s second disciple and love interest, who adds her own perspective to Seth’s predicament; which is only compounded when a just as unsuitable anti-Christ, suffering from IBS and with a penchant for dressing up as cartoon characters, visits his apartment. 

Throw a ‘gangsta’ rapping guardian angel and Walter the talking cat – who used to be quiet as a mouse – into the mix, and the scene is set for a hilarious tale of one man’s reluctance to save the world and join the family business.

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28 Feb 2014

NEW RELEASE: RUNE: EPISODE IV: ENTOMBED by J.H. Glaze

Comments Off on NEW RELEASE: RUNE: EPISODE IV: ENTOMBED by J.H. Glaze Book Reviews, News

“RUNE (Episode IV: Entombed)” by J.H. Glaze is speeding things up in this enchanting paranormal adventure series geared at young adults and young at hearts.  51iXd7LfU9L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_
Our trio of protagonists are 18 year old Jake, his girlfriend Maire and Pete, a demon trapped in a dog’s body. Hunted by evil demons the three of them have an exhausting and action packed journey ahead of them. Jake Rune has recently gone an ominous transformation and has acquired super human powers. Hunting down scrolls is part of their mission…and of course simply surviving, too.
Glaze has created very meorable and likeable characters who are great leads to bring and keep the story alive. They are chasing and are being chased in what might become a tour of the Southern States. Jake’s arch enemy Seraphine has joined the hunt for out young heroes and adds more colour to the story.

Of all four books this is the fasted and most action packed. After setting up the scene and characters and after getting us used to his originally created world Glaze now invites his readers to a moreadrenalin-fuelled episode that will be continued in Episode V.

Masterfully written, with natural dialogue and great pacing this is an easy and solid read.
A hugely enjoyable feast for fans of fun and suspenss-filled paranormal fare.

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Amazon: amazon.com/author/jhglaze
Facebook: facebook.com/JHGlaze.author
Goodreads: goodreads.com/JHGlaze
Twitter: @themostcoolone
Website: www.jhglaze.com

J.H. Glaze is a versatile storyteller, born in northeast Ohio. As a young adult, Glaze traveled the
country, frequently hitchhiking, and always looking for adventure and new opportunity. Much of
the quirky plot lines inherent to J.H. Glaze’s tales were informed by the experience of these early
years. Readers will appreciate his accessible, “Hey, I know you,” phrasing, and the everyman voice
that will seem so familiar, drawing them in before providing an unexpected twist. With a blend of
horror and humor, he delights in giving the reader a kick in every chapter of every book.

The Rune series marks Glaze’s début into the world of young adult fiction. In the style of a television series, each episode is a novelette that ends with a
cliffhanger requiring the reader to wait until the release of the next episode to learn what happens
next. In the first episode, the main character, Jake Rowan, experiences a mysterious transformation
on his 18th birthday. Fortunately, he meets up with a dog, later named Pete, who guides him into
what he learns is his destiny. As the series continues, Jake and Pete are caught up in a quest to save
humankind from the demons that have plagued them for more than a thousand years.

J.H. Glaze’s writings include the full-length novels, The Spirit Box, NorthWest, and Send No Angel,
which make up “The Paranormal Adventures of John Hazard.” Glaze has also developed a short
story series, “The Horror Challenge,” affording him the opportunity to interact with his readers who
are invited to suggest a word or phrase that he will use to twist into a theme or prop in one of his
engaging stories.
Glaze’s talent as an author with a sincere love of storytelling shines through as he transitions with
ease from spinning tales of horror that thrill to a heart-warming romantic novella, The Life We
Dream. All the while maintaining his compelling storytelling style, Glaze thrills again in Forced
Intelligence, the novelette that peeks into the moral dilemma of using animals in experiments for
scientific or military advancement.
A self-published author, J.H. Glaze is called one of the New Kings of Horror by fans. He currently
lives near Atlanta with his wife, Susan, two dogs who are crazy about him, and a Senegal parrot
that merely tolerates him.

 

19 Feb 2014

Jasmine Bath: “No One’s Daughter”

2 Comments News

17251007 “No One’s Daughter” by Jasmine Bath is the story of a neglectful and cruel childhood. Told from the perspective of a young girl this tragic tale portrays how she is forced to take care of herself and her siblings while her irresponsible mother wastes her life away without any kind of responsibility. 
Although the protagonist is the victim of violence and emotional abuse to say the least, one of the biggest strengths of the novel is the understated character of the often almost factual descriptions of what does happen. I found this style of story telling much more powerful than loud accusations and self pity. What we recognise as outrage and abuse, for the girl in this novel it is almost ‘normality’.
Like our narrator I was waiting with her for the next drama with fear but certainty that it would come: the mother’s next baby or boyfriend – she would surely draw the short straw.
The minute detail and the many episodes of this ruined childhood illustrate poignantly how much suffering and hardship is involved for a child in such circumstances. It is hard to comprehend how much is irretrievably lost and how far reaching the consequences are. 
Although we are all aware of the basic concept of abuse this book needs to be read. 

“My name is Jasmine Bath and the novel “No One’s Daughter” is based on actual incidents from my childhood during the 1960s and 70s. I did not write this book for sympathy or notoriety; I wrote it in an attempt to shed light on the ghosts that have haunted me for a lifetime, hoping that by putting them down on paper that I could look at them more objectively from a mature point of view and eventually free myself from them.”

 

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

I live in the Midwestern area of the United States with my husband. With the exception of our oldest daughter, all of our children and grandchildren live within a one-hour radius. Our children are all grown and have turned out to be exceptional people that we not only love, but actually like. I’m extremely proud of each of them. Since the kids are now adults I’m now able to take writing from the back burner of my life and make it my fulltime job.

What made you become a writer?

Writing has always been a part of who I am, what I do. I don’t think there was anything that made me write, it is as natural to me as breathing.

Have you always written?

Yes, always.

When did you decide to write your chosen genres?

Memoir is not really my chosen genre, I had considered publishing “No One’s Daughter” as a novel but to put it forth as such, would have been a lie, a denial of the truth of what I wrote and my own conscience wouldn’t allow it.

Do you have a favourite genre?

Not really a favorite, I enjoy all genres but am drawn towards biographies and drama.

Tell us a little about the history of your book. How long did it take you to write and publish?

I never intended to write a book when I began writing what eventually became “No One’s Daughter.” It began as a form of therapy for me to help me look back at incidents that happened when I was growing up as a way to look at those events more objectively. Each incident became a chapter and when put together chronologically, it pulled together as a book. There are about ten chapters that I decided to pull before finally publishing it. Because I originally had no plans to publish it and was in no hurry, it was written over a time span of about ten years.

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

The easiest thing was the writing, once the words began to flow; there was no stopping it. Because it was my life, there was no guessing as to how it would end, I knew. The hardest part was deciding what to share and what to hold back when it came time to publish it.

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

Yes, I like to think that there are many messages and depending on the reader, they will each walk away with a different message.

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

People have been wonderfully kind for the most part regarding reviews and I’m grateful for each and everyone.

What do you like most about your characters?

My characters are real human beings, people who have played huge parts in my life. Two of these people, my aunts, have always been my favorite people. Both are gone now and I miss them terribly.

Which one is your favourite?

If I had to choose a favorite, it would be my Aunt Thea. I owe my life to her.

Who would play the characters in a film?

Oh, geez, I have no delusions of that ever happening so I would have to say that I have no idea.

What are your next projects?

I have two novels that I will start working on in the immediate future; both will revolve around controversial subjects and will probably raise more than a few eyebrows.

What is your life like?

After a violent, chaotic childhood, I’m thrilled to say that my life is usually pleasantly calm and peaceful. What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing? I spend time with my husband, children and grandchildren but I am also finally learning to find time for myself as well. I love working out, walking, reading and listening to good music. Thankfully, now that the kids are all grown, I don’t have to cook as much because I’m a horrible cook. My husband is a wonderful cook and takes over in the kitchen for me whenever he has time. Wandering through stores with my husband, spending the afternoon watching a movie and then a quiet dinner makes for the perfect day.

Who are your literary influences?

Dorothy Allison, Sharon Olds and Frank McCourt immediately come to mind but there are dozens of other authors that I also appreciate.

What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

There are so many excellent book that there is no way to pick one as a favorite. As for films, one of my more recent favorites would be “12 Years a Slave.” When it comes to music, like books, I tend to gravitate toward unusual voices. Van Morrison, First Aid Kit, F.U.N., The Rolling Stones, Sister Hazel, Mumford and Sons and Barenaked Ladies are some of the bands that I listen to.

What are your views on independent publishing?

I submitted “No One’s Daughter” to about a dozen publishers before self publishing. My reward for my hard work resulted in a nice collection of very kind, handwritten rejection letters wishing me nothing but the best. One publisher was very interested but the final decision rested with the bean counters that feared it would have too narrow an audience. Realizing that the bottom line is the bottom line with traditional publishers, particularly at a time when there is so much uncertainty within the publishing community, even more so now with e-publishing being readily available, I think that independent publishing is not only a viable option but is here to stay. I love that the reading public no longer has to accept what the book gatekeepers, traditional publishing, says is worthy of reading versus what is not. As a reader I like being able to decide what is worth my time instead of having a publisher making that choice for me. For writers, this may be the only opportunity to get their work out there to be judged as to whether it has merit or not.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

There are so many that I wouldn’t even want to attempt to rattle off a list of names out of fear of leaving one off.

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

They would tell that despite my insane childhood that I am relatively sane and on a mentally even keel; they would tell you that I rely on logic over emotion, that I suffer from OCD and most importantly, I would hope they would tell you that I am a compassionate person.

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

Favorite animal would be a snow owl. Favorite color is emerald green. Favorite outdoor activities are walking and people watching.

What would you take to a remote island?

I don’t think my claustrophobia would be able to handle a remote island…

Who would you like to invite for dinner and why?

Friedrich Nietzche. No explanation needed. What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects? I have several works in progress but not able to go into great detail about them at the moment.

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

My biggest hope for “No One’s Daughter” is that people will read it and understand the desperation that some children endure on a day-to-day basis. If one abusive person reads it and realizes the pain and life long consequences of the effects of their behavior and seeks help, that would make it all worthwhile.

 

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/No-Ones-Daughter-Jasmine-Bath-ebook/dp/B009O5HA5U G

oodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17251007-no-one-s-daughter

Twitter https://twitter.com/JasmineAuthor

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jasmine.bath.author

30 Jan 2014

John Paul Godges: Oh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th Century

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“Oh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th Century” by John Paul Godges was recommended to me by a friend and I am so glad she did. 
The book has a lot to give but for me one of the main attractions is the huge arsenal of historical detail. Godges describes the roots of his family in Italy and Poland, the reasons why members of the respective families decided to try their fortune in the US, how they and their kins lived and how they got the money for the journey. Godges’ ancestors arrive in the US as immigrants, try to establish themselves in the cross fire of hopes, expectations and often harsh reality. With minute detail and precision he gives accounts of their experiences from the Great War up to modern times, focusing on individual family members. These characters are a great cross section of Americans and humans and serve brilliantly to reflect on the historic and personal events and issues that hit his family, be that strong religious affiliation and convictions, attitude to Vietnam or to homosexuality, which affects more than one person in the family.
This variety of people from his family – who go their own way and reunite at a family gathering – enables us to see a huge chunk of American history and socio-cultural aspects of modern times through a patchwork of real lives.
Well written and with wonderful reflections this is a very enjoyable and rewarding read

Interview with John:

Tell us a little about yourself as a writer and a person.
What made you become a writer? Have you always written?

I wanted to be a journalist since childhood, because being a journalist seemed like the practical way to be a writer back then. How things change! Seriously, whenever I’ve faced a vocational crossroads in life, I’ve remembered this insight from my college days: The things that have always given me the greatest sense of accomplishment in life are things I’ve written and edited, either as a journalist or otherwise. So being a writer is, for me, a matter of being true to myself.

When did you decide to write this book? 4180918

At my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary. They are opposites in some respects, and they produced six extremely different children. The more I reflected on my parents’ lives, on their parents’ lives, and on our lives as the children and grandchildren, the more it dawned on me that our family story of immigration and assimilation, of going our separate ways and yet somehow coming back together, reflected the national story and the continuous American experience of struggling to juggle our individualism with our communitarianism. The more I saw the parallels between the familial and the national, the more I wanted to tell this story.

How difficult was it to write about real characters?

That was easy. It was journalism. It would be difficult for me to write about unreal characters.

Tell us a little about the history of the book. How long did it take you to write and publish?

It took me ten years to write and publish Oh, Beautiful. Because I work full time, that’s ten years of weekends, nights, and vacations. Writing the book required a lot more research, interviewing, travel, and investment than I had anticipated, but it always felt like progress was being made, because the outline at the beginning served as a good guide and pretty much survived intact as the outline at the end.

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

The easiest thing was that my family was all on board, and they all agreed to undergo the lengthy interviews as our schedules permitted. The hardest thing was that the interviews and other shared stories brought back a lot of painful memories for everyone. Working together on this book became a grand exercise in group therapy, which can be very painful. One thing the book itself underscores is that the greatest wisdom comes from the greatest pain.

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?

Absolutely. The core message is this: To be an American in the fullest sense of the word means to discover oneself as an individual within a community—and to sustain that tension, to the detriment of neither the individual nor the community. How that plays out in our individual lives as Americans is a source of endless fascination, conflict, resolution, and amusement. It’s a great big tug-of-war. It’s messy. But it’s who we are. I was really glad that the Kirkus reviewer completely picked up on this abstract concept and saw how the characters embodied it.

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

Forgiveness is the characteristic I like most. Without the ability to forgive one another and to look beyond our personal agendas, there can be no family, and there can be no society. The characters stick to their guns, but they learn to respect each other’s competing guns and to forgive one another for the wounds they inevitably inflict. My favorite character of all is my mentally ill sister. She is the heart and soul of the family, because she taught us how to love one another.

Who would play the characters in a film?

Valerie Harper would play my mom, the emotionally effusive Italian. Christopher Plummer would play my dad, the morally rigorous Marine. These two characters display numerous irreconcilable differences, yet they stay together regardless. Sally Field would play my mentally ill sister, whose character is a cross between “The Flying Nun” and “Sybil.”

Who did your cover work? Were you involved in the process?

A longtime friend and colleague helped me. We worked side-by-side.

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

They haven’t taken from yet. I tell people I’m “between passions.”

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

I write and edit for a living. I’m editor-in-chief of RAND Review, the flagship magazine of the RAND Corporation. For fun, I play beach volleyball and go on long hikes with friends.

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

Steinbeck is my role model. In just about everything he wrote, he revealed his love for people, animals, and the land. My favorite books of his are Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden. I genuinely miss his characters: the Joads, the Hamiltons, and the Trasks. They had their faults, but Steinbeck showed us how to love them through his words. I cannot imagine a nobler task for a writer.

What are your views on independent publishing?

I am indebted to independent publishing for having made it possible for me to become an independent publisher, but I do hold some darkly humorous views. When I attended a self-publishing conference in New York City about five years ago, I grew skeptical of the conventional wisdom of finding your niche, your tribe, your target audience, and sticking with it. “The way things are going,” I quipped during one seminar, “we’ll all end up writing for audiences of five!” I’m afraid my snarky prediction might be coming true. I wonder if Steinbeck could’ve succeeded today, because he wrote for a mass audience. Here’s another dark view of mine: The best way to succeed in publishing today, independent or not, is to write a three-way romance between a dragon, a vampire, and a zombie! Don’t get me wrong. There are wonderful people in the world of independent publishing, and they have helped me tremendously. But I don’t think independent or traditional publishing today does a great job of helping readers find really good writing. 
I wonder if Steinbeck could’ve succeeded today, because he wrote for a mass audience, and the only “platform” he had was a second-story bedroom in his father’s house.

Can you recomm end any indie books/ authors?

The one indie book and author I have often recommended is The Indie Author Guide by April L. Hamilton. April’s seminar was the best one at the conference I attended in New York, and her book was particularly helpful to me.

 

Connect with John here:

Website:
http://www.johnpaulgodges.com/

Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Oh-Beautiful-Am…

iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/oh-b…

Barnes & Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/oh-be…

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.

 

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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