01 Sep 2013

NEW RELEASE: “The Last MacKlenna (The Ruby Brooch)” by Katherine Lowry Logan

3 Comments Book Reviews

The Last MacKlenna (The Ruby Brooch)

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My review:

In “The Last MacKlenna” by Katherine Lowry Logan, the second in her Ruby Brooch series, the focus is on Meredith Montgomery, a breast cancer surviving widow who runs a winery in Napa Valley. Over Christmas she goes on a Christmas time research trip to Scotland to find out about her family’s genealogy, where she meets Elliot Fraser, a rich horse breeder.

Despite her lack of bodily confidence due to her scars, the two of them have some sparks flying between them. However, fate intervenes when one of Elliot’s prize winning horses dies and might have been murdered, demanding his immediate attention elsewhere and leaving Meredith in doubt about his feelings and her own.

The romance between the characters is done really well, understated and realistic, thanks to some greatly set up and developed main characters. None of them is drawn either as a drama queen or too flaccid – both characteristics are pet hates of mine in the genre and the author has done a great job at keeping the story line believable and fresh.

Meredith at the time of her trip has yet another health scare. She finds another lump in her breast just before she sets out on the trip, which brings a more serious note to the romance. This, too, is handled in an understated and delicate manner, which lends the book more depth and makes the story all the more touching.

The book has also a lot of very memorable and colourful characters around Elliot, such as his ‘sister-in-law’ Lou, the owner of the B&B where our lovers meet. This makes the story much more entertaining than you would expect a book with such a serious theme to be and I guess it will prove very compelling reading for anyone who has experience with the big C.

The plot has many surprises and turns which I will not mention. There is a minor paranormal element in the story and a link to the past.The slow build-up of the characters and the story was excellent but it picks up in time

to keep us engaged in the story. This is very well written.

Logan balances the various elements of the story really well and also handles the more serious issues without letting them take over the story completely.

Given the character depth, some excellently placede symbolism and the seriousness of the issues I wonder if this should really be passed as romance writing and not as literary novel.

 

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Interview with Katherine Lowry Logan

Tell us a little about yourself, as a person and as an author.

I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, during the 1960s. Sit-in’s, the sexual revolution, pot, campus unrest, and the Vietnam War were brought vividly to life by Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News. While the rest of the world seemed to spin out of control, I spun stories in my head.

College, marriage, and two daughters kept the muse simmering on the back burner. I worked as a real estate and tax paralegal in central Kentucky, and was actively involved in my community. It wasn’t until the nest was empty that I sat down to write full-time. Then, life brought a screeching halt to my writing when my husband died unexpectedly. Healing was a slow process, but two weddings and five grandchildren have a way of putting life into perspective. Following the birth of my second grandchild, I found my writer’s voice again.

I am a marathoner and an avid reader, and I live in Lexington, Kentucky.

Why did you choose this particular period for your novel and the settings?

I’ve been interested in time-travel since childhood. “The Time Machine”, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” and my all-time favorite “Somewhere in Time” Also, I fell in love with historicals reading Hawaii, Centennial, The Source, The Fires of Spring and other words by James Michener. Also, I grew up watching all the old westerns on TV along with Perry Mason.

I knew three things when I sat down to write a story: 1. It would be a time travel, 2. It would be a romance, and 3. The story would take place in the west in the mid-nineteenth-century. Other than that, I had no idea would the story would be. 

How did the idea for this novel come to you?

I set out to write a time travel that took place in the American west in the mid-1800s. The story evolved as I wrote by “the seat of my pants.” Something I read triggered the idea of the Oregon Trail. Then, using the map as I guide, I planned and plotted a story based on what happened to folks who travelled to California and Oregon from 1849-1860.

Why the brooch as time travel device?

When I realized I needed a time travel method, I decided to use a ruby brooch based on a bracelet I have. The bracelet has an interesting past. It was an original design made for a woman in the 1970s.  In the 1980s, she paid her CPA’s bill with the bracelet. In the early 1990s, the CPA’s widow paid her legal bill with the bracelet. After the death of my husband (the lawyer whose legal bill was paid), I ended up with the bracelet.  The bracelet is now memorialized by the book.

How did you choose the characters for the story? Who did you have in mind when you wrote the characters? Who would play them in a film?

I think many of the characters have traits of friends and family members. And I can certainly identify with Kit’s grief and trauma. My husband died five days after I wrote THE END. During the many rewrites over the years, I was able to pull from my own experiences and add depth to Kit’s grief and recovery.

Elliott Fraser is a Mark Harman. Cullen Montgomery is Ben Affleck or Hugh Jackson. Braham is Brad Pitt. Meredith could easily be played by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Kit by Nicole Kidman or Kate Winslet.

 Who is your favourite character and why?

Elliott Fraser is Kit MacKlenna’s godfather. In the beginning, he was a groom on the horse farm, but he developed into a 50-year-old veterinarian/bachelor from Scotland.  By the end of the book, I knew I had to write his story next.  Although he has significant physical and emotional scars, he can be tender and passionate. You can’t help but love him.

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

Kit is a strong, determined survivor who wanted to quit but didn’t. In that regard, we are alike. But I can’t ride a horse, sing, play the guitar, or stitch someone up. She was created from my imagination

 How did you research for the book?

I read countless Oregon Trail journals to get a feeling for the life and challenges the travelers experienced.

I joined the California-Oregon Trail Association and had dozens of conversations with experts about life on the trail.

I talked to people all around the world about carbon dating, Thoroughbred racing, guns, clothing, food, snakes, and the list goes on.

I travelled the trail from Independence, Missouri to Portland, Oregon, and in many places followed the actual wagon ruts. The round trip from Lexington, Kentucky to Portland took nineteen days. It was an incredible adventure.

What was the most fascinating aspect in the research and the writing for you?

A few years ago, during the Christmas holidays, I was working on the stampede scene and I needed gun information. So I went to a local store. My first visit ever! The store was crowded with holiday shoppers. I stood at the door not knowing what to do. The cashier asked if he could help me. I said, “I need a gun that will kill as many cows as possible in the shortest amount of time.” The store went completely silent. The men stared at me. I had a lot of explaining to do. After they discovered I was a writer, everyone wanted to give me gun advice.

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

I worked with a cover artist on the design. We used an antique brooch I found on Ruby Lane, an online antique, art, and vintage collectibles site. I was very pleased with the final result.

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

The plot and subplots evolved while writing the first draft. Then, over the years they were tweaked significantly.

Is this part of a series? What are your next projects?

I just completed THE LAST MACKLENNA, which is a standalone book, but it does pick up where THE RUBY BROOCH ends. There are two other brooch stories. The next one is THE SAPPHIRE BROOCH which takes place during the Civil War, and next is THE EMERALD BROOCH which takes place several years later.

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

I lived in a happy writer’s world prior to publication, writing and talking with other writers. I wasn’t concerned with marketing because I had nothing to market. I have since learned that an author needs a platform in place long before there’s a book to promote. Now I split my time between writing and marketing. Like many others, I find social networking a challenge. There are many days when I think Twitter and Facebook control me, not the other way around.

What do you do when you don’t write?

When I get away from the computer and relax, I read, and I read in a variety of genres—fantasy, mystery, suspense, and of course, romance. When the weather is nice, I enjoy evenings on patios at local restaurants sharing dinner and a glass of wine with family and friends. But probably most of all, I relax or de-stress by running. It has become a passion late in life, and I love it because I don’t ponder or worry or plan. I just run because it feels good.

 Who are your biggest influences? Which are your favourite books and authors?

  • James A. Michener: Michener is the author of sweeping sagas. I fell in love with historical novels reading HAWAII, THE SOURCE, CENTENNIAL, and others
  • Elizabeth Lowell: I love her voice, her settings, her characters, and the incredible amount of research she puts into her books.
  • Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child: They co-author fast-paced, mind-blowing stories, and I love their character FBI Agent Pendergast

Which indie writers can you recommend?

Clive Eaton, M.A. Granovsky, Michael E. Gunter, Ceri London  

What would you take to an isolated island?

My Kindle and a solar charger!

If you could chose anybody, who would you like to meet?

Hillary Clinton

Here are relevant links to connect with Katherine and her books:

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5806657.Katherine_Lowry_Logan

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13579358-the-ruby-brooch

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18397298-the-last-macklenna

Amazon US http://www.amazon.com/The-Ruby-Brooch-ebook/dp/B007QMSONK

http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-MacKlenna-ebook/dp/B00EWOFL6I/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1378004632&sr=1-1

Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Ruby-Brooch-ebook/dp/B007QMSONK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378004713&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Last-MacKlenna-ebook/dp/B00EWOFL6I/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1378004570&sr=1-1

Website http://www.katherinellogan.com

Blog http://www.katherinelowrylogan.com

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/katherine.l.logan

Twitter https://twitter.com/KathyLLogan

LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/pub/katherine-logan/10/62/752

Pinterest http://pinterest.com/kllogan50/

Shelfari http://www.shelfari.com/o1518085100

Google+ https://plus.google.com/109100035748879115211/posts

 

30 Aug 2013

Newsflash: Review Bonanza for THE LUCK OF THE WEISSENSTEINERS

Comments Off on Newsflash: Review Bonanza for THE LUCK OF THE WEISSENSTEINERS News, Review

THE LUCK OF THE WEISSENSTEINERS

In the last week this book drew in a staggering 10 new reviews:

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Here are some highlights from the reviews. Thanks for everyone who has helped promoting the book and put the word out there. This is a very exciting time. {Sebastian also had more reviews but that will have to wait for another newsflash}

Historical Fiction at its Best!!

“The Luck of the Weissensteiners” by talented Author Christoph Fischer is classified as a fictional novel but words can barely describe how much more it is than that…his style of writing is seasoned, well-researched, captivating, and true-to-life. It brings back memories of my first encounter as a young school girl with the heart wrenching plight of the Jewish people when I read “The Diary of Anne Frank”.

Author Christoph Fischer has such an incredible gift. He is able to quietly and softly bring his reading audience into the lives of his characters and touch their hearts in a memorable and profound way.

This touching novel has certainly left its mark on me. Early in the morning…I eagerly rose to read a few more chapters before I started my day. In the evening before bed time, I engaged in the same activity with not wanting to miss a word in this captivating epic story with plenty of historical facts and authenticity to make every word penned remarkably believable and enticing. I was so expertly drawn into the story line in this incredible novel that I felt mesmerized by the cast of characters depicted…how their lives were intertwined and how their stories unfolded. This historical novel is such a wonderful and enjoyable read. Thank you to Author Christoph Fischer for sharing his talent with all of us! Simply put…I loved this book!

*****

An encapsulating read,

A very interesting read

It is a touching and moving tale with some wonderful characters and great storytelling.

The story is well developed and will draw a reader very quickly inside the pages

and an overwhelming sense of reality in this book.

An exceptional page-turner and many historical readers will enjoy this gripping novel.

Nicely put together! A credit and a craft to the author.

***** 68681_10151109627282132_490312403_n

A truly beautiful historic suspense,

An astounding and epic story about the harrowing experiences of a Jewish family during World War Two.

Christoph Fischer’s wonderfully descriptive writing style gives an authentic feel of the era.

I found myself feeling real concern for the superbly drawn characters as they desperately try to avoid being detected by the Nazis.

*****  Molly

A little difficult to get a hang of at first, but good later on,

In Christoph Fischer’s “Luck of the Weissensteiners” you get … a great new perspective to yet another war story.

… becomes a nail biting drama as the war comes to its end. I am glad I persisted with the book. I felt moved by the story and just loved the ending when everything is being tied up.
I really enjoyed some of the great characters that came in later, particularly a tough and ambiguous Hungarian Countess, or the late love interest for the widowed father Jonah. I cared for all the characters, even some of the bad ones were becoming soft and it made me realise just how difficult it had to have been for all these people, regardless of their agendas, and how many possible outcomes for these people there could have been.
Fischer tells a good story and does so without much stereotypes and predictability. Some parts were intense but overall it was a pretty good read.

****  704801_10151110620882132_1411199247_o

A Jolt to my Ethnocentricity,

Reading Christoph Fischer’s The Luck of the Weissensteiners presented another view of that period through the camera lens of people living in Eastern Europe. The book shows people from all the different perspectives before, during, and after the war. It’s an eye-opening read to learn that the United States wasn’t the center of this war. In the lives of these ordinary folks, the United States played an almost peripheral role.

Through it, all one family stands strong.

This book’s retelling of the history of this period in Europe is personalized through the characters that represent a cross section of the lives impacted by the atrocities of war. Jews, Gentiles, Germans, Slovakians, lesbians, and traitors all point to one direction. War never makes much sense when the individual lives of its victims are examined. Neither side wins when people are persecuted for their religion, political beliefs, nationality, or sexual orientations.

Christoph Fischer has written an important book for its historical perspective. He personified the vagaries of war through the fictional characters.

As long as genocide exists in the world, we must do as Fischer has done in his novel – remind us, and remind us again, that our faith, our color, our language, and our life choices should matter not a wit. In the end, it’s our integrity and how we treat others that matters the most.

Thank you, Christoph, for writing this important book to remind us never to repeat the mistakes of the past.

***** 14708_10151107403537132_1439408697_n

Historical Fiction at it’s best,

It is hard to say a great deal about this book without giving it all away. No, it isn’t an ‘easy read’. But it it a literary gem in a huge field of historical fiction, many of which I don’t get past the opening chapters. It is insightful, historically accurate, and informative. One I started, I couldn’t put it down. A fantastic read for all ages.

I am looking forward to starting the second book in this trilogy.

****

TLOTW SLider

 

 

About this author

Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria, which has led to his interest in the concept of Nations, individuals and communal culture, some of the central themes of ‘The Three Nations Trilogy’.
He moved to Hamburg, London, Brighton and Bath, where he is still resident today.
The Luck of The Weissensteiners’  is his first book and was published in November 2012.
‘Sebastian‘ in May 2013.He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.

Christoph Fischer on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/WriterChristophFischer?ref=hl

http://www.facebook.com/TheLuckOfTheWeissensteiners?ref=hl

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sebastian/489427467776001?ref=hl

Profile on Goodreads:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6590171.Christoph_Fischer

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16177343-the-luck-of-the-weissensteiners

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17834808-sebastian

Amazon US:

http://www.amazon.com/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1372133796&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.com/Weissensteiners-Three-Nations-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00AFQC4QC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361292311&sr=8-2&keywords=luck+of+the+weissensteiners

http://www.amazon.com/Sebastian-Three…

Amazon UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1372133835&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Weissensteiners-Three-Nations-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00AFQC4QC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361292346&sr=8-2

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sebastian-Thr…

 

Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-luck-of-the-weissensteiners-christoph-fischer/1113932211?ean=9781481130332

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sebastian-mr-christoph-fischer/1115243053?ean=9781484156001

 

 

27 Aug 2013

Scott D. Southard: “A Jane Austen Daydream”

3 Comments Book Reviews

A Jane Austen Daydream - Cover Finished

 A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM 

All her heroines find love in the end—but is there love waiting for Jane?

Jane Austen spends her days writing and matchmaking in the small countryside village of Steventon, until a ball at Godmersham Park propels her into a new world where she yearns for a romance of her own. But whether her heart will settle on a young lawyer, a clever Reverend, a wealthy childhood friend, or a mysterious stranger is anyone’s guess.

Written in the style of Jane herself, this novel ponders the question faced by many devoted readers over the years—did she ever find love? Weaving fact with fiction, it re-imagines her life, using her own stories to fill in the gaps left by history and showing that all of us—to a greater or lesser degree—are head over heels for Jane.

 

 

“A Jane Austen Daydream” by Scott D. Southard is a very uplifting and enjoyable reading experience for me. I was not brought up with Austen’s books. Only when I came to live in an English speaking country did I start to become familiar with Jane and her marvellous work. My knowledge of her novels and her life is very fragmented and admittedly more hearsay than subject of proper research.

I was pleasantly surprised and relieved to learn that this book does not require excessive knowledge of the facts. The book is written very much in the style of Austen and is populated by the kind of characters that would feature (and one or two at least actually do feature) in her novels.
Light hearted and yet witty this is a great illustration of what her life might have been like, or possibly was like exactly.

For me it was the perfect way to find out more how to imagine her social background and to learn what kind of life she might have led herself – all with the wonderful flair of her writing. I find the idea of a biography of sorts written in the own style of the object of the book incredibly clever and Southard carries it off incredibly well.

An excellent concept and a great achievement, a must read for Austen fans open for a playful read and those who wish Austen had written more. This is like a little welcome encore for us fans.

 

Author Pic - Scott D Southard

 INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR

First of all my compliments to such a great idea. I take it you are a big Jane Austen Fan?

Thanks! I’m so glad you liked it. I really enjoyed reading the review.

I have a lot of respect for Miss Austen and her writing. There are few perfect works in literature, but I consider Pride and Prejudice one of them. It’s always been fascinating to me how many other writers dare write sequels to it. I would never dare. It’s like painting a companion portrait to go alongside the Mona Lisa. An impossible task.

Where did you get your knowledge about Jane? From school, literature classes or research?

I first discovered Austen in college; it was at Aquinas College in a class taught by Doctor Brent Chesley. That experience inspired me to take on her other books, and in one summer I devoured everything I could.

I’ve always been about a student of writers and literature. For a time I was in a MA program that was to lead to a PhD in literature; I transferred out to an MFA in creative writing when it became obvious to me that fiction writing was more my passion. It’s my artform–writers are my people!–I always want to know more.

I spent years reading and re-reading, preparing for Daydream. I took years before I even had the courage to attempt it. But it was really her fiction that guided me in its creation more than anything else.

How did the idea for this novel / biography / fraction come to you?

It was in reading a biography on her that I realized how little her life actually mirrored her books. She did not have a Darcy waiting for her at home, and died far too young and only with her sister and mother for company. So at the heart of A Jane Austen Daydream is my hope to give Jane an adventure she might have wanted for herself… with a few post-modern twists to it. The big twist in the book (which I won’t ruin here) actually grew out of a joke I made once. I still can’t believe I had the guts to do it. But there you go, it’s out there now forever. Let’s see what happens.

Was it hard to separate fiction and fact or did it all just happen?

I made a decision early on that this book would be inspired more by her own writing than her life. So when a choice had to be made in its creation, fiction (her books and/or what I needed for my own plot) would win out over fact every time.

I liked to use the word “tribute” a lot in my description of it, which I think helped justify the choices I made from day one in its creation.  Looking back, those moments when I had to decide between fiction and fact were kind of fun.

Yet, I knew I was walking a new line here in literature and it is the reason the book has the preface, emphasizing that this is, at its heart… well… a daydream.

How did you choose the characters for the story?

Her books first influenced the plot and the tempo of the story I wanted to tell.

There were some characters I knew from the start that had to be there. I turned to her biography for some of these, then turning them into characters like you would see in her books. Whenever I was adding someone who wasn’t part of her life, I would turn to her own novels coming up with characters that are conglomerates in a way of her own creations.

Who is your favourite character – in Jane’s work and in your novel – and why?

Well, in my book it has to be Jane. Not even a question there. I like to think that this Jane is someone all of us writers can relate to. She is passionate about her writing and feels no one understands her, almost doubting and questioning her decisions to put pen to paper in the first place.

When it comes to her novels, I have to point to Elizabeth Bennet. I admit that there are times I don’t think even Darcy is worthy of her!

Which is your favourite Jane Austen book?

Pride and Prejudice. However, when it comes to the actual writing in her books, I think Persuasion to be more moving.

Do you think much of the TV productions?

I have some I like and some I really… don’t. The great Pride and Prejudice mini-series from the 1990’s is a classic.

It’s an awkward thing adapting a book for the screen or stage, you are dealing with different mediums and each expect different things from their audience (and the audience expects different things from the product). It is impossible to adapt any work perfectly. It is a lot more of a science than people and writers may realize.

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

The cover art was my publisher’s doing (Madison Street Publishing). I did see some examples at the start of the process. I think the artist did a wonderful job.

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

Usually my writing is very organic, but not for A Jane Austen Daydream. This was all very structured from the beginning, each beat planned in advance since I was juggling so many different balls at the same time (which quotes to references, her characters, plots, real people, etc.) I believe, I spent a year just on mapping this book out carefully. This was definitely the most difficult (and most time consuming) of all of my books. But I always love to challenge myself as a writer.

How did you come to writing in the first place? Was it always going to be Historical Fiction for you or did you have other genres in mind, too?

I don’t consider myself really a historical fiction writer since I changed so much of history for the sake of the fiction. I’m sure that is a no-no in that genre’s guidebook someplace.

To be honest, when it comes to my writing, I don’t like to think of myself as part of any genre. See, my goal, at the heart of all my books, is to give my audiences something new, something they wouldn’t expect; and the idea of genres feels kind of limiting to me. So when you grab one of my other books, you might have a time-travel adventure or a gothic mystery or historical romance/alternative history (like Daydream). Everything is different.  Maybe I am shooting my career in the foot by thinking this way, but it does make each book a fun new experience for me as a writer (and hopefully for my readers).

What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?

I hope this doesn’t come off as odd or arrogant, but when I am writing, it feels like a home. Does that make sense?

I can turn off the world around me, get lost in my stories, in all of the possibilities and it just happens. It is all consuming and all wonderful. I can lose hours with a notepad or a computer keyboard. Even with the stress of planning Daydream it was still a lot of fun.

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

I made the mistake in my career at one point of just focusing on my writing and skipping the marketing. I did that for five years and it was a big, big mistake. A writer should always be thinking of options to get their work out there into the public eye.

One thing that has been working really well for me is my blog (sdsouthard.com). I write about two to three original posts on it, on whatever topic that captures my fancy at the moment. It’s fun for me and I think for the people that follow it/me.

Today, I think I spend more time on the marketing than the writing. Hopefully, if my career takes off and more readers discover my writing, I won’t have to think about the marketing as much. Well, that is the dream.

What do you do when you don’t write?

Well, I am the dad of two little kids, they demand a lot of attention. A lot of my other activities are usually around turning my brain off or giving myself the opportunity to work out ideas in my head. I bike a lot, I play video games. It’s not as exciting as some might want to imagine.

I’m also the book reviewer for my local NPR station, WKAR, and it’s daily news show Current State (here-http://wkar.org/programs/current-state) . That is a lot of fun. And people can hear my book reviews there every other week.

Who are your biggest influences?

It really comes down to which book I am writing, since I write in so many different styles. Another book published this year, for example,Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare was influenced by Poe and Conan Doyle. Right now, I seem to be obsessed with the writing of Neil Gaiman, so we’ll see what that does to my fiction.

Which are your favourite books and authors?

I think every book leaves a mark on a reader. It’s like a pot with new ingredients always being thrown into the soup. For me, my favorite writers are Vonnegut, Austen, Dickens, Twain, Wodehouse, Brautigan, Joyce, Woolf, Fitzgerald (I could go on, a lot more). Not that I will write books like them, but they inspire me.

Ray Bradbury encouraged me at the beginning of my writing career in some really nice letters. I will always be appreciative of him for that.

What would you take to an isolated island?

I never really thought about this before, I am so rarely on boats. Is there electricity on the island? I would love to have books around, but I am so wired in with my iPhone and the kindle and music on it; but once the juice is out of it, it would be worthless (and I could always call for help, right?).

If there are animals on the island I might need a sharp stick though, right?

A tent or a comfy chair sounds like smart options as well. Maybe sunscreen? Could get big sunburns.

Tell us about your other books.

I have three books out right now that people can check out besides A Jane Austen Daydream. They are:

My Problem With Doors is the story of Jacob and he is lost in time. He has been lost since he was a toddler. See, he can not always guarantee when he steps through a door where he will end up or when. The book is filled with surprises and adventure, as well as some fun cameos like Lord Byron and Jack the Ripper.

Megan is the story of Megan Wane. During the day she works as an event planner in a boring 9-to-5 job, but in her imagination she is a superhero princess ruling a kingdom called Prosperity, a magical world where each morning the moon and sun need to battle for the skyMegan covers a day where everything changed in her fantasy and in her reality.

Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare is a very mad experimental novel hiding in a victorian period mystery. This is the fifth book in a made-up series of thrillers (the introduction walks the readers through the other “books”), and in this episode Maximilian and his loyal biographer Bob are set to stay in a haunted castle; but what they find there might break their very reality.

Permanent Spring Showers is my most recent book (and I am right now looking for an agent or publisher for it) and it is a multi-cast contemporary work about the clash of artists and academics. That line where art crosses reality and the impact it can have on people’s lives and loves and relationships.

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

My hope whenever I take on a subject or a book, it is to do something new, something surprising. Yes, A Jane Austen Daydream can be considered a treasure trove for Austenites, but it is not just for her readers. There are some pretty unique twists and surprises that you won’t find in her work (or possibly in any other novel). So if a reader wants to read a different kind of a book, I would recommend checking out one of them.

And if anyone wants to learn more about me, my thoughts, and my books, they should check out my site “The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard” at sdsouthard.com. It’s all there… in blog form.

 

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

Twitter: @SDSouthard

Blog: sdsouthard.com

Amazon author page: http://amzn.com/e/B002EDX5VC

Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3052246.Scott_D_Southard

 

25 Aug 2013

Author Interview with Uvi Poznansky

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Interview with

Uvi Poznansky

Author of
Apart From Love, A Favorite Son, Home, and Twisted me
Thank you for coming back to my blog for a proper chat this time.
What fascinates me most about you is that you write, make art and promote yourself. How do you find the time and how do you balance the three?
My pleasure, Christoph! And thank you so much for inviting me back here, it’s starting to feel like home…. Balancing is a fine act. Like so many of us I find it challenging. If only there were more hours in the day…
I don’t exactly ‘find’ time—rather, I ‘make’ time, striving to use every moment to its fullest potential. I am working with complete dedication, and those who know me best will attest to the fact that I can make a sharp and immediate transition, turning on a coin, from one form of my craft to another. Even so, I wish I could be cloned. But if that were true, every one of my clones would complain that she wishes to be cloned, too…
Tell us a little about your art.
In my art I seek to stretch the envelope and work in new mediums, with a fresh palette of colours and ideas each time. I delight in change, and hate being boxed in a technique I have already mastered. So I create clay models for my half-life size bronze sculptures—and at other times I engineer paper sculptures. I paint in oil and in watercolour, I draw in charcoal, I dabble in Photoshop, and even create computer animations. Any one of these projects may consume months at a time, and demand my complete attention—but for me, no form dominates over others. I move quite freely between them. You can find some of my art in my website.
Similarly, in my writing I take on different genres. I love writing novels as much as I do poetry, historical fiction, or fantasy, and I trust that there is a lot more still hidden in me… In fact it is difficult to define the genre of any one of my books, just as it it difficult to define the genre of life itself. It is a mixture of tears and laughter, a few lyrical moments, and a dash of fantasy…
I see from your biography that you also have had a very varied and busy working life. Did you write and make art at that time as well or is your creative streak only coming out now?
Ah! You’ve done your research… Yes, I have gone through several reincarnations in my professional career, working as an architect, going back to school for a Master degree in architecture, teaching, going back to school for a Master in computer science, then working in software engineering, with a focus on user interface for medical devices. All along I have been writing and painting—part time, of course.
In my work I have always found a way to turn my professional endeavours into something truly creative. But when my company, Philips Ultrasound, went out of business, and my designs for it never came to fruition, I decided I better focus exclusively on my projects, my art and writing, so as to ensure they come to life.
A lot of your writing is connected to biblical themes but you described yourself as agnostic in a comment on my blog.  Were you at any point in your life a believer?
I went to one of the best private schools in Israel, one that was modelled on a British system of education, where students wear uniform and rise to their feet to show respect, to greet the teacher. This is where I studied the bible. So for every sentence and phrase in the scriptures I know several shades of meaning, which is quite useful when I make a departure from the traditional interpretation. I see the bible as a great piece of literature, rather than as a sacred text. For me it is a great drama, rife with crime, sex and violence, a great backdrop for fascinating characters who are very much like us: flawed.  gen2
In one of your short stories your art work comes alive. Do you find many cross overs between your artistic channels?
This is like asking, do you have many crossovers between taking the world in through vision, hearing, or the sense of smell and touch? It all comes at you at once, doesn’t it? So, input through one channel invokes a sense of another, which is true of art, in all its forms. I write with my brush, and paint with my pen.
The story you refer to—‘I, Woman’—is told in the voice of a clay sculpture. I enjoy changing places: instead of me, the artist, looking at my sculpture, here is the sculpture looking at me. She is coming to life under my chisel. Later in the story she is about to be cast in bronze, which evokes the idea of death and rebirth in a different form:
“A big flame of fire flares up, engulfing me. I feel it in my veins, swelling in me like a flow of molten bronze. I hear it in the crackling of embers from below. That hazy glow of my earlier existence is finally here, burning brighter than ever. 
I am grateful to go back. No longer am I stuck here, in a place of doubt. 
No longer am I inflicted with sensing shadows. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. All my sorrows are about to melt away. In this inferno, nothing will be left behind me but an empty shell. I fly into the brilliance. I am ablaze. I am in bliss. For where I am going I shall be reborn.”
Have you ever started a story that then inspired you to make a sculpture (instead)?
Yes! I have written a poem called Dust, which you can find HERE.
It inspired me to create a series of sculptures, where the figures strike a different pose for each verse. You can turn these sculptures around by clicking their images.
In my mind I became a choreographer, and this was a dance: I could see the figures moving from one pose to another as they were uttering the words of the poem, talking back and forth between them, he said she said. Having sculpted them, one of the figures inspired the story ‘I, Woman’ (as I described earlier.) So the influences go freely in both ways between my art and my writing.
I feel truly blessed for the creative collaboration with gifted voice artists who narrated my books. Three of them—Twisted, A Favorite Son, and Apart From Love—are already available as audiobooks, and Home will come out very soon. I invite you to click the audiobook links and take a listen to the voice sample of each one.
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Links:
US Book Purchase Links:
TWISTED  ★ Audiobook ★ Ebook ★ Print ★
A FAVORITE SON  ★ Audiobook ★ Ebook ★ Print ★
APART FOM LOVE ★ Audiobook ★ Ebook ★ Print ★
HOME ★ Audiobook ★ Ebook ★ Print ★
UK Book Purchase Links:
TWISTED  ★ Audiobook ★ Ebook ★ Print ★
A FAVORITE SON  ★ Audiobook ★ Ebook ★ Print ★
APART FOM LOVE ★ Audiobook ★ Ebook ★ Print ★
HOME ★ Audiobook ★ Ebook ★ Print ★
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23 Aug 2013

Jams N. Roses: Finding Her Feet

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FHF Front Cover

 

FINDING HER FEET

by Jams N. Roses

The tragedy begins as Amanda watches her sister fall through the broken ice. Heartbreakingly, Samantha doesn’t reappear until the following day, when her lifeless body is pulled from the water. The devastation continues as the family falls apart under the weight of emotional pain and unfair blame.

When overwhelmed with guilt, how does a child cope with a death in the family?

 

My review:

“Finding her Feet” by Jams N. Roses is an emotional and intense drama but one that I cannot recommend highly enough.
A seven year old girl witnesses the death of her sister as she falls through broken ice; a tragedy that would be enough for any grown-up person to have serious emotional consequences, but much more so for a young girl. Amanda feels pain, blame and guilt for what she saw, she even thinks she killed her sister herself. The family falls apart after the death and from then on the drama is non-stop.

I’ve read newspaper articles that cover stories like this, but they never seem to touch on the real emotions of the people they report on. “Jams N. Roses” taps into these emotions masterfully. 

The language used is harsh at times so this is definitely not for children or those easily offended. The language however befits the rawness of emotions and the characters involved and is so not only perfectly justified but also needed to make the drama more realistic. This is an adult read that touches on some of the darker sides of modern society.

 

Me in hat

Interview with Jams

 

Hi James, thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little something about yourself as both a person and an author:

What made you decide to be a writer? Have you always written?

I wanted to make films, before writing books, but without a budget to produce my own independent films my options were limited. I’m a bit of a dreamer, or maybe an over-thinker; my head is filled with stories that need to get out there.

You write about some edgy and controversial subjects. How do you come up with your ideas? Who or what inspires you?

I’ve lived a not-so-sheltered life. I know good people and bad people, and I’ve done good things and silly things. The controversial subjects, to me, just seem more entertaining to write and read about. Of course, I respect boundaries in real life, but in books and films and even daydreams, nobody gets hurt, so we can forget the boundaries and just enjoy ourselves.

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

I always know how a story starts and how it ends. I know what a character wants and what or who is stopping them from getting it. That’s not to say plots don’t thicken in the writing process, they do, and it’s all the better for it, but a clear direction from the start helps me, for sure.

Do you have any actors or people in mind when writing your characters?

Not actors; when my books are finally made into movies, I’ll leave the casting to the professionals! I do have people in mind when I’m writing – nearly all of my characters are based on people I know, have known or have read about. I find this keeps my characters believable.

Which character did you most enjoy writing so far?

Typically I enjoy it more when I am writing about my naughty characters; simply because they get away with doing things I would never contemplate doing in real life. Jason, from Get Clean, is a ‘bad-ass’ who’ll stick it to anyone for looking at him funny, he makes lots of money by breaking the law and he lives life to the full. Natalie, in Son of a Serial Killer, is a super-bitch who cares for nobody but herself and nothing but getting the latest Gucci bag, even if she has to cheat on her long-term lover and sell her body for sex to get it. These aren’t people I’d like to be or share my life with, but writing about them excites me.

You’re quite committed to realism in your work. Is there also a desire to shock the reader with this uncompromising style?

Do I want to shock the reader? Yes. For a book to stand out it has to have something in there that the reader hasn’t come across before; nobody is going to recommend one book in front of all the others because it was predictable and very similar to other books they’ve read! But I don’t want to shock for the sake of shocking; it has to fit in with the story or it would make for bad reading, and that’s no good for anyone.

Do any of the readers take offence?

“The only feeling the reader has for the protagonists is utter disgust and distain. Don’t waste your time.” This was a ‘2 star review’ for Get Clean, a story about two cocaine addicts, selling drugs and generally behaving badly, the book is advertised as such, and so I do ask myself why this lady bought the book – What was she expecting?

What would your main character say about you?

Jimmy, from Get Clean, is me. He’d look at me now and be happy how much life has changed.

If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?

Have you read my books?

I read all of them, I believe. There must be someone!

My stories are full of pain, misery, crime and death! Oh, but I have also written a satirical comedy, Extremely England, so I guess I’d choose a character from that, maybe Guy, as he is young, happy and carefree (a little simple, but you can’t have everything).

With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck on a deserted island?

Natalie, the super-bad, highly sexed, mega-bitch I mentioned before. Sorry, I’m a single guy, what can I say?

Are you like any of your characters? How so?

I have been excessive at times, like Jimmy from Get Clean, and I’ve had encounters with depression in the past, which is why I introduced the topic through Ben, the main character in Son of a Serial Killer.

What is your writing environment like?

As quiet as possible; I really cannot concentrate with noise in the background, be it the traffic outside or my son running circles around my feet. Maybe because I have a plan for the story, and the plot layers depend on each other so much for the story to work, I can’t cope with distractions; I need to be fully involved with the writing process.

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

I did all my artwork. Twice. I’m on the second round of covers for a few of the books, and that was a learning process for me. I’m happy with what I have got now, after learning how to use professional software. All the covers now have a similar look, so a potential buyer can easily spot one of my new releases. I think they look great, and I’ve had some really good feedback for them, so I’m happy.

How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?

I love it. I love the freedom of expression, the ability to reach the thousands of readers that I have, and the flexibility to do it all on my own time scale. I haven’t got a bad word to say about it.

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

The best thing, for me, is coming up with the idea, and then developing layers of plots and bringing them together in a tidy yet exciting fashion. The least favourite thing is the hours and hours it takes to get my thoughts typed out onto a computer. If I could just imagine my work into the pages of a book, I would be an extremely happy man.

What is your advice to new writers?

If you have a story in your head, just write. Just start writing and don’t stop until you get to the end. There will be plenty of editing and revision that you’ll need to do, but that’s standard. Write first, then edit, then edit again, then give your work to someone you trust enough to tell you what is wrong with your story. Then rework it. And then you’ve got a book.

Who are your favourite authors?

What sort of question is that? I couldn’t single out any one of them. Ok, here are just a few… Christopher Hitchens, Woody Allen, Michael Connelly, Terry Pratchett, Richard Dawkins, Tim Winton… Can you see the pattern? There is none.

What is your favourite book?

My favourite book changes every time I discover a new great book, isn’t that the same for everyone? Right now, I keep dipping back into God Is Not Great by the late Christopher Hitchens. I love his style, his wit, his honesty, and of course, his intellect.

How do you handle criticism of your work?

I read it, and then ignore it, because I know better.

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

I live in Nice, in the south of France. One nice thing, and also a fact, is that this is where my wonderful son was born. A weird thing? Most of the locals.

What are you working on now?

I have less than just the skin and bones of my next project. I have a very vague idea of the subject matter, but how I am going to turn that into an entertaining, fictional read, I don’t yet know.

Is there anything you would like us to know about yourself and your books?

My books are written from the heart. I’ve tried to show my cards when writing, to not be shy with my emotions. I’m an introvert, and writing my fiction is the best way I know of expressing myself, so please enjoy.

 

My Links

Amazon author page – Website http://amazon.com/author/jamsnroses

Website – http://jamsnroses.wordpress.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/JamsNRoses

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6994777.Jams_N_Roses

Amazon multi-links

Extremely England – http://bit.ly/12DsIsi

Son of a Serial Killer – http://bit.ly/13k1xGi

Finding Her Feet – http://bit.ly/1b2wvp8

Get Clean – http://bit.ly/12cebzJ

 

 

 SoaSK Front Cover GC Front Cover EE Front Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 Aug 2013

More reviews and chart success for my books

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IT’S BEEN ANOTHER GREAT WEEKEND FOR MY BOOKS:

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THE LUCK OF THE WEISSENSTEINERS 

re-entered the Jewish Fiction Charts on Amazon

and it received this 5 star review:

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!!!!

This review is from: The Luck of the Weissensteiners (The Three Nations Trilogy) (Kindle Edition)

a harrowing story
a real heart breaking tale

a truly inspiring read and I would place this as high up as “Schindler’s Ark”.
This author had got details and character’s just right!!!!

On AMAZON.COM that is now 44 reviews, 37 x 5 Stars

 

SEBASTIAN is still in the JEWISH FICTION CHARTS ON AMAZON

and it received 4 NEW FIVE STAR REVIEWS:

 

5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy read,

This review is from: Sebastian (The Three Nations Trilogy) (Kindle Edition)

This author’s talent – in my view – is the way he gets in those characters’ heads and invites us in too. We’re treated to all those feelings – the good, the bad, and the constantly changing. I love that.

I recommend this book. Very much.

when book three comes out, I’ll grab it immediately.

*****

 

Greta reading The Luck of the Weissensteiners

5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious Storytelling,

This review is from: Sebastian (The Three Nations Trilogy) (Kindle Edition)

The Luck of the Weissensteiners was equally well written, but Sebastian is more of a character-driven read. And what characters they are!

Sebastian is an excellently drawn tale, full of vibrant characters and brilliant story. I will definitely be reading the last in the series when it comes out.

*****

5.0 out of 5 stars Glad to have found this book,

This review is from: Sebastian (The Three Nations Trilogy) (Kindle Edition)

Sebastian’s family is an odd bunch of characters that you can’t help liking.

Fischer does a great job at exploring Sebastian’s ideas of what his place in society should be.

I liked the subplots;
Sebastian is well written, unpredictable and an interesting historical novel, and is also a coming of age story about a young disabled man and his journey to self-acceptance. The book ends on a positive, inspirational note, and also with a wonderful twist.

5.0 out of 5 stars Sebastian, Worth the Time,

This review is from: Sebastian (The Three Nations Trilogy) (Kindle Edition)

I became quickly invested in the characters.
You have to love the main character! Sebastian

There are a colorful cast of characters in this book,

Christoph Fischer has a way of drawing the reader into the story and keeping your attention throughout making this novel a wonderful read. Thank-you for sharing your words with this reader. Sebastian was a pleasure to read!

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Christoph Fischer on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/WriterChristophFischer?ref=hl

http://www.facebook.com/TheLuckOfTheWeissensteiners?ref=hl

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sebastian/489427467776001?ref=hl

My profile on Goodreads:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6590171.Christoph_Fischer

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16177343-the-luck-of-the-weissensteiners

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17834808-sebastian

Amazon US:

http://www.amazon.com/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1372133796&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.com/Weissensteiners-Three-Nations-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00AFQC4QC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361292311&sr=8-2&keywords=luck+of+the+weissensteiners

http://www.amazon.com/Sebastian-Three…

Amazon UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1372133835&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Weissensteiners-Three-Nations-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00AFQC4QC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361292346&sr=8-2

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sebastian-Thr…

Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-luck-of-the-weissensteiners-christoph-fischer/1113932211?ean=9781481130332

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sebastian-mr-christoph-fischer/1115243053?ean=9781484156001

09 Aug 2013

Corporate America by Jack Dougherty

1 Comment Book Reviews

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Thank You For Smoking meets House of Cards in this fast-paced, sharp satire about the business world. 

After aspiring novelist Francis Scanlon is expelled from a prestigious graduate creative writing program, he is forced to become a spin doctor at the Prock Chocolate Corporation while he awaits the publication of his masterpiece. 

But Francis’s expectations of easy money and literary glory are thwarted by a paranoid boss determined to run him out of the company, a charlatan writing coach, a snarky reporter, a sanctimonious public health crusader more Goebbels than Gandhi, an oily U.S. Senator with presidential aspirations, and a radical Muslim cleric with absolutely no sense of humor.

As the story unfolds in San Francisco, Washington, New York, Krakow, Mumbai, Jakarta, and a series of lush equatorial corporate jet refueling stations, Francis is swept up by market forces and transformed from pretentious literary cliché to reluctant executive to master practitioner of the black art of corporate power-politics. The story ends up, rather unexpectedly, as a surprisingly sweet romantic comedy as well.

A unique exploration of the way business, politics, career trajectories and interpersonal relations intermingle, Corporate America is a smart, literate comedy that deftly blends bone-dry satire, high ideals and bad taste without ever showing its seams.

About the Author1013529_10200795839072107_1119599198_n

Jack Dougherty has operated at the highest echelons of Corporate America—a place where few authors go. A former top PR executive inside two Fortune 500 companies and a consultant to more than a dozen others, he has formulated communications and media response strategies for CEOs and companies targeted by investigative journalists, headline-hungry politicians, revenue-hungry Attorneys General, wild-eyed activists and crafty plaintiff’s lawyers. Jack’s political clients have included elected officials at the local level, members of the United States House of Representative and the United States Senate, and politicians abroad. He coauthored a business book entitled Most Likely to Succeed at Work (St. Martin’s Press).

 

INTERVIEW WITH JACK DOUGHERTY 

Jack, please tell us a little about yourself as a person and as author.

I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. I am from a gigantic Irish-Catholic family.  Youngest of eight with seven sisters ahead of me—which is why I enjoy writing female characters. 

I began my career in politics, writing speeches for members of the Missouri House of Representatives, then moved to Washington, DC, and did similar work on Capitol Hill. For a few years I worked as a staff writer for a DC-based NGO, one focused on helping high school dropouts get back on track. After that, I worked for a big PR firm and then went on to work as an executive inside two Fortune 500 corporations. 

What is your connection or fascination with Eastern Europe? Or where is your fascination coming from?

When I was 22 a girlfriend turned me on to Milan Kundera and I got seriously hooked.  I got very heavily into Czech and Polish literature.  I suspect the books awakened in me my dormant Jewish gene: Though I was raised 100% Irish-Catholic (Archie Bunker division), my maternal grandmother was a Polish Jew.  I think I simply had an eerie biological connection to the place.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

The marketing guy in me thought something “high concept” would telegraph to the readers what the book was about.

How did you create the plot for this book?

Soon after the Berlin Wall fell, for my birthday, I treated myself to a roundtrip ticket to Auschwitz. 

Loaded down with my Eastern Euro lit, I stopped on the way from Prague to Krakow in a little village called Šumperk, in Czechoslovakia.  Tiny place.  No more than ten buildings.  And, the Czechs being the Czechs, eight of them were pubs.  I checked in to my hotel, this grim Communist hostel holdover.  Next to the bed is this tiny little radio.  Cheap, plastic—from the 1960s.  I pushed the first preset station button and I got a talk show.  Two people, a man and a woman, very distinct voices.  Then I pushed the next button saw that I jumped a few inches down the dial—but I got the same talk show.  So I pushed the third button, and I got it a third time.  Then the  fourth and …you guessed it.  Now, this wasn’t like an annoying teenager who hijacks the stereo in your car and programs all the stations to his favorite one.  Each station was at a different place on the dial. You were given the illusion of choice, but behind curtain number one, curtain number two and curtain number three the state put the same cheap prize.  It was so sinister. Yet comically sinister, in my view.  Somehow, in my imagination, I began to fuse my experience in the East Bloc with my corporate work at the time (I was doing PR work for a Fortune 200 company).  It became a comic shotgun-wedding of sorts.

How do you come up with your ideas? Who or what inspired you?

I basically cooked up about 20 different scenarios—some informed to a certain degree by experience yet wildly embellished, others made up entirely. 

Did you have it all planned out before you wrote it or did the characters and story surprise you?

Yes!  I storyboarded the book.  (I actually wrote the final chapter first—just so I’d know where I was going to wind up.)  The characters, who were thin and sketchy at first, emerged organically as I wrote (and re-wrote, and re-wrote, and re-wrote). 

Is your main aim to entertain or relay a message?

Entertain.  Great quote from the British novelist Henry Green:  “If you can make the reader laugh he is apt to get careless and go on reading.”

Would you say your book has a message and could you hint at it – for the confused?

I was very interested in exploring the never-ending tension between the political Left and Right in the US.  I set the story in a chocolate company because “Foodism”—if I may invent a term—is the  new battleground on which the culture war in America is being fought:  the fast food slobs versus the slow food snobs. The food industry is a delicious backdrop against which to set this story because it bundles all of America’s class war issues into one glorious, landfill-clogging Styrofoam box:

  • It’s the unscrupulous capitalists at the food companies versus the insufferable do-gooders of the public health community, the news media, and Capitol Hill.
  • It’s the wealthy, wicked, white guys in the corporations against poor, undereducated, people of color and children.
  • It’s the paternalistic Left against the personal responsibility Right.
  • The obesity battle, in particular, has my personal favorite ingredient—that uniquely American class war issue that dare not speak its name—the skinny people against the fat people.

How could a satirist possibly resist this topic? And setting the story inside a chocolate company seemed to me the pinnacle of ridiculousness.

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

Best:  Writing jokes.  Least: Cutting jokes, because I think all my jokes are funny (which they are decidedly not.)

What is your writing environment like?

My wife and I live in a 150-year-old former train station in rural VA.  Great place to write!

How have you found the experience of publishing? What type of publishers are your publishers? What were your highs and lows?

I published with a major house (my first book) and for Corporate America (my second) I did an exclusive deal with Amazon, which has a new program for writers represented by literary agents.  Frankly, the experience was almost identical.  In short, if you are the writer today, you own it:  You must submit a 100% perfect book, because no one in the publishing industry has the time, budget or editorial staff to help you “craft” a novel anymore; you own marketing and PR; you own distribution; you own making reviews happen.

What is your advice to new writers?

Read poetry.

Who are your favourite independent writers?

I don’t distinguish.  Increasingly, I don’t think other readers do either.  Either people write well or poorly.  Either they tell a good story or they do not.

What three books have you read recently and would recommend?

One of the most powerful books I can recommend is Under a Cruel Star, by Heda Margolius Kovaly.  It’s on my desert island list.  If you read one book before you die, read her memoir.  A Czech-Jew, Kovaly escapes from Auschwitz and returns to Prague, marries, and then gets caught up in a notorious Soviet show-trial in the early 1950s. 

Hanna Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem heavily informed my novel, as did Hitler’s Airwaves: The Inside Story of Nazi Radio Broadcasting and Propaganda Swing by Horst J. P. Bergmeier  & Rainer E. Lotz.  Joseph Goebbels created an ersatz swing band called “Charlie and his Orchestra” comprised of German musicians who were technically competent but utterly soulless, lackluster improvisers.   Only “master-race” Goebbels would have the audacity to rip off an artform invented by African-Americans, and later wildly popularized by two American Jews (Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw).  This, to me, makes the story all the more ironic, fascinating and diabolical.   

Who would you say are the biggest influences?

The Gloomy Slav (Bohumil Hrabal, Milan Kundera, Jerszy Kosinski) and The British Satirists (Evelyn Waugh, Kingsley Amis, David Lodge).

What books have you read more than once or want to read again?

I have read Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet at least five times.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Trudy Tylor, the glamorous, elegant, unreconstructed right-wing spokeswoman for the fashion industry. My aim was to make her “irresistibly detestable” to readers.

Are you like any of your characters? How so?

Every character in the book—except for the CEO—is a scoundrel.  So, naturally, I identify with everyone except the CEO.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

“Charlie and his Orchestra’s” cringe-making rendition of “Makin’ Whoopie”

How do you handle criticism of your work?

My first book was extremely well reviewed and I was shocked at how much I could have cared less.  You write what you write, you do your best, and you know when you’re done if it’s crap or something to be proud of. 

What are you working on now?

This interview.

Here is a sample/excerpt from the book:

The Scene:  At the Willard Hotel’s “Round Robin Bar,” in Washington, DC.  The hero of Corporate America, aspiring novelist Francis Scanlon, has just explained the plot of his novel-in-progress to a woman he’s trying to seduce, Trudy Tylor, a self-described “libertarian fashionista.”  Here is their exchange.

“Just ….oh, please…not another tedious story about the Nazis.  Yet another doomed love affair between a Nazi commandant and a camp inmate.  Haven’t we heard quite enough already?” said Trudy.  “Why is it that no one affords equal time in literature to the atrocities of the Left, which, in my view, were far more sinister?  The Germans—they only held on to power for fifteen years.  Do you know how easy it for propagandists to play to an audience’s vanity?  Parades and scapegoats and what not.  That’s not so hard.  But the Russians—they were about breaking the audience’s will; they terrorized the audience—and lasted seventy.  They’d knock down a 500-year-old baroque treasure and erect a grotesque cement box up in its place without blinking an eye.  What discipline!”

Even though I had been forced to take a corporate job, I was still a progressive who sided with the wretched of the earth.  “At least the Left is motivated by ideals.  Their leaders were, admittedly, deeply flawed.  But the initiatives of the Left, no matter how misguided, started out as an effort to do the right thing.”

She waved her champagne flute in the air.  “That sentence is proof positive that the Left perpetrated the greatest P.R. scam of the twentieth century, and quite possibly in history.  The communists killed a hundred million people.  The Nazis killed twenty million.  Yet Mao gets immortalized on a T-shirt; Hitler does not,” said definitively, clinching the argument.

Trudy Tylor gulped more champagne.  “You’re a bloody awful debater, but I’ll grant you that the fascists occupy a more prominent place in the collective imagination for one reason and one reason only:  They knew how to dress.  For second only to the Left’s crimes against humanity were their unspeakable sartorial crimes.  The Left has absolutely zero fashion sensibility.  That dreadful little man Khrushchev, slapping his cheap plastic shoes on the counter.  Pol Pot outfitting his rebels in Capri pants and those poufy gingham kerchiefs tied about their necks.  What was that man thinking?  Where did he think he was fighting his guerilla war?  In Chelsea?  No right-wing dictator would allow his men to be debased that way.  And let’s not even start on their grooming.  Positively hideous.  Look at Fidel Castro’s beard.  Beans, rice and maduros caked in it.  Bloody awful.”

I licked the corners of my mouth; no maduros on me.

“Wretched, all of them.  And that greasy Che Guevara, vile man.  Take a bath and have a shave.  Pluck your eyebrows, Comrade Brezhnev.”  She flipped her wrist and the vintage men’s Cartier Tank slid down her twiggy arm.  “Ah, but the look of the right!” she exclaimed.  “Smart and snappy.  Well groomed.  Pressed uniforms in fabulous menacing colors—loads of reds, browns and black.  Pinochet looked like a million pounds in his uniform.”  She pulled a long, philosophical drag off the Dunhill.  “I’d rather be thrown out of the airplane by him than sentenced to the gulag by that dreary Mr. Stalin,” she said wistfully.

 

Find the book on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Corporate-America-ebook/dp/B00DRG05PY/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1375023982&sr=8-2-fkmr0

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Corporate-America-ebook/dp/B00DRG05PY/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1375023862&sr=8-1

 

07 Aug 2013

NEW REVIEWS FOR SEBASTIAN

Comments Off on NEW REVIEWS FOR SEBASTIAN News, Review

SEBASTIAN received 3 more 5 star reviews in the last week.  sebastian book

Here are some of the highlights from the reviews:

Historical Novel meets Literary Realism.

Vienna, the beginning of the 20th century, just before WWI. What wouldn’t I give to visit that place to see for myself the so-called “Golden Age” of the center of European science and philosophy, arguably the most liberal place in Europe, where the seeds of the modern ideas of ethnic and religious equality first sprouted and were actually implemented.

The book edges on “Literary Realism.” No character or idea is romanticized and characters are humanly fallible people who are trying to act in their self-interest, be it foolishly sometimes. While I was reading this book, I could not stop making parallels with “War and Peace.” “Sebastian” is, in my opinion, a book about how a war changes people and the society. There’s a tiny bit of a “conclusion” of sorts at the end of the book, in a dialog between Sebastian and one of his friends (no spoilers):

“Many men who are returning from the war have changed and they come home to even more changed women. There comes a time when one needs to let go of the past and live in the present.”

A very good read from a fast-emerging name in historical novels. Recommended

*****

A worthy read,

so it’s with irony that we note his disability.

This author’s talent is the way he gets in those characters’ heads and invites us in too. We’re treated to all those feelings – the good, the bad, and the constantly changing. I love that.

There is also a history lesson going on here, so if you need to brush up on that without getting bogged down by dry dates and facts that have no humanity attached to them – I recommend this book. Very much. Suitable for mature teens – up.

Of course, when book three comes out, I’ll grab it immediately.

****

Great character development

… it is very well written and developed.  

Fischer’s characters are very well rounded.

It is very realistic and I am impressed at the author’s ability to write such full fledged characters.

I was also very impressed with the amount and type of information in the book. Fischer does a magnificent job of showing the tensions between the Jewish and gentile communities. He delves into what happens to the common people during war. In this book you do not see the typical heroes, you see very little of the soldiers, and you hear what is happening politically only as a citizen who was not involved would. This was fascinating, as most of what I knew prior to reading Sebastian was political… not how the regular people would have seen things and the impact on them. I would love to get my hands on Fischer’s research in order to go more in depth on a few questions that I have.

I believe that anyone who likes history and/or enjoys the study of human nature will greatly appreciate this book.

*****
With a cast of well-developed characters, some of whom are extremely flawed, the story is incredibly engaging. In the beginning you learn about about Sebastian and the Schreiber family through Vera, the matriarch. Not only does she suffer from a weak constitution and the loss of her son’s leg, but her husband’s affair with a much younger assistant. But Vera proves herself stronger than she thinks when she takes matters into her own hands and seeks help from the very interesting and extremely entertaining Glueck women. They turn out to be both great resources and wonderful friends to Vera in her time of need.
As the story progresses, you see how against all odds Sebastian finds love and starts a family of his own.

Fischer does an excellent job of capturing the feel of Vienna during such a turbulent time in history. You feel the pain and suffering of the men, women, and children as war tears families apart and hunger and poverty replace the many comforts people had become accustomed to.

A blend of history, romance, and hardships that show the political, cultural, and religious issues of the time, Sebastian is a do-not-miss saga. If you are a lover of historical fiction, this is definitely one you want to checkout!

*****

 

On Goodreads SEBASTIAN tops several Listopia lists and is in the Top Ten of 8 others.
 
In the Indietribe Fiction Charts it stays strong at #6
 
On Amazon.com Sebastian climbed into the Top 100 of Jewish Fiction and has stayed there for several weeks.

 

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5.0 out of 5 stars Completely perfect!
Hands down this author has won me over. Christoph pulls you into his stories from the beginning and refuses to let you go, even…Read more
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT STORY!!
This book is a great story about a kids life just before World War 1 begins. He goes through so much in his life even before he becomes an adult and I can relate to this… Read more
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Historical Drama
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard To Put Down
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
I fully enjoyed the first book in this trilogy, but the author has taken this book to a completely new level…
5.0 out of 5 stars This one is even better!
What a treat! I feel like a just took a vacation back in time to Vienna where I met some very interesting people. Read more
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it
I had the pleasure of reading the first book in this series, and with how much I loved The Luck of the Weissensteiners, it was tough to wait for this one to come out.
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03 Aug 2013

NEW RELEASE: “RUNE II: NEMESIS ” BY J. H. GLAZE

1 Comment Book Reviews

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One of my favourite writers, master of horror J.H. Glaze has released NEMESIS, Episode II of the thrilling YA series RUNE.

Send the demons back to Hell!

At the stroke of midnight on Jacob Rowan’s 18th birthday, he undergoes a transformation that will change our world forever, if only he can survive another day. He learns that his entire life up to this point was a lie, but there’s no time to dwell on it, as he quickly discovers that there are demons desperate to kill him.

With the help of an unlikely mentor and newly formed alliances, he must decipher the language of his ancestors to recover a set of ancient scrolls. These documents hold the key that will open the gateway to the demon’s hellish world and send them back before the final curtain is drawn on all of humankind.

In this new YA Thriller Series, author J.H. Glaze takes his readers on an adventure that spans thousands of years and multiple geographic locations as it races headlong toward its electrifying conclusion.

“Rune Episode II: Nemesis” by J.H. Glaze is a great second instalment of this new series by the very talented master of horror. As this is directed at young adults the horror is less gruesome and presented with a focus on entertaining yet in a strong and powerful style.
Episode II begins where Episode I left us: in the vault of a bank where our hero Jake receives a message by his late grandmother. He learns about his special mission in the battle against demons from hell and how to fight them.
Episode II is less action driven as it is a widening of the plot for the future instalments and introduces more characters that will be no doubt prominent in the next few books. There are some hilarious scenes in the book regarding his companion Pete who inhabits the body of a dog is due a visit to the vet.
Somewhat quieter than Episode I, Nemesis is more playful and stays true to Glaze’s tradition never to repeat himself or resort to formulaic writing. Great entertainment.JHGlaze (1)

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads Author Page

Rune II on Goodreads

Rune II on Amazon.com

Rune II on Amazon.co.uk

My previous feature on J.H. Glaze

28 Jul 2013

“Everyone Burns” by John Dolan

1 Comment Book Reviews

130720 EVERYONE BURNS REVISED EBOOK COVER

 

Everyone Burns by John Dolan

It is January 2005 and the charred remains of two Europeans have been discovered on the Thai island of Samui.

Local Police Chief Charoenkul, sidelined by his superiors, enlists the reluctant David Braddock, a burnt-out private detective, to assist in an ‘unofficial’ investigation.

But Braddock has problems of his own, including an affair with the same Police Chief’s wife …

Peppered with irreverent humour and some pithy comments on everyday life in the Land of Smiles, ‘Everyone Burns’ is much more than a crime novel. It is also a carefully-crafted psychological study of an anti-hero for our time

My review:

“Everyone Burns” by John Dolan was recommended to me by several friends.
The story is about a British Private Investigator and counsellor David Braddock who lives in Thailand to make his money stretch further. Braddock is a very interesting, washed out and overall really great character whom to follow is hugely entertaining. Although he has marital problems and a lot of depth there is a dubious and not so serious side to him.
Braddock gets asked by the police to assist in the investigation of a series of murders. At the same time he is being sent anonymous notes, suggesting blackmail, pointing at his affair with the wife of a colleague.
I can picture a film made from this book and I would ideally cast a Humphrey Bogard in B&W in it but fans of the genre will probably have better suggestions.
What I liked most about the book is Dolan’s writing. He is clever, perceptive and very witty. Each chapter has literary or philosophical quotations as headings and they are apt to the chapters as they bear witness to a very well read and educated writer, almost “wasted” in a crime story. I am certain that I missed lots of great references and in-jokes that pay tribute to Sherlock Holmes and other famous crime fiction but I really enjoyed the book even without catching all of them.
This book should do very well.

 

For an interview please go to my blog

 

http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com

 

http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/john-dolan-everyone-burns/

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