25 May 2018

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Author Interview / Ben Archer (Red Sky Rising)


Humanity’s gone. Sure, people are still wandering around in these soulless husks, but all the beauty inside -love and compassion- has long since died. Our divided world has become nothing more than a trophy to mankind’s failure. And all Hayden Flynn wants is to be left alone. However, when the first pureblood vampire in 600 years rises from the ashes, he realizes it could always be worse.
...much worse.

Now, toeing the line between the living and dead, Hayden will use his elevated senses to prepare for the ultimate hunt. Salvation of our entire species will rest on the shoulders of one man and the seemingly innocent girl that crosses his path. Is it destiny or divine intervention that brought them together? Either way, Hayden Flynn and Quinn Merrin will stop at nothing to find him, even if it means leaving a path of bodies and blood in their wake. Because, after all, what price is too high for salvation?




AUTHOR INTERVIEW


1.  If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
Hands down it would have to be Stephen King. I know its cliché, but I honestly do consider him the defining author of my generation. Plus his character development is beyond what we ordinary humans should be capable of. The way he engrains all these tiny little details into every single person is astonishing! I always walk away from his novels with a profound connection to even the most inconsequential character. Take my favorite, “The Stand,” where you have countless people
interacting in this imaginary world, yet all of them have their own well-defined place in it. Each one has a unique personality, motivation, and even musical preference! His novels, to me, are so horrific because I connect so deeply with the artificial reality he’s painstakingly built.

2.  What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
A typical writing day for me would actually be a writing night. As a husband and a parent to busy 14 year old twins (Hi Morgan, Kylea, and Colin!), I try to enjoy the times we have together as a family. So the hours between 9 and midnight when everyone is asleep are usually my most productive. Though I try to fit it in whenever possible.  
As to where I write: the story is generally constructed in my head when I’m going to bed at night, while the words are actually written anywhere my laptop will fit. Like, the Golden Gate Bridge scene was written on a plane to LA, the Glass Castle was written while watching my kids jump on the trampoline, the casino scene was inspired by a recent trip to our local casino with my good friend, and inspiration for “Muffin’s Shake Shop,” Cory Stout. However, most of it is simply written on the couch with a good cup of coffee and MST3K on the television. This also explains the vast amount of MST3K characters scattered throughout the book.

3.  What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
Actually translating the story in my head to a blank page. It’s easy to have these characters running around in your mind, but actually fleshing them out (in a coherent way) is much harder than it seems. I feel bad for my poor wife having to read the first 5 or 6 versions that were basically me spitting out a word jumble of crazy concepts. Those were done way before I ever figured out how to connect them together in a meaningful way. It was kind of like a crossword puzzle where the pieces were just kind of shoved together. I had the passion, but not the complete picture of how these two characters would fit in my imaginary world, yet. There were several times I had to completely rewrite entire chapters because I had been writing Quinn with the personality of Hayden. It took a while to really understand who she was and what makes her so drastically different. You know, her motivations. I mean she’s 17 and he’s 203, so it stands to reason they would respond to situations differently. For example, he was traumatized by the loss of his family to creatures like him --vampires. That’s a kind of self-loathing that he can never escape. And since she was born after the war, all she’s ever known has been the tyranny of her restrictive Colony. While he’s capable of longing for the freedom of days gone by, she’s not even able to understand the concept. 

4.  When and why did you first start writing?
There’s a two-fold reason for that:
1)      I grew up reading the comics my father wrote in the 70’s before I was born. Although most were just goofy little indie comics made for anyone who would read them, some ended up being picked up by major publishers; including Marvel. I actually had the pleasure of meeting the artist who did his “Sword of Dragonus” series, Frank Brunner, last year while working with Marvel myself. Frank went on to have an amazing career with legendary runs on Doctor Strange, Conan, Howard the Duck, and much more. It was a surreal experience to chat with this man who had had such an impact on my childhood, yet only met through his artwork. I gratefully look back on the poetic symmetry of how this part of my life eventually came full circle.  
2)      The second reason is, quite simply, I turned 30. Not in like an early mid-life crisis kind of way… I guess I took the advice that “everyone should write a book” a little too seriously. And now I see why! You absolutely learn so much about yourself! It was amazing to blend so many life experiences and people I’ve known throughout the years into these fantastic characters. Hayden’s non-stop, talking without ever saying anything, is mainly my son. Although, since my son is a lot like me, maybe Hayden is like me by default? I’m not sure about that part, but I am totally sure Quinn is based on my teenage daughter- with all the attitude firmly still attached. I enjoyed playing on the dynamics of how they interact with each other because even though they are like oil and vinegar most of the time, there’s an unspoken bond permanently linking them together.   

5.  How did you come up with the idea for your book?
I honestly just wanted to create something that defied the tropes that have become so commonplace in modern pop culture: everything is written in three acts, there’s always a hero waiting to save the day, the bomb always counts down to :01 before it’s defused, and the home team always wins. Well, they don’t. I like the idea that –just as in real life- bad things happen randomly. In our own lives, everything goes great, until it suddenly isn’t anymore! Life doesn’t wait until your safety net is in place. It doesn’t care who’s around to witness your downfall. Many of the tragedies that happen to Hayden and Quinn occur by chance, not necessarily as a direct result of their actions. Just like life. Your tire didn’t go flat this morning to drive a story along, it blew because it found an extra sharp rock. Yet, somehow, all these arbitrary experiences add up to guide us down the road we’re supposed to be on. It’s this delicate balancing act of order and anarchy that truly makes our lives into a beautiful symphony of chaos.

6.  Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I was a big reader as a kid. I can’t even tell you how many times I read “The Call of the Wild” (hence the title of the first chapter) and the entire “Chronicles of Narnia” series. Comic books, of course, were certainly a HUGE part of my youth. The golden era that was 90’s comics formed much of how I turned out as a writer. I mean, what the X-Men were doing perfectly reflected the divisions in our world and unquestionably influenced the perpetual outsider complex that I later instilled in my own characters. As I grew those evolved into a love for all things Clive Barker, Stephen King, and Dean Koontz. So yeah, put X-Men and horror writers in a blender, sprinkle with a pinch of Richard Pryor, and that’s pretty much how I hope to write.

These days I mainly do audio books. Working in Television allows a lot of travel time, so I throw Audible on the iPhone and get lost in some fantastical world. I mainly stick to the genres of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror because I treat books as a form of escapism. They’re a way to fly out of my body and become someone else for just a little while. My good friend, Megan Tarbett, has recently gotten me into the Harry Potter series. And yes, I know I’m probably the last one to arrive at that particular party. I was already a fan of the films but she’s like my Librarian Sherpa guiding me through all things classic, so I knew it was finally time to jump aboard that flying bandwagon.

7.  Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Yes, surround yourself with people who believe in you, more than you do. Artists are fragile creatures and if you’re anything like me then your art is deeply personal. Whether it’s painting, sculpture, video, or print, we all choose to publicly display these hidden pieces of ourselves to a world that has no attachment to us. Especially as an unknown author! The benefit of being able to market yourself directly to the public is also its biggest drawback. Keyboard cowboys of our modern culture will tear your work apart just for fun! They’ll troll you simply because they can. Because it’s funny. They don’t care what that art means to you. They don’t know how many hours or (like me) years you’ve put into it. But I’ll tell you why I choose to do it anyway. Because riches will come and go, but art is forever. Do we look back on all the wealthy people in history? No, we remember those who added to our culture through idea, innovation, or art. We remember Leonardo for his “Mona Lisa” and Shakespeare for his “Hamlet.” Do you care who the richest person in 1874 was? Probably not. The idea that long after I’m gone, some kid in 2454 will pick up a copy of Red Sky and become emotionally engaged when Quinn’s parents are murdered by giant man bats –as silly as that concept is- is priceless =)   



Pricing is $.99 or Free with Kindle Unlimited 

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Continue reading Author Interview / Ben Archer (Red Sky Rising)

22 May 2018

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Trilogy Review / Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan



Nastasya has spent the last century living as a spoiled, drugged-out party girl. She feels nothing and cares for no one. But when she witnesses her best friend, a Dark Immortal, torture a human, she realizes something's got to change. She seeks refuge at a rehab for wayward immortals, where she meets the gorgeous, undeniably sexy Reyn, who seems inexplicably linked to her past.

Nastasya finally begins to deal with life, and even feels safe--until the night she learns that someone wants her dead.


Published:     2012
Publisher:  Little Brown
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Books 1 to 3, Immortal Beloved

Source:  Owned Copies
 



MY REVIEW

This is one of those trilogies that I have read the first two books but never got around to reading the last book.  I have made it my mission this year to try and get to and finish some of those series that I have started but not finished and this trilogy was on the top of my list.  

Having read and LOVED the Sweep series by this author I already know that I love the writing style.  I always know I have found an author that I get on well with and enjoy when I can delve into their books easily and absorb myself in the story even quicker!  Even though it has been quite a while since I read the first two books, starting from the beginning again I was surprised at how much I remembered the story (which also shows how great this author is at story telling).  

What could you want more in a story  like this.  You have a bunch of immortals who seemingly are set in their ways and then you have Nastasya who 'breaks free' and goes into hiding from her immortal friends and finds a 'retreat' for people similar to her.  What she doesn't know is that she is more powerful than she realises and also that the people that she meet in this retreat are more than what she realises or bargains for!  

Very predicable but fun to read.  I would definitely re-read this series in the future.   




Continue reading Trilogy Review / Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan

19 May 2018

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Book Review / The Pelican Brief by John Grisham

In suburban Georgetown a killer's Reeboks whisper on the front floor of a posh home... In a seedy D.C. porno house a patron is swiftly garroted to death... The next day America learns that two of its Supreme Court justices have been assassinated. And in New Orleans, a young law student prepares a legal brief... 

To Darby Shaw it was no more than a legal shot in the dark, a brilliant guess. To the Washington establishment it was political dynamite. Suddenly Darby is witness to a murder -- a murder intended for her. 

Going underground, she finds there is only one person she can trust -- an ambitious reporter after a newsbreak hotter than Watergate -- to help her piece together the deadly puzzle. Somewhere between the bayous of  Louisiana and the White House's inner sanctums, a violent cover-up is being engineered. For someone has read Darby's brief. Someone who will stop at nothing to destroy the evidence of an unthinkable crime.


Published:     First published in 1992
Publisher:  Doubleday

Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone

Source:   Owned




MY REVIEW

Let me first say that I am so glad that I decided to pick up and read all of John Grisham's books.  It has been a while reading some of them and it will be the first time read for some.  Back in my teenage years I was really into thrillers and John Grisham was my go to author.  I can't believe that I had forgot how much I loved his writing!  Back then this was one of my favourites and still is!

Even though I have watched the movie and loved it, the book is so much better.  What I loved the most was the pacing and the morality of the story.  The pacing was fast and precise, something that I really love when it comes to thrillers.   Darcy stumbles onto a theory that could, in fact, be not so far from the truth and over time it stops being just a theory she wrote and more about doing what is right.

Great fast pacing, intriguing conspiracy story lines and characters, including the main character, I really rooted for.






Continue reading Book Review / The Pelican Brief by John Grisham

18 May 2018

Author Interview and Excerpt / Eternity's Echoes by Evan Hirson



Aaron was a promising software designer with an upcoming company. He shared a quaint house on the outskirts of town with his best friends; another young man and two girls. 

They'd known each other since school, and lived together peacefully for years with few problems.
Travis the newcomer however had a dark way about him, and all of Aaron's attempts to get along with him had failed. 


But just as the household began to settle down again, a strange device with a peculiar attitude entered their lives.
Would it fulfill all of their dreams, or instead become a curse?






EXCERPT


A little while later they were again transported among the towering edifices of Egypt. As was usually the way, the Shade had selected a quiet uninhabited place to set them down.
As they emerged from a small storage building by the docks, the captivating sight took Aaron’s breath away. A golden yellow sun shone over the rippling waters of the Nile as a cool breeze swayed the palms. Sunbeams played on the water among a flotilla of barges and smaller boats.
“This is amazing,” said Mara with her eyes wide in wonder. “I’m so glad you insisted on coming in the morning Travis. It’s so much cooler too.”
“Great,” he unhappily replied. Even his attempt at sabotage had failed. In his dejected powerless state, he’d insisted on morning rather than evening. It’d been a weak attempt to devalue the experience for everyone.
Aaron soberly considered the way they should go, and wished he’d watched more documentaries on Egypt. “How about if we go that way,” he said choosing a direction at random.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1.  If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
Among contemporary writers, it would probably be Suzanne Collins. I like her character work.      .
 
2.  What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I actually work in my room, which is my haven from the world.
If you've ever seen anyone pacing the room while they think, that's me all over.
The harder I think, the faster I walk. My typical work day depends on what is happening at the time. Learning to write fiction properly is a very steep learning curve.
It's taken me more than three years of long hours to get it the way I like it.

3.  What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
Probably just remaining focused on the work. I can turn out about 2 to 4 thousand words a day. That isn't so great compared to some writers. I've heard figures of 10 to 20 thousand a day being bandied about. On the positive side, the words I turn out don't         need much editing nowadays.

4.  When and why did you first start writing?
It was back in 2014. One chapter in my life had just ended, and the possibility to become a serious author opened up. It was a big risk, but I thought it was worth it.
 
5.  How did you come up with the idea for your book? 
Time travel is a sub genre that I've always enjoyed. It was just a natural choice to go in that direction. In my mind, the creation of a book is like planting a seed.
You begin with virtually nothing, and just keep adding to it. I always trust that my         imagination will come to the party, and so far it hasn't let me down.

6.  Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I used to read a lot when I was younger, but not at this time. There just hasn't been     any room for it since I started writing.
   
7.  Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
First you should see a good psychiatrist. But seriously, you shouldn't start this            journey unless you're willing to give everything you've got. Do a lot of research         online about editing etc. When you think you know everything you need to know, go back and look again. Chances are that you've missed something.
    Get the opinions of others wherever possible, but make sure you read the terms of web sites. Most people in the industry are generally honest. It's the few who aren't that you have to watch out for. If in doubt, do a web search on the subject.
    It's a tough industry, and nobody will tell you everything you need to know. In some ways that's a good thing because it forces you to try harder.
    Just remember to enjoy the experience as much as you can. The more you write, the better your writing becomes.




Continue reading Author Interview and Excerpt / Eternity's Echoes by Evan Hirson