Featured Author · Spotlight Interview

Featured Author: Konn Lavery

Wednesday Spotlight


Genre: Weird Fiction, Horror
Publisher: Reveal Books
Publication Date: July 15, 2016
Pages: 228
Add to GoodReads
Buy: AmazonKoboIndigoBarnes & Noble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Book

WARNING: DO NOT CONSUME

If you’re reading this, then you did not take the above warning seriously. In that case, you’re probably as stupid as me. I’m Logan, by the way. I didn’t pay attention to any warning signs either. Being an unemployed deadbeat in Edmonton with no family and getting dumped by your girlfriend for her best friend can wear a guy down. All I had was my cokehead buddy, Skip, to cheer me up.

Surprisingly, my precautionary tale was not caused by either Skip or the drugs. Let’s just say a drunken make-out session with a pale girl by a dumpster, who was supposedly pronounced dead earlier in the evening, can leave you mentally jumbled up. A good motivator to figure this scenario out is having robed cultists stalk you, asking where the girl is.

Is this an ill twist of fate? Did I bring this on myself? Is there a reason behind my misfortune? Is the moral to not make out with spooky girls behind dumpsters? Hell if I know…

Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

My name is Konn Lavery, I was born in Edmonton, Alberta. Raised as a vegetarian by trekies (Star Trek fans), I was home schooled until reaching High School where I chose to go to Jasper Place High School so I could make some friends and get ‘the real high school’ experience. It wasn’t what it was cracked up to be.

Following graduation, I quickly learned retail sucked and I went on to learn web development and graphic design from Guru Digital Arts College (now known as Edmonton Digital Arts College) since multimedia was my highest marks in high school. Using this knowledge, I now work as an independent graphic designer and web developer. These skills also transition into my writing where I create the novel covers, build my web presence among other marketing materials.

What inspired you to write?

Writing has been a huge part of my life from a very early age. Originally I wrote background stories to strategy board games that I made up at the age of eight. The back stories kept growing and eventually I started writing, a lot.

The inspiration to those board games as a kid, and for my writing today, comes from movies and video games (specifically RPGs). These two sources of media were my primary enjoyment while growing up and I wanted to share the same awe factor that they gave me as a kid.

I dabbled in video games and animation to try and share stories but found myself getting stuck in technicalities of the medium and was unable to express the stories in a comprehendible manner. I shifted from learning to produce those forms of entertainment and dove fully into writing. To this day I have found it to be the best method to portray the stories I want to share with people.

What inspired your novel?

For my latest novel, Seed Me, it has been inspired by a number of various sources such as my experience with bed bugs which started my research into symbiotic relationships amongst creatures. Bed bugs are a horrible experience and it genially made me uncomfortable. So I thought basing a story on hostile symbiotic relations (amensalism) would be an exciting idea.

I was also inspired by Edmonton’s rich river valley and my love for the horror genre, which is where my fascination with cults comes in.

What is the genre?

On a large scale, Seed Me is a horror genre. Specifically, it can be narrowed down to weird fiction, a term coined by H.P. Lovecraft. His writing was an inspiration to this novel. His style specializes in having horror elements while keeping the frights and gore shrouded in mystery, letting the reader’s imagination fill in the blanks.

What draws you to this genre?

I’ve watched horror movies growing up and love them for their dark, creepy (and sometimes cheesy) vibes. They also make me laugh, not sure if that is a good thing…

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

The story and characters went through MANY revisions. Originally in 2012, the plot was something entirely different with a freelance blogger wanting to solve a mystery of a girl’s death in the river valley for a big story on his site. This plot was shelved as I couldn’t see any conclusion to it. I participated in NaNoWriMo back in 2014 where I approached the same concept but with a new plot.

After NaNoWriMo, I gave the first draft a very critical review and decided to scrap over half of the manuscript. I rewrote the second half and revisited various characters’ motives and backgrounds while doing research at the City of Edmonton Archives and searching on Google.

What inspired your protagonist?

Logan, the protagonist was pieced together from myself and my brother. The fun thing with Seed Me is it is a first person narrative, so you get to hear the internal monologue of his mind. I was in a very different place than I am today when writing Seed Me so my own thoughts did meld into his behaviour. He also pulls a lot from my brother with his worldly views.

What inspired your antagonist?

The antagonist went through many variations. With Seed Me, there was no one primary antagonist, rather various pieces that formed the overall opposing force (that is where the cult and amensalism comes in). For this book, I originally wanted it to be a creature feature – this is where the bed bug inspiration came in – which had a lot of slash and gore. All of this was drastically cut out after the first manuscript, it came across way too cliché and was boring. After researching about amensalism and studying Edmonton’s history I refined the monster and the cult to what they are in the final piece.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

The first and last chapters. As stereotypical as that is, it is the truth. The meat of the book was straightforward to do because the premise had been set. It was the initial opening scene into the book that was a challenge because there had to be a hook to have the reader continue on but I couldn’t give too much away.

The ending was also a challenge for similar reasons, I didn’t want to reveal everything to the reader because then it would be over. It’s like the man behind the curtain concept, the mystery would be taken away and would lose all wonder to it. Both the beginning and end had to have the right balance of just enough information and not enough to keep the reader guessing and wanting more.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

Logan’s internal rambles. A lot of them were removed in the final version but I kept the relative ones in the story. Again, Logan pulled a lot from my state of mind during writing this book and these parts were more like a diary to me.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?

I am a part time author, working to the dream of being full time. For income, I work as an independent graphic designer and web developer in Edmonton. My portfolio is under Reveal Design (revealdesign.ca). Before that, I taught at a digital arts college and worked as operations and marketing for a home warranty company.

What are you currently reading?

My current book that I am reading is Looking In Seeing Out – Consciousness and Cosmos by Menas Kafatos and Thalia Katafou. I don’t often read fictional books, I tend to gravitate to non-fiction for their subject matter.

Who would you say are your favourite authors?

Clive Barker is my favourite author, a major inspiration to writing. Todd Mcfarlane and Chuck Palahniuk as well.

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

These aren’t in any particular order, but my top five would be: Flight of the Eagle by J. Krishnamurti, Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, Tales Tall and True by Alberta Education, Graphic Design Basics by Amy E. Arntson and The Satanic Bible by LaVey, Anton Szandor.

What are your future projects, if any?

I have quite a few projected projects. More on this to come in early 2017. A hint is I am going back to finish my dark fantasy series, Mental Damnation.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

My website has all of the information they need to get in contact with me and grab my books. It can be found at konnlavery.com. I am also fairly active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 

Keep pushing forward. That doesn’t mean you have to write every day, some people do not work well writing every day or simply do not have the time to invest in doing so. However, make sure you always keep doing something to improve your writing.

Featured Author · Spotlight Interview

Featured Author: Calvin Wolf

Wednesday Spotlight

 
Genre: 
Science Fiction, Political Thriller
Publisher: Ravenswood Publishing
Publication Date: November 25, 2016
Pages: 326
Add to Good Reads
Buy: Amazon CANAmazon USBarnes & NobleCreateSpace

 

 

 

 

 

About the Book

Months after a devastating terrorist attack on the Human Capital Market servers on the University of Wyoming campus, a corrupt administration in Washington is looking to maintain its grip on the future by any means necessary. After a grieving father unleashes powerful forces the president would rather keep hidden, two falsely accused men struggle to find their families and clear their names while being hunted by the full force of the United States government…and two vicious ne’er-do-wells whose grudges run deep. As a desperate White House tries to track down its prized fugitives and keep a discontent public under control, new technology offers wonder and horror in droves. From omnipresent surveillance to secret prisons to trading equity in citizens’ wages on the new stock market, The Singularity is a fast-paced ride into a near future where anything is possible.

Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a high school social studies teacher and department chair, and I currently teach AP Economics and AP Government to high school seniors.  As a result, I have developed more of an appreciation of economics and politics…and it has definitely affected my writing!  My writing could best be described as political thrillers, though my recent novels have added more sci-fi elements to the mix.  There is always an undercurrent of class struggle and economic policy.  I have been a teacher for six years, and I received a post-baccalaureate teacher certification from Texas Tech after earning bachelor’s degrees in Criminal Justice and Political Science, and then an MPA degree, from the University of Wyoming.

I tend to be geographically specific, based on where I have lived and visited.  I grew up in the interesting city of Midland, Texas, which is known for being an oil mecca, a football haven, and the hometown of George W. Bush.  Later, I attended the University of Wyoming and Texas Tech University, and tend to feature those institutions prominently in my writing.  During the summers while I was in college, I worked in New Mexico and regularly include Colfax County, New Mexico in my novels.  I was born in Colorado and spent a lot of time there during college, so that state is also a prime location in my writing.  My family originally hails from Virginia and Pennsylvania, so those states typically receive geographic cameos as well!

I used to be a backpacking guide, so my writing tends to focus on mountains rather than beaches.  I once stood between a mama bear and her cub and lived to tell the tale!

What inspired you to write?

I’ve always been a storyteller.  From an early age, I heard stories and wanted to create my own.  I would think “that could be more realistic,” “that could be more exciting,” or “that could be more…”  I viewed stories as a challenge, and sought to meet those challenges!

What inspired your novel?

I am interested in the potential of nanotechnology, and so The Singularity explores its potential to transform mankind…or destroy it.  What would you do if you were suddenly gifted with amazing speed, strength, memory recall, and inability to be affected by pain?

What is the genre?

The Singularity is a sci-fi political thriller, blending the two genres.  A corrupt government is trying to recollect and control the nanotechnology, which it has dubbed MIST (Microtronic Infrastructural Symbiosis Technology)

What draws you to this genre?

I like politics and imagining how presidents and their cabinets would respond to scary, unexpected threats.  We would like to assume that they have a plan…but what if they don’t?

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

I imagine what the next step would be, and go from there.  I write by the seat of my pants, for better or worse.  There is usually a “movie in my mind” of my novel, and I play various scenarios to see what fits most seamlessly.

What inspired your protagonist?

My main protagonist, Hank Hummel, is based pretty closely on myself.  I imagine how I would react to various scenarios, and then embellish a bit!  I like to think of Hank Hummel as an everyman who finds himself forced into harrowing situations.  He wants to do the right thing, but he has his own limitations.

What inspired your antagonist?

I have a due of antagonists.  Adam Pastorius is scary because he is unpredictable, and little about him is known.  He is a former Syrian spy and is primarily motivated by revenge.  He holds grudges against many foes, and is highly able of lethal retaliation.  This character is inspired by America’s general fear of terrorism:  The scariest thing can be never knowing when, where, or why your enemy will strike. 

The second antagonist, Ben, is a former Russian spy who has become thoroughly Americanized.  He is motivated entirely by profit and is loyal to nobody and nothing.  This character is inspired by the cold, impersonal gears of cutthroat capitalism.  He values efficiency over all else and does not care who he must eliminate to meet his goals.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

It’s always hardest for me to write the middle.  I know what the climax should look like, but how do I get there?  I try to make it suspenseful, believable, and intriguing.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

I like writing the climax because there’s good dialogue in the final confrontations between protagonist and antagonist.  I prefer to mix serious “tough talk” with a bit of humor.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?

I’m a part-time writer.  I write novels, and also political editorials for different websites.  When I’m not writing, I’m either teaching at a 6A public high school or helping my wife with her home décor business.  I’m currently trying to learn how to stain various pieces of wood to perfection.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading a biography of president Lyndon B. Johnson.  I like to read facts that are stranger than fiction, and then include them in my fiction.  I’ve read the biographies of many American presidents and all the major national leaders during World War II:  FDR, Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Adolf Hitler, Hideki Tojo, and Benito Mussolini.  Talk about interesting characters!

Who would you say are your favorite authors?

My favorite is Stephen King, followed by John Grisham.  Each writer is great at what he does:  King is a master of character development, while Grisham writes tightly-crafted legal thrillers.  I also loved Michael Crichton’s techno-thrillers, as well as Tom Clancy’s blend of military/tech/political thrillers.  Dean Koontz is sometimes hit-or-miss, but he can knock it out of the park like nobody else.  The Singularity was inspired by Koontz’ Midnight, and his novel The City (same title as mine, entirely by coincidence) was perfect until the climax.

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

1.)  I Was An NKVD Agent – amazing true-life story that I randomly discovered on a bookshelf at the University of Wyoming library while doing a paper for a Russian history class.

2.)  Midnight – a late-1980s precursor to nanotechnology, written by Dean Koontz.

3.)  Roadwork – how has this amazing Stephen King novel not been made into an Oscar-winner?

4.)  The Running Man – this book was much better than the 1987 movie.  One of the best predictors of the future ever!

5.)  The Catcher in the Rye – a classic, bar none!

What are your future projects, if any?

A standalone psychological thriller set in an American high school during a hostage situation.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

My books are on Smashwords, and I love getting emails from readers at authorcalvinwolf@gmail.com 

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 

To quote Winston Churchill:  “Never, never, never, never, never give up.”

Featured Author · Spotlight Interview

Featured Author: Daniel Barnett

Wednesday Spotlight

 
Genre: 
Coming of Age, Horror
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Pages: 291
Add to Good Reads
Buy: Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Book

Summer crashes to an end on a winding road. Just like that, football superstar Joel Harper finds himself rolling his wheelchair into a new school in a strange town. Soon he’s making friends of misfits, taking lessons in Iron Maiden, and trying to keep away from a ruthless bully with a penchant for switchblades. Little is he aware, something ancient and wounded has awoken deep beneath the tiny mountain community, and when it surfaces, all of Honaw will know its pain.

Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m an ex-Boston transplant living in Portland, Oregon, after going to school for psychology at BU. Right now my lifestyle is a blend of reading, writing, and paying the bills. Heavy emphasis on paying the bills. Thanks, college loans!

What inspired you to write?

Stephen King. Yeah, I know, not too original, but it’s the truth. I read a ton as a kid (I distinctly remember having The Hobbit taken away from me in the second or third grade, so I would have to play with the other kids at recess), but I never really considered writing myself. Then I picked up IT in high school, and something just kind of . . . clicked. Insanity, I think. I was in love. I went on to read every book by King I could get my hands on, and I got this idea that if I could write a story that moved someone—anyone—half as much as his stories moved me, I’d be happy. I wrote my first (terrible) novel senior year, and I kept at it since then. I’m not sure if I’ve hit my goal yet, but I’d like to think I’m a little closer.

What inspired your novel?

Poor Things was the coming together of a few different things. One of them was the desire to write something fast and fun and LOUD after my second novel, Longreave, a ghost story wherein the real horror spends a lot of time lurking behind the curtain. But the biggest, whole piece of Poor Things came on a summer road trip with my dad and stepmom in 2014. The trip was meant to recapture the magic of one that we’d all taken when I was in middle school, and of course that didn’t work out quite as we’d hoped. Magic is like that wild friend you run into at the bar; it shows up and you have a great time, the best time, but it always loses your phone number when you try to set a date. Still, we took home a few memories. The most memorable of them for me was on this twisty road up in the mountains. It was dark out, and damned beautiful, no light but the low beams and the stars. Time seemed to stretch out and slow down, the way it only can on summer nights in the country, but underneath the calm was this electric tingle—this sense of unease. Some of the disquiet was no doubt due to edginess we had all taken on after a long, cramped day in the car, but a lot of it was the deer. We saw more deer on that road in the course of one winding hour than I have seen on any road, before or since. Most of them were alive. At least one was dead. They’d pop up deep in a curve, and there’d come a camera-flash moment, as their eyes met the headlights, where you could almost feel the crunch. The crunch never came for us (we arrived safely at my uncle’s house before midnight), but the road and those deer stuck with me, and they became the backbone of Poor Things.

Them, and Iron Maiden.

What is the genre?

Horror, adventure, coming of age.

What draws you to this genre?

Horror has always appealed to me from an emotional standpoint. It gets a bad rap sometimes for being shallow and shock obsessed, but when done right, it tries and tests its characters in a way no other genre can. A candle shines brightest in the dark, and so do we, both the best of us and the worst of us.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

I went into Poor Things with an overall trajectory for the plot and a few landmark scenes along the way, but for the most part the story and the characters developed themselves.

What inspired your protagonist?

I can’t honestly say. Joel takes a little bit from me and from people that I’ve known, which is true of the characters I’ve written. His voice was always there for me.

What inspired your antagonist?

There isn’t an antagonist in Poor Things. At least, not a traditional one. There are only victims and the pain that drives those victims, turning them into monsters.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

I found Poor Things pretty smooth to write overall, with the exception of one chapter that takes place in the copper mine below Honaw, the small mountain town where Joel comes to live. That section proved challenging because it called for a shift in voice and required me to do some extra research on the side. The hardest part to write, however, was the death of a character a little later on in the book. I knew it was coming, but the suddenness of it—the brutality of it—left me shaky.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

The talent show. Joel and his friends get up on stage in front of the whole school, and, well . . . you’ll just have to see.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?

Part time. I keep myself warm and dry at night by waiting tables.

What are you currently reading?

I’ve been on a King kick lately, and right now I’m re-reading Pet Semetary.

Who would you say are your favourite authors?

Stephen King (big surprise, right?), Joe Hill, Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, David Mitchell, John Steinbeck, Richard Matheson, and you’re skimming now, so I’ll stop.

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

The Stand, Imajica, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, all seven of The Harry Potter books but particularly the third and fifth, Firestarter, Misery, The Shining, and The Dead Zone, to name the first few that come to mind. Yeah, I know that’s more than 5.

What are your future projects, if any?

I’ve got a few ideas rolling around in my head.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

Feel free to reach out to me at Goodreads or via dbhfiction@gmail.com. I also have a website (danielbarnettfiction.com) that is currently having some technical difficulties. I hope to have it up and running again soon.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Read a lot, write a lot, and learn to revise your work ruthlessly.

Featured Author · Spotlight Interview

Featured Author: Damien Black

Wednesday Spotlight

 
Genre: 
Dark Epic Fantasy
Publisher: IngramSpark/KDP
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Pages: 650
Add to Good Reads
Buy: Amazon USAmazon CANAmazon UK

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m from the UK. I was born and raised in London. I wouldn’t say we were poor but money was often tight. Reading was a release for me from an early age, that and television. Then I got into the music thing in my teens, played a lot of guitar and probably did more partying than was good for me! I cleaned up my act a few years ago and around that time it dawned on me that I loved writing more than music.

What inspired you to write?

I remember writing a lot of stuff at school that I never finished. Then in adult life I came back to it. Rock ‘n’ roll is very seductive, but the more I got back into writing the more I realised that it offers more. For one thing, you can have complete creative control – especially on a self-publishing ticket. No more band arguments, no struggling with sound engineers or producers… You’re the boss! And words have far more intellectual clout than music – they can be beautiful for their own sake, but they can also be used to send ideas far and wide. I can’t think of a more satisfying feeling than creating your own world and story and watching them come to life through the power of prose.

What inspired your novel?

Er, God? It has to come from somewhere… That collective unconscious that we tap into without thinking, all artists can relate to this I believe. In particular I wanted to explore the links between monotheism and polytheism, how they bleed into one another (despite the best attempts of clerics of many faiths to deceive us to the contrary). I also wanted to write a story of high adventure – chivalry, derring-do, battles, what have you – that was underpinned by creeping horror – demons, evil spirits, possession, warlocks and black magic. HP Lovecraft meets George RR Martin if you will!

What is the genre?

Dark fantasy. Although it crosses over into grimdark too.

What draws you to this genre?

Everything. The creative potential is limitless. You get to design your own world with its history and cultures, drawing on the real one as much or as little as you like. I didn’t choose this genre; it chose me. I may branch out into other kinds of fiction but for now I couldn’t imagine writing anything else!

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

I started much as Tolkien did, concocting a series of histories and nations, each with their own culture, religion and linguistic identity. Once I had a fully functioning world I started to devise the storyline. I went on holiday and spent several days chain smoking and writing out a synopsis for an epic saga. Once I was done I had 50 pages of A4. I thought: I’m on to something here.

What inspired your protagonist?

In Adelko of Narvik I wanted a hero who is a pacifist and doesn’t use violence to solve his problems (although he falls in with quite a few characters who do). I also wanted someone whose job it is to hunt down sorcerers. In that way I believe I’ve come up with a lead character who is the opposite of the stereotypical wizard or warrior you find in most fantasy novels… unless of course you count the prayers Adelko uses to neutralise magic as magic itself…! That’s my idea of an ambiguous character: you can read him in completely different ways.

What inspired your antagonist?

Depends which one you are talking about… There are several, of varying degrees of depravity. You see, I also wanted to channel elements of a thriller/mystery into my work, so in Devil’s Night Dawning the arch villain’s identity remains ambiguous… I would say more but I don’t want to give the game away!

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

Ooh good question! Most of it seemed to come quite naturally… I think editing it was the hardest part. I’ve got years of experience as an editor but making judgement calls on your own work was tough. But again, incredibly rewarding – I have an idiosyncratic style of writing and having complete control of the creative process is very important to me.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

I think the segment where Adelko is on the run with his mentor Horskram –  they know that somebody knows what they know and is sending agents – human and supernatural – to kill them before they can warn the Grand Master of their order. They’re being chased across the wilderness day and night, with the suspense gradually building (a bit like in the first part of The Fellowship of the Ring). I like to pace the telling of a story – don’t give it all away at once! It also gave me the opportunity to world-build through Adelko’s POV – he hasn’t seen much of the world to date so it’s all pretty fresh in his eyes.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?

I worked for more than a decade as a freelance journalist and copywriter, sidelining in music, but now I’ve quit those things to concentrate on writing. The second installment of the Broken Stone series will be out this year!

What are you currently reading?

Dawn of the Gods by Jacquetta Hawkes. I’ve just started and it’s a fascinating read: it details how the Minoan civilization in Crete was influenced by the Near Eastern cultures of Mesopotamia and went on to influence that of mainland Greece – the Mycenaean palace culture that preceded the classical era most people are familiar with. I read a lot of history and it definitely inspires my writing.

Who would you say are your favourite authors?

Oh so many. To name but a few: Sir Thomas Malory, Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Scott, JRR Tolkien, Michael Moorcock, Joseph Conrad, HP Lovecraft, Aldous Huxley, Anthony Burgess, Mervyn Peake

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

Ow, that’s hard…! The Heart of Darkness, A Tale of Two Cities, The Lord of the Rings, The Talisman, Gormenghast. Better move on to the next question, before I change my mind!

What are your future projects, if any?

To continue writing the Broken Stone series. I’ve synopsised for five books, but it might run over. I’ve every intention of finishing it too – unlike some other authors of epic fantasy I could mention… Ahem!

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

My website is damienblackwords.com and I can be reached any time of the day at damien@damienblackwords.com – I also have a Twitter account @TheDevilsFriar and I’m on Facebook too under www.facebook.com/damienblackwords/

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 

Don’t aspire: be.

Featured Author · Spotlight Interview

Featured Author: Brett Arquette

Wednesday Spotlight

 
Genre: 
Thriller, Military, Young Adult
Publication Date: November 15, 2016
Pages:  354
Add to Good Reads
Buy: Amazon USAmazon CANBarnes & Noble

 

 

 

 

 

About the Book

Marshall Hail was a husband, a father, a Physics Nobel prize winner and industrial billionaire. But when Hail’s family was killed in a terrorist attack, he became a predator and redirected his vast industrial assets toward one goal, removing every person on the FBI’s Top 10 Terrorist list. With the help of his MIT colleagues, Hail designed and built a devastating arsenal of attack drones of all shapes and sizes that are flown by the nation’s best young gamers. The world will come to realize that Marshall Hail possesses the capability of getting to anyone, anywhere, at any time, unleashing an operation so disturbing that the CIA has named it Operation Hail Storm.

Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

The middle child of five, I was born in 1960 and anointed with my mother’s pen name “Duncan”, given to me by award-winning author Lois Duncan. During her career, my mother Lois wrote 48 best-selling young adult books, some of which have been made into movies, including the movie “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and “Hotel for Dogs”. I was raised in New Mexico and moved to Florida on my 30th birthday. Writing on the weekends, my first book, “Deadly Perversions”, was published in 2002. My additional titles are “Seeing Red”, “Tweaked”, “The Pandemic Diary” and “Soundman for a B-Band”. My newest book is an adventure into Young Adult writing with a series of “HAIL” books with the first one called “Operation Hail Storm. I currently reside in the Sunshine State with my wife and three children.

What inspired you to write?

My Mother inspired me to write. She cranked out 48 books during her lifetime and was still able to run a family with five children. I really had no business writing, since I had no background novel writing in High School or College. But after I wrote my first book, I came to the realization that I could do it and I was hooked.

Has having a famous best-selling author as a Mother opened doors for you in your writing career.

Yes and no. By dropping her name, I can every once in a great while get a book read by an agent that would have never bothered without my family pedigree. However, past that, every book will live or die on its own merits. And the publishing business has change 180 degrees since my Mother published her first book. I am writing a multipart blog on my website http://brett.arquette.us about just that subject.

What inspired your novel?

I had written many novels with adult themes, but had never written a book that was written for teens. My Mother had made a career writing almost exclusively for teens, so I knew there was an audience out there. One day, my son came home from middle school and told me that his teacher was reading his class “Rainbow Six”, a classic special ops book by Tom Clancy. Unfortunately, they had to stop reading the book due to too many profanities in the novel. At the time, I was really enjoying reading special ops books, such as “The Gray Man” series by Mark Greaney. I couldn’t recall anyone writing special ops books for young adults that could be read in the classroom that had no profanity and G rated violence. Six months later, wa-la, OPERATION HAIL STORM received the last typed words “The End”.

What is the genre?

The genre would be classified as a Thriller, but it has a military feel to it. Since it was written for teens, I also wanted to add some educational information. So there is the potential for math, social studies, geography and science workbooks that could accompany the CLASSROOM edition.

What draws you to this genre?

I love reading fast paced books. You know, lots of action and if you skip a dozen pages, you probably missed something important. Thrillers should thrill throughout the book; not just at the beginning or the end. And I think I accomplished that with OPERATION HAIL STORM. I also feel when I’m writing for teens, I am going up against video games and video and movies and music, all competing for their attention. So I’ve got to keep the story moving, creating action in scenes where you would not expect action elements.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

During the past few years I’ve been reading the magazine called the MIT Review. There is some crazy complicated science that is being discussed in that publication, and one of those topics was about a new design of a nuclear reactor called the traveling wave reactor. This is the type of technology that is a real game changer for our planet, because these safe reactors burn depleted uranium. The United States alone has enough depleted uranium stockpiled to supply all the energy for our entire planet for the next 10,000 years. Bill Gates currently sits on the board of TerraPower who is prototyping the reactor, so this is real science. Based on that information, I created my main character, Marshall Hail as the person who takes that technology to the next level and brings the traveling wave reactor to market. This makes him a billionaire. But what is a billionaire if he loses his family in a terrorist attack? What does money matter at that point? What matters to Marshall Hail is retribution. Hail is a flawed character and he recognizes his flaws and hates himself for them, but he is still set on using all his resources to bring terrorists to justice. The Marshall Hail form of justice.

What inspired your protagonist?

Marshall Hail lost his family in a future terrorist attack that is called THE FIVE. Five shoulder launched missiles took out five commercial aircraft in five difference countries from five different terrorist groups all within five minutes of each other. Hail was immersed in grief and could no longer go on with business as usual. So he made some significant modifications to his fleet of cargo ships, making each of them command and control centers in which to launch drone strikes anywhere in the world.

What inspired your antagonist?

There are a few difference flavors of antagonists in the novel and each of them has an agenda. There is a beautiful CIA operative Kara Ramey that is assigned to work with Marshall Hail to track down terrorist, but she has her own reasons for doing what she does. Then there is a major arms dealer who was responsible for suppling the missiles to the terrorist groups who shot down the airplanes in THE FIVE. Needless to say, his agenda is markedly different.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

As I mentioned, I like books with action and I enjoy writing the action elements, but there is always a need to humanize your characters so they have substance and the reader cares about them. Writing the personal parts of each character, how they feel, their background, what makes them tick, those sorts of segments are always hard for me to write because I have to completely change gears. And it is very easy to get carried away with emotional elements and lose the pace of the book.

What was your favorite part of your book to write?

I like writing the technical segments – how the drones fly, how they are designed and assembled. I like writing the dialogue between the engineers and designers and the pilots who will fly the contraptions. Words just seem to flow when I get into that frame of mind.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?

Sadly, right now part time. I spent most of my career working as the Chief Technology Officer for one of the largest Circuit Court Systems in Florida. In 2002, Computerworld Magazine selected me as one of the “Premier 100 IT Leaders” in the world, describing me as a “visionary” in reference to the cutting-edge technology. My books are peppered with technology acquired from vast experience in advanced computers and audio/video systems. I was also the Editor in Chief of the Court Technology Forum, Contributing Editor for eWeek Magazine, columnist for ComputerWorld and SmartComputing magazines, all of which has helped to create a loyal fan base and lots of traffic on my website. Like most parents, I spend most of my free time with my faimly doing fun stuff.

What are you currently reading?

I am reading some Dean Koontz, love Jack Reacher novels, love the Gray Man series and the John Rain series, and have started reading all of my mother’s books, just to see what I can learn from them.

Who would you say are your favorite authors?

Mark Greaney, Steven King, Robert Crais, Barry Eisler, Dean Koontz, Vince Flynn

How about your favorite books? What would be your top 5?

Any books from my favorite authors.

What are your future projects, if any?

I already have the next three Hail books in the series plotted in my brain. The next one will be called OPERATION HAIL WARNING. And hold on to your seats, because this book is going to BRING IT!

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

They are welcome to email me a brettarquette@gmail.com. I will also be doing the free Kindle Download off of Amazon for a week as soon as the book posts. Please check my website for the exact dates at http://brett.arquette.us

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Yes, when you are writing books, try to put as much description as you can into dialogue. That may mean even adding some sort of confidante character who the lead characters can discuss plot elements. Always be thinking, if this was optioned as a movie, how would the screenplay be written. In some cases, such as the Gray Man series I mentioned, the Gray Man is a loner and barely ever talks to anyone. That creates a big problem when it comes to writing the screenplay. You would be almost starting from scratch.

 

Featured Author · Spotlight Interview

Spotlight Interview with author Dominic Adler

Wednesday Spotlight


Genre: Military, Technothriller, Thriller
Publisher: Thistle Publishing
Publication Date: May 4, 2017
Pages: 272
Add to Good Reads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Book

‘Adler’s prose is razor sharp, his characters flawed enough to be believable. A great read.’
Alex Shaw, best-selling author of Cold East.

Cal Winter: Junkie. Murderer. Winner of the Military Cross for Gallantry.

Penniless and desperate, Cal Winter is coerced into working for a band of freelance paramilitaries known as The Firm. After a decade of deniable killing, he plots revenge. Armed with a secret file of The Firm’s dirtiest secrets, Winter returns to London. There he discovers the organisation has evolved into something even worse…

Winter assembles a careworn team of The Firm’s cast-offs and misfits. Their enemy: a ruthless warrior elite, information warfare specialists battle-honed in the West’s ‘Forever Wars’.

From Iceland to the City of London, to the lonely marshes of England’s southern coast, Winter must stop The Firm. Not just to save the country he once scorned, but to fulfill his vow to be a better man.

Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi. I’m Dominic Adler. I’m from London and have been writing for eight years. I live with my wife and son and a dog. When I’m not writing I’m cooking, watching movies, drinking beer or gaming (for the record I’m pretty much addicted to ‘Grim Dawn’ at the moment).

What inspired you to write?

It’s a deeply disturbing urge / compulsion – I’m sure other writers know the feeling. Then I got to a point where I was having a rough time with the stuff life hurls at you now and then. Someone suggested I write, if only to get it out of my system. The result was my first novel, which wasn’t published. It did, however, get me an agent and a lot of its DNA is in ‘The Saint Jude Rules.’

What inspired your novel?

Three things. First of all, it’s the final part of a trilogy: I wanted to tie up an existing story in a satisfying way (although my books can be read as standalones too). Secondly, I always wanted to write a technothriller where the technology was something more subtle than a new drone or super-cyborg. In my book, it’s a computer program – what it does is the important thing. Thirdly, current events seem so incredible at the moment, I thought they could easily be the work of a bad guy from the pages of Ian Fleming. I’m offering an alternative explanation, in a classic conspiracy-thriller style.

What is the genre?

My books are thrillers. If we put them in a sub-category, it would be military-espionage-crime (with a side helping of dark / snarky humour). I know that’s not a sub-category but dammit it should be.

What draws you to this genre?

Thrillers were my first love as a reader (closely followed by fantasy / SF). I’m also of that generation of men who grew up with World War II as a strong cultural point of reference – Sunday afternoons watching ‘Where Eagles Dare’ or ‘The Guns of Navarone.’ It’s also a very broad genre a writer can ruthlessly exploit play with. Some great thrillers have barely a shot fired, others (like mine) are a maelstrom of bullets and gore.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

As a kid I played pen and paper role-playing games like ‘RuneQuest’ and ‘Traveller.’ You always had a character sheet, right? I create one of those for each character, then flesh it out as they develop through the story. Then I draw character maps in a notebook, where ‘x’ is the character and ‘y’ is the plot. I usually envisage plots around a series of set scenes, then work backwards and join them all up. For example, in my first book (‘The Ninth Circle’) I wanted an extended chase sequence at a Chernobyl-type ruined power plant. I also wanted a siege in a country house in the snow. I worked from there. Hopefully, the plot and the characters segue together, like a chemical reaction. I often change one because of the other.

What inspired your protagonist?

Cal Winter is fundamentally a good man trapped in a bad guy’s body. He’s Elric of Melniboné with a Glock instead of a big black soul-stealing sword (and like Elric, Cal sometimes needs chemical sustenance to keep going). His story arc is about reconciling his predilection for violence (the only thing he’s good at) versus redemption, and to be seen as the better man. He’s fixated on revenge, but is dimly aware it’s unlikely to solve anything. I’ve actually met one or two people a little like Cal, combat veterans. They wanted to do the right thing when they joined the military. Then their country asks them to do things they never expected to do. To make things worse, when they obey, they are abandoned and ostracized. I thought that was an interesting starting point for a character.

What inspired your antagonist?

The most important bad guy is a visionary, spurned by his bosses in the American military establishment. He’s charismatic, physically powerful but megalomaniacal. He was partly inspired by Colonel Kurtz from ‘Apocalypse Now.’

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

The Prologue. I always have one, mainly because (a) I love the scenes at the start of a Bond movie where you see 007’s last mission and (b) I use them to pick out some themes about the characters, not least for people who might not have read the other books. This one takes us back to Cal’s first assassination gig. It took a lot of time to get right, making sure the characters, timelines etc. all worked in the context of a trilogy.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

There’s a scene where Cal and his wingman interrogate two maths geniuses about a complex economic modelling program. Getting the banter between two combat grunts and two scientists right was fun.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you
do besides write?
I write part-time. I worked in law enforcement for many years, so I’ve done my time sitting on a roof watching people through a pair of binoculars.

What are you currently reading?

‘Kings of the Wyld’ by a new Canadian author called Nicholas Eames. It’s a fantasy-comedy that really reminds me of the movie ‘A Knight’s Tale’ with Heath Ledger. Imagine a game of Dungeons & Dragons where the heroes get treated like rock stars. It’s great fun. And it’s got a character called Arcandius Moog. Which is cool.

Who would you say are your favourite authors?

Off the top of my head… Jack Higgins, Tim Willocks, Michael Moorcock, Philip Kerr, Len Deighton and Joe Abercrombie.

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

You love tough questions, don’t you? The following would get me through a stint on a desert island: The Eagle has Landed (Jack Higgins), The Religion (Tim Willocks), The Heroes (Joe Abercrombie), Bomber (Len Deighton), The Hawkmoon cycle (Michael Moorcock).

What are your future projects, if any?

I’ve got a short story coming out soon, in a charity anthology for Alzheimer’s research. It’s been put together by Brit indie author Ryan Bracha and is called ‘The Twelve Lives of Frank Peppercorn.’ There’s also a Cal Winter 4 planned, but it’s tricky as the central premise of the stories changes in the new book. Then there’s my post-apocalyptic detective thriller with superhumans, Communists and a Die Hard vibe (rewrite number 15 ongoing ha ha). I’ve also got a US-based novel about a former female CIA extradition agent. Lurking in my mind is also a fantasy / spy mashup.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and
your books?

Facebook is my number one writer’s interface with the world. And according to my page management tool, I’m ‘very responsive!’ Find me at
https://www.facebook.com/dominicadlerauthor/

I’m also on Goodreads, which I enjoy.
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7259786.Dominic_Adler

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

It sounds obvious, but you’ve got to write. A lot. And the more you write, the better you’ll get. The better you get at the technical side, the more your awesome ideas come to life on the page. I’d also get in the habit of people-watching and making notes. I’ll give you an example – the other day I was on a busy train, and noticed a woman putting on her makeup in a certain way (because she was crushed by other commuters, it reminded me of someone eating one of those tiny meals on an airplane). I later made a note of the order she did it, and the facial expressions she made. It was a very human moment, and one day it might end up in a book.

Featured Author · Featured Author Wednesday · Spotlight Interview

Spotlight Interview with Dante Silva and Vanessa Mozes

Wednesday Spotlight

 
Genre: 
Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: January 30, 2017
Add to Good Reads
Buy on:
SmashwordsAmazonCreateSpaceLulu.com

 

 

 

 

 

About the Book

Aubriel has always admired the paladin Elston, but when it comes time for him to choose between her and the treasure she unwittingly leads him to, he chooses the treasure. Elston’s betrayal puts Aubriel in the path of a powerful fey lord whose invasion of her dreams assures Aubriel that he has plans for her. But she refuses to be used again. Unable to return home with the possibility of facing Elston there, Aubriel follows Lord Callannon Thray to a realm of great magic and even greater danger. When Callannon arrives to defend his treasure, he’s surprised to find a beautiful elven woman already defending it for him. Aubriel is everything he’s wanted but failed to find in a fey woman-but there’s one problem: she’s mortal. When she agrees to go with him to the fey realm, Callannon has no choice but to hide her mortality to protect her from those who would use her against him. The captain of the king’s guard is one such person, and she won’t rest until she sees Callannon stripped of everything he has.

Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Individually, we’ve both been enamored with fantasy since we were young and have kept it in our lives through varies means: books, movies, tabletop games, and more. We both have a passion for stories, regardless of medium, and have enjoyed too many to count over the years. We each discovered that we have the urge to create stories as well as enjoy them.

As a husband and wife, we found ourselves drawn to romance the more we focused on and built our relationship together. We began creating fantasy together, and romance naturally budded from it. Rather than trying to remove the romance to focus on the fantasy, we embraced the romance, and our writing is the better for it.

What inspired you to write?

We find inspiration from many places: our relationships, personal experiences, other stories, etc. It’s handy to be coauthors because we can always inspire and encourage each other when one of us gets stuck in the writing process. Writing is our creative outlet, and knowing that we did something we’ve each always wanted to do and that we can share it makes us want to do it all over again!

What inspired your novel?

At first, we just talked with each other about the kind of story we’d like to read. At the time, we didn’t know of many books that focused on developing a relationship past the falling in love stage for a significant amount of time. This led to many conversations that eventually transformed from a simple story line to characters and twists and turns. We just kept building on our conversations until we were happy with the result.

What is the genre?

Exchanged is a fantasy romance that dabbles in erotica.

What draws you to this genre?

We’ve both always loved fantasy, and the combination of fantasy and romance is the area that our interests intersect. We both love writing, and this common ground allows us to write together.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

Once we went from just talking about the story to committing to write it down, we used something called the snowflake method. This method helped us get out the basics on paper (so to speak) and build on them until we had a comprehensive story with detailed character outlines. By prepping Exchanged in this way, it helped to keep us both on the same page (literally and figuratively).

What inspired your protagonist?

Aubriel and Callannon were inspired by our desire to see relatable characters who change and grow over time. Some of our hopes and desires, such as seeing people grow together in a healthy way despite adversity are reflected in them.

What inspired your antagonist?

The hardships we dealt with at the time we created the story. Whether new or old, we used difficulties that were on our mind in part of the creation process. The antagonists took shape and evolved the further into the story we planned, but their roots came from our experiences.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

The beginning of the ballroom scene. It became easier the further we got into rewrites, but we tore that poor scene entrance apart and put it back together more than a few times.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

Vanessa: For me, I loved writing from the character POVs that didn’t show up as often. It was fun to get in their heads and show the story from their perspective.

Dante: The best parts for me were the character interactions, particularly those with Oberon and seeing Callannon and Aubriel develop together over the course of the story.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?

Part time, although we’d love to be full time. Dante technically is a full time writer, but his day job requires writing of a more technical nature. Vanessa is currently working at a library and loving every moment of it. 

What are you currently reading?

We’re on the second book in The Bridei Chronicles, Blade of Fortriu. Vanessa has also been working her way through the Tairen Soul series. There are so many good books out there and not enough time! 

Who would you say are your favourite authors?

For Vanessa, Jennifer Fallon is a long-time favorite and Grace Draven is a newer favorite. Dante also enjoys both of Vanessa’s authors, but also has a soft spot for Douglas Adams.

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

That’s tough! We’re going to cheat a little by including a few series. 

1. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

2. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

3. The Demon Child Trilogy by Jennifer Fallon

4. Wraith Kings series by Grace Draven

5. Magic: The Gathering (Artifacts Cycle through Invasion Cycle) was a childhood indulgence for Dante

Extra credit: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

What are your future projects, if any?

We have a short story and another book that we’re working on currently. Both are fantasy romance, although the book dips a bit into the adventure pool as well. We’re looking to release the short story over the summer and the book by January 2018.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

Our website is the best place to get to know us and receive news about projects, and it’s the easiest place to find information on our books. Facebook and Twitter are close seconds. Both Dante and Vanessa are active on Goodreads as well.

Author Links:
https://silvamozes.com/ (Website)
Facebook
Twitter

Danta Silva Good Reads
Vanessa Mozes Good Reads

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Be tenacious! The worst thing you can do is nothing. Take risks and put yourself out there. The best way to learn is by doing.

Featured Author · Featured Author Wednesday · Spotlight Interview

Spotlight Interview with author K.M. Hodge

Wednesday Spotlight

 
Genre: 
Suspense, Speculative Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Evolved Publishing
Publication Date: April 2017
Pages: 245
Add to Good Reads

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I am from Detroit, Michigan and I am a huge Detroit Tigers fan. My degrees are all in social work and I have dedicated the last fifteen years to promoting social change. I advocate for women’s rights, hunger, and autism. live in Texas now with my husband and two boys, one of which is on the spectrum. I incorporate all of these things into my writing. I even have a character with autism for my Book Cellar Series.

What inspired you to write?

Okay, you’re going to laugh at this one. Twenty years ago, I was hard core obsessed with the show The X-Files. I loved the writing and wanted to write my own FBI book, but without the paranormal twist. So I started what is now called, Red on the Run, my award winning first in Trilogy book.

What inspired your novel?

The last book in my Trilogy was inspired by medical mysteries, which I have always been a fan of. I enjoy writing about doctors and nurses. I even have a nurse that I collaborate with to make sure that all of my information is correct. Dr. Zander Ride is nothing like his parents, but is still one of my favorite characters.

Here’s the blurb:

The Son—born to save them all.

Dr. Zander Ride grew up a son of The Syndicate, his fate as a career criminal all but sealed. With the help of his mother, he escaped a life of crime… until the night he heard The Syndicate had shot his mother in cold blood.

Zander soon finds refuge in the hands of his mother’s hacktivist group, who want his help bringing down the notorious group once and for all. But it comes with a cost. Managed by a different leader and guided by a new deadly mission, the hacktivists force Zander to confront the truth about his parents and the sacrifices they made for the cause.

In the end, Zander must decide how far he’s willing to go and what he’s willing to sacrifice. Can a child born of The Syndicate bring it all down, or will he be another pointless sacrifice in their struggle for money and power?

Fans of Criminal Minds, NCIS, and Robin Cook will be thrilled with this fast paced Trilogy.

What is the genre?

The genre for this series is Suspense. Because it takes place in the future it also has a touch of speculative in it as well as romantic elements. But at its core it is suspense.

What draws you to this genre?

I love writing stories that have my readers on the edge of their seat. It’s what I have always enjoyed reading, too.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

The main characters in my series have all been inspired by strangers I meet or from TV shows, like the X-Files. The main man of the first book in series is loosely based off of Mulder from the X-Files. So I start off with a basic idea of the characters and then I map out their progression through each book with a kind of bell curve diagram.

What inspired your protagonist?

I wanted to have a “normal” character to offset the tragically flawed ones that I have written previously. I enjoy the idea of having two wild parents having a cool, calm, and collective kid. I have a background in psychology and have always been interested in nature vs. nurture. I also wanted to have the majority of the story take place in a hospital and thought it would be fun to have a doctor character.

What inspired your antagonist?

I have two antagonist. One that is the obvious bad guy, who feels justified in his actions. He wants to take everyone down and do it in a very scary way. The other antagonist is the vigilante justice guy. The one who wants to stop the bad guy, but doesn’t always want to do things within the letter of the law. It’s fun to have a gradation of bad and touch of the question of what is justified and what isn’t.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

The hardest part for me is always the 30k word mark. I always struggle with all of my books at this point.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

I love to write the end. I usually write the end scene first and work backwards.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?

I am a full time mom, part time fundraiser, and part time writer. I am always on the go.

What are you currently reading?

My nine year old and I are reading all things Rick Riordan. We just finished the Percy Jackson series. Sooo good!

Who would you say are your favourite authors?

My all time favorite author, and awesome human is Joyce Maynard. She works really hard, writes brilliant stories, and is one of the nicest people. She inspires me to keep going. I also love all things Margaret Atwood, Ann Patchett, and Barbara Kiingsolver. Old school authors would be: Stienbeck, Austen, and Alcott.

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

This is such a hard question. Off the top of my head, here is the list:

  1. East of Eden

  2. Pride and Prejudice

  3. Truth & Beauty

  4. The Poisonwood Bible

  5. Blind Assassin

What are your future projects, if any?

I am working on a 1970’s romantic thriller trilogy that will come out at the end of the year. I am also working on the Syndicate-born Trilogy prequel.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

My email, Facebook Page, and my website.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Take your time and don’t rush to get your work out there. Make sure it has a professional (to market) cover and make sure it has been edited by a person who has experience editing your specific genre. Also, read as many craft books and belong to as many groups of authors as you can. No one gets there alone. Your fellow authors can be a big help to you and a wonderful resource to learn from. Slow and steady wins the race. Remember that. 🙂

Where readers and bloggers can find me:

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/kmhodgeauthor

Facebook Review Team: www.facebook.com/groups/518538554970744/833215726836357

Twitter Author Page: www.twitter.com/kmhodgeauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kmhodgeauthor/

Website: www.kmhodge.com

Sign-up for my mailing list and get a FREE book: www.kmhodge.com/subscribe

FREE SAMPLE of Red on the Run: https://www.instafreebie.com/free/tBBZH
Spotlight Interview

Spotlight Interview with author Michael Bray

daze

 
Genre: 
Horror, Thriller, Zombies
Publisher: Magnum Books
Publication Date: December 22, 2015
Pages: 461
Add to Good Reads
Buy Links: Amazon CA*Amazon US*Audio Book

About the Book:

What if man’s thirst for knowledge resulted in it’s own destruction?

Richard Draven is a scientist interested in the healing properties of primates and transferring them to humans. When he discovers a new species of monkey with amazing regenerative powers, he has no idea that his report will set off a chain of events with dire consequences.
Six years later, and Draven’s research has been put into practice. The government has engineered a virus which has begun human trials. It’s job – to make the armed forces of the world better, stronger, faster in their numerous conflicts across the globe. Something, however is not right. Disturbing reports about the behaviour of those modified by the virus are growing in number raising concerns amongst those in charge that something has gone wrong. As the Apex teams go dark and stop responding to orders, the government discover that there is a much more sinister force at work.
Joshua Cook is the alpha male, the first man to be administered the virus and bond with it successfully. Joshua is tired of the human race, tired of their self-destructive nature. He has a plan, one which involves wiping the slate clean of the ‘lesser’ edition of the human machine and repopulating the earth with his own kind. As the full and devastating scale of Joshua’s plan begins to unfold before the eyes of the world, the government are forced to turn back to Richard Draven in an effort to find a way to stop Joshua and his growing army before he can eradicate humanity from the planet.
A tense, global thriller taking place across multiple countries, from the government-centric streets of Washington to the slums of Mumbai and the burning heat of the Iraq desert, Project Apex features a rich and varied cast of characters each with their own motivations and sub plots through the main narrative as they tell the very human story of a disaster on an unprecedented global scale where people are forced to do things they never imagined possible, and in some cases revert back to the instinctive savagery long repressed by our species as society starts to crumble the world over.

Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Of course! My name is Michael and I was born and raised in Leeds in the UK. I’m married and have one daughter. Background wise, I’ve always loved writing and reading, although for some reason or another I didn’t really start considering doing it seriously until 2012. At the time, the indie/rock band I was playing in was doing quite well. We were recording and touring, getting our names out there and that was the potential career focus. However as often happens, creative differences on the direction of the band meant that we split, and suddenly with no creative output I was craving something to focus on. It had always been in the back of my mind to have a serious attempt at the whole writing thing and had been mulling over the idea of doing a collection of interlinked short stories so decided to give it a go, unsure how far I would get or if it would even be any good. To my surprise, the whole thing came naturally to me and within a month or so I had just over ninety thousand words and a completed project. Unsure what to do next, I did a little research and found a couple of potential publishers and decided to send some tentative queries. Within a couple of days, I received a reply from one offering to publish the book! Here we are four and a half years later with the crazy situation of having a couple of amazon bestselling titles under my belt and having just sold movie rights to another book (MEAT 2013) to a Los Angeles-based production company. I find it humbling and crazy in equal measure and can’t believe how fortunate I am.

What inspired you to write?

There was one very distinct moment that I remember when I was growing up. I must have only been eleven or twelve at the time and came home and my eye was caught by a huge hardback book on the dining room table. Curious I went to take a closer look. It was my sister’s copy of Stephen King’s Skeleton Crew. I was drawn in by the artwork and picked it up (even though the bookmark inside said she was currently reading it) and turned the page to the first story and started to read. Long story short, I devoured that book. I remember the feeling it gave me, the way the prose was able to take me away and deliver a really visual experience. In the back of my mind, I wondered what it would be like to be able to be the one delivering that feeling. To write something that gave the reader that sense of separation and take them somewhere new, even if those places were frightening and uncomfortable. I suppose that stuck with me for years until I made a serious stab at trying to see if I could pull it off.

What inspired your novel?

The idea for Project Apex came together from a few different things. It was conceived in 2013 although it wasn’t actually written until much later. It was a time when every time I switched on the news there were reports of wars, suicide bomber attacks. I always wondered how it was for the innocent people caught in the middle, how a regular person might try to survive amid a catastrophic event that changed their lives forever. A couple of other things I had been toying with at the time was writing a fresh take on the whole zombie attack angle but grounding it in reality and science. I had been reading some Michael Crichton at the time and loved the scientific spin he used to put on his books. I came up with the idea of creating a world where something so catastrophic and devastating happens but instead of following the exploits of a muscle bound action hero as he tries to resolve it, I would use very real, very ordinary people. There is no main protagonist as such in Project Apex. The story follows several different people and groups from different walks of life as they try to deal with this devastation. There is a young boy and his disabled brother trying to survive the death of their parents in the attack. We also follow an Indian aid worker who had escaped the poverty of her old life and had returned as an aid worker when everything happens. We have a scientist who feels responsible for the situation but is neither strong or brave enough to fight, relying instead on his female companion assigned by the military to protect him as he tries to find a way to help. We also follow a heavily funded church in Texas which looks to exploit the world events and transcend into a cult-like entity. The most polarising relationship of all though is between an American Special Forces soldier and one of the terrorists he had captured. Forced to work together when the global catastrophe happens, the story really digs into the idea of putting aside preconceptions and prejudice in the face of a bigger threat. They transcend from bitter hatred to respectful if uneasy allies as the three books play out, which for me was a really interesting dynamic. Finally, tying all together we have our villain of the piece, a man called Joshua who is essentially like the second coming of Hitler. He is maniacal and ruthless, yet a flawed villain. Readers have said they drift from hatred to seeing his point and finding themselves siding with him until I throw in something particularly horrible to sway them back over to the hatred side of the fence!

What is the genre?

Pinning down a specific genre for this was hard as it dips into several areas. It’s part thriller, part horror part science fiction. It’s a huge global scale story and even now I can’t nail it down to one over the other.

What draws you to this genre?

Although I started out and make my living in horror, I’ve found myself increasingly drawn towards doing some high concept commercial thriller type things. Although I enjoy writing the supernatural stuff, I also love working in the real world and crafting stories which more people would relate to. It’s definitely an area I’ll be exploring going forward. After the project Apex series is complete, the next couple of novels I have planned are also leaning more towards the thriller genre than outright horror.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

I’m a plotter at heart for long fiction. I like to bullet point my story chapter by chapter to give me a rough skeleton of a story. Often it will change along the way but I like to go in knowing I have a beginning, middle and end. For this one, the initial intention was to just do one book, but it became apparent early on that the plot was too complex for one book so I made the decision to split it into three which was the right call.

As for characters, I’ve always hated working in black and white. For me, there is nothing more boring than having characters who are fully good or fully bad. For me, the most interesting ones have always been somewhere in the middle. It’s those grey shades I like to work within. I like the balance and how it flits from one to the other. If you have several characters like that who are flawed in some way, it really opens up the scope of the story.

What inspired your protagonist?

During the initial thought process of putting this together, one thing I wanted to do was not to have one specific protagonist. I had watched Quentin Tarantino’s movie Pulp Fiction and loved the idea of all these storylines taking place at once. In that move, you would be hard pressed to pick out a lead character. All the plots feel as important as the next. I wanted to translate that to the book. The concurrent plotlines are all of equal importance and it was important to me to really develop each character or group to the best of my ability so that each time the reader goes back to a given situation they are still invested. Sure enough, it was a risk and logistically a nightmare to make sure everything felt relevant without overwhelming the reader. I like to think the balance is good though and all the plot threads which unravel across the trilogy will be as satisfying as each other.

What inspired your antagonist?

I was thinking about the idea of power, and how depending on who wields it the outcome can potentially be very different. As mentioned earlier I love working with flawed characters, so I took a guy, a good guy. An upstanding citizen from an upper middle class family who was raised the right way and taught good values. A man who, after seeing the World Trade Centre attacks joins the army as he feels he has to protect his country. The problem is, the army sees his benefits more in using his brain. He’s physically weak but mentally strong, so they tie him to a desk job and don’t let him fight. Even though he is frustrated by this, he does his job. When an opportunity comes up to volunteer for a new genetic modification program to aid the soldiers in the field but nobody volunteers, he does, feeling he owes his country. When this proves to be brilliantly successful and he becomes all those things he never thought he could be and more, I was interested in exploring what would happen if that mindset changed. If he suddenly felt that he was now superior to those around him and looked at a world full of hatred and people killing each other as something he finally had the power to fix. I wanted to explore how that twisted superiority complex would change a man and warp him into doing unspeakable things and in turn becoming the very thing he joined the army to protect his country from. Joshua is a very complex character and most readers like and detest him in equal measure!

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

There were a lot of difficulties in this one. The research was a test as it broke the flow of writing. I wanted to make it accurate, so, for example, when I was writing the scenes in Mumbai, I had Google maps open and doing a virtual street walk on there to really make sure the locations and atmosphere were right. There is also a pretty harrowing scene in there where there is an attempted rape. It was difficult to write although I felt it was vital to the plot, especially in regards to where the character goes next in her character development. That situation, however brutal and nasty shapes who she will later become.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

There are certain moments – certain scenes where when you finish writing it you sit back in the chair and smile to yourself and can’t wait for the reader to get to that particular part. It might just be something simple, a plot twist of the way a particular passage is written. It is those moments that for me are the joys of the job.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do
besides write?

I’m fortunate enough to make a living from my writing so this is my only job. I resigned from my day job in October 2015 and have never looked back. I feel so fortunate that writing has given me this opportunity and will do whatever I can to give back.

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading David Morell’s First Blood. The Movie is one of my favourites, but the book is vastly different. The Rambo character in the book is brutal and violent in ways the film doesn’t get close to.

Who would you say are your favourite authors?

Stephen King (of course!) is up there. I also like the works of Shaun Hutson, Brian Lumley, Michael Crichton, Adam Nevill, James Patterson, and Paul Tremblay. Far too many to mention here. I’m actually fortunate enough to be appearing in a couple of anthologies this year with Hutson, Lumley and Nevill which is crazy and exciting.

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

Hmmm, this is tricky. In reverse order it would have to be:

5. Apartment 16 – Adam Nevill

4. Jurassic park – Michael Crichton

3. A head Full of Ghosts – Paul Tremblay

2. MEG – Steve Alten

1. Skeleton Crew – Stephen King

What are your future projects, if any?

It’s actually a really busy time right now. I just finished a novel called FEED for Severed press which should be getting a release date soon. There is the third and final book in the Project Apex trilogy to write then another novel called THE WITCH. Even though it’s not written yet I already have a couple of publishers vying to purchase that one which is nice. The biggest upcoming project by far, though, is the movie adaptation of my novel, MEAT! I recently sold the rights to it and the script is being written. I’m lucky enough to be getting involved with the writing process a little to ensure the story stays true to the original, but the whole process is incredibly exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing how that develops going forward and hope it opens the door to more adaptations. I had a little interest in adapting the Project apex books too, but I really need to make sure that any deal for that one is right. Hey, if anyone is reading this and is interested in buying the rights, get in touch! I’m confident there is money to be made there. 😀

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your
books?

I make a point of being open and approachable at all times so am more than happy to talk either via email or Facebook or via my website. Whichever method is preferred I always like to hear from you so don’t be shy and get in touch. I’ve left some handy contact links here:

Email: Darkcornersbook@gmail.com

Official website: www.michaelbrayauthor.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/michaelbrayauthor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/michaelbrayauth

Instagram: www.instagram.com/michaelbrayauthor

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

A couple of things that I’ve picked up along the way. First, never give up. This is a hard business and the road is rarely straight. Chances are you will take a few twists and turns before you get to where you want to be.

Second, get a thick skin! The writing world is one where there is a lot of options and as such a lot of readers with varying tastes. Just because a reader might not like your work, it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with it. All it means is that it wasn’t suited to that particular individual.

Third, get in the habit of writing every day, even if it’s only a few hundred words. You’ll be surprised how quickly the word count will grow if you do a little each day.

 

Other Books in Series:

Add to Good Reads

Spotlight Interview

Spotlight Interview with author Mehreen Ahmed

daze

 
Genre: 
Historical Fiction
Publisher: Cosmic Teapot Publishing
Publication Date: May 11, 2017
Pages: 300 pages
Add to Good Reads

Buy At:
Amazon | Smashwords | Kobo | iTunes
B&N

 

 

 

 

About the Book

In 1866, Peter Baxter’s misfortune ends the day he leaves Badgerys Creek orphanage. Unsure of what to do next, Peter finds himself on a farm run by Mr. Brown. An aging man, Brown needs help and is happy to give Peter a place to live in exchange for his labor. Unbeknownst to Peter, Brown’s past is riddled with dark secrets tied to the same orphanage, which he has documented in a red folder.

During a chance encounter, Peter meets Rose. Peter cannot help but fall in love with her beauty, grace, and wit but fears that his affection will go unrequited as a result of his crippling poverty. But fate changes when Peter joins the search for gold in Hill End, New South Wales. Striking it rich, he returns to Rose a wealthy man. Peter is changed by his new found affluence, heading towards the mire of greed. Will Rose regret her relationship with Peter?

Meanwhile, Rose has her own troubled history. One that is deeply entwined with Brown’s past and Peter’s future.

Interview:

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I have always been attracted to reading and writing. Before I went into publishing, I maintained a regular diary. I didn’t publish until 1987 in Canada. A few journalistic write ups for the campus newspaper at the University of Saskatchewan, The Sheaf set me off. I embarked on a writing career, as I published academic articles and reviews in peer review journals. Since 2011, I decided to become a fiction writer. I have two MA degrees, one in English Literature and the other in Applied Linguistics.

What inspired you to write?
When ideas pop into my mind I feel like writing them down. Nothing inspires me so much as does nature. The sound of the winds move me as much as a sunset on the beach or the falling of rain. Every object in nature inspires me.

What inspired your novel?
I was drawn by the adventure of the gold rush period in Australia. I find this era really romantic and worth talking about. That people had poured in from so many countries throughout Europe and Asia to strike it rich, to give it a go. There was a madness for gold collection. But it wasn’t until I had gone to see a lighthouse in Cape Byron that I was truly moved to write this story. That beacon forced me to reflect on the cape’s history. That’s really what started it.

What is the genre?
Historical fiction.

What draws you to this genre?
The magic of the past pulls me towards this genre. I am very fond of history.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?
I have a few ideas about what I want to write and I jot a few notes down but for me, the creative process is quite messy. I delve into the first draft almost right away and see where the story takes me. Same with the characters, they speak to me when a situation arises. I get to discover them as the story develops.

What inspired your protagonist?
The corporate world. I observed how the corporate world operates and drew inspiration from that.

What inspired your antagonist?
I also observed how the vulnerable are exploited by institutions. I imagined a typical situation where such tortures could take place. I created my antagonist based on that.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?
The hardest part was to make sure that the historical accounts were accurate. I had do thorough research on many aspects of that era to make the details authentic. It was not just the gold rush period, but other facets of life such as food, clothing, utensils, bathrooms, architecture, the pay structure and their livelihood, in general. Everything had to be minutely researched before they could be pieced together.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?
The dreams and the wavering thoughts were my favourite segments. Presenting them as they occurred in the characters’ minds.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?
I am a full time writer.

What are you currently reading?
Tender is the Night by Fitzgerald.

Who would you say are your favourite authors?
I like many authors but if I had to choose, I’d say Virginia Woolf. I was deeply moved by Mrs. Dalloway.

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?
Generally speaking, I like introspective books and those written in a stream of consciousness style. I’m going to skip this one because I can’t narrow it down to five.

What are your future projects, if any?
I am writing a novella at the moment. It’s very early in development, so there isn’t much to talk about yet.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?
People can contact me through Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads. They can also send email through Cosmic Teapot Publishing. I’m always happy to hear from readers.

Contact Links:
FB: https://www.facebook.com/mehreen.ahmed.3551
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MehreenAhmed2
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5267169.Mehreen_Ahmed
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Mehreen-Ahmed/e/B005L6HMHM/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Website: http://www.cosmicteapot.net

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 
Read a lot first and then create your own. Because one learns about the craft of writing through reading other books.