Author Archives: Literary Titan
Killing Time: Physics, Lust, and Greed is a well woven tale of one man, already at the end of his life, who is given the opportunity to go back in time and right certain wrongs. I’m not going to give away major plot points, but this is a double edged sword. Readers explore the risk vs reward of going back to an early point and changing the timeline in this gripping science fiction story. Implications of repercussions hover over the main character, Sean, as he struggles with fixing his biggest regret.
Killing Time: Physics, Lust, and Greed has an eye catching cover and a story line that is as surreal and intriguing as the cover art suggests. Murphey manages to keep his characters grounded and, while the idea of time travel is mainly science fiction at this point, he breaks the subject matter down to help readers stay in the flow of the story.
One aspect that particularly interested me was how the story is heavily character driven. Murphey’s writing style is easy and flows well. Time travel is a genre in itself at this pooint, but Mike Murphey is able to inject some new ideas and perspectives, sewn together by fascinating characters, that make the time travel concept feel fresh. The book does bounce back and forth quite a bit and can be confusing to follow in the first part, but once you establish a rhythm and start to understand the motivations of the characters and how their stories overlap you are in for a thoroughly enjoyable read. This is book three in the Physics, Lust and Greed series and no steam is lost. I’m starting to think that lumping physics in with the two other seven deadly sins, lust and greed, was intentional.
I have come to be familiar with Mike Murphey’s work and expect solid writing, but with Killing Time we also get an imaginative storyline with compelling characters propelling this science fiction adventure story forward.
Pages: 287 | ASIN: B08XJZL84B
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The Martian Hermitage is another entry in your Master Defiance series, and makes you a prolific science fiction writer. What draws you to the science fiction genre and makes it perfect for you to write in?
The boundaries when writing Science Fiction are mostly ethical paradigms, and one must be careful not to cross into the impossible world of magic and fantasy. The genre allows speculation about the future of science, technology and humanity. It also provides, by extension, a vehicle for indirectly flagging issues and concerns in our present-day world. In other words, an author can lobby a bit for change so that, for instance, a dystopian outcome might be less likely to occur. But this must be done without preaching to readers. I think the best way to do that is to make darn sure the story is fun and interesting to read, with lots of twists and turns, and believable, mostly likeable, characters.
The science in your stories always feel fanciful yet grounded. What type of research do you undertake for your novels to have an authentic feel?
I mostly search the web when I am uncertain about science or technology that I think would help a story. For instance, for Martian Hermitage, I thought the banter between astronauts when they fire up rocket engines would be illuminating and entertaining. I leaned heavily on Apollo mission transcripts for that. But I also find I research a lot of non-technical matters that I believe will make a story more colourful and intellectually entertaining. For example, for Martian Hermitage, I took some inspiration from the sci-fi classic A Canticle for Leibowitz (Walter M. Miller, Jr., 1959). I thought it would be fun to put knowledge-hoarding monks back into space, and weave a symbiotic relationship between church and state into my story. This required learning a bit about Catholicism, monasteries, and the canonization of saints. All of that I found fascinating, which made the writing process more rewarding. I hope it works for the reader too. (I think it worked for Miller, but he may have over-used Latin… most people will need some kind of translating app to really appreciate his one and only novel).
This book is filled with very memorable scenes. What scene did you have the most fun writing?
I really enjoyed writing the chapter where the Promoter of the Faith (a.k.a. the Devil’s Advocate) interviews the alien, artificial intelligence entity that was discovered in an alien, artificial cave on Mars. The young priest is a Doubting Thomas, and wants to find evidence that a candidate for sainthood was in fact unworthy. But the AI entity responds to the priest’s overly-aggressive interrogation methods by playing an astounding video and audio recording of the candidate from the time of the Romans. As a result, the advocate’s horns completely disappear, and the priest is transformed into a true believer, and a much happier person.
When and where will The Martian Hermitage be available?
Pegasus just told me the book will be published on April 29, 2021. You can buy it in paperback form directly through:
It will also be available on Amazon (with my other books) in both paperback and ebook formats. Just search on my name to find it.
Posted in Interviews
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Veterans of the Psychic Wars follows a normal guy with an unknown past who must face danger in uncharted space to rescue his wife and end the Second Psychic War. How did the idea for this novel start and change as you wrote?
It began with a conversation I had with my mother many years ago. We discussed the state of the world, and I mentioned feeling as if I didn’t belong. I said that I felt as if I was an alien. And, without skipping a beat, my mother replied, “You are an alien.”
We laughed but, long after the conversation, I considered the implications of such a thing being true. I imagined a scenario where a young man grew up not realising who he was. Writing the story, I had to consider what would drive someone to leave everything they knew behind to face untold dangers.
As the characters developed, they began to dictate the story more and more. There have been times when events completely surprised me; this is especially true of a few deaths.
What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?
Writing isn’t always easy. On my best day, I wrote 4,000 words. For me, that’s a lot. I wanted realism in the characters and authentic world-building. I studied history, and it remains a deep interest of mine. As such, the novel makes references to a great deal of historical information. There are names, words, and phrases from over 24 languages, including Swahili, Japanese, Armenian, Sanskrit and Ancient Egyptian.
The real challenge was to write a book that is enjoyable on different levels. Some of the contents are esoteric. I have an interest in philosophy, and there are also themes regarding the nature of reality. There are also ethical questions. It’s an epic story, designed to be read more than once.
This is a very exciting story that seems like it was fun to write. What scene was the most fun for you to write in this book?
It’s somewhat difficult to choose. However, one scene that never fails to make me laugh out loud is Chapter 75. I approached this chapter intending to write dark, morbid prose. However, it quickly developed into a classic and humorous illustration of pride coming before a fall.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available? Are you starting a series with this book?
I am currently writing Architects of the Psychic Wars, the sequel to Veterans of the Psychic Wars. This novel will also feature cameos of characters from Kaya Abaniah and the Father of the Forest, set in the same universe.
Four years each was the average time for me to write my first two science fiction novels because of the amount of scientific, cultural, and historical research I draw from for each work. It’s not an easy process, and it’s difficult to say how long the current book will take to complete. I plan to write three books in the Psychic Wars series and three in the Kaya Abaniah series.
Posted in Interviews
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Shunt by Jason Arsenault is a science-fiction novel that takes place in a dystopia where a device can be used to control and manipulate one’s emotions: a shunt. A shunt is an implant that can alleviate suffering by transferring it to a “Pain Surrogate”, Jade is a young woman who uses this Shunt to deal with the death of her younger brother. She feels immediate and immense relief, until she starts getting traumatic flashbacks of her brother’s murder. She unites with her old friend to investigate this and together they uncover a massive and seemingly omnipresent conspiracy involving a killing machine, the PrimaCore, company supplying shunts, and of course, the government.
Shunt offers a completely gripping story– even beyond its unique premise. All the characters’ dialogue and interactions with technology feel so grounded and engaging. Which seems like a strange thing to note but I appreciate it in a genre where a lot of characters go around casually throwing about ridiculous phrases. This kind of thing undoubtedly has its place and audience, but I found it refreshing how simplistic and real the technical explanations were kept in Shunt. Although the general focus was on Jade, her relationships, and her journey, all the secondary characters were also given fair treatment. Their internal battles spanned a variety of issues that are relevant today.
Author Jason Arsenault has completely nailed the pace of the book. He doesn’t waste any time getting to the meat of the story. It’s a heady read as he keeps the tension tight throughout the book. In some ways, the plot reminded me of the movie, “Her” As Jade discovers the dangers of getting to know the behind-the-scenes of this technology a little too intimately, the knowledge holds the potential to destroy her.
Although this is not exactly a “restore your faith in humanity” book, I still enjoyed its overall tone and themes. It was realistic while managing to convey the dangers of ignorance, greed, and corporate megalomania. It really is un-put-downable. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys thought-provoking and expansive science fiction novels.
Pages: 229 | ASIN: B08DPWQNQV
Resistance, Revolution & Other Love Stories by K is a compilation of twelve romantic short stories ranging from fiction to futuristic sci-fi.
This extraordinary collection of stories takes us into the worlds of character, each with a completely different perspective on what love is and how to demonstrate it. These characters offer glimpses of what love means to different cultures around the world, written in a way that allows you to really meditate about life on a greater scale, as well as ponder on the importance of stolen glances, sacred touches and the smallest of details.
Each plot is a masterpiece in its own, with such compelling storylines that you are forced to follow them until the end, and to uncover the secret message hidden within. Some feature happy endings, others vague cliffhangers that will leave you yearning for more. Each story is written in a different setting, from London to Yugoslavia to Iraq, there is a never ending range of possibilities that will never leave you unsatisfied.
One of my favorite stories was “Head Down”. It’s about a married man who goes off on a business trip to take a couple of seminars. He meets Shannon, who completely transforms his view on what love should feel like. He struggles between succumbing to this new feeling of love and familiarity of staying true to his sense of duty for his current family. In the end both characters make a choice that will most likely impact the rest of their lives, and the reader is left guessing what will happen next. This story, as do the others, depict the complexities of love; which isn’t black and white as many people would have us believe. It navigates the intricate human connections which have the power to limit or free a person, depending on the nature and dynamic of the relationship.
Resistance, Revolution & Other Love Stories contains a wonderful compilation of stories with beautifully written worlds, relatable and real characters, and descriptive narration.
Pages: 183 | ASIN: B08NV1BT2K
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The Three Lives of Richie O’Malley follows a mob hitman who must come to terms with the death of his friend, a government investigation, and betrayal. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
I knew a guy who was a CIA spook in the 60s and 70s. He introduced me to the world of American involvement in the cocaine trade in Central and South America during that time. It was not hard work to write a story following the money from this time and place to present day government entanglement at the highest levels. In many ways, sadly, this part of the story almost wrote itself.
Richie is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
As a young man, my best friend was this guy Hector Luis, a Puerto Rican Kid from the Bronx, NY. Luis was the model for Juan Carlos. I truly loved this guy as my brother. Luis came from a very bad environment and did some bad things, but he had a good soul. Many, most, didn’t see that. I was as bad a kid as Luis any day of the week, but as the clean-cut white guy, I got away with a lot more than Luis. I always thought that was unfair.
Under the hood I think we are all capable of good and evil, regardless of the label we are given. Richie, like Juan (Luis) were good guys who were swept into ruined lives by circumstance and bad choices. I guess my ideal, in this case, is to try to always not see people at face value. There is more to them than we can ever truly know or understand. There are few truly bad people, and we should not look too hard at others without first examining and knowing ourselves.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Friendship and loyalty were very important themes in this book and in my life. These and the old cliché don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The title is The Berry Pickers. There is an area a few miles north of me where in the 1920s to the 1950s people lived and subsisted picking and selling wild blueberries. A fascinating collection of personalities. I read a book on these people once and it was dry as toast. I’ve long been saddened that in the hands of someone like Steinbeck what a great story this could be, in line with the Grapes of Wrath. Sadly, Mr. Steinbeck never wrote this story, and while I don’t think myself worthy to sharpen his pencils, I thought I’d give it a go.
I am hoping to have the editing and writing process completed by mid-summer. I’d like to publish in the fall. I’ve still not decided if I’ll query agents or not. I had two agents very interested in Richie, but they said they couldn’t find a market for it. I know my stuff isn’t mainstream, no bare-chested vampires with wings, but that aint my jam. I just write what I think needs to be written and hope someone reads it.
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Crickets follows a woman back to her hometown after her father’s death, where she’s forced to face her past and an unexpected enemy. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
This is probably a stereotypical middle-aged peril, but going home always feels to me like stepping into a different person. I think stories born in homecomings offer really fertile ground for character growth. Your review said this more eloquently, but there seems to be something special about “home” that forces us to face the people we used to be and the aspects of our lives we can physically move on from in other settings.
Kara is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
Thanks! I was interested in exploring the ways trauma can stall someone and present various challenges which in most cases aren’t easily seen by others. I think Kara, who’s so bright and aware of what’s going on for her internally, provided a good vehicle for this. Writing in first person gives me a chance to show how at odds her internal narrative is with the face she presents to the world, and I think her struggle is familiar to a lot of people who live quietly with their trauma (so I hope I got this right).
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
I mentioned I was interested in the longer-term effects of trauma, but Crickets also gave me the chance to learn more about how our society treats sexual crimes in particular so differently than other types of crime. I was shocked by the number of rape kits that aren’t even processed and the various ways victims of sexual crimes are often gaslighted—whether intentionally or not—as they report these experiences and try to get justice. The lengths women in particular, but also other marginalized groups go to trying to avoid assault in the first place is unreal, but learning more about how many of these victims are treated “after” was especially disturbing to me, and this is an experience I think should be better understood so we can properly address it.
When and where will your book be available?
Crickets is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be available for purchase from major retailers on September 13th.
Posted in Interviews
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Monsters & Mist by Taylor Fenner is a thrilling fantasy novel that goes to great lengths to develop a fully realized world with attention paid to even the tiniest details. Intriguing characters are painstakingly developed to ensure we, as readers, understand their motivations, so when they are thrust headlong into precarious situations we are certain to be biting our nails.
This was an engrossing action adventure novel with characters that are well fleshed out and a story that is engaging and rich with creative details and imaginative lore.
Readers are provided with a bit of Esternwhorl history at the beginning of every chapter. This serves to provide even more backstory and world building for readers who like to be consumed by their epic fantasy novels. This reminds me of books found throughout the Elder Scrolls video game where a whole other world feels like it is being built behind the scenes as you progress through the story. I felt like this Esternwhorl history could easily become its own companion novella with how much details is provided in this suspenseful fantasy novel.
Is this a character driven story or a plot driven story? I think this story transcends either category because I feel like the momentum of the story is pushed forward, at different points, by different aspects making for a very engaging read as we move from one tense situation to another, and one from one intriguing character to another. Once we get past the world building, the 400+ pages of this book fly by in a whirlwind of emotionally charged story telling.
Monsters & Mist is an engrossing story that I highly recommend to anyone looking to lose themselves in a fantasy world that is richly imaginative. From an author who has clearly honed her craft through her young adult paranormal fantasy Eternals Trilogy, Taylor Fenner provides readers with a vibrant fantasy story.
Pages: 418 | ASIN: B08VWFN9S5
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