Author Archives: Literary Titan

The Case Of The Golden Helmet

Tom Thomas is nothing if not dedicated to his job with the Canada Revenue Agency. He devotes most of his life to ensuring taxes are paid, laws are obeyed, and citizens hold up their part of the bargain as tax-payers. When he is given a case that would have stumped any lesser investigator, Tom vows to bring the perpetrator to justice no matter how long it takes or how much groundwork he must put into the case. As he begins to follow the trail, Tom finds his way thwarted at almost every turn. Not one to give in, he digs in and applies every principle and resource to which he has access and sets out to pin one Harold Gerber.

The Case of the Golden Helmet, by Ted Ballantyne, is the story of one man’s investigation into a quite complicated case of tax evasion that spanned two countries and required the resources of multiple offices. To complicate matters, the perpetrator, Harold Gerber, engaged in a well-thought out money laundering scheme in order to avoid paying taxes. Gerber, the mastermind behind the complicated string of events, has his own simple reasons for refusing to pay taxes. His reasons are quite simple and straightforward, but they aren’t enough to keep him from paying his dues.

I was truly amazed at all of the background knowledge that went into the construction of what could have been a very basic plot. From cover to cover, Ballantyne details every phone call, connection, and favor called in in order to bring Gerber down. The author writes in a style that is technical and specific to the profession of tax investigation but manages to keep the dialogue from becoming bogged down in verbiage above the reader’s head.

This is quite a different style of realistic fiction and isn’t for all readers. I can’t say the book is anticlimactic, but readers who are looking for a book with drama or action will not find his particular style up their alley. Ballantyne has put a lot of work into creating a very specific type of read, and he has succeeded in creating a book for fans of technical writing–not drama.

Ballantyne’s characters are well written, his plot engaging, and the technical way in which he writes about tax laws is thoughtful and shows an unmatched dedication. The Case of the Golden Helmet is a compelling crime novel with a unique mystery that will hook fans of crime procedurals.

Pages: 143 | ASIN: B08KHCYTBP

Buy Now From B&N.com

Malcolm – Book Trailer

The Works of George MacDonald

 

An Emotional Story

Nasiha Muna
Nasiha Muna Author Interview

A Rift That Lies Between Us explores the deep connection two people share and the obstacles they face. What was the inspiration for the setup to this story?

As a Bangladeshi-American, I have personally witnessed and experienced intercultural intricacies, as illustrated in my novel. These experiences and observations served the inspiration for this story. In a world where we need more immigrant family stories, A Rift That Lies Between Us has a set of diverse characters and tells an emotional story that is not necessarily focused on the plight of the immigrant, but rather focuses on a first-generation American story.

Caiden and Farisa are intriguing and well developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind their character development?

I wanted to portray Caiden’s and Farisa’s vast differences through their personalities, hobbies, and backgrounds in this story. Farisa is artsy, indoorsy, and reserved, while Caiden is an engineering student, outdoorsy, gregarious, and adventurous. Despite their differences, my goal was to tie them together with the common theme of family and religion. Both Caiden and Farisa are tired of their families trying to control them. Caiden has already found some freedom, while Farisa attempts to break away during college and after her graduation.

This novel explores many family and cultural issues. What were some themes you wanted to focus on in this story?

This story puts the readers inside the conflicts found in cross-cultural romances, as Farisa and Caiden must choose between their tradition-minded families and new-found loves. In an era where divisions among races, cultures, and religions are highlighted more than ever, this story can illustrate how true love can bridge those gaps. It can also show how blind adherence to tradition can cost those adherents their relationships, their careers, and their happiness.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

No plans for a new book yet, but maybe there will be in the future.

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It started as a friendship. But it became an unbreakable bond . . .
Caiden and Farisa are two college students from different cultures and religions. Caiden is American and a recovering Christian, while Farisa is from a Bangladeshi family and Muslim. When a class project throws them together, they establish a soul-deep connection. Graduation causes them to go their separate ways, but Caiden never leaves Farisa’s mind. And when Caiden experiences a sudden heartbreak, his thoughts soon drift back to Farisa as well. They both begin to wonder…was their friendship meant to be something more? An unanticipated text message leads the two to pick up where they left off, as they reminisce about the time they spent together in college. They are touched to discover that their bond remains, even with hundreds of miles separating them. But is their connection strong enough to withstand all of the obstacles thrown in their path? Will they find a way to follow their hearts and bridge the rift between them?

No Matter How Ambitious

Y. Daher
Y Daher Author Interview

Raw Kingdom follows Khadir on his trip overseas where a series of unfortunate events sends him on an adventure. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting story?

The inspiration for the series as a whole is based off my personal journey, albeit less dangerous. As one starts their journey of self-discovery, they tend to think that they have the ability to find all the answers to their questions, that they automatically know what’s best for them and that since it’s their journey, things have to go their way in order for them to succeed and they must seek as little help as possible, if at all. As such person going on about his journey, they realise that such mentality may sound good in theory but not so much in practice. Khadir’s journey is about him realising that no matter how ambitious your goals are, it does not necessarily mean that it would procure any good for you and that perhaps what is beneficial is at the end of the most disliked road.

Khadir is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

Looking at Khadir from the beginning, he is the typical first-generation immigrant. Grew up on the outside looking in. With two cultures that couldn’t be further from each other. And trying to carve an identity in a melting pot environment. People find many ways to carve their identity, whether it be going to the family tree or travel. Khadir chose the latter, as he long decided that his origins where not a relevant factor in who he was as a person. Rather he sought to find belonging in what he believed to be worth identifying with. But as we see in the story, he is forced to come face to face with his roots in a way no one would want to. But perhaps, it would help achieve his goal after all.

I enjoyed the juxtaposition between Khadir’s American upbringing compared to Mohamed’s Djadzele upbringing. What were some themes you wanted to explore in this dichotomy?

Small correction: Khadir isn’t actually based in America. I actually purposefully left his birthplace ambiguous since I wanted this series to connect with diasporic kids all over the western world. You’d be surprised at how similar the experience of diasporic kid in Canada is to one in France. And the aspect which rings true the most is that diasporic kids know very little if at all about their home country. And such lack of knowledge leads to many assumptions, mostly negative and thus makes them want to disassociate with their roots. This is clearly seen in Khadir were he often blames his shortcomings on the “backward” culture of Djadzele. Yet we see in his cousin the same attitude towards the cultural aspects of Khadir except the reaction is different. As Khadir’s confusion grew with every new practice he encountered, Mohamed’s confused grew at every slang term and pop culture reference. Yet the theme of companionship and trust will explore as the stakes get higher and the series continue.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The second installment of the series. This is the one I’m most excited about as all the main players of the series will be introduced and Khadir’s patience, will and trust will truly be put to the test. If you though that Buried in the Dust was intense, then just know that this was the first book. Expect a spring 2021 release.

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Khadir’s first overseas trip hasn’t gone to the best of starts. And if wasn’t for some quick thinking it surely would’ve been his last. Yet just when he thought he saw the worst of his home country, a dark fragment of its history makes a resurgence.

A Bit of Soul Searching

Wayne Gerard Trotman
Wayne Gerard Trotman Author Interview

Mattie Boombalatty is a rhyming story following Mattie as she starts a new school and has to deal with bullies. What was the inspiration behind this book?

The playground taunt, Fatty Boombalatty, inspired the name Mattie Boombalatty. In general terms, bullying at school and cyberbullying seem to be increasing and leading to more tragic results. With bullying being such a universal problem, I thought it would be good to present an ethical, non-violent, and personally enriching way to address it.

The way that Mattie deals with bullies shows that there are other ways to feel rewarded for good behavior. Why do you feel this is an important lesson to learn?

With a bit of soul searching, it becomes clear that a majority of the most potent and memorable works of fiction deal with revenge in one form or another.

In its basic form, the villain is defeated, evil is destroyed, and there is much rejoicing in the land. Children are exposed to this rationale at an early age, and seeking revenge can easily become habitual.

Likewise, because of popular children’s fiction, fame, wealth and physical attractiveness can become more desirable than the apparently mundane virtues of self-contentment, and the appreciation of good friendships and strong family ties.

In the book, Mattie’s values and ethics are tested but she prevails by not taking the easiest path. Revenge may feel good for a while but, ultimately, it does not bring peace of mind.

I think it is important to show that the most valuable rewards for good behaviour may not be those temporary things that we are encouraged to seek. The most valuable things in life – love and friendship are free.

Learning this lesson early in life could mark the difference between lifelong happiness or a lifetime of discontentment.

What was the art collaboration like with illustrator Nhat Hao Nguyen?

I’ve been working with Hao for the past year, and it has always been a joy. He follows my very detailed instructions very well and produces beautiful and informative illustrations that visualise each poem.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am currently working with the illustrators of two books, simultaneously. These will be the last two of seven illustrated children’s books published under the umbrella of Wayne Gerard Trotman’s Rhyming Stories.

A Turtle’s Adventures is about a leatherback sea turtle named Shelly that returns to Matura Beach, in Trinidad and Tobago, to lay her eggs. It aims to inform children and their parents about the threats facing the world’s largest living sea turtles. The premium hardcover book will be available at the end of October, 2020.

A Letter from a Gorilla is written as a letter of complaint from a monocled, silverback gorilla named Silverback Jeremy. It aims to promote conservation of the endangered African mountain gorilla. The premium hardcover book will be available at the end of November, 2020.

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In a town named Bascini
Lived Family Boombalatty:
Granddaddy Boombalatty
Daddy Boombalatty
Mummy Boombalatty
And Mattie Boombalatty

Daddy Boombalatty lost his job in the country
So, Family Boombalatty had to move to the city
Off to a new school went Mattie Boombalatty
But making friends was not very easy

When Mattie is bullied by rich girls at her new school, an unexpected visitor comes to her rescue. Join Mattie as she deals with the girls’ cruelty without becoming cruel herself.
Learn how she rejects riches, beauty, and revenge in favour of fairness and genuine friendship in this beautifully illustrated rhyming fairy tale for ages 4+.

Pitting Good Against Bad

Kaylin McFarren
Kaylin McFarren Author Interview

Soul Seeker follows a soul hunting demon that is captured and turns against Lucifer after forming a relationship with an angel. What were some sources that informed this novels development?

I enjoy reading supernatural and paranormal stories, and always wanted to write one. It didn’t seem like a far stretch, since I already write psychological thrillers. Ray Garton, Andrew Klavan, Terry Goodkind, and Stephen King are just a few of the authors I admire and were inspired by, while writing this story. Plus I love pitting good against bad, and what greater conflict exists than forced relationships, especially when they involve angels and demons.

I appreciated the exploration of morality in this book. What were some themes you wanted to focus on while writing?

It might well be that all moral agents accept a code of prudence or rationality in this book, but this would not by itself show that prudence was part of morality. So something else must be added; for example, that the code can be understood to involve a certain kind of impartiality, or that it can be understood as having the function of making it possible for people to live together despite their extreme beliefs. In SOUL SEEKER, enemies are forced to not only accept one another but also depend on each other for their survival — a lesson we can all learn from.

Crighton is a standout character for me. How did you set about creating his character?

I wanted to create a complex, flawed, evil character that seeks approval by any means necessary. He has a conscious, which he and Lucifer view as a weakness. On his journey to self awareness, he develops empathy and becomes self sacrificing, while growing his ability to love. I wanted readers to hate him when he is first introduced and then discover his redeeming qualities.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m currently working on the next installment in this book and have titled it ANNIHILATION. In this story, Lucifer’s daughter turns Hell into a far worse place and threatens to overtake Heaven by whatever means necessary.

If all goes according to plan, I’m hoping to have this book available in the Spring of 2021.

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While awaiting his execution for murdering his son, Benjamin Poe confesses to his lawyer the true story behind his crime, a harrowing tale of a manipulating, soul-collecting demon named Crighton. Following Poe’s death, Crighton continues his malevolent duties, until he’s kidnapped by members of The Sovereign Sector. This group of scientists, notorious for experimenting on supernatural creatures, forces Crighton into a soulmate relationship with the very angel he was sent to capture for Lucifer. However, with secrets revealed and loyalties shifting, Crighton soon becomes the target of Lucifer’s revenge, and his journey to redemption and freedom—or eternal enslavement—begins.

They’re Killers and Outlaws

Neil Chase
Neil Chase Author Interview

Iron Dogs follows a group of outlaws seeking shelter into a town that harbors an evil creature. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

I’ve always wanted to write a Western. Not only is it a throwback to a simpler life, unfettered by technology or mass media or the litany of problems and issues we deal with daily in the modern age, but it’s also the purest representation of the American ideal – that of freedom. Is there an image more synonymous with liberty than that of the cowboy on the open plain? And if we dig a little deeper, there is truth in that fictionalized model. Many of the first cowboys we attribute to the Wild West were veterans of the Civil War – men without property or purpose, who headed West in search of money or work, or in some cases simply longing to retreat as far from the horrors of the great conflict they left behind. Their stories are as varied and intricate as the men themselves.

But I also knew I didn’t want to write the same Western we’ve all seen before. While the men might seem like familiar tropes, their circumstances would be unlike anything you’ve read before. As a lifelong horror fan, I’ve always been fascinated by stories where a tight-knit group encounters an otherworldly danger, such as in Aliens, The Thing, and Dog Soldiers, to name a few. So I thought the combination of these genres would make for a special and unique story. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if the Wild Bunch met the supernatural equivalent of the Predator, then this is the book for you.

I enjoyed the slow development of each character. Who was your favorite character to write for?

Each character had their special moments to me, and it was a fun challenge to write different chapters from different characters’ points of view. This was particularly true of Frank, Red and Cole, as the novel centers mostly on their viewpoints and backstories, and gives real insight into what makes them the way they are. They’re killers and outlaws, to be sure, but they’re also closer to brothers than friends or comrades. I didn’t want to have just one main protagonist, as it would tip my hand as to which characters would make it and which were fair game for the Strigoi. By focusing on three central characters instead, and to a lesser degree, the other three in the group, I felt I could inject not only some real character development for all of them, but also true unease at not knowing which of them would fall prey to the horrors on their journey.

That said, Red was probably my favorite to write, as his story is filled with unbearable tragedy and hate, and yet, despite it all, he finds himself on a path of redemption. To be honest, he started out as a minor character, and my plan was to have him die off quickly. But the more I dove into the hows and whys of what made him the way he was, the more he fascinated me, and the more story there was to tell around him. It was a case of the character guiding the writer’s hand, and rather than trying to force his path on some preconceived notion, I let him take me on his journey instead. I think it was the right choice.

The creature was creepy and the story had a consistently haunted feeling. What were some themes you tried to channel while writing?

Thank you for saying so. I spent quite a bit of time developing the Strigoi. I knew that in making my story a horror, I had to come up with a monster not seen before. While the main characters don’t actually know what it is, they come to rely on a combination of Eastern European and Native American folklore to guess at what it could be. As a result, I became familiar with European and Southwestern Native American cryptozoology in order to craft a creature that could plausibly fit in both such varied mythologies. The end result is a fresh take on a familiar trope of ordinary men pitted against an extraordinary and seemingly unstoppable creature.

And while the creature in Iron Dogs is unique and terrifying, the story is really about the men trying to survive, rather than the spectacle. The protagonists in this tale aren’t particularly special or good. They’re not even decent men. But they are loyal to one another, and that dedication may be the only thing standing between them and certain doom. We live in an increasingly polarized world, where too often people are judged solely by the content of their words and little on their actions. This book examines a group of men who barely get along at the best of times. They bicker and disagree about almost everything, and yet, they somehow stay together despite it. They are a community unto themselves. On some subconscious level, they come to realize that the only way for any of them to survive, they have to set aside petty squabbles and work together. In doing so, they become more than a community. They become family. And isn’t that what we all seek on some level? A sense of true belonging, where we are judged by the content of our actions and character more than anything else.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m excited to announce that the audiobook version of Iron Dogs has recently been completed and will soon be available on Audible. It was truly a labor of love, narrated by myself, and directed and edited by super-talented filmmaker and musician David Heacock, complete with original music written and performed by David as well. In addition to the audiobook, we’ll be making available the complete soundtrack, along with bonus music inspired by the novel. So whether you choose to listen to the audiobook or the music alone, you’re in for a fantastic time! Come to http://www.neilchasefilm.com for more details!

Alongside the audiobook, I’m also working on a few different projects at the moment, including a number of screenplays and two novels. I have a children’s fantasy novel completed and going through the beta read and editing process, as well as some exclusive artwork for the interior by Jamie Pruden, a wonderful artist and friend. It’s about two kids who have to rescue their mom from a monster-filled alternate dimension with the help of five magical gemstones. And for those with darker tastes, a new horror novel is on its way as well, set in the wonderfully macabre world of Rutherford Manor (www.rutherford-manor.com), and revolves around the early friendship of two of the central characters, Nox Flesher and Lorcan Connolly.

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When evil dies, it doesn’t always stay dead.

Six outlaws, barely a day ahead of their pursuers, find shelter in a freshly deserted New Mexico town. With no water, and one of them gravely wounded, they realize too late they’re trapped inside the lifeless town. 

As they soon discover the grisly truth behind the disappearance of the townsfolk, the outlaws find themselves hunted by something far worse than anything they’ve faced yet – an unspeakable evil that seemingly cannot be killed. When the malevolent creature targets them in turn, the previously tight-knit group begin unraveling past the breaking point. Thinking it to be a Strigoi Morti, a monstrosity that can only be harmed while feeding on the living, the surviving few are faced with an agonizing choice. Who will they sacrifice so the others may live?

Spine-chilling, poignant, and action-packed, Iron Dogs is an instant classic for Horror, Thriller, and Western fans everywhere.

This, however, comes with repercussions

Shannon Condon Author Interview

Spider’s Web follows Maggie as she reenters the field and finds that enemies from her past have caught up with her. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?

Three years ago, in The Brotherhood, Maggie went undercover enabling her team to bring down an international clandestine organization. When the criminal syndicate imploded, some of the world’s most dangerous men lost everything. This put a permanent target on Maggie’s back. She was severely injured trying to capture the head of the Brotherhood. After three years in hiding, Maggie has developed a false sense of security and is ready to get back into action. She has an overwhelming need to prove herself. It becomes unbearable for her to be in the safety of the team’s basement office, running logistics, while the rest of her team is out on missions and in harm’s way without her. Particularly, when the team contains Maggie’s husband and adopted father, Shep. She soon learns her enemies have a long memory and have been searching for her while she’s been off the grid.

Maggie is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

In the first book of the series, Finding Magdalena, Maggie is fifteen when both her parents die in a car accident, making her an orphan. Maggie begins to suffer anxiety and panic attacks which continue into adulthood. With the loss of her family, she must find a way to cope and move on. She has no control over her life, so she seeks to control the only thing she can-herself. Maggie pushes herself to excel at everything she does. If she can keep her life orderly and stay busy, she can lock her problems away in little rooms in her mind. As she gets older, her best friend Graham’s stepfather, Shep, offers her a position on his black ops team. With her precision and drive to succeed, Maggie is soon fully ensconced as a trained assassin. She can separate her professional life from her growing family life. This, however, comes with repercussions. Maggie at times struggles with her anxiety, religion, her young family and what her parents would think of her career choice. In professional mode, she is on point but when she returns home, her actions haunt her.

I enjoyed all the twists and turns in this novel. Was this planned before writing or did it develop while writing?

The answer is both! I begin with an outline in my head of all the key moments in the book. Once I begin writing, some ideas seem superfluous or obvious and new ideas come to mind. I find the characters themselves also drive the story. With this being the third book in the Magdalena series, the characters are well developed and intertwined. It seemed natural, after years of unanswered questions that Maggie, left to her own devices, would start to fit the pieces of her life’s puzzle together, creating new twists and turns.

This is the third book in the Magdalena Series. What can readers expect in book four?

Subterfuge (Magdalena #4) again finds Maggie and her team undercover. This time Maggie is hunting a Russian crime boss who previously had a contract on her life. Along with a mission that has enough twists and turns to keep the reader on the edge of his seat, this is a pivotal point in Maggie’s character development. She is now twenty-six and her missions are taking a deeper toll on her psyche. The black ops world and her enemies have a firm grip on her but the price she is paying is rising.

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Another ghost returns when Maggie and her team are ordered to assassinate Russian crime boss Valdev Belevich, the man who took out a contract on Maggie’s life nearly two years ago. The team must go undercover at a casino resort in Northern Spain. Once there, the landscape quickly changes, and Maggie finds herself making a promise she should never keep.
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