Category Archives: Interviews
Judenrein follows a man with a checkered past who must stop a world changing conspiracy. What was the inspiration for setup to this dystopian thriller?
I got the idea for this book when I started to see white supremacists become more vocal and visible in American politics, and face remarkably little official pushback – at least from the current president. These groups make no secret of their goal of driving the Jews (and a lot of other non-white groups) either out of the country, into slavery or death. I became intrigued with the possibility of a secret white supremacist group seizing power behind the scenes. This would be the ultimate “suits not boots” strategy for them, as they might call it.
Zack is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some ideas that guided his character development?
I have been involved in helping recovering drug addicts throughout the last 20 years. It’s not my job, but the work has come into my life. Through this experience, I’ve seen the potential for greatness that often hides inside the addict, waiting to come out. I have also felt that a great injustice has been visited on a generation of young Americans who were recruited to serve the US, but lost to forever wars and forgotten when they returned to civilian life. I wanted to bring this experience to life in the character. As an observant Jew, I’ve also seen a lot of young people get kicked out of orthodox life for various infractions and attitude problems. I wanted the character to represent the ambivalence I see in many of these young people. They believe in God and Torah. They love being Jewish. They just can’t fit into the orthodox world. That’s Zack.
The idea of white supremacists taking over the country and setting up 21st century ghettos was striking. What were some themes you felt were important to focus on in this book?
I wanted to focus on the slippery slope to neo Nazism in the US, and the shocking thing has been to see so many predictions made int eh book come true even in the last few months – with armed men, carrying swastika flags, threatening elected officials with death in protest of COVID lockdowns – only to be called “good people” by the president. This is much closer to us than we realize.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on a non-fiction book about cybersecurity, which I have written under a different name. I am also going to publish an earlier book, that never came out, that deals with some similar themes of inequality and injustice in the US, but told in the form of a thriller.
As a white supremacist movement stealthily takes the reins of power in America, it is again the Jews who are made out as scapegoats. Stripped of wealth and citizenship, they are made to live in 21st century ghettos that hark back to a sinister and murky past that many had thought would never return.
But things are about to get much worse. With the revealing of a planned terror attack that will place the blame firmly at Jewish feet and condemn millions to death, Zack is contacted by Jewish leaders in Detroit, begging for his help.
Reluctantly he agrees and before long he is mired in a conspiracy that will have far reaching consequences for his country, the Jewish population and even his own sanity.
As the clock ticks down, can Zack find a way to avert a looming disaster? Who is behind the conspiracy? And can he really trust anyone?
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Tags: author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, dystopia, dystopian, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, Harold Benjamin, jew, jewish, jewish literature, Judenrein, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing
The Master’s Garden describes the relationship between God and his children with a beautiful metaphor of a gardener and the host of plants to which he tends. What was the inspiration for this metaphor?
Jesus used the metaphor that He was the Vine, God the Father is the Gardener, and that we are the branches. I have over 40 years’ experience in dealing with plants, both professionally and personally so I understand how plants work more than the average person. It was a natural extrapolation for me to expand it to all plants. It came to me one day while hiking in the woods. It was really fun to write!
What were some themes you felt were important to focus on in this book?
God loves all of us and wants us all be to belong to Him and come under His care through His Son, Jesus.
God, the Master Gardener, wants to have a growing, dynamic relationship with each one of us. I tried to portray this with the intimate and personal discussions that New Dawn has with the Gardener.
Living as a Christian the way God wants seems impossible. That’s because we think we are to live in our own strength. Jesus teaches us the only way to live rightly is through His power and strength not our own. We cannot do it, but He can.
True significance and enjoyment, the Abundant Life, are achieved by living God’s way through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Violet’s character was delightful and well developed. What were some ideas that guided her character development?
Violet represents, in many ways, most of us who struggle with inadequacy and a longing to be loved and valued as an individual. New Dawn, the main character in the allegory, is me. While the allegory doesn’t exactly follow my life’s journey, it is a close representation of it. It is my story of how God has transformed this self-condemning, insignificant and pathetic person into one who now has joy, peace, confidence, and significance—true riches! All to the credit and honor of my magnificent Creator!
Do you have more stories planed that take place in Plantasia?
Absolutely! I am working on the sequel already, as well as several Bible studies and devotionals to go along with this first book.
In the gospel of John, Jesus tells us that He is the Vine and His Father is the Gardener. He explains that His followers are the branches and need to remain in the Vine and bear much fruit. Have you ever wondered what Jesus meant by that or how remaining in the Vine might look in your daily life? Then enter into the fantasy world of Plantasia™ where plants come alive! This is a witty tale told by a grandmother to help her struggling granddaughter find true significance under God’s care. The Master Gardener created this beautiful world where plants can think, see, hear, and speak. He longs for all to come under His loving care and be grafted onto His beloved Vine. Through this connection, plants are able to flourish and reach their full potential. See what happens when a spindly rose, who yearns to be more than she is, meets the Master Gardener. Listen in on the conversations she has with the Gardener, Mighty Oak, Ginni (the Obedient Plant), and Mr. Bugleweed. Learn with her as she discovers the secrets of how to abide in the Vine and experience true riches. If you enjoyed the allegory Hinds’ Feet on High Places, you will love this allegory of abiding in Christ, the Vine!
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Tags: adventure, author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, christian, christian fantasy, christian fiction, Creating Authentic Relationships Between Companies and Consumers, ebook, faith, fantasy, fiction, garden, god, goodreads, jesus, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, religion, Rose Noland, story, writer, writing
Cooking in a Teacup recounts your experiences in a kitchen in the Australian outback in 1952. What was the inspiration that made you want to capture this time in a book?
The main reason was to let my family of five girls and their families, understand how my life had been and what it was like then in the outback. They might find much of it monotonous as I tend to talk too much about myself. My coming from a religious boarding college life when aged fourteen which was restricting in certain ways, then going out into the bush for some years afterwards,, presented many profound changes for both me and my brother then.( Only partially going to grade ten was not a hindrance for finding a job later when in Darwin and it did not enter my mind then..)
I am so pleased you liked the story regardless of how it was written. I know I went through that life accepting whatever came along with curiosity and wide eyes, yet I followed orders with the knowledge that those people out there also accepted whatever occurred was part of their normal daily.
I enjoyed the humorous but honest recounts of your past. What is one experience from that time that you remember more clearly than the others?
Well, besides the worst one- that one of almost disappearing into the “big hole in the ground” , and the other one of nearly running a large truck off the road at night when driving home from Julia Creek—The main benefits were the new education I had received much earlier
from the young age of fifteen; and then the blessings of accepting and being able to live through those experiences. Truely, altogether it was the entire new living that life experiences, and having the patience and ability to watch, listen, absorb, and try to relax. Yet take part in the unknown chores of daily life, and admire the workers while learning so much from all those wonderful people I met. Enjoying their conversations and their natures, regardless of them carrying out their working jobs, which I often took part in.
When writing this book did you have to interview anyone or dig up any old photos to spark your memory?
No, all these details were always present in my memory with some never forgotten. I do have photos from most places I lived at.
I found your book to be ultimately inspiring. What do you hope readers take away from your story?
I would like to hope they actually do read some of the narrative without throwing it away in disgust and boredom.
This story relates to my own individual, genuine experiences which occurred, and I added others including the details of some years before from early 1945 and after, to explain my circumstances as they were then.
Just turning twenty one in 1952, my father wrote and asked me an odd question, which was to take on a job as a cook on a cattle station, up in North Queensland. Though ‘totally inexperienced’, this position sounded interesting and intriguing. New adventures lay ahead for me on that unknown part of the Australian outback. I doubt if my father even considered my lack of capabilities for this position at all. Later on this job also offered another one, with the bush nurse asking for me to come and nurse, care and cook for an elderly man at McKinley Qld, again my being absolutely inexperienced. These parts of my story included meeting new people, and happenings that occurred in my life, then and in the future.
As this is real life over periods of years, it also contains personal details of the author and family’s lives, and that of others.
This is not a cooking book and there are no recipes given, though a sense of humour would be appreciated.
Her World is a creative collection of women’s literature from writers around the world and published by Her Place, Any Region. What is Her Place, Any Region and how does Her World support your cause?
Her Place, Any Region is a non profit organization which supports women and their families personally, professionally and emotionally. Through a myriad of resources we help women overcome devastating life circumstances such as homelessness, job loss, divorce and death of a spouse or child.
Our organization supports other benevolent and charitable causes through collaborative efforts. Her World, Creative Collections, is a compilation made up of women’s works from around the the world who have donated their works to support the programs in Her Place, as well as other causes of which they chose.
100% of the profits are donated to charities and benevolent causes.
Her World brings women together through the art eclectic, sharing their experiences, their talents and their hearts. Her World is a glimpse of what Her Place is really about, and why it is so important to have the support for these circumstances women face throughout life that traditional resources lack.
What was the collaboration like with all of the authors to put the compilation together?
Creating Her World started as an idea in 2011. Her Place was already in the works, and through that development we found that these creative women expressed themselves in ways that was unprecedented. The talents these women have come from such a deep place of sincerity and love, and bringing them together in print was powerful.
It was a fun project, and it took a lot of trust from the women to allow us to create this and treat it with the respect it deserves. We started pulling together pieces in 2016, and after a few attempts to complete it, we focused for 4 months straight to finalize it though the end of 2019 into 2020. The women were incredibly patient and were still on board throughout the 4 years.
There are 33 women from around the world featured in Her World, so you can imagine it was quite a project.
The final result was exactly like we imagined it to be, and we are all very happy with how it came together.
If someone wanted to get involved with Her Place, Any Region how would they do that?
Her Place, Any Region, has various programs within it; CreateFam, Glimpses, and Books, Bands, Businesses and Brands. While our primary focus is Glimpses, which is centered around helping women re-establish themselves after devastating life changing circumstances, CreateFam is community/volunteer focused and not gender specific, and Books, Bands, Businesses and Brands is a resource for women with businesses.
People can learn more about all of our programs and contacting us through our website http://www.her-place.org.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
We are currently accepting pieces for our next book: Another Year in Her World. We anticipate it to be released February 2021.
Her Place, Any Region, introduces you to Her World, Creative Collections. Enjoy a literary journey through the experiences, hearts, and minds of 33 women from around the world. Compiled in one single readable book, view life from the eyes of phenomenal female artists and authors in the form of photography, song lyrics, book excerpts, personal life experiences, prose, and poetry. We hope you enjoy this incredibly broad spectrum with which these stories are written, bringing women together to share a glimpse into each other’s lives, during a time unifying the population of women is more important than ever.
In Tokyo Traffic detective Hiroshi is once again called in, to solve a crime that involves human trafficking and crypto-currency scamming. Did you know what criminal themes you were going to use for this novel or did they develop while writing?
The theme was there from the beginning, but only in an abstract way. The concrete actions and decisions of the characters, along with the motivations and results, shaped the themes and made it something to see and touch and feel. The interesting part is how they develop inside the characters. As those broad themes became embodied in the characters, they came alive.
At first the theme of human trafficking threatened to swamp the whole story. It’s too big and too horrible. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered how can they get away with that? How can something so vicious and inhumane just keep going? And who’s “they”? Part of the answer is cryptocurrency. Follow the money to where theme meets characters. Some people will cast aside all human feeling for money, and cryptocurrency makes that easier. Its hidden, digital, clean. Of course, the way of the future will probably be all kinds of digital currencies, but the downside is how people use that illicitly, and for such terrible purposes.
This being book three in your series was there anything new you wanted to introduce into Hiroshi’s character?
He moves in with his girlfriend and works at being with her and not sleeping in his office on a pull-out futon. That’s hard work for him. Overall, Hiroshi gets a bit more of his footing in this novel. His skill set is limited, so he bumps against his own limitations, but he learns to pay attention to what he stumbles onto, what he suspects but isn’t sure of, and what others tell him. An intuitive accountant may sound like a contradiction, but aren’t we all some kind of contradiction? We all have that internal division between our different sides.
What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?
This one took me a lot longer to finish than the second one. The tricky part was having three main characters. Before I’d always just focused on two. Adding that third one made the story exponentially harder to keep track of. Braiding the three threads of the bad guy, the victim and the detective, plus the people on their side, was tricky. It was like passing a point-of-view baton. The race kept going as each character carried it a bit further. But to me, that’s very Tokyo-like, different kinds of stories flung together.
It was also a challenge to have two young women as main characters. Sukanya doesn’t know Tokyo at all and Chiho knows Tokyo all too well. So, those two different young women and their different views of Tokyo were hard to get right. But I felt their point of view was important. They see the city so differently than I do, but that’s the interesting part. I’m not sure I set those as challenges for myself, writing is enough of a challenge in and of itself, but those became the challenges to tell the story the way I wanted to.
Does Tokyo Traffic end the story for detective Hiroshi or do you have other novels planned?
I have two more in the Hiroshi series already outlined. The one I’m working on right now is titled Tokyo Overtime. It’s about the pressures of the workplace. What other country in the world has a word, karoshi, for death from overwork? After that, I’m planning to write about the whole fish industry, which is very big business in Japan. Two years ago, one of the owners of a sushi chain restaurant paid the equivalent of three million dollars for a single six-hundred-pound bluefin tuna! After that, I have notes for a standalone with sumo wrestler-turned-detective Sakaguchi and Detective Takamatsu is ripe for a prequel about his early, rough days. So, I’ll see where those lead. I’m looking forward to finding out.
Running from a life she didn’t choose, in a city she doesn’t know Sukanya, a young Thai girl, loses herself in the vastness of Tokyo. With her Bangkok street smarts, and some stolen money, she stays ahead of her former captors who will do anything to recover the computer she took. After befriending Chiho, a Japanese girl living in an internet café, Sukanya makes plans to rid herself of her pursuers, and her past, forever.
In Tokyo, street smarts aren’t always enough
Meanwhile, Detective Hiroshi Shimizu leaves the safe confines of his office to investigate a porn studio where a brutal triple murder took place. The studio’s accounts point him in multiple directions at once. Together with ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi and old-school Takamatsu, Hiroshi tracks the killers through Tokyo’s music clubs and teen hangouts, bayside docks and byways, straight into the underbelly of the global economy.
As bodies wash up from Tokyo Bay, Hiroshi tries to find the Thai girl at the center of it all, whose name he doesn’t even know. He uncovers a human trafficking ring and cryptocurrency scammers whose connections extend to the highest levels of Tokyo’s power elite.
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Tags: author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, crime, crime fiction, crime thriller, cryptocurrency, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, international mystery, kindle, kobo, literature, michael pronko, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, suspense, thriller, Tokyo Traffic, writer, writing
Carnival Panic is a dystopian game show where contestants must solve dangerous room puzzles to claim a life changing prize. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
The initial inspiration for this novel occurred when I walked through the Kyari Pamyu Pamyu museum in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo. While there, I saw a display called “Candy Forest!” with unsettling pink rabbit statues, seen here https://matcha-jp.com/en/688. As I exited, I thought that what I had seen would make a great horror story. I pulled out my notebook and began sketching and writing ideas. I wrote about 10,000 words and then got stuck and put the story away for a few years.
It wasn’t until I went on an outing to Sanrio Puroland that I was able to continue writing the story. I often describe that day as one of the most uncomfortably horrible experiences I have ever had at a theme park. I had agreed to go to Puroland with a couple of friends, not knowing exactly what it was. After entering through the theme park gates, I realized that I was completely outside of my comfort zone.
On top of the immense claustrophobia were the inescapable sensory explosions. The air was pumped with all manner of sweet smells, there was constant music from individual speakers to the parades, it was hot due to the high summer temperatures, and there were lights everywhere both strobing and stationary. And when we stopped for lunch, all the food was of the sweetest kind; candied and dessert versions of its real counterparts. In contrast to my unpleasant experience, my friends were ecstatic and enjoyed every moment of that theme park, playing on the toys, going on the rides, and shopping with childlike enthusiasm.
On the train home, I knew exactly what I could write about and that became Carnival Panic.
What was the process like for imagining and writing the different rooms and puzzles you have in the book?
For the most part, the inspiration for the rooms came from various areas of Sanrio Puroland that I visited but with more sinister aspects. I also love to watch anime and at the time I was binging Deadman Wonderland so some of the themes from that anime made their way into the novel.
Your characters were all well developed and interesting. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Fletch. I enjoyed writing from her point of view because she is an unapologetic anarchist.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have two finished novels at the moment which I am querying for publication. A science fiction alien invasion novel called Darkness in a Sky of Embers and a narrative fiction novel called Elephants Have No Sleeves.
As for currents projects, I am working on a supernatural murder mystery that follows the main character, Tzipora, who comes back from the dead to find her murderer.
Candy makes the PonPon Bunnies sweet. Be careful if they’re angry. And watch out for traps! These are the dangers of competing in the Carnival Panic game show, a ruthless competition that tests the chosen competitors with mental and physical struggles. In order to claim the substantial monetary prize, the winner must solve a series of room puzzles and succeed in entertaining the fickle masses.
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Tags: adventure, author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, Carnival Panic, Catori Sarmiento, dystopia, dystopian, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, horror, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing
Darksiege Triumphant follows a brave knight who embarks on a quest to stop a dark force from carrying out an evil plan. Was this story an organic continuation of the series or did you plan it before writing?
The raw framework was initially there as my idea to continue from Book Five, Knighthood’s End – a final confrontation between Qualtan and Darksiege – however, the how and why became somewhat different. Initially, when I first thought about this plot, there was no involvement of the School in the turn of events. It was merely to be Darksiege on a quest to summon/release an evil group of supremely horrific/powerful beings under his assumed control, with Qualtan and his allies in a race to stop him. However, this started to sound too much like the plot from Book Three, Prison Planet of the Mah-Lahkt. In addition, as I had begun fleshing out Darksiege over time, as he was the more rational of Those That Stand in Shadow (the main antagonists in the series), it made sense that he would never risk his own skin in attempting to control creatures more powerful than he was. In fact, readers of the series will be familiar with the fact that in Book Three, Darksiege actually betrayed his fellow Evil Ones to prevent them from doing just that! He wants power, not complete destruction. So there had to be something more unique here, and I thought, why not have both characters, powerful and somewhat arrogant in their own rights, be duped by someone else? Thus, the story began to grow on its own once I took a step away from the original concept and added some additional character complexities.
I enjoyed the dynamic characters you’ve created in this story. What were some ideas that guided their character development?
Darksiege, the main enemy here and in the series, I wanted right off the bat to be interesting beyond the typical evil moustache-twisting villain. This story was also an effort to humanize him more, show things from his perspective and how he viewed his own position vs. those of his fellow Evil Ones. The others of his ilk had eventually murdered the humans responsible for rearing them/keeping them safe until they were ready to be unleashed to fulfill their evil destiny. Darksiege, with more human blood than his kin, had shown mercy to his foster father, allowing him to live and become his chief servant/advisor instead. That showed a deeper connection between Darksiege and those he was forced to prey upon, and thus a more personal reflection for our main villain as to why he was who he was.
Of course, Vanessa at this stage is continuing to evolve with her new life – and like anyone who has left a definition of who they were to start over as something different, feels vulnerable and unsure of where she must go next. It was natural that someone who seemed to get that would instantly be someone she would seek a closer connection to, although obviously the mystery of why her new friend Muirna seems so comforting opens yet another mystery to be resolved in the finale of Book Seven…
I enjoyed the authenticity of the character relationships in this book. Is there anything in this book that you pulled from your own life?
I think it comes more from the expectation/hope all of us have – who wouldnt want or look for a close friendship with others like an alternate family? I grew up lacking some of those connections based on hardships experienced in both health and from a precarious financial existence stemming from the divorce of my parents, so you could say the comradeship Qualtan experiences is a projection or extension of what I think I wanted back then. All of these characters have forged deeper ties with each other since they first met in Book Two, The Rise of the Slavekeepers, each with their own personal needs and wants, and I think by keeping those foibles in mind and not reducing them all to stock background supporting characters helped to “authenticate” their relationship with each other.
What can readers expect in the next installment in your Forging of a Knight series?
Book Seven – Against the Alliance! The last in what I am currently calling the “First Series” of Forging of a Knight – here all the subplots combine, and all the questions answered (while some new ones are posed). Old characters return from throughout the series, and new ones are made known when the Alliance finally goes to war against the School to prevent the formation of their own Knighthood, and Qualtan must duplicate the quest his father and uncle had successfully achieved many years before to win the final war against Those That Stand in Shadow: The First Knight must find the Master of the Great Beasts, the legendary one-eyed Dragon King, and gain his help before the war destroys them all. Should be available soon!!
The sounds of battle continue. Qualtan and Bartholomew are two knights of the new Order who are leading the way. Qualtan’s wife, Vanessa, is a powerful winged girl who watches protectively over him. Unfortunately a betrayal from the School has now provided Darksiege, the last of Those That Stand in Shadow, with the means to achieve ultimate power. A mighty artifact, divided and cast into different realms, will spell doom if found. As Qualtan, Glaive, Cassandra, and Bartholomew travel to dark and terrible places including present-day Earth to prevent Darksiege from gaining victory, all is not as it seems. While Darksiege and his opponents attempt to determine whether they are involved in a true quest or have been deceived into playing a much deeper game,. In this fast-paced fantasy tale, a brave knight sets out on an ambitious quest to stop a dark force from carrying out an evil plan.
Winter Road follows Amelia who’s heading home for Christmas and must deal with her family, her new love and her dangerous ex-fiance. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
I wish I knew what specifically inspired me to write Winter Road. It was a story that came to me and then told itself, almost in a blink. If all my stories did that, I’d be a much more prolific writer! What I remember most is driving home from work in late fall, thinking about the upcoming holidays, and the title popped in my head out of nowhere. Looking back, it was a little bit of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic (a perfect book for creatives). Winter Road began to slowly unfold in front of my eyes from that moment on. Instead of driving on the Garden State Parkway in massive traffic, I was suddenly the only car on a rural-snow covered road heading home for the holidays. A foreboding hung over me as I pictured a woman escaping her big city life, running from a relationship gone wrong and into the arms of a family in crisis. The pieces cemented together in my mind creating an explosive holiday celebration. It, oddly, allowed me to marry two of my favorite things: Christmas and thrillers.
Amelia was a strong female lead that never really wilted under pressure. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
Amelia’s primary value is family, which she lost along the way by getting wrapped up in an all-consuming relationship and blossoming career. When the person she was expected to be collided with who she really was, her world began to unravel and life became clear. She lost her independence and was under the thumb of a man she thought she wanted, but didn’t. Going home was the only way for her to reconnect with her true self and to be reminded of her strong, familial roots, and find herself again.
I enjoyed how you were able to create an aura of danger around Jake and his intentions. What were some influences that guided his relationship with Amelia?
Sociopathology comes to mind! Jake, oddly, couldn’t love anyone because his capacity to love was limited – not only from his past, but from his psychological challenges. Therefore, he was all about ownership. Possession. And it defined him – what he had and who he controlled. When the core of his identity was under siege, his only option was to retaliate with deadly force.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently writing a paranormal thriller, Unleash the Wicked. It follows a former Manhattan socialite who’s forced to move back to her mysterious hometown where she faces her tragic past and, unwittingly, unleashes a deadly curse. With an 11 month old, it’s anyone’s guess when it will be published, but I’m hoping before my daughter goes to school!
On the heels of a bad breakup, Amelia Montgomery heads home for the holidays. Her hometown is a far cry from the metropolis where she lives now, but not nearly far enough away from Jake Grayson.
Amelia’s family festivities turn terrifying when a distraught Jake shows up uninvited on the Montgomery’s doorstep. Jake will not stop until he possesses Amelia; one way or another, she will be his.
In a chilling nightmare, one man’s obsession is so evil, it’s deadly. Amelia must fight for her life, and the lives of those she loves most, in the only place she’s ever called home…WINTER ROAD.