Friends of the Tsar is inspired by your personal experiences and your family history. Why was this an important book for you to write?
The diversity of my knowledge, which was given to me by spirit, was something too important to have lay dormant. The knowledge I accrued from many camping and four wheel driving trips was gained through life and death situations I encountered. If, by getting this information out to the world could save just one life, then I will have had good reason to write it.
The many miracles that kept my family and I safe on these learning adventures were so profound in that they were logic-defying, and I thought what better way to tell of my miracles than through an Australian character who entertained the Zuckschwerdts, my grandparents, with the narratives while snowed in.
What were some things that you felt had to stay true to real life and what were some things you took liberties with?
I felt that the horrific conditions in which my grandparents were successful in decamping from Russia had to stay true to life, also their personality.
I took liberties with the negative aspects of their plight because it would have been too depressing for a reader to continue reading. Too many family members were murdered by the Bolsheviks.
I also wanted to honour them with an acknowledgement of their plight after which they were positive in the rebuilding of their future together.
I felt like faith and family were important in the book. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this book?
The pivotal themes I wanted to capture were miracles, spiritual awareness, hope, danger awareness in nature, remembering ones heritage, and faith and family.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
My mother, on the other side, wants me to write children’s books. My previous vocation as artist allows me to illustrate the books myself, and my eagerness to encourage young people to speak up when put in danger, especially when dad’s driving is too scary, strengthens my resolve.
It won’t be until this time next year that a book would be ready for publication, should I decide to do so.
1917–The Russian Revolution. Danger and chaos abound, and the aristocratic Zuckschwerdt and Orloff families are desperate to escape to safety. Enter Blue, an Australian cattle-breeder with a big heart. Blessed by a heap of miracles from the Outback and beyond, he shares his gripping adventures with the snowed-in families. Blue has survived everything from bushfires to crocodile attacks.
With wolves and winter nipping at their heels, the Zuckschwerdts prepare to depart for the lucky country. Plunged into hostilities and espionage in Petrograd, they make a break for the high seas, only to find themselves in a deadly game of bluff with a German U-boat skipper.
Blue is in a predicament of his own when three of the Orloff daughters fall for his red earth charms. Will he find true love with one of them? And will his Aussie anecdotes help the family understand that awareness and preparation can spell the difference between life and death? As miracles begin to unfold, the Russian refugees discover the power of faith.
Inspired by Jon de Graaff’s personal experiences and his grandparents’ family history, ‘Friends of the Tsar’ is a thrilling tale. Spiked with humorous twists, tragic turns, perilous encounters, and life-saving lessons of survival. It offers spiritual insights into forgiveness and unconventional love.
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Brownout – 666 follows Rick in the midst of a struggle to find a way to live a normal life in a dark and unforgiving world. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?
My inspiration for the setup behind this novel primarily came from my sojourn in the Philippines spread over several years. I always told people that one day I would write a book about the country, its people and its culture and that I would call it “Brownout.” I added the “666” moniker to the title as any search under “Brownout” brought up thousands of books about electricity. As large portions of my novel were based on real events and people I could have written a nonfiction work instead. However, I didn’t want the potential for libel suits hanging over me so I chose fiction. The American and Australian settings of the novel came about as I wished to explore the socio-political ethos of those nations and their relationships to the bases of world power. I introduced the American setting as a subplot that tied up with the central one at the end.
Rick Daly is an interesting character that faces many challenges in life. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
Some of the driving ideals behind the central character, Rick Daly, were related to sexuality and its abusive and non-abusive forms. As he matures Rick learns to become less selfish and earns some degree of redemption. Rick has been confused about Right and Wrong and gradually arrives at what he calls “the fair thing principle.” Rick grew up in the seventies and eighties in an Australia with a fairly aggressive sexual culture. An example of looking back at this culture from the standpoint of the present day is the internationally well-known podcast, “The Teacher’s Pet,” by Hedley Thomas of the newspaper, The Australian. Apart from examining a cold case disappearance and probable murder, the podcast looks into alleged teacher/schoolgirl sex rings at several high schools on Sydney’s northern beaches, one of which I taught at (Cromer High School). Rick loathes hypocrisy, the stupidity and gross unfairness of many authorities. Governments and courts often seem overly influenced by cultural and political fashion.
This novel expertly uses history to tell an engrossing story. Was history an important aspect for you in this novel or did this develop organically while writing?
As a former English and History teacher I have always been fascinated by History and its links to the present day. The changing attitudes to sexuality throughout historical and contemporary periods necessarily came to the fore as Rick becomes caught up in them.
I have long been a student of the Holocaust and the Third Reich and, as history is always written by the winners, I appreciate how difficult it is to arrive at even an approximation of the objective truth. While in no way do I condone the many crimes of the Third Reich I find myself bemused at how any attempt to examine this era can so easily be shouted down if it differs ever so little from the official version. The Holocaust was a terrible event but it is no more sacred than are the other mass killings or genocides that occurred before it or since.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
In addition to this novel, I also have a published work of non-fiction about child loss and grief. It is called, “Waiting for a Miracle – Life in the Dead Zone.” As for my next book, I haven’t decided whether to work on another novel or non-fiction piece. In either case it won’t be available until next year at the earliest.
In the land of flaunted sex, money, and flexible rules, an ambitious but lonely Rick Daly faces his demons.
Rick Daly has established a business in the exotic surroundings of the Philippines, while simultaneously discovering Marilyn Delgado, the woman of his dreams.
However, a clash of cultures and his own naiveté lead to disaster. Falsely accused of a sexual crime, Rick loses both his freedom and his business. To add insult to injury, a prison escape merely amounts to switching jails.
In a world where the rich prosper, honest individuals are forced to the wall, and a cynical disregard for all but the dollar is destroying society from within, crime soon follows punishment for Rick. Close to losing his soul, will Rick’s ultimate success in drug and arms dealing finally lead him to face up to reality?
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Shipwreck Island by James B. McPike is an adventure story with mystery and intrigue. Roy Berenger, an expert in salvage operations of shipwrecks, is approached by the great-great-granddaughter of one of the survivors of the wreck of the General Grant, a ship that was carrying a group of miners and the riches they’d unearthed in Australia. But the General Grant drifted off course, crashed into the cliffs on Auckland Island, and sank. Natalie Claiborne needs Berenger’s help to locate the lost ship and it’s treasure. Natalie’s ancestor, Winston Claiborne had kept a diary that described the event and the conditions the survivors endure while stranded on a bleak island, as they waited eighteen months for rescue. The diary also included a crude map of the island with an ‘X’ mark in the middle. Most of the survivors perished, and the shipwreck had never been found. There are tales of the island being cursed. Berenger’s instincts tell him from the start that he shouldn’t get involved with this particular shipwreck, but… he can’t resist the lure of adventure. Lots of treasure hunters have tried to find the ship, and many have died in the search. Can Berenger and Natalie succeed where so many others have failed?
The story begins with a prologue set in 1866 when the ship’s crew faced imminent disaster off the coast of New Zealand, which drew me into the story. People have been searching for the treasure for one hundred and fifty years since then, and I enjoyed reading the section about previous treasure hunters looking for the wreck, starting in 1868 and followed by numerous other expeditions in the intervening years. I liked the inclusion of this history, which gave additional depth to the story.
It was interesting to read about the different technologies used in underwater salvage to locate shipwrecks, but when the equipment malfunctions and a series of other strange occurrences happen on the island the search proves dangerous and deadly. Someone doesn’t want them to find General Grant’s treasure and sabotages their efforts. I felt that some of the villain’s actions were contrary to their motives. The villain wanted to use other people to locate the treasure for their own personal gain, but then tried to kill those people before they had a chance to solve the mystery of the missing ship. I would have used a bit more clarification on the characters motives to really flesh out, what I think are, intriguing characters.
There were a few issues with awkward sentence structure and repetition in this book as the same things were expressed more than once using different phrasing. This distracted from the flow of the story. And I felt that the chapter when Roy goes to dinner upon his arrival in Auckland doesn’t really add anything to the story and could have been eliminated.
I liked that the book included a map that showed the area of the different shipwrecks and their location in relation to each other. This allowed me to better visualize the setting of the story, which I found helpful. Overall, I found this to be an entertaining story that puts compelling characters in perilous situations set in exotic locations.
Pages: 186 | ASIN: B07GRFW8LT
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Lifeliners follows Nash as he navigates a tumultuous future with the next evolution of human’s, lifeliners. What was the inspiration behind lifeliners and how did that develop as you were writing?
Lifeliners began as an idea for a short story on a long flight from Europe to Melbourne, Australia, my home. I always have my notebook handy, never knowing when inspiration would strike. Tired of browsing through inflight entertainment, I began jotting down notes to flesh out a story about an emerging new human able to draw energy from someone by touching them. From previous reading and watching documentaries, I knew that birthrates in Western countries have been falling for a while, accompanied by growing sterility. Could this be a product of our high-pressure technological lifestyle and high density urban living? I decided to develop this theme into a story. Nature decided that lifeliners were the answer to who would over time replace normal human beings. Of course, people would not be prepared to simply let lifeliners take over, but that only added to the story’s depth.
Well, I wrote the short story, posted it on my website, and I thought I was done with it. Time to finish what was then my latest book project Legitimate Power. Once I had it published, I began reviewing ideas for a new book – and kept coming back to lifeliners. It was one thing to write a short story, but fleshing it out into a full-length novel was not something I had in mind, wanting to write another contemporary political drama/thriller. But the bug had bitten me and the characters clamored to have their say. Lifeliners began to haunt my days. The only way I would have peace was to write the damned book, and I was glad that I did.
I really enjoyed Nash’s character and the relationship he has with Cariana. What were some important themes for you when creating these characters and their relationship?
Nash was a lifeliner in a social environment that is growing increasingly hostile, fanned by propaganda by governments the world over – it was easy to blame lifeliners for the problems people had. His natural instinct was to survive, and if possible, secure his future, provided no one found out he was a lifeliner. Having someone to love, raise a family, was an obvious and normal goal, but one he was not sure he could achieve. Would it not be better to wall himself in from social contact and ride out whatever troubles might lay ahead? That is how he lived for a few years, especially after thugs murdered his first love, Sally. Meeting Cariana, not a lifeliner, generated normal human feelings, and he ignored his inner warnings and allowed himself to become ensnared by her, which regrettably led to all the subsequent unpleasantness. Having found out that remaining walled in did not work, he needed to change things, not only for himself, but other lifeliners as well. This led to a gradual transformation of his world view and as a person.
Falling in love with Cariana, cool, beautiful and accomplished, was easy. Her work as a geneticist alarmed Nash, knowing that she could expose him, and if the relationship was to mature, he would have to reveal himself to her anyway and face possible rejection. For Cariana, starting to fall for Nash, she faced a psychological burden having her brother killed by a drunken lifeliner. It embittered her against all lifeliners. She recognized the sick nature of her attitude, but she could not help herself. When she learned that Nash was a lifeliner, the image of him as a dashing prince was shattered, and she hated him, yet she could not extinguish her love for him. I believe the interplay of emotions and feelings the two had for each other, and the emotional baggage both carried, hopefully made them more real, something readers would expect in any couple.
I enjoyed the realistic portrayal of science in this story. Did you conduct any research for this book, or were these things you were thinking about?
Although the idea of drawing bioelectromagnetic energy from another person is a fictional foray, I spent a lot of time researching material for Lifeliners, which reinforced the information I already had about the complexity of human biochemistry. The loss of our ability to synthesize pyruvate into leucine and valine is a fact, as are their functions. However, I have taken some liberty when I suggested that lifeliners can also synthesize vitamin C. But who knows what nature may have in store for us in the future. Although Lifeliners is a work of fiction, I always thoroughly research every one of my contemporary novels to ensure the validity of my facts and that I do not stray too far from what is scientifically possible with my science fiction.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Having just completed Lifeliners, and busy marketing it, I need to take a break and recharge my creative battery. It usually takes me a couple of months before I start nurturing ideas, seeing which of them can be turned into a novel. However, this does not mean that I have stopped writing. As a matter of fact, I just added a new short story to my collection, Doorways of the Mind, and I have another that I will write within the next few days. Until the urge overcomes me to tackle a new novel, I will be spending some of my time doing book reviews and editing for other authors.
When everybody is against them, it is tough being a lifeliner, as Nash Bannon found out. Lifeliners are ordinary people…almost. They can draw energy from another person; they live longer and are smarter. Scientists claim that Western high-pressure living and growing sterility in developed countries has triggered the rise of lifeliners, and homo sapiens will replaced by homo renata within ten generations. So, what’s not to like about lifeliners? Protest marches by extremist groups, riots, attacks against lifeliners, repressive laws enacted by governments everywhere, were portents of a dark future. Young, successful, Nash Bannon did not like what was going on, but he thought he had the world at his feet and life in Australia was good, provided no one found out he was a lifeliner. A chance encounter with Cariana during a lunchbreak develops into something he considered important. The Australian government calls a snap election, and Nash stands as a Senate candidate on the Lifeliner Party ticket. Unless lifeliners rise up and fight for their rights, they can expect sterilization, incarceration, and possible extermination as democracies everywhere turn into autocracies. To survive, the Lifeliner Party must employ the same dirty tricks the government used against them, but they were not prepared for what awaited them.
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Mortgaged Goods follows the tumultuous relationship of Nata and Karl as they deal with the challenges life often poses. What was your inspiration for this intriguing novel?
Two key events in my life inspired me:
Firstly, the premature birth of my youngest grandson and supporting my daughter through hearing a diagnosis of a serious condition and months of watching her child fight for life in neo-natal intensive care gave me a keen awareness of the roller coaster of intense emotions mothers experience in this situation.
Secondly, I was involved, some time ago, with a Body Corporate of a young person’s accommodation building where investors suffered loss due to some shady dealing involving corrupt lawyers.
I want to stress that the story I told is complete fiction, but my personal experiences gave me fuel for the plot.
Marriage to someone who was removed from his family in early childhood and knowing several people who experienced foster care and/or child abuse drove a desire to explore the issues fostered, orphaned and abused children might struggle with in adulthood.
I tapped the memory of migrant friends to shape Nata’s foster parents and decide how they would approach child-raising and the potential effects of their methods of disciplining and showing love, because I wanted to include exploration of the challenges faced by immigrant families.
Nata’s character was interesting and well developed. What themes did you want to explore with her character?
I wanted to explore the effect on a woman of intense parental love combined with the strictest parental discipline and a deep religious influence, and I wanted to delve into the potential impact of this kind of upbringing on a woman who partnered with someone from an very different background. Karl’s background was on of great affluence combined with discipline that was is harsh and unloving, but one parent’s cautious affection drove hope of winning love if he could achieve well enough. I wanted to contrast diverse home environments and the effects of two completely different styles of parenting that both involved strict discipline and drove an intense desire for success.
My research with children who are removed from their families early inspired a strong desire to expose the emotional journey that accompanies a struggle for acceptance by substitute carers, the yearning for approval and a sense of truly belonging, and the feeling of never being good enough, because for so long society looked down on children who were not being cared for by their birth parents.
I also felt driven to expose the emotional journey of mothers of critically ill and special needs children.
This novel is very good at displaying the complexity of the decisions people make about family, relationships and love. Did you start writing with the intention of exploring these topics or did this happen organically?
I think it happened organically, though the short story that started this writing journey was about the a difficult family situation in which both mother and children were seriously abused by an alcoholic. I suspect my own childhood, as the child of a widow whose remarriages exposed me to two very different but extremely dysfunctional families, and my husband’s childhood as a Forgotten Australian, drove a desire to explore the complexity of family relationships, the potential effects deprivation of family connections, and the effect of different styles of parenting on children. We are all, to a greater or lesser extent, shaped by our experiences of care (or lack of it) in our formative years. Family and relationships are extremely complex, and researching how character and personality is shaped has always fascinated me.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Currently, I’m working on another novel about unethical legal behavior. My goal is to expose the hideous wrongs in the laws relating to challenging a will, and how the profit motive has displaced any legitimate desire to ensure fairness in the distribution of estates and abolished all respect for the stated wishes of the deceased. Though completely fictional, this novel is also based loosely on a personal experience. Once again, the central character is an ambitious and highly successful female lawyer, but her upbringing more closely resembled Karl’s than Natalya’s.
A gay partner is the Guardian in this story, and the antagonist is a self-serving narcissist consumed with extreme greed.
The story explores the dilemma of a fundamentally ethical woman whose ambition requires that she set aside all her core values in order to succeed, and how her choices impact on her and those around her. The character of the antagonist was shaped by disfunctional family relationships, poor decisions and personal trauma, and her story will explore these themes – particularly the personal consequences of decisions increasingly driven by greed and selfishness.
When this novel will be available is a question I can’t answer reliably. I am a painfully slow writer and one who struggles constantly with a frantically busy life and far too many distractions (though I am technically retired, whatever that means!)
My goal is to release it by mid 2019 at latest, but it will be available when it’s ready for discerning readers. I write for pleasure, not profit, and I strive to produce stories with genuine literary merit and characters who come to life in the minds of readers. Like most writers, I aspire to produce that elusive best-seller, and I am happy to invest whatever time is needed to deliver a work that I consider worthy.
Natalie is living the dream, but when tragedy strikes, her past comes back to haunt her and she must reassess what really defines a woman’s value.
Meanwhile, a crisis and confronting revelations challenge Karl to re-examine his standards and to question his deepest beliefs.
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Georgia hasn’t exactly had it easy since marrying Nathan. Leaving her home in Australia and taking on the role of wife and stepmother has been a challenge to say the least. However, when Georgia is saddled with keeping her husband’s precocious and entitled niece and her own two stepchildren on an afternoon when she would rather be working on her own jewelry business, life takes a turn she and the children could never have predicted. As she watches her stepson’s hair mysteriously stand on end, Georgia gives it only a passing thought. Soon after, Georgia and the members of her household find themselves fighting for their very lives.
Mia Kingslie, author of Survivors of the Sun, has absolutely hit it out of the park. Her thriller, set in the present and focusing on the extreme likelihood that the world has been hit with an electromagnetic pulse, is phenomenally well-written and gripping in every way possible. Kingslie’s characters, her plot, and the conflicts within are clearly drawn with stunning visuals.
Georgia, the book’s main character, draws on sources of strength most of us could never imagine. When she realizes she has likely outlived her husband everyone she knows, she picks herself up and heads, literally, for the hills with the children and their dogs in tow. After witnessing the horrifying deaths in their city, Georgia somehow manages to concoct a feasible plan for escaping their home with the needed supplies. She is a force with which to be reckoned, and Kingslie builds on her set of skills as the chapters advance. Georgia represents every man, woman, and child living through apocalyptic times learning to adjust as each new set of challenges is faced.
The introduction of Lola into the traveling group makes the entire plot that much more engaging. Lola, a force in her own right, adds an element of unique humor to an otherwise dark and heavy storyline. Her backstory is one that makes her even more endearing to readers.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching Georgia’s relationship grow and flourish with her stepchildren, but more intriguing was the evolving dynamic between Georgia and her niece, Deedee. To watch Georgia grow as a maternal figure was quite amazing. As a parent myself, I found it fascinating to see through her eyes as she begins to find ways to work around Deedee’s idiosyncrasies.
Kingslie writes the most fantastic descriptions of post-apocalyptic terrors. From diseased bodies to the overwhelmingly eerie pictures of stalled cars, silent skies, and ravaged homes. Kingslie’s writing style is highly effective in creating a scene for her readers of almost instant devastation.
Were it possible to give Survivors of the Sun 10 stars, I would do it in a heartbeat. That being said, I can’t hesitate to give it 5 out of 5 stars. It’s hard to find a book that takes hold of your imagination and refuses to let go, but that’s exactly what Kingslie has managed to produce. I fell in step with Georgia and her ragtag crew from Chapter 1, and any fan of apocalyptic thrillers will do the same.
Pages: 743 | ISBN: 1720066493
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There is a warm feeling that embraces you the moment you land on the first page. The author narrates her stories in a manner that makes the reader feel like they belong. Her wording is amazing and she used the most appropriate phrases in her explanations. The book starts with the writer sharing her childhood story of being born in England. Being the ninth child of a family of ten children, she knew early that she had to be aware of self as she was born into her crowd. She goes on to talk about her life; her family emigrated to Australia then to New Zealand. She also talks about getting children in her early twenties, selling her home, buying a yacht and sailing from New Zealand to England.
The writer talks about being distressed, going through emotional agony, feeling guilty, going through betrayal and experiencing grief. It was not easy for her. Even with the trauma that Linda K. Ford went through, she was able to emerge strong in the end. I admire her attitude and perspective on life. There is a lot of wise words she shared throughout the book.
On inaccuracies of thoughts, the author discusses how we respond to the situations we are faced with on a daily basis. The author says that each one of us has the potential to experience happiness. We all can be cheerful at all times. Life is supposed to be joyful. Our past sometimes restricts us from experiencing infinite joy. I loved that in between the lines, the author posed questions for the reader to ponder over. Trauma is never a good thing. A troubling past can haunt you for years, making you feel like life is not worth it. The author also mentioned that the stronger one is emotional, the deeper they are bound to sink. How unfortunate that must be.
Her style of giving real-life example when explaining a topic is what made me enjoy this book. One of my favorite parts of the book was the chapter where she explained mental versus physical tiredness. Both are draining and can break a person. At the end of it all, the author assured the reader that there is still some hope. Don’t sit and be depressed about things that you can’t change. Life may not be a walk in the park, but there are instances and people who make our life in this universe worthwhile. When you get emotional, look for things that work for you. Talk to people who care, read a book, watch your favorite TV show, engage in a simple physical exercise; don’t just sit with a dark cloud hovering around you.
Decrypto: Unlock Your Life Journey is a book everyone who is on a quest to discover self should read. The words shared are a gem. The author enables the reader to have some hope even when things don’t go as planned.
Pages: 164 | ISBN: 0648299007
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On May 5th, 1994, at 9.30 am on a chilly, sunlit day, Ebony, a 36ft Roberts Spray, left the safety of Lyttelton Harbour in New Zealand, to venture into the unknown, where nothing would be predictable.
The voyage plan was to follow the famous trade wind route, sailing from New Zealand to England.
All too soon, they found themselves battling their way to Sydney, Australia. Caught in a ruthless storm with no contact with the outside world, they were truly alone. All the romantic notions of the ultimate cruising life disappeared into oblivion.
Step aboard Ebony and take an adventure, an epic 15-month voyage. Experience this day-to-day passionate tale, packed with intrigue, and at times suspense. Experience the delights of the lands visited and learn more about the world of international sailing. This was a life-changing adventure, with a dramatic, unexpected, ending.
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