Talon, Come Fly with Me follows Matica who is trapped in the body of a two year old and is an outcast. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
I wanted to let children and parents know, that they don’t need to suffer more than they already do. So:
Children suffer from all sorts of afflictions and through my book they can learn how to coup with everything, as Matica did, the main character in my TALON books. She had to learn it in her early life. Children can find a “Condor” as Matica did. Not literally a condor, but every child or adult for that matter, they are battling with none curable afflictions, should find something that let them forget what is happening to them. Finding a “Condor” would help them to overcome that.
Parents can read my book to younger children so they can see that they are not alone, but that they can overcome it in a positive way, not in a negative way.
I say: Children with special needs or with disability, or are handicapped don’t have an illness, so there is no cure and it’s not contagious. They want what we all want, to be accepted.
My books are not only for children. As I said, adults face some illnesses as well, so my books are for adults as well as for children.
Matica is an interesting and well developed character. What were some ideals you wanted to capture when creating this character?
I let Matica justifying herself.
My name is Matica and I am a special needs child with a growth disability. I am stuck in the body of a two-year-old, even though I am ten years old when my story begins in the first book of the Talon series, TALON, COME FLY WITH ME.
Because of that disability, (I am saying ‘that’ disability, not ‘my’ disability because it’s a thing that happens to me, nothing more and because I am not accepting it as something bad. I can say that now after I learned to cope with it.) I was rejected by the local Indians as they couldn’t understand that that condition is not a sickness and so it can’t be cured. It’s just a disorder of my body.
But I never gave up on life and so I had lots of adventures roaming around the plateau where we live in Peru, South America, with my mum’s and dad’s blessings. But after I made friends with my condors I named Tamo and Tima, everything changed. It changed for the good. I was finally loved and accepted by the Indians. I am the hero now and I embrace my problem. In better words: I had embraced my problem before I made friends with my condors Tamo and Tima. I held onto it, but I still felt sorry for myself and cried a lot, wanting to run away or something worse.
But would it have helped me? Would it have become better? Would I grow taller? No, nothing of that would have happened. I didn’t have those questions when I was still in my sorrow, but all these questions came to me later, after I was loved and was cherished.
One day I looked up into the sky and saw the majestic condors flying in the air. Here and now, I made up my mind. I wanted to become friends with them. I believed, if I could achieve that, all my sorrow and rejection would be over. And true enough, it was over. I was loved. I even became famous. (You can read all about it in the series) And so, if you are in a situation, with whatever your problem is, find something you could rely on and stick to it, love that and do with that what you were meant to do. And I never run from conflicts.
I enjoyed how well you created the location and backdrop for this story. Why did you choose a remote village in the Andes for this story?
Andean condors live only high up in the mountains. And since there are not many around anymore, while nearly extinct, to get a pair, as I wanted, they had to go and live in a remote village, close to the big Andeans. And Pucara was the logical answer for me, as I studied the map of Peru.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have published 5 books up to now.
- TALON, COME FLY WITH ME
- TALON, ON THE WING
- TALON, FLIGHT FOR LIFE
- TALON, CONNECTED
- TALON, ENCOUNTER
Now I am working on the sixth book. TALON, WINDSONG and hope to get it published next year.
Inspiring story of a girl whose disability is her greatest strength and brings the important message of never losing hope in hard situations and using misfortune to look for an opportunity to be kind.
The story takes you into the Andean Mountains of Peru to a remote village where you meet a young girl, named Matica, who worries about being shunned by the tribal people because of her growth disability that makes her different from everyone else.
One day she befriends two Condors she names Tamo and Tima. The village natives watch from a distance as her friendship and trust grow with the Condors. It only takes a short time before the entire village accepts the little girl for who she is when they find she can also communicate with them.
And then the adventures begin, changing her life in marvellous way. Matica is delightful, caring, and undaunted by these giant birds and their offspring, she and her father rescue from poachers.
Harvest follows Dr. Varsaad who is tasked with exploring an alien artifact which set off a life changing series of events. What was your inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
The first thoughts about writing “Harvest” came from reading an article on the evolution of man several years ago in the Scientific American Magazine. Why did Neanderthals go extinct after 140,000 years of success? Modern humans have been around only a small fraction of the time Neanderthals (and other human species) walked the Earth. Yet, we are here, they are all gone. And I’ve also come across articles on micro pollution. A million years from now, there will still be bits of plastic left incorporated into every ecosystem on our planet even if we cease to be. Very few tangible artifacts are left from other human species that went extinct.
Dr. Varsaad (Vars) Volhard is a scientist who studies why cultures survive. She is an evolutionary-socio-historian. Vars was my way of learning about our own past and exploring the possibilities for the future with my readers. I am a “seat of my pants” kind of writer — this means that after all of the research, I just sit down and write the story that jelled somewhere in my subconsciousness. I have no idea how my novel will turn out, who will live and who will die. I learn the ending just a few months before my readers do. I feel like we are on this journey together. That said, I really like Vars. She is completely out her element, trying to prove her own worth and working so hard to save everyone and everything. And through it all, Vas is still able to love and care for her family, her father. She never loses her humanity even as she stops being human. I admire her… but I am very happy never to be in her situation or having to make her decisions.
There is a subplot to “Harvest” — Vars and her dad are Seeds. I wanted to set my story in world which just barely survived total annihilation after being hit by an asteroid. Just like we have a Seed Vault in the far north to store genetic material of plants, as a precaution against extinction, in my novel, there are Human Vaults that were set up to preserve human genetic diversity after a near extinction event. This combination of an old threat and a new made for more interesting story dynamics. I’ve even written a little prequel to “Harvest” — a story of how Vars met her dad: Fresh Seed. Given the complexities of the setting, I think I might write more in this world. I’m considering writing a novella about how the Human Vaults were set up.
I enjoyed the science and backstory to the aliens and the artifact. What were some themes you wanted to capture when creating this part of the story?
I’m a scientist by training (I have degrees in astrophysics, mathematics, and cognitive science). I’ve always been interested in human history and the history of science — why did certain human populations pursued science while others didn’t? Why did some civilizations thrived while others failed? Why is human progress so unevenly distributed across history and geography? I’ve spent several years doing research and gathering information for this book. And to my surprise, many times the answers to these questions came down to simple luck. In our day and age, if you are born American, you are probably getting enough food to eat everyday and have sufficient schooling to be literate. To someone born into poverty and political unrest of Yemen, for example, you might be considered born lucky. Luck played a critical roll in success in many-a-civilization. Those with the most and easiest ways to extract natural resources always win the life lottery. I wanted to find out how this principle would scale to galactic proportions — what does it take to develop life and a thriving civilization some place outside of Earth, beyond our Solar System? To my surprise, luck was still the guiding principle to success. My book “Harvest” explores this theme to its fullest, taking in account the limited time since our universe came to be — Big Bang to now. What would it mean to be the first sentient advanced civilization in our galaxy? And what if that is not us?
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
This Fall, I’ve also released another novel: “God of Small Affairs”. In many ways, it is a mirror image of “Harvest”. But while “Harvest” is a hard science fiction, “God of Small Affairs” is written in magical realism genre. It focuses on a few months around Christmas time of life of a First Nations man who is charged with bringing home a god after that god have fulfilled a task assigned to it by the tribe elders. It is a simple mission — put the god on the train and take her to Alaska — but everything goes wrong. If gods walked among us — the kind of gods that one could just have a conversation with across a dinner table — would we ever be able to grow up, to take responsibility for our own actions? Would one rely on himself to save a child in need when a god could probably do so much better? “God of Small Affairs” is a work of dark fantasy fiction centered on themes of culture, belief, community, and hope.
I’m currently working of two…three stories. One — “Mirror Shards” — is a story of loss and regret. When is the price of personal happiness too high? Another — “Good Girl” — explodes the themes of artificial intelligence. What happens when an AI goes mad? And finally — “Word Magic” — is a story about linguistics. In particular, it focuses on how language can be used as an ultimate weapon of manipulation. There is a short prequel to “Word Magic” that has been turned into a little audio play by 600 Second Saga. I’m in the early stages of writing this novel. “Good Girl” is a novella that is finished and is awaiting yet another round of edits prior to publication (I got it back from my editor a few months back but have been too busy to finalize it). “Mirror Shards” is about 1/3 done…I wonder what happens next…
Almost a century after Keres Triplets asteroid impact and subsequent nuclear exchange almost ended all human life on Earth, a strange artifact is discovered on one of the moons of Saturn. Who should be sent to the outer reaches of the solar system to initiate the first contact with an alien culture? Dr. Varsaad Volhard, an evolutionary-socio-historian, is chosen to help the world understand the alien civilization that left an artifact some thirty thousand years ago, before humans even learned to farm, at the time when other human species still walked the earth. While Vars prepares for the mission, her father, Dr. Matteo Volhard, discovers nanobots among the microplastics he studies. The bots are everywhere and seem to have been created to bond with human cyber implants. Why? Matteo is made to keep his discovery a secret…as well as his and his daughter’s true origins. Both were donated to a Human DNA Vault as babies. Matteo was raised as a Seed before leaving with his young daughter to study ecology around the world. Who knows what? Who is in control? How does one communicate with non-human intelligence? People seem to die in gruesome ways as their cyberhumatics go haywire on Earth and on Luna and Mars colonies. Is Earth under attack or is it all just a cosmic misunderstanding? Vars needs to use all she knows to solve the mystery of the ancient civilization on Mimas, as her dad battles the alien nanobots at home.
Spectre is the thrilling conclusion to your Kirk Ingram saga. Do you feel like you accomplished everything you wanted to with this series?
I know I said ‘thrilling conclusion’ in the synopsis that appears on the back of the book, but I wonder if we’ve seen the last of Kirk Ingram. That said, I feel extremely satisfied with what I’ve accomplished with Spectre, and how it augments the previous two books in the series. For example, in book #1, Haunted, I gave Ingram frequent nightmares, which is stereotypical of a protagonist with a troubled past. But then in Spectre, I used that element and exploded it into an entire book by positing the question: What if Ingram’s nightmares aren’t what they seem? The Kirk Ingram stories stand alone, but readers will appreciate the elements in Spectre that tie them into a trilogy.
How do you think the story, and your writing, has changed throughout the series?
A good aspect of self-publishing platforms is the hassle-free option to update previous books. I have the advantage that my reader base isn’t (yet) in the thousands and millions, so why not make an improvement? When book #2 – Diablo – released, I reviewed Haunted and spruced up the tone of the book, even thrashing sections I saw no point in this time around. I’ve certainly matured as an author. One simple way to see that is the ratings on Goodreads have improved with each book. My plots have always been complex and I’m finding new ways to keep that complexity interesting to the readers. Another constant in my writing nowadays is I always want to educate my readers. Even if my stories are fiction, I set them against the backdrop of contemporary events and locations, so that my readers learn something besides the entertainment value.
This book is exceptionally well written and wastes no time getting to the action. What were some goals you set for yourself in this book?
Thank you for the compliment. Key locales for the book were inspired by a vacation in Italy. I wanted to feature the imposing Christian and Roman edifices. Next, I wanted Ingram to have closure. In Haunted he lost his family; I wanted him to get over his guilt, to live his life to the fullest. I’ve always been interested in history, and Spectre gave me the opportunity to tell a story that converges from two different timelines. And finally, I wanted to write a paranormal story, but one that stands apart from the usual. And I believe, I’ve done that.
What is the next project you’re working on and when will it be available?
Next up, is book #3 in the Luc Fortesque series, Trigger Point. It will be available fall 2020.
More than 2000 years ago, the deeds and words of a Jewish carpenter seeded an ideology that inexorably spread across the known world. Who was he, really? Conspiracies, doubts, faith abound.
300 years later, Constantine marched victoriously into Rome. In a move befitting a shrewd politician, Emperor Constantine sought to legalise the radical religion proclaimed by the hitherto persecuted Christian sect with the ulterior motive of crowning himself godhead of a united empire.
But what if there existed others, who possessed the same powers as the Christ, and threatened the emperor’s new religion, and upset his ambitions?
June 2017: A remote abbey in the Italian Alps is attacked by an ethereal force. Every one of the abbey’s gifted residents is murdered, save for its newest resident, Jovanni Rossi.
A passenger jetliner makes an emergency landing at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport with seven casualties aboard. The perpetrator: former FBI agent, Kirk Ingram.
Seeking answers, Jovanni Rossi and Kirk Ingram must team up and face an incredible reality-altering truth.
Pursued by a vengeful father, a relentless contract killer and a sadistic gangster, the pair find themselves embroiled in a grander conflict between good and evil…
And they are the only people who stand against a dark force arising out of medieval times to consume the Earth!
Mandy Norton loves her dolls. Every day, she likes to play with them in her yard. She names them and serves them tea. Mandy is in her own world–and she is being watched. From just beyond the bushes and out of her line of sight, she is being studied, and her every move is being noted. A man she cannot see is planning to take her from her yard and away from her family. He will use one of her favorite things to bring his plan to fruition–a doll. After carefully selecting a doll that matches her taste, he makes his move, and Mandy’s life and the lives of her family will never be the same.
Not Dead, by Anita Dickason, is the harrowing tale of the abduction of young Mandy Norton and the efforts made to bring her home. Mandy’s aunt, Ashely Logan, becomes involved from the moment she hears that her niece is missing. Ashley, also the editor of the local newspaper, deems herself an investigator and questions the local police department’s ability to handle her niece’s case. As the hours quickly begin to pass, Ashley forges her own path through the town from one suspect to another.
Dickason has managed to provide readers with a tale of horror–every parent’s nightmare. As the story progresses, readers are given more insight into the frustrating and heartbreaking process of trusting law enforcement to bring their daughter home safely. The introduction of Ashley, Mandy’s aunt, is more than helpful in driving home exactly how difficult the process of searching for a suspect can actually be. Ashley is the reader’s guide into the investigation process.
The insight the author gives into the mind of little Mandy’s abductor is chilling. I can’t accurately describe the terror I felt as I read how Mandy’s abductor targeted her and methodically planned her kidnapping. What was even more terrifying was the background information readers are given at the outset–this man is a repeat offender and has honed these skills over time.
Not Dead, though fiction, provides a thorough look into police procedures and the rigorous work that takes place when a child has disappeared. The bulk of Dickason’s work in this book is focused on the investigation itself and Ashley’s part in that process. As a reader, I would have liked to have seen more of the experience from Mandy’s point of view. From one chapter to the next, readers watch the clues multiply, the suspects narrow, and the case grow closer to a conclusion, but we aren’t as privy to the life to which Mandy is subjected while she waits to be rescued.
Readers who seek a mystery with rich characters and prefer frighteningly realistic plots will be more than satisfied with Dickason’s work. Dickason’s characters are highly-developed and memorable. The twist ending is an added bonus to Dickason’s meticulously crafted mystery. I highly recommend Not Dead to any mystery fan looking for a new author to follow.
Pages: 238 | ASIN: B07ZMHYMDB
Koritt Diviak is assigned a mission he would rather not go on. He goes to Earth anyway and ends up crashing in the Afghan dessert. He attracts the attention of two people who are on their own missions. Lieutenant Lavender would love to use the U-10 recovered from the crash site to protect his troops against terrorists and militia. Lincoln Frost also comes into the picture with a desire to get the same elite weapon for his superiors who supposedly plan to use it for the safety of the American citizens. It is quickly discovered that all three have to fight each other for their interests. Will any one of them come out unscathed?
U-10 is an action filled science fiction adventure story that meshes fantasy and reality into one medley of literary excitement. The plot is well sculpted and executed. No holes are left especially regarding the functionality of the tech. Speaking of which, the gadgets in this book are straight out of any sci-fi enthusiast’s imagination. They are simply out of this world with high adaptability and power. It only makes sense that everyone is willing to go to such great lengths to be in possession of it.
Koritt is your typical veteran soldier. He will follow orders despite his feelings on the matter. He will fight and keep to the mission objective above all odds. Frost is also a typical lackey for the man. These characters are all introduced to the reader with such vivid descriptions that you can almost put a face to the image created in your head. Strong characters make for a strong story. They carry the story and ensure that the reader is engaged. They each work so hard for their mission that they do not realize just how intrinsically similar they are.
The story remains fresh up to the very end with engaging dialogue that supported the plots movement. It remains consistently exciting and lively throughout which makes for a quick pace.
U-10 will keep you at the edge of your seat and anxious for the next twist in the plot. I enjoyed the simplicity with which the story is told as well as the brilliant tone that rarely leaves a dull moment.
Pages: 458 | ASIN: B07W864RY3
Tags: action, adventure, author, book, book review, bookblogger, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, Sam B Miller II, science fiction, story, The Most Ingenious Technology in the Galaxy, U-10, writer, writing
Murtairean: An Assassin’s Tale (Dal Cruinne Series Book One) by Jenn Lees is a fantasy story set in a medieval society with lords at war for power. Vygeas, a former assassin with the gift of heightened senses and perception, is locked in a cell in Lord Ciaran’s dungeon. Charged with desertion when he refused to kill innocents, Vygeas now faces hanging. But he is offered a stay of execution and a chance to win his freedom if he completes one final task–to kill a corrupt merchant on the Isle of Eilean. On the road to Eilean, Vygeas meets Leyna, a woman searching for the assassin who killed her parents. She is intent on exacting revenge. But when their convictions are tested, will either Vygeas or Leyna succeed in their aims?
Murtairean: An Assassin’s Tale is filled with intrigue and treachery, drawing me in from the very first page. The author’s descriptions of the setting and people painted a vivid picture of the story in my mind. I suspected early on in the story that Vygeas was the assassin who had killed Leyna’s parents, and I was interested to find out how she would react when she finally learned the truth. I don’t want to give away too much, but things are not what you expect. Leyna’s feelings are understandably confused, especially since she has come to like Vygeas and he has shown himself to be a good man deceived by lies.
Both Leyna and Vygeas are likable and sympathetic characters even though they have done bad things in their pasts and continue to walk a dark path. I enjoyed reading the interactions between Vygeas and Aiden, and the touches of humor that it added to the story.
But there were a few places where I would have liked more detail in order to fully understand the characters’ motivations. When Vygeas killed Elyse he did so because of Drostan’s threat to make her suffer a life worse than death. But I didn’t think there was enough details given to make it feel as though such a drastic action by Vygeas was truly justified. Why was he convinced that Drostan would follow through? I felt that it should have been elaborated on so that it was clear why Vygeas felt that he had no other choice. And it was never really explained why Drostan seemed to bear a personal grudge against Vygeas. Also, why would Lord Cairan bother with such as elaborate ruse to eliminate Vygeas when he could have just killed Vygeas outright? Needless to say, I was invested in the story.
The story ends on a happy-ish note, but Lord Ciaran is still a threat who must be stopped. The mention of dragons in the epilogue intrigued me. The series is definitely one I’m interested on continuing because of the intriguing characters and enthralling world.
Pages: 139 | ASIN: B07ZWQMZ4W
The Lost Signal by J.S. Fernandez is a science fiction novel that explores the reality of our planet and the myth of creation. Aeons ago, the Creators had arrived on Earth and established two races: the humans and the Urukulu. The humans were to be kept subservient under the Urukulu so that the Creators could tend to their commercial mining needs on Earth. Naturally, this greedy scheme was banned by the intergalactic Federation. However, the Creators have found nefarious ways to infiltrate and exploit Earth again. Fiona is the lady in charge who has taken it upon herself to keep these creatures away for good. She enlists the help of her close friends and allies, fighting her personal demons on an already uphill battle.
The Lost Signal is fast paced without being rushed. Right from the beginning we are thrown into the middle of action. The characters are introduced in an almost Whack-a-Mole fashion, displaying flashes of their personality and the place they occupy in this world. I loved Fiona’s character fight from the introduction. She is teased about her supposed tomboyishness while she struggles with her attraction towards her close friend, Ralph. While her life isn’t particularly easy, it was admirable the way she buckled down on her principles in order to do what was right. Despite the dark and depressing premise, the lead characters were kept respectable without seeming to be on a pedestal.
Similarly, the antagonists were kept interesting without losing their believability. In this era, it’s hardly difficult to imagine a corporation doing their absolute best to achieve profit maximization. Hence, the menace of the Creators was real without seeming preachy. The physicality and characterization of the aliens also left a chill down my spine.
In certain places, the novel reminded me of a Jeffrey Archer novel. I think this was because the amount of real world-like politics involved combined with its fast pace. All of the perspectives were totally human, without verging on too scientific or political. The Lost Signal is a thrilling ride from start to finish. It is a great choice for anyone looking for a creative depiction of today’s world, offering just the right amount of escapism but remaining grounded in reality.
Pages: 454 | ASIN: B07X9147K1
In Social Work author Thomas Duffy, follows his characters through their everyday lives as they work toward their respective goals. Marc attends counseling sessions with his social worker, Lauren. Marc has a rocky past to work through as Lauren has a budding relationship with her boyfriend, Ahmad, that she is building simultaneously.
Both main characters are so relatable. Duffy doesn’t shy away from Marc’s struggles or the struggles of those in his counseling group. Marc had taken some less than savory paths and ended up in a very dark place, eventually attempting to take his own life. Lauren shows him that there is hope and that life is worth living. Readers will identify with Marc’s lows and many will also identify with stepping into the shoes of those who help to lift others out of the abyss.
Lauren is an excellent social worker, and seems to really follow the rule book. She keeps counselor/patient boundaries very clear, at first anyway, but does seem to struggle with letting Marc go once she decides to leave her job. The two had developed a close but appropriate working relationship. She feels guilty when she decides to leave, and struggles with being another person in a list of those who have deserted Marc. Handing Marc over to another social worker felt like giving up on him or throwing him away to both parties involved.
Duffy also delves into relationship complications that both main characters experience. Both Marc and Lauren have their own problems in love. Marc falls for a series of girls who are never quite fitting for what he needs. Lauren hints that her now fiance, Ahmad, isn’t her type but provides her with stability and prospects for the future. Admittedly, Marc is her type, but that doesn’t seem to be an option.
Thomas Duffy also examines a predicament that many of us find ourselves in. Marc is ambitious. He has big dreams, but not a big bank account. Instead of following his dreams, he is forced at times to settle. He wants to get into the entertainment industry, but isn’t independently wealthy. This means he can’t afford to put his job to start up any projects. This leaves him to work in a job that is unfulfilling.
This is the second Duffy book I have read. His style is simple, including lots of back and forth conversation between characters that gives readers a fly-on-the-wall sort of feeling. We hear what the characters say to one another, but we are also privy to their internal dialogue. This gives a unique perspective into how people feel verses what they show to the world. He gives a glimpse into humanity’s dynamic that we are all familiar with but don’t often talk about.
Social Work flows well and is easy to understand. The characters are endearing and relatable which got me invested in the characters.
Pages: 272 | ISBN: 1694404684
I follows the story of Mark as he struggles with depression, addiction, and homelessness. Events inspired by true events, but what inspired you to write this story?
I have worked in the downtown core of my hometown for nearly twenty years. As these streets have become crowded with people in desperate situations over the last few years, I tried to make a positive impact by donating any change I had to whoever asked, every time I was asked and, participating in and facilitating a donation campaigns at work. The compassion and empathy I felt towards these people who struggle, whom are seemingly ignored by the general public, began to enter all facets of my mind. Inspired, my new poems and songs were significantly more politically themed than previous compositions (as an example). It was at this time when I read the article of an unidentified man who had died on the street across from where I work. The article stated he was mid 30-40s, just like me. I immediately wondered what other similarities we might have had, what differences could there have been for me to be alive on this street, with a job, a house and a wife; while he was alone, unknown and dead. Possible parallels were too numerous to overlook.
How much of Marks character is based on reality and how much is fictionalized?
That’s very difficult to quantify. I can say, it is a modestly fictionalized version of reality.
This novel gets to the heart of the issues people face with drug abuse and depression. What do you hope readers take away from your story?
I want… not just for readers to be aware of the astounding number of people in these situations but to CARE. To be emotionally invested. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by how little effect I alone have on the whole of society but, hopefully this story touches its readers and inspires them to help wherever possible. Someone recently told me the book brought them to tears and how certain moments felt like a punch in the belly. Another told me he has begun giving change when he can and not only that but, treating people on the streets with more dignity and respect than before, keeping eye contact when speaking with them. That is what I want.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
As yet untitled, I’ve begun work on the story of a middle to lower class neighborhood, on the day of a possible suicide. The story is told through a series of vignettes in the Rashomon style. Otherwise, i’m always working on poetry and writing music reviews.
Inspired by true events, Foul Play Is Not Suspected is the tragic tale of Mark Fuller. He’s homeless, depressed and addicted to drugs as he has been for a number of years. Author Steve Murphy sympathetically details the journey Mark has endured from birth through to today. An important story that speaks to several major overlapping social and political issues. Foul Play Is Not Suspected packs a careful, emotional wallop. 20 years of lived experience downtown where he lives and works, has provided Murphy with in depth knowledge of the streets. A lifetime of storytelling through song has sharpened his use of language into a penetrating tool.
Amulet’s Rapture finds Catrin, a princess of Britannia, a warrior, and a druidess ending up a slave to a Roman. How did the initial idea for this novel develop and change as you were writing?
The overall story idea is based on the legacy of Mark Antony and Cleopatra but with a Celtic twist. The inspiration for the primary character, Catrin, is Boudicca, a warrior queen who united the British tribal kingdoms in a rebellion against Rome in 61 AD and almost succeeded in kicking them out. Originally, Amulet’s Rapture was intended to be the first book in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series. However, after receiving feedback from critique groups, editors, and agents, I decided to start the story earlier in ancient Britannia so readers could better understand what Catrin lost when she is enslaved. Fantastical elements were also added to give the story a flavor of the Celtic and Roman cultures through their mythology and legends.
I always enjoy your character development in your books. What were some obstacles you felt were important to Catrin’s development in this story?
The key as to what obstacles Catrin must overcome in the story is highlighted in Chapter 4: Roman Training. In a scene, Catrin has a vision of her dead father who tells her what she must do to become a warrior queen to take back her kingdom from her treacherous half-brother, Marrock. She must summon stamina from nature (her own inner essence) to endure hardships of slavery and rigors of training with Roman soldiers. She must learn how to deal with both enemies and friends. She reluctantly embraces her corrupt and cruel Roman master like a stern father from whom she learns how to maneuver through changing political winds, transforming her weakness into strength. Most of all, she must understand how her utmost trust in those she loves is a double-edged sword that can be used against her. Though she deeply loves Marcellus, her Roman husband and ally, she must ultimately face and overcome obstacles by herself. She can only rise above unfortunate circumstances by understanding herself and by harnessing her inner darker forces to survive and to seek vengeance on those who have maltreated her.
In Amulet’s Rapture, Catrin transforms from a naïve fifteen-year-old girl into a worldly young woman who must forge her own destiny. This book sets the stage for the next book when she must ally with former enemies and friends to confront Marrock.
What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer when starting this book?
My goal was to write a quality book within a year of the last released book, Dagger’s Destiny. I strove to write the best story I could by having the manuscript thoroughly critiqued and professionally edited and formatted. The story must have a unique theme and character development that resonates with readers. I was open to revising the original plot whenever it was inconsistent with the characters or was headed in the wrong direction. For example, I changed the last chapter in Amulet’s Rapture because the original ending was not in keeping with Catrin’s transformation. The revised ending threw a wrench in the plot of my next book, Skull’s Vengeance, but I consider this a challenge to add new twists in the overall tale.
Although Catrin is the rightful heir to the Celtic throne in Britannia, she is lucky to be alive. After witnessing the slaughter of her family at the hands of her half-brother, who was aided by the Romans, she is enslaved by a Roman commander. He disguises her as a boy in the Roman Legion with the belief that she is an oracle of Apollo and can foretell his future. The sole bright spot in her miserable new life is her forbidden lover Marcellus, the great-grandson of the famed Roman General Mark Antony.
But Marcellus has been wounded and his memories of Catrin and their secret marriage were erased by a dark Druidess. Though Marcellus reunites with Catrin in Gaul and becomes her ally as she struggles to survive the brutality of her Roman master, he questions the legitimacy of their marriage and hesitates to help her escape and retake her kingdom. If their forbidden love and alliance are discovered, her dreams of returning to her Celtic home with Marcellus will be shattered.