The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
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“WR. Park’s novel OVERLAY reminded me of Robert Ludlum at his best.” – New York Times bestselling author Jon Land
An intriguing tale of a sinister female vampire who schemes a world dominated by vampires with the aid of vampires scattered throughout the globe. Can the CIA ‘Vampire Hunter Team’ led by a sympathetic vampire annihilate the covey before they infiltrate world-wide governments?
Suddenly, wide-eyed, they stared at their chief. In less time than it took for a twig to snap, sounds of the jungle ceased: bird whistles, monkey chatter, and insect noises of every description. Even the angry growl of a jaguar was quieted mid-roar.
As the strange-shaped craft vanished, sounds of the jungle crashed down around them, assaulting honed senses as suddenly as they had ended. Jaguar finished its roar. Insects bit. It was as though time had stood still for a matter of minutes. It would be the talk in all villages for months to come–as natives living on the rim of the impenetrable canopied jungle across the piranha-infested river–attempted to survive ‘The Visitor.’
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Going Dark follows Amelia as she tries to help journalists that have been kidnapped which has sparked an international incident. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
The idea of ‘Going Dark’ started to form in my mind as I spent nights working on the foreign desk at CBS. Those nights, I was alone in the entire studio, watching incoming video feed from our military forces stationed in Iraq. In 2006-07, the war was in full swing and we received daily updates on the progress and struggle people were facing during the war. The war zone wasn’t too far off from our foreign correspondent team stationed in Iraq, reporting from there. As I was sitting at my desk, I envisioned Amelia Sinclair (a foreign liaison in Going Dark) how hard and challenging must be to be separated from your family when your job takes you away from them, especially if you have young children.
Amelia and Jets are dynamic characters that are enigmatic and empathetic. What were some themes you wanted to capture in their characters?
Amelia had to sacrifice her career when she became a mother. Having children was not something she had planned on doing, but when it happened, she made the decision to stay back and take a desk job.
However, her thirst for adventure never fully went away. So, when her boss, Harold Fost, approached her with a proposition to oversee a covert assignment, she simply couldn’t resist. But Murphy’s Law tipped the scale against her and her friends and co-workers get kidnapped. I wanted ordinary people, the readers, who juggle work and family life to be able to relate to her and to the choices she makes along the way on this journey.
Jets is a complicated guy. He’d seen things most of us have not, working as a spy for the CIA. To me, he was interesting because, he believed in the cause set forth by the CIA, but he still had conscious and when he sees the wrong person is being blamed for crimes that she didn’t commit; he has to put aside his oath to the CIA and go with his guts, even if that decision could cost him his career.
This is an exciting novel on par with Robert Ludlum or Tom Clancy novels. Did you start writing with this in mind of did this happen organically?
Tom Clancy was a master at setting up an engaging plot and building action in his novels. He is certainly an influencer in my writing. Another writer whom I admire is John Le Carre, unquestionably the undisputed father of spy thrillers. Both of these writers are exceptional.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I recently finished writing the second book in the Gabriel Jets series, called Political Whispers. Jets is a castaway in Afghanistan, having accepted a covert position, offered to him by Robert McKaine. Jets is in charge of a secretive drone program, most on Capitol Hill don’t know it even exists. The second book has more military overture and is action packed. Political Whispers is slated for release in early 2019.
Gabriel Jets is the CIA’s top agent, a man with a reputation of getting the job done, no matter the price. On a rare visit back to the States, Jets is dispatched to collect a video depicting the kidnapping of four U.S. journalists working undercover in Damascus, Syria.
Meanwhile, the U.S. president and his chief of staff, Robert McKaine, are called to the Situation Room to receive a briefing. Damascus is rocked by a terrorist plot that killed twenty-five innocent people.
A link between the two events is quickly discovered, with evidence pointing to the involvement of another U.S. journalist, Amelia Sinclair, a prominent foreign correspondent, with direct ties to the missing.
While Jets hunts for the video, he crosses paths with Amelia. In a blink of an eye, his mission is compromised as he believes she is being set up to be the fall guy.
As the U.S. government closes in to arrest Sinclair, Jets alters his assignment to help clear her name and track down the powerful men behind the ploy to draw in the country into an international scandal.
If Jets fails, the country he swore to protect, will go dark.
Posted in Interviews
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Dark Karma follows Luke and Nina on a quest for vengeance, punctuated by secrets, and colored with dark magic. What were some driving ideals behind the development of this novel?
I wanted to write something different and unpredictable. My first book, Little Bits of Karma, focused on reincarnation; the second one, Tough Karma, focused on that same concept plus unusual psychic talents and a deranged villain. I wanted to use all of those concepts in Dark Karma, but take it to another level. The concept of traveling to other dimensions of reality intrigues me, and I thought it would be a wonderful element to include in this story. The main characters, Nina and Luke, are supporting characters in Tough Karma so it was easy to write for them. I’m just a channel for my characters, they work through me to tell their tales. I have to give them all of the kudos for the wonderful unpredictability of this story! They gave me the plot twists and turns as I commuted back and forth from work.
Luke and Nina have a fascinating and deep relationship. What was the inspiration for their characters and their relationship?
The inspiration for their characters came from my previous books. New characters come to me when I need to add one to move a story along. In Little Bits of Karma, I needed a bad guy (supposed) older brother to help an antagonist get his point across and Luke made his first appearance. He was a very minor character with only one or two sentences. When the antagonist from Little Bits of Karma became the redeemed romantic hero, Bryce, in Tough Karma, he needed his brother’s help to save his sweetheart, Amber. Luke’s character began to grow and he let me know that he was a CIA operative who worked with people who had unusual psychic abilities. Luke called up Nina and she entered the story. She was a free-spirited and spunky psychic gifted with telekinesis who knew how to manipulate energy and situations on the astral plane. She helped everyone by using her talents. I thought it would be fun to have a sexy friendship between Nina and Luke with both of them being independent and not needing anyone romantically; until he gets jealous of another man interested in her and makes his true feelings known. The seed for a deep and loving relationship was always there, but they both had their defenses up.
I enjoyed the well crafted use of magic throughout this novel. How did you balance magic to keep things grounded while also keeping readers wondering?
Thank you, but I honestly don’t know. I just wrote what came through. Most of this novel surprised me too! Dark Karma went in a direction I never dreamed of when I started writing it. You mentioned in your review that you gave up trying to predict what would happen and I laughed because that was my intent. As far as magic goes, I’ve been fascinated with it my whole life. I have books of spells which I’ve never tried and I would never dabble in the dark side. I love living vicariously through my characters and traveling the astral, moving objects with my mind, manipulating energy, and everything else.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’ve started writing the follow-on book to Dark Karma but the plot hasn’t solidified. I strive to write all of my books as stand alones, however, it is proving difficult with this next story. I don’t have a title for it yet, I usually come up with those much later. For now I’m calling it Karma Book 4. I’m going to let the characters guide me and hope they can provide something just as unpredictable as Dark Karma. If not, then I hope whatever comes through is an entertaining read. My goal is to have it published by the end of next year or early in 2020.
A remarkable tale of vengeance, time travel, and dark magic. What would you do if you woke up one morning and your world was inexplicably changed in the worst way imaginable? Banished by his enemy into a hellish alternate dimension, Luke Decker fights to understand why his world has suddenly changed, and why is he on trial for the murder of his beloved Nina? What he doesn’t know is she’s not dead. Nina watches him vanish into thin air and is completely bereft, struggling to find out how and why he disappeared. Using all of her psychic talents and traversing the astral realm, she frantically searches for him to no avail. She owns a secret item which holds the key to his salvation, but will she figure it out before he’s condemned to live the rest of his life in a realm of darkness?
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Amelia Sinclair, a foreign correspondent liaison for CWG news network, had worked on the bottom floor of the UN in a renovated steam-room for the last four years. Upon receiving a suspicious email with the subject line as her name written in Farsi, she opened the link embedded within to see a horrifying video. Fellow journalists, whom she knew personally, confronted with masked assailants. Going Dark follows Amelia as she tries to help her fellow journalists, one of which, whom she was very close to.
Simultaneously, the beginnings of a media frenzy are in the works as the government tries to prevent a leak of the video. To add to the chaos, a bomb detonates in Damascus, just outside of the hotel where the journalists had been staying before they were kidnapped. With 25 pronounced dead in Damascus, 4 American journalists kidnapped, and a seemingly related murder of a man on the streets of Brooklyn, everyone is on high-alert.
The author, Jolene Grace, gives two distinct perspectives throughout the novel. The first is the journey of Amelia Sinclair, from the UN basement level media department to a loft in Brooklyn. The reporter finds herself hurried along by her superiors as she tries her best to protect her fellow journalists who are held captive; whilst she herself is considered to be a suspect in their detainment.
The second perspective is from the inside of The White House, where the President is working on how to spin the situation to his advantage to gain a second term, whilst others are trying to hurry the CIA to gather intelligence. Equally, discussions are being had as to who to bribe and who can be trusted. This gives the novel a lot of freedom to explore espionage on multiple levels. An example of these two perspectives working together is when a sniper takes aim at Amelia Sinclair; Agent Jets is nearby and tries to help, whereas from inside the white house he has dropped off the radar.
Going Dark is full of tension, built up by a switching of perspectives at crucial moments, allowing the reader to hear both sides of the story. As the government tries to keep a lid on the story that numerous media outlets are trying to expose to the public, the reporter Amelia Sinclair tries to save her fellow reporters whilst being hunted down.
The reader, the characters and at times Amelia herself, question why she received the video in the first place. However, we also get the sense that she knows more than she is letting on. Among the possibility that there’s a government mole, leaked CIA safe-house locations, government tracking and a sniper on one’s doorstep, it’s hard to know who is the ‘good guy’ and who to trust.
Through it all there is a real sense of connection with the characters. For instance, Amelia is plunged into a situation where everything seems out of control. Sitting in a Philadelphia CIA stash-house and all she wants to do is call home to her daughter, Ava, and make sure she’s safe.
Jolene Grace creates so much tension in the book as none of the characters know, or at least don’t seem to know, the full story of what is going on. The author develops the characters superbly, and a real sense of empathy is created. But there is a fragility in knowing them as it’s hard to tell if they will live to see the next chapter or not. Everyone is at risk and everyone is on high-alert.
Pages: 399 | ASIN: B07H8WV36R
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Unsteady kicks off in chapter one by giving us a glimpse into the childhood lives of its main characters, London and Logan. London and Logan both attend a Catholic boarding school and have similar backgrounds in that they both feel utterly abandoned by their families. The connection that they share as children is very heartfelt and the author does a good job of portraying this. Despite the book seeming rather rushed (which is to be expected from its 313 pages), I think the author also does a fantastic job of getting the reader attached to the characters. I was sufficiently swept away and invested in these characters and wanted to keep reading to see what happens to London and Logan and see how their story unfolds.
Unsteady is a steamy romance novel. As for the adult relationships that occur in this book, several of them are of an erotic nature. Logan is certainly a ladies man, there is no mistake about that. He is an airline pilot that tends to have lurid relationships with women all over the world. His behaviors aren’t completely debased; well actually…they are, but rather the reason is somewhat understandable. However, the aspect of the book that I thought could have used some polish was the language used in the erotic encounters. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say that when I see the term “one eyed snake” it doesn’t evoke ideas of romance. The novel is filled with these hot and heavy moments that turn this steamy romance into a erotic story that will keep you wide eyed. This combination will be welcomed by any fan of the romance genre and it is certainly intriguing, but it’s marked by a change in tone and story telling. The romance part of the novel is well done, as stated earlier, I was invested in the characters and couldn’t wait to see how their relationship turned out. But while the expert writing skill displayed in these romance section easily gets you invested, the writing in the erotic sections of the book doesn’t seem to match. I felt like most of the story was written by someone with superb writing skills while the erotic sections were written by a teenager with raging hormones.
But I don’t want to make it sound like the book was unreadable though, I enjoyed the suspense of the story and the action surrounding London’s job with the CIA. Overall, this book contains an entertaining story that will leave you biting your nails. Romance novels are about the characters and their relationships, and this book has some alluring characters that get into some… sticky situations.
Pages: 436 | ASIN: B07C1V1TS8
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A mole within the SEALs and I’m the one to find him. Simple for someone with my type of ability to read through lies. Everything was laid out, we had a plan. A good plan. Go in undercover as a reporter, gather intel, identify the mole and come home. But it didn’t turn out that way. Not even close. Of course, the Sr. Officer over the platoon in question is a former one night stand who became way too clingy. And to top it off his best friend, and my escort around the base is someone whom I desperately want clinging, without clothes would be preferred. The number of obstacles in this operation is too many to count but I have to find the mole, no matter what, my reputation within the CIA depends on it.
Who would have thought a quick-witted, hotshot CIA agent would be my kryptonite. But is she ever. From the moment, she walked into CO’s office I was hooked. She a drug and I’m the willing addict doing anything and everything just to get one more hit of her. She says we are a bad idea, that it would complicate things, what does she know. We could be great together. We will be great together. All I have to do is convince her we can play and get the job done too. I want the mole caught but I might want her just as bad.
A Covert Affair is a contemporary romantic suspense, standalone novel.
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A mystery novel that tackles uncomfortable issues with a splash of adventure is what readers will find within the pages of The Vatican Protocol by Brian Gallagher. This book contains all the basics of a mystery: intrigue, conspiracies, subterfuge and best of all, aliens. Whether or not the aliens are real and what relationship they have to the story that is told is up to the readers to discover. It’s a grand journey that crosses over the Atlantic Ocean to Europe in search of answers. Almost Indiana-Jones-esque, this adventure will surely have readers turning those pages to discover just what the relationship is between these aliens and the ever esteemed Vatican church. The answer might just surprise all who pick this up.
We follow our protagonist, Sean O’Sea, as he begins his journey from his comfortable home to Europe where his life is placed in jeopardy several times. It’s not a good action story without some sort of armed confrontation. Sean seems like a regular man with very irregular friends as he pursues his latest obsession with alien theories and whether or not there is any truth to the stories that have been told. He’s a likeable character and his ‘everyman’ flavouring will allow all readers to feel a bit of them in him. This allows readers to connect with the story on a more personal level and demonstrates the clever wordsmithing at play. The cast of characters is easy to keep track of even if it may seem like there are a few more than necessary.
The small downfalls of this book is the dialogue and how convenient everything seems. There are points in the novel when characters are conversing between themselves and their words seem stilted and forced. As if they are speaking just for the sake of speaking. This detracts slightly from the overall tone of the novel, but it is easy to move past.
As for the convenience of everything, this could just be a story element to help solidify the conspiracy flavour of the book as a whole, but it seems contrived in some areas. Our protagonist just happens to have a summer home that is looked after by a man who just happens to have worked with the CIA on top secret missions. Our protagonist also just happens to make friends with some very influential people during his travels and just happens to uncover a massive plot while being an ordinary man. Perhaps this is what makes a great conspiracy tale, however it felt a little too easy. But these are minor and don’t take away from the joy of reading.
For readers who enjoy reading conspiracy theories that involve the church and global cover-ups, you will definitely find an enjoyable read in The Vatican Protocol by Brian Gallagher. This action story knee-deep in such a controversial subject is entertaining to read and the twist at the end will have all readers questioning exactly what transpired in the pages of the book.
Pages: 286 | ASIN: B01G0Y8ZFG
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Glossolalia is a thrilling ride through the mind of a woman who is seemingly normal but her life slowly unfolds to reveal something bizarre. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?
I have a keen interest in mind control of individuals, and the way controlling each individual can effectively affect a large number of people. All my life I’ve studied in depth the methods that agencies such as the CIA has historically used, and they often have manipulated people’s interest in the occult. And that seems like a topic rich with dramatic fictional possibilities, especially for Psychological Suspense, in which gaslighting is such a common element.
I know I love that electric shudder I get when realize something is not what I thought it was, when I’m just starting to put the pieces together and it’s first making sense, grim as the truth may be. I wanted to give readers that entertainment as well.
Nancy, is like many women at first, but she suffers from narcolepsy and has an addiction to pills that she is trying to kick. How her character unfolds and develops is fascinating. What was your plan as you wrote Nancy’s character?
The only way she can explain her fugues at first is to believe she has narcolepsy, but when she discovers what she does during her periods of amnesia, she realizes her problem is something entirely different from that illness. Similarly, she thinks she’s addicted to the pills to keep hallucinations and delusions at bay, but once she manages to stop taking them, she realizes her visions have been actual memories.
My plan with her was to create an anti-hero who finds a way to redeem herself while staying true to the dubious skills she’s been taught all her life. And she gives readers a way to inhabit the sympathetic victim as well as to perhaps develop compassion for people who are compelled to commit violent acts. In a way, she stands for all of us, because everyone has fallen prey to disinformation at some point, and thus has been an unwilling promulgator of it. And all of us have some chance at heroically redeeming ourselves for that, though of course, I don’t promote violence in any way.
There are a lot of fantastic twists in this novel along with a variety of surprises that kept me turning pages. Did you plan the novel before you wrote or did the story develop organically?
I planned it out to make sure all the plot points, pinch points, act breaks and all were in proper order. However, as I wrote it, I got new ideas for twists that were great fun to conceive of. For example, Brandon the YouTube conspiracy journalist with gigantism wasn’t in the completed first draft. Just as much as I enjoy the shudder of realization, I love the feeling of coming up with new plot twists. It feels delightful.
Glossolalia is book one in the Agents of the Nevermind series. Where does book two, Remember to Recycle, take readers?
People who like Glossolalia will probably like Remember to Recycle because it falls within the same genre categories including Conspiracy Thriller and Political Thriller, and while book one focuses on how coups are created, book two focuses on how proxy wars are created. In both cases, the emphasis is on how intelligence agents deceive the public into going along with the terrible treatment of other countries for profit motive, while pretending it’s for humanitarian aid.
Glossolalia referenced our society’s history, particularly related to intelligence agencies, as a foundation for the series, as well as a pattern of coups that’s been recurring for a very long time; Remember to Recycle specifically addresses what’s happening right now. It goes into all the types of trafficking that go along with war, which is the secondary meaning of the title.
However, the first meaning of the title is more obvious, because a major character is Dave, a homeless man who survives by going through people’s recycling bins and selling the stuff, like all the other guys on the street. But he comes up with a brilliant plan. As in Glossolalia, there’s a darkly humorous aspect to it, and he provides a lot of that. He was really fun for me to write, especially as it’s first person present tense, while he describes his life moment by moment to the “character” he affectionately calls Mr. Interrogator. He’s got a hell of a personality. He likes to wear a wide variety of costumes that he keeps under the bridge, and fancies himself an actor of sorts. He idolizes the Rescuers, who are based on the White Helmets.
No one but her uncle would hire Nancy, considering her habit of snapping out of amnesiac fugues, wondering where she got her bruises and the scent of men’s cologne. When she sees a crime of poison in progress at the company, she chases the truck carrying away the chemical legally deemed too toxic to use or to dump. Her pursuit leads to a convoluted world of political intrigue, esoteric rituals and an arcane Elizabethan spy code, and assassinations she never imagined – though her imagination is what holds that world together.
This conspiracy novel introduces a young woman with an ambiguous past involving herself in a killer organization with one layer after another of her psyche. DARK, even possibly DISTURBING ROMANCE, is key to finding elusive authenticity.
The old cartoonish formula of good CIA VS bad guys no longer is fresh and relevant. Though through a fictionalized agency, the books in this series, like Barry Eisler’s spy thrillers, explore the shady side of the CIA secret psy-ops, covert experiments, illusions, coups, media theater, psychological warfare, and illicit methods of funding. The Agents of the Nevermind series dares to explore the edgiest controversies and the convoluted lives intelligence agents must endure as they create bizarre delusions for the world in order to hide the truth about their nation’s financial foundation.
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Nancy is like any woman in the prime of her life; active, engaged with hobbies, and busy with a normal day job. But underneath the surface, she is anything but ordinary. Plagued with a strange form of narcolepsy, Nancy can’t help but feel the grip of forces other than her own. With her uncle’s seemingly gracious help coming into question, she is soon exposed to the world of government conspiracy, mind control and espionage. It’s up to her to find out who’s behind it all, but can she get a grip in time to save herself and others?
Tantra Bensko’s Glossolalia is a thrilling and bumpy ride through the mind of a woman who comes off initially as relatively boring and normal. She’s crushing on a co-worker and at the mercy of jokes from her cube mates. She has her hobbies, piano and karate, and a good friendship with a girl named Alyssa. After Nancy’s parents died mysteriously when she was younger, her uncle Geoff took her into his care and provided her with a stable job at his corporation. Plagued with fugue states and narcolepsy her whole life, her uncle has also been giving her a steady supply of pills that she can’t seem to break her addiction to. She starts to question her uncle’s intentions and in an effort to break free from him and the pills, she coincidentally starts to reveal Geoff’s much darker agenda for her.
Initially, I began to question Nancy’s motives and her own sanity. The writing was quite scattered and jumped around enough to make me wonder if Nancy was just in a constant state of a psychotic break. In one moment her mind was scrambling for answers and in the next it was calm and reasonable. It took quite some time to figure out the relationship between Emily, Angela and Nancy, but the slow reveal did add to the suspense. Nancy’s tenacity and constant questioning of her life kept the book moving along at a nice pace. And there is plenty of references to the Nevermind, the CIA, MKULTRA, and other government groups which helps to build the psychological suspense of the novel.
Pages: 250 | ASIN: B01I8SLVTY
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