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You Find Out Who Your True Friends Are

Robert John DeLuca Author Interview

The Covid Kid follows a young adult in his first year of college who has all his plans turned upside down with the emergence of COVID. What made you write a story about this topic?

The pandemic had such an overwhelming influence on us all. I simply could not ignore the impact on my upbeat protagonist, who always seems to come out okay in the end but never takes the straightforward path. Placing the most important person in his life at risk with COVID, under circumstances that might have been attributable to him, created suspense and concern for my readers. 

Marshall’s plans for his first year of college change dramatically, and he has to adapt to many changes. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Boiled all the way down, it is a critical part of the maturation process from childhood to adult. Thankfully, most kids ease into adulthood without facing major trauma on the way, but they will have to deal with it at some point in their lives.

Marshall lived an admirable life with a sincere concern for others. I wanted to show that even the very best have problems, but his faith and perseverance won out in the end.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The pandemic was very serious business and should not be taken lightly, as it was by many young people. Marshall lost friends close to him and realized COVID must be dealt with seriously. Financial pressure can turn almost anyone to compromise their ideals and sworn allegiances, even a Hippocratic oath. When adversity rears its ugly head, you find out who your true friends really are.

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

My next book in the Marshall Morris series is “The Battle of Sam Jacinto”.  (Yes, “Sam”) Marshall aligns himself with a group of old vets who rally with slingshots and baseball bats at the planned destruction of a Vietnam era local hero statue for a shopping center. In the process he forgets the proliferation of slavery advocated by many of the monuments and impact on his girlfriend African American Mallory. The one after that with a working title of “Hugs and Drugs” is about half written. Hopefully out in time for Christmas.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Texas high school graduate Marshall Morris is set to enter college when the COVID pandemic explodes into his life. Usually unsinkable, he is shaken but endures his “prison-like” quarantine with good cheer, thanks mostly to long chats with girlfriend Mallory.
The devastating loss of senior citizen war veteran buddies who survived combat bullets, but not this bug, leads him to become grimly serious about the pandemic, and he rails against young people who refuse to take precautions. His worst fears are realized when his precious mother is struck down by the dread disease, which he is certain he gave to her.
Though she worsens in an ICU he is unable to visit. He tries to keep busy working at a struggling real estate company. The owner, desperate for cash, becomes the middleman. in a bizarre international scheme to inject a bogus miracle cure into COVID patients at a local hospital. Marshall is shocked to learn the surely fatal drug will be given to his mother. He must get to her ICU before it is too late. The hospital’s COVID ward is a fortress. Can he get to her in time?

The Covid Kid: Another Marshall Morris Adventure

Robert John DeLuca’s The Covid Kid follows the misadventures of Marshall Morris, who we encounter as a high school student embarking on his first year at college. Having won an enviable football scholarship, Marshall expects his college experience to be full of sport and socializing — yet the encroaching presence of an unfamiliar virus threatens everything. As fear and tensions surrounding the virus continue to build, Marshall must decide what sacrifices he is willing to make for the good of his friends and the wider community. In the face of worldwide tragedy and conflicting opinions, the value of friendship is made clearer than ever before — something that the carefree Marshall must learn the hard way.

With its warm and humorous cast of teenagers, alongside ambitious antagonist Tommy Kinder, The Covid Kid encourages its readers to laugh ruefully at the hijinks and efforts of its characters — efforts which frequently backfire. There is a vein of tragedy that runs alongside this comic adventure, however — set during the rise of Covid-19, this story does well at balancing fun action with thoughtful commentary.

While I enjoyed the story, I felt that there were moments when we’re given a lot of exposition, and are told things about characters rather than shown. Otherwise, Marshall is a likable character that readers will enjoy following and the plot is compelling. The dialogue is straightforward and and delivers facts in a reporter-style of speech that serves an educational purpose, as characters’ fearful discussion of the impact of the virus marks a particular point in human history.

The Covid Kid successfully explores the effects of Covid-19 on society, particularly the younger generation. This is a compelling medical thriller that is as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Pages: 284 | ASIN: B09XWFMPR3

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I Died In The Early 1990s

Shane Scott Author Interview

God of Nothing follows the daughter of God and Satan who after being murdered awakens and discovers the truth about herself and her family. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I died in the early 1990s and for sure, God is a woman…female anyway. Not human. That is when I started to consider what if everything we believe is wrong? Then the story took on a life of it’s own.

Aja is murdered at the age of 17 and now is faced with understanding who she really is. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I wanted Aja to be a regular kind of teenager but considering her parentage, and who she really is, that regular life is not for her. Still, she has good values, morals, work ethic, and will do whatever she has to. Sometimes, because of her age and power, the things she does are not nice. It doesn’t make her evil or even bad, it makes her a teenager who sometimes makes poor choices.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

What difference does it matter what a person looks like on the outside…the gift is on the inside. This came about when my wife and I were watching Deep Space Nine and I told her, I thought some of the Cardassian women were kind of hot. After she got done laughing she said, “I can imagine how people on Earth would react to you dating a Cardassian.” She is right, most humans would freak out. I don’t under that. Why is it okay to love this person, but not that one. If there is a thinking, intelligent, adult mind in two radically different bodies, and they love each other, be it Titan, Dragon, Bool, Vampire, or Demon…I don’t have any issue or problems with those relationships. I don’t think it is any of my business to tell anyone who they can love and who they can’t. If someone was dating a rock person they’d be welcome in my house. Everyone in my book either already has, or will find their one person to love forever. These relationships are almost always with people radically different from each other…Dragon & Bool, Dragon and Demon, God and Devil, Human and alien (Ebezz). I see nothing wrong with any of that.

I also wanted loyalty…not the kind demanded by tyrants and dictators, the type of loyalty that comes only from forging a close, trusting relationship with another person.

And I wanted to provide answers to all the various immortal races and how they might have come about along.

I also wanted to portray alien cultures different from Earth. If we ever do get to space and find other cultures, I feel certain they won’t be anything like us. Even if they look like us, everything about them will be different.

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

I finished and published a 2 hour novella titled, FAITH last Feb. I am currently working on the second book in the series, God of Everything. I’d like it done and published around Feb 2023 but it is coming along slow. Difficulty in marketing, sales, and getting reviews drains my motivation to keep writing. Writing is hard hard work for me. I’d like to keep writing but so far, I have found no real benefit or reward to help motivate me to keep writing books.

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What if God and the Devil had a daughter? Who would she be?

God of Nothing is a stunning, epic fantasy. This imaginative coming-of-age series follows four generations of Gods, Devils, Dragons, Titans, Demons, Werewolves, Vampires, and Angels.

Mortals and Immortals collide in never-ending battles of love and hate across uncountable years and dozens of worlds.

God of Nothing starts the adventure. Murdered at seventeen by the Titan, Silver, God of Death, Aja wakes with her Dragon. Thrust into a bizarre world where enemies are friends, and friends are enemies, she learns the truth about her parents and herself.

Her mother is God, and her father is the Devil. Aja is the first person born, not created.

Enraged that Aja survived, Silver, God of Death, forces her to make choices to protect those she loves. Will Aja save the All or destroy it? If she survives, will she hate herself for what she’s done?
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God of Nothing has no graphic sex, but there are sexual situations, including some LGBTQ+. It also has instances of vulgar language, smoking, drugs, violence, and mentions rape. It is intended for people eighteen years or older.

Letting Loose

Jolly Walker Bittick
Jolly Walker Bittick Author Interview

Cape Henry House tells the story of a group of sailors that come together to party and relax but find a deeper camaraderie through all the mayhem. Why was this an important book for you to write?

Firstly, the book is important because it is my first publication. Second, the book is based on a true story, and over the years a handful of the people that were a part of the real-life house and myself have gathered annually to catch up. After many discussions about the wild nature of the actual house, it seemed fitting to write a book.

This book is based on a true story. What were some aspects that you felt had to be told accurately and what were some things you took creative liberties with?

The dynamic of “B-man” and “Dolvar” vs. the married couple “Penley and Anne” was told accurately as it was the main source of tension that made the wild events at the house even more memorable. Almost all of the events at the house are told accurately as well, however some characters are fictional or multiple characters were written in to represent who was actually one person at the real-life house.

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

The wild nature of the parties, but also the extreme dynamic between the sailors working hard on duty and letting loose just as hard when off.

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

My next book is “Bag ‘O Goodies” and it was originally intended for release in January 2022. After careful consideration, I will be publishing it later next year to spend more time promoting “Cape Henry House.”

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Based on a true story, Cape Henry House is a coming of age epoch about a ragtag group of sailors and their partying adventures from a bygone era, as told by former Petty Officer Third Class Bosner. When two of his best friends move into a house off base, they believe it will be a place to relax and have a few beers. For three weeks in early 2008, it’s a place to roar and have a few kegs! From bars and diners, to dance floors and strip clubs, Cape Henry House proves to be the focal point where everyone convenes. Through laughter, mayhem, drinking, and drama, the group discovers a deeper camaraderie that sees them off as some are sent overseas, others find love, and all are left with lasting memories to cherish for a lifetime!

CAPE HENRY HOUSE 

CAPE HENRY HOUSE by [Jolly Walker Bittick]

Nostalgia is an entertaining source of literary inspiration – even when it’s getting nostalgic about the debauchery of your early adult years. This rings true in Jolly Walker Bittick’s novel, Cape Henry House. Based on a true story, this is a coming-of-age tale told by former Petty Officer Third Class Bosner. When his friends move into the titular house off-base, they originally see it as a place where they could relax and drink their livers to oblivion. Little do they know that the house will later become a focal point for the friend group as they navigate the real world. 

While it is true that one could consider Cape Henry House a coming-of-age story, you should have flexible expectations coming in. Because this novel is coming-of-age the same way the American Pie film series is. That is not a knock on either Cape Henry House or American Pie (I’m a huge fan of both) – all I’m saying is, do not expect to see quirky teenagers stick their heads out of the sunroof and talk about how they’re infinite (whatever that means). Instead, you will get to read about house parties, keggers, “pass-out rooms,” greasy hangover cures, and all the other rough trimmings of youth. 

Throughout this engaging novel, Bittick takes his time to paint the scene. Every character is described in vivid details, making each one stand out. The narration is told through Bosner, making the reading experience feel like you are kicking back with an old friend. Just like making new friends in real life, it is a bit difficult to get familiar with all the names being introduced as you flip through the pages. But once you get to a certain point, seeing characters make an appearance almost feels like going through an old photo album. 

Cape Henry House is an entertaining bro novel. There is fighting, there is copious amounts of drinking, and women are often described by their numeric levels of hotness. “I hope she’s a five…” or “She’s somewhere between a five and a seven.” This novel is overtly masculine in a way that reminds me of Ernest Hemingway. If you can handle Bosner’s vulgarity, then Cape Henry House is a book that will be entertaining. Do not hesitate to pick up this lively book: the doors of Cape Henry House are wide open.

Pages: 339 | ASIN: B093VPBL5L

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Nightmares Were Inspired

Jesse Rosenbaum
Jesse Rosenbaum Author Interview

The Condemned follows a college kid who starts to have horrific dreams and discovers a chilling new underworld. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I started writing this story when I was in college in 2000, so the main character was inspired by myself at that age as well as my experiences at that time with regards to the college experience, social interactions, etc. The dreams and the landscapes that they take place in, were inspired by books like Dante’s, Inferno and Richard Matheson’s, What Dreams May Come, but also from some of my own nightmares. For example, the jungle and city environment nightmares were inspired by dreams I had in similar locations. My goal, when I started writing this, was to mix the current environment that I found myself in everyday as a college student and then delve deep into some of the more dark, horrific places that my imagination would take me.

Michael is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

When I started writing Michael as a character, I tried to channel some of my own personality into Michael. At that point in my life, I was dealing with a fair amount of stress. A friend of mine named Walter had recently crashed his car and died, all my close friends had moved away, I broke up with my high school girlfriend, and my parents were getting a divorce. I was in a very emotional and lonely place with an uncertainty weighing down on me. I tried to channel that emotion into Michael as a character as he goes through the story and reacts to the events unfolding around him. My hope is that many readers will see a bit of themselves in Michael and feel his humanity, love and struggle as he responds to the world around him.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I really wanted to tap into themes like the bonds of friendship, emotions like fear, isolation, as well as loss with regards to losing people close to you as well as your own self, but also examine strength. Specifically, how someone deals with finding their own strength in challenging situations. I also wanted to explore vampires, but in a unique way while trying to tie to some more common mythology. That desire to do so comes from my love of the horror genre as well as vampires. I do believe that I found a unique way of approaching that, which readers have told me is refreshing to see.

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

I actually have several projects in the works right now. There is a podcast episode that I wrote for The Bane podcast, which is the premium content podcast for The Grey Rooms podcast, and that story should be coming out toward the end of this year or the beginning of 2022. I don’t really have any insight into the release date yet, but once I know, I will be announcing it. As for my next book, I am in the process of finishing a short story anthology, which at current will contain eleven or twelve stories. I have two publishers interested in that anthology and I have to review the final details before deciding on which publisher to work with, but based on my discussions, it would be due out during the spring or summer of 2022. After that I will continue work on my next full novel, which is a horror story about a group of amateur paranormal investigators who get in way over their heads in Texas. I have already written three chapters of that and have done extensive research. I also have some ideas for more podcast episodes that I will submit to some shows that I really like.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

I keep having these dreams. At first, I figured it was stress, being that it’s my last semester in college, but they just keep happening. The places I find myself…the things I see are just horrific. I see all these people, many of which are crying out, screaming in agony. The others that I see are dead, displayed or lying in gruesome and grotesque ways that make my stomach turn. There is this overwhelming sense of despair that just weighs down on me. The hopelessness that I feel from these tortured people is thick in the air and clings to my body.

In every dream, I see this…figure. I’m drawn to it by some unknown desire, but regardless of how close I try and get, I can’t make out what it looks like. It’s wrapped in shadows, hidden from the light. And each time I see it, my mind screams to run, but despite my best efforts, I can’t. I stand there frozen with fear, surrounded by all this anguish, torture, and death, but this figure’s voice cuts through all the misery. Its voice is clear and surprisingly soothing as it says to me, “I will become of your world.” With each dream, I feel this figure pull me closer. It needs me for something, but what? Why does it keep showing me these things?

The Deeper Crime

Lisa Towles
Lisa Towles Author Interview

Ninety-Five follows a college student who uncovers an on campus scam that’s connected to a larger criminal underworld on the dark web. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

From an investigation perspective, most crimes are like icebergs. What you see sticking out of the water often has nothing to do with what’s really going on, with the deeper crime and the layers of secrets protecting it. Zak was a transfer student trying to reset his academic journey and an on-campus party led him down a rabbit hole and, ultimately, a one-way trip to hell.

Zak is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Duality was one of the ideas I wanted to explore with Zack – bravado and vulnerability, he’s jaded yet innocent, and I was very curious how he would react to not only challenges in his immediate environment but to things that challenged his view of the world, of reality itself.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Ninety-Five is my seventh published book and I think I’m addressing the same themes as an underlying commonality – abuse of power, secrets, corruption, and family connections. But for this book specifically, I found the dark web, crypto, and Pharma elements pulling me deeper into the story.

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

This year I finished writing my first series – a three-book private investigator series. I’m hoping the first book in that series will be published in 2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Troubled University of Chicago student, Zak Skinner, accidentally uncovers evidence of an on-campus, organized crime scam involving drugging students, getting them to commit crimes on camera, and blackmailing them to continue under the threat of expulsion. Digging deeper, Zak discovers that the university scam is just the tip of the iceberg, as it’s connected to a broader ring of crimes linked to a darkweb underworld. Following clues, Zak is led to a compound within Chicago’s abandoned Steelworker Park, only to discover that he’s being hunted. While trying to find his way out alive, Zak discovers there’s something much more personal he’s been running from – his past. And now there’s nowhere to hide.

Satanic Panic: A Homage to 1980’s B-Movie Horror

Satanic Panic: A Homage to 1980's B-Movie Horror by [Daniel P Coughlin]

As an homage to 80s B-movie horror, Satanic Panic has so much that the genre offers; sex, death, depravity, and a trio of neer-do-well stars that we follow into the breach.

In the first chapter, a flash-forward scene of terror unfolds which sets the tone for the rest of the book. Even within the next few chapters which introduce our characters, best friends Lance and Brock, then our leading-lady Brianna alongside her skater boyfriend Grady, those first few pages loom over all of their frat-house fueled follies.

For most of the story, sexual panic reigns supreme. Some horror stories are balanced between terror and sex, and this book certainly leans hard into the flesh. Each chapter poses a mental tug of war within the budding love triangle all peppered in-between with the killer’s point of view. These three friends are being stalked, yet the reader is the only audience to how much danger they are heading toward. The most important thing on the minds of Bianna, Brock, and Lance is what is in each other’s pants.

There is an aspect of the Giallo film genre here, in that we don’t see the stalker or who they are, and they fit the black-gloved killer mold to perfection.

Red herrings are used to good effect here. While we spend most of the book with three characters, we realize there has actually been a large cast, and characters, like a professor who is only mentioned for a page or two, are so unique and well portrayed they come back to us as people we met. So, very strong characterization all around.

While some of what goes through the mind of Brianna is incongruent; she is a strong-willed woman but only seems to focus on her looks while alone and thinks of nothing other than the men around her; it doesn’t weigh the pace down as the voice of each chapter is split between the three main characters, the killer, and sometimes the goofy boyfriend Grady who is kept in the dark when it comes to the sexcapades going on around him.

The college theme could be what lowers the stakes here in that there is nothing the characters are striving for beyond the bedroom and the next keg party. Had there been something more on the horizon for any of the teens here, it may have had more impact. And more panic, although the central theme is about trust. The actual Satanic Panic that hit our evening news shows was more of a question of who could a community trust than it was about Satan worship. Even within the pages of this homage to that era, the author makes clear it is more about who is doing evil things than why they are doing evil things.

We do get helpful insight as to how each person thinks but the real mystique lies in how our characters see one another. The dialogue and relations may seem outlandish at a glance, but getting to know each person they all fit and their dysfunction comes across as natural.

If you look for the sexiest story when perusing horror flicks in the bygone era, and want the horror version of a bodice-ripper then Satanic Panic fits the bill with four blazing inverted stars.

Pages: 271 | ASIN: B07RVKDCNF

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