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Dark Academia and Magic

Karolina Wilde Author Interview

House of Pain follows a half-witch who attends a prestigious witchcraft university where she’s a target of one of the rival Houses and fights a dangerous attraction. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

When I sat down to write House of Pain, I wanted to write the darkest story I could. I wanted something gritty, toxic, and filled with characters that are very hard to like. I’m a huge fan of dark academia, but I often want fantasy with it. So, I wanted to mix fantasy with dark academia and magic and then add a sprinkle of high-society drama because who doesn’t love Gossip Girl?

Your characters are intriguing and well-developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Thank you. Honestly, I took a lot of my inspiration for the main characters, Alecto and Blaze, from social media, particularly TikTok. I’ve stumbled across so many real-life stories of women struggling with sexual trauma, men who treat them poorly, and similar stuff, and so Alecto became a combination of it all. Val’s personality and drive, the cutthroat approach to getting things done no matter what, and the hunger for more power was inspired by my grandmother in a way. It’s hard to pinpoint one source of inspiration, really.

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

I would say that the most important one was toxic family dynamics and family trauma. We are often affected by our surroundings growing up more than we think, and it’s very easy to turn into our parents/grandparents and repeat the cycle of toxic behavior because it feels familiar. In House of Pain, the main cast of characters is all from prominent families that look pretty on the outside but hide dark secrets. I loved writing about how the main characters navigate the expectations they have and what they truly want.

Another theme that was very important for me to explore is the true nature of love. In House of Pain, Alecto is struggling with her place in a world that doesn’t want her, with her sexual trauma, and she finds herself gravitating toward bad men, looking for validation and probably some form of affection. On the other end, we have Blaze, who appears to have all the love and admiration from the outside world, yet he’s as lonely as Alecto. Maybe even more so. I also talked a lot about the nature of love and whether there is one right person for us, a soulmate if you will or if we’re meant to love more than one person in our lifetime. I find the topic of love to be fascinating.

What can readers expect in Precious Villains Book 2?

Precious Villains Book 2, House of Ruin, will be a wild ride. Readers can expect lots of steamy action between Alecto and Blaze, dark family secrets uncovered, high society drama and the themes of vengeance explored.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

During this year’s Game, hearts would break.
Gothic Harry Potter meets Gossip Girl, House of Pain is the first book in a dark fantasy romance trilogy set in the magical world of Inathis, where the witches are beautiful just as much as they’re wicked.
Alecto Black has spent her whole life in Inathis, yet she never quite fit in being the half-witch amongst the purebloods. When she finally enrolled in the most prestigious witchcraft university, The Venefica Academy, last year and joined the House of Snakes as a rightful legacy member, she thought she had finally found her place.
But every year, The Venefica Academy students that belong to 12 Houses all participate in the deadly Game that many witches don’t survive. And when the second year at Venefica starts, Alecto finds herself a target of one of the rival Houses while also having to face the enemy from the inside — fellow Snake, Blaze Leveau. As secrets start unraveling, hate turns into something more dangerous and deadly.
While Alecto tries to fight her new dangerous attraction to Blaze, she also finds herself asking how far she is willing to go to secure her place in the world that wants to destroy her?
House of Pain will be perfect for dark academia and Dramione fans who want morally grey characters with spice and loved The Atlas Six, The Ninth House, and Zodiac Academy. It’s a dual POV, steamy (extremely) enemies-to-lovers bully romance, so please read the content warning list before reading.

Growing Up In Addiction

Dianne C. Braley Author Interview

The Silence in the Sound is a provocative novel detailing the devastating effects of growing up with addiction. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

Inspiration for the book came from plenty of things, but if not for William Styron, the Pulitzer-prize-winning author probably best known for his book Sophie’s Choice, I’m not sure I’d ever have had the courage to write a word. Writing had always been my passion since I could remember, but having grown up in the inner city, blue-collar and with lesser means, it wasn’t something encouraged. Like many inner-city kids, I was shown early on that paying the bills was the priority. My mother, a nurse, and father, a truck driver, seemingly wanted my brother and me to pursue our passions, mine being art and writing, but encouraged a career that fed us and put a roof over our heads; that was first and foremost. Dreams could come later. After becoming a nurse, like my mother, and succeeding at putting a roof over my head, I felt satisfaction and honor in helping people, but there was always something missing, although I wasn’t sure what. While having the privilege of caring for Mr. Styron on the beautiful island of Martha’s Vineyard as his nurse at the end of his life, I saw a man and a family existing for art, and I breathed it in along with the crisp salty air, feeling alive and inspired. I spent years with a talented, complicated, deep, and melancholic man at the end of his life, reading his books across from him in one of the most stunning places in the world. His friendship and fascination with the darkness of humanity and himself led me to explore my darkness, which was growing up in addiction, my father an alcoholic, and later falling in love with someone with the same affliction, both having succumbed to the disease. Mr. Styron showed me through his life and work not to be afraid to find my meaning.

Georgette is a compelling and well-defined character. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?

Georgette (George) grew up with an alcoholic father she loved, but his chaos affected her much more than she realized. She’s insecure and feels unsafe, longing for stability, but she doesn’t know what that is. She formed an armor long ago as a child in living in her unpredictable home and thinks her toughness can get her through life. She knows better than her mother as a teen and young adult, she feels, as much of us do at that age, but in the running away from her family and pain to the island, her safe place, she finds she can’t run from herself. She must learn to love on her own, both herself and another person, in a healthy way which she doesn’t have the foggiest idea how to do. She must learn who she is and accept life on life’s terms. She’s spent her entire life fighting this—fighting them and the disease that’s affected all of them.

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

Of course, addiction. It’s odd, though, because I didn’t intend for this book’s premise to be about the effects of addiction. It was supposed to be there but in a much more subtle way. This all changed as I wrote about Georgette’s relationship with her father and found I could go back in time and tap right into my feelings of being a child and a young and new adult navigating his disease. My father was an alcoholic, so I have a significant amount of experience regarding this, but this was not supposed to be the central theme. Sometimes as we write, we have to see where the story takes us, and it took me here. So many readers have said I’ve helped them see the addicts they love in their life as more than their disease and that I brought humanity to my addicted characters. Because someone is flawed and broken in some way does not mean they are unlovable, and the people who love them should never be shamed for doing so. There is much shame in this disease, and while we often have to detach from the people we love who are suffering from this in our lives, often to save ourselves, it does not mean we suddenly love them any less. There is enough pain in this affliction, so it’s important to me to help end the shame children and anyone who loves those suffering feel because of our societal ignorance.

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

I’m well into my second novel. I hate to be cryptic and loathe people who are, but I’m going to be here. I was working on another book when something happened just outside my family’s inner circle. It’s another dark subject and one that I don’t have any personal experience with but have many friends who do. There was a trial, and two best friends, young girls, were broken by another’s act. The story is written from the perspective of the victim, which is not as obvious. In so many crimes, there are a vast number of victims, not just the ones directly harmed. I listened to this trial and became utterly fascinated. I want to do this story justice in every way, so I’ve been listening to other trials and performing interviews. I’m about halfway through, and I hope I can get it out much faster than my debut!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Finding inspiration where she least expects it, one woman’s life is about to change forever.

Life has not been kind to Georgette. Growing up with an alcoholic father and an enabling mother, she clings to the loving memory of a childhood trip to Martha’s Vineyard to help see her through the bad times; and now, as an adult, she returns to the island to start her life over. Soon she becomes the private nurse for a prize-winning novelist. As the two become friends, he opens her mind to new possibilities.

But everything changes when she encounters the mysterious Dock. Georgette isn’t quite sure about him but finds him irresistible. She quickly loses herself in her relationship despite the inherent dangers that come with him. Torn between her own future or spiraling into a life she tried so hard to leave behind, Georgette must make her most important decision ever.
Sometimes escaping the past isn’t as easy as it appears.

The Silence in the Sound is the provocative debut novel by Dianne C. Braley detailing the devastating effects of growing up with addiction.

What Role Does Destiny Play

E. K. McCoy Author Interview

When Stars Align is a captivating story that shows how love and goals intertwine and the beauty in how two people make their relationship work despite the challenges. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I have worked in the medical setting for nearly fifteen years, and have listened to many coworkers express their concerns with finding the relationship/work life balance.  Also, like Elsie, I have personal experience with dating a medical student while I pursued my own dreams.

In all my works, I want the story to feel as real as possible, so I believe in using a piece of “real-life inspiration,” meaning that the events happened but have been exaggerated or slightly modified to make for a more interesting read. For When Stars Align I used my personal experience with my breakup with said medical student and the following loss of my grandmother as the main influences for the beginning of the story’s plot. Once I decided to use these two these events as the inspiration behind When Stars Align, the rest of the story just sort of came to me.

Elsie and Augustus are compelling characters. What were some driving ideals behind the development of their relationship?

When it came to creating Auggie and Elsie’s characters, I truly challenged myself. Not only did I want to create complex, relatable and realistic characters, I also wanted the reader to be able to connect to a “modern day love story.”

To create their characters, I took different traits from various people I know. I would add and subtract traits from Elsie and Auggie’s characters until I felt I had created a interesting, well-rounded individuals. Using traits from people I know really helped me make them come to life on paper.

As far as creating a relationship that I believe many men and women around my age (we’ll just say 30 something) would be able to relate to, I tried to find issues that are relevant to now. Sadly, we live in a time where ghosting exes exists and I know many people who have been on one end of the “ghosting”. I felt many readers would be able to relate to this modern-day relationship issue.

We also live during a time where I feel many men and women have felt the stress of having a fulfilling career as well as a happy love life. That’s why I made this the main relationship struggle between Auggie and Elsie.

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

What role does destiny play in matters of the heart? How much control do we really have over the outcomes of our own lives?

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

I am currently seeking a literary film agent for When Stars Align. I would love to see Elsie and Auggie come to life on screen.

I also have several completed manuscripts. At this time, I cannot share any more information other than that I am hoping to have another work published within a year’s time!

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Do you believe in destiny—a predetermined, irresistible course of events that no act of human intervention can deter? Dr. Augustus Owens, an ER trauma specialist, does. He believes an invisible force is always present with him and is the deciding factor between life or death. Dr. Owens realizes that in life we can only do so much before something else takes control and decides fate for us.But what role does destiny play in love? How much control do we really have in matters of the heart?As is true with most young medical residents, confident and determined Dr. Owens cannot afford to waste time on girls or parties. He works long and hard and is dedicated to advancing his career at any cost. So why is he feeling so undeniably drawn to the mysterious girl he spotted at a frat party next door? Almost as if under a spell, a sudden vulnerability consumes him, and he feels the need to be as close to her as he possibly can be.On the pages of this book fate and time weave a riveting, heartwarming tale of why Dr. Owens was forced in her direction from the minute he laid eyes on her. Their paths were destined to cross, and there was no stopping destiny.

Be Herself Without Fear

Zachary Ryan Author Interview

The Perfect Sister follows a young woman who joins a sorority in hopes of starting a new life, only to realize her secrets are not meant to remain hidden. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I have always been inspired by Gossip Girl, and Pretty Little Liars. I wrote a trilogy called High School Queens. I took the girl Bethany from that story and originally put her in college. The story went completely different from her, so I made it its own trilogy.

Tinsley wants nothing more than to leave her past behind her, but her new sisters won’t allow that to be the case. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I think the biggest character development for her is being able to grow from her mistakes. She did all these things to fit in, and she was starting to do them with Kappa Zeta. She learned to have a backbone and be herself without fear. It was why at the end she stands up for Codi against the Kappa Zeta sisters.

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

I honestly wanted to explore the themes of forgiveness. People make mistakes all the time, but can you forgive them and yourself for said mistakes. You see both sides of letting go of people’s mistakes and using it for revenge.

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

My next novel Ride will be out in November. It’s a story of two sisters as they deal with trauma. One of them is a recovering alcoholic, while the other is trying to find her love for music again. It’s inspired by the music of Lana Del Rey.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

They say sisters have your back forever. Well, what happens when your secrets are on the line? How much can you trust your Kappa Zeta sister?

Tinsley came to Campbell to escape the problems and mistakes of her past. She thought she would have a fresh start, but at Kappa Zeta, there’s not such thing as a fresh start or hidden secrets.

Remember girls, you better keep your secrets close to your chest and make sure none of your sorority sisters have a knife they’re dying to dig into your back.

Never Say Never

Eve Riley Author Interview

The Refusal follows a young entrepreneur that owns her own security firm as she investigates the source of a tech billionaire’s security problems and in the process finds romance. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

When I write, I always start with the characters, and they pop up in my head all the time, often fully formed. The Refusal is the start of a bigger series, and the idea for the series started with Fabian, a drug-taking, experiment-loving hacker, whose life is constantly running out of control. Fabian is the focus of book 2. In The Refusal, Jo is initially pitted against and operates in contrast to Fabian, and it was more interesting that her character would contrast with his.

A long time ago I was a young entrepreneur, and I wanted this book to reflect the reality of running your own business: Specifically how hard it is and how much support you need to do it, the insecurity and worry when you start out, when you don’t think you are going to make it, when you have to pay everyone’s salary all the while looking at other people who seem to have it all sorted. You spend time thinking about success and how that will never be you. I wanted Jo to mirror all this, but she still needed to have a certain confidence and be smart, she wouldn’t have started her own business otherwise. Not forgetting of course, that she has things in common with Janus: She’s the girl geek who says the wrong things at the wrong time and sweats about it.

I also wanted to do something different in romance. Haven’t we had enough of cowboys and motorcycle clubs yet? There are other avenues to explore, other niches that need to be filled. Not to mention of course, that I’d worked alongside techies for many years and felt I knew the industry and what they were like: a lot of lovely guys!

Janus turns out to be more than just a billionaire playboy. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Janus developed as another contrast to Fabian: He is the sorted ambitious friend to Fabian’s chaos (we can all identify with the organized friend I think!). Techie people can be very dorky and interested in tech, and Janus had to reflect that in order for his success to be credible: It wasn’t likely that he’d be the smooth player and flipping that on its head was a lot of fun. A lot of romance books portray billionaires as if they swan around in jets and cars and beautiful apartments chasing women, never worrying about money or companies or making a lot of difficult decisions to make under pressure. These books have never made sense to me. There’s a huge burden in running a company, competitors attack you, and things fail all the time: you are always ducking and diving to avoid collapse. I wanted Janus to reflect that. The fact that he is also a bit of a boy, flattered by models who want to take him to red carpet events and bowled over by a woman he likes, came out in the writing process and it felt right. He’s the nerdy boy made good who still can’t believe anyone wants to talk to him.

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

I suspect I will never write about a woman who doesn’t hold her own. I wanted the book to be a romance but also be realistic and have authenticity. There’s a lot of envy of other people’s lives now, often fueled by social media, and I wanted to show some nuance there, the pointlessness of that, that it’s never as simple as saying someone is a “billionaire” and therefore their life is amazing. I also wanted to reflect on women’s roles now: women work, they make their own money, and they have senior roles alongside men. Some day I might write an alpha male series (never say never) but I suspect I’d find it hard, and I also think I might reverse the roles! My guys are supportive, fun, kind, generous, and INTERESTING: Everything you’d want in a real boyfriend. And guys like this exist, make great boyfriends and husbands and I wish more romances exist that celebrate how amazing these kinds of men are, not some ridiculous “strongman” or some alphahole who you’d never date in real life (unless you had a hole in your head). Where are the role models for lovely supportive men – who look after their women by lifting THEM up?

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

Next up are Fabian and Kate. And I couldn’t be more excited – Fabian is a bad-boy hacker and has been a joy ever since he appeared in my brain fully formed with all his erratic behavior, drug taking and a past filled with turmoil. Book Two will be out in the next few months.

Author Links: Goodreads | Instagram | Facebook | Website

Quiet boyfriends. An organised life. It’s all about to be upended.

Driven, workaholic Janus Phillips has glamorous tastes. Tech billionaire, red carpet events, a new model girlfriend every two months. But it’s all about to come crashing down around his ears if he can’t trace the source of a mysterious hack into his company.

Jo Williams has a temper that matches her hair, and she’s not about to let some playboy sleazebag taint her struggling tech business with his terrible reputation. When she runs into him in a lift, she impetuously pretends not to know who he is, and he ups the game by offering her a ton of cash to save his company.

Can Jo set aside her prejudices, grab the opportunity and answer one, vital, question: Is she trapped in this game with no way out?

HOW OBSESSED CAN YOU GET WITH A NEW ROMANCE SERIES?

When Stars Align

When Stars Align is a captivating story about how love and goals intertwine and the beauty in how two people make their relationship work despite the challenges they encounter. Elsie McCormick and Augustus Owens meet one night at a college party. Their lives forever change from that point onwards as they quickly fall in love and begin a relationship. This whirlwind romance develops into a bond full of promise and dreams.

The love story between Elsie and Augustus begins to unravel throughout the novel. Though it is not a smooth road, the two analyze the situation before continuing their journey together. The author depicts the reality of people who face conflicting goals and difficulties, even as they grow to love each other and support each other’s careers. The story does a great job of raising important questions about who is right or wrong in a relationship and whether an intense romance and love can overcome unexpected decisions. Can fate bring two people together and sustain their love through challenges?

E.K. McCoy approaches the story from the perspective of destiny and whether the love of our dreams will last for a lifetime. Elsie and Auggie have another priority on their list – their dreams. Elsie wishes to become a well-established musician, while Auggie plans to become one of the country’s best doctors. They move forward with their plans as they strike the perfect balance between their priorities. As they progress, their paths take them in various directions, ultimately impacting their life together.

The book addresses the unique challenges of relationships, the power of following one’s personal journey, and how this impacts Elsie and Auggie’s life as a couple. E.K. McCoy explores fate, and whether it plays a role in the outcome of their love and relationships. I found the book to be well written, providing an in-depth look at each character’s thoughts and conversations, with solid character development that draws the reader into their world.

When Stars Align is a fantastic read that uses compelling storytelling and rich emotions of joy, confusion, sadness, and acceptance in a brilliant style. This book tells a compelling romance story that would make an excellent adaptation to film. It’s a great novel for anyone who has faced the challenges of following love and a career path at once. The author offers a fantastic tale that reminds us of how we have to choose the place in life that will allow us to grow, with or without someone else.

Pages: 298 | ASIN: 1727884191

Literary Titan Book Awards August 2022

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

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 writing talent of these brilliant authors.

Silver Award Recipients

Calm Before the Storm by Steven Paul Germanè
The Sting

Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information.

It Leaves The Reader Thinking

Ashlee Lynn Author Interview

Deadly Attraction follows a woman who’s kidnapped by an emotionally hard man that slowly falls for her. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

This story actually came from a dream. The character development as far as Ace was my favorite part of the story. It leaves the reader thinking, nothing is ever as it seems and people can be so much more than what they were born into.

Reyna and Ace are intriguing and I enjoyed following their relationship. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

My mother would tell you, I put a lot of myself into Reyna’s character. I wanted that almost love at first sight aspect with their relationship, yet they approach with some caution. It does hit them hard and I personally have experienced a fast love like they experience in the book. It is all consuming and devastating when lost.

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

I really wanted them to have conflict in their emotions but not too much. Both never really believed in true love so it is nice to see them come together quick and realize this is what was missing in my life and I am willing to do whatever it takes to keep it. I wanted to show thought into why they were feeling the way they did but really not being able to explain it other than, it being kismet.

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

My next novel will hopefully be the second book in the Legacy Series. But I do have others in the works as well. It will be a race to the finish to see which story speaks to me the most in the coming months. Information should be updated on my website soon.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Lex has always been the perfect boyfriend. When he invites Reyna on a surprise anniversary trip, she jumps at the chance. Lex is ready to make Reyna his forever. However, things fall apart when she is taken, stolen away into the night.

Ace doesn’t do emotions. Brought up in a world of guns, violence, and bloodshed. He has seen every horror the world has to offer. Reyna is just another job to him…until she’s not.

Reyna says it’s kismet, but Ace doesn’t believe in fate. He must stop himself from falling for her, because he’s afraid that loving her will be the death of them both.
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