Mystical Force Volume 3: The Kolri and the Koldar tells the story of a detective and how he stumbles onto otherworldly connections much bigger than his current unsolved case. Detective Shinjo is transported to a world he didn’t know existed after a Taman Knight from the planet Thalia crosses his path.
The story begins with a detective trying to catch a local gang called ‘The Poison Starfish’. While investigating, a female battles the men at the harbor. She is unlike anyone the detective has ever come across. While searching for answers the detective is mugged and she appears just in time to help. Her name is Shi-ria, and she has a moral obligation to protect those in need. A sorceress sets Shi-ria and the detective on a path to discover a secret spell and transports them to the planet Thalia.
I have been following this series since book one and I can say that the writing gets sharper with every new entry. This story is relentlessly moving forward through a rollercoaster of emotion and action. Readers are provided with some background on Thalia and the Taman soldiers, but I would have enjoyed the story more if the other characters were just as detailed, because what is given is intriguing and the characters in this story are what really pull you in.
This is book three in a rollicking metaphysical action story and there is not much time spent covering things from previous books, so I recommend reading those two books before diving into this one. For two reasons really, because they build a fascinating story line, and you’ll understand the world better and have a greater appreciation for things that happen. In either case, there is still good fun to be had in this novel as the book does have a plot that can stand on its own as it provides just enough context for readers to follow this individual story.
I am consistently impressed with the visionary fantasy world that is meticulously developed in the Mystical Force series. There is a backstory that feels deep and readers can really immerse themselves in the lore if they wanted to.
Mystical Force Volume 3: The Kolri and the Koldar, by Craig Weidhuner is a character driven metaphysical fantasy story. With a storyline fit for comics, an innovative backdrop, and a stimulating mystery at its core, this is a gripping novel that will surely entertain readers.
Pages: 80 | ASIN: B09HRLQVTF
Gotham City Sounds: The Music of Batman Villains is a case study on the psychological and emotional impact of the music used in the Batman franchise. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I’ve always been fascinated with the role of music in storytelling. Whether it’s on a stage or a screen, music can absolutely affect an audience on a primal level. A great score can inform how you connect with a specific character or story. I also think pop culture entertainment is a great window into deeper conversations about important things. It’s why I’m a professor who consistently use pop culture references and examples in my college courses I teach. And if I want to navigate readers through the psychology of music for tormented characters, I figured analyzing Batman villain scores would be a fascinating way to go about it!
What villain’s theme music is your favorite and why?
I personally have a deep love for Danny Elfman’s Batman Returns score. The way he aurally connects the three main characters (Batman, Catwoman, Penguin) with complementary yet individualized music themes is masterful and emotionally powerful. In my opinion, that score is perfection.
What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer in this book?
I wanted to make sure my second full-length book met the bar I had set for myself with my first full-length book Cool Cats and a Hot Mouse: A History of Jazz and Disney. I was so honored and humbled by the reception Cool Cats and a Hot Mouse received (including it earning half a dozen national award recognitions). Just like my Disney Jazz book, I wanted my Batman villain book to educate readers about our history of entertainment in a captivating way.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have several upcoming chapters in scholarly books being published in the next year. I’m also excited to be launching a new pop culture hub called POP PROFESSOR, which will be a website where I’ll offer blogs and videos covering bite-size presentations of fascinating pop culture things (similarly to my books). That can be found at http://www.popprofessor.com, and my professional website is http://www.matthodge.com. I’m also still a full-time university professor, and enjoy spending my days in classrooms with students.
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Saint follows a man who’s given his wish to be a superhero but finds that the super hero life is not what he expected. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
To be honest, part of my inspiration comes from a fleeting, and perhaps juvenile, frustration. Every so often I find myself pondering the fact that superheroes don’t exist, yet super villains kind of do, you know? As soon I have this notion of a hero coming out of the woodworks to save humanity, it is quickly checked by the reality that it just wouldn’t work that way in real life. That is where Saint’s flaws come from; he played hero out of passion and it killed him, then he came back as what he had dreamed of, yet life was just as unforgiving.
Jake is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
Thank you! I liked the idea of a truly altruistic protagonist, yet wanted a character who wasn’t afraid to kill when it was necessary. I enjoyed exploring this concept because it initially seems contradictory, and is intended to make the reader question their assessment of ethics. His journey from a rock-solid, “perfect” character into a flawed, heavily emotional character is also derived from contradiction: “How can I make this character get better in some ways, yet worse in others?” was my mindset. I find it can be boring if characters go in one direction or have too much linear development.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this graphic novel?
An important theme in Saint is self growth while staying true to yourself. Jake stumbles upon his new life as Saint, but ultimately has to revert back to his roots when his back is against the wall. Another theme readers will find is vengeance. I really tried to layer the vengeance and feuds to create a classic cat-and-mouse feel.
Do you have plans to continue this comic series or develop it in other types of media?
Yes! I have plans for two more volumes of equal length, as well as two short novels that will fill in the gaps between. I may explore other media in the future, but for now I am just writing away!
Jake Barker always wanted to be a superhero. Acting as a vigilante for years, one day he finally got his wish…too bad he had to die for it. As the world’s first superhero, he’s finding that his new life is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Now out for vengeance, will his abilities be enough, or will vengeance find him first?
This contains the full compilation of all 5 chapters, plus an epilogue and bonus art!
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Saint a graphic novel by J.R. Dunbar is a compelling and kinetic action adventure comic that is a strong addition to anyone’s graphic novel collection. At its heart, Saint is the story of a child who is consumed by the superhero genre. He dreams of the day that he’ll become a crime fighter like his favorite characters. This becomes an obsession that sets his his life on a singular course.
Unlike many reluctant heroes, he undertakes the hero’s journey out of the desire to do good. To make a difference. Helping others is a principle factor in his development, which is refreshing to see in an overcrowded superhero market where so many main characters have tragic backstories, or are conceited, self-centered people forced to change, even Clark Kent in the new Superman movies is being bent in this new direction of dark hero’s. J.R. Dunbar has created a hero who aspires to do good, reminiscent of the classic comics of the genre, but he’s able to do it with a gritty contemporary feel that never feels out of place with today’s comics.
The artwork has a unique sketched art style with lots of bright colors that contrasts with the darker shading throughout the story. Some scenes are very detailed, even gory, but other scenes have a flat color that I would have liked to have seen given some texture. One scene I really enjoyed is the one where one character is crushed and the blood spatter comes out of the cell; very fun, unique and vivid.
Saint has plenty of profanity and graphic violence, if that’s what you’re into, but we’re also given a great action packed story that puts our hero to the tests in some very creative ways against some bad guys that are interesting and well crafted. This is a graphic novel, as it combines several of J.R. Dunbar’s comics, so readers get a more well rounded story arc then what’s found in a regular comic. If you enjoy a backstory that’s detailed and provides ample time in fleshing it out then you will definitely like this graphic novel. This is all the character development we get as we’re only given a bit more pieces throughout the novel as Saint fights crime in a uniquely Saint type of way.
Saint is an interesting take on the super hero genre. A great addition to anyone’s graphic novel collection. This is an imaginative story that will hook readers with a well-conceived story line and a likeable hero.
Pages: 155 | ASIN: B08P3NS2F8
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Your novels always have in depth characters and twisting plots. What is your writing process like before and during the process?
Thanks for mentioning that. I work hard to make my characters interesting. I think the most important detail is to create characters that are flawed. Start off with their flaws and build up to the traits that make them likeable and then move slowly, for some, to things that are redeeming.
My characters are meant to seem like everyday people. I do not like to paint them as black or white, I like to use the hundreds of shades of grey in-between. That, in my opinion, makes them more believable and fascinating.
Have you ever thought about exploring different mediums to tell your stories; ex. comics, games, etc.?
This year, I translated one of my novels into comic book script format and submitted it to IDW Comics. I then sent AND even hand-delivered those scripts and copies of my novels to them. I am waiting to hear back. I should be meeting with a representative of the company in the new year.
I am very much a fan of comic and anime. I would love to write for them. While it would be amazing to do so with my own properties, I would also like a shot at writing something like G.I. Joe or something else from the 80’s.
The way I write is imagining my story as a movie. So, my goal would be to have one of my novels or series to become a movie or TV series. With Netflix and Amazon picking up so many books these days, I need to get my works into their hands. If you are reading this Netflix, give me a call. 😊
Writers often find inspiration everywhere and in everything they do. Do you find yourself often looking at the world through the lens of a writer?
Well… I will point out weak writing in a TV show or movie I am watching, but for the most part I separate my two worlds now.
That being said, I do look at the world and see things as a visual artist. Which might be why people often compliment my writing as being so vivid. I spent so many years in art school struggling to force what I saw in my head onto paper in pencil, charcoal, paint, etc…. Over time, I realized I could take those imagines in my head and translate them to words. It was the only way I was able to truly creatively express myself. And it turned out to be much easier.
Since I am both an artist and an author, I do wish to experience life, but my inspiration comes from surrounding myself with the things I love and bring me happiness. Sometimes it just takes watching a good episode of one of my favorite shows to get me fired up.
What novel are you working on right now and when will it be available?
Good question. I finished the Water Kingdom Series and its final book is just being prepped for release. It should be out in late January 2019. It is called THREE BURNING RED RUNAWAY BRIDES.
Then, I will start editing book three in the four book SOUL BORN Series. It is written but needs work. It was originally 180,0000 words long, so I had to break it into two books.
Lastly, I will get back to working on the follow-up to THE LIFEBLOOD OF ILL-FATED WOMEN. Hopefully have that released in early 2020.
All Opal wanted was to be respected as a wielder of magic, but her teachers passed her over time and time again. When a mysterious warlord embarks on a conquest to destroy the lands of Illyia, Opal seizes the opportunity to step out from the shadows of her instructors and take her rightful place among them. Tala, an alluring young elf, was banished from her tribe, hunted and nearly killed by the beasts of the deep forests, but more than anything else she is a survivor. Joining forces with an ancient elemental power, Tala finds herself in the center of an unrelenting human war. Flesh like leather and bone as strong as steel, Karn, a veteran from the first kingdom to fall, is fueled by vengeance. While pushing headlong into battle Karn begins recalling memories of another life: ghosts that haunt his dreams. Through death of soul, their new world is born.
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Enter into a version of the world where humanity has been divided into Normals and Super-Normals: denizens of the planet with altered DNA that give them supernatural powers. In this fifth installment in the Dark Spore series, Braxton A. Cosby takes the world he has developed in previous novels and expands on it further. The Cape: Overdrive revolves around Sebastian, millionaire nerd-boy, Karla, his speedy girlfriend, Lydia his cousin and a few other characters. This is a perfect young adult novel with just the right amount of action, suspense and personal drama. Watching as our friends move towards peace while pulling in other members of the Super-Normal line to help shows that even those with the most questionable backgrounds and personalities do better as friend, and not foe.
Cosby has clearly honed his craft over five installments. He is very good at world building without flooding his audience with potentially redundant information. It’s clear that he knows there will be readers who come into a series part-way through and won’t have the background information that dedicated followers might have. Cosby makes sure that he shares the stories he wants to tell in such a way that newcomers can pick up an installment and dive right in without feeling lost. That can be tough to do, but the beauty of writing a book with superheroes that resemble the ensembles of comic book heroes of the now, means that readers will expect to be missing some of the story when they pick up a random volume. That doesn’t mean the story is any less engaging and interesting: it just means that Cosby knows his audience and knows how to hook readers, no matter where in his world they enter from.
This book is a young adult novel, but that doesn’t mean that adults can’t enjoy it either. It isn’t rife with the teenage angst that many YA novels can drown themselves in, which is nice for older audiences who are interested in the story. The characters are solid with definitive personalities and goals. The relationships are clearly defined and developed: nothing is left to chance and accidental interpretation. There is no confusion and that goes on to create a wonderful atmosphere for readers. Using the discord that is plaguing the world of Cosby’s stories as a reason for the characters to come together for the greater good is deployed nicely and doesn’t feel too contrived or unrealistic.
The Cape: Overdrive by Braxton A. Cosby is a wonderful young adult novel that is sure to appeal to lovers of superheroes, regardless of their age. The story is intriguing, compelling with strong characters and solid world-building. The action is just right, and the character development is wonderful. This is a book that was crafted carefully and slides into the series nicely. Even if readers are freshly coming into the series with this book, they will not feel lost or as though they are missing crucial information. This is definitely a great read and anyone who is willing to take on this book won’t be disappointed.
Pages: 227 | ASIN: B078FNZP2J
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Voice of the Crimson Angel Part II: Poison finds Julissa ready to take on Chancellor Venloran while the United Nation Republic is gearing up to take over Mexico. Was this book an easy continuation of part I or did you have to plan and develop the story before writing?
VOCA Part II took quite a bit of planning, up there with End of Knighthood Part III: Ballad of Demise. I knew telling the entire story of The Expansion from start to finish wasn’t really possible (outside of a very, very, long novel), so I isolated the events that seemed most important and then tied the main characters to them. VOCA Part II, I think more than any other of my previous work, challenged my use of setting. Writing tests an author in odd ways, and one of those ways for me was geography. The setting in question, of course, Mexico. How big is this city? Is it dry or wet this time of year? Is it a metropolis or a small town? Luckily, my story takes place in the future, so I can tweak things, but I prefer going off reality. The first round of writing left VOCA Part II shorter than I wanted, but the final product I’m most pleased with.
Weird thing is at first, I was paying very little attention to the current situation. When I conceived of The Expansion, I was looking at it as a continuation of Manifest Destiny, where Americans expanded westward. The more I examined the history of expanded empires, The Expansion became more and more interesting to write. It went from being a small part of the original book to an integral backdrop for the Iranian characters. Now it’s the main focus in the VOCA trilogy. In future stories, I hope to explore neocolonialism more. Since 2016, immigration has become one of the most decisive topics in the American politics. It influenced me as I watched debates and heard different arguments, but it’s a bit different in VOCA Part II. In the book, the focus is more about imperialism reborn than the push for isolation that we’re experiencing now. What the book does do, I hope, is paint a picture of the circumstances that I feel are similar to current events. For example, I think no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, people accept that we live in an era where patriotism is a very touchy issue. Even critique from a person within the system can lead to harsh cries of them being “unamerican.” Blind patriotism, more than anything, fuels a beast like Venloran and his UNR. What I also wanted to focus on was displacement. Civilians can be turned into dissidents when pushed. People have forgotten that the Mujahideen that battled the Soviet Union was propped up by the United States. This same organization became Al-Qaeda, and in the age of the “War on Terror”, we’ve seen an upsurge in the formation of radical groups. I would argue that intervention, this need to intervene and ‘democratize’ other areas around the globe, fuels fundamentalists. Former New York Times writer Chris Hedges (who was fired around the start of the Iraq War) called the usage of violence a disease. Therefore “Poison” was the proper title for this installment. What I wanted to do with the book was take the “War on Terror” and move it closer to home. Instead of across the Atlantic in countries most Americans have never been to, I wanted to imagine it happening right next door.
Have you tried exploring other mediums for your series; games, comic books, etc? I ask because you have developed such a rich backstory already.
I’m not much of a gamer, so I’ve never really considered that route. Comics, however, have always intrigued me. I’ve always been obsessed with visuals (one of my worst habits was the tendency to doodle during class). Comics, namely graphic novels, have always been a favorite medium of mine. You can say a whole lot with just a single frame, and not to mention a good use of color goes a long a way in establishing the mood. The look of the cyborg uniforms, namely the overcoat, was inspired by the Blade design from Marvel comics, while the armor itself is actually manga-based. As a child, I’ve read my share of manga, including Dragon Ball. Unfortunately, I can’t draw all that well. If I could meet a comic book artist who wanted to tell a story from Reverence, I’d be honored to be a part of such a project.
I’ve actually given some thought to this! After all, as I write I often listen to my favorite movie soundtracks. This helps me set the mood and envision a scene: scary might be Ennio Morricone, action-oriented Hans Zimmer, and somber along the lines of Michael Giacchino. Naturally, sometimes I envision certain faces of certain characters. The big one is Will, and for him I could see Will Smith or Denzel Washington taking the role. They are both older and can play action heroes, but all while still giving them emotional resonance. Another instacast for me is Liam Neeson as Chancellor Venloran. This is largely due to his portrayal of Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins (2005). He’s calm yet menacing, all without being over-the-top. One of my favorites to envision would be Jessica Chastain as Gabriella Neeson. After seeing her in Interstellar(2014), I was thoroughly convinced. She’s both gorgeous, tough as nails, and can portray a character who is anything but a damsel in distress (no thanks Cameron Diaz). Others are mind boggling. In the case of Marisol Leone, for example, it’s really hard to pin down. One of these days, I’ll sit down and sort them all out.
Julissa Marconi is finally ready to be a soldier again, and now it’s time to take on the tyrannical Chancellor Venloran. With Captain Halsey and her daughter Zaneta by her side, the resistance is the last line of defense preventing the United Nation Republic from seizing the country of Mexico. The combat will prove bloody as Venloran sends his cyborg warriors to squash all opposition. As bullets fly and bodies pile up, Julissa will be forced to consider what she’s capable of. To defeat the enemy, she may just have to become the enemy.
Welcome back to the world of the Reverence series with Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison. Witness the spark that lit the fire.
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YEGman is a thrilling crime novel taking place in the underworld of Edmonton, Canada. Why did you want to set your story in this location?
I had several reasons why I wanted to have the story take place in Edmonton. I prefer to write Canada-based stories and I’ve spent a lot more time in western Canada than I have out east, so can craft stories in these locations easier. A second reason is the name YEGman itself. YEG is the airport code and a common hashtag for the city. It is easier to say than – for example – YYCman for Calgary.
I also have grown up in Edmonton and have seen the city change over the decades. It is a pretty (no offence Edmonton!) bland city when it comes to major issues. So it is a good thing. That raises the question, how can you make a tame city feral and gritty? This was an interesting challenge to me.
This story takes a uniquely gritty look at the Edmonton crime scene. What were some ideas you wanted to capture when developing this underworld?
For YEGman’s version of Edmonton, I wanted to paint a crime-infested city that has some similarities seen in superhero comics. Daredevil/Hell’s Kitchen and Batman/Gotham are examples. A city that is in dire need of help. It becomes a motivator for someone to become a vigilante when they feel the city isn’t making any progress.
The details of the drugs and music scene I wanted to make real by showing there are good people that get caught up in these dark worlds of gangs and violence. Either they feel trapped or do not know any better to get out and just try to keep their friends safe.
Where did the idea for YEGman come from and what were some book titles you considered?
YEGman actually was birthed from the album that accompanies the launch – Sounds of Society. Both YEGman and the album tell a story of someone who can’t handle the constraints of society and go off the deep end. They also share similar content in the lyrics. Originally I was working on this album in 2012.
The plot and character of YEGman came to me in the summer of 2015 when I was at a book signing in a comic store. It was a quiet period and was daydreaming about super heroes because of the increase in popularity due to the Marvel movies, DC movies, comic expos and I was in a comic store at the time. Personally I am not a huge comic book far so I asked myself – what type of superhero story would someone who doesn’t like superheroes read?
From there I drafted out the concept of the superhero YEGman. Quite quickly I decided against super powers and made him very earth-bound. This helped map out the ending as well. If he was just an average person, and didn’t have any tech toys, money or ninja training, he’s going to have a pretty difficult time being a crime fighter. After writing out the outline for the ending I reverse engineered the story – a process I do not normally do with writing.
In November of 2015 I wrote the first draft during NaNoWriMo but shelved the concept because my horror novel, Seed Me, wasn’t fully edited yet. That took a higher priority and I didn’t revisit YEGman until 2017 after doing some heavy research into police procedures and psychology. These two points of study helped craft the inner thoughts of Michael.
So overall, comic books were the inspiration and I looked at comics such as the Punisher, Sin City, The Watchmen, and Hellboy to name some.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I really need to wrap up the dark fantasy series Mental Damnation. Book three is coming out in the fall of 2018 and the fourth is in the works. I also am working on a slasher novella but it is in the early plot outline stage.
In the darkest streets of Edmonton, crime is around every corner. The police have exhausted their resources. Citizens are in a constant state of fear. The city is in dire need of justice. Someone needs to give the felons what they deserve – skip the courts and deliver their verdict with a fist full of fury!
At least that is what Michael Bradford tells himself. He struggles with violent tendencies while personally investigating the Crystal Moths, Edmonton’s most notorious gang. His vigilante methods get caught on film and are uploaded to the web with the hashtag YEGman. These videos catch the attention of a rebellious journalism student whose aspires to cover the developing story on the city’s underground hero.
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