“Powderfinger” is a present-day scary horror story set mainly on the decrepit, abandoned but soon to be redeveloped, bank of an old canal between two towns. It centres on an old tar works known as Raven’s Gate. Nick Swann is a world weary mid-forties widower and Assistant Probation Warden at St Joseph’s Hostel for young male criminals, situated overlooking the canal and Raven’s Gate. A woman is brutally killed on the bank opposite the Hostel on a night when Nick is on duty. Nick believes his lads had nothing to do with it, though consequently Nick is suspended for issuing too many late passes at once. Then another woman is killed and Nick becomes drawn into discovering the culprit. He works with DCI Findlay and DS Deacon as the murder toll rises. Together with help from his old friends Alan and Hugo, Nick’s research uncovers a long series of similar murders in the same area, stretching back through the centuries. “Powderfinger” as the killer is dubbed, appears to be some kind of ancient mellifluous, malevolent, murderous being that attacks anyone it considers to be disturbing its peace and quiet. Eventually, as the story climaxes, Findlay, Deacon, Nick and Alan set a trap to lure “Powderfinger” to his doom and rid the area of this beast once and for all. Yet, traps can swing both ways.
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H.A.L.F.: The Makers follows two groups of protagonists under the threat of an alien race. What direction did you want to take this novel that was different from the first book in the series?
The first book deals mainly with the idea that the aliens known as the Roswell Greys (those ubiquitous big-eyed, bulbous-headed aliens) are the alien threat. Book one brings the reader in with familiar imagery and ideas such as the Roswell crash, the Greys and government conspiracy reminiscent of the X-Files.
In The Makers (book two), my goal was to expand on the familiar alien mythology. I introduced my own alien species as well as my own ideas about the Roswell Greys. This expanded the story significantly. Books two (The Makers) and three (ORIGINS) are more epic in scope than in book one (The Deep Beneath).
The characters in this novel are once again intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Thank you for that compliment! 🙂 I enjoy writing all of the characters and especially had fun creating the sexual tension between Jack and Anna and also between Erika and Tex (though their tension really amps up in book three ;-).
But overall, I most enjoy writing in Tex’s perspective. Given that he’s only half-human, it’s fun spending time in his head! I like seeing our world through his eyes. Tex has strange, other-worldly experiences with the Regina and the Conexus in The Makers. Those scenes were creepy and fun to write! And his story grows and gets even better, I think, in book 3 (ORIGINS – releasing 8/24/17).
I thoroughly enjoyed the well crafted mystery and the detailed characters. What is your writing process like?
Thank you, again, for your kind words. My writing process is messy! When I first began writing fiction, I outlined extensively. I was an attorney for 20 years, so planning was in my nature!
But after writing two or three novels, I found that I no longer followed outlines I created. The more experience I get as a writer, the more I focus on character development in my pre-write planning. I write back story, flesh out motivation and details about the characters. For both The Makers (H.A.L.F. #2) and ORIGINS (H.A.L.F. #3), I did not outline the plot. I have a general idea—beginning point, middle point and end point. I focus, for each POV character, on what needs to happen for this character for the story to end.
For The Makers, because there are two separate plot lines, I wrote the Tex and Erika portions all at once, then the Jack and Anna portions, then the U’Vol chapters. I then had to thread them together. Phew!
Writing in this way takes quite a bit more time than following a detailed outline. I generally cut anywhere from 20,000-50,000 words and have to rewrite and revise for months. But I think that because I don’t pre-plan, the story has more surprises than if I planned it all out. When I’m in the flow, the story goes in unpredicted ways. I hope that readers enjoy the unpredictability and surprises in the plot.
What are some writers or books that you felt inspired you and this series?
I was inspired by George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. I know that may sound odd given that the H.A.L.F. series is young adult Sci-Fi—no dragons! But I read all five of the GoT series while writing book one (The Deep Beneath) and I was inspired to make the H.A.L.F. series into a more complex story. Most young adult books follow a single protagonist, often told in first person, and generally in a fairly linear fashion. I wanted to push the boundaries a bit and write a YA book with multiple storylines and point-of-view characters. This idea was in direction reaction to my love of G.R.R.M’s writing style.
I was also heavily inspired by Chris Carter’s work in the X-Files. I tried to emulate the creepy vibe of the X-Files as well as drawing out the mystery the way the X-Files did. You think the “bad guy” is one person, but it may turn out to be someone else—or something else—entirely. Readers of the H.A.L.F. series won’t know all of the answers to the many questions raised until the very end of the series! And I think they’ll be surprised by how it all turns out!
“The Makers” is the follow-up to Natalie Wright’s multiple award-winning debut science fiction novel “H.A.L.F.: The Deep Beneath.” “We’ve seen grey aliens on T.V. and in movies. We may think we know all about them. But what if everything we think we know is wrong?” Erika Holt dodged death and departed Earth in an alien ship. It wasn’t how she’d planned to spend her senior year. Is Erika on her way to paradise? Or to a hell worse than the underground lab she escaped? The greys rescued Tex from A.H.D.N.A. and promised him a life he could never have imagined. But what will he have to give up to become one with The Conexus? Jack Wilson is still Commander Sturgis’ prisoner, but a promise of freedom comes from an unlikely source. Will his liberation cost more than he’s willing to pay? Caught up in their personal battles and focused on our war with the grey aliens, will any of them realize the true threat that looms over us all before it’s too late?
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In Typhoon of Fire we follow Ace Mcdagger who teams up with Captain Loxwell of November squad to rescue her teammates scattered in the forests of Malaysia. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
During Call of the Conjurer, when the characters were new recruits to the hidden world of modern, magical combat; they spent a lot of time in a regulated, clean environments. The characters were usually safe. I wanted to go the opposite way in Typhoon of Fire. I wanted the situation throughout to be very rough, challenging and dangerous. My very first thought, visually, was of Vietnam era war films like “Platoon” and “Apocalypse Now”.
The jungle is wild and hostile, and Malaysia is a location brimming with different environments which greatly inspired the events throughout. The characters explore flat, arid plains and damp rainforests, a rundown laboratory overrun by plants, an abandoned mine, a floating fortress above the clouds… I had a great time using colour schemes to set the mood. The use of natural environments also helped me to emphasise major themes in the book. Subjects such as ‘corruption of life’, ‘man versus nature’ and ‘Hell on Earth’.
I felt that the novel was very well paced and kept me engaged throughout. Did you plan the novel as you wrote or did it all happen organically?
It happened organically, for the most part. From my perspective, Typhoon of Fire is a prequel to another book I have written – but I decided it would be better to publish them chronologically. Certain events had to happen in Typhoon of Fire, and with that in mind I just had fun writing what I wanted: a creepy science-gone-wrong scenario!
Developing the supporting cast and their stories happened organically as well. They were new characters, who would not necessarily be seen again; so their personalities, roles and fates were all blank slates. I enjoyed unravelling these characters, adding little twists to their personalities to surprise the reader. A lot of the characters are very different people by the end of the story, for better or for worse. I suppose in essence, the main plot of Typhoon of Fire was an after thought for me. The subplots, however; the individual character arcs which pave the way for future instalments, are the real meat and bones of the book. Away from all the magic and sci-fi, this is a book about humanity and frailty.
Ace, Shimon, Tiffany, and Loxwell have brilliant dialogue and they feel like living characters. What things did you focus your character development on to bring your characters to life?
I absolutely adore writing flawed characters. I like my characters fumble their dialogue, on occasion, or misunderstand information given to them. It makes them more human, to be far from perfect. I enjoy the concept of the “unreliable protagonist” and bear that in mind when I write. Sometimes the characters make mistakes, and sometimes they lie, even to themselves. They are supposed to be human, despite any super human magical powers they possess. Careful dialogue keeps them grounded and relatable.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
Tricky one! I actually have two books in the proof reading stage now. One is a direct follow up to Typhoon of Fire, called Bloodfest, which was the book I had written before this one but decided to release later. The other book I’ve completed is a supplementary story called The Sardonyc, which focuses on the Science Department mentioned throughout Typhoon of Fire. The Sardonyc is a very different book to what I have written before, but it is still within the same self contained universe.
Bloodfest will be a straight up action horror / macabre comedy, continuing the adventures of Ace Mcdagger. He is more grown up and world weary by now, and is deployed to a mysterious island to dispatch a rising army of the undead. Definitely one for zombie fans!
The Sardonyc is more of a psychological thriller, about a troubled new character named Sidney. He is part of a research team stuck on a ship in the middle of the ocean, and everybody is slowly going mad. Sidney must figure out why it is happening before he succumbs as well, and there are plenty of twists along the way.
I hope the Literary Titan will review my next book soon – whichever one is out first!
Three years after training; learning about magic combat and of monsters that terrorise our world, soldier Ace Mcdagger and his allies join Captain Rafaella Loxwell of November Squad for a rescue mission. Her team mates have been scattered following a disastrous attempt to seek out a rogue scientist deep in the forests of Malaysia. Their path is mired by many obstacles; treachery, psychic warnings, scientific abominations, and an overwhelming storm – the Typhoon of Fire, slowly closing in on the region without a known cause.
Worst of all, Ace has to contend with a personal challenge – keeping his mad cousin out of trouble.
Can Captain Loxwell save her team mates and complete the mysterious mission? And will Ace and his friends survive out here in the midst of true, heated battle?
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Slippery Things follows Larissa as she tries to navigate high school when she starts having nightmares of blood sucking aliens and can’t tell if they are real or not. How did the idea for this novel develop and how did it change as you were writing?
I love monsters, so of course I knew I had to write a book about them. Also, I’ve always found the concept of alien abduction beyond unsettling. And while I certainly don’t believe extra-terrestrials are visiting planet Earth, I wondered if the idea of creatures venturing from another dimension might make for a creepy tale.
The biggest change in the novel’s development was the point of view. Originally written in first person, I ultimately rewrote the entire book in third person. Two early readers of the the first draft suggested that if written in first person, the reader may not feel as urgent a sense of jeopardy for the main character.
Larissa is a typical teenage girl dealing with a cheating boyfriend and a self absorbed best friend. What were some characteristics that you tried to capture while writing all three of these characters?
For Larissa, it’s anger and disappointment. These emotions spring from a feeling of being trapped. Luckily, her sense of humor will help get her through the day. As for the others, I believe it’s typical for high schoolers to feel that the world revolves around them. Perhaps it’s difficult for young people to see just how deeply their behavior can affect others around them.
Slippery Things gives a unique twist to the science fiction genre. What was your approach to writing an alien abduction/invasion story while to keep it entertaining?
My personal interest in this story has always lived more with the main character than with the plot. That said, I was born with a dark sensibility. I thought about what I personally find creepy and tried to exploit that.
As far as entertainment goes, my favorite scene in genre films tends to be the point where “all hell breaks loose.” A goal of mine was to emulate this moment by building to a chaotic chase scene towards the end of the book.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
My next book doesn’t have a title yet, but you can expect another young adult sci-fi novel entering the universe down the road. There will be a couple of similar themes, but an entirely new setting and diverse cast of characters. And although creepiness will certainly be on the menu, I’m working towards an overall shift in tone.
Jaded high school Junior and detention hall regular Larissa Locke has a recurring dream in which creatures sneak into her bedroom at night to perform experiments and extract her blood. Tiny scars on her arm suggest that perhaps she isn’t just dreaming. But wait! If she’s really the victim of blood-sucking alien intruders, then why is her bedroom window still locked each morning?
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William Burke’s Voodoo Child is an engaging, if not slightly creepy, adventure to a tropical island plagued by greed, witchcraft and humanity. With Maggie Child as our main character, this strong female lead finds her life turned upside down when a tour in Iraq ends up landing her in a research facility. After undergoing an intense experiment it’s her wits and savvy that spring her, and fellow captive Glen Logan, from their captors. Using her family connections Maggie ends up bringing Glen along for the ride as they escape to the Caribbean Island of Fantomas. Neither of them is prepared for what lies ahead. The island has descended into chaos thanks to the joining of a money-hungry woman and one of the strongest spirits in Voodoo lore. This isn’t a tropical vacation that will leave you with a tan. You’ll be lucky to leave with your body intact.
Don’t let the eighty-four-chapter count intimidate you. Many of the chapters are short, carrying important information in succinct little pages. Burke knows how to engage his audience as his cast of strong female leads aren’t ready to lay down and accept their fate. Maggie, Sarafina and Lavonia are the three main characters of this tale and they couldn’t be more different from each other. On one hand you’ve got Maggie, who is an army chopper pilot who isn’t afraid of anything and not about to take sass. Sarafina is the lovely Voodoo priestess who has inherited her title at a young age, but don’t let her youth fool you. Lavonia is a greedy former beauty queen looking to make a fast buck and is ill-prepared to deal with the consequences of her desires. These three cross paths in the most interesting of ways on the small island of Fantomas. Burke weaves his tale and captivates his audience with ease.
Voodoo Child is the first book in a series and it does an excellent job of setting the stage for the story to come. The first volume can make or break a series and Burke seems to understand that as he lays out the world in which his characters live. The relevant characters have their back stories tenderly flushed out and the basics of Voodoo, which is an obvious major part of the tale, are carefully explained. Since Voodoo is a real religion Burke must have had to research and ensure that what he is portraying in his story is correct. The care in which he takes in explaining the various rituals reveal that he did indeed do more than spend five minutes Googling the subject.
If the chapter count hasn’t scared you off you’ll find yourself entangled in a mess of zombies, arrogant humans and spiteful spirits out to take what is theirs. The chaos has meaning and while there are horrific moments in the story none of them feel overdone or out of place. If horror stories are your thing, you’ll definitely find what you’re looking for within the pages of Voodoo Child.
Pages: 333 | ASIN: B01H9E4HDA
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