Book of Matthew Part I is a tale of forbidden love in rural Missouri in 1850 which was a tumultuous time in the U.S. What was the inspiration that inspired the setup to this intriguing novel?
It all began with a conversation. I had just started dating the man who is now my husband and we were still getting to know one another. He asked if I would vote in the upcoming election and I replied, “of course I will. My ancestors fought and died to give me the right to. Without their sacrifices I wouldn’t be able to vote, own property, read, let alone attend my university. I wouldn’t even be able to date you.” After that conversation I started to wonder how difficult it would have been to have an interracial relationship centuries ago and my first book was born.
I have always been a lover of suspense, mystery and horror so I decided to write in these genres. My goal was to create a Jack the Ripper sort of villain, while maintaining the drama, romance and personal conflicts that make characters relatable and memorable.
While growing up I noticed a double standard in regard to history. If you were white and you wanted to trace your lineage back to the Mayflower this was perfectly acceptable. People were intrigued to hear your family’s history and they encouraged and praised your vast knowledge of a bygone era… but if you were black you were often discouraged from learning anything about your ancestry. I was told things like, “Black people need to leave the plantation,” and “Black people live in the past and need to just forget things.” Yearning to educate myself about the past is not the same as living in it. I didn’t desire someone to blame or scapegoat, all I wanted was the same answers that other races of children were encouraged to seek out.
When I received correspondence from readers in England, France, Ireland and several countries in Africa they applauded my stories and said, “Wow! This was a fascinating look at American history.” Not Black history, nor African American history. Other countries acknowledge this topic as American history because that’s exactly what it is. When I am criticized for this subject matter my response remains the same,
I don’t write racist literature. Nor do I write black history. I write American history.
The book touches on sensitive social topics rarely discussed, slavery and the dynamic between master and slave. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this story?
The main theme I wanted to capture was that every form of this institution was morally reprehensible. When I grew up in school most of my teachers refused to teach this subject whatsoever. We would skip over huge chunks of our textbooks just to avoid it. The few who did teach about it romanticized the hell out of it, and made it seem acceptable because “most slaves were like part of the family” …I actually heard this more than once. What I desired to express in this story was that even if you were a house slave who was treated better than others and much like part of the family, merely being owned endangered your life because someone has diminished your social standing from that of a human being to that of a piece of property. This fact alone placed even the best treated of slaves at risk for kidnapping, rape and murder with no law enforcement to save them.
Second, I wanted to make it known that when some of us are slaves, we all are. Destitute white men, minorities and women of all colors were treated as second class citizens because of that system of inequality.
Third, I wanted to acknowledge all the people who were adamantly opposed to slavery and fought against it at every turn. 400 years of Americans are blamed and villainized for what some people did. Though slavery was socially acceptable, not everyone agrees with 100% of what is socially acceptable. Disagreeing with social norms is what makes us individuals. Fighting against corrupt social norms is what makes us heroes. The people who stood against these heinous acts are rarely recognized, but without them our society would’ve failed to evolve.
Sarah is a slave that is targeted by a serial killer that murders with impunity. What were the driving ideals behind Sarah’s character development?
The driving force behind Sarah’s character development was the total lack thereof I have witnessed in similar stories. In many of the plantation novels I have read the slaves are faceless one-dimensional victims who serve as little more than background for white main characters. The female slave characters were poorly developed and served as little more than objects of lust incapable of inspiring true feelings of love and affection. Reading a plantation novel with no black main characters is like reading Memoirs of a Geisha with no geisha. These stories failed to capture my attention and I found the characters unrealistic and totally unrelatable. When I wrote a book I was determined to make sure there were black main characters as well as white ones, and that ALL of my characters have depth and unique personalities. I wanted Sarah’s character to have hopes, dreams, ambitions, drama and romantic conflicts of her own. I yearned to put a human face on a slave character, an aspect rarely seen in books of this nature. Though there have been many forbidden lust stories in this genre I wanted to give Sarah an against all odds forbidden love story readers wouldn’t soon forget.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Revelations: The Colburn Curse is a prequel to Book of Matthew that traces the Colburn family back to their beginnings in New Orleans, Louisiana. In this story Matt Colburn Sr. is a young plantation heir who has been given the duty of protecting an aristocrat named, Arial. He falls madly in love with the elusive heiress, but she is hiding a deadly secret that has made her the target of the Louisiana Strangler, a secret that endangers everyone she holds dear, especially Matt. This book is already available for purchase on amazon.com.
The Infinity series is based on the many star crossed lifetimes of Sarah and Matthew. I wrote this series for readers who enjoy historical suspense but prefer a tale with less violence and adult content. Three of the ten books are already available on amazon.com.
Book of Matthew II: Ancient Evil will be released December 2018.
Women of color are not a priority of law enforcement in 1800’s Missouri. They are not even considered human. These social injustices allow a serial killer to run rampant. Sarah, a beautiful black slave, finds herself in the crosshairs of a monster who murders with impunity. The only one concerned with her plight is the master’s son. Will Matthew find the strength to rescue this slave girl, even if he lacks the courage to admit he’s in love with her…
It’s Jack the Ripper meets Roots in this pulse pounding historical thriller. House of Whispers packs the chills of a Stephen King book, the romance of a Nicholas Sparks novel and the in your face irony of an M. Night Shyamalan flic.
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Seasons takes place in a small town that’s struck by a tornado, which sets of a series of terrible events. What was your inspiration for this novel?
I grew up in a small town much like Rhinehart. Many people think small town life is ordinary and simple. Not always the case. Although the book is fiction, some events were actual in nature. Rhinehart is a community riddled with secrets, devastation, gossip, deception and violence. On the other hand, the community is filled with compassion, kindness, joy and forgiveness. The book is designed with colorful and unique characters and events for a reason. My hope is that everyone who reads the book would identify, connect and be inspired by the community of Rhinehart.
You use faith as a guide to help your characters overcome obstacles. What were some themes you felt were important to capture?
One theme that transpires over and over is forgiveness. There is an instance in the book where a victim’s forgiveness is upsetting to the reader. While it is not the most popular outcome, it does cause you to think about how your decisions affect others.
Another theme would be to do what is right and love your neighbor even when they don’t deserve it. The community comes forward to help a family that has caused nothing but trouble and aggravation to the town. This is a theme I would hope the readers would practice among their own neighbors. There is a feeling of incredible accomplishment when you can set aside your differences and do what is right.
There are so many interesting and intriguing characters in this novel. Who was your favorite character to write for?
I had so much fun creating them all. I would say the most fun to write is the interaction between Aunt Ida, the sassy grocery store owner and Sheriff Richards, the pot belly law man. The two are always matching their wit and the Sheriff usually loses. Daniel’s brothers are wild and unpredictable, they keep the community on their toes. Aubree the young teen is the glue that connects the characters. She has a heart of gold and sees the good in everyone.
The characters are all special and the variety of personalities will cause you to laugh, cry, get angry and love them all at the same time.
I felt like this book ended perfectly for a sequel. Are you planning to write a follow up book?
Yes! The second book Seasons Justice is Not for The Weak is a little over half written.
The second book takes you into the High School years for Aubree and her friends. Daniel and his brothers return to Rhinehart and begin their rampage once again. Aunt Ida and Uncle Leo go missing and a search begins. Derek and Dillion take advantage of the fact the Sheriff is busy, to go on a crime spree. Phil their father trying to stop them finds himself on the run for their crimes and a man hunt is underway. The brothers as always go home to roust at their grandmothers. Daniel protecting the Sheriff does the unthinkable. Unable to live with what he has done runs away. Aubree is kidnaped by a local man who is mixed up and has a history of being violent. The community must come together to find her. In the mist of all the tragedy one of wild brothers finds himself for the first time on the right side of the law and helps apprehend a criminal. He turns to Jesus for help in putting his family back together and sets out to look for his father and Daniel to bring them back home.
The rest of the story is in process, even I can’t wait to see how it’s going to end. Lol.
In Seasons, we explore the loss of innocence when adversities hit a little southern town. We often ask, where is God in all this? What happens when you have difficult choices to makechoices that will affect everyone around you? How do you find answers to why God allows terrible things to happen to good people? How do you feel about God when his answer to your question is no?
The world around us is harsh, and we long to feel safe and special. Perhaps in Seasons you will be able to find that, by one young girls journey through innocence lost, you can learn to accept, forgive, and find comfort in the strength God has given her in some of the darkest days and endless joy that surrounded her life.
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Slay the Dragon is an action-packed mystery about a man named Cesar Rosada. He is descended from a line of coffee farmers, a former professional athlete and now a rising politician with a single goal; to help the working class of his country. He is determined to fight for the rights of his people but there is one crisis he can not see a way out of, the opioid addiction. Working as the minister of finance he will stop at nothing to fight against corruption. This leaves him with a choice that will test his own morality.
This book was written by author Laura A. Zubulake who worked for years on Wall Street and is a frequent world traveler. She has written non-fiction before, but Slay the Dragon is her debut fiction novel. The prologue got my attention from the very beginning and is an engaging start to an intriguing novel that hits on a subject that is destroying families and individuals in America. Slay the Dragon does a fantastic job of using fiction to understand a complex problem, and helps you visualize the enormity of the opioid crisis today. I enjoyed how the world unfolds slowly, detail by detail, we get to piece together a seedy world reminiscent of the show Narcos. César’s character development reminds me of George R.R. Martin’s characters. They are characters changed, dramatically, by circumstances out of their control, and they’re just trying to adapt.
This story is exciting, dangerous, thrilling, and full of adventure. Cesar is the kind of character you can’t help but root for with his pure ideals and determination to help those around him. When his actions enter a moral gray area you can empathize. How do you find such entrenched corruption? Zubulake has written a world that feels real in its gritty depictions of South American politics.
From beginning to end this book held my attention and kept me guessing. This is definitely the book for you if you like political thrillers that leave you thinking long after you’ve closed the book.
Pages: 289 | ASIN: B07BH2VMNQ
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Historian-for-hire Wrenn Grayson takes on a difficult client in Kerry St. John. Kerry seeks justice for his great-grandfather’s lifelong heartache. Wrenn meets the renowned jeweler through words recorded in his tattered journal. The year is 1946. He writes from the tiny crossroads of Wyatt, Ohio, about the theft of a treasured locket and the identity of three possible suspects.
The cold case heats up when Lori Hammond arrives. The stolen locket was discovered among her mother’s possessions after her death. Lori refuses to return it to the St. John family, so Wrenn sets out to follow the locket’s path through history. Next, Lori is attacked and Kerry accused. If Kerry’s not guilty, then who is? That question sends cold whispers from the past down Wrenn’s spine.
In Designs on Ivy’s Locket, Connie Chappell focuses on the theme of parents and children, separated by death, by theft, and by design.
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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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Eternal Bloodlines follows Amanda, an average girl with a boring life when an unexpected event sends her life hurtling in a sinister direction. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
I have always love vampires. However, I wanted to create a story that readers could relate to, one that was different, and Amanda is the one character who could do just that.
I felt that Amanda was a fascinating character, her later character contrasted greatly with her beginning character. What were some obstacles you felt were important to her development?
Actually, there were not any obstacles to Amanda’s development. I used much of how I felt growing up in a small town: want nothing more than to get out, get away, and have an adventure. The use of my personal insights and experiences from growing up in a small town (though none of those experiences involved a vampire, of course) made Amanda’s development almost seamless.
The bond that forms between Amanda and Mihnea is one of the things that I enjoyed about this book. What were the driving ideas behind their relationship throughout the story?
It was important that Mihnea be someone Amanda thought she knew all about from her research and her passion for the vampire legend. It was also important that when she meets the man, she believed she knew about, that he was not that person. But, he needed to be someone she empathizes with, that she can relate to. He needed to be a surprise and change everything she thought she had learned.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next novel is coming in July. It’s titled Shadows Fall. And though I don’t want to give too much away, Detective Levi Sterling has his handful with trying to catch a serial killer.
A series of unexplained murders and a near-fatal accident propel a desperate woman down a dark and sinister road.
Twenty-four-year-old Amanda Holston dreams of getting a little excitement in her life. In the sleepy town of Skidway Lake that may be asking too much. One snowy morning, while walking through the woods, Amanda stumbles upon the mutilated remains of a young woman. Hours later, police uncover two more bodies. Just when things seem to be getting interesting, Amanda is in a near fatal accident, causing her sanity to come into question. She hears voices in her head and sees a dark man in her dreams. She blames the delusions on the accident. But the dark man is all too real.
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Discovering a young boy living in the wilderness would be an unexpected shock for anyone, just as it was for a local state trooper, but no one could have predicted the chilling truth that finding the boy would unearth. It’s this unexpected fact that evil thrives in, often striking in situations where we least expect it.
Mutch Katsonga’s latest book, Where Wildfires Glow, unexpectedly made me challenge my own personal view of the good and evil in the world. The introduction poses a series of deep, philosophical questions for the reader that I often found myself reflecting upon as I read the novel. I was skeptical at first as to whether the story would furnish me with the answers to these questions, particularly, considering that I deemed the start of the book to be slow. However, what I did not realize is that Katsonga was just setting up what was to come through his in depth descriptions of the landscape and natural world, and I found myself reliving these romantic descriptions during the climatic end. The child’s two contrasting encounters with the harsh wilderness are beautiful metaphors for the detrimental and damaging effects that abuse can have on a person.
The way in which Katsonga has narrated the story and not given the boy a identity means that as a reader, I struggled to form a connection with the character, regardless of the overwhelming compassion I felt. Whilst I thought that this made the story feel a bit empty at the beginning, I realised that this perfectly reflects the sense of detachment that evil inflicts on its’ victims. The writing is a bit unpolished with slight typos and grammatical errors which probably could have been avoided with thorough proofreading. Unfortunately the obvious mistakes often pulled my attention from the story, which was a shame at crucial moments, but this was definitely not to the point where I lost complete focus or the book was no longer enjoyable. Additionally, as the protagonist of the book is a young child, I felt that some of the words the used are too mature which I felt detracted from the authenticity.
However, the poignant moral behind the story is that evil can make us lose sight of who we are and taints our view of right and wrong. When we allow it into our lives, it will inevitably envelop us; our vision becomes tunnelled and focuses only on the negative. The cycle of abuse is unrelenting and will just keep going, manifesting in each generation, until something breaks it. Katsonga teaches us that evil cannot be fought with evil, and it is only the power of light and the power of good that can break the cycle. I believe that this book will challenge that way that every reader views negativity and the power that it can have on an individual and those around them. It made me more conscious about how my actions can affect others, and has encouraged me to make sure that I always give off a positive energy.
Pages: 160 | ASIN: B07CCJTGDB
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Dance with the Devils starts with a gruesome murder which sets of a series of events that brings detective Nate Burns out of retirement. What did you want to be different about this novel from your other murder mystery works?
Nate has been medically retired from the department and has not adjusted well to the forced inactivity. I wanted the murders to be complex enough that they would serve as an enticement to get Nate off the couch, so to speak. The gruesomeness of the killings is evidence of the mindset of the killer, which is the reason for Nate decides to become involved. The staging of the bodies, as there is more than one killing, also becomes an attractant for Nate.
I thought you did a fantastic job with the setting and descriptions. How do you balance story telling with setting and character development?
The initial setting was determined by previous novels and Las Vegas is where Nate’s friend Jack resides. It is also the money source as an investigation as I describe would require funding in large amounts of money. There had to be a tie in there. The other locations were chosen for various reasons, the last one in Ohio is the hometown of the narrator of my books for audio. I wanted to give him a nod of “thanks.”
Character development is the most important part of the writing process for me. With interesting and engaging characters a story can be set in a shoebox. Every character I include in the story has a developed backstory and the possibility of a continuing story, if need be. More than one of my minor characters have grown into larger roles, and continued in the next book in the series.
I felt like Gabe Monet was one character that had to grow on me, and continued to develop throughout the novel. What was the inspiration for that character?
Gabe was the personification of the story. She is another version of Nate, she, like him is the overachiever with baggage. Where Nate uses his surliness to distance people, Gabe uses her outlandish behavior and sexuality. Readers of the series will remember Nate has an attraction to women like Gabe, and I also wanted her to serve as a temptation to him. She develops and with Nate’s help can depend more on her abilities as a detective and therefor lower her defensive actions. I wanted Gabe to be Nate’s reflection and I think I accomplished that
It seems like this book leaves the door open for a follow up novel. Will there be another story in this series?
Oh, most certainly. Dance with the Devils is the third book in the Nate and Clare series. Much is happening to the characters in the stories. Nate is struggling to find new direction. Clare (his wife) is finishing law school. The older daughter Lizzie is graduating high school with the stated desire to follow her dad into law enforcement. The Las Vegas side of the team has Jack growing bored with what he does. His wife Terri is not doing well after being shot. Jack’s friend and bodyguard “Snake” is still in a coma and “Gunny” is growing restless. There are many more stories yet to be told.
The murder was brutal. The scene resembled a slaughterhouse. “We need Nate Burns,” Jack Mill said and set about getting the medically retired detective to Vegas. Such a simple request will lead Nate not only on a manhunt across the country but also back in time thirty years where he will struggle to understand the implications of the Cold War.
Book three, in the Nate and Clare series, finds Nate trying to come to terms with being medically retired from the department. Unsure who he is any longer, he hesitates to accept the challenge. For the first time, he afraid he might fail.
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Blowout Summer follows Dee Dee as she reflects on one memorable summer filled with surfing, drugs and experimentation. What served as your inspiration while writing this wild summer?
It was a different time. Everything about living in a small beach town was easy. California was changing right under the States noses. People and their crazy experiences during that time, led me to write about their antics.
Dee Dee is a character, I felt, continued to develop as the story progressed. What were some obstacles you felt were important to her characters development?
She was on the verge of becoming an adult and she still wanted to have fun making bad or detrimental choices. She needed to become independent instead of going with the crowd.
This novel takes place in the 70’s when a lot of experimentation was going on. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing this book?
The world of surfing, clothing styles, and the music of that time.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
It features the same characters. They can’t seem to stay out of trouble. It should be done this year.
Surf, party, and romance take center stage in the breezy novel Blow Out Summer, as a group of local surfers in Huntington Beach, California, enjoy a summertime of hanging out and having fun.
Their story takes place in the mid 1970s, when no one was paying much attention to the drugs being brought into California at an alarming rate. But Dee Dee’s eyes are about to be opened.
Dee Dee lives in a very well-to-do area and is introduced to social drug experimentation and drug trafficking while maintaining a normal family life. She and her friends enjoy the surf up and down the coast of California.
Her friends run the gamut from the very wealthy to beach bums she met at the pier. Dee Dee’s lazy summer is spent under beautiful sunny days with slow drifting clouds and perfect barrel waves. But the ups and downs in her relationships and the dangers of dabbling in drugs ultimately force her a decision that will change her life.
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