The Winter of Swords starts when Eisa is snatched by a monster which begins the convergence of several different characters. What was the inspiration for this thrilling story?
The story was originally inspired by a song: “Protectors of the Earth” by Two Steps from Hell. I visualized a scene in a forest clearing, where an army of dark creatures, led by a terrifying six-limbed beast, faced off against a massive wolf. I wrote the sequence with the intention of having my protagonist realize that he shares a magical bond with this wolf (a spirit guardian of nature). After finishing the chapter, the story took off in a completely different direction. I’d been reading a lot of fantasy at the time, and struggled with the disappointment that so much of it was the same, and not just tropes, but theme, archetypes, and even magical creatures. I was tired of dragons and elves especially, but also of questing heroes. I wanted cool new beasts, but more so, I was looking for something that would terrify me. The answer was Doombringer – whose physical presence might only be surpassed by his cunning and intellect. I wanted a creature that characters can’t simply run away and hide from, but one that watches, understands, and hunts them. I structured the beginning of the story differently, too, as I wanted to defy expectation and convention. And heh, everyone loves a good twist! Eisa, Hunter, and Luca are integral to the overall arc in the series, but their stories don’t necessarily move as most people expect. A seemingly routine trip into the wilds to collect resources proves to be the catalyst for a much grander story in scope and scale.
There’s an assortment of varied and well-developed characters in this novel, and I found everyone to be interesting. Who was your favorite character to write for?
This is a hard question to answer, as I love all of my characters. In fact, it feels like trying to single out one of your children as your favorite. But if I had to choose, I would say that Roman is my favorite to write. As you discover in The Winter of Swords, he has a fairly tragic backstory. To me, Roman represents resiliency, honor, and an unflappable sense of nobility. He’s introspective, shy, and a bit socially dysfunctional, but it’s his relationship with his adoptive companion, Tusk, that makes him so loveable. So many people struggle to fit in, and Roman is no different. I think that, in part, is why his interactions with Dennah are so much fun for me to write. You get to see how two people from vastly different upbringings can bond and find mutual ground. I don’t want to spoil anything, but Roman is also probably the most complicated character in the series – for reasons people will see by the time they finish Before the Crow. Beyond Roman, another of my favorites was Balin – a slippery rogue in Gladeus’ employ. In the original draft of the book, Balin appeared for a total of two or three paragraphs. By the time I finished the draft I was so enamored with him and his story that I had to go back and expand on him as a character. I think those morally gray characters can add such a wonderfully complicated dynamic to the story.
I enjoyed the in depth world building in this book. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating your world?
I wanted to present the concept of the “ancient evil returned to threaten the world”, but wanted to avoid the “good vs evil” light fights the dark, or the evil lord who refuses to die returns once again to enslave the world, tropes that were prevalent in Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and so many others. That in part is why the readers get to see the antagonists, too. By seeing their rebirth, understanding a bit about their fall, and their motivations and aspirations, I think it makes the conflict a little richer. I’m also a huge nerd for history. So much of the back-story in Denoril is shades of feudal Europe, the protestant migration to the new world, the concept of world war, and the effect of colonialism on indigenous people, and abolition of slavery. The theme of indigenous people plays out in with the dalan – a magical people readers don’t necessarily get to meet until a little further into the series. I think it’s worth the wait!
This is book one in the Overthrown series. What can readers expect in book two, Before the Crow?
Oh, boy! That’s the question. The Winter of Swords really sets the stage, but like so many introductory volumes, it scrambles things up and tears the characters down. Before the Crow picks right up where Swords ends in that regard, so it is definitely “binge ready”. The conflict deepens and spreads, but the cat is out of the bag to an extent, so we get to see how some of our characters start to deal with the threat, but also what might set them apart from everyone else, and in the end, help them become the heroes Denoril needs so badly. For people who read through to the end of Winter of Swords, I strongly suggest they go right into Before the Crow. They just might find some events at the end of the second book incredibly rewarding!
An intelligent, six-limbed beast snatches a girl away from her family.
An orphan confronts the darkness in his past, while a menace stalks his small town.
A young woman cast into servitude tries to forge her own path in an unforgiving world.
And an inexperienced soldier following the path of honor and duty comes face to face with a foe born from his worst nightmares.
Seemingly unconnected, this small group of normal folk will fight to survive, for an ancient evil has awakened, and Denoril will need heroes if it is to endure The Winter of Swords.
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Tags: Aaron Bunce, adventure, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, dark fantasy, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, magic, military, mystery, nook, novel, overthrown, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, smashwords, story, sword and sorcery, The Winter of Swords, writer, writer community, writing
What starts off as just another teenager-focused bully story quickly shows its teeth to reveal something decidedly darker. The fear and emotion felt by the main protagonist seem both plausible and real, and the dysfunctional home life that he is forced to live through is also crafted to feel quite genuine.
We learn early on in this dark urban fantasy novel that Davey was forced by his difficulties to mentally escape into worlds of movie characters that he looked up to. He imagined himself overcoming his difficulties in a similar way that heroes from his favorite movies had, and it made him feel good to think that he could live in someone else’s shoes.
It doesn’t take long for Davey to find the escape he was looking for. What he found was something he never would have thought possible.
The world that Davey finds seems perfect to him. He cannot see any of the violence, abuse, or bullying that tortured him up to the point of finding ‘Cardboard City’. What he does see is a tight-knit community of kids living free from adult oppression. They govern themselves and seem to have a good hold on how to get things done, their way. Davey quickly feels right at home with his new friends. Friends that he would change his life forever.
As time goes on, Davey and the other kids grow up, but they stay connected to one another in a variety of ways. The connections that show up throughout the story between characters, and how their individual stories interconnect is impressively crafted.
Lord has a talent for characterization and building believable interactions between characters like no other. The reader is taken for a ride through several lives as they search for a deeper meaning and it is a pleasure to follow them and experience what they do.
The writing is simple yet has plenty of the details necessary to set a scene and show the inner-workings of the characters. One can easily get a feel for where you are, who is involved with each scene, and what events are unfolding. The pace is steady, as well, making for a story that is difficult to put down.
Myrrendryl by Kirby Lord, is a first novel by the incredible author, but you would never know that. If you like dark fantasy stories that questions the fabric of our reality, Myrrendryl is a must read.
Pages: 400 | ASIN: B07MXZQ9QW
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Harlot is mostly driven by curiosity and a desire to find interesting things. Like those blue flowers she loves so much. Harlot’s Encounters in the Land of Ick and Eck is a dark children’s story. Harlot walks through this mythical world and often finds ‘friends’ to walk the distance with her. Typical of all children, she makes friends quickly. Often voices her thoughts. She does not seem to understand the concept of fear even when she is encased in a dome with rising temperatures. It is interesting to look at life from such a perspective.
This is definitely a dark fantasy children’s story, but not too dark though. It would make for an interesting and wonderful Halloween pick. Micah Genest does a great job of painting vivid pictures. Even with actual painted pictures within the book. The book provides more than enough material for the reader with an active imagination to set the mental scenes. Very colorful and delightfully sinewy characters. Each with a quirk of their own. Perhaps the biggest take for an adult in all this is the way all the characters just move together despite being vastly different.
Harlot is typical of any kid, really. She’s innocent and looks at the world into which she is cast with pure interest and curiosity. Never judging anything and anyone. She is very trusting with almost blind optimism. Most children who read this book will understand her desire to follow voices and strange creatures. This book reads a lot like a dream. With vivid pictures and whimsical occurrences.
Oh my, the songs and chants. Imagine how fun it would be to try this out at a Halloween sleep over. They are so interesting and fun to follow. They almost take the gloom out of this decidedly morbid tale. This could very well be my most liked parts of the book.
For a children’s book, the vocabulary is quite advanced and may prove challenging for children. However, this could be a good thing as it could be an exercise in building vocabulary. It could help develop an interest in learning and seeking out new words. It is doubtful that most children will read into the illustrations by John Bauer. See them as more than just pictures. You never know though, this could be another fun exercise for these malleable young minds.
This book may be aimed at children but adults will enjoy it too. It reads like a children’s book but the plot and writing itself are excellent. This book reminds me of the children’s book, In A Dark, Dark Room: and Other Scary Stories. Fascinating, morbid, curious, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Pages: 208 | ASIN: B07MXPYLJ7
Tags: adventure, alibris, art, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, childrens book, creature, dark fantasy, ebook, fairy tale, fantsy, fiction, goodreads, halloween, Harlot's Encounters, horror, illustration, ilovebooks, indiebooks, john bauer, kindle, kobo, literature, micah genest, myth, mythical, nook, novel, occult, picture book, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, smashwords, story, The Land of Ick and Eck, writer, writer community, writing
When Dark Ships invade the skies over the “Nown” World, the invaders bring with them horrendous terrors for which no one is prepared to face. As entire villages begin to disappear, the world enters a new Dark Age. King Jatel and Queen Karen join forces once again with their friends and awaken ancient magic, giving them their only chance at freedom. Amid war, vampires, dragons, and widespread genocide, the “Nown” World welcomes the glorious return of the most valiant warrior it’s ever known!
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Detective Alex Hunter stumbles into darkness after a drunk driver careens into his wife and daughter, killing them instantly. Off the force, two years pass and he lands in private investigations and the edge of the underworld. When Arthur Garland offers him just the kind of job he can’t turn down, all hell breaks loose. Not only is Garland’s past unsettling, he is also the owner of a new property Alex is buying on Crystal Creek. He’d been turned on to the sale by a mysterious figure so now with every nerve firing and red flags flying, the wiry detective has a mystery to solve – one that he is already in too deep. Discovering how this all started with a detective not unlike himself over a century ago does little to soothe his soul. Then, and now, the answer to the mystery of Crystal Creek may lay with a phantom man wearing an old black hood.
CS Caspar’s novel, Hoodie Black, starts out with a tone not unlike an autobiography told in first person. The supernatural, however, has already come knocking within the first page. Deft descriptions of street trash mingle with demons from the start, I was taken with this dark view of the world. With a distinctive noire flair, the tale unfurls smooth as a red carpet making it easy to stroll on in to this tale and take a seat.
Harkening back to the best Twilight Zone or Creepshow stories, there are ghastly legacies, surreal paintings, tales regaled and of course much of that creeping darkness to be found. And not to say that lightly, Hoodie Black starts out with so many of the genres fairest delights like this so it easily hooks any fan of mystery and horror. On top of all the modern notes this story hits, there is an ancient foundation like something from the Brothers Grimm or older fables, the storytelling quickly becomes deeply layered, making any reader curious how it is all going to converge and when. Truly one of the more remarkable tricks is creating tension simply with that idea – how will this converge and when – CS Caspar has accomplished this tension in the first fifth of the novel.
For some, the tiptoe between a hard-boiled thriller and fairy tale or religious elements may be off putting. The tone may take a little to get used to once the book is at full speed since we are so accustomed to being in one state or genre instead of three at once. For those that enjoy genre-bending dark fiction, Hoodie Black is a very fun read. Culminating in battles between the very ideas of good and evil we are taken between first person narration and a more comfortable third-person point of view. The landscapes and surreal time-bending lend themselves to being wrenched from one mode of storytelling to the other and this should keep the most finicky of readers rapt with attention.
Pages: 219 | ASIN: B07M74MVB9
Tags: alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, brothers grimm, creepshow, cs caspar, dark fantasy, detective, ebook, fantasy, fiction, ghost, goodreads, hoodie black, horror, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, paranormal, private investigator, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, smashwords, story, supernatural, suspense, thriller, Twilight Zone, underworld, writer, writer community, writing
A dark otherworld exists alongside ours, because the true meaning of our convictions lie in the rhythm of time. What we believe is time, may find its answer in our greatest fears.
I am ancient evil. A malignant, vile creature older than humanity. Legion is my name and my power originates deep inside the primitive core of your fears. I exist because you live between the spaces of Light and Darkness. You are here, steeped in half light and shadows, but at the same time, somewhere else living in denial . . . Hoodie Black
Crystal creek isn’t like any other house. Victor Garland, built it for his mad son Harrison.
It all started long before 1835 when Harrison disappeared and no one could find him. However, eight days later, he returned home, a little starved, a little dirty and a little mad. . . and he didn’t come alone.
It’s 2015 when Alex Hunter, a private detective, still grieving the loss of his wife and only daughter, buys the long abandoned Crystal creek. And it isn’t long before he meets the former owner, Victors` great grandson, Arthur Garland. Arthur leads Alex into an incredible story about the house, a family curse, a murderous ancestor, and a past that won’t let go.
While murders are piling up, and Alex’s former convictions about the house are crumbling. Two immortals come to his aid. One is an Assassin, the other an Angel. When the Assassin offers Alex a deal, and if he succeeds, he will have the chance to turn back time and save his wife and daughter from the accident. He accepts the challenge. However, as we all know. Everything comes at a price.
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As an Evil Force grows within the “Nown” World, peaceful nations wage war on one another, for no apparent reason.
Meanwhile, Karen (Formerly Ka-Ron the Knight) returns home after her adventures and accepts her new identity as a woman. She learns that in her absence Idoshia has become a fallen, conquered nation and the Royal Family are prisoners in their own castle, leaving her as the people’s one and only hope. She battles everything from Elves to Vampires with the soul of her beloved country at stake, in what will be remembered as “THE LURKER WAR.”
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In the science fiction genre, many stories share similar plots. The authors, Grant Elliot Smith and Steven H. Stohler, in their co-venture, Rathen: Into Bramblewood Forest, expertly utilize concepts from great sci-fi classics. With this they create a very entertaining story that keeps readers rooting for the protagonist, Rathen, and his crew throughout their quest to vanquish evil from their world and other worlds in the galaxy.
The story begins roughly a year after the first book left off in a dark scene where Rathen and his companions—Bandark and Rulo—nervously approach a terrible foe that is capable of destroying the group with his magical ability that allows him control of many elements and also the dead. The result of this meeting then forms a core group that joins in a quest in search of a powerful book called The Book of Ziz that will allow its wielders to vanquish a terrorizing deity known as Gothoar. The story has much more depth as the characters face personal issues and other forms of conflict as the story unfolds.
One concept that makes this book a great read is the discussion of social dynamics through the interaction of fictional races. The group contains several humans, a lich, a half-orc, and people from other worlds in their fold. Therefore, the authors found a way to talk about and resolve racial conflicts. The details of the story show that some people have to live in certain neighborhoods and have to be defensive regarding their heritage. Thack, a capable warrior who is half human and orc, has apparently had a history of racial persecution because he chose to live in an area away from his home where he has found acceptance, but with the introduction of a love interest, feels defensive about his mixed heritage to seek acceptance.
Other social issues like gender disparity are discussed. Caswen—a healer—and her sister Drynwen—a protector—feel gender bias in their organization and have to fight harder to receive missions than their male counterparts. This book seeks to show that the bias others hold can often overshadow dreams and skills. The sisters get their opportunity to sharpen their skills on the road. They find their niche amongst the team allowing them to shine brighter than many of their order back home.
Rathen is able to shed new light on old tropes. Most everyone is familiar with the hero and company on a quest to save the world from destructive foe. The story adds plenty of depth through the implementation of human nature with nonhuman characters and the exploration of human tendencies like the search for redemption, acceptance, contentment, immortality, and even revenge in some cases. Smith and Stohler did a fantastic job telling a story that goes much deeper than the words on the pages; their work sticks with their readers well after the words are read.
Pages: 282 | ASIN: B07HWNK13Z
Tags: adventure, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, bramblewood, coming of age, dark fantasy, ebook, evil, fantasy, goodreads, grant elliot smith, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, magic, nook, novel, publishing, race, rathen, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, shelfari, smashwords, space, space opera, steven stohler, story, travel, writer, writer community, writing
Right from the very beginning the book has an air of suspense. The plot unfolded easily and the characters were easy to understand and like. All of this led me to flipping pages quickly. We are immediately introduced to Talwyn Sevi and her mother and sister running through the woods. The author expertly narrates how the three had been running away, passing through the woods and even hiding. I had no idea what they were running from but my anticipation was high, and I wanted to know more.
The story got juicier when I got to know Talwyn’s age. She was over three hundred years old, and all she was having were memories. The other interesting thing was that the events in her dream-memory had happened when she was just 8 years old. That was such a long time to remember some things. I loved that during their time, her people could live for over eight hundred years. I tried imagining how life was for them, and how they viewed life seeing that one could live for centuries. The other exciting thing was that Talwyn’s people didn’t experience adolescence until they were twenty-five or thirty years old. Thinking about it, it made sense because a thirty-year-old could not be described as a full adult considering how long they lived. This is reminiscent, for me, of the depth of lore found in well developed series like Dungeon’s and Dragons, or The Lord of the Rings series.
I enjoyed Talwyn character, she was not only loving but also cared for the people around her. I loved her sense of humor and how she was able to bring moments of levity into dark situations. Her whole personality was lovely. I, however, didn’t understand why she kept questioning her clear memory. As much as some of the things she remembered were unpleasant, I would not have minded having a memory as good as hers. Overall, Talwyn was my favorite character. Anwyl was another character I admired (I know, it sounds like every character is my favorite). Being the greatest metallurgist the seers had ever seen was an achievement. Anwyl was the only being Talwyn had who had been allowed access to the mountain. I love that he was useful, as most fantasy novels give someone a job with no real use; he mined rare metal and made whatever the dragonkin needed. I really loved the traits in the characters. That the shifters could shift between human and animal form at will was eccentric, but amusing regardless.
The Dragon Shifters At Southgate: Seers Book II is a creative piece of literature with an action-packed plot and well developed characters in a world with a rich backstory. This book has an enthralling story line that constantly hints at something larger. The author’s writing style is simple, making it easily accessible by anyone, and her way of narrating the story naturally capture’s the reader’s interest.
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House of Pain is a uniquely creative story unlike any fantasy story I’ve come across. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this novel?
For the setting of this story, I imagined what could happen if we continue the self-destructive path we seem to be walking. Wars, hatred, greed, power-hungry politicians. I’ve always worried about the possibility of a nuclear war, but what if Mother Nature herself finally got fed up and decided to help wipe us out? The little, insignificant people are usually the ones who suffer most. I imagined those in power wouldn’t hesitate to call on demons for help if they thought they could maintain control over them. And, as with most arrogant people, they have no idea what they’re getting into.
Maggie is a human-demon hybrid who grew up in a whorehouse, but still manages to hold onto her humanity. What were the driving ideals behind her character?
Maggie represents all of us who struggle with our dark half to hold to good. It would have been easier for her to let go and embrace her evil side, but she held tight to her dream of one day having a family to love and who loved her. Of course, as in real life, she couldn’t fight this battle alone. Maggie understood the concept of love and goodness because center stage in her horrible childhood were three men, her handlers, who pushed her toward another path, one where she didn’t need to hurt others. Under almost impossible circumstances, they helped her develop a conscious, gave her choices. Though obviously exaggerated with Maggie, I used my own struggles trying to raise my daughter to show the difficulties we face as parents in today’s world. There are so many distractions fighting for our children’s attention, and much of it not good. It’s difficult to try to keep them on the right path?
The world in this story is a dark post-apocalyptic Earth and I enjoyed the unique backstory. Did you develop the backstory before writing or did it develop organically while writing?
The backstory came first. Watching the news, it worried me to think about a possible nuclear war and what it would do to our planet. I also noticed that we appeared to be having more and more natural disasters and I wondered if Mother Nature had finally had enough of our abuse and decided to fight back. But no matter what happened, I imagined some people would find a way to survive. But how? This is where the demons came into play and the people who thought they could control them. There will always be evil in the world, but I believe there will always be good too. The real question is can good win over evil? I believe it can. Maggie became my representation of this battle. Daniel, her love interest, and his young son were her reward for holding strong. They gave her hope for a new and better life, one I think we all strive for.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
I’m working on a Science Fiction Romance called Claimed by Nicolai right now. It is an alien abduction story involving a young woman from Oregon. My novels tend to revolve around the woman in the story, how she must fight for her own path in life and not just depend on a man to provide what he thinks she needs. Love can develop from this struggle, but it needs to be a relationship where both parties are equal. Claimed by Nicolai will be published by Crimson Cloak Publishing sometime in the spring of 2019.
Maggie Shelbador is a half-breed succubus with a heart. Though raised inside one of the worst whorehouses in the world, all she wants is to find one man who will love her despite what she is. She dreams of one day being free of her nightmarish life but fears no man will ever truly trust her.
The year is 3515 and most of the world has been destroyed by a combination of natural disasters and man’s neglect. The whole human race faces extinction. To survive, the leaders of the day approach demons for help, not understanding the high price they will be forced to pay. Normally bound by the summoner’s magic, the demons know Maggie is the key to giving them free access to Earth.
Daniel is a widower with a young son. He is out hunting one day when his settlement is attacked and his son abducted. He tracks them to House of Pain, not realizing a trap is being set for him. Though tortured, Daniel refuses to break when they try to force him to prostitute himself—until a beautiful blonde woman is brought into the room, her power stripping away his self-control.
Posted in Interviews
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