Literary Titan Book Awards May 2018
The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.
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Underneath it All, She’s a True Monster
Redemption details the rise and fall of a line of vampires dominating Clarke’s Summit, which is home to a plague dating back to the 1700’s. What attracts you to vampire fiction?
I grew up watching a lot of horror and sci-fi, although it was some time before I got into reading any of the literature. I think the first thing that attracted me to vampire fiction was the story potential in their great longevity, the fact that they are virtually immortal. Another compelling aspect of vampire fiction is the fundamental struggle they represent between light and darkness, good and evil, and how people can be seduced by their desire for power, immortality, and even sexual desire.
In one scene in Redemption, the vampire Lydia illustrates this for us in how she tempts Mike Gaston with the fact that she has remained beautiful and unaffected by age or disease in over two hundred years. I think this is one reason why the vampire genre has grown “softer” in recent decades, with television shows like Forever Knight and films like the Twilight Series: A lot of people want what vampires have – power, beauty, immortality – and they’re doing their best to try and capture these elements while skirting the darker side of the legend. This is a major factor in why I wrote the Descendent Darkness series as I did. To phrase it biblically, vampirism is “a covenant with death and an agreement with hell.” I wanted to return to the core of the legend: vampires as the living dead, seduced by an inhuman darkness that is at war with the light.
Lydia, an ancient vampire is seeking vengeance on the three remaining members of the town’s founders. I found her character to be well developed. What was your inspiration for her character?
First off, I went with a female because females are traditionally the victims in vampire literature, and I thought it would be interesting to depict one as a master for a change. Frankly, I’m surprised that it hasn’t been done more often.
As to her character, I drew it from the description Richard Gaston provides of her in Redemption, as one who has turned her back on the light and the image of God. She’s not a victim; she actually chose to be what she is. She is the embodiment of deliberate, calculating evil, a force that feeds on the living world like a parasite. Mike Gaston describes her eyes as “thin ice over deep water,” and this is also illustrative of her character. Her human facade is just that; underneath it all, she’s a true monster, and was even before she became one of the living dead.
This is book three in the Descendant Darkness series. What were some new things you wanted to introduce into your series in this book, and what were some thing you felt had to stay the same?
The original title of this book was End Game, and that sums up the approach I took with it. The first book set the stage and lined up the pieces. The second book set them into motion. The third book is all-out war, a fight to the death. With this one, I had to bring all of the various elements I had established together, intersect all of the characters and plotlines, and resolve the whole mess in a believable fashion. That was the main thing that had to change: I couldn’t run independent subplots anymore. Everything had to mesh.
As for what needed to stay the same, well, the best stories are character-driven, and it was my primary task to ensure that established characters continued to be the people readers had come to know, even though they found themselves in new situations.
Will there be a book 4 in the Descendent Darkness series? If so, what would that story be about and when would it be available?
No, the book series is complete. I’ve told the story I wanted to tell and don’t have anything else to add, although I will miss Mike and Holly. It’s amazing how characters tend to grow on you through the writing process. I originally conceived of the series with a truly dark ending, but as the story developed I found that I couldn’t let it go that way. The characters themselves ended up driving the plot.
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“Now boast to me again, old man. Tell me what strength there is in you to contend with me.”
After twenty-one years, that which the men of Clarke’s Summit feared most has been realized. The evil they prayed would stay buried for eternity has risen, intent on destroying those who imprisoned it and drawing their loved ones into darkness.
In the war between good and evil, victory can be had only at the price of blood. Now as Mike and Richard Gaston race against the coming night, and those they care for most fall around them, they must prepare to offer the most precious blood of all on the altar of their family’s redemption.
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Descendent Darkness: Redemption
A.J. Macready’s Redemption, book three in the Descendant Darkness series, details both the rise and fall of a line of vampires dominating the mountains of Virginia. Deemed “America’s Transylvania,” Clarke’s Summit is home to a plague of sorts dating back to the 1700’s and a rash of murders in 1982. Sheriff Stan Pryor finds himself facing a terrifying night of death and retribution in Clarke’s Summit in 2003 when the town is again host to the vile and nefarious acts of Lydia, a vampire of old seeking vengeance on the three remaining members of the town’s founders. Richard Gaston, Tom Campbell, and Father Ryan Bennett are left to face Lydia’s wrath.
Macready’s Redemption is as filled with action as it is brimming with rich characters. From beginning to end, readers are left breathless with the anticipation of Lydia’s next move. There are few, if any, breaks between chaotic and harrowing scenes. The energy is high throughout the book, and the meetings between the citizens of the cursed Clarke’s Summit township build to an almost exhausting level.
As a first-time reader of Macready’s Descendant Darkness, I wasn’t sure who to peg as the main character right out of the gate. The longer I read, the more I realized that Macready’s main character is the vampire storyline in and of itself. Though each of the characters is memorable and comes with a strong backstory, no one character stands out as the focus of the storyline. Sheriff Pryor helps to set up the premise of book three while Richard Gaston, his son Mike, and Tom Campbell (the vampire hunters, as it were) work as a cohesive unit to battle Lydia, her heinous attacks, and life-altering mind games. Even Lydia, a vivid protagonist, can’t be pointed out as the book’s sole focus. I found this particular choice in the writing to be quite appealing.
I have always been intrigued by the notion that some aspects of truth are embedded in folklore. That being said, one of my favorite elements in Macready’s writing was the inclusion of excerpts from local newspapers describing historic events and the details surrounding what the town deems the “Clarke’s Summit Blood Cult.” The lengths to which Macready has gone to give his vampire tale credibility are impressive. I found myself as absorbed in the passages from the Shenandoah Observer as I was in the lengthy and involved action sequences.
One of the most striking facets of Macready’s vampires is their ability to manipulate the minds of their victims. Throughout the book, Lydia is able to inject her own words into their thoughts and, essentially, control their actions. These episodes are peppered throughout the plot, and each one brings a chill.
Any fan of vampire stories will find this book appealing and engaging. The author expertly incorporates the backstories of Lydia and the vampire-hunting descendants into this third installment. With side stories paralleling those of the book’s main cast of characters, Macready provides mystery, suspense, and action in one neat package.
Pages: 290 | ASIN: B06XPHDPB6
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The Most Frightening Element
Legacy is the second installment in the Descendent Darkness where families are torn apart, truths exposed and the Gaston family finally learn the dark history of their past. What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story?
The first major point I wanted to drive home was the fact that, at least as far as this universe is concerned, a vampire’s greatest strength lies in its ability to mentally dominate people, to confuse them, and even to turn them against one another. This is a key element of the vampire’s strategy when it comes to trapping the Gastons and their allies. Before they can figure out what’s happening, the vampire already has its pieces on the board and in motion, and they have no idea they’re being manipulated until it’s much too late. I felt that this element gave the story something of a unique twist compared to other works I’m familiar with in the genre.
Once again the beautiful bond between siblings Mike and Holly Gaston continues to grow deeper. What was your inspiration for creating the kind of relationship that Mike and Holly have?
I deliberately tried to steer away from themes that I feel have become overused in the genre. A prominent example of one such theme is the underlying love story. It goes something like this:
- Guy and girl fall in love.
Vampire sets its sights on the girl and tries to make her his own.
Guy sets out to the stop the vampire and save his lady love.
The old Hammer film “Dracula has Risen from the Grave” is a notable example of this basic storyline.
I set out to work the male/female dynamic in a different way here, and the most natural, alternative approach to take was a sibling relationship. You still have a strong bond of love to work with, but it’s different than romantic love and this difference allows you to work the story in ways you otherwise couldn’t. Also, since you’re dealing with two people who grew up together, you have all sorts of potential for backstory, which I make heavy use of in Legacy. In this episode of the story, you see more of what has made Mike and Holly as close as they are. As Holly herself thinks of it, they’re survivors, knitted together rather like people who have been through the crucible of war together.
The supernatural creatures in the story were vicious, twisted souls that were really brought to life in vivid detail. What was your method for creating such scary creatures and scenes?
Basically, I took the most frightening elements of vampires as I’ve seen them portrayed in the past and lumped them together. Also, I removed their humanity. In many stories, especially those that have come out in the last twenty-five years or so, vampires are portrayed as people who suffer from a disease; essentially still human but subject to dark impulses that they can’t control (the TV shows Dark Shadows and Forever Knight are examples of this). In this story, however, vampires are pure, demonic, unredeemable evil, hearkening back to Christopher Lee’s portrayal of Count Dracula, and to the vampires we see in the 1972 film The Night Stalker and the 1979 miniseries Salem’s Lot.
Where does the story go in the next book and where do you see it going in the future?
The third book, Redemption, is the final book in the series and brings the story to a definitive conclusion. The second part of the vampire’s scheme for revenge plays out, leading to a confrontation that many of the novel’s characters will not survive. Readers will find the Gastons pushed to the limits of their endurance. The history of Clarke’s Summit and its curse is fleshed out more fully, and we learn more about the nature of the enemy; there are actually two types of vampires, and the distinctions between them are discussed (this touches on your previous question about how I visualized them for this story, and why they are so twisted). We also see why Mike and Holly are so important in the vampire’s plans.
In short, everything comes full circle. The major themes of this novel are sacrifice and, as the title suggests, redemption.
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Wherever they were when it happened, the residents of Clarke’s Summit, Virginia, knew that something had changed. All throughout the town and its surrounding area, doors were locked and curtains drawn. The night had become their enemy, concealing something darker than itself. A madman’s desperate act of devotion has unleashed a horror in their midst, a fear they had hoped would stay buried forever.
Now, as darkness falls again and his family is torn apart, Mike Gaston will finally learn the truth. The truth of what really happened to his mother and all the others in 1982. The truth behind the nightmares.
The truth of his family’s legacy of evil.
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Descendent Darkness: Legacy
Legacy, by A.J. Macready, is the second installment in the Descendent Darkness series and returns to visit the families of Clarke’s Summit; a seemingly innocent town ridden with the darkest of secrets. Families will be torn apart, truths will be exposed and the Gaston family will finally learn the dark history of their past. When evil comes a knockin’, no family will be prepared for the deadly consequences that occur. Lives will be shattered when the demon that haunts Mike Gaston’s nightmare is finally brought to light. Who is the mysterious woman that has possessed his nightmares?
Legacy– Powerful in name, powerful in nature. Within the first few pages of Legacy, the reader is instantly given a feel as to what type of horrors they may encounter- a creature that can be “stronger, faster, and have greater sensory perception than man” and most importantly- be able to out reason them. And Legacy did not disappoint. The supernatural creatures were vicious, twisted souls that will be sure to give the most avid horror fans the heebie-jeebies.
The clues may be lined up like dominoes but with evil knocking on the door, Ally, Holly, Mike and the rest of the town will be faced with a supernatural presence unlike no other. Questions will be answered and fates will be sealed as we embark on another supernatural roller coaster with the people of Clarke’s Summit. Favorite characters will return and Macready delivers a sequel that will not disappoint. If you enjoyed the first book in the series, then I can promise you- the second one is even better.
The story flits between various families within the town which allow the reader to experience an almost movie like feel when reading the novel. The fear, the passion and the horrors twisted into the plot, created a sense of urgency and at times I genuinely began to feel scared! Much like a horror movie, I found myself mentally yelling at the characters to stay back, or to run away. I applaud Macready’s use of language and skill that created an air of suspense throughout the entire novel. Macready also plays on fears that many of us have had- the quiet darkness of when you are alone outside, the noises you hear when you are tucked up in bed and the nightmares that have you questioning whether they are real or imagined.
Rather than focusing on the romantic relationships, Legacy will draw you to the importance of family ties and once again we are treated with the beautiful bond between siblings Mike and Holly Gaston. Loyal and understanding, this sibling duo will find themselves facing off with vampire style evils who wear faces of those that they least expect.
I would would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a thriller/horror style plot line with a big spoonful of supernatural surprises. I could honestly see this novel being turned into a movie and I look forward to reading the other books in the series!
Pages: 173 | ASIN: B017SDSXKU
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Descendent Darkness was Born
Stirring is a thrilling supernatural novel that sets a towns families against nightmares and tortured souls of evil that will pull them into the depths of their darkest days. What was the inspiration for the setup to this suspenseful novel?
I grew up watching monster movies – vampire movies in particular – with my mom. We especially liked the Hammer film series, starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, and The Night Stalker films and TV series, starring Darren McGavin. Also highly influential on me was the Salem’s Lot miniseries that aired in 1979, starring David Soul and James Mason. Dark Shadows and other such films and television series also played a role in developing my take on the genre.
I started writing stories in earnest when I was a young teenager, and that’s really when Descendent Darkness was born. It was one of the first ideas that I began developing, and was partially born out of a weird experience I had. I got up early one summer morning, well before sunrise, and went out for a walk near a wooded area of our neighborhood. From a distance, I saw a man walking under a street light, and not far behind him, coming up quickly, was a woman with a very creepy expression on her face. Being the imaginative sort, I thought: What if she were a vampire? What if she was stalking the guy and about to jump him and drag him off into the woods? From there, I started down the Night Stalker/Salem’s Lot path, thinking on the subject of how vampires would operate in the modern world.
As for the setting, my family is from the Shenandoah Valley. It’s such an old area, and so full of history, that it seemed a natural location for a story of this type. The mountains have a mysterious quality to them that isn’t easy to put into words.
Stirrings is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a mystery, crime, and drama as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
It was definitely an organic thing. I had a basic story outline formed in my mind, but it changed many times after I started writing and getting to “know” my characters. I had to figure out how to bring vampires into the real world, and that meant dealing with real world issues in an unreal situation: How would the murders be explained? How would law enforcement deal with the situation, given that outsiders would never believe the truth? How would real people react to genuinely encountering the supernatural? What effect would keeping secrets about these things have on people over time? How would relationships change? How would a real vampire seek to protect itself and take victims in the modern world?
All of these considerations caused the story to branch out in many directions and develop a number of layers.
The relationship between the siblings Holly and Mike is intricate and relateable as they battle together, sacrificing their souls to save their family. What were the driving ideals that drove the characters development throughout the story?
Their parents raised them with a strong sense of family loyalty, but the tragic loss of their mother drove them together in a particularly strong way. They share a bond, not only as siblings but also as survivors. Books two and three reveal more of their background and illustrate why they have the relationship they do. This is a key aspect of the story as it moves forward.
Stirrings is book one in the Descendent Darkness series. Where does book two, Legacy, take readers?
Legacy picks up immediately where Stirrings leaves off. The curse the men of the town hoped they had buried forever has finally been set free, and the number one item on its agenda is vengeance. A game of cat-and-mouse is set into motion, with the mice unaware of the game until they’re already caught up in it. We learn something of the true extent of a vampire’s powers and even delve into their origins.
Legacy contains more action and further develops the main characters. The reader also meets some new characters who will factor heavily into the events of the final book. It’s here that everything blows up and the secrets come out, setting up the end game.
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In 1982, three men in rural Clarke’s Summit, Virginia, faced an ancient terror, a curse that reached for them from out of the distant past, threatening to destroy them and to draw everyone they loved into everlasting darkness. Together, they paid the ultimate price and drove the shadows back, burying the secret of Clarke’s Summit for what they hoped would be all time.
Now, twenty-one years later, Richard Gaston, deputy sheriff Tom Campbell, and Father Ryan Bennett fear that the power they once defeated may be growing strong once again, ready to break free of its prison. For another amongst them – a tortured soul who was once the bondservant of evil – there can be no doubt. A familiar voice is taunting him, calling him back into the service of darkness.
And for Richard’s son and daughter, Mike and Holly Gaston, the nightmares they’ve had all their lives are about to take shape in the real world.
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Descendent Darkness: Book One: Stirrings, begins in 1982 in Clarkes Summit, Virginia, where an evil curse causes unimaginable horrors to the town’s favourite families. Fast forward 21 years later and three men are once again facing the terrors they thought they had diminished forever. Richard Gaston, Father Ryan Bennett and deputy sheriff Tom Campbell find themselves facing nightmares and tortured souls of evil that will pull them into the depths of their darkest days. This skin prickling adventure will bring your nightmares to reality as they face an evil, cold presence; guaranteed to chill you to your bones.
Descendent Darkness, Stirrings, written by A. J. Macready is a supernatural novel set with a dash of crime and drama. There are tortured souls, family bonds and mysterious servants of darkness in this edge of your seat vampire styled thriller. The story line follows several families as they face horrors and challenges that will threaten the relationships of everyone involved. Hold tight as you are thrown into an adventure where the characters fight evil even when they are in the shadows of exhaustion- in order to save the ones they love. The story will leave you hungry for more, as bullets race across the page and violent killers storm through the darkest of nights.
Unlike a typical demon styled novel, Stirrings storyline is complex and filled with clues and details that far surpass any other supernatural story I’ve read for some time. Forget the Twilight era, this novel is filled with the traditional scares and fight scenes fit for a warrior. I found myself unable to turn away as I dove deeper into the novel, growing attached to the characters and their unknown fate.
The characters in Stirrings are surprisingly relatable and the fear for what may be lurking in the dark is a feeling we have all experienced. The relationship between the siblings Holly and Mike Gaston is one to be marvelled as they battle odds together, sacrificing their bodies and souls to pursue a mission with the belief that nothing is more important than family. As well as being siblings, they have a beautiful friendship and you can feel how much they genuinely care for one another as they battle against the odds. However it seems their family are bound for tragedy and the reader will feel emotionally connected to each family member as they fight for what they believe to be right.
Macready’s marvellous way of using descriptive language will have you huddled up and feeling the chills on the back of your neck. I found myself peering around the corner wondering if the cool breeze was the wind or was actually evil materialising its face in the darkness. The narration flows easily and feels like a picture is painted on the page with how beautifully the story is presented.
This is a heart-stopping novel and would recommend this to anybody who loves supernatural stories mixed with crime, drama and friendship. I look forward to reading the other stories in the series!
Pages: 199 | ASIN: B016WLQTS2
Posted in Book Reviews, Five Stars
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