The Sounds from the Hills Go Away When the Sun Goes Down explores the lives of three “downtrodden, gutter-decrepit, low-living” people as they battle with their demons while leaning on one another. What were some of the stand out moments for you when writing this story?
Stand out moments… I would have to say some of the quieter, more introspective scenes in which the three main characters collide with from time to time. These moments of theirs are aimed to define them or break them entirely, or both. Particularly, some scenarios in which a resolution is expected to eventually come to fruition, but never does, because many times in life that is what happens. Or a resolution won’t be surmised for an unfathomably long time, and during those long stretches we can either take it in stride with patience, or die.
Once again you are able to amaze me with some realistically gritty characters. Where does the seed for a character start and what is your process for developing them through the story?
In most cases, any character I write, whether he or she is a major character or just an ornament on a mantle in the background, I begin with myself… as I’m sure most writers do. But where the emotion comes from, generally when I’m alone at night after a really, truly bad day at work. The birth of a character’s emotions can also come from the moments immediately following a delicious meal I’ve just enjoyed. So I can’t really say there’s one single place it all comes from. Almost every character I write, they start out as one type, and by the end of the book they become something entirely unintended, and not just because of the story. But because somewhere during the months of which the writing takes place, I think that a part of me sometimes changes depending on what’s going on in my own life, and sometimes… not always- but sometimes that bleeds out onto the page.
The title for this book is interesting. What was the inspiration for the title, and why did you choose a blank cover?
The cover was once full of color and pretty chaotic. But once I finished the first draft and really took a step back to look at everything, I felt a certain pull towards The Beatles’ White Album. And the theme of purity. In the book, the purity of the human soul is constantly at stake, whether it was lost long ago and there might be a chance to regain a sliver of it, or it’s literally on the brink of total collapse. How that theme is encompassed by all of the characters and where it steers them through their adventures, which can take them in very random directions, or keep them on a steady “forward” path, was a big part of why I chose the cover to be what it was. In a way, it serves as a figurative blank slate, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. The title, on the other hand, went through probably the most changes I’ve ever shifted through while writing a book. The title began as something very simple, I can’t remember exactly but it was very one or two-worded. Boring. And didn’t at all convey anything. The title that I landed on at the very end, I feel, paints a picture of emotion. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with any physical scene of the book, and for everyone I think it will be different. But for me, when I read the title, I picture a very, incredible quiet night. Like taking a deep breath, and being engulfed by absolute relief that the day is over with.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book I’m currently working on is another story involving Arlo Smith, of The Mire Man Trilogy. The book takes place between the events of Book II and Book III, during his mid-twenties, where he meets a person who introduces him to really good jazz, and a very particular kind of nightlife away from home, when “home” starts to sometimes feel like a prison. It’s a sort of a love-letter to Kerouac’s “On the Road”. It’s tentatively titled “Electric Gypsies Beneath the Whiskey Tree”, and I hope to have it finished by next year some time.
Boots and Bonnets Inn, an isolated motel of questionable quality positioned just outside Moab, Utah, is home and haven to a handful of self-proclaimed societal outcasts who for better, worse, or much worse, have found their way here just in time to live out the rest of their lives. Among these longstayers is Wendel Trope, a slightly overweight almost-nihilist who survives within this little realm of “contentedness” by exercising his right to medicinal and alcoholic experimentation, while battling ruthless anxiety attacks and the “you owe me for last week’s stay” death stares of Jerry, the hotel owner. Holding his proverbial hand in an off-kilter, symbiotic friendship through this chapter of his life is Fag Bush Betty, the motel’s infamous “anything goes” prostitute, who may have more to her history than simply a catalytic reason to defile her own spirituality. And anchoring Betty, is Lotus, a young girl who harbors a shattered past and an as-of-yet untainted future that will inevitably bring her to the doorstep of Moab’s most unforgiving roadside motel. “THE SOUNDS FROM THE HILLS GO AWAY WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN” is a story without direction, without hope, and most importantly without a beginning or an end. It is simply an examination of the present moment during a fragment of time in the lives of several of what society considers downtrodden, gutter-decrepit, low-living, and expendable, taking place in a corner of the world most only have fleeting nightmares about.
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“Ya know, it’s my understanding that the success rate of funerals is impeccably high.”
The Sounds from the Hills Go Away When the Sun Goes Down is the latest book by author Dave Matthes. I very much enjoyed the style and tone of Dave Matthes’s writing. The story is about what Matthes describes as “an examination of the present moment during a fragment of time in the lives of several of what society considers downtrodden, gutter-decrepit, low-living, and expendable, taking place in a corner of the world most only have fleeting nightmares about.” In the story, we follow several characters. Wendel Trope battles his anxiety attacks with alcohol, Jerry, the owner of the run-down hotel where the story takes place, Bush Betty, a prostitute, and Lotus, a young girl struggling with her past. This collection of characters creates a strange community that holds each other up. The relationships between the characters were one of my favorite parts of this story. The peculiar and subtle interaction of people who haven’t known each other long but are connected by struggles and traumas.
The morbid humor of the book fits perfectly with the setting and the characters. That being said the subjects of this book are pretty dark, including a suicide early on, so if you find yourself triggered by these kinds of subjects this might not be the book for you. The way Matthes deals with these emotional subjects throughout the book is done with a gritty artistic class. He is not afraid to talk death, addiction, and mental illness, subjects that are often considered taboo to speak about. Matthes deals with them in a relatable and real way. They are apart of peoples lives, even if society would prefer to ignore it. The matter of fact tone of the book allows life to stand on its own two feet, not shied away from or glorified. This story was a whirlwind to read as it took me on an emotional roller-coaster. The story itself really captures the moment in time aspect where there doesn’t need to be a grand arc because it is simply a fragment in the lives of people. I very much enjoyed reading this intense book and look forward to delving into more of Matthes’s extensive collection of works. I would definitely give this book five stars and would highly recommend it.
Pages: 350 | ISBN: 1975607597
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Beguiled is about every person who ever had dreams that were interrupted by cultural mores, by discrimination, or by their own shortcomings. Miriam Levine, born in 1900, dreamed of going on stage, until an almost fatal mis-step forced her to postpone her “real life.” A serendipitous offer compelled her to confront her inner demons and society’s expectations. As Glinda, the Good Witch of the South in the Wizard of Oz, she recites at age 16: “You’ve always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”
The story is inspirational for young people and their parents who dearly wish to access the American dream. The historical context of the decades before the Great Depression, the role of immigrants and women’s suffrage parallels tough political dilemmas that the US faces today.
Will Miriam have the gumption to follow her dreams? Will those dreams yield her the happiness she seeks? Or will she find that her childhood fantasies “beguile” her to seek ‘fool’s gold?’
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Douglas Wells’ new book, How We End Up, seeks to become even more intricate and complex then his debut book, The Secret of all Secrets. The reader follows three main characters as their lives come together, only to drift apart and come back together after 25 years. Jackson Levee is an ambitious college instructor when he manages to be in the right place at the right time and saves twin girls from drowning in the Gulf of Mexico. He goes on to write a poem about the event, which brings him acclaim and success. Hadley and Haley, the twins go on to become beautiful women. All three of them are then brought on their heels through various events and it is after two and half decades they meet again to suffer a devastating event together and discover who and what they are as human persons.
At this point, readers familiar with Wells’ more philosophically bent, literary stories and How We End Up is no exception. What has become more refined, is Wells style with incorporating all of these events into a cohesive story. His previous work seemed to have a lot going on, and while it still achieved a particular effect, it wasn’t as polished as this story. In some ways, he uses the layman’s philosophy to a decent effect, but it becomes even more pronounced as the themes of self-identity, purpose and life’s meaning takes center stage.
As much as this book is about Jackson, Haley, and Hadley, it is more about life and what happens to a person over the course of the years. Some readers may have mileage that may vary with this theme, but I believe it makes the novel resonate that much better. In fact, Wells’ inclusion of philosophy serves the novel all the better for serving this theme and given what he has written before he wants to focus on the human condition. We all ask the big questions and reflect on how our lives may have been formed otherwise, but with the intersection of these three lives, it brings this reality to the forefront.
All in all, Wells presents a literary novel that brings all the best sort of introspection and soul gazing that can be given in a reader’s experience. Fans of such fiction will be pleased with this, as are any who enjoy personal intimate stories that are full to the brim with drama. Students of philosophy will appreciate the small tributes and tid bits here and there as well.
Pages: 296 | ASIN: B079VCWS3S
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Beyond Sun and Shadows is a sweeping tale set on an Australian cattle station in 1948 and follows the lives of a small community as their lives are thrown into turmoil by unforeseen circumstances. The setup to this novel is unique and vivid. What were some influences that motivated you to write this story?
This novel is about my own experiences as I have explained in the note in first pages.
My father took me and my brother with him away from boarding colleges out to Roy Hill Station, south of Nullagine in the outback of Western Aust. to Roy Hill station (named Row hill station in the story). That place now belongs to Gina Reinhardt with her copper mines all around. I mentioned that I altered the names in the story. We stayed there and worked for some years until I went To Ethel Creek station down the track to help the Managers wife and children; and my Dad and Brother were moved north to Waterloo Station, near the Northern Territory border. Later on I joined them there. When finding a Lump on my back I was flown to Wyndham on the coast to have it removed. After being there for some weeks, as in my biography, I flew to Darwin and started work there as a clerk
with the Government for over two years.
Everything I wrote included myself (as Lea) and my family. All the story of the station and helping the shearers, mustering, The wet season, and animals are true, as were the staff of aboriginal workers and us going to their camp. We watched them dance and joined in with them clicking sticks in time. One old man Bindi the gardener, used to press his trousers under his mattress.
Some of the characters are from stations I went to during those few years. The main parts of fiction was the two young men who were murdered and the escaped prisoners who turned up there. A few of the events were fiction, but the characters I met there and at other stations were as I found them , except the head shearer who wrote poetry, but all the poetry written in there is mine. The local dialogue is true as it’s written. Many of the things the young daughter and her friend did and felt were my experiences.
This book has a diverse cast of characters. What character was your favorite to write for?
Favourite characters were many – Chipper (not his name), that mailman was fiction, the funny Chinese cook, and the little boy Eric whom I looked after (his name was Micheal). Everything I wrote about Wyndham did happen and were true, even the song they sang. The young girl who lived with her father, the weatherman, was my actual friend there.
I felt that the books themes seem to be humankind’s connection to the land and the pioneering spirit of the Australian people. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
I really hope that people reading my story will understand and realize this is the real outback country, and how the people of the outback come across. Not false or artificial, but as I described them. Their life is is in this land and most of them become part of the free spirit of the country with it red plains and spinifex whirling into the sky as willy willy’s do. Even my poetry in the book symbolizes the land and it inhabitants. I have written many story poems about the outback, the trees, the animals, pioneers and ordinary bush people. Some are humorous, some sad.
An epic adventure story set on the coast and inland, detailing life in Western Australia in 1948 on a sheep and cattle station. This is real outback living where dramatic events can occur and unforgotten shadows effect the everyday lives of others. When the meatworks were in Wyndham, escaped prisoners strike terror… a family and a stockman with unhappy pasts… the mailman finds a strange body on the road… an accident in windy weather… a shearer with talent… a tragic death daunts natives… a minister’s plane crashes… cattle rustlers cause a stampede… three girls lost in the mountain range discover the past… and even love alters lives…
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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
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In Forsaken, we see the changing lives of four women who have come together in friendship, mainly due to Ellen’s faith in God. When Anne’s son is injured by a hit-and-run driver, Ellen’s daughter, Ruthie, receives a message she feels she must deliver, but will the doctors believe a child hears from God? Devastated over their son in a coma, Anne and her estranged husband must find ground to struggle through this overwhelming situation.
Harriet’s love for the child allows her to set aside the fact she has found Marigold to be the daughter she allowed into adoption over twenty years ago. Now the two sit in a hospital room while Harriet wonders how to approach her. Marigold has her own problems; pregnant with complications she cannot reveal because everyone would know she had married Matthew, and his parents are dead set against her.
Life has become nothing but trial and hardship; Bitty’s chief of police has been injured in a drug bust that left one officer dead. Andrew Graves was the suspect’s PR man. Had it not been for one man seeing something worth saving in Andrew, he would be in prison. Now his boss is on trial. Just when they think it can’t get much worse, Ellen’s ex-husband decides if Daniel Gates can’t come up with a certain amount of money, he will declare his right as Ruthie’s father, gain custody, and move Ruthie to Florida.
Will Ellen’s undying faith in the God she believes in sustain her or will she fall?
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The Enigma Ignite is filled with technological advancements, drama, and humor while it assembles an interesting cast of characters to solve a problem with high tech communications. What was the inspiration for the theme of this novel?
Communications avenues have evolved to the point where we can speak over almost any device, often with video included. In our line of professional work using cell towers, satellites and SIP opens up more avenues for conversations to be monitored or masked. Each of our stories focus on the technology capabilities as well as how we use and abuse technology. Those who want to see what is occurring and yet they themselves hide under the radar are only limited by their imagination. A lot like a fictional author, right?
Technology is a lot like art in that it can inspire different interpretations in each person. The difference however is that with technology if you see dark thoughts you can use the product for dark actions. Enhanced communications for the battlefield, the main theme for this story, is just exactly what we were trying to illustrate. We create this brilliant researcher, Su Lin, trying to improve food production and the bad guys have seen the possibilities of her development efforts, yet have mapped it to their purposes in the dark net. The point we are trying to drive home is that no matter what your intentions were there will be some entity capable of morphing it into something never imagined. The problem then becomes how to put the genie back into the bottle?
Your work is able to effortlessly switch between drama and humor. Is that because of the two of you working together? Which one of you do you find lends more levity to your writing?
We do have fun working together to continue the aspects of drama and humor. Burkey has continually tried to learn humor over the years and is improving. The subtle aspects of the humor for the most part in the early stories of the series is Breakfield, however as you get further into the series Burkey comes up with some winning humor aspects. Over the years we have had a lot of humor in heavy drama circumstances when stuck in a horrific late night upgrade. Like the time we had talk down an engineer that ran screaming out of the building with our emergency chocolate pieces. You just can’t make that stuff up. Of course, we can’t tell you who wrote which portions because then we would need to arrange an unfortunate accident for you in a future story.
I found Su Lin and Franklin’s story line to be intriguing all the way around. What was your inspiration for the characters and relationship?
In our experience pigs are creatures who can bind with people, like a dog. They also have some physiology that makes that ideal for this kind of experimentation. Su Lin needed a new way to focus her creative efforts and do something for humanity that would make her feel like the valuable individual she is. Her brilliant character has evolved in the series and we wanted to give her some additional dimension. We honestly felt that putting the two together would interesting. Perhaps we were slightly influenced by the long ago story of a family, a pig, and a spider.
The Enigma Ignite is the third book in the Enigma series. What did you do different in this story to keep things fresh?
The technology keeps our series fresh as it keeps changing and we are in a position to observe its applications. However, it is the characters that give the series a very unique perspective. We have a subject rich pool of people and technology for our award winning techno thriller series. We incorporate the numerous characters, aka business professionals, we have encountered and it simply allows our imaginations to run rampant. Nanotechnology, drones, and military superiority as a mix seemed to play right into our process. The technologies alone don’t matter without the human interactions. The human interaction is more inspiring when they help paint a great story. We believe we balance a great combination of the technologies, research and characters to keep it fresh. We are so delighted you enjoyed it. In subsequent stories some characters, good and bad return, and some simply earn their just desserts. New technology continues to evolve our stories.
What does research to improve animal husbandry to boost global food supplies have in common with next generation high-tech military communications? A Texas university professor, quietly working in her field of study, finds her unconventional communication techniques have put her in the cross-hairs of multiple interested parties. Her applied research of nanotechnology, coupled with new programming methods has gotten her more attention than she wanted.
When the world’s biggest powers compete for superiority, it’s not larger weapons or greater numbers of soldiers that top their wish lists. Instead, it’s leveraging the latest technology improvements: nanotechnology,dynamic programming algorithms, and drones, working together to build the next generation of military communications. But what challenges do they face before emerging as the tall hog at the trough?
As Keith Austin Avery scouts new technology and new applications under his military contract his research draws the attention of a powerful terrorist group, with traumatic consequences for him and his subcontractor Eilla-Zan Marshall. Will they be forced to reveal the confidential military plans? Or is all this information already out on the Dark Net?
The R-Group is engaged to locate terrorists and their captives. Marshaling all data and using sophisticated analytics, they uncover more than they planned. Is there government corruption? Are secrets kept from those who can help? Most importantly, how many will lose their lives in the fight to perfect advanced battlefield communications?
This fast-paced third installment of the Enigma Series,TheEnigma Ignite, has the R-Group’s Jacob Michaels and Petra Rancowski working closely with a powerful and talented team to uncover the newest technological inroads. The technology programs they uncover results in a race against time to save lives.
Award winning authors, Breakfield and Burkey, provide a solid espionage thriller, that incorporates a satisfying balance of technology, tension, surprisingly sensitive romance,and the blurred lines that surround the age-old conflict between good and evil.
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God’s love shines through Ellen’s excitement as she dons the red dress won from the Bridal Shoppe. Daniel has invited all the ladies to attend Hutson’s Ball, but excitement dims as she recalls the animosity between their new neighbors Marigold and Harriet. While Anne’s ex-husband tries to ruin her life, Bitty is miserable because she and the chief of police have called it quits. But Ellen knows hearts are changing thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit. In spite of the women’s resolve to remain aloof, Ellen has faith Jesus can save them and God will keep them. If they could call a truce for one night and enjoy the ball, Ellen would be happy, but what happens is inevitable. Andrew shows up in a drunken stupor and confronts Anne about their son. From there it all becomes interesting as Harriet asserts authority and Bitty is stunned to see another woman on the arm of the chief of police. When Daniel is encountered by Madonna, his old girlfriend, Ellen knows no matter what happens God has a plan for each person. All the elements of God’s grace and forgiveness are seen in Forbidden through the changing of each of these women’s lives. One by one, Ellen knows the Lord will break them down—she only prays that He will do it gently.
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From the Heart, by Sally Forest, is a series of six short stories about human passions and emotions, and how they come to the fore when average people face challenging circumstances. The characters range from a young girl in a troubled household to a group of women dealing with the realities of old age, all from various parts of Australia, the author’s home. With a background in both teaching and psychology, it’s not hard to see her interest in the human condition and how she might have a greater insight into it than most.
The stories certainly feature a wide range of social backgrounds and issues, providing a delightful variation for the reader. The narratives are easy to follow, with focused attention on the plot and a small cast of characters – the author has avoided the unnecessary description that can artificially extend a short story and make for long, boring reading.
At the same time, the writing does come across as almost a “write by numbers”, as all of the stories essentially follow the same traditional dramatic structure, including a sort of moral lesson, or insight, at their conclusion. However, there is a freshness provided by the solid inclusion of multiple female protagonists, who I consider more well-written than the few male ones. They are given realistic passions and thought processes, with their inner strengths shown as much as their perceived outer weaknesses. Sympathetic female characters are sadly hard to come by in fiction, even now, and I have to applaud any attempt to do so.
The choice of language is on the simple side, reflecting the characters’ ordinariness and making it accessible to read. There has been a clear effort to match language use to particular characters as well, such as the descriptions in Mouse Mat; situations are compared to the toys and balloons that would be familiar to the young protagonist narrating it. For non-Australian readers, it’s worth noting the odd piece of dialect included in the collection, although it generally doesn’t distract from the work – skerrick was a new word for me at least!
Mouse Mat was probably my favourite of the stories; my least favourite was Heart Buddies. It is very dialogue-heavy, which is hard to get through, but the paragraphing could also be improved to clarify who is talking and when. This story also includes errors, although not related to the quality of the narrative, still detracts from the work for me – some missed words and punctuation.
From the Heart is a pleasant read. It provides a window into human emotion and how people deal with difficulties in their lives. There are plenty of situations to sympathise with and think about long after reading – the stories are memorable for all of the right reasons.
Pages: 56 | ASIN: B07797S3ZV
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