Blog Archives

From Mystery into Fantastical

Otto Schafer
Otto Schafer Author Interview

The Secret Journal follows two teenagers that uncover a dangerous secret about their town. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting story?

I am a huge fan of archaeology thrillers. I love Indian Jones and National Treasure. The Goonies was my favorite movie as a kid. But I also love fantasy and magic like Tolkien of course, and more modern stuff Like Brent Weeks Lightbringer series. I combined these influences and wrote the book I would want to read.

Petersburg, Illinois was my hometown growing up. It is a beautiful little town full of history and old Victorian era homes. Old Abraham Lincoln himself surveyed the town, and if you visit there you will see it’s a magical place. As a kid, I played in all the mysterious drainage tunnels and I’ve been in some of the basements of those old homes high up on the bluffs. The key locations in the book, including the library, the old Victorian basement, and even the mysterious tunnel are all real, and were described to the best of my memory. So you see, it only made sense Petersburg had to be the setting for the magical story I wanted to tell.

Garrett and Breanne are intriguing and well-developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind their character development?

Garrett is a small-town kid from a blue-collar home who reminded me a lot of myself at his age. The problems I gave him were similar to problems I was going through at his age. Of course, I ramped it up as the story made the transition from mystery into fantastical.

My inspiration for Breanne was inspired by my wife and her father and brothers. I knew I wanted a diverse cast of characters in my book because I value diversity, and I think our culture needs more of it. So writing a young Black girl who wants nothing more than to be a world famous archaeologist like her father was my way of saying to any young girl out there, no matter her culture or background, you can and should be whatever you want to be! I also think it worked well that she couldn’t be any more different than Garrett. He is a poor, small-town kid who has to work side jobs for new shoes and has never really left home. While Breanne is a world traveler, cultured, and incredibly intelligent, yet they are drawn to each other.

I enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this story. Was it planned before writing or did it develop organically while writing?

I am a panster at heart, so I didn’t plot much. I knew what needed to happen by the end of each chapter. I let the characters show me how to get there. Sometimes, I sat back in my chair completely surprised by the path they chose to take. Now that I am working on the third book of the series I plot a little more, but I still let the characters take me away and I am still surprised on a regular basis with the directions they choose to go.

This is book one in your God Stones series. What can readers expect in book two?

In ‘The Secret Journal’ I took readers on a suspenseful mystery where the intensity built chapter by chapter. By the end of the book it is obvious all hell is about to break loose. From the early pages of Book 2 ‘The Keepers of the Light’ that is exactly what happens, and it doesn’t stop. The action picks up as the teens fight for their lives, come to terms with their new reality, and try to save the world. The magic picks up too as we continue to transition from ‘real world’ ‘to a world suddenly saturated in a magic that wasn’t meant for us. I should mention, Book 2, ‘The Keepers of the Light’ is out now and I am hard at work on the 3rd book!

Author Links: GoodReads | Instagram | Facebook | Website

A history hidden from the world. A truth long sought, but better left unfound. Will two teenagers survive the magical secrets they unearth?
Oak Island, Nova Scotia. Breanne Moore blames herself for her mother’s tragic death. So when her archaeologist father is invited on an exciting new dig, she’s determined to tag along and keep him safe. But as the mystery leads them closer to the island’s secret, Breanne’s dreams are filled with visions of a strange boy she’s never met… and a world of flaming carnage.
Petersburg, Illinois. Sixteen-year-old Garrett Turek is the unofficial leader of his fellow outcasts. Grappling with a volatile relationship with his stepfather, he avoids his home life by helping an eccentric accountant restore a historic Victorian house. But when he and his crew stumble on a crusty journal in the basement, Garrett uncovers a dead president’s key to a secret world-saving society.
As Breanne and her dad seek clues to a treasure hidden deep beneath the surface, they trigger a dangerous magic that should have stayed dormant forever. And when Garrett closes in on the truth, he’ll question everything he thought he knew and find trust in a girl from far away as they prepare to battle a dangerous foe.
Can the two would-be heroes fulfill a powerful prophecy and save the planet from destruction?
The Secret Journal is the first book in the sensational God Stones YA contemporary fantasy series. If you like unusual pairings, well-researched historical backgrounds, and heated suspense, then you’ll love Otto Schafer’s coming-of-age adventure.
Destiny awaits those brave enough to turn the page!

Very Hard to Kill

Ben Meeks Author Interview

Petrified finds the state of Georgia under siege when demons threaten to bring the Keepers to their knees. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting story?

It started when a friend sent me an article about a werewolf mythology from Scotland called Wulver. I based the Keepers of them. What I loved about them was that they were so much different than other mythologies. As someone with a deep love for shifters, it was exciting to find a story that I could expand on the traditional tropes.

Obie is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind the characters development?

As a rule, a Keeper has to be hard. Keepers don’t age and can heal very quickly. This means they are very hard to kill. It also means they put up with a lot of pain in their lifetimes. This kind of life could make someone bitter and jaded. I wanted Obie to have the resilience about him. one of his defining characteristics is his ability to keep doing the hard thing, the right thing, even when it would be easier for him to be more selfish. That’s not to say he always does the “right” thing but he is a character that is easy to root for.

What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?

Besides what I spoke about above, the book deals with loss, specifically the loss of a loved one. The inability to let go, anger, doing anything to keep them, and finally acceptance.

I also explore cruelty to a certain degree. There are some characters who are more apathetic than we would think is acceptable. Unfortunately the consequences for this are paid by the people around them.

This is book one in The Keeper Chronicles series. What can readers expect in book two?

There’s a line in the beginning of the book, “Everyone up here crosses the line at some point or other.” If the reader pays attention they can find a place in the story where every character “crosses the line”. In the second book many of the consequences of these misdeeds come due. Alliances and friendships are pushed to their limits.

Author Links: Facebook | Website | GoodReads

Thera, the Earth Mother, is under siege. Demons from other worlds sneak through magical portals and wreak havoc on earth. In response, she created the Keepers, a group of shapeshifters made from the world’s most skilled predators, to protect her, and us. The fate of North Georgia hangs in the balance when an unknown menace with a new magic threatens to bring the Keepers to their knees. It’s up to Obie, the Keeper of North Georgia, and some unlikely allies to put an end to the destruction before it’s too late. What will happen when the hunter becomes the hunted?

Inspired by the Stories

Marc Curtis Little Author Interview

The Bootlegger’s Mistress follows a young woman who heads north for better opportunities and finds them once she creates a new persona. What was the inspiration for the setup to this novel?

The inspiration came from the stories I heard from many people in my life—mother, aunts, uncles, family friends—who traveled from the southern United States to cities along the East Coast during the Great Migration. I was also inspired by the stories I heard from men and women who encountered the same kinds of agony faced by the protagonist in the The Bootlegger’s Mistress.

Carrie is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

The development of Carrie Lacey/Dicie Caughman as an unaccommodating, street-wise young girl/woman was driven by a desire to debunk and diminish the image of Black women being impulsive with hair-trigger tempers and unyieldingly iron-willed attitudes.

What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?

Racial animus, stealing of land in Southern states, and the underestimation of the intelligence of African Americans.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am developing a series in which the first book will be titled Stoops. The availability has not been determined at this point.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Website

Carrie Lacey’s happy upbringing is seemingly immune from the pressures of growing up Black in rural South Carolina during the Great Depression. But life changes when her mother and six siblings are forced from their Anderson home, leaving Carrie and her father, Hallie.

While working for White businessman Tommy Joe Butler-a bootleg liquor dealer-Carrie becomes aware of the depth of her father’s campaign to change the lives of African Americans. He is using some of the strategies of the Underground Railroad, the nonviolent system of freeing slaves in pre-Civil War America. Her childhood friend, Nappy Eddie, attempts to keep the truth from Carrie, but to no avail. When Butler and Hallie continue to disagree over property ownership, she departs Anderson in frustration.


During her travels, Carrie encounters her alter ego, Dicie Caughman, commencing an odyssey that spans nearly eighty years and numerous locales. Carrie, in the form of Dicie, lives a good life, though marked with deep-rooted secrets.


The Bootlegger’s Mistress embodies the essence of The Great Migration-the decades-long movement of six million African Americans from the racially oppressive South to the economic opportunity-laden North during much of the twentieth century.

In Fiction, Context is Everything

Ed Protzel Author Interview
Ed Protzel Author Interview

Something in Madness concludes your DarkHorse trilogy. Were you able to accomplish everything you set out to do with this series?

I did accomplish all my major objectives for writing the trilogy. My themes came across clearly in each novel, though each had a slightly different emphasis. The struggles of the characters under historical slavery (The Lies That Bind, 1859-61 Mississippi), Civil War guerrilla brutality (Honor Among Outcasts, 1863 Missouri), and, finally, post-war oppression (Something in Madness, 1865 Mississippi), clearly make their points. Though the characters, living in a repressed society, must remain tightlipped, rarely giving speeches, I think the reader gets the idea that humanity can— and must learn to — get along.

In fiction, context is everything, and the main concept carries throughout the series. For example, in book 1, a drifter and a dozen escaped slaves form a partnership to build their own plantation, but pretend their enterprise is a traditional master-slave one to trick the town. At first, the hostility and suspicion between the partners, driven together by circumstances, is palpable. But as they seek common goals under enormous pressure (as they do throughout the series), the partnership’s internal conflict blends into familiarity, friendship, and finally trust. And isn’t that what we aim for ideally?

The plot of each novel ties up neatly and better than I’d hoped. Each involved complicated situations and seemingly insurmountable obstacles for the characters, requiring numerous twists and turns, and ingenuity in the part of the protagonists. I had a lot of fun devising them and hope readers can sense that excitement.

Further, I worked hard to make the major characters (below) complex, fully-formed individuals — Black, white, Native American, mixed-race, male and female  — each with admirable qualities and flaws,  unique personalities, and ways of thinking and speaking:

  • Durk: an imaginative, idealistic hustler, whose ambition brings real danger to himself and his cohorts.
  • Antoinette: a sophisticated, strong woman carrying heavy emotional burdens and secrets.
  • Big Josh: wise, intelligent, highly competent; the group’s real leader, bearing his own past tragedies.
  • Mrs. Marie Brussard French: a reclusive, powerful planter controlling the town and perhaps a bit mad.
  • Devereau French: the unhappy and embittered French family heir.
  • Wounded Wolf: Chickasaw chief whose arc is completed surprisingly in book 3.

In fact, I think the arc of the series as a whole worked in tandem with the character arcs of each novel. As for the plots, the final novel not only ties up a number of tangled situations within the its storyline, using clever tricks and surprising gambits played out dramatically in court, but the novel also resolves a number of issues left unresolved from book 1 in an emotionally satisfying and meaningful way.

Was there anything in the story, that developed organically while writing, that surprised you?

Actually, my novels develop almost entirely organically. I never get bored because of the exciting surprises I encounter along the way: plot, dialogue, characters, everything. It’s a hard slog, but the constant need for invention keeps me, and the story, fresh.

Some of my most pleasant surprises came through the dialogue. I like to create characters with strong views and then listen to what they have to tell me. Some of the best lines merely pop into my head in the shower or taking a walk.

One good example of strong dialogue is from The Lies That Bind. The Mrs. French character detests being around townspeople. But I needed a way to get the recluse to town so that Durk, the protagonist, could expose her darkest secret to the citizenry. So I have her going to church, unwillingly, once a year:

“I don’t see why I have to go to church every Easter, just because that Man rose from the dead,” the bitter widow said.

I also gained terrific dialogue through my research. In Something in Madness, Colonel Rutherford, one of my few true villains, says some shocking things about race relations. Rutherford is an unregenerate Confederate who refuses to surrender nor to accept emancipation. In this scene, he opines on the concept of Black literacy:

“Negro schools have sprung up like mushrooms after a storm; hell, they’re starting them themselves. These so-called schools are a plague descending upon our civilization.”

Rutherford’s attitudes were taken directly from contemporary letters to newspapers and articles written by correspondents. I merely put them in the mouth of one man — who spoke them in a tense meeting with the story’s hero, Durk, a Southerner who’d fought for the Union. To Rutherford, Durk is a traitor. In other words, the two men don’t like each other, or the other’s politics. Frankly, the racial animus prevalent in 1865 was tough to read about, and I had to put my source materials aside at times.

As for my methodology. First, I came up with the central concept of the trilogy (the partnership), which established the context for everything that happens after, themes and conflicts. Second, I get a rough idea of the arc the plot will take, plus an arc the major characters will undergo, working on their strengths and weaknesses. Then I let the characters go at it to create the plot twists, always working more conflict into every situation and scene. Is the story tense enough? Does it move?

For example, Durk and his Black partners are equal; they have to trust each other. But with Durk acting as front man for their enterprise, what if his ego drives him to gamble on the cotton market? What if that venture endangers their whole scheme?

I have to figure my way through all the possibilities. That constant need for invention creates suspense for the reader — and a lot of fun for the writer.

What has been the most surprising reader reaction to your books in this series?

How I write the female characters, without a doubt the most commonly asked question. After the publication of The Lies That Bind, I was invited to speak to a book club with about a dozen women and a few men. I went there with the notion of discussing many of the book’s elements, but the major thing they wanted to discuss was how I could write the women so well! In retrospect, there were two reasons for that.

Most importantly, I set out to give the women’s stories, Mrs. French and Antoinette predominately, as much weight as the men’s in terms of plot and outcomes. Not doing so would, in my opinion, sabotage the notion of “equality” and realism, an omission committed by far too many male writers past and perhaps present.

And second, I asked for and received feedback from female writers, friends, and my most ardent fan and critic, my wife, who often pointed out: “A woman wouldn’t say that” or asked  “How would she feel about…” And she was always right.

What project are you working on next?

I’ve been considering a sequel to The Antiquities Dealer, my futuristic suspense thriller featuring the clever David Greenberg, released in 2018. The story involves the search by Muslim, Jewish, and Christian extremists to find the surviving nail from the Crucifixion, tied to an attempt by a secret society to clone Jesus Christ. Murders, puzzles, and romance drive the suspense toward a surprising conclusion. In the meantime, I’ve begun working on another sci-fi thriller, Remembering Planet Earth, where in the not-so-distant future, our world has become an offbeat tourist destination for advanced, wealthy aliens — they’re here to have fun and observe…what? In both sci-fi scenarios, I get to explore politically and socially relevant themes, and offer up possible consequences.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Appomattox ended the war with a penstroke…
but the struggle for freedom had only begun.

1865. After the Civil War, Durksen Hurst and three black friends return home to a devastated Mississippi, the sole survivors of a Union colored cavalry regiment. But instead of peace, they find unregenerate Confederates who reject emancipation still in charge.

Undeterred, Durk opens a law practice to help disenfranchised freedmen — only to be threatened by powerful planters and nightriders. A black school is burned; a petition march to Jackson is terrorized. And when one of his friends goes missing, Durk is horrified to discover Black Codes being used to force freedmen into brutal servitude. Clever Durk schemes to liberate them but must contend with armed ruffians — and a rigged court system. Will fire and bullets prevail?

In this concluding chapter of Ed Protzel’s DarkHorse Trilogy, Something in Madness illuminates Reconstruction, the least understood epoch in American history, exposing the origin of America’s ongoing racial divide.


WHAT LED TO THIS UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP?

Read The Lies That Bind, book 1, and Honor Among Outcasts, book 2.

Science and Speculative Fiction

Clayton Graham Author Interview
Clayton Graham Author Interview

Looking for Life is a collection of thought-provoking and fun science fiction stories. What was the inspiration behind this collection of stories?

Imagining universal situations and populating them with fascinating characters, usually with a dilemma to solve—now that’s an infinite depository of inspiration. After all, the stories may all be true, or become true in the future [or is it the past?

The size of this universe, the possibility of other universes and dimensions; they are all a source of wonder to me. They are also a cradle of countless possible happenings—just by the act of being there. It’s a challenge, yes, but it’s also a load of fun. And if you can make ends meet, so to speak, there’s a wonderful sense of satisfaction in completing a short story; any story really.

My favorite story from the collection is ‘Looking for Life’. Do you have a favorite or stand out story from the collection?

That’s a bit like asking a parent to choose a favorite child. ‘Looking for Life’ covers many facets of science and speculative fiction, but if you twisted my arm it would be a battle between ‘Desperate Times’ and ‘Looking for Life’ and ‘Mother’. And it would be a prolonged battle with no outright winner.

Did you write these stories for this collection or did you write them separately over time?

I certainly didn’t compile the stories one after the other with a view to hurriedly compiling a collection. I write a short story when an idea surfaces, and it may lie fallow for a quite a while before it clamours to join the nest of possible publications. I would say the majority of these stories were written over the past two or three years. But they are well-loved creations and never leave my mind.

Do you have plans to publish more works of short stories? Or possibly expand on a short story?

‘Looking for Life’ follows on from my first collection of short tales ‘Silently in the Night’, which was published in 2018. I guess that means I enjoy writing them. In between, I have also written three novels, so they are a love also. Currently my prime focus is writing the third book in the ‘Milijun’ series.

I often get reviewers or team members asking about expanding a short story into a novel, one particularly in ‘Looking for Life’ was ‘Mother’, which may very well suit that scenario. I think that ‘Worthy of Consideration’ would also fall into the basket.

However, I have never done it yet, but I guess it would be a new challenge. It’s nice to know something is there that readers appreciate and could serve as an inspiration for future tales.

Author Links: GoodReads Facebook Website

Strap in, turn down the lights, and enter worlds that will stretch your imagination to the full…

From a stranded alien comedian to the darkest depths of the human psyche; from a mind-blowing galactic adventure to clandestine extraterrestrial behaviour on Earth. They’re all here in this spell-binding collection of short stories to keep you guessing at every turn.

With tales of alien invasion, deep space mystery, time travel, and dystopian future Earths, this is a collection which takes inspiration from the much respected ‘old masters’ of Science Fiction. Here be new realms to explore—can you cross the void and challenge your dreams?

Explore Looking for Life and escape to strange and wonderful new worlds. From the author of Milijun, Amidst Alien Stars, Saving Paludis, and Silently in the Night.

Significant and Relevant

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Jeff Pollak Author Interview

First Second Coming has a new God replacing the old one and wants to test humanity’s ability to eliminate violence or face extinction. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

Although I didn’t start writing the novel until 2015, the concept that planet earth needs a planetary turnaround specialist came to me while I watched the World Trade Center’s towers collapse on 9/11.

Prior to that horrible event I’d been in the building many times, the last time being in May, a few months before the attack. I had in the WTC and my law firm did annual conferences at the Top of the Tower conference center there and knew some of the staff. As the towers fell I worried about everyone inside, whether I knew them or not.

The idea of writing a story around a planetary turnaround specialist re-emerged when I sat down to try to write my first novel. Ram and Bren’s names and histories, an outline of a basic plot and three possible endings flowed out in one sitting. It was as though I’d developed all that subconsciously in the intervening fourteen years between 9/11 and 2015.

I enjoyed Ram and Brendali’s characters. What were some driving ideas behind their character development and relationship?

My character development was an effort to have Ram and Bren share some common features but respond to them in entirely different ways. For example: Both of them shared a blue collar upbringing and had to deal with traumas. While Ram’s childhood traumas made him reject religion and become self-reliant, Bren’s traumas made her embrace Catholicism and rely on her relationship with (the now retired) god. In this way the two of them could relate to one another while coming from entirely different emotional spaces.

I also wanted Ram and Bren to be able to exemplify the book’s themes (discussed below) in their attitudes and interactions, while understanding that they are opposites in temperament and personalities. The idea was that they’d be able to complete each other, supply strength when needed or bolster weaknesses when required – an example of the opposites attract concept.

The relationship these two developed is entirely different. When I began writing I didn’t know that some authors get so close to their characters that they can actually hear them. That happened to me – I’m neither female nor Latina, so hearing Bren in my head the first time was jarring. But I got used to it and began to enjoy the experience.

Before long Bren was waking me up at around 4 a.m. to tell me what was going on in the next chapter I was writing. I let her shape the romance aspect of the story since she was hot for Ram and he was mutually attracted to her.

I hadn’t expected a romantic relationship, it simply developed. I was fine with that since it contrasted with the suspense elements and provided lighter moments that allows readers to catch their breaths every so often. The relationship also deepened both characters and gave them a personal stake in the outcome of the “Convocation” that serves as the novel’s motor. Taken all together, there was no reason not to let Bren and Ram fall in love.

What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?

Because this novel was inspired by 9/11, I wanted to stay true to event thematically. I felt that the best way to honor all those who died that day was to use religious violence as the test the new God employs to determine whether or not humanity would be included in the planetary turnaround plan.

That meant the themes had to be related in some way. The obvious connection, at least to me, was to adopt the themes of tolerance, acceptance and cooperation. Bringing members of religions from all over the world to work together or face extinction struck me as the right vehicle for demonstrating the need for these attributes.

I had no idea when I chose these themes that we’d be in the world we’re in right now, when tolerance, acceptance and cooperation are in such small supply. So these themes are more significant and relevant than I expected. But that’s an added bonus.

This is Book one in The New God Series. What can readers expect in Book two?

I’m working on book two now. It has a working title of Earth’s Peril. I’m too early into the book to be able to estimate when the book will be ready for publication, but 2022, if not sooner, seems to me to be a reasonable guess.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Website

In 2027 the deity known as NTG – short for New Testament God – retires after more than two thousand years of minding the store for his employer, Milky Way Galaxy, Inc. The new god, a planetary turnaround specialist, must decide whether Earth’s dominant species should or should not be included in his plan to bring the planet back into full compliance with Milky Way Galaxy, Inc.’s planetary operation standards.

Earth’s new God introduces himself to humanity by unexpectedly appearing on the Ram Forrester Hour talk show. Ram, an atheist, and co-host Brendali Santamaria, a devout Catholic, are stunned. God’s interview, beamed worldwide, shocks and infuriates viewers. They learn that a sixty-day conference will take place in Los Angeles to determine whether humans are capable of helping him implement his planetary turnaround plan. To earn a coveted spot in this God’s good graces all mankind must do is eliminate religious violence forever, without his heavenly help, within sixty days. Failure means extinction.

God designates Ram and Bren as the conference’s only authorized media reporters. This assignment, fraught with peril, ignites their romance. Not only must the harried couple attend the conference meetings by day and do their show at night, they must also outwit a fanatical religious group bent on killing them. When rising conflicts within the conference intensify, it’s up to Ram and Bren to do whatever it takes to protect their budding romance and mankind’s very survival.

She Had Spunk

P.J. Colando
P.J. Colando Author Interview

The Jailbird’s Jackpot follows a women who wins the jackpot after being released from prison and sets out to get revenge. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?

This novel, The Jailbird’s Jackpot, is the fourth – and final – book in my Faith, Family, Frenzy!, series set in the American Midwest.

The first book, Stashes, had this logline/sales pitch: “Baby Boomer retirees gallivant around the country in a Winnebago leaving the family farm to their hapless son and his conniving wife. What could go wrong?” Well, some things went well, but much went wrong – and Amy was that conniving daughter-in-law. She had spunk, but her plans went awry and she took the fall for a guy that double-crossed her and she was imprisoned. Thus, when she’s released, she’s prim for revenge.

The book prior to The Jailbird’s Jackpot was The Winner’s Circle and had a similar plot: an unexpected influx of mega-millions bucks after purchasing a single lottery ticket on a whim. (both protagonists won the same lottery on the same day, so the payout was ‘only’ 1/4 billion bucks.) I’d set it up that way, to foreshadow this book. Great plan, eh!

So, I call The Jailbird’s Jackpot is the separate-and-equal sequel to The WInner’s Circle. I dedicated the book to “Amy, a classy-yet-sassy young lady who knows how to steer a plot.”

Amy is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

Amy had a hard-scrabble early life. Her mother was schizzy and drunk much of the time, so Amy had to look out for herself and her younger brother. A high school teacher mentored her and Amy earned a scholarship to Michigan State University, where she snagged the handsome-and-coddled quarterback of the winning football team. She craved family, respect, and stability, but found small town life tedious and she wrecked her life. Now she’s returned to her main life goals – family, respect, and stability – in addition to her vibrant revenge for revenge.

Amy also gains redemption, as she forgives herself for the mistakes she’s made. An unexpectedly terrific outcome.

What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?

Gaining friends and family, Redemption and achieving a better self. I feel that The Jailbird’s Jackpot is a new twist on the common Coming of Age story.

This is book four in your Faith, Family, Frenzy! series. What can readers expect in book five?

I feel that I’ve completed the Faith, Family, Frenzy! series… but Amy has a strong will. Further, she may/may not have fallen in love with her handsome parole office.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website

REVENGE REWARD REDEMPTIONParolee Amy Breeden held herself together during nearly two thousand days of incarceration with a single-minded focus: to destroy the dude who did her in. Within hours of her release, Amy hits the lotto mega-million jackpot.“Living well is the best revenge,” her parole officer advises, but Amy is hellbent on revenge.A former Chicago crime boss, an estranged brother, a substitute mom, a zany house painter, a pre-imprisonment pal – and the handsome parole officer – complicate Amy’s quest for empowerment. When Amy’s longtime nemesis invades her haven, her ire ignites. She becomes more determined than ever to avenge herself.The aging crime boss enjoins her mission. Victory is finalized when she’s able to buy her mortal enemy’s thriving bar in a fire sale… and becomes the Boss. But is that enough? Will revenge result in satisfaction? Will her personal redemption require more than revenge and the monetary reward to live well?

The Tragedy of Misunderstandings

Alexa Kingaard
Alexa Kingaard Author Interview

My Name is Rose follows a curious young woman who leaves a commune to explore the world and find herself. What were some ideas that informed this novels development?

The thread that runs through my novels is nostalgia. As a baby boomer, I lived through some of the best decades, experienced the life-changing views of all Americans that were shaped by the Vietnam conflict, as well as the hippie peace movement that followed. I was never extreme, but fads began and ended in California. A teenager or young adult couldn’t help but be swept up in the changes that were happening, and communes were an escape for many of my generation who preferred the unhurried environment they provided.

The plot line of Rose’s lineage sprang up from the well-known fact that “free love” was embraced during this time, especially in San Francisco, the poster city for peace rallies and an over-indulgence of mind-altering drugs. Without degrading personal choices or judging anyone’s character, I thought it would be an interesting perspective to pursue from the point of view of one couples’ offspring. This nugget of inspiration has nothing to do with my life or direct involvement, but is an encapsulated version of what might have happened in this situation. There was no particular incident that triggered this story, but it flowed easily once I started to write.

I enjoyed Rose’s character and evolution. Was there anything from yourself that you put into Rose’s character?

Like Rose, I was never the center of attention growing up and spent more time observing than participating. I cultivated my skills that were more cerebral, as opposed to physical, and Rose has a touch of my personality in her. I was able to weave her life through the years not so much with first-hand experience, but with knowledge I had acquired over decades that helped me to understand what links hearts and souls together. My protagonists are ordinary people dealing with difficult circumstances. My antagonists are as much self-doubt, anger and immaturity as they are a person, as we can damage ourselves just as easily as we can be damaged by another human being. The tragedy of misunderstandings and mistakes that lead to estrangement is something many of us have felt, and this particular family saga puts into perspective how everyone plays a part in the final outcome. As an author, I have the ability to shape my characters – the way they think, dress, talk, behave – in order to present a tight, neat package with what I hope is a satisfying ending for my readers.

I find that writers often ask themselves questions and let their characters answer them. Do you think was true for this book?

Great question! That is absolutely true in this story! When I started to think about this novel in my head, before I even started writing it, I knew there were a few endings that I could create. As I wrote, and the characters and situations evolved, I considered all of them in the back of my mind and how I would determine the final chapters. Interestingly, when I got to that section and the question of who Rose’s biological father was, the words just spilled onto the page. I didn’t question it, scrapped the other endings, and let it emerge to a natural conclusion. It was seamless.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

During my first nine weeks of quarantine, I completed the first draft of my third novel, MIRACLE. The story revolves around two young women in the 1950s’. One lives in Southern California and must come to terms with the fact that four unsuccessful pregnancies leave adoption as the only option for herself and her husband. The inability to qualify with the adoption agency due to their advancing age – almost thirty was old in the 50s’ – steers them towards an alternative solution of adopting a child outside the United States. From 1945 to the 1970s, the Canadian government created maternity homes for young women who were without a spouse or family assistance. Forced to give birth in secrecy, it was understood that they would leave their baby behind for adoption by a suitable couple. The second young lady finds herself in a position that demands she reside in one of these homes for the last part of her pregnancy where she agonizes about the ultimate sacrifice that is forced upon her. These two women are destined to connect, but the ending is not as one might expect. I hope to have MIRACLE ready for publication by mid-2021.

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Rose is unsettled, curious, and bored. Life in a hippie commune in the ‘70s is her parent’s dream come true, not hers. She doesn’t share their passion for living off the land, nor does she enjoy the isolation that is thrust upon her. When she convinces them to send her to public school in the nearby town, a new world opens up to her.

As she pursues her education, Rose chooses a different path, leaving her parents heartbroken at her insistence they are hiding something from her. She’s convinced her father isn’t the man her mother married.

Although she finds love far away from her roots and upbringing, her wounds only deepen as she keeps her family at arm’s length. What she loses during those years can only be retrieved with her understanding that “a Rose by any other name is still a Rose.”
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