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Their True Purpose

Rowan Staeffler
Rowan Staeffler Author Interview

Swords Of Deception follows a woman on a mission to track down a rogue council member but her journey reveals dark secrets about the Council of Witches. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

To show at what length people go to hide their true purpose and misuse of power.

Ellemar is a character that was fun to follow and well developed. What were some challenges you felt were important to defining her character in the story?

To find the right timing when Ellemar loses herself in her anger and how she learned throughout the story to be more reasonable. Then finding the right moments how Ason patiently tries to help her, making it as believable as possible. Because Ellemar mostly relies on him but he wants her to think for herself. Stepping only in if she loses herself in her anger again.

With beta readers and my editor, it took us a while until everyone was happy with the outcome. So lots of changes had to be made, leading to some frustrating moments.

What were some sources that informed the development of the world and lore in your book?

The world I have created in my Black Eyed Witch series was still fresh. So it made it easy to write it with a different story, powers and characters.

This is book one in your Sword of Deception series. What can readers expect in book two?

That Ellemar will be mentally challenged. That’s all I will say as otherwise it will spoil a big moment betas and my editor didn’t see coming. One beta said she cried during that scene.

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Three years ago, rogue council member Celeana Maar massacred all the students at the Witches Academy and left Ellemar Vancel for dead. Now, still haunted by that day, Ellemar seeks to track Celeana down and settle the score.

But her mission is nearly halted before it even begins because the Council of Witches prohibits members from killing, even if justified. Given the gravity of Celeana’s crime, the Council bends this rule and approves Ellemar’s mission.

Searching for Celeana takes Ellemar to a royal ship, a Forgotten Forest, and a secret island. Along the journey, she begins hearing stories that suggest Celeana’s horrendous act may actually have been justified. Is Ellemar chasing the wrong enemy? Has the Council been harboring secrets from its members? Getting the answers right is critical. The peace of the entire kingdom is at stake.

No Easy Answers

Greg Fields
Greg Fields Author Interview

Through the Waters and the Wild follows a discontented man who finds renewed purpose through his grandfathers letters. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Conor Finnegan was introduced in my first novel, Arc of the Comet, which followed his evolution from a confident young man with great promise through personal and professional frustrations that left him timid and unsure. By the novel’s close, Conor had just begun to recognize the failings of character that led to a deep-seated depression. He had also realized that the questions of purpose, time and place that we all must ultimately address had no easy answers. I felt his story needed to go forward as he wrestled with these realizations.

At the same time, I recalled stories of my own grandfather’s separation from his native land for reasons that, in the end, were not terribly different from Conor’s own angst. I saw a parallel between the two, and thought it might be appropriate to tie them together around themes of exile and redemption, themes that are universal enough to span the generations.

Conor and Liam are intriguing and well developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

From the beginning, Conor Finnegan embodied noble characteristics – intelligence, passion, a well defined social conscience, and a readiness to engage with those around him. But at the same time he also possessed the serious flaws of hubris and inflexibility which compromised the application of his strengths. As such, I believe he represents the challenges we all face as individuals, regardless of our strengths and weaknesses. All of us must find a balance that allows us to develop our own passions, and our own purposes, while answering the timeless questions, Where shall I go now? What shall I do?

Liam Finnegan is a simpler character, and so an effective contrast, especially as his story unfolds through the swirl of the Irish Civil War. He responds instinctively and intuitively, discontent with the circumstances of what he sees as a pointless existence, but listening to his inner voices which constitute a highly refined sense of integrity. In so doing, he establishes a strength of character that Conor draws upon in his own struggle to identify his purpose and place.

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

As noted, the book revolves around the themes of exile and redemption, framed through the central questions – Where shall I go now? What shall I do? Each of us, whether we acknowledge it or not, must ask ourselves these questions, the answers to which define purpose, identity and self.

Because we’re constantly in motion, constantly evolving, any resolution is temporary. In my mind, what matters is not the answers to these questions, but the asking of them. When we fail to ask them of ourselves, we stagnate, fester and ultimate lose a bit of our soul. We ask these questions to stay alive.

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

I believe Conor Finnegan’s story reached closure at the end of Through the Waters and the Wild. I’m currently developing a completely new character to continue the investigation and reflection of place and purpose. This new character will be more negative than positive, more failure than success, bitter and alienated. I’m hoping this provides a new perspective on these questions, one that may in fact underscore the need to ask them regardless of where we stand as we pose them. I’m hopeful that this work will be done within the next year.

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Haunted by lost loves and limping through a lifeless career, Conor Finnegan’s discontent mirrors the restlessness of his grandfather Liam, caught as a young man in the crossfire of the Irish Civil War. Drawing from Liam’s wisdom and courage, Conor seeks to reinvent his character and reclaim passions made numb by neglect and loss.

The Nine Secrets of Super-Effective Relationships

The Nine Secrets of Super-Effective Relationships: Christian strategies and tactics to master the art of human connection - everywhere and every time! (The Diamond Soul Character Book 3) by [George Vasilca]

George Vasilca’s book explores how the mind works and how relationships of any nature work. The author writes about ways one can improve their relationship with others and become a better person. The solutions provided, encounters he experienced and issues that arise in life are all real and the answers he gives for problems are practical.

I like how the author starts the book. He gives a little background information before going to the main subject that he wants to discuss. Chapter one is one of the most important chapters in the book. In this chapter, George Vasilca writes about your diamond soul character. The statement ‘The moral character forms the solid foundation of any relationship’ will forever be engraved in my mind. This line is very simple yet it carries a heavy meaning. While reading this book you will notice that there are many wise sayings like the aforementioned line and many quotable that can help one in the path to finding and mending relationships. Chapter three was another gem. I particularly enjoyed this chapter because of the selection of topics and how the author broke down every topic. Each chapter has information that will help the reader in one relationship or the other. I became a different person with unique thinking capabilities when I finished the book. The author writes about every vice, betrayal and type of relationship human beings have.

I liked that the author titled the chapters as secrets. I think that the naming style was a genius concept and intriguing for any reader. One thing I appreciated about George Vasilca is that he does not force the reader to subscribe to his beliefs. His text is persuasive but the author has the reader decide for themselves even after giving advice. George Vasilca writes with prudence and understands that his book is meant for readers from different backgrounds.

The book does a fantastic job of succinctly, and convincingly, providing practical tips on how to be a better communicator and how to bring out issues when you feel like the other party has offended you. The Nine Secrets of Super-Effective Relationships is a substantive book that will help improve relationships for both Christians and non believers too.

Pages: 296 | ASIN: B0976H5LB7

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We Never Knew Just What it Was …

We Never Knew Just What it Was ... The Story of the Chad Mitchell Trio by [Mike Murphey, Mike Kobluk, Chad Mitchell, Tom Paxton]

We Never Knew Just What It Was: The Story of the Chad Mitchell Trio by Mike Murphey is a stirring biography of the folk singing group written with help from Trio members Mike Kobluk and Chad Mitchell. It tells the candid story of the group’s early days in university and follows the trials and triumphs of their career through the 1960s to their contentious split. The story hangs on their unlikely reunion in 2007, which inspired Murphey – who was already a successful author – to write his first non-fiction book.

In his introduction, Murphey describes the book as “a story of missed opportunities, management mistakes, personal struggle, and sometimes bitter conflict.” It’s true that the group did experience these circumstances, and we can certainly see how those problems would have hampered their success. While there is little detail offered as to how the problems affected them as individuals readers will be moved by the early hopes and dreams of the singers and their dedication to their craft.

In his dedication to faithfully cataloging each step of the Trio’s career and each misfortune they faced, Murphey quickly summarizes the conflict. For example, in the early days, management was trying to cast Mitchell as the group leader with Kobluk and Frazier as backup singers and even set them up for their own television show on that basis. This had to have created the first stirrings of jealousy and resentment among the bandmates, but there is little reference to any hurt feelings. Rather, the details of discussions are delivered without indication of the individuals’ feelings. This focus on facts helps readers concentrate on the groups path through the business rather than get caught up in the melodrama. The characters of the singers are well documented, from the casually delinquent Mitchell to the quietly ambitious Kobluk and unassuming Frazier. Each one is interesting in their own right. I thought the reunion show forms the perfect coda to their career.

Author Mike Murphey writes from the perspective of a dedicated fan and delivers an interweaving life story through a complex business in an easy to understand and factual manner that will appeal to readers looking for a credible biography that does not stray from the subject matter.

Pages: 312 | ASIN: B098PPYXS9

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What The Boy Hears When The Girl Dreams

May be an image of book and text that says 'GF Graeme Friedman WHAT THE BOY HEARS WHEN THE GIRL DREAMS'

What the Boy Hears When the Girl Dreams, by Graeme Friedman, is an absorbing account of twelve-year-old Finn Townsend’s imagination and hyperacusis. Through Finn’s eyes, the reader visualizes a somewhat stream-of-consciousness picture of this boy’s life. Friedman creatively depicts a vivid picture of the world as a preteen boy views it, imaginative, sporadic, and vibrant. Finn’s inquisitive imagination gives him the courage to investigate subjects he knows little to nothing about.

While thrown off by the lack of quotation marks, the dialogue is rich and carries the story well. Friedman’s prose effortlessly draws readers into this captivating story. I became interested in Finn’s point of view symptoms of his “Super-Hearing” and “Dizziness” attacks, as he called them, from a previous head injury from playing football. Finn downplays the symptoms of his hyperacusis, which he uses to his advantage, as his mother frets over them and insists he sees a doctor. 

Also intriguing is the bond formed between the Australian Finn, and Buseje, the African homestay student residing at his home. As the story progresses, Finn admires how Buseje tends to his sprained ankle, then protects him from overhearing a violent fight between his parents. With his super-hearing ability, young Finn takes notes of Buseje’s sleep talk ramblings, helping her to recall what she has forgotten. Together they piece her memory back together.

What the Boy Hears When the Girl Dreams is a riveting young adult story that takes readers through a vivid world as it is seen through a young boy’s imaginative eyes. This is an evocative novel with a creative plot and engrossing characters. 

Pages: 372

It’s Up To You

Author Interview
Axel Schillton Author Interview

Pizahn follows a futuristic Egyptian animal on a perilous quest to save his sister. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

At the time I was writing Pizahn I didn’t have an inspiration for the setup of the story. Mainly I was focused on the motivations of the characters and trying to make the story make sense as well as engaging to the readers.

Pizahn is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I wrote Pizahn similar to a protagonist from a Japanese anime. However, I wanted Pizahn to also be relatable in some ways to the reader.  An example of this is going on his journey to find his baby sister.  Another example is he values his friends and family. But, Pizahn isn’t without his faults since he tends to lie in order to save himself or get what he wants.

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

To be honest there weren’t any themes or deep messages that I wanted to convey. All I wanted was to make a great story that people would enjoy. I personally feel that any form of art should be enjoyed and not try to be overanalyzed. I guess if you could take anything away from Pizahn it’s this: Regardless of how hard life gets, the world will always keep moving with, or without you, it’s up to you to decide if you want to keep going.

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

I’ve put the sequel on hiatus since I don’t know if the first book in the series is going to be published. But I’m working on a YA horror novel about a group of high schoolers that face off against a demon trying to bring about an apocalypse.

axelschilltonauthor.com

Vega Investigative Thriller Series

Author Interview
John Hazen Author Interview

Beyond Revelation follows a TV reporter who races against time to save her friend and stop a sinister cult. What were some sources that informed this novel’s development?

Remember, Beyond Revelation is a book about a reporter, and a good reporter never reveals his or her sources.

A lot of research for this book came from news accounts I’ve read and heard over the years. Jonestown and the Branch Davidians are examples of cults that were big in the news during my life, so I had a knowledge of them as I wrote the book. I also made it easy on myself by making the two primary settings in the book places that I’ve lived during my life. Fairbrook, MA, is based on the small town where I grew up and the New York City metropolitan area is where I’d spent most of my life. I always try to do some reading on places I write about that I’ve never visited to get them as real as I can. In this book that would be Montana and Havana, Cuba.

What were some ideas that were important for you to personify in your characters?

My focus in this book and in the two books that preceded it in the Vega Investigative Thriller Series (Fava and Zyklon) must of course be the protagonist, Francine Vega. She’s a street-smart, New York City TV journalist. I try to portray her as having the qualities I want all journalists to have. I want her to be intelligent, persistent, questioning, and honest. Both she and her husband, FBI Special Agent Will Allen, are the epitome of integrity. I wanted them both to be the best examples they can be for their three kids.

It can be a bit tricky when you’re writing a series. After the first book, the author must present enough background on characters to inform people who haven’t read the previous editions but not too much background that you turn off or bore those who have read them. I think I’ve done that thus far in this series.

How do you balance story development with shocking plot twists? Or can they be the same thing?

I don’t believe any balance is required. They can, and should be, the same thing. In fact, I think that plot twists—shocking or otherwise—need to compliment and advance story development. They must be part of the whole. Otherwise, the plot twists look like they’re superfluous or simply inserted for shock value.

In discussing the difference between “surprise” and “suspense”, Alfred Hitchcock, used the example of a bomb taped under a table where two people are sitting. You could have the audience not know the bomb is there and then get fifteen seconds of surprised adrenaline rush when it suddenly explodes. Hitchcock would rather let the viewer know that the bomb was there ahead of time and be on the edge of their seats, not knowing if the bomb would go off or not. In this way, the audience experiences fifteen minutes, rather than fifteen seconds, of surprise. I agree with this approach. There are times and places for the unexpected, the surprise, of plot twists, but overall, I prefer the approach of building suspense over the course of a chapter or even over the arc of the entire book.

What can readers expect in book four of the Vega Thriller series?

Thus far in the Vega Investigative Thriller series we’ve had Francine expose and thwart plots that would have plunged the world into war (Fava), undermined a presidential election (Zyklon) and plunged the country into a race war (Beyond Revelation). All this has taken a toll on her. The events of Beyond Revelation were especially hard on her mentally and emotionally. In the next book, she’s going to still be the intrepid journalist who’s going to uncover stories—this time I think in the environmental field—but I will need to focus a little sharper on her personal situation and the burdens she is bearing.

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Is Beyond Revelation a reclusive religious order preparing its flock for the Second Coming, or is it a cult with much more sinister intentions?
When New York City TV reporter Francine Vega travels from ‘the City’ to a small New England town to hunt for a friend who has gone missing, she finds that the disappearance may be tied to Beyond Revelation and a Russian-funded nationwide conspiracy. To find the truth, Vega works with the Press, the FBI, religious leaders, civil rights leaders and even the President as she races against the clock to rescue her friend and avert a national calamity.

Women of Courage

Ms T N Traynor
T N Traynor Author Interview

Hope in Liverpool follows a dejected young woman who finds renewed hope in a handsome stranger that provides the prospect of a better life. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

My Women of Courage series is a set of standalone stories, all of which I try to find a courageous female as the lead. In all my books in this series I would like to inspire or encourage. Hope in Liverpool is about showing that although we can go through extremely sad things in life, if we look towards hope we can be pulled out of the mire.

Each book has a unique place and time in history. I decided on Liverpool in 1958 because my mum has told me of what life was like for her back then. This isn’t her story at all, but the things like the dance hall she went to and meeting boyfriends at the pictures came from her stories.

Hope is an intriguing character that was well developed. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?

I have suffered from depression in the past, and pulling yourself up out of the black pit (because nobody else can do this for you) was a very hard thing to manage. Desmond Tutu’s quote – ‘hope is being able to see that there is light, despite all the darkness’ means so much to me, and this quote was the inspiration behind this story.

Hope’s character, therefore, needed to go through dark places to be able to appreciate the light when she found it.

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

The main theme of this book is hope, I touch on forgiveness a tiny bit because I believe unforgiveness can hold us in the dark.

I also don’t think everyone ends up with a fairytale romance marriage, however, that doesn’t mean they are unhappy, so another theme is that not all marriages may be like Cinderella and Prince Charming, however, they can be full of love and kindness.

I try in each of my books to bring the settings to life, I do extensive research on how people lived, what they wore etc before I start any of my books, so besides making sure the characters were believable I always want to ensure the setting is just right, so the last theme would be Liverpool how it was in 1958.

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

I am currently working on the last book in this series. Although it is about a very courageous young woman, it is in lots of ways different to the other four, which is why I have given it a different style of book cover and title to the others. It is called Brianna Trefae and is set in England in 1667. Brianna is a woman of such faith that when she prays for people they are healed, unfortunately, this quickly gets her labeled as a witch, and brings her to the attention of the Witch Finder General. This will be the longest book in the series. I have already started researching what life was like after the civil war and other things. I am hoping it will be released in September 2022, but his is the book that has caught my heart the most and I won’t rush it so Sep is only my aim.

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A gritty romantic novella ~ where life isn’t always a bed of roses.

Can an alliance of convenience heal two broken hearts?
Liverpool, 1958. Hope Bennett longs to feel safe and wanted. Loyal to an alcoholic mother who gambles away all her hard-earned wages, she’s devastated by the announcement her family is moving and she’s not to follow. But her despondent plan to fling herself off the ferry and succumb to the freezing River Mersey is interrupted by a handsome older man.
John Walker expects to live out the rest of his days drowning in grief, isolated and lonely after the loss of his childhood sweetheart. When he spots a young woman in distress he is immediately drawn to help her.
Can the fragile dream of a better life out of the slums provide the security and companionship they both crave?
Hope in Liverpool is a deeply emotional foray into historical women’s fiction. If you like compellingly complex characters, light humor woven through heart-wrenching drama, and gripping romantic overtones, then you’ll adore T N Traynor’s poignant story.
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