Into The Liquor Store follows Bink, a graffiti artist and connoisseur of cannabis, through a series of life events set against a dystopian future. What was your inspiration for this creative novel?
When I started writing the novel, it was supposed to be an autobiographical movie. Then I decided to have the events take place in the future; mostly so that I wouldn’t get in trouble with my family. With hesitation I let my mother read the first chapter, and she suggested I write it as a book instead. I even reached out to an Iranian graffiti artist who goes by A1one (Alone) and he gave me some encouraging words. Bink makes a reference about him in the novel as well.
Bink’s character slowly builds throughout the novel and ends up being a fairly deep person. What were the themes you used when creating his character?
I focused on Bink’s trajectory and growth. The last thing I wanted was a one dimensional character. He relies heavily on his connections, he has flaws, and towards the end he’s redeemed to an extent. I didn’t want Bink to be Mr. Perfect, and I wanted the people who interact with him to hold him accountable.
The novel is set in a dystopian future earth where graffiti is a regulated art form and taggers are well respected. Where did this idea start for you and how did it develop as you wrote?
In the prologue we start to see Bink’s love for the 21st century, 2010 through 2019 to be exact, embraced in his nature. He refers to it as a classic era. So I imagine there must be galleries that depict street art in the same light as the Renaissance. Art and specifically painting, I feel will be around forever.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
The next book is still being developed. I can’t say much about it, but it will take place in the same universe as Into The Liquor Store. It will focus on the behind the scenes work of the government. The movie adaptation, of the same name, is being completed and soon my collaborator and I will send it to contests.
The worst has yet to happen to Le’roy, of Egyptian and Russian decent, when his girlfriend of three years breaks up with him; dealing with the conflicting societies of a 23rd century Iran, he often feels nostalgia for a century to which he was not born.
Le’roy, an artist who abstains from tobacco and alcohol, bombards his mind with vices such as: lust, marijuana, and psychedelics. He must come to terms with his heightened status of celebrity and the fact that a lottery can enhance his lifestyle, but a vision transcends a lifetime.
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The Fugitive’s Trail centers on the skills of Special FBI Agent Sean Kruger as he must track down a fugitive that apparently doesn’t exist. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
Dropping off the grid and disappearing has always intrigued me. How would someone do it? What skills set would a person need to accomplish such a feat? So the book started with a basic, what if.
The character of Sean Kruger was conceived in 2006 when I was involved with an online writing blog. The original character was just, Kruger. A scallywag, a nefarious individual with no moral scruples. During the blog, he became Sean Kruger. My laptop hard drive is littered with discarded stories about him. Gradually, over the years, as I developed the character, he evolved from a pirate to a person of moral integrity. And finally an FBI Agent, the character we find in the Trail series.
As the concept of a story concerning dropping off the grid started to grow, I decided it was a great venue for introducing the reincarnated version of Sean Kruger. One thing led to another and The Fugitive’s Trail was born.
JR Diminski appeared in an early draft of the story, originally conceived as a throw-away character. The more I wrote more about him, the more intriguing he became. I know it sounds weird, but as you write, some characters become more important to the story. Such was JR’s future. He is now as important to the Trail series as Kruger. After a comment by my oldest son, I am planning a standalone novel with him as the main protagonist.
Sean Kruger is an FBI agent and I felt that the daily interactions of the agency was well handled. Did you do a lot of research to maintain accuracy of the subject?
A lot of research, reading and a chance encounter with an FBI agent on a plane bound for California.
I have more experience with corporate bureaucracies than I care to discuss and the FBI is a huge bureaucracy. Looking back on my business background, it was easy to extrapolate how a huge entity like the FBI would function.
The Fugitive’s Trail is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a crime, drama, and suspense as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
A passion for reading was a gift from my mother. Authors like, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Daniel Silva, David Baldacci, James Rollins, Lee Child, Frederick Forsyth, Craig Johnson, Ben Coes, and numerous Indie Authors were consumed before I started The Fugitive’s Trail. The adage of ‘write what you enjoy’ is how I approach novels. As you can see from the books I read, my influences include various genres.
I don’t outline, but I know where I want to start and I have a general idea of where I want to finish. The exciting part of the journey is the middle. So, to answer your question, it happens organically.
I have zero qualms about cutting wholesale sections of a manuscript if it stops working. The Fugitive’s Trail took five years to write. But during those years, I learned a lot from numerous starts and stops encountered along the path. The original manuscript is nothing like the final book.
A good editor is essential to a good novel. I was lucky, I found a good editor. It also helps to have an active critique group.
This is the first book in the Sean Kruger series. Where will book two take Sean Kruger?
Book two of the series will find Kruger pursuing homegrown terrorist. A third novel, planned for a summer 2017 release, will feature Kruger confronting the return of a serial killer introduced in my short story titled “The Forgotten Brother Affair.” This story is available for free on my website.
The original plan was to write a trilogy, but a fourth novel, with Sean Kruger as the protagonist, has over 40,000 words in a first draft. I am not sure about the title at this stage, I haven’t decided if it will be a “Trail” book or not.
I am striving to write distinctly different books with each installment. So many authors write the same book over and over and after a while it gets boring. My goal is to keep from going down this path. If I do, the Trail series will conclude.
For now, I have a few more Kruger stories up my sleeve.
In the lobby of a prestigious Wall Street investment firm, one man is dead and another seriously injured. The man accused of the crime now a fugitive.
When the Director of the FBI personally orders Special Agent Sean Kruger to New York City to find the fugitive, Kruger questions the reason. Told to shut up and do his job, he starts looking into the case. What he finds is troubling. Eye-witness accounts seem contrived with little variance between individual testimonies. The more he hears, the more he feels someone is manipulating the story.
As the investigation unfolds, he discovers the only information known about the fugitive is a HR file from a former employer. Public records of the man do not exist.
The fugitive is a ghost. A ghost who has disappeared.
When Kruger unearths information the investment firm lied about the incident in the lobby, he learns there is a possibility the fugitive was defending himself. He also discovers another individual is searching for the fugitive. An individual who has no interest in allowing the truth to be discovered.
When the cat and mouse game turns lethal, Kruger must use all of his skills and experience to find the truth, protect the fugitive, and ultimately stay alive.
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Mestlven follows Meredith as she returns to her home at Sorrow Watch to destroy her enemies. What themes did you use as you built this new story in the Perilisc series?
As a man without a father attempting to raise two sons, in a lot of my work, I study fatherhood. In this book, I studied motherhood, and the effects of a mother’s estrangement from her children. I wanted to study obsession and how it can dominate the mind and creep into the soul. So far in the work I’ve published, I’ve played very little with love, and the love that I did show in Chaste was an old and familiar love. In this book I wanted something new and fresh. Of course, I wanted to spend some time on revenge. It is an idea that’s gone through my mind often in my life because of my childhood, and I wanted to develop that theme and play with it in my work. In most or all of these topics, I found a certain amount of cathartic release. Mestlven really did help heal me in a lot of ways, and I’m very thankful for it.
The town of Mestlven is a haven for the depraved, dirty, greedy and perverted. How did you set about creating this vivid world?
In my past, I learned that when you live with darkness, you live in darkness. If you’re violent and ugly, the world you live in can’t help but be the same. Evil breeds more evil. The tragedy of Sob’s situation is that she is so enthralled by the idea of her own revenge that she attracts darkness to her. In many places, she had the opportunity to walk away from this darkness and find some other kind of peace. She had the friendship of Sai Sibbius Summerstone, and the love held out to her by Jeffery. But in both these situations, she turned away from that, seeking darkness. Usually, we find what we go looking for. There were many places in the city of Mestlven where you can find goodness and light. But Sob goes out of her way to avoid those places, to look for deadly pets and vile foes, and so the book is wrought with them.
The Pale is very morbid in this story. What was your inspiration for The Pale? Did anything develop organically?
For the most part, all of my work develops organically. My writing style is very much like I go around setting ideas into motion and watching them spin out of control. Very rarely do I plot an idea’s course. I started out with the idea of a festival of death, and tried to picture the city that would willingly hold such a festival. I realized that none would. None would truly welcome in the goddess of death to take over their city. So she would force her will upon them. I started looking at the sort of things that would be held sacred by the goddess of death, thinking of what would be The Pale’s virtues, what would she love? That’s when I realized she would see killers and murderers as her most beloved. She would hold sacred certain diseases, and when she sees someone like Sob, preparing to paint a masterpiece of death, she would send aid. I pictured the face of death, and what that face would look like, and for some reason, the image was of a beautiful woman with pale skin. So I named her The Pale. My gods I cast as people. They’ve all got their own likes and dislikes, loves and desires. They have their own flaws and their own sins. The only trick to creating my religion is understanding the quirks and foibles of the deity.
This being the fourth book in the Perilisc series, are you developing a fifth book or a different story?
We’re going to set this story line here for awhile. In 2019, we’ll pick up where we left off and head into a 5-book epic series I have already written that will take us through The Escape. But for now, we’re going to head southwest and find Rayph Ivoryfist for a trilogy called The Manhunters. When we left Rayph Ivoryfist in Liefdom, he had had a falling out with his king, Phomax. In my next book, Song, Rayph has been wandering the countryside of Lorinth, helping out where he can, and waiting for the king to die. Soon, a new evil organization rises, and he must gather what allies he can and rush off to face it. That’s where we go next. It introduces a set of new characters, characters that will show up again everywhere. With the first seven books I release, my goal is to build a character list. I’m introducing as many different people as I can organically in order to have them in place for later novels. What’s exciting about Song, and really the entire Manhunters series, is that we get to meet a new cast of characters, all unique and varied, all of which are leading somewhere. And we get to make cheese.
Meredith Mestlven was abused and betrayed by her nobleman husband. After a desperate fit of retaliation, she fled for her life and lost her sanity. Now nearly 20 years later, she returns to her home at Sorrow Watch to destroy her enemies and reclaim her jewels. How far will she go to satisfy her revenge? Dark, cunning and beautiful, Mestlven will win your heart or devour your mind.
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The Passer follows Eleanor on the one year anniversary of her boyfriend’s death as new powers awaken inside her and she is visited by other worldly beings. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
In June 2009, I was readying to go on stage during a performance of The Three Musketeers when an idea for a story flashed in my mind. That night before I went to bed, I recorded my thoughts in a notebook for a series of three stories, put it in the drawer of my nightstand and forgot about it. A year later I came across the same notebook and happened upon the page containing my three sentence synopsis. The subject matter dealt with death, loss and grieving expressed through a supernatural lens. I’m not entirely sure what prompted my somber thoughts, especially since I had not experienced the loss of a loved one in quite some time, but even as I read my words I had written a year earlier, something deep within me yearned to tell this story.
By the end of the summer of 2010, I was obsessed with the idea of a woman who develops supernatural abilities that have been dormant within her since birth and how these powers are triggered by the tragic loss of a loved one. In October of that year, after returning from a vacation in Northern California- what would turn out to be the setting for The Passer – I made the decision to write the book. For the remainder of the year I delved into some old favorite subjects-Greek, Roman and Celtic mythology- as well as Mysticism and the teachings of Esoteric Wisdom throughout the ages. All this fueled my desire to sing a song about death and grieving and in February of 2011 I began in earnest the first draft of The Passer.
Eleanor is an intriguing character. She is an accomplished actress and a professor as well. What were the driving ideals that drove the character’s development throughout the story?
I have had many readers tell me they admire Eleanor, both for her accomplishments and her struggle against a transformation that is beyond her control. Also, there are those who find her undeveloped and whining at times, mainly in regards to her ever-suffering devotion to her deceased boyfriend, as well as her head-scratching romance with her brutish, former husband. Eleanor harbors all these characteristics by design. Without revealing too much about her ultimate destiny, she will continue to develop, grow and surprise us (hopefully in a delightfully shocking way) by the end of the series.
Regarding Eleanor’s dual profession, that is based on two individuals who are/were (one is now sadly deceased) both university professors and active performers in their given fields. The one who most closely represents Eleanor is a gifted Shakespearean actress I had the pleasure of performing with in A Midsummer Night’s Dream who at the time was about to receive her doctorate in theater.
I felt that Eleanor’s powers were subtle and built rather dramatically. What was the inspiration for her powers and how did you keep it believable in the story?
From the moment the story was conceived I knew it would have a supernatural element driving the plot. As Eleanor took shape in my mind, her struggle to cope with her loss unearthed these abilities she had no idea she possessed. As she travels through her journey of discovery we are there with her, which helps to keep it real. The continuing acceleration of Eleanor’s powers is a key element that will play out through the entire series and will drive the plot to its final conclusion.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
We are currently editing the second installment of The Passer series, Ghostworld, which is scheduled to release in fall 2017. The story will begin where it left off at the end of The Passer.
There are two other projects underway. The first is Why I Love You The Passer Series, titled The Order.
Also in the works is The Magical Series based on Eleanor Bouchard’s sister Josephine Bouchard. Josephine returns to Ohio to live in her childhood home, only to discover that it is sitting on top of a supernatural fault that is brimming with activity.
The Amazing Amelia Monroe Series follows the precocious six-year old girl from The Passer as she matures in her powers while learning the truth about her deceased mother and biological father’s past.
After a year of desperately mourning her deceased boyfriend, Dr. Eleanor Bouchard, a theater professor and acclaimed Shakespearean actress, is ready to move past the despair that nearly destroyed her. But, on the anniversary of his death she is summoned by a frightening apparition with a message:
Help him believe…
As she attempts to unravel her ghostly messenger’s meaning, she begins to experience harrowing visions of a missing woman and discovers she possesses otherworldly powers that have been lying dormant within her, waiting for her to awaken.
While Eleanor struggles against her emerging powers, Daniel Archer, her former love, has troubles of his own. His wife has suffered a tragic death and now the famous actor, along with his precocious step-daughter, Amelia, seeks sanctuary in Eleanor’s secluded home in River Mist, California-whether she wants him there or not.
As their lives intertwine, Eleanor discovers a fateful connection to Daniel and Amelia and suspects that the haunting events that brought them together quite possibly were destined to be.
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In this novel; passion, danger, and the madness of King Kynneth are spreading across the land, and Christa’s legend is at the center of it all. What was one thing that got you excited about writing the 3rd book in your Atriian Trilogy?
I was anxious to see how Christine would fare against crazy Kynneth and his formidable infatuation. And I was especially curious to see how she would resolve her greatest dilemma of all, her forbidden desires for Hannen Fallier.
Christa stays true to her headstrong nature and is prone to ignoring advice she doesn’t want to hear while making risky decisions. How do you think her character has developed throughout the trilogy?
As a young woman, Christine felt the world was pitted against her. She was defiant and unruly, and prone to distancing herself from others to avoid further rejection. When she finally lets down her guard, her trust is brutally betrayed, and she is left bitter and broken. When she becomes a mother, I believe her focus shifts. It’s no longer herself she is trying to protect. She is fierce in her resolve to keep her children safe. I believe her headstrong nature, her grit and determination, are the very traits that keep her alive on Atriia, and that ultimately forge her into a legend.
The cover art for the Atriian Trilogy has been fantastic. What decisions went into the art direction?
I wanted to depict the characters as I envisioned them, to capture the image of the fierce fraigen dropper with his menacing mask and toothy tattoo, Christine with her ravishing red hair and piercing blue eyes, Lor Zeria with his sensuous mouth, and King Kynneth with a gloating glare in his eyes that could only mean trouble.
This being the third book in the Atriian Trilogy, how do you feel about the series coming to a close?
It’s been bittersweet. I’m afraid I’ve grown much too attached to many of the characters. It was a fantastic journey, and though there were horrific moments that broke my heart, I’m sorry to see it end.
Do you plan on continuing these characters in another series or are you working on something different?
Currently, I’m working on a completely different series, but one never knows. Mayhap somesol Becca and Bixten may have a tale to tell.
He is King Kynneth, hungry for power and bent on revenge. He means to rule the world of Atriia and to claim Christine as his own.
Will he conquer the world? Will he conquer Christine? Or does fate have other plans?
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Adam’s Stepsons follows Dr. Heimann as he designs the perfect soldiers for the United America’s in their war against the Martian colonies. What was your inspiration for the setup to this interesting science fiction story?
At the time I wrote the kernel of the story, I was working in a used bookstore and devouring all the short stories and novels by Phillip K Dick and Robert Heinlein that I could lay hands on. I was (and still am) fascinated by questions of “what is reality?” but I was (and still am) also intrigued by the question “who am I?” not only in terms of shared realities and perceptions but also ethnicities, religions, and personal relationships within the family. The sense of self is inextricably bound with community and history; my own family history, for example, is filled with generation after generation of soldier in nearly every major conflict since the 1680s. So I knew that I wanted the story of Dr. Heimann and his clones to take place during a military conflict of some sort. The US made it to the Moon first, so I figured any Moon Base would be set up by a future version of the US. But the rising powers of India and China would necessarily lead to competition and colonial expansion elsewhere in space. So I based the UAAF on the Moon, India on the ISS, and China (basically) on Mars. But something has gone wrong, as it usually does, and that sets off the conflict.
I should point out that, when I initially plotted the story and sketched out the characters, Dolly the Sheep hadn’t been announced, Battlestar Galactica was a late ’70s TV show starring Lorne Greene, and “The Clone Wars” still consisted of a single line spoken by Obi-Wan Kenobi. So as much as I’d love to say that I got the idea for soldier clones from the current zeitgeist, the underlying premise of Adam’s Stepsons actually predates the trend. My high school library had beat-up copies of Nancy Freedman’s Joshua, Son of None, and Ben Bova’s The Multiple Man, so it’s likely I internalized elements from those stories and subconsciously reproduced them in my own story.
Dr. Heimann and one of his cloned soldiers, Seth, have an intriguing relationship that becomes very deep. What were the driving ideals that drove the characters development throughout the story?
Dr. Heimann prides himself on his scientific bent of mind, but he struggles to cope to grips with the fact that he basically has no family left, and as Seth grows and begins to develop a real emotional attachment, the doctor desperately tries to push away the feelings he had for the person Seth is clone of. Meanwhile Seth has been trained (“brainwashed,” as the doctor puts it) to be an efficient killing machine, and his need for order compels him to seek out and eliminate anything unknown or unreasonable. Yet he, himself, can’t help feeling strong conflicting emotions, first toward the doctor and then toward his fellow clones. Both characters are driven to discover, deep down, who they really are as people, outside their rigid societal roles as scientist and soldier. Dr. Heimann knows that Seth is not his real son, but can’t help treating his stepson’s clone familiarly because it reminds him of what he has lost. Seth has been “programmed” not to think of anything other than army orders, but he can’t shake the sense that there is more to who he is as a person. Finding out he is a clone, and who his “brothers” are, is the trigger for the final confrontation.
Science fiction has always asked the ‘what if’ questions, but I feel that your novel went a step further. What were some ideals you used in building your story?
My original intention was to investigate not just the “what if” of human cloning (i.e., how would this be done? how would the clones grow physically and mentally?) but also the “what is self?” to a cloned human being. The scientists argue that personality is partly inherited and partly environmental; so if you were to make several different clones of one person and then controlled the information input, they would all become the same person. But personality also consists of emotional attachments made with other human beings on a deeper social level. Human beings are social animals; we need other humans to survive and thrive, and without others we have no clear sense of who we are and what our purpose is. So in order to examine this in a futuristic setting like a clone facility on the Moon, I needed to have a reason for making clones in the first place, plus other people who would provide the clones with that social environment. Once that was established, the real question became “Is what we’re doing morally ethical?” The military paying for the clones display classic cognitive dissonance, by using people they claim are not really people but know they actually are, in order to win what they call a morally righteous war but actually is destroying their entire society. Yet the General clearly also feels a sense of internal conflict, feeling obligated to protect every member under his command, including the clones, and also knowing through his friendship with Dr. Heimann who the clone really is and how this might affect his friend. Ultimately, I was interested in making sure none of the characters were typical “scifi” stereotypes, that they had ideals but were deeply flawed people, and ultimately would find themselves trying to make the best of what basically could turn out to be a lose-lose situation in the end.
What is the next book that you’re working on and when will it be available?
Right now I have a couple of projects I’m working on in various stages, but the one most closely related to Adam’s Stepsons is a metaphysical science fiction series set mostly on Mars. The first book is called Bringer of Light; a crew of ethnically diverse and somewhat misfit asteroid hunters recovers an extra solar object from beyond the solar system, experiences physical and spiritual changes, and ultimately becomes the new leaders of the united Mars colonies as they break away from the old political chaos of Earth and form a new society. The story combines hard science with various mystical systems of belief, ethnic and religious sense of self and identity, and international/interspacial political intrigue. I’m about a third the way through the initial draft; the aim is to finish writing by the end of summer 2017, and have an edited, polished manuscript done by spring 2018. The next two books (Defenders of Aeropagus and Return to Omphales) have already been outlined and plotted.
Dr. Johann Heimann designed the perfect soldiers: superhuman in strength and intelligence, immune to sickness and disease, programmed to lead the United Americas to a quick victory in the Mars Colony War. But Heimann didn’t anticipate the military’s unrealistic demands, or his own emotional responses to his creations. And now Number Six is calling him “Father”! What exactly is going on during the clones’ personality imprinting cycle? As Heimann starts his investigation, Number Six grows in confidence and self-awareness…and both discover the project hides a secret even Heimann, himself, doesn’t suspect…
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Angie Brown, A Jim Crow Romance was originally written by Lillian Jones Horace 68 years ago. What inspiration did you find in this book that made you want to publish an annotated scholarly edition?
I am certain that most of my admiration stems from my appreciation for Horace, the African American southern woman writer, who remained true to her commitment to write “creatively but constructively.” Before I began conducting research on Horace and her writings, she and the archival material treating her life and works were largely overlooked by scholars.
The protagonists she created all exemplify the kind of determination that Horace herself demonstrated throughout her life.
I wanted to create an annotated scholarly edition to help Angie Brown find its way into the literary canon, where students and scholars of African American literature could weigh in on its value.
Angie Brown is a strong women that is finding her path through troubled times. What are some things you admire about her character?
I admire Angie’s determination, practicality, openness to learning, friendly nature, and commitment to progress.
What kind of research did you do for this novel and Lillian Jones Horace?
I conducted extensive archival research to better understand Horace and the characters she created. A comprehensive list of the repositories I visited appears in my first book-length publication on Horace titled, Recovering Five Generations Hence: The Life and Writing of Lillian Jones Horace (2013). I have been researching and writing about Horace since 2003. Her papers are held in the Fort Worth Public Library, Fort Worth, TX.
I understand you contacted some of the Horace family for this book. What were their reactions to you pursuing this 100 year old story?
I contacted her niece and two of her great nieces. Her great niece, who remembered her well, knew that Lillian Horace was a respected educator, but she had no idea that Horace had written two historic novels. Most of what I shared with her and other family members about Lillian Horace was new to them.
Do you have any other books in the works?
Yes. I am working on an edited version of Lillian Horace’s diary, and a book project comparing and contracting the trajectory of Horace’s life and works to those of her younger and more popular southern African American contemporary, Zora Neale Hurston.
“Angie Brown is a romance migration novel set in the Jim Crow era. Angie, the protagonist, determines to embrace all life has to offer despite the social restrictions facing young black southern women like her. Angie holds fast to her desire to find financial success, personal fulfillment, and true love, but she does not achieve her dreams alone, nor do they unfold in the same place. From Belle, her confidant; to Betty Yates, the teacher; to Chester, the pool hall owner; women and men from various social stations in life and different places share nuggets of wisdom with Angie. With their love and support, she overcomes tragedy, welcomes fresh possibilities, climbs the social ladder, and opens her heart to love. Angie’s progressive journey reflects the migratory trek of many African American Southerners of the Jim Crow era, who left the South for greater educational and economic opportunity. Her quest leads her from a small segregated community to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and eventually to the Midwest, including St. Louis, Missouri, Chicago, and Southern Illinois. As Angie travels from place to place, she gradually comes into her own and learns key life lessons. Angie learns that struggle is universal. While doing domestic work, she discovers that whites, who live on “The Other Side,” also experience pain, suffering, and grave disappointment. Love eludes white women, too, and they, too, face gender discrimination. Having overcome her fair share of personal losses, Angie reaches across racial lines to console Gloria, a member of the Parker family, for whom Angie does domestic work. Her experience with the Parker’s is juxtaposed to her dealings with the Mungers, a rich, Northern white family she meets. Although the Mungers are kind to Angie, she learns that life beyond the South is not perfect. Yes, she and other blacks face less virulent forms of racism outside the South, but economic stability and educational opportunity are not easily achieved.”
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A Small Bronze Gift Called Mirror follows Lydia who is a sixteen-year-old girl living at a boarding school when the headmaster of the school forces Lydia to compete in a mirror contest. What was the inspiration for this very imaginative story?
A quote from Plato’s Apology of Sokrates served as my inspiration for my story:
“something divine and spiritual comes to me, (…) I have had this from my childhood; it is a sort of voice that comes to me, and when it comes it always holds me back from what I am thinking of doing, but never urges me forward.” – Plato’s Apology of Sokrates- 31d. What if we could not only hear this divine and spiritual voice, but also give it a face? Would we be satisfied with the image? Would it be what we imagined it to be or would it be what others expect it to be?
Lydia is a strong-willed, independent teen who takes matters into her own hands. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
Like most characters of the story, Lydia has many challenges to overcome and a difficult task to carry. She faces a lot of issues that people today struggle with. That require many morals and values like self-respect, compassion, altruism and justice. Lydia is a strong-willed young girl, who changes and develops these values as she grows up.
The story has a wonderfully unique take on magic mirrors that’s different from the fairy tale version. How did this idea come to you and how did you develop it into a story?
From the beginning I wanted somebody for Lydia to talk to, because it’s not easy for a child to be left grow up alone. This resulted in the creation of Phoebus, who could prove to be a true friend or an enemy. I tried to show how difficult it is for us today to protect ourselves from bad influences. That’s why the reflections in the mirrors are often shaped by how we perceive ourselves through the manipulation of the others.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
Currently I’m writing another mystery novel about two very different people, which have nothing in common until they bump on each other. It will be available as soon as the English translation is finished.
“A small bronze gift called “Mirror” follows the story of Lydia, who is forced to go on the run at the age of 6 when her mother is murdered. Protected by her grandmother, Lydia’s life is shrouded in mystery, compounded by the small bronze gift she was given and which she calls ‘mirror’.
At the age of 12, Lydia is left in the care of Mrs. M, and is given a place at a school filled with unusual characters. When she arrives there Lydia discovers that all the children have the same ‘mirror’ as she does. But it’s when she starts to learn how to use it that the real story unfolds and she must undertake a remarkable journey.”
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Fathering the Fatherless is a short, non-fiction story detailing the struggles a man has in terms of understanding and becoming a father. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I wrote the book because my Pastor struck a cord inside of me when he asked me to pray for fatherless spirit. I was like wait, there are hardly any books on this as far as I know. And then within 5 months I wrote most of what is in Fathering the Fatherless. From that I noticed I fell under this pattern of statistics and I needed to change so my children would live a healthier and better life and that I would become the father God called and made me to be. If you look at the first chapter, Statistics of a Fatherless Home, and look at whats going on in this world you can see what I mean.
What is one misconception that you think people have about fatherless families?
Well, writing this book was from the heart as a man growing up without a father I feel I missed out in so much as a child and as a father I lost out on how a father really should be and how to father.
You speak from your own personal point of view in this story. Was there anything difficult for you to write about?
It was hard to talk about me as a father and not having a father as I was growing up.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from your book?
I hope everyone will grow and learn from the book and strive to do a better job and teach others how to be a better father.
“Fathering the Fatherless deals with Fatherlessness and what it does to children and The choices we make in there life. What we can do as a dad to fix it.And do better for our Children to come to know they have a father that loves them and wont leave them, You & God.”
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Return to Babylon begins with Orfeo and Clarice returning from the New World and their battle with the Spartans to settle into a somewhat peaceful life. How did you decide where to start the fifth book in the Orfeo saga?
I think it is a central theme of my books that you never know who emerges as an enemy, and you cannot pick a good time to confront a problem. Book 5 starts out by Cyrus being bored, and he assumes he will make a business trip to Babylon and see old friends. The trip does not go as planned, and he ends up being held as a slave and carted off.
I realized that I had taken the series to the New World but I had not been further east. When I was a rug dealer I remember my time in Afghanistan, before the revolution. I really enjoyed every trip to Afghanistan I took. The people were friendly, the food was great, there were all kinds of wonderful cultural things there. When writing I did my best to forget what was going on in that country now, and tried to capture what it must have been like in the Bronze Age.
My favorite character was Cyrus, a young and eager apprentice who begins to learn the ins and outs of spy craft. Did you have a favorite character you liked to write for?
For book 5 Cyrus emerged as the main character. The name gives it away. I modeled him after Cyrus the Great (600-530 BC). Of course Cyrus was a character from a later age, but I know that history regards him as a pragmatic ruler and a peacemaker. That is just the kind of ruler the region needs today. My character, being younger, is not so constrained as Orfeo and Clarice. Cyrus is not a Wanderer, and he leaves less of a footprint than the other characters (after all he is a good spy). I liked this about Cyrus, in a way he is something like Zurga would have been as a young man. In another way Cyrus would find his place at the end of the book, and he would have no need to wander even if he wanted to.
Return to Babylon is an action-packed story that explores the dynamics between different kingdoms. How did you set out creating the dynamic between the kingdoms? Did you outline it or was it organic?
I had to outline book 5 more than the other books. The difference is that for ancient Greece and Mesopotamia relatively more is known about their history. The area of Afghanistan is less known, and in a way this made the plot more difficult. I did not have names dates and events to hang my story on. I had to rely on the histories of the later empires that existed in Afghanistan. The rugged country made it hard to control. There were many petty kings, and bandits could be a problem.
Where does book six in the series, The Slave Boy, take readers?
I have a story arc planned around Orfeo and Clarice. I will use Cyrus in later books, but in some ways this book was a one off. I am really interested in the transfer of power. It is not so much that the older generation trains the next generation. It is more that the older generation is there after the adventure is over to help point out what lessons were learned.
After the conquest of Babylon the victors installed the daughter of the former king as ruler of that city state. Zinaida is now beginning to feel stirrings of divinity, and seeks vengeance upon the coalition who put her on the throne. One by one surrounding kings are removed. This time there will be no grand coalition to challenge the might of Babylon. The battle will be in the shadows. Zinaida has sent spies to locate Zurga, and she is greatly concerned that he cannot be found. After an attempt on his life, Orfeo and Clarice decide to go directly to Mesopotamia in an attempt to prevent harm coming to their adopted city of Pylos.
The wild card in the equation is a small city not one hundredth the size of Babylon which is located in the lower Tigris. Can the ruler of Araka be persuaded to take on the might of Babylon? Daryush, now ruler of a small kingdom, also decides to meet the threat in an unconventional way. He trains a young apprentice named Cyrus in spycraft. Can smoke and mirrors overcome raw power?”
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