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Nikki Minty
Nikki Minty Author Interview

Pastel Pink follows a girl who was murdered on Earth and reincarnated on Zadok, but when her human spirit is drawn back to Earth she’s plunged into a world of intrigue on both planets. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

My son Randall Jackson, AKA RJ, helped to inspire The Zadok Series.

We were sitting in the library waiting for his sister to finish her art class when the question “I wonder what happens after you die” came up.

RJ said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if every time we died, we regenerated onto a different Planet?”

Of course, I jumped on this idea and together we discussed what the different races on the next planet would look like and what new capabilities/powers they would have.

As a tribute, I’ve modelled a character after my son RJ. He has Aspergers/Autism and is quirky with a brain like an encyclopaedia.

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

I wanted Harlow to be different to Ruby even though they are theoretically the same Zeek/person. Ruby is confident and outspoken whereas Harlow’s confidence has been crushed due to years of being told she is worthless. Harlow starts meeker and milder and then builds into someone much stronger. She learns to stand up against the haters.

I thought the color caste system was creative and intriguing. Where did this idea come from and how did it evolve as you wrote?

The overall message of The Zadok Series is one of acceptance. Just like here on Earth with humans, Zeeks face prejudice characters who are intent on making their lives a living hell.

Not only that, there are different Zadonian races, and they feud with one another. Not everything is as it seems. Sometimes there’s more to the story than meets the eye.

Don’t let others force you into believing a certain race, colour, or way of living is wrong. Take a closer look and let yourself be the decider.

This is book one in your Zadok Series. What can readers expect in book two?

Expect to see more of the Drakes and Vallons and discover how they live in the following two books of the series.

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From one ending comes a new beginning…Ruby was murdered on Earth eighteen years ago and reincarnated on Zadok as a Pastel Zeek named Harlow. To be born at the bottom of her race’s caste colour system to a middle-class family of Magentas has made Harlow a source of conflict amongst the ruling Purples, and a source of derision from all three colours.When Harlow is attacked by a fuegor on Zadok, the effects of its slow reacting venom triggers an unforeseen phenomenon, and due to the strong connection she had with her former twin sister Jade, her human spirit is unexpectedly drawn back to Earth. Now living a double life, she has plunged into a world of intrigue on both planets.On earth, she watches on in horror as Jade reconnects with Lucas, the man who murdered her and got away with it. And to complicate things further, she’s being pursued by Alex, the ghost of Lucas’ twin. On Zadok, she becomes embroiled with Jax, the son of the Commanding family. He’s determined to bring about change to the colony’s colour system, but it’ll come at a cost.As Harlow mixes with the political intrigue of the Zeeks, will she become a victim of those trying to rigidly maintain the status quo or will she usher in a revolution? And will ghost Ruby resist the temptation of the handsome Alex or pursue an impossible relationship that could have dire consequences on both planets?

The Treasure of the Crystal Cave

Miiliinda is a newly-minted mage who has tumbled to earth but doesn’t know why. She soon meets Alaric, an adventurer and treasure-hunter. He tells her his story about a journey to find a mythical cave full of riches, the perils that met those who went before him and what he found when he finally succeeded in his quest. Meeting Miiliinda turns out to be exactly what he needs.

The Treasure of the Crystal Cave by Kelsie R Gates has the subtitle “A Fairy Tale Fantasy”, which is an apt description of this vibrant story. It has all the elements of an imaginative fantasy story with magical powers, faraway lands, and a protagonist who must face danger and treachery to reach their goal. But it is definitely a fairy tale too, with an imperiled good queen, an evil sibling and the potential for love.

The author tells the story in an engaging manner with eloquently descriptive passages, such as his sketching of the bartender in ‘Rest and Drinks’: “While he stood waiting for an answer, he wiped at the counter with a rag that was as dirty as the tunic he wore.” I also found the dialogue to be interesting, as I thought it worked well and created very good rapport between the characters, although at times I felt that it was very rich and sentimental.

Readers who enjoy classic fantasy and fairy tale stories will find many of the classic tropes they have come to appreciate driving this story forward. While I enjoyed the story overall I felt that there is a lot of potential for improvement in structure and flow that an editor can catch. With these small adjustments this novel has the potential to be an epic fantasy novel.

The Treasure of the Crystal Cave is an engaging and straight-forward fantasy story that is imbued with an adventurous spirit that takes readers through a creative and fascinating story.

Pages: 156 | ISBN: 1682561453

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Pastel Pink

Pastel Pink: Zadok Series by [Nikki Minty, Indicreates Indiana Maria Acosta Hernandez, Cissell Ink Amy Cissell and Christopher Barnes]

Pastel Pink is the first book in Nikki Minty’s young adult fantasy series. Sci-fi enthusiast Harlow, from the planet Zadok, remembers her past life as Ruby, a human living on Earth, and her murder. Harlow, a pink Zeek, is the weakest of her race on the planet of Zadok, which is divided into four races: Vallon, Rukes, Drakes, and Zeeks, and has a color-superior cast system. However, she is no less significant: she is now receiving attention from the upper-class people at Zeeks, the purples. The reason is as big a mystery to her as to the reader. With her life on Earth and life in Zadok, her conflicting feelings, and her relationship with her race’s enemy in Zadok, the vallons, Harlow’s destiny is putting her on a perilous path.

In Pastel Pink, Harlow and Floss, and Lucas and Alex, both human and non-human twin characters, represent the faces of two coins in their antithetical traits. Humans, as shown by these damaged characters, who lack parental care and love, and always have the option of acting empathetically or degradingly. Also seen in the book is Krista’s attitude and conduct, which represents a woman who has surrendered to a toxic husband and an intolerant society. For fear of stigma, she is willing to break the unthinkable laws of society in private rather than stand up against the toxicity.

I find the concept of the coexistence of two planets, with some Zadok residents being able to live dual lives, intriguing and refreshing. With the unique characteristics of each of the races on Zadok, according to their names, readers will certainly appreciate the author’s imagination. I also enjoyed seeing the rarely-seen sisterly affection between Harlow and floss, where they provide one another with services in exchange for what they are each seeking. As on Earth, Zadok’s color system mimics the racism that still determines people’s position of worth in many areas. However, Zadok comes off better than earth in that two girls dating each other doesn’t seem to be an issue there. One cannot help but ponder Harlow’s statement that Floss never mistreated her because of her color before she started school.

While I enjoyed the story, I would have enjoyed more inclusion of other inhabitants of Zadok in Book 1, besides the Zeeks and humans. I felt that it would have been interesting to have some scenes swapped with more information about Zadok’s life. But in the end I’m just glad that this is the start of a series as I feel like there is so much more to explore and I can’t wait to get to it.

Pastel Pink is an imaginative fairy tale fantasy that intelligently combines mystery, action, and romance into a compelling story that fans of young adult novels will devour. This is a captivating fantasy novel with subtle but deep social commentary and a storyline that is captivating and highly entertaining.

Pages: 381 | ASIN: B08T1HC81S

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We Go On A Journey

Christopher St. John
Christopher St. John Author Interview

War Bunny follows a young bunny who’s banished from her warren and must face a dangerous post-apocalyptic world alone. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

When my partner and I first started collecting rescue bunnies ten years ago, I knew nothing about rabbits. Like most people, I had been acculturated to think of rabbits as living plush toys: 24/7 snugglers created to be pets for tween girls.

I was surprised to discover how complex their lives were. How territorial they were. And how fierce.

We were bringing home rabbits one or two at a time from rescue organizations, and we gave them free run of the house. We did not know then that rabbits who don’t know each other may be highly suspicious on first meeting, and very protective of their perquisites.

We attempted to make them all one big happy family (called “bonding” in rabbit parlance) and were shocked to learn they had minds of their own.

The rabbits eventually organized themselves into two opposing gangs, each with its own leader. They competed for territory. They competed to control food, even though there was plenty for everyone. And they competed to monopolize the petting that came from the two amiable herb-dispensers and litter-box attendants who hovered over their world. Watching this, I was amazed at how “human” they were. 

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

Making any change in the world also means making changes in yourself. We go on a journey with Anastasia and she struggles to find her way out of the maze of beliefs she has been taught. The innermost kernel of herself is her guide. That is the thing that she will not give up. It’s her foundation in terms of judging what to do next.

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

Often the “truths” about the world are drummed into us at a very young age. In our own lives, we see enormous evils that we are taught cannot be changed because “they have always been this way.” Acquiescing is what the predators want you to do. If a rabbit can take on a world that assigns her the role of “victim,” so can you.

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

War Bunny is the first book in a series. The next book, Summerday, picks up right where War Bunny leaves off. I’m working on it now and it will be published in 2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

War Bunny: Book 1 in the War Bunny Chronicles by [Christopher St. John]

A young rabbit fights back against a world that assigns her the role of “victim.”

In a post-apocalyptic world where humans are extinct and animals thrive, rabbits believe their god, Yah, has decreed that they must be Glorified by a Blessed One. That means becoming a predator’s meal, accepting their fate in a surrender called the Giving.

But Anastasia, a brown yearling doe living in Bloody Thorn Warren, is different from the other rabbits. She starts asking pointed questions of the warren elders and gets exiled for it.

Without a warren, she’s enormously vulnerable, but she reaches out to others in desperate straits. Soon, she’s leading a group of outcasts in a ferocious battle for survival—and maybe even freedom. It’s a fast-paced story about friendship, honor, love, and coming of age.

A great adventure read for teens and adults! (Fantasy, 13+)

Summerday, Book 2 in the War Bunny Chronicles, will be published in 2022.

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A Journey with Malmo to the Ends of the Earth

A Journey with Malmo to the Ends of the Earth by [Elena Horas San Martín]

A Journey With Malmo to the Ends of the Earth by Elena Horas San Martin takes the reader to the remote and mystical country of Merryland. Here, the land is fruitful and bright and the inhabitants are joyful. The country is hidden away from any outsiders and can’t be placed on a map to keep it sheltered from the outside world. The only dark aspect of this beautiful country is the threatening rule that all residents know—anyone who leaves Merryland and ventures into The Exterior or Outside world will receive a deadly punishment.

A Journey With Malmo to the Ends of the Earth begins with the birth of Malmo, a natural resident of Merryland. His strange birth leads to people proclaiming that he will be a visionary. A threat comes to the island, warned by a prophet, and the people of Merryland are divided into those who fear the threat and those who want to fight it off. As many people begin to disappear, a new message is left for those remaining on Merryland, telling them that the answers to their questions lie beyond the borders.

This enchanting fantasy novel is full of mystery, and I loved reading about Malmo’s journey as he ventures past the border of Merryland. The creatures he meets make the story whimsical and intriguing, and I loved getting the opportunity to see the landscape that he crossed because it all seemed so imaginative. As he goes on to fight the evil that is plaguing his homeland, I found the air of fantasy and adventure to be truly immersive and so fun to read.

I would have liked to see more of Malmo’s childhood before leaving, so that we could see how he lives in Merryland and what makes is so beautiful. It’s clear that the island is very special, but I think the book could have benefitted with more description of the country.

A Journey With Malmo to the Ends of the Earth by Elena Horas San Martin is a whimsical story with fun elements of fantasy and adventure, and it would make the perfect tale to read to a young reader just starting to delve into the world of myth and fairytale. I recommend it to anyone who wants to read a story that inspires the imagination and whisks them away on a spirited adventure.

Pages: 130 | ASIN: B099SBTFY1

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The Destiny Of All Dogs

Paola Giometti
Paola Giometti Author Interview

The Destiny of the Wolves follows a pack of wolves that set out on a dangerous quest seeking answers to a vision that shows a bond between man and wolf. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

My family and I, who always rescue animals from the streets, realize the connection that animals create with us, this loving and dependent bond. It is very visible how abused dogs walk and those who live without an owner, the way they look at you, the way they react to the approach of other dogs or people. Dogs exist today because our species has domesticated the wolf many times over the millennia, and I often say that the existence of dogs is a human responsibility. The species Canis familiaris was not made alone, the human being had a direct participation in its creation. When I see an abandoned dog I know it was because someone abandoned him and not because he was born in the wild. That was the reason I wrote The Destiny of the Wolves, because I wanted people to reflect on what it’s like to be in their “shoes”, which is the same as abandoning a child in the world, without food, without protection, awakening fears and traumas in these animals that is similar to what a human being might feel.

The characters in the story were intriguing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

My intention when creating the characters was to bring wolves with behaviors that could resemble our dogs. Every wolf in my story is or was a dog I adopted. Its colors, ways of acting and thinking were inspired by the characteristics of my dogs. Even Finn and Felicity are my dogs and the story about them in the book is true. I found Finn half dead when I was at a bus stop and Felicity was my sister who found her, trapped in a lamppost and in the rain, freezing to death. Our dogs have a lot of personality, and even though they’re nearly 18,000 years younger than their ancestors, dogs still act with some instinctive wolf´s method.

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

Raising awareness about animal abandonment, our responsibility for the species Canis familiaris, awakening in the reader empathy for dogs and other animals, a reflection on them not having chosen the fate they have, but that we who choose the destiny of all dogs.

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

The next book to be published in English is Symbiosa and the Threat in the Arctic, which will tell the story of a young girl called Emma. She is saved from near-death by her friendship with a falcon. Her normal life resumes, but she is left with the sharpened eyesight of a bird of prey. Summoned to a mysterious winter holiday camp in the far north of Norway, Emma has the chance to strengthen her connection with her falcon and truly understand the secret union of the Symbiosa, the Sami people’s solution to all human ailments. But what Emma wasn’t counting on was a sinister underground organisation threatening the very existence of the Symbiosa. Soon she is faced with a terrible doubt: do the Symbiosa represent salvation or rather a terrible curse?

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Instagram | Website

At a time when most men have lost their instinctive ability to understand animals,Kushi, the leader of a pack of wolves, has a vision of her forefathers. They show her scenes from the future: the consequences of a bond between men and wolves. In a quest for answers, she and her friends set off on a dangerous journey through frozen mountains. What will be… the destiny of the wolves?

To Reveal Its Shocking Nature

Author Interview
Colin McNairn Author Interview

Signs of the Times reexamines classic nursery rhymes through a contemporary and humorous lens. What inspired you to write this book?

My mother was an English teacher and a great fan of humorous poetry. She introduced me to the light verse of Ogden Nash and the nonsense rhymes of Edward Lear, kindling my enthusiasm for their writing styles. I have also been fascinated by wordplay, of one kind or another, and have written about it in earlier books. The light verse style offers considerable wordplay possibilities. It struck me that classic nursery rhymes would lend themselves to reinterpretation in this style and that they could do with some updating as it were.

What is the most memorable nursery rhyme from your childhood and how does that speak to you today?

One of the most memorable, if not the most memorable, nursery rhyme from my childhood is “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” It speaks to me today because I now appreciate that a lamb represents innocence and purity and that the pure whiteness of the typical lamb’s coat reinforces the notion of purity. I now believe that this nursery rhyme emphasizes the faithfulness that a pet, endowed with the characteristics of innocence and purity, is capable of showing to a human companion. In the nursery rhymes, that faithfulness is reciprocated by Mary, to her enduring credit.

What nursery rhyme shocked you the most when reexamining it?

For me, the nursery rhyme “Goosey, Goosey, Gander” didn’t take much reexamination to reveal its shocking nature. It portrays someone throwing an old, presumably defenseless, old man down a set of stairs for the simple crime of refusing to say his prayers. For me, the shocking nature of the narrative wasn’t particularly dampened when I learned that what was being described here was likely the fate of a priest, hidden away in a “priest-hole” in a Catholic home, being rousted and punished for refusing to swear allegiance to the Protestant Queen. This would have been a not untypical occurrence in England during the Papist purge of the sixteenth century.

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

My next book will be another collection of light verse for adults. It’s to be titled What If Jack Wasn’t So Nimble: Mother Goose Characters Reimagined. I’m currently looking for a publisher. One of the poems from this collection, entitled “Time’s No Fun When You’re Having Flies” has been published in the latest quarterly issue (Sept., 2021) of the British Webzine Lighten Up Online (see https://lightenup-online.co.uk/index.php/isse-55-september-2021/2174-colin-mcnairn-time-s-no-fun-when-you-re-having-flies).

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

Signs of the Times is good clean—or not so clean—fun in two ways. It’s a joy to be reintroduced to so many dearly loved and justly renowned nursery rhymes, long after their sparkle and pungency may have faded from adult memory. It’s also fun to see what an informed and somewhat sardonic modern sensibility makes of them anew in the context of these times we are all now living through.

—Bruce Bennett, Emeritus Professor of English, Wells College

Colin McNairn is clearly having fun as he rewrites nursery rhymes to comment on the wider world. With jabs and plentiful jokes (“hickory, dickory, daiquiri”), he happily draws readers into his imaginative wordsmithery.

—Warren Clements, Author, The Nestlings Press Book of Fairy Tales in Verse

If Mother Goose were writing her nursery rhymes to-day, she would no doubt
burnish her MeToo credentials by condemning Georgie Porgie for kissing the girls and making them cry,
have Billy Boy, a.k.a. Charming Billy, look for a wife online rather than by pursuing a ground game;
warn us against catching a tiger by the toe, given the dangers of nail fungus; and
recognize a twinkle, twinkle in the night sky as more likely to evidence a drone rather than a star.
These are among the revisionist scenarios portrayed in the 70 plus mature verses in this collection, all of which have been inspired, to some extent, by traditional nursery rhymes. The subject matter of the verses ranges widely and includes, politics, language, the law, dating and mating, social behavior, food and drink, health, sports, commerce, technology, travel, and the natural environment.

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

When reading Sign of the Times: Through Reimagined Nursery Rhymes you bring out your inner child, enjoy the text in the book and be grateful for literature in a different structure. Colin McNairn wrote an interesting book. This is the kind of book you read when in a dull mood as the verses will cheer you up. Signs of the Times: Through Reimagined Nursery Rhymes is an easy book to follow and readers will enjoy every page.

I really enjoyed the unique contemporary twist given to these classic nursery rhymes. While I believe the content of the book is geared more towards adults, I think that it will really appeal to anyone that is mature. The colorful literature covers a variety of social issues in poignant yet humorous ways. Some of my favorite topics in the book touched on politics, running homes, climate and sexual revolution.

Reading this book makes you appreciate classic literature once again, but we reexamine these stories with a modern lens that shows just how far we’ve come, or at least changed, since they were written and last fully appreciated. Author Colin McNairn covers serious issues in an amusing way that provides context to issues many see as abstract. Which is funny to me considering these nursery rhymes were abstract to me as a child, I never really sat and thought about the words and the story behind it. Author Colin McNairn has obviously put much more thought into these stories than I ever have and in so doing has given me a different kind of appreciation for the kinds of stories we tell children and what the underlying messages are in the stories we tell.

Signs of the Times: Through Reimagined Nursery Rhymes can be enjoyed in one of two ways; as light and fun reading that will certainly make you chuckle, or as a deeper examination of classic literature. In either case, it will certainly be enjoyable.

Pages: 102 | ISBN: 1954353693

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