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A Few Hidden Messages

Anne E. Beall Author Interview

Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After, is an in-depth analysis of fairytales and how women are portrayed and treated in comparison to men. Why was this an important book for you to write? 

It’s an important topic because fairy tales are among some of the first stories we learn as children, and these stories are told and re-told in many books and movies. Even modern novels sometimes put forward versions of these fairy tales where the female heroine finally gets her “prince”—the high-status man who has wealth and status. Because these tales are so ubiquitous, it’s important to unpack them and really understand what they’re saying.  They have quite a few hidden messages.

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

One thing that I wanted to get across was that male characters are largely powerful, active, good people. In contrast, female characters tend to be weak, passive, and powerless. And when female characters are powerful, they are often evil. This idea of a powerful woman generally being evil concerns me because it may set us up to be wary of women who have ascended to powerful positions in our society. 

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from reading your book?

I want people to really question whether the fairy tale life is desirable. I found that female royalty has very little power and are the most unhappy. Queens cry more than any other character, and princesses are terribly treated—imprisoned, kidnapped, etc. Marrying the prince or king has some tremendous disadvantages in fairy tale land, but that is put forward as the ultimate goal.

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

My next book is called Only Prince Charming Gets to Break the Rules: Gender and Rule Violation in Fairy Tales and Life. It’s an analysis of fairy tales and folktales from around the world and I learned in my research that male and female characters are treated differently when they break rules in stories. Men are often rewarded or unpunished, whereas women are punished very severely. In fact, one-third of them are executed! I draw parallels with modern life where I found that men and women are treated differently when they break rules. For example, men and women in the legal, financial, and medical fields are given very different punishments for the same behaviors. I hope to have that published later this year or early next year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Did Cinderella live happily ever after? One might think so until you look more closely at the hidden messages in beloved fairy tales. In Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After, fairy tales are analyzed in terms of the underlying messages about marriage, agency, power, suffering, and good versus evil, with a focus on how male and female characters differ in each of these areas. The analysis is a data-driven approach that provides clear evidence for the hidden messages in these beloved tales. The end conclusion is not whether fairy tales are good or bad but rather what messages they deliver about life, even if unintentionally.

Super Sassy and Quick Witted

Nikki Minty
Nikki Minty Author Interview

Powerful Purples follows the inhabitants of a memorable fantasy world as they undergo drastic societal changes that will alter their very existence. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I believe if we as humans can come together and learn to accept one another for our different appearances, cultures, and beliefs, this world would be a much nicer place.

There were many fascinating characters in this series. Who was your favorite character to write for and why?

Zannah was—by far—my favourite character to write through. She’s super sassy and quick witted. There were many times where she took over and changed the course of her own story. I never quite knew what to expect when writing her scenes. She was always surprising me.

Were you able to achieve everything you wanted with the characters in the novel?

I’m happy with the growth of my characters from Pastel Pink to Powerful Purples. My characters are all flawed in their own ways, but I believe that’s what makes them feel real.

I must say, when it comes to my audiobooks, I’m absolutely ecstatic with the way the narrators portrayed my fictional characters. Khristine Hvam, Jodie Harris, James Patrick Cronin, and James Fouhey really brought them all to life.

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

I’m working on a Supernatural Thriller set in Louisiana, USA. I’m hoping to have it finished and released by the end of 2022, if all goes to plan.

Author Links: Twitter | Instagram | Website | GoodReads | Amazon | Audible

An explosive ceremony rocks Winter’s caves and those responsible must flee to the Drake village and start a new life.
When Harlow is imprisoned by the Queen’s guards, Slater is forced to flee for his life and team up with Jax—the one man he detests more than any other. Together with courageous Zadonians from all four races, they devise a daring rescue mission to save Harlow from impending death.
Nothing is what it seems, however, and Harlow finds herself being drawn into political intrigue that will change the landscape of Summer and Winter forever.
Torn between Slater’s wants and needs, and her own—will Harlow stay to keep Slater happy or follow her heart and return with Jax?

My Mother Told These Tales

Author Interview
Teresa Chin Jones Author Interview

Tales of the Monkey King is a retelling of classic Chinese tales of the famous Monkey King. What drew you to this folklore and inspired you to write a book?

I am of Chinese origin. We came to the US as refugees in 1950 when the Nationalist government fell. My mother told these tales to my brother and I and over the years I told them to the children of all our friends and they all loved the tales-especially the boys.

I decided it was time to write up these stories (in my mother’s words) for children and now my grandsons to enjoy. There are plenty of academically precise translations in several languages – but like all scholarly works, they aren’t much fun.

The illustrations were beautiful. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Gennel Marie Sollano?

I sent in the very amateurish and rough sketches I did years ago for the first edition and she took what she wanted for the illustrations. There was no direct contact, it was all done with Xlibris but I wanted to make sure the artist was recognized and so her name is clearly listed as the book illustrator.

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

My introduction explained it all. This is a really well loved and well known set of stories in Asia. You tube has both the 1986 TV series (Journey to the West) and the 2000 (Journey to the West sequel). I belileve the Japanese did a very good cartoon rendition and there are endless movies and Chinese operas based on the themes.

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

I haven’t gotten started yet but am thinking of extracting interesting anecdotes from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms (several TV series on 3 kingdoms which is also very well known in Asia). It’s sort of a practical rendition of how to apply Sun Tzu’s Art of war to win.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Monkey King, China’s most popular hero in lore and legend, has entertained and delighted children for centuries. Born from a rock, Monkey proclaims himself king of all monkeys. But the impish, clever Monkey causes too much trouble for heavenly authorities. He is punished until he agrees to provide protection for a Buddhist monk on a difficult journey to India to fetch sacred writings and bring them back to China. Monkey needs all his magical tricks and secret weapons, as he and his companions, Pigsy, Sandy, and Horse, confront demons, monsters, and dangerous situations throughout their long trek.

Treasury of Feel-Good Stories

Karina McRoberts
Karina McRoberts Author Interview

Dargo: Eco Hero follows a lonely young man as he rises from despair in his going-nowhere-fast job to his new position as hero for the environment. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

This came from many sources. Part from a dream (the character’s first name and the bone thing). Part from my childhood adoration of my older brother. Part from a recent visit to Northern California, where I was shocked by mile after mile of freeway with memorials to fallen highway patrol officers, many with Hispanic names (hence Fernandez). Part from my own experience of being bullied in the workplace. Part from my ongoing love affair with music. Part from my life-long love of nature. Part by the First Nations American elder who saved his people from annihilation due to his translatory skills and eloquence of speech. Part from the ordinary cold-war Russian soldier who did NOT hit the red button to signal incoming nuclear attack (otherwise, we would not be having this conversation, I suspect). All this reminded me of what just one person can do, even though they may feel at the end of their tether.

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

There are plenty of people who don’t fit into everyday society. So many have suffered as a result, and of course still do. I wanted to say that no matter how hard things get, be exactly who you are.

And please BE. Don’t give up. Things will turn around. Hang in there. There may be 7.5 billion people and counting in this world, and the pressure to conform to the idealised ‘thing’ is greater than ever, but we need YOU! As Samara Jones learns in The Girl with Ten Diamonds, my companion novella to Dargo, “You can’t clone a soul”.

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

This disconnect between humanity and nature, and how that problem might be addressed. Because it absolutely must be! You can’t save it if you don’t love it, and you can’t love it if you don’t know it.

Also, personal redemption. So very, very important in this increasingly crowded and competitive world. I wonder how many fell through the cracks-of-no-return just today…

So, as Dargo discovers, he begins by lifting spirits, and that includes his own.

I really hope this book lifts readers’ spirits in these very tough times we find ourselves in. Especially important for those trying to save the Earth. It’s a tough gig, and I hope Dargo can provide a little solidarity and joy.

Find nature and you will find yourself — worked for me!

Thanks for reading.

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

Kahnilla the Dragon. She will be the 6th instalment in this Treasury of Feel-Good Stories. This series follows the style of Dargo – examination of serious, topical issues through humorous story-telling.

The series has stories for all ages. Kahnilla is another adult fairy-tale. It deals with hate and its cost, and how young people and others learn to hate by following wrong information. The story focusses on the importance of true listening, thinking for oneself, and getting one’s facts from reliable sources. We really need to, more than ever!

Kahnilla is in production now, and will hopefully be out early next year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

HILARIOUS, HEART-WARMING, DIFFERENT and DELIGHTFUL!
A lonely young man suffers a massive defeat. When all is lost, he meets a fiery fortune-teller who pleads with him to save her.
Can he re-invent himself as a hero?
A light-hearted but poignant little story, Dargo is humorous and heart-warming; a fairy-tale for adults.
You can also read this to your children who care about Earth. And, if they don’t, Dargo will help them to do so!
An enjoyable timely tale that will appeal to the magic in all of us.
Illustrations

Take A Closer Look

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.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website | Instagram

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?

Dargo

Dargo: Eco Hero! (Treasury of Feel-Good Stories) by [Karina McRoberts]

Poor Dargo Fernandez. He doesn’t want much out of life. In fact, he really wants nothing more than to belong. At the rate he is going, he won’t even  accomplish that much. His life is more of an existence than anything–he has no social life to speak of. When Dargo comes face to face with the fact that even his meager position in the company is in jeopardy, he heads for home with his heart on his sleeve. Wondering how he will be able to pay his bills, Dargo finds himself creating a laundry list of new worries on his journey home. Before he can even begin to resolve his issues, he is quite literally swept away to face a whole new challenge

Dargo: Eco Hero, by Karina McRoberts, follows main character Dargo Fernandez as he rises from the depths of despair in his going-nowhere-fast job to his new position as hero for the environment. McRoberts’s work hits on a few genres but hones in primarily on fantasy. In fact, it gives me the best kind of Wizard of Oz vibes. The author has nailed the same type of warmth as L. Frank Baum but puts her own unique spin on main character Dargo and his band of merry cohorts.

The ecological lessons conveyed in McRoberts’s work are huge ones. She is successful in creating quite an impact with her words and the experiences of her cast of characters. I was especially impressed with the mixture of personification and metaphors found throughout the writing. The imagery she creates leaves readers breathless at times. Her writing is timely and gives voice to the environment in a way no other writer I have seen has been able to do.

Dargo: Eco Hero is a short read, easily digestible in one sitting, it packs an important punch–and one we all need to feel right about now. Protecting and appreciating the earth for the miracle it is tops this author’s list of priorities. Readers looking for a hard dose of truth in their fantasy reads will appreciate McRoberts’s style and character development. I highly recommend Dargo’s story to anyone looking for something different, something fun, and a book that will leave them smiling.

Pages: 85 | ASIN: B083RBML74

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It Always Felt Incomplete

Rizwan Asad
Rizwan Asad Author Interview

Dio in the Dark finds the Gods of Greek myth living among mortals, and when Zeus goes missing in Toronto it’s up to his son to find him. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Honestly, this story began as practice. I wrote a short story several years ago to experiment where I felt the Greek gods would fit into today’s world. It always felt incomplete to me, and I revisited it some years later, and it turned into this novella.

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

Thank you! Dio was a challenging character for me to write for the same reasons that he experiences challenges in his life. How can one forgive their father for murdering their mother? How do you respect yourself when the only thing people like about you is the same thing everyone mocks? His story is very much about learning to accept himself as a god, while tuning into a sense of familial responsibility rooted somewhere deep within.

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

Acceptance of oneself, familial responsibility, and the long-lasting effects of trauma.

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

I’m working on the sequel to Dio in the Dark! It doesn’t have a title yet…or a release date, though I’m hoping it will be out by late-2022 or early-2023.

My next release is a children’s picture book called “City Kitties”. It’s scheduled to release on December 3rd, 2021.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The powers of the pantheon have faded. The gods live amongst the mortals, grasping for what little of their divinity remains.
When Zeus – King of the Gods – goes missing in modern-day Toronto, it is up to his estranged son, Dio, to find him.
And with rumours of The Darkness coming, Dio will have to race to find his father, and uncover the truth before it’s too late!

Winterset Hollow

Winterset Hollow keeps readers on edge throughout this riveting story. The author is expressive, entertaining and writes in an intriguing manner which really benefits this alluring story. Winterset Hollow is a great book to read if you enjoy suspense, drama, and plot twists all delivered with a good sense of humor. The construction of the plot, development of characters and the style of narration were all excellent. Jonathan Durham does an amazing job with his writing as he describes events and characters in a way that the reader can visualize.

Winterset Hollow will have you experience all sorts of emotions through the chapters. The book opens with a backstory on each character which sets up the characters nicely before we get into the depths of the mystery at the heart of this dark fantasy novel. I enjoyed how the tone of the novel slowly changes as the story progresses from cheerful to somber, but does so almost effortlessly, to the point where I really didn’t think about it until the story was over and I reflected on what happened.

Winterset Hollow follows the story of a group of friends that enjoy adventure and exploring. These friends have the best of times among themselves. Certain eerie events however have them questioning reality, wondering what is real and what is not. I love how curious they were and appreciate the author for making the characters diverse and relatable.

I recommend Winterset Hollow to readers that enjoy books that easily combine action, melodrama, and engaging dialogue. While I wish the story was a bit longer, I think this novel provides a fantastically refreshing mix of dark fairytale storytelling with a contemporary edge. With a lot going on and unexpected twists around every corner, the solid writing ensures readers always know what is going on in this captivating novel.

Pages: 326 | ASIN: B09F9YKSRT

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