My Name is Rose follows a curious young woman who leaves a commune to explore the world and find herself. What were some ideas that informed this novels development?
The thread that runs through my novels is nostalgia. As a baby boomer, I lived through some of the best decades, experienced the life-changing views of all Americans that were shaped by the Vietnam conflict, as well as the hippie peace movement that followed. I was never extreme, but fads began and ended in California. A teenager or young adult couldn’t help but be swept up in the changes that were happening, and communes were an escape for many of my generation who preferred the unhurried environment they provided.
The plot line of Rose’s lineage sprang up from the well-known fact that “free love” was embraced during this time, especially in San Francisco, the poster city for peace rallies and an over-indulgence of mind-altering drugs. Without degrading personal choices or judging anyone’s character, I thought it would be an interesting perspective to pursue from the point of view of one couples’ offspring. This nugget of inspiration has nothing to do with my life or direct involvement, but is an encapsulated version of what might have happened in this situation. There was no particular incident that triggered this story, but it flowed easily once I started to write.
I enjoyed Rose’s character and evolution. Was there anything from yourself that you put into Rose’s character?
Like Rose, I was never the center of attention growing up and spent more time observing than participating. I cultivated my skills that were more cerebral, as opposed to physical, and Rose has a touch of my personality in her. I was able to weave her life through the years not so much with first-hand experience, but with knowledge I had acquired over decades that helped me to understand what links hearts and souls together. My protagonists are ordinary people dealing with difficult circumstances. My antagonists are as much self-doubt, anger and immaturity as they are a person, as we can damage ourselves just as easily as we can be damaged by another human being. The tragedy of misunderstandings and mistakes that lead to estrangement is something many of us have felt, and this particular family saga puts into perspective how everyone plays a part in the final outcome. As an author, I have the ability to shape my characters – the way they think, dress, talk, behave – in order to present a tight, neat package with what I hope is a satisfying ending for my readers.
I find that writers often ask themselves questions and let their characters answer them. Do you think was true for this book?
Great question! That is absolutely true in this story! When I started to think about this novel in my head, before I even started writing it, I knew there were a few endings that I could create. As I wrote, and the characters and situations evolved, I considered all of them in the back of my mind and how I would determine the final chapters. Interestingly, when I got to that section and the question of who Rose’s biological father was, the words just spilled onto the page. I didn’t question it, scrapped the other endings, and let it emerge to a natural conclusion. It was seamless.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
During my first nine weeks of quarantine, I completed the first draft of my third novel, MIRACLE. The story revolves around two young women in the 1950s’. One lives in Southern California and must come to terms with the fact that four unsuccessful pregnancies leave adoption as the only option for herself and her husband. The inability to qualify with the adoption agency due to their advancing age – almost thirty was old in the 50s’ – steers them towards an alternative solution of adopting a child outside the United States. From 1945 to the 1970s, the Canadian government created maternity homes for young women who were without a spouse or family assistance. Forced to give birth in secrecy, it was understood that they would leave their baby behind for adoption by a suitable couple. The second young lady finds herself in a position that demands she reside in one of these homes for the last part of her pregnancy where she agonizes about the ultimate sacrifice that is forced upon her. These two women are destined to connect, but the ending is not as one might expect. I hope to have MIRACLE ready for publication by mid-2021.
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Deity’s Soulmate follows a young goddess Gardenia as she sets out to create a better universe than the one mankind is in. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
The initial idea for the story actually didn’t blossom in book 1. I first started writing book 3 where Gardenia was banished by an evil sorcerer and a young man had to hunt down talismans to get her back so the war would end. After finishing half of book 3, I realized that my title- Gardenia’s Castle wasn’t of interest. Why should people care about her castle? Who is Gardenia? So the idea was born to show her beginning.
Deity’s Soulmate went through many drafts and two editions before I was satisfied with it. Characters have been added, conflicts had changed, and illustrations have helped transform the story into what it is now in the second edition.
Gardenia is a complex and deep character. How do you capture the thoughts and emotions of a goddess type character?
By making her human-like. I wanted Gardenia to be young, naive and it helped that I started working on her character in high school when I was young and naive, but only published it as a young adult. As I grew up so did my character. There was admittedly a long break where I didn’t think about her and so I was able to have a new outlook when I returned to her story.
It also helped that I wanted her to grow up along the way and meet characters that would complement her, mainly the dragons. I believe that the dragons were able to bring out her character the best.
This is a stellar second edition of Deity’s Soulmate. What were some things you wanted to change in this second edition?
Thanks to one of my editors, I realized that I needed to create more conflict. She told me to work on conflict for both of my published works so I thought for awhile on how to do that with Deity’s Soulmate. The conflict with the Fates happens in book 2 which I couldn’t really bring out in book 1 so I added Hera and her daughter. I, honestly couldn’t believe that I didn’t have Hera in the first book and adding her had been a great addition.
I also wanted to make the romance more realistic by adding an infatuation for Gardenia. My mother always told me that first relationships always fail and that’s a good thing because one needs to have a first relationship in order to succeed in the relationships that’s for forever so I added a young man into the story for Gardenia to like and I believe that helped her complexity.
Those two additions helped the story line and added little bits and pieces all over the second edition to make it great.
What are some of you sources of inspiration as a writer?
People, cats, and random objects. The two people that really inspired me to keep going with their honest feedback were the two editors (Kali and Laura). They were never afraid to tell me that I lacked elements in my stories which is important for an author. They pushed me forward and I will always be thankful to them.
My cats are amazing. They tend to be around when I write and one look at one of them makes my heart soar. They help to calm the storm whenever I’m lacking in inspiration and push me forward.
I have a collection of dragon figurines and those helped bring the dragons alive in Deity’s Soulmate. My sister, the artist was able to take elements of different figurines to create Ri, the dragon on the cover. She was able to see the scales of artmanship and bring Ri to life.
Also, sometimes inspiration comes from just holding a regular notebook with a pen. When I was waiting for my sister to try on clothing at a store, I sat on a chair and tapped my pen on my notebook surfacing an idea for my current work in progress – Into the Flames.
A sheltered schoolchild in a realm of condescending gods and goddesses, Gardenia goes to Earth on a dare to witness the unsavory side of mankind for herself. Believing she can do better, she undertakes the formation of an entire galaxy, but without permission from Zeus.
Zeus disciplines her by assigning an epic 13-fold creational lesson destined to take her a century to complete. But he is taken aback once more when she makes an odd choice. She vows to fulfill this knowledge quest by tracking down a lost race of dragons, and discovering the secrets they’ve kept since time began.
Searching the universe to meet even one dragon may be a fool’s errand, but that’s the least of her worries. For ancient wartime resentments linger between the nations of dragons and deities, and some dragons would attack Gardenia on sight!
Yet she ventures out undaunted, learning unexpected things about nomadic life, tender love, and mortal peril along the way. The biggest surprise of all, though, goes by the name of Ri. Ri may be the man of her dreams, the voice in her head, the dragon she’s seeking, or all these things and more…
Meanwhile, the Fates brew sordid plans of their own and Hera jealously sets traps and trials for Gardenia at every chance. What’s a young goddess to do? Flight or fight?
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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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When live-action-role-playing adventure goes horribly wrong it’s up to our battered group to save the day! Dale, his girlfriend Jane, sister Katie and friend Gavin are off on a LARPing adventure. Dale isn’t used to this style of play and is finding himself wishing it was bit more interesting. One must be careful what they wish for in The Barrow of the Damned by Jonathan J. Drake. After a few days enacting their scenes the group is presented with a special module by Mr. Stephens, their coordinator. He leads them to a barrow where they will go to combat with other friends in an orcs-versus-adventurers play. They’ve even got a game master to keep them in line. All seems to be great, until the group steps foot in the creepy crypt for the first time. It’s dark, foreign and crawling with things that go bump in the night. Will they survive? Where are they, exactly? Finally, who is the one pulling the strings behind this adventure? Be careful what you wish for.
The story begins with a shock as a young man meets his end inside the barrow. This poor fellow will play an important role in the tale to come so it’s a good idea to remember him. The story isn’t too long with short chapters that serve to change up the perspective now and then. We get a good glimpse at what is going on from the viewpoints of all involved. There is a lot of blood and gore in this story, so if that’s not for you it would be wise to steer clear. Those who like a fantasy-adventure tale with a bit of horror will find this tale is right up their alley. The story appears to take place in the United Kingdom, although definitive places are never mentioned. Based on the terminology the characters use and the way they speak it is assumed that is where our tale unfolds.
While the story is relatively entertaining with shadows of J.R.R. Tolkien and some black humour dabbled about, the overall execution could use some polishing. There are grammatical errors and strange capitalization on words that pop up here and there which detract from the overall story. There are some key elements that aren’t explained very well that can leave readers with more questions than answers after completing the journey. Questions like, why are the Fates, who have origins in Greek mythology, in some barrow in what appears to be rural England? How did they get there? How long have they been there? From what we read, it seems like they have been there for a while, trying to steal something from a spirit who was created by the gods. With a name like O’Fleistus it’s assumed this spirit would be of English origins, but it’s not really explained. We get a bit of an explanation, but it could have been fleshed out much more instead of being revealed in fleeting conversation.
A little bit of blood and horror can dress up any LARPing event. What began as fun and games quickly turns into mayhem in The Barrow of the Damned by Jonathan J. Drake. This book has some very good potential if it had been fleshed out a bit more. There is opportunity to expand and explain more of the black-humoured story found on these pages. Aside from these minor drawbacks, it’s a fun and quick read. This tale is quite gruesome for the faint of heart. If that’s your cup of tea, you can’t go wrong venturing into this Barrow of the Damned.
Pages: 263 | ASIN: B00B79MVZA
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The Battle of Barkow tells the tale of dark vs light, good vs evil, from a world where magic is not all bad, and religion is not all good. He takes readers into the mind of his characters and through them shows the good and bad of society. In the words of Paul Simmonds, “Two men will embark on a journey that will change their lives forever, if there is a forever at all. For in the world that they live it is not named nor is it entirely different from that of our own early world” (Simmonds: prologue). The characters are intricate and plagued by the same assemblage of emotions as any other person; kindness, compassion, greed, hate, bigotry and evil. This superb confluence leaves you wondering who is going to come out on top in this novel, the simple man of God, the magician, the girl that doesn’t speak, or the dark forces that are mounting?
The story starts out with a man, hidden in a cloak speaking with an elderly woman. No names are used, but it is clear the women is a sorceress and he is there for her assistance. He is angry, he feels he has been wronged by others and denied his rightful riches and power, this woman offers him the vengeance he so greatly desires, but warns the price he will pay will be high. While she does not disclose the price, it is implying that it will not be all together pleasant for the man, but he hesitantly agrees desiring his vengeance over all else. From here the story jumps 125 years later. We meet Bolan, a simple man of God. He takes no excessive pride in his status and simply ponders life as it comes, he does not dwell too much on the past or the future. He agrees to take on an assignment for the church delivering holy books to the neighboring towns. With him goes his longtime friend and magician in training Hogarth. Hogarth can do simple magic but longs to learn more, to become something great in world that will make a difference. It is on this journey that they meet Sterre, the young women that does not speak but communicates in a form of sign language and drawings. Sterre has the gift of visions and has predicted a great danger to the city of Barkow. Barkow is the capital of sorts for this world, it is where the Pope lives and where all their laws begin. Towns outside of Barkow are not as strict as in the holy city. Bolan, Hogarth and Sterre travel to the city of Barkow to warm them of the impending trouble that Sterre has foreseen. While they are traveling to the city, the dark forces are also headed there as well. They have no names to start, as readers we only see their evil and destruction, wiping towns out, stripping them of all life leaving no one alive to bear witness to what has happened.
The journey that these three take brings them in contact with many others, some are willing to help fully, others offer veiled advice. Some are strong war heroes that have their own battles to fight but ultimately must decide between their own personal gains or the greater good. We are left looking at a vast cross section of people whose characteristics could be anyone in modern society. In The Battle of Barkow Simmonds is able to show us that their may be darkness in us, but being good is a choice, and often times we fall somewhere in between.
Pages: 240 | ASIN: B06XK7YDBX
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In the beginning, everything seems normal. A normal young man, leading a normal life in a normal village. But Christopher Clark has plans for destroying the image of ‘normal’ in his tale The Humming Blade. We meet our protagonist, Wyatt Arden, as he wakes from a dream that seems more like a premonition than anything else. He stumbles out of bed to go about his normal day only to have his entire life turn upside down before the night is even over. He’ll soon learn he’s not so normal and that his entire life and history is more fantastical than any tale he has ever read before. Our young farm boy who has grown up with a single mother learns that you can never assume that life is what you already know; there is so much more to learn.
Clark writes in a fashion that is very easy to read and understand while being engaging and almost poetic. The words flow on the screen in such a way that not even the dialogue seems choppy. His descriptions are fantastic and truly draw the reader in the world he has created. Clark slowly builds his world without drawing anything out longer than it needs to be. Explanations are placed accordingly and nothing seems forced or useless. The introduction of Wyatt and his life on the farm is simple and careful. He doesn’t over embellish anything and doesn’t confuse readers by giving them too much information at once. The narrative is broken up nicely between what is occurring the in the present of the story and the past of the world as well.
Without drawing anything out, Wyatt learns quite quickly that the simple life he thought he has is anything but. After his best friend leaves for military duty and Wyatt is feeling a bit bogged down by responsibility to the farm and his mother, he is thrust into the center of a typical fantasy-adventure plot. He finds a magic sword, a talking, slightly invisible cat, discovers that his lineage is not what he thought it was and that he possesses incredible power that has been hidden from him. These are necessary in Clark’s fantasy story and while they are stereotypical, nothing feels forced or overdone. After Wyatt learns that the friendly village blacksmith has a more intimate connection to him than he initially thought his entire world literally goes up in smoke and Wyatt is faced with a journey of self-discovery. This journey holds not only his future, but the future of his world in the balance as Wyatt uncovers more truths than he cares to.
The ending is slightly abrupt with a big reveal and no indication whether the story is going to continue. That aside, the book is a well done stand-alone as other questions are neatly wrapped up and answered. Clark knows his craft and has delivered a satisfying ending. Hopefully he decides to delve once more into the world of The Humming Blade and give us a final answer on the surprising plot twist he left us with. Readers who are looking for a fun adventure filled with interesting world development and exploration of the foundations of the world itself will not be disappointed with this tale.
Pages: 426 | ISBN: 1483447154
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