American River: Confluence follows three families as they find a way to come together to celebrate life, art, and diversity. What direction did you take in this book that was different from the first two books?
I’ve always thought of a trilogy as being similar to the Sonata form in music—a musical structure consisting of three sections: the exposition (in which the main ideas are introduced), the development (in which those ideas are examined and explored) and the recapitulation (or resolution in which the main themes culminate in a conclusion). In this musical form, there might also be an introduction (or prologue) and a coda (or epilogue).
Because music is one of the main components of my writing, I had in mind the Sonata form as I developed the American River story.
Book One, American River: Tributaries, introduces the story of the three immigrant families and involves the reader in their struggles to overcome prejudice and to follow their dreams and ambitions. But it ends with a tragedy that further separates the characters from each other.
Book Two, American River: Currents, further explores the issue of discrimination and the struggle to overcome both external prejudice and internal delusions. Swept away by their passions, the characters find themselves flailing and unable to navigate the deep waters that threaten to destroy their dreams.
I knew that Book Three, American River: Confuence, would be about a resolution of some of the issues that my characters face, but they would also discover that in order to realize their unique destinies they would have to find a way to work together toward a common goal.
You are able to bring to light many perspectives on social issues without inserting your own opinion on the reader. What was the balance for you in discussing these topics?
A recent review posted by Literary Titan states: “O’Connor’s work involves a host of social issues—sexuality, politics, race relations—all disguised in what [first] seems to be a book about artists pursuing their passions.” Each of my characters has a particular role to play that reveals the social issues that affect them. They don’t all have the same views which allows them to interact with each other and voice their opinions. I wanted to help the reader understand that there are always at least two sides to an argument, so my characters represent different points of view as they attempt to navigate the rocky shoals of confrontation with each other. A discerning reader will likely be able to figure out where my sympathies lie, but I wanted an opposition to play off of. The characters end up debating the issues and the readers can decide who gives the most persuasive argument.
There are many characters and plots that run through the trilogy of books. Were you able to accomplish everything you set out to?
I doubt that most writers are able to accomplish everything that they’d like to include in a story. I had to make some pretty painful cuts during the many revisions, but I wanted to be sure that the story moved along and that the flow was not needlessly interrupted. In the end, I think I was able to address many of the problems that I hoped to cover—racism, sexual identity, mental health, political conflicts, women’s liberation, cultural differences—and to give the reader a lot to think about.
Do you plan on continuing the story of these families in another series or are you moving on to a new story in your next book?
I actually have an outline for three more books in the American River series subtitled Whitewater, Reflections, and Water Music. I thought it would be exciting to follow the thread of the character’s lives through another decade and see what they encountered. Maybe someday I’ll get to that.
But meanwhile, I’ve started another series of what I’m calling “psychic cli-fi.” I’ve been in touch with Dan Bloom, a climate activist and blogger who actually coined the term “cli-fi” for a new genre of “climate-fiction.”
For the past thirty years, I’ve researched psychic phenomena and I have a number of contacts in that area of interest. I’m also very disturbed about the rapid rate of climate disruption as warming temperatures upset the balance of nature. And I’m also concerned about what global warming will mean for our cultural treasures—works of art and architecture and their preservation in the face of social and meteorological upheavals.
So, with that in mind I’m working on a series of psychic novels that will address the issues of fracking, water resources, the spread of infectious diseases, climate-induced migration and other similar problems. My main character is a psychic medium who in the first book is called upon to work with a very skeptical PI who is an ex-FBI art crimes investigator. Again, the deep line that separates the world view of the two main characters will allow me to explore each of their views on a variety of topics that I believe are important—the nature of time, the impact of climate disruption, and the significance of our cultural heritage.
Book three of the American River Trilogy begins with the three families—the McPhalans, the Morales, and the Ashidas—in turmoil. Following Owen McPhalan’s death, his daughter Kate has inherited Mockingbird Valley Ranch only to discover that the once profitable family business is no longer sustainable. Desperate to find a way to save Mockingbird, she struggles to formulate a plan. But she hasn’t counted on the wrath of Dan Papadakis, Owen’s former campaign manager, who is working behind the scenes to undermine her efforts.
American River: Confluence is the culmination of a compelling historical drama about the lives, loves, triumphs and sacrifices of the descendants of three immigrant families who settled along California’s American River, and who are called upon to put aside a decade full of grievances and betrayals to try to save the history and legacy of their ancestral home.
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Addicted to You follows Michelle and Damon as they succumb to their attraction for one another, but realize there is another person that wants Michelle. What was the direction that you wanted to take this book that was different from book one?
I wanted more focus on Michelle and Damon and less on the other stalker. I feel like Damon waited so long to have Michelle, that their relationship deserved to be the main focus.
I enjoyed the shift in perspective between the two characters which gave me a deep inside view. What is your process like for capturing the thoughts of your characters?
I wouldn’t say that there is a certain process. I do try to think opposite for how a woman would think, when it comes to male characters. Men and women have such different ways of thinking. I try to get it as accurate as possible.
I enjoyed the humor that crops up throughout the book, it’s unexpected and welcome. Is this intentional or did these moments of levity arise organically while writing?
I try to make it a bit humorous but most of it comes organically. I don’t feel like everything always has to be so serious.
This is book two in the SAPD SWAT series. Where will book three pick the story up and when will it be available?
Book three will pick up with Marc’s story. His actually might be my favorite so far. I’m hoping that his book Cuffed by You will be available end of Jan or the beginning of Feb.
Michelle is my addiction. She’s sweetness and light wrapped up in a delicious package. Almost as delicious as the confections she makes. Until now, I’ve kept my distance to make sure my darkness doesn’t taint her. She’s better than a killer who sits behind a scope.
I watch her from afar. Getting dragged under her spell a little further with every sweet smile and mischievous grin. I know I’ll cave one day, give into the craving to be near her. Being in her presence is a feeling like no other, one I can’t seem to resist.
Unfortunately, I’m not the only one living under her influence. While I was watching her, someone else was watching too. But she belongs with me, no matter what anyone else wants.
Now I need to make sure she gives me my next fix of her, even if she’s too stubborn to admit she wants to. She’s my addiction, cure and redemption all rolled into one. Her soul calls out to my own. I’ll make sure she’s as addicted to me as I am to her. She’ll crave me – if it’s the last thing I do.
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Stockboy by Thomas Duffy is the story of Phillip, a man who is in his dead-end job. Stuck with no relationship. Stuck in his mundane life. Phillip is a good guy. He is smart. He has a degree. He has an excellent work ethic. However, he feels like he is only spinning his wheels and wasting his time on a life that is going nowhere. He feels his life ticking away while waiting for his love life to work out, his bosses to see his potential, and fulfillment to come his way.
Phillip is such a relatable character. He is sort of an “everyman” underdog. Everyone has felt unfulfilled at some point in his or her life. Readers will definitely identify with this character. He is the typical good guy who finishes last. He’s smart and capable and a great worker. He also gets passed over time and time again for promotions or wage increases at his bookstore job. When he does find a woman he loves, his life tailspins in that area as well. He can’t catch a break. As my grandfather would have said, “If it’s not one thing, it’s the same thing.” Phillip lives a “Groundhog Day” sort of life on his cyclical hamster wheel of a life.
The themes in the story fit right into our current social climate. Wages are stagnant. Growth is slow. College students owe student loans they can’t pay while working jobs below their qualifications. People can’t go to the doctor because they can’t afford insurance. When they do get insurance, they are still scared to go to the doctor for fear that the condition will be worse than they expect. People are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Opportunities for a better life are few and far between. People still manage to get up, put their torn sneakers on, and go back to the grind everyday. This is Phillip. He personifies a big chunk of the American workforce, and likely those abroad.
The writing is great. It is simple and direct without being boring. It doesn’t feel pompous or overbearing. Thomas Duffy is a good author that way. He reels you into his stories and his characters in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling he’s attempting to make up for content with flowery language. The content is there, so he doesn’t have to put on airs. I saw one or two simple typos. Beyond that, the spelling, sentence structure, etc. are great. This was an easy read. The book is easily digestible and could be knocked out in a weekend. Duffy books are always page-turners for me.
Other than a few minor errors the writing is solid, the characters are relatable and the situations they find themselves in will hit close to home for many readers. I like this writer’s style and have read his work before. He delivered again and didn’t disappoint. I’d love to read more of his work.
Pages: 200 | ASIN: B00CA517C8
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Skeins follows a group of Indian woman as they travel through Europe learning something about life, each other, and themselves. What served as your inspiration for this uplifting novel?
Both my novels relate to a world well-known to me: urban educated India. I have been travelling a great deal for the past 14 years and I undertake at least one group tour overseas each year. Though the itinerary for the tour described in Skeins is similar to that of a group tour I undertook with Cosmos© in 2015, the similarity ends there as the tourists in the latter included men and women of varied nationalities. Also, when I had traveled to Ireland in 2016, my suitcase had not been transferred in time to the connecting flight by the airline staff at Munich airport during transit. These experiences sparked off my imagination, which led to the birth of Skeins.
There is a great collection of women from several generations in this group. Who was your favorite character to write for?
It’s like asking someone who is your favourite child. Each woman character is alive in my imagination with her own distinct personality, dreams and circumstances. They are all resilient as I don’t sympathize with whiners. I like women who get back on their feet after a hard tumble and find their own path in life without seeking sympathy or support. However, I particularly empathized with the characters Sandra D’Souza and Vidya Rao who are caught in a conundrum and need to make tough decisions.
I enjoyed how the characters each had their own story that contributed to the depth of their character. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this book?
Though the novel is a breezy read, it deals with serious societal issues related to women. I feel very strongly about the thwarting of women’s emotional, professional and intellectual independence and expression by a patriarchal society and a dominant partner who limit her role to that of a mother and a comfort provider. The novel also depicts the generic issues of social hierarchy, aspirational lifestyles, the violence within and without our homes, loneliness and dementia.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have a few ideas that I am exploring. When that creative spark is ignited, I know I will not take longer than two months to pen the story and edit it.
With a galaxy of identifiable characters from modern urban India depicted with light-hearted mirth in a travel environment, the novel explores serious issues, such as the quest for an independent identity and economic independence, the violence within and outside our homes, the loneliness of old age and the need for constructive channelization of youthful energy. Spanning events across a little more than a year, Skeins depicts how self-expression and a supportive environment trigger a cataclysmic effect and stimulate the women to realize their dreams.
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He blends in. He is successful, intelligent and methodical. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, have no idea they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement.
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Damnation is a thrilling dark fantasy novel that follows King Lortar as he finds himself surrounded by enemies. What was the inspiration for the setup to this novel?
Loosely, the Warring States period of ancient China.
Asuf was an intriguing character that I enjoyed following. Your book is filled with interesting characters, who was your favorite character to write for?
Princess Alerise. She has an interesting psychology and fun dialogue. Plus I have a thing for tomgirls, villainesses, and blondes, and Alerise just so happens to tick all those boxes.
The characters inhabit a world with a rich backstory. How did you create the backstory for this world and what were some themes you wanted to capture?
From the ground up. First the geography, then the ecology, then the peoples and their cultures, then their histories.
As for themes, I wanted to show a harsh people bred by a cruel and uncaring world—but more importantly, I wanted to show how kindness, however small, can exist even in a world that punishes the kind.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The sequel to this book will most likely be available sometime in 2021.
An Empire fallen. A kingdom beset. A family divided. When King Lortar discovers a savage cult performing heathen rites, he’s forced to battle a foe he never imagined: his own son. Surrounded by enemies, Lortar is trapped in a world of treachery and betrayal, where mercy is vice and malice is glory.
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This is book two in The Seers Series. What were some themes you wanted to carry over from book one and what were some new ideas you wanted to introduce?
Some themes I wanted to carry over from the first book are:
-The classic good versus evil
-Acceptance of those who may be different from us
-By joining together, individual differences can make a stronger whole
Some new ideas I wanted to introduce are:
-Learn from the mistakes of the past, but don’t let them keep you from moving forward
-Love and life are possible again after loss
-Stand up for what you believe is right
There were many great, and well developed, characters in this book. Was there anything from your own life that you put into your characters?
I think every author puts things from their own lives into their characters. Sometimes, we put different aspects of ourselves into the characters, sometimes there are traits we see in others that we put into the characters. I did both things.
In order to write good, well developed characters, you need to be able to understand human behavior at least to some degree. Writers must be aware of our own strengths and weaknesses, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of those around us. We need to be understand how emotions and physical sensations translate to body language and facial expressions. And the best way to learn human behavior is to observe those around you, and to take a good, honest look at yourself as well.
Where will book three in The Seers Series take readers and when will it be available?
Book three in the Seers Series will take readers on a trip through the Sacred Forest, where they will visit an elven village and a bear shifter clan. Then they will go to Fair Harbor, a fishing village on the west coast of Sterrenvar, and finally to Westgate.
Plot-wise, the readers will learn more about the seers and some other of the magical races in the realm. They will learn more about the evil sorcerer, including some insights into his plans and motivations. They will get more clues about who he is and what started him down his dark path.
As of right now, I plan to publish the third book in the series in the spring of 2019, barring any unforeseen complications.
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It’s 1895. Beautiful Dr. Anna St. James has won the battle to earn the M.D. after her name when her father dies, suddenly throwing her into great debt. After moving to a shabby boarding house on the Lower East Side of New York, Anna receives a marriage proposal that would cancel her father’s debt but would chain her to a man she neither loves nor trusts.
Desperate to escape, she applies for a position at a TB clinic in Asheville, North Carolina, close to the home of her friend, Daphne Vanderbilt, who invites her to spend Christmas celebrations at Biltmore Estate. On her journey Anna meets the handsome Dr. Richard Wellington. She is captivated by the dashing British physician, but she soon becomes convinced that he is like every other male physician at a time when the American Medical Association does not admit female doctors into its membership. Can they put aside their differences and allow their love to flourish?
Published in connection with Hartline Literary Agency, serving the Christian book community. Visit us at hartlineagency.com.
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Madeline Clark’s life seems like the life of a dozen different individuals. From the beginning of her troubled life, she is met head-on with one horrific circumstance after another at the hands of people she hopes and prays will be her saving graces. After finding her way out of South Africa, Maddie finds fleeting hope with David Blakely, a man she has no choice but to trust to pull her from poverty and imminent death, but cannot possibly know that his attention will be the beginning of her end and the catalyst for a lifetime of heartache and repeated loss and grief.
Maddie’s life, laid out for readers by Lucia Mann in her book, Addicted to Hate, is one of the most tragic about which I have ever read. It’s difficult to know where to begin explaining the layers Mann has revealed with her vivid and gripping descriptions of Maddie’s harrowing childhood, her abusive marriage to a vile man, and the horrific road she travels as a mother to three girls who could not care less if she lived or died. It is almost beyond comprehensible that Maddie could survive the mental and physical challenges with which she is faced from the beginning to the bitter end of her amazing and tortured life.
Mann has taken this story, based on actual events, and set Maddie forth as an unlikely heroine who overcomes insurmountable odds as she talks herself through each of her hardships including three pregnancies that, by all accounts, were miracles and curses at the same time. Maddie is the poster child of life testing us. She seems to have received each and every trial imaginable, the most tragic of which is the complete abhorrence her daughters have for her. I found myself rooting, paragraph by paragraph, for a turn of events for Maddie. I felt a visceral reaction with each mention of her daughter Mara’s blatant and evil brutalization of her mother. I wanted desperately for Maddie to see the light and make a break from her toxic children, but Maddie is better than most; she may be better than all of us.
Maddie’s intellect is her own saving grace. Her abilities are put to use in the most fascinating ways, and even that amazing opportunity cannot completely pull her from her spiral. Mann is a master at having her readers draw hopeful conclusions before letting them down abruptly.
The overall subject matter of Mann’s work is enhanced by the tone in which she writes. While maintaining a third person point of view, she manages nicely to incorporate a hint of second person questioning while drawing the reader further into Maddie’s overpowering drama.
Mann has given audience to an amazing tale of endurance and determination. In addition to the heartbreaking events of Maddie’s life, Mann shows readers the embodiment of true and unwavering unconditional love. Nowhere else can readers find a more poignant tale of loss, betrayal, and incredible triumph.
Pages: 254 | ASIN: B07K4TXQC7
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
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