It is easy to forget that war torn countries are actually homes to some people. All I ever hear is of the fighters. I never hear of the people who watch beheadings happen so close to home. People who have gotten used to the smell of gunpowder. People who are no longer fazed by the sound of bullets cutting through the air. People whose mere presence amidst the chaos has made them parties in the war.
The Incidental Jihadi is a story about Len who later becomes Naim. Len is a geologist working at an oil exploration company. All is well with his family until he is sent on a risky exploration mission. A mission that will forever change the trajectory of his life and that of his family. He must liberate his family and therefore joins the war. He manages to sneak Omarm, his son, to safety. He cannot live in bliss though as he has to go back in for another try. Will he succeed in an endeavor that has little hope of success?
This is a very well told story full of excellent detail. You can almost smell the desperation and hatred in the air. You can feel the aggression. Samrat Mitra tells such a vivid account of events that the reader finds themselves plunged deep into the heart of war torn Middle Eastern locations. The reader will find themselves lost in a fight that very few understand anymore. A war whose collateral damage seems to be worsening with every line they read. It flows easily. In the author’s note at the back, Samrat says that this book is a depiction of actual events. The reader will be able to feel the air of reality, however unbelievable, in this story.
The author also seems to have a sober political mind. There is understanding of the political element of the events that take place. However, emotion seems to get away from him as he essentially calls some parties ignorant. Though somewhat truthful, it brings out the author’s passion and gives the book character.
This book may need some polishing but the passion and compelling plot overshadow whatever writing errors one might encounter. You will experience a cornucopia of emotions as this book delivers an alternative view that will urge you to think about a different aspect of the wars.
Pages: 333 | ASIN: B073R5GQTV
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In The Guardians of Eastgate 2nd edition you had the chance to go back and rewrite some things that you felt needed to improve. What were the areas you focused on and how did you overcome the challenges?
The areas I focused on the most were dialogue and action – showing versus telling. I also took the opportunity to develop the characters and the seer people a little more. As the author, I already knew my characters, but I thought it would be good to reveal a little more about them to the readers as well.
It didn’t really feel like a challenge, exactly, to write more dialogue and action, and to develop the characters more. I think it was more of getting past an internal block on my part, rather than whether or not I could write that way. Once I started doing it, I really enjoyed fleshing out the story action and characters.
What I needed to do was to slow down and be patient, and to be confident in my story and my characters. What I mean by that is, I needed to allow the characters to live out the story in their own words and actions, instead of wanting to just hand it to the readers from a narrator’s perspective. I think there was a little nagging voice of self-doubt when I was writing the first edition that I needed to get past in order to put my story out there more fully.
Looking at the novel a second time, what were some things that changed for you while writing?
I think I rushed too much with the first edition. I had this idea in my head for over twenty years, and I wanted to get it out there to the world. There was a fear or an urgency where I think I worried that if I didn’t get it out there asap, I wouldn’t follow through and the story would never make it out into the world.
With the second edition, I had to take more time. I had hired a cover artist to do the covers for the rest of the series and I decided to re-do the cover of the first as well, so that the series would be uniform. Then we decided this would be a great time to work on the series and brand logos as well.
At this point in the game, I was also doing a lot of reading on the writing craft itself, such as on self-editing, outlining and structuring novels, and so on. Since the cover art, brand and logos would take a while anyway, and I would be putting out a second edition because of the new cover, I decided this would be a great opportunity to work on some of the elements in the first edition that I wasn’t happy with.
I think the overarching change for me here was that I realized I needed, and wanted, to slow down and enjoy the process. I read a lot and practiced, and I started to become more confident in my work and my capabilities. So, I feel more comfortable in putting more into the stories, which is essentially putting myself out there. I also believe I can better prioritize the story itself over getting it out there quickly. After all, a good, well-written story trumps getting it out there fast.
I understand that you have a third dan black belt in Taekwondo. What made you pursue Taekwondo and do you feel it helped you in writing fight scenes?
I have been a student of martial arts since I was 15 or 16 years old. I started in high school with Kenpo Karate. I’m from a small town in Newfoundland, and there were no other choices in martial arts around to consider at that time. You could say that my sensei had the market cornered in our area. But I really enjoyed it.
When I went to university, I switched to Aikido, mostly because I was a poor student, I lived on campus, and I didn’t have a car. So, I studied the martial art that was available to me on campus. It is a completely different style of martial art than karate or Taekwondo, teaching more about “moving off the line,” which I reference in my books, and using an opponent’s body weight and momentum against him or her. So, I am glad I practiced Aikido for those years because it gave me a different point of view and helped me to understand movement and defense better.
Once I began teaching, moved to a larger city, and had my own vehicle, I suddenly had more options available to me. I found a school that taught Taekwondo, and I really enjoyed it.
At one point, I decided to use my degree to work and travel, and I went to South Korea to teach English. For any who don’t know, Taekwondo is the South Korean national sport, and most young people study it at some point. I found out that a student’s father, who didn’t speak English, was a Taekwondo master with his own school. So, I asked my supervisor, a Korean man who spoke English, to ask if I could join his school, and he agreed.
Considering that the students in that Taekwondo school had one hour of lessons/practice FIVE days a week, and six days a week in every month leading to a test, I was able to progress quickly in the two years I was there. And I continued with it when I returned to Canada. After living in South Korea for two years, I now feel a connection to this particular martial art because I have a better understanding of the historical and cultural significance of it.
I do think it helped me with my fight scenes. I know what is possible and not possible, how to move to attack, defend or counter attack, and so on. Of course, I write fantasy, so my characters can be faster, stronger and more agile than real humans (although, you might be surprised at what some Taekwondo students can do), but I believe my training helps me to keep it fairly realistic.
Of course, I love martial arts, and I love sparring. There is a part in the book when Maelona tells her friends that she loves fighting more than she should, and her trainer used to get mad at her for smiling when she sparred. That was me in my Korean Taekwondo school. My instructor didn’t speak much English, but he spoke enough to tell me, “No smile! Serious!”
I don’t really like people fighting in real life when it’s not for sport, but put it in a sport setting, or in an action movie (I love action movies), and I think it’s pretty exciting. I don’t know that everyone who reads my fantasy novels enjoy that same kind of thing, but I think that having this training enables me to better convey the anticipation, the skills, the subtleties, and the back and forth between opponents in a clear and exciting way.
Have you begun writing book two in the series? When will it be available?
The rough draft of Book 2 is about 85% complete. Progress lately has been slow, with working to get this first book out there, my full-time job and my family.
I am really enjoying the story and I’m looking forward to getting it out there. Most days, I wish I could devote more time to it, but there are other things that take priority at the moment. For example, I am looking into having this book, The Guardians of Eastgate, made into an audiobook. I have had a few readers ask about that prospect, and I think it is a good idea, so I want to try and make that happen.
My original goal was to have Book 2 ready to publish in mid to late spring. Now that I am looking into making an audiobook of Book 1, however, it will likely be published in the summer.
I will be posting updates on my website and social media, so stay tuned!
The magical realm of Sterrenvar is a world filled with fantasy creatures, swords, sorcery, action, adventure, seers, shifters and sorcerers. It is a realm divided by differences, where the inhabitants keep mostly to their own species or race. When a group of seers are warned through visions of an evil, dark sorcerer intent on ruling the realm, seer champion Maelona Sima must set out for Eastgate to defend a magical keystone that can help protect the realm. Along the way, she must gain allies and convince the differing peoples of the realm to stand together as one to save their world from its biggest threat in three-thousand years. This new, expanded and revised Second Edition of the Guardians of Eastgate (Seers Book I) includes an extra 12000+ words worth of added dialogue and extended scenes.
Posted in Interviews
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Dave Matthes’s irreverent, profanity-laced, often hilarious novel, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard, is a fascinating work of writing. It’s half sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, and half a thoughtful and thought-provoking look at suicide and how it affects family and friends around the incident. Sleepeth Not, the Bastard follows two separate but surprisingly intertwined characters: Lew Ferranna, a deadbeat dad, drunkard, and generally unsavory character, and Sarah Fox, a famous drummer and rockstar from the all-female rock band, The Bastards. Matthes reveals in the opening pages of the story that Lew’s son committed suicide at the age of seventeen, and spends the rest of the novel’s tumultuous pages examining how that incident affected not only Lew and his family, but also how Sarah’s hardcore band, The Bastards, and their wild, rough-living producer, Wolfgang Stephanopolis fits into the mysterious puzzle of life.
I have had the privilege of reading several of Matthes’s works, and he has a skill that I have only seen before in Kurt Vonnegut. He is able to create completely unlikable, frustrating, and obnoxious characters, and turn them into protagonists that, for some unknown reason, you find yourself pulling for. The two stars of Sleepeth Not, the Bastard are superficially very unlikable: Lew has abandoned his daughter and wife after their son’s suicide; Sarah is standoffish, erratic, and crude. But perhaps what’s appealing about Matthes’s characters is the fact that they are so relatable. Though hopefully few of us know people who would commit some of the frankly horrible acts that Matthes’s characters perform, it’s a fact of life that everyone has flaws. It is refreshing to see characters dealing with problems that we, as readers, have likely seen or experienced ourselves: the demise of relationships, parental-child fights, addiction, depression, and death.
Fortunately, though, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard is not all doom and gloom. In his solid novel, Matthes manages to create humor (albeit dark) in the absurd situations he places his characters in. Whether it’s a tiger outside of Vegas, a minivan driving through the garage door, or the insanely gaudy (and proud of it) producer Wolfgang Stephanopolis, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard manages to bring a smile to readers’ faces in the most surprising moments. The story lacks only in a few small facets that irritated me personally, specifically the lack of double L’s in all of Lew’s parts of the story (meaning “walls” would be written as “wal s”).
Though it covers potentially disheartening topics, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard will not dishearten readers. Similar to Matthes’s other works, it manages to address the most unpleasant topics of life while also instilling a positive and motivating force in readers. It often feels as if Matthes’s charactesr are saying to readers what we all know but sometimes want to forget: Life can be ugly, hard, and miserable; but life can also be beautiful, surprising, and wonderful. As a reader whose family has experienced the pain and loss of unexpected death by suicide, I found this novel to be painful, at times, but overall uplifting and a reminder to appreciate the beautiful moments in life.
Pages: 453 | ASIN: B00N53IMWW
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The Rashade, written by Rebecca Tran, tells the tale of Mara, a purposeful and strong willed woman whose life mission revolves around avenging the death of her father. Mara is a trained soldier, a skilled fighter and is determined to find the man who murdered her father (whilst she was forced to watch), leaving both physical and emotional scars that haunt her nightmares. As she sets out on her epic adventure she will meet new friends, new enemies and finally face off with the evil mage Laran who has his eyes set on taking over her homelands.
The Rashade is the first book in the Chronicles of the Coranydas series and delivers an adventure filled with magical characters, valiant warriors and a determined young woman who has her eyes set on avenging her father. The story begins with Mara applying for leave through the High Priestess, who also happens to be Mara’s mother. Mara is a trained soldier in the League and hopes to use her time away to finally face the evil Laran.
The Rashade has similar tones to books such as Deltora Quest and Game of Thrones as the main characters set on an adventure where there are tombs, priestesses and sword fights that will leave the reader on the edge of their seat in anticipation. Epic battles crossed with a burning desire to destroy an evil man will mean the reader will be captivated until the very end.
Not everybody is who they seem and I thoroughly enjoyed the progression of each character as we learned more about their life through the unexpected relationships that develop. The characters come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from soldiers to priestesses to mages- humans who possess magical powers and mysterious grey eyes. Romance, swordsmanship and magical weapons will intertwine into a plot line that is consistently entertaining.
Mara and Kess are friends who set off together after decisions made by the High Priestess. Kess is sometimes shy, sometimes brave and the reader will quickly begin to appreciate his ability to be there when Mara needs him most. But Mara is an independent and strong woman, and it was a breath of fresh air to read about a woman warrior, rather than the typical man going into battle.
The Rashade has elements of olden day romance with flirting consisting of showing ankles in a bar, arranged marriages and oaths that stand the test of time. The outfits, swords and horses will throw the reader into an era that was far before our time. It was easy to get lost in a world of fantasy and transported to a place where magic and priestesses exist and readers will be pleasantly surprised at how easily time gets away when you are lost in the pages of The Rashade.
I would recommend this to anybody looking for a fantasy novel with twists and turns that result in a heart-stopping conclusion. I look forward to reading the other stories in the series!
Pages: 425 | ASIN: B01N211HHR
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This God, I, is a novel based around a group of teenagers turned Japanese superheroes as they band together in a battle against evil. Where did the inspiration for the thrilling action come from and how did it develop as you were writing?
I’ve always been a fan of comic books, anime and the action genre, so I’ve had ideas brewing in my head on how to construct a story full of car chases, paranormal battles and science fiction. For the scenes with domestic terrorists, I read about the history of nationalist extremism in the United States, such as Ruby Ridge, Waco and the Oklahoma City bombing, and tried to emulate what I learned. For super-powered fights, I had to come up with creative ways the heroes and villains could use their surroundings.
Japanese anime styled characters cross political extremists which sets the tone for this action packed adventure. What were some ideals you hoped would drive the narrative of the story?
Every character needs a believable motivation, and a political agenda can provide just that. Our cultural backgrounds and political views are a reflection of who we are as people, and I sought to create characters that would embody their various ideals and principles. While the extreme villains use their powers to force their ideas onto the world, the heroes have to be open-minded, consider all sides and work together to come to a reasonable conclusion. It was important for the heroes to put their values above the need to win at all costs, lest they end up just as bad as the people they’re fighting.
The superheroes come from a range of backgrounds and have a varied mix of super powers. How did you balance the characters powers to keep them interesting yet believable?
Every superpower has been thought of before, so it was important that my characters would utilize them in different ways, such as turning a roller coaster into a giant robot or controlling a crowd’s emotions to ignite a protest. It was also essential for every ability to serve a purpose, either to move the plot forward, reveal more information and create an action-packed spectacle.
This God, I is book 2 in the series. Where will book 3 take the characters?
In “The Genocide Gene,” Chikara and her friends travel to Africa to stop two demented brothers from starting a civil war and committing genocide. Along the way, they have to save hundreds of kidnapped schoolgirls and take on merciless rebel groups.
“Japanese superhero Chikara Kaminari has accepted her destiny: to save mankind from powerful political extremists. Joined by her friends, the empathic Renka and the shadow-controlling Gen, Chikara journeys to America to rescue her friend Michiko from the Ayn Rand- obsessed billionaire, Chillingworth.
As they search for their adversaries, Chikara and her friends encounter a murderous cell of homegrown terrorists called RAMPAGE (Revolutionary American Militant Patriots Against Government Enslavement). This militia of neo-nazis, white supremacists and anti-government extremists will stop at nothing to bring down the public sector, and only the three heroes can stop them before their war on the state claims innocent lives.
The future hangs in the balance as Chillingworth lures the world’s most powerful leaders to the United Nations. Using Michiko’s mind-controlling voice, he seeks to lead the Earth into a new era of selfishness and Anarchy. The heroes have to stop him, but the conservative Chikara and the socialist Gen have different definitions of the term “save the world.” While one wants to stop the plot, the other wants to control the politicians his own way. The three must put aside their disagreements and work together before America’s most extreme ideologues tear the world apart.”
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