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Resilient and Courageous

Tarrant Smith Author Interview

Tarrant Smith Author Interview

The Love of Gods is a genre-crossing novel with elements of romance, supernatural, and mystery as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

Actually, I initially was trying to write a mystery with a hint of a simmering romance which I hoped would span several books, but I discovered pretty early on that I am a romance writer and not a mystery writer. So, I tossed my first draft and started over.

Lugos and Keely are interesting and well defined characters. What were some ideas that were important for you to capture in their characters?

Lugos is based on two different Celtic gods which gave me a place to start. I immediately understood who he was, what would be important to him, and a good portion of his backstory from the very beginning. And so from that jumping off point, he became a vivid character in my mind. I wanted him to value his intellect over his brawn. I also him to value humanity over his own kin. As for Keely, her southern sass is based on a waitress I know, and the awful taste in men is a nod to a dear friend of mine. Because Lugos is an immortal, I wanted Keely to have a resilient and courageous nature so that Lugos’s god-ness didn’t overpower the relationship. Even though she’s a mortal, Keely had to be his equal in many ways otherwise the relationship wouldn’t work.

I loved the backstory and world building in this novel. What were some sources of inspiration for you while creating this story?

I spend a lot of my time researching various myths and much of the characters’ backstories are tied to my understanding of those myths. The various gods in The Love of Gods all have their own histories in Celtic mythology and I drew from these. The shifter and witch communities have rich literary traditions that gave me a direction, a roadmap, of how they might respond if the world of the Pale truly existed.

This is book one in The Legends of Pale series. Where will book two take readers and when will it be available?

I’m happy to say that I am hard at work on several books in this series. The Fate of Wolves is the next book and will be out near Christmas this year. I have already finished book three, The Dreams of Demons, and if all goes to plan I’ll release it in spring 2020. I’m currently writing the fourth book, The Souls of Witches and I’m absolutely in love with the main characters. But then, that’s how it is with each book I write.

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The Love of Gods (The Legends of the Pale Series Book 1) by [Smith, Tarrant]

Lugos had given his word when the world was still young, before he’d endured the wrenching pain of her soul being torn from his. Lifetime after lifetime she’d returned when he’d needed her most, when the apathy of his kind had eaten away at his resolve and his heartfelt vow seemed pointless. One would think he’d be able to protect a single mortal, after all, he was a god. But two long centuries had passed since he’d held her, since he’d been whole. Now, she was back and Lugos had a decision to make; claim the only woman he’d ever loved, or deny his soul’s deepest craving and grant Keely a chance at a peaceful life without the dangers that populated his world. For five years, Lugos had chosen the latter with the hope that the fates might overlook them this time. That was still his plan when the goddess Rhiannon called seeking his help. Lugos should have known better.

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How She Evolved

Sam L. Marshall Author Interview

Sam L. Marshall Author Interview

The Immortal Queen is an epic fantasy novel that finds Earth on the brink of being plunged into chaos by dark forces. What was the inspiration for the setup to this story?

The main starting point for the story came from my childhood. In fact, a portion of the story was written then (before being rewritten by adult me). I spent a fair portion of my childhood holidays on Waiheke Island, in the Hauraki Gulf (North Island of New Zealand). There was a reserve that my grandparents holiday home was nestled against, which largely inspired Arcon. I would sit, with a wonderful view of Mackenzie Reserve all the way down to the bay and get lost in the forest as I built it up in my mind. That little track our family dubbed $2 corner (because my nana found $2 there) became part of the path that lead to the heart of Arcon. From there, I pictured, drew and wrote out what the village – which became a city – looked like. Then ‘She’ appeared. Endya. So, I followed her story, her life and I wrote the good the bad and the ugly. When it came to the pivotal point in the story, there were a lot of other novels and movies floating about of heroic deeds done – heroes saving the day and having a happily ever. But I knew real-life didn’t work like that. Fairy-tales are seldom true, and I also wanted to frame the story in a way that was true to the characters.

The characters in this book were interesting and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character development?

I wanted them to be as real as possible – hard when you are dealing with Faeries, Elves, Demons and Gods – but Gods are people too!

For both the major and the not-so-major characters – i.e. some of the Gods. I fleshed them out individually (some more than others). Their power base – for example, how their god-powers have shaped their personalities? What are their wants and needs? How do they feel about this situation? Right down to looks. For some I even wrote up quick dossiers or character sheets. (Being a Role-Player pays off sometimes).

I knew, regardless of how much ‘scene time’ they’d get, if I were writing them, they were being made ‘flesh’. That and I feel you should never leave a character, no matter how small, undeveloped – because you never know when that development is needed. A small character now might be a big character later.

What were some sources of inspiration for you while writing this book?

My first inspiration, other than Waiheke itself, was my uncle’s mother. She was an author here in New Zealand. I knew writing a book would never be easy, but the worlds and characters she created intrigued me. It was absolute pleasure and delight in having her read the first three or so chapters when I was twelve (well before the rewrite!) I remember hovering in her house, admiring the view (a little cove and ocean to the horizon) from her personal little library while she finished up reading the pages – all handwritten! She smiled and told me to keep writing because there was a story there that needed telling. It took many years, but I got it done. Sadly, she passed before she could read the final manuscript.

Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders trilogy! The Liveship Traders: Ship of Magic (book one) was the first Fantasy novel I ever read. I was an advanced reader as a kid, and I remember wanting to get into the young adult section and every time my attempts were thwarted by the librarian who would kindly guide me back to the children’s section. Then one day I saw this book. It was hardcover, it was massive (in my eyes) and it had a picture of a fearless young lady on it standing in front of a ship. I wanted – no, needed to read that book….and it just so happened that it was on the sale table. I had much delight in standing with mum as she handed the librarian my pocket money and I got to walk out of the library with my prize. I read and reread that book (still own it) as it was years before I could find and finish reading the trilogy. There was something about the main character, her actions, the way she held herself and faced the perils. How she evolved. I guess in a way she inspired the creation of Endya.

Other inspirations ranged from some of my favourite books such Tolkien’s works (if you have Elves in your word, you need to have same knowledge of Tolkien’s work). Tad Williams Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series. And more modern series like Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games series and Veronica Roth’s Divergent series…and because of the whole shadowy/hidden organisation, Dan Brown’s, Robert Langdon series – which I haven’t even fully read yet!

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

My next book is a complete change from The Immortal Queen. It’s called Astraque. It’s Science Fiction and it takes place in a very cyberpunk/biopunk/technologically advanced but very distorted future. But, as we all know, not all advancements are for the better. It’s about to go into the editing phase and we hope that it will be available sometime next year.

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The Immortal Queen by [Marshall, S. L.]At the end of her world, a noblewoman steals a precious prize from fate. A goddess rises in the city of Sundregham as invaders from another world sweep in to burn the world to the ground. A young girl from Earth discovers she’s the final piece in a game the gods have been playing for a long time…and failure may mean the end of it all. This is the story of Endya & Elizabeth and their fight against the Darkness. This is the story of the Immortal Queen.

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The Immortal Queen

The Immortal Queen by [Marshall, S. L.]

The Immortal Queen follows first, the life of Endya, an elven warrior with demon magic. Although plagued with prejudices, Endya finds her soulmate and becomes a leader that the kingdom of Sundregham never wanted. Elizabeth, on the other hand, grew up on Earth with a normal life. Her own nightmares reveal to her that life on earth is about to be thrust into chaos. Both women are needed as dark forces seek to end all of existence. Worlds collide and every kind of magic imaginable is released on Earth as war begins. Even the gods themselves are on the edge of their seats as the final encounter arises.

The Immortal Queen has the potential to be a best selling fantasy novel. Complete with magic and guns, queens and intrigue, even gods and demons. This book combines lore from several fantasy sub-genres and mashes them into one, making this a highly ambitious epic fantasy novel. However, at times I felt that there was too much going on in this story and felt like some things were not explained completely. While the magic in itself isn’t always meant to be understood, I would have liked to have a better understanding of how things worked because what is presented is intriguing.

As the story jumps from scene to scene with little background information, I spent my time trying to figure out where and when a scene took place. This is exacerbated by the fact that halfway through the story all the main characters names were changed.

The Immortal Queen has huge potential to be on par with other high fantasy novels, which is a genre I enjoy. I love it when worlds collide and there are seemingly infinite types of magic. Near the end of the book, dragon riders were even introduced and I almost squealed in delight. There is a constant stream of action throughout the story that kept me interested and was one of the main factors in getting me flipping pages.

Pages: 426 | ASIN: B07N1PW8KL

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Retribution Versus Restraint

Chris Ledbetter Author Interview

The High Court picks up after the events of the previous book, with Hyperion and Kronos being tried for their crimes. What were some themes you wanted to carry over from book one and what were some new ideas you wanted to explore?

I definitely wanted to carry over themes of parenting, or lack thereof. So much of mythology is deities behaving badly. and in Kronos we have the ultimate crappy parent. And how. But I also wanted to contrast that style of parenting with Rhea’s more maternal side. But other parent/ child relationships arise as well.

Additionally, I wanted to carry forward this idea of duality and that nothing is ever as simple as it appears to be initially. I wanted to confuse the readers’ loyalties a bit in that regard.

New ideas I wanted pursue were the ideas of justice and what that meant. And retribution versus restraint.

A race of giants attack the students and force them to flee while the giants grow stronger with every attack. What was the inspiration for this race of giants?

In Greek mythology, there actually was a Gigantomachy, or war between gods and giants. Chronologically, it occurred after the Olympians-Titans war (Titanomachy). I wanted to sneak a representation of it into book 2 seeing as though to many readers a war between gods and giants might have been anti-climactic after all the egos and storylines of the Titanomachy.

Zeus continues to be an intriguing character with multiple layers. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

Firstly, thank you for that. I’m happy that he came out so well in your eyes. One thing I was very cognizant about was the perception of Zeus, the classic king of the pantheon. He doesn’t have the best reputation. Haha. I wanted to build a view toward more humble beginnings for him and show the natural teen angst, uncertainty, and discomfort with coming of age.

Where will book three in the Sky Throne series take readers and when will it be available?

Sadly, the third book in the series didn’t get picked up for publication. 😦

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The High Court (The Sky Throne) by [Ledbetter, Chris]

High atop Mount Olympus, as dawn breaks on a new academic term, normalcy returns to campus following a harrowing expedition into The Underworld to rescue kidnapped students.

Zeus and his fellow Olympians now prepare to testify in The High Court where Hyperion will be tried for the attack on Crete and death of Anytos and Kronos will stand trial for the murder of MO Prep’s Headmaster Ouranos.

As the trial draws near, the MO Prep students and faculty are besieged repeatedly by a race of gargantuan stone and earth giants. Under heavy assault, the Olympians are forced to flee to the volcanic island of Limnos to regroup. Meanwhile, a toxic poison Zeus has carried with him since a prior fight with a dragoness creeps toward his brain.

In a race against time and beasts, Zeus and his friends must find a way to survive not only the toxin ravaging Zeus’ body, but also the giants who grow stronger after every attack, and somehow make it to the The High Court alive.

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The Labyrinthine Journey

The Labyrinthine Journey (Servant of the Gods Book 2) by [Cavallaro, Luciana]

Evan is a normal twenty-first century man who works as an architect. However, to interrupt his daily routine, none other than Zeus himself, has decided to transport Evan to the sixth century BCE. Evan now travels across ancient Greece with his companions, including Atlanteans, a high priestess, and his friend, Dexion, who has the power to see into the future. All of this is for a mighty cause, Evan has been chosen by Zeus to unite two powerful relics in order to save the Gods from extinction.

Stuck in the sixth century BCE Evan longs to return home. Given his precarious position between times, the juxtaposition of his wants against his reality serves to highlight the stark differences between the comfort of home that Evan is used to and what he is currently facing. For instance, walking across a sandy plain in sandals verses the want for a motorbike to make short work of the distance. His modern life’s influence over his worldview often leaves him homesick, but he must complete his mission. On the other hand, his life back home gives him ways to solve the problems he faces in the sixth century BCE, taking ideas from the pop-culture of his own time and bringing them into the past to aid his quest. This fusion of time periods makes for some brilliant innovations and cross-overs between what we as the reader understand to be ancient Greece, and the modern day.

The Labyrinthine Journey is book two in Luciana Cavallaro’s Servant of the Gods series and it follows on fluently with the events of the previous book with references here and there to book one. Something striking about the series is the relationship between mortals and Gods. With whole chapters dedicated to the musings of God’s and their society it gives the reader an insight into their intentions. Furthermore, the book proposes an alternative viewpoint on the beginnings of Christendom. The Greek Gods fear that they will lose their dominance in light of a God-sent child being born that will potentially lead to the widespread belief in a single God instead of the current pantheon.

This retelling of the birth of Christ from the God’s perspective explains why Zeus wants the relics united – to maintain his and the other Gods’ significance. However, there are some Gods trying to interfere with the mission and stop Evan’s and his companions’ journey. Evan searches ancient Greece, already in possession of the first relic, for the second to unite the two. The perilous journey over a treacherous landscape naturally reminds one of the epics of Homer.

The Labyrinthine Journey was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I give it five out of five for its sophisticated and inventive retelling of the well-known and widespread story of Christ and its ability to connect it to the overarching quest narrative seamlessly. Luciana Cavallaro’s prose fits the story perfectly, making the journey truly epic. Furthermore, the fusion of God’s, monsters, ancient philosophers, magical ancient relics and even time travel, leads to unexpected twists and turns throughout the novel.

Pages: 311 | ASIN: B075QGZQP9

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Fracture Point

Imagine everything you know about reality. Now, throw it all out the window. That is the predicament Jack Griffin is in: trapped in a universe that isn’t his own, brought there against his will by some force of nature unheard of in his world and not understood in the world where he ended up. Here’s the good news: Jack discovers he has magical talent. Now he must use all the resources at his disposal – magic, wit, tenacity, and the little coin that he has – to find a way back to his beloved in his own world. But will he survive this new world? Gods exist, and so does magic. He is an outsider in a country that values nobility above all else. If you’re not from the right family and don’t have the right magical bloodline, you may as well be dirt on the boot heels of the nobles. It’s a different world, but some things just never change. Welcome to the new world.

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Life Gets Complicated

Kevin James Breaux Author Interview

Kevin James Breaux Author Interview

The Lifeblood of Ill-Fated Women revolves around the story of two Valkyries, sisters Astrid and Yrsa, in a world still ruled by Nordic Gods. What was the inspiration for this novel and the Norse mythology used throughout?

Spoiler alert in that question. Lol.

My inspiration was two fold.

One, I really had not read or seen much about Valkyries in years. They are very interesting mythological beings, but not really focused on in movies, cartoons, or TV. Seems like a wasted opportunity, so I took it. I wanted to write a story about a woman who was questioning her reality on several levels. Is she alive, is she dead, was she adducted by aliens, is she in hell? etc.

Two, I felt like Norse mythology is something people, readers, movie-goers, are willing to openly accept easier than some other myths or cultural beliefs. Maybe because of it being so fantastical. Sometimes we believe the things that are harder to believe and accept quicker than those things more based in reality.

For example…. So many people watch and follow ghost shows and believe all that we are shown, but then laugh at the hunters chasing Big Foot in the forest. Paranormal vs. A living being (although myth). Seems like it would be easier to believe in a missing link than spirits from another realm right? Well, maybe that’s just me.

Note: I believe in both actually. 🙂 And aliens.

Regardless, Norse myth is fabulous. And there are a few good fiction books you can find and read. I read one prior to writing this book. Good reference material to pick over. That and my old original Deities and Demigods D&D book. 🙂

What kind of research did you have to do to make sure you got the mythology correct?

As stated about, I bought and read one book. Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs by Lindow. I also used my old hardbound Deities and Demigods D&D book for inspiration.

I spent a LOT OF TIME online researching what “curse words” and foul language would have been used in the Viking Age. I could not deal with or accept the use of modern four letter words being said by my characters. I really lost sleep over it. I finally found some replacement words that were close to the time period or language. Not perfect, but I felt like the reader would understand what I was going for.

I never like watching movies set in ancient times with characters spewing modern day bad words….unless we are talking about STARZ’s SPARTACUS. That was awesome, and with all the over the top blood and guts it was fine. 🙂

As a writer who researches, I like to find the facts and then decide how best to use or alter them to fit into my works of fiction.

When Astrid falls in battle and wakes up with no memory the reader is brought into Astrid’s mind to be witness to her paranoia, fear, confusion and inner struggles. What were the obstacles you felt were important to highlight to connect readers with Astrid and develop her as a character?

Everyone struggles with these things on some level.

Astrid is a big, strong, proud Viking warrior. Who can relate to that? BUT they can relate to all her inner struggles. Who hasn’t questioned their reality? Who wasn’t felt afraid of something one moment, then loved it the next. Think of skydivers. Fear and then joy in a matter of seconds.

Astrid was originally designed as a near cave woman. She grunted and groaned. Took what she wanted. Feared nothing. But an early draft was read by my editor and she pointed it right out. Astrid was unrelateable. I did not want that.

My plan was to write a fantasy-horror story with a character who just cannot figure out if she is alive or dead. Her beliefs would pull her thoughts into both directions; a tug-of-war. While she struggled, the story played out. Things would be happening all around her and she would have to decided what to do, regardless of her inner struggles. That’s life. We all are faced with that.

I was really sick with the flu or something the other week. Two days of being the sickest I had been in 20 years. And guess what, I needed to go get my new drivers license photo. Time had ran out. I was faced with an obstacle on top of another obstacle. Life gets complicated.

In some books or movies, it seems like the hero only has one major concern. That’s unrealistic to me. Yeah, go save your kidnapped daughter Liam Neeson, don’t worry about needing to buy more ammo, or the authorities, or laws, or weather, or your own wounds, or….

This is a well written novel that leaves open the possibility for other stories to follow. Do you have another story in the works?

Book two is currently being written. It takes place several months after book one. I envision this series as 3-5 books long.

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The Lifeblood of Ill-fated Women (The Blood, Sun, and Moon. Book 1) by [Breaux, Kevin James]“Astrid the White isn’t an average princess. She has always stayed by the side of her father, King Kol, and learned warfare and weaponry from the best Vikings in the land. When she awakens in the city of Birka and hears the sounds of war, she rushes proudly into the fray. She is more than capable of taking down any enemy wishing to disturb the peace.

This enemy, however, isn’t what she expected. Before Astrid even gets outside the walls, a golden light knocks her out.

She comes to in the snow, in full battle armor. Astrid first suspects that this is a challenge from her father–or even the gods themselves. By acting correctly, she can gain the favor of Odin, the Allfather.

Astrid wants to complete the test, but it becomes more and more difficult as she explores this new part of the world and encounters both monsters and monstrous men. As creatures from the darkest legends reveal themselves, Astrid will discover that her journey isn’t about acting correctly or passing Odin’s test. It’s about pure survival. Before she can even think about finding Birka, she will have to defend herself against the demons of this new world.”

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The Moreva of Astoreth

The Moreva of Astoreth3 StarsRoxanne Bland’s, The Moreva of Astoreth, is a twenty-seven chapter long book about life as a morev for Moreva Tehi. Tehi is a healer that works in the Temple for the Goddess of Love, Astoreth; The Most Holy One, who is also her grandmother. Less than interested in attending the Goddess’ religious service of Ohra and desperate to find the cure for Red Fever; a disease that plagued the Hakoi of their lands, she finds herself in great trouble with Astoreth, after missing the service. The defiance in character that lands Moreva Tehi in trouble, however, would not soon leave her and she would find herself in the Syren Perritory breaking every rule she had come to know. She is be lead to many revelations, some wonderful, some unsettling, but all unexpected.

The story began in Kherah, “a sunny desert south of the planet’s equator, where the fauna were kept in special habitats for learning and entertainment.” Moreva Tehi had seemingly spent too much of her privilege as granddaughter of a Goddess and was going to be sent away as punishment. In Kherah there were Devi, morevs and hakoi, most to least powerful respectively. Moreva Tehi was all three, but she despised the hakoi, even the parts of herself that was. After being sent away, hakoi like Kepten Yose of Mjor, would be a reminder to Tehi of why she hated hakoi, while others like Hyme; the healer and Teger; the Laerd, would conflict her understanding of that hatred.

Told from a first person perspective, the book became monotonous, as Moreva’s daily routine is described almost word for word for several chapters. The cycle contained, scrambling to get to breakfast, run ins with Teger, lab work with Hyme, morning service, clean up, rest, putting on makeup and getting dressed for the Ohra, evening service, rest, repeat. This made the book harder to read until about chapter thirteen. All the chapters before laid a boring and repetitive path for the reader to just happen upon a climax, literally. A severely unlikely love interest creates a hallmark of a plot twist and begins to really unfold the story.

The use of a second language that the narrator did not understand and that was not translated, successfully excluded both the narrator and myself.

Thematically, the language and attitudes to Tehi showed the struggle for her to be welcomed by the very people with whom she would share her body in the rite of Ohra, very similar to behavior of real world cultures. It was her bravery, breaking Protocol, and saving some miners from dying, that began a change in behavior towards her. There was a strong sense that she struggled with accepting herself, her religious obligations and how she felt about performing them starkly contrasted. Even though she hated the sexually invasive Ohra rite, her religious persuasions forced her to believe her feelings were the problem and not the rite. In the midst of themes such as love and power, Moreva learned reality was relative; she made a discovery about the Gods of her temple that threw her into a struggle with her own identity. Even so, Tehi dared not be bound by a dictated life. It was her determination and willingness to sacrifice that got her into trouble and she would use them to get out. Burning old bridges and creating new ones, with minimal harm to the people who she loved with all her hearts.Buy Now From Amazon.com

Pages: 452 | ISBN: 0996731660

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