The Grand Trek follows a unique journey to Arizona and the people encountered on the way. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thought provoking memoir?
(WIth the caveat that Arizona was the original idea but the actual Trek turned out differently) The seed for what I came to call The Grand Trek was planted over the breakfast table one morning just after I graduated from high school while living at Horst and Harriet’s farm in Scales Mound, Illinois. Harriet speculated that one of their horses looked like he might not make it through another tough northern Illinois winter. As a (bad) joke, I suggested she ride him to her sister’s place in Arizona. Most folks would have taken this as a jest. Instead, Harriet went to get an atlas.
I found this story to be energetic, engaging and evocative. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing this story?
The main theme is fulfilling the dreams we have for our lives, and picking the right dreams to follow. Another theme is the contrast between urban and rural life, which is something that has been part of my life story. A third is the connections with my horses and dogs and the natural environment. Perhaps increasingly relevant these days is how basic is the need for water. Not a theme as such, but frequently having only a general idea of where I was and where I was heading came up a lot! That is to say that I spent a lot of time basically lost, and learned not to worry about that as long as I kept heading west.
I enjoyed the interesting and varied characters introduced throughout your novel. What were some ideas that you wanted to explore with your characters?
I wanted to relay the way folks I encountered go about their lives, which is more interesting than may be obvious at first sight because it isn’t always dramatic or extraordinary. For example, a lot to think about arose when asking for some water from a mother hanging out laundry to dry. On the face of it, that encounter seems mundane in comparison with the time I asked for some water from a fellow who kept exotic animals like yaks. On reflection, though, the apparently more mundane encounter told worlds about how thoughtfully and innovatively that family approached their lifestyle. I didn’t have a particular plan about what to explore about my encounters. They each had their own significance.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The Best That Can Happen: The Grand Trek wraps up with my stepping off the corporate ladder to re-open a horse training operation at a once well-known facility in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. I’m deciding on how best to approach it. I’m presently leaning toward researching the lives of the people who have occupied that property over the years. The property has some historical relevance, as it was part of the Fairfax Grant of over 5 million acres in the mid-1600’s. There are no doubt a wealth of interesting characters and social development themes to explore, including how America looked pre- and post-European settlement! Lots to research, so it’ll be a while before that’s done. I’m also considering a fictional murder mystery at the farm. That could be fun!
Stories of a journey of discovery traveling cross-country by Kathleen, her horse, Murphy, and her Boxer dog, Country Boy. Unusual for travel memoirs, it explores preparing for the Trek (including catching Murphy and training Country Boy as a protection dog) and what follows such an adventure. It is an entertaining ramble along America’s backroads meeting a very special cast of characters; a humorous and occasionally terrifying roadmap of Americana and pursuing the dreams of one’s youth.
Available at TheGrandTrek.com
Posted in Interviews
Tags: A Memoir with a Twist, adventure, author, author interview, biography, book, book review, bookblogger, ebook, goodreads, Kathleen Schmitt, kindle, kobo, literature, memoir, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, The Best That Can Happen, The Grand Trek, writer, writing
Ullr’s Fangs is a dark fantasy following the experiences of Lluava as she faces some massive responsibilities. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
The initial inspiration for Ullr’s Fangs, as well as the two succeeding other books in the series, stems from the backstory of Lluava’s family. Her true origin if you will. As a writer, I need to know not only the personality and characteristics of the main characters but also the secondary characters as well. I challenged myself to understand Lluava’s father who had died before the first book begins. In understanding his story, I discovered where Lluava’s would lead.
Ullr’s Fangs is full of characters that are trying to serve their own interests by manipulating governing officials or pursuing ancient prophecies. My protagonist, Lluava Kargen, must discover whom to trust while struggling to forge her own path against formidable enemies and daunting situations.
Another important concept involves the Berserker. I love ancient Nordic myth and history. In reading and researching countless sagas and historical novels, I was drawn to the mighty and almost supernatural warrior known as the Berserker. This was the inspiration for a new threat to the Kingdom of Elysia that is introduced in this second novel of The Incarn Saga.
I was impressed with the way in which you dealt with the mental decline of King Thor. What were the ideas you wanted to explore with his character?
I grew up with a grandfather who dealt with Alzheimer’s. Though my earliest memories were positive, the majority of my dealings with him were watching a man, who was the patriarchal figure of my mother’s family, slowly deteriorate and lose most of himself to that disease. Thor was, in part, inspired by those experiences and the heartbreaking moments when old memories blended with the present or were irretrievably lost. I hope readers will relate to the bond his grandson shares with Thor as well as the desire to protect this man who is not only his grandfather but also his king.
The second reason for developing Thor in this manner involves plot. As Thor’s dementia increases, he becomes a puppet king easily manipulated by other members of the government who crave control. A power struggle ensues between the heir to the throne and those that have determined policy, made laws, and insured their own interests for years. I also wanted to express that even at the highest levels of power, corruption exists.
The Theriomorphs are exceptionally intriguing. Where did this idea come from and how did it develop while writing?
I have always had a passion for both animals and myth. Growing up, I read anything I could about either topic. Yet it was not until I had a dream where shape-shifting people were training in a military camp that Theriomorphs were essentially born. After that night, I explored shape-shifter and skinwalker stories.
Merriam-Webster’s definition of theriomorphic means “having animal form”. I used that terminology when I started developing my own race of animal shapeshifters. I wanted both human and animal forms to have shared characteristics and personality traits. For example, the main character, Lluava, has platinum blonde hair, jet black eyebrows and olive-hued skin. She has an athletic form and a personality that is fierce, assertive, and sometimes hotheaded. Her animal form, which is referred to as a dual form, is a white tigress.
Theriomorphs cannot choose their animal form; it is something they are born with and it is linked to hormones. For this reason, most males (testosterone) have larger and more volatile dual forms like tigers, bears, and stags. Females (estrogen) typically have smaller and meeker forms like house cats, ducks, and backyard birds. Lluava’s dual form of a white tigress emphasizes the fact that she is atypical even among her own race.
As a society, I wanted the Theriomorph race to encompass the idea of a native culture that has been conquered and forced to incorporate the social traits of those who have taken over their lands. Like many native tribes, their religion is based on a complex system of polytheistic beliefs, one that is very much in tune with nature. In Ullr’s Fangs, it was fun to slowly reveal more details of the original Theriomorph society and their beliefs so that readers could continue to immerse themselves in the kingdom of Elysia.
This is book two in the The Incarn Saga. Where does book three, Crocotta’s Hackles, take the story?
Each book in The Incarn Saga reveals more of the darker realities of the Theriomorph world. It is not until the end of Ullr’s Fangs that the reader begins to learn what the Incarn are. In the third book, Crocotta’s Hackles, Lluava’s personal mission is to discover the truth about the Incarn and what that means for her own future. I also delve into what the original Theriomorph culture was like before humans reached the shores of Elysia.
Crocotta’s Hackles is full of sudden twists and new realizations that will distinctly alter what both Lluava and the readers believe. I truly hope fans of the first two books will fall in love with the third as much as I did when writing it.
“According to legend, when the world was young, two gods of war — one male, one female — were destined for each other. Yet Ullr, forever unfaithful, lost the love of Issaura, his true match, and was forsworn. His violent anger and bitter rage grew and intensified, poisoning all creation and humanity.
Now that the Raiders’ long ships have faded from sight, the kingdom of Elysia is beginning to recover from the summer’s war with the brutal invaders from across the sea. Yet darker forces have taken root, forces that can alter the future of the land and its people in unthinkable ways. Seventeen-year-old Lluava must discover the means to prevent her world from collapsing. But in doing so, will she succumb to that darkness?”
Year of the Child is book two in your Harmony space opera series. What were some ideas you wanted to explore in this book that were different from book one?
The first was a detective. I was really moved by Hideo Yokoyama’s protagonist, Mikami, in his best-seller ‘Six-Four’. And in the current plot it made sense to provide a storyline from the point of view of law enforcement. At some point the piracy occurring in the story would need to be investigated, and I thought it would be a good idea to bring that investigation to the foreground, rather than simply telling it via newsfeeds.
The second were children. Given the story, what is the implication for them? What is their future going to be like? There are five children in the novel, all of them have an impact on the storyline, even if they are not in the forefront. In some cases those storylines will be dealt with in subsequent novels.
I enjoyed Ludwick Chaserman’s character. What was your process for bringing that character to life?
Ludwick was easier to create then you might imagine. I think of someone that had big dreams and no opportunities, or at least no knowledge of how to fulfill those dreams. In Ludwick’s case he wanted to be an advocate for human rights, but he started pursuing it far later than he should have in life. With no real contacts, no real knowledge, and no real help, he was zealous to do the right thing, but didn’t realize the might of the corporate giant that he was up against.
Ludwick writes himself.
What draws you to the science fiction genre and makes it ripe for you to write such a great space opera story in it?
It’s really about people, I just prefer the space opera genre. It shows us that human nature is the same no matter the setting.
Will there be a Harmony book three? If so, where will the story pickup?
Book 3, A Country Among Countries, will pickup around a month after the events in Year of the Child.
All cops know a mystery starts with a lie …
MISAKI— Two months have passed since the destruction of Harmony dome, and Misaki, guilt ridden over her desperate act of sabotage, returns to the place of healing that she knows best … the Sadie. Mat accepts a contract on the far flung moon of Ganymede, hoping that time and distance will heal him of the nightmares from his own wrong doing.
TETSUYA— Disreputable, former detective Tetsuya Takahashi is reassigned as the Lead Investigator for out-system piracy. Despite his reputation, his work is part of who he is. He knows all mysteries start with a lie, and his investigation begins to lead him closer to finding Misaki Iriyama … who reminds him of his lost daughter. His answers lie at Ganymede.
ALEXANDRIA— Her plan has succeeded. The destruction of Apex’s plant has caused a loop-hole in the restrictive UN law that once prohibited the selling of raw ore to the Martians. Then suddenly, word comes from the new mining base on Ganymede- something has been found in the ice, something puzzling and unnatural that has been buried since the time of David. More surprising is the fact that Alexandria seems to already know of its existence.
SHULTZ— With the construction of the new Apex plant on Deimos, and the end of the ore embargo, Mars is entering a ‘bubble economy’. Governor Shultz and Lt. Governor Jung finally feel like they are doing their jobs for the Martian people. But, using the Free Mars Now movement like a tool for their own agenda has made them powerful enemies. Even as Shultz and Jung ride the heady days of making Mars free of UN greed they know those days are numbered. Colonel Compton is slowly putting together the pieces of the puzzle that will link them to the terrorist attacks. They must plan for a future Mars knowing that their own demise is soon to come.
COMPTON— The failed attempt to ambush FMN terrorists at Cydonia Depot cost seven of his people their lives, and Compton is facing a possible court-martial. The families and friends of those that died alongside his soldiers do not believe their loved-ones were terrorists, and the news media has ahold of the story. But, the embattled Lieutenant Colonel knows his duty. With no leads in one hand, and a hanging mob in the other, he must somehow find the head of the Free Mars terrorists and cut it off.
I enjoyed the unique use of DNA in this story. Where did this idea come from and how did it develop as you were writing?
The idea came from my own experience with having my DNA tested. It seems like everyone is wanting to know where they came from and what their true nationality is. I have noticed some people have expected one thing and were shocked to find out that they had a different genetic makeup. So, I thought what would happen if someone had DNA not of this planet. How would they react? What would they think? As I was writing the story I thought to myself how surprised the person would be to find out that they were not alone on this planet and there were others just like him living and working here as he was.
I enjoyed Ian’s character and backstory. What were some obstacles you felt were important to his character development?
The first one was finding out that you are not of this planet, when your whole life you thought you were a human just like everyone else. The character would have to come to grips with the fact that he looked and acted human but was from a whole different universe. The second one was how does he deal with the fact that he is older than what he expects himself to be. How do you come to grips with the fact that you are thousands of years older than anyone else around you? And third, having to come to grips with the fact that you inherited a leadership role and you had thousands of people who were willing to follow you. How do you lead them on a planet that was originally not yours? And your leadership came from your parents who traveled somewhere else in the universe leaving you here alone to take over?
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am finishing up a story titled “The Haunting of Smock Hill” and it is a paranormal/mystery that takes place in an old coal mining town in Southwest Pennsylvania. A dark energy that used to haunt the mines returns to wreak havoc on the town. I hope to have it finished in time for Thanksgiving.
Checking your DNA and ancestry is real popular these days and everyone is doing it. A group of co-workers who meet regularly for drinks decide to do it as a group and share their results. But what happens when one of them finds out he is not even from this planet? And he is not alone! Are they friendly or hostile to planet earth and it’s people?
Quintrell’s White follows two men who must stop the leader of a pro-Nazi secret society. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this thrilling novel?
This is the fourth in a series and, when I began, the 100th Anniversary of the outbreak of WW1 was on the horizon. I’ve written a lot about military history, both fiction and non-fiction, but had never got beyond a superficial knowledge of the Great War. I quickly found there was much more to it than the horror of mud and trench warfare on the Western Front. This was an era also of adventure, rapid technological development, intrigue, and political instability across much of the world. So there were no shortage of exciting scenarios to consider. For this book, the chance to get Pancho Villa and the Russian Revolution into the same story was too tempting to miss.
Captain John Quintrell is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some themes you wanted to explore with his character?
In the first book, Quintrell’s Black, his back story is gradually revealed. Basically through an injustice as a young soldier, he has spent most of his life as a mercenary of sorts in Africa. The War tempts him to return to Europe and enlist in the Belgian Army. Across the arc of the four books an underlying question is whether through the war he can gain some kind of redemption and regain the life he had always wanted. Basically it’s about someone trying to find their true place in the world, but in a world which is in complete chaos.
I enjoyed the historical references and alternate history in this book. What research did you undertake for this novel?
I read lots of books and personal testimonies of those who fought, but as ever that information really needs to be filtered. The aim has to be for the research to be deployed so as to provide a background sense of the time and to provide a framework for the plot. The risk is forcing too much of it in to the story so that it becomes a barrier rather than greasing the wheels. Hopefully, I’ve got the balance right.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Having spent the best part of six years producing the four book series, I wanted to try something completely different so am working on a book of short stories in a different genre (think old Twilight Zone TV!) and I’d expect that to be completed by the end of the year. After that I expect I will get drawn back into Quintrell-type books again. However, to say whether they could involve him again would be to give away the end of Quintrell’s White…
The actions of Kurt Draxweiller, the leader of a proto-Nazi secret society called the Ultima Thule Verband, could tip the balance in favour of the Keizer’s Germany.
Two men must stop him: The Dragon, who is the Tsar’s most trusted assassin; and Captain John Quintrell.
To get to Draxweiller they will have to fight U-boats, battle with Pancho Villa’s Mexican rebels during the raid on the US town of Colombus, and defeat a revolutionary plot in Petrograd, the Russian capital.
Along the way, Quintrell and his handful of loyal men will settle lots of old scores. But not all of them will survive…
Eva is isolated, and that is by her own choosing. She is the sole survivor of a lineage of werewolves. Avoiding others like herself and steering clear of humans, she has managed to keep away from everything posing a threat to her very being. Eva is strong and a force to be reckoned with. Deegan has met his match in Eva. A werewolf himself, he is not part of one of the most desirable clans. When forces beyond his control begin to rule him, he finds himself on the verge of giving in and giving up. Whether either of them realize it or not, Eva just might be the answer he didn’t know he was looking for.
The Fate of Wolves, by Tarrant Smith, is the second in The Legends of the Pale series. From cover to cover, Smith delivers insanely well-drawn characters and enough moments of levity to keep this paranormal romance moving along at a brisk pace. Never does Smith’s work lack. As the author bounces from one subplot to the next and back, she keeps readers on their toes and deeply involved with each of the main characters and their tragic lives.
Eva is simply amazing. Smith’s descriptions of both her wolf and human halves and how the two are often at odds is captivating. I am oddly fascinated by characters who choose to isolate themselves, and Eva is a prime example. There is so much to be explored in characters like Eva whose mental anguish is so tangible.
I would be remiss if I didn’t address Smith’s opening lines. It’s not often that I rave about the beginning of a book, but in this case it’s a must. From the first sentence, Smith had me hooked. I am not always one to pick a fantasy, but when I do, I lean toward those with characters who shape-shift. There comes with these characters a certain fascination that I don’t get with those in other fantasy novels. The mere mention of werewolves is enough to catch my eye, but Smith snags readers like me from the opening paragraph when she states that werewolves are, indeed, not mythical.
Smith has a unique take on settings. She places her clan in present day. At first, I was a bit taken aback, but I realized as I read that it completely works. It’s not the fact that their human halves are technologically savvy that makes or breaks a book of this genre, it was the inner turmoil of characters like these that makes them timeless.
Anyone who enjoys down-to-earth main characters in their fantasy series will be taken with Deegan and Eva. The entire cast of characters created by Smith is deserving of readers’ adoration for that matter. Humor is a big part of Smith’s writing and adds to the depth of her characters. I highly recommend this book to readers across genres–it’s a must-read.
Pages: 254 | ASIN: B07YG7NZ35
Not many people are attentive enough to hear an inner voice let alone listen to it. Lenerd Louw had always had a small voice inside of him urging towards a direction he had never taken before. The voice was leading him to veer off a life he had always lived, enjoyed and took some measure of pride in. The voice only grew louder over time. Then Lenerd took the time to actually listen to the voice. He took the time to audit his life and venture into the unknown with nothing but a large backpack. Five years later, he has a new outlook on life.
Lenerd leaves nothing to the imagination. He lets the reader deep into the belly of the story. He tells such a vivid story that while he is momentarily mesmerized by the Jacuzzi fire, the reader will be right there with him. You can almost smell the cocktail of diarrhea and vomit when he attempts to rid himself of parasites.
His style of telling his story is completely engaging and involving for the reader. There is an authentic air about the author. Even as he accuses himself of in-authenticity, the fact that he is questioning means that it lies somewhere within him. You can tell that he is not in any way completely devoid of it. This quality comes through in the way he tells the story as well as the events he chooses to highlight.
This was definitely a story worth telling. It is a story of triumphs. Often people think that those perched atop privilege and success have it easy. Truth is that they too, undergo the same kind of struggles that everyone does. In that sense, this story is relatable. Although the reader may not have the means to traverse the world like he did, Lenerd’s experiences and his candid narration of the story connect him to the reader right from the beginning.
Although I liked the book, I felt that the story tended to jump around without notice. This left me a little confused at times, like when someone digresses when they tell a story. Regardless, you will enjoy Lenerd’s discovery of self.
The reader will be gripped right from the scene by the fire with the two girls on the table to his recall of the Café at the Edge story. Everything in between will be a beautiful roller-coaster. Speaking of the story, it is the perfect ending to a great story. It is so apt and fitting and wraps up the book quite nicely.
Pages: 286 | ASIN: B07TZJM1ZQ
Amaya’s Journey to Children of Bwola Dances is an important book that shows how life is different for people in different parts of the globe. The book may be fictional but some of the events that are mentioned in the chapter have historical significance. The reader is taken through a world of war, extreme violence, drama, politics and rebel groups. The narration is raw and expressive giving the impression of events happening in real-time. Amaya’s writing helps one draw comparisons on how policies are made in western countries compared to other countries in the world. In the book, we see the adverse effects of war and how certain demographics get to be affected. Children and women are the most affected groups when war erupts.
It is a shame how young boys were recruited to fight in the war, robbing them of their innocence and a chance to grow up like other kids. The story is set in Australia and Uganda later on. The Lord Resistance Army (LRA) is rebelling against the Ugandan government. This is a story of pain, brutality, vengeance, hopelessness, power, and lack of humanity. You will get emotional on some pages especially when you read about the struggles of child soldiers. We follow as two teens with completely different backgrounds meet through fate and bond as they share past experiences. One teen, the Australian, is used to a different way of life but it is the difference that makes them key characters in the book.
The events that preceded the abduction of Bob and Samantha were not only disturbing but also upsetting to follow. Through the characters, we see how governments respond to calls of help when their citizens are in danger. The book is not just filled with agonizing stories. We follow beautiful customs and cultures in Africa and how they make societies blend. Reading about the Ladongo dace and how men and women lined up to celebrate a successful hunting trip gave me joy. I visualized how happy the dancers were when celebrating their success. The Lord Resistance Army was an evil group. The aggressive raids the group made and the damage it caused was unnecessary if the people had embraced civility. Through their actions, we learn the importance of having a stable government that ensures the rule of law is adhered.
In Journey to Children of Bwola Dancers you will learn about family dynamics, the power of a united people, the impact of poor governance and many more topics that are related to current events in the world. Amaya’s writing is excellent and her characters in the book were well developed. This book is not just a great thriller and drama novel but also a nice learning tool for readers who enjoy historical fiction stories.
Pages: 215 | ASIN: B07XTDVHWS
Tags: A post-apocalyptic thriller, adventure, Amaya, author, book, book review, bookblogger, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, Journey To Children Of Bwola Dances, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing
I’m a Romance Scam IT Detective: Psychological games * Real IT Analysis * Legal matters * Gender Studies
You share your own experiences in this book, and they help clarify how someone can be scammed. What were some things you learned personally compared to what you learned through research?
I have learnt that scamming the scammer is as easy as being scammed.
I have also learnt that many people do not fall for love, but for GREED or for KINDNESS.
In my book, I have explained a lot of psychology in this game. Well, it is pretty long. Read my book to learn more.
I enjoyed how you presented the information in an easy to understand manner. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
Most of the media has over-simplify the game. The current “signs” and “Red flag” method has a high degree of guess – it does not work for humans. Humans make judgements based on rational data and human relationships.
The revolutionary IT-evidence based method will bring the crime to an end.
In my book, I have illustrated how legal hackers trace the source in a cybercrime. This has been a black box for the general public. I hope the general public can now have a high-level idea on cybercrime forensics.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently full time working as a cybercrime detective. There is NO next book planned.
This true story explains cybercrime investigation, hackers, romance scams, scamming a scammer and money recovery.
When financial IT consultant Selina finds herself victimized in an Internet romance scam, losing 70% of her life savings, she scams the scammer and uses new IT tools to trace the criminals …
But … why did this computer engineer fall victim in the first place, when she was not even in love with the fraudster? Will Selina be able to save the love of her life, Jason, who is believed to be in another romance scam?
This crime involves 7 countries (Australia, the United States, Singapore, Ghana, Nigeria, China, New Zealand) in 4 continents.
Harvest by Olga Werby is a fresh change in a genre that is littered with superheroes or with stories in a galaxy far away and distant future. These may be entertaining to our superficial senses; rarely these evoke deeper emotions in the way this book does.
Harvest takes place in the future, where colonies on other planets exist, necessitated in response to an asteroid impact 100 years ago. The story begins with anthropologist Dr Varsaad Volhard, brought on board an exploration expedition to explore an alien artifact. When Dr. Varsaad’s father starts making shocking discoveries back on earth regarding intelligent life forms, things start to go awry.
On the spaceship, things start going wrong soon after they lift off to Mimas, a site on Saturn’s moon where the alien artifact is located. Their voyage is wrought with tense emotion and thrilling suspense that kept me hooked. When the team starts exploring the artifact is when the story really got interesting for me. The character development and story progression were steady up to this point, but the intrigue is turned up to maximum when the team starts exploring.
This is a novel that shifts quickly. When things go wrong, the characters and the story shift and lead you in a new direction.
The author writes an amazing and engaging plot that kept me tethered to the story. The pace is excellent and the story never gets bogged down by the details. Characters are well defined and the origins of the lead characters are gradually explored as they uncover secrets that have huge ramifications for humanity. I particularly liked the realism integrated into the story combined with the technology from both humans and aliens, which gave the story a frightful combination that made me wonder if such a future would be possible.
The story is a delightful and enjoyable read that you can really immerse yourself in. It will prove to be a perfect novel for any sci-fi fan who really wants to dig their teeth into more than light saber rattling.
Pages: 420 | ASIN: B07R8HGKWN