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A Bit of a Fluke

Lauren Robinson
Lauren Robinson Author Interview

The Boy Who Saw In Colours chronicles the life of a boy who’s family collapses and he’s sent to Hitler’s elite school. What was the inspiration for the setup to this emotional novel?

Many of the ideas for The Boy Who Saw In Colours came to me as a bit of a fluke. The first piece of inspiration came to me in the form of a photograph that was taken of a young, German boy, crying when he was captured by the Americans. The photograph spoke to me on a very personal level and I found myself doing research into Hitler Youth, where I came across the elite schools. When I watched interviews with some of these boys as men, I was inspired by the acts of kindness I heard about that took place during those very dark times in Europe, when people were finding beauty in the ugliest of circumstances.

Josef is an interesting and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to write a real child. Often times in media, children are either portrayed as extremely annoying or very bland. I didn’t set out to write a complex character, even though that is the goal for many writers. I just wanted to write a real one. The main thing that stood out the most to me about Josef was his passion for art and the beautiful way n which he views the world. When I was sick and tired of the entire thing, that one story within the others made me think the book was worth publishing. After all, it is the little stories that define us.

I enjoyed the unique perspective you presented of Nazi Germany during WWII.

What were some themes you felt were important to capture?

That is always a difficult question to answer in regards to The Boy Who Saw In Colours because there are many themes, and I could write a ten-page essay on it. One of the main themes is about the dangers of fascist ideologies and hatred, and how they can be accepted by otherwise good people. Josef does not agree with Nazim but feels that he has no choice but to comply.

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

For my next novel, I’ll be staying closer to home. It’s a story that centres around ‘The Troubles’ of Northern Ireland during the ’70s. I don’t yet have a release date set.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

What if colours could speak?

The Boy Who Saw In Colours: A raw novel, set amid Nazi uprising, chronicles the life of a boy who dared to dream…

As his family collapses and he and his brother are sent to one of Hitler’s elite schools, Josef learns to express his grief and feelings of growing up in the only way he knows how – painting.

The Poetic Style Needed

Carl Hare Author Interview

What I liked about Spenser was the way in which you fused history with fantasy. What research did you undertake to ensure the historical references were accurate?

I did a huge amount of research, because I had to know as much as possible about the Elizabethan period in England, Ireland, and France, as well as the historical figures involved. And remember, the work has taken twenty-seven years to finish. When I started, there was no internet; I had to do research in university libraries, not through Google. I have seven huge binders of material xeroxed and carefully tagged. As well, in the actual creation I am now on my tenth workbook, apart from the digital files.

Actual things were relatively simple—to find how stained glass windows were constructed and appeared in Spenser’s time; to understand what a sailing vessel was like, its sails, its crew, its structure; to learn about the Irish sea and the ports; to become absorbed in what the buildings and costumes were; Christmas customs; medicine; the countries. There is very little knowledge of Spenser himself, so that I made surmises based on what was known; my Spenser is probably more fictional than real, but the conclusions I made were based on facts as well. I did, of course, create the final book of The Fairie Queene, the windows described actually based on Jung’s archetypal figures (a small license I gave myself). The Christmas play is my adaptation of what could have happened then (minus the satire of the pope, of course). The massacre of the Spaniards is directly taken from the report made of the affair. And the Latin phrases are actually the ones that British schoolboys used to have to learn, which is deliberate. Ben Jonson criticized Shakespeare for knowing “no Latin and less Greek”; I portray him in the scene as still learning Latin, much to the amusement of Spenser and Bacon, who wrote well in the language and who make quiet jokes between them in their responses.

As for the fantasy, you will have to wait for Book Three to get the whole story, when the three thousand years find their conclusion.

The book is written in Spenserian stanzas. Was this a challenge for you or do you prefer this style of writing?

Actually, the whole trilogy is a challenge, because I take the poetic style of the time and adapt it slightly to modern times. For example, Odysseus is deliberately written in the style that most translations have been seen over the past decades; Spenser is written in his form, but where he usually end-stops a stanza, I can run the idea without strain into the following stanza, so that the dialogue and description can be closer to us. I have deliberately left the numbering of the stanzas as he did. As well, in the agonizing memories of Spenser about the death of his son I have strained the stanzas to the limit to force the cries that he made stand out. If you want to know how that sounds, you may soon be able to hear them in the audio book that hopefully will appear in the near future. As for Archer, the styles range from the Romantic Period until today. Thus, you will find that even the verse ranges over the three thousand years.

I understand that you have been a professor, actor, director, playwright, and poet. How has your experience in these fields helped you write your books in the On the River of Time series?

A good question. All of these have helped me. First of all, I have an English Honours degree in which I had to take a comprehensive exam on all of English literature up to 1950 (excluding, of course at that time, all Canadian and American literature). I have taught English courses, seminar courses in Ibsen and Theatre Aesthetics, a first-year philosophy course, and, of course, courses in acting for professional and amateur actors. As an actor I have to learn, comprehend, and explore a character deeply, both in mind and body. As a director I have to know the world in which the play takes place; what the incidents expose of the characters; the structure of the action of the play and its conclusion; the period in which it takes place; and how to bring the actor to fulfill the demands of the character. As a playwright I have to conceive of the characters and their journey; write the scenes that are important for the revelations of the play; find the essence of each character’s thoughts, speech and action; place all this in an appropriate setting for the theatre and the audience; and as a poet sense the music of our language, the evocation of an experience, the poetic style needed, the deep influence of an idea, and the urge which forces me to express it.

All of these things in my background have enriched my vision and whatever skill I have. They have allowed me to find a way through to express through three thousand years what we all still experience, give into, or struggle with, in our lives

Book three in your series follows Archer, the fictional renegade actor/director in present-day Canada. When will that book be available and what can readers expect in the story?

I am almost finished writing it. My editor, with whom I have worked fifty years, is brilliant and patient and rigorous, keeping me always on the right track. We are in the twelfth draft of the work at the moment, but it should be the second-last. For reasons I won’t go into, it will probably come out next year.

What can you expect? A modern actor/director who is charismatic and searching, who has spent his life exploring and touring his events. The book is divided into three “Acts” (like chapters, but this is, after all, about theatre); Act One deals with his tour of King Lear in mask and his research on an event that will deal with all of Canadian history as far back as it goes; Act Two deals with the creation and tour of the event; Act Three deals with the company invited to Ireland to play the event in its Festivals, what happens there, and the repercussions later in Canada. You may suspect that I have some knowledge of all this; you might want to look at my website: http://www.carlhare.ca

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Spenser portrays the last four turbulent months in the life of poet Edmund Spenser, faithful servant of Queen Elizabeth I of England for whom he wrote The Fairie Queene. Written in Spenserian stanza to evoke the Elizabethan period and the poet’s own style, Spenser is Book Two of the epic trilogy On the River of Time, which examines three figures – one mythical, one historical, and one fictional – from different time periods spanning almost three thousand years: Odysseus in ancient Greece; Spenser, the poet, in Ireland, and Archer, a fictional renegade actor/director, in present-day Canada.

Thrust Into Remarkable Circumstances

James W. George
James W. George Author Interview

All The World’s Colors sees the epic clash of four great societies. What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?

The themes of the book are the clash of cultures and religion, courage in the face of the unknown, and how seemingly insignificant individuals can be suddenly thrust into remarkable circumstances.

Ultimately, it is a fantasy-based reimagining of 16th century European history and the discovery of the new world.

This novel does a great job of telling a gripping story using elements often found in historical fiction. Was this intentional or is this indicative of your writing style?

Thank you for the compliment. I’d say it was both! I love historical fiction, and I think history is so fascinating that it can serve as the foundation for outstanding fantasy writing (looking at you, Game of Thrones!)

Savvy readers will quickly pick up on the cues from history in this novel. The discovery of a new continent, and a lost colony. Religious fanaticism. Strange new crops. Wealthy merchant families. And of course, devious intrigue in the royal courts, inspired by the outlandish legends surrounding Queen Elizabeth I.

I enjoyed the idea that the societies are given their own colors. How did come up with this idea and what were some sources that influenced its development?

I think the visual imagery associated with flags, uniforms, and colors is quite striking. Sometimes colors can be so ubiquitous that they become almost synonymous with a society. British redcoats. The all-encompassing red of the Soviet Union. Orange and Dutch culture. Orange and Protestantism. Green and Ireland. You may be familiar with the controversy associated with the development of the modern-day Canadian flag; everything red was associated with British culture, and everything blue was associated with the French, so it was difficult to agree on anything.

Perhaps this is why I find strategy games like Catan and Risk to be so enthralling – the hypnotic imagery of watching colors and kingdoms expand and contract across the world.

This is book one in The Queen of the Blue series. What can readers expect in book two?

Quite a bit more. Book one is a relatively short foundational book, designed to familiarize readers with this fantasy world. There are obviously huge cliffhangers concerning Olmar and Marcel. We’ve clearly only scratched the surface with Burboh and Sanctia, not to mention Amira and the Confederation of Orange. There is a great deal yet to be learned about the new world. Additionally, there will be quite a bit more of the supernatural in subsequent books.

Author Links: Facebook | GoodReads

Book one of a brand-new, epic fantasy series inspired by the history of 16th century Europe.

Something inconceivable has happened, and all the world’s colors are about to bleed…

Kellia. Kellia the Red. Pagan, seafaring warriors of ancient renown. They have sailed west, ever west, and have discovered an awe-inspiring, unknown land. Is it their salvation, or the seed of their destruction?

Merova and the Throne of Blue. Wealthy, cultured, and the ultimate matriarchy. Kellia’s ancient nemesis, and a realm of secrets, intrigue, and treachery.

The Holy Domain of Sanctia. Piety, sacrifice, and faith. They have a spiritual duty to spread the truth across the seas, and they will sail under the sacred banner of green.

The Confederation of Orange. Cynical, profiteering financiers and lovers of pleasure. If there is a new discovery in this world, they will be poised to exploit it.

Fans of historical fiction and fantasy will delight in this epic saga of empire, conflict, and power.

Amulet’s Rapture

Amulet's Rapture: Curse of Clansmen and Kings, Book 3

Catrin is living a nightmare. She has become a slave, is used and abused as a woman disguised as a soldier, and the love of her life doesn’t remember the passion that once existed between them. Catrin is as feared as much as she is taken for granted. Considered to have powers that far outshine the abilities and skills of any soldier, she is allowed to live and protected even though she isn’t respected. Marcellus, her love, now under the spell of another, can’t quite shake the feeling that something is not right–something he can’t explain but leaves him feeling empty and broken. Catrin knows, but will she be able to tell him in time?

Amulet’s Rapture, by Linnea Turner, continues the journey of young Catrin. Her life, very different from that of previous installments, is a daily struggle for survival. She is only allowed to live because she is deemed valuable and believed to have the ability to speak directly with the sun god. Catrin is put through ghastly tasks and treated with little respect even though she is offered the opportunity to train as a warrior priestess. Playing along with the idea that she is all-powerful is the only thing that seems to keep her from being killed.

Catrin’s visions are an important part of the plot–the thread woven discreetly throughout the story that ties all of the elements neatly together. The images she conjures are vivid and touching. The author uses them expertly to pull in elements from previous installments. These little trips into Catrin’s past are especially helpful if listening to this as a stand alone.

The audio version of Amulet’s Rapture is a fascinating listen. The narrator absolutely nails tone, character changes, and emphasis. In addition, the particularly intense scenes in which Catrin is being threatened are completely captivating when read by the narrator, Kristen James. What would be moving moments if read in paperback or Kindle become quite terrifying and extremely uncomfortable when listening to the narrator’s interpretation of the text–the story is truly brought to life.

I believe this installment is completely readable as a stand alone text. The author provides quite a bit of background, and Catrin’s visions give readers a nice glance back at previous plots. One cannot read Tanner’s work without calling it romance. Though it is primarily a fantasy, readers who seek a strong romantic feel to their fantasies will appreciate Tanner’s writing. She peppers her plot with just enough of these steamy scenes to keep romance fans invested.

Audio Length: 11 hours and 11 minutes | ASIN: B0887Y9WLY

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In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow

In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow was a unique historical fiction novel colored with themes of guilt, sorrow and suffering over all that had been lost. Although this was a very emotional novel, it wasn’t all negative emotions, it also had happiness, romance, and a (possible) love like no other, mixed in with some supernatural elements and fantastical hints of history. The story caught my attention in the first couple of pages, remaining consistently entertaining throughout with only rare moments that seemed to slow a bit due to necessary exposition. The detail throughout the book is absorbing and really pulls you into 1940’s Japan. When it came time for the atomic bomb to drop I could see the horror surrounding Micha as he searched for Kyomi, the burning bodies that he came across and the fear that he would never find her or Ai. I could visualize most every scene, which is something I truly appreciated in a novel that covered such a cataclysmic event that reshaped human history.

While Kyomi’s character was interesting I wanted to see more of her personality. Her character seemed monotone at first, but after awhile her character began to grow on me just as she developed in the novel. I liked Micah from the first page, I’m not sure if that’s because he was the first character introduced to me or because I could empathize with him, perhaps it’s because I felt bad for him after the plane crashed. I liked Ai’s character from the beginning as well, children are always fun characters and Ai was no exception. The three of them together made for a great read with interesting interactions and I liked some of the other spirits that they came across along their travels.

Something that made me enjoy the book even more was how the author used the actual terms used by the Japanese such as calling the military Kempeitai instead of using one of our military terms like Army, Navy, Coast Guard, etc. This happens frequently throughout the book which showed me that the author did thorough research for this book and it also helped me learn a few terms. This is an example of the authors dedication to historical detail in this book. Something that I praise the author for is the way that this novel helps you see different points of view from the American and Japanese sides in World War 2. It is also an exploration of Japanese culture at an interesting time in their history. It covers how the Japanese lived, their culture, their work, routines, the hardships they face and much more. I really loved having bits of history weaved into the pages and the way it gave me a new insight. History and fiction meld seamlessly in this novel to deliver a captivating story.

Pages: 344 | ASIN: B083Q4WRPD

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Spenser: On The River of Time

Carl Hare brings fresh purpose to epic poetry in the book Spenser (On the River of Time). Just like book 1, the author is exceptional with narration, description of events, and the direction the characters are taking. Everything from the arrangement of the cantos, the breaking down of the story, the construction of sentences, and the simplicity of lines is ideal. Carl Hare makes the reading experience fun and even more enjoyable for readers that are new to this genre. The length of the cantos is inviting for readers that appreciate short verses. The introduction of characters and how the narrative unfolds encourage one to read more.

In this book, the main story is focused on the life of poet Edmund Spenser. The poet worked for Queen Elizabeth I of England. The book touches on different aspects of Spenser’s life, his convictions, the journeys he took, and the many challenges he had to face. Through this man, we also see how service to authority and how respecting the powers that be affect one’s life. One notable element in this book is the use of a real historical figure in a work of fiction. The author blends every part of the book to elevate a real character in a fictitious work and in doing so creates an engaging story that is hard to put down.

The characters are emotive and easy to empathize with. Each Canto has a unique feeling. The author’s words are clear and I was able to understands the content in the lines without having to repeat the reading, a struggle for me with other works, but Carl Hare’s story is easy to approach. Spenser (On the River of Time) is everything historical fiction fans could want in an adventure story from a gilded age. I enjoyed the style of narration, and loved the edifying effect the book has on literature enthusiasts.

Pages: 435 | ASIN: B0852QN65G

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Sinner’s Cross

Sinner's Cross: A Novel of the Second World War by [Miles Watson]

Sinners Cross, by Miles Watson, is a deeply captivating historical fiction novel of the Second World War. This is an action packed story detailing the horrors of war and the people that must endure them.

This is not a watered down version of war, the battles are chaotic and gritty. I appreciated Mile Watson’s ability to place me in the field with the soldiers. The story focuses on a collection of well developed characters, each with their own issues not completely unique but well drawn and expertly unraveled before the reader. Having such well defined characters made me appreciate the terrible way in which war changes people.

The book is set in Germany during the Second World War and told from the point of view of soldier on the ground. We get to know what they fear, their motivation, how it feels to take the impact of a sniper bullet to the head only for it to be stopped by a M1 Helmet. How one would survive the cold in a fox hole knowing the chance of living to see the following day comes down to an unhealthy probability. To how your ears ring when you are accidentally within the range of an explosion. Sinner’s Cross is full of these types of details only soldiers can tell you.

The book begins with two characters, Duffy and Halleck, who have been fighting Germans for a while now. Each lost in their own thoughts, they engage in a sporadic and thinly worded conversation. Whenever Halleck’s drifts back to his thoughts, they give the reader a glimpse into the hopelessness of their predicament when he refers to their reinforcement as mere replacements. As a veteran I can appreciate the clarity with which the author paints the picture of war and how a soldiers mind might race.

This book was exceptional in it’s ability to make me question, not necessarily the motives of war, but the motives of those in charge of the battles in war. How human ineptness is either waned or magnified under such monstrously strenuous conditions.

I’m surprised Sinner’s Cross is a historical fiction novel. It’s full of historical details and military jargon that, I felt, were spot on, if not believable. This is an exceptional novel that is consistently entertaining, although dark it fits with the tone of what is a dark time in history. Any armchair historian will love this book.

Pages: 284 | ASIN:  B07YS4T3TB

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Revelations: The Colburn Curse

Natalie leads a life like no other woman. The man in her life is not her husband and her son is not her own. As a woman in the pre-Civil War days, she does as she is told, and her life is simply not her own. Her son, Matt, who she lovingly protects from the hatred and violence of his brother, the man in her life, is being raised with no idea of what true love is. As Natalie continues to serve Pete and put up with his endless brutality, she simultaneously succeeds in teaching Matt how to recognize his brother’s faults and steers him toward the life he deserves.

Catalina DuBois’s Revelations: The Colburn Curse contains rich tidbits of various genres, and they all seem to blend flawlessly into one breathtaking piece. With mystery being the underlying and ever-present element, DuBois’s book is laced with romance, historical fiction, and tantalizing snippets of fantasy.

As I read, I felt as if I were on an emotional roller coaster of the most bizarre kind. I desperately hated Pete from the moment he entered the picture. There was not a signal redeeming quality present in him, and I felt no qualms about despising the sight of his name. Then DuBois throws a monkey wrench into the equation– a complete game-changer. I was amazed at how swiftly the author was able to make me change my mind. Then, as quickly as she brought me to a new line of thinking, she reintroduces the Pete of old. DuBois is a master of the plot twist. I was two breaths away from an audible gasp when she had Natalie suddenly reveal her own revelation about Pete’s true identity. Who doesn’t yearn for a book that gives them that feeling?

I will admit that I had a difficult time in the early chapters seeing how the vast array of characters would fit together by the book’s end. DuBois, however, is more than adept at pulling together characters from settings that are seemingly unrelated. I might add, when she does, it is amazing.

The storyline centering about Ambassador Florian Lafayette and his sister, Embrasia, is the most engaging in the book. The two are, without a doubt, bent on living on the edge. Their antics would seem to lead them down a path of destruction, but a few chance meetings change the siblings and their wild ways like no amount of preaching could. I find their storyline to be filled with the most rapidly moving action.

Having read several other books by the author, I can say this one is, by far, my favorite. When you can finish a book and feel immediately like rereading it, you know you have found a keeper. DuBois is the queen of prologues. I never ceased to be amazed at her ability to pull me in within the first paragraphs. There is no one else out there penning romances with touches of fantasy based on historical fiction like Catalina DuBois.

Pages: 285 | ASIN: 1973233002

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