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My Own Story

Susan Hamilton Author Interview

Susan Hamilton Author Interview

The Nosferatu Chronicles: Origins is a science fiction novel detailing the origins of vampires with a mix of aliens and Vlad the Impaler. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

As a kid, I loved science fiction movies about alien invaders and the Dracula films that starred Christopher Lee and Jack Palance. I kept waiting for a film to come out that would combine my two favorite genres, but it never happened. I finally decided to write down my own story that had been in my head for decades.

The alien VAMBIR were fascinating and I felt like you spent a lot of time thinking about these creatures to truly bring them to life. How do you capture the thoughts and emotions of an alien species?

I loved the movie ENEMY MINE and Louis Gossett Jr’s portrayal of the Drac alien was incredibly moving. In the beginning, it was easy to think of him as evil because of the hideous exterior, but you quickly see that the Drac had a parallel code of ethics to humans. I thought of the Vambir in the same way — a humanoid species that evolved separately with the same hopes and dreams and everyday struggles.

The story takes place on Earth during the 15th century. Why did you choose this as the backdrop to your story?

The character of Prince Vlad Dracula was essential to the story, and he lived in the 15th Century. Since the vampire legend began with Vlad the Impaler, it was a good place to start with an alien crash-landing that ‘explained’ just how the legend began.

I find a problem in well written stories, in that I always want there to be another book to keep the story going. Where does book two, The Aztec God, take readers?

The Aztec God will take readers from where Origins left off in the 15th Century to the present day. Kevak and his network of transformed humans have been secretly protecting mankind from the Vambir, but just when they think the threat has been obliterated, historical clues point to a Vambir presence among the Aztecs that is linked to a present day cult.

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The Nosferatu Chronicles: Origins

Book 1 of the series reveals how the vampire legend is the result of a secret alien invasion that began with a crash landing in Transylvania in the 15th Century.

The Vambir discover human blood is a nutrient, but it is also highly addictive. Ingesting blood brings about a physical transformation that enables them to pass as humans.

Impressed with their superior strength and vicious fighting skills, Prince Vlad Dracula welcomes them into his inner circle, where they attain power through him.

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Covert Activities

Phyllis A. Still Author Interview

Phyllis A. Still Author Interview

Fleeing the Shadows is a satisfying follow-up in the continuing Dangerous Loyalties series as our brave heroine flees with her family into the Kentucky frontier. What direction did you want to take this novel in that was different from the first book?

After the danger caused by Papa’s covert activities in book one, I wanted readers thrust headlong into survival mode with thirteen-year-old Mary and her family.

The family is always running from something and danger seems to lurk around every bend. Did you plan the plot twists before writing or did they develop organically?

I used a rough outline to keep the story moving but allowed surprises to happen naturally.

 Mary continues to carry the bulk of the family’s worries as her Papa makes increasingly difficult decisions. What were some obstacles that you felt were important for her characters development?

Mary struggles with PTSD. She must deal with each fear and keep going. Mary rises to the task of taking charge of her siblings when Papa must care for Momma. When Mary shuts down in fear, she allows her family to care for her. Her ultimate challenge leads her to face real and imagined shadows to save her family.

Where will book three in the series take readers?

Mary hopes life at Fort Boonesborough will fulfill her dreams of a peaceful life with friends and suitors. She has her heart set on a certain someone and is determined to win him for her future husband, but Papa and the American Revolution say otherwise.

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She blames herself for the bounty onPapa’s head.

Book Two in the Dangerous Loyalties series–a historical novel for teens–continues the riveting story of Daughters of the American Revolution patriot Mary Shirley McGuire.

It’s late summer in the Alleghany Highlands, 1775. Colonial Virginia has resolved to support the American Revolutionary cause for liberty. The British are determined to retain control of the fur trade and keep frontiersmen fighting Indians instead of joining the Continentals.

Thirteen-year-old Mary Shirley is still recovering from emotional wounds inflicted when she risked her life delivering traitorous dispatches. She trusted the wrong men, and now the family must flee Indian Creek to stay ahead of British Loyalist who seek her papa’s life.

But they can’t risk being captured by taking the main road to Daniel Boone’s trail that leads into Kentucky territory. They must endure the more dangerous and grueling hunter’s path that leads to rough frontier forts along the Clinch River.

Passions are ignited, friendships are formed, and shocking lessons are learned.

Papa ignores the warnings to wait for other travelers, causing Mary’s anxieties to worsen. Once they cross the Cumberland Gap, they’re at the mercy of God and the Chickamauga Cherokee to make it to Fort Boonesborough alive. Frontiersmen tell them the settlement of Fort Boonesborough isn’t defendable, and Mary doesn’t want to continue. Papa is confident that the Indians are too busy preparing for winter to raid.

A few days from the fort, Mary is feeling hopeful for the future. Then disaster strikes, leaving the family devastated and heartbroken. There is no other choice. Mary must lay aside paralyzing fear and excruciating pain to save her family before time runs out.

Fleeing the Shadows (Dangerous Loyalties Book Two) invites readers to experience traveling the dangerous wilderness trails with Mary and her family through thick wild forests of Southwest Virginia and into Kentucky territory that leads straight into a Native American hornet’s nest. Mary just wants to make it Fort Boonesborough and live in peace.

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Day Moon

Day Moon (Tomorrow's Edge Book 1)

As the first book in the Tomorrow’s Edge trilogy, Day Moon is an outstanding contribution to the world of futuristic creation. The author, Brett Armstrong, provides a novel which allows any reader to question the “what ifs” of the world.

The story is set in 2039, where a seventeen-year-old boy, Elliott, is assigned to work on a project instigated by his deceased grandfather. After all forms of print are destroyed, Elliott must let go of his beloved book of the complete works of Shakespeare.

Elliott soon realises that in the complete works of Shakespeare, something unusual occurs. For some reason, an extra sonnet “Day Moon” had been inserted. This unusual event is the start of the unravelling journey of Project Alexandria; a journey which has no intentions of using the project for its original purpose. Can Elliott unravel the mystery and prevent Project Alexandria being launched?

A fantastic attempt to draw upon the unknown possibilities of the world. Armstrong creates a strong, imaginative plot line, with relatable characters and emotions; this is a remarkable read which creates a vibrant and thought-provoking storyline.

Based on the originality of his ideas, and Brett’s noble attempt to write in a world of pure creation, I could look beyond our everyday lives, and recognise a possibility of how the world could look in years to come.

What I thoroughly enjoyed about Day Moon was a mixture of themes including passion, distrust, uncertainty and suspense. What also sets this book apart from others in this genre, is the small quotes inserted at the beginning of each chapter. Each quote has been taken from a work of Shakespeare; which ties in beautifully with the underlying concept of the narrative. In that respect, I think Brett Armstrong demonstrates a huge amount of commitment and passion in regards to his ideas for his trilogy in Tomorrow’s Edge.

Whilst reading through this book, I recognised that the author had put a tremendous amount of attention to detail in regards to his layout, consistency, flow in writing and grammar, which all adds to the book’s qualities. Not only does the book contain a strong narrative full of suspense, drive, and futurist qualities, but it also blends our world of reality with a world that could be.  

A fast-paced, diverse, intense piece of writing that falls under categories of Historical Fiction, Science Fiction and Futuristic genres. I highly recommend this book for anyone who shows an interest in the genres as mentioned. Although the narrative lagged at times, this does not detract from the quality of Brett Armstrong’s creative writing.

Packed full of inspiration, creation and innovation, this novel provides a great insight in to a world that is not real, but not impossible either. A fantastic read, and a great beginning to the Tomorrow’s Edge series.

Pages: 389 | ASIN: B06XWDM49Z

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Return to the Gun

Kwen D. Griffeth Author Interview

Kwen D. Griffeth Author Interview

A Higher Calling follows Sam as his reputation follows him even though he’s retired from his gun wearing days, and his new life is threatened as the opportunity for revenge comes knocking. Why did you think this was a good starting point for book 2 in the series?

At the closing of book one, Sam had gotten a glimpse of what his life could be instead of the anger and violence filled existence he had accepted. For a few months he is able to enjoy that normalcy. He is not only seen by the family and neighbors as a husband and father, he starts to see himself in those roles. Even a few friends from his past are willing to give him a chance to be a different man. Too soon, a stranger demands Sam return to the gun. The stranger bribes Sam with money, but also carries a threat in order to manipulate Sam to do his bidding. Sam must choose who he is to be.

Sam must achieve a series of steps in order to become a member of a civilized society. I think of them as similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. First, Sam had to forgive himself and see himself as something more than just a killer. Now, he is making commitments to a family. He has the chance to become a part of that family if he chooses. Hence the name of this book, “A Higher Calling.” Which is the higher calling? Be a husband and father or avenge the death of a friend.

We get to dig deeper into Sam’s character in this book as he has to decide if he is Sam Cardiff or Sam Moses. What were the obstacles you felt were important in develop his character further?

Sam, to me, represents soldiers and Marines who return from combat and are unable to adjust to the quieter life. We only hear about them, unless we know them, when they commit some horrendous act of crime or violence. Sam gave me the opportunity to tell people, who don’t know, that these men and women are wounded as surely as if they had lost a limb. The only difference is the wounds can’t be seen.

That’s what I wanted Sam to tell the reader. He was just a guy with dreams, plans and hopes who circumstances put in a situation so ugly he couldn’t cope. In the aftermath, his value system, his self-awareness, his expectations of himself as well as others are distorted.

Are you a fan of western novels? What books do you feel influenced you as a writer?

I grew up reading Louis Lamoure, Clair Huffaker and Will James. While I read more than just one genre, I am a fan of the western, but I also have a complaint about them. Too often, the characters are single dimensional or at best shallow. This series is the story of the internal struggles of a war vet. I chose the Civil War as I felt it allowed me to tell a better story. I could have chosen any war, but I felt there was a poetry in choosing a 19th century warrior inflicted with a 20th century injury.

Where will book three in the Sam and Laura’s Story series take the characters?

Recovery from any emotional/mental illness is a progression of steps. In book one, Sam came face to face with himself. Who was he going to be. The changing of his name represented that turmoil. In book two, Sam had to find his place in a family but also a community. Once he accepted himself, he had to find a way to accept those around him and allow them to accept him. Book three addresses Sam’s relationship with God and nature. He has spent several years cursing God and wishing God would strike him dead. Now, he must find a way to resolve that conflict.

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A Higher Calling: Laura's Tale (Sam and Laura's Story Book 2) by [Griffeth, Kwen]“What is the matter with you? We do not need his money!” She stood behind him; her hands on her hips.
“It’s not about the money.”
His voice was calm. He could have told her what day of the week it was with the same level of excitement.
“Then why? Why must you go back and try to get yourself killed? You have responsibilities here!”
Sam stopped brushing and seemed ready to turn and face her. He then thought better and did not. He returned to brushing the horse.
“Samuel, you turn around and face me! You tell me why I have to get ready to mourn a second man in my life. You tell me what I’m supposed to tell our children!”
His turn was powerful and deliberate; he faced her, “Our children, Laura? It wasn’t that long ago you told me in no uncertain terms they were your children and I was a bad influence. You share them with me only when it suits you. They are our children if you think you can use them to your advantage.”
“Is that why you’re doing this? To punish me for what I said?”
“Laura, please. Do you really think that little of me? I gave the man my word. I promised him I would avenge him if this happened.”
“You promised? You promised? You also promised my husband you would look after us. I know Wiggins was your friend, but he is cold and dead in the ground. There is nothing you can do that will change that.”
Sam’s’ brows furrowed, “And how is that different from William, your husband? Is he not also cold and dead in the ground?”
Laura stepped forward and took his free hand. She placed his hand on her chest, between her breasts, “Does this feel like it’s cold and dead? Do you not feel the love that surges through my body with every beat of my heart? Tell me what I have to do to keep you here? What must I do to change your mind?”
Sam Moses was in a quandary, a crossroads. He had followed the beautiful Laura Stoddard and her children to Missouri in order to care for them as he had promised the dying William Stoddard, the husband and father. He was determined to keep his word.
Now, he had received notice a friend had been murdered. A friend whom he had promised to avenge if such a thing happened; now, it had. Avenging his friend would most likely kill him but he had given his word.
Now, after living most of his life being beholden to anyone, he must choose, which promise is the higher calling?

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Vengeance is Mine

Vengeance Is Mine: Resurrections (Sam and Laura's Story Book 3) by [Griffeth, Kwen D]

Sam Moses, a man comfortable with the echoes of death created by the sounds of gunfire, is haunted by the terrible demons of his past. Bad luck seems to stalk the man as he tries to find his way past tragedies that changed his life forever. But Sam Moses is determined to become the man he believes he was meant to be and fights for a life that leaves death and violence behind. To have the life he wants Sam must learn the ins and outs of relationships, stability and how to build a life where he settles down for good.

Vengeance is Mine, written by Kwen D Griffeth, is the third installment in Sam and Laura’s Story. This novel takes you on a more personal adventure as Sam re-enters his life back in the town of Missouri. Old flames, new friends and a thirst to belong will set the tone for the final installment of the series.

Vengeance is Mine takes a step back from the gunfire and instead focuses on the foundations of who Sam truly is. Learning to settle into a life where he isn’t chasing death can be challenging at times and this is where we really get to see Sam’s character come to light. A group of people will begin to fulfil Sam’s life with a new meaning and acceptance that he has not experienced before. I appreciated seeing a side of Sam that was raw, emotional and at times surprisingly gentle.

Laura’s character progression throughout the novels shows us her growing from a girl to woman to finally someone who has dealt with great heartache. In Vengeance is Mine we see a woman who desperately wants to settle into a normal life but needs time to accept the pain and heartache she has been dealt. Her relationship with Sam is complicated as she feels resentment at the decisions that seemingly made her feel alone in the most difficult time of her life. A section of the novel talks about parts of life being heavy but also light, for example having a baby is a “light and happy” occasion but also can be seen as “heavy” as someone’s life is now consumed by responsibility and questions as to what the future may hold. I feel as though this accurately depicts the relationship of Laura and Sam as they wind through life towards a hopefully happy ending. Will they finally leave their old demons behind and begin a life together?

Vengeance is Mine also explores old characters and where they have come after the pains and challenges they have experienced. Opal has grown into a beautiful young woman, Pickles is catching the eye of ladies in town and Ellen is back after helping saving Sam’s life. The reader will be treated to the development of many favorite characters which will make you feel more connected than ever and invested in their fates!

I would recommend this to anyone looking for a heartwarming story line and a feel good finish to an excellent series. I thoroughly enjoyed all three installments to the series and highly recommend reading the three books as a whole.

Pages: 288 | ASIN: B00VFLO3DI

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The Power of Life and Death

Linnea Tanner Author Interview

Linnea Tanner Author Interview

In Apollo’s Raven we follow a Celtic princess Catrin and her star-crossed Roman lover Marcellus on opposing sides of a fierce battle. What was your inspiration for the setup to this exciting series?

Since childhood, I’ve been an avid reader of mythology and legends that portrayed females as goddesses, warriors, and cunning sorceresses. I’ve always been drawn to bigger than life epic heroes and heroines who steered the destiny of their people. In my travels to London, I was struck by the statue of Boudica and her daughters riding in a chariot near the Thames River. I discovered that she was a celebrated warrior queen who united the Britons in a revolt against the Romans, almost throwing them out of Britannia in 61 AD. As I did more research, I became intrigued that Celtic women were considered as equals in this war-like society. The Roman historian Dio Cassius describes Boudica as having the mystical powers of a Druid. Other Roman historians wrote of Celtic women’s ferocity as they fought alongside their husbands.

The heroine Catrin is based on historical and legendary accounts of Celtic warrior queens such as Boudica in Britannia where women were held in higher esteem and could serve as warriors and rulers. The storyline of star-crossed lovers in Apollo’s Raven series is inspired by the legacy of Cleopatra and Mark Antony but with a Celtic twist. Archaeological evidence and sparse historical accounts suggest that Rome heavily influenced the politics of southeast Britannia prior to Claudius’s invasion in 43 AD—a political situation similar to Cleopatra’s Egyptian kingdom. I was also drawn to the tragedy of Mark Antony and his son, Iullus Antonius, whose downfalls were associated with powerful women. Their infamy cast a shadow on Marcellus, the great-grandson of Mark Antony, which will be further explored in the Apollo’s Raven series.

Your story is able to portray ancient Roman life in a believable yet entertaining way. What kind of research did you do to make sure you got everything right?

I did extensive research on the Roman life by reading books, journal articles, and blog posts by historians and archaeologists. Of particular interest are the written accounts by Julius Caesar which he sent to the Roman Senate as propaganda to support his military expeditions in Gaul and Britannia. I’ve also explored several Roman archaeological sites in Britain and France where scenes from the Apollo’s Raven series take place. Locations include Dover, Bath, Fishbourne Roman Palace, Colchester and Hadrian’s Wall in England, and Lyon in France.

As I researched Roman historical events and culture, I also tried to understand their mindsight. In Rome, the male head, the paterfamilias, had complete control over his family—wife, children, and slaves. If they disobeyed him, he had the power of life and death over them. Women were held in higher esteem in Celtic societies which is in sharp contrast with the paternalistic, empire-building Romans.

Catrin is a princess, yet she is not fragile. She’s tough and trains to be as strong as her sister. What themes did you want to capture while creating Catrin’s character?

It is my hope that modern women can draw on the rich traditions of the ancient Celtic civilization where females owned property and could become rulers and Druids. These women fought, hunted, rode horses and used weapons, just like the men, to protect their homeland.

Deeper themes that will be explored in the Apollo’s Raven series as Catrin matures and faces new challenges on her journey of becoming a warrior queen are as follows:

  • Coming of Age
  • Power to change destiny
  • Sacrifice and love
  • Corruption of power
  • Quest for redemption

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

I am in the process of finishing Book 2: Empire’s Anvil, which should be available by the summer of 2018. The epic tale continues when King Amren accuses Catrin of treason for abetting her Roman lover, Marcellus. She must prove her loyalty to her father and people by forsaking all men and defending her kingdom even to death. Forged as a fierce warrior, she begins a quest to redeem herself and to break the curse that foretells her father’s kingdom will be destroyed. Yet, when she is reunites with Marcellus, she must face her greatest challenger that could destroy her life, freedom, and humanity.

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Apollo's Raven

The world is in turmoil. Celtic kings hand-picked by Rome to rule are fighting each other for power. King Amren’s former queen, a powerful Druid, has cast a curse that foretells Blood Wolf and the Raven will rise and destroy him.

King Amren reveals to his daughter, Princess Catrin, the grim prophesy that his former queen pronounced at her execution for treason to him.

The gods demand the scales be balanced for the life you take. If you deny my soul’s journey to the Otherworld by beheading me, I curse you to do the same as mine. I prophesize your future queen will beget a daughter who will rise as a Raven and join your son, Blood Wolf, and a mighty empire to overtake your kingdom and to execute my curse.

Catrin is trained as a warrior and discovers she is the Raven and must find a way to block the curse of the evil former queen. Torn between her forbidden love for her father’s enemy–Marcellus, the great-grandson of Mark Antony–and her loyalty to her people, she must summon the magic of the Ancient Druids to alter the dark prophecy that awaits her.

Will Catrin overcome and eradicate the ancient curse? Will she be able to embrace her forbidden love with Marcellus? Will she cease the war between Blood Wolf and King Amren? Will she save Ancient Britannia?

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The Slave Boy

The Slave Boy (The Orfeo Saga, #6)

The Slave Boy is the sixth installment of the Orfeo Saga and follows Cyrus as he lives his life in Kuragalu. Cyrus is feeling restless and bored as he lives his life without any foreboding danger lurking in the shadows. Even though there are thoughts of what life would be like married in a traditional Kassite way, he is eager to find an adventure and sets off to Babylon to find old friends and new lands. Here they land themselves in a familiar career path of merchants however a seemingly easy road into money is tarnished when they are captured and sold into slavery. Cyrus may escape but his new mission of protecting a member of the Royal family may prove to be his most difficult task yet. Meanwhile, Cyrus also has his eyes set on stopping a siege that could kill many innocent people. Life changing decisions will leave Cyrus in a position that will change his life forever.

The Slave Boy, written by Murray Lee Eiland, is a story of courage, passion and friendship. Prepared to be thrown into the world where slavery, Royal families and war mongering politicians will stop at nothing to take over power within their country and beyond.

Murray Lee Eiland has written this novel with a beautiful air of understanding and respect towards cultures within places such as Iran. I appreciated the context of history woven throughout the plot and how he easily fit the characters into the historical tones of the story. I also liked how the chapters were short and concise which left no room to ramble or over describe situations or people. Because of this, I found myself eagerly continuing the story and was always filled with excitement and anticipation at what may happen next.

The character progression of Balik was one that I thoroughly enjoyed. He begins the novel as a drunk- lost in the old time ways, desperately searching for a place in a world that no longer accepts the heroes of war. Cyrus saves him from himself and the cheap stench of wine and injects life and a sense of adventure into his old employer.

The Slave Boy explores both governments and Royal families which adds an element of politics throughout the deep throes of adventure. Further into the story, relationships with Royals offer benefits and power, however is this what the characters want or need? At times the novel almost felt like a James Bond style movie with spies, slaves and Kings mixing together to find out the deepest of secrets within the kingdoms.

I appreciated the historical note at the end of the novel, allowing the reader to have an understanding of what was real and what was made up. As it concludes the novel, it leaves the reader to consider and ponder on what life people may have had within these areas of the world.

I would recommend this to anybody who enjoys a novel loosely based on historical events, full of adventure and life changing lessons.

Pages: 238 | ASIN: B06WVFPGP3

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Recollections of the War

Heidi Fischer Author Interview

Heidi Fischer Author Interview

Swallow follows a young German woman during WWII as she struggles to follow her dreams and become a pilot. What was the inspiration that made you want to write such a humanizing story?

I was flicking through some old magazines in a medical waiting room a few years ago and came across an article on WW2 ace fighter pilots. It was a fascinating read, so I took to the internet and was blown away by the material on this subject. I found the story of a young German pilot, Hans Phillip, particularly inspiring, though tragic. It was heart-breaking to read about and see the many images of these young men yet to live their lives. Many of the photographs were candid, showing just how very ‘human’ they really were.

Gabi is a fierce, bright woman who stampedes her way onto the runway. What guided you through Gabi’s development?

I like a strong, female protagonist determined to get her way! Much of Gabi’s development is drawn from personal experience. I was once a young business graduate struggling to get on in what was predominately a man’s domain. I jumped at any opportunity to get ahead, as does Gabi. She’s emotional, stubborn and insecure, facing the same challenges that we all face at some time in our lives: life and death; love and loss; hope and despair. Sadly, the harsh reality of war makes this natural transition through life profoundly tragic for Gabi.

This story takes place in Germany during WWII. What research did you do to make sure the history and locations were accurate?

Some of the history/locations came from personal sources. My mother was born in Königsberg, East Prussia and fled to Saxony as a war refugee during WW2. Many of her recollections of the war and this part of the world have been incorporated into the story. As a child, I also visited relatives in East Germany several times and can still remember towns such as Meissen and Dresden quite vividly. But my primary source was Google. There is so much material about WW2 and the Luftwaffe on the internet. Admittedly, not all sources are reliable but with some cross-referencing, you get a good feel for what’s legitimate. My biggest issue was deciding what to include and what to leave out as I didn’t want to bog down the story with superfluous detail!

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

I’m currently working on a prequel to SwallowThe Sparrow and The Peacock, covering the early years of Max Richter from his childhood through to his romance with Mary Dehaviland and the birth of Gabi. Like Swallow, it’s set in Germany and covers historically significant periods such as WW1 and the stock market crash of ‘29. I’m aiming to have the book published sometime late 2018 – early 2019.

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SwallowSet against the dramatic backdrop of World War II, Nazi Germany, Swallow is the story of a young woman destined to fly. Gabriele Richter, the daughter of an ambitious German general, connives her way into the Luftwaffe, becoming Germany’s only female fighter pilot and ‘ace’. Flying like a swallow, she defends the Fatherland with the gusto and fearlessness of youth, confronting death on every sortie and living by the Luftwaffe edict “Fly till we die”.

On the cusp of womanhood, Gabi also learns about love. She shares her heart with Heinz, a young, impulsive ‘fledgling’ pilot set on becoming a war hero. She bares her soul to Hans, an ambitious flight commander whose love is troubled with demons of self-doubt. She gives herself to narcissistic Kurt and his scar fetish, comforted by his unwavering loyalty. She confides in RAF Wing Commander Arthur Wilson, living in hope to love again…

But, after discovering her beloved father, General Max Richter, has been implicit in horrific war crimes against humanity, she turns her back on the Fatherland, helping the enemy restore and fly Germany’s latest weapon, the Me-262 fighter jet.

With the end of war imminent, Gabi’s tragic destiny is fulfilled, leaving General Richter to face retribution. 

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Could the Legends be True

S.M. Porter Author Interview

S.M. Porter Author Interview

The Mystery of St. Arondight’s tells the story of six teenagers on a mysterious supernatural quest across Europe. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

Like my characters I was a teenager when I had my first taste of field archaeology. It was exciting, that feeling that you never quite knew what was waiting under the ground for you. It didn’t seem to matter how many of the experienced archaeologists on the site told me that treasure is unlikely, I firmly believed that every shovel full of dirt could hold some priceless artefact of great importance. Now, having been a professional archaeologist for ten years I have learned that not every excavated site uncovers great historical mysteries. In fact the closest I have ever come to treasure is five scattered Roman Denarii, probably from a lost purse. But I still have that belief that something important could be hiding just under my feet.

History itself consists of so many unanswered questions, so many what ifs, so many intangible stories. Folk law suggests the presence of ghosts at sites of violence, or in places they knew when alive. Legends tell of strange women living in trees, lakes or isolated ruins, of heroes who transcend time. There are so many mysteries out there to solve, who is to say that the conclusions must always be rational. Some stories tell of tangible artefacts, a philosopher’s stone, a sacred cup or a powerful sword. Legends give us all the chance to daydream … What might happen if one day I excavate a sword of Arthurian date from a waterlogged deposit. Could the legends be true?

The story has a host of young characters all with their own unique personalities. What themes did you want to capture while creating your characters?

With my characters I aimed to create firstly a group with a shared interest, archaeology, but to give them their own skills, knowledge and personality. The intention was to balance them so that no one character held all the aces and there was essentially no go-to hero of the piece.

I wanted to make sure that the girls were just as capable as the boys. When I was growing up I spent most of my time wanting to be one of the lads. So called ‘girly’ activities did not interest me and I felt that as a teenager there were no characters in my world, with perhaps the exception of ‘George’ from Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’, that represented me as a perpetually bruised, knee skinned tomboy, hanging out with the boys, fencing with sticks and pretending that my bicycle was a motorbike. What I wanted to do here was to create characters that represented my sixteen year old self. The girly side, the tomboy side and the downright laddish part of me. Alongside my own traits I have borrowed elements of personality from the many wild, passionate, and possibly crazy archaeologists of all ages and genders, that I have met whilst digging holes all over the country. I had to try and capture some of that combination of crude humour, intelligence and boundless enthusiasm, encountered on all archaeological sites.

The action scenes and references to historical sites was well developed. Was there anything you pulled from you own life and used in this novel?

I first started fencing at university and was lucky enough to fence for my university, even becoming captain of the team and later the club. Fencing is a lot like chess, but played at the speed of light and with significantly bigger bruises, but you get a real appreciation that timing and intelligence are every bit as important as strength and skill. In writing the sword fights in St. Arondight’s, I wanted to put across some of my own experience as a fencer – the noises, the exertion required and the clear presence of mind required to make a successful attack.

Having lived in the UK all my life, I have visited many of the locations from the book, although I do admit that for a few of them I may have used a little creative licence  – getting to the “beach” below the White Cliffs of Dover is much more difficult than Sarah and Jerry found it and I certainly wouldn’t advise trying it!

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

I am currently working on the sequel to The Mystery of St. Arondight’s, following the same characters on their next archaeological adventure. I’m hoping it will be available March/ April 2018 although the first draft is playing hardball right now, and it’s fair to say that working full time as an archaeologist, active fencer and motorcycle enthusiast does take up some writing time. So I’m afraid the date is tentative and it may be a little later.

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The Mystery of St. Arondight's (Archaeological Adventures Book 1)

Camping at ruined abbey at the end of the summer holidays, six teenage archaeologists find themselves witness to a violent haunting and discover a secret crypt below the abbey.

The discoveries they make set them on an epic quest across the country. In a race against an unhinged academic and armed with only their honour, knowledge and swordsmanship the group will have to trust one another and work together, as reality and mythology merge and the quest for an artefact of legend becomes a fight for survival.

Told in a unique blend of first and third person narration, The Mystery of St. Arondight’s follows Suzannah Jones, Melody Knight, Sarah Heddon, Claire Scott, Jerry Llewellen and Símon James Matherson in their first archaeological adventure.

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Apollo’s Raven

Apollo's Raven by [Tanner, Linnea]

When a historical fantasy grips you from the very first page, you know you are in for an excellent read. With Apollo’s Raven by Linnea Tanner, we are brought into the world of the not-so-distant past when Rome set their sights on Britannia. We follow the experience of our protagonist Celtic princess Catrin and her star-crossed Roman lover, Marcellus. On opposing sides of a battle that grows fiercer with every passing day. There is more to this tale than love and war for magic and mysticism are part of the lifeblood of our characters. This is more than a tale of might and magic. This is also a tale of a woman coming into her own as a powerful warrior and a strong mystic. Catrin has faced uncertainty and hardship even within her own family. When pitted against the Roman Empire will she find the strength she needs to survive?

When you write a story that has its base in history, research is a must. You cannot simply write whatever you wish and hope that it makes sense. Tanner realizes this and does her best to research her time period. How people acted, how they dressed, their beliefs and their mannerisms are carefully reviewed in this tale. At the end of the book she does acknowledge that the Celts did not leave much written history. This is a blessing for a writer though, because it leaves an open creative license. Since they didn’t keep records, who is to say that the druids did not behave in exactly the same way they did in this book? This is where the fantasy aspect comes in. Tanner is careful not to get too carried away and the tale feels believable and relatable.

Tanner begins each chapter with a brief excerpt. This gives the reader a sense of where the story is going. This can be a useful tool when you take long gaps between readings. While there is some slightly graphic content, a teenager would find this to be a friendly reminder of what is about to happen and can help jog the memory if they haven’t picked up the book in some time.

The way Tanner portrays women in this book is also very empowering. Our protagonist is a princess, yet she is not fragile. There is no Snow White here. She is forged with fire and metal and trains to be able to reach the pinnacle of fortitude her eldest sister has. For a young woman who is trying to figure out where she belongs in her world, this tale is relatable to other young women in our timeline who are also trying to figure out where they belong.

If you’re looking for something entertaining with a fast, action-paced rhythm, Apollo’s Raven by Linnea Tanner is a definite must. The first in a series this book firmly establishes backstory while also being able to stand alone if necessary. It’s a very exciting read and readers of all ages and genders will find something to identify with in this tale. How will things turn out for Catrin? What will happen with her relationship with Marcellus, scion of the Roman Empire sent to oppress her people? You’ll have to read and find out.

Pages: 400 | ASIN: B06XJQ74H6

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