Lily Fairchild details the life of a young woman through the challenges of her youth and her quest to have a family of her own. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
My purpose in creating Lily was to follow an extraordinary pioneer woman through the various phases of her long life.
Lily’s character is refreshing, she is blunt and many times quite curt as she proves her point. What were some driving ideals behind her character?
The ideals behind Lily are here fortitude in the face of adversity, the insight that comes with embracing challenges, and the pervasiveness of love in her life.
The story takes place in 1850’s Ontario. Why did you choose this time and place for your story?
The book is set in the 1850s and beyond because I have always been interested in the history of my birthplace (Point Edward, Ontario) and the tumultuous historical events that impinged upon it and its citizens.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My fiction writing days are over (after 22 novels) and I now keep myself occupied writing poetry abut Point Edward and my upbringing there.
Lily Fairchild follows the life of a pioneer woman, born in the backwoods of Lambton County in 1840, throughout her long life, ending in 2019. During that time, she is witness to historical events that impinge on her life: the Underground Railroad, the coming of the railways, the discovery of oil, the Fenian raids, the first and second Riel Rebellions, the construction of the tunnel under the St Clair River, the Great War, and the flu pandemic of 1919. Lily struggles against the forces of history and the small tragedies besetting a nineteenth-century woman and, against the odds, bearing children, marrying three times and taking part in the founding of the village of Point Edward and its steady growth as a port and railhead. Hers is a heroic story.
Mandarin Ducks continues to follow Li in 1630’s China as he continues to learn about his heritage and seeks to marry but is thwarted by politics between families. What were some themes you wanted to carry over from the first book and what were some new themes you wanted to explore?
The continuous thread throughout the whole series is Li Bing’s progress through the career trajectory of civil service scholar/administrators. At the same time, I want to provide readers with a glimpse into various aspects of Chinese culture and everyday life. The various subplots are meant to punctuate the contrast between the ideal and the real.
As with the first book, I found this story to be both educational and entertaining. Was it your intention to write stories this way or did this happen organically while writing?
I definitely set out to provide both education and entertainment in the series. In a sense, I’m documenting my own voyage of discovery, as I learn about the history and culture of a country about which outsiders know very little, and which is often misrepresented in Western depictions.
You stated in a previous interview that you taught and traveled through China. What were some of your stand out moments from your time in the country?
You are continually confronted by the contrast between the old and the new. One minute you can be standing in ruins that are thousands of years old and the next minute you can be traveling 300 km/hr on a high speed train. Another interesting aspect is the way in which the people reflect the unitary identity of being Chinese, while at the same time strongly identifying with the culture, food, language, and traditions of their own region or ethnic group. There are many Chinas within China.
This is book two in your Kaifeng Chronicles. Where does book three, Grand Canal, pick up?
Book three takes place on the Grand Canal, as Li Bing travels north to Beijing to write the metropolitan examinations.
In late autumn 1630, Li Bing prepares to depart for Beijing to write the metropolitan examinations. Before he goes, he learns more about his heritage from his maternal grandfather and hopes to marry his childhood sweetheart Xiaoyun. However, political intrigue between his father and hers has the potential to derail more than just his marriage.
The White Hand is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a macabre thriller and romance as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
The cross-genre aspect of The White Hand was always been known from the beginning of the project. Since the novel is part of the Rutherford Manor universe, there were some things that I could not change. The White Hand was the first time I have adopted pre-existing characters and a pre-existing world. Thankfully, I was also giving a lot of freedom to develop a unique plot and create characters that would best fit within the world and complement the existing elements.
Rutherford Manor has always crossed between historical, horror, and thriller. The romance side of the novel was not known initially. The protagonist, Spalding, is a character with a lot of complications. He means well, but also has a darker side to him. This makes him human. During the early phases of defining the premise and chapter outlines, I wanted to give him an internal struggle. He needed to develop throughout the story and be relatable. This is why Irene was created. She basically is the one person he is unable to get out of his head.
The emotions that Spalding feels for Irene creates a interesting dynamic for the novel because she is the daughter of the boss of The White Hand. Not often do I write romance sub plots in my work. It was a lot of fun to explore these emotions. As with the majority of people, we all experience love in our lives. This was one of the few times I have been able to tap into the intense feelings that people go through. It was a long of fun and added to the uniqueness of this storyline in my writing career.
How did you create Alastor and Spalding’s characters in a way that contrasted yet still supported the characters development?
Alastor and Spalding were pre-existing characters in the Rutherford Manor universe. There was some back story already developed for both of them. Alastor had less to work with and Spalding, which gave me an open canvas to decide what strong and weak character traits he would have. Naturally I turned to his two sons, Walter and Nox for inspiration. Alastor also had to provide a interesting wokring dynamic for Spalding.
Spalding is a complicated character. He is well defined within the Rutherford Manor universe and gets himself into a lot of trouble. The challenge with him was to do him justice in the written word when he’s had so much developed already. His internal monologue was a lot of fun to dive into because of his complex desires.
What was your inspiration for the setup of the story and how did that help you create the ending?
The premise for the story was open-ended when I was first thing contact with the Rutherford Manor creator, Preston Ewasiuk, and his wife Karla. Unlike previous novels that I’ve worked on, this was not just my own story to tell, but the story for everyone involved within Rutherford Manor.
I approach this novel as I would with graphic design projects. I found the creative process when designing logos, or other branding material, is incredibly transferable. Basically you start with high-level concepts and then work your way inward to the finer details. In regards to telling a story, this meant coming up with a couple of premise ideas, refining one, then forming the story outline and tweak, then chapter outlines, and finally the first draft and tweak.
There was preexisting canon in the Rutherford Manor universe. Knowing about what was core to the world made defining a story that would fit within the timelines a real challenge and glad I was able to participate in such a project.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
Currently I am working on wrapping up my dark fantasy series, Mental Damnation. It is long overdue. I also have an untitled slasher novel currently in the beta reader phase. There is also discussion about a sequel to The White Hand. So, there’s lots in the works with no definitive release dates as of yet. Readers can find out more on my website http://www.konnlavery.com or on social media where I post regular updates on what is going on with my writing progress.
Based on the award-winning Haunted House and forthcoming television series, The White Hand brings you into a historical thriller combining mobsters, forbidden love, old souls, murder, and betrayal.Rutherford Manor – a safe haven for some. For others, a home that holds many sinister secrets. Run by the Fleshers and the Savidges, these two families have survived for generations leading up to the present day of 1890. Headmaster Alastor Flesher and his business partner, Spalding Savidge, find themselves in desperate times to provide for their families.Their needs wrap them into a deal with the Irish mob – The White Hand. The two men willingly work with the gang as resurrectionists, obtaining bodies for anatomists. Alastor and Spalding develop a unique process, gaining access to the most well-preserved bodies. Their product becomes desirable throughout the black market in Illinois.Despite the handsome pay, Spalding is left in disarray. Alastor’s desperation for income runs deeper than he ever knew. His moral compass is shattered due to their snatching methods. Spalding plays with fire, developing something known as love for Irene, the daughter of The White Hand’s boss. With a dash of foul play and new allies, Spalding becomes the glue that holds Rutherford Manor together, and he is coming unbound.Join the Fleshers and the Savidges as they plummet into an era-altering series of events that will change Rutherford Manor forever.
Revelations: The Colburn Curse is a genre-crossing novel with elements of history, romance, and fantasy. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
When I set out to write this story I didn’t have any particular genre in mind. I aim to keep my books short and fast moving because I am a lover of suspense and mystery. This was the technique I used to construct the Book of Matthew: House of Whispers. The only problem with a fast moving story was that it left my readers with a ton of personal questions about the characters. I received so many questions about the Colburn family that I wrote the Revelations prequel to satisfy the curiosity of readers.
Pete’s character went through some dramatic transformations throughout the novel. What was the writing process like for his character?
Pete, as you know, is Emperor Titus from Infinity: A Crown of Golden Leaves. As a lover of suspenseful stories, I have always found the villain to be the single most important element. The villain can make or break your book, so I put a great deal of time into this character. When I sat down to write the wicked Titus my goal was to create a villain who was hateable but relatable. He was a man cursed by the Goddess of Discord to lose his mind and torment the people he loves in every lifetime. Revelations: The Colburn Curse is another one of those tragic lifetimes. When I introduced this complicated character in Infinity: A Crown of Golden Leaves, I wasn’t sure how readers would react to him. To my total shock and amazement, Titus became a beloved fan favorite. For this reason, I brought him back for another lifetime as Pete in Revelations. He’s a character that breaks my heart and brings tears to my eyes, a symbol of the inner turmoil that many of us struggle to overcome.
The story takes places in pre-Civil War America. Why did you choose this time and place for your story?
I chose to write the pre-Civil War era rather than the Civil War itself because it’s easy to become distracted by the president, politics, and battles of the war while losing sight of the American citizens affected by it. I didn’t want to lose that vital human element. I desired a story that focused on the day to day lives of the people. Their thoughts, feelings, struggles, and triumphs are what make the characters relatable and memorable.
The writing in your story is very artful and creative. Was it a conscious effort to create a story in this fashion or is this style of writing reflective of your writing style in general?
One of the biggest things that influenced me to write was a story I heard many years ago. I was a child of seven when I sat on the ground, legs folded while being enthralled by an African storyteller. She was tapping a drum with her hands while verbally painting a picture. I don’t recall her name or even what she looked like. Half the time I can’t remember where I put my keys or what I had for breakfast, yet I remember every detail of the story she told thirty years ago. We live on through the people we touch and the stories we tell. If I am artful and creative it is because I followed her example.
Murder, betrayal, & scandal plague the Colburn family. A curse has shadowed them throughout time. This tale of intrigue follows the Colburns back to their beginning in New Orleans, Louisiana. Matt Colburn’s duty is to protect an aristocrat named Arial. From the moment they meet, she steals his breath away. They dance and it feels like a brush with destiny, but Arial has a dreadful secret that endangers the lives of everyone she holds dear, especially Matt. Will he be able to save her or will she become the next victim of the Louisiana Strangler…
SCOTLAND’S FORGOTTEN HEROINE…
Daughter of The Chief of Clan Farquharson, young Anne was the envy of her peers… until she made the mistake of marrying for love!
The man she married was Angus Mackintosh – 22nd Chief of Clan Mackintosh and one of the most powerful men in the Scottish Highlands. At first, Anne was blissfully happy. But the year was 1745 and Bonnie Prince Charlie was about to step off a boat on the west coast of Scotland and plunge the nation into war.
Angus Mackintosh was a serving officer with the British Army and joined the brutal ranks of troops hunting the young prince down. To her horror, Anne realised she would have to choose between her husband and her country.
She raised a regiment of 500 men and joined the prince. This young woman, with little experience of combat, led her men into battle against regiments of the British Army led by “Butcher” Cumberland. As her clansmen fought their way through the fog at Dornoch, “Colonel” Anne Mackintosh was suddenly reunited with her husband… but not in the way she wanted.
Everything Anne did, during her hectic life, was for love. She married for love and then she picked up the broadsword for love. This novel follows her adventures through the chaotic events of the last Jacobite Rebellion on a sometimes heroic, sometimes tragic, journey that led her clansmen into clouds of sulphurous gunsmoke at The Battle of Culloden with bullets coming thick as the rain falling from the dark skies.
Swordpoint is a thrilling action adventure novel set against the chaos of the French Revolution. Why did you choose this time and place for your novel?
French Revolution and Napoleonic era always held a special fascination for me since I was a young and impressionable teenager. The French revolutionary period is unique, because it came as a result of people seeking social justice through extreme means and was largely an act of desperation against the over privileged French aristocracy. It was a time of great changes and political turmoil, where ancient royal institution was shaken and then toppled by the will of the common man. It was a phenomenon that shaped the history of the modern Europe and provided the background for this novel.
I enjoyed Vidocq’s character progression and overall development. What were some ideas that were important for you to capture in his character?
Vidocq is the main protagonist in this story and there were several important ideas in presenting him to the readers as a man of intelligence and action. The first idea in shaping his character came from reading his biography, because unlike many fictional characters he really existed. A man in trouble with the law who learns the hard way what it means to be an honest man is a strong idea and it shows in Vidocq’s actions as he navigates though obstacles in his turbulent life on his way to freedom and good reputation. The second idea in shaping his character came from his own decision
in changing his life using his experience as a master criminal to catch other criminals. What can be more exciting than an outlaw trying to catch other outlaws?
You highlight some important historical moments in the French Revolution. What kind of research did you undertake for this novel to get things right?
To be perfectly honest, I initially considered this writing project as too ambitious for me. I have never written a historical fiction novel before, and the desire to make it happen overcame my feelings of fear and doubt. My research was very thorough and it had to be right, because in order to convey the true historical setting of the period, I had to find out everything I could about French Revolution, the early reign of Napoleon, mannerisms, customs, speech, weapons and provide correct dates and the descriptions for every real historical event. It was time consuming, at times exhausting, but ultimately very enjoyable experience.
What is the next novel that you are writing and when will it be available?
I am currently working on a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel which is in the first draft stage. It involves humanity in its relationship with an artificial intelligence after an apocalyptic event that alters human evolution on a planetary scale. The novel should be available in about a year’s time give or take a few months for the final polishing. I enjoy writing very much and hope to produce many interesting novels.
David Crane’s historical novel, Swordpoint, transports the reader to late 18th-century France, a country gripped with the chaos, blood, and terror of the French Revolution. The novel will entertain you with its realistic settings, interesting historical references, passionate love affairs, duels, battles, betrayals, and narrow escapes.
Eugene Francois Vidocq was a thief, an adventurer, and a duelist who searched for his place in life with wit, sword, and passionate love affairs. Hunted by the police agents of revolutionary France and later the agents of Napoleon, he is forced to make the most important decision in his life to survive and become a man of respect. To achieve that, he must transform himself into a new man, an outlaw hunting the outlaws in the name of justice. The road to salvation is hard, but for a man like Vidocq, failure is not an option.
The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
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Posted in Literary Titan Book Award
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If you only read the first few lines of this review, the most important things you should know is that the story being told is both unique and interesting and the writing style is long-winded and full of fascinating detail. The author of this book is clearly adept at delivering a believable scene that has the power to bring readers directly into another world. Readers who read both science-fiction and historical fiction for the sake of reading – that is to say, readers not in any particular hurry to reach the end of the book – will revel in the amount of content delivered in this book.
The plot unfolds over time through the development of three connected story lines, and there is more than enough time for the author to build in strong connections between the story lines that make sense and are believable. The element of time travel is a driving force for the storytelling and it is done with great care. The reader can easily feel when they are exploring Saxon England in the middle of the 11th century and when they are in the present day.
The attention to detail in this book goes beyond what other writers in this genre are able to achieve. The historical accounts throughout the book are rich and the scenes taking place 1000 years ago are clearly laid out. Not only is achieving that level of believability a feat of literary skill, but also displays good historical knowledge. Anyone who reads this book will receive a history lesson, whether they are after one or not.
The detail and depth that Shackleford goes into while taking his readers through this historical fiction/science-fiction novel is something that some might take to be a challenging task but are features that fans of epic fantasy will appreciate. This book is for those who prefer to dig deep and really get into the world of the characters they are reading about. This is, therefore, a book preferred by those who enjoy the journey rather than reaching a destination. Rather fitting, actually, for the type of story that this is.
The character-building is a central focus in the book. While there is not much to make the characters stand out or seem like they are anything other than ordinary individuals put through extra-ordinary situations, Shackleford ensures his readers feel what the characters are going through.
The skill and research that went into creating this story is commendable but not everyone is a fan of meandering prose. While I may be a fan, it will probably take a lot of people by surprise. In either case, this is an exceptional book that I truly enjoyed.
Pages: 431 | ASIN: B07NZ59G8Y
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Italians of Lackawanna County uses photography to show readers how the region’s Italian community seeks to preserve its heritage. Why was this an important book for you to write?
This book was extremely important to me to write, especially in a time when so many stereotypes against the Italian-American community as a whole exist. My goal was not just to seek to preserve and promote the Italian culture and heritage of Lackawanna County, it was also to show a positive image of Italian Americans working hard to celebrate their origins and how they are working to make the region a better place to live and work. Pictures tell the story in a way that words cannot—thanks to the wonderful photographers and community members who submitted photos, this book comes alive and readers hopefully get a true sense of what it means to be an Italian American living in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania.
In this book you not only cover modern day traditions but you also trace the history of Italian immigration. What kind of research did you undertake for this book?
I have worked as a historian focusing on Italian American studies for the past 15 or so years, always placing an emphasis on local Italian history because my region is so heavily populated with people of Italian origin, like myself. Most of the research for this book is through interviews with the citizens, as well as through archives, such as the Lackawanna Historical Society and the Dunmore Historical Society. I also consulted scholars and archivists in Italy as they also have a wonderful catalog of history surrounding the various town festivals—this helped provide a background for the festivals that were brought here and I was able to truly tie them in to their towns of origin. This kind of work is more of a historic reconstruction, because a lot of the background information has either been lost or is unavailable—because of this, I rely heavily on people in the community who are willing to share their stories.
This book showcases Italian-Americans’ pride in their heritage and place in America. What were some themes you wanted to focus on throughout this book?
As I said before, I truly wanted this book to be a positive representation of Italian Americans and show how they contribute to the good of our society. I really wanted to focus on the fact that we are three or four generations away from the original immigrant generation here in Lackawanna County, but people are still passionate and proud to preserve the traditions their ancestors brought over so long ago. I also wanted to highlight the fact that our area truly embraces everyone of all ethnicities—while I focus on Italians, I do make mention that our Italian festivals have become more inclusive and you don’t have to be Italian to participate. I think that welcoming spirit is one of Lackawanna County’s greatest attributes and I wanted to showcase it as best as I could.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have two projects that I am working on right now. The first is a passion project about the Guardiese community in the United States. My grandfather came to the United States from Guardia dei Lombardi (AV), Italy, and he was extremely proud of where he came from. These Guardiese traditions were passed down to me by my mother and inspired me to research our local as well as our national Guardiese community. My research locally is complete and now I am working on the national research.
I am also researching Sylvester Poli, a theater magnate from Italy who really revolutionized vaudeville. I was part of the Leadership Lackawanna Core Program this past year and our team project was to create a historic display in downtown Scranton’s Ritz Theater, which Poli founded in 1907. The research we did for the project took on a life of its own and I want to continue to pursue it and possibly publish a book.
Both projects do not have a set time commitment due to research, but I would like at least one to be complete within the next 2-3 years.
Boasting one of the nation’s largest and most diverse Italian American populations, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, joins old and new with events such as La Corsa dei Ceri or St. Ubaldo Day in Jessup and La Festa Italiana on Scranton’s Courthouse Square. Every town in the county with an Italian population has its own story. Whether the people can trace their origins to Guardia or Gubbio, Felitto or Perugia, the Italians of Lackawanna County all share one thing in common: a strong sense of pride in their ethnic origins. In Images of Modern America: Italians of Lackawanna County, readers will find familiar images of summertime traditions, as well as new representations of how the region’s Italian community seeks to preserve its heritage.
Posted in Interviews
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The Final Wars Begin is a thrilling science fiction novel following Lieutenant General Bastien as he sets in motion the collapse of a civilization. What was the inspiration behind the plot to this novel?
I’m fascinated by the butterfly effect and its examples in history. Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination leading to WW1 or Genghis Khan’s invasion across Asia sparking the decline of science in the Islamic world & introducing the black plague to Europe – these types of scenarios have always captivated my attention. That plus my love for science fiction and technology (my day job) led to The Final Wars. I wanted to show that small things/events/people can have profound impacts on their surroundings.
You’ve meticulously built an intricate world and backstory in this novel. What were some driving ideals behind the development of the world your characters inhabit?
The main goal was to create a realistic world. Often, science fiction introduces a new world to its readers but isn’t able to convince them of the setting’s realism. That can thoroughly sour the reading experience. I wanted to explore how humans separated by vast distances developed in terms of technology, morals, and economics after an all-out nuclear war, and I wanted to do it in such a way that readers wouldn’t question the future setting’s plausibility.
I enjoyed how the characters were well defined and contrasted each other. What were some themes you wanted to explore with the characters?
Great question. One theme I wanted to examine was the existence of morality in a world seemingly devoid of any morals. In the story, Bastien’s mentor, Father Paul, says, “Just because we are surrounded by monsters, doesn’t mean we have to become one ourselves.” – this is a significant part of Bastien’s inner conflict. How do you survive in such a dark world without turning into a monster yourself?
This is book one in the Final Wars Trilogy. Where will book two pickup and when will it be available?
Book two will pick up with Bastien struggling to survive in Nippon One. It will be available on February 1st, 2020. Readers can join my email distro on SAwritesSF.com for further information.
ONE MAN SETS IN MOTION THE COLLAPSE OF CIVILIZATION.
It’s 2209. World War III has left humanity fragmented. Three colonies survive, each on a different world – Earth supports New Paris, its moon has become Nippon One, and Mars has Port Sydney. Trade and tensions bind them, keeping peace balanced on the edge of a precipice. A cruel dictator rages on one world. A failed experiment plunges another into financial ruin. Diplomatic pressures bear down on the third. All it would take is for one man to tip everything over into conflict.
ENTER BASTIEN LYONS.
A man on the run, Bastien’s moral compass has made him a fugitive in the colonies. The odds against his escape are stacked high – a military robot built to erase outlaws hunts him. So do bounty hunters. What’s worse: Bastien finds himself caught in a deadly political chess match between Earth and Mars. He must not only outwit those threats but also create alliances to live. In doing so, Bastien will push the world towards…
THE FINAL WARS.
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