His Name was Ezra is an amazing story of love and tragedy. Taking place in Mississippi during the racially-charged 1950’s and 60’s. Jim Crow laws and inherent bias steer much of the plot of the story. Ezra, a young black man, and Judy, a freckle-faced white woman, have the cards stacked against them as their longtime friendship slowly begins to develop into something more.
Craig Moody writes beautifully. He has a poetry to his words as they describe his characters and their setting. I live in the south so I know that Moody sets the scene impeccably, speaking of dry words falling to the ground like acorns and the swatting of hungry mosquitoes. He also throws in some local color with the dialogue between the characters. Every “you” is replaced by “ya.” Brother becomes “brotha.” Sister becomes “sista.”
His Name was Ezra is set in another time, but the story is still relevant today. Race relations are still imperfect. We have come a long way as a nation, but we have so much further to go. This book can aid in bridging the divide. It’s an important tool to pull back the curtain, so to speak, on those who continue to judge people based on the color of their skin rather than the content of their character as Dr. King would have us do.
Moody also pulls back the curtain on domestic abuse. Judy suffers the brunt of Billy’s aggression. He describes how Billy only hits her in areas that will be covered by clothing in public or around others. Judy takes it because she feels she has no other choice. She sacrifices her happiness, her health, everything, to try to ensure the safety of her brother and then her son. She becomes a shell of herself. Self-preservation is not on her to-do list ever.
Readers will identify with Moody’s well-developed characters. Judy loves Ezra and her family, forgiving her brother and sister over and over. Luke tries to help Judy while furthering his career, and gets a few priorities mixed up in the process. Chances are, readers will also recognize the more menacing characters that stomp through the chapters. Billy is the picture of perfection in the community. Good family. Good looks. Wife and child. However, Billy is a heavily flawed and dangerous monster. We all know someone who has turned out to be someone different than who we thought they were.
I’m giving His Name was Ezra by Craig Moody five out of five stars. I would give him ten if I could. He has a beautiful way of describing even the most ugly parts of humanity. The story was cohesive. The plot flowed well. There was never a dull moment as suspense ebbed and flowed throughout the story. This was a real page-turner for me, and I cannot wait to read more of Moody’s work.
Pages: 232 | ASIN: B079NP9JJ5
Heart Land by Kimberly Stuart is a contemporary fiction story about Grace Kleren, a struggling design assistant in New York who aspires to be a fashion designer. But instead of receiving the promotion she expects, she ends up being fired. With no job and no way to pay her bills, she is forced to return to Silver Creek, Iowa, the town she left ten years ago. However, she’s determined to find a way to earn enough money to move back to New York and prove herself as a fashion designer. But after reconnecting with her first love, Tucker, will Grace’s dream change?
Heart Land is a story that was a joy to read. I won’t ruin the ending for you, or how Grace and Tuckers relationship ends, but I’ll say that it was one of my favorite endings for a book this year. Especially after the ladies of the sewing circle had come together to help her with her new business, which brought much-needed money into the area. I’m glad that Grace didn’t turn her back on them. All of this was delivered eloquently with a bit of humor, which I enjoyed.
Although I liked the main characters, I felt that there were a lot of unnecessary secondary characters in the beginning of the book, since most of them were not mentioned again later in the story. And Grace was not shown in the best light when she is first introduced and she ducks out early on the photo shoot the day before she expected to get a promotion. Although that was not the reason she got fired, it could have easily gone that way, and she thoughtlessly risked the very thing that she supposedly wanted the most (can you tell I’m invested in the characters).
When Grace first returned to Silver Creek, I didn’t like how she often acted like a sulky teenager rather than a women in her late twenties just because things in New York had not gone the way she’d imagined and she wasn’t happy to be returning to Iowa. Ultimately she recognized this fault in herself and did not continue the same behavior for too long. I enjoyed her character transition, although it took her a while to realize what was really important.
This is an exceptional story that explores the power of love and connection to people and places.
Pages: 321 | ASIN: B078MDDLFB
Quintrell’s White follows two men who must stop the leader of a pro-Nazi secret society. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this thrilling novel?
This is the fourth in a series and, when I began, the 100th Anniversary of the outbreak of WW1 was on the horizon. I’ve written a lot about military history, both fiction and non-fiction, but had never got beyond a superficial knowledge of the Great War. I quickly found there was much more to it than the horror of mud and trench warfare on the Western Front. This was an era also of adventure, rapid technological development, intrigue, and political instability across much of the world. So there were no shortage of exciting scenarios to consider. For this book, the chance to get Pancho Villa and the Russian Revolution into the same story was too tempting to miss.
Captain John Quintrell is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some themes you wanted to explore with his character?
In the first book, Quintrell’s Black, his back story is gradually revealed. Basically through an injustice as a young soldier, he has spent most of his life as a mercenary of sorts in Africa. The War tempts him to return to Europe and enlist in the Belgian Army. Across the arc of the four books an underlying question is whether through the war he can gain some kind of redemption and regain the life he had always wanted. Basically it’s about someone trying to find their true place in the world, but in a world which is in complete chaos.
I enjoyed the historical references and alternate history in this book. What research did you undertake for this novel?
I read lots of books and personal testimonies of those who fought, but as ever that information really needs to be filtered. The aim has to be for the research to be deployed so as to provide a background sense of the time and to provide a framework for the plot. The risk is forcing too much of it in to the story so that it becomes a barrier rather than greasing the wheels. Hopefully, I’ve got the balance right.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Having spent the best part of six years producing the four book series, I wanted to try something completely different so am working on a book of short stories in a different genre (think old Twilight Zone TV!) and I’d expect that to be completed by the end of the year. After that I expect I will get drawn back into Quintrell-type books again. However, to say whether they could involve him again would be to give away the end of Quintrell’s White…
The actions of Kurt Draxweiller, the leader of a proto-Nazi secret society called the Ultima Thule Verband, could tip the balance in favour of the Keizer’s Germany.
Two men must stop him: The Dragon, who is the Tsar’s most trusted assassin; and Captain John Quintrell.
To get to Draxweiller they will have to fight U-boats, battle with Pancho Villa’s Mexican rebels during the raid on the US town of Colombus, and defeat a revolutionary plot in Petrograd, the Russian capital.
Along the way, Quintrell and his handful of loyal men will settle lots of old scores. But not all of them will survive…
When Collette Winters finds herself a widow with a hotel and a plantation to maintain, she is overwhelmed and at a loss for words. Enter Tolivar: a “trusted” overseer and Mr. Winters’s choice to run his plantation and guard his finances. Mr. Winters might not have made the best decision in selecting Tolivar. Any one of the slaves on the Winters’s plantation could testify to the fact that Tolivar is in everything for himself and only himself. When Tolivar’s purchases begin to mount and Collette fails to see the danger in allowing Tolivar to carry on unchecked, all of their lives take a turn no one could have predicted.
Slaves of Fools is the third book in Dickie Erman’s Antebellum Struggles series. Again, readers are treated to the dramatic dynamic between Trent and Collette Winters. Theirs is a complicated love story born out of the antebellum time period. As with book two, readers find that Trent is unfaithful to Collette who remains by his side and is somehow able to forgive even if she isn’t willing to forget.
I desperately want Trent, a businessman and plantation owner, to be smart, but he misses the mark. His desire to put Tolivar in charge of his trust is clearly a mistake but makes for a nice story line leading to the devastation of characters who begin to fall like so many dominoes as the book progresses. Colette’s love for Trent is really his one saving grace.
It’s difficult to find a character as loathsome as Tolivar. Erman has created a fantastic antagonist in this greedy and vile overseer-turned trustee. I believe I released some audible gasps of frustration and disbelief as Tolivar moved through the Winters’s money with lightning speed. Many villains have at least one redeeming quality–not Tolivar. From the extravagant jewelry purchase to asking the creepy, unwanted doctor to take up residence, Tolivar is as intolerable as he is predictable.
I was disappointed to see that Amana, a beloved character from the second book in the series, did not have as prominent of a role in this one. She is my favorite character and has a heart of gold. Her backstory is classic, and she is proof that perseverance is not easily achieved but is worth every second spent trying to achieve it.
Erman masterfully works humor into his writing. Twice I found myself guessing incorrectly and wondering what tone the book was about to take. Without giving anything away, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised both times at how misleading the author is and how well he uses humor to bring the story back around.
I had a few concerns regarding grammar choices, mechanics, and word choice. In addition, I found myself questioning some of the verbiage used as it didn’t seem to fit the time period. Throughout the book, I struggled to discern the characters’ thoughts from their dialogue. A few tweaks in this area would improve readability quite a bit.
Erman has created an engaging and quick read with relatable characters and protagonists the reader will inevitably cheer for.
Pages: 207 | ASIN: B07TDNPMW2
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.