Book of Matthew Part I is a tale of forbidden love in rural Missouri in 1850 which was a tumultuous time in the U.S. What was the inspiration that inspired the setup to this intriguing novel?
It all began with a conversation. I had just started dating the man who is now my husband and we were still getting to know one another. He asked if I would vote in the upcoming election and I replied, “of course I will. My ancestors fought and died to give me the right to. Without their sacrifices I wouldn’t be able to vote, own property, read, let alone attend my university. I wouldn’t even be able to date you.” After that conversation I started to wonder how difficult it would have been to have an interracial relationship centuries ago and my first book was born.
I have always been a lover of suspense, mystery and horror so I decided to write in these genres. My goal was to create a Jack the Ripper sort of villain, while maintaining the drama, romance and personal conflicts that make characters relatable and memorable.
While growing up I noticed a double standard in regard to history. If you were white and you wanted to trace your lineage back to the Mayflower this was perfectly acceptable. People were intrigued to hear your family’s history and they encouraged and praised your vast knowledge of a bygone era… but if you were black you were often discouraged from learning anything about your ancestry. I was told things like, “Black people need to leave the plantation,” and “Black people live in the past and need to just forget things.” Yearning to educate myself about the past is not the same as living in it. I didn’t desire someone to blame or scapegoat, all I wanted was the same answers that other races of children were encouraged to seek out.
When I received correspondence from readers in England, France, Ireland and several countries in Africa they applauded my stories and said, “Wow! This was a fascinating look at American history.” Not Black history, nor African American history. Other countries acknowledge this topic as American history because that’s exactly what it is. When I am criticized for this subject matter my response remains the same,
I don’t write racist literature. Nor do I write black history. I write American history.
The book touches on sensitive social topics rarely discussed, slavery and the dynamic between master and slave. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this story?
The main theme I wanted to capture was that every form of this institution was morally reprehensible. When I grew up in school most of my teachers refused to teach this subject whatsoever. We would skip over huge chunks of our textbooks just to avoid it. The few who did teach about it romanticized the hell out of it, and made it seem acceptable because “most slaves were like part of the family” …I actually heard this more than once. What I desired to express in this story was that even if you were a house slave who was treated better than others and much like part of the family, merely being owned endangered your life because someone has diminished your social standing from that of a human being to that of a piece of property. This fact alone placed even the best treated of slaves at risk for kidnapping, rape and murder with no law enforcement to save them.
Second, I wanted to make it known that when some of us are slaves, we all are. Destitute white men, minorities and women of all colors were treated as second class citizens because of that system of inequality.
Third, I wanted to acknowledge all the people who were adamantly opposed to slavery and fought against it at every turn. 400 years of Americans are blamed and villainized for what some people did. Though slavery was socially acceptable, not everyone agrees with 100% of what is socially acceptable. Disagreeing with social norms is what makes us individuals. Fighting against corrupt social norms is what makes us heroes. The people who stood against these heinous acts are rarely recognized, but without them our society would’ve failed to evolve.
Sarah is a slave that is targeted by a serial killer that murders with impunity. What were the driving ideals behind Sarah’s character development?
The driving force behind Sarah’s character development was the total lack thereof I have witnessed in similar stories. In many of the plantation novels I have read the slaves are faceless one-dimensional victims who serve as little more than background for white main characters. The female slave characters were poorly developed and served as little more than objects of lust incapable of inspiring true feelings of love and affection. Reading a plantation novel with no black main characters is like reading Memoirs of a Geisha with no geisha. These stories failed to capture my attention and I found the characters unrealistic and totally unrelatable. When I wrote a book I was determined to make sure there were black main characters as well as white ones, and that ALL of my characters have depth and unique personalities. I wanted Sarah’s character to have hopes, dreams, ambitions, drama and romantic conflicts of her own. I yearned to put a human face on a slave character, an aspect rarely seen in books of this nature. Though there have been many forbidden lust stories in this genre I wanted to give Sarah an against all odds forbidden love story readers wouldn’t soon forget.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Revelations: The Colburn Curse is a prequel to Book of Matthew that traces the Colburn family back to their beginnings in New Orleans, Louisiana. In this story Matt Colburn Sr. is a young plantation heir who has been given the duty of protecting an aristocrat named, Arial. He falls madly in love with the elusive heiress, but she is hiding a deadly secret that has made her the target of the Louisiana Strangler, a secret that endangers everyone she holds dear, especially Matt. This book is already available for purchase on amazon.com.
The Infinity series is based on the many star crossed lifetimes of Sarah and Matthew. I wrote this series for readers who enjoy historical suspense but prefer a tale with less violence and adult content. Three of the ten books are already available on amazon.com.
Book of Matthew II: Ancient Evil will be released December 2018.
Women of color are not a priority of law enforcement in 1800’s Missouri. They are not even considered human. These social injustices allow a serial killer to run rampant. Sarah, a beautiful black slave, finds herself in the crosshairs of a monster who murders with impunity. The only one concerned with her plight is the master’s son. Will Matthew find the strength to rescue this slave girl, even if he lacks the courage to admit he’s in love with her…
It’s Jack the Ripper meets Roots in this pulse pounding historical thriller. House of Whispers packs the chills of a Stephen King book, the romance of a Nicholas Sparks novel and the in your face irony of an M. Night Shyamalan flic.
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All Roads Shattered is the third book in the All Roads series of dark fiction stories and poems. In the last book you said you wanted to go darker and bring more sci-fi into the story. Did you want to continue that in book three or did you envision a different path?
With All Roads Shattered I wanted to show darkness and variety, perhaps a different type of ending other than just brief character life lessons or moments.
The characters are all superbly created, as usual. Is there anything from your own life that you put into your characters to make them more believable?
Most of the time, no, at least not with this book. I did that with All Roads Home. In All Roads Shattered I wanted my characters to have their own life and story. Put my “empathic feet” into make believe shoes.
I enjoyed all the stories in the collection, as they all inspired some reflection afterward. Is there a story that didn’t make it into the collection?
If anything, a poem might get put to the side to be reworked but that’s about it.
Do you find that you write stories that challenge you as a writer, or stories that are easy for you to write?
I write what I feel or imagine, so it’s not difficult. I never mind a challenge if it inspires mournful beauty or captivating contemplation.
ALL ROADS SHATTERED, the third book of Lisa Diaz Meyer’s All Roads Collection contains two short story sagas, five multi-genre, dark fiction short stories and twelve macabre poems. Other books in this dark fiction collection are ALL ROADS HOME and ALL ROADS DESTINED.
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In Hemlock vampires are returning with the intention of taking over all living creatures. What served as the inspiration for the theme of this novel?
Well, I was always going to do a vampire book. I think, as often as we see them, we still don’t understand them. Everybody that does vampires well reinvents them for their own world. This was my chance to do that, to create a vampire that was all mine. Vampires have been in my life through other genres as long as I can remember. I wanted to see what it would look like to have a vampire in a fantasy setting, wanted to see what the creature could do and how a wizard would go about fighting a vampire. I’m fascinated with other genres, but fantasy is my home. In the past, I’ve written fantasy adventure. I’ve written fantasy horror. I just am fascinated with other genres, but I know what’s in my wheelhouse. So I enjoy mixing other genres with the fantasy world to figure out how to make them one way or the other. How do you blend a fantasy and a western? Well, in a book I wrote not too long ago, but hasn’t been published yet, I write a fantasy western. In April of 2019, my fantasy romance will hit the market. Exploring other genres I think keeps a writer sharp. But the language I’ve always spoken has been fantasy. This was my chance to write a fantasy vampire book, and if you can, you should.
I always enjoy your characters, one stood out to me this time. Aaron the Marked was a fascinating character. How did you set about developing his character and how did it differ from other characters?
Well, this is the first time we’re seeing Aaron the Marked, but it was not the first book he was written in. Because of my method of writing, my books can’t be published in chronological order. If I tried to do that, I would have series spanning decades and decades. So I have to find another way to do it. Aaron the Marked’s origin story shows up in a book that will be published April 15th, 2026. We get more of his story than we have received so far in a book that will publish October 5th, 2019. It doesn’t back up to his origin, but it backs up quite a bit. Aaron is a character that really captured my imagination. I spent a lot of time in his skin, writing him as a point of view character. I fell in love with him. So far, as written, he spans five series. He’s a major facet of my world. Aaron the Marked is a character we’ll be seeing as long as I’m writing. One day, we will be able to take all of my books and line them up in chronological order, and at that time, we’ll realize that everything I have ever written in the end, boils down to the story of two men. One of them is Aaron the Marked.
I felt like we again get to explore the dark side of humanity in this book. Do you find that you are drawn to this theme, or is this where the story leads?
All of my books are about hope in some way or another. By the end of the story we find out that it was all built on hope. Because of the childhood I lived and my life as a young adult, I have a deep understanding of despair, of the darkness of the mind and the evil people are capable of. My work is about telling people that there is a way to rise above that horror. But in order to show the power of the light, we have to explore utter darkness. So my work ends up being very dark, very depraved at points, until we climb out of that and enter happiness and well, hope. A lot of people say that my work is really dark, but I hope when they think about it a second or third time, when they find themselves trapped in despair, that they think not of the horrible parts of Jesse Teller’s novel, but of the way people were able to overcome those things, meet their darkness head-on, and triumph over it.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book of The Manhunters series is called Crown. It’s already been written. It’s currently with an editor. It’ll be ready to go very soon. I’m really excited about it because if you’ve read any of my work before, you’re most likely acquainted with a character who goes by the name Sob. In her last book, we find out her children were kidnapped and taken from her. In Crown, we get to see those children. We get a glimpse of how they overcame losing their mother and the effect it had on them. No event that intense occurs within a bubble. There are always going to be ramifications. In Crown, one of the stories we embark on is the telling of those consequences. So I’m very excited to be able to explore that section of my world. We get the final segment of the telling of the Manhunters, the things they suffer, the deaths within their numbers that they have to work past, and the challenges they have to overcome. We get to meet all new villains, and alongside Rayph, try to figure out how we can prevail over them.
The busiest pirate bay in Perilisc is newly infested with vampires. These monsters will soon overrun the world, but the Manhunters must try to stop them in secret. Agents of the king are hunting Rayph’s vigilante crew. With one false step, they could all end up at a royal execution.
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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.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
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Wyndwrayth finds Nick living in an old farmhouse overlooking a mysterious island in Wales where he becomes intrigued by its ancient and deserted mansion. What served as your inspiration whilst writing this book?
Once, when travelling, I came across this deserted, majestic old mansion house. It looked ancient, decrepit, left mouldering to sink into the landscape. It was in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by overgrown trees and shrubs. It had lichens and green moulds staining its walls, ivy had invaded its broken windows which seemed to stare at me menacingly. The house had a presence, a brooding, ominous spirit that looked like it could swallow you whole. I remember thinking that it must have many stories to tell.
Having moved myself from Manchester to Wales the landscape here was also a big influence. The ancient monuments, the Norse connection and the lakes close, by inspired my research and my story grew from those influences. The Celtic connection to water and their mythology along with the Norse mythology also wove their way into my consciousness, combining with the memory of the intriguing mansion and Wyndwrayth was born.
Nick Swann is an intriguing character that I felt gained layers as the story progressed. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating his character?
I wanted to create a male character who is childless, approaching and becoming middle aged. I wanted to explore how he became stuck in a time gone by because of the death of his wife and how he falls back on those times when he’s in trouble. The character has a deep loneliness, which creates a certain unhealthy introspection and self medication. In addition, I wanted to explore the usual problems of middle age; ill health and death of parents, changing of roles from son to carer and changing of profession. A lot of his character is established during the first book, Powderfinger, which creates his move to Wales. Nick knows he needs to shed the past and move on, to evolve. He is looking for a new place to be, a new profession, a new life. The unexpected appearance of Wendy Finch becomes an exciting turning point and I’m looking forward to seeing the long term effects it has upon him in the stories to come.
This is the second story in the Nick Swann Series. Where did you want to take this book that was different from book one?
In Powderfinger Nick is a probation officer who almost accidentally becomes embroiled in historical research into strange occurrences, which lead him unexpectedly into the world of the supernatural. His degree in History suddenly becomes of use to him and it reawakens his passion for discovery. It lifts him from his boring, hermit-like, everyday existence, bringing excitement, a sense of accomplishment and a possibility of a different future. It is this that I wanted to explore in Wyndwrayth. Here he moves from living in the past to exploring it. I wanted to establish him in this story as a professional researcher and investigator of both historical and supernatural events.
In addition I wanted to move his character forward, to becoming more pro-active in the story and to create a new partnership with Wendy Finch, to lift him from his lonely existence.
What is the next book you are working on and when will it be available?
My next Nick Swann story has the working title of Shacklady Rest and is presently in its first draft. It will team Nick and Wendy together in another dark and mysterious adventure, set in the brooding mountains of Snowdonia. I anticipate it will be ready to publish sometime next year.
This is the second horror novel in the Nick Swann series. This scary story finds Nick now living in an old stone farmhouse on the lonely and mysterious shores of Llyn Isaf, in Wales. He becomes intrigued by its mist-covered lake island, Ynys Y Niwl and its dark, ancient and long deserted mansion, Wyndwrayth.
Its moldering edifice holds many secrets and treasures, some of which draw Nick and his old friend Alan, into dangerous realms. Death stalks the island and as the dangerous spectral figures of The Millar of Souls, The Paladin and Gideon reveal themselves, it becomes increasingly difficult to discern between reality and dreams.
As the death toll rises, Nick finds himself, along with his new partner, Wendy and her Wolf, Mir embroiled in a struggle not just to maintain sanity but to stay alive.
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All Roads Shattered by Lisa Meyer is the third book in the All Roads collection. This collection of dark fiction stories and poems begins with The Outposts III, which satisfyingly continues with the story of Georgia and Mitchell who we have been following through both books one and two. As we left them in book two to come to terms with their new life together, in this collection, Lisa picks up with the journey the two still must endure.
Then there is a three-part story in the form of People of Gods, a haunting selection of 12 pieces of poetry in the section titled Fragments, two further extended stories in the section The Enduring and finally, to end the collection, three small but perfectly formed short and simple stories which pack a huge punch in the section of The Oddities!
The Oddities features three ‘out there’ stories with Preacher, Crooks, and Helge. In a word, wow is what springs to mind when reading through each of them!
With Preacher, I never saw it coming at all, but the conclusion was oh so satisfying! Crooks was a great concept and equally mesmerizing. However, Helge had to be the most disturbing story of them all! I had, in fact, become so captivated by the last three stories that I wasn’t expecting the book to end when it did.
Helge produced some near awful visions in my mind as I read through, think Jack the Ripper style, back streets of grey and misty London; enough to give you nightmares. Yet, it was a tremendous and thoroughly satisfying end to a superb collection.
Having read both the first and second books in the collection, a part of me would have thought that perhaps by now Lisa may have run out of steam. After all, All Roads Home and All Roads Destined were for me, both 5 star reads. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
When you have read all three books, you may begin to feel that Lisa has a stronger connection to the futuristic sci-fi genre. This is perhaps because it is always the more extensive of stores and at the very beginning of each collection, with a continuation throughout the three.
However, in All Roads Shattered, the story I found the most compelling and atmospheric was Dinner with Myles. This was a story which I didn’t want to leave and could easily imagine Lisa writing a book based on this genre; such was it handled so well.
The ending to this story was, yet again, superbly accomplished by Lisa, as all her short stories have been throughout. However, I would still love for her to write a prequel to this one! Neil and Myles are wonderfully drawn, and complex characters and I could very well imagine them as partners working on crimes and investigating mysteries!
The great thing about reading Lisa Meyer’s collections is that each one gets better as you go along. That is particularly hard to achieve for many writers of such collections, but the All Roads Shattered collection is perhaps the most extensive and best written one yet.
It almost feels as though Lisa’s confidence has grown with each outing and this is therefore reflected in the intensity and broader scope of her writing. Her stories seem to expand and take on a deeper meaning in their unique genres in this collection, and I believe her writing style almost borders along the lines of perfection this time.
If you only manage to read one story, then Dinner with Myles should be that one. I can guarantee you that once you’ve sampled this nearly perfect piece of prose, you will feel compelled to read on.
Pages: 252 | ASIN: B0718Z38LD
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Hemlock, a city dedicated to pirates, slavery, and all forms of evil you can imagine. Hemlock is a port city located in Lorinth within the realm of Perilisc. The nation of Lorinth doesn’t have an easy life, there is always some evil waiting to destroy the inhabitants. What could make life worse for these people, vampires. Vampires are returning to the land with the intention of taking over all living creatures and turning them or killing them. They are souring the soil, killing the forest dwelling creatures and making it so the Ironwood’s, that could defeat them, die of sickness. Rayph must make hard choices fighting against his own personal beliefs and trusting those he would normally never trust in order to save the lives of the humans living in the nation.
Jesse Teller is a master of writing about the dark and disturbing side of humanity. While his novels are fantasy, most characters will take on a human form. People do not simply die in these novels, torture and gruesome deaths are the norm. Long drawn out torture, maiming bodies, rape, healing people just to torture them more, emotional and physical abuse, all are common place activities among even the “good guys” in the novels. I normally avoid novels with such dark themes, but Hemlock drew me in from the first chapter. Rayph seeks out alliances to wage his battle against the vampire leader Tristan. If you are looking for vampires that sparkle and are really good people at heart, this is not the vampire story for you, rather these are the real killing monsters that horror stories are written from. Teller does an amazing job describing their brutality and steamroller approach to taking over the land.
Another key aspect of Jesse Teller is his overall character development. If you follow all the novels of Perilisc you see many returning names and characters, sometimes it is hard to follow the timeline of where one book happens from another, but many of the characters are immortal or long lived making it plausible they could exist in so many apparently different timelines. A new character to Hemlock is Aaron the Marked. This character is so well developed you don’t know if you should love him or hate him. He has an insane devotion to his king, one that will not be stopped by anyone in his mission to be reunited. He looks like a young boy and is often misjudged by other characters until it is too late. Aaron is brutal, violent, a brilliant strategist, and probably a tad on the insane side. I wanted to keep reading just to see what he would do next, who would he take out, who would he form an alliance with just to make his way back to his King. It is this kind of character development that makes me want to keep reading despite all the gore and disturbing imagery I normally avoid.
Hemlock brought back many of my favorite characters like Smear, Dissonance, Trysliana and Saykobar, the introduction of the new characters kept things interesting. It wasn’t just a new plot, it was new personalities interacting and that makes the novel for me. I can look over a lot of the gore to focus on the relationships and interactions. The world of Perilisc is one of violence and death, the characters are memorable the setting vastly different from other fantasy worlds. This may be one of my favorites in the series because of its originality in all areas.
Pages: 361 | ASIN: B079SG8L1W
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Wyndwrayth by Keller Yeats proves to be both interesting and captivating as the reader follows the central figure, Nick Swann, as he bumbles through his semi-isolated real world life and slowly discovers the existence of a second, more deadly world, all around him. These two parallel worlds slowly converge as you turn the pages to reveal what is undoubtedly a cleverly researched horror novel yet still containing moments of strong humour and absurdity.
The first passage of the novel only offers the briefest glimpse of what is to come as it describes events of 1016 in a place named Flotta in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. Much later a more sinister story is revealed, as the full impact of ghosts and ghouls condemned to a life of perpetual purgatory wreaking havoc from their haunted house for a 1000 years follows.
After this brief immersion into Norse mythology the story abruptly introduces the daily life of Nick as a self-styled geek, working occasionally on business research for associates at Bangor University, from an inherited cottage on the island of Anglesey in Wales.
Despite apparent excesses of marijuana, brandy and coffee, Nick still manages to investigate further into the mysterious local occurrences, drownings and inexplicable disappearances which all combine with the mythical backdrop to reveal the cold stark reality of evil forces at work on his doorstep.
As the chapters proceed the two sides are drawn ever closer to their inevitable confrontation – for the outcome you will have to read for yourself, but I quite enjoyed this ethereal mesh of myth and contemporary life. As the two classically configured worlds of good and evil come closer together will Nick and Wendy survive or will they pass into the world of the undead? The only spoilers I will offer here are that if you are offended by strong language and an occasional blood-letting scenario then turn away, but you would be missing an riveting story that I could not put down.
Initially, I did find Nick’s apparent excessive talking to himself annoying; but ultimately I felt like this added to his slightly eccentric and bohemian character. Wyndwrayth by Keller Yeats offers an enthralling well-researched read. The author is able to methodically create an enthralling character, place him in a vivid world, and face him against an enthralling antagonist. If you enjoy stories about myths and legends then you will certainly enjoy this novel.
Pages: 739 | ASIN: B078ZM1R17
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A gut-wrenching journey through life is portrayed in the pages of Shame, Guilt, and Surviving Martin Bryant by Karen Collyer. It’s a short read, but the raw emotions within the page are heavy, terrifying and intense. This book follows Karen through her life as a very young girl towards where she is today and spares no detail. Karen’s life has not been kind to her, and the novella is not afraid to tell readers exactly what horrors she has gone through. This is not a book for those who are emotionally fragile or have troubles reading about assault and rape. These horrific events are laid out in painstaking detail as well as the trauma Karen faced when she was stalked by the man who committed the massacre in Port Arthur.
The book takes great pains to let readers know what they are getting into before it even begins. Readers should pay careful attention to the trigger warning at the beginning, as it accurately describes the type of events that take place in the book. The book, however, is a powerful tool that demonstrates the ways in which deep rooted emotional scars can shape our lives.
Karen tells the story from the perspective of the ‘wide-eyed girl’. This serves to disconnect the author from the story in a sense that readers may forget they are reading a memoir of sorts. This also allows readers to avoid projecting the feelings of the protagonist on themselves, as can often happen when stories are told from the first person perspective. This makes the story powerful and allows readers to relate on a deeper level. Those with empathy may feel drained after reading the emotional journey Karen had to go through.
This book states that it is a journey from terror to joy. Upon reading the book and now writing this review, it is hard to see where joy comes into play. There are several times that the protagonist Karen embarks on ventures that light her up and cause her to feel elated and wonderful, however by the end of the story there is no confirmation that she was able to obtain the happiness she is long overdue. Yes, she barely survived being a victim of Martin Bryant, but where is the confirmation of her happiness? Where is the consolation for the readers that the wide-eyed girl made it and was able to attain joy? It’s not explicitly stated, just implied. It leaves one wondering, in a good way, where one finds this confirmation in life.
For those who are looking for a short but meaningful book that will take them on a roller-coaster of emotions, Shame, Guilt, and Surviving Martin Bryant by Karen Collyer is a must read. It’s gripping, tears at the heartstrings and exposes the ugliness of the ‘don’t tell’ culture that is still alive and well today.
Pages: 174 | ASIN: B07B8Y47XR
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“Forget the world that you know. You are about to enter a dimension of the bizarre, where the strange and unusual will guide you down the path of imagination. True stories where the ordinary will be replaced with the fantastic! Explore legend, myth, and folklore These cases are based on theory and conjecture. The reader is invited to make their own conclusions on all the available information.
Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories of the Paranormal.”
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