A Fire in the West is a genre-crossing novel with elements of fantasy, science fiction, and inspirational fiction as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
Harry James Fox: I agree that the novel steps all over the genre boundaries. Some have insisted that the books in the Stonegate series are really Dystopian or Action/Adventure with elements of Romance. My only defense is that I wrote stores that I enjoy reading. I suppose I wanted a novel that explored a collapse of civilization that would later lead up to the events described in the Bible in the Book of Revelation. But I decided not to write about the final Armageddon. These novels might be thought of as a prelude, however. I tried to make a believable society that could reasonably have developed a few generations after the beginning of a new dark age. I was not concerned with fitting within conventional genres, so it must have happened organically.
Lucia Mudgway: It was actually Harry James Fox’s idea about this trilogy in the first place. Harry masterminded the plot and story-line as well as outlining the major characters and the map of the area and the names of the towns, and and I helped create and develop it as well as adding some new characters into the mix. Basically, my writing was inspired by my faith and my knowledge of history from my undergraduate studies at University where I completed a Bachelor of Arts/Humanities degree majoring in Creative Writing and History. I am currently completing a Masters of Divinity degree after completing a Grad Dip in Creative Writing last year. A lot of my ideas did happen as I was writing, and it often felt as if there was an external spiritual force working with me.
The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Harry James Fox: The characters from the earlier books were old friends, such as Donald and Rachel. But the character that I liked the best was Arielle (“Ari”). She has a big heart and finds the strength to face adversity and emerge the stronger for it. I like her level head and her courage. I do find that I need some help in developing female characters, but my co-author, Lucia, was helpful in making her believable.
Lucia Mudgway: My favorite character was Robbie as he reminded me a little of the prodigal son whose defiance led him into dangerous waters where his faith was tested after doubting God and backsliding. I also loved the evil False Prophet as he reminds us that we are living in a world of spiritual darkness today from leaders who are not always interested in looking after the people, but where self interest and power are what motivates them. I guess I have a fondness for the false prophet because I helped create him with Harry. I found some inspiration for his character in Ephesians 6:12 which states, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of the world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” It was evil that ruled the mind and soul of the False Prophet, so I would recommend reading the three books of the trilogy to get a better picture of how despicable the False Prophet really is. The second book, “The False Prophet” reveals his character more fully.
You both have written a fascinating novel. What was the collaboration like between the two of you on this book?
Harry James Fox: Lucia helped a great deal with the second novel of the series, and she actually wrote a novella based on the characters in the first book in the series. I then expanded this novella into a full-length novel. But I decided that the third novel would be one where we both were co-authors from the beginning. I was very pleased with the partnership. I probably would have procrastinated, but she helped keep me focused. I rather specialized in all things military, and she was the creative idea person that created an intriguing plot. It all went quite smoothly.
Lucia Mudgway: The collaboration between Harry and myself was pretty amazing and we work really well together, bouncing off each other for ideas. I am definitely interested in working with Harry in the future on other books, but at this present time I am trying to complete a novel I started years ago called “The Isis Factor”, which is a fictional thriller/romance inspired by facts and some true events. This story is set in England where the major protagonist, Nick Flanagan, an MI6 agent, is caught up in a world of terrorist activity from terrorists buying arsenal supposedly from the Russians for military training camps in Afghanistan. I am hoping to complete this in 6 months and have it published soon after completion.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
Harry James Fox: I always have several projects at different stages of incubation. I am considering reworking some unpublished material and creating a novella, a prequel to the Stonegate trilogy. I imagine it will be published in 2019. I am a former intelligence officer and definitely have an interest in Lucia’s book “The Isis Factor.” I have volunteered to help with some technical details.
From author Harry James Fox, and co-author, Lucia Mudgway, comes an epic Christian fantasy, third in the Stonegate saga. In this gripping finale, Donald of Fisher and Rachel of Westerly as well as Carla and other favorite characters return to face another attempt by the evil False Prophet to overwhelm the free towns of the East. However, this tale centers around Donald and Rachel’s son, Robby, as he confronts all of his demons— his forbidden love for Ari, his cousin, and his conflicts with his father, Donald. Ari, Carla’s daughter, also finds herself in the heat of battle and is tested as she had never imagined. Family secrets emerge amid the threat of war, but courage, duty, and love become more important than ever. Will the False Prophet finally succeed in stamping out freedom, or will good finally triumph over evil? Will Robby find redemption for his decisions, and will the shocking truth about his past set him free to be with Ari?
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Beguiled follows young Miriam as she struggles to follow her dreams through a turbulent time in history. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
Initially, I had the idea to write a story of the kind of life my mother, born in 1910, might have had, if she’d had the gumption. Which she did not, so the story of Miriam Levine, 1st generation Russian-Jewish girl, is entirely fictional. There are a few biographical markers, e.g., Miriam’s Pop was active in the leftist-unionist organization called the Workmen’s Circle. My maternal grandfather was as well. Similarly, he was a cultured fellow, albeit not formally educated, and introduced my mother to cultural events from a young age. The character Miriam developed her aspirations to go on stage from the experiences her Pop exposed her to from a young age.
The story transformed itself immediately from anything biographical to an exciting adventure of Miriam and her girlfriends as they make their way through a difficult time in history punctuated by WWI, the “Spanish” flu, women’s getting the vote, the Roaring 20s, the relationship between young people and their immigrant parents, and the status of women.
Miriam is a well developed character that I grew attached to. How did you capture the thoughts and emotions of a young woman in the 1900’s?
Research, research, and more research helped me to describe a girl of the early 1900s. I read many books about the times, including novels of women of that period.
Perhaps more importantly, I’ve been a psychotherapist and life coach all my adult life, so am accustomed to hearing people’s stories and helping them to make sense of their lives. So, the emotions of a woman of this period seemed little different to me from my clients’ stories. Yes, women have approached the glass ceiling and many are in marriages that are fundamentally equal or mutually enhancing, but with the outing of many in the MeToo movement, it’s clear that women’s place has not appreciably changed vis a vis powerful men.
I liked how the politics and drama of the time was not front and center, but served as a backdrop to Miriam’s story. Did you do any research for this story to keep things accurate?
As stated above, I pored over many historical books of this period, as well as historical novels about the early 1900s. Having been in graduate school for a PhD back in the 1980s, I learned how to do research and to enjoy it. I was not, however, a big history buff, so my becoming absorbed in this research was a surprise to me. One funny thing: in one of my last drafts, I realized that NO character ever was described as smoking. So, I had to go back and add smoking Lucky Strikes, Camels, pipes, and cigars to many scenes.
WWI was certainly in the background only in Beguiled. Miriam and her friends barely seemed to register that there was a world war going on in Europe, until Miriam arrives home and discovers that her father’s Workmen’s Circle is having an important emergency meeting to discuss US entry into the War. Then a young German boy barges in to say that his family was beaten bloody right in their neighborhood, an unthinkable thing in their multi-ethnic close community.
Many people have suggested I write a sequel to Beguiled, but that would take me into the Depression of the 1930s and I don’t know if I want to go there, particularly since our country seems liable to get there itself.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Beguiled was just released on May 1st 2018, so I’m devoting some time to publicizing it before embarking on my next story. But, I’ve had the idea of locating an appealing news story of a woman who lived in another era. I enjoy researching historical fiction and being an archaeologist in searching out details of a bygone period. In order to find this appealing person, I’ll need to immerse myself in the Boston Public Library’s newspapers from the last century or even before. There are also archives of women’s letters housed at the Schlesinger Library at Harvard, where I’ve done research before. I look forward to being able to do this, once my initial marketing campaign is over.
Beguiled is about every person who ever had dreams that were interrupted by cultural mores, by discrimination, or by their own shortcomings. Miriam Levine, born in 1900, dreamed of going on stage, until an almost fatal mis-step forced her to postpone her “real life.” A serendipitous offer compelled her to confront her inner demons and society’s expectations. As Glinda, the Good Witch of the South in the Wizard of Oz, she recites at age 16: “You’ve always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”
The story is inspirational for young people and their parents who dearly wish to access the American dream. The historical context of the decades before the Great Depression, the role of immigrants and women’s suffrage parallels tough political dilemmas that the US faces today.
Will Miriam have the gumption to follow her dreams? Will those dreams yield her the happiness she seeks? Or will she find that her childhood fantasies “beguile” her to seek ‘fool’s gold?’
Posted in Interviews
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Life is not meant to be a straight and smooth road. It is always inspiring to meet someone who has survived the obstacles from travelling a long and bumpy road. Tariku Bogale is one such person. He is not shy about letting the reader into his world, about letting the reader see the great, the bad, and the downright dirt. He is honest and transparent. His narration of his life is colored with moments that should be embarrassing but in retrospect are quite significant to the man he is today.
Unstoppable: Challenge Accepted chronicles the life of Tariku Bogale. He talks about his life as an abandoned child all the way to the glamorous city of New York. He talks about his journey from a self-reliant 8 year old with barely enough to get by to a global business mogul renting high end New York residences. He talks about his roots. They are quite weak to begin with but they become stronger as he grows up. His resolve is seen from an early age when he brings his mother to live with him regardless of his father’s wishes. He faces and survives heartbreak before the age of fifteen. It does set him back a little bit. A fact he is not afraid to disclose but he gets up and dusts himself off anyway. As he says, there were angels at every point of his life. The kindness of strangers has helped him a great deal. It is admirable that he has chosen to credit them where necessary.
This story is wonderfully told. The author is looking to show the struggles he has been through on his journey to the man he is today. It is well written. It is thrilling and interesting. Often, we look at successful people as super humans but this story confirms that they are mere mortals just like us. They make mistakes and bow to urges just like us. It renews the reader’s courage and motivation.
The author has a proper grasp of the English language. He understands the nuance of storytelling and applies it quite effectively in this book. This story is captivating and vivid. However, there seems to be large chunks of the story missing, chunks that would have contributed to the value of the story. The book could use a brush over from an editor. However, that does not quite take away from the inspiring quality of the story. It is still a great story.
Tariku Bogale is an inspiring man. He tells this book in a semi-casual way. One will probably be able to take more out of it than if it was told in a formal demeanor. The author’s life story would make a good movie. Very dramatic. But then, what is to be expected considering the meaning of his name.
Pages: 234 | ASIN: B074HGR6LD
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Expectations is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a mystery, suspense, and Christian fiction as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I started writing this novel with one idea that carried my story from start to finish. My focus and intention did not change as my writing evolved. On the contrary, my original idea is what permitted the story to grow and twist and turn as it did.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
My favorite character is Ace Cadman. He is the most intriguing of these characters because all eyes in this story are on him. At the end of the day, everyone will be turning to him for answers. Or those who are against him will want to see what he is really worth.
What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
The initial idea behind this story was to show that God is real, that He is powerful, that He is not a historical figure, and that He loves His creation. It was to show that a spiritual reality does exist behind the curtain of time and that God and His army of angels do exist. It was to show how they fight for family, for children, for humans constantly. This idea did not transform as I was writing, it expanded…then exploded.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
The next book I am working on is a sequel to the first novel. It will be called Expectations II: The Familiar Spirit. I am hoping to publish this novel by December 2019 or 2020.
A pastor is faced with a dilemma when his twin nephews, sons of his only brother, cry out to him for help. Faced with all kinds of strange happenings and unnatural events in their house due to their parents adherence with the occult; the childrens fears push them to break a pact of silence established by their father regarding the secrets of their household.
How can Ace help his nephews without letting the dark forces that torment their lives affect his own family? The more he struggles to help the twins, the more the Secret Society to which the boys parents belong rage their war of evil upon him. Only a living God could help Ace overcome this war and emerge victorious. But will he; Ace Cadman, have the courage to step into the supernatural realm beyond the curtain of time when his God calls him on the scene?
Posted in Interviews
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Life is filled with challenges and for people with crippling anxiety it is worse. That anxiety feeds depression, and the two together can define and break a person down, or they can adapt, find ways to manage it and thrive in life. The BreakAway: Girl Secrets of a Tantric Yogi by Paulette Bodeman is Paulette’s memoir’s. Her story ranges from early in life to after her child is grown and an adult himself. This collection of her memories works like the human brain, it isn’t linier, rather the memories flow back and forth leaving imprints on the reader. Throughout the book Paulette slowly discovers yoga in a variety of forms before finding her place, at the end of this book she shares her knowledge with information on how to mediate, yoga poses, and how to embrace your own BreakAway moments in life, be them big or small.
Paulette Bodeman decided when she started writing this book that she was not going to just include all the good points or put a happy twist on her life moments. She promised herself to include all the ugly moments, all the hard memories, from addiction, divorce, depression and loss. They were not written with caveats that ‘oh this made me a better person for living through it’. Instead it is just raw emotions. It is real life and despite the jumping from one memory to another often not in chronological order, it is captivating to the reader. Some people will be frustrated by the lack of cohesion from one memory to the next; but I found it relatable and it gave me a better understanding of her. When I think back in time to my own memories it is a jumbled road, and those pieces all fit together in my own broken puzzle, that is what this book reminds me of. You don’t put a puzzle together left to right, you fit them together as you find them and once done you have a complete picture.
Much of the book focuses on her finding herself though her experiences and how they all led her to where she is now. But written in her style that path isn’t clear. In the last part of the book she explains her views on BreakAway moments, big and small. She talks about how they are the defining moments in your life that you may or may not even reorganize as being a defining moment. This last part pulls together everything she wrote. The inclusion of mediation suggestions, yoga poses, and spiritual healing ideas just completes the book. You start reading about her chaotic and disjointed life and end with a guide on how to find your own path through your own chaos.
This is not your traditional yoga book, it is not your traditional book on finding inspiration in life or how to better yourself. It is not a self-help book you pick up and read step by step to find your perfect balance. It is a book that will inspire you, give you bits and pieces you can relate to and give you suggestions on finding your own inner peace at your own pace and discovering your own BreakAway moments and how they have defined you.
Pages: 226 | ASIN: B079NCH83G
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In Anam Cara you speak of the ‘soul friend’ as the bridge to enlightenment and creativity. How did you discover your ‘soul friend’ and how has it helped in your life?
The soul friend can emerge at any point of time in your life. There is hardly a need to go out and seek a soul friend. Doing so makes the process artificial and inauthentic. There is a saying: When the student is ready the master will appear. This principle applies to the Anam Cara. There are times in our lives when we are challenged, tested and at the very point of folding someone appears to listen, to guide and counsel. The Anam Cara does not provide us with answers but his or her presence facilitates the learning process. Notable is that the Anam Cara is not a spirit guide or discarnate being. The key attribute of the Anam Cara is the power of listening and the ability to subtly guide others toward discovering their own truths.
I have been fortunate to have a number of Anam Caras and do believe that their presence in my life has accorded me the ability to experience and explore truths without criticism and condemnation.
In this audio book you guide readers through 42 confessions to the soul. Why do you think these are essential for spiritual growth?
The 42 confessions are comprehensive and pertain to every aspect of human consciousness. The principles are timless, cross-cultural and aim at developing the human spirit with virtue, righteousness and kindness.
How do you see Anam Cara working in conjunction with, or supplementing, Buddhist and Christian principles?
The Anam Cara is neither Christian nor Buddhist. In fact the Anam Cara is found in every culture and clime The Anam Cara can only strenghten the principles of the great faiths. I am here reminded of St Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises where the Anam Car is referred to as a confessor.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book, “In Search of Truth: A Course in Religious Psychology” will be available in March 2018. It offers incredible insights into metaphysics, philosophy, religion and spirituality. The reader is encouraged to conduct his or her own research and to challenge the various themes presented. The subjects covered will no doubt stir debate.
This essential reading teaches us how to transform our lives by showing gratitude, acceptance and forgiveness. Your Anam Cara or Soul Friend, or confessor is never is judgmental and facilitates this process by listening and listening.When we remove our psychic blockages and barriers we begin to experience the fathomless potential of our soul, the very source of creativity ad intuition. Eric Ober, media consultant and former President of CBS News, calls Anam Cara, “an inspirational book that will maximize our quality of life.”
Posted in Interviews
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A life story told alongside life lessons…
Grandma’s Secret Blessings: A Memoir with a Twist, is a deeply personal and dramatic-memoir. It tells the story of Yianni’s life, family, troubles, and successes. Told from a mix of first and third-person viewpoints, it gives an interesting perspective on how a person develops character. Central to the book’s theme are the secret blessings, which are a collection of inspirational messages, trans-cultural personal instructions, and existential aspirations. The book also has a number of lessons passed down by Yianni’s grandmother from the Greek oral tradition.
Yianni and his family are Greek in origin, and as such, they share a long history involving the oral transmission of stories. Over history, folk tales and legends were often performed by storytellers in front of audiences, including young children and even grown children, such as Yianni. This culture is present in the story as Yianni learns of his family history, reaching clear back to great-great-grandparents. This family history has personal ties back to Greece and Albania, much of it during a time of serious political and economic turmoil. Of course, those history lessons passed down to Yianni are also infused with Grandma’s life lessons for Yianni. This is all interspersed with Yianni’s own personal history, along with description for the way that these stories and lessons helped him.
There are more than ten of grandma’s secret blessings, many of which existing in some form in many different cultures and languages. However, what makes the lessons particularly powerful is that in Yianni’s experience with his abusive father, Yianni explains that, “…it’s the only way to close the gaping hole in my heart.” Many of these secret blessings are a blessing in that they are a form of grace, protection, or favor for Yianni. “You are the captain of your own ship,” as an example, explains for Yianni that no matter what tosses you around and what terrible things may befall you, you still have control in your own life and life choices. This is how the book is a memoir “with a twist.”
Grandma’s Secret Blessings is not perfect in its presentation. For example, there are a number of typographical and grammatical errors, as well as punctuation mistakes that are distracting. However, these generally do not detract from the message and central themes of the story. In a way, it conveys the very essence of that oral tradition, which is sometimes imperfect and lost in translation.
Grandma’s Secret Blessings is intended for adult audiences. There are depictions of child and intimate partner abuse, discussions of sexuality and sexual behavior, and alcohol and drug abuse. These depictions are realistic in nature, contributing to the overall feel of the book and its weighty emotionality. Overall, even with the copy-editing errors, Grandma’s Secret Blessings is a good read for those looking for emotional and inspirational literature.
Pages: 364 | ASIN: B077PLR98B
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Have you ever wondered about the importance of communion? What really is the root of all this power the blood of Jesus is purported to have? How can human beings harness this power as God wishes?
Wendy Varga’s Sacred Secret is an in-depth analysis of the Communion. We often use blatant explanations of God’s instructions. But man is protected from all sorts of evil if he marks himself with the blood.
If faith is shallow, little is expected. People should know the limitless capabilities of God as this affects their level of faith and consequently, how impactful He will be in their life.
Wendy Varga’s passion helps to eloquently unravel many biblical mysteries. Her fervent writing had me craving to know more about communion; I found myself often referencing my bible. By the end of this book I felt that I had a better understanding of the power of the New Testament Covenant Meal. The author’s eagerness to truly understand God’s purpose for the Passover is evident. Her break down of the relation between His blood and God by use of scientific explanations is startlingly enlightening. Her insistence to not just know God, but also know Him intimately is a recurring theme. I’ve read other religious books on similar subjects, but they often only touched on this subject before quickly moving on. But it is the focal point in this book. It’s refreshing to see a book take a deep dive into one aspect of faith.
I consider this a knowledge check for anyone who knows their Bible well, but what I truly appreciated was the unique perspective in which the information is presented. Be prepared to ask yourself questions you never have before. In the end, I appreciated how this book left me reevaluating my relationship with God. This book will arm you with the knowledge and power of the blood and thus strengthen your faith. I believe that this book will unlock the potential of God’s power in your life through faith.
Pages: 156 | ASIN: B072M8R6JG
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Stainer by Iolanthe Woulff truly lives up to being a novel of the “Me Decade”. Set in 1975, we follow Ben Steiner, a Jewish Columbia undergrad who at his core is a decent person but wishes to be “in” with the “in crowd.” On the night of his twenty-first birthday he attends a party that will change his life forever. He meets P.T. Deighland, a wiseass from Princeton, who is clearly up to no good, and Rebecca Glaser who he falls for immediately. His new-found friendship with Deighland and his own youthful temptations lead him to make escalating bad choices that may not only harm his budding romance with Rebecca, but expose this alternate life to the rest of the Jewish community. It is a classic journey of self-discovery, but one with a lightness of humor that keeps it from becoming too dismal.
Woulff does a wonderful job with blending the scenery of 70’s New York City with the strikingly personal conflict of Ben Steiner. The cultural tropes of the Jewish community come into full play and provide the initial conflict of the individual strikes out away from the old traditions of his culture. The fact that Ben lives in a converted residence hall with other Jewish scholars from Columbia. He thirsts for the experience outside of his roots that has been denied to him all these years, and turning twenty-one he feels that he is empowered to do so.
In some ways, this novel is very much the spiritual successor of Catcher in the Rye, but considering it is about the 1970s, it feels much more relevant to our present age. I found the pacing to be a bit of a slow burn, since it weaves this inner journey that Ben must make in order to reach the final beats of the narrative. Woulff provides a story with rich character development, which is impressive for a book that is trying to tackle not only personal conflict, but societal conflict and the social statements at large. Ben suffers from the divide his life takes after the party, where he hides pieces of his life from his Jewish friends.
The book is particularly polished, which is enjoyable and Woulff’s attention to detail and the interiority of her characters to be particularly good. It is also such a wonderful tale of how we can sometimes self-sabotage ourselves and not be able to see the “good” that is often right in front of us.
Stainer presents itself as a coming of age work and one that I think all ages should be able to enjoy. YA readers may take a particular pleasure in reading this novel.
Pages: 345 | ASIN: B071G8KFX1
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From the outside looking in, Elizabeth had the perfect life. She had a family who loved her, numerous friends, and a successful career. No one knew the hurt, pain, and angst she hid inside, struggling to keep herself small so that those around her would still like her. It all came to a head on October 23, 2007, when her parents received a call that she was lying lifeless in the ICU in a hospital in Utah — “You better get out here, your daughter is not going to make it.”; Fractured: My Journey Back From Death and the Lessons I’ve Learned Along the Way is the memoir of Elizabeth’s recovery, spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is about her deliberate decision to begin the hard work finding and using her voice and the struggle to break out of the box that society tried to keep her in. This is the story of what happens when one woman stared death in the face and decided to make a conscious choice not to go back to sleep, but to wake up and live the life she knew she was meant to live.
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