Capricorn follows Montague, a vigilante that delivers justice as he sees fit in a dystopian future where crime rules the city. What was your inspiration for this story and how did it develop as you were writing?
Capricorn was based on a poem I wrote in my late teens. The poem was basically Montague’s entire monologue in the first few pages of his introduction when he is describing the city as a cancer.
The character of Capricorn is purity, but with a childlike persona; which, when put into an adult woman, makes her appear to be crazy. Capricorn’s character is loosely based on Kai, who is kind of a strange, childlike girl in the PlayStation 3 game, Heavenly Sword.
I had much of the dialogue previously planned out before writing and I knew how it was going to end. The hard part was trying to make it feel justified. Montague had to find internal resolution and defeat his own demons. That’s why his 7 trials had to take place.
Montague is an intriguing character. I wasn’t able to pin down if he was an anti-hero or a good or bad guy, which was part of his appeal. What morals did you try to capture while developing his character?
Montague is someone who has given up on humanity. Everyone is a villain in his eyes. He abandons his own name in an attempt to forget his former self and become something similar to the angel of death. His job, he gave himself, is to bring some sort of balance back to the world and to do so means killing everyone who is unjust; which seems to be mostly everyone.
The only thing that makes him human is his compassion towards the innocents trapped in this city of violence. He saves a woman from being raped, but when a thief is murdered right in front of him he merely just walks over his dead body. He wants to protect good people, but at the same time believes there are no good people. This conflict puts him in a dark place.
I felt the backdrop of the crime ridden city was vividly developed. What themes did you want to use while creating your backdrop?
The main character of this story is the city itself. It’s tainted, dirty, rundown, and lying in ruins, but it remained this way because no one wanted to fix it. If you mixed the city in “The Book of Eli” and the city in “Judge Dredd” you would get the city in Capricorn. It’s a criminal’s paradise. It was never mentioned in the story, but you can almost imagine the sky being permanently overcast; it’s a type of hell and only Montague is fighting against it.
What is the next book that you are working on and when can your fans expect it out?
I’m a world builder. I put a lot of time into crafting the landscapes and populating them with life and a history. Even before I begin writing a story I come up with names of places and things or animals and peoples. That’s where I am now; writing pages and pages of notes which will eventually become appendices. They are developed mostly for me so I can keep track of everything; adding them into the book for the fans is just a byproduct of my writing process.
In the aftermath of a civil war the city is in ruins and without order. Montague administers his idea of justice with his black steel sword until he discovers Capricorn. He becomes drawn to her and vows to protect her, but this is challenged when a group of thugs kidnap her.
Montague is sent on a determined rescue mission, but in order to succeed he must battle the thugs of the city and their leader. Montague finds himself on a path of seven trials in order to gain entry into Mammon’s domain to save the one he loves.
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Triple Bagger is the intricately woven story of one man’s experience in a company that takes him everywhere but leads him nowhere. Why did you want to write a novel that took a close look at the corporate world?
After twenty years of corporate career, I felt exactly how you describe: nowhere despite having had everything and been everywhere. It felt devastating, like I had lived inside a me that wasn’t me, and as such wasn’t worth very much to me at all. And I felt a powerful compulsion to write up about that life that had past, above all to try to make some sense of it, of why I had ended up going through with it, hoping perhaps that it would help me see a way forward.
With this novel you are able to once again capture everyday life and put an interesting twist on it. What is your writing process like?
This was in essence the first novel I wrote, fresh from abandoning the corporate world, although it was not the first I published, and I can confess that the writing process was chaos. There were certain difficult large themes I knew I had to treat in the book because they were at the core of what had deeply upset me for years and ultimately broken me. Firstly, I carried out ample research around these themes to convince myself these were rightful themes and that I wasn’t just being mad and imagining that they were. I needed to convince myself that my account was not to be a one sided rant, but that other people had and would care about the backbone behaviours I would discuss. This was the first phase. Yet after setting the grand map, I constantly battled with whether I should punish, absolve or laugh at the twenty years of past life I had drawn in front of me. So there was the tone to think of… Next, there was the problem of feeling in the detail without making it too dry, too boring or too close to the truth… I definitely didn’t want to take myself too seriously!
I felt that the story had a lot to say about the loss of oneself within the complexities of ladder-climbing and the desire to succeed. What were the morals you were trying to capture while writing your story?
There were a few. Firstly, to beware that in corporate elites we are often chosen not for the strength underlying our ambition but for its vulnerability, in that it inculcates a fear in us of not succeeding which can make us more pliable. Secondly, to resist corporate life when it looks to uniform us, shape us around a common fiction spelling our superiority and fuelling a fantasy around our limitless ability. To fight becoming dependent, to fight growing a fear of anything outside what they have taught us. Thirdly, to question the relentless drive and the virtuosity of endurance preached in corporate life. And finally, to never let work turn us into a robots. Whatever we do, never to let our emotions be turned off.
What is the next story that you are writing and when will it be available?
Caro M, is a short novel exploring the hurricane-like devastation unwavering love is capable of. In it: a woman, alone but for her dog, shares memories with her old tesoro; a wife trusts her sweetheart psychiatrist blindly through her divorce; and a young girl lands a fairy tale wedding soon to turn into a nightmare her cousin yearns to fix. I guarantee you it’s immersive, witty, tender… It will be available October 2017.
A book about identity and… management consultancy! ‘Epic, a wonderfully interesting reading experience, ‘ DeAndra Lupu @unbounders. Meet Vittal. He is a self-and-dad-made man carrying his family’s expectations on his shoulders. He has landed a vocation to work for the most renowned, most secretive, highest-priced, most entrusted, most detested organisation of all times. Vittal should be happy, or maybe frightened, after he is told that he will work with people with an unusual quality of character and, with time, he will become those people. When he meets Peter who reeks of success like a true world shaper, Vittal clings to the saving idea that he wants to become him. But as he climbs through stages at Enterprise over the next decade, life loses its meaning and he grows into a swinging smudge of mortality that advances and retreats with his employer’s tides. He is lonely, surrounded by emotionless, manipulative schemers, under a haunting fear that someone somewhere may be happy and it will never be him. And by the time Lucy arrives to discombobulate this sorry state of affairs, Vittal has become like the others, numbed, out to reach something he does not understand anymore. Lucy won’t be able to save him nor him her from Peter, from Enterprise. He won’t be able to save Peter or Enterprise either. And five years later, Vittal thinks that writing his story for Nuria can rescue him. It might, but not in the way he had thought! Triple Bagger is a story about being enslaved in a world of emotional unavailability and whether vanity, fear and control could be a shortcut to happiness; a tale of shredded life in three acts: Desire, Discipleship and Demise. It treats themes around collective faith and individual identity, stability and disintegration, the sane, the insane and who decides. Parallel to the main narrative there are reflective letters between Vittal and his editor Nuria discussing why we write, to leave a trace, out of revenge, or for redemption. There are as well as visual short passages of hotel encounters between two unknown lovers. The novel is ultimately about whether one person can make the difference when they live up to being that person.
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Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth, KS 150th Birthday is a lovely children’s story that gives the history of the town of Ellsworth Kansas. Why was this an important book for you to write?
When your town is having a 150th birthday, and your town is rich in history, then that history needs to be included your children’s picture book. The huge four day celebration also included re-enactments, 150 prime longhorns, a cattle drive, two day rodeo, and much more. An adult commemorative book was in the works, so we thought one for kids should be done as well, leaving out the blood, death, and salacious parts. The kids loved it. So did the tens of thousands of people who traveled to this town from across the USA and overseas.
What kind of research did you have to do to maintain the accuracy of the history?
I used extensive curate material from the historical society for the parts and dates I wasn’t sure of.
Do you think it’s important for children to learn the history of their city or town?
Of course it is. One’s heritage is important, and children need to know where they come from, their roots.
“Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth, KS, 150th Birthday” is a wonderful and fun children’s book that both children and adults will enjoy. The story hits the targeted age range of 4-8. The painted illustrations provided are a delight, and my grandchildren loved them. Who would have thought to write a book using dogs and squirrels as friends, and the old west thrown in? This book is perfect for home, schools, and libraries. I highly recommend this book. Susan Vance, Author and Realtor In this children’s picture book and seventh book in our ‘Shadow and Friends Series’, Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth, KS, 150th Birthday, two dogs and a family of squirrels decide to help Ellsworth celebrate the 150th birthday of the town’s history. This book coincides with the actual 150th birthday of Ellsworth in the summer of 2017. Illustrations are found on each page, most of them painted. Big Whitey tells the history of Ellsworth, and Fort Harker, with historical buildings, notable landmarks, and scenes painted by the author. At the end of this story, Little Whitey asks his father if they can re-enact the old west, dress like cowboys, and do a pretend cattle drive just like Ellsworth, KS. The squirrels dress in cowboy and cowgirl gear, and they even have a chuck wagon cook. They herd longhorn cattle, sing the state song of Kansas, and have lots of fun during their re-enactment. At the end of the story, they enjoyed a barn dance, celebrated the 150th birthday of Ellsworth, and Uncle Stubby took pictures and ‘selfies’. Children will love seeing the old west come alive with two dogs and a family of squirrels dressed in western attire, and using a small amount of cowboy slang. This delightful and funny book for children, targeted at ages 4-8, is easy to read and perfect for home or classroom. The story illustrates how cattle drives worked, the long dusty trails, life in the old west, and illustrations that produce pure imagination in children. Note: Actual gunfights and ‘adult type’ history were left out in this wild western history of Ellsworth, KS.
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The Biggest Little Crime In The World is the third book in the popular Ham McCalister Series and follows the lives of two Las Vegas Homicide detectives turned private eyes. What was your inspiration for the setup of the story and how did that help you create the ending?
This one flowed naturally from the book before. Although each is written as a standalone so that they may be read in any order, the ending of each at least hints at the start of the next. In this case, the wedding between Drew and her beloved superstar was foreshadowed and thus the book began as such. And that led to the story arc, a rather natural extension of the characters and their responses to life, incidents both good and bad. The denouement arose from the investigation and, though the why and the who were a surprise to me, the ending was at least partially suggested by the plot outline developed before writing began. And it did tie nicely to the series, I am pleased to say.
When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?
I love this question because it’s the foundation that makes writing such an enjoyable endeavor. The answer is that in this book, as in each I’ve written, the players never cease to surprise me. They say and do as they please, and take the plot in directions I had not anticipated. That despite the rather extensive plot and character outlines. It’s so much fun to run the other way from that which was anticipated. In sum, the characters act it out and they and they alone dictate the plot development.
I love the dynamic relationship between Drew and Ham. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
Drew and Ham are complicated by their exposure to the underside of life. As homicide detectives for the Las Vegas police department, they saw and experienced more that most of the underbelly of society. Both are imperfect characters in that both are inherently honest and rigidly law and order, yet both are not above bending the rules when the circumstances, as they see them, warrant the dishonesty therein. And both struggle with that dilemma, the eternal battle between that which we see as ideal and that which we refuse to allow, no matter the moral cost. It is a constant struggle for both, as each seeks truth and justice, rewards for their efforts, conviction of the guilty and protection for the innocent—this while refusing to bend to niceties when evil rises before them. Erasing evil, to the both of them, takes precedence over a simple genuflect to the rules.
What is the next story that you’re writing and when will it be published?
The next book is The Curious Case Of Ham On Wry. It follows Ham and Drew as they try to exonerate their client, U.S. Representative Harold Wry from a charge of murdering his Washington intern. I expect the book to available sometime next summer.
Shots ring out and two find their mark, just under the arch that declares Reno “The Biggest Little City In The World.” A crime, an assassination that the press will dub “The Biggest Little Crime In The World.”
That very day Ham McCalister had walked his dearest friend and business partner, Drew Thornton, down the aisle to wed her rock superstar betrothed, Russ Porter, one of the frontmen of the legendary band Truckee River. In that happy moment, what neither he nor Drew could have foreseen was the sudden tragedy that would greet them on the streets of Reno, mere minutes after the wedding bells chimed. For there, under that iconic arch, Russ Porter falls victim to an assassin’s bullet, along with an unknown second casualty.
While Russ is tended to at Reno’s finest medical center, by the state’s finest physicians, Ham and Drew race to uncover the who and the why behind the unspeakable evil unleashed in the aftermath of the wedding of Drew’s dreams. And then exact a revenge that she will personally inflict.
What they find, what they don’t’ expect, what they finally uncover, is The Biggest Little Conspiracy In The World.
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Captive Threat is a genre-crossing novel with elements of espionage, mystery, and crime as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I began the novel with the basic plot and ending in mind but the plot got more complex and took unanticipated turns as the issues and characters developed. As a writer my view is you have to know where you’re going but keep an open mind as your characters and plot take on a life of their own.
The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. What was your inspiration for Wade’s character?
The Wade Hanna character as with most of my characters was inspired by real people I have known or worked with over a 40 year career as a forensic expert and having grown up in New Orleans. Each character takes on traits of different people I have known in the past.
What I enjoyed most in this story was the portrayal of complicated human emotions. What themes did you try to capture while creating your characters?
Much of the emotion in my characters comes from their unique personalities and how they interact under different levels of threat. The two main characters throughout the series are Wade Hanna and his co-agent and lover, Megan Winslow. Their relationship as agents often tests their personal relationship as lovers. In each novel I try to bring out the best or worst of their professional relationship and how that affects their personal relationship. Always ups and downs but in the end they are there for each other although not in the ways obvious to the reader. In many instances, Megan, for example takes the lead and can be stronger than Wade. She brings to bare a unique, tough feminine prospective to a clever, instinctive approach under the devious watchful eye of, Leo, the Black Ops commander.
This is the fifth installment in the Wade Hannah series and it leaves me wondering, where will Wade end up now?
Wade and Megan continue as a team in the sixth novel. Currently, I have two more novels planned for the couple as they continue their heart throbbing assignments while maintaining their personal relationship. The novels will venture on different types of assignments in different countries as they engage political espionage and mystery as they face an uncertain enemy and each other. Each novel will test character flaws of team members. Novel 6 has the added burden of Megan’s physical recovery from wounds suffered of her near-death experience in Captive Threat. Beyond the next two novels is unplanned and anybody’s guess. It may be another episode with these characters or an entirely new set of characters and plot. Stay tuned.
As the Vietnam War concludes an MIT professor, contracted to the NSA, leaks U.S. military secrets to the world. He is now America’s #1 traitor. Abducted by Soviet agents, he and his family are traded to North Vietnam.
Wade Hanna’s partner and lover, Megan Winslow, is forced into a witness protection program run by Army Intelligence. Haunted by PTSD flashbacks of her last mission Megan discovers she is being used as “bait” for another covert operation.
Escaping the witness protection program Megan finds sanctuary with Wade in the deep swamps of Louisiana. Wade is selected to head the mission to capture or terminate the #1 American traitor. To avoid being left behind in the swamp Megan must convince Wade she is fit for the new mission.
Wade’s covert intelligence team infiltrates the guarded jungle monastery where the professor is being held only to find their team is vastly outnumbered and outgunned by the opposition. Planned extraction of the target becomes impossible as Wade’s team faces imminent termination of the entire squad.
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Steel, Blood and Fire is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a fantasy, military, and history as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I was, in part, inspired by Glenn Cook’s Black Company series, along with the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson. So much so that I wanted to try my own hand at it.
I found Vykers to be a very well written and in depth character. What was your inspiration for his emotional turmoil through the story?
Here, I think I was most inspired by Odysseus, and his long journey home from Troy. Vykers has a lot of Odysseus’ arrogance — and deadly competence, as well.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
That’s a tough one! Of course Vykers is fun to write. But so is Rem, the actor. That character allowed me to poke fun at the acting profession and relive a few of my own foibles. Then there is Spirk, the idiot. I have a special place in my heart for characters who are not quite up-to-speed, for want of a better term. He also provides a lot of the story’s comic relief. Finally, Aoife was enjoyable for me, because she reminds me of my sisters and wife, to some degree. I really liked looking at the story through her Earth Mother’s eyes.
I understand that you’re also an actor and stand-up comedian. How have those experiences helped you write your stories?
I think those things definitely shape my voice as a writer, the way I hear dialogue, and indulge in opportunities to shameless nonsense. But being an actor has also given me a fair amount of experience wielding a long sword, which comes in handy when writing fight scenes.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
Actually, you have (kindly) review the first book in an existing four-book series. Steel, Blood & Fire is followed by As Flies to Wanton Boys, Corpse Cold, and, most recently, The Abject God. I am currently working on the series finale, The End of All Things, which I expect will to release in late 2018.
On the march, around the campfire, and in the taverns, they tell incredible stories about Tarmun Vykers, the Reaper – how he’s never been cut in battle, how he once defeated hundreds of men by himself, how he exterminated an entire people over an insult. These stories make Vykers seem like a god, but he is a man, an arrogant, ruthless and bloodthirsty man. For all that, he may be the only thing standing between the human race and utter annihilation at the hands of the mad wizard who calls himself the End-of-All-Things. Against this backdrop, smaller, lesser folks struggle to fulfill their own destinies, folks like Aoife, burdened with a secret so dark she is driven to do the unimaginable and seek an alliance with fey powers no mortal has ever encountered.
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Lockheed Elite is a genre-crossing novel with elements of science fiction, space opera, and adventure as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
That’s a very good question. The short of it is organically. To get the long bit I think we should dissect a bit what my tastes are in literature. I’m not a huge fan of hard science fiction or of technical science fiction. It only interests me if there is a good story there fueled by real and engaging characters getting into trouble. For example, if Andy Weir had written The Martian without a funny, snarky Mark Watney, I would have still “kind of” liked the book but I would not have LOVED IT and read it in one sitting. I love adventure stories with character(s) who struggle to an end. Right now, I’m re-reading, my childhood favorite Where the Red Fern Grows. For me, a story needs adventure with characters that are after something or it’s not all that exciting. I’m adventurous by nature it’s what my brain needs and does, apparently.
With Lockheed Elite, I wanted a space adventure. I wanted something that felt movie-like and I needed to have different character points of views so I could hide what others “off-camera” where up to. That’s what I thirsted for when I started writing Lockheed Elite so that’s what we got. A solid Sci-Fi Adventure with a bunch of twists and surprises. The space opera thing…I’m still trying to figure that one out. J
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Thank you, that feels so good to hear. Severn, is my answer. I like Wicked a lot too. He seemed to identify with the younger me and I drew on that a bit while writing him. But with Severn, I saw her character arc as soon as I introduced her in chapter one. I really wanted her character to develop well. For me, she was the key to this whole thing fitting together and I loved developing her role in the story.
Plus as a writer, I need to always be getting better at building characters that aren’t me. So with Severn, I worked hard at writing a woman. A strong woman. One that can help carry a storyline, if not carry it herself.
Severn is tough. She is strong. But she’s also caring and has a true desire to do good. I wanted her character to shine, not the fact that she can kick some serious ass. Her toughness is a tool of her trade so who she is and who she becomes inside the story must be paramount to that. So yeah, Severn is my favorite.
I do wish Jones would have played a bigger role, though. You can’t say enough about a solid, loyal friend, ya know?
The characters are caught between the authoritarian Galactic Command and the ruthless criminal underbelly of the galaxy. What was your inspiration for these two groups and their role in the story?
Honestly. We’ve seen the “Galactic Command (Military Law)” picture before and we’ve seen the evil villain too. When I started writing Lockheed Elite I thought long and hard about one and then the other…and then I got sick about it. I asked myself. “Am I really going to do a story with another one of these troupes?” The story needed one of these but I didn’t like the idea of it. I don’t want be a story factory doing the same thing. Then I figured out how to do it so it satisfied my need for complexity and opened doors for my desire for twists and turns in the story. The solution for me was to put them both in and pit them all against each other. I’ve made the troupes my own and made a beautifully complex storyline, I hope.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
Okay! You caught me. Only four questions in this interview so now I feel the overwhelming push to tell. I was asked this in another interview and I laughed and went on to the next question keeping it a nice little secret. It doesn’t appear I will be able to do that here.
So let’s have it then.
Last November I finished NaNoWriMo by writing 60,000 words of an outline for my next thing. 60,000 words in an outline IS A LOT OF STORY! So I think it’s going to be a three book thing. Right now, it’s titled The Rift in Saela (you can track the progress on my website). Like Lockheed Elite it’s a science fiction telling but it’s on a huge generation ship that feels like a city so you’re not so crammed in like we were on Elite One.
I will tell you there will be suspense and mystery and a good round of characters again. Think whodunit with a big ass what the hell is happening kind of surprises. At least that’s the goal right now.
Oh and also I started outlining a new installment of Lockheed Elite titled Lockheed Elite – Devil’s Run. The more people ask for a second Lockheed Elite, the more I’ll work on it.
I’m diggin’ both projects pretty heavily but something should be out in a year or so. I’ll be posting quarterly updates on my newsletter on how that’s working out. I’ll pick one of those soon and go full speed ahead on it so we’re not waiting forever for something new.
Unfortunately, Anders has hired an undercover military operative bent on using them as bait to draw out a mastermind who has been attacking the public with deadly mechs.
While on the scav op, things go from bad to worse as the crew of Elite One recover an abandoned woman aboard the claim. Now Anders must decide quickly—stay and fight or cut cables and run.
Either way, it’s too late. Someone has other plans for them. The trap has been set, they’ve rescued the woman and taken the bait, and before long Anders and what’s left of his dwindling crew must navigate with caution through the grips of the military and an especially vile outlaw.
But Anders doesn’t captain just another team flying the black. With a genius mechanic who uses his ragtag high-tech machine shop to aid them in getting in and out of trouble, they’ve earned a reputation as the best of the best. With Anders’s careful planning, this motley crew must band together and flip the military to use them on a monster heist and dig themselves out from the heat pressing in from both sides of the law.
Fly with them. They are clever, they are fierce, they are Lockheed Elite.
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Black and White is contemporary novel focused on interracial couples and the stigma they endure. Why was this an important novel for you to write?
I felt with everything going on in the world today, this book was needed. I want this book to help improve the world or at least get people to start talking and create a dialogue for change. The world can be an ugly place and I wanted to show that ugliness so that people can also appreciate the beauty.
The story is set in a city filled with crime and focuses on the animosity between black communities and the police. You take a balanced perspective in your story, do you feel that is something that is lacking today?
I feel there is mistrust on both sides when it comes to the Black Communities and the Police. I feel that both sides need to work on change and the only way that can happen is with dialogue. I want this book to help. I’m an NYPD Detective and I feel that it’s important that Cops acknowledge that there are some cops who are prejudice and pray on minorities but at the same time it’s important that minority communities don’t assume that every cop is corrupt and prejudice. I feel society forgets that cops are people too. I feel that sometimes some cops become so calloused from the job that they began to see minorities as bad. Balance is the key to everything. Understanding each other helps also. I talk to communities often and sometimes after I explain certain situations to the crowd, they understand things better and have less animosity. Sometimes the community members help me see things differently than I do through the lenses of being a cop. In order for the world to get better, we all have to change.
Did you put any personal life experiences in this book?
I put some personal life experiences in all of my books. “Ben”, “Ebony”, and even “Bill” and “Becky” are all parts of me. At times I felt like Ben where I felt my own race believed I wasn’t “Black” enough and I was too “Black” for some White people. I know the struggle of dealing with the public at protests like Ebony. I’m an NYPD Detective. Like Ebony, before I became a Cop, I hated cops and I became one to make a difference in the world. I’m heavily involved in urban communities and I’m in an interracial relationship. I’m similar to Becky because I wrote this book to change the world. I wouldn’t want to alter it or tone it down. I love this story the way it is and my writing is important to me. I’m similar to Bill because I grew up in Queens Bridge. Despite growing up in a low-income family, I didn’t let my environment hold me back. I’m also a huge basketball fan and play regularly. Some of the situations and even dialogues in the book I have actually had or have been involved with. I like to put some of my real experiences in my stories because I believe it helps them feel more authentic.
What is one thing that you hope readers take away from Black and White?
I want readers to understand that we all have biases, we all have assumptions and stereotype, but it’s important not to base our actions and decisions on these things. It’s important to get to know people and not assume that a certain race is all the same. I want people to read this book and understand that love is love. It doesn’t matter what race your partner is, be with anyone you love. I also want people to feel comfortable in their own skin. Ben and Simone were examples of two characters that struggled with that and it’s important to know that until you have love and appreciation for yourself, you can’t truly do the same for someone else.
What is the next novel that you are writing and when will it be available?
My next novel will be a story celebrating the strength of Mothers. I’m writing a story about three different types of Mothers in three different situations and I’m calling it “Mothers.” I hope to have the novel out in time for Mother’s Day.
When the prestigious law firm of Wayne, Rothstein, and Lincoln catches two major cases—a rape case where a White NBA star allegedly raped a Black stripper, and a murder case where a Black rapper allegedly killed a gay couple and two policemen—Bill O’Neil and Ben Turner are tasked to handle these racially charged litigations. The cases hit emotional chords with the two lawyers and force them to reckon with their interracial relationships and families. Will the racial tension of their cases destroy them or make them stronger?
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When Angels Fly is a gripping retelling of one woman’s personal and painful experience with life. What was the inspiration that made you want to write down the experiences from your life?
I became sick and I felt the need to take my journals and digitize them. I knew I would write a book eventually back in 1990. That year was a rough one for me and my family personally and I’ve kept journals most of my life. I had many stories to tell but I wasn’t quite ready mentally or emotionally in going headlong into a 300 plus page book. When 2013 rolled around, I knew then that I was going to put words and stories from my journals into digital format.
You do a wonderful job of capturing your emotions in every retelling. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
The hardest and most difficult part initially was actually going into and reading my journals from 1989 – 1990 as my first book is a memoir. I knew my book had to be written and I knew the many messages in my book needed to be published, so that hopefully I could help others through difficult times in their lives or the lives of others they knew. The timing was right as I had left nursing in December 2012. My first book was extremely difficult since the stories were real. Some days I could write one sentence and then I was done for the day. Other days I could write more.
On really tough days I wanted to just stop and sometimes I did for a week or so. Yet I knew in my mind that I needed to finish my book and get it out to the public. I knew all along what the beginning, middle and end would be and I wondered about publishing my book as well. Now that my book is published, I feel a deep sense of peace within myself.
You touch on topics like abuse, suicide and domestic violence. What do you hope readers take away from your story?
My book reaches a wide group from teenage on up to geriatrics and many facets of humanity itself. I know that my book will help others in dealing with such a wide variety of life’s issues, and that no one needs to feel alone in their own situation. My aim isn’t to convey only sadness and family dysfunction but to convey to others who have been in my situation (or similar) that strength and courage can be attained, and that there are options available. Women and men, too, can get out of abusive situations and the cycle of violence can stop. Losing two boys to Heaven changed my life forever. I want to encourage others who have suffered the King of Loss that anger at God is normal, and that faith in God will come back to them. I want those parents to know they are not alone. If a parent loses a child to a horrid illness, I want those parents not to feel misguided gilt. I want to encourage parents on how to be an advocate for their child and how to reach out for help when the pain overcomes them.
This book is a carefully crafted retelling of some of the most private moments of your past. But what about your future? What do you look forward to and how has your outlook on life changed?
I have made peace with the wrongs in my past. This doesn’t mean that those things never happened, the hurt is still there, but one must forgive others in order to move on in their life on this beautiful blue sphere called Earth. With my health so poor, I just take things day by day, and I try to spend as much quality time with immediate family as I can.
We often find ourselves daydreaming about what our futures will be like. This may be especially true if one lives in an environment most would consider less than desirable. Some are lucky to find their futures much like their childhood dreams. Others find the paths to their dreams strewn with hurdles.
Growing up, Sarah dodged her mother’s blows. She often hid in her room crying about her life. Still, she believes in her future and the happiness it can bring. In their book When Angels Fly, authors S. Stevens and A. Raymond tell Sarah’s story–their stories. The authors use their journals to describe Sarah’s experiences of family dysfunction, strength, courage, faith, abuse, grief, and so much more. You’ll read how, like many, she attempts to escape from her mother’s abuse through marriage. And like many, she learns it is not a viable alternative. Then Sarah experiences a parent’s ultimate tragedy twice, the deaths of her sons, Joshua and Eli.
When Angels Fly is about much more than the telling of a family’s tragedy. It is also the story of finding faith after it has wavered. Most of all, it’s a story of love lost and found.
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The One Eyed Pug is a cute chapter book that helps kids deal with change and uncertainty. What was your inspiration for this lovely story?
Although this story is a work of fiction it’s actually based on the life and experiences of my lovely little pug and the incorrigible Chewy.
Do you have pets of your own? Were you able to use anything from your own experiences in life?
A good portion of this story is based on actual events that occurred with my pug and Boston terrier and was influenced by my experience as an animal lover and life long pet owner. Although I don’t proclaim to be on the level of the “dog whisperer” I do believe our pets communicate with us and if we are open to this possibility we come to understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and that the relationship is reciprocal so eventually our pets also understand our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
I think this book did a great job of keeping kids interested and engaged. What do you find is the most challenging part about kids books?
I believe the most challenging part about writing kids books is learning how to show and not tell and utilize appropriate verbiage and action words. Also, learning how to develop content that is age appropriate knowing that reading level is individualized and that stories should be versatile and lend themselves to different types of readers ranging from reading aloud, early readers, independent readers, and even adult readers. The illustrations also play an important role in helping the reader to develop a greater connection with the characters. Determining the placement and type of illustrations was also a bit challenging and I worked very closely with my illustrator throughout the process. Since this was based on a true story I was also able to share actual photographs that certainly helped my talented illustrator to accurately depict the characters, especially the lovely little pug and Chewy, the Boston terrier.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
This has certainly been a banner year for me and I am thrilled to share that my picture book entitled “Same Inside Different Outside” is being released by Waldorf Publishers on September 15, 2017.
Currently, I’m working on another chapter book about the lovely little pug and Chewy, the Boston Terrier. The clue to what this next book will be about is at the end of “The One Eyed Pug”.
The One-Eyed Pug is based on a true story. Children and adults will fall in love with the lovely little pug, and eventually come to love the incorrigible Chewy, too! In this story, a little pug keeps hoping she will find her forever home but every time she thinks she has found it she has to move, or is adopted by a new family. Finally, she is adopted by the Barker family and believes she has finally found her forever home. Everything is perfect until the terrible horrible thing happens; a new puppy named Chewy comes to live with the family and makes the little pug’s life miserable. Then one day when the two puppies are playing and finally getting along Chewy accidently scratches the pug’s eye and she has to go to the hospital. What will happen the little pug? What will happen to Chewy? You will find out when you read this truly intriguing tale.
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