Heroes of Afflatus follows a group of friends on a dangerous quest in the land of dwarves to bring peace to the land by recreating the Circle of Trust. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
Initially, my intent for Circle of Trust, was to start a new series in the Afflatus world. I have 3 previously published works told from the perspective of Avery Noble. In Heroes of Afflatus, I changed that perspective to Jared Swagger. But the story unfolded itself, as I watched the political milieu in the United States in Canada, where I saw people who in all rights should have seen what brings them together, versus what drives them apart. As a Canadian watching American news, I was enthralled that people who were similar in so many ways, were so divided in others. And so, as a fantasy author, I thought, what if there was an evil power that thwarting a people’s unity. Thus, Noir and the Molpen were born.
Jared and Avery are intriguing and well developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind their character development?
Jared Swagger and Avery Noble are my main characters, and they have developed over the course of the first three novels. They started as enemies that hated each other, but I found immediately, that they were actually interested in each other, and so Jared eventually asked her out and now they are going steady (this is after numerous adventures in Afflatus together). Initially, the concept of Avery as a Truth Wizard reflects my own journey in understanding the truth about life. I was raised religious, but reality clashed with those beliefs, which is also why I incorporate LGBTQ+ themes in my writing.
I appreciated the depth of the lore in your world. What were some sources that informed the worlds development?
Initially the concept of Deep’en Realm, was an imagination of what Hades might be like. I don’t like the depictions of hell and the afterlife, and so in my imagining of an underworld, I developed this concept of Deep’en Realm. Most of my ideas are sparked from the notion that there can be any number of dimensions or worlds that have their own rules, and are totally foreign to our rules.
This is book one in The Circle of Trust series. What can readers expect in book two?
Book 2 takes our adventurers into the Fairy World, an “sky” world, where your heroes need to prevent Depravity, the evil Lord, from destroying the Blue Butterfly, the last talisman that seals Depravity’s power from entering the palpable world (our earth).
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Cutthroat Cheerleader follows a bully who dies and is given the chance to look back at how her life affected the people around her. How long did you have the idea for this novel and what made you decide to start writing?
I had the idea kind of come forward while I was writing High School Queens. I have really loved this campy caddy novels, but I really wanted to add murder to it. With covid happening, I’ve had a bunch of time to write. I just really didn’t want to write a depressing novel while our world is a huge dumpster fire right now.
What were some ideas that informed Madison’s revelations throughout the story?
I think her seeing everyone’s life behind closed doors. What I always add to my novels is the theme, don’t judge a book by its cover. I feel like we all have our own struggles, and we don’t really know what someone’s going through unless we look behind all the closed doors. She realized everyone had tragedy, and I hurt a lot of people along the way. She made Mark be two different guys, and she made Chad be the stereotypical jock. These two were unhappy because they were playing the same game book as Madison to survive high school.
What scene from the book was the most challenging for you to write?
I think for me it was the plot twist when you realized one of the characters wasn’t crazy, and it had to be when the murderer was revealed. I think both I wanted to live up to the hype that I created in the novel.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on a book called Playlist. I have wanted to write this novel for honestly over ten years. It’s a love story between two characters and my love for my music. It should be out in the summer. I’m just having too much fun with Cutthroat that I’m not ready to publish just yet another novel.
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Tags: author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, coming of age, contemporary fiction, Cutthroat Cheerleader, ebook, fantasy, fiction, gay fiction, goodreads, high school, kindle, kobo, lgbt, literature, new adult, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, story, writer, writing, young adult, Zachary Ryan
Foreboding follows a witch and her lover who are hired to eliminate creatures preying on the kingdoms citizens. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
The idea was partly from the manga/anime Claymore. Which was about silver-eyed witches who are feared by humans as they are part monster, yet are the only ones who can hunt and eliminate creatures who devour humans. I liked this perspective as they are not the typical kind of witches, and made my own version of it. In the manga, the witches are created, in my book they are from birth on witches.
Lithia and Ronan’s relationship is intriguing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind their connection?
Both dared be in a relationship which was seen by many as wrong. Especially since witches can live so long and look young. However, Ronan and Lithia found a way to make it work, and to generally indicate that regardless the differences, that there is a way make a relationship work.
What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?
That the typical magic tropes such as fire and lightning are not being used. Also to add some scientific aspects into it that can be as scary as magic if used wrongly. What was also important for me is that the world can be dark, but bright too. That there are humans who respect the witches for what they are doing. And I thought it would be good to see that witches can have issues as well such as in relationships.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Currently I’m writing about a twenty year old witch, Ellemar Vancel, who was assigned by the council of witches, to hunt down a rogue witch and former member of the council, Celeana Maar, who killed everyone at a academy. Ellemar was the only survivor and held a grudge against Celeana since then. However, Ellemar discovers a conspiracy against the council.
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Madison paid the ultimate price for her attitude, her controlling behavior, and her desire to rule the school. As a cheerleader and bully extraordinaire, she has taken her last breath–but only one person in her life knows the truth. And it isn’t Madison. Watching over everyone she has left behind, Madison faces some hard facts about the life she led, the friends she let down, and the persona she regrets having carried all these years. Things are not what they seem in her high school and, whether she is ready for it or not, it just might be Madison’s responsibility to put a stop to the killings that only she can see coming.
Cutthroat Cheerleader, by Zachary Ryan, is a young adult thriller featuring Madison Taylor as the victim of murder and the narrator of her own story. Ryan has created a unique take on the omniscient point-of-view and given his main character free reign to come and go in the lives of those she left behind. Serving as a modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge-type character, Madison quickly learns exactly what she meant to the people she believed were her friends and sees, in no uncertain terms, exactly how much pain she created as she ruled the school with an iron fist.
One of the most unique aspects of Madison’s story is the process whereby she learns as much about herself as she does those she watches from afar. Her spirit, though still rough and tumble, is broken at the thought of leaving her family and friends hurting and in need. Hers is a long road of discovering everything she left unsaid prior to her death.
Ryan includes some truly breathtaking lines at the close of almost every chapter. He seriously knows how to deliver a punch that incenses readers and keeps them coming back for more. Leaving readers with that “just one more chapter” feeling time and time again, Ryan has created a book most readers will find easy to read cover-to-cover.
While I enjoyed this book, Ryan’s work is filled with vulgarity. It’s not for the faint of heart and may offend some readers who prefer much less explicit language especially when it comes to the interactions of young adults.
Cutthroat Cheerleader has a unique storyline and point-of-view that makes this one of the more captivating books I have read this year.
Pages: 352 | ASIN: B08LR1TQ3P
Tags: author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, coming of age, Cutthroat Cheerleader, ebook, fantasy, fiction, gay fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, lgbt, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, teen fiction, urban fantasy, writer, writing, young adult, Zachary Ryan
Forged Under Fire follows a young woman who serves a repressive government and must hide her feelings for her best friend. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting story?
This series is a prequel to another series I wrote 6 years ago called Inside that is controlled by the same repressive government. However, I wanted to explore how someone directly threatened by the extremist laws would grow up under such a regime. Unfortunately, there are those in the world who grow up having to hide how they feel or what they believe, whether that is due to societal, governmental, or familial pressures, and the decision to fight against those pressures is not an easy one to make. I drew inspiration from many elements of modern society to create a government in order to explore such political extremism through the eyes of a single character, in order to bring a human element to an otherwise politically charged fictional world.
When creating Amelia did you have a plan for development and character traits or did it grow organically as you were writing the story?
Some elements of Amelia were planned, such as her compassion and loyalty to those she loves. However, as I was writing, her reactions to the dangerous situations she encountered were more organic as the scenes progressed. The most organic growth for her as a character was her coming to terms with whether she wanted to stand up against the oppressive laws of her nation or remain hidden in order to stay safe.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
I wanted to explore a lot of social themes in this book relating to minorities, but it was most important for me to showcase the commentary through the eyes of a character, rather than make it a critique or essay on society. I wanted to keep everything on a very human level so that, no matter what social issue I was exploring, the emotional connection with Amelia was never lost. Extremism in political and social policy is a heavy theme in the series, and I knew that I was walking a fine line, particularly with what has been seen in recent years around the world. I felt it was important to take everything I could to an extreme to explore the impact that could have on a character.
This is book one in your Coalition series. What can readers expect in book two?
Book 2, The Rising Tide, will be released on November 27, 2020. The third and final book of the trilogy will be released in Fall 2021.
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Forged Under Fire follows Amelia who, at eighteen, decides to fulfill her duty to her fledgling nation and answer the call to Mandatory Civil Service. Her best friend Bethany is going along with her, but this doesn’t make things easier. Amelia has to hide her love for her or else be arrested by the same country in which she serves. When Amelia comes in contact with a terrorist organization called the Coalition her life takes an unexpected, and dangerous, turn.
Author Kyra Anderson creates a repressive totalitarian government in a dystopian future that is deftly created with simple yet impactful language. The world created here reminds me of Gilead from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale. In Atwood’s book we only get a glimpse of the larger governmental, and terrorist, forces at play. Kyra Anderson places her audience in the trenches of a war on terror, and a governments war on its people.
To me, this novel succeeds at telling a thought-provoking story only because the protagonist is so compelling. Amelia’s story is something of a coming-of-age story, if you were coming of age under the yoke of an oppressive regime. The feelings Amelia has for Bethany are authentic and relatable. In riveting fashion Forged Under Fire explores themes of love, family, and sacrifice while never losing focus on entertaining the reader.
Forged Under Fire explores one characters emotional turmoil in a time where her sexuality is a crime. This social commentary is done lightly but effectively. Forged Under Fire is a thrilling dystopian fiction novel that sets the bar high for Kyra Anderson’s The Coalition series.
Pages: 305 | ASIN: B07TJJZ1D3
Tags: author, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books to read, ebook, fantasy, fiction, Forged Under Fire, goodreads, kindle, kobo, Kyra Anderson, lesbian romance, lgbt, lgbtq, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, science fiction, scifi, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing
Christian Cura’s Dreams of Thunder, the follow-up to Dreams of Fire, follows a familiar cast of characters – Daniela, Kara, Selene, and the rest of the Council – as they undergo life-altering revelations and fight off a vengeful demon army that threatens to endanger humanity.
Dreams of Thunder has two major plot lines – Daniela learning that she is a mystic being, alongside Saba Qureshi’s devious plot to avenge the wrongs done to her family by the Council.
The storyline involving Saba’s plan for revenge, and the Council’s response to the threat against humanity, is where the bulk of the action lies. The classic good versus evil struggle comes to life. Saba, a mystic who is hell-bent on creating a world devoid of mortals, wants to begin her conquest by using an army of demons and Canadian ex-convicts to wreak havoc in the greater New York City area. The Enforcers of the Council, many of whom hold official posts in government, see this threat and take it upon themselves to protect the mortals with whom they coexist. There are many battle scenes involving various Enforcers and demons, leading up to a final battle filled with carnage, revelations, and a final resolution for peace.
The only part that fell short for me was the character development surrounding Daniela Rivera. The story is so focused on the fight between Saba’s army and the enforcers that Daniela’s involvement in the plot feels more like an afterthought. Given the significance of her finding out that she comes from a line of particularly powerful mystics, I as a reader would have wanted her to play a more integral role.
There are depictions of violence and sexual acts so be warned, but it’s not over the top so I still recommend the book. Overall, Dreams of Thunder is a well-written young adult novel that anyone interested in magical and fantasy themes is sure to enjoy.
Pages: 155 | ASIN: B08JQRVS9H
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