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A Truth Wizard

C.R. Endacott
C.R. Endacott Author Interview

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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Jared (Jay) Swagger has a pretty good life. He’s a great lacrosse player, he has an amazing girlfriend, and a secret world he gets to have adventures in. However, after Holly Fitts kisses him after his team won the lacrosse match, his girlfriend, Avery Noble, refuses to speak to him. And when adventure calls for a Truth Wizard in Afflatus, Avery leaves Jared behind. Jared is heartbroken. But the next day Carson, the crown prince of Afflatus, tells him that Avery has gone missing and that Jared needs to find her and rescue her from the land of the dwarves. Jared’s good friend and teammate, Garon Miller, tags along and he learns a lot about himself too. Most importantly, it is important to be true to ourselves. Once in the land of dwarves, they find that the evil spirit Depravity has been at work, stirring up dissension and war. The only way to bring peace is to find Avery and recreate the Circle of Trust. But this becomes increasingly difficult because they find out that Avery is seriously injured, and the Molpen, part mole, part human, beings are trying to stop them. Can Jared find Avery, restore her to health, and save the dwarves before Depravity accomplishes his goal to total annihilate the dwarves?

Heroes of Afflatus

The peaceful existence between the factions of Dwarves and Molpens in the Deep’en Kingdom is disrupted by a despicable elemental being. He possesses a Molpen, Militch, and makes him destroy the Circle of Trust, which has kept the dwarves bonded for ages. Avery Noble, the Truth Wizard, is summoned from earth to help salvage the situation. She’s the only one who can restore peace. But things take a sour turn when she goes missing on her mission. Carson, the crown prince of Afflatus gets Avery’s boyfriend and knight, Jared Swagger, to help find her. In a nerve-racking race against time, Carson, Jared, and his friend Garon must rescue Avery in time for her to restore the Circle of Trust and end the war between the Dwarves and Molpens.

Author C.R Endacott’s Circle of Trust is a riveting adventure novel in the fantasy genre that cuts across two worlds –earth and a fictional setting. C.R Endacott plunges readers into the Deep’en Kingdom, where some trees survive on dust and waterfalls heal wounds and replenish people’s energy stores.

Amidst the fast-paced adventure, Endacott slips in relevant themes apart from the clear ones of bravery and camaraderie. The standout ones for me include a message on the rigid expectations society has on how people should live their lives. Also, the book alludes to how the evil we commit is simply a result of unrestrained weaknesses. In other words, the people who perpetrate great evil are those who fail to keep their weaknesses under control. Similarly, good people aren’t absolutely devoid of sinister tendencies. They’ve just kept them on a leash.

I think we all enjoy twists and turns that are shocking enough to make us gasp. But we relish them more when we can recollect previously overlooked hints or clues foreshadowing those twists. That moment where it all makes sense, and we nod our heads or think, “ooh, so that’s why that happened”. Endacott evokes reactions like this by expertly sprinkling clues, which add up when the author finally introduces twists in some of the subplots.

While the book’s subplots had a few twists, I felt the main plot was a little too linear. It could have done with a few pleasant or unpleasant curveballs. In any case, the central conflict was enough to keep me quickly flipping page untill the end.

Circle of Trust is only the first in the Heroes of Afflatus series. This is an excellent start to what is sure to be a thrilling series. If you’re looking to get lost in an otherworldly adventure for a while, you can let C.R Endacott take you on a fantastical ride.

Pages: 108 | ASIN: B08GJZ9XG1

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Forged Under Fire

Forged Under Fire (The Coalition Book 1) by [Kyra Anderson]

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

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Dreams Of Thunder

Dreams of Thunder by [Christian Cura]

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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Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Gina

Farm Boy to City Girl is a unique, historical retelling of Gene’s (Miss Gina’s) discovery of their sexuality across decades. What makes this LGBTQ+ biography truly special is that it’s told in 3 parts – Farm Boy (1931-1949), Transition (1950-1959) and City Girl (1960-). Instead of getting just a glimpse of what life was like for LGBTQ+ people several decades ago, or in current times, we get what is truly a rare treat – following Gene’s (Miss Gina’s) story through many very important shifts in society and its acceptance, understanding the rights surrounding the LGBTQ+ community. 

Farm Boy to City Girl is essentially two life stories connected by a transition. It begins with Gene’s life growing up on rental farms in Iowa during the depression as a strict catholic farm boy. It’s here that we get an understanding of not only the time period but of Gene’s family life and how that eventually plays into the story of his sexuality and the struggle he has with acceptance. From there we enter the transition years, where Gene moves to Cedar Rapids and eventually St. Louis, which is where he begins to fully accept his sexuality and gender identity, exploring gay bars and drag shows, lovers and friends and ultimately begins living his life in the city as Miss Gina. Life as Miss Gina is suddenly put on hold after a sudden death that sends him back to Iowa to live on his family’s farm and face the difficult family drama that waits for him there. Gene eventually returns to city life in Cedar Rapids and St. Louis and dives fully into his identity and life as Miss Gina, through the ups and downs of what faced and continues to face LGBTQ people in the Midwest. We see just what courage it takes to live unapologetically in a world that will do everything to make being truly yourself harder.

I absolutely loved the rare glimpse into what it meant to be gay and gender-fluid in the 20th century. We get so many stories of what it is to be LGBTQ in our modern day but rarely do we get to see a story that not only sheds light on the depression-era 20th century but also every era between then and now. My only issue is that the first part (Farm Boy) can be a little difficult to follow as there are lots of names being thrown around given Gene’s large family, but if you take the time to flip back to his explanation of the family tree in the very beginning of the book it becomes easier to grasp who he’s talking about and how they play into the story and the family as a whole. Overall, this is such an important book.

Pages: 260 | ASIN: B088JVPBJ5

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Bi people are real – we exist

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J. Ross Victory Author Interview

Panorama: The Missing Chapter is a heartfelt memoir of your journey working and living in South Korea. What inspired you to share your experiences in a book?

In 2019, I wrote and published my first book, Views from the Cockpit: The Journey of a Son. The residual effect of publishing the book made me feel at peace with myself and the relationship I had with my father. Readers have also told me that Views from the Cockpit inspired them to take a different approach with their father or become more interested in forgiveness.

As I wrote my first book, I began to comb through my background of relationships. The story of Panorama bubbled up, and the time I spent living abroad in Seoul. I felt that if I shared it, someone could relate and benefit. Perhaps they could relate to escaping from problems, having secret relationships, or figuring out where they belong in the world. Not only was it interesting to reflect on these moments from my life, but in the real-world, a lot of stories surrounding bisexuality are not featured or appropriately categorized.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to share in the book?

The hardest thing to share would be my social-political opinions about identity politics in America and how they’ve made me feel. Everyone can criticize anyone for anything, so I knew that I was opening myself up. When it comes to relationships and how people exist outside of heteronormativity – sometimes people just can’t understand anything else outside of that. Panorama not only exists outside of mainstream heteronormativity but also mainstream LGBT culture, which typically spotlights gay male voices. I was terrified to share a story from a minority group and criticize larger socio-political structures and members of those groups.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from your story?

There are a few things – Bi people are real – we exist and not only in a suggestive, explicit connotation. Bi people are a whole demographic of people, mostly invisible, in mainstream media and day-to-day social discourse.

Additionally, I hope people take away the importance of building bridges between communities. At the end of the book, I write about thought islands. We all want to feel safe and protected where we are. We all want to be seen and heard, and have our views get the most clicks and attention.

My goal is to build bridges, lift others, and make sure there are seats at the table for others who share in building. I also hope that people realize that the way people live, think, and behave does not put each of our identities and beliefs at risk. Somehow, if we can all get to a point to coexist, be slow to judge, we will have achieved something. I know that this is very optimistic, but I think bisexuality, in and of itself, focuses on people (men and women) and the things that make them unique.

You have another book, Views from the Cockpit. What can readers expect in that book?

Views from the Cockpit is a book born from pain. Father-son memories of plane watching at LAX quickly morph into familial dysfunction that ranges from divorce, resentment, to elder abuse. Views from the Cockpit uses airplane metaphors to tell a boy’s coming of age story into a man by reflecting on the living memory of my father – Claude B. Victory. Panorama is “the missing chapter” of Views from the Cockpit. However, both books can be read separately.

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After enduring a panic attack which left the author attached to breathing machines around foreign doctors, the bisexual-themed Panorama—The Missing Chapter of Views from the Cockpit: The Journey of a Son, expands on the author’s experiences working and living abroad in Seoul, South Korea. 

After a friendship ignites and morphs into a curious tale of parallel souls with a Brazilian-American soldier serving in the U.S. military, Panorama reflects on the author’s contemplations to return to a crumbling family life in Los Angeles or to endure his life in Seoul for an end-of-contract cash payout, until things take an unexpected turn.

In Panorama, the author broadens his stance on the importance of moments spotlighting isolation and exposing the perks and ailments of escapism. With precise prose and a thought-provoking storyline that covers eating live octopus, philosophical debates about the gender of God, pregnancy, and bisexual erasure—Panorama stands tall as a connected yet separate story. Panorama puts biphobia under a microscope by exposing double discrimination with consideration to cultural intersections of race and religion.

Using the death of his father and brother as the linchpin to personal development, the author reframes pain and loss into resilience and personal achievement. He provides a template for readers to overcome limiting beliefs and turn their unique story into a source of empowerment.

The author reminds readers that as daunting as the vicissitudes of life, and no matter the view from the cockpit of life, the human spirit cannot, and should not, be restrained in loss or passion, and while truth may be the bitterest pill of them all, the effects of truth can bring us closer to an unbroken life.

The Empath’s Lover

In The Empath’s Lover: A Sci-Fi MM Romance Novella by Sidonie Savage, Davon Pax is the Chief Medical Officer and Microbiologist on the Explorer 2. Davon wakes from cryo-sleep after a ten year journey from Earth and is excited to be one of the first humans to explore Neptune and its moons. But before the crew can complete the mission, their research vessel is attacked. They are saved by an alien named Tulq’on, a Kyphomi Intelligence Officer who has been studying humans. He is injured, and Davon heals him. The two find themselves feeling unexpected emotions for each other. But unless Tulq’on can convince the Kyphomi that humans are worthy of life it will be the end of all humanity.

This short novella was a quick and engaging read. I enjoyed the meeting of two worlds and reading about how Davon and Tulq’on interacted together when they first met and as they learned to communicate and discovered more about each other, both their differences and the ways that they were the same. I liked that they had compassion and respect for each other, acting selfless in putting the other before themselves, as they worked together to prove that their species could coexist. Due to the short length of the book, I felt that the conflict was resolved quickly, but I liked that the story had a happy ending for Davon and Tulq’on even though they came from different worlds.

It was interesting to learn the details of the Explorer 2’s mission at the beginning of the book, but I think this level of detail would have been better suited to a longer story, or for a story that was sci-fi fiction rather than romance. For a romance novella, the heroes should have met sooner in the story. This did not happen until after the first quarter of the book, which didn’t give the heroes much time to come to know each other before declaring their love. I felt that this was too rushed, and I would have liked the book to be a bit longer to allow for more focus on this aspect of the story. I also wanted to see how Davon adapted to life among the Kyphomi, and how Earth reacted to the introduction of the alien species. There was not much world-building and I would have liked to know more details about the Kyphomi and their society.

Pages: 76 | ASIN: B08H4W2YHF

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Panorama: The Missing Chapter from the Memoir Views from the Cockpit

A true story of love, loss, and finding one’s true self, Panorama: The Missing Chapter from the Memoir Views from the Cockpit by Ross Victory is remarkable. We follow our author Ross Victory while he is in Seoul, South Korea, on a work abroad program. While in Seoul, Ross meets Alveré and slowly a romance blooms. Ross and Alveré are both masculine bisexual men trying to find their way in a world that denies their existence.

The stunning writing is what sets this book apart! Victory has a talent for taking life events and turning them into a page-turning work of art. While the author is going on his journey, you feel as if you are along for the ride with him; the scenes where Ross is in distress, you feel his pain.

Victory touches on sensitive topics with truth and grace, male bisexuality, toxic masculinity, and trauma, just to name a few. Victory seeks to not only educate himself through his life experiences but the reader as well. We learn the importance of finding and having someone in your life who understands you.

My favorite section is Panorama The Essay. Victory discusses in-depth the previously mentioned topics on a social-political level, while still captivating you with his writing. This is a memoir and self-help book combined into one! There is personal growth to be found among the pages. Quick but informative, Panorama: The Missing Chapter from the Memoir Views from the Cockpit by Ross Victory is a thought-provoking and engaging read.

Pages: 81 | ASIN: B08719F8CC

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