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Essence of Neverland

Essence of Neverland

The Essence of Neverland is a bold and imaginative tale of pirate battles, formidable fairies, territorial conquests, and unexpectedly, the power of community. In this continuation to the timeless fable of Peter Pan, author Juna Jinsei thoughtfully ushers the Lost Boys into their darkest era yet – the death of Peter Pan. The painful absence of the infamously green-tighted trickster is being felt all across Neverland, leaving friends and foes alike grimly fearing for the future of the lands. As the disruption of harmony begins to threaten all walks of life, age-old enemies must contemplate rewriting their own roles in history, lest all of Neverland become a fairytale entirely.

I feel obligated to admit that Peter Pan was a staple bedtime story in my childhood home. While my father enjoyed boastfully voicing out the comical mischief between Peter and the pirates, I personally always loved the popular legend for its emotional tone. There was something whimsical and charming to the tale, always gently reminding me to appreciate my youth and my family. Even as a child, I recognized that the adventure was steeped in wisdom and parables. In this particular imagining of life in Neverland, author Jinsei beautifully explores many of those same wisdoms, delving into the emotional grips of desiring a place to belong, and missing a home you may never return to. Jinsei ponders these perennial truths through her work with such charm that I read several passages aloud to my partner, wanting to share the touching eloquence of the lessons.

Even with its strong repertoire of life lessons, this novel is admittedly a little dark at times. Jinsei unapologetically crafts the characters to feel authentic to their human nature, respectively. Captain Hook’s surly, albeit loyal, band of pirates are burdened by grief, consumed by thoughts of revenge. The once crafty and playful Lost Boys have grown old and jaded, nostalgically wishing in vain for the return of their impish flying companion. Even the council of magical fairies, as hopeful a creature as one could imagine, have become nervous for the future and harmony of Neverland. In the beginning chapter, Peter Pan’s unexpected death is a severe moment, paving the way for a few other harsh and unfortunate occurrences throughout The Essence of Neverland. Jinsei has an undeniably natural hand for the “twisted fairytale” style, and I loved the boldness of this rendition.

Still, despite the reoccurring macabre tones, The Essence of Neverland remains persistently hopeful and surprisingly lighthearted. Jinsei’s illustrative writing style really shines through the four brave children that serve as the main protagonists. Hailing from various backgrounds and regions, they each find themselves being summoned to the Mother Fairy, the eternal essence and spirit of Neverland. Although they’ve each suffered great losses at tender ages, they bravely begin their journey of growth with such earnesty and ambition that it’s impossible not to root for them whole-heartedly. My kudos to Juna Jinsei for such sincere writing!

Pages: 377 | ASIN: B015QV5C3M

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War Eternal Book I Angels’ Whispers

War Eternal Book I Angels' Whispers

In this captivating tale of cosmic design, Angels’ Whispers, author J.F. Cain chronicles the harrowing struggle between two ultimate yet necessary forces, Angels and Demons. As intelligent as they are graceful, Angels have been metaphysically observing mankind for an eternity, lovingly tending to humanity’s journey towards spiritual awakening. The recent advent of free will has brought with it the potential for deviance though, and the balanced tides of spiritual harmony hangs in the balance. As the fallen angel Lucifer schemes to lure society towards the err of self-indulgence, the philosophically pragmatic Angel Aranes, the most superior of celestial beings, must challenge her own age-old wisdom and routines for the sake of serving not just humanity, but all intelligent creation.

The first title from the War Eternal series, Angels’ Whispers delves into the popular and alluring trope of angelic and demonic forces at constant odds, a concept explored by literature and media since the earliest eras of civilization. Although the splay of archangels and demonic characters may be ancient in a scriptural sense, Cain brings a playfully crisp air into the work, using an intensely illustrative style to make the story feel modern. Main character Alex Meyers is a cocky young entrepreneur, chock-full full of cynicism and self-conflicted inner monolog. He’s as well-intentioned as he is troubled, and that struck me as oddly endearing. Finding himself on the receiving end of an Angel’s attention, he struggles to explore his own convictions, all while being thrust into the throes of the eternal power struggle between these all powerful creatures.

In a style oddly comparable to J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, Cain writes densely, wasting no opportunity to develop a particular scene with lush descriptiveness. The grandiose and mystical surroundings of the Elether, the metaphysical plane of the Celestials, is the perfect backdrop for the gorgeous amount of attention Cain has poured into the setting. I absorbed the rich details, easily imagining them with all the vividness of a wide-screen cinematic. This would seriously make one hell of a movie!

I loved the intelligent yet candid way that Angels’ Whispers scrutinizes the notions of truth and freedom throughout the book, making use of an enormous splay of theological and philosophical knowledge. It was fascinating to read about the various ideologies of so many influential individuals and cultures in such a condensed form, and I found some of the sentiments to be deliciously thought-provoking! I can’t even recall the last time I had been prompted to explore my own thoughts on religion so earnestly, so I appreciated the casual way that Cain wove that into the story. The intellectual sparring between Celestial beings was enthralling in that same way, and maintained a strong presence through the book. It felt reminiscent to me of the zesty energy of a passionate debate between two best friends – engaged and impassioned, but respectful and surprisingly explorative.

Without spoiling anything, I’m still happy to say that this first title sets up beautifully for the next work. I’d recommend it to fellow readers with a love for the supernatural and philosophical niches. I’m looking forward to the next title of War Eternal, which will surely follow up on the consequence to life’s most powerful forces – love, death, and ultimately, free will.

Pages: 355 | ASIN: B06Y4XDY8T

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The Most Frightening Element

A.J. Macready Author Interview

A.J. Macready Author Interview

Legacy is the second installment in the Descendent Darkness where families are torn apart, truths exposed and the Gaston family finally learn the dark history of their past. What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story?

The first major point I wanted to drive home was the fact that, at least as far as this universe is concerned, a vampire’s greatest strength lies in its ability to mentally dominate people, to confuse them, and even to turn them against one another. This is a key element of the vampire’s strategy when it comes to trapping the Gastons and their allies. Before they can figure out what’s happening, the vampire already has its pieces on the board and in motion, and they have no idea they’re being manipulated until it’s much too late. I felt that this element gave the story something of a unique twist compared to other works I’m familiar with in the genre.

Once again the beautiful bond between siblings Mike and Holly Gaston continues to grow deeper. What was your inspiration for creating the kind of relationship that Mike and Holly have?

I deliberately tried to steer away from themes that I feel have become overused in the genre. A prominent example of one such theme is the underlying love story. It goes something like this:

  • Guy and girl fall in love.
    Vampire sets its sights on the girl and tries to make her his own.
    Guy sets out to the stop the vampire and save his lady love.
    The old Hammer film “Dracula has Risen from the Grave” is a notable example of this basic storyline.

I set out to work the male/female dynamic in a different way here, and the most natural, alternative approach to take was a sibling relationship. You still have a strong bond of love to work with, but it’s different than romantic love and this difference allows you to work the story in ways you otherwise couldn’t. Also, since you’re dealing with two people who grew up together, you have all sorts of potential for backstory, which I make heavy use of in Legacy. In this episode of the story, you see more of what has made Mike and Holly as close as they are. As Holly herself thinks of it, they’re survivors, knitted together rather like people who have been through the crucible of war together.

The supernatural creatures in the story were vicious, twisted souls that were really brought to life in vivid detail. What was your method for creating such scary creatures and scenes?

Basically, I took the most frightening elements of vampires as I’ve seen them portrayed in the past and lumped them together. Also, I removed their humanity. In many stories, especially those that have come out in the last twenty-five years or so, vampires are portrayed as people who suffer from a disease; essentially still human but subject to dark impulses that they can’t control (the TV shows Dark Shadows and Forever Knight are examples of this). In this story, however, vampires are pure, demonic, unredeemable evil, hearkening back to Christopher Lee’s portrayal of Count Dracula, and to the vampires we see in the 1972 film The Night Stalker and the 1979 miniseries Salem’s Lot.

Where does the story go in the next book and where do you see it going in the future?

The third book, Redemption, is the final book in the series and brings the story to a definitive conclusion. The second part of the vampire’s scheme for revenge plays out, leading to a confrontation that many of the novel’s characters will not survive. Readers will find the Gastons pushed to the limits of their endurance. The history of Clarke’s Summit and its curse is fleshed out more fully, and we learn more about the nature of the enemy; there are actually two types of vampires, and the distinctions between them are discussed (this touches on your previous question about how I visualized them for this story, and why they are so twisted). We also see why Mike and Holly are so important in the vampire’s plans.

In short, everything comes full circle. The major themes of this novel are sacrifice and, as the title suggests, redemption.

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Descendent Darkness: Book Two: Legacy by [Macready, A]Wherever they were when it happened, the residents of Clarke’s Summit, Virginia, knew that something had changed. All throughout the town and its surrounding area, doors were locked and curtains drawn. The night had become their enemy, concealing something darker than itself. A madman’s desperate act of devotion has unleashed a horror in their midst, a fear they had hoped would stay buried forever.

Now, as darkness falls again and his family is torn apart, Mike Gaston will finally learn the truth. The truth of what really happened to his mother and all the others in 1982. The truth behind the nightmares.

The truth of his family’s legacy of evil.

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A Few Wild Ideas

Pamela Hartley Author Interview

Pamela Hartley Author Interview

The Seasons of a Giant is a fun story following young Izzy as she tries to discover what is stealing her family’s cows. I find the setup of the novel entertaining. How did this idea start and develop as you wrote?

I know it’s such a cliche, but I actually did dream of a feisty farm girl and her adventures in a land filled with giants. Izzy’s story continued to grow on my long walks. I would return every day and quickly jot down all of the new twists and turns and crazy characters that popped into my head along the way. I’d also carry a notebook and scribble ideas as they came to me. Boone and Izzy were and still are always in my thoughts. I think they’ll live there forever.

The relationship between Izzy and the giant was thoughtful and well developed. What was your approach to writing the interactions between the characters?

Boone and Izzy had a rocky start due to the misconceptions she’d been taught. Izzy was forced to see Boone through the eyes of her family and her Groundling people in the beginning. Once she began to form her own opinions, she realized how truly special he was. I loved giving Izzy a snarky edge, and Boone provided a sweet balance with his calm comebacks. They truly are the perfect pair!

What experience in your life has had the biggest impact on your writing?

I’ve always loved to write. I wasn’t sure why until I discovered the most wonderful story written by my father years after he’d passed. I must have inherited a writing trait, if there is one! I have stories that refuse to be ignored; they won’t let me rest until they’ve fought their way onto the page. Writing is a real challenge, but very rewarding. Escaping into exciting worlds is the ultimate joy for me, and if I can take my readers along for the ride, all the better!

Will this novel be the start of a series or are you working on a different story?

If I had lots of readers that would enjoy another book with Izzy and Boone, I’d be thrilled to continue their adventure. The last page of The Seasons of a Giant hints that I already have a few wild ideas swirling around in my head! Until then, I’m currently writing a YA horror series.

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The Seasons of a GiantIsabel “Izzy” LaDuke has never killed anything scarier than a spider, but suddenly her botched pursuit has thrust her into a fight with an honest-to-goodness cattle-stealing monster.

Izzy is just trying to find out who is stealing her family’s cows. She has no magic powers or special skills, and she’s a rotten shot with a bow and arrow, but she’s braver than anyone, and that, in her opinion, makes her the best girl for the job. When Izzy finally finds her monster, she is transported from her family’s farm to the home of the Behemorphs, shape-shifting Giants who live in the SkyWorld above the clouds. To find her way home, she will have to team up with the very monster (he calls himself Boone) she has been hunting.

As the two confront terrifying creatures and deadly enemies, Izzy will learn a lot about Boone–and she’ll discover her own incredible potential.

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It Arose in Dreams

Ruth Finnegan Author Interview

Ruth Finnegan Author Interview

Black Inked Pearl follows Kate, a young Irish girl, as she searches for her lost lover. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

It began in a dream when I was in New Zealand visiting  my daughter and granddaughter who live there. This was, essentially, the first page (and chapter) of the novel when Kate,  panicked and feeling she was too young for love runs away desperately as her best childhood friend (I never learn his name) tries for the first time, a teenager to kiss her. That scene, that act,  is the foundation for the story as she years later discovers that she as frantically and desperately  loves him as she had frantically fled from him years before

I say ‘dream’ as that is the nearest word I can get, vision perhaps they would have called in in the middle Ages. But that word’s a bit misleading.  In two ways.

First, it wasn’t exactly a dream in the sense of being, asleep more an experience in that liminal in-between state of being neither awake nor asleep but somehow fully both – the whole novel came in that somehow enchanted enspelled state ( I suppose you might call it ‘inspiration’). I planned nothing, but it was still a chapter a night, written down effortlessly (I don’t even remember doing it! or, by now, what the words were. it surprises me every time – so many times – I reread the book now).

Second, ‘dream’ suggests something visual, But it was more a kind of very intense node of emotion, something very personal to me (in a metaphorical sort of way the whole book is kind of autobiographical – what serious novel is not? – and the second chapter about a small girl experiencing the magical world of Donegal – is directly so.

Then the novel – and Kate –  just grew. I came to know the hero well, but wish  that my ‘dreams’ had given me his name

Black Inked Pearl is told in a dreamlike, almost stream of consciousness, style of writing. Why did you want to tell the story in this style and what were the challenges?

Well, it arose in dreams and the writing essential came from, and took place in, my unconscious – at least that is the only way I can understand and it. So the style is scarcely surprising, it was little under my deliberate control and almost not at all revised later.

I didn’t know in what style I was writing – the process was almost unconscious – but when it was finished I saw (or rather heard when I read it aloud ih my inner ear as I always do with my writing)that   it had the rhythms and sonorities of African and Irish story-telling (my mother was a wondrous story-binder) and that some literary giants (Joyce, Fulkner, Hopkins … many others) had written in similar styles. Poetry is mixed with prose – well in a way, as with its oral resonances (a subject on which I have written in academic contexts, in Oral Poetry for example), it is all poetry, some fully, some ore in a kind of blank verse: all unexpected by me!

Also, the content. Part of what I learned as the story revealed  itself to me was that the division between dream and reality is an elusive and perhaps non–existent one.

Problems – well some of my readers have problems with it! Some object because they cannot abide what they see as ‘incorrect’ grammar orthography words, not what they learned in the first form at school  – I appreciate that they have tried but think they miss the point (how do they cope with Shakespeare?).

Others including my deeply wise best friend, get a bit lost in the plot from time to time, too full of Celtic mists said one.  It’s too late now to amend that (and maybe it is just a necessary feature of the novel – mystic, mysterious – anyway) but I have tried to make things clearer, while not abandoning what has now has now become my signature style,  in the related ‘Pearl of the Seas’ and, on the way, The helix pearl’ (the latter the same story but this time as told by the garrulouos ever-sprarklng laughing sea (a very different perspective but equally born in dreams). I wonder what is coming next ..

Oh yes, the unusual spellings were loved by the Garn Press, the lovely publishers,  but at the same time gave the copy-editor real problems. Microsoft, can yoy believe it (the cheeky thing)  kept automatically ‘correcting’ the ‘wrong’ spellings. In the end they got me to send a special list to add to their ‘glossary’ of all my new spellings and word and abbreviations etc. I thought that would be quick and easy – about fifty cases? Whew, no! They tell me, incredibly, that it was nearly two thousand! Don’t believe it! Ut they ear that’s true. Anyway, hey did a great job whatever.

Kate is an enthralling and curious character. What were the driving ideals behind her characters development throughout the story?

 As I say it wasn’t conscious since it  all came in dreams. So in a way no ‘driving ideas’.

Still I have noticed some abiding themes , detected, later, in the text, as if looking at someone else’s writing (well in way it’s NOT exactly mine, not t=in the normal way anyway  – not of the deliberate, conscious careful academically trained me). /tow especially, the ones `I swoudl like to think readers will take form the novel (and from the movie if it gets made a I hope it one day will)

First as I said earlier is the understanding , that we may pretend or think we do, but that actually we do not really know the difference between reality and dreams. Given the way we have been brought up as children of the scientific revolution, this is an exceedingly difficult idea, is it not – but so important to try to accept, specially now as we become more aware of the lives, and, in a way, precious value of those with dementia. Perhaps it is only through literature and metaphor that we can eventually begin to grasp this.

Second is the thought, revealed near the end, that it is and was indeed right as Kate did, to search for others and try to help them carry their burdens. But that in the end it isourselves we are responsible for, it is our own souls for which we have to answer before (whatever metaphor we prefer here) the last judgement throne. As Kate in the final chapters had to do.

Also, after I had finished the book, I was inspired by the little butterfly that, unknown to me, the publishers had put, with the pearl and the jagged black, on the beautiful cover. ‘Butterfly’ in Greek –elsewhere too I think – is the same word and concept  as for the soul, breath, spiritus, life:  psyche (as in ‘psychology’, ‘psychiatry’). So the soul – figured as Kate, as every man – flies through the black ink print of the story and at the end settles down on the back cover, life fulfilled story told, with her wings folded.

Kate’s discovery of herself at the end was also, I now see, a kind of discovery of myself as person, as soul.

What are some of your inspirations as a writer that helped shape Black Inked Pearl

Again, ‘dreams’, my unconscious I suppose. But, as one perceptive reviewer put it, only someone with my background and personality would have had those dreams. So – my life, my loves, my experiences of the resonances and styles and images of great literature, above all Shakespeare, Rumi, Homer and the Bible.

Author Links: Facebook | GoodReads | Twitter | LinkedIn | GarnPress | OpenU

An epic romance about the naive Irish girl Kate and her mysterious lover, whom she rejects in panic and then spends her life seeking. After the opening rejection, Kate recalls her Irish upbringing, her convent education, and her coolly-controlled professional success, before her tsunami-like realisation beside an African river of the emotions she had concealed from herself and that she passionately and consumingly loved the man she had rejected.

Searching for him she visits the kingdom of beasts, a London restaurant, an old people’s home, back to the misty Donegal Sea, the heavenly archives, Eden, and hell, where at agonising cost she saves her dying love. They walk together toward heaven, but at the gates he walks past leaving her behind in the dust. The gates close behind him. He in turn searches for her and at last finds her in the dust, but to his fury (and renewed hurt) he is not ecstatically recognised and thanked. And the gates are still shut.

On a secret back way to heaven guided by a little beetle, Kate repeatedly saves her still scornful love, but at the very last, despite Kate’s fatal inability with numbers and through an ultimate sacrifice, he saves her from the precipice and they reach heaven. Kate finally realises that although her quest for her love was not in vain, in the end she had to find herself – the unexpected pearl.

The novel, born in dreams, is interlaced with the ambiguity between this world and another, and increasingly becomes more poetic, riddling and dreamlike as the story unfolds. The epilogue alludes to the key themes of the novel – the eternity of love and the ambiguity between dream and reality.

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Black Box

Black Box

Amaris Jensen is a regular 17 year old college girl when she gets the earth-shattering news of her father’s tragic death. Ever since the mysterious disappearance of her mother, Amaris’s father was all she had. Now she’s sent to live her life with her cousin Sandon, who is a lab scientist and a self-defense trainer for 7 other girls at Amaris’s new school. Amaris eventually grows close to them and starts to find her when she begins uncovering strange secrets about the girls and her cousin. Amaris finds herself pulled into a vortex of myths, magic, precious stones, secrets and danger.

What starts off simple and straightforward, quickly escalates to a new and exciting level in the first few chapters. Her father’s sudden death due to a sickness Amaris never knew about, shatters her idea of normalcy and routine. She is then forced to live with an estranged cousin Sandon, who Amaris expects the worst of, but the new father figure in her life takes her by surprise.

Sandon and Amaris’s relationship develops and grows effortlessly. You can really feel Amaris’s pain and longing for normalcy, and when things start to go awry you are just as confused as she is. Which makes the mystery, and the big reveal, so much better. For Sandon, Amaris is much more than a cousin, she is like a daughter. Amaris struggles with leaving her old life behind, but she finds friends in unlikely people. I really appreciated that, while the novel was easy to read, I never really knew what was coming. The protagonist’s strength of character and depth of thoughts is very well portrayed by the author and the range of moods that Amaris wanders through is deftly characterized. This is a highly emotional novel. Amaris goes from crisis to mystery and back all the while trying to cope with the loss of her family. Emotion can be a hard thing to capture in novels, but Casey Hansen does a fantastic job of showing not telling. A few editorial errors exist but they are easy to overlook when all you want is to find out what happens next.

Black Box is a clever title for this thriller novel from Casey J. Hansen and perfectly suits the mood and unexpected ending of the story. This is not a Scooby-Doo mystery; their are layers here that you must peel back slowly. When Amaris finds out that there were initially 10 girls to begin with and now 3 of them have mysteriously disappeared, just like her mother, the book really finds legs and you’re carried along for a thrilling ride. The number of ways in which Amaris’s world crumbles throughout the story is something well worth reading. This thriller is exciting, addictive and is highly recommended.

Pages: 225 | ASIN: B01MQGCJ4J

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I Wanted to Challenge Them

Susan-Alia Terry Author Interview

Susan-Alia Terry Author Interview

Coming Darkness is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a fantasy, romance, and a sprinkling of religious fiction as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

Both. I knew Kai and Lucifer were in a relationship and so I had to build the religious and fantasy aspects into the world around them. It was an interesting challenge to create a world where they would not only interact, but fall in love as well.

The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?

All of them! It may sound cliché but it’s true. They all touch places in me — I can wear so many personalities through them and I love that opportunity!

However, if I must choose, I guess Te may inch out the others because he gets to be the grown-up. While he’s perfectly willing to go along with the crazy, he’ll also step back and say “Well, maybe that’s not such a good idea. Here’s an alternative.” In a way, he’s the father figure — he loves his “kids” and has always been there (in whatever form) and even if they may not like him, they know they can trust him.

You were able to seamlessly blend characters from many different genres. All of them, I felt, were unique while still be relatable. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?

Thank you! I was thinking a lot about responsibility when I wrote both Lucifer and Kai. They’ve both been living in this kind of neutral space for so long, I wanted to challenge them, make them take an active part in their world. We tend to judge a person’s morality by how they respond to responsibility — responsibility to others as well as how well they take responsibility for their own actions — and I wanted to play with that.

I find a problem in well written stories, in that I always want there to be another book to keep the story going. Is there a second book planned?

Oh yes! I’m working on that now. The next book goes deeper into the world, and I’d like to say that 95-99% of unanswered questions from Coming Darkness will be answered!

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Coming DarknessArchangel Lucifer’s spoiled life comes to a halt as he learns that Heaven is empty, and his Father missing. Seeking answers, he’s brought face to face with a race of Creator-Gods unhappy with his Father and the world He created. Planning to wipe out this heresy and letting Darkness reclaim the earth, they imprison Lucifer in Hell. 

Meanwhile, the Archangel’s lover sets out to prove his opponents wrong. But Lucifer’s influence runs deeper in Kai than he suspected, and the fear that he’s merely Lucifer’s pet becomes all too real. 

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The Power of Life and Death

Linnea Tanner Author Interview

Linnea Tanner Author Interview

In Apollo’s Raven we follow a Celtic princess Catrin and her star-crossed Roman lover Marcellus on opposing sides of a fierce battle. What was your inspiration for the setup to this exciting series?

Since childhood, I’ve been an avid reader of mythology and legends that portrayed females as goddesses, warriors, and cunning sorceresses. I’ve always been drawn to bigger than life epic heroes and heroines who steered the destiny of their people. In my travels to London, I was struck by the statue of Boudica and her daughters riding in a chariot near the Thames River. I discovered that she was a celebrated warrior queen who united the Britons in a revolt against the Romans, almost throwing them out of Britannia in 61 AD. As I did more research, I became intrigued that Celtic women were considered as equals in this war-like society. The Roman historian Dio Cassius describes Boudica as having the mystical powers of a Druid. Other Roman historians wrote of Celtic women’s ferocity as they fought alongside their husbands.

The heroine Catrin is based on historical and legendary accounts of Celtic warrior queens such as Boudica in Britannia where women were held in higher esteem and could serve as warriors and rulers. The storyline of star-crossed lovers in Apollo’s Raven series is inspired by the legacy of Cleopatra and Mark Antony but with a Celtic twist. Archaeological evidence and sparse historical accounts suggest that Rome heavily influenced the politics of southeast Britannia prior to Claudius’s invasion in 43 AD—a political situation similar to Cleopatra’s Egyptian kingdom. I was also drawn to the tragedy of Mark Antony and his son, Iullus Antonius, whose downfalls were associated with powerful women. Their infamy cast a shadow on Marcellus, the great-grandson of Mark Antony, which will be further explored in the Apollo’s Raven series.

Your story is able to portray ancient Roman life in a believable yet entertaining way. What kind of research did you do to make sure you got everything right?

I did extensive research on the Roman life by reading books, journal articles, and blog posts by historians and archaeologists. Of particular interest are the written accounts by Julius Caesar which he sent to the Roman Senate as propaganda to support his military expeditions in Gaul and Britannia. I’ve also explored several Roman archaeological sites in Britain and France where scenes from the Apollo’s Raven series take place. Locations include Dover, Bath, Fishbourne Roman Palace, Colchester and Hadrian’s Wall in England, and Lyon in France.

As I researched Roman historical events and culture, I also tried to understand their mindsight. In Rome, the male head, the paterfamilias, had complete control over his family—wife, children, and slaves. If they disobeyed him, he had the power of life and death over them. Women were held in higher esteem in Celtic societies which is in sharp contrast with the paternalistic, empire-building Romans.

Catrin is a princess, yet she is not fragile. She’s tough and trains to be as strong as her sister. What themes did you want to capture while creating Catrin’s character?

It is my hope that modern women can draw on the rich traditions of the ancient Celtic civilization where females owned property and could become rulers and Druids. These women fought, hunted, rode horses and used weapons, just like the men, to protect their homeland.

Deeper themes that will be explored in the Apollo’s Raven series as Catrin matures and faces new challenges on her journey of becoming a warrior queen are as follows:

  • Coming of Age
  • Power to change destiny
  • Sacrifice and love
  • Corruption of power
  • Quest for redemption

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am in the process of finishing Book 2: Empire’s Anvil, which should be available by the summer of 2018. The epic tale continues when King Amren accuses Catrin of treason for abetting her Roman lover, Marcellus. She must prove her loyalty to her father and people by forsaking all men and defending her kingdom even to death. Forged as a fierce warrior, she begins a quest to redeem herself and to break the curse that foretells her father’s kingdom will be destroyed. Yet, when she is reunites with Marcellus, she must face her greatest challenger that could destroy her life, freedom, and humanity.

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Apollo's Raven

The world is in turmoil. Celtic kings hand-picked by Rome to rule are fighting each other for power. King Amren’s former queen, a powerful Druid, has cast a curse that foretells Blood Wolf and the Raven will rise and destroy him.

King Amren reveals to his daughter, Princess Catrin, the grim prophesy that his former queen pronounced at her execution for treason to him.

The gods demand the scales be balanced for the life you take. If you deny my soul’s journey to the Otherworld by beheading me, I curse you to do the same as mine. I prophesize your future queen will beget a daughter who will rise as a Raven and join your son, Blood Wolf, and a mighty empire to overtake your kingdom and to execute my curse.

Catrin is trained as a warrior and discovers she is the Raven and must find a way to block the curse of the evil former queen. Torn between her forbidden love for her father’s enemy–Marcellus, the great-grandson of Mark Antony–and her loyalty to her people, she must summon the magic of the Ancient Druids to alter the dark prophecy that awaits her.

Will Catrin overcome and eradicate the ancient curse? Will she be able to embrace her forbidden love with Marcellus? Will she cease the war between Blood Wolf and King Amren? Will she save Ancient Britannia?

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Two Polluted Black-Heart Romances

Two Polluted Black-Heart Romances

Two Polluted Black-Heart Romances follows the lives of a vampire, fairy and mummy who are caught up in a world of chaos as they try to escape the wrath of the wraiths- a paranormal group that is bent on revenge on the unlikely trio. Air spirits, talking cats and the cursed undead will all play a part in this fantasy novel as they bounce between gaining record deals and fighting supernatural monsters.   Meanwhile, another version of chaos is threatening to destroy their world and they must find a way to work together to fight an evil like no other.

Two Polluted Black-Heart Romances, written by Kevin James Breaux, is an action packed fantasy novel that collides the modern world with magical creatures and supernatural beings. Each mystical being (and human!) are trying to find their place as they revel in the aftermath of destroying evil.

The story flips between various perspectives of the characters, keeping us up to date with what is happening in the story progression. The different characters and their personalities mean that the mood of the story can change drastically, one moment you may be watching through the eyes of Sabrina as she seduces old flames and the next moment you are underground with a human and undead as she passionately tries to protect her love.

One of the most interesting characters was Cade. Cade has unique senses and an ability to bear fangs to persuade a situation. Being a vampire has its perks however Cade finds himself torn between the people of his past and present. His character was one of my favourites as the reader is treated to his heroic rescues and violent deaths. I appreciate Breaux’s ability to paint a picture with his words and I found it easy to imagine the vampire devouring humans, lured by the innocence of puppy dogs.

The modern twist made the story feel relatable. In a matter of pages, you are transported from a mass murder of winged creatures to discussing Justin Timberlake in the recording studio. It actually also provided a bit of comic relief as in the midst of a tense scene, celebrities were named dropped like it was your everyday Hollywood scenario. It wasn’t just the name dropping that caught my attention though. Some of the plot eerily replicated scenarios that could happen in real life as the plot delved into sinkholes, pollution and the threat of terrorists.

One character I found to be confusing at times is Sabrina. Sabrina is a winged creature, descent from royalty. She is quick-tempered, passionate and at times childish. At times her character was frustrating and I found myself mentally wanting to tell her what to do! Her character eventually grew on me though as she soon begins to accept and acknowledge the affects her decisions have on her friends.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a fantasy novel that twists into a modern day adventure. I look forward to reading the next installment and finding out what happens to each of the characters.

Pages: 434 | ASIN: B071KLTKG7

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Apocalypsia

Apocalypsia

Apocalypsia by Jerry Veit is a saga in the best sense of the word. I was able to read the complete edition of this work, which consists of three books and three parts per book. They detail a post-apocalyptic Earth after what appears to be, for all intents and purposes, the end. Demons comb the land, freed from Hell and what is left of humanity struggles to survive and trust one another. It is left to small bands of warriors to come together and unite the warring factions, otherwise they will all perish with the rising of a new demon army.

The vision that Veit has for this world is expansive. It is also a fun blend of science fiction, fantasy and post-apocalyptic. These elements may seem to much for the casual reader but for Veit they are all ingredients that lend themselves to the epic that this work is. The edition I have, has a couple, very thick appendices, which was helpful for the wide cast of characters Viet details in all of these stories. Some of the terms, locations and overall history of this Earth is also given. All in all the world building that Veit skillfully brings to life is very present and rich for the reader to sink into and lose themselves.

I found Veit’s prose to be stilted in places and I wonder if his work would hold up better in an audio book or audio drama form. He did not shy away from any action and made sure the story kept moving through these pages, especially as the conflict became more and more intense until the dramatic conclusion. He does follow the time tested formula of having a band of hero’s and a singular villain, bent on destruction. The setting he built around this formula is what refreshing for this type of tale and the considerable scale he chose to write it in. The story itself could have been confined to two books but with drawing it out into a third he was able to deepen the plot just enough to please the reader. I won’t say anything else in that regard, lest I spoil the story.

What was difficult was the way that Viet chose to tell his tale. He took some grammatical liberties that a seasoned reader may have trouble reading at first. The most notable one is that Veit does not use traditional dialogue tags or quotation marks but instead uses names labeling who speaks (i.e. ADRIAN: Welcome to Apocalypsia). This is similar to how one labels dialogue in screenplays, which I am aware is in Veit’s background.

All in all Apocalypsia is an epic tale of loss, bravery and learning what it is to be human. Lovers of quests and end of the world tales will find something to enjoy here.

Pages: 387 | ASIN: B0726374N1

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