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The Magic of The Great Synergy

Author Interview
Brett Salter Author Interview

The Search For Synergy follows two young men brought together by destiny who must work together to defeat the evil threatening their world. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I’ve been inspired by many things while writing my books. For this series in particular, I used my influences that range from video games to anime to fantasy novels from my childhood to my own personal experiences. I ran the whole gambit of inspiration! Honestly, I just wanted to create a series that told a coming-of-age story with relatable characters, references to mythical lore, and plenty of unforgettable action to keep my readers turning the pages. My goal was to create something that caused readers to speculate and theorize about, ya know? A buzz around the water cooler. Or, I guess a buzz around the water fountain since I write for a MG/YA audience.

Rome and Julian are intriguing and well-developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

So, I originally wanted the book(s) to be about ONLY those two characters. And the reason behind that was because I wanted to incorporate an idea I had a while back about making two sides of a person’s personality represented by two strikingly different characters. You can read about this on my Fandom Wiki page (link below), but Rome and Julian are meant to be complete opposites in as many ways as I could think of (physical traits, family status, the way they interact with others, their reactions, their hesitation or brashness, even their knowledge of the real world). But as they are two sides of the same coin, they are brought together and solidified as a symbiotic unit by The Great Synergy. It is even reflected in the title of the book. Their individual searches AND their lives are forever realized mortally bound by the magic of The Great Synergy.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I wanted the book to seem like a quest for answers. But not on a grandiose, epic scale. Just on a small-town, local kid in school kind of thing. I wanted to make the perspective seem to emphasize how a teenager might see THEIR world as being all encompassing even though it’s relatively microscopic compared to the real world. It’s a small step in the ever-growing narrative of my series that takes my characters deeper into the “real world” and exponentially raising the stakes with every installment. The journey of 1,000 steps begins with one, and “The Search For Synergy” is Rome and Julian’s metaphorical first step in the proposed 12-book adventure.

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

Although I have “written” 11 of my planned 12 books, I still have much work to do on the next book in the series. That would be book number five of The Talisman Series. My goal is to have the fifth book out late winter of 2022. Think Valentine’s Day time frame! Just in time to grab the new book and curl up on a chilly night with that dragon lover in your life. But until then, this is just a friendly reminder to hold your Talisman tight and keep a wary eye out for portals!

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website | Fandom

“The Search For Synergy” is the story of two young men who are brought together by design to help save the world from the evil that lurks in the void. Rome and Julian will have to join their fledgling powers and become a fighting duo as knight and dragon working to fulfill a primordial destiny. This will be especially hard for Rome, who up until now, thought he was merely human.

Snow Dust and Boneshine

Snow Dust and Boneshine: The Chronicles of Granny Witch (Book 1) by [Grendolyn Peach Soleil]

A lone wolf waits outside the house the night Fawna Belle Darling is born. He knows what her mother, Isleen already understands–Fawna is the granny witch. In her home in Purgatory Bend, Wyoming, young Fawna is blessed with a mother who teaches her the ways of their world. As Fawna grows and matures, it becomes increasingly obvious that Isleen was correct–her daughter is special. When Patsy wanders into her life, she is faced with the realization that he may not be who he thinks he is, but Fawna knows. She, true to her nature, must be the one to tell him and to help him understand.

Snowdust and Boneshine: The Chronicles of Granny Witch, by Grendolyn Peach Soleil, is the first book in a series. The story centers around Fawna, who is a granny witch. Her life in the Midwest in the mid 1800’s in nothing short of fascinating. From her birth in the 1830’s to her experiences as everyone’s go-to for potions, advice, and healing, Fawna is an integral part of her community.

One of the most striking aspects of her life as a granny witch is her responsibility to ghosts, or vespers. Throughout her life, Fawna is able to see them for what they are when no one around her is able or aware. Her gentleness when addressing Patsy and her ability to help him grasp the reality of his situation is enthralling. Soleil’s writing is riveting and the entire storyline surrounding the two characters is gripping.

One of the parallel storylines caught my attention and stuck with me long after finishing the book. Pearl, desperate not just for love but also for a family approaches Fawna for help. I was truly touched by the way Fawna went about making a potion for her and giving her hope for her future. Soleil’s writing is much more than a fantasy–it’s a story of love and faith.

Snowdust and Boneshine: The Chronicles of Granny Witch is a short read, but it is packed cover to cover with an engaging storyline, well-developed characters, and touching events steeped in fantasy with a bit of romance thrown in. I look forward to many more installments and new adventures involving the granny witch and those in her small, tucked away Wyoming town. Fawna Belle Darling is a unique character and one to follow.

Pages: 125 | ASIN: B08RGG5JQ3

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Dealing with Supernatural Threats

David    Crane
David Crane Author Interview

Demon Heart 2 Never Say Die finds Naoko fighting to save her family and country while struggling to maintain balance between light and dark. What were some sources that informed this novels development?

I always believed that diversity in action. levels of danger, locales but consistency in maintaining the personality of my main character would be the main driving principles of my story about Naoko. Although she is a fictional character, I always tried to feel what she felt during the moments of introspection or when confronting a problem or a dangerous situation. The main sources that inspired this particular novel were political as well as scientific, with elements of ancient mysteries and legends from all over the world. This novel takes place in several different locales, and I also had to take into consideration the history, customs and legends of each country.

What were some new ideas you wanted to explore in this book that were different from book one?

Book One starts with Naoko’s introduction to the reader in a biographical fashion, which allows the reader to know here thoughts and feelings and learning experience as she gradually makes her journey from childhood to adulthood. In some ways, Naoko had to grow up faster than ordinary humans, and her transformation into demon hybrid was a forced necessity. In the first book, we follow Naoko through her physical and mental maturity, a career as a police officer and a secret agent for a covert government organization dealing with supernatural threats. In the second book, Naoko is a different person, living under a new identity and doing what she does best, while managing to be both, a protector of Japan as well as wife and a mother. The second novel also deals with old and new enemies, as well as corporate espionage, profound revelations and dangerous new weapon based on nanotechnology. The second book makes Naoko an important secret player on an international scene as she confronts powerful forces of evil.

I find that authors sometimes ask themselves questions and let their characters answer them. Do you think this is true for your characters?

That is a very interesting question. While I was working on the second novel, I was trying to understand my characters’ purpose, goals and motivations. Sometimes I asked myself, what makes each character unique and important to the story. I wanted to have characters whose presence was essentially necessary to move the story in the direction I needed to create gradual tension that would eventually lead to an explosive climax. Naoko seems like a simple character, but only on the surface. The same can be said of other characters, both good and evil. Then, there is an interesting gray area considering pure demons, whose immense powers are still limited by the even greater powers of ancient Japanese gods, whose wisdom and decisions might seem strange or incomprehensible to the conventional human mind. Life poses many questions to us, and we may not always find all the answers. As a writer, I want to say: Seek, and you shall find them!

What can readers expect from Demon Heart 3 Year of the Witch?

My answer to this question will not contain any spoilers, so I can safely share this informational preview with my readers. Those who have read the previous two novels will find Naoko once again operation in her element, as she faces off with forces of international terrorism, evil and ambitious humans practicing dark magic and the new dangerous players in form of the powerful western witches selling their services to the highest bidder. In this third and final novel, the readers will be introduced to the elements of both, Eastern and Western mythology, particularly the Nordic legends. Naoko and her friends and allies would once again travel to different countries, trying to solve great mysteries of the past, while fighting for survival against nearly impossible odds. One of the events would actually involve the incredible Tunguska meteorite impact in Siberia in the year 1908 and some incredible revelations how life on planet Earth had started and how it would eventually end. There will be surprises in this final novel, trust me on this.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Amazon

Naoko Kitamura is a demon hybrid, a descendant of a secret union between an ancient female demon and a noble sixteen-century samurai. After saving her city of Osaka from a nuclear meltdown during an earthquake, she sacrifices herself and comes back to life. Knowing that she can never see her family and friends again, she with the help and guidance of her progenitor, Yoshiko Nagase, moves to the city of Tokyo to start a new life under a new identity. But even after she finds the man she loves and has a family and children of her own, she is still works a member of top-secret organization Katana, responsible for protection of Japan against natural and supernatural threats. White raising her kids, Naoko never forgets her duty and an oath she took to protect the innocent against the worst human and supernatural criminals. While conducting an investigation involving a supernatural weapon capable of controlling peoples’ will, she comes against powerful criminal organizations such as the yakuza and the Russian mafia in alliance with an evil demon hybrid. Aided by her friends and allies, Naoko soon faces the wrath of an old enemy determined to destroy her. As she fights for justice and survival with every weapon at her disposal, she comes up against an even greater threat, this time against Japan itself. An evil genius has invented a terrifying new weapon capable of immense destruction and is prepared to destroy her nation to change the geopolitical balance in the world. And once again, Naoko is prepared to use her powers of darkness and light to protect her country and her family. As the darkness comes, she must face it and win, to ensure that sun will rise again!

Undying Sway

Undying Sway: A Paranormal Romance by [Jenny M Mason]

Jenny M. Mason’s book, Undying Sway, is an exciting fantasy novel in a modern setting with all kinds of plot twists and turns. Follow the heroine, Kara, as she discovers more and more about her family history all because of an online DNA test. Since she was adopted and never met her mother, a gap existed in her life. She then meets her long lost aunt and learns that they are more than meets the eye. Alex, a handsome cousin of hers, also turns out to lead a life more complex than it seems on the surface.

In this story, I found that the major character’s were interesting and relatable. Everyone has their flaws, and we see that in every character. The internal monologue of Kara was constantly intriguing and we really saw how she analyzed all sides when making her decisions. Her voice was unique but at times I felt it was a bit too colloquial.

Throughout the novel, we see Kara debate the themes of morals, family duty, and immortality. At the start of the novel, we see Kara exploring the concept of lucid dreaming. During those scenes, she lives her life freely without repercussions, but of course, over time we see that there is always a catch. When it comes to family duty, we learn more and more about Kara’s history. Then we see how Kara’s relationship between her grandparents becomes complicated like her own with Alex. Finally, we also see how immortality, while a fun dream, has plenty of flaws in itself.

The setting was interesting, but through much of the story we are told how to feel and see things by the narrator instead of witnessing it first hand. While voice and emotional tone were strong, the setting and description were not as strong at times.

Undying Sway has an interesting premise and I adore reading fantasy placed in the modern setting. I loved the idea of an immortal long lost family member. I would like to see more scenes with the side characters and delve further into their stories as they were really interesting. This is an exciting paranormal romance novel that is sure to entertain.

Pages: 324 | ASIN: B0812F7ZWK

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Crown of Crowns

Crown of Crowns by [Clara Loveman]

As a daughter of one of the ruling families of Geniverd, Kaelyn has never known anything outside of her life of privilege and protection. She begins to realize the depth of that privilege when she meets Roki and learns more about the struggles of the common people. Through personal tragedies and charitable work, Kaelyn’s life changes drastically in just three years, but she is unaware that the changes are about to escalate quickly, and in ways she could never have imagined. Suddenly faced with more power and knowledge than she thought existed, Kaelyn has to become the savior Geniverd didn’t know it needed.

Crown of Crowns by Clara Loveman takes place on a dystopian-esque planet named Geniverd where disease has been nearly eradicated, natural births are against the moral code, and machines do every job previously held by humans. The ruling class, with royal families on each of the six continents, live in luxury and are insulated from any of the problems faced by the rest of the population. Kaelyn never questioned the traditions that her family, and the other elitists, followed until her mid-teens when she realizes just how much of a division they have actually created within the world and the majority of the people. At that point, Crown of Crowns moves the narrative along at a breakneck pace, as Loveman introduces a barrage of situations that forces Kaelyn to quickly mature, as she struggles with an ever-changing worldview. The story is a smooth and easy read for the most part, although the language occasionally reverts to almost adolescent type slang, which is jarring and a departure from the overall competent tone of the book.

Crown of Crowns deals heavily with the theme of morality, and the idea of doing what is right versus doing what has always been done. Kaelyn makes it clear early on that she believes tradition isn’t always what’s best, especially when a majority of people are suffering as a result. Her beliefs form initially from a place of selfishness (tradition would keep her from being with the person she loves) but as she grows and learns more about the world, she sees that genuine change is necessary for the people to thrive. 

Reading Crown of Crowns right now was also incredibly interesting because there were key plot points that reflected issues in our current society, namely an unforeseen pandemic and severe social unrest caused by years of disregard for the “common” people. The characters were engaging and I was invested in discovering what Kaelyn would do next, however, the book ends abruptly, leaving loose ends and questions to be answered in a followup novel. Crown of Crows is an epic dystopian fantasy novel that will entertain young-adult fans.

Pages: 238 | ASIN: B08BJGNHT7

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Moira

Moira (The Witness Journals Book One) by Nix Damon is a fantasy fiction story set in New Mexico in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s (Anti-World 42) about a teenage girl who finds herself on her own as soon as she turns eighteen. But Moira Angela Starling has been fending for herself a long time, even before her aunt abandoned her without warning or explanation. After Moira is attacked when she is out for a run, she meets a man named Rafe. But is he friend or foe? Suddenly, Moira is thrust into a world of magical beings and unexplained mysteries and danger. Will she be able to find a way to survive?

This was a fun story to read. I liked Moira’s snarky wit at the beginning of the story. The author’s vivid descriptions of her characters really brought Moira and Rafe to life for me. It was interesting to learn details about the different anti-worlds and the witnesses, and Moira’s abilities and the secrets of her true identity. I liked the addition of the author’s playlist at the end of the book, which allows readers to listen to the music that inspired Moira’s story. One of my favorite aspects of the book was the interactions between Moira and Rafe. I enjoyed reading the parts of the story where Moira and Rafe were together more than the sections when he was gone.

The story line is a bit drawn out with several years passing. The book starts with Moira in high school where she doesn’t fit in, and this section felt very much like a young adult fantasy story. But then Moira is out of school and we see her working several jobs and trying to conform to be a more “normal” adult, which seemed counter to her personality, but the juxtaposition and development felt more like real life. But the fantasy element of the novel wavers in this part while we’re treated to a more grounded story. It didn’t feel like the two sections belonged in the same book since they were disparate. but then Rafe reappears in Moira’s life and takes her to his home, and the fantasy aspect of the story becomes much stronger again and I was reeled back into this riveting story.

The author leaves the reader with a lot of unanswered questions at the end of the story and Moira’s fate is uncertain. Hopefully, these questions will be answered in Witness Journals book two. Moira is an enthralling coming of age novel filled with magical realism that kept me furiously flipping pages.

Pages: 383 | ASIN: B0829FH2RX

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Worldshaper

Worldshaper (Worldshapers Book 1) by [Edward Willett]

Worldshaper by Edward Willett is an exciting supernatural adventure story that builds on a unique premise to deliver a mesmerizing story. Set in a small town, the book delves into the life of Shawna, a seemingly normal woman whose perfect life takes a suddenly deadly turn. Her best friend is killed. But after experiencing this horrific event it’s erased from existence, including her friend. Shawna then encounters a mysterious stranger that  helps her understand what is happening to her, her world, and comes to find out that all of it is threatened by an evil entity.

Worldshaper has one of the most unique setups to a story that I’ve read this year. Shawna has a supernatural ability to shape worlds to her liking, although she doesn’t know it. This sets up the story to be a learning experience where we as the reader learn along with Shawna as she’s learning about it. Delivered in the first person we get to see Shawnas wit and charm first hand. She becomes endearing and fun to follow. Shawna starts out as somewhat of a reluctant and naive hero, a bit cliched for the fantasy genre, but what makes this novel stand out from the rest is the extraordinary journey that she goes on, exotic worlds that she visits, and the dramatic twist at the end. To say I didn’t see the twist coming at the end would be an understatement. I don’t think anyone will see it coming. You should read this novel for the fantastic ending, if for nothing else.

What I liked the most about Worldshaper was the world building, but it was also something that slowed the story’s pace a bit. Edward Willet has obviously put a lot of thought into building not just one world, but a universe of shaped worlds. It’s all presented to the reader up front, which can be a lot to take in, but readers who enjoy deep world building and unique design will enjoy the meticulous development of the backstory. Sprinkle in some offbeat characters and dramatic turn of events and you have an exceptional supernatural story that is highly engrossing.

This is book one in Edward Willett’s Worldshapers series. This sets the bar high for the series. With most of the Worldshaper mythology established here, other novels are surely primed to deliver non-stop fun and entertainment. Worldshaper is thoroughly entertaining, rarely dull, and always fun.

Pages: 368 | ASIN: B0782XSM22

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Demon Heart

DEMON HEART by [David Crane, Mary Holzrichter]

Published in 2017, David Crane’s dramatic Sci-Fi novel, Demon Heart, is set in Osaka, Japan. It explores the roles of light and darkness in shaping the human experience. It is a powerful narrative about Naoko Kitamura, the protagonist who realizes that she is half-demon. Living amongst human beings, the character learns how to manage this dark side – by controlling the intensity of her powers.

Crane’s readers realize that learning one’s true identity has a significance in their life journey. All the challenges faced by Naoko, prove her strength and ability to achieve victory, regardless of all the tough circumstances at play.

I give this book a 5-star rating for numerous reasons. First, it was cathartic to read it in first person narration, as this made me feel closer to Naoko, the protagonist. It was easier to understand all the psychological battles within her mind, by progressing with her thoughts, throughout the story.

Furthermore, the book gives an account of the themes of good and evil, and the basis of human existence. Naoko reveals to her characters the importance of accepting one’s identity. Suppressing the shadows and demons within us only leads to chaos. If she wasn’t aware of her true identity, it’d be difficult for her to understand the origin of all the darkness around her.

Through the writing of Crane, the readers perceive demons from a different light. We have been taught, so often, that demons are destructive, and don’t want the best for humans. This is quite clear when Naoko is expected to keep her true identity a secret. Human beings cannot handle the intensity of divinity thus, they shouldn’t know much about this world. Keeping it a secret is also psychological since humans would not have the capacity to understand the healing powers of a demon-hybrid.

However, Naoko manages to engage the readers’ empathetic sides, as she thrives to create a balance between good and evil in the world. She is indeed one of the genuine police officers, who attempt to create this balance, while greatly fighting against evil.

This book also teaches its readers about Japanese cultures, traditions and beliefs, and it is a great narrative for readers like me, with a keen interest in the spiritual realm.

The story captured my attention, right from the title, and I’ll be sure to give it a second reading due to how much I related with the protagonist and her experiences.

Pages: 272 | ASIN: B074DSSBPY

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