The Immortal Queen is an epic fantasy novel that finds Earth on the brink of being plunged into chaos by dark forces. What was the inspiration for the setup to this story?
The main starting point for the story came from my childhood. In fact, a portion of the story was written then (before being rewritten by adult me). I spent a fair portion of my childhood holidays on Waiheke Island, in the Hauraki Gulf (North Island of New Zealand). There was a reserve that my grandparents holiday home was nestled against, which largely inspired Arcon. I would sit, with a wonderful view of Mackenzie Reserve all the way down to the bay and get lost in the forest as I built it up in my mind. That little track our family dubbed $2 corner (because my nana found $2 there) became part of the path that lead to the heart of Arcon. From there, I pictured, drew and wrote out what the village – which became a city – looked like. Then ‘She’ appeared. Endya. So, I followed her story, her life and I wrote the good the bad and the ugly. When it came to the pivotal point in the story, there were a lot of other novels and movies floating about of heroic deeds done – heroes saving the day and having a happily ever. But I knew real-life didn’t work like that. Fairy-tales are seldom true, and I also wanted to frame the story in a way that was true to the characters.
The characters in this book were interesting and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character development?
I wanted them to be as real as possible – hard when you are dealing with Faeries, Elves, Demons and Gods – but Gods are people too!
For both the major and the not-so-major characters – i.e. some of the Gods. I fleshed them out individually (some more than others). Their power base – for example, how their god-powers have shaped their personalities? What are their wants and needs? How do they feel about this situation? Right down to looks. For some I even wrote up quick dossiers or character sheets. (Being a Role-Player pays off sometimes).
I knew, regardless of how much ‘scene time’ they’d get, if I were writing them, they were being made ‘flesh’. That and I feel you should never leave a character, no matter how small, undeveloped – because you never know when that development is needed. A small character now might be a big character later.
What were some sources of inspiration for you while writing this book?
My first inspiration, other than Waiheke itself, was my uncle’s mother. She was an author here in New Zealand. I knew writing a book would never be easy, but the worlds and characters she created intrigued me. It was absolute pleasure and delight in having her read the first three or so chapters when I was twelve (well before the rewrite!) I remember hovering in her house, admiring the view (a little cove and ocean to the horizon) from her personal little library while she finished up reading the pages – all handwritten! She smiled and told me to keep writing because there was a story there that needed telling. It took many years, but I got it done. Sadly, she passed before she could read the final manuscript.
Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders trilogy! The Liveship Traders: Ship of Magic (book one) was the first Fantasy novel I ever read. I was an advanced reader as a kid, and I remember wanting to get into the young adult section and every time my attempts were thwarted by the librarian who would kindly guide me back to the children’s section. Then one day I saw this book. It was hardcover, it was massive (in my eyes) and it had a picture of a fearless young lady on it standing in front of a ship. I wanted – no, needed to read that book….and it just so happened that it was on the sale table. I had much delight in standing with mum as she handed the librarian my pocket money and I got to walk out of the library with my prize. I read and reread that book (still own it) as it was years before I could find and finish reading the trilogy. There was something about the main character, her actions, the way she held herself and faced the perils. How she evolved. I guess in a way she inspired the creation of Endya.
Other inspirations ranged from some of my favourite books such Tolkien’s works (if you have Elves in your word, you need to have same knowledge of Tolkien’s work). Tad Williams Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series. And more modern series like Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games series and Veronica Roth’s Divergent series…and because of the whole shadowy/hidden organisation, Dan Brown’s, Robert Langdon series – which I haven’t even fully read yet!
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book is a complete change from The Immortal Queen. It’s called Astraque. It’s Science Fiction and it takes place in a very cyberpunk/biopunk/technologically advanced but very distorted future. But, as we all know, not all advancements are for the better. It’s about to go into the editing phase and we hope that it will be available sometime next year.
At the end of her world, a noblewoman steals a precious prize from fate. A goddess rises in the city of Sundregham as invaders from another world sweep in to burn the world to the ground. A young girl from Earth discovers she’s the final piece in a game the gods have been playing for a long time…and failure may mean the end of it all. This is the story of Endya & Elizabeth and their fight against the Darkness. This is the story of the Immortal Queen.
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Playing with power can land a girl in all sorts of trouble with her man, as six ladies soon discover. Whether she’s a witch who disobeys the no-magic rule, a fairy making lust cakes, an amateur sorceress casting a spell on her boyfriend, a victim of an enchanted necklace, a revenge fairy messing with a deity, or a pleasure fairy abusing her abilities…
Once they’ve experienced the sensual consequences of playing with their magical powers, can these ladies find their happily for now with a hint of forever? Or have they spoiled their chances?
Publisher’s Note: This steamy anthology contains elements of power exchange.
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Bitter Awakenings is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a fantasy, paranormal, and urban as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I think starting out, I had a concept in mind. I wanted supernatural elements in full swing and within a small town setting. As I wrote, however, the characters started demanding more elements be added as their individual personalities, backgrounds, and even locations dictated the overall direction and feel of the book. In the end, it made sense to combine a few genres based on the characters and the locations used in the book. The world of magic, as I found out through writing this book, tends to blur the lines between what we know, what we expect, and what is possible.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
I liked them all, but I absolutely loved writing for Dusty. The mix of blood that flows through her veins makes for interesting interactions with her fellow Keepers. There are times when she’s sweet, then sour, bossy, yet vulnerable. You can sense her wanting to take charge and lead, but there’s a disconnect with her emotionally that shows up in the work, some funny, some not so much. She’s the perfect blend of “I know what I’m doing” and “What the hell just happened?” with the slightest dusting of, “Told ya so.”
The most enjoyable interaction between characters came from the conversations and situations Gordy and Niles had throughout the book. The back and forth banter of two men in love makes for some comedic moments between the more perilous scenes throughout the book. You just can’t help but smile and giggle whenever they get on lobbing one liners and can’t help but think they sound like an old married couple.
The world you’ve created is very detailed and creative. What was your inspiration for the background of your story?
Growing up I was an avid fan of comics and cartoons. Most of my favorites centered around “team” mechanics, like the Avengers, X-Men, JLA, Bionic Six, Dungeons and Dragons and many others. I enjoyed how everyone worked together to combat evil, but at times ran the show from a single perspective.
I also loved the aspect of witchcraft, the supernatural, and the unseen world. I quickly became fascinated by the massive amounts of information available on the subjects while supplying myself a healthy dose of horror cinema and books to quench my thirst. I switched between books and movies through my teen years when I learned, all too well, that ginger haired and fair skinned people do not fare well in Florida’s, almost constant, stream of burning sunlight.
I grew up in the South and among the cow pastures, orange groves, and lazy summer days of sweet tea and mosquito bites, I listened and watched. Most of the things I remembered, the people, the talks, the places all became inspiration for parts of my book coupled with my love of the supernatural and superhero worlds I so fondly remembered from my youth.
Bitter Awakenings is book 1 in the Keeper Chronicles. Where does book 2 take readers?
Book 1 set the stage when it came to uncovering secrets, opening the door for more drama, and introducing the world of the Keepers, but Book 2 will basically throw the curious head first into the magical rabbit hole.
Readers will get a chance to check in on Leesa amid the Utah landscape and how she’s been handling life with Lee and Myrna. An uncovering of a “friend” involvement that builds on the revelations in Book 1 will put Truddie Mae and Niles in the line of fire way out in the swampland of Louisiana. A ghost from the Keepers’ past makes a return visit that could spell the end for them all while a new Keeper joins their ranks in the most unforeseen way.
Expect more drama, more supernatural mischief, and more revelations as the Keepers struggle to maintain the veil while dodging a conspiracy to finish them off. Can they uncover the secret agenda meant to end them before it finally does?
It had been a quiet three years for Truddie Mae Watts, an almost immortal woman sharing the body of an eleven-year-old girl alongside an injured demon. As a Keeper, those chosen by the fates and granted supernatural powers to protect the veil between our world and the astral planes, she has grown accustomed to the tranquility of her home magically hidden away within the swampy wilderness along the outskirts of Dade City, Florida. That is until the veil calls out for her assistance urging her back into action and into the path of a sinister new enemy.
Something has breached the veil into our world. An entity that marks her and those she loves, for death. Driven by a ravenous appetite for energy, a craving for the occult, and a desire to end all of Keeper kind, it will stop at nothing until this world, her reality, is erased.
Now, forced to work alongside the tri-blooded Dusty, her adopted son and nature mage Niles, and Valda the snobby ice enchantress, they must race to stop this new evil that is hell-bent to destroy them and ultimately cause two worlds to collide that would unravel the universe.
Against all odds and against a ticking monstrosity of devouring evil, the Keepers must rally and protect not only their reality but also themselves before time runs out for them all.
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Imagine everything you know about reality. Now, throw it all out the window. That is the predicament Jack Griffin is in: trapped in a universe that isn’t his own, brought there against his will by some force of nature unheard of in his world and not understood in the world where he ended up. Here’s the good news: Jack discovers he has magical talent. Now he must use all the resources at his disposal – magic, wit, tenacity, and the little coin that he has – to find a way back to his beloved in his own world. But will he survive this new world? Gods exist, and so does magic. He is an outsider in a country that values nobility above all else. If you’re not from the right family and don’t have the right magical bloodline, you may as well be dirt on the boot heels of the nobles. It’s a different world, but some things just never change. Welcome to the new world.
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The Rashade tells the tale of Mara, a strong willed woman whose life mission revolves around avenging the death of her father. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
My dad died due to medical mal-practice when I was 16. I was depressed and unwilling to talk about it. So I began to write. The initial thought was simple what if my character could get revenge. Then I began asking questions. Who was she? Who killed her father? Why? The more questions I asked and answered the more the story developed.
Not everybody in the story is who they seem and I enjoyed the progression of each character. What was your favorite character to write for?
My favorite character to write in this set of books is Mara. I created Mara to do everything couldn’t, she’s my extreme alter ego. I loved putting her in impossible situations and getting her back out again. Then there is her complicated personality. I think any time the character is a complex combination it is always more interesting and more fun to write.
The Rashade is a set in medieval fantasy type world that is very detailed. What were some sources that served as inspiration for the world you created?
Some of my favorite movies growing up were The Conan movies and Red Sonja. It wasn’t a surprise that when Xena came out I watched the series every week for years. Then in high school a friend introduced me to Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series. A short while later I found Dave Duncan’s Seventh Sword series in a used book store. The Rashade‘ seems to be a conglomeration of all those things.
The Rashade is the first book in the Chronicles of the Coranydas series and delivers an adventure filled with magical characters and valiant warriors. Where will book two in the series take the story?
There will be a few new characters and you’ll meet other magical races. Mara has a few roadblocks left in her path, one them being her mother. But I couldn’t let Laran get away with murder. There is going to be a war of blades and magic. Only the strongest will survive.
After her father was murdered before her eyes, Mara Coranyda traded a life of privilege, for one devoted to vengeance. Shortly into her quest to find the mage that murdered him, Mara discovered it wouldn’t be an easy task to accomplish. Not only would she have to find the magical artifacts to destroy him, but she would also have to raise an army to stop his conquest of her homelands.
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Magic, adventure and excitement. That’s what Danny Estes delivers with this novel, Charlotte’s Soul. Our protagonist, Charlotte, is a woman of mysterious origins who is seeking revenge on the one who locked her away. In the beginning, we’re not given a whole lot of information about Charlotte. We know she is a witch and we know she is bent on revenge. We also are aware that she is not quite from the era the book takes place in. Even the mention of her stay in a mental health unit leads the reader to believe that perhaps Charlotte is not of her right mind. However, all of this is blown away when Charlotte links up with detective Matt Huston and dazzles us with displays of her power. She is not an ill individual with delusions of grandeur, she is a powerful woman who is about to bring hell to those who have wronged her. Will Charlotte achieve her wildest dream?
Estes has crafted Charlotte to be a powerful example of femininity and sultry desires. She is a woman and she will use whatever tools she has at her disposal to get what she wants. This includes her body. While this may seem like a stereotypical example of a woman using herself, it ties in to Charlotte’s past and the events that have led up to the present in our story. Estes is no stranger to including sexual scenes in his books, however he is very adept at making these scenes flow with a sense of beauty. Unless called for, there is nothing crude about these acts in his novels.
While there could be some better editing in this novel, the overall story is articulately pieced together without fraying at the edges. There are some spelling mistakes, some blatant miswords that could have been corrected with a thorough read through by a third party. The story does not suffer for it, however, as these issues are few and far between.
Estes flexes his creativity with descriptions of magic and scenery in this colorful world. While explaining the system of magic, the reader can tell that Estes put thought into it. Research was most likely done when using examples that readers might be familiar with, like voodoo, so that it is as believable as possible. The magic scenes of action are not so overblown that it is obvious that this is a fantasy tale, rather they are realistically described in a fashion that if you met someone who claimed to be a witch after reading this story, you might just believe them.
Danny Estes is no stranger to the world of magic and adventure. His worlds expand and become more and more intricate as he hones his craft. Charlotte’s Soul is another feather in his cap of excellence. The shortened chapters make this an easy read and the pace demands that you read it in one sitting: it is almost impossible to put it down. Readers will become attached to Matt and Charlotte, wondering if either will achieve what they are looking for. Even as the tale wraps up nicely and Estes is about to put the bow on top, we’re left wondering if we’ll see more of Charlotte again. Honestly, this feisty witch could grace another novel for us any day.
Pages: 297 | ASIN: B00PZYYNKO
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Einstein’s Fiddle begins with a man abandoning his child on a doorstep of a stranger’s home; the rest of the novel seeks to reveal and understand this man. What was the inspiration for the setup to this emotional novel?
Like my first novel (A History of the World), Einstein’s Fiddle began as a short story. The story form was abandoned quickly – perforce, as soon as Davy abandoned Mitchell. The inspiration for the setup was a simple disturbing question that presented itself: What if someone – no, not just someone – a dad – left his baby boy on a doorstep? The image that first came to mind was of the proverbial unwed mother from earlier decades in this country – desperate, ashamed, alone, afraid, and apparently out of options. The obvious second question followed hard upon the first: why would any person – at least any loving father – do such a thing? And these were questions that led quickly to others – questions of personality, motivation and experience – and my poor powers certainly could not answer them, or sufficiently illuminate the depths of such a father (Davy Calhoun), in a short story.
Davy Calhoun is a multilayered character that is deftly developed. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
The relationship between fathers and sons has been at the heart of my writing from the beginning. It was there in my early stories and my first novel, and it is at the center of Einstein’s Fiddle. The desire for his (or her) father’s love, approval, guidance and acceptance is deep in every child’s heart from the first breath. It is a ‘natural’ yearning and part of each one of us because God put it there. I wanted Davy Calhoun to be a character with whom we all (if we are honest about it) share common ground; and of course – like each of us – he has his own story, his own unique experience and narrative, which I hope makes the book singular and engaging. There are a number of fathers in the novel, all of them flawed and fallen in his own ways – and one particularly outstanding in his degree of fallenness; but my ‘ideal’ father in Davy’s story is the dad in Jesus’ story about The Prodigal Son, a parable which one of the characters in the book’s third section relates to Davy. Perhaps the one ‘driving ideal’ behind Davy’s development is best summed up by something a friend of mine has said more than once: “Love is the most powerful force in the universe – just largely untried.”
It’s hard to not get emotional when reading Einstein’s Fiddle. Did you pull anything from real life or personal experience to use in this novel?
I spent time in all the places where the narrative unfolds – Charlottesville, Washington, D.C., Chicago and San Francisco – and I used a lot of my experiences of those places (and the places within those places) in the book. As I imagine any author does, I created whole characters with pieces of people I know or have known. Whenever it worked well in the narrative, I used – call it stole, if you like – real-life stories that friends have shared with me over the years. In the last section, when Davy is in San Francisco, there is a scene near Pier 39, which completely replicates something that happened to a good friend of mine in New Jersey. It was a wonderful gift to me, and I gave it joyfully to everyone who reads Einstein’s Fiddle.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The working title is Thomas, but that could change in an instant. I expect it to be much shorter than Fiddle…but that could change too. I don’t want to say much about it right now, except that it is about a life-changing relationship between a white doctor in Charleston, South Carolina, and the black man he hires to build a stable for his horses. You can safely bet that there will be fathers and sons in this book too…. I hope it will be available in a year or so. I’ve begun to work on it in my head, but I have yet to write the first word.
What kind of man leaves the infant son he loves on a doorstep in a strange town and drives away? With its present set in the summer of 1985 and its past reaching from 1950 to 1974, Einstein’s Fiddle is a dramatic examination of Davy Calhoun’s journey from home to the far country and back. The language and landscape of the novel vary between the existential and familial, tragic and comic, as the non-linear narrative – by turns realistic, lyrical, magical – focuses fearlessly on Davy’s fall, dishonor and redemption.
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The Rashade, written by Rebecca Tran, tells the tale of Mara, a purposeful and strong willed woman whose life mission revolves around avenging the death of her father. Mara is a trained soldier, a skilled fighter and is determined to find the man who murdered her father (whilst she was forced to watch), leaving both physical and emotional scars that haunt her nightmares. As she sets out on her epic adventure she will meet new friends, new enemies and finally face off with the evil mage Laran who has his eyes set on taking over her homelands.
The Rashade is the first book in the Chronicles of the Coranydas series and delivers an adventure filled with magical characters, valiant warriors and a determined young woman who has her eyes set on avenging her father. The story begins with Mara applying for leave through the High Priestess, who also happens to be Mara’s mother. Mara is a trained soldier in the League and hopes to use her time away to finally face the evil Laran.
The Rashade has similar tones to books such as Deltora Quest and Game of Thrones as the main characters set on an adventure where there are tombs, priestesses and sword fights that will leave the reader on the edge of their seat in anticipation. Epic battles crossed with a burning desire to destroy an evil man will mean the reader will be captivated until the very end.
Not everybody is who they seem and I thoroughly enjoyed the progression of each character as we learned more about their life through the unexpected relationships that develop. The characters come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from soldiers to priestesses to mages- humans who possess magical powers and mysterious grey eyes. Romance, swordsmanship and magical weapons will intertwine into a plot line that is consistently entertaining.
Mara and Kess are friends who set off together after decisions made by the High Priestess. Kess is sometimes shy, sometimes brave and the reader will quickly begin to appreciate his ability to be there when Mara needs him most. But Mara is an independent and strong woman, and it was a breath of fresh air to read about a woman warrior, rather than the typical man going into battle.
The Rashade has elements of olden day romance with flirting consisting of showing ankles in a bar, arranged marriages and oaths that stand the test of time. The outfits, swords and horses will throw the reader into an era that was far before our time. It was easy to get lost in a world of fantasy and transported to a place where magic and priestesses exist and readers will be pleasantly surprised at how easily time gets away when you are lost in the pages of The Rashade.
I would recommend this to anybody looking for a fantasy novel with twists and turns that result in a heart-stopping conclusion. I look forward to reading the other stories in the series!
Pages: 425 | ASIN: B01N211HHR
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