The Land of Ick and Eck follows Harlot’s strange encounters as she travels through a strange land. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
I’m fascinated by children’s stories that are strange and make you think, “Wait, What? Haha, did that just happen?!” Victorian literature for children, as well as older versions of fairy tales, are where I found inspiration for the setup up of this book; they so often make you take a step back, laugh, think, and then continue on with curiosity. These stories can sometimes be whimsically mature, exploring violence, sexuality, and/or morality in creative, imaginative ways. Not treating children like delicate sugar-flakes and allowing for such content adds so much depth to the meanings and understanding of the stories, something I have found difficult to come across in modern children’s literature.
So when I started writing, I wanted it to be something that that gave me similar feelings to when I read older, bizarre fairy tales. I wanted it to take place in a strange world, where things were non-sense, but also made sense if you had the knowledge to understand what was happening, especially when the reader becomes aware of the innuendos. Like many episodic folkloric tales, there is much more than what lies on the service, multiple understandings; that is what I really enjoy about such types of stories. This is one of them.
The world that you’ve built is enthralling and curious to say the least. What were some sources of inspiration for when creating this world?
Reading literature about/from the faerie, medieval, Georgian, and Victorian world was where some of my inspirations came from. I would often find myself reading, for example, faerie lore and tales, medieval fabliaux and chivalric romances, and strange episodic stories that involve children, such as Jerzy Kosiński’s The Painted Bird (a modern tale). I wanted to create something like Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Lewis Carol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but darker and with more macabre and questionable situations.
The realm of Ick and Eck needed to somewhere that made sense not necessarily for the human world but in the faerie world. It was to be a place that the mind of an imaginative child could easily follow and bring to life, but for adults, things might seem a little off (unless they still have the child within them). It needed to be absurd, but penetrable if you put yourself in a different sort of mind-set. To get this inspiration, I often found myself delving into the artworks of Brian Froud and other artists who have continued to add to the world of faeries and fantasy, also mixing them with some of my other interests.
One of those curiosities was religion. There are many religious characters in the book, ranging from the fat-Friar, empty moon creatures, Crowned-Alter-Fops, gluttonous monks, to name a few; I enjoy studying Abrahamic religious texts, traditions, as well as medieval stories of how clergy use power to control others. Several scenes in the book comment on these injustices, but they are mixed in with the faerie world to create a more folkloric feeling. Truth be told, no hesitation of satire was taken.
Another source of inspiration was the study of medieval and Victorian prostitution. As a reader would observe, the protagonist’s name is Harlot; yes, the story does indeed explore the ideas of a dark side of history, as well as a subject very much alive today. From the exploration of courtly love and the desperate knights in need of a doctor’s (i.e. a beautiful woman) cure to save them from love sickness, to the poetic grocery-list like booklets of women found in Harris’s List of the Covent Garden Ladies, these studies were an essential backbone and driving force of inspiration. The story is a critique of this behaviour. It is meant to bring light to a subject so many people want to hide.
The introduction of the book lays this out:
- Into a land of fantasy
- With haste we cast them all aside
- No tearing if you cannot see
- That is what we all make-believe
My list of inspiration could keep going on, so I will stop before I get carried away even more.
Harlot is a curious and innocent character that I found endearing. What were some driving ideals behind the character?
I wanted to create a character that constantly found interest in novel things, while at the same time never really learns much from their experiences. Even after Harlot is assaulted at the beginning of the book (i.e. her blue flower), deceived, used, and treated as inferior, she continues on. Some say this might be a weakness, others a strength, that is for the reader to decide.
I have found it quite funny though, how some people really like Harlot, while others really do not. Some like her curious and innocent perspective, while others think she is rude and inconsiderate, and do not want their children to read about her because she is a negative role model.
In any event, what drives Harlot is her curiosity, her unwavering innocence, and her ability to navigate such a strange place, the land of Ick and Eck. She is such a strong character, a feature I have seen in people who have been abused. I can never understand their strength. They are stronger than I could ever be.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently working on a couple projects, but I am a very slow writer. It took me eight years to be contempt enough to pursue publishing The Land of Ick and Eck: Harlot’s Encounters. But in any event, I am working on a continuation to The Land of Ick and Eck, per say, following a girl named Perfume, as well in another section about Harlot. Each are separate and different stories, written in different styles, but in a way they meet together through common characters, situations, and absurdities.
I am quite excited about it, though I do not know how long it will take to complete.
A much too trusting Harlot finds herself in the preyful Land of Ick and Eck, a place where she encounters peculiar creatures that have the most awful intensions of the carnal sort. By happenstance, she finds the company of a Ground Faerie, a Wood and Water Nymph, and a Butter-Maiden to assist her (sort of) along the way.
But Alas! How the outlandish figures are quite the handful, ranging from the likes of Spriggans, the-man-with-a-can-for-a-head, Jaw Skins, to Alter-Fops, a knight of courtly love, and a Nigwig (to name a few). Thankfully, there are moments of repose, such as those with the band of eunuchs with sacs on their heads, the beautiful Milk-Maidens, and the adventures within the Faerie Ring.
Though the bombardments continue to pursue her, Harlot’s innocent temperament, irrational faith, and devotion to feeding her curiosity provokes her forward, and thus her true strengths are revealed within the Land of Ick and Eck.
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The Immortal Queen follows first, the life of Endya, an elven warrior with demon magic. Although plagued with prejudices, Endya finds her soulmate and becomes a leader that the kingdom of Sundregham never wanted. Elizabeth, on the other hand, grew up on Earth with a normal life. Her own nightmares reveal to her that life on earth is about to be thrust into chaos. Both women are needed as dark forces seek to end all of existence. Worlds collide and every kind of magic imaginable is released on Earth as war begins. Even the gods themselves are on the edge of their seats as the final encounter arises.
The Immortal Queen has the potential to be a best selling fantasy novel. Complete with magic and guns, queens and intrigue, even gods and demons. This book combines lore from several fantasy sub-genres and mashes them into one, making this a highly ambitious epic fantasy novel. However, at times I felt that there was too much going on in this story and felt like some things were not explained completely. While the magic in itself isn’t always meant to be understood, I would have liked to have a better understanding of how things worked because what is presented is intriguing.
As the story jumps from scene to scene with little background information, I spent my time trying to figure out where and when a scene took place. This is exacerbated by the fact that halfway through the story all the main characters names were changed.
The Immortal Queen has huge potential to be on par with other high fantasy novels, which is a genre I enjoy. I love it when worlds collide and there are seemingly infinite types of magic. Near the end of the book, dragon riders were even introduced and I almost squealed in delight. There is a constant stream of action throughout the story that kept me interested and was one of the main factors in getting me flipping pages.
Pages: 426 | ASIN: B07N1PW8KL
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When Dark Ships invade the skies over the “Nown” World, the invaders bring with them horrendous terrors for which no one is prepared to face. As entire villages begin to disappear, the world enters a new Dark Age. King Jatel and Queen Karen join forces once again with their friends and awaken ancient magic, giving them their only chance at freedom. Amid war, vampires, dragons, and widespread genocide, the “Nown” World welcomes the glorious return of the most valiant warrior it’s ever known!
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His first memories were of his town burning to the ground. He doesn’t remember his parents or where he lived, only flames, death, and fear. Baler, a mentally unstable ‘king’ to his community of bandits, takes him to raise as his own son. In this bandit camp he is known only as boy. On a raid several years later Galin and Garret save him and give him a real home, hone his skills and give him a name, Patrin. A mix of medieval style living and culture with an alien technology thrown in to add a unique twist to the tale of an exiled king recovering his thrown.
Greater Things than Thou by R. L. Dean is well written with each chapter starting out with a sort of monologue / overview from his perspective as an old man. On the surface the setting and time period is that of medieval style though not from standard Europe. There are clear class systems from farmers to royalty. Most technology, for the non-Gifted, is what you would find in Medieval times, horses, carts and crossbows. The world that R. L. Dean has created involves the addition of an alien technology. This technology allows them to heal at remarkable levels and see things within their mind that no one else can see. It increases their intelligence and augments their bodies based on their individual packages and their jobs. Patrin is trying to destroy all remaining tech to prevent further use of it by anyone. The remainder of the story is his life from a small boy to young adult. I really liked the detail that went into Patrin’s thoughts and how he processed everything. How he adapted to each new situation life throws at him, and the technology that is implanted into his body. He is genuinely a character that wants to see the good and morality in all people and do the right thing. He eludes to his oath to Galin as being the cause of his moral missteps and failings later in life. The reader can get a real feel for the people he develops emotions for, Garret, Serin, Xadik and especially Lena. His relationship with Lena is one of young love, the awkwardness of first loves, and highlights the complications of his life thanks to his oath of loyalty to Galin.
As the first book in the series, Blood of the Prince, it is a great introduction to the main characters and how Patrin gets his start in life. Based on the monologues at the beginning of the chapters, I can tell the rest of this series is going to be full of adventures, plot twists, and action. It is a story about loyalty even to a fault, finding your way, and redemption of character. This is going to be an exciting series to follow.
Pages: 283 | ASIN: B077BVF5HT
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Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms is part of a series by Gloria D. Gonsalves. In this series, Gonsalves weaves together a whimsical kingdom of royalty, guards, and an army made up entirely of personified mushrooms. Gonsalves follows the mushrooms as they discover a human baby in the forest of their kingdom. In true foster-parent fashion, the mushrooms make sacrifices to care for the lost child. The community of mushrooms rallies to take care of young Tiara. Gonsalves does a good job of introducing each type of mushroom and their specific jobs much like she did in Lamellia: The Wicked Queen.
When so many characters or character types are introduced at once, I think it is important to give a thorough explanation of who they are. Gonsalves does that in the first few pages. Having this as an introduction lets readers know they can always flip back to that section for reference if needed. This book focuses more on the king than the queen of the kingdom of Lamellia. It gives a little more backstory and insight into the king’s young life growing up. He is described as a sort of monster-like figure when he was young, but grew into a king and adopted a new name to go with his new role. I like that he didn’t look the part, but grew to be a wise and kind king. This emphasizes how unimportant outward appearances can be.
The book is generally an easy read with a few challenging words throughout the pages. I think the book would be good for young readers, but I would suggest some slight parental guidance for especially young readers. There is mention of a mushroom’s inclination to poison the baby. Also, there is talk of humans being mean to mushrooms, picking them and throwing them away, and cooking them to death. This might be a little scary for young readers.
Young readers will enjoy the brightly colored illustrations that seem to be hand drawn and painted. They will enjoy the imaginary world of Lamellia with mushrooms walking about and talking. They will also appreciate the fairy tale-like happy ending of the book. Having read The Wicked Queen, I did spot quite a few discrepancies between the stories. It seems more of a retelling of the same story than a new part of the story. I’m not sure which came first in the series, but the story-line of the baby in the story is quite a bit different than in The Wicked Queen. I’d think this might be a prequel and the queen’s sinister influence might come after except for the “happily ever after” part of the story at the end. It was a much less happy fate for the baby in the other book. This book had a much lighter mood than the other part of the series.
I think this is a book that kids will enjoy reading. I like the characters and the story-line. I’d like to see a different scenario with these characters in the future, or the progression of baby Tiara’s life.
Pages: 38 | ISBN: 1524634972
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Tyffany Hackett’s book Imber follows the journey of a young girl named Natylia, who becomes queen before she is of age and takes her mother’s throne. She is accompanied throughout the story by friends like an elf, an herbalist, and a blacksmith. Natylia, after hearing about the legend of an ancient artifact, decides to go with her friends and find the artifact before others take it. Our heroine toils through loss and political conflict to successfully achieve her goal of benefiting the kingdom and saving it from an ancient doom.
Set in medieval times, this book contains so many fantastical things that are superbly described. The characters were well developed and gained layers as the story progressed. Natylia is one example of such a character. Throughout the book, you can see she reacts to stresses and pressures in a believable and relateable way. There is a complexity to all the characters stories, starting superficially and growing into something deeper, which is explored and hinted at throughout the book. One such example is Jyn, who is a friend of our protagonist. He’s ever faithful, and even with his temper he’s something more than Natylia’s guard.
The book explores themes of growing up in the face of adversity, as seen with the protagonist’s ascension to the throne. The trials she faces make her grow up from a young girl into a full-fledged woman right before your eyes. This coming-of-age theme really kept me turning pages all the way through. The author’s writing delivers complex ideas easily, but at times I felt the story was hampered by excessive descriptions, which detracted from the momentum built with some very well orchestrated action scenes. At the same time however, I can’t help but feel that the descriptions helped cement the world better and evoke a stronger image about the story. I suppose this is to say, if you like deep descriptive world building then this book is for you.
While the character development was excellent, I felt that some of the relationships that Natylia has throughout the book were shallow and easily cast aside. There were some relationships that I did enjoy, such as our protagonist’s relationship with her parents and siblings, but others seem to be thrown aside or not developed. I was given just enough to be deeply intrigued and begged for more.
Nevertheless, even with these flaws the book was a thrilling read. The prose was crafted with care and the author was very descriptive throughout. When the action came it kept me on the edge of my seat and was very fun to read.
Pages: 424 | ASIN: B07CMGSDRD
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Your novels always have in depth characters and twisting plots. What is your writing process like before and during the process?
Thanks for mentioning that. I work hard to make my characters interesting. I think the most important detail is to create characters that are flawed. Start off with their flaws and build up to the traits that make them likeable and then move slowly, for some, to things that are redeeming.
My characters are meant to seem like everyday people. I do not like to paint them as black or white, I like to use the hundreds of shades of grey in-between. That, in my opinion, makes them more believable and fascinating.
Have you ever thought about exploring different mediums to tell your stories; ex. comics, games, etc.?
This year, I translated one of my novels into comic book script format and submitted it to IDW Comics. I then sent AND even hand-delivered those scripts and copies of my novels to them. I am waiting to hear back. I should be meeting with a representative of the company in the new year.
I am very much a fan of comic and anime. I would love to write for them. While it would be amazing to do so with my own properties, I would also like a shot at writing something like G.I. Joe or something else from the 80’s.
The way I write is imagining my story as a movie. So, my goal would be to have one of my novels or series to become a movie or TV series. With Netflix and Amazon picking up so many books these days, I need to get my works into their hands. If you are reading this Netflix, give me a call. 😊
Writers often find inspiration everywhere and in everything they do. Do you find yourself often looking at the world through the lens of a writer?
Well… I will point out weak writing in a TV show or movie I am watching, but for the most part I separate my two worlds now.
That being said, I do look at the world and see things as a visual artist. Which might be why people often compliment my writing as being so vivid. I spent so many years in art school struggling to force what I saw in my head onto paper in pencil, charcoal, paint, etc…. Over time, I realized I could take those imagines in my head and translate them to words. It was the only way I was able to truly creatively express myself. And it turned out to be much easier.
Since I am both an artist and an author, I do wish to experience life, but my inspiration comes from surrounding myself with the things I love and bring me happiness. Sometimes it just takes watching a good episode of one of my favorite shows to get me fired up.
What novel are you working on right now and when will it be available?
Good question. I finished the Water Kingdom Series and its final book is just being prepped for release. It should be out in late January 2019. It is called THREE BURNING RED RUNAWAY BRIDES.
Then, I will start editing book three in the four book SOUL BORN Series. It is written but needs work. It was originally 180,0000 words long, so I had to break it into two books.
Lastly, I will get back to working on the follow-up to THE LIFEBLOOD OF ILL-FATED WOMEN. Hopefully have that released in early 2020.
All Opal wanted was to be respected as a wielder of magic, but her teachers passed her over time and time again. When a mysterious warlord embarks on a conquest to destroy the lands of Illyia, Opal seizes the opportunity to step out from the shadows of her instructors and take her rightful place among them. Tala, an alluring young elf, was banished from her tribe, hunted and nearly killed by the beasts of the deep forests, but more than anything else she is a survivor. Joining forces with an ancient elemental power, Tala finds herself in the center of an unrelenting human war. Flesh like leather and bone as strong as steel, Karn, a veteran from the first kingdom to fall, is fueled by vengeance. While pushing headlong into battle Karn begins recalling memories of another life: ghosts that haunt his dreams. Through death of soul, their new world is born.
Posted in Interviews
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Rathen: Into Bramblewood Forest follows Rathen and his crew as they fight against an ancient and terrible deity. What was your inspiration for the setup to this novel?
Bramblewood Forest is the second book in the Rathen Series and continues from the first, but also reads well as a stand-alone story. The inspiration for the series came from when Steve and I played role playing games in the early 80’s. Steve, as my step-father would bring home a variety of board and card games where you had to create background stories. I am not sure many people these days can imagine a life without the internet or well-made computer games, but we had to be creative and use our own imaginations for entertainment.
We also played a lot of Dungeon & Dragons back then where we created entire worlds with a complete cast of characters. I was just a teenager but I learned what went into creating a story. My particular passion homed in on how the characters were influenced by their environments and worlds and how an ordinary inhabitant could strive to be a superhero even without supernatural powers.
The legend of Ghrakus Castle was roughly based on a story Steve created a long time ago. I took the idea, drew more into it, and added that as a background for the characters to interact. Steve and I have endeared a long lasting collaboration on stories and role playing game ideas and hope to keep it going for a while longer.
This is a thrilling book that combines elements of science fiction and fantasy. What was the collaboration like between the two of you while writing this book?
This was the fun part. Steve and I would sit and talk for hours brainstorming new ideas and concepts that we could integrate into the story. We created the magic system in Rathen’s world and explains in detail the strengths and weaknesses. We described things from completely other worlds and even went as far as explaining how the deities came into being. My favorite creation was the ancient being known as “Arg’grimorem” Rathen and his group had to face. Believe me, it isn’t easy coming up with new ideas in the fantasy genre, but I think this creature was unique.
There were so many intriguing characters in this novel. Who was your favorite character to write for?
That is a difficult question. I really got into the heads of all the characters giving me such a strong connection to them. Rathen is always fun to write, but we had such a variety in this book. Magom, who is the character that really stands out in the group, was a challenge since he is an undead being. I had to really think what it would be like to be dead but yet still walking around and interacting with others. But I have to say my favorite character to write for in this book was Caswen, the young cleric from the temple. She had such a fun `coming of age` story and her character arc really made her feel complete. I wanted to continue writing her even after her story had ended.
This is book two in The Rathen Series. Where will book three take readers and when will it be available?
Book three, “The Battle for Korganis”, is still being written. Rathen will enter Bandark’s strange new world and help fight against the forces of the evil deity. It is shaping up to be quite an epic battle. It may be overly optimistic, but I am hoping for a release near the end of 2019.
A man driven by revenge. Another world in peril. A long-forgotten deity determined to destroy all in its path to ultimate power.
Rathen, ex-captain of the late king’s army, pulls together a team to defeat the evil that threatens them all. The Book of Ziz, with its instructions for protective spells against an evil deity has fallen into the nefarious hands of High Priest Litagus, meaning soon untold evil will reign unchecked if Rathen fails.
Consumed by his personal vengeance for the betrayer in the earlier death of his friends, Rathen travels to the ruins of Ghrakus Castle to enlist the aid of the very being who tried to kill Rathen once before. Only the black powers of this ancient evil can ensure their mission to steal the book back, but can those powers be trusted?
To safeguard his group, Rathen also recruits Caswen, an inexperienced young healer determined to make her mark on the world. Together with Bulo, an ex-gladiator and fellow warrior, Thack, a one-armed half-orc, and Bandark, a mysterious mage from another world, the group heads through the menacing Bramblewood Forest to confront Litagus and his followers.
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