A Tangled Web is set against the backdrop of one of the most devastating tsunamis in Japan and follows three children as they navigate their new lives. Why was this an important story for you to write?
When I first heard about the tsunami in 2011, it was a huge thing and I remember being really intrigued by it, however, I was only a teenager and newspapers didn’t particularly interest me, though I loved reading. For some reason, what I head heard about the events stayed with me for years and when I traveled to Japan for the first time several years ago I started developing a story line – though I didn’t start writing it until my second visit at the beginning of 2016. It was important for me to write because, although there are many factual sources and several non-fiction books, in all my research I only found one fiction story about the Japan tsunami in 2011 which I think is a shame because I believe most people prefer fiction and can learn so much through it, yet it is a relatively unexplored subject. Therefore, my aim was to provide a book for YA which is both interesting and explores what happened in 2011 and afterwards, hopefully encouraging people to then go and do their own research.
The three children in this beautiful coming of age story have a lot of depth. What were some obstacles you felt were important to develop the characters?
I think it was important that at the beginning Taiyo was quite naive and selfish, a little unlikable if I’m being honest, but that gave her the opportunity to grow and develop as a character so that in the end she had the strength to deal with the catastrophe that happens. To me it was also important that Ryuu and Kairi be total opposites and yet both be likeable and relatable characters.
What were some themes you felt were important to highlight in this story?
I think friendship is a very important theme in this book; before Ryuu and Taiyo develop feelings for each other, they are first and foremost friends, as are she and Kairi. Another important theme is the value of telling the truth. Taiyo tells a lot of lies in this story and ends up so tangled in them that she can’t see a way out, hence the title. Though told for good reasons, those little lies mount up and ultimately lead to her and Ryuu being at the coast when the tsunami hits, while their friends and family are completely unaware of the peril they’re in.
What is the next story that you’re working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently working on another novella set in Japan, however, this one follows the Taiji dolphin hunt. Starting in 2009 when the documentary The Cove was released and ending in future 2018, Red Days follows and English reporter with Japanese roots who finds herself drawn to the cause and ends up fighting to save them.
Red Days is still a work in progress; I recently finished the first draft, however, it needs to undergo several rounds of editing before it will be ready for release, which will hopefully be around September this year.
Taiyo is a normal high-school girl living with her Grandmother in Sendai. She goes to school, partakes in club activities and hangs out with her two best friends, twin brothers Ryuu and Kairi. However, her perfect world is shattered when she begins dating Kairi but quickly discovers she’s already in love with Ryuu.
A tangled web of lies surrounds the pair, but everything is suddenly knocked into perspective on March 11th when they are caught up in a natural disaster that devastates the country and robs thousands of their homes, their possessions and their lives…”
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Set against the backdrop of one of the most devastating natural disasters in recent history, A Tangled Web by ML Sparrow tells a tale of teenage angst and romance. A girl abandoned by her parents and twin brothers wrapped up in their emotions weave this tale of romance, betrayal and heartache. Hayashi Taiyo has lived with her grandmother since the death of her mother. She has grown up with twins Kita Ryuu and Kairi in the quiet little town they live in. Things start off soft and slow as we learn about their everyday lives. As with most teenagers, growing emotions and endless confusion seek to disrupt the delicate balance between the three. Two brothers who are as opposite as fire and ice and the girl caught between them. However a tsunami is coming and it will upend their lives in ways they couldn’t imagine.
This novella is just the right length. The relationships between the three who are caught up in the love triangle are delicately portrayed. There is just enough backstory to understand the past of the characters and their mindsets without feeling as though something is missing. The risk a lot of novella’s run is that there is not enough explanation. Sparrow crafts the tale in such a way that the small page count doesn’t detract from the story itself.
By using the romaji forms of several Japanese words in the story the reader can feel much more like they are experiencing every day life in Japan. There is a handy glossary at the back of the book but the sentences they are used in and the way Sparrow writes makes it easy to understand what the words are meant to mean. This saves the reader from having to flip to the end of the novella while reading.
The tsunami in Japan in March of 2011 was devastating. A force of nature that could not be stopped devoured lives and homes without regard. Sparrow indicates at the beginning of the novella which books they read to better understand what happened. By listing them out it allows the reader to continue investigating the event on their own time. This novella is a work of fiction and whether or not Taiyo and her twin friends Ryuu and Kairi actually exist is unknown. What is true is that there are people who lived through the tsunami just like our three protagonists did.
A Tangled Web because is a story about three young people who are trying to navigate the transition from childhood to adulthood. It’s a delicate journey and the severity of the tsunami serves to illuminate the fact that life will go on. The tsunami is like the tumultuous relationship between the three. It attempts to tear them apart, to drown them, and it will change them forever. It’s a lovely read for those who are interested in a coming of age story with a touch of reality.
Pages: 89 | ASIN: B01MRU67AN
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Player follows Chloe, a British student attending college in the United States where she falls in love with a star football player. What was the inspiration to write a story about a British girl living in the United States and the subsequent love story?
Well, I actually applied to study in America (Texas being my first choice!), however, due to various reasons I ended up not going. This story sprang from that and, of course, I had to make it a romance because the lovey-dovey stuff is my favourite thing to write!
I felt that the relationship between Chole and Parker was deep and always entertaining to read. What was the inspiration for the love that develops between Chloe and Parker?
To be honest, their love wasn’t inspired by anything, it just grew and developed as I wrote the story. I’m so happy with the way that their relationship turned out; I liked the way Chloe and Parker were together, but I also thought that they were also strong characters apart.
What was one scene in the novel that you felt captured the morals and message you were trying to deliver to readers?
Probably the scene where Parker punches one of his team mates for being rude to Chloe, because the message that I was trying to get across in this book was that New Adult romances don’t need to be jam-packed with unrealistic drama, with hero’s that are ridiculously overprotective and get into fights at the smallest provocation. That’s not real life. In real life you can’t go around punching people that annoy you. In real life you have to talk to your partner otherwise there WILL be misunderstandings. In the scene that I’m talking about Chloe is not accepting of Parkers behaviour and makes it clear that she won’t put up with it, instead of just accepting it or thinking its sexy.
Player is the first book in the What Happens on Campus series. Can you tell us a little about where the story goes in book two and when the novel will be available?
Book two will be Flirt, Riley and Cameron’s book and it will explore Riley’s broken dreams and the reasons behind her escalating drug abuse, among other issues. I haven’t actually started writing it yet, though I plan to soon, and I’m hoping to have it ready for release in mid/late 2017.
After a tragic accident which leaves her tormented by guilt, Chloe Newman accepts a scholarship to study a St. Joseph’s University. Traveling from England to Texas, the last thing she expects is to meet the schools charming quarterback on her first night. However, Parker Mitchell is a player both on and off the field.
Parker is immediately fascinated by Chloe and, after a rocky start, they manage to find a way to make their relationship work despite interference from others on campus, including Parkers jealous ex, and the ghosts that haunt Chloe’s conscience. But, the real test comes when they visit Parker’s family over Christmas break and he finds himself being pulled back into their lifestyle…
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When twenty-year-old Chloe gets a scholarship to a university in South Texas, she’s more than happy to leave behind memories of a horrendous car accident that occurred two years earlier in her homeland of England. A fish out of water in the small, Texan town, Chloe immediately finds a friend in her roommate. Parker is an All-American football star at St. Joseph’s University in Texas. Known throughout campus as the ultimate ladies man, he’s just as surprised as his friends when he meets Chloe and can’t seem to shake her from his mind. While Parker’s interest in Chloe grows, she makes it known that she is a relationship girl only. Will he be able to change his ways? And can she finally outrun the ghosts that chase after her?
M.L. Sparrow’s Player: What Happens on Campus #1, appears to be a thoroughly entertaining attempt in kick-starting a series about these college students from a small university in Texas. Two worlds collide as British born Chloe and American raised Parker navigate separate sides of this story to bring it together as a whole.
The author does do a thorough job in keeping the story moving and keeping the reader on seat’s edge. Sparrow does not skimp on the drama, throwing plot twists and new characters into the mix to keep the story moving along at a speedy pace. The many plot twists and heightened drama alone make this story a worthwhile read for anyone looking to enjoy some easy entertainment.
Pages: 235 | ASIN: B01HH8GEF2
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Darcy is an average teenager; worrying about grades, college, and friends. She stumbles across the love of her life and is happier than she’s ever been. Too bad the world is ending. Mysterious meteors falling from the sky bring death and destruction to the world leaving behind bodies that rise from the dead, with glowing eyes and an insatiable hunger. With the help of her new love, Alec, Darcy is able to save her sister and her best friend. But after the dust settles the hard part begins; living in this new post apocalyptic world.
The Demon Inside begins as many other young adult novels and I was worried that I was in for another coming of age teenage angst type novel. But instead I was pleasantly surprised to find the novel takes a turn early on towards a more post apocalyptic horror story which blends nicely with the aforementioned genre. Darcy is worried about grades, family, friends, and love, and in the first couple of well written chapters those things build a connection between the characters. In the middle of the novel is where Darcy’s friendships and love are really put to the test as the world she knew is destroyed. Meteors fall from the sky and people turn into creatures that feed on other people. Darcy loses her family and she has to go on the run. The group make a new life in a community of people that prefer isolation over friendship. Most of the novel is about the connections that Darcy makes with the people in the community they begin to build. I think that the destruction of the world, and the resulting creatures, was something that drove the characters together, but wasn’t something that moved the story along. The Demon Inside is a character driven story that deftly builds complex connections between people and their motives. All of this great character building leads to a truly heart breaking ending where I was literally left with my mouth open as I read the last few sentences of the book.
I felt that 25% of the story could easily be cut out by a good editor. Removing a lot of over explanations of character movements and overly detailed descriptions. I loved the world building that was going on. I just wish more was left to my own imagination. The Demon Inside is a great read and would be perfect for anyone looking for a young adult novel that is set in a post apocalyptic world.
Pages: 342 | ISBN: 1516990447
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Ghetto is a dystopian novel where the people must fight against segregation. What was your inspiration for the ‘ghetto’ and the injustices the people face within it?
To begin with, Ghetto started as an idea for a story based on WW2 and the Holocaust. Clearly, other inspirations took hold and I decided to go another route with it! However, that was the inspiration for the Ghetto, the fight against segregation and all the other terrible injustices. Maybe one day I’ll actually write that WW2 story…
Sunny Beaumont is a sheltered computer geek that gets caught up with rebels fighting against the same government her father leads. How did you handle her transition from a pampered life to one where she’s hit with a dark reality?
Like most things when writing a story, I found it just kind of happened! I know that’s probably not the answer you’re looking for, but it’s the truth! I did try to make the transition slow and gradual, in an effort to make it realistic, giving her clues here and there, then letting her slowly connect the dots until she realized the reality of life in the Ghetto.
Many young adult novels have strong female protagonists. Why do you think that is a popular trend and why did you choose a female character as your lead?
I think it’s a popular trend, because people want to show that girls can be the strong ones too, that we’re not always the damsels in distress. This, however, wasn’t why I chose a female lead character – my reasons weren’t as good as that! My main reason was that I find it easier to write from a female perspective, but also because (no offense intended) I often find that women are more emotional and often open-minded, which was something I really needed in this book to make it work.
I thought you did a great job in this story with pacing and tension and setting a realistic mood. What is your writing style like and how do you use that to achieve a well written scene?
Although I’ve been writing all my life, I’ve only started doing it seriously in the last few years and I don’t think I’ve settled into a writing style just yet. Thinking about it, I’m not sure I want to… I just try to fit my way of writing into a way that fits the type of book I’m writing. At first, I found Ghetto difficult because I’d decided to write it in first person, from Sunny’s point of view, which was something I’d never done before. When I start writing a scene, I don’t really think about how I’m writing it, usually it just flows. However, when doing an action scene or something fast paced, I do try to keep my sentences short and simple as I feel that it helps to give the scene a ‘snappy’ pace. On the flip side, to slow a scene down I like longer, more complex sentences.
Are you working on another book? If so, what is it about and when can I read it?
Yes, I am. This one’s a bit different from my current works, as I’ve decided to steer away from Sci-fi and fantasy to create a contemporary romance based at a Texas university, between a British scholarship student and the schools star quarterback. Star-player (I’m still undecided on the title!) will be the first of four books in the What Happens on Campus series. I’ve almost finished it, actually, but it still needs a lot of editing! A tentative release date would probably be some time in the Autumn, maybe late Summer depending on how quickly I edit, but no promises! For more information, you can always check out my website which I keep up to date.
My name’s Sunny Grace Beaumont. Branded SGB/2/6895/03.12.93. Only child, self-taught computer geek and cancer survivor. Oh, and did I mention my dad’s the President? As you can imagine that’s sometimes a little problematic, especially when I want to sneak out. But it never got me into quite as much trouble as the night I ventured into the Ghetto – don’t ask me why I was there in the first place… it was stupid. Everyone knows that the Ghetto is where hardened criminals are sent to live out the remainder of their lives. At first the men that kidnap me are just as I’d imagine, mean and thoughtless, but slowly I begin to have doubts. I meet a guy. His name’s Sin, he has no Brand – a crime punishable by death – and he’s the rebel leader. I should hate him… but I don’t. Instead he opens my eyes to a whole other side of the Ghetto, where people are innocent of the crimes they’re accused of and helpless children suffer dreadful poverty. Is it possible that I’ve been lied to my entire life… that the governments been deceiving everyone? And how can I challenge the law my own dad is adamant to uphold?
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Sunny Beaumont is the protected, pampered teenaged daughter of President Peter Beaumont. It might seem like a charmed life, but Sunny is trapped in a class-based society where her only friends are her stylist and her robot. She’s a budding computer genius and tinkerer, keeping herself busy with low-level hacking and rebuilding obsolete equipment for fun.
When Sunny needs a part for her project, she discovers it inside the Ghetto—the compound where criminals are confined for the good of society. When she ventures in to retrieve it, she’s kidnapped by the resistance. Her experience helps her discover that the rigid class system is hurting innocent people. Can she use her position to change society? Or will she accept the status quo?
If you’re a fan of the film District 9, you’ll enjoy Ghetto by M.L. Sparrow. The book examines similar social issues including segregation, guilt by association, and injustice. Though it was a little slow to start, the author uses the first few chapters to provide a lot of detail about the world Sunny lives in. Every member of society carries a brand that’s impossible to remove and mandatory for living in the city. The brand is so important that it’s a capital offense no not have a brand. It’s definitely written for a younger audience, but the fast-paced plot and rich descriptions make it a good read for any age. Told in the first person, Sunny shows us her world in her words and helps readers understand her actions and her motivations behind them.
When Sunny is kidnapped, she’s initially terrified, but the longer she stays as a “guest” of the resistance, the more she realizes that things aren’t right. She questions herself, even wondering if she’s experiencing Stockholm Syndrome until it’s clear to her that the system that was supposed to provide safety and security has gone terribly wrong.
She starts to make friends with other group members like Maya and Kit and develops a crush—and a tentative truce—with Sin, the leader. Of course, a romance slowly develops between Sin and Sunny. I really enjoyed that it wasn’t sudden, or forced, and they butted heads and fought until they were friends, and the romance came naturally. She also makes real friends for the first time in her life, people who like her for who she is, not her social position.
One thing I really liked about the book is the action. The author is very good at pacing and tension and setting a mood so realistic that at times, I felt like I was part of the story. There are only a few instances of actual violence, and those are handled in a realistic manner. It was also refreshing when Sunny realized that violence wasn’t the solution; the real fight was in the arena of public opinion.
The biggest problem with Ghetto wasn’t the story, or characters, or plot. There are too many errors in the text. No book is perfect; I see typos in nearly every book I read. But there were enough punctuation problems and homonym errors that I got distracted and couldn’t overlook them. A good proofreading pass would catch these, and would make this gem of a novel shine brighter. That said, it doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of the story.
Overall, I recommend Ghetto for the great characters and the rich world that M.L. Sparrow builds. If you’re a fan of dystopian fiction, science fiction, or you’re just looking for a good romance, you won’t be disappointed!
Pages: 382 | ISBN: 1516913744
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M.L. Sparrow, author of the fantastic novel No Rest for the Wicked, takes time to answer questions about her book. We learn about how she created her characters, their relationships, and how she tactfully writes sex scenes.
What was your inspiration for creating the kind of relationship that Anthony and Elira have?
There actually wasn’t anything that specifically inspired me to write the kind of relationship between Anthony and Elira – it just kind of happened while I was writing! I knew what sorts of personalities I wanted my characters to have and from there I just developed their relationship the way I thought it would go!
What is the message that you hope readers take away from No Rest for the Wicked?
That love is blind. It shouldn’t matter what your background is, what race or religion you are; people should be loved for who they are inside and the opinions of others shouldn’t sway your opinions if you are truly happy.
Elira didn’t make things easy for Anthony nor for herself as she fought against falling for him. Why do you think she fought so hard?
I think the main reasons were self-doubt and a lack of self-confidence. Being brought up the way she was, and experiencing the things she went though, she didn’t really know much about love, especially not romantic love. She doubted his intentions, but she also doubted herself and worried that she wasn’t good enough for him, which was why she fought him so hard at every turn.
I liked Moira’s character. Did you ever have a housekeeper like that?
No. Moira’s character was another thing that just happened whilst I was writing. Originally I only meant for her to be a simple background character, but she pushed her way to the front and I’m glad she did, because I really enjoyed creating her character.
What was one thing that was difficult for you to write in this story?
The sex scenes, definitely. When I started writing this story I’d never written anything aimed at adults and I’d certainly never written a sex scene. At first I found it really difficult to write them, because I didn’t want to shy away from it, but then I didn’t want it to be too crude either. In the end though, I think they turned out alright!
When a rich gentleman finds a beautiful young woman lying in the snow, on the brink of death, he takes her back to his house and, when she has recovered, employs her as a maid. Immediately Elira realizes that Anthony Luther is no ordinary man and nothing about the house she now lives in is as it seems, for Anthony is a powerful wizard. Inexplicably drawn together, they begin a tentative romance, but it’s not just Elira’s uncertainties and the rules of upper-class society which drive a wedge between them; rivalries and a precious family heirloom, a priceless necklace of unforeseen power handed down through generations, threaten not only the couple’s happiness, but also their lives and the safety of the people around them.