Book of Matthew Part I is a tale of forbidden love in rural Missouri in 1850 which was a tumultuous time in the U.S. What was the inspiration that inspired the setup to this intriguing novel?
It all began with a conversation. I had just started dating the man who is now my husband and we were still getting to know one another. He asked if I would vote in the upcoming election and I replied, “of course I will. My ancestors fought and died to give me the right to. Without their sacrifices I wouldn’t be able to vote, own property, read, let alone attend my university. I wouldn’t even be able to date you.” After that conversation I started to wonder how difficult it would have been to have an interracial relationship centuries ago and my first book was born.
I have always been a lover of suspense, mystery and horror so I decided to write in these genres. My goal was to create a Jack the Ripper sort of villain, while maintaining the drama, romance and personal conflicts that make characters relatable and memorable.
While growing up I noticed a double standard in regard to history. If you were white and you wanted to trace your lineage back to the Mayflower this was perfectly acceptable. People were intrigued to hear your family’s history and they encouraged and praised your vast knowledge of a bygone era… but if you were black you were often discouraged from learning anything about your ancestry. I was told things like, “Black people need to leave the plantation,” and “Black people live in the past and need to just forget things.” Yearning to educate myself about the past is not the same as living in it. I didn’t desire someone to blame or scapegoat, all I wanted was the same answers that other races of children were encouraged to seek out.
When I received correspondence from readers in England, France, Ireland and several countries in Africa they applauded my stories and said, “Wow! This was a fascinating look at American history.” Not Black history, nor African American history. Other countries acknowledge this topic as American history because that’s exactly what it is. When I am criticized for this subject matter my response remains the same,
I don’t write racist literature. Nor do I write black history. I write American history.
The book touches on sensitive social topics rarely discussed, slavery and the dynamic between master and slave. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this story?
The main theme I wanted to capture was that every form of this institution was morally reprehensible. When I grew up in school most of my teachers refused to teach this subject whatsoever. We would skip over huge chunks of our textbooks just to avoid it. The few who did teach about it romanticized the hell out of it, and made it seem acceptable because “most slaves were like part of the family” …I actually heard this more than once. What I desired to express in this story was that even if you were a house slave who was treated better than others and much like part of the family, merely being owned endangered your life because someone has diminished your social standing from that of a human being to that of a piece of property. This fact alone placed even the best treated of slaves at risk for kidnapping, rape and murder with no law enforcement to save them.
Second, I wanted to make it known that when some of us are slaves, we all are. Destitute white men, minorities and women of all colors were treated as second class citizens because of that system of inequality.
Third, I wanted to acknowledge all the people who were adamantly opposed to slavery and fought against it at every turn. 400 years of Americans are blamed and villainized for what some people did. Though slavery was socially acceptable, not everyone agrees with 100% of what is socially acceptable. Disagreeing with social norms is what makes us individuals. Fighting against corrupt social norms is what makes us heroes. The people who stood against these heinous acts are rarely recognized, but without them our society would’ve failed to evolve.
Sarah is a slave that is targeted by a serial killer that murders with impunity. What were the driving ideals behind Sarah’s character development?
The driving force behind Sarah’s character development was the total lack thereof I have witnessed in similar stories. In many of the plantation novels I have read the slaves are faceless one-dimensional victims who serve as little more than background for white main characters. The female slave characters were poorly developed and served as little more than objects of lust incapable of inspiring true feelings of love and affection. Reading a plantation novel with no black main characters is like reading Memoirs of a Geisha with no geisha. These stories failed to capture my attention and I found the characters unrealistic and totally unrelatable. When I wrote a book I was determined to make sure there were black main characters as well as white ones, and that ALL of my characters have depth and unique personalities. I wanted Sarah’s character to have hopes, dreams, ambitions, drama and romantic conflicts of her own. I yearned to put a human face on a slave character, an aspect rarely seen in books of this nature. Though there have been many forbidden lust stories in this genre I wanted to give Sarah an against all odds forbidden love story readers wouldn’t soon forget.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Revelations: The Colburn Curse is a prequel to Book of Matthew that traces the Colburn family back to their beginnings in New Orleans, Louisiana. In this story Matt Colburn Sr. is a young plantation heir who has been given the duty of protecting an aristocrat named, Arial. He falls madly in love with the elusive heiress, but she is hiding a deadly secret that has made her the target of the Louisiana Strangler, a secret that endangers everyone she holds dear, especially Matt. This book is already available for purchase on amazon.com.
The Infinity series is based on the many star crossed lifetimes of Sarah and Matthew. I wrote this series for readers who enjoy historical suspense but prefer a tale with less violence and adult content. Three of the ten books are already available on amazon.com.
Book of Matthew II: Ancient Evil will be released December 2018.
Women of color are not a priority of law enforcement in 1800’s Missouri. They are not even considered human. These social injustices allow a serial killer to run rampant. Sarah, a beautiful black slave, finds herself in the crosshairs of a monster who murders with impunity. The only one concerned with her plight is the master’s son. Will Matthew find the strength to rescue this slave girl, even if he lacks the courage to admit he’s in love with her…
It’s Jack the Ripper meets Roots in this pulse pounding historical thriller. House of Whispers packs the chills of a Stephen King book, the romance of a Nicholas Sparks novel and the in your face irony of an M. Night Shyamalan flic.
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Historian-for-hire Wrenn Grayson takes on a difficult client in Kerry St. John. Kerry seeks justice for his great-grandfather’s lifelong heartache. Wrenn meets the renowned jeweler through words recorded in his tattered journal. The year is 1946. He writes from the tiny crossroads of Wyatt, Ohio, about the theft of a treasured locket and the identity of three possible suspects.
The cold case heats up when Lori Hammond arrives. The stolen locket was discovered among her mother’s possessions after her death. Lori refuses to return it to the St. John family, so Wrenn sets out to follow the locket’s path through history. Next, Lori is attacked and Kerry accused. If Kerry’s not guilty, then who is? That question sends cold whispers from the past down Wrenn’s spine.
In Designs on Ivy’s Locket, Connie Chappell focuses on the theme of parents and children, separated by death, by theft, and by design.
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Eternal Bloodlines follows Amanda, an average girl with a boring life when an unexpected event sends her life hurtling in a sinister direction. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
I have always love vampires. However, I wanted to create a story that readers could relate to, one that was different, and Amanda is the one character who could do just that.
I felt that Amanda was a fascinating character, her later character contrasted greatly with her beginning character. What were some obstacles you felt were important to her development?
Actually, there were not any obstacles to Amanda’s development. I used much of how I felt growing up in a small town: want nothing more than to get out, get away, and have an adventure. The use of my personal insights and experiences from growing up in a small town (though none of those experiences involved a vampire, of course) made Amanda’s development almost seamless.
The bond that forms between Amanda and Mihnea is one of the things that I enjoyed about this book. What were the driving ideas behind their relationship throughout the story?
It was important that Mihnea be someone Amanda thought she knew all about from her research and her passion for the vampire legend. It was also important that when she meets the man, she believed she knew about, that he was not that person. But, he needed to be someone she empathizes with, that she can relate to. He needed to be a surprise and change everything she thought she had learned.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next novel is coming in July. It’s titled Shadows Fall. And though I don’t want to give too much away, Detective Levi Sterling has his handful with trying to catch a serial killer.
A series of unexplained murders and a near-fatal accident propel a desperate woman down a dark and sinister road.
Twenty-four-year-old Amanda Holston dreams of getting a little excitement in her life. In the sleepy town of Skidway Lake that may be asking too much. One snowy morning, while walking through the woods, Amanda stumbles upon the mutilated remains of a young woman. Hours later, police uncover two more bodies. Just when things seem to be getting interesting, Amanda is in a near fatal accident, causing her sanity to come into question. She hears voices in her head and sees a dark man in her dreams. She blames the delusions on the accident. But the dark man is all too real.
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Dance with the Devils starts with a gruesome murder which sets of a series of events that brings detective Nate Burns out of retirement. What did you want to be different about this novel from your other murder mystery works?
Nate has been medically retired from the department and has not adjusted well to the forced inactivity. I wanted the murders to be complex enough that they would serve as an enticement to get Nate off the couch, so to speak. The gruesomeness of the killings is evidence of the mindset of the killer, which is the reason for Nate decides to become involved. The staging of the bodies, as there is more than one killing, also becomes an attractant for Nate.
I thought you did a fantastic job with the setting and descriptions. How do you balance story telling with setting and character development?
The initial setting was determined by previous novels and Las Vegas is where Nate’s friend Jack resides. It is also the money source as an investigation as I describe would require funding in large amounts of money. There had to be a tie in there. The other locations were chosen for various reasons, the last one in Ohio is the hometown of the narrator of my books for audio. I wanted to give him a nod of “thanks.”
Character development is the most important part of the writing process for me. With interesting and engaging characters a story can be set in a shoebox. Every character I include in the story has a developed backstory and the possibility of a continuing story, if need be. More than one of my minor characters have grown into larger roles, and continued in the next book in the series.
I felt like Gabe Monet was one character that had to grow on me, and continued to develop throughout the novel. What was the inspiration for that character?
Gabe was the personification of the story. She is another version of Nate, she, like him is the overachiever with baggage. Where Nate uses his surliness to distance people, Gabe uses her outlandish behavior and sexuality. Readers of the series will remember Nate has an attraction to women like Gabe, and I also wanted her to serve as a temptation to him. She develops and with Nate’s help can depend more on her abilities as a detective and therefor lower her defensive actions. I wanted Gabe to be Nate’s reflection and I think I accomplished that
It seems like this book leaves the door open for a follow up novel. Will there be another story in this series?
Oh, most certainly. Dance with the Devils is the third book in the Nate and Clare series. Much is happening to the characters in the stories. Nate is struggling to find new direction. Clare (his wife) is finishing law school. The older daughter Lizzie is graduating high school with the stated desire to follow her dad into law enforcement. The Las Vegas side of the team has Jack growing bored with what he does. His wife Terri is not doing well after being shot. Jack’s friend and bodyguard “Snake” is still in a coma and “Gunny” is growing restless. There are many more stories yet to be told.
The murder was brutal. The scene resembled a slaughterhouse. “We need Nate Burns,” Jack Mill said and set about getting the medically retired detective to Vegas. Such a simple request will lead Nate not only on a manhunt across the country but also back in time thirty years where he will struggle to understand the implications of the Cold War.
Book three, in the Nate and Clare series, finds Nate trying to come to terms with being medically retired from the department. Unsure who he is any longer, he hesitates to accept the challenge. For the first time, he afraid he might fail.
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Man with the Sand Dollar Face is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a thriller, mystery, and crime fiction as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I wrote the rough draft for Man with the Sand Dollar Face in less than twenty-four hours without concern for where the story was going or where it would end. I have written like this before, and I have always found it to be a wild and thrilling experience similar to watching a heart-pounding adventure movie. I laughed at Hattie’s antics and cried over the tragedies she faced.
Hattie is a quirky widow in her sixties when she pursues clues that get her caught up with drug traffickers. What were some themes you wanted to explore while writing her character?
Some of the themes that came through were issues of tremendous importance; for example, compassion and personal expression. Hattie was like a quirky aunt that you could not help but love. I wanted her rambling thoughts to drive the reader crazy as they unknowingly became emotionally attached to her child-like innocence.
The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
My favorite character to explore was Vic; he had a complex personality that was at times compassionate and other times terrifyingly brutal.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
I am currently working on the revisions for an adult fiction that delves into Quantum Physics that I hope to have ready for release in 2019 along with a sequel to Man with the Sand Dollar Face.
Hattie Crumford, a quirky widow in her early sixties, takes her first job answering the phone in a private investigator’s office. Running a little late one morning, she discovers an agitated man pacing at the office door. He insists he must see the PI immediately. In the midst of his anxious demands, he clutches his chest and collapses. Shocked, Hattie runs for help. Upon returning, the man has disappeared. Detective Hugo Gabby and Hattie’s boss, Wallace C. Woodard, are skeptical and dismissive of her story. To prove it’s not her wild imagination, Hattie sets out to find the missing manusing only the cryptic note he left in his place and his last words as her clues.
Meanwhile, the private investigator is onto something and tells Hattie to retrieve a disc in his file cabinet, which must be delivered to the police immediately.
When Hattie returns to the office the next morning, she’s met by two men who usher her out at knife point and drag her into a waiting limo. Abducted and held hostage, she’s drugged by her captors who are trying to get the mysterious disc.
As the story unfolds, Hattie Crumford finds herself embroiled in an international drug trafficking ring. Everything hinges on the man with the sand dollar face.
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I really like a good mystery. The Lethal Legacy by JL Phelan was just that. I was flipping through pages as fast as I could. That is always my highest praise. The book opens with the discovery of a death on a beach in Costa Rica in 1914. The dead woman is an heir to the Mariani Cacao Company. Her name is Briana Mariani Delaney.
The story then jumps to present day to the interactions between Dr. Samantha Delaney and Karina Mariani Ortiz. They are the current heirs to the Mariani fortune. They do not know each other, but that is about to change as they try to unravel the mysteries surrounding the Mariani family. What starts as a simple curiosity to know more about family history soon becomes something else altogether.
One of the main draws for this book is its varied setting. It goes back and forth between New York City, Philadelphia, Miami, Costa Rica, Geneva, Caracas, Colombia, Paris, and Bordeaux. I found the descriptions of these cities very evocative. The action also moves seamlessly between time periods from 1881 to the present. Because of the skill with which the author moves between time period and characters, the reader never gets a chance to be bored.
Briana is at the heart of the book. She marries John Delaney and has 4 children. Despite the fact that she is a woman in a time when women did not take charge, she ends up largely running the Mariani family empire. As the Mariani family goes through many trials, Briana manages to keep them mostly on track.
Somehow, along the way, the family loses the company. This is the mystery that Samantha and Karina end up trying to solve. Along with the help of Samantha’s husband, Brett, Karina’s husband, Martin, and Karina’s father, Richard, they all become immersed in trying to find out what really happened on that beach so long ago. Nothing is what it seems though. Adding to the intrigue, they find themselves being anonymously threatened as well. Cryptic notes telling them to quit digging are left for them. They find themselves facing very real dangers along the way.
The book is very well written. It flows in a smooth and logical fashion, especially for a book with so many different time periods and locations. The author does an amazing job of keeping it all lively and interesting.
The only negative thing about the book is that, very occasionally, some of the dialogue felt stilted. At times, it seemed a little too formal. That was very rare though. It was very good. Any negatives were far outweighed by the positives. The fact that I could not wait to turn the page to see what was going to happen made this book a very quick read.
The book is also the third book in a series. I had not read the first two before reading this one. Reading The Lethal Legacy had me quickly adding the first two books to my “to read” list. That said, the book reads well on its own and didn’t require reading the first two to enjoy the story.
Pages: 296 | ASIN: B07C2973M1
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
Posted in Literary Titan Book Award
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Historian Wrenn Grayson arrives at the Rosemont mansion expecting to receive payment for her services from the mansion’s new owner, Clay Addison. That expectation dies when she and Clay find Trey Rosemont murdered on the foyer floor. Across town, police officers race to Eastwood University. Priceless Egyptian artifacts were stolen from the history department safe. Wrenn’s longtime love, Eastwood professor Gideon Douglas, heads the department. Only recovery of the artifacts will save his career.
Life in Havens, Ohio, doesn’t stop for this crime spree. Wrenn works for Mayor K.C. Tallmadge. He wishes Wrenn would stop searching down clues ahead of the police and pacify temperamental playwright Barton Reed. Barton’s play is just days away from opening in the town’s historic Baxter Theater.
Amid murder, theft, or curtain calls, Wrenn’s instincts prove sharp. But it’s her stubborn one-woman approach that places her directly in the killer’s path.
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A Texas ATF agent, Stuart Dyson, has disappeared. When the local investigation stalls, FBI Tracker Adrian Dillard arrives in Laredo to find out why. He’s not greeted with open arms.
Plagued by the resentment from the local agents, his every lead dead ends—literally. As the body count rises, Adrian’s uncanny intuition kicks into high gear. Who knows more than they are telling? Is the missing agent an unwitting victim, or a deadly mastermind? And who is staying a step ahead of him?
Dyson’s fiancée, Homicide Detective Tracy Harlowe, may have the answers, but she’s not talking. The secrets the impetuous detective is hiding could very well get her killed.
A chilling discovery that links the two largest Texas Universities puts Homeland Security on high alert. Pressure mounts as the President demands answers. When Tracy disappears, Adrian knows he’s running out of time. There’s only one question left. Who dies next?
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When Nick Jenkins is murdered in the most heinous of fashions, Roger Devine vows to stop at nothing and spare no expense in order to find the killer. He enlists the help of hacker, Jack Mill, who in turn succeeds in dragging former detective, Nate Burns, out of retirement to solve the crime. Nate is paired, quite unwillingly, with one Detective Gabe Monet, and a week of lavish living, harrowing investigative work, and favor-calling ensues. Together Nate and Gabe begin to connect the dots between the murder of Nick Jenkins in Las Vegas and a rash of similar murders across the country.
Kwen Griffeth’s Dance with the Devils: Revenge: Best served bloody has everything I want to see in a murder mystery. It is one of those rare read-in-one-sitting novels. I hate to use the phrase, “I couldn’t put it down,” but the term, without question, applies in this case. Griffeth’s writing has a seamless flow that sucks the reader in from the first page. The visuals provided by the author are amazing. I am not one who balks at having to use my own imagination to visualize the setting, but reading is made infinitely more pleasurable when vivid details abound–at this technique Griffeth is a master.
Griffeth’s Nate Burns, is one of those main characters readers will love from his first appearance. There is nothing more endearing than a family man facing inner turmoil and coming out on top. Nate is the perfect picture of both. Watching the efficiency with which he is able to jump back into the saddle after leaving the police department, the reader can see Nate as the incredible force he once was before being shot and put out of commission. His mannerisms, vulnerability, and tendency to second guess himself make him that much more endearing. On the other hand, when Nate is on the job, he is respected, makes himself known, and is determined not to be defeated despite his obvious physical limitations. That being said, Nate Burns has joined the ranks of my favorite characters across genres.
I had a difficult time liking Gabe Monet at the outset. I felt as though she tried far too hard to overcompensate for her shortcomings and her questionable reputation. Frankly, I think Nate and his family stole my heart so quickly and completely that I had almost no room left for Gabe and her shenanigans. The author, however, does a fabulous job of slowly making Gabe Monet a more likable character, and I was left feeling much more at ease with her manner and her commentary.
I am giving Kwen Griffeth’s Dance with the Devils: Revenge: Best served bloody an emphatic 5 out of 5 stars and would give it more given the option. You don’t often find a novel of this genre that isn’t riddled with profanity and sexual situations. Griffeth has more than managed to create an engaging and gripping plot without inundating readers with uncomfortable scenes and unnecessary language. I look forward to reading more of Griffeth’s work and hope beyond hope to see a sequel to Dance with the Devils as the ending leaves the door wide open for more from Nate Burns.
Pages: 318 | ASIN: B07BV6822S
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