The Journal follows a young man’s search for his sister who has gone missing in Cambodia and finds more than he thought. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
In my early twenties, I spent two years travelling and working my way around the world. It was an exciting, engaging and enthralling adventure that I will never forget. Travelling on a shoe string budget, I began in Europe, traveled across Russia and China, moved down through South East Asia and into India before going across to Australia and New Zealand and, finally, into South America. I regularly wrote about my experiences whilst I was away and wanted to try to use this to create something, but at the time I wasn’t sure what.
A few years later, whilst doing some creative writing classes, I had an idea for a novel. I wanted to create a story that revolved around the search for meaning. I thought that it would be an interesting concept to try to explore this in the context of someone going on a literal search. I decided upon the idea of a young man searching for his sister after she had disappeared whilst travelling abroad. When I considered the setting for the story, I wanted to be able to authentically represent a part of the world in which the protagonist would instantly feel out of place and yet, at the same time, experience the wonder and amazement that the world can offer.
I liked Ethan’s character and thought he was well developed. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
I wanted to write a bildungsroman style novel and to explore some of our most fundamental questions, such as: What does it mean to be a human being? Why are we here? How should I live my life? These are questions that everybody considers at some point. It is part of the human condition to question the nature of our lives; we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. Most of the time we might ignore these questions, or not really consider them. Alternatively, we might push them to the back of our minds, thinking them unimportant in the hectic schedules of our day to day lives. However, as Albert Camus pointed out, these questions and the feelings that they evoke can push in and abruptly occur to us at any point, even just walking around a street corner. At any time we can be struck by the question of what is this really all about? And that feeling of not knowing why we are here and what’s going to happen can be quite powerful.
These questions can feel even more significant when we are on the cusp of adulthood, a time when emotions can run high, we are trying to work out who we are and are still yet to put together the pieces of our lives. When I began to write The Journal I wanted to try to create a character who would capture some of the naivety, anxiety, curiosity and idealism that comes with facing these questions at such a delicate time of life. After some different ideas, I settled on Ethan Willis, a bright, fragile eighteen-year-old boy who often struggles and feels frightened by the uncertainties that life throws at him. In The Journal, I chose to really bring out Ethan’s insecurities by making him have to go look for his absent elder sister who disappeared and was last seen on an adventure in South East Asia.
The story takes place in Cambodia and Laos. Why did you choose these locations for your novel?
When deciding on the location for the story, I turned to the notes I had kept whilst away for inspiration. Reviewing my travel writing and thinking back to my time there, I felt that South East Asia would be the perfect setting for the story. There is such a rich depth of variety, colours, tastes, sounds and experiences in South East Asia that I felt it would be the ideal place to throw my protagonist in at the deep end and highlight his sense of feeling out of place in this world. Travelling in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand can offer a visceral experience in which the beauty, awe and challenge of the world are never too far away.
In creating the world in which the protagonist, Ethan, inhabits, I drew from my memories of the back-packing scene in South East Asia: the conversations with strangers on bus journeys; the late night parties and philosophical discussions; the characters and personalities encountered along the way; the nature and intensity of the fleeting yet meaningful relationships formed in such an environment; the stunning beauty of some of the scenery; the pleasure seeking escape of being somewhere you might never be again; the desire to be individual and meaningful; the recreational drug use and the search for answers; the disdain for, and lack of understanding of, ‘real’ life; and the impact that this industry can have on those who have to live through it.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have recently finished a first draft of my second novel and am currently beginning the painful process of editing. My second novel is a very different type of story and is a thriller set in a world that is like our own but with one important difference. I hope to have a second draft completed by the end of the year.
Ethan Willis is a confused 18 year old who struggles with the uncertainties of life and has just embarked on a quest to find his elder sister, Charlotte, who disappeared whilst travelling in South East Asia. Ethan admires and idolises his sister for her spontaneity, individualism and worldly understanding. His quest to locate her throws him into the backpacking world and, following what could be his sister’s ghost, he is taken on a journey through the countryside of Cambodia, into the remotest parts of Laos and finally to the party islands of Thailand.
When Ethan finds his sister’s journal by chance, he traces her footsteps. The travel journal, along with flashbacks to their childhood, reveals Charlotte’s nature and her relationship with Ethan, taking the young man on an existential journey as he is led to address many of his questions about meaning, truth and beauty.
With the help of Elodie, a fragile and complex girl with whom he has developed a meaningful relationship, and his own growing sense of self-esteem, Ethan begins to question his relationship with his sister and why she disappeared. When he finally learns of a place in which he might be able to locate his sister, will he be ready to find her?
An adventure story of a young man trying to escape his past and punish himself for the death of his brother. Set in the wild and lawless country of Liberia, this story is an epic roller coaster ride that takes you through the exciting highs of life in a proper libertarian society, while not being shy about the harsh realities of life without law. It has romance, action, villains and an unconventional good guy pilot who might be rough on the outside but has a big heart for the country he decided to call home. Quite an education into the airline industry in a third world nation.
This novel does a great job of highlighting some inconvenient truths of emerging countries who accept deals from international companies and the harshness that occurs to the regular people.
Resource rich nations with uneducated citizens have been dominated by the rich since history began and The Dung Beetles of Liberia does a fantastic job at unmasking the on the ground truth of this exploitative situation.
Told through the eyes of a young American man running away from his problems back home, it does a great job of placing him in many different situations and meeting many different people involved in the shady business of a resource rich country, capitalizing on the lack of education of the majority of its people.
Some of the language used makes it hard to read when the author is trying to convey the accents of the natives and other pilots in the story. I felt that it could do without the misspelling of words that conveyed and the accents of characters.
The plot of the story is a bit scattered, leaving me to wonder what the central adventure/struggle was that the main character should overcome. Whilst this kept things interesting, it would have preferred to have had a few less love interests, and a stronger focus on just a few issues Ken was to face in his journey.
Overall, this story is well worth a read and does a great job in depicting what it would be like in an emerging 3rd world country that is run by dictators who are making obscene amounts of money off the backs of the native people. This is a story that is hard to put down and keeps you on your toes as to what will happen next, right down to the last chapter.
Pages: 289 | ASIN: B07PJ1K929
Jack Carney, an Air Force veteran, is now a lawyer specializing in civil cases. Jack’s life takes an unexpected turn when his friend, Connor Padget, shoots a man at the Baton Rouge Airport live on the five o’clock news and gets charged with murder. Although Jack decides to defend his friend, it comes at a price. Jack does his best to justify what Connor did and bring to light the reason he had to kill: he was protecting his family. But will it be enough? Can he save his friend?
The Trial of Connor Padget by Carl Roberts is a fantastic legal drama that describes the everyday life of an attorney and the ins and outs of the legal system from the commission of the crime to the verdict; all punctuated with military and religious elements. All the while readers get an insight into the complexity of a criminal case. The story of Connor Padget, and how he comes to shoot someone who kidnapped his son, is interesting and raises some serious moral questions.
The novel contains a wide range of characters, but there are big differences in their development and portrayal. I felt that the novel focuses on the description of the legal process, rather than on deep character building. However, the narrative for the main character Jack Carney is very well developed. He is a successful lawyer, but he is loyal to his friend, which causes some problems at the firm. The reader is treated to many details about his former profession in Air Force personnel; which will peak the interest of any military fan. With his private life causing turmoil, Jack is left to balance his profession with his personal life.
Although some details from Connor’s past are shown, his life – except some basic facts – and his characteristics stay a mystery until the end. Connor’s wife, Mary Beth and their son, Scot play a big role during the trial, yet in some cases, the motives of Mary Beth’s behavior were unclear for me.
Carl Roberts’ book is a fantastic addition to the legal drama genre. The main idea of the book is intriguing and creates a strong base for a stunning story.
Pages: 215 | ASIN: B07RC95PZZ
For the Love of Alison by Sahlan Diver is a mystery novel following David, a columnist for a newspaper in London, who is framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Or did he? In a moment of insanity. Out of the blue, David receives a call from a woman from his past. Alison invites David to visit her, but then, later that night David is arrested on suspicion of the murder of Jack. Alison has disappeared. Where did Alison go? Did she lure David in just to frame him for murder? Is anything David thinks he knows actually real?
The book intrigued me from the first chapter. I really enjoyed all the twists and turns in the story. The intrigue kept me guessing and there were several things that were revealed that came as a surprise. But at times, there were so many different pieces of information that it was a bit difficult to keep all the facts straight.
The ending of the story is bitter. I can’t say much more without giving away the ending, but it’s not an ending I was expecting at all. The characters in the novel were all superbly developed and you get drawn into their characters actions so much that you either love them or love to hate them or their actions.
For the Love of Alison is immediately captivating and consistently engrossing. With plot twists in every chapter that kept me on the edge of my seat, always guessing, judging, and flipping pages.
It’s not every day that we come across a historical work with as much life in it as we see in Left for Dead at Nijmegen: The True Story of an American Paratrooper in WWII. The level of research and attention to detail that went into the retelling of Eugene Metcalfe’s harrowing tale of survival is shown in spades. The reader has no problem understanding not only the physical situations faced by the main character but also the emotions and state of mind.
The author of this incredible story is hard to identify. Marcus A Nannini is certainly the one who organized and wrote the book, but he did such a good job putting it together that you just can’t help but think it is Gene himself telling you his own story. To add to that effect, Nannini puts a lot of focus on Gene’s sense of humor and personality.
The conversations between important members of the SS as well as many other details seem almost too good to be true from a historical perspective. Nannini dutifully constructs images and characteristics of the POW camps that his subject was forced into that were previously unknown. This work, therefore, is as important to historical study of the period as it is a riveting and fascinating tale.
The story starts off with Gene Metcalfe at school and illustrates his departure from his home, family and friends. Looking to do his part, Gene sets off and quickly finds himself shipping off. From the title, the reader knows there is going to be a traumatic event from the get-go, but what transpires afterwards is quite unpredictable. Left for dead, captured, moved from camp to camp, and bearing witness to many horrifying things, it is hard to believe at times that Gene is going to make it. Even more impactful are the ways that Gene gets himself through the atrocities he experiences.
The writing is direct, simple, and honest, relaying the same feeling that you get from the main character. Left for Dead in Nijmegen, written by Marcus A Nannini and published by Casemate, a resounding recommendation to readers of historical novels.
Pages: 256 | ASIN: B07QM86WDW
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The war the world feared finally came except this was a different kind of war. One fought between the living and the dead. The living lost.
Liam, a former soldier in the war against the dead, had done everything he could to hold back the enemy but in the end he joined the other survivors in the only safe place left— underground.
Now Liam helps keep the last of the living safe in the subway tunnels, scavenging food by day, hiding by night, all the while haunted about how they lost the world above them. He always believed the dead had help but he could never prove it.
He would soon learn he was right all along and that there is no safe place to hide from extinction—underground just might turn out to be everyones tomb after all.
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Tags: action, apocalypse, author, book, bookblogger, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, horror, john grover, kindle, kobo, literature book trailer, mystery, nook, novel, post-apocalyptic, read, reader, reading, story, suspense, thriller, trailer, underground revelations, writer, writing, zombie
King Gravynmere of Vanosia has sent some of his best soldiers to investigate strange stories in the nearby border town of Faxon. The men will soon learn there is more truth than fancy to these stories, for something walks in the fields, something with cloven hooves and fire dripping from its hands.
The king rallies his son, Prince Quinn, his entire army and all of the Kingdom of Vanosia to confront the very forces of darkness in an epic tale of adventure, magic and mystery as the veil between their world and Perdition grows thin.
Join the Prince as he battles for his land, his people and his beloved on a mission that will take him to ends of the world and back, through pain and sacrifice, war and horror as what is below claws its way to above.
Doves & Crows is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a mystery, supernatural, and drama as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
My biggest influence has always been Stephen King, whose books I have been reading since I could lift them up. As such, the novel was always destined to have a supernatural theme, perhaps with elements of horror (though nothing gratuitous; that’s not for me). The drama and mystery elements wrote themselves into the story; I had no idea how Alice actually died when I set out. What was peculiar was that the main antagonist, Big Jim, was so named way back in 2008, when I began the novel, only for the same name to be used by Mr King himself, some time later, when he wrote Under the Dome. I didn’t steal it. Honest.
What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
Continuing the Stephen King theme, it was his short story The Road Virus Heads North that proved to be the catalyst for my tale – that and The Mezzotint, by M.R. James. After reading those, all I wanted was to write a story about a picture that changed by itself. So I did. I also needed the picture to reveal the plot, which proved to be a good deal more difficult than I first thought. My second novel will be (a bit) more straightforward, I hope.
How did you create Susan and Richie characters in a way that contrasted yet still supported the characters development?
Susan and Richie were two more elements that simply ‘worked themselves out’. Whatever their good points, it had little to do with me. If I did anything, it was to try to maintain the mother-son relationship and not get too distracted by everything else.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
I have provisionally titled my second novel ‘Passenger‘. This one has more of a sci-fi theme and begins when an alien craft carrying a biological weapon for sale to the highest bidder comes down in the woods on the outskirts of a small Norfolk town. I hope to finish the book by the end of the year, with a release in late spring/early summer 2020.
Richard Carter’s grandparents enjoy a holiday in the country every year, but this time they return with more than just memories. Take that necklace, for example, the one his grandmother found in the high grass and now wants to bury. The old woman dies soon afterwards, but not before she has given it to him. Bad things begin to happen. One school bully ends up in the hospital, Richard’s estranged father, in the ground, and as the necklace works its dark magic, Richie’s mother, Susan, decides they must run, to the very house her parents loved so much.But what became of the family who lived there, and who is that girl in the upstairs window? Now, after the big man in the hat comes to call and the body count starts to rise, Susan Carter will wonder if she and Richie have made the worst, and last, decision of their lives.
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
It’s OK to be Different by Sharon Purtill
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Miss Morris Must Die is a murder mystery novel taking place in 1950’s England. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?
My inspiration for writing the book was my love of anything Agatha Christie and realised one day that as far as I’m aware, no one has ever been murdered on a murder mystery weekend when this has been a book plot. The women, with the exception of Becca, were designed to be selfish and thoughtless to contrast with Becca’s own kind nature.
The clues, like any good mystery, play a central part. How did you go about creating an intricate mystery like this?
This book has taken me a few years to write and develop. It has been an organic process and I started off with one idea of ‘What if’ and went from there. I tend to write all my books this way with a basic plot idea, then I watch them develop!
Will you be publishing this book? If so, when and where will it be available?
I have submitted this book to a publisher – it’s the first in a three-book series where Becca and Peter are the main characters.