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Ellie G. Collins Author Interview

Ellie G. Collins Author Interview

Mylee in the Mirror explores young romance and school drama with an infusion of Greek Mythology. What were some themes you wanted to continue from your first book and what were some new ideas you wanted to explore?

Well, in Daisy, Bold & Beautiful I wanted to create a situation for my main character that would demonstrate the same moral of the story that I find within Persephone’s story – it is important to stand up for yourself. The story in Mylee In The Mirror is very different, but I arrived at it in the same manner – I wanted a story that would demonstrate the moral of the story I find in Aphrodite’s story – you can’t force someone to love someone else. I hope to do that with all the books in this series – decide on a moral of the story for each god/goddess featured in the book and create a story that demonstrates that moral.

I enjoyed Ty and My’s characters and interactions. What was the inspiration for their relationship?

Hmmm… well, I didn’t really have a specific relationship in mind when I was writing it. I developed each character (for instance, Ty is loose combination of my [real life] Trampoline & Tumbling teammate, Ty, my dad, and my brother, Will), then had them interact the way I imagined those characters would interact with each other. I have a friend, Peter, who I joke around with, kinda like Mylee and Ty joked around together, but My & Ty were friends longer than Pete and I have been and they’re closer than Pete and I are.

How has your writing developed and changed from book one in your Greek Mythology Fantasy Series?

I don’t know exactly how my writing developed and changed from Daisy to Mylee, but this book was really different to write because Daisy was all about 6th graders and I was a 6th grader when I was writing it, so I could really relate to what they were doing and how they were acting. Mylee is about ninth graders AND Ty was my first male main character. Obviously, I don’t know anything about being a boy, and certainly not a 9th grade boy, so I had to talk with my brother quite a bit to decide what Ty would do and how he would act. I also talked quite a bit with my mom about the two moms in the story and Grammy Jean. Grammy Jean was based on my real-life great grandmother, who passed away last winter. The character wasn’t exactly like my Grammy Jean, but pretty close. So, I guess I can say I worked more and worked harder this time trying to understand motivations to make the characters feel really real, know what I mean?

What are you currently writing and when will it be published?

I’m just starting work on book 3. This will feature my first god (instead of a goddess), and the main character will be a boy this time. I hope to be done with it sometime this spring, so hopefully it’ll be published sometime in the summer. I’ve been busy, though, because this is competition season for both my gymnastics team and my tramp & tumble team. Last weekend we traveled down to Oregon for a meet and this weekend we fly to Reno, Nevada for another one. Between all that and school there isn’t a ton of time for writing, but I’m really anxious to share this next story, so I’ll find the time! 😊

Author Links: GoodReads | Instagram | Facebook | Website

Mylee in the Mirror (Greek Mythology Fantasy Series Book 2) by [Collins, Ellie]

Freshman year is just starting, and already Mylee fears her family is falling apart. She’s not interested in dating or any of the high-school drama it brings, but that’s just what she gets when Sam, the most popular guy at school, invites her to the Homecoming dance. Mylee needs advice, so she summons Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty, her secret confidant.

Tyler is worried about Mylee, his best friend and teammate. Already sad about her family woes, he’s livid that Slimeball Sam is trying to ooze his way into her life. And she seems to be falling for Sam’s act! Worse, Ty is worried all this attention from such a popular guy will place Mylee officially out of his league.

What does an ancient Greek goddess know about modern teenage romance? Can My and Ty save their friendship and discover what matters most?

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Three Burning Red Runaway Brides

Three Burning Red Runaway Brides (The Water Kingdom Book 3) by [Breaux, Kevin James]

Sabrina London is now Queen of the Water Fairies. The problem is she doesn’t really want to be, and she is expected to marry Lord Raion of the Tainted. Sabrina and Dunyasha, the ancient vampire, devise a plan to solve Sabrina’s problems and free her from marrying Lord Raion. They recruit Amber, a Fire Fairy, to become Sabrina’s double. Through extensive surgeries and training Amber takes on the persona of Sabrina and is able to fool most people into believing she is in fact Sabrina London. Her mission is first to dispel of the people that could tell she was not in fact Sabrina, three tests to make sure she would be able to fool Lord Raion. Through these tests and missions, Amber and Dunyasha’s true motives come out. They are not looking out for Sabrina, they are not really on her side, what motivates these otherworldly beings? Who will survive in the end as each race clashes and fights for dominance over all the others?

Kevin Breaux returns to his world of fairies, vampires, and other creatures. We learn more about who Dunyasha is, what her past is, and how she became the cursed undead. Characters such as Jackson and Cade return, well-loved characters from past novels that played integral parts of Sabrina’s development. Three Burning Red Runaway Brides is a complex novel with so many different plot lines all intertwining that you almost need to keep notes at times to keep up with who is on who’s side, what plots are being planned, and is there even a good guy or bad guy anywhere? The deeper you go into the novel the more complex each character gets, and you find things you love and hate about each of them. Learning how the water elements all interact in the water kingdom and move about is fascinating. Learning more about the traditions the water fairies have in place adds to the complex character that is Sabrina as you figure out how she became the person she is now. Amber, also known as Skipper, starts out like a spoiled brat you just want to dislike. As we learn more about her though, we find out she is much more cunning and determined than what she appears on the surface. She has glimpses of good intentions, but most are self-serving in the end. Sabrina while she tries to grow into the role of queen, you see her reverting back to the way she was in the first novel, her growth is less developed, and even regressing in this novel. She reminds me of the teen rebelling more so than Amber as the book continues.

Without giving away key plot elements, I can say the story of Dunyasha is one of my favorites, how she ended up one of the cursed undead, how she created her family, her history and her plans for the future. I can see this plot line continuing into another book as her story continues to unfold and fate of the vampires and their awakening continues.

Kevin James Breaux has a great talent for drawing the reader in with his detailed story lines, descriptive writing and unique plot twists. Each novel builds on the last but stands alone to tell a story unlike the past without feeling like you are rereading the last novel.

Pages: 357 | ASIN: B07MC57D12

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Retribution Versus Restraint

Chris Ledbetter Author Interview

The High Court picks up after the events of the previous book, with Hyperion and Kronos being tried for their crimes. What were some themes you wanted to carry over from book one and what were some new ideas you wanted to explore?

I definitely wanted to carry over themes of parenting, or lack thereof. So much of mythology is deities behaving badly. and in Kronos we have the ultimate crappy parent. And how. But I also wanted to contrast that style of parenting with Rhea’s more maternal side. But other parent/ child relationships arise as well.

Additionally, I wanted to carry forward this idea of duality and that nothing is ever as simple as it appears to be initially. I wanted to confuse the readers’ loyalties a bit in that regard.

New ideas I wanted pursue were the ideas of justice and what that meant. And retribution versus restraint.

A race of giants attack the students and force them to flee while the giants grow stronger with every attack. What was the inspiration for this race of giants?

In Greek mythology, there actually was a Gigantomachy, or war between gods and giants. Chronologically, it occurred after the Olympians-Titans war (Titanomachy). I wanted to sneak a representation of it into book 2 seeing as though to many readers a war between gods and giants might have been anti-climactic after all the egos and storylines of the Titanomachy.

Zeus continues to be an intriguing character with multiple layers. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

Firstly, thank you for that. I’m happy that he came out so well in your eyes. One thing I was very cognizant about was the perception of Zeus, the classic king of the pantheon. He doesn’t have the best reputation. Haha. I wanted to build a view toward more humble beginnings for him and show the natural teen angst, uncertainty, and discomfort with coming of age.

Where will book three in the Sky Throne series take readers and when will it be available?

Sadly, the third book in the series didn’t get picked up for publication. 😦

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website | GoodReads

The High Court (The Sky Throne) by [Ledbetter, Chris]

High atop Mount Olympus, as dawn breaks on a new academic term, normalcy returns to campus following a harrowing expedition into The Underworld to rescue kidnapped students.

Zeus and his fellow Olympians now prepare to testify in The High Court where Hyperion will be tried for the attack on Crete and death of Anytos and Kronos will stand trial for the murder of MO Prep’s Headmaster Ouranos.

As the trial draws near, the MO Prep students and faculty are besieged repeatedly by a race of gargantuan stone and earth giants. Under heavy assault, the Olympians are forced to flee to the volcanic island of Limnos to regroup. Meanwhile, a toxic poison Zeus has carried with him since a prior fight with a dragoness creeps toward his brain.

In a race against time and beasts, Zeus and his friends must find a way to survive not only the toxin ravaging Zeus’ body, but also the giants who grow stronger after every attack, and somehow make it to the The High Court alive.

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Genesis: The Infinity Series Vol. 2

Genesis (The Infinity Series Book 2) by [Westbay, Bellamy]

A genesis is a beginning: a source, a founding moment. Though Bellamy Westbay’s Genesis is the second volume in the Infinity Series, readers will have no doubt that this tome marks a beginning. The odyssey opens with the beguiling Gwen in grave danger. Though angel Alex is the only being, mortal or celestial, who can ultimately save her, the antidote for her current troubles comes from a source seemingly bent on her demise. Follow Alex, Gwen, and Jasper on an epic journey through a bewitching multiverse, one haunted by evil forces, fantastical creatures, and a series of confounding quests.

In this odyssey of good versus evil, of human nature and the divine, Westbay tackles love, lust, and redemption. She also explores motivations more primal: eternal enmity, darkest jealousy, and destructive cunning. Westbay’s storytelling moves at a heady pace, switching between the questing trio and Gwen’s best friend, facing her own predicament. The book is surprisingly sparse in some places—a run-in with an eloquent dragon comes to mind—but delves deeper in others, offering vibrant descriptions of other universes and their inhabitants, including ethereal Callidora and Eva with her siren song. Vivid details aside, the plot is the star of this show and Westbay moves it forward with skill.

And what an intriguing plot it is. Genesis operates where divine beings move among mere mortals. At first I struggled with a Cinnabon-eating angel but I was quickly won over by Alex’s supernatural powers, very human weaknesses, and impressive wingspan. He is simultaneously angsty and arch. For a celestial being and polyglot to boot, he can be frustratingly obtuse: he knows little of human nature and often his epiphanies land with a thud. Even so, he captivates readers as the boulder-smashing, beast-slaying hero of our story.

If Alex is Odysseus on an epic journey and Eva a Siren, Gwen is Helen of Troy. Though not exactly “the face that launched a thousand ships”, Gwen is certainly the being that launched a thousand cherubic fantasies. The amorous undertones in Genesis know no bounds: whilst Gwen clings to life, both the misguided Jasper and the ardent Alex lust after her. Readers feel relief when Gwen revives and apprehension as death draws near. This epic journey is exhilarating and well-told. Westbay is a true storyteller with a gift for weaving familiar themes into a fascinating new world.

Pages: 414 | ASIN: B07DXP2Y8D

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Mylee in the Mirror

Mylee in the Mirror (Greek Mythology Fantasy Series Book 2) by [Collins, Ellie]

Mylee is experiencing one of the most trying times in her young life. Not only is she watching solemnly as her parents’ marriage hits its rockiest stretch to date, she is unable to convince her mother that she is happier and more productive not being a cheerleader. To top it off, Mylee should be having the time of her life as she seems to have caught the eye of the school’s most desired boy–real homecoming king material. Mylee just can’t seem to catch a break. When her beloved Grammy, her confidante, moves into a new apartment farther from Mylee’s home, the struggle becomes even more real.

Ellie Collins’s second book in her Greek mythology series, Mylee in the Mirror, is a fantastic follow up to her first, Daisy Bold and Beautiful. This young adult fiction series is shaping up to be an artfully designed set of books with well-developed characters and engrossing plot lines. Collins is a master at incorporating current teen culture and dialogue. Her writing flows smoothly, and her characters seems to jump off the page–especially her main characters. Mylee and Ty are an adorable pair and their friendship leaves the reader rooting for them from their very first interaction. Collins seems to have a knack for drawing a thoroughly detestable antagonist. Sam is clearly sketched as the villain, and the dialogue she has given him keeps readers focused on exactly how wonderful Ty is for Mylee–writing perfection.

Collins manages to tap into complex relationships quite easily whether it be the parent-child relationship or the ever-evolving relationships between teen friends. She pinpoints the drama that so easily arises between girls over potential love interests while at the same time highlighting how easily true friends are able to see the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

I am, again, intrigued by Collin’s use of Greek mythology in her plots. She pulls the story of her grandmother’s mirror and the tale of Aphrodite almost effortlessly into what, otherwise, reads as young adult fiction. The fact that Mylee is able to keep her experiences to herself and use what she learns from her encounters with the mirror is a truly unique approach in this genre.

Collins is an author to be watched in the coming years. The ease with which the words flow from her mind to the paper is to be envied indeed. Her writing is phenomenally engaging, and I look forward to seeing more from her series in the future. I highly recommend her writing to any parent of young teens looking to engage their children in well-written and timely books.

Pages: 180 | ASIN: B07JZKV317

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The High Court

The High Court (The Sky Throne) by [Ledbetter, Chris]

The sequel to the wonderful debut series The Sky Throne, we find young Zeus struggling with forces from beyond Mount Olympus in The High Court. The book picks up after there has been a lull after the tumultuous events of the previous book, with Hyperion and Kronos both being tried for crimes and will be hopefully brought to justice soon. It is when these trials grow near that the school, which is already underway with a new semester, when giants attack and force the occupants to flee. Zeus in the meantime is poisoned and will have to find a cure, before he succumbs the toxin.

Ledbetter is not letting his heroes off easy in this next book and as is tradition with second books of a series, the stakes are even higher than before. It is clear that his style and refinement in the craft is better handled than in the previous book. The characterization of Zeus also seems to be maturing somewhat, which fits because the characters are getting slightly older as time on Olympus passes.

The world building of this series continues to amaze, since not since Percy Jackson has an author created such a self-contained world of mythology and used it to such effect. It would be derivative to compare it to the likes of Harry Potter or other classic series where the majority of action and story happens at a school, but Ledbetter uses this setting to his advantage at every turn.

The only true issues that come up in this book, is the pacing. It’s hard to say if this book is the middle book of trilogy or another episode of a series, since there are places where the plot kind of peters out. This is made up for the stylized action sequences, but it is still something to be wary of when moving forward through the narrative.

All in all, Ledbetter has written another great installment in his Greek mythology series and anyone who enjoys fantastical settings and compelling, fun characters would be remiss to skip this series. Looking forward to the next entry of The Sky Throne.

Pages: 334 | ASIN: B07F453DQ3

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The Labyrinthine Journey

The Labyrinthine Journey (Servant of the Gods Book 2) by [Cavallaro, Luciana]

Evan is a normal twenty-first century man who works as an architect. However, to interrupt his daily routine, none other than Zeus himself, has decided to transport Evan to the sixth century BCE. Evan now travels across ancient Greece with his companions, including Atlanteans, a high priestess, and his friend, Dexion, who has the power to see into the future. All of this is for a mighty cause, Evan has been chosen by Zeus to unite two powerful relics in order to save the Gods from extinction.

Stuck in the sixth century BCE Evan longs to return home. Given his precarious position between times, the juxtaposition of his wants against his reality serves to highlight the stark differences between the comfort of home that Evan is used to and what he is currently facing. For instance, walking across a sandy plain in sandals verses the want for a motorbike to make short work of the distance. His modern life’s influence over his worldview often leaves him homesick, but he must complete his mission. On the other hand, his life back home gives him ways to solve the problems he faces in the sixth century BCE, taking ideas from the pop-culture of his own time and bringing them into the past to aid his quest. This fusion of time periods makes for some brilliant innovations and cross-overs between what we as the reader understand to be ancient Greece, and the modern day.

The Labyrinthine Journey is book two in Luciana Cavallaro’s Servant of the Gods series and it follows on fluently with the events of the previous book with references here and there to book one. Something striking about the series is the relationship between mortals and Gods. With whole chapters dedicated to the musings of God’s and their society it gives the reader an insight into their intentions. Furthermore, the book proposes an alternative viewpoint on the beginnings of Christendom. The Greek Gods fear that they will lose their dominance in light of a God-sent child being born that will potentially lead to the widespread belief in a single God instead of the current pantheon.

This retelling of the birth of Christ from the God’s perspective explains why Zeus wants the relics united – to maintain his and the other Gods’ significance. However, there are some Gods trying to interfere with the mission and stop Evan’s and his companions’ journey. Evan searches ancient Greece, already in possession of the first relic, for the second to unite the two. The perilous journey over a treacherous landscape naturally reminds one of the epics of Homer.

The Labyrinthine Journey was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I give it five out of five for its sophisticated and inventive retelling of the well-known and widespread story of Christ and its ability to connect it to the overarching quest narrative seamlessly. Luciana Cavallaro’s prose fits the story perfectly, making the journey truly epic. Furthermore, the fusion of God’s, monsters, ancient philosophers, magical ancient relics and even time travel, leads to unexpected twists and turns throughout the novel.

Pages: 311 | ASIN: B075QGZQP9

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Inspiration in a Vivid Nightmare

Patricia Bossano Author Interview

Patricia Bossano Author Interview

Seven Ghostly Spins is a collection of paranormal stories written by you and Kelsey E. Gerard. What were some decisions that went into picking the stories for this collection?

Three of the stories; Carolina Blue, 205 ½ 25th Street and Alison, date back to the years I spent in Northern Utah. They were originally published in 2012-2014 as part of the Tales from Beyond anthologies, compiled by D. Hattingh. Ever since that project was completed, I began thinking of a collection of my own—to be based not only on true legends, but paranormal experiences as well.

At around the middle of 2017 the title for the new collection came to me; Seven Ghostly Spins, prompting me to remaster the original three and identify the other four.

In keeping with the “Haunted Ogden” theme, Kelsey E. Gerard submitted She Caught a Ride, fulfilling the based-on-true-legends requirement. That left me with the paranormal experience requirement, and for those I turned to my own memories and wrote By the Iron Gate and A Curse Lifted. Abiku is the novella among the short stories—the base idea for this thriller came from an ancient Yoruba belief and it includes supernatural and paranormal elements that I thought would make a proper central piece for this collection.

My favorite stories from the collection is ‘Alison’ and Gerard’s ‘She Caught a Ride’. What was your favorite story from this book?

Thank you! I am so pleased to hear you enjoyed these tales. I love each story equally though for different reasons. If I must pick a favorite, I would say Carolina Blue is my special, tragic friend.

Each story was intriguing and well developed. Where do you turn for inspiration for writing?

Two of the stories are rooted on personal experiences, while the others came to me through reading, and research. I found inspiration in a vivid nightmare and a real walk in the moonlight. In my godmother’s parting gift, and in assignments to explore Ogden’s haunted, colorful history. In the case of Abiku, all it took was an image—an illustration caught my eye and the short lines describing it spawned all the characters and circumstances in the novella.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next project is a philosophical fiction/comedy entitled Daughters of the Bride, slated for publication on Mother’s Day 2020.

To recover from the unexpected death of their father, the ‘weird sisters’ cling to one another and to their widowed mother; the ‘head witch.’ However, no traditional mourning rituals await them.

Blindsided by the love their mother claims to have found, mere months after the death of her husband of 50+ years, the three women flex their powers and embark on a distressing journey of reflection; to know themselves and the mother they thought they knew.

Amid the hilarity of the head witch’s disconcerting return to a youthful attitude, difficult questions must be asked. Genetic memories must be acknowledged and banished. Painful feelings must be expressed, and life-altering decisions will be made because, at the end of their journey, their new reality must be embraced by all.

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Seven Ghostly Spins: A Brush with the Supernatural by [Bossano, Patricia, Gerard, ft. Kelsey E.]Based on harrowing legends and nightmares come true, this mind-bending collection of paranormal tales will creep under your skin and stay with you long after you have read it.

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Because…come on…they’re AWESOME!

Ellie Collins Author Interview

Ellie Collins Author Interview

Daisy, Bold & Beautiful follows young Daisy as she struggles to fit in at school and finds help from an unlikely friend. What was your inspiration for this story?

Well, Persephone is my favorite Greek goddess, so I knew I wanted a story featuring her. And, to me, Persephone’s story is all about standing up for yourself. I wanted the moral of my story to match the moral of Persephone’s story, so I came up with D.J. I didn’t want it to be mistaken for a book about bullying, though, so I wanted to put D.J. in a situation where she needed to stand up for herself, but not because she was going up against a “bad guy”.

There is a unique infusion of Greek mythology in this book. Why did you want to use that theme throughout the book?

Like I said, I knew I wanted to write books about the Greek gods, because…come on…they’re AWESOME! I didn’t want my books to feel like historical stories, though, so I came up with a way to bring up the stories of the Greek gods while actually writing about kids living today.

I liked Daisy’s character, and I felt she was relatable. Did you plan her character before writing or did she develop organically while writing?

So, the first thing I did was come up with a god to write about: Persephone. Then I wrote an outline to the story. THEN I wrote up character descriptions for all the characters. A lot of my characters share names with people I know in my real life. Some of the character personalities match those of the people they’re named after and some are different than the real people. D.J. wasn’t named after anybody I know; she’s just made up. I would say all the characters developed a little more as I wrote the story, but they all started off with pretty detailed character descriptions. That was actually the hardest part of writing the book – coming up with the back story and personalities for everyone. I tried to include at least one fact about each character that the readers never find out – just to try to make them really real, know what I mean?

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Funny that you should ask that! The second book in the series is Mylee In The Mirror, and it’s available AS OF TODAY! This book is about Aphrodite. I’m really excited about this book because it has TWO main characters, Mylee and one of her best friends and teammates, Ty (Tyson). I was nervous about writing about older kids (the main characters are in the ninth grade, and I’ve obviously never been in the ninth grade before – it was easier with Daisy, Bold & Beautiful, because I was the same age as D.J. when I wrote it). I was also nervous about writing from the perspective of a guy, but writing about Ty was super fun and I might even make my next main character a guy!

Author Links: GoodReads | Ellie’s Mom’s Twitter Account | FacebookWebsite

Daisy, Bold & Beautiful by [Collins, Ellie]D.J. and her dad moved far from the small town and only home she ever knew. Now she’s starting middle school in the city with kids she’s never met. She tries to make friends, but they all appear to be slaves to screen time. D.J. just likes to garden, nurturing plants, watching them grow and thrive. It seems she’ll never find a way to fit in, but then she awakens in a gorgeous garden where she meets Persephone, Goddess of Spring. She must be dreaming; her new friend can’t possibly be real—and what could she know about getting along with gamers? D.J. really needs some ideas, or she might never find her own place in a complicated world.

Daisy, Bold & Beautiful is the debut novel of middle-schooler Ellie Collins, daughter of award-winning author Stephanie Collins. Boys and girls alike will appreciate Ellie’s keen eye for the challenges of growing up that she and her friends must face. Discover the wonderful writing of Ellie now, then follow her to learn about her writing and more books to come.

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Magickal Adaptations

Tantra Bensko Author Inteview

Tantra Bensko Author Inteview

Encore superbly intertwines themes of history, myth, psychology, romance and many more. Was this a conscious effort when you started writing or did this happen organically while writing?

Tantra: Thank you very much. I wrote the original idea as a Psychological Suspense novelette intentionally claustrophobic in scope. A hypnotist programs a standby to believe she is his wife, the star of a show, and abducts her before the curtain following the encore removes the post-hypnotic suggestion. He takes her, while she still believes she is his wife, to live in an “empty” alchemist’s castle.

I began with the alchemist’s castle that Miriam is taken to because I know a lovely man who sometimes lives in his family castle and sells homeopathic alchemical monoatomic elixirs using gems, flowers, and such. That’s the extent of my kind friend’s similarity to anything in the novel, but it sparked my imagination to bring the Gothic convention of immortality elixirs up to date in a believable way.

When I saw its potential as a novel in the series, I opened it up, as I do at the end of each Nevermind book, to a widening, spooky awareness of the relationship between these individuals and the community. That glimpse of how the protagonists are being used to influence others for nefarious purposes creates a shudder, a sensation I find pleasurable and strive for in my books. I love finding out the truth, no matter how grim (or fictional – especially if it reflects real life.)

A Thriller sensation slowly creeps up in each book with the big dramatic clash of the two factions at the end, the societally controlling and the heroic exposing of that mass mind control. When studying for my hypnosis certification long ago, I learned about negative hallucinations, when someone standing in front of us disappears if the hypnotist so commands. The Agents of the Nevermind are always up to something, always getting their noses into hypnosis. Subtle hypnotic techniques used by intelligence agents/news anchors sway a country into believing the deceitful narrative. Thus, proxy wars and coups garner popular support.

The more the public’s wits are softened, the more easily they can be fooled, and thus the Agents’ Occult Revival throws off people’s natural propensity toward logic. I explore ways that mind control has been used by the government throughout history, such as with the myths of Atlantis, Shambhala, and Camelot. The idea for legend-wars came late in the book’s creation, arising from studying of mystical imperialism in England. The historical use of those legends that I describe in the book is factual and it eventually structured the narrative conflict. Intelligence agents poached those cultural legends internationally, to persuade countries to align with them militarily.

I wanted to please readers with a fulfilling, moral romantic story. So, I eventually integrated Miriam’s friend Colin into the plot, who has no idea where she has vanished to, at the end of the last show of the theater season. The romance is Gothic in that Miriam is torn between the “light” and “dark” men and becomes isolated and gaslighted by the latter. Dune is dangerous, forbidden, rumored to be an Agent, the object of her sexual obsession, and in control of her subconscious. I deliberately pushed further into the “friends to lovers” to thrill the fans of that trope. Colin is the handsome, playful friend, a conscientious publisher who reliably does good things for her. But once he goes feral – watch out!

I enjoyed the Gothic underpinnings of this book. What were some Gothic sources of inspiration for you?

Tantra: I studied Gothic history in depth to understand the history underlying the conventions, including thorough material like Tyler Tichelaar’s The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption, and Gothic Imperialism, the Gothic Imagination Podcast, Gothic Studies Journal, “The Imperial Gothic” by Suzanne Daly, “The Truth About the Winchester House,” and Invisible History Blog’s Mystical Imperialism.

In terms of modern imaginative works, I didn’t draw from the directly, but I love the Spanish TV show, El Internado, Bates Motel, Crimson Peak, Ghost Flower by Michele Jaffe, My Sweet Audrina, Gothic Romantic Suspense by Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart, Daphne du Maurier, and Awakening by S.J. Bolton.

Characters that seem as if they walked out of a novel inspired the book, like John Mulholland, who of the British Magical Society, an officer who wrote the spellbook for soldiers, and went to work for the CIA and wrote their manual on deception and misdirection. Gaslighting of individuals who are used to gaslight a large population is a major interest in the book and the series.

Encore ‘dramatizes mystical sensual energy manipulation techniques’. How did you come about this topic and why did you want to explore this in your book?

Tantra: I studied about energy from childhood, learning to detect it through formally studying remote viewing until I became extremely accurate at age 11. When I got older, I learned advanced Tantra Yoga and taught it. The aspects of Tantra that require belief don’t convince me, but the exercises are very effective. Tantric history includes dark elements such as sexual energy vampirism and the sacrificing of the dakinis, which need to be included in the public discourse, to balance out the pastel, diluted, sexualized version of the practice that so many people believe is Tantra. The actionable techniques are also worth teaching through the novel. I still do these myself. Blissful.

Gothic novels tend to include magick grimoires, exotic mysticism and forbidden, out-of-this world sexuality. And as this novel relates to the role of the occult myths in British imperialism, particularly in the East, I wanted to delve deeply into the Tibetan sensibility and its magickal adaptations. That gave me the chance to describe a kind of love that I enjoy: circulating awareness between myself and a partner. Then, each partner should bring awareness back inside when ready to move on with the day.

This is book 3 in the The Agents of the Nevermind series. Where will book 4 take readers next?

Tantra: It’s called Giant Jack, a prequel set against the background of rise of the Agency and President Planda, who has gigantism. Planda networks with the budding Agency to create the Occult Revival, which is how he wins the election. Gigantism is a factual hormonal imbalance that makes some people very tall, with big hands, foreheads and such. They don’t tend to live as long, unfortunately, as average. So, Planda had to figure out a way to make the condition look positive in the eyes of the public. He called on the Agents of the Nevermind to run news stories on the Theosophical ancient superior giants and co-opted entertainment, books, documentaries, and cults. They picked Giant Jack to be the cult giant celebrity. Jack achieved gigantism artificially by taking Human Growth Hormone throughout his adolescence. It became a trend, and that’s why there are giants in the series.

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Encore: A Contemporary Love Story of Hypnotic Abduction (The Agents of the Nevermind Book 3) by [Bensko, Tantra]

In this Seductive Psychological Suspense, a troupe in England braves threats by hecklers when performing the history of the rare gem, Moldavite. The meteoric stone, featured in legends of Shambhalla and Atlantis, is sought after for its supposed mystical properties. The charismatic hypnotist, Dune, made the troupe famous, especially his wife Susan, the star. Whenever actors become ill, Dune hypnotizes the standbys to believe they actually are the actors they replace on stage, to fool the discerning audience. When the curtain reaches the floor after the encore, the post-hypnotic suggestion always ends, and the standbys recall their identities.

Susan mysteriously disappears, so her standby, Miriam, takes her place. Miriam’s friend Colin clutches flowers in the audience, ready to congratulate her on the life-changing evening. He just that day kissed her for the first time. Will he become more than a friend that night?

He doesn’t get the chance. Before the curtain lands, with Miriam still believing she is his wife, Dune whisks her away to an alchemist’s castle: Dune has plans for an equinox ritual using the Moldavite elixir made there. Rumors say he is a secret agent, in a cult intertwined with the Nevermind and the Bennu troupe. In fact, Bennu is an ancient Egyptian flamingo deity, similar to the Phoenix, associated with initiation rituals that break down the identity and rebirth a person into a loyal member of a secret society.

This contemporary Gothic Romance dramatizes mystical sensual energy manipulation techniques that have been used for both good and bad. And it also explores the dangerous historical appropriation of cultural legends for the sake of forging military alliances.

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