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The Potential to Transcend

Mark Daniel Seiler Author Interview

Mark Daniel Seiler Author Interview

River’s Child follows Mavin, an assistant working in a seed vault when things took a turn and he ends up in the far future. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

Most of us have experienced scribbling down a dream before we’re too wide awake to remember. It’s interesting that dreams and seeds both spring to life from the dark. River’s Child is a kind of green seedling. I ran across an article about the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The seed vault near the north pole is designed to last ten thousand years. I imagined a distant future when the seeds are rediscovered and their power to rejuvenate the world is unleashed. When Mavin awoke from his long dream, neither of us had any idea of the mysterious new world that awaited.

In the novel males are subservient and females are revered in the new world. I find this both refreshing and entertaining. Was this idea planned or did it develop organically?

The story is humorous but has a serious dimension. I feel as a species we’re still learning how to become human, the cake hasn’t finished baking. Humans transcend category, or I should say, we have the potential to transcend. If a new perspective means giving up our old comfortable view of the world, more often than not, we prefer to stick with the devil we know.

It’s fun to watch how difficult it is for Mavin to be flexible. If a woman found herself in a strange new world, the story wouldn’t work as well, she would simply adjust. It’s not uncommon for men to be wary of women sharing power. For my two cents: if we’re going to survive as a species, the Feminine Perspective needs to be in balance with the masculine viewpoint.

I enjoyed Mavin’s character as well as Simone. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?

Mavin and Simone are strangers to one another. As the author, before they say or do anything, I get to know my characters off-camera. I set up surveillance. I observe them in the supermarket line. Do they let the person behind them go ahead if they have only a couple of items? I know whether they use their turn signal or if they smoke while gassing up their SUV. Mavin and Simone are not angels, but more often than not they surprise me with their humanity.

I find a problem with well-written stories, in that I always want there to be another book to keep the story going. Is there a second book planned?

The best part about being an author is getting feedback from fans. Readers have been letting me know that they loved the story, but were upset that it ended too soon. I have a sequel sketched out, so I better get cracking.

Author Links: Amazon | Home Bound Publications

Trapped underground in the Svalbard Seed Vault, Mavin Cedarstrom is rescued by a band of strange women dressed in furs. The Peregrine scout Simone Kita was sent to recover seeds from the top of the world and bring them south to the floating gardens of Kashphera. Conjuring myth and magic, this fun, action-packed novel is a delight. River’s Child is a wild ride into an ancient future. Fasten your seat belt as our spirited heroes ride icebergs from the frozen north, battle wild men, and fall in love while they race to prevent world war.

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Wyndwrayth

Wyndwrayth (Nick Swann Book 2) by [Yeats, Keller]

Wyndwrayth by Keller Yeats proves to be both interesting and captivating as the reader follows the central figure, Nick Swann, as he bumbles through his semi-isolated real world life and slowly discovers the existence of a second, more deadly world, all around him. These two parallel worlds slowly converge as you turn the pages to reveal what is undoubtedly a cleverly researched horror novel yet still containing moments of strong humour and absurdity.

The first passage of the novel only offers the briefest glimpse of what is to come as it describes events of 1016 in a place named Flotta in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. Much later a more sinister story is revealed, as the full impact of ghosts and ghouls condemned to a life of perpetual purgatory wreaking havoc from their haunted house for a 1000 years follows.

After this brief immersion into Norse mythology the story abruptly introduces the daily life of Nick as a self-styled geek, working occasionally on business research for associates at Bangor University, from an inherited cottage on the island of Anglesey in Wales.

Despite apparent excesses of marijuana, brandy and coffee, Nick still manages to investigate further into the mysterious local occurrences, drownings and inexplicable disappearances which all combine with the mythical backdrop to reveal the cold stark reality of evil forces at work on his doorstep.

As the chapters proceed the two sides are drawn ever closer to their inevitable confrontation – for the outcome you will have to read for yourself, but I quite enjoyed this ethereal mesh of myth and contemporary life. As the two classically configured worlds of good and evil come closer together will Nick and Wendy survive or will they pass into the world of the undead? The only spoilers I will offer here are that if you are offended by strong language and an occasional blood-letting scenario then turn away, but you would be missing an riveting story that I could not put down.

Initially, I did find Nick’s apparent excessive talking to himself annoying; but ultimately I felt like this added to his slightly eccentric and bohemian character. Wyndwrayth by Keller Yeats offers an enthralling well-researched read. The author is able to methodically create an enthralling character, place him in a vivid world, and face him against an enthralling antagonist. If you enjoy stories about myths and legends then you will certainly enjoy this novel.

Pages: 739 | ASIN: B078ZM1R17

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Stranger Than Fiction Book Trailer

The BEST-SELLING collection in Occult Parapsychology!!

“Forget the world that you know. You are about to enter a dimension of the bizarre, where the strange and unusual will guide you down the path of imagination. True stories where the ordinary will be replaced with the fantastic! Explore legend, myth, and folklore These cases are based on theory and conjecture. The reader is invited to make their own conclusions on all the available information.

Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories of the Paranormal.”

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Santa’s Mythology and the North Pole

Al E. Boy Author Interview

Al E. Boy Author Interview

The Adventures of Fawn is a children’s novel that follows a young deer as she seeks adventure and frienship and finds much more. What was your inspiration for this fun story?

I’ve been a department store Santa for 40 years. The many questions children have asked, and my creative responses were part of my reason for writing ‘The Adventures of Fawn’. I wanted to instill a feeling of wonder and enjoyment regarding things related to Santa’s mythology and the North Pole for readers of all ages. The descriptions of making candy canes and sugar plums, and the activities in the Toy Shop are, for me, a great way of ‘bringing the reader in’…regardless of his/her age. Christmas is still my favorite time of year. Writing these books has afforded me an opportunity to spread that love and perpetuate the magic, as well.

I felt that the novel was about friendship and overcoming adversity. What do you hope readers take away from your story?

Yes. Friendship and overcoming adversity are indeed a great part of the story. I think the relationship between a child and his/her parents is also a vital part of the tale, and plays out well between Fawn, Comet and Vixen.

Fawn is a loving character that is easy to relate to. What were some ideals you were trying to capture with her character?

I imagined Fawn as a youngster just approaching adolescence. She got ‘smarts’, but her adventurous spirit gets the better of her. Despite, or perhaps even in spite of her parents warnings, she throws caution to the wind and decides she can face life outside the Village on her own. Realizing her Mum and Dad were basically right all along is a big part of Fawn’s journey and self-discovery.

I also like to think Doctor Weather and Fawn are both on a journey of sorts. Both are discovering things they never knew, whether they be North Pole related…or things about themselves.

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

Book 2 of The Adventures of Fawn, titled: The Ona Pendulum find Fawn, her friends and Doctor Weather trying to save the lives of the citizens of Santa’s Village. The Ona Pendulum, a magical device that enables Santa and company to live for centuries is apparently in grave danger of being destroyed. Book 3, entitled: Far And Yet So Near finds Fawn, her friends, and doctor Weather trailing the reindeer who have come under the control of a mysterious stranger bent on kidnapping the team. But Fawn winds up being the one kidnapped and spirited away to an estate in England. I have a fourth book nearly completed, but I’m not happy with it, and am trying to work on it and make it more entertaining.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

The Adventures of Fawn: 'Til the Last Snowflake Falls by [Boy, Al E.]Fantastic! Fun-tastic! Fawn-tastic!!

This award-winning first entry in The Adventures of Fawn series is an exciting ‘coming of age’ tale! The year is 1849, and legendary reindeer Comet and Vixen have a young daughter, Fawn. In this first book, ‘Til the Last Snowflake Falls, the young reindeer spends far too many days alone in the stable at Santa’s Village, with no friends and nothing to do. While her parents caution her she’s much too young and inexperienced to go exploring outside the Village by herself, Fawn disagrees. Declaring, “I want some fun and excitement! I don’t care how dangerous it is!” she begins sneaking out each day in search of friends, excitement and adventure. She’ll find them all…but also find herself in dangerous situations she’s unprepared for! She’ll realize perhaps a bit too late that mom and dad were right all along! And, she’ll learn some valuable lessons about what’s really important in life. The Adventures of Fawn are filled with fun, laughs, excitement, and magical entertainment for readers all ages!

‘Til the Last Snowflake Falls was awarded the Bronze Medal in Dan Poynter’s 2017 Global E-book Awards, received an Honoree Medallion from indieB.R.A.G. Awards, a Reader’s Favorite Five Star Award, One Stop Fiction Books’ Five Star Award, and Literary Titan’s Silver Book Award.

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A Curious Journey

B.C.R. Fegan Author Interview

B.C.R. Fegan Author Interview

Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 takes young readers on a journey through the magical Hotel of Hoo where they’re introduced to many strange guests. What served as your inspiration for this imaginative hotel and its occupants? 

The concept was really born from the title. I had wanted to write a counting book for a while but one that carried a stronger narrative than many others in this particular category. After I had the title, everything else just came together. I think that there is something about doors that sparks a natural curiosity, particularly in young children. I wanted to extend that curiosity by placing the story in a setting that would really compound the mystery. A magical castle, to me, holds a lot of intrigue and seemed like an excellent place to begin a curious journey.

There are a lot of interesting creatures behind each door. My favorite was the miniature giants. What was your favorite to write and animate?

I have so many! For most of the characters there is a fascinating juxtaposition between the general perception of their stereotype and a characteristic they embody in the story. Some of the other creatures are simply a play on popular culture. However a few of them are just plain cute. If I had to choose only one favourite, I think it would be from this last category – the big-headed monkeys.

While I was writing this character, I had in my mind something so adorable that it would make a great stuffed toy. What’s exciting about working with Lenny is that we both think similarly. She was able to take my thoughts for this idea and really bring it to life with brilliant expression. They may not be a typical mythical creature, but I think they nevertheless compliment the overall enjoyment of exploring this hotel by diffusing the expectation that each character needs to have some kind of creepy characteristic.

The story is told in rhyme and each door has a theme which, I think, makes this book great for the classroom. Was it challenging to write the story in this way or was it natural?

After I had the idea, the story itself flowed quite naturally. The fantastical nature of the castle meant that each door wasn’t restricted to a single concept or any established rules. I think this is (in part) what both pulls you along in the story and tempts you to linger – every door is a portal to its own unique and perhaps unexpected theme.

I don’t want it to send like I’m begging, but please tell me this story is going to be expanded on in future books? 

Ooh, now that’s an interesting question. It was definitely a fun story to write so I wouldn’t rule out a sequel. I’ll let you know…

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

Don't Ever Look Behind Door 32 by [Fegan, B.C.R.]

The magical Hotel of Hoo is a mysterious place with some very unusual occupants. As our guests explore the strange hotel, they are invited to experience everything it has to offer with just one warning… don’t ever look behind door 32.

This imaginative picture book aims to take children beyond the first ten cardinal numbers, and introduces them to the patterns of counting in a fun and accessible way. With rooms to explore and unique objects to count, children will enjoy lingering on each page as they make their way closer to the forbidden door.

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All That is Romantic

Pamela Horter-Moore Author Interview

Pamela Horter-Moore Author Interview

LoveQuest is a dramatic retelling of an ancient Greek myth about Psyche, a mortal woman, and Eros, the god of love. Why did you want to retell this story and what were some new ideas you wanted to introduce?

I’ve always loved mythology, from the time I was first exposed to it as a child. As a student of literature, I was aware of how the ancient myths continued to influence art and culture to the present day.

There were myths in particular that caught my attention, and, in my early 30s, I was particularly drawn to that of Eros and Psyche. I never imagined a Roman setting, but the romantic, wonderful, and bucolic setting of ancient Greece.

To me, the myth of Eros and Psyche comprises all that is romantic. Each of us yearns for a partner who is the ideal of everything we’ve ever dreamed of, but somehow we don’t believe we are worthy of such love.

We deceive ourselves by letting others define us. We vacillate and let fear conquer us. The world leads us astray and we fail ourselves and those who love us.

To be human is to be like Psyche. I identified with her and all her failings, as well as with her attempts to make reparations and redeem herself.

Psyche held her gifts in low esteem, and that was her first mistake. Beauty is a gift, and those who are blessed with it are meant to shine, just as a writer must write and a dancer must dance.

Being morbidly influenced by her malignant sisters was another of Psyche’s mistakes. It should be easy to tell a friend from an enemy; people should not let their enemies define them or direct their behavior.

Eros has a coming-of-age experience; he takes a path distinct from his mother’s and follows his own destiny. As for Aphrodite, she has to decide whether she should set her child free or protect him from making a grown-up’s mistake.

At one point, Psyche has an opportunity to escape her trials and slink back home. Instead of choosing the mediocrity of a safe and easy path, she decides to follow her heart and endure and suffer for a higher objective. The difficult path is the one that gives us a chance to stretch ourselves, excel ourselves, and be better than we would otherwise be.

On an elevated level, the myth is the story of the redeeming power of love, and of the soul in search of redemption and perfection.

I felt that your characters were well developed and their personalities were distinct. What are some important traits you like your characters to have?

I want people to identify with my characters, or at least see in them what they see in others. A character cannot succeed unless he or she connects with the reader. The reader doesn’t have to like the character; it’s only important that the reader perceives the character as alive and real.

I don’t want my characters to be too good or too bad. There is risk of falling into parody if they are. My villains, if they can be called villains, are not all bad; they just behave badly.

What kind of research did you undertake to ensure you got the mythology right in LoveQuest?

The main source for my story is The Age of Fable (1855) by the American writer Thomas Bulfinch (1796 – 1867). This has been a classic and standard text for the Greek myths ever since.

Bulfinch appeals because he attempts to write the myths with all “the charm of a story book,” while adhering “to the text of the ancient authorities.” He writes “for the reader of English literature” and “to popularize mythology and extend the enjoyment of elegant literature.”

I have allowed Bulfinch to provide the framework of my story, but I have attempted to expand upon it, infuse it with other elements of magic and wonder, and, I hope, provide readers with a greater depth of understanding for the lessons the story imparts.

I have taken some liberty with Bulfinch’s story of Eros and Psyche. Gaia, the Earth Mother, is an immortal apart from the gods of Olympus. The talking animals are a tribute to C. S. Lewis and Disney, and the intervention of the South and North Winds is my own device, providing a natural way to give Eros allies outside his mother’s influence.

The mysterious Dream Lover is a mystical being born of imagination.

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

I have been spending much of my time since the publication of LoveQuest in promoting my books (my historical novel Brief Candles was published in 1983) and sharing my short stories on my website. However, I do have many projects planned and already in development.

I am building a narrative around the diary I kept when I was fourteen, filled with the anxieties, vanities, and pain of adolescence.

Another project is a dystopia of a class-based society where the tidal wave for change is already churning under the surface of a closed and exclusive world.

An overreaching work is a history of late 15th century England during the period popularly known as the Wars of the Roses. I have been studying that period on and off for over 50 years, and friends have encouraged me to collect my research in a nonfiction book.

None of these projects is close to completion, and I know by experience that a sudden inspiration could cause me to push something totally unexpected forward.

One way or another, I will never stop writing.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

LoveQuest by [Horter-Moore, Pamela Jean]LoveQuest, a romantic fantasy, is a light-hearted retelling of one of the most enduring love stories from ancient Greek mythology: the forbidden passion of Eros, the god of Love, for the mortal woman Psyche.

A god’s love for a mortal woman…

It is ancient Greece, a world of gods, superstition, and magic. The villagers dwelling under the eyes of the jealous and capricious gods on Mount Olympus seek to gain their favor and to uncover the mysteries that only the immortals can know by turning to priests, soothsayers, seers, and fortune-tellers. 

The oracle of the divine Apollo is one of the most famous of these seers. Although physically nothing more than a pool of water in a cavern, its wisdom is so renown across Greece that many journey far and wide to seek its counsel.

Among the pilgrims are the wealthy cloth merchant Pericles, his wife Leena, and their daughters Medea, Tanna, and Psyche. Although Psyche is blessed by Aphrodite, the goddess of Beauty, and is cherished by the people of her village for her loveliness, she cares little for their attention, seeking only the approval of her envious and malicious sisters. 

Medea and Tanna ridicule the oracle’s prophecy that Psyche will make a “marvelous” marriage to someone “not human,” and use it as another means to torment their sister, driving her to tears.

Offended by Psyche’s behavior and not accustomed to being taken for granted, Aphrodite retaliates by asking her son Eros, the god of Love, to punish Psyche with a life of lovelessness. 

Coming to Psyche and her sisters under a cloak of invisibility, Eros is filled with pity for Psyche but determined to carry out his mother’s wishes. Aphrodite’s plan goes amok when Eros wounds himself with his own arrow carrying out the punishment. He falls in love with the woman his mother hates.

Eros must make a decision: Will he do his mother’s bidding and resist the power of love, or will he defy her by setting his own course in pursuit of Psyche’s heart? 

And, if he develops an elaborate plan to win Psyche, whose help can he enlist? Is love with Psyche possible, and how long can he keep up his deception before his mother discovers him?

Compared with Eros, Psyche is a novice at love. Eros can’t approach her as a human suitor would approach a human woman. She too has a decision to make: Should she believe the loving words of a mysterious stranger, or should she believe her sisters?

The consequences for Eros and Psyche are dear. Aphrodite’s temper is not something to toy with. She is angry enough with Psyche, but if Psyche should do wrong to her son Eros, there might be no end to the punishment Psyche faces at the hands of the jealous goddess. 

Psyche must choose between betrayal and fidelity, just as Eros must connive to win her love and the approval of his mother. Both of them must be put to the test in order to find their heart’s desire.

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A Game of Life

A Game of Life by [Musewald, Anna]

After a serious car crash, Stefan comes round from a coma with a case of amnesia. Eva, his younger sister, is the only one who can see that Stefan is not really Stefan at all…When a strange letter arrives, written in gothic handwriting and addressed to Stefan, saying there has been a terrible mistake and signed by a mysterious ‘Hyacinthe’, the puzzle starts to unravel. Along with Eva, Stefan’s friends, Kim, Thomas, Harry, and Andrew must try to solve the mystery but to do that they will have to take part in a dangerous race, called The Game of Life.

Anna Musewald’s A Game of Life is a YA fantasy and mystery novel which draws you in from the first page. The prose is so easy to read; it is witty and enchanting and feels perfect for a YA audience. In spite of the simplicity of the language, it doesn’t feel at all patronising or one-dimensional. The ‘game’ from the title is quite complex, with lots of imaginative systems and challenging tasks set for the players which really immerses the reader in the experience. I loved the inclusion of Greek myth, such as Apollo and the Sirens, woven through the narrative. The plot is in the vein of The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire which could make it seem derivative, but with an original and inventive spin, it manages to feel fresh and exciting. Meaningful themes of friendship, loyalty and bravery flesh out the fun storyline.

The pacing is excellent; I was instantly engrossed by the opening chapter and the book never let me go! We are drawn in by the question of what has happened to Stefan and led through a number of rabbit holes and strange happenings. The revelation isn’t made until the end which kept me greedily turning the pages, and there are also plenty of action scenes to keep the reader hooked until the final page.

I had total belief in the characters, who all have distinctive personalities, and I loved the way that the friendships and rivalries are portrayed, showing the tangled and complex nature of relationships. The relationship between Stefan and Eva is particularly poignant and depicts the protective and intuitive nature of sibling relationships. The dialogue is funny and clever, and the conversation seems very authentic for a group of young people.

One of the aspects that I enjoyed the most was the setting of Parsi and the fully formed ‘underground’ city created by the author which is full of fantastical and magical detail. Musewald excels at writing surroundings and conjures up place in a beguiling and descriptive way so that the reader feels as though they are on the journey with the characters.

This is a great addition to the young fiction genre, full of twists and turns, mystery and suspense; I enjoyed the journey immensely. I gobbled it up in one go, and I can’t wait for another riveting story from Anna Musewald.

Pages: 202 | ASIN: B01M0ZBKXP

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LoveQuest

LoveQuest by Pamela Jean Horter-Moore is the story of Psyche, a mortal girl blessed by the goddess Aphrodite with great beauty. She is so lovely, that she receives admirers wherever she goes. When Psyche offends Aphrodite, by seeking the approval of her envious sisters and taking her beauty for granted, Aphrodite decides to take revenge. Using her son, Eros, she attempts to punish Psyche to a loveless life. But things backfire because Eros falls in love with Psyche. Both are torn between their families and their love for one another. They must decide what is most important in life.

I am fascinated by Greek mythology with its heroes, monsters and gods, so I knew I was going to love this book before I had even started! This is an epic love story based on an original Greek myth that we know and love, but it is fleshed out with a unique narrative and a fresh take on the characters. Although it is primarily a story of romance, there are obviously fantasy aspects in there–the author excels at writing both genres and combines them expertly. Through a great feat of imagination, Horter-Moore has put a really creative and refreshing twist on what could have been a stale story.

Horter-Moore’s prose is a joy to read, it is straightforward whilst being eloquent and descriptive. It flows beautifully throughout with quite a dream-like tone which captures the milieu perfectly. The narrative is based more on internal thoughts and feelings rather than dialogue, which gives us great insight and understanding of the characters motives and desires. When there is dialogue, it is actually quite modern, for instance, “Why do we have to spend every vacation here?” whined Tanna.“That oracle never has anything interesting to say…”Although this could have felt inauthentic, I actually thought that it was a great way of making the tale more accessible and up to date. The author particularly excels at writing place, and the setting of ancient Greece is magically conjured; it is a world full of gods, superstition, soothsayers, seers and magic. The prose is extremely evocative of scenery and I felt transported to the slopes of Mount Olympus.

The characters really come alive on the page, and they are portrayed with such sensitivity- -the author isn’t afraid of illustrating their flaws and complexities. The relationship between the sisters Medea, Tanna and Psyche are particularly well portrayed, illustrating all of the complicated feelings of jealousy and yearning for approval. The love between Eros, who is the perfect mate, and Psyche, who is deeply imperfect, feels very genuine, and I felt completely invested in their relationship.

Although this is a story of Gods and mortals living in a time unlike our own, the narrative reminds us that ultimately any human heart can suffer and love in universal ways. This is a great read for any lover of myth, fantasy or romance, and I look forward to more from this author!

Pages: 186 | ASIN: B06XTX3TFH

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The Victory Perspective

The Victory Perspective by [Kellett, E.J.]

The Victory Perspective, by E. J. Kellett, reveals a new angle on the creation story complete with a dark and foreboding side. Five beings materialize, quite literally, in the first chapter and proceed to make their way through the world around them while one of them, Alpha, emerges as leader. Raphael, Michael, Lucifer, and Gabriel seek ways to understand Alpha’s powers as they develop, strengthen, and subdue the other four. Alpha’s abilities overwhelm the others as he levitates, forces the others into virtual servitude, and begins presenting them with stunning creations, including human beings. When Raphael disappears from their camp, Lucifer must begin a battle within himself as he searches for his friend.

I was immediately taken with the beautiful language penned by Kellett. The striking descriptions of the landscape and the amazing emergence of each of the five beings is breathtaking to behold. Kellett is a master with the written word and fashions fascinating depictions as they grow in their cognizance.

Kellett incorporates several episodes of violence in order to emphasize the differences between his characters and demonstrate Alpha’s dominance. Like the other four stunned onlookers, I struggled through the sight but find it a fitting method for establishing Alpha’s place in the world and helping the reader sympathize with Lucifer as the plotline progresses. Their horror at Alpha’s growing strength and their wonderment at the tools, weapons, and shelters he is able to fashion are highly relatable feelings.

I was, at times, taken aback at the rather familiar tone of the characters. To hear characters who I associate with angels speak in mundane terms, sometimes using slang, was a bit off-putting. The intensity of the creation story seems to call for a more formal tone, even though this is a far cry from the traditional story which most readers would readily recognize. I had a hard time resolving my discomfort with hearing Alpha, depicted as the creator, curse.

Some readers may find the description of evolution unsettling. As Alpha discovers his efforts to create humans go somewhat awry, readers will find that he is not in complete control of the process. The resulting beings are not pleasing to him. (This is only one of the ways Alpha is very much humanized throughout the reading.)

The closeness between Lucifer and Raphael is touching, and Lucifer’s insistence at finding Raphael at all costs keeps the reader involved in the plot. As the two discover more about themselves and more about Alpha’s intentions, their relationship mimics human exchanges. Again, this is not something most readers are used to seeing from depictions of divine beings. Making that transfer to a different mindset might be a struggle for some.

Lucifer’s reappearance in the Garden of Eden places a new spin on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. In fact, one of the most iconic scenes we know from the Bible story is, here, given all the qualities of a drama. Lucifer, though always a major factor in Eve’s decline, is personified by Kellett and shown to be thoughtful and not without worries of his own. In addition, Adam and Eve’s conversations are basic in language and have a commonplace feel.

While beautifully written with remarkable imagery, I was not completely comfortable with the take on the creation story. However, there is much to be said for this reimagining of the immediately recognizable story of the origins of our world.

Pages: 314 | ASIN: B078Y9QJW1

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A Victim of Circumstances

Arti Chugpai Author Interview

Arti Chugpai Author Interview

Phoenix tells the story of Sonam and her trials and tribulations as she builds her life as a woman in India. What was your inspiration for this heart-felt novel?

I have been inspired by experience and observation. My family background has been similar, and I have closely observed the lives of urban well-educated women in India. Despite a progressive education and multifaceted skills, they are expected to conform to obsolete family norms and not allowed to make life choices. This is especially true for the year 1983, when the protagonist Sonam wants to extricate herself from an abusive marriage. Indian society then was full of paradoxes: on one hand was the evolution of a knowledge society and unprecedented technological advancement and on the other deeply entrenched dogmatic beliefs in gender stereotypes. Instead of sympathising with a woman who was a victim of circumstances, her family and friends blamed her for her misfortunes and ostracised her.

I felt that this novel confronted gender stereotypes in a bold way. What themes did you want to capture while writing this book?

I have always felt strongly about the unequal playing field provided to women, even in the educated elite class, and the perception that they are appendages to male family members, whether father, brother or husband. Why should women be accorded respect only if they have empathetic men to battle for them? This discrimination is especially difficult to combat since one is pushing against one’s parents and closest family members whom one loves and respects. Through this novel, I wanted to highlight the need to cherish and support daughters as individuals regardless of the presence and status of their life partners.

I felt that Sonam was a multilayered character that was judged by her failings rather than her success. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?

While her parents despair of what will happen to Sonam after she leaves her husband and judge her by her failure in relationship, she demonstrates exceptional skills and shines in her workplace as an achiever. Her personality growth from 1983 to 2017 despite all odds illustrates the triumph of the spirit over ostracism, bigotry, negativity and injustice. She is rejuvenated from the ashes, just like the mythical bird, phoenix.

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

My next book, tentatively titled ‘A Journey Within’ has a very different story though it also deals with women’s issues. The lives of 16 Indian women of varying age groups intersect when they go on an all-women’s trip to Spain and Portugal. As events unfold during and after the trip, each of them reaches a realization that changes her life forever.

Author Links: Amazon | Website | GoodReads | Facebook

Phoenix by [Chugpai, Arti]

Caught in an abusive marriage, Sonam Aggarwal finds no family support when she struggles to break free. However, with unwavering grit, she makes a place for herself in the world and rises like a phoenix from the ashes of her dead marriage to discover true companionship and professional success. 

The evolution of a knowledge society in India that places a premium on human knowledge and skills regardless of gender finally bequeaths her a coveted place in the sun. The novel focuses on the core strength of a woman that asserts her value despite external trappings and women characters who go through their individual struggle with the inevitable challenges that threaten their existence. 

Phoenix, a novel, traces the life of Sonam and her upper class family in South Delhi from 1983 to 2017. It highlights the curious paradoxes in Indian society: its global leadership in digitalization contrasted with antiquated prejudices and gender stereotypes.

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