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Dark Academia and Magic

Karolina Wilde Author Interview

House of Pain follows a half-witch who attends a prestigious witchcraft university where she’s a target of one of the rival Houses and fights a dangerous attraction. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

When I sat down to write House of Pain, I wanted to write the darkest story I could. I wanted something gritty, toxic, and filled with characters that are very hard to like. I’m a huge fan of dark academia, but I often want fantasy with it. So, I wanted to mix fantasy with dark academia and magic and then add a sprinkle of high-society drama because who doesn’t love Gossip Girl?

Your characters are intriguing and well-developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Thank you. Honestly, I took a lot of my inspiration for the main characters, Alecto and Blaze, from social media, particularly TikTok. I’ve stumbled across so many real-life stories of women struggling with sexual trauma, men who treat them poorly, and similar stuff, and so Alecto became a combination of it all. Val’s personality and drive, the cutthroat approach to getting things done no matter what, and the hunger for more power was inspired by my grandmother in a way. It’s hard to pinpoint one source of inspiration, really.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I would say that the most important one was toxic family dynamics and family trauma. We are often affected by our surroundings growing up more than we think, and it’s very easy to turn into our parents/grandparents and repeat the cycle of toxic behavior because it feels familiar. In House of Pain, the main cast of characters is all from prominent families that look pretty on the outside but hide dark secrets. I loved writing about how the main characters navigate the expectations they have and what they truly want.

Another theme that was very important for me to explore is the true nature of love. In House of Pain, Alecto is struggling with her place in a world that doesn’t want her, with her sexual trauma, and she finds herself gravitating toward bad men, looking for validation and probably some form of affection. On the other end, we have Blaze, who appears to have all the love and admiration from the outside world, yet he’s as lonely as Alecto. Maybe even more so. I also talked a lot about the nature of love and whether there is one right person for us, a soulmate if you will or if we’re meant to love more than one person in our lifetime. I find the topic of love to be fascinating.

What can readers expect in Precious Villains Book 2?

Precious Villains Book 2, House of Ruin, will be a wild ride. Readers can expect lots of steamy action between Alecto and Blaze, dark family secrets uncovered, high society drama and the themes of vengeance explored.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

During this year’s Game, hearts would break.
Gothic Harry Potter meets Gossip Girl, House of Pain is the first book in a dark fantasy romance trilogy set in the magical world of Inathis, where the witches are beautiful just as much as they’re wicked.
Alecto Black has spent her whole life in Inathis, yet she never quite fit in being the half-witch amongst the purebloods. When she finally enrolled in the most prestigious witchcraft university, The Venefica Academy, last year and joined the House of Snakes as a rightful legacy member, she thought she had finally found her place.
But every year, The Venefica Academy students that belong to 12 Houses all participate in the deadly Game that many witches don’t survive. And when the second year at Venefica starts, Alecto finds herself a target of one of the rival Houses while also having to face the enemy from the inside — fellow Snake, Blaze Leveau. As secrets start unraveling, hate turns into something more dangerous and deadly.
While Alecto tries to fight her new dangerous attraction to Blaze, she also finds herself asking how far she is willing to go to secure her place in the world that wants to destroy her?
House of Pain will be perfect for dark academia and Dramione fans who want morally grey characters with spice and loved The Atlas Six, The Ninth House, and Zodiac Academy. It’s a dual POV, steamy (extremely) enemies-to-lovers bully romance, so please read the content warning list before reading.

Growing Up In Addiction

Dianne C. Braley Author Interview

The Silence in the Sound is a provocative novel detailing the devastating effects of growing up with addiction. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

Inspiration for the book came from plenty of things, but if not for William Styron, the Pulitzer-prize-winning author probably best known for his book Sophie’s Choice, I’m not sure I’d ever have had the courage to write a word. Writing had always been my passion since I could remember, but having grown up in the inner city, blue-collar and with lesser means, it wasn’t something encouraged. Like many inner-city kids, I was shown early on that paying the bills was the priority. My mother, a nurse, and father, a truck driver, seemingly wanted my brother and me to pursue our passions, mine being art and writing, but encouraged a career that fed us and put a roof over our heads; that was first and foremost. Dreams could come later. After becoming a nurse, like my mother, and succeeding at putting a roof over my head, I felt satisfaction and honor in helping people, but there was always something missing, although I wasn’t sure what. While having the privilege of caring for Mr. Styron on the beautiful island of Martha’s Vineyard as his nurse at the end of his life, I saw a man and a family existing for art, and I breathed it in along with the crisp salty air, feeling alive and inspired. I spent years with a talented, complicated, deep, and melancholic man at the end of his life, reading his books across from him in one of the most stunning places in the world. His friendship and fascination with the darkness of humanity and himself led me to explore my darkness, which was growing up in addiction, my father an alcoholic, and later falling in love with someone with the same affliction, both having succumbed to the disease. Mr. Styron showed me through his life and work not to be afraid to find my meaning.

Georgette is a compelling and well-defined character. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?

Georgette (George) grew up with an alcoholic father she loved, but his chaos affected her much more than she realized. She’s insecure and feels unsafe, longing for stability, but she doesn’t know what that is. She formed an armor long ago as a child in living in her unpredictable home and thinks her toughness can get her through life. She knows better than her mother as a teen and young adult, she feels, as much of us do at that age, but in the running away from her family and pain to the island, her safe place, she finds she can’t run from herself. She must learn to love on her own, both herself and another person, in a healthy way which she doesn’t have the foggiest idea how to do. She must learn who she is and accept life on life’s terms. She’s spent her entire life fighting this—fighting them and the disease that’s affected all of them.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Of course, addiction. It’s odd, though, because I didn’t intend for this book’s premise to be about the effects of addiction. It was supposed to be there but in a much more subtle way. This all changed as I wrote about Georgette’s relationship with her father and found I could go back in time and tap right into my feelings of being a child and a young and new adult navigating his disease. My father was an alcoholic, so I have a significant amount of experience regarding this, but this was not supposed to be the central theme. Sometimes as we write, we have to see where the story takes us, and it took me here. So many readers have said I’ve helped them see the addicts they love in their life as more than their disease and that I brought humanity to my addicted characters. Because someone is flawed and broken in some way does not mean they are unlovable, and the people who love them should never be shamed for doing so. There is much shame in this disease, and while we often have to detach from the people we love who are suffering from this in our lives, often to save ourselves, it does not mean we suddenly love them any less. There is enough pain in this affliction, so it’s important to me to help end the shame children and anyone who loves those suffering feel because of our societal ignorance.

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

I’m well into my second novel. I hate to be cryptic and loathe people who are, but I’m going to be here. I was working on another book when something happened just outside my family’s inner circle. It’s another dark subject and one that I don’t have any personal experience with but have many friends who do. There was a trial, and two best friends, young girls, were broken by another’s act. The story is written from the perspective of the victim, which is not as obvious. In so many crimes, there are a vast number of victims, not just the ones directly harmed. I listened to this trial and became utterly fascinated. I want to do this story justice in every way, so I’ve been listening to other trials and performing interviews. I’m about halfway through, and I hope I can get it out much faster than my debut!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Finding inspiration where she least expects it, one woman’s life is about to change forever.

Life has not been kind to Georgette. Growing up with an alcoholic father and an enabling mother, she clings to the loving memory of a childhood trip to Martha’s Vineyard to help see her through the bad times; and now, as an adult, she returns to the island to start her life over. Soon she becomes the private nurse for a prize-winning novelist. As the two become friends, he opens her mind to new possibilities.

But everything changes when she encounters the mysterious Dock. Georgette isn’t quite sure about him but finds him irresistible. She quickly loses herself in her relationship despite the inherent dangers that come with him. Torn between her own future or spiraling into a life she tried so hard to leave behind, Georgette must make her most important decision ever.
Sometimes escaping the past isn’t as easy as it appears.

The Silence in the Sound is the provocative debut novel by Dianne C. Braley detailing the devastating effects of growing up with addiction.

Never Say Never

Eve Riley Author Interview

The Refusal follows a young entrepreneur that owns her own security firm as she investigates the source of a tech billionaire’s security problems and in the process finds romance. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

When I write, I always start with the characters, and they pop up in my head all the time, often fully formed. The Refusal is the start of a bigger series, and the idea for the series started with Fabian, a drug-taking, experiment-loving hacker, whose life is constantly running out of control. Fabian is the focus of book 2. In The Refusal, Jo is initially pitted against and operates in contrast to Fabian, and it was more interesting that her character would contrast with his.

A long time ago I was a young entrepreneur, and I wanted this book to reflect the reality of running your own business: Specifically how hard it is and how much support you need to do it, the insecurity and worry when you start out, when you don’t think you are going to make it, when you have to pay everyone’s salary all the while looking at other people who seem to have it all sorted. You spend time thinking about success and how that will never be you. I wanted Jo to mirror all this, but she still needed to have a certain confidence and be smart, she wouldn’t have started her own business otherwise. Not forgetting of course, that she has things in common with Janus: She’s the girl geek who says the wrong things at the wrong time and sweats about it.

I also wanted to do something different in romance. Haven’t we had enough of cowboys and motorcycle clubs yet? There are other avenues to explore, other niches that need to be filled. Not to mention of course, that I’d worked alongside techies for many years and felt I knew the industry and what they were like: a lot of lovely guys!

Janus turns out to be more than just a billionaire playboy. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Janus developed as another contrast to Fabian: He is the sorted ambitious friend to Fabian’s chaos (we can all identify with the organized friend I think!). Techie people can be very dorky and interested in tech, and Janus had to reflect that in order for his success to be credible: It wasn’t likely that he’d be the smooth player and flipping that on its head was a lot of fun. A lot of romance books portray billionaires as if they swan around in jets and cars and beautiful apartments chasing women, never worrying about money or companies or making a lot of difficult decisions to make under pressure. These books have never made sense to me. There’s a huge burden in running a company, competitors attack you, and things fail all the time: you are always ducking and diving to avoid collapse. I wanted Janus to reflect that. The fact that he is also a bit of a boy, flattered by models who want to take him to red carpet events and bowled over by a woman he likes, came out in the writing process and it felt right. He’s the nerdy boy made good who still can’t believe anyone wants to talk to him.

What themes were important for you to explore in this book?

I suspect I will never write about a woman who doesn’t hold her own. I wanted the book to be a romance but also be realistic and have authenticity. There’s a lot of envy of other people’s lives now, often fueled by social media, and I wanted to show some nuance there, the pointlessness of that, that it’s never as simple as saying someone is a “billionaire” and therefore their life is amazing. I also wanted to reflect on women’s roles now: women work, they make their own money, and they have senior roles alongside men. Some day I might write an alpha male series (never say never) but I suspect I’d find it hard, and I also think I might reverse the roles! My guys are supportive, fun, kind, generous, and INTERESTING: Everything you’d want in a real boyfriend. And guys like this exist, make great boyfriends and husbands and I wish more romances exist that celebrate how amazing these kinds of men are, not some ridiculous “strongman” or some alphahole who you’d never date in real life (unless you had a hole in your head). Where are the role models for lovely supportive men – who look after their women by lifting THEM up?

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

Next up are Fabian and Kate. And I couldn’t be more excited – Fabian is a bad-boy hacker and has been a joy ever since he appeared in my brain fully formed with all his erratic behavior, drug taking and a past filled with turmoil. Book Two will be out in the next few months.

Author Links: Goodreads | Instagram | Facebook | Website

Quiet boyfriends. An organised life. It’s all about to be upended.

Driven, workaholic Janus Phillips has glamorous tastes. Tech billionaire, red carpet events, a new model girlfriend every two months. But it’s all about to come crashing down around his ears if he can’t trace the source of a mysterious hack into his company.

Jo Williams has a temper that matches her hair, and she’s not about to let some playboy sleazebag taint her struggling tech business with his terrible reputation. When she runs into him in a lift, she impetuously pretends not to know who he is, and he ups the game by offering her a ton of cash to save his company.

Can Jo set aside her prejudices, grab the opportunity and answer one, vital, question: Is she trapped in this game with no way out?


When Stars Align

When Stars Align is a captivating story about how love and goals intertwine and the beauty in how two people make their relationship work despite the challenges they encounter. Elsie McCormick and Augustus Owens meet one night at a college party. Their lives forever change from that point onwards as they quickly fall in love and begin a relationship. This whirlwind romance develops into a bond full of promise and dreams.

The love story between Elsie and Augustus begins to unravel throughout the novel. Though it is not a smooth road, the two analyze the situation before continuing their journey together. The author depicts the reality of people who face conflicting goals and difficulties, even as they grow to love each other and support each other’s careers. The story does a great job of raising important questions about who is right or wrong in a relationship and whether an intense romance and love can overcome unexpected decisions. Can fate bring two people together and sustain their love through challenges?

E.K. McCoy approaches the story from the perspective of destiny and whether the love of our dreams will last for a lifetime. Elsie and Auggie have another priority on their list – their dreams. Elsie wishes to become a well-established musician, while Auggie plans to become one of the country’s best doctors. They move forward with their plans as they strike the perfect balance between their priorities. As they progress, their paths take them in various directions, ultimately impacting their life together.

The book addresses the unique challenges of relationships, the power of following one’s personal journey, and how this impacts Elsie and Auggie’s life as a couple. E.K. McCoy explores fate, and whether it plays a role in the outcome of their love and relationships. I found the book to be well written, providing an in-depth look at each character’s thoughts and conversations, with solid character development that draws the reader into their world.

When Stars Align is a fantastic read that uses compelling storytelling and rich emotions of joy, confusion, sadness, and acceptance in a brilliant style. This book tells a compelling romance story that would make an excellent adaptation to film. It’s a great novel for anyone who has faced the challenges of following love and a career path at once. The author offers a fantastic tale that reminds us of how we have to choose the place in life that will allow us to grow, with or without someone else.

Pages: 298 | ASIN: 1727884191

Dueling with Snakes

Leila Wells had not had a great few years, but she knew exactly who to blame for the trouble, Bryan Foster. Now that she and her dark side, the Phoenix had decided his life must end, there was nothing anyone else could do to dissuade her. Fortunately, Lelia was surrounded by people with the same objective, others who had been hurt and beaten down and taunted by Foster, namely Dragunov, the Russian military agent who had saved her life two years ago and shared a similar dark side. As the world’s best fighters made their way toward Panordom for the Rulers of the Realms Fighting Tournament, Lelia, Dragunov, and their friends would have to use every tool in their power to remain focused if they want to fulfill their goal.

Dueling with Snakes, by Jessica Piro, is the third installment in the action-packed Phoenix trilogy. The book follows Lelia on her path to finally getting revenge for the pain and suffering she has suffered at the hands of Foster. Her support group is with her every step of the way, putting themselves at risk for the greater good. Lelia, the Phoenix, and Dragunov, the Dragon, make an imposing team as they enter the fighting tournament, with Lelia having a good deal of notoriety as the winner of the first one. This made for an exciting cast of characters that I enjoyed following.

Author Jessica Piro surrounds Lelia with a wide variety of characters representing a plethora of cultures and personalities, placing them all perfectly within the narrative of the book and crafting a complete world for them to exist in. Since this is the third book in the series, in order to fully enjoy the story I think it is best to read books one and two prior to reading this book. I feel that this book is deserving of five stars due to the groundwork laid in previous novels. Seeing the story and character arcs over the series gives you a much better appreciation for the things that happen in Dueling with Snakes. Since I have read both books, I know there is a lot of history to Lelia that was necessary to the plot, from how she ended up in Russia to her relationships with the other characters, to Foster’s involvement in her life and it made the story supremely enjoyable.

The author provides the reader with just the right amount of backstory without bogging down the pace of the book. The premise is well crafted and exciting, with Piro creating a significant buildup of tension that saw a release in all the right spots. I highly recommend this amazing series to those who enjoy a fast-paced and hard-hitting action.

Pages: 361 | ASIN: B0B2QJ2PR1

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We Are Unleashed Into The World

Lindsey M Carver Author Interview

Juliet was Wrong follows a high school graduate who is searching for herself before heading off to college; what she discovers could change the course of her well-planned life. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for this story is, quite frankly, many people’s experiences. When we graduate high school, we feel as though: this is it. Life is ready to begin. But, what about the past eighteen years? Did they not count? We are just looking for ourselves as teenagers, before we are unleashed into the world… worried about what we’ll be or where we’ll end up.

I pulled some of that from my own experiences. I think of the quote from the last chapter: how did becoming an adult happen?

And how do we make it stop? Because that’s how every single eighteen year old feels going out into the world. At thirty five, I still feel that way sometimes.

Katie goes through a challenging period of self-discovery in this novel. Was there anything from your own life that you put into the characters in your novel?

Yes, absolutely. Although, Katie is who I wish I was in high school. So put-together and so self-aware. I was not that way at all! I imagined this girl who had her life so carefully planned… and then someone comes along and pulls her out of this bubble she’s created and forces her to experience things she has never experienced before. Someone to make her second guess everything she’s ever thought. And what better than a – quite average – eighteen year old boy? All four of those main characters are based on those I knew in high school – Josh is melded with my husband a bit.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Strong female relationships were very important to me writing this book. A teenage girl who had a normal relationship with her mother in a YA book? Say what? I feel as though the YA genre fixates on abnormal family relationships. But you can just tell Katie will grow up and her mother will be her best friend.

Katie & Sam are inseparable… there is this connection between them that sits under the surface that they will be there for each other literally no matter what. That was important to me to explore as well. Soulmates can exist amongst friendships.

And of course, the overall arching theme to always choose yourself. Always believe in yourself. You are good enough. No matter how many Joshua Parkers come into your life.

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

My name book is titled Same Time, Same Place and is due out April 4th, 2023! It is completely separate from Juliet was Wrong and is about a group of friends at summer camp throughout the years.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Katelyn Watson had never as much stepped a toe out of line her entire life.
Yet in the past two months, her mother has picked her up from a hospital, she lied about where she was and one night, she didn’t even come home.
She blames him.

It is the day after high school graduation and Katie has one thing on her mind: getting the heck out of New Jersey. That is… until she meets him. Joshua Parker steps into view under the Ferris Wheel at the boardwalk and one look at him has Katie’s brain misfiring. The summer days fall into nights with Josh. Katie is soon discovering teenage experiences she’s been missing out on with her nose stuck in a book. The more time Katie spends with Josh, the more she begins to question everything she knows about love… and who she’s meant to be.
The path of Katie’s future has been perfectly paved since she was seven. But, she soon craves a new one: one with a boy she just met but cannot live without. The soon-to-be English major is standing at a crossroads, examining everything she’s learned about her beloved Shakespearean theatre. Do you ever get a second chance at true love? The events of that summer will decide.

You Find Out Who Your True Friends Are

Robert John DeLuca Author Interview

The Covid Kid follows a young adult in his first year of college who has all his plans turned upside down with the emergence of COVID. What made you write a story about this topic?

The pandemic had such an overwhelming influence on us all. I simply could not ignore the impact on my upbeat protagonist, who always seems to come out okay in the end but never takes the straightforward path. Placing the most important person in his life at risk with COVID, under circumstances that might have been attributable to him, created suspense and concern for my readers. 

Marshall’s plans for his first year of college change dramatically, and he has to adapt to many changes. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Boiled all the way down, it is a critical part of the maturation process from childhood to adult. Thankfully, most kids ease into adulthood without facing major trauma on the way, but they will have to deal with it at some point in their lives.

Marshall lived an admirable life with a sincere concern for others. I wanted to show that even the very best have problems, but his faith and perseverance won out in the end.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The pandemic was very serious business and should not be taken lightly, as it was by many young people. Marshall lost friends close to him and realized COVID must be dealt with seriously. Financial pressure can turn almost anyone to compromise their ideals and sworn allegiances, even a Hippocratic oath. When adversity rears its ugly head, you find out who your true friends really are.

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

My next book in the Marshall Morris series is “The Battle of Sam Jacinto”.  (Yes, “Sam”) Marshall aligns himself with a group of old vets who rally with slingshots and baseball bats at the planned destruction of a Vietnam era local hero statue for a shopping center. In the process he forgets the proliferation of slavery advocated by many of the monuments and impact on his girlfriend African American Mallory. The one after that with a working title of “Hugs and Drugs” is about half written. Hopefully out in time for Christmas.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Texas high school graduate Marshall Morris is set to enter college when the COVID pandemic explodes into his life. Usually unsinkable, he is shaken but endures his “prison-like” quarantine with good cheer, thanks mostly to long chats with girlfriend Mallory.
The devastating loss of senior citizen war veteran buddies who survived combat bullets, but not this bug, leads him to become grimly serious about the pandemic, and he rails against young people who refuse to take precautions. His worst fears are realized when his precious mother is struck down by the dread disease, which he is certain he gave to her.
Though she worsens in an ICU he is unable to visit. He tries to keep busy working at a struggling real estate company. The owner, desperate for cash, becomes the middleman. in a bizarre international scheme to inject a bogus miracle cure into COVID patients at a local hospital. Marshall is shocked to learn the surely fatal drug will be given to his mother. He must get to her ICU before it is too late. The hospital’s COVID ward is a fortress. Can he get to her in time?

It Leaves The Reader Thinking

Ashlee Lynn Author Interview

Deadly Attraction follows a woman who’s kidnapped by an emotionally hard man that slowly falls for her. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

This story actually came from a dream. The character development as far as Ace was my favorite part of the story. It leaves the reader thinking, nothing is ever as it seems and people can be so much more than what they were born into.

Reyna and Ace are intriguing and I enjoyed following their relationship. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

My mother would tell you, I put a lot of myself into Reyna’s character. I wanted that almost love at first sight aspect with their relationship, yet they approach with some caution. It does hit them hard and I personally have experienced a fast love like they experience in the book. It is all consuming and devastating when lost.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I really wanted them to have conflict in their emotions but not too much. Both never really believed in true love so it is nice to see them come together quick and realize this is what was missing in my life and I am willing to do whatever it takes to keep it. I wanted to show thought into why they were feeling the way they did but really not being able to explain it other than, it being kismet.

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

My next novel will hopefully be the second book in the Legacy Series. But I do have others in the works as well. It will be a race to the finish to see which story speaks to me the most in the coming months. Information should be updated on my website soon.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Lex has always been the perfect boyfriend. When he invites Reyna on a surprise anniversary trip, she jumps at the chance. Lex is ready to make Reyna his forever. However, things fall apart when she is taken, stolen away into the night.

Ace doesn’t do emotions. Brought up in a world of guns, violence, and bloodshed. He has seen every horror the world has to offer. Reyna is just another job to him…until she’s not.

Reyna says it’s kismet, but Ace doesn’t believe in fate. He must stop himself from falling for her, because he’s afraid that loving her will be the death of them both.
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