The Underground follows a wolf pack alpha male in an alternate Seattle who seeks the downfall of his overlord. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
The Underground was inspired by a single question I asked myself while in a half-fainted state on an uptown city bus with no air conditioning on one oppressively hot and humid afternoon: What would it take for a werewolf to survive in today’s world?
It gave me a lot to think about. Assuming humans are just as hostile to paranormals as they are in the literature, our werewolf’s primary concern would be keeping his true nature secret. Still, he can’t just wall himself away from humans—he needs a job, a place to live, and what have you. Would he have friends, knowing that everyone who crosses your path is a potential enemy? What lies would he have to tell to keep humans from finding out what he is? When the change comes, what does he do? He can’t go hunting humans in the city—that would be suicide. So…what? Those questions are just the tip of the iceberg, as they say.
Parker and Kurt were both well developed and interesting characters. Who was your favorite character to write for?
I really don’t have a favorite between the two. I love all my children equally! What was most interesting about writing the two is how they developed into such different characters. Yes, Parker’s from a rural-esqe part of the southern U.S. and Kurt’s a German aristocrat but it’s not just that. For example, their speech patterns are so different, aside from Parker being a potty-mouth! There’s a formality to Kurt’s speech that’s absent from Parker’s and everyone else. It’s almost as if I don’t have to use dialogue tags or other indicators as to who’s speaking. You can tell when Kurt’s speaking just from his language.
I loved the idea of exotics and the whole world of paranormal creatures you’ve built. What were some themes you wanted to explore in your world?
While mentally building the world for The Underground, I realized that world is our own. Human bigotry against paranormals abounds. Paranormals are hunted by humans and marked for execution. That’s no different than anyone who’s persecuted because of skin color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or identity, or any other difference the majority perceives as dangerous and undesirable. That leads to the question of what would happen if the downtrodden decide they’re not going to take their lot anymore? History tells us the answer. Oppress a people long and hard enough, they will rise up. And the results won’t be pretty. There’s so much more to these themes, too. I’ve even written an essay about it.
Are you still working on the Sequel to the The Moreva of Astoreth? How is that coming along?
Yes, The Moreva of Astoreth’s sequel, When Gods Die, is still in the works. Since Moreva was released, I’ve been assaulted by major real-life issues that necessitated putting Gods on the back-burner. Moreva is getting a major overhaul—new cover and a deep edit—and once that’s finished, I can go back to Gods. Of course, I can’t say for certain when it’ll be finished. Deadlines and me really don’t mix. But the plan is to have Gods published by the end of summer 2020. One reason for taking so long is I have to write a novella, The Final Victim, which I’ve promised to people who sign up for my newsletter. Victim is set in The Underground’s world and bears a strong relation to it but it’s not a part of The Underground’s story. Call it a companion book.
In an alternate Seattle, communities of “exotics”—shapeshifters, witches, elves and vampires—live among the murderous human population and are ruled over by the cruel vampire Master, Kurt. The powerful alpha male of the werewolf pack, Parker Berenson, is one of the Master’s enslaved servants and he would like nothing more than to hasten the downfall of the vampire overlord who stole his love, the beautiful mage Garrett Larkin. But in a night city already on the razor’s edge—in the midst of a spate of bloody murders—Parker’s passionate encounter with a stunning interstellar assassin could upset the very delicate balance and ignite a war neither exotics nor humans can survive.
Cooperative Lives is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a mystery, suspense, and romance as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
Organically. I began with humble aspirations: to publish a thin collection of stories about various fictionalized neighbors. Their only shared aspect was their abode, a storied New York co-operative. These were simple tales with simple twists: a compulsive planner who locks himself out of his well-equipped apartment during a blackout; a man who exasperates his wife by, with daughter in tow, routinely ignoring Walk/Don’t Walk signals, only to watch his wife mowed down while observing the rules; an aging fund manager who commits an egregious act of negligence but is saved from ruin by the words on a long-forgotten pack of cigarettes. Other stories involved skiing accidents, medical malpractice, writer’s block – a mishmash of themes and occurrences.
The connections came slowly. What if the woman in the second story is saved by the aging money manager? What if the man in the first story was grieving the loss of his family? What if the second family knew the man? What if they both had children?
The book became more character-driven – how New Yorkers deal with the universal challenges of raising a family, making ends meet, preserving relationships, surviving medical ordeals, and growing old. The protagonists were sufficiently varied in age, background and income to address the questions from multiple perspectives.
Also, their eventual interaction enabled story arcs. What if the aging fund manager didn’t, in fact, correct his error in time, and somehow involves the man whose wife he saved? What if there’s a reason the man in the first story lost his family, and that it ties all the protagonists together?
The finished novel did indeed cross many genres, but so, alas, does life.
What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
9/11 and the financial crisis were such specks in time, separated by a scant six years, but they had an intense, lasting impact on the New York and New Yorkers I knew. My goal was to craft a series of short stories that captured New York in transition – from a wild, frenetic, forward-looking community where lawyers, bankers, artists, corporate managers, and theatrical executives (i.e., my neighbors) toiled their way up the ladder, traveled without fear, raised families without fear, and retired in relative comfort and privacy, to one spooked by uncertainty, laid bare by overzealous media, and devoured by the very financial system they created. A tall order – best approached one short parable at a time.
It took me seven years to pull the novel together, to narrow my admittedly subconscious, sweeping vision down to a simple whodunnit. But I was committed to publishing before my 60th birthday, the only writer’s promise I kept. Had I allowed myself another seven years, who knows where the novel would have taken me?
Your characters were all varied, unique, and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind the characters development?
I’m not sure I had ideals, at least not consciously. The characters were montages of people I knew – some alive, some dead. Their thoughts were frequently mine, but they were basic, the logical extension of where and how each scene was set. If there was a goal, it was to make the characters genuine, so persuasive I could sneak in plot liberties and still seem plausible – a magician’s sleight of hand. Heaven knows if I succeeded.
Part of making characters genuine is making them nuanced. In the “real world,” the only world I know, there are precious few saints and even fewer demons. An argument, by definition, has two sides, and everyone, including a seven-year-old child, is complicated.
I am a huge fan of American comedies from the thirties and forties, including those of Frank Capra. He quoted Konstantin Stanislavski so liberally I thought, until now, that he wrote this, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” Truth. Watch any Capra film. Every role makes an impression, even the uncredited, unspoken ones … because they are so real. It was surely not an ideal but a commitment; each of my characters had to be genuine.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
Cooperative Lives took me seven years to write, edit and publish. I would love to publish my next volume within five. The locus will be contemporary New York and many of characters will be over forty. There will also be water, lots of water.
A landmarked midtown Manhattan address. Carnegie Hall and Central Park at your feet. Three hundred units. Thirty-two full-time employees. Five hundred neighbors. You’ve hit the big time. Joined the elite. But what do you know about them, the neighbors? Have you ever met them? Really engaged with them? Or do you gaze down in the elevator, the same way you do on the subway and the street?
Oh sure, you’ve heard a famous writer lives on the fourteenth floor, a retired US senator on the eighteenth. You’ve witnessed so many Broadway impresarios glide through the lobby you’ve lost count. But what about your real neighbors – the couple in 7H, for instance, or the family in 8B? Did you know they once harbored the most wanted fugitive in America?
No? It was in the papers for weeks; nearly tore the co-op apart. Even that famous writer on fourteen got involved. And all because an M7 bus side-swiped a resident-shareholder while turning down Seventh Avenue.
You’re busy? Oh, I’m sorry. Just thought you should know something about the co-op’s history. And buy more insurance, lots more; I’ve got a friend named Stanley.
White Harvest finds Lilly imprisoned with a man that reveals long held secrets of the occult, religious texts and secret societies. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thought-provoking novel?
The story came to me in a dream, including all the weird details. What followed was years of religious research. I didn’t think the dream was religious at first but five minutes reading revelation alerted me to it’s religious nature. Originally this book was one large book but it became too big for one book and when the March 15 terror attack happened in my home town, I decided to cover it in my book and that lead to splitting the book in two.
Lilly is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some ideas you pursued while creating her character?
Lilly is basically me, her reactions are mine. I have never been a religious teacher, I added that to give her a reason to know religion so well and her rather shady background isn’t mine either, but her personality is pretty much me … I think?
The relationship between Lilly and Ox is unique and odd. What were some themes you wanted to explore with their relationship?
I literally dreamed Ox up. I’m not sure if his personality matches that of anybody I know? I’m not sure what to say other than that he appeared in a lucid dream of mine that keep expanding.
This is book one in the Behind the Veil series. Where will the next book in the series pick up?
It picks up almost immediately this book ends as it was one book. It starts with a creation story and covers religious history in-depth. New Charters are introduced. My friend, who is reading it, says the info introduced is so new to her that she is constantly having to take a break to absorb it but is enjoying the journey.
After being imprisoned in a secret, deep underground military base, Lilly takes comfort in the arms of a long-term captive there who’s like no man she’s ever met before. He helps her survive in a sinister world where power reigns supreme. When discussions turn to the social agenda playing out in the world above and the political spin associated with it, he proves himself to be more brain than brawn. After revealing secrets hidden in religious texts, the occult, and secret societies, the veil is lifted from Lilly’s eyes.
Working towards a set goal for thousands of years, the global elite and the men behind the curtain, have been following mystery school teachings. Using arcane knowledge encoded into readily available texts, their leading societies, the Freemason’s, the CIA, and the Catholic Church’s dark agenda has long been to get humanity to believe many falsehoods at a certain point in time. These untruths are currently being championed. Having, for the most part, achieved their goals, the global elite are ready to execute their agenda. With the clock ticking, Lilly hopes to escape in time to make a difference.
Like Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code,” this book includes research, knowledge, and facts, but it’s also controversial and confronting.
Heart Land by Kimberly Stuart is a contemporary fiction story about Grace Kleren, a struggling design assistant in New York who aspires to be a fashion designer. But instead of receiving the promotion she expects, she ends up being fired. With no job and no way to pay her bills, she is forced to return to Silver Creek, Iowa, the town she left ten years ago. However, she’s determined to find a way to earn enough money to move back to New York and prove herself as a fashion designer. But after reconnecting with her first love, Tucker, will Grace’s dream change?
Heart Land is a story that was a joy to read. I won’t ruin the ending for you, or how Grace and Tuckers relationship ends, but I’ll say that it was one of my favorite endings for a book this year. Especially after the ladies of the sewing circle had come together to help her with her new business, which brought much-needed money into the area. I’m glad that Grace didn’t turn her back on them. All of this was delivered eloquently with a bit of humor, which I enjoyed.
Although I liked the main characters, I felt that there were a lot of unnecessary secondary characters in the beginning of the book, since most of them were not mentioned again later in the story. And Grace was not shown in the best light when she is first introduced and she ducks out early on the photo shoot the day before she expected to get a promotion. Although that was not the reason she got fired, it could have easily gone that way, and she thoughtlessly risked the very thing that she supposedly wanted the most (can you tell I’m invested in the characters).
When Grace first returned to Silver Creek, I didn’t like how she often acted like a sulky teenager rather than a women in her late twenties just because things in New York had not gone the way she’d imagined and she wasn’t happy to be returning to Iowa. Ultimately she recognized this fault in herself and did not continue the same behavior for too long. I enjoyed her character transition, although it took her a while to realize what was really important.
This is an exceptional story that explores the power of love and connection to people and places.
Pages: 321 | ASIN: B078MDDLFB
In the third instalment in the charming Honeycake Book Series, Nala brings her outgrown toys and clothes to Rainbow Hall, and spends the day with her Grandma and Uncle JD discovering a special magical power we all have, called ✨KINDNESS✨
“Kindness is a “Special Magical Power” we all have inside of us. When we show kindness, it’s like spreading sunshine everywhere we go — no matter what the weather is like outside.
Could you imagine how much nicer the world would be if everyone smiled at each other or did a random act of kindness every day? We are kind when we use our manners by saying please and thank you, or by opening a door, or by giving our seat on a bus or train to a stranger in need.
Kindness is a gift we can all afford to give. Though it doesn’t cost a thing, your kindness can mean everything to another person.”
Use your “Special Magical Powers” and spread kindness everywhere you go!
Laura Hunter’s Beloved Mother is set in Appalachia in the 20th century. Laura Hunter’s style of writing is what enables you to mentally experience life in the 1900’s. We follow a story that involves family drama, unfriendly environments, womanhood and the benefits of togetherness. I had a great time reading about different cultures and how communities co-exist. The diversity in the author’s writing is commendable.
The events happen in an Appalachian coal mining area where we are introduced to the lives of three women; two siblings and one daughter. Mona Parsons was taken away by Jackson Slocomb when he was 13. The man from Pennsylvania abused her and even sexually assaulted her. The result of the defilement was a pregnancy. It happened that another man, Tall Corn, rescued her from the hands of abusive Jackson Slocomb. Tall Corn was a Cherokee farmer who renamed Mona and took care of her child after it was born. Meanwhile, Anna Parsons gets involved with a mining supervisor and gets pregnant as well.
The events in the book happen over the span of a couple of years. Laura Hunter’s sometimes grim nature of writing is fascinating and consistently engaging as she captures the shifting moods of families as they encounter tragedies like death, misunderstandings, and intense drama. We get to see how curses and fate influence people and how they use unorthodox means to survive. The incorporation of the Cherokee mythology was excellently portrayed and something I found myself relishing. The three main women in the book are distinct but maintain a tight circle as they struggle to live through tough realities that society presents them.
This is a story about three women of different generations trying to carve their paths while remaining sane despite the ugly side of life. The strength we see in the women is vividly portrayed through harrowing tribulations that kept me rapt. One gets the impression of living like Native Americans for a moment. The author’s eloquent descriptions of Appalachia allowed me to easily imagine the environment. The plot builds gradually, leaving me at first to wonder if things would ever pickup, but the story certainly does, I just wish it happened sooner. I enjoyed this novel because it cast culture and traditions, womanhood in an new and interesting light. Although slow to start, Beloved Mother delivers a unique experience that is rarely found in other novels.
Pages: 366 | ASIN: B07N17LSHD
The Mars One Incident is set in the 27th century, where all technology is banned for the residents on Earth, supposedly for their own good. The Joint Confederacy ensures everything remains this way by using- advanced technology. We are introduced to Alma Johnson, who is offered the captaincy of the Indianapolis starship. She is the youngest and most prolific of all her colleagues, but that doesn’t mean the job comes baggage-free. In a world where technology is scoffed at, she faces the scorn of society and even disapproval within her family. Her colleagues resent her for the sudden rise to power, and there are grave issues with her love life as well. Along with all this, she is on a mission to protect Earth from a rebel space ship that wants to overthrow the peaceful tech-free existence.
The book begins with a thought-provoking and humorous quote by E.B. White, the illustrious author of Charlotte’s Web. It mocks and uplifts humanity’s endless drive for more. More power, more efficiency, more knowledge. After all, we wouldn’t be in our situation, for better or for worse, if we did not have an innate desire to discover, create, and understand. This quote manages to set the perfect tone for the entire story.
It seems to have achieved a tale as old as time status- the man vs technology premise. There is no shortage of criticism for the all-consuming, relentless downpour of new technology. Some of these criticisms are worn-out and unoriginal, while others spark interest; offering a new perspective on a tired argument. This novel is of the latter sort. Kelly Curtis manages to infuse the antagonism against technology with new life and creativity. This is not an endless rail against the egregious gadgets- it is an acknowledgement of their power to empower and destroy.
An example of this aspect is how the Guild know technology is a gray zone, a double-edged sword. The hypocrisy of those in power when they are allowed to use whatever they need for their benefit, while robbing their population of it was a dismal echo of today’s world. Terra Nova was even using technology to sway votes their way- if that isn’t a dismaying reflection of today’s political world, I don’t know what is.
I found this novel utopian not only in the sense of keeping man at bay from the “technology plague,” but also in the sense of a quiet and powerful female presence throughout. The men in charge are all women. This is an infinitely welcome and refreshing change from so many other sci-fi tech novels, where men seem to be the only ones capable of executing all the science, engineering, and thinking. It manages to delve into the complexities of Alma Johnson’s world- personal and professional. It’s an interesting and thought-provoking read, perfect for everyone concerned about the direction we are headed.
Pages: 246 | ASIN: B07TX9NQ8J
A small-town Texas cop who is haunted by his past.
A reporter who risks it all, even her life.
A kidnapping that crosses into an unearthly realm.
Focused on the abduction of four-year-old Mandy Norton, Chad Bishop, Meridian’s Police Chief, ignores the twinges of foreboding triggered by an eerie fog that shrouds his town. What he can’t ignore is the editor of the Tribune.
When Ashley Logan becomes embroiled in the search, nothing stops the hard-hitting, investigative reporter, including Chad’s threats to throw her in jail. She’s Mandy’s aunt.
As the mystery of Mandy’s disappearance deepens, unnerving details emerge. Chad refuses to believe they’re connected to his past until the case turns deadly. He’s forced to face the terror that haunts him. It’s waiting in the shadowy depths of the unearthly fog.
This time, it could cost Chad more than his sanity.
Talon, Come Fly with Me (Talon Series Book One) By Gigi Sedlmayer is a fiction story about a nine-year-old girl named Matica, who is the daughter of Australian missionaries living in Pucara, Peru. She has a medical condition that affects her growth, which causes her to have a hard time fitting in. For several years, her only friends are two condors she calls Tamo and Tima. When the condors’ egg is threatened by poachers, Matica is determined to protect it. Will she succeed in her aim, or will another egg be stolen from Tamo and Tima? And will the villagers ever accept Matica the way that she wishes for?
I enjoyed reading the various facts about the Andean condors that live in the mountains of South America. I appreciated the research the author clearly has done about the birds. She combined this information with many human-like characteristics in Tamo and Talon, which added a bit of whimsy to the story. The way that Matica attributed worded responses to the condors was humorous, as though they were actually talking to her. I liked that Talon hatched on Matica’s birthday, just as she hoped he would. I also liked Talon’s persistence in learning to fly, and not giving up until he succeeded.
This book has an encouraging message about overcoming obstacles, but some things seemed implausible for a girl Matica’s age, such as her parents allowing her to go off by herself into a dangerous situation like when the poachers first returned to the area. At times the dialogue also felt stilted and unnatural, especially for Matica’s brother, Aikon, who didn’t speak as though he was only four years old.
Otherwise, I heartily enjoyed this moving story that showcases unique characters in an exotic location. There are four other books in the Talon Series, where Matica continues to go on new adventures with Talon and Tamo and Tima.
Pages: 238 | ASIN: B00J2643PG
A Tractor Named Wilbur by Deanie Humphrys-Dunne is a short yet adorable children’s book featuring a little red tractor named Wilbur who lives in a barn. Wilbur lives with a man named Jim, who simply adores Wilbur. Every day, Wilbur helps Jim out with many errands both small and large, working faithfully without a single complaint.
This book contains key elements of a good children’s book such as interesting characters children can relate to, integral moral values and entertaining illustrations to keep readers hooked. The author’s hard work is shown through the apparent care given to developing a good story arc, flow and personification of the inanimate characters. However, I do think that this book could have benefited from a little humor and jokes as the story is slightly flat until the climax takes place. The theme of the book is lighthearted and cheerful, making it perfect for young kids’ enjoyment.
Pages: 41 | ASIN: B07XQNGJQJ