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A World of Magic and Mysticism

J.V. Hilliard Author Interview

The Last Keeper follows a young magician with the power of prophetic sight as he tries to stop the destruction of his world. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I have varied inspirations for the story, but the vast majority of the worldbuilding and plot lines were a result of twenty years of playing Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop role playing games.

During the planning process for the series, I was able to memorialize several of my unique campaigns and many of our characters, villains and “cryptids” and wove them into the greater story of The Last Keeper. I took inspiration from those adventures with friends and family and used it as the basis for the story. Thus, I had a built-in and battle tested geography, political system, pantheon of gods (that I refer to as “Ancients”) as well as backstories for each.

The exercise made for a ready-made world that I just needed to launch with book one.

Daemus Alaric has many challenges to overcome as a result of his prophetic sight. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

The storyline of Daemus came to me in part by a set of recurring nightmares I had as a late teen, and I used some of the imagery to create the conflict between Daemus and the novel’s villain, Graytorris. In my dreams, I was visited by a similar entity to Graytorris that claimed to be a “guardian angel” of mine and was here to reward me if I followed his requests.

When I took that true-to-life experience and flung it into a world of magic and mysticism, it was easy to supercharge it into the metaphysical battle between protagonist and antagonist. I even used some “scenes” from my own nightmares, like the scene in the prologue near the placid pool shrouded in fog as the basis for Daemus and his first contact with Graytorris the Mad, in their shared dreamscape.

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

The book is a classic sword and sorcery novel, steeped in the spirit of Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and Dungeons and Dragons. At its heart, it highlights themes such as betrayal, struggle and duty. Betrayal in the form of a staged coup to topple the rightful king of Thronehelm; struggle in the form of a burgeoning war, but also struggles against Graytorris the Mad and his plot for revenge; and duty, in the form of service to kingdom as well as forbidden love between two main characters, Princess Addilyn Elspeth and Sir Ritter of Valkeener (racial tension).

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

Book two, known as Vorodin’s Lair, is in editing now and will be available in late summer while the third book, The Trillias Gambit is nearly done and will enter the editing process later this year. I expect it’s release around the holidays of 2022 or early 2023.

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A young boy’s prophetic visions. 

Blind at birth, Daemus Alaric is blessed with the gift of prophetic Sight. Now, as a Keeper of the Forbidden, he must use his powers of the Sight to foil the plans of a fallen Keeper, Graytorris the Mad. 

An elven Princess with a horrifying secret.

Princess Addilyn Elspeth travels from Eldwal, the magically hidden home of the Vermilion elves, to begin her life as a diplomat to the human capital of Castleshire. During her journey, she stumbles upon a mystical creature foretelling ill tidings.

A terrifying force of evil. 

Daemus’ recurring nightmare vision threatens to catapult him into a terrifying struggle that will leave the fate of the Keepers—and the realm—hanging in the balance. Daemus and Princess Addilyn must set out to face the menace that threatens their very existence.

Will the entire realm fall to its knees?

The Last Keeper is the first book in The Warminster Series. With gripping, epic action and heart-pounding adventure, you’ll love this new adventure series.

The Last Keeper 

In author J.V. Hilliard’s The Last Keeper, the realm of Warminster is thrown into tumult with a treasonous act and flight of their powerful Keeper of protection. The sudden occupation of marauding raiders feeds into the prophetic vision from one of the last Keepers with the gift of Sight, the destruction of Warminster. However, if the vision of the young Daemus Alaric can be interpreted correctly – and in time – order in the realm might be maintained. With the aid of the seer princess, Addilyn, and the field leadership of Sir Ritter Valkaneer, a talented Longmarchers captain, Warminster is poised to defend itself against the return of the traitorous Graytorris.

This wonderfully detailed medieval fantasy tale is filled with dramatic action and adventure. The characters are well developed and easy for the reader to connect with. The story’s pace is intense and keeps you on your toes the entire time. I was always wondering what would happen next and found this book to be unpredictable.

The element of magic introduced in the initial chapter is not explored with much depth, but it is believable and helps the story progress. Hilliard expounds on the hierarchies of race, status, and class in each of the sub-worlds that the three principal characters inhabit, adding an intriguing background to the characters in the story. There is a large cast of characters introduced, lending to the epic feel of this fantasy story, but I felt that they were hard to keep track of at times, even though each character does play an important role in the story. It never becomes clear who will spearhead the overall defense against Graytorris’ encroaching threat to the realm, but it is patently evident that there is more to come in what is sure to be a compelling series.

The Last Keeper is a riveting epic fantasy novel. Readers will find the non-stop action and adventure as the characters all come together from their separate worlds to be invigorating. This opening book to the series will really grab the attention of readers who enjoy metaphysical fantasy.

Pages: 419 | ASIN : B09NB2L871

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A Twist on Norse Mythology

Kenney Myers
Kenney Myers Author Interview

Jon Bragg Blue Essence follows a group of teenagers in a small town who are caught in the middle of a hunt for demigods. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

My wife and I grew up in an even smaller town in Iowa (Lincoln, IA) so I have firsthand experience with a lot of what was described from my youth. I tried to provide a good mix of my memories and present day to make it as believable and realistic as possible. I also played a bit on my past with names. For instance, I went to school in Gladbrook, IA and the story takes place in GrinWell, IA. So for the folks that grew up in that area they also know Gladbrook was also nicknamed HappyCreek. I’m sure you get the idea, just some fun trivia like that is scattered throughout the story.

Jon is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

For as long as i can remember I have been somewhat similar to Jon from a philosophical perspective and also always had a passion for poetry. I really wanted to incorporate a cerebral character like that into a main character. I wanted him to be the type of guy that is okay with himself as he is and is okay with having a close circle around him. He knows his limitations and he knows his strengths and with that comes the confidence to live life on his own terms. Even with what happens to him we get the feeling that it won’t change his demeanor or how he will interact with others.

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

So I wanted to incorporate a few positive values into the book. The main focus was around family and the way they care for each other (including Grandpa). I think having a close, caring family like what Jon has is an important aspect of the book. I also wanted to portray bullying from different perspectives whether it was Marc and Jon or Dustin’s take. In general I wanted to have the story told from the perspective of the protagonist and antagonist throughout. I also wanted to bring Bragi more into the mainstream with a bit of a twist on Norse mythology while still mentioning Thor and Loki. I think Bragi, while controversial, is very well suited for a series.

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

Speaking of that and Bragi above, it will be the next two books in the Jon Bragg series. I have quite a bit planned for this group of teens. I don’t want to let out too many details but you can certainly see the development of a couple of storylines throughout this first book in the series.

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Jon Bragg: Blue Essence is a Norse Mythology Fantasy that is perfect for fans of Norse gods. If you like the Magnus Chase series and movies like Mortal, then you will love Jon Bragg: Blue Essence.

Jon Bragg enjoys a quiet life in the small town of Grinwell, Iowa. He has loving parents, a typical, bratty little sister, and a best friend named Marc Miller, who is so fascinated by Norse mythology that everyone at school calls him Thor; mostly to tease him, but he doesn’t mind. However, when Jon turns sixteen, a new kid arrives, stirring up a whirlwind of trouble, and Jon and Marc find themselves caught in the middle of a hunt for demigods and their blue essence.

If you have a passion for stories about Odin, Thor, and Loki, then have you heard of Bragi? His power is fueled by something completely different than thunderbolts and trickery—words and music. Jon Bragg: Blue Essence will give you the opportunity to learn about and fall in love with Bragi, Odin’s second eldest son.

Life Gets Complicated

Kevin James Breaux Author Interview

Kevin James Breaux Author Interview

The Lifeblood of Ill-Fated Women revolves around the story of two Valkyries, sisters Astrid and Yrsa, in a world still ruled by Nordic Gods. What was the inspiration for this novel and the Norse mythology used throughout?

Spoiler alert in that question. Lol.

My inspiration was two fold.

One, I really had not read or seen much about Valkyries in years. They are very interesting mythological beings, but not really focused on in movies, cartoons, or TV. Seems like a wasted opportunity, so I took it. I wanted to write a story about a woman who was questioning her reality on several levels. Is she alive, is she dead, was she adducted by aliens, is she in hell? etc.

Two, I felt like Norse mythology is something people, readers, movie-goers, are willing to openly accept easier than some other myths or cultural beliefs. Maybe because of it being so fantastical. Sometimes we believe the things that are harder to believe and accept quicker than those things more based in reality.

For example…. So many people watch and follow ghost shows and believe all that we are shown, but then laugh at the hunters chasing Big Foot in the forest. Paranormal vs. A living being (although myth). Seems like it would be easier to believe in a missing link than spirits from another realm right? Well, maybe that’s just me.

Note: I believe in both actually. 🙂 And aliens.

Regardless, Norse myth is fabulous. And there are a few good fiction books you can find and read. I read one prior to writing this book. Good reference material to pick over. That and my old original Deities and Demigods D&D book. 🙂

What kind of research did you have to do to make sure you got the mythology correct?

As stated about, I bought and read one book. Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs by Lindow. I also used my old hardbound Deities and Demigods D&D book for inspiration.

I spent a LOT OF TIME online researching what “curse words” and foul language would have been used in the Viking Age. I could not deal with or accept the use of modern four letter words being said by my characters. I really lost sleep over it. I finally found some replacement words that were close to the time period or language. Not perfect, but I felt like the reader would understand what I was going for.

I never like watching movies set in ancient times with characters spewing modern day bad words….unless we are talking about STARZ’s SPARTACUS. That was awesome, and with all the over the top blood and guts it was fine. 🙂

As a writer who researches, I like to find the facts and then decide how best to use or alter them to fit into my works of fiction.

When Astrid falls in battle and wakes up with no memory the reader is brought into Astrid’s mind to be witness to her paranoia, fear, confusion and inner struggles. What were the obstacles you felt were important to highlight to connect readers with Astrid and develop her as a character?

Everyone struggles with these things on some level.

Astrid is a big, strong, proud Viking warrior. Who can relate to that? BUT they can relate to all her inner struggles. Who hasn’t questioned their reality? Who wasn’t felt afraid of something one moment, then loved it the next. Think of skydivers. Fear and then joy in a matter of seconds.

Astrid was originally designed as a near cave woman. She grunted and groaned. Took what she wanted. Feared nothing. But an early draft was read by my editor and she pointed it right out. Astrid was unrelateable. I did not want that.

My plan was to write a fantasy-horror story with a character who just cannot figure out if she is alive or dead. Her beliefs would pull her thoughts into both directions; a tug-of-war. While she struggled, the story played out. Things would be happening all around her and she would have to decided what to do, regardless of her inner struggles. That’s life. We all are faced with that.

I was really sick with the flu or something the other week. Two days of being the sickest I had been in 20 years. And guess what, I needed to go get my new drivers license photo. Time had ran out. I was faced with an obstacle on top of another obstacle. Life gets complicated.

In some books or movies, it seems like the hero only has one major concern. That’s unrealistic to me. Yeah, go save your kidnapped daughter Liam Neeson, don’t worry about needing to buy more ammo, or the authorities, or laws, or weather, or your own wounds, or….

This is a well written novel that leaves open the possibility for other stories to follow. Do you have another story in the works?

Book two is currently being written. It takes place several months after book one. I envision this series as 3-5 books long.

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The Lifeblood of Ill-fated Women (The Blood, Sun, and Moon. Book 1) by [Breaux, Kevin James]“Astrid the White isn’t an average princess. She has always stayed by the side of her father, King Kol, and learned warfare and weaponry from the best Vikings in the land. When she awakens in the city of Birka and hears the sounds of war, she rushes proudly into the fray. She is more than capable of taking down any enemy wishing to disturb the peace.

This enemy, however, isn’t what she expected. Before Astrid even gets outside the walls, a golden light knocks her out.

She comes to in the snow, in full battle armor. Astrid first suspects that this is a challenge from her father–or even the gods themselves. By acting correctly, she can gain the favor of Odin, the Allfather.

Astrid wants to complete the test, but it becomes more and more difficult as she explores this new part of the world and encounters both monsters and monstrous men. As creatures from the darkest legends reveal themselves, Astrid will discover that her journey isn’t about acting correctly or passing Odin’s test. It’s about pure survival. Before she can even think about finding Birka, she will have to defend herself against the demons of this new world.”

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