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Can Good Win Over Evil?

Denna Holm Author Interview

Denna Holm Author Interview

House of Pain is a uniquely creative story unlike any fantasy story I’ve come across. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this novel?

For the setting of this story, I imagined what could happen if we continue the self-destructive path we seem to be walking. Wars, hatred, greed, power-hungry politicians. I’ve always worried about the possibility of a nuclear war, but what if Mother Nature herself finally got fed up and decided to help wipe us out? The little, insignificant people are usually the ones who suffer most. I imagined those in power wouldn’t hesitate to call on demons for help if they thought they could maintain control over them. And, as with most arrogant people, they have no idea what they’re getting into.

Maggie is a human-demon hybrid who grew up in a whorehouse, but still manages to hold onto her humanity. What were the driving ideals behind her character?

Maggie represents all of us who struggle with our dark half to hold to good. It would have been easier for her to let go and embrace her evil side, but she held tight to her dream of one day having a family to love and who loved her. Of course, as in real life, she couldn’t fight this battle alone. Maggie understood the concept of love and goodness because center stage in her horrible childhood were three men, her handlers, who pushed her toward another path, one where she didn’t need to hurt others. Under almost impossible circumstances, they helped her develop a conscious, gave her choices. Though obviously exaggerated with Maggie, I used my own struggles trying to raise my daughter to show the difficulties we face as parents in today’s world. There are so many distractions fighting for our children’s attention, and much of it not good. It’s difficult to try to keep them on the right path?

The world in this story is a dark post-apocalyptic Earth and I enjoyed the unique backstory. Did you develop the backstory before writing or did it develop organically while writing?

The backstory came first. Watching the news, it worried me to think about a possible nuclear war and what it would do to our planet. I also noticed that we appeared to be having more and more natural disasters and I wondered if Mother Nature had finally had enough of our abuse and decided to fight back. But no matter what happened, I imagined some people would find a way to survive. But how? This is where the demons came into play and the people who thought they could control them. There will always be evil in the world, but I believe there will always be good too. The real question is can good win over evil? I believe it can. Maggie became my representation of this battle. Daniel, her love interest, and his young son were her reward for holding strong. They gave her hope for a new and better life, one I think we all strive for.

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

I’m working on a Science Fiction Romance called Claimed by Nicolai right now. It is an alien abduction story involving a young woman from Oregon. My novels tend to revolve around the woman in the story, how she must fight for her own path in life and not just depend on a man to provide what he thinks she needs. Love can develop from this struggle, but it needs to be a relationship where both parties are equal. Claimed by Nicolai will be published by Crimson Cloak Publishing sometime in the spring of 2019.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsiteAmazonCrimson Cloak Publishing

House of Pain (The Forsaken Ones Book 1) by [Holm, Denna]

Buy Now From Amazon.comMaggie Shelbador is a half-breed succubus with a heart. Though raised inside one of the worst whorehouses in the world, all she wants is to find one man who will love her despite what she is. She dreams of one day being free of her nightmarish life but fears no man will ever truly trust her.

The year is 3515 and most of the world has been destroyed by a combination of natural disasters and man’s neglect. The whole human race faces extinction. To survive, the leaders of the day approach demons for help, not understanding the high price they will be forced to pay. Normally bound by the summoner’s magic, the demons know Maggie is the key to giving them free access to Earth.

Daniel is a widower with a young son. He is out hunting one day when his settlement is attacked and his son abducted. He tracks them to House of Pain, not realizing a trap is being set for him. Though tortured, Daniel refuses to break when they try to force him to prostitute himself—until a beautiful blonde woman is brought into the room, her power stripping away his self-control.

Angel Virus

Angel Virus: A Novella Trilogy by [Squire, Joshua]

Think of the worst scenario you could possibly imagine. Got one? Chances are Joshua Squire can think of something worse. Angel Virus, Squire’s inaugural novel, paints a nightmarish scenario: all of the world’s children suddenly, inexplicably die. And the rest of world might not be too far behind. The story follows the lives of four people (Dutch: a Wisconsin metal worker, Jin: a small business owner in Beijing, Aletta: a European pediatrician, and Aysi: a teacher at a church in Africa) all of whom are recovering from past demons when the world starts falling apart. The novel wastes little time detailing the titular epidemic that kills the world’s children before zeroing in on the lives of these four protagonists. Squire, a poet by nature, flexes his linguistic muscles best in these personal scenes. At one point I found myself wishing that Squire would show the exposition instead of telling it. But when the narration focuses in on the individual suffering, the scenes cut deep enough to make the reader yearn for the safety of the omniscient narrator.

It’s in these dark, visceral images where Angel Virus shines the brightest. Subtle details such as place names and character backstories invite close reading. But at other times the reader races forward at full speed as characters flee through the jungle, get entombed in the city, or suddenly discover that allies can become one’s worst enemies. In addition to great images, Squire successfully creates realistic characters who inspire empathy within the reader. The dialogue comes off as believable while still maintaining a poetic quality.

Unfortunately, Squire’s excellent descriptions and well written characters also work against him. Angel Virus takes place over a wide variety of settings and includes many secondary characters. All of this helps create a believable disaster on a world-scale. But trying to tackle this much material in a novella length story sometimes becomes disorienting. In addition, while each of the four protagonists add compelling drama to the story, they all follow a similar path. Since the story is relatively short, none of the protagonists are allowed to fully develop.

Overall, Angel Virus is an exciting first novel. While the scope of its story and lack of versatility in the heroes’ narratives threatens to hamper the novel, the writing is strong enough to keep the reader interested. The novel’s conclusion left me wanting more, and that’s exactly what this trilogy plans to offer. But even if you stop at its last page, Angel Virus compels you to consider the link between psychology and spirituality, the nature of good and evil, and why you should cherish your loved ones long after you finish reading it.

Pages: 96 | ASIN: B01JZXY0JY

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The Journey Down South

Mia Kingslie Author Interview

Mia Kingslie Author Interview

Survivors of the Sun is a thrilling post-apocalyptic adventure story following Georgia as she struggles to keep her family safe in a new dangerous world. What was the inspiration for the setup to this novel?

Inspiration for the book came while I was living in an isolated farming community sixteen miles from the township where I had my Jewelry Studio. At one point I was cut off, with one other family, for ten days by raging flood waters. We were not prepared. None of us were able to get into work or school. There was no internet, no phone, no electricity and absolutely no means of communication with the outside world. Both households pooled their food and the kids and dogs ran wild. Even so, it was a wonderful time and it led me to think of how different it would have been if something similar had occurred in a large city.

Georgia starts the story as a happy wife and mother, and manages to survive several obstacles by her will and determination. What were some themes you wanted to capture in her character?

Firstly that she was not a well prepared, gun totting superhero. She was a normal woman, in an average household confronted with the unexpected and the unthinkable. I wanted her to have her failings, insecurities, and self-doubt; as well as a strong set of values, showing her inner need, despite the situation, to remain honest. I also wanted to reveal her developing relationship with the children and how her steadfast influence, determination and loyalty encouraged the positive development of those around her.

This is an entertaining post-apocalyptic story; did you start writing with this in mind or did the story develop organically as you wrote?

It was always going to be a post-apocalyptic story, but I did not have a plot. When I started writing I knew about as much as the characters did, and it seemed to me that they took over and led me on the journey down South.

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

It is a sequel to Survivors of the Sun and I am planning to have it ready by May 2019.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter

Survivors of the Sun: A post-apocalyptic thriller by [Kingslie, Mia]Georgia was not a survivalist and she did not have a bug out plan. She was a happily married woman, at home with three children and their Boston Terriers. In an instant everything changed. The power went off, and no-one knew why. By nightfall, Nathan, her husband had still not returned. In time, the water stopped running. With only three days of food left in the house and dwindling water supplies, she has no choice but to flee Kansas City.

Their world changes dramatically, entering a post-apocalyptic age, with looting, rioting and violence becoming the norm. As they escape across country, Georgia has to overcome her fears and keep her loved ones safe. Together they face heart wrenching decisions as they encounter the inconceivable.

Their journey leads them through a harsh new reality. The struggles and hardships that they endure, threaten their very existence, testing their loyalty, fortitude and love for each other in ways they could never have imagined.

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House of Pain

House of Pain (The Forsaken Ones Book 1) by [Holm, Denna]House of Pain, by Denna Holm, is a dark, provocative and devilish book that will leave you lusting for more!  The novel opens with a brother and sister cowering before a terrifying demon to whom they have made a promise. They must deliver on this promise or spend eternity kept alive simply to be tortured by this diabolical creature. Their promise comes in the form of the beautiful Magdalena, Maggie, who is half human/half demon. Although raised in a whorehouse she is our lovely virgin full of kindness but also the ability to suck life from people through sex! Holms paints a grim story of the future and it is not one of hope but one in which humans and nature have destroyed the Earth and demons can enter the planet and are on the cusp of entering to stay.

This is a dreary story in many ways, due to the state of the world in which it is set and the predicament of many of the characters but also ends up being very much a love story. Yes, there are erotic scenes and themes, but this story is truly about the endurance of family and the strength of love. It is slightly odd to write that about a book which includes incubus’s and succubus’s, a whorehouse full of debauchery and more but it is truly fitting in this first novel in what seems will be a series. I can definitely see future challenges arising for our main characters as well as the possibility of the portal re-opening. Demons are quite clever, after all!

I was impressed with the originality of this story. I love when authors create truly original story lines. It felt like this was a story in which the author was truly enmeshed. I want to know how she got the idea for this story. It was so uniquely creative and unlike any other fantasy story I’ve come across.

As stated earlier, there are some adult scenes, which are done respectfully but not appropriate for people under 17. I loved Holm’s writing style. It was dripping with tension, drama, romance, and a dark-side that I truly found intriguing. Her story did not drag on, the scenes moved quickly, and I did not want to put it down. I found it quite easy and fun to read! Be certain you are one who is down for some macabre, some romance and some sexiness in this fantasy fiction novel.

Pages: 335 | ASIN: B07HLP7QN1

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Replace Normal Human Beings

Stefan Vucak Author Interview

Stefan Vucak Author Interview

Lifeliners follows Nash as he navigates a tumultuous future with the next evolution of human’s, lifeliners. What was the inspiration behind lifeliners and how did that develop as you were writing?

Lifeliners began as an idea for a short story on a long flight from Europe to Melbourne, Australia, my home. I always have my notebook handy, never knowing when inspiration would strike. Tired of browsing through inflight entertainment, I began jotting down notes to flesh out a story about an emerging new human able to draw energy from someone by touching them. From previous reading and watching documentaries, I knew that birthrates in Western countries have been falling for a while, accompanied by growing sterility. Could this be a product of our high-pressure technological lifestyle and high density urban living? I decided to develop this theme into a story. Nature decided that lifeliners were the answer to who would over time replace normal human beings. Of course, people would not be prepared to simply let lifeliners take over, but that only added to the story’s depth.

Well, I wrote the short story, posted it on my website, and I thought I was done with it. Time to finish what was then my latest book project Legitimate Power. Once I had it published, I began reviewing ideas for a new book – and kept coming back to lifeliners. It was one thing to write a short story, but fleshing it out into a full-length novel was not something I had in mind, wanting to write another contemporary political drama/thriller. But the bug had bitten me and the characters clamored to have their say. Lifeliners began to haunt my days. The only way I would have peace was to write the damned book, and I was glad that I did.

I really enjoyed Nash’s character and the relationship he has with Cariana. What were some important themes for you when creating these characters and their relationship?

Nash was a lifeliner in a social environment that is growing increasingly hostile, fanned by propaganda by governments the world over – it was easy to blame lifeliners for the problems people had. His natural instinct was to survive, and if possible, secure his future, provided no one found out he was a lifeliner. Having someone to love, raise a family, was an obvious and normal goal, but one he was not sure he could achieve. Would it not be better to wall himself in from social contact and ride out whatever troubles might lay ahead? That is how he lived for a few years, especially after thugs murdered his first love, Sally. Meeting Cariana, not a lifeliner, generated normal human feelings, and he ignored his inner warnings and allowed himself to become ensnared by her, which regrettably led to all the subsequent unpleasantness. Having found out that remaining walled in did not work, he needed to change things, not only for himself, but other lifeliners as well. This led to a gradual transformation of his world view and as a person.

Falling in love with Cariana, cool, beautiful and accomplished, was easy. Her work as a geneticist alarmed Nash, knowing that she could expose him, and if the relationship was to mature, he would have to reveal himself to her anyway and face possible rejection. For Cariana, starting to fall for Nash, she faced a psychological burden having her brother killed by a drunken lifeliner. It embittered her against all lifeliners. She recognized the sick nature of her attitude, but she could not help herself. When she learned that Nash was a lifeliner, the image of him as a dashing prince was shattered, and she hated him, yet she could not extinguish her love for him. I believe the interplay of emotions and feelings the two had for each other, and the emotional baggage both carried, hopefully made them more real, something readers would expect in any couple.

I enjoyed the realistic portrayal of science in this story. Did you conduct any research for this book, or were these things you were thinking about?

Although the idea of drawing bioelectromagnetic energy from another person is a fictional foray, I spent a lot of time researching material for Lifeliners, which reinforced the information I already had about the complexity of human biochemistry. The loss of our ability to synthesize pyruvate into leucine and valine is a fact, as are their functions. However, I have taken some liberty when I suggested that lifeliners can also synthesize vitamin C. But who knows what nature may have in store for us in the future. Although Lifeliners is a work of fiction, I always thoroughly research every one of my contemporary novels to ensure the validity of my facts and that I do not stray too far from what is scientifically possible with my science fiction.

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

Having just completed Lifeliners, and busy marketing it, I need to take a break and recharge my creative battery. It usually takes me a couple of months before I start nurturing ideas, seeing which of them can be turned into a novel. However, this does not mean that I have stopped writing. As a matter of fact, I just added a new short story to my collection, Doorways of the Mind, and I have another that I will write within the next few days. Until the urge overcomes me to tackle a new novel, I will be spending some of my time doing book reviews and editing for other authors.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

Lifeliners by [Vucak, Stefan]When everybody is against them, it is tough being a lifeliner, as Nash Bannon found out. Lifeliners are ordinary people…almost. They can draw energy from another person; they live longer and are smarter. Scientists claim that Western high-pressure living and growing sterility in developed countries has triggered the rise of lifeliners, and homo sapiens will replaced by homo renata within ten generations. So, what’s not to like about lifeliners? Protest marches by extremist groups, riots, attacks against lifeliners, repressive laws enacted by governments everywhere, were portents of a dark future. Young, successful, Nash Bannon did not like what was going on, but he thought he had the world at his feet and life in Australia was good, provided no one found out he was a lifeliner. A chance encounter with Cariana during a lunchbreak develops into something he considered important. The Australian government calls a snap election, and Nash stands as a Senate candidate on the Lifeliner Party ticket. Unless lifeliners rise up and fight for their rights, they can expect sterilization, incarceration, and possible extermination as democracies everywhere turn into autocracies. To survive, the Lifeliner Party must employ the same dirty tricks the government used against them, but they were not prepared for what awaited them.

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Survivors of the Sun: A post-apocalyptic thriller

Georgia hasn’t exactly had it easy since marrying Nathan. Leaving her home in Australia and taking on the role of wife and stepmother has been a challenge to say the least. However, when Georgia is saddled with keeping her husband’s precocious and entitled niece and her own two stepchildren on an afternoon when she would rather be working on her own jewelry business, life takes a turn she and the children could never have predicted. As she watches her stepson’s hair mysteriously stand on end, Georgia gives it only a passing thought. Soon after, Georgia and the members of her household find themselves fighting for their very lives.

Mia Kingslie, author of Survivors of the Sun, has absolutely hit it out of the park. Her thriller, set in the present and focusing on the extreme likelihood that the world has been hit with an electromagnetic pulse, is phenomenally well-written and gripping in every way possible. Kingslie’s characters, her plot, and the conflicts within are clearly drawn with stunning visuals.

Georgia, the book’s main character, draws on sources of strength most of us could never imagine. When she realizes she has likely outlived her husband everyone she knows, she picks herself up and heads, literally, for the hills with the children and their dogs in tow. After witnessing the horrifying deaths in their city, Georgia somehow manages to concoct a feasible plan for escaping their home with the needed supplies. She is a force with which to be reckoned, and Kingslie builds on her set of skills as the chapters advance. Georgia represents every man, woman, and child living through apocalyptic times learning to adjust as each new set of challenges is faced.

The introduction of Lola into the traveling group makes the entire plot that much more engaging. Lola, a force in her own right, adds an element of unique humor to an otherwise dark and heavy storyline. Her backstory is one that makes her even more endearing to readers.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Georgia’s relationship grow and flourish with her stepchildren, but more intriguing was the evolving dynamic between Georgia and her niece, Deedee. To watch Georgia grow as a maternal figure was quite amazing. As a parent myself, I found it fascinating to see through her eyes as she begins to find ways to work around Deedee’s idiosyncrasies.

Kingslie writes the most fantastic descriptions of post-apocalyptic terrors. From diseased bodies to the overwhelmingly eerie pictures of stalled cars, silent skies, and ravaged homes. Kingslie’s writing style is highly effective in creating a scene for her readers of almost instant devastation.

Were it possible to give Survivors of the Sun 10 stars, I would do it in a heartbeat. That being said, I can’t hesitate to give it 5 out of 5 stars. It’s hard to find a book that takes hold of your imagination and refuses to let go, but that’s exactly what Kingslie has managed to produce. I fell in step with Georgia and her ragtag crew from Chapter 1, and any fan of apocalyptic thrillers will do the same.

Pages: 743 | ISBN: 1720066493

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Extinction 6

Extinction 6 by [Kouros-Mehr, Hosein]

Extinction 6 by Hosein Kouros-Mehr is a fascinating novel that finds itself straddling a variety of themes, writing styles, and motifs. In this novel, one can witness the conjunction of several major literary genres. From bleak dystopian imagery and post-apocalyptic ruin to deeply intense mystery and intrigue, Extinction 6 provides enough twists and turns to keep any reader engaged. Taking place in the year 2066, the reader is introduced to a world mostly underwater. Following a sharp rise in global temperatures by an average of 8 degrees Celsius, sea levels drastically increased and major settlements like San Francisco were submerged. In conjunction, animals and plants have completely vanished. Beyond this, the world appears to be plagued by war and corporate espionage. Battles for oil fields and small scraps of territory appear to occur daily, while depressing news bulletins ring out, highlighting decreases in rations or celebrating the smallest of military victories. In this dystopian future, greenhouse gases continue to be pumped at alarming rates, and it becomes clear to some that the world is facing its sixth, and potentially last, extinction crises.

Hosein Kouros-Mehr expertly uses this setting to deliver a story that is captivating and vividly written. There is a profound amount of world building conducted in this novel and the story’s framing gives readers a holistic experience at what life in this dreary world would look like. Through the use of multiple perspectives and point of views, Hosein Kouros-Mehr provides readers with an inside and personal look at the various dimensions that take place in this world. In some chapters, readers will become intimate with a forlorn lover embroiled in major geopolitical developments. Other sections masterfully showcase the experiences of an aggressive and cunning CEO. These different perspectives are woven in a way that provides keen connections and startling insights.

The writing itself is suspenseful and tense. The diction wastes no time in putting the reader through long segments of empty description and word padding. Every sentence is deliberate and has a definite sense of immediacy. Every word counts in a world that is slowly ticking towards oblivion. This is aided by Hosein Kouros-Mehr’s wonderful sense of pacing. While the writing is forward facing, it still gives readers the time to engross themselves in the world. Details about the major corporations and the nations that inhabit this world are peppered in where needed and helps to provide depth to the world. Many of these elements come into play throughout the course of the novel, and the pace in which these details become relevant greatly benefits Kouros-Mehr’s deliberate writing style. If there is any issue in the way in which Hosein Kouros-Mehr presents his work, it is the fact that the large cast of characters can lead to some confusion. This is somewhat alleviated by the clear characterization and literary role each character plays, and as a whole, this critique does not detract from the novel.

Extinction 6 by Hosein Kouros-Mehr is an incredibly tense story about what our future could easily look like.

Pages: 248 | ASIN: B07HB5Q24P

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House of Pain Trailer

Maggie Shelbador is a half-breed succubus with a heart. Though raised inside one of the worst whorehouses in the world, all she wants is to find one man who will love her despite what she is. She dreams of one day being free of her nightmarish life but fears no man will ever truly trust her.

The year is 3515 and most of the world has been destroyed by a combination of natural disasters and man’s neglect. The whole human race faces extinction. To survive, the leaders of the day approach demons for help, not understanding the high price they will be forced to pay. Normally bound by the summoner’s magic, the demons know Maggie is the key to giving them free access to Earth.

Daniel is a widower with a young son. He is out hunting one day when his settlement is attacked and his son abducted. He tracks them to House of Pain, not realizing a trap is being set for him. Though tortured, Daniel refuses to break when they try to force him to prostitute himself—until a beautiful blonde woman is brought into the room, her power stripping away his self-control.

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Obsessive Quest

Russ Melrose Author Interview

Russ Melrose Author Interview

Finding AJ follows FBI Agent Jules as she searches for a serial killer through a zombie apocalypse. What were some themes you wanted to carry over from book 1 and what was a new direction you wanted to take in book 2?

The themes were quite different in Jacob’s Odyssey and Finding AJ. While the main theme in Jacob’s Odyssey was centered around Jake’s internal journey, the main theme in Finding AJ was Jules’ obsessive quest to find the serial killer known as the Calligrapher. However there is a common theme that runs through both novels, and that has to do with the incredible beauty of nature that surrounds us, yet the human race seems bent on self-destruction. At one point in Jacob’s Odyssey, Jake comments on how he’s always thought of the mountains surrounding the Salt Lake Valley as being as “eden-like” as any place on earth. There are beautiful descriptions of nature in both novels.

The town of Gideon is one of the last remaining towns in the apocalypse. How did you imagine a town would come together and survive in a time like this?

The only way the people of Gideon, or any other post-apocalyptic setting, could survive is by working together to solve any problems that came up. “Working together” is the key. Gideon had good leaders and the people there were willing to do their part in order to survive.

Jules is a determined FBI agent, but faces some tough decisions. What were some obstacles that you felt were important to her characters development?

The personal obstacles Jules needed to overcome had to do with her tendency toward being a self-reliant lone wolf. She generally doesn’t connect with or open herself up to others. She has difficulty giving her trust. She doesn’t let anyone in. It isn’t easy for her, but eventually she opens herself up and begins to connect with others. And she has to “trust” someone if she’s going to find the serial killer, and toward the end she finally does.

Will there be a book 3 in the Apocalypse Journeys series and where will that take readers?

There may be a 3rd novel. I’m not sure yet. It depends on how well Finding AJ does. Simple as that. If there is a third novel, it will combine characters from the first two novels. They will be at the underground government complex that is mentioned in Jacob’s Odyssey. This is the same complex where the virus was developed, and there are still experiments going on there. The conspiracy will be revealed, and virtually everyone (Jake, Sarah, Becky, Jules, Caleb, and others) will be in danger. Lukas Melzer will, of course, be there, as well as the new president of the United States. And deep in the complex are a host of grays (zombies), including the alpha called Eve. And don’t be terribly surprised if the Swimmer from Jacob’s Odyssey makes a return. He’s the baddest alpha around. Can’t leave him out.

Author Links: GoodReads | FacebookWebsite

Finding AJ (Apocalypse Journeys Book 2) by [Melrose, Russ]The world has fallen apart, the FBI gone, but former Agent Jules Vandevelde won’t stop. She can’t. She’s driven to find the psychopathic serial killer known as the Calligrapher.

Her search leads her to Gideon, Utah, a small town in the southern part of the state. There, amongst the 116 survivors, a serial killer hides in plain sight. There’s only one clue to his identity. Using a scalpel, he inscribes the letters AJ into the abdominal area of his victims–postmortem–in an ancient Chinese text called Tsao, the lettering precise and artistic.

Jules knows the key to finding the Calligrapher lies in discovering the identity of AJ. If she can find AJ, she can find the Calligrapher. But the Calligrapher knows who Jules is. Jules must survive the infected and find the Calligrapher before she becomes his latest victim.

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Blind Patriotism

Joshua Landeros Author Interview

Joshua Landeros Author Interview

Voice of the Crimson Angel Part II: Poison finds Julissa ready to take on Chancellor Venloran while the United Nation Republic is gearing up to take over Mexico. Was this book an easy continuation of part I or did you have to plan and develop the story before writing?

VOCA Part II took quite a bit of planning, up there with End of Knighthood Part III: Ballad of Demise. I knew telling the entire story of The Expansion from start to finish wasn’t really possible (outside of a very, very, long novel), so I isolated the events that seemed most important and then tied the main characters to them. VOCA Part II, I think more than any other of my previous work, challenged my use of setting. Writing tests an author in odd ways, and one of those ways for me was geography. The setting in question, of course, Mexico. How big is this city? Is it dry or wet this time of year? Is it a metropolis or a small town? Luckily, my story takes place in the future, so I can tweak things, but I prefer going off reality. The first round of writing left VOCA Part II shorter than I wanted, but the final product I’m most pleased with.

It seems that you pulled from our current political turmoil with Mexico over immigration. Was this intentional or did it happen organically?

Weird thing is at first, I was paying very little attention to the current situation. When I conceived of The Expansion, I was looking at it as a continuation of Manifest Destiny, where Americans expanded westward. The more I examined the history of expanded empires, The Expansion became more and more interesting to write. It went from being a small part of the original book to an integral backdrop for the Iranian characters. Now it’s the main focus in the VOCA trilogy. In future stories, I hope to explore neocolonialism more. Since 2016, immigration has become one of the most decisive topics in the American politics. It influenced me as I watched debates and heard different arguments, but it’s a bit different in VOCA Part II. In the book, the focus is more about imperialism reborn than the push for isolation that we’re experiencing now. What the book does do, I hope, is paint a picture of the circumstances that I feel are similar to current events. For example, I think no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, people accept that we live in an era where patriotism is a very touchy issue. Even critique from a person within the system can lead to harsh cries of them being “unamerican.” Blind patriotism, more than anything, fuels a beast like Venloran and his UNR. What I also wanted to focus on was displacement. Civilians can be turned into dissidents when pushed. People have forgotten that the Mujahideen that battled the Soviet Union was propped up by the United States. This same organization became Al-Qaeda, and in the age of the “War on Terror”, we’ve seen an upsurge in the formation of radical groups. I would argue that intervention, this need to intervene and ‘democratize’ other areas around the globe, fuels fundamentalists. Former New York Times writer Chris Hedges (who was fired around the start of the Iraq War) called the usage of violence a disease. Therefore “Poison” was the proper title for this installment. What I wanted to do with the book was take the “War on Terror” and move it closer to home. Instead of across the Atlantic in countries most Americans have never been to, I wanted to imagine it happening right next door.

Have you tried exploring other mediums for your series; games, comic books, etc? I ask because you have developed such a rich backstory already.

I’m not much of a gamer, so I’ve never really considered that route. Comics, however, have always intrigued me. I’ve always been obsessed with visuals (one of my worst habits was the tendency to doodle during class). Comics, namely graphic novels, have always been a favorite medium of mine. You can say a whole lot with just a single frame, and not to mention a good use of color goes a long a way in establishing the mood. The look of the cyborg uniforms, namely the overcoat, was inspired by the Blade design from Marvel comics, while the armor itself is actually manga-based. As a child, I’ve read my share of manga, including Dragon Ball. Unfortunately, I can’t draw all that well. If I could meet a comic book artist who wanted to tell a story from Reverence, I’d be honored to be a part of such a project.

If Hollywood came knocking, what actors would you cast in your main roles?

I’ve actually given some thought to this! After all, as I write I often listen to my favorite movie soundtracks. This helps me set the mood and envision a scene: scary might be Ennio Morricone, action-oriented Hans Zimmer, and somber along the lines of Michael Giacchino. Naturally, sometimes I envision certain faces of certain characters. The big one is Will, and for him I could see Will Smith or Denzel Washington taking the role. They are both older and can play action heroes, but all while still giving them emotional resonance. Another instacast for me is Liam Neeson as Chancellor Venloran. This is largely due to his portrayal of Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins (2005). He’s calm yet menacing, all without being over-the-top. One of my favorites to envision would be Jessica Chastain as Gabriella Neeson. After seeing her in Interstellar(2014), I was thoroughly convinced. She’s both gorgeous, tough as nails, and can portray a character who is anything but a damsel in distress (no thanks Cameron Diaz). Others are mind boggling. In the case of Marisol Leone, for example, it’s really hard to pin down. One of these days, I’ll sit down and sort them all out.

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Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison (Reverence Book 6) by [Landeros, Joshua]Julissa Marconi is finally ready to be a soldier again, and now it’s time to take on the tyrannical Chancellor Venloran. With Captain Halsey and her daughter Zaneta by her side, the resistance is the last line of defense preventing the United Nation Republic from seizing the country of Mexico. The combat will prove bloody as Venloran sends his cyborg warriors to squash all opposition. As bullets fly and bodies pile up, Julissa will be forced to consider what she’s capable of. To defeat the enemy, she may just have to become the enemy. 

Welcome back to the world of the Reverence series with Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison. Witness the spark that lit the fire. 

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