Pigs is a thrilling crime drama following an ex-con on a bloody mission to get revenge for his slain family. What was the inspiration for the setup to this suspenseful novel?
The original conception was vastly different, starting out as a supernatural horror where the deeply traumatised cardiologist Dr Jensen lures Isaac, Roach, Wyndorf and the rest of their heist gang to “test” a new security system in a private warehouse, with the promise of a substantial cash award upon completion. Shock horror, it’s all a trap, and since recovering, Jensen’s been employing a small, private firm of scientists to experiment with technology which can bring his deep-seated psychological trauma to life, using it send a bunch of unstoppable, violent, homicidal pig men to chase down Isaac and his crew within the private complex. So yeah…a few things changed, but the core ideas remained, primarily the heavy burden of guilt around Isaac’s neck for what happened with Jensen, and the hostilities between Isaac and Wyndorf. After boiling it all down to these primary constituents, I reimagined it as a much more down to Earth crime-suspense novel.
Isaac is a deeply developed and layered character. What were some ideas you wanted to capture with his character?
I hate to sound like a spiteful and vindictive individual, but I love revenge stories. And who doesn’t? That was the primary motivation behind this story, Isaac’s burning need to exact revenge and how far he is willing to go in order to achieve it. But at the same time I wanted him to be struggling internally with his hatred and his moral compass, the needle of which is being guided by his recently lost family whom he had been hoping to become a better man for.
Isaac is a man who has made some bad choices in his past, but he always had a code, and therefore, in my eyes, he isn’t beyond redemption.
I enjoyed how the criminal underworld in this book is well defined and felt natural. What were some themes you wanted to explore in this book?
Thank you. One of the major niches of the criminal underworld is that of the meth dealing doomsday preppers…and they just felt like a natural fit for Wyndorf. That guy is a complete psychopath, disowned from his more stable criminal associates and family, but he can be useful in a way so why not stick him with a network of drug-running heavily armed militants?
In terms of themes, I’d say the predominant one is definitely the internecine nature of vengeance and how it tends to destroy all involved, at least to varying extents. We see this in the characters of Isaac, Wyndorf and Jensen, all of who are primarily motivated by their need to settle the score. Cue bloodshed.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My agent Ethan Ellenberg — along with his great team — are currently shopping my fantasy horror novel, Fable, around the publishers. It’s about a high school senior and his few outsider friends who get on the wrong side of the school’s (and the town’s) drug dealers. It’s also about a synthetic hallucinogenic drug, the eponymous Fable. As the animosity builds between our hero and the bullies and their criminal connections, he realises to his dismay that his unstable, drug-induced childhood friend has returned, and could be the only thing capable of protecting him and his friends from the violent reprisals.
I also have a first draft manuscript called Night Collar, about a female NY cab driver who is mixed up in the local black market organ harvesting business, who must try to survive the night in an Odyssean chase across the city with a young Chinese triad member — the son of the organisation’s leader — as they attempt to deliver empire-toppling evidence to an FBI handler, and all the while staying one step ahead of some colourful psychopaths.
And I’m currently tidying up the first draft of an action/fantasy manuscript called Hourglass. Ghosts, guns, secret agents, talking hoodoos, demons, the 9 kingdoms of the dead, and probably a healthy dose of existential dread.
Isaac Reid, a former professional thief, has just finished a ten-year stint in prison for a botched job turned bloodbath. Now all he wants is to go straight and make amends with his wife and young son. On his first night of freedom his loved ones are brutally slain by a bitter enemy. Surviving the encounter, Isaac struggles with his choices: do right by his late family’s wishes and abide by the law, or seek vengeance. But he’ll need to decide quickly, as another mysterious force from his past is now in play: a cold killer wearing a wolf mask, leading a band of pig-masked assassins. To Isaac, these men are strangers, but they’re prepared to kill any who get between them and him.
The Life and Times of Clyde Kennard is the account of Clyde Kennard’s life and his significant but silent contribution to desegregate the South. What was your inspiration that made you want to write this book?
I’ve always had a fascination for the 1960’s and, reading and researching key events in that decade, one name kept cropping up, but generally only within a couple of paragraphs or a few pages at best, and that name was Clyde Kennard. I decided to hone in and further research this man to see what I could find out.
So to begin with it was really that lack of information about Mr Kennard that drew me in and I became intrigued as why that should be when many others of the civil rights movement of that time have received more attention.
The more I researched and discovered about Clyde Kennard, the more determined and passionate I became about the telling of his journey and how his efforts inspired others many decades later.
I understand that you spent more than ten years researching this book. What is something that surprised you while researching Clyde Kennard?
Yes, that’s right, and in that period my initial six pages of notes on grew into the book that exists today.
There were a few surprising things. One would have to be the lengths to which state actors would go to in those times in an attempt to stall or circumnavigate SCOTUS decisions. Another that a state would create an agency whose sole purpose was to protect it from “federal encroachment” and in essence spy on its citizens, in particular those who sought benefit from SCOTUS decisions among other things.
While these were a surprising, nothing, and you touched on this in your book review, nothing comes close to the disbelief I experienced learning about the Emmett Till case. I do still find that quite difficult to comprehend on various levels. The violence, the acquittal, the accused selling their story to Look magazine it in some graphic detail but, due to prevailing laws there could be no retrial.
This book raises Clyde Kennard up along with other civil rights leaders of the time. Was this your intention while writing this book?
To a some extent Clyde’s story told itself, the trick for me was to present it in the context of the times he lived in which I felt was critical to give his story meaning.
That period was, in my view, a time of extremes, I’m sure we’ve all seen the flashpoint photographs, Little Rock Central High, the firebomed Freedom Ride bus, Ole Miss at the time of James Meredith’s entry, the March On Washington and of course Selma.
To better understand the social and political climate of those times I completed a lot of research form both sides of the segregation debate. I wanted to try to understand not only what the issues were and why they had become so and also latterly, how those scenarios had come to be in the first place. Hence the Prologue in my book which attempts, in a few pages, to summarise how the respective positions had begun to develop over time.
The challenge with that of course was striking a balance, between Clyde’s own story and the context of those times, I think I got that right, but readers will be the real judges.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have enough research material I didn’t use to do another book on the same or related topics, however 10 years is a long time and I’ve been enjoying a little bit of a break to be honest. That said, I’m beginning to get the itch to do something. I’ve written a few short stories and I’m really enjoying that. I have also been considering a larger project on the Highland Clearances which would be a little closer to home for me. I am also gathering my poetry so may do a collection of those works. Availability wise, I will be sure to let you know.
In 1955, Clyde Kennard, a decorated army veteran, was forced to cut short the final year of his studies at the University of Chicago and return home to Mississippi due to family circumstances, where Kennard made the decision to complete his education. Yet still on the eve of the civil rights movement in America, Kennard’s decision would be one of the first serious attempts to integrate any public school at the college level in the state. The Life and Times of Clyde Kennard tells the true story of Kennard’s efforts to complete his further education at Mississippi Southern College (now the University of Southern Mississippi) against the backdrop of the institutionalized social order of the times and the prevailing winds of change attempting to blow that social order away. As Meredith’s admission to “Ole Miss” became more widely known at the time, Kennard became the forgotten man. Author Derek R. King shares his extensive research into Kennard’s life, and touches on key events that shaped those times.
XHOSETI: AD 2492 is the second novel in your Xhoseti series where the Guardians must prepare humans for the coming war against the Xhoseti. What were some ideas that were important for you to explore in this novel?
The idea for the books started when I was in South Africa over a few beers with my father who was convinced that the human race had come from another galaxy and that there were 7 tribes who had been sent to Earth to see if we can co-exist with each other. This is an ongoing experiment as there is a galactic eternal war happening between many different species and they are at a stalemate. Project Earth is what I am writing about, and as such will terminate in the end of the experiment – eventually…
You give a new perspective to human history in a way that leads to one goal; preparing humanity for the coming war. Where did this idea come from and how did that develop while writing?
In the story, the human race has colonised a planet approximately 12000 light years from Earth namely, Termite, and they have discovered a future prediction machine which the Freemasons on that planet use to prepare for a war with the Xhoseti. They know they will lose the war and need to come up with a plan ‘B’ if mankind is to survive, so they head of to Earth. Which they have already tried to colonise one in the past and failed, another story in the wings.
Was this book a natural extension of book one Xhoseti Moon or did come after you finished the first book?
I have unfortunately sent the books to Literary titan in the wrong order. The first novel is the start of the story and is Xhoseti First Contact, which I might add is still to be reviewed. So the Xhoseti Moon story is a follow-on from Xhoseti AD2492 which in turn is a sequel to Xhoseti First Contact.
Will you write a third book in this series? If so, where will the story pick up?
The third or first book I will send through to you for review as soon as I get my a into g. I work as a full time piping stress analysis engineer and move around from country to country quite a bit, my apologies.
All that remains is to stop the wars and unite mankind against the Xhoseti when they arrive.
Will the Grand Master succeed with Plan “B” and finally create a united front against the insectoid invaders?
War advances man’s technology. As man advances, the Xhoseti become more empowered with every human they absorb.
Will man unite to defend the Earth against the Xhoseti or will their infighting be mankind’s downfall?
United man will survive…divided man will fall.
The eternal war between the two species wages on,one trying to survive the other trying to enslave… in the 2nd book in the Xhoseti series.
Once upon a time, Margaret Mitchell wrote a book…and the rest was historic.
Irving Thalberg once said, “No Civil War picture ever made a nickel.” Producer David O. Selznick was determined to prove that assumption wrong, even if it killed him, his stars, and all three of his directors; even if it cost him his independent movie studio and destroyed every relationship he’d ever had. This is a story of old Hollywood and of a world that no longer exists. Gone with the Wind broke new ground in every avenue of Hollywood’s old empire. It made an international star out of Vivien Leigh, won an unprecedented 10 Academy Awards, and in 1939 was the most expensive motion picture ever made. But it was one crisis after another from the time the motion picture rights were purchased in 1936, until shooting began in 1938. The story of how this film ever got made is almost as epic as the movie itself.
Upon completion of Gone with the Wind, Selznick was sure that he had hit the jackpot. But he also knew that every film he made from that time on would be judged on the merit of what the worldwide audience called Selznick’s Folly. This is a fictional account on the making of the greatest motion picture ever made!
Neither Light Nor Dark is about the journey of a young girl, Lily, who unknowingly bears the weight of an immense prophecy. It is an immersive fantasy novel that takes us through the incredible lands of Arcadia. From her childhood, Lily’s own family has protected her from the secrets of a dark and tumultuous past. However, her destiny reveals itself soon enough. She has to reunite the suffering lands of Arcadia and abolish the rule of the loathsome Reficul. A ragtag group of friends follow her as they face troubles, misadventures, and battles.
This was an enjoyable and unique read because of the strange fairytale-like narration throughout. The descriptions of Arcadia and its elements were elaborate and fascinating. The characters and their dialogue appeared to be out of another era altogether. However, perhaps because of these anachronisms, the text was a bit dry in places. Nonetheless, the consistent tone and style were a refreshing break from contemporary reads.
The complex relationships between Henry, Calev, and Lily were also surprisingly well-navigated. I’m not the biggest fan of garish love triangles but I was able to perceive and accept the individual perspective of each character, which was refreshing. I was astonished at how quickly I was able to jump ship between characters without too many regrets. I was definitely rooting for some of the quirky personalities that were woven throughout the story.
From the beginning, the family dynamics in Lily’s world appear to play a big role in her life. The strained relationships between Lily and her grandmother was palpable from the beginning. It was clear that these dynamics and relationships were intricately crafted. However, at times, it was difficult to establish a connection with some of the characters. I think this was because the dialogue and style of the characters were a little less believable than I would prefer. This story does take place in an entirely different time and place, and it is not difficult to ascribe this issue to the nature of the story.
Neither Light Nor Dark is a fantastically enthralling read, and a perfect setup to a riveting fantasy series.
Pages: 234 | ASIN: B01LW35M4V
Recipes of My 15 Grandmothers is a unique cookbook that contains centuries-old recipes of the author’s grandmothers from the times of Crypto-Jews. In the book, there are recipes for chicken, meat, fish and side dishes, sauces, desserts and also beverages. But it is not just a simple collection of recipes! Each recipe begins with a backstory about how the recipe was discovered, passed along generations and improved in ways that work well with “new world” ingredients. And the best thing is that all of them follow old Jewish customs and meet kosher guidelines.
Recipes of My 15 Grandmothers by Genie Milgrom is a superb collection of recipes. I was amazed how much effort, love and time the author has put into creating this cookbook. I can feel how much she respects her family’s Jewish heritage. I found the story of Genie Milgrom’s family interesting, knowing the origin of these recipes gives each recipe in this book a personal touch. I have never read a cookbook which also tells stories and shows the Jewish traditions. I was able to cook a dish and share a story of the recipes history with my family; a great conversation starter.
The structure of the book and the recipes is logical and I liked that each recipe is built up the same way. However, I would have preferred if the recipes were not in alphabetical order but rather in the order of difficulty (starting with the easy recipes).
The instructions to prepare the meals are clear and easy to follow. I found it great that the recipes are tested and modified to fit in the modern gastronomy. Recipes suitable for Passover are also clearly marked.
Recipes of My 15 Grandmothers: Unique Recipes and Stories from the Times of the Crypto-Jews during the Spanish Inquisition is a wonderful book written with love that you can taste.
Pages: 193 | ISBN: 9652299693
A Lone Wolf by writer, J.C. Fields, follows its characters through a tense world of assassins, handlers, informants, and spies. The characters constantly have to look over their shoulders and think several steps ahead of those who would rather have them dead. We meet the characters when they are thrown into a situation that would have left them dead, had they not narrowly escaped a sniper’s bullets. They were set up. They were supposed to die in Barcelona. They escaped, albeit narrowly, and must find out who wants them dead and why.
The constant stress and danger the characters find themselves in builds drama and suspense across the chapters. I even found myself tensing up at some points. Their lives are scary, but exciting. Also interesting are the “ins” they seem to have across the world. They have people to help them change identities, acquire the most legitimate of illegitimate documentation, passports, licenses, etc. They have contacts in all sorts of networks and government agencies. There seems to be a lot of true scenarios mixed in with their fictional lives. It makes the reader wonder how many double agents there really are out there.
A part that really stuck with me and seemed ingenious was when Michael and Nadia faked their deaths in Mexico. It really makes you wonder how much of what we know about what goes on in the world is real, and how much is a façade. I’m certain popular news outlets only receive a fraction of any given story, especially stories involving people so deeply involved in circles that meshes government officials with hitmen.
I really empathized with how Nadia began to feel about living in Missouri. I could identify. It was the first place, likely in a very long time, that felt like home to her. To feel safe and autonomous couldn’t have been feelings that were familiar, but they were good. Everyone wants that. Even people in their line of work have a basic human need for safety, security, freedom, and belonging. Missouri quickly became a happy place that Nadia dreaded leaving. Her longing to stay seemed so familiar. Anyone can certainly identify with wanting to be in a place or leave a hard situation.
The book was well-written with little to no noticeable errors. Quick and intense, it was still a fairly easy read. The characters are well-developed, as usual, and the fast-paced and exciting plot flow smoothly. Fields’s writing style is on par with tv shows such as Scandal or Amazon’s Jack Ryan. Being a Scandal fan, I associated some of the characters with people I’d seen on the show. Beyond the normal Whitehouse business, there is a network of characters who are hired fixers, hitmen, and spies who work behind the scenes in conjunction with those who are the faces on television telling people what to believe. These characters reminded me a lot of them.
The characters and plot were intricately interesting. It was an exciting read with some edge-of-your-seat type scenarios.
Pages: 372 | ASIN: B07T9SDHY8
Makers of a Destiny by David Crane is an enthralling mash-up of dystopian fantasy and a pulse pounding thriller.
The book is set in a post-apocalyptic New America, where Tanya Grey is one of the Panthers. The Panthers are a superior race, with a host of special forces that they intend to use for the growth and development of the other races in New America. However, a national emergency leaves Tanya Grey in the wake of a situation that requires all of her skills and power to fight the antagonists. They are the Neo Spartans, equipped with technological prowess and ruthlessness, they will stop at nothing to take down New America. Apart from this, an increasingly unstable political situation threatens the nation and Tanya Grey’s personal life.
Although this is a sequel to the novel Die to Live Again, reading that book is not required to read and enjoy this book. There are plenty of detailed explanations for all the characters, elements, and creatures. The descriptions of the Panthers’ lives and motivations were particularly fascinating. I wouldn’t be surprised if in our own post-nuclear holocaust (I don’t suppose it’s too far) we find ourselves in the company of these creatures. Apart from the Panthers, there were elaborate depictions of new species and animals, like the Hunter leeches. Although these were equally fascinating, I felt that they were a bit lengthy and did not contribute much to the plot.
Apart from these elements, equal amount of focus was devoted to Tanya’s personal lives and the characters that surround her. Her attachments and vulnerabilities made me especially empathetic to her decisions.
While reading, I was struck by the number of antagonistic elements in the book that were comparable to the realities of today. From racism to an endless lust for power that threatens the foundation of humanity, it was not a far stretch for my imagination to conjure up this world. The possibility of technology being used for evil, suppression of minorities, colonialism, and other parallels can easily be drawn between our world and this one. History always repeats itself and it is quite likely that we will find ourselves in a future which echoes our past. This novel provides a perfect and terrifying depiction of such a world.
Pages: 342 | ASIN: B074YH9GJD
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The Line Between follows an apocalyptic cult escapee who finds the end of the world is actually happening. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
In 2017, soon after Firstborn released, I met with my publisher in New York to talk about what was next. I had a short list of favorite story concepts—the idea of a cult escapee starting over and a pandemic rising from the permafrost (inspired by real headlines, scarily enough) among six or seven others. My publisher said, “I like both of those. I think you should put them together!”
It worked out strangely well! I wish I could take credit for the combination, but it was my publisher’s idea.
Wynter is an impressive character that I enjoyed watching develop throughout the novel. What were some ideas that drove her character development?
Thank you so much. Wynter’s a really intriguing character to me because she has so many challenges—she’s oppressed and imprisoned within this cult and when she finally gets out, she’s a complete fish out of water. She doesn’t know how to drive or work electronics, or much about how the outside world works at all. She struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder (as I do) and has issues with PTSD. She’s not your usual hero with a “special set of skills.” But she never gives up. She’s also kind of funny, which I love about her.
The disease that comes out of the permafrost causes madness in its victims. How did you develop the idea for the disease in your novel?
My sister is a physician and also teaches medical school, so I spent some time picking her brain for just the right combination of different yet plausible, and very scary. The idea of a fast-track prion disease (best known for its Mad Cow variant) is exceptionally frightening. In humans, prion disease cause very slow deterioration and dementia usually over decades. There is no cure, it’s always fatal, and as of right now there’s no way to even test for it except for posthumously. A rapid version of that seemed like a very formidable foe.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Good question! I’m up for contract now, so we’re shopping a few ideas around. I really love these new concepts, so am very much looking forward to bringing them into the world.
When Wynter Roth finally escapes from New Earth, a self-contained doomsday cult on the American prairie, she emerges into a world poised on the brink of madness as a mysterious outbreak of rapid early onset dementia spreads across the nation.
As Wynter struggles to start over in a world she’s been taught to regard as evil, she finds herself face-to-face with the apocalypse she’s feared all her life—until the night her sister shows up at her doorstep with a set of medical samples. That night, Wynter learns there’s something far more sinister at play: that the prophet they once idolized has been toying with the fate of mankind, and that these samples are key to understanding the disease.
Now, as the power grid fails and the nation descends into chaos, Wynter must find a way to get the samples to a lab in Colorado. Uncertain who to trust, she takes up with former military man Chase Miller, who has his own reasons for wanting to get close to the samples in her possession, and to Wynter, herself.
Paradox is a collection of poetry that strips down and analyzes many aspects of modern society. What was the inspiration for the pieces in this collection?
We as humans, as a society, are brainwashed. For better or worse, we only learn from the information/algorithms given to us at a young age. And this is unstoppable, no matter what society comes after this one. But there comes a time when these conditions and rules become a burden because the rules become an obligation. Instead of being a person and enjoying the thrill that comes with wearing a mask, it is taken too seriously. It stops being a game when you can’t stop it; it becomes an addiction. And it becomes hell when you want to stop but are forced to keep playing by the rules. Paradox is a reminder that you can’t take yourself seriously because there isn’t anyone there. “you” are just another idea you take too literal. And I know what it’s like to grow up being the black sheep of the family/society; so, I know what it’s like to feel alone even when you’re surrounded by everyone. My way of thinking has always been considered taboo and has crossed the line of “we aren’t supposed to be talking about this or that” many times. I’ve noticed more and more people are beginning to question life because isn’t it a bit odd to appear on this weird rock we call earth, with no memory or instruction? I think the fact that life is so vague gives room for our beautiful theories and beliefs to breathe.
I enjoyed the paradoxes presented in this book because it prompted me to think critically about things I haven’t before. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
Well I created Paradox in a way that is very ambiguous because I wouldn’t want every person to take the same thing from this book. I’ve had hundreds of people email or dm me with a different interpretation of Paradox. For some it was about mental health, motivating, psychotherapy or just a story. But if anything, self-awareness. I am not asking anyone to have a mystical experience or a complete breakdown after reading this book, but self-awareness is important to me. I ask my readers to be anything they would like to be but be aware of your choices. Part of me wants to do what Jim Carrey and Alan watts did for me which was showing me that I wasn’t the only one who questioned the things people normally take for granted. Jim Carrey especially. He’s considered someone who is known for making people laugh yet if you ever hear him talk, you can sense that’s not the only part to him.
What is a theme you find yourself always coming back to while writing?
What first introduced me into writing was my ability to place an emotion inside someone else’s body. That to me is magic. I am obsessed with leaving my audience with something to think over. After reading any of my works, you will either finish thinking about something you have never thought of or seeing your life in a new light. it’s like seeing a new color for the first time. and sometimes that color can be hard to describe but it’s amazing while it’s new.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I just finished my 7th book and am working on a few more but my next book, “Workings of a masochist Vol. I” will be available this fall. Workings of a masochist will be a bit darker and a completely different approach mainly because I will never duplicate my work. I feel that Paradox has been wonderful in positivity, but I want my second book to really hit hard on what people ignore. We all read books about the victims of relationships of any kind but never the villains. The people who are hurting instead of the ones who cause the hurting. Because often the ones who hurt are doing the hurting. As of now, I believe “Workings of a masochist Vol. I” will probably be my best book.
what do you mean when you say I? normally we would respond by saying a center of awareness or a feeling of empowerment/selfishness. but after answering that question, another question comes which is “who is the one aware of yourself?” fire cannot burn itself in the same way you cannot look into your own eyes without using a mirror. by being aware of this illusionary feeling of a self, there is a separation. and if you think about that long enough to realize that there is no self, who is it that knows there is no ego? we often hide behind the masks we create; the mask embedded into our skin. we try to find our real selves in our mask which only leads from one maze to another. lost between sanity and madness. what would it be like to remove the mask you don’t remember putting on? what would it be like to know that you didn’t have to hold onto yourself so tight? these are questions we avoid because we aren’t sure just how deep the rabbit hole can go. but there’s always a way out of an illusion. you might not be the you that you think you are.
WARNING: THIS BOOK CONTAINS CONTRADICTIONS