Posted by Literary Titan
Christine Clavin is not a typical teenage girl. Her past is marred by a violent attack so scandalous that her peers avoid her, whispering behind her back. The only redhead in a family of dark-haired people, she’s certain she was adopted and doesn’t belong. She has no friends, and her rage is so deep that when she loses control, she’s dangerous, even to her own family. Her family is at their wit’s end and wants to have her committed, but her older brother Sam does what he can to protect her. Christine wants to be normal, even dating a dashing newcomer, but the date seems to end badly although she still has feelings for the boy.
Christine finds solace by the pond near her house, something catches her attention, so she dives in, and when she comes up for air, she’s in a completely different world. Struggling with the language, the oppressive culture, and her own nightmares, she must find a way to survive and get back home. Her inner fire becomes her greatest asset, but it could make her either a well-treated slave or a fugitive trying to get back home.
The Heart of Hannen is one of the most unique books I’ve read all year, with elements of dark fantasy and gothic romance that tie together seamlessly. Christine is magically transported to the world of Atriia where men rule, and women are bought and sold like horses. This is definitely not the place for hotheaded seventeen-year-olds with anger management issues to thrive, and she runs afoul of men and women alike. When she’s sold to the staff of a local Lord’s castle, she learns—the hard way—how to fit in.
I especially enjoyed that Christine could use her wits, temper, and sharp tongue to do great things, even under the control of an oppressive culture and evil men. Without spoilers, let me warn you that there are twists and turns that you will never see coming, and they are fantastic.
The best part of this book was the invented language. There’s a glossary at the back of helpful words, but I decided to figure it out myself. This helped me get deeper into the story and the main character, since we were both trying to make sense of words that were just out of reach. As she becomes more used to Atriia, so did I, and the story got even better from there.
My only complaint about the book is that the pacing is slow. The plot advances at a snail’s pace, characters are indecisive, and some scenes—while interesting—do little to advance the story. While some tension is good, drawing it out too long invites skimming to a scene where something actually happens.
If you’re a fan of dark fantasy or romance, you’ll find much to like in The Heart of Hannen. Though the main character begins the tale at age 17, this is a land of kept women, fierce battles, blood, and sensuous love scenes, so I’d recommend it for mature readers.
Pages: 488 | ASIN: B00IWYP17S
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Posted by Literary Titan
The Ryder Quartet is a collection of four crime thriller novels featuring detective Jeremy Ryder. When creating Jeremy Ryder did you have a plan for his development and character traits or did he grow organically as you were writing the story?
Definitely organically rather than pre-determined, for me. There are, of course, authors who prefer to map out a novel before embarking on the task of writing. Some might prefer to write detailed and very specific profiles for each of their main characters. Others might prefer to work out in advance every major plot development. This is an entirely acceptable method, but it is one to which I don’t subscribe. My own preference is to discover more and more about my characters in the act of writing, as they grow together and fertilise one another and tempt me to take them down paths I had not intended. Who am I to decide, before the act of writing, the intricacies of these complex people and the nuances of their being? How can I presume to know them merely by mapping them in broad outline before I commence my intimate journey with them? I feel far more comfortable getting to know them as we proceed together through the complexities of their lives and their actions. Like the actor resistant to creativity-sapping ‘line-readings’ provided by some directors I like to think that through exploring rather than pre-determining I can create a narrative that is more organically in harmony with the personalities of the full cast of characters. Of course, this then means re-writing and adjusting and reversing and re-drafting. But for me that is the great joy of writing. It is the journey, not the destination that absorbs me.
I know that you have undertaken thorough research for these novels, visiting crime scenes, and interviewing detectives and victims. Is there anything that you saw or heard, and wanted to put in your novels, but couldn’t?
Yes. For example, I interviewed one victim of crime who described to me details that were so horrific that I could never have exposed them in print. I try to create scenes and events that are analogous, or homologous, to those from the real world, and then to develop fictional counterparts for those experiences. In that way I hope to keep my fiction rooted in – I hesitate to use the word ‘authenticity’ – a world of plausibility.
In each of the four books there are different sets of villains. Which was your favorite to write for?
I got to the point where I was living and breathing the character of Thabethe. In the middle of the night he was in my thoughts. When walking dogs, when eating meals, when watching a movie, I couldn’t get rid of this man. My wife enjoyed watching me, she says: she could see how immensely satisfied I was in this world of creative imagination. It probably also kept me out of her hair. Anyway, I wondered what made him tick, and I wondered how I could ensure that I remained honest and truthful to the character. I judged him, of course, as we always judge each other. But I didn’t want to simply invent him as a bad guy and leave him to his own devices. I needed to understand him to the best of my ability. So I never stopped exploring him. It’s an amazing process, creating fiction. I love it.
Where do you see Jeremy Ryder, let’s say, a year after the series ends?
I will definitely travel further with Ryder. I’m just completing my next book, and the focus in this one is not Ryder but another character that emerged in one of the quartet volumes. Because my focus is on the real world of policing and crime in and around Durban, Ryder will definitely be back. There are significant things happening there as I write this: things that impact upon crime, politics, morality, and many other issues in which I am interested.
The Ryder Quartet comprises four crime thrillers. Each of them is also separately available as an independent book. In this collection they form an overall cohesive narrative. Detective Jeremy Ryder and his colleagues pursue heinous criminals into the depths of the criminal underworld. The action takes place in Durban, South Africa, but the confrontation between the forces of law and justice on the one hand and criminal machinations on the other make these four stories relevant to any major city in the world. The author’s field work involved detective-guided tours through forensic analysis, to the front line of drug dealing, and into the private pain of victims of crime. Readers of the individual volumes have hailed the work as action-packed thrillers steeped in authenticity and plausibility, reflecting the real world of police encounters with the dark world of crime.
Posted in Interviews
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