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The Moral Dimensions of Humanity

Margaret Lindsay Holton Author Interview

Margaret Lindsay Holton Author Interview

Trillium follows three Canadian families as their stories intertwine over generations and through many obstacles. What served as your inspiration while writing this novel?

I began this novel in my mind almost a decade ago. I did a rough outline at the time and popped it into my writing box. I had wanted to write a work about the rural farming landscape that supports us in an engaging and believable way. At the same time, I wanted to investigate the moral dimensions of humanity on a broader canvas than my previous two novels.

It was while I was researching ‘screen culture’ for an article that I began to see the ‘key’ in how I could manifest this current work.

Many of the revolutionary technological innovations that we now take so much for granted, like electricity, indoor plumbing, the automobile, aviation and the pill, happened within the last century. These life-changing innovations have allowed us to leap forward in an unprecedented way. As a result, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to fathom what life was like, (and still is like for many), without these modern conveniences.

Using a class structure, over the passage of time, allowed me to examine the impact of these techno-innovations on the evolution of the three very distinct families. As example, the O’Sullivan clan, because of their wealth, had immediate access to the innovations of the day long before the poorer classes, be it a telephone or a tell-a-vision. This access established ‘privilege’ for generations to come.

The characters and families were well developed and distinct. What were some driving ideals behind the families development throughout the story?

As I mentioned above, one of my desires in crafting this work was to examine the adopted moral structures of humanity.

Firstly, each family in this story comes from a very different inherited religious background. Religious doctrines shape our morals and are often manifest in the minute decisions that we daily make, for good and/or evil.

When we decide on anything, underlying that decision is a choice about the betterment or ruin of ourselves and others. Whether it be the 10 commandments, or The Golden Rule, or social ostracism or foul play, organized religions provide humanity with a moral framework. How we internalize these inherited religious codes greatly impact how we socially engage with others, especially within families and within civil communities.

A bully, as example, is, fundamentally, someone who never internalized the difference between ‘right or wrong’ behaviour. If they did internalize the ‘rules’ at an early age, they know full well that they are choosing ‘wrong’ behaviour when they bully. The inevitable internal conflict can manifest in many ways through the eventual self-destructive use of drugs and alcohol or the exercising of perverted power in intimate relations. Very often bullies continue to act out destructive behaviours on themselves and others because they have no understanding or fear of consequences. Simply put, they have no self-governing set of ‘rules’.

I would argue that, basically, bullies secretly desire the ‘structure’ of ‘good parenting’. Many bullies, aside from a deep craving for attention, want to be disciplined. But if their own parents never exhibited ‘good behaviour’, (as result of their own upbringing), the likelihood that a child will develop ‘good behaviour’ is very slim. When a child sees how their bullying parents achieve their desired ends, that child naturally internalize these ‘lessons’ and will act out in the same way in later life. And thus, the cycle of abuse continues. I have demonstrated how this vicious cycle re-occurs within generations throughout the novel.

Secondly, the impact of ‘media’ to shape our moral structures has increased exponentially over the past few decades. Within this historical fiction, I have slipped in some of those media innovations, beginning with the literate broadsheets of the eighteenth century. I moved into radio culture prior to WW2, and then introduce the advent of black and white film and television in the mid to late 1940s. Computers began to impact our work places and then enter our homes as recreational ‘video games’ in the mid 1990s.

Today, we are rapidly moving from a hard-won literate culture to a super stimulated visual culture. We are bombarded by a visual plethora of ‘info-entertainment’ from an assortment of screen sources that are designed to over-stimulate our dopamine receptors. All of us have succumbed to ‘click bait’. I wanted to reveal some of this increasing intrusive dependency towards the end of this novel. Though, overall, the latter media intrusion of the internet is intended as a sub-text to the on-going generational actions and reactions of the dominant characters at that time.

Finally, to be clear, I am not suggesting that organized religion, per se, is a panacea for the ills of humanity. We all know that religious indoctrination can obviously swing too far to the extreme. But I do believe that sound ‘elder’ teaching, supported by tight communities of engaging families, can sincerely help floundering individuals who flail. I demonstrated that kind of communal guidance and support when Tom Hartford’s descendent, Faith Hartford, wisely counsels Tony Di Angelo after his unhinged act of revenge. Her display of forgiveness was a profoundly social act of instruction – and acceptance. Faith was very kind to an emotionally wounded man.

This story takes place in the Golden Horseshoe region of Ontario Canada during the 1750’s. Why did you choose this time and place for your novel?

The story starts in the 1750s. Like a skipping stone on a body of water, time does skip forward quickly. At the middle of the book, the lineage of the three diverse families coalesce at a summer bonfire bash in 1965. The remainder of the novel plays out over the following decades, and the story ends in 2001. I ended the work then because I did not want to enter too far into the digital age.

I chose the Niagara region as emblematic of a ‘border-territory’ and the evolution of a farming culture that eventually specializes in wine-making. This region is beautiful, with the escarpment above and the great lake of Ontario below, and relatively unknown on the world stage. It’s a fascinating area, historically, and well worth a visit.

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

I am developing an audio version of this title and hope to have that available by the summer of 2019. I also feel that this work has the innate potential to be an engrossing television series that will appeal to a broad range of viewers. I am going to attempt to do that too.

Screen culture now rules the marketplace of ideas. If I hope to impact others with this story, I really must try to reach a wider audience beyond the realm of the literate.

TRILLIUM could easily have a sequel, but, at this time, I have no intent to do that. As I mentioned, it has the potential to be a wonderful television or Netflix series …

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebook | Website

Insightful, compelling, engrossing and enlightening, TRILLIUM intimately portrays the intertwining evolution of three very distinct families in the wine-making region known as Niagara in the Golden Horseshoe region, Ontario, Canada. …It all starts when 19-year-old Tom Hartford crosses over the mighty Niagara River in the 1750s … Readers will meet Maaka, an ingenious indigenous trapper; Franco, a dirt poor Sicilian labourer; Paddy O’Sullivan, a sweet-talking Irish con-artist and sweet Cate, the Hamilton port prostitute. And that’s just the beginning! All unfolds with a pair of motherless red-headed twin brothers, a diabolical hate-filled drunkard, two devoted raven-haired sisters, an obsessed land developer, hard-working Mexicans, a blind man, a handsome Italian-Canadian wine-maker, a blessed treasure trove of attentive mothers, one demented vineyard-wandering wife – and a startlingly beautiful, simpleton savant, Anna.A 250 year-old story about three families: the good, bad … and ugly.

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No Reflection: Are You Who You Thought You Were?

No Reflection: Are You Who You Thought You Were? by [Johnson, Christopher]

No Reflection: Are You Who You Thought You Were? By Christopher Johnson is an introspective religious and spiritual book. It contains many quotes from the Bible as well as quotes from famous people and some other religious figures with thoughts connecting it. Each chapter in the book covers a topic, such as love and forgiveness and then they all follow the same formula of having different quotes and speculation on these quotes. Johnson mentions in the book that his work is the result of conversations with different people in his life and his thoughts on these quotes.

Johnson’s work is interesting. He has quotes followed up with statements that are thoughts on these subject matters. The thoughts connecting these quotes are not always religious, some of them are statements referring to life, but the bulk of them are religious. In addition to quotes, there are topics for each chapter, and some contain metaphors. The metaphors, connecting quotes and thoughts are well done and seamlessly flow into one another. I quite enjoyed the vampire metaphor a lot. It fits into what the author was doing with that chapter perfectly, and I never thought of why vampires cannot go into the sunlight before, but his explanation of it made sense and fit so well with the text. Another analogy I greatly enjoyed was the tortoise and the hare. Johnson relates this to life and states that some are fast to separate but slow to come together, and I found that I agreed with that to a point.

I think for some, this book could be controversial, more specifically the parts addressing homosexuality. I personally do not agree with the sentiments made. I think when making claims similar to these, it would have been nice to have other sources other than Bible quotes and quotes from people that back up thoughts to make it more balanced. Without the balance, it comes off more as a strictly religious text. I do not think Johnson is intending to be biased, but I would have enjoyed other sources with similar statements.

Some of it seems contradictory at times too. For instance saying that God does not have a part in everything because He gave us free will and does not pull all the strings in everything, but then stated God supplies our money. But from the text, it would seem if we choose to work to make money, then we are supplying money through choice. Definitely a mind bender! The book is definitely thought-provoking at times, such as the chapter on forgiveness. That was an interesting read.

Overall, I liked the book. I would recommend this book to those who are open to religious talks, as the book felt like a church sermon in each chapter, or those who are of Christian faith. I am open to seeing others’ perceptions and thoughts who are different from my own, so it was an engaging read and food for thought.

Pages: 144 | ASIN: B07964NR4B

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Whatever He Wants: The Pleasures and Perils of Power

Whatever He Wants: The Pleasures and Perils of Power by [Afman, Joan Conning]

Whatever He Wants: The Pleasures and Perils of Power By Joan Conning Afman is a contemporary story set in West Palm Beach, Florida. The books starts with Mel Martinelli and Sam Abrams, two unethical businessmen, looking for an up-and-coming politician to groom for state senate. They want a man they can control, who will serve their own interests. They decide that David Shepherd, a young, handsome lawyer is the ideal candidate. David insists that he will not be a party to anything illegal, and with their insincere assurance that they would never ask him to do anything like that, he agrees to their proposal to fund his campaign. Mel goes so far in his machinations as to encourage a romantic relationship between his daughter, Michelle, and David, which eventually leads to marriage. Will David’s ambitions cause him to act contrary to his beliefs? Or will he stand firm against others’ attempts to compromise his determination to do what is right?

Michelle Martinelli is a controversial character that had me shaking my head at the beginning of the story. She was entitled and snobbish, with no ambition and was supported by her rich father. She was a character perfectly created to be hated. She was drawn to a man based on his looks alone, without any thought for what kind of person he was. What I really enjoy about the characters in this book is how they evolve over time. Michelle starts to develop some redeeming qualities as time passes, although still unlikable, I was impressed with how well developed here character was.

While the books started with me loathing Michelle, I had the opposite feeling of David Shepherd. He seemed to be an ethical man who refused to comprise his principles for others. But as the story progressed, he abandons his scruples and becomes corrupted by power. This slow decline into the very worst sort of politician reveals how someone can change, and the contrast is stark and revealing–accepting bribes, having an adulterous affair, fathering a child with a woman who was not his wife, contemplating and condoning murder to further his own ends.

I enjoyed the author’s writing style, it flowed easily and was frank and to the point with only a few editing issues. The story was well paced but there were a few sections where I would have enjoyed a little bit more information before the story moved on. The story follows the development of the characters over the course of more than twenty years so there were points where there are large time jumps leaving me with a few questions in an otherwise well written story.

This is a fascinating story that examines how people change over time. This is a character driven story that I highly recommend to anyone who likes stories that put humanity to the test. 

Pages: 190 | ASIN: B0793QKWYF

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A Soldier’s Thoughts: A Collection of Poems

A Soldier’s Thoughts: A Collection of Poems by Duke Sherman is an interesting, decent sized assemblage of poetry. Each poem captures different parts of his life. In doing so, Sherman shares intimate thoughts, feelings, and aspects of his life with the reader. His poems run the gamut of his experiences as a soldier, PTSD, depression, and about his love life and other life experiences. Intertwined through these poems are also spiritual and religious messages and beliefs along with some political beliefs. Sherman is honest in sharing his life with the reader and does not hold back any of his thoughts.

This book is a hefty book of poetry. It deals with feelings and experiences of one man’s life. In the beginning, it offers an introduction where the writer speaks of the many different definitions of what makes a soldier. One can be a person who has fought in the military, while the other is someone who has fought hard in their life. Sherman is depicted as a soldier in both senses of the word.

Reading through Sherman’s poetry, you get a sense for the man himself. Not only do you get deep, intimate thoughts, but the reader also gets the author’s introspection and strong belief systems. A book of poetry in this sense is telling of the person’s character and a sense of who they are. Reading Sherman’s words was like an autobiography given in fragments. The poems are broken up in different formats, which flow nicely. The rhyming of the poems gives each one a nice rhythm as well.

I learned a lot reading the collection. Much of it was thought-provoking. Sherman is a veteran. Because of this, he wrote a series of flashbacks detailing the destruction he saw in war. As a result, there was a lot of patriotism mentioned. It really made you think about how soldiers were and are currently treated and what patriotism means to certain people.

One of the aspects of the book that was interesting was the disjointed way in which the poems were presented. There was no chronological time in which each poem was presented; it jumped around. At one point, there would be flashbacks as a soldier in Vietnam, and then at another point, it would be talking about one of his many loves or children. I felt that it was a good metaphor for how thoughts are often loose and disconnected, especially when recalling memories. The way it was written really made me feel as if I was in Sherman’s head.

I could also tell that the way he wrote was a way of healing, which is what poetry is about. It is an art form that some like to share with others. I could definitely feel the intensity of his feelings through his written word. I would recommend this book for anyone who may be interested in what it is like to be a veteran or to learn more about war as it is a deeply personal account.

Pages: 386 | ASIN: 1477146423

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Rises from Humble Beginnings

Carole Penfield Author Interview

Carole Penfield Author Interview

Midwife of Normandy follows young Clare as she struggles to save her family and career from France’s tyrannical king. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

An avid fan of history, I researched 17th century religious persecution of Huguenots by King Louis XIV and was surprised how few historical fiction novels had been set during this turbulent period (as opposed to numerous novels set in other times, like Tudor England.) I also noted that many historical fiction authors focused on women of royal or aristocratic blood as protagonists.

I wanted to do something different, so I created a Huguenot female protagonist, who rises from humble beginnings and dares to defy and outwit male authority, including the King’s soldiers.

After visiting Rouen and the beautiful countryside of Normandy, I felt certain this was the perfect location for my book.

I didn’t think being a midwife could be so interesting and this novel definitely caused me to look more into the profession. Why did you choose this profession for Clare in the story?

Let’s face facts; there weren’t many professional options available to 17th century women. It was widely held that their only proper role was marriage, absolute obedience to husbands, and bearing of children. Midwifery was almost exclusively performed by females, but was looked upon as a lowly trade.

In order to rise above her humble beginnings, Clare decides to offer her services, using a secret ancestral formula for pain-free birth, exclusively to wealthy members of the aristocracy who reward her handsomely, thereby turning midwifery into a lucrative profession.

Clare is a fascinating character that continued to develop as the story progressed. What were some themes you wanted to capture in Clare’s character?

Throughout history, women have struggled against many prejudices. What I set out to achieve was to create a strong, ambitious young woman who sought to control her own destiny. In a sense, Clare was an early pioneer for female equality in 17th century France, as she sought a career. However, she knew she was also obligated to marry in order to bear a female child to carry on her ancestral midwifery heritage.

At first, dewy-eyed young Clare is disappointed when her romantic childhood sweetheart leaves the country and she is coerced into marrying his older, dull brother. However, she turns out to be much stronger than her husband, even to the point of secretly using birth control until she decides the time is right for bearing children. And she is the one who must bravely plot their escape from France.

Another minor theme is the conflict a career woman faces between spending time with her children and working outside the home. A feeling of guilt. This balancing act continues through the present day, so it is a universal, contemporary theme.

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

The second novel in the series, Lucina’s Destiny, is now available on Amazon.com. It follows the exciting adventures of Clare and her family as they settle in England.

Author Links: Website | GoodReads

Midwife of Normandy (Secrets of the Austen Midwives Book 1) by [Penfield, Carole, Lady, A]Clare Dupres, ambitious young Huguenot midwife living in turbulent 17th century France, struggles to save her family and career from the terrors of tyrannical King Louis XIV.

On the brink of womanhood, she records in her journal the grand plan for her perfect life–marriage to the man she loves, renovation of mysterious Maison Dupres as her home, and a rewarding profession. The key to her plan lies in “the magic elixir,” her ancestors’ secret formula for pain-free childbirth, which she offers solely to wealthy aristocratic women.

But King Louis’ increasing pressure on Huguenots to convert to Catholicism shatters Clare’s dreams. Her lover forced to flee France, she is compelled to marry his boring brother. Then she is banned from practicing midwifery. Yearning to continue her profession coupled with fear that her children will be kidnapped by Papists, Clare tries to convince her stubborn husband to move to England, but he is blind to the growing menace. When danger lurks in the form of the King’s dreaded Dragonnade soldiers, she must summon all her strength and determination to save her family.

Can Clare succeed in getting her family safely out of France before it is too late?

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Spiritual Growth Requires Action

Angelo Lowery Author Interview

Angelo Lowery Author Interview

I Am and the Spirit Walks with Me shares real life experiences to show readers how to attain a higher level of consciousness and healthier spiritual living. Why was this an important book for you to write?

My life was tragedy after tragedy enough to break anyone down I was walking and existing in a very dark place. Regardless of what I was going through not knowing love and just being on this planet with no one to connect to there was something there deep inside me that allowed me to keep hanging on and to never give up. There were thoughts of suicide there were alcohol and drugs around me. There were thoughts of taking my life via self-harm using many methods but the spirit within me was stronger than my situations, circumstances, and problems. Holding on to the belief that there had to be a better life for me and not giving up through the darkness I found Gods light and it is glorious. My heart went out to all those who have suffered abuse or is going through situations, circumstances, and problems in their life. I wanted to connect so that they know to keep fighting don’t give up you are stronger than the darkness and weakness you are and have experienced in your life.

In this book you discuss the spiritual pathways toward higher consciousness. What is a common misconception people have when taking this journey and how can they overcome it?

Spiritual growth requires action if we are seeking the best out of life we must accept that there will be paradigm shifts. Don’t get comfortable with where you are. Elevated consciousness means change not being ok with where you are in the now. Many have the misconception that because they have seen someone for healing it took care of what they need in many cases it did and you walked away feeling better, however you are in control of your life and you must take action daily to contribute to your spiritual growth. Move out of the shadow of dependency and giving your power to someone else. Many have the misconception that they’ve said their affirmations for the day and that this is all it takes. We must clean the slate of our mind for any affirmations to work this means self-mastery work dumping your baggage of situations that impacted your life forgiving yourself for it and others. Do a self-work by using the people in your life be an observer witness of how you feel when people say things if an uncomfortable feeling surfaces write it down don’t blame the other party you called them into your life to help you transcend use what they say to empower you. If you felt hurt when they said something, ask yourself why did you feel hurt they only triggered something deep within you that requires healing. If it is sorrow you feel un-create, delete, and destroy it in the now and across all time dimension space and reality this is how you rid it and you began to heal and feel lighter. If you pay attention you can feel the negative energy of it leaving your body.

This book is good at helping readers examine and understand themselves. What do you hope readers take away from this book?

Faith, Belief, and Trust in themselves don’t look to others to find it search within all you need is within you the answers are there waiting for you to unlock the mysteries of your own life. Create a connection with spirit and just trust your own inner guidance and intuition. It is magical. Surrender your control to your own inner spirit it brings your power and control back to you and makes you stronger than ever.

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

The next book will dive deeper into being trapped in my own body living a life of existing and not being able to identify with it, however a deeper knowing that something didn’t feel right. I will be sharing healing techniques that one can use to bring healing to themselves and real-life story events, and cases of how the techniques have saved not only my life but the lives of others. Revealing and disclosing an epidemic that is swooping the universe and how it’s being associated with everyday common diagnosis causing us to overlook truth. I anticipate the deliverance of this book early in 2019.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

In my book, I share a variety of examples that are real life-related events, and how each negative event created negative brain patterns. Negative experiences can be transformed into positive brain patterns which create a healthier way of living, and open spiritual pathways toward higher consciousness.

It feels great to be in a state of awareness, and consciousness to know where my life is heading. The things that impacted my life that kept me closed up for so many years no longer have a hold on me. It wasn’t always that way. I had taken on victim energy, and through my transformation, I learned how to release this energy and regain my power. Overcoming these traumas has opened my heart to sharing information as a healing tool for many other people.

My goal is to reach and transform as many lives as possible to awaken other people to this same level of consciousness, one soul at a time tarting with mine. I am inspired and motivated by the outer realms of my mind that which I see but may not yet be visible to others. I try to stay open at all times to receive new information to deliver to those who are open to new possibilities and want to receive healing for the body-mind-spirit.

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Love After Life – Trailer

Can it be true that soulmates can share a love so deep that it can transcend more than one lifetime? That is what James tell his loving wife Kathleen before they suddenly die in a tragic car accident that snuffs out their lives and perhaps their love. Will they be able to find each other in the next life to rekindle the love they share, and who will believe them if they do?

Joseph, only six years old, is haunted in his dreams by a woman and scenes he doesn’t initially recognize. Sweating heavily while twisting and turning in his bed, he sees flashes of the mountains, the beach and a beautiful young woman. He awakens suddenly, hearing himself scream, “Kathleen(!).” He is drenched and dazed, not realizing that his dream is a replay of the final scene of his past life as James with his wife, Kathleen. A few years later as his dreams continue, he recalls more clearly Kathleen’s soulful singing, bubbly personality and sweet smile as well as his deep love for both photography and her.

As a teenager, Joseph loves to watch singing competitions on TV shows, especially when teenage girls are singing. One day he sees and hears Kimberly singing on one of these shows and his heart skips a beat. He does not know why, but her singing consumes him. Kimberly grew up a sad little girl. She knows that something is missing in her life, but for the life of her, she cannot identify what it is. Only singing lifts her spirits, even if just for a little while. Joseph is drawn to her immediately. He has to meet her.

What happens when Joseph meets Kimberly? You can find out by reading Richard Sieg’s novel, Love After Life.

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Between the Ticks of the Clock

Between the Ticks of the Clock by [Barnes, J.H. Carpenter]

Between the Ticks of the Clock by J.H. Barnes is a spiritual novel that evokes the senses of mystery and redemption. It’s an introspective story that helps frame theological and societal questions within a framework particular to the dredges and monotony faced in daily life. This is accomplished through the perspective of the novel’s main character, Jamison Haro

ld Donovan, an executive working for a business known as Omni Cron Corp. Donovan is placed within the confines of a failing marriage and a dreary workplace. However, it becomes clear that these factors are minute points in a grander tale. This banal existence is quickly juxtaposed by a spiritual experience, where Donovan comes to grips with forces higher than himself and where he leaves the event a changed and more enlightened individual. From there, the novel examines Donovan’s growth and his spiritual enlightenment while at the same time highlighting the challenges and responsibilities that come with such an awakening. Between the Ticks of the Clock is unique in its pondering and musings, and as the novel progresses, it ascends to newer heights and different dimensions than one could have anticipated.

More importantly, Between the Ticks of the Clock is written in a literary style incredibly suited to its plot. The diction is easily digestible and the first-person narrative helps place the reader within the shoes of Jamison Harold Donavon, allowing us to experience some of the spiritual revelations he faces. This is coupled with emotive word choices that help paint clear imagery and scenes for the reader. J.H. Barnes does a wonderful job in setting the scene. All of this is framed within a writing style that is introspective, ethereal, and lithe. When taken as a whole, one is left with strong themes and feelings of wonder, of spirituality, and of internal pondering once the book is put down. However, there are moments where this style of writing can lead to some confusion. Points of discussion within the novel are often interjected with additional ideas or flashbacks that might hinder some comprehension of the overall idea. Yet, this stylistic choice helps remind us that the story is based around the perspective of Donavon, and this free-form stream of consciousness helps remind the reader that these experiences are still derived from a human perspective and thus creates a sense of immersion.

Overall, Between the Ticks of the Clock by J.H. Barnes is a lucidly written novel that provides readers with hard-hitting questions about life, religion, and their place in the modern world. It is an incredibly deep story, filled with important ideas and concepts.

Pages: 288 | ASIN: B07GC8GSZK

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Inspired By My Faith

Harry James Foxx & Lucia Midgway Author Interview

Harry James Fox & Lucia Mudgway Author Interview

A Fire in the West is a genre-crossing novel with elements of fantasy, science fiction, and inspirational fiction as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

Harry James Fox: I agree that the novel steps all over the genre boundaries. Some have insisted that the books in the Stonegate series are really Dystopian or Action/Adventure with elements of Romance. My only defense is that I wrote stores that I enjoy reading. I suppose I wanted a novel that explored a collapse of civilization that would later lead up to the events described in the Bible in the Book of Revelation. But I decided not to write about the final Armageddon. These novels might be thought of as a prelude, however. I tried to make a believable society that could reasonably have developed a few generations after the beginning of a new dark age. I was not concerned with fitting within conventional genres, so it must have happened organically.

Lucia Mudgway: It was actually Harry James Fox’s idea about this trilogy in the first place. Harry masterminded the plot and story-line as well as outlining the major characters and the map of the area and the names of the towns, and and I helped create and develop it as well as adding some new characters into the mix. Basically, my writing was inspired by my faith and my knowledge of history from my undergraduate studies at University where I completed a Bachelor of Arts/Humanities degree majoring in Creative Writing and History. I am currently completing a Masters of Divinity degree after completing a Grad Dip in Creative Writing last year. A lot of my ideas did happen as I was writing, and it often felt as if there was an external spiritual force working with me.

The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?

Harry James Fox: The characters from the earlier books were old friends, such as Donald and Rachel. But the character that I liked the best was Arielle (“Ari”). She has a big heart and finds the strength to face adversity and emerge the stronger for it. I like her level head and her courage. I do find that I need some help in developing female characters, but my co-author, Lucia, was helpful in making her believable.

Lucia Mudgway: My favorite character was Robbie as he reminded me a little of the prodigal son whose defiance led him into dangerous waters where his faith was tested after doubting God and backsliding. I also loved the evil False Prophet as he reminds us that we are living in a world of spiritual darkness today from leaders who are not always interested in looking after the people, but where self interest and power are what motivates them. I guess I have a fondness for the false prophet because I helped create him with Harry. I found some inspiration for his character in Ephesians 6:12 which states, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of the world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” It was evil that ruled the mind and soul of the False Prophet, so I would recommend reading the three books of the trilogy to get a better picture of how despicable the False Prophet really is. The second book, “The False Prophet” reveals his character more fully.

You both have written a fascinating novel. What was the collaboration like between the two of you on this book?

Harry James Fox: Lucia helped a great deal with the second novel of the series, and she actually wrote a novella based on the characters in the first book in the series. I then expanded this novella into a full-length novel. But I decided that the third novel would be one where we both were co-authors from the beginning. I was very pleased with the partnership. I probably would have procrastinated, but she helped keep me focused. I rather specialized in all things military, and she was the creative idea person that created an intriguing plot. It all went quite smoothly.

Lucia Mudgway: The collaboration between Harry and myself was pretty amazing and we work really well together, bouncing off each other for ideas. I am definitely interested in working with Harry in the future on other books, but at this present time I am trying to complete a novel I started years ago called “The Isis Factor”, which is a fictional thriller/romance inspired by facts and some true events. This story is set in England where the major protagonist, Nick Flanagan, an MI6 agent, is caught up in a world of terrorist activity from terrorists buying arsenal supposedly from the Russians for military training camps in Afghanistan. I am hoping to complete this in 6 months and have it published soon after completion.

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

Harry James Fox: I always have several projects at different stages of incubation. I am considering reworking some unpublished material and creating a novella, a prequel to the Stonegate trilogy. I imagine it will be published in 2019. I am a former intelligence officer and definitely have an interest in Lucia’s book “The Isis Factor.” I have volunteered to help with some technical details.

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A Fire in the West: Stonegate Book 3 by [Fox, Harry James, Midgway, Lucia]

From author Harry James Fox, and co-author, Lucia Mudgway, comes an epic Christian fantasy, third in the Stonegate saga. In this gripping finale, Donald of Fisher and Rachel of Westerly as well as Carla and other favorite characters return to face another attempt by the evil False Prophet to overwhelm the free towns of the East. However, this tale centers around Donald and Rachel’s son, Robby, as he confronts all of his demons— his forbidden love for Ari, his cousin, and his conflicts with his father, Donald. Ari, Carla’s daughter, also finds herself in the heat of battle and is tested as she had never imagined. Family secrets emerge amid the threat of war, but courage, duty, and love become more important than ever. Will the False Prophet finally succeed in stamping out freedom, or will good finally triumph over evil? Will Robby find redemption for his decisions, and will the shocking truth about his past set him free to be with Ari?

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The Story Transformed

Karma Kitaj Author Interview

Karma Kitaj Author Interview

Beguiled follows young Miriam as she struggles to follow her dreams through a turbulent time in history. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

Initially, I had the idea to write a story of the kind of life my mother, born in 1910, might have had, if she’d had the gumption. Which she did not, so the story of Miriam Levine, 1st generation Russian-Jewish girl, is entirely fictional. There are a few biographical markers, e.g., Miriam’s Pop was active in the leftist-unionist organization called the Workmen’s Circle. My maternal grandfather was as well. Similarly, he was a cultured fellow, albeit not formally educated, and introduced my mother to cultural events from a young age. The character Miriam developed her aspirations to go on stage from the experiences her Pop exposed her to from a young age.

The story transformed itself immediately from anything biographical to an exciting adventure of Miriam and her girlfriends as they make their way through a difficult time in history punctuated by WWI, the “Spanish” flu, women’s getting the vote, the Roaring 20s, the relationship between young people and their immigrant parents, and the status of women.

Miriam is a well developed character that I grew attached to. How did you capture the thoughts and emotions of a young woman in the 1900’s?

Research, research, and more research helped me to describe a girl of the early 1900s. I read many books about the times, including novels of women of that period.

Perhaps more importantly, I’ve been a psychotherapist and life coach all my adult life, so am accustomed to hearing people’s stories and helping them to make sense of their lives. So, the emotions of a woman of this period seemed little different to me from my clients’ stories. Yes, women have approached the glass ceiling and many are in marriages that are fundamentally equal or mutually enhancing, but with the outing of many in the MeToo movement, it’s clear that women’s place has not appreciably changed vis a vis powerful men.

I liked how the politics and drama of the time was not front and center, but served as a backdrop to Miriam’s story. Did you do any research for this story to keep things accurate?

As stated above, I pored over many historical books of this period, as well as historical novels about the early 1900s. Having been in graduate school for a PhD back in the 1980s, I learned how to do research and to enjoy it. I was not, however, a big history buff, so my becoming absorbed in this research was a surprise to me. One funny thing: in one of my last drafts, I realized that NO character ever was described as smoking. So, I had to go back and add smoking Lucky Strikes, Camels, pipes, and cigars to many scenes.

WWI was certainly in the background only in Beguiled. Miriam and her friends barely seemed to register that there was a world war going on in Europe, until Miriam arrives home and discovers that her father’s Workmen’s Circle is having an important emergency meeting to discuss US entry into the War. Then a young German boy barges in to say that his family was beaten bloody right in their neighborhood, an unthinkable thing in their multi-ethnic close community.

Many people have suggested I write a sequel to Beguiled, but that would take me into the Depression of the 1930s and I don’t know if I want to go there, particularly since our country seems liable to get there itself.

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

Beguiled was just released on May 1st 2018, so I’m devoting some time to publicizing it before embarking on my next story. But, I’ve had the idea of locating an appealing news story of a woman who lived in another era. I enjoy researching historical fiction and being an archaeologist in searching out details of a bygone period. In order to find this appealing person, I’ll need to immerse myself in the Boston Public Library’s newspapers from the last century or even before. There are also archives of women’s letters housed at the Schlesinger Library at Harvard, where I’ve done research before. I look forward to being able to do this, once my initial marketing campaign is over.

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Beguiled is about every person who ever had dreams that were interrupted by cultural mores, by discrimination, or by their own shortcomings. Miriam Levine, born in 1900, dreamed of going on stage, until an almost fatal mis-step forced her to postpone her “real life.” A serendipitous offer compelled her to confront her inner demons and society’s expectations. As Glinda, the Good Witch of the South in the Wizard of Oz, she recites at age 16: “You’ve always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”

The story is inspirational for young people and their parents who dearly wish to access the American dream. The historical context of the decades before the Great Depression, the role of immigrants and women’s suffrage parallels tough political dilemmas that the US faces today.

Will Miriam have the gumption to follow her dreams? Will those dreams yield her the happiness she seeks? Or will she find that her childhood fantasies “beguile” her to seek ‘fool’s gold?’

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