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A Key Enigma For Our Time

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Larry Lockridge Author Interview

The Cardiff Giant follows an investigative reporter searching for the missing Cardiff Giant where he wades through some wild theories to get to the truth. What was the inspiration for the setup to this riveting story?

The plot was conceived in a eureka moment when I visited the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown. The sculpture of the Cardiff Giant is so crude (quite unlike Marcia Scanlon’s projective cover design) that it seemed preposterous to me that so many people, including the scientific community of Boston, could have fallen for the hoax—that it was an ancient human fossil. This set me to thinking about human gullibility in general, certainly a key enigma for our time. The fictional circumstance came to me right then and there, as I peered at the homely Giant laid out in a shallow pit: what if this large piece of gypsum were to disappear? Would people, with their various belief systems in place, jump to conclusions, especially that the Giant has been reanimated and is roving the community? In short, yes.

Jess Freeman is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

Jess Freeman, the investigative reporter, occupies the middle between his gullible new acquaintances and Thor Ohnstad, the relentless skeptic. In the beginning he wishes to set aside his own humdrum skepticism for the greater excitement of belief in something exotic or paranormal. Three encounters with the thudding Giant suffice to make him, if only in some measure, a believer also, hopefully setting aside his investigative objectivity. The novel takes an added and, I hope, deeper twist when it is revealed that Thor Ohnstad, hardly an exemplar of the Enlightenment, is psychologically deranged. The novel avoids any simple conclusion that the faculty of reason can always prevail against passionate and misguided commitments. Jess Freeman, himself for a time deranged by sexual jealousy, comes to recognize in Thor Ohnstand his unnerving double.

I felt like this novel was high in social commentary. What were some themes you wanted to explore in this book?

Yes, there are key themes of social import that I explore in THE CARDIFF GIANT. The novel ends when a redneck marries a transsexual! The theme of sexual identity is high on the list, but beyond this is human identity itself. The important characters (there are only seven) define themselves in terms of their ideological commitments. The New Age believer in prior lives, for example, knows herself to be one-fourth Native American and is attempting to become one-hundred percent. The believer in kabbalistic numerology is attempting to expunge her one-half non-Jewish parentage, an odious father, and become wholly Jewish. In the end, these characters settle for the identity they already have and put aside their stretchers. E.g. The believer in kabbalistic numerology reverts to mainstream cultural Judaism. But the phantasmagoric ending unsettles any easy fallback that everyone, including Jack Thrasher himself, has settled into a comfortable, recognizable world.

This book is part of The Enigma Quartet. What can readers expect in the next book?

The four novels of THE ENIGMA QUARTET are described in full on my website, from which I draw a bit here. I’ll say something about all four. (The first chapter of the novel set in Cyprus is found in the back matter of my Giant and is an overture to the novel as a whole.) They do not have recurring characters or plot strands but are united in how characterization relates to plot structure and in recurring themes. THE CARDIFF GIANT satirizes human gullibility. THE GREAT CYPRUS THINK TANK satirizes utopian ideals. OUT OF WEDLOCK satirizes the nature versus nurture controversy, centering on human identity. And THE WOMAN IN GREEN satirizes key aspects of American history. Whatever these shifts in emphasis, human identity is the largest thematic connection. And in each I launch a small cast of singular humans confronted with puzzles or enigmas who set out to resolve them. They suffer entanglements within the ranks and external threats but ultimately prevail in their quests through buoyancy, pluck, and affection. THE ENIGMA QUARTET is a testimony to human resolve and intelligence, despite a large dose of counterevidence. As Malachy McCourt writes of THE CARDIFF GIANT, “this fierce, upbeat novel is a timely restorative in a dark season.” I’d like to think this true of all four.

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The Cardiff Giant, set in Cooperstown, New York, has up its novelistic sleeve Puck’s profound declaration, “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” Jess Freeman, investigative reporter, arrives on the scene to look into the weird disappearance from the Farmers’ Museum of a huge human figure. He had been unearthed in the late nineteenth century near Cardiff, New York. Jess confronts locals and outsiders who all have a theory, including that the giant has been reanimated and is lurching throughout the community. They are enmeshed in self-punishing belief systems such as alien abduction, astrology, kabbalistic numerology, New Age rebirthing, and religious dogmas reduced to literal absurdities. The fast-paced action centers around episodes where they pay a sorry price for their beliefs. But skeptics don’t fare much better, susceptible as they are to mental disorders that show the faculty of reason is fragile indeed. These characters group and regroup, with romance always on their minds, and finally come to recognitions at once surprising and moving.

The Cardiff Giant

The Cardiff Giant is a hilarious novel first novel, in a series of four, that is set in Cooperstown, New York in 2003. Written by Larry Lockridge, the short novel is narrated by Jack, an investigative journalist dispatched to Cooperstown to investigate the disappearance of the Cardiff Giant.

Lockridge gives an informative and entertaining description of the Cooperstown setting. In some detail he describes the physical appearance of the town and the many tourist attractions such as the Baseball Hall of Fame. There is also a breakdown of the town’s cultural diversity and a brief history on how it came to exist. This sets the scene well for the rest of the story and hints at some of the action to follow.

Intense and complicated characters are an integral part of the novel. Jack is open minded investigative journalist and is prepared to find paranormal experiences in his mission to discover the secret of the missing Cardiff Giant. He soon finds himself in a town with an interesting community that includes such diverse characters as Tarbox the town sheriff (and pig farmer) sisters Sheila, a set designer, and Esther, a psychotherapist, Thor Ohnstad, head of the local Chamber of Commerce (and inn keeper).  Each character has their own motivations and unique voice, including beliefs in alien abduction, rebirthing, astrology, psychokinesis and kabbalistic numerology. Jack, the main character, even becomes entangled with the characters and their beliefs. Their belief systems often compete with other’s beliefs, which Lockridge brings alive with intense and occasionally absurd dialogue between the characters.

The story is organized into three parts, with numerous chapters in each. Despite the numerous characters, themes and romantic twists and turns, the story is well structured. It is very easy to follow and flows well.

Despite the outlandish characters and sometimes wild situations, author Larry Lockridge manages to cleverly couple this with some serious themes of love, jealousy, envy and pursuit of self-identity. These themes are obvious at the start of the novel and are cleverly carried through right until the end of the novel.

I highly recommend The Cardiff Giant. Author Larry Lockridge’s writing appealed to my sense of humor, but I also enjoyed the deeper underlying themes of the novel. The Cardiff Giant also gives the reader an opportunity to examine their own belief system, and self-identity – if one feels the need to read the book for more than just entertainment value. This is a satirical psychological thriller unlike any other book I’ve read recently.

Pages: 164 | ISBN: 1771804246

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The Modern Aztec’s Guide to Dating and Time Travel

Quality Jones possesses more unique qualities than just her name. She is, by all rights, a time-traveling phenomenon and an exceptionally strong and resourceful young woman. The target of regular biases and racism, she bounces back quickly and never allows society’s ills to affect her. She is, quite literally, one in a million. When a chance meeting with a ridiculously unsuccessful bank robber places Quality in front of law enforcement and accused of the crime herself, everything she believed she knew about the battle of good versus evil is put to the test. Quality might be an experienced time-traveler, but she is about to face her biggest challenge to date.

The Modern Aztec’s Guide to Dating and Time Travel: A Quality Jones Book, by Ulises Silva, is a real rollercoaster ride of science fiction-meets-comedic timing. The story’s main character is, by and large, the straight man in this unique blend of time travel and satire. Quality Jones is always ready with a retort that cuts deep. Her frustration with the Sevastian’s inadequacies is beyond obvious and the eye-rolling responses she gives to his ridiculous decisions are palpable to readers.

If I had to place Silva’s work in a genre, I am not too sure I would choose science fiction as its primary category. Cover to cover, Silva provides readers with satirical elements that keep readers on their toes. The author addresses current events in a way readers in 2020 easily recognize and with which they will quickly relate. From the names of stores and banks to the references regarding the lack of social distancing, Silva hits on every conceivable social convention.

Each and every character Quality Jones encounters brings to mind those of comic books. They are bigger than life, have dialogue that is a fantastic blend of humor, satire, and science fiction terms and offer stunning visuals for readers. Quality Jones herself is a stand-out main character who begs to be recognized for the way she calmly handles the chaos surrounding her.

I am giving The Modern Aztec’s Guide to Dating and Time Travel: A Quality Jones Book, by Ulises Silva, 4 out of 5 stars. Readers who relish humor in conjunction with their science fiction plots will be able to instantly sink their teeth into Silva’s work. For those who seek satire and an occasional break from overly-technical science fiction work, Silva’s work will be a wonderful treat.

Pages: 527 | ASIN: B08N5BSZBJ

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A Tale of Physics, Lust and Greed

Michael Murphey
Mike Murphey Author Interview

Taking Time follows Marshall as a new invention sets off a series of events with far reaching impacts and Marshall is caught between corporate greed and science. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this exciting story?

The concept for my Physics, Lust and Greed series has been percolating for many years. Jack Williamson—who along with Robert Heinlein are recognized as the deans of American science fiction—live in the small Eastern New Mexico town where I grew up, so I was exposed to his books early on. The concept of time travel is particularly fascinating to me. So much time travel fiction exists that it’s difficult to find any kind of original take on the genre. My effort in finding an original twist involved having only the consciousness of the future being travel to the past, where they share the minds of their past counterparts. This set up some fun internal conflicts which become more developed in the next two books in this series.

I enjoyed Marshall’s character throughout the story. What were some sources that informed the characters development?

I don’t embrace the “superman” concept of male protagonists. As much as I enjoy Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, being the toughest guy in the room makes things a little too easy. Supreme confidence is something most of us lack. Marshall is an awkward, terribly self-conscious and insecure person who has spent his life trying not to call attention to himself. Most of us weren’t the best athlete, the best musician or the most popular or smartest kid in school. Most of us had to use our wits to find our place and guard our dignity as we grew up. Marshall’s weaknesses give him his strength as a character as we watch him grow over the arc of three books.

What were some time travel tropes that you were trying to avoid in this story?

I’ve already alluded to this, but I didn’t want my past and future characters to have a physical confrontation. But I did want to create a conflict between the future and past versions of the same character. Having the intellect of the future being occupy the mind of the past being creates this conflict in what I think is a unique way. The greater disparity in the age of the past and future beings, the greater the conflict of values and understanding of the world around them. This was a fun plot element to develop.

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

The second book in the Physics, Lust and Greed Series—Wasting Time—was published Oct. 1. The third book—Killing Time—is schedule for release May 11. My first non-fiction book—We Never Knew Just What it Was … The Story of the Chad Mitchell Trio—will hopefully be out in August.

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The year is 2044. Housed in a secret complex beneath the eastern Arizona desert, a consortium of governments and corporations have undertaken a program on the scale of the Manhattan Project to bludgeon the laws of physics into submission and make time travel a reality.

Fraught with insecurities, Marshall Grissom has spent his whole life trying not to call attention to himself, so he can’t imagine he would be remotely suited for the role of time travel pioneer. He’s even less enthusiastic about this corporate time-travel adventure when he learns that nudity is a job requirement. The task would better match the talents of candidates like the smart and beautiful Sheila Schuler, or the bristle-tough and rattlesnake-mean Marta Hamilton.

As the project evolves into a clash between science and corporate greed, conflicts escalate. Those contributing the funding are mostly interested in manipulating time travel for profit, and will stop at nothing, including murder, to achieve their goals.

The Jailbird’s Jackpot

The Jailbird's Jackpot (Faith, Family, Frenzy! Book 4) by [PJ Colando]

The Jailbird’s Jackpot by PJ Colando is a fascinating story of parolee Amy Breeden who just won a lottery mega-million jackpot hours after being released from prison. She is not thinking of investing the money even after being advised by her parole officer. She is focused on Travis and getting revenge after being setup and having spent time in jail.

PJ Colando has written a fun and compelling revenge novel with the right balance of satire and suspense. Amy’s character, while far from perfect, is one that I instantly liked and was someone that I could root for, even in her pursuit of revenge. The plot of the story was consistently compelling and thoroughly entertaining. When Amy wins the lotto you find yourself frustrated because the character does not do what others would do, invest the money. But this is what keeps the reader invested and wanting to find out what happens next.

PJ Colando’s writing style is invigorating and refreshing. I love the author’s fresh ideas and unconventional characters that always broke stereotypes. The setting in the book was described in great detail which made the world itself into a character. The Jailbird’s Jackpot is a unique crime fiction story with a crazy revenge plot that ultimately leads to some thought-provoking themes of personal redemption. I keep coming back to one word when I want to describe this book; fun. This was a lively story with an amusing plot that I heartily recommend to anyone that is looking for a story with a bit of mischief and a lot of drama.

Pages: 376 | ASIN: B08FVJSWB9

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The Little Handbook for Navigationally Challenged Cidiots – Book Trailer

Filled with hundreds of common driving offenses, this gut-wrenching funny handbook features hilariously, jaw dropping terms and phrases describing some of the nastiest driving habits you or another cidiot have engaged in almost every day on the highways and byways. Inside, you’ll find “The Motor Mouth Motorist” who suffers from road rage, “The Para Lane Bluffer” who can’t decide if they want to merge with oncoming traffic until the last second, “The Eye Shadow Bandit” who thinks she’s skilled enough to drive at high speeds while applying makeup in the car mirror, and many more epic adventures of daily cidiot driving habits that are far too many to list here. Whether you’re the culprit or the victim of cidiot driving, The Little Handbook for Navigationally Challenged Cidiots will have you laughing, pouring tears, and showing off your enriched cidiot vocabulary.

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Back From The Brink

C.E. Clayton
C.E. Clayton Author Interview

Resistor is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a cyberpunk, fantasy, and a thriller as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

I knew I wanted to write a cyberpunk novel with a twist from the onset. I love the aesthetic of cyberpunk settings, but I wanted to mix that future tech with magic, because I always find that to be such an interesting mix. What can magic do that smart technology can’t? What kind of relationship would people with magic have in regards to someone who can put that magic into a device they can wield just as easily? The rest, in terms of the other genres that crop up, happened organically. I wanted to write something that was an epic, fun adventure, something that was maybe a little silly when it comes to banter and how serious the story takes itself, but with these moments of really raw intensity. I wanted to have just as much fun writing this story as readers would when they dove in, but while still covering heavy hitting topics like grief and depression, and certain genres and tropes cover those themes better than others, so I tended to pull from those elements when necessary. It does make Resistor a little hard to pin down in terms of genre, but I don’t consider that to be a bad thing, either.

Ellinor is an intriguing character. What were some obstacles you felt were important in shaping her character?

For Ellinor, her biggest obstacle, and what shapes her personality most for this first book, is her anger, her overwhelming sense of loss and betrayal. Ellinor’s grief for what happened to her husband never much progressed past the anger and rage stages, which had to color all of her actions and interactions with the other characters in the book – including former friends. In a way, Ellinor wants to remain angry because it’s safer for her, safer than feeling friendship or attachment again after being so profoundly hurt. But that’s not really her personality at her core, so shaping Ellinor to where she forces herself to be angry and grumpy, and mean, toward everyone when part of her doesn’t want to be was a very fine line both Ellinor, and I as the writer, had to toe. Ellinor has to be mean, and grouchy, and therefore a bit unlikable because that’s what she wants, she doesn’t want people to get close to her again. But if she was too unlikable for the reader, well, that’s just a bad time for everyone! So while this kind of obstacle was important to shaping her character and character arc in general, to show how far back from the brink she has to come, it was also an obstacle for me as a writer!

What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

I love books that make me feel things; that can just as easily tug all my heart strings as they can make me laugh, or get my heart racing with action. I had also been itching to write a heroine who wasn’t instantly likeable, that wasn’t a chosen one, was violent and angry. You don’t see that often in fantasy, where the main female character is kind of mean! So, because I was already vibing pretty hard with the cyberpunk aesthetic, and my last fantasy series was magic light, I wanted to lean more into the things I hadn’t done before. I started world building and coming up with a world, a magic system, and then figuring out how a character who was going to grow a lot over the course of their arc would fit into that. That’s typically how I write most of my novels, I store all these interesting ideas or creatures, or worlds and then figure out what would happen if I were to put a certain kind of person at the center of it all. I am mostly a pantser when it comes to writing my books, letting the characters drive, with only a vague outline for every 10 chapters or so as I go along, except when it comes to world and character building. That is always meticulously crafted before I start with the plot.

This is book one in your Ellinor series. What can readers expect in book two?

Book 2 will pretty much start right where the first book left off, so Ellinor and those she’s with do have a plan and goal in mind for what they need to do by the end of the next story. But the biggest thing the reader will see is the continuing evolution of Ellinor’s character arc, her, almost reluctantly at times, releasing her anger and prejudices. Of finding a new purpose and reasons to keep living beyond her desire for vengeance. Book two will also see a lot more of Kai and Jelani! Kai goes through a lot of growth and very raw and real moments in the second book, while there is also a lot of evolution in Jelani’s relationships, including more of his little sister who is briefly introduced in the first book. You’ll also see a lot more of the Ashlings and where and how zey live in the next installment which means, while there will still be a lot of colorful magic, readers can expect to see more of the tech side of Eerden as well. Book two is just as action packed, with some of my most cinematic fight scenes to date, according to my early readers. So a lot of what readers enjoyed in this adventure will be back and in greater force in the next book, which is good because a lot of the character growth that occurs is very painful, metally and physically in some cases. But the ending is worth the struggle, I promise!

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Ellinor Rask has wanted one thing for the past eight years: vengeance. But when Ellinor is captured, she finds herself dragged back into the world she walked away from, entangled once more with friends she would rather forget.

As if that weren’t humiliating enough, Ellinor learns first hand that her magic can be stripped away by a piece of bio-tech—and her ex-boss is happy to leash her with the technology in order to get what he wants. If Ellinor behaves, the device will be removed. All she has to do is deliver a package. One containing a creature created from raw magical energy and discarded technology. Simple, right?

But when her goals start getting people murdered, Ellinor has to decide if the year’s planning, her honor, and even her own magic, are worth the lives it’s costing. Dodging ruthless gangsters, she finds herself on the run with a creature of immeasurable magical abilities alongside her one-time friends. Now, Ellinor must relearn to trust the people she once abandoned. She must put her faith in technology, and her life in the hands of independent contractors, all while racing to deliver the package before it gets taken by force, or worse, the creature decides to make an appearance itself.

The Voyages of Ralf, Vol. 1: The Arc of Purchaser

The Voyages of Ralf, Vol. 1: The Arc of Purchaser by [R.M. Kozan]

If you looked up “hapless” in the dictionary, chances are you would find a picture of Ralf, science officer with the Space Corps. He didn’t do things so much as things happened to him. It had been that way his entire life. However, the things happening to him seemed to escalate at an alarming rate during his service aboard the starcraft NOSFERATU. In an increasingly absurd series of events, Ralf finds himself repeatedly faced with the very real possibility of his demise, only to be saved time and time again by yet more absurdity. All that’s missing is a spiritual crisis, but Ralf will find that in due time as well.

The Voyages of Ralf, Vol 1 follows the reluctant protagonist on his travels as he traverses the universe, is brought aboard multiple ships, and serves on a variety of crews. Author R.M. Kozan displays a masterful use of language as he creates his story and uses wordplay reminiscent of Douglas Adams or a Monty Python sketch. Although the story is divided into three separate parts, they read as one linear story and the overall tones of absurdity and cynicism are nearly palpable even through the written word. At the same time, the variety of galactic species introduced throughout provides an ever increasing collection of characters that prevents the story from ever getting stale. Kozan walks a fine line between absurd and just plain nonsensical, and while he does occasionally slow down the narrative by veering into the territory of the latter, it’s never enough to completely derail the enjoyment of the book. Ralf himself is written in a way that almost seems paradoxical. He is clearly the main character and it was a pleasure to see where his adventures led next, but his bland and almost apathetic existence made it hard to feel much about him one way or another.

Although there are some religious undertones to the book, especially in parts 2 and 3, they are approached in the exact same ridiculous way as the rest of the story. It could probably be argued that the book is a satire about religious beliefs and the fact that they have caused so much strife throughout history. Despite that, it doesn’t come across as condescending.

Ralf’s voyages are so imaginative, it never faltered in its pace, and it kept things light hearted throughout. (Always a plus these days!) Not to mention, it was a healthy amount of bizarre and just plain fun to read!

Pages: 237 | ASIN: B08F4HV7NP

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