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The Spark That Started Metal Bones

Kathleen Contine Author Interview

Metal Bones follows two story lines, one following brothers on the hunt for a cure to a ‘steel elbow’ disease and another following a man with a cannon for an arm who’s looking for his long lost father. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling science fiction story?

The spark that started Metal Bones was a song called ‘Alive’ by Phil Lober. When I listened to it I pictured a scene in my mind that I had to write a story around. I was also watching Star Wars a lot at the time and I think some of those themes crept their way in as I was writing.

Leo and Gaeth were intriguing and well developed characters. What were some ideals that guided their character development?

Thank you! The main thing that guided their character development was the dynamic between an older sibling and younger sibling. Leo wants to help Gaeth get better but Gaeth doesn’t want to be the one who has to be taken care of all the time. I used that to guide their decision making throughout the story. 

I enjoyed the unique world you’ve created for your story. What were some themes that were important for you to incorporate in your galaxy?

 I’m glad! A big one was family. Obviously Leo and Gaeth are a huge part of that, but I wanted to explore it with Tank as well. Even though his family isn’t blood related, I believe it doesn’t have to be and can even be stronger than biological family at times.   

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

I’m currently working on the sequel to Metal Bones! I don’t have a specific release date yet but it’ll be 2021.  

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook |Website

An incurable disease, a deadly ceremony, four questionable heroes, and a galaxy who needs them.

Leo Spearman cares about one thing: getting a cure for Gaeth’s “Steel Elbow”. Yet, when they decide to leave Earth to cure him, they realize they may have to break galactic law to get it. Leo believes everything is going according to plan but when their new ally Sonja comes along, Leo becomes more and more dedicated to Onyx, a group set on stopping the Sol Empire from taking over the galaxy. As Leo and Sonja’s connection starts to grow, Gaeth begins questioning his brothers’ dedication to finding his cure.

Across the galaxy, an alien named Tank is determined to win the Ceremony, hoping to find out what happened to his father, who won before him. Only when he finds the answer, he is forced to escape his home, losing his hand in the process. After being saved by Enzu, she equips him with an arm cannon, the only expense being to work for her and protect a small boy named Myca at all costs. Tank is grateful for Enzu saving him, but the more time he spends at Bisekt, it makes him question everything and who to trust.

However when an outside threat forces Tank and Leo to work together, they’ll discover if they’ll be able to save the ones they love or if it’s already too late.

Fans of Mass Effect will love the first installment in the Metal Bones series!

Becoming God

Daniel Maunz Author Interview

Daniel Maunz Author Interview

Questions of Perspective follows an unenthusiastic lawyer whos only friend disappears, sending him on an existential journey. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thought-provoking novel?

I knew from the outset that I wanted to write a story about a person becoming God, and specifically, what a person should do if granted infinite power and knowledge. I also started writing this novel after leaving a profession as a litigator that was unfulfilling and left me without the time or energy to do much creative writing. I wanted to capture some of that personal struggle in the novel as well. I saw an opportunity to merge those two inspirations by having a mortal’s brief exposure to omniscience serve as a catalyst for that individual to reexamine their own life with fresh eyes, and take stock of what is important (and what is not).

Dave is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving themes you wanted to capture in his characters journey?

I, like a lot of people, spent a lot of years on autopilot, devoting my entire existence towards a career for no apparent purpose. That is also where Dave starts off at the beginning of Questions of Perspective. I knew fairly early on that Dave’s brief exposure to Godhood would be the triggering event that drove his journey, and I spent a lot of time thinking about how Dave would be changed as a result of that experience. I felt it would give Dave a greater perspective of his place in the universe (hence, the title), and a greater appreciation of just how valuable the gift of life can be (and how easy it is to take for granted). I also envisioned a reawakening of Dave’s ability to empathize with others, which, again, was the result of him being briefly connected to all of existence.

Dave’s odyssey of self-discovery is wrought with questions that are difficult to tackle. What were some ideas that were important for you to explore in this book?

This novel tackles a number of difficult, age-old questions that have no clear answer: What is the meaning of life? Why does God let bad things happen to good people? Why does anything we do matter when we will all ultimately die anyway? Rather than try to provide a definitive answer to these questions, I thought it was interesting just to establish a framework, through fiction, that allows these questions to be addressed in a fresh light. I think the answers to these questions are unique to every individual, but I’m hopeful that Dave’s journey may help some readers come up with their own satisfactory answers to these questions.

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

I am currently revising a screenplay that I co-wrote, which is a mystery-comedy. We had hoped for it to film this summer, but now I’m not sure when that will take place in light of current events. The next novel I’m working on focuses on the notion of family, which is something that wasn’t fully explored in Questions of Perspective with its largely isolated protagonist. As in Questions of Perspective, my goal in the new book is to tackle some large, universal themes through a quirky narrative. It will also have a female protagonist, which is a writing challenge I’m enjoying so far (and I will be heavily relying on my wife on that front). I’m probably too early in the process to even guess at when it may be available.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website | GoodReads

No one knew it at the time, but April 19, 2011, was the most important day in the history of the world.

After his only friend and colleague, John Manta, disappears without a word, Dave Randall further entrenches himself in the humdrum life of an unenthusiastic lawyer. But once he begins to understand what happened, he embarks on a journey to uncover the deeper meanings and implications of John’s fate.

Accompanied by Peaches the cat, Dave uproots his life and reinvents himself in the midst of his search. Along the way, he is haunted by his piecemeal understanding of John’s fate and what it means for his existence. Little does Dave know, his journey of self-discovery will have ramifications that extend far beyond the borders of his own little life.

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Remember, No Matter What; Chin UP, Tits Out

Chick lit: Remember, no matter what; Chin UP, Tits Out: A chick lit romantic comedy (Chin UP, Tits Out: A chick lit comedy series) by [Oh, Miranda]

Remember, No Matter What; Chin UP, Tits Out by Miranda Oh centers around an 18 year-old girl named Hadley Hope McLeary. The story begins with Hadley working at a fair in Winnipeg, Canada. She meets a handsome boy named Riaan who is from Africa. They fall in love but when the fair comes to an end, he has to continue traveling to other fairs until going back to his country. Devastated from being apart, they do their best to have a long distance relationship. They plan to find Riaan a working visa to enter Canada again, but it is a long and difficult task. They do everything they can to be together, but will they manage to get the visa? Can their love withstand the long months apart?

The authors uniquely positive attitude towards life shines through in the tone and style of this fun romance novel. The writing style is absorbing and easy flowing, which for me, is starkly different from many romance novels in the genre. Miranda Oh uses colloquial vocabulary, not the typical punctuated dialogue, that adds depth to both the characters and the story. I felt like this would be a fabulous Rom-Com movie; a feel good roller-coaster of emotion.

The plot is positively campy and the emotion is genuine and deep, but I felt that the the pace was a little fast. Many events happen quickly without giving me a moment to contemplate what just happened or guess what might happen next; but this is a personal preference.

Hadley and Riaan are exceptional and well developed characters, but I felt that I knew a lot about Hadley and not so much about Riaan. Their families come up every now and again but I would have liked more background on their families; mostly because I wanted to see how Miranda Oh’s amusing perspective would have portrayed them.

All in all, this is a very enjoyable romance novel that was difficult to put down. This is a perfect read for the weekend. I look forward to reading the second book in this series. I highly recommend reading this beautiful romance story.

Pages: 77 | ASIN:  B01BQ8RJ9Y

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Dark Roots of American Politics

Michael McCord Author Interview

Michael McCord Author Interview

“End Times” is satirical look at a dystopian America that is eerily reminiscent of real life. What was the inspiration behind this thought-provoking novel?

I combined my own experiences as a journalist covering this political devolution in style and content to use satire to explain the collapsing political climate and set the stage for a Real America.

I’ve been asked numerous times in interviews and in speaking to groups how the Real America of my fevered imagination came about. I have said repeatedly anyone paying close attention to the dark roots of American politics since say 1980, or at least since 1994, would see something seriously amiss. In particular, in case you haven’t noticed, the Republican Party has gradually abandoned the idea of governing and embraced wholesale nihilism. They replaced it with a maniacal dedication to the snake oil of cutting taxes for the already filthy rich, filling the federal judiciary with as many unqualified and ideologically stupid judges imaginable, driving up federal deficits to science fiction levels, and generally mucking up the fragile nuts and bolts of democracy on a daily basis.

I chose a satirical fiction avenue because I wasn’t interested in writing a more conventional non-fiction book about what was happening.

Lawrence Bowie is an exceptionally developed character that I loved to hate. What were some themes you felt were important to capture in his character?

Good point: Bowie is either loved or hated with no middle ground. He was an amalgamation of five to six (real) Republican politicians known for their profound ignorance, incoherence and ability to lie without hesitation. In the first book (“The Execution Channel: A Political Fable”), one of the original concepts was the existence of a Congressional “Imbecile Caucus” and then I needed an incoherent and ignorant savant to lead them. This led to Congressman Lawrence C. “Demon Seed” Bowie of Texas who would go on to become the governor of the Real America Republic of Texas.

The totally immoral Bowie arrived to take advantage of a cynical climate ripe for a rabid minority to worship a truly corrupt leader. This pied piper would mock and degrade his followers while demanding their total loyalty and calling it love. He promised the best traits of a national crime syndicate and a death cult. He would keep them entertained with blatant racism, lies, fear mongering, conspiracy theories, and embracing ignorance. Bowie, a true pathological narcissist, would be the first to tell you, he made his mark before Trump in part because there was no shortage of marks in Real America for his political con. Bowie’s career path would eventually lead to a Real America secession and glory as Emperor Supreme for Life of Real America. Bowie keeps the public stupefied with cruel spectacle and the excitement of secession and a 21st Century Civil War.

Your book delivers a stark view of America’s political future. What things do you see in your book as only fiction and what things do you see as possible?

“End Times” is meant to entertain and enlighten with equal amounts of satirical humor, zaniness, and shock. The book is not for the political faint of heart or for those who believe America is on the right path. In a sense it’s not unlike the ghost of Christmas future in “The Christmas Carol”. I’m not saying this or that will happen. I am saying this alternative universe of Real America has the same seeds of decay and fraying of the chords of civility and decency that we see happening each and every day now. Though some may disagree, our American democracy is fragile and ripe for further destruction. Real America is one many dark versions that could replace our current political system – if the slippery slope of more economic and social chaos, less accountability, crueler and blatantly racist policies, and destruction of democratic norms continues.

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

Penelope will the third and final book in the Real America saga. Hopefully, by 2021-2022 readers will experience the final showdown between Penelope the Psychic and Emperor Supreme for Life Bowie.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

End Times: More Great Adventures in Real America by [McCord, Michael]

Michael McCord’s provocative 2013 political satire The Execution Channel: A Political Fable was the first act of the Real America saga.

The saga continues with the fantastical and farcical End Times: More Great Adventures in Real America. Set in an alternative (yet eerily familiar) political universe, this tale of American dystopia answers the question: What happens when America goes politically bonkers?

The colorful cast is topped by the righteously amoral and thoroughly corrupt Lawrence C. ‘Demon Seed’ Bowie. After surviving an attempted coup in 2018, he has rebounded with his customary good karma. Bowie is Chairman, CEO, President, and toga-wearing Emperor Supreme for Life of Real America, Inc., the Confederate-admiring, whites-preferred, and corporate-run nation that seceded from Old USA in 2020.

As he nurtures a new country combining the best aspects of a national crime syndicate and a death cult, Bowie prepares for a 2021 Coronation Night extravaganza to celebrate his magnificence and dazzle the world. Though his apocalyptic destiny seems assured, a rising resistance and many foes conspire against him and threaten the Real American dream.

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Increasingly Impractical Solutions

Tom McNulty Author Interview

Tom McNulty Author Interview

W900 is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a satire, humor and fantasy as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

Whenever I put the very first written letter on the page, at the start of a new story, ‘The Beast,’ as I call him, slowly emerges from his hibernation, growling What began its existence as a concept, suddenly has structure. From that point, I am only the conveyer of the messages related by the personalities in the story. Their characters speak to me from the text, almost demanding to be heard.

I’m a firm believer in allowing my ‘players’ to evolve, bringing my stories to life. This part of the process, could indeed be described as organic. However, I wish that just occasionally, they would be willing to listen to me.

What was your inspiration for the setup of the story and how did that help you create the ending?

The ending of W900, was the direct result of an event that took place much earlier in my life, involving a girl who chose a better life in Canada, to staying here with me. “Smart kid,” I hear you say and I would be pushed to convince you, or anybody else, otherwise. The end of the book also exhibits certain traits of “What was and what could never be,” which sadly, is probably the case for most people. I’m just happy, that Hovis wrote such a joyous end, to a potentially bleak story and it must always be remembered, that hindsight is always a questionably wonderful thing.

I enjoyed the depth of Hovis’s character. What was your process to bring that character to life?

Hovis Monk, is a conglomerate being, made up from the mosaic of problems that assail many people as they grow older and the increasingly impractical solutions which become more conceivably possible, almost by the day. Think of it as a sort of ‘What would my inner child do,’ response. Yet, as everybody knows, time and the retelling, can often distort.

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

And finally, the next book. I’m about to begin work on the tentatively titled, “Your Luggage is in Leningrad,” (details withheld), in the hope that it will be published around, or before Christmas of 2020 but like all written works, there are no steadfast guarantee’s involved.

Author Links: WebsiteGoodreadsFacebook

W900 by [McNulty, Tom]

Hovis Monk had been decieved. Perhaps he always had been. His comfortable life in the Snowdonian bubble, provided by The Blue Yonder Mining Company, was ending.

As his world implodes Hovis spins into a realm of inner and outer realities, chance occurances, memories, music, luck and laughter.

This story describes the reunion of Hovis with his old Paisley Underground band, a little known group called The Festers, and his struggles with a very special Flame Red Time Trialing Onesey…

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Lost My Sense of Morality

Dave Matthes Author Interview

Dave Matthes Author Interview

No Old Souls at Fury Tavern follows the trials and tribulations of the general dive-bar-going populace. What pulls you towards telling the story of the people many others seem to use only as background characters?

While watching movies or reading books, like many other people I’m sure, I take note of as many background details as I can, including the people populating the background. I get to thinking, I wonder what that person’s story is, I wonder what they do for a living, what their troubles are and all that juicy stuff that we’re supposed to wonder about the main characters. No Old Souls at Fury Tavern most definitely has a story that follows the main character, but it’s also largely about the other characters and how all their pieces fit together to form the overall picture. In a way, Rocko Pitts wouldn’t be who he is without the other characters, and vice versa.

I always enjoy how you bring your characters to life and make them seem real. Were you able to use anything from your own life in this book?

Every one of the people populating Fury Tavern and Grocer Junction in the book were inspired by people I’ve worked with, drank with, had relationships with, and lost my sense of morality alongside of.

What were the driving ideals behind Rocko Pitts character development throughout the story?

Rocko Pitts, if he can be, while compared to most everyone else in the story, really has no particular drive. He’s a wallflower and he’s okay with that. But while the book progresses, he starts to wonder if he’s going to be okay with that lack of purpose for the remainder of his life, or if he’s just going through a phase of apathy. The main story of “Fury Tavern” is his coming-to-the-realization that while everyone else around him has their own lives, he really doesn’t have much of a life at all.

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

Currently I’m working on the follow up to “Fury Tavern”, titled “A Scorched and Mystified Wilderness”. It continues the story of Rocko Pitts and the other denizens of Fury Tavern. I can’t really say too much about the plot without spoiling the end of Fury Tavern. But there will be chaos of all kinds, and I’ll be exploring deeper into the characters introduced in the first book. I am also working on Book II in a western/post-apocalypse trilogy, and my seventh collection of poetry. All three of those books I’m hoping to have released at various times next year.

Author Links: GoodReadsFacebookTwitter | Website

Rocko Pitts is a low-ranking receiving clerk at Junction Grocer Supermarket. He doesn’t like going to Fury Tavern with his coworkers, but he does it anyway. He likes the woman at Register 4 but everyone says she’s ugly. He doesn’t have any interest in politics, but the Mayor wannabe, Rand Sleeman, will do whatever it takes to get his vote. Rocko lives a quiet life and likes it that way but doesn’t seem to know why he likes it that way. In fact he doesn’t seem to have any purpose at all, and he’s okay with that. But travesty begets travesty, forcing the simple-pleasure-seeking Rocko to complicate his life just a little bit more than he’d normally be comfortable with. “No Old Souls at Fury Tavern” is a story about the seemingly meaningless meanderings of the dredges and sloths of society who exist in the background and behind closed doors, the denizens who populate the barstools at Fury Tavern, and more importantly, the very soul of Fury Tavern itself.

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End Times: More Great Adventures in Real America

End Times: More Great Adventures in Real America by [McCord, Michael]

The United States has ceased to exist and a new and utterly foul nation stands in its place. Ruled by Lawrence Bowie and riddled with shades of slavery, white supremacy, and abounding ignorance of its citizens, this new nation is called Real America. Bowie is a tyrant who thrives on the adoration and unquestioning manner with which his followers hang on his every word. The power he possesses and the increasing hold he has over his newly-founded nation only grows as the people around him continue to relinquish their own beliefs, morals, and standards in exchange for increasing ignorance and poverty. Thriving on his own ego, Bowie grows more and more powerful as the world he has created suffers gleefully.

I am going to say right out of the gate that End Times by Michael McCord is one of the most psychologically disturbing pieces of political satire that I have ever read. McCord hits a nerve with virtually every paragraph. The things many US citizens have not been able to put into words, McCord easily spreads across his pages like so much sticky poisonous political jelly. With every chapter, the author manages to bring to light yet another aspect of the current political climate with vibrant and frighteningly obvious characters.

Bowie, the book’s main character, is as vile as they come. His narcissism is nauseating and will drive readers to loathe his every word–the hallmark of fantastic writing. McCord truly strikes a chord with this president-gone-mad and the way in which he manipulates everyone around him into believing his every word even when they know his intentions and realize he is a liar. The scope with which McCord is able to cover current events is quite amazing. He manages to include even the most minute aspects of the recent presidential election and the events that ensued.

One of the most striking aspects of McCord’s work is the way he magnifies his main character’s behaviors. All of Bowie’s speeches and each of his interactions with his minions displays a grossly inflated ego and a deep desire to be recognized as a winner at all costs. Though he isn’t portrayed as a creature of fantasy, he is, indeed, bigger than life and almost too incredible to be believed. His mannerisms and his monologues are terrifying.

McCord has given fans of political satire a quick read fraught with the worst of the worst in current events–an aspect that makes it beyond fascinating. I don’t often say this about books as I like to pour over word choice and let the author’s intent settle in as I read, but End Times, for me at least, was a book I found more appealing in audio. McCord uses some amazing and flowery language to describe the fall of the United States as we know it. I was much more comfortable listening to the book than working my way through the verbiage.

There is nothing out there quite like McCord’s take on the current state of politics in the United States. Readers who don’t mind a harsh look and deeply disturbing take on the U.S. government will find McCord’s work well worth the read.

Pages: 183 | ASIN:  B07S4C3J2L

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W900

W900 by [McNulty, Tom]

Hovis Monk received his verbal dismissal a few days ago so he knows that his simple and paid for life will not last long. Then his old buddy delivers the written dismissal in a shit covered envelope and Hovis knows he has three weeks left at no. 37. He sits with his friend Lee Kelso and the trips down memory lane start. He talks about his days as a struggling musical legend. Later, Hovis takes us through The Festers 2.0.

Tom McNulty regales the tale of Hovis’ life in the wake of dismissal from Blue Yonder Mining Company. He executes the story with flourish and profane delight. The story flows seamlessly allowing the reader to take in the surroundings. The author creates a rapport between Lee and Hovis that is both sad and brilliantly humorous. The way they engage with each other is heartwarming. As Hovis moves on to the next chapter of his life, the story presents his tribulations in a simple yet masterful way. With unique language and quirky mannerisms the characters make their way into the reader’s heart.

The character development in this book is top notch. Each character has their own unique traits that would appeal to one reader or other. Hovis, as the main character, is strong enough to drive the story. He is wistful and, while afraid to move on without the comforts Blue Yonder provides, proceeds to do something that appeals to his passions. Although Hovis might have a bit of a problem with bidding on auction items, he is a hoot.

The use of the English language in this book is unique and, at times, borderline peculiar. It is not language one would encounter in most places but it goes with the construct of this book. In this book it seems fitting and at home. Some of the phrases used in the book are quite confusing. However, these phrases enforce the personalities and traits of the characters. One thing is for sure, the use of the English language is expressive of the author’s creativity and ability to manipulate the language into croutons of absolute joy. All in all, it is fun to read through all the peculiarities in speech.

This is a fun and captivating book with interesting characters and a plot that is genuinely wonderful and intriguing. Hovis always seems to have a story under his sleeve that you have to coax out. This book is not recommended for children as it contains some hard language. However, any young adult or adult will certainly enjoy it.

Pages: 304 | ASIN: B07T68W277

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