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I’ve Always Felt Empathetic Toward Others

Author Interview Michael J. Bowler

Shifter has the two main characters grappling with some big moral decisions. What was the inspiration for putting them into this position?

I like stories where characters, especially teenagers, have to grapple with more than just who to ask to prom because it’s when we’re faced with serious issues of right vs wrong that we show what we’re made of and who we are inside, and most of us will face tough choices throughout our lives. As a reader, I can ask myself the same questions I pose to my characters and consider which way I might go. My hope is that other readers will do the same. I’ve also thought about the ramifications of having such a power that I could decide who lives and who dies. As pointed out in the book, would it have been moral to kill Hitler before he got very far in his bid to take over the world? Even now, with what we know of history, some people would still argue no and others would say yes.

Are there any emotions or memories from your own life that you put into your characters of Alex and Andy?

I’ve always felt very empathetic toward the pain of others, even as a child and a teen, and wanted to “cure” those people of what ailed them, so I created this character of Alex to do that for me. I just don’t like seeing people unhappy or suffering, which is one reason I could never have become a doctor. Alex’s skills with his wheelchair and his innate tenacity were based on a boy I taught in high school. Despite his wheelchair, that boy could do whatever he put his mind to, sometimes with help from his friends, but mostly by himself. For Andy, I used much of the pain I absorbed from incarcerated kids I worked with who told me horrific stories of being locked in closets for years on end or about how some despicable adult slaughtered their pets in front of them. I sought to depict how hard it might be for such a child to accept love and friendship once released from such an evil upbringing, and I hope Andy comes across as believable in the minds of the readers.

What do you think were some of the defining moments in the development of Alex and Andy’s relationship?

Neither knew of the other’s existence until shortly before they met at the conclusion of Spinner (The Healer Chronicles 1), so I tried to imagine what it would feel like to meet a twin brother I never knew I had. Given the respective backgrounds of the two boys, I felt they could relate as outcasts and that might be the beginning of a friendship and even familial ties. The small moments they shared—when Andy would learn something new from Alex, or when they were washing dishes or working out in the fitness center—these moments helped cement their relationship. Learning how to combine their power and work together defined the growing connection between them, not just because their minds were linked, but because they needed to trust each other, and that must’ve been hard.

Will the next book conclude the story of Alex and Andy or is there more to tell? When will the next book be available?

The next book will conclude this particular storyline, but I have opened enough doors to tell other tales involving these characters and hope to return to them in the future. Spoiler (The Healer Chronicles 3) releases on July 12, 2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Fifteen-year-old Alex and his learning-disabled friends barely survived the events of Spinner, but their nightmare has only just begun.

Alex’s wheelchair has never stopped him from doing what he wants, but his supernatural power to heal every human ailment known to science has put him in the crosshairs of a dangerous doomsday cult that will stop at nothing to capture him and his long-lost twin, Andy, who can shift illness from one person to another. When the boys combine their “gifts,” they unleash the power to control life and death.

Now Alex, Andy, and the others have been kidnapped by the U.S. military. On a creepy Air Force base in the remote Nevada desert, they must decide who to trust and who to fear while uncovering secrets this base wants to hide from the world. Who is the young boy with unusual abilities who’s treated like a soldier? What is hidden in an ultra-secret hangar that no one can access? And what unnatural experiments are conducted in that closed-off laboratory?

As Alex unravels these mysteries, he strives to bond with his twin, but Andy is distant and detached, trusting no one. He’s also more attracted to the dangerous power they wield than Alex would like. When misplaced faith in science ignites a hidden lust for supremacy, rescue can only come from the most unlikely source, and Alex must confront a terrible truth.

The Healer Chronicles continue…

Operation Jade Helmet

The world is falling apart–literally. Martial law has been declared, communication has been cut off, and citizens are being instructed to shelter in place. As the entire country struggles to make sense of what is happening around them, Skylar’s son is worried about one thing and one thing only–his video game. When his ties are severed, he is forced to see the grave reality of their situation. In a world where social media has become a way of life, chaos ensues when every platform collapses and the world is left to pick up the pieces of the destruction that follows.

Operation: Jade Helmet, by Ashely Fontainne, sets a scene of total panic and mayhem all based on the power of social media. When an unnatural heatwave occurs and citizens become increasingly confused, defensive, and violent, it becomes clear that the world is about to undergo a change–and not one for the better. No one is safe, especially gamers. At the top of the list? Those who excel at Operation: Jade Helmet. Skylar’s son, Brandon, is one of them.

Fontainne has managed to meld several different genres and literary elements successfully into one novel. What begins as a straightforward science fiction read soon takes on elements of faith-based work alongside choice bits of fantasy. There is an incredible amount of history woven into the plot, and this is what makes the author’s work as terrifying as it is entertaining. Fontainne has handed readers a book that is a testament to everything that is wrong with our world as we know it, and it makes for quite the ride.

I was blown away by the cast of characters in Operation: Jade Helmet. From those who set the stage in the first few chapters to the main players, Fontainne has done a remarkable job of developing a well-rounded and highly relatable cast to bring the pages to life. I was especially taken with Tyler; he is strong, loving, and full of surprises. He is the perfect addition to this book of mixed genres.

Operation: Jade Helmet is a riveting Christian-based science fiction and fantasy novel. Filled with suspense readers will be on edge following the mystery set out by the author. This thrilling novel will have readers thinking twice about the state of the world today and how social media impacts all of us. Kudos to Fontainne on an absolutely stunning piece!

Pages: 316 | ASIN : B08X1MHHDN

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Simple Pleasures are the Most Rewarding

Pasquale Di Falco Author Interview

Duskborn Radiance: A Mother’s Question follows three young people that develop magical powers that their people thought were long gone. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

To answer your question, I have to start by asking one of my own. From where does inspiration come?

Here’s the thing. Duskborn Radiance is not the product of conscious choices. The story simply came to me. Better yet, the story simply came through me. More often than not, the book wrote itself. There were long stretches when my mind was quiet while my fingers hammered away of their own accord. I felt as if I was the co-pilot in my own body. In those moments, my intuition told me that I was in the grip of something far greater than myself, and my only thoughts were visual ones: scenes of what I was writing, while I was writing it, all coming through the characters’ eyes. The physical sensations were new to me, and they were profound; there was lightning in my blood, my third eye was wide open, I felt at one and at peace with the entire Universe, and the spiritual love that the ancient Greeks called agape coursed through every fiber of my being. On some level, I was aware of what was happening to me, yet the awareness was something apart from myself, like the waking version of a lucid dream. At times, it was . . . maybe not scary, but definitely unsettling. I wish that I could describe it better, but the truth is that these experiences defy language and the rational mind, as they live in and come from the heart, not the brain. The entire ordeal was both incredibly humbling and absolutely divine.

I understand that, to some, all this sounds pompous or self-important, and to others, it sounds delusional. I’ve shared these experiences with people who are close to me, and I’ve heard all the doubt and disbelief that there is to hear. I’m not trying to convince anyone, nor do I feel the need to defend myself against skepticism. When you’ve been through something like that, your priorities and your perspective change on a fundamental level, to the point that trying to convince the skeptics feels not only unimportant but also counter-productive, like you’re cheapening or betraying the experiences by defending them. I simply speak my truth, and people can take it however they want to take it.

Now, having said all that, I can still offer a more direct answer to your question. Duskborn Radiance purports to be a fantasy series, yet underneath the story’s surface, it’s all about us and our world. Some truths are best shared through fiction. Human beings are capable of real, awesome magic, and we have the ability to thwart evil. Over the past two centuries, we’ve drifted away from our inner power, yet it’s still there, and it’s impossible to destroy. Indeed, if you turn off the news, filter out all the noise on social media, and look past partisan politics, you can see that humanity is in the midst of a great reawakening. It’s messy and uncomfortable, and we’re still in the earliest stages, but it’s happening nonetheless, and it’s inevitable. Not even World War III can stop it.

So Dominic, Caterina, and Amadeus coming into their magic—their people’s first sorcerers in centuries—is emblematic of the human reawakening that’s happening here and now. It also symbolizes the simple fact that there is no hero coming to save us. We have to save ourselves, to be our own heroes, and the way to do so is by reconnecting with our inner power. But again, I didn’t choose to write any of this. I simply sat down and wrote, with the plot, characters, symbols, and themes coming of their own volition. Only after the fact, when the book was finished, did I interpret and understand it all.

Dominic, Caterina, and Amadeus start off as simple farmers and realize they have a higher purpose in life. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Well, I disagree with the choice of the word “higher.” Say rather that they have a different purpose and leave it at that. One theme in the book is that, in the end, the simple pleasures are the most rewarding ones, and the simple life serves great purpose. Indeed, to answer your question, this very theme is one of the ideals behind the characters’ development. As Dominic, Caterina, and Amadeus are thrust further and further into the overarching conflict, we see that their humble beginnings and the lessons learned during their formative years are so often what give them the strength, courage, and perspective to overcome the many challenges that await them.

Beyond that, I hesitate to say more. Duskborn Radiance is character-driven, so saying too much about character development risks spoiling the series, at least in part.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

So we’ve already discussed some, but there are more. One fundamental theme is about the nature of good and evil, and the related yet distinct concept of light and dark. Though this is a common theme in literature, I think that Duskborn Radiance offers a lot of new insight. In particular, these books expose the moral relativism of today for what it is: pseudo-intellectual nonsense. Today’s pop-culture moral relativism is a knee-jerk reaction to religion by contemporary atheists and agnostics. Of course there is an objective basis for distinguishing good and evil. Furthermore, the root of evil is not at all difficult to understand. Evil comes from the biological, psychological, and spiritual shortcomings that we call sociopathy and psychopathy.

Sociopaths and psychopaths rule the world. Why? Because they’re equipped for domination. Their hallmark lack of empathy, coupled with their invariably oversized egos, enables them to do things that good men and women cannot even conceive of doing. This, in turn, enables the sociopaths and psychopaths to hide in plain sight; when people can’t conceive of doing something, they have a hard time believing that anyone would do it. Over time, as these evil-doers continue to shape societies in their own image, our systems and our cultures reward sociopathy and psychopathy more and more. In other words, there is a cumulative effect, especially in law and politics.

Note too that these people don’t consider themselves to be evil. Every single villain is the hero of his or her own story—every single villain thinks that he or she is good—yet this doesn’t mean that they’re objectively good.

Thank you for allowing me that rant. There are other themes that Duskborn Radiance explores, though I prefer not to divulge too much more here, lest your readers tire of me, or I inadvertently spoil something. Instead, here’s a short list of my favorite themes in the books: synchronicity and divine orchestration, which is synchronicity writ large; universal oneness, or the energetic interconnectedness of all things; fundamental, immutable truth and the ways in which it manifests; divinity’s alchemical transmutation into physical energy through human power, wisdom, and love; and the role of consciousness in our Universe.

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

I appreciate this question. For a while, I wasn’t certain whether I would ever finish the Duskborn Radiance series. I love it in every way, and the characters are as real to me as my flesh-and-blood friends and family are. I’m grateful beyond words for the opportunity to be the story’s vessel. All the same, writing it takes a huge emotional toll, and it’s a major time commitment too. Worse, like every other author, I had periods of doubt.

Now, I feel like I have no choice but to finish the series. The response to A Mother’s Question has been so amazing—from the reviewers, yes, but first and foremost from the readers. The way I see it, if people are kind and good enough to read your work, then you owe them an ending. Furthermore, I owe the characters an ending too, and I owe it to myself to see this journey through to the finale. So next up is Volume II, Rising from Ashes. I hope to publish it in 2023, though I may need longer, as I prefer to let my writing flow organically.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

As the forces of tyranny run rampant, the Universe needs a hero, and a mysterious sorceress is almost ready to answer the call. But first, she needs answers to her oldest questions. Without them, she cannot hope to prevail. Strange, then, that with so much on her shoulders, she takes such keen interest in three ordinary teenagers.

Dominic, Caterina, and Amadeus live a simple life in a little village. All they want is to tend the gardens and fall in love, yet as they grow older, they begin to notice peculiarities in their environment. Further, they’re aware of something brewing inside themselves: an indescribable feeling in their minds, hearts, and guts. Nonetheless, their people’s power has long since faded, so the sensations that the three share, well, they simply can’t be signs of magic.

With Duskborn Radiance, author Pasquale di Falco rewrites the rulebook. Forget what you know about fantasy and sci-fi; about genre fiction, literary fiction, and the novel form; about reality and time; A Mother’s Question shows us that they are so much more. Di Falco tells an epic and symbolic tale while leading readers on a journey into our own selves. Read Duskborn Radiance, and discover your own magic.

Shifter

Twin brothers with the power of life and death – will they choose the path of good or evil? In Shifter, the second book in the Healer Chronicles, Michael J Bowler brings us back to the world of Alex and Andy and all the characters revolving around them. Having survived the events in the first thrilling book, the brothers begin to get to know each other and test the limits of what they can do together. But with secret organizations and military operations vying for control of their power, they have to make difficult choices that could save people… or leave them dead. The story takes twists and turns that make you question everything and everyone, from well-guarded fortresses and secret military labs in the desert.

Early on, we’re taken back to Andy’s horrific childhood, which explains his character to the reader and his brother Alex. The reader also gets some recaps and explanations of events in the first book, allowing those that have not read the first novel to understand this one. The author expertly balances dialogue, description, and action, creating incredible tension. A few scenes in the military lab had me literally at the edge of my seat! The author also created a rich and relatable world by adding small details between big moments.

There were plenty of everyday things that we take for granted highlighted in these extreme circumstances. For example, Alex’s experiences with his disability, not being able to reach a shirt in a closet that wasn’t made for someone in a wheelchair. Alex’s human existence gave us a closer connection to a character with incredible power. I loved so many of the characters in the novel. They were unusual heroes, abandoned or scorned by society because of who they are, mistakes from their past, or circumstances beyond their control.

There were also plenty of more important questions of ethics and morality in the choices the main characters have to make, as exemplified in the passage below: “And you would be, Alex. You two could save more lives than anyone in history.” “By killing,” Alex said, his voice barely a whisper. “How is that good?” “Because some people need to be killed so others may live.” Without giving too much away, you can see the dilemma Alex faces when he learns about how some powerful forces would want him to use his power.

However, conflict in the book doesn’t touch only upon questions of morality but also on adolescent insecurities and friendship. Many characters grapple with complex feelings of jealousy or fear of a new person joining the group and taking your place, wanting to prove their strength.

Shifter (The Healer Chronicles Book 2) is a suspenseful young adult thriller. With strong and memorable characters, non-stop action, and high tension, readers will not want to put the book down and anxiously await the conclusion of this exciting trilogy.

Pages: 372 | ASIN : B09R2K41L7

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Fifteen Billion Years I: Alpha and Omega

Fifteen Billion Years I Alpha and Omega follows the story of Doctors Ames and Reed. The book begins in a secret military base disguised as an underground research center in the not-so-distant future. The book wastes very little time in making it clear that this is a dystopian future, on the brink of collapse. However, Ames and Reed are more focused on their day-to-day tasks. The two men are privy to the base’s secret. It houses a time machine.

Author Rand McLester dives straight in, throwing the two men 10 million years into the future. However, they’ve only managed to swap one dystopian future for another, which is much worse. They soon discover that the world as they know it is long dead, and society has begun again. Life in this new future is primitive and brutal. Ames and Reed venture out into this new world, scientific curiosity piqued. They make friends and enemies and learn about love and loss on their way. Ultimately, they must make decisions that will have drastic consequences in their own world and this new one.

Fifteen Billion Years I Alpha and Omega is a sci-fi book that is much more ingrained in the fiction side of things than the science. McLester inserts some interesting scientific principles into the novel, but the book leaves enough room for readers to form their own conclusions about how and why things happen. The relationship and banter between Ames and Reed are delightful. Throughout the book, they go from colleagues to brothers, which is one of my favorite parts of the book. New characters and relationships are introduced throughout the book, and the vast majority are handled well.

McLester has interesting things to say about science and religion in this alluring novel. The book is not light on subtext, giving readers a clear view of McLester’s feelings on the subjects. Readers can enjoy this as a fun time travel tale or as something a little deeper.

Fifteen Billion Years I Alpha and Omega is an engaging novel with time travel, exciting action scenes, and mysteries to be solved. There is quite a lot of violence described in detail at times, but otherwise this is a straightforward science fiction book that is easy to sit down with and enjoy for a few hours without overthinking.

Pages: 365 | ISBN : 978-1685060060

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Elysium Protocol 

Elysium Protocol by C.A. MacLean is the third book in the Architects of the Illusion science fiction series. Following a species-diverse team known as the “Fireseeds,” Elysium Protocol picks up the shattered pieces left over from the devastating war in book two, The Great Scourge. In a time of interstellar conflict, multiple factions, some seen, some working from the shadows, are vying for power, control, and sometimes, just plain survival. Set in a distant future, the last remnants of humanity are part of an intergalactic organization known as “The Convergence,” an alliance consisting of “quintillions” of citizens.

The Fireseeds are pitted against a vast alien force known as the “hiven,” an insect-like species bent on zealous destruction and domination. Several science fiction tropes appear here, but they are executed skillfully; which ensures longtime fans of science fiction will find something familiar yet still intriguing. There are multiple alien races present: humanoid bird-persons (Arkerians), crystal people (Altaran), bug people (hiven), and more. The story is rife with many planet names and systems, such as Everan, Serrona, Vraunlith-3, etc. I feel this might make it difficult to follow at times but adds to the depth of a world that seems full of possbilites and begs to be explored further. I would have loved to have seen a map of systems in the book to look back on because this story reaches epic fantasy levels where readers will be completely immersed in a large world.

This is a robust novel, almost as long as the two previous entries combined. There is a lot of action going on with all of the characters and races. Readers have to be fully engaged in this story to keep up with who is who and what species is what; reminding me of the breadth of George R.R. Martin novels. However, the author effectively handles the task of keeping things straight, with the central characters being well developed with strong individual personalities. The Arkerian Engami sisters, Eva and Ashy, the tragic Altaran, Caleb Braze, the modest human, Daniel Byre, and many more fill this impressive work with relatable characters and a compelling story. Despite some massive decisions, the memorable characters and gripping action bring a universe of primordial planets, advanced spacecraft, and futuristic cities to life.

Architects Of The Illusion, Part III: Elysium Protocol is an action-filled science fiction space opera with memorable characters and planets. Readers will be able to escape into the world that has been created and feel like they are in the action.

Pages: 777 | ASIN : B09NPPJL1Q

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Wrath of Justice

Wrath of Justice by author Denna Holm dives into a bleak future where many people sacrifice nearly everything they have just to survive. It’s a world where food is limited, and raising a family isn’t an option for most people in a global wasteland. As a result, many parents make the difficult decision to sell one or more children, or make a deal with demons, to secure a better chance in life. For some, an adventurous, dangerous path is the ticket to salvation.

If you’re looking for an exciting indulgence, Wrath of Justice will keep you engaged from the very start. The story centers around Justice, who finds himself sold to a run-down brothel, where he’s destined to exist among the most brutal layer of society. His only chance of escape is an offer from a hunter, where he faces a new level of darkness. However, he finds a glimmer of hope and love throughout his journey between demons and debauchery.

This story weaves through the layers of a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world that offers more beneath the surface, with more significant risks, facing demons, and a thirst for basic survival. Justice learns more than he bargains for, and his life takes unexpected turns when he joins forces with Michael Santos. The characters are well developed and captivating, weaving a thrilling narrative through a dark future with a few plots twists. I enjoyed the pace and vibrant contrast of witches, demons, and brave characters weaving through a dreary landscape with lots of surprises.

Wrath of Justice is a thrilling novel that combines paranormal romance with action and suspense. This engaging book moves along quickly, with lots of steamy tension and unexpected turns, so readers will want to keep going to see what happens next. Overall this is a well-crafted and exciting story.

Pages: 379 | ASIN : B09PWLCMC8

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Duskborn Radiance: A Mother’s Question

Duskborn Radiance: A Mother’s Question is the first volume in the epic fantasy trilogy by Pasquale di Falco. It follows the story of three young people, Dominic, Caterina, and Amadeus, who live in a village of people who once wielded magical powers that disappeared long ago. However, they can’t ignore the magical powers that grow within them. As they learn more about themselves and come to terms with this growing energy, they are being observed from afar by a stranger, the Sorceress, who is keeping tabs on every single move that these three make and definitely has much bigger plans in mind for them. This spellbinding story keeps the reader gripped, figuring out how far the Sorceress will go to achieve what she wants.

Pasquale di Falco is immensely talented and does a great job of getting the reader involved in the fantasy world that they have created. The unique blend of fantasy and science fiction will make readers think beyond the traditional assumptions that go with these genres. The book has a combination of larger plot events and smaller character developments and sub-plots that are all equally intriguing. This book is a beautiful amalgamation of coming-of-age and epic fantasy with plenty of action and adventure thrown in while maintaining an emotionally charged storyline.

The beginning of this complex novel is thought-provoking and detail-oriented. All the characters are introduced and described in-depth right in the beginning, allowing readers to get to know them and understand their personalities. As they come into their magical abilities they must learn things their people have long forgotten and rely on each other to get through things. The bond they form is strong and readers will find their story stimulating and stirring.

Duskborn Radiance: A Mother’s Question is a riveting novel that will appeal to sword and sorcery fans looking for an epic adventure story that focuses on character development and never forgets to entertain the reader.

Pages: 352 | ASIN : B09BLKF78W

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