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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…

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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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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The Namer of Spirits

The Namer of Spirits by [Todd Mitchell]

Ash Narro is the eponymous Namer of Spirits in this engaging eco-fantasy by Todd Mitchell.  She is a young girl with a talent for finding the true names and souls of beings and thereby taming them.  She is growing up inside the walls of a village that is hiding from the perils of the outside world, including the unpredictable and fearsome dao fora, who seem to attack at random. But the village has been cursed, and their fear and greed has blinded them to what’s important while their farms struggle under plagues of webworms. When a dao fora youth called Fen finds his way inside the walls and is imprisoned in a cage by fearful villagers, Ash befriends him and sets him free. Branded a traitor by her own people, she goes on the run with Fen to clear her name and to find the Sky Tree in the hope it will provide the answers that her village needs to survive.

Engaging characterization in this adventure will have readers rooting for the protagonists right from the start. The magic is enchanting, and the monsters are frightening and have hidden sorrows. The lineup of otherworldly beings is rich without even a hint of the confusion or clumsiness that many less experienced writers get bogged down in within this genre. Author Todd Mitchell’s naming is both creative and evocative; I particularly loved the mistcats and the illwen.

The Namer of Spirits is among the best of its kind, and it has a superb cover too. Drawing devastating parallels with the real world, Mitchell has created a captivating allegory on the effects of deforestation.  This is a thrilling educational adventure novel for children ages 9 and up, but this beautifully crafted story will also be loved by adults.

Pages: 300 | ASIN: B095Z374J7

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In The Face of Oppression and Tyranny

Lee J. Keller
Lee J. Keller Author Interview

The Emergence takes place in a vibrant future where machines, technology, and humans are integrated and a movement is underway to challenge the governments’ control and hierarchy. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

This story actually began in 1986 for me, where I explored the main ideas in a short story done for a writing class at the University of Washington. Themes about emerging technology and the struggles for identity, authenticity, and freedom were already prevalent in society, as well as the disintegration of social structures such as family, rigid gender roles, and the negative impact of patriarchy at that time. These issues became much more significant as time passed, especially the impact and need for surveillance technologies, and how their misuse was being rationalized by governments all over the world. I needed to explore this more fully in the novelized version of this story, and I wanted to do it while telling a good story.

Your characters were intriguing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

The struggle for personal freedom and autonomy versus conformity, the emergence of psychological independence and free-thinking as the juxtaposition between the struggle of free will and determinism was a driving force. Of course, I strongly wanted to show that individual and collective choices can still be made even in the face of oppression and tyranny. For the disempowered, there is always a struggle for assertion of identity and I wanted to show how the power of love can help sustain anyone, even in the face of what appears to be insurmountable odds to persist and achieve, even what they thought was not possible. Love triumphs and free choices and acceptance can help an individual reinvent themselves if they need to!

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

I looked at dialectical thinking and dialogical relating, something which I’m quite familiar with in my long career as a therapist and my training. I see them both as important to psychological development. I also wanted to explore how technology impacts culture and community. Is it both good and bad, can it be used for the good or not? What would an emerging AI consciousness look like? And finally, how has patriarchy enslaved people and cultures? How does encountering and esteeming an existential Other make us more enlightened as persons and cultures? And what changes are possible as people embrace freedom? Lastly, I wanted to show that the inclusion of others, even those much different from ourselves, is a worthwhile pursuit.

This is book one of the Robochurch Trilogy. What can readers expect in book two?

In book two, the movement known as Robochurch continues to develop, but it is not an easy path. There is tremendous conflict between the status quo, government controls, and the promise for independence and freedom which many elites are seeing as a threat. The Robochurch continues to develop and in some cases, warring factions become more polarized in their struggles, and open war breaks out. There are betrayals and allegiances that are discovered and rediscovered. The characters develop further. The robots and AI become even more developed. What will be the outcome? Readers will have to read it to see!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

In 2142, a new movement promises freedom and inclusion to humans and machines. The sweeping persecution of its followers by governments will lead to the unraveling of a worldwide system of surveillance and control. Who is responsible? Is it an AI, terrorist group, or spiritual movement? As the leader of the new movement is about to be revealed, groups of followers, pursuing authorities, and kindred robots converge in one place. When the leader identifies herself as a woman, at a time when human women have already been decimated by two Gender Wars and supplanted by robots—what does it all mean? Will this new movement free humans and machines to think for themselves and defeat an old system that has kept them divided in a legacy of oppression? It will take their deepest strength, a profound love for each other, and deep faith, just to find out.

Mystical Force – Book Trailer

All beings radiate a life force, but some have an additional Mystical Force – a force that grants them special gifts, be it magical essence, demonic aura or spiritual power. While some consider these people to be gifted, there are others who feel these powers are unnatural. Mystical Force is a fantasy series, dealing with themes of prejudice and racism.

(Vol.1 Stranger in a Strange Land):
Shi-ria is brought to Earth by a sorceress named Zolida as part of a prophecy. There she meets Mystic, Noonien, Tokijin and Rose and must save a bunch of kidnapped demons from smugglers while the Order wants to destroy them. Meanwhile another sorceress named Scarlet Knightwalker wants to prevent this to ensure a dark future doesn’t come true.

(Vol.2 Angels and Demons):
Sister Rose and Tokijin are attacked by another demon (Jimomaru) and his sorceress ally (Aanjay) as revenge for them being persecuted by humans. Shi-ria, Mystic and Noonien are needed to help when Tokijin is placed under a spell and forced to attack Sister Rose.

(Vol.3 The Kolri and the Koldar):
Shi-ria, along with police detective Shinjo are transported back to Shi-ria’s planet, Thalia. Now Shi-ria must return Shinjo to Earth, while at the same time a dark cult (the Koldar Warriors) learn about this and want this power to magically teleport to any planet across the galaxy so they can spread their dark theocracy and destroy all “infidels”.

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Ruthlessly Thrown Overboard

YURI HAMAGANOV
Yuri Hamaganov Author Interview

Vampire’s Day: Epicenter takes place in LA where bloodthirsty vampires are taking over the city and only a few people stand in their way. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

My inspiration was the best action movies of the eighties, such as Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. It just so happened that they were filmed in Los Angeles.

I really enjoyed the action in this novel. What scene did you have the most fun writing?

The whole line of Brown – a mercenary who turned the apocalypse into a successful business. And in contrast – the story of Gloria, a simple school bus driver who is forced to stand against vampires without weapons and any training. It’s interesting to watch a bunch of mighty warriors in battle, but how an ordinary person will survive and save others is much, much interesting.

What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce to the vampire genre in this book?

I’m ready to make a sincere confession: I don’t really like vampire’s books and movies too. In my opinion, the genre has become rather ossified, has ceased to develop. Therefore, my novel is an anti-vampire, creating which I set myself the task of getting rid of all the clichés and stamps of vampire literature. You want bloodthirsty vampires – OK, as many as you want, a whole army. But realty in Transylvania, coffins and aspen stakes, ancient prophecies, chosen ones and love triangles – forget it, for this, you need to turn to some another book. Clichés and stamps are ruthlessly thrown overboard, starting with the most important thing – all the action takes place during the day.

This is book one in the Vampire’s Day series. What can readers expect in book two?

They can wait for the continuation of the war, watching the conflict both from the human side and from the vampire’s point of view, when the same event can and will be seen and evaluated in completely different ways. Plus a prequel telling exactly where did vampires who aren’t afraid of the sun come from. It will be unexpected…

AuthAuthor Links: GoodReads | Amazon

Are you easy to scare?
Do you enjoy a good thriller but can’t seem to find the right book?
Are you a jaded fan of vampire fiction?  
Then look no further, you are in for a treat, and it is bloody good!
This book will shatter all your previous vampire book experience into pieces. 
If you think you know what kills a vampire, you are dead wrong. Discard all the romantic fairy tales about vampires and get ready for a horror trip. They are violent, thirsty, and they are coming after you. 
What would you do?
This action-packed horror story takes place in urban Los Angeles and its suburbs. Officer Victoria Jimenez is compelled to take the fight against the unstoppable bloodthirsty power. Vampires are in advantage. Forces are unequal. Millions of people’s lives are at stake. Failure seems imminent, and the future is gloomy. What will it take to prevent the apocalypse? 
This book is nothing like you’ve read before in any vampire horror books. It is a vivid, shocking and petrifying venture which won’t leave even the most cold-hearted reader untouched. 
Its captivating and thrilling plot will keep you on your toes the entire time. 
The author takes vampire status on a new level by showing their true nature in this gripping spin of events. They are advanced and fierce creatures, hungry for blood.

How long will it take to leave the whole city of Angels bloodless?
Test your courage by diving into this bloodbath of adventure.

Alternate Realities of a Similar Tale.

Lee Matthew Goldberg
Lee Matthew Goldberg Author Interview

Orange City follows an advertising executive whos new addictive product causes him to question his reality to dangerous, and world changing, effect. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Seeing the power of advertising was a big influence. I remember watching TV one day and it was an ad for sodas and I got up from the couch and grabbed a soda without even thinking about it. The ad was that good! Orange City began as a short story about an ad exec addicted to the sodas in his new campaign, but there weren’t any science fiction aspects to the story beyond that. It existed in this world. When it became a novel it needed more, so the City became a character as well, along with the Man, and the Outside World. The story has been published separately by a journal, so I like to think of both as alternate realities of a similar tale.

Graham is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Thank you. Graham is someone who has been beaten down so much in his life that he’s lost himself. It’s what makes him so susceptible to the soda addictions. But he shows real growth as a character as the book progresses. He’s someone who’s been oppressed but learns to stand up for himself and others like him. He becomes the face of the resistance. I wanted a character that had the ability to be molded. Someone who was weak but that you rooted for. Someone who could become a product for change.

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

The threat of democracy being destroyed is a huge part of the novel. There are allusions to our own society and the last four years we went through in the United States. Also the manipulation of the advertising world and how much they control our lives. And the power of brands that exist in our world like Pow! How easily we have become addicted to so many different things to our detriment. And I stopped really consuming sugar so that had a lot to do with the anti-soda messages.

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

I have a YA series coming out in the Spring. The first book is called Runaway Train and is about a teenage girl in the 1990s who runs away from home after her sister dies to become a grunge singer and meet Kurt Cobain. The first two books have been written, but I’m editing the second right now and plotting out the third in the series. Look for them soon!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website

Imagine a secret, hidden City that gives a second chance at life for those selected to come: felons, deformed outcasts, those on the fringe of the Outside World. Everyone gets a job, a place to live; but you are bound to the City forever. You can never leave.  

Its citizens are ruled by a monstrous figure called the “Man” who resembles a giant demented spider from the lifelike robotic limbs attached to his body. Everyone follows the Man blindly, working hard to make their Promised Land stronger, too scared to defy him and be discarded to the Empty Zones.   

After ten years as an advertising executive, Graham Weatherend receives an order to test a new client, Pow! Sodas. After one sip of the orange flavor, he becomes addicted, the sodas causing wild mood swings that finally wake him up to the prison he calls reality.

A dynamic mash-up of 1984 meets LOST, Orange City is a lurid, dystopian first book in a series that will continue with the explosive sequel Lemonworld.     
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