The main character, Nash Bannon, is hopelessly interesting and charming from the very first chapter. We learn so much about his past, his family life, siblings, and upbringing that by chapter two you are utterly fascinated and rooting for him no matter what. His love interest, Cariana Foster, is equally enchanting and the dialogue between these characters is so raw that you can’t help but fall in love with them. There is a huge elephant in the room regarding their relationship, but I don’t want to give away any big spoilers so let’s just say that it keeps you on the edge of your seat.
The idea of the Lifeliners; human beings that have evolved into some other state of existence not yet fully understood, is absolutely engaging. The way the author writes about the political atmosphere of the world surrounding these super-humans is realistic and you can feel the pain of their humanity (or non-humanity?) and the fear elicited from them by the rest of society.
The politics in this book is one of my favorite aspects. Because of how realistically the author conveys these ideas you feel like you’ve been transported into Nash’s world. Even though the idea of co-existing with humans who have super-natural abilities is un-realistic and physically unrelatable, the dialogue and world view portrayed in the book is so natural and believable that you feel like you are really dealing with the emotions of the characters on every page. The relationship between Nash and the homeless child Aleya (a lifeliner) is touching and tragic at the same time. To think of a world that can cast aside children like garbage just because they have different abilities is really upsetting to think about.
I also enjoyed the scientific aspects of the story. Literally no detail is left out when it comes to the genetic anomalies of the Lifeliners and Cariana’s work as a geneticist is fascinating. While liberties were obviously taken (as this is a fictional story), this aspect of the book is also frighteningly realistic. I felt as if this evolution within the human species could actually happen and that these types of moral dilemmas might really someday face the human race.
Overall, I would recommend this book, it was a page turner from start to finish. There aren’t many books that I can see myself reading multiple times, but Lifeliners is definitely one of them.
Pages: 431 | ASIN: B07GN8QV83
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Extinction 6 by Hosein Kouros-Mehr is a fascinating novel that finds itself straddling a variety of themes, writing styles, and motifs. In this novel, one can witness the conjunction of several major literary genres. From bleak dystopian imagery and post-apocalyptic ruin to deeply intense mystery and intrigue, Extinction 6 provides enough twists and turns to keep any reader engaged. Taking place in the year 2066, the reader is introduced to a world mostly underwater. Following a sharp rise in global temperatures by an average of 8 degrees Celsius, sea levels drastically increased and major settlements like San Francisco were submerged. In conjunction, animals and plants have completely vanished. Beyond this, the world appears to be plagued by war and corporate espionage. Battles for oil fields and small scraps of territory appear to occur daily, while depressing news bulletins ring out, highlighting decreases in rations or celebrating the smallest of military victories. In this dystopian future, greenhouse gases continue to be pumped at alarming rates, and it becomes clear to some that the world is facing its sixth, and potentially last, extinction crises.
Hosein Kouros-Mehr expertly uses this setting to deliver a story that is captivating and vividly written. There is a profound amount of world building conducted in this novel and the story’s framing gives readers a holistic experience at what life in this dreary world would look like. Through the use of multiple perspectives and point of views, Hosein Kouros-Mehr provides readers with an inside and personal look at the various dimensions that take place in this world. In some chapters, readers will become intimate with a forlorn lover embroiled in major geopolitical developments. Other sections masterfully showcase the experiences of an aggressive and cunning CEO. These different perspectives are woven in a way that provides keen connections and startling insights.
The writing itself is suspenseful and tense. The diction wastes no time in putting the reader through long segments of empty description and word padding. Every sentence is deliberate and has a definite sense of immediacy. Every word counts in a world that is slowly ticking towards oblivion. This is aided by Hosein Kouros-Mehr’s wonderful sense of pacing. While the writing is forward facing, it still gives readers the time to engross themselves in the world. Details about the major corporations and the nations that inhabit this world are peppered in where needed and helps to provide depth to the world. Many of these elements come into play throughout the course of the novel, and the pace in which these details become relevant greatly benefits Kouros-Mehr’s deliberate writing style. If there is any issue in the way in which Hosein Kouros-Mehr presents his work, it is the fact that the large cast of characters can lead to some confusion. This is somewhat alleviated by the clear characterization and literary role each character plays, and as a whole, this critique does not detract from the novel.
Extinction 6 by Hosein Kouros-Mehr is an incredibly tense story about what our future could easily look like.
Pages: 248 | ASIN: B07HB5Q24P
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Solstice is the thrilling finale to your Star-Crossed Saga and ends the trilogy with a bang. What were some things you wanted to make sure you touched on in the final book in the series?
I loved every minute of writing Solstice: mainly because it gave me the chance to tie up all the loose ends and make sure the story was complete and the character story arcs were congruent. As you’ve read, there were quite a number of characters throughout the story, although the main focus was centered around Sydney and William; as it should’ve been. And although remaining true to their love, along with maintaining the very cool elements of hard core Scifi was a challenge, I feel that I was successful in accomplishing that and I was proud of the outcome. To date, I written over 14 novels and Solstice is my absolute favorite one of them all.
I felt like the characters went through some large transformations throughout the series. Did the characters end up where you thought they would when you first started writing about them?
Actually, as a writer, I think you have a place (start and end) where you imagine or assume the characters will end up once you’re finished, but I never anticipated how much they’d evolve over time in the story. As pertaining to The Star-Crossed Saga, the story is told over a relative short period – if I were to guess, less than a year – but so much happens because the characters are in this frenetic, action-packed tale where they discover so much about themselves and then they mush figure out how everything ties together in order to save Fabricius and the Star-children. So to answer the question, they ended up showing me things about themselves that I did not anticipate and was like, ‘Oh wo, that’s cool,’ and it made sense to keep it.
What was your inspiration for the ‘Star-Children’ and their plight?
I looked our world today and really just crafted a story that reflected the times we live in now. How we unfairly allow our prejudices to control what we assume about one another. These have serious negative consequences and people are hurt as a result of it. In Star-Crossed, people who know of the Star-children assume they are dangerous because of the powers they posses and think they will use them for bad, when it’s the complete opposite. By the time the story comes to an end, the truth is revealed and now peace is restored. It’s unfortunate that so many people die along the quest of learning the truth. Very reflective of our society today.
Although the series is complete, do you think you will continue this story or characters in some way, or are you moving on to another story?
Absolutely! Already working on branching arcs where characters blend into the other series I’m writing and I’m also working on a solo Bounty Hunter series for Steele Reign.
The two starcrossed lovers William and Sydney have sacrificed everything to fortify their love, so much so that William dares to brave the depths of space to find a cure for their deadly Supernova bond, leaving both her and Earth vulnerable to alien Torrian Alliance’s attack. But with a full scale civil war in play on Fabricius, the reality of Sydney’s execution from Torrian hands is diminished, only eclipsed by the certainty of a more threats – The Third Faction and The Dagmas Clan – lead by Dominic and his insurgent recruits on a quest to complete the failed assassination of the teenage girl. With overwhelming odds mounting against them, William makes a desperate attempt to find the last of the endangered Star-children only to be captured by a new menace, where he is forced to compete in the dreaded Gauntlet of sport. Allies surge to free Fabricius, seeking alliances across the galaxy while Sydney tries to keep her identity hidden and trains to master the third phase of her Star-child evolution: Solstice. With Sarah’s mysterious return home with clues to unlock the future, Noella’s training and Bill’s symbiotic development hope is restored, but will it be enough to unite the galaxy and destroy evil for once and for all?
Posted in Interviews
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The Cape: Overdrive sees The Capes coming together to protect the world from a destructive asteroid. What was the inspiration for the setup to this installment in your Dark Spore series?
The Cape Overdrive was written on a whim of sorts. The Dark Spores Series is a compilation of 6 books (currently) from three different authors and is part of the Cosby Media Productions Dedicated Superhero Universe. It was envisioned to be along the same lines as as say a Marvel or DC universe in which all the superheroes have separate tales which have some overlap in story lines and then all the heroes come together for a similar cause, obstacle or enemy. I had already completed The Cape (book 1) and was looking for a new story arc that moved the overall scope of the Dark Spores forward, while providing fans and readers with a new wrinkle to keep them interested.
To that end, I was having a conversation with another author and thought, man, it would be cool to have The Capes fight encounter something other than a villain in this book. My wife had read an article about the value of a “Quintillion” which is the number one with 16 zeros after it. I thought, hmm, what if an asteroid was made up of precious stones and carried a value of a Quintillion dollars was hurtling towards Earth. What would happen if all the super power countries of the world wanted to obtain it? How would that play out in my Cape Universe? The outline began right there.
There are so many fascinating characters in this book with their own unique powers. What was your favorite character to write for?
I love The Blurr. She is actually my most powerful character and she is actually modeled after my wife. But more than that, The Cape represents superheroes that were once regular people; complete with flaws and all. They just happened to gain powers in book 1 after being caught in a storm. The city of Chicago then became an experimental pitri dish for producing special people separating Normals from Super-Normals.
Blurr’s character arc from a call girl to the evil Super-Normal Cheetah-Girl in book 1, who lacks confidence and self esteem, and then eventually converts to The Blurr at the end, joining Paladin and his team, was both challenging and rewarding to write. I think she reflects the best attributes of the human spirit and is and can inspire all of us to fight through those low moments of our lives and ultimately walk in a bright future.
If you read closely you’ll also see a larger character arc looming in the future that will play a major part in the CMPDSU going forward when all the Phase 1 heroes get together in INFINITY 7 (the collaborative effort of all three authors: Chayil Champion, Keshawn Dodds and myself). Phase 2 has other authors and heroes coming as well that can be read about on our website.
Thief and Blurr are a dynamic duo. What were some obstacles you felt were important in developing their characters?
Their past relationship for one. Sebastian (Paladin) knew Karla (Blurr) a long time ago and always had a crush on her but was too afraid to express it; fearful that it would kill their friendship if it didn’t work out. When Paladin seeks to solve the mystery of the murder in book 1, he discovers who Cheetah-Girl really is and desires to convert her over to the good side, without letting her know his true identity.
The other obstacle is Karla’s past catching up with her. She has a dark history that has held her down for years and kept her in a place where she feels undeserving of a good man like Sebastian and now she must face and overcome those demons in order to walk in the light and receive what he has to offer – love without judgment. This allows their relationship to blossom and they become a modern day Cyclops and Jean Grey. Paladin sort of becomes her redeemer and that character trait creates this “Perfect Guy” persona for her which I think makes him very likable as a character. Amongst the triad of Paladin, Blurr and Thief, he is definitely the shining star and symbol of honestly and is the glue that keeps the squad grounded.
Lastly, the larger looming obstacles with be the baddies: Dark Phase in book 1 and the new villains, along with the entire world vying for a piece of the asteroid.
The challenge, I think, with superhero novels is making the danger feel real, which I think you accomplished. How did you balance the danger and their powers to make things feel legitimately life threatening?
The answer was simple: man versus the unknown. In that sense, I used war as the catalyst. As I said earlier, all the powerful nations of the world would be converging on the crash site to secure the asteroid and only The Capes would be able to stop them. Imagine if you gave a quintillion dollars to say Russia, Germany or North Korea. What would they do with such resources? It would definitely tip the scales of power to some degree and it’s unimaginable what the impact would be. Would we be looking at World War 3 or the end of the world itself?
Then there’s the basic theme of good versus evil. Not to give the story away any further, but I added some powerful, new Super-Normal villains in the sequel that really challenge The Capes; along with a nice twist to keep it fresh. Seat of your pants action never hurts a story and I think I have a lot of that mixed in.
Super Heroes Wage War Once Again When the world is thrown into a panic from the imminent threat of a gigantic asteroid worth a Quintilian dollars, The Capes are asked to protect the planet from certain doom. But it’s not just the destructive force of the impact that everyone fears; it’s greed. Multiple nations gather to collect on the bounty for the precious meteorite while evil Super-Normals threaten to salvage the precious stone for their own deeds. Even the position of military power hangs in the balance as the most poorest of countries will catapult to the top of the totem pole with just an ounce of the spoil. Once again Paladin, Thief and Blurr must stand together and utilize every bit of their super powers – shifting into Overdrive – as the fate of the entire galaxy will ultimately hinge on the emergence of a new enemy from deep space.
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
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DR: How did you come up with Gina S. Miyoko?
MKB: I honestly don’t remember except that she arose from a dream I had, the plot of which (yes, my dreams often have plots) I don’t remember. I knew I wanted to write her as the protagonist of a mystery novel, and I knew I wanted her to be different from the female P.I.s I’d read. I love mystery and crime fiction but I noticed that all the female protagonists were alienated and broken and party to dysfunctional relationships. I wanted Gina to be flawed and have enough pain in her life to be relatable, but I also wanted her to be part of a very functional, if quirky family and support network. Among the Japanese names I was considering, Gina Suzu Miyoko meant ”Silver Bell Temple”; Tinkerbell became an inevitable nickname. And her personality just grew out of that.
DR: And Russian Orthodox witches?
MKB: Around the time I was developing Gina and the characters that would surround her, I was reading a book entitled THE BATHHOUSE AT MIDNIGHT: An Historical Survey of Magic and Divination in Russia (WF Ryan). I was reading it because the novel I was working on at the time (MAGIC TIME: ANGELFIRE, from Harper-Voyager) had a Russian ex-pat as one of the central characters. Okay, and also I’m Russian-Polish on my father’s side and have been fascinated with the folklore and history of slavic culture since I was a child. Probably more so because my grandmother was so adamant that I not be taught anything about the Old Country but be brought up thoroughly American. In any event, the book sparked the idea that I wanted Gina’s mother to be Russian and fascinated by arcana. She was originally going to be a psychologist, but by the time I started writing the book that became THE ANTIQUITIES HUNTER, she had morphed into a cultural anthropologist and folklorist.
As tends to happen with these things, as I began to write the characters, they essentially told me who they were. I’m sure you know the feeling—as if the character is inside your head whispering sweet somethings to your Muse.
DR: Can you talk about Tinkerbell on Walkabout—the novelette that describes how Gina became a detective?
MKB: I wanted to document Gina’s genesis as a PI, but the plot actually came about as a weird synthesis of several real-life moments. I lived in Grass Valley for about 35 years and set it there in part because of an experience I had being a founding member of Nevada County Citizens for Racial Unity, a group that formed after a black man who’d just moved to the area was beaten up by a bunch of white teenagers in a local park. That caused us to consult with the California Highway Patrol about the forces of racism in the area. What our CHP liaison told us about gangs from Colusa and Yuba counties trying to gain a foothold in Nevada County gave me most of the plot elements I wanted for the story. A visit to Charlotte, North Carolina one Christmas occasioned me seeing the mostly scrupulously tidy wrecking yard I have ever laid eyes on and that gave me a key element in Gina solving the crime that lies at the heart of the story.
DR: Did you research PI procedures like the post-it notes and Who/What/When etc?
MKB: I have to laugh. The post-it note method is something I’ve used to plot novels for years. It seemed to me that my post-it process would be as ideal for working out the nuances of a real world mystery as it is for plotting a novel. My editor suggested editing the scene in which you first see Gina use the post-its so that she just wrote on the white board. I declined and explained the beauty of post-its to her by having Gina demonstrate it for the reader.
DR: How did you become interested in the problem of looting of antiquities? Why the Southwest?
MKB: I have loved archaeology for as long as I can remember. I subscribed for years to Archeology magazine, and KMT (Kemet – which is the old Egyptian name for Egypt). I happened to read an article about a female undercover agent for the National Park Service and the sort of work she and her teammates did, chiefly in the Southwest where there are a lot of vulnerable caches of artifacts, mostly on First Nations land. But I’d also been following several international cases at the time—the Elgin Marbles that the British Museum had to return to Greece and the blackmarket cases that big US auction houses and museums alike had been implicated in. I was also following the rediscovery of the Rosalila (an utterly fantastic nested temple at Copán in the Honduras) and some amazing finds at Bonampak, which is in Chiapas, Mexico.
It was that last item that gave me the location for some of the action in the book. I sort of let all of that percolate and it seemed natural to have my protagonist have the experience I’d dreamed of having—seeing those antiquities first hand. More than that, I wanted her to have a hand in saving some of them. The lack of funding for preserving these sites is a real and persistent problem in the world of archaeology.
DR: These days cultural appropriation is a sensitive topic. How did you go about portraying Hispanic, Asian, and Native characters in a respectful manner?
MKB: I suppose every writer has their own approach; mine is to love the people I write about and to recognize that they’re people first, not representatives or symbols or archetypes of a particular culture. But, in writing them, I have to recognize that their cultural framework will condition their responses to things. So, to Rose Delgado, though she’s married to a non-Hopi, living in Sausalito and working all over the country, she’s still Hopi. That means that Hopi lands are still sacred to her and that she takes the theft of native artifacts personally. Her job is more than just a job because of her cultural background and her investment in it is different than the other members of her team.
To me, Gina’s tattoo is exemplary of the cultural intersectionality I’m portraying. It’s a Russian Orthodox True Believer cross with a Buddha seated at the nexus in a lotus blossom. The cross is for her mom, the Buddha for her dad. Gina calls herself a Russian Orthodox Buddhist, which is an echo of what I told people who asked about my religion before I became a Baha’i. I’d say I was a Hindu-Buddhist-Christian. So, what I was trying to capture in Gina was a character who was an intersection of three cultures—Japanese, Russian and American.
I’ve been privileged to have been surrounded by people from diverse cultures all my life and I think that if you approach characters of any culture with curiosity, love and an attitude of learning, you’ll strive to portray them as complete, three-dimensional human beings.
DR: Is there such a thing as SASH (Society for the Appreciation of Sherlock Holmes), and would you join?
MKB: There’s a Sherlock Holmes Society of London, but as far as I know, there’s none in the Bay Area—at least not like the one Gina’s dad, Edmund, is part of. I made it up. Or maybe Edmund did. I would totally join SASH if there was one around. I love Sherlock Holmes—in fact, I have a Sherlock Holmes pastiche idea I’d love to write.
DR: What have you written recently?
MKB: I’ve been doing a lot ghostwrites lately. And they have been diverse and interesting. I just finished up a YA set in Seattle, and am still working on one that also makes use of my deep love of archaeology. Beyond that, my dear agent is shopping a crazy range of novels I tossed at him, including an SF novel with a peculiar genesis that I’d love to see be the first of a trilogy, a YA paranormal/contemporary fantasy featuring a 14 year-old-protagonist who discovers she’s a witch from a long line of witches, a magical realism yarn that is my take on the old Russian fairytale, Frog Princess, and a paranormal romance that I collaborated on with a couple of show runners from LA.
DR: What lies ahead? What lies ahead for Gina Miyoko – are new novels in the works?
MKB: I’ve been working on what I hope will be the next book in the Gina Miyoko series—working title, THE FORGETFUL FOLKLORIST. I’ve got about eight or nine novels sketched out and more ideas popping into my head all the time. I’ve also been outlining a steampunk novel I’d like to write, involving yet more artifacts. (I got the idea from a book cover someone asked me to design, then didn’t want.)
DR: How does The Antiquities Hunter fit into your repertoire of published works?
MKB: It’s a real outlier among outliers. I started out writing science fiction. In fact, I’d published a bunch of stories in Analog before I shifted gears and wrote four epic fantasy novels all based on dreams. Then I discovered magical realism and fell madly in love with it. That caused my writing to take a weird turn that peaked with ”The White Dog” (Interzone). In moving over to crime fiction, I’m really pursuing something that’s fascinated me as a reader for years. I’ve been in love with mysteries and detective fiction forever. So, even though THE ANTIQUITIES HUNTER looks like a departure from the outside, from where I sit, I’m just writing what I’ve always read. I also realized, when I looked at the fiction I’ve written, that most of my stories have a mystery embedded at the core—sometimes blatantly, as in ”The Secret Life of Gods” and ”Distance” (Analog), or in a veiled way as in my novels THE SPIRIT GATE (originally from Baen, in reprint from Book View Cafe) and STAR WARS LEGENDS: SHADOW GAMES (Del Rey/Lucas Books).
DR: What authors have most influenced your writing? What about them do you find inspiring?
MKB: My greatest prose heroes are Ray Bradbury, W.P. Kinsella (whom I cast in DISTANCE with his permission), and Tim Powers. These are the writers whose use of language, storytelling chops, and sheer imagination made me hungry to write. Bradbury and Kinsella have written some of the most beautiful and evocative prose in the English language and Powers has given me epiphanies about the many ways reality can collide with the fantastic.
I admire Dean Koontz, JK Rowling and Sue Grafton as well, especially for their character development chops and the uncanny way they connect the reader to their characters from page one. I also have to credit Harry Turtledove (who’s written some of my favorite Analog stories) with making me stray into alternate history, with my novelette ”O, Pioneer” (Paradox) which takes an upside down and backwards look at Christopher Columbus’ ”discovery” of the Americas.
DR: Why do you write what you do, and how does your work differ from others in your genre?
MKB: I write what I do because either a character demands to be written about (Gina Miyoko being a case in point) or an idea demands to be explored. I thrive on exploration. It’s why I love road trips (What’s around that next curve?), research, archaeology (What is that thing I just dug up?), first contact stories, and mysteries of every kind. Writing is exploration I undertake to satisfy my insatiable curiosity about what if.
I’ve been told that I write fantasy with rivets, meaning that my fantasy work tends to take a very pragmatic approach to the fantastic. It works the other way, as well. My Gina Miyoko stories have an undercurrent of the supernatural to them if the reader chooses to read the pragmatic references to obereg (the good luck charms her mom is forever sneaking into her pockets), Holy Water, and spells as being more than just a concession to Nadia Miyoko’s avocation. This means that my fiction often falls through the cracks. When I sent ”The White Dog” to Interzone, the editor wrote back and said essentially, ”I loved it, but where’s the fantasy element?” I responded, ”In the eye of the reader.” He bought the story and it was a finalist for the British Science Fiction Award.
DR: How does your writing process work?
MKB: Mileage varies … a lot. With short fiction, I’ll sometimes scribble a handful of questions that become notes and when I see a beginning and end, I start writing. With novels, I sometimes get out the sticky notes. I had a great little flow chart app I used for a while, but they stopped making it. I use Evernote to toss bits and pieces into, as well. The sticky note brainstorming is still the best method I’ve found of plotting a novel because it allows me to visualize relationships between characters, their motivations and other plot elements.
Once I’ve charted something that way, I write a synopsis that becomes a living document that I can add to as I work. At some point the characters start yakking and doing things and I have to start writing. I used to have to write everything in #2 pencil on lined paper first, then edit as I committed it to the computer. Then I’d do that until roughly the last third of the book when the boulder started rolling downhill. But for some time now, while I still love writing notes long hand, I do all my writing at the keyboard. I’ve only ever had a laptop, because I feel the need to be portable. Sometimes a silent house is the best place to write, and sometimes a noisy coffee shop is best. I’ve also learned to give myself permission to do what I heard one writer refer to as ”moodling”. It looks (and feels) like I’m not doing anything, but my mind is hard at work looking for connections. And when enough connections are made between elements and characters, the writing happens.
Whenever I sit down to write, I always read back what I did previously. I tried Hemingway’s stopping in mid sentence and it only led to frustration.
DR: What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
MKB: First, write without editing. Ray Bradbury famously said of writing, ”Don’t think.” He advised hiding your editor hat and just getting the bones of a story or a scene down without worrying about whether you found the right word. THEN, put on your editor hat and edit. This can make the difference between a story ending up attached to an email on its way to an editor’s inbox or ending up in an obscure file folder.
Second, learn your tools—words. Know what they mean, what they imply, how they taste, how they sound. Read your prose out loud before you submit it. Here, I find Mark Twain’s advice sage: ”Use the right word, not its second cousin.”
Third, be flexible. The method you used to write one story may not work for the next one. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re broken or that your process is broken. It just means it’s different this time. This was a hard-learned lesson for me. It took reading Lawrence Block’s learning experience with regard to flexibility (in one of this Writer’s Digest columns), to understand that I wasn’t losing ”it”; ”it” had just morphed a bit.
I’ve learned a lot from the experiences of other writers and from their prose. One of the most valuable learning experiences for me is to read other writers’ prose with an awareness of my own responses to it and analyze why it makes me feel how I feel. Then I try to apply that in my own work.
Oh, and when you’ve written that story and read it out loud, making sure that (as Twain said) you’ve used the right word, not its second cousin, send it to the magazine or agent or publisher you really want to see it with, not something less. When I sent my first story to Stan Schmidt at Analog, the wisdom in all the writing magazines I’d read was that I should send it to a small non-pro market first and work my way up. And I should send something short that stood a better chance of being accepted. I went against that advice and sent a 19,500 word novella to my favorite magazine and got accepted.
Short form: Always shoot for the moon.
This interview was provided by PrentisLiterary.com.
Gina “Tinkerbell” Miyoko is not your typical private eye. Armed with a baby blue Magnum, a Harley blessed with Holy Water by her dramatically disposed mother, and a Japanese mingei tucked in her pocket (a good luck charm from her Sherlock Holmes-obsessed father) Tink spends her time sniffing out delinquent dads in the San Francisco Bay area and honing her detective skills.
But when her best friend Rose, an undercover agent, discovers there’s a stalker on her tail, she hires Tink as a bodyguard. Someone must be trying to intimidate Rose and scare her out of testifying in an upcoming case on looted Anasazi artifacts. But when Tink tries to flush-out the stalker, things take a far more dangerous turn.
Now, with a dead black-market dealer and an injured Rose on her hands, Tink must take her best friend’s place and follow the looters’ trail towards a powerful and lucrative antiquities collector in Cancun, Mexico. Equipped with an ingenious disguise and a teasingly coy persona to match, Tink is determined to find out who is behind the attack on Rose and the illegal trafficking of these priceless artifacts. Along the way, she will find help in the most unlikely of partners…
Deep in the jungle and far from civilization, Tink must decide who she can trust as she tries to unearth the ones responsible behind the pilfering and bloodshed―and still make it out alive.
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Noah Thomas is a scrawny seventh grader who is bullied to the brink in his new town. Friendless, except for sassy tomboy Wendy Sherman, who seems to lend him the confidence he needs to stand up to his oppressors. Upon stumbling into a bookshop one afternoon while on the run from some teenaged tyrants, Noah is hurled into an unexplainable adventure. Noah learns that the bookshop does, in fact, lead to the Akashic Records – a place that holds all spirit lives recorded in tablets of light. With this new found knowledge, Noah begins to grow in wisdom and confidence to face his fears. His biggest challenge comes in the form of five demonic spirits that he accidentally lets loose from a lost tablet. Will Noah succeed with the help of his guardian angel cat he calls Keeper, or will all Hell’s henchman prevail?
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Maggie Shelbador is a half-breed succubus with a heart. Though raised inside one of the worst whorehouses in the world, all she wants is to find one man who will love her despite what she is. She dreams of one day being free of her nightmarish life but fears no man will ever truly trust her.
The year is 3515 and most of the world has been destroyed by a combination of natural disasters and man’s neglect. The whole human race faces extinction. To survive, the leaders of the day approach demons for help, not understanding the high price they will be forced to pay. Normally bound by the summoner’s magic, the demons know Maggie is the key to giving them free access to Earth.
Daniel is a widower with a young son. He is out hunting one day when his settlement is attacked and his son abducted. He tracks them to House of Pain, not realizing a trap is being set for him. Though tortured, Daniel refuses to break when they try to force him to prostitute himself—until a beautiful blonde woman is brought into the room, her power stripping away his self-control.
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A Fire in the West is a genre-crossing novel with elements of fantasy, science fiction, and inspirational fiction as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
Harry James Fox: I agree that the novel steps all over the genre boundaries. Some have insisted that the books in the Stonegate series are really Dystopian or Action/Adventure with elements of Romance. My only defense is that I wrote stores that I enjoy reading. I suppose I wanted a novel that explored a collapse of civilization that would later lead up to the events described in the Bible in the Book of Revelation. But I decided not to write about the final Armageddon. These novels might be thought of as a prelude, however. I tried to make a believable society that could reasonably have developed a few generations after the beginning of a new dark age. I was not concerned with fitting within conventional genres, so it must have happened organically.
Lucia Mudgway: It was actually Harry James Fox’s idea about this trilogy in the first place. Harry masterminded the plot and story-line as well as outlining the major characters and the map of the area and the names of the towns, and and I helped create and develop it as well as adding some new characters into the mix. Basically, my writing was inspired by my faith and my knowledge of history from my undergraduate studies at University where I completed a Bachelor of Arts/Humanities degree majoring in Creative Writing and History. I am currently completing a Masters of Divinity degree after completing a Grad Dip in Creative Writing last year. A lot of my ideas did happen as I was writing, and it often felt as if there was an external spiritual force working with me.
The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Harry James Fox: The characters from the earlier books were old friends, such as Donald and Rachel. But the character that I liked the best was Arielle (“Ari”). She has a big heart and finds the strength to face adversity and emerge the stronger for it. I like her level head and her courage. I do find that I need some help in developing female characters, but my co-author, Lucia, was helpful in making her believable.
Lucia Mudgway: My favorite character was Robbie as he reminded me a little of the prodigal son whose defiance led him into dangerous waters where his faith was tested after doubting God and backsliding. I also loved the evil False Prophet as he reminds us that we are living in a world of spiritual darkness today from leaders who are not always interested in looking after the people, but where self interest and power are what motivates them. I guess I have a fondness for the false prophet because I helped create him with Harry. I found some inspiration for his character in Ephesians 6:12 which states, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of the world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” It was evil that ruled the mind and soul of the False Prophet, so I would recommend reading the three books of the trilogy to get a better picture of how despicable the False Prophet really is. The second book, “The False Prophet” reveals his character more fully.
You both have written a fascinating novel. What was the collaboration like between the two of you on this book?
Harry James Fox: Lucia helped a great deal with the second novel of the series, and she actually wrote a novella based on the characters in the first book in the series. I then expanded this novella into a full-length novel. But I decided that the third novel would be one where we both were co-authors from the beginning. I was very pleased with the partnership. I probably would have procrastinated, but she helped keep me focused. I rather specialized in all things military, and she was the creative idea person that created an intriguing plot. It all went quite smoothly.
Lucia Mudgway: The collaboration between Harry and myself was pretty amazing and we work really well together, bouncing off each other for ideas. I am definitely interested in working with Harry in the future on other books, but at this present time I am trying to complete a novel I started years ago called “The Isis Factor”, which is a fictional thriller/romance inspired by facts and some true events. This story is set in England where the major protagonist, Nick Flanagan, an MI6 agent, is caught up in a world of terrorist activity from terrorists buying arsenal supposedly from the Russians for military training camps in Afghanistan. I am hoping to complete this in 6 months and have it published soon after completion.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
Harry James Fox: I always have several projects at different stages of incubation. I am considering reworking some unpublished material and creating a novella, a prequel to the Stonegate trilogy. I imagine it will be published in 2019. I am a former intelligence officer and definitely have an interest in Lucia’s book “The Isis Factor.” I have volunteered to help with some technical details.
From author Harry James Fox, and co-author, Lucia Mudgway, comes an epic Christian fantasy, third in the Stonegate saga. In this gripping finale, Donald of Fisher and Rachel of Westerly as well as Carla and other favorite characters return to face another attempt by the evil False Prophet to overwhelm the free towns of the East. However, this tale centers around Donald and Rachel’s son, Robby, as he confronts all of his demons— his forbidden love for Ari, his cousin, and his conflicts with his father, Donald. Ari, Carla’s daughter, also finds herself in the heat of battle and is tested as she had never imagined. Family secrets emerge amid the threat of war, but courage, duty, and love become more important than ever. Will the False Prophet finally succeed in stamping out freedom, or will good finally triumph over evil? Will Robby find redemption for his decisions, and will the shocking truth about his past set him free to be with Ari?
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When the newspaperman shows up on the corner, looking every bit the part of a newsboy straight out of the 1930’s, Seth is intrigued. When the news in the papers he offers readers begins to take a turn for the bizarre, the grotesque, and the highly-sensationalized, his feelings are steeped more in disgust. Seth and his friends question, not only the newspaperman’s motives, but those of his employer. Seth’s world turns upside down following a visit from the newspaper’s owner, and he and his wife, Meghan, find themselves facing the offer of a lifetime only to see that their joy is short-lived.
I don’t often say this, but it’s incredibly difficult to refrain from busting out in a string of “awesomes” and “fantastics” to describe my utter fascination with The Newspaperman by Sal Nudo. I will try to contain my glee and use phrasing that is more in line with a standard review and less like a school girl gushing over a crush, but The Newspaperman is freaking awesome, folks!
I am not sure what I expected going into the first paragraph, but I do know that Sal Nudo grabbed me, dipped me in a splendid little mixture of visuals, and sat me down in the most fascinating story line I have come across in a long time. His description of the main character, Seth’s, initial encounter with the newspaperman is simply brilliant. Nudo sets up for readers a scenario that will keep them guessing as to, not only the intentions of the highly suspect character, but to the genre itself. By about the second chapter, I had convinced myself that Seth was the only person able to see the newspaperman and was experiencing some type of vision. Nudo, though, weaves such an intriguing tale of mystery that he is able to shift readers from believing they are settling into one genre while he gently places them safely within the arms of another.
The commentary on current events Nudo makes with The Newspaperman is spot-on. Without taking a politically-charged stance, Nudo gives readers something to chew on regarding the state of the U.S. and the fate of journalism as we know it. Again, I hesitate to use common and overused phrasing–but I absolutely loved Seth’s letter and the fervor with which he attacks the C-U Journal.
The Newspaperman is a quick read. By quick read I mean I was enthralled from the mention of Cedrick, the absurdly out of place yet perfectly fitting newsboy, and couldn’t put the book down. It was a read-in-one-sitting, literally-can’t-put-it-down page turner.
That ending, though! Here’s my appeal to Sal Nudo’s sensibilities. I must have resolution. I absolutely, beyond the shadow of a doubt, have to have closure. To say I am bitter about the way Nudo leaves things would be only a slight exaggeration. However, I am ecstatic at the mere notion of a sequel.
I am, with a ridiculous and overzealous amount of enthusiasm, giving The Newspaperman by Sal Nudo 5 out of 5 stars. There is truly nothing else being written right now that blends genres and makes reading about the current state of affairs in our world interesting while driving home the importance of protecting our journalists and the part they play in keeping us all safe and informed like The Newspaperman. I recommend this outstanding piece by Sal Nudo to fans of all genres–it’s simply a must-read.
Pages: 166 | ASIN: B078RGKZJF
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