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That SOB Deserved That!

Gary Hickman
Gary Hickman Author Interview

The Light Reapers follows an elite team on a mission to rescue a scientist while battling hordes of zombies. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I initially wrote the story during COVID and I was thinking about how the zombies were created. As I thought through different options, the media kept saying CORONA Virus and that stuck with me. For my first book, I wanted to write something that I was familiar with but also wanted to have fun with it. I have always loved zombies since I first saw Dawn of the Dead (the original). Zombies and the military seemed like a good combination. I mean, plenty of people had done it before successfully, so why not me? There are actually quite a few events in the book that were based on real life. The fighting, the tactics used, the interactions between some of the characters all had a significant influence on what I wrote. There are a few of the characters who are based on real people I served with. I obviously removed the enemies and put in the infected, changed the names and locations due to counterintelligence reasons, but most were still based on truth.

This seemed like a fun book to write. What scene in the story did you have the most fun writing?

Chapter 19, the scene with Randy. I didn’t like writing the situation so much, but the end result I had quite a bit of pleasure writing. Something in most books that aggrivates me is the vilan causes all this pain and suffering only to be shot dead to fall off a building. I wanted there to be some moments in the book where people said, “Yeah!”, that SOB deserved that!

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

Brotherhood of the soldiers. Acceptance of the others whowere not originally part of the team. Retribution on those who chose to do evil, even though the apocalypse was on them. Just shows some people’s true character. I wanted to show that even though there lies no obligation to people, they stucktogetherand made a life as best they could.

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

I am working on the sequel to The Light Reapers, this one is “The Light Reapers: Fight for a New Beginning”. The book is about 80% complete as far as writing. Then comes the editing. I could have done much better on the editing of the first book, so I am hiring a professional to edit the second book.

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The Light Reapers are a Special Operations Unit who had served numerous campaigns together. They were an expertly trained and elite group, but could they ever prepare for what was to happen next.
Under a shroud of darkness and maliciousness, a viral weapon was being produced by an alliance of terrorists bent on the destruction of their respective enemies. When double-crossed by an ISIS faction, the viral weapon is stolen and prematurely unleashed on the planet.
Now facing a worldwide epidemic, The Light Reapers are deployed to rescue a scientist who may be able to develop an antidote. If that wasn’t difficult enough, they also must track down the ISIS faction and eliminate them. All while battling hordes of the infected.

More Realistic

Author Interview
Deven Greene Author Interview

Unwitting follows Dr. Rosen who discovers an autistic man with information on a terrorist who is bombing public places. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I wanted to write a story about an autistic individual—not the high-functioning type usually portrayed in movies and TV. I wanted my character to be more realistic, representative of those who are severely impaired in terms of communication and social interactions.

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

Being a physician myself, I think she represents the ideals most physicians hold to be important. The large majority of those who go into the field have a strong moral compass and want to help others, so her behaviour wasn’t a stretch.

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

I wanted to show a realistic view of the difficulties faced by autistic individuals, and those who care for them.

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

I am working on the third book in the Erica Rosen MD Trilogy. This book will be called Unforeseen and deals with the pharmaceutical industry. I’m hoping it will be available mid-2022.

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Dr. Erica Rosen’s world is turned upside down after a suicide bomber explodes amidst a large crowd entering Oracle Park baseball stadium, near her San Francisco home. Many are killed or injured, and police have no leads in solving the case.

Erica becomes involved after a teacher of young autistic men calls her. The teacher believes her students are involved in the bombing but is afraid to contact law enforcement. She reaches out to Erica, who has experience with special needs children.

Erica arrives at the school but finds the police already there and a young autistic man doing a jigsaw puzzle, oblivious to his murdered teacher on the floor. The young man has information about the mastermind behind the bombing but has limited ability to speak. Erica is determined to protect him, prevent further bombings, and find his missing classmates.

A Complicated Character

Christy Cooper-Burnett
Christy Cooper-Burnett Author Interview

Escaping Home follows Christine into the past where a rogue agent follows her and threatens to disrupt the timeline. What inspired the setup to this riveting story?

Christine has dealt with a few nefarious characters in the two previous books in the series. In this installment, I wanted to explore what might happen if someone were careless enough to travel back in time with no regard for history. With the world on the brink of war, people would do things they might not ordinarily consider. The possibility of a nuclear war could encourage someone to take risks, thinking there would be no consequences. Of course, Christine and her friends can’t let that happen, especially when they are the reason the rogue agent is in the 1700s to begin with.

What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

First and foremost, I wanted to get the characters emotions right. Going back to the eighteenth century and surviving would take everything they were made of. It was important to relay their emotional struggle to the reader, so they could place themselves there. Second, I challenged myself to make it as historically accurate as I could. In order to really feel like the reader was a part of this story, they had to know what it was like to live in 1790. The language, the clothing, the city, all had to be authentic.

What were some obstacles you felt were important to developing Christine’s character in this novel?

Christine is a complicated character. She has a tendency to be a loner. She has grown in last two books, but she still clings to the notion that she has to be strong for everyone else all the time. In this book we got to see her personality soften even more. She eventually gets her happy ending, and after all she has been through, it was well deserved!

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

My next book is part of a time travel trilogy with a different twist. It is due out in September of 2022. Without giving too much away, here is a little teaser.

What was supposed to be a few days in the nineteenth century with two of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities goes horribly awry. Now America’s hottest starlet is dead, and Jack the Ripper in on the loose in modern day America. And it’s all my fault.

I was foolish enough to let history’s most ruthless serial killer slip out of the past. But am I smart enough to send him packing?

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

United States, 2072
With the country under the threat of war, a group of time-traveling government agents devise a risky plan to keep their families safe. But transporting hundreds of years to the past and blending in may prove much more dangerous than they expected.
Cyber Criminal Enforcement Agent Christine Stewart has been to the past before and thinks she knows what to expect. She couldn’t be more wrong.
Life in the eighteenth century is anything but ideal, especially when they learn a rogue agent with plans to strike it rich follows them back in time. Armed with a modern-day weapon, the agent may disrupt the timeline in the most disastrous way and alter history as they know it.
Now they’re refugees in their own homeland, and how they proceed will determine their fate. Will they crash and burn in their race to stop the defector before it’s too late?

Stuck That Way and Other Quandaries

Stuck That Way and Other Quandaries by [Julie Kusma]

Stuck That Way and Other Quandaries by Julie Kusma is a collection of short stories that are delightfully unnerving. Ranging topics like beastly transformations, death curses, and demon hunters are all masterfully crafted to create raw emotion. Quick warming: These stories do have violent and disturbing scenes that I don’t think are appropriate for children.

My favorite story of the bunch is probably “By Induction”, a story about a woman who fully believes that she can curse people to their deaths by putting their name in a jar and putting that jar in her freezer. When her curse strikes again, she has a change of heart and decides to curse another. No spoilers, but it is a great short story.

Another great one is the titular story, “Stuck That Way.” A father is showing his young boy how to create a corporeal form in parts, but the mother warns against it, because she does not want him to become trapped inside a body and disappear from their plane of existence. It’s quick, unsettling, and a commentary on human life. Fantastic work.

The writing is very strong overall, and Kusma does well to develop setting and motivation for her characters before twisting the reader’s expectations and toying with the seemingly inevitable ends. She also does well by making the characters think and act very logically. It’s pretty easy to understand why the characters make their choices, even if the results are not positive. If there was a weakness in the writing, I would say that the rare moments of action are sometimes not clearly described, but these clear up quickly and efficiently.

I’ll be looking forward to more work from Kusma, and I hope that the next set of stories are just as chilling and unsettling.

Pages: 83 | ASIN: B088JT34CT

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Babouc’s Vision

Somewhere, Dado is regaling his grandchildren with stories of “the good ol’ days” while they hunt for dinner. Izzy is hoping to make it in the big city. Roving gangs fight for supremacy in public spectacles. And April and Tom just hope their genetics are clean enough to gain approval to have a baby. Amid all of this chaos, is Harl Babouc, an introverted tinkerer who has been reluctantly tasked with the decision of whether they, and all other inhabitants of the city, live or die. As he travels around a city he rarely sees, he learns plenty about the true depths of humanity.

In “Babouc’s Vision”, author Glenn Searfoss paints a vivid picture of a city that seems completely devoid of any redeeming qualities, but just below the surface lies the occasional glimpse of hope and compassion. After his introduction, Babouc becomes an invisible presence, nothing more than a specter there to observe, learning about the city’s citizens in real time with us. Through their stories we come to understand how society reached the point of being over regulated to the extreme and the ways they have learned to cope and adapt to the increasing pressures. Searfoss’s prose is amazingly descriptive, laying bare the good, the bad, and the overwhelmingly ugly that comes with both the environment and its people. Even the most insignificant characters come to life in spectacular ways under the spell cast by his words and it keeps the book from ever seeming stale or slow. Even as the chapters rotate from one story to the next in occasionally unconnected ways, the pull of needing to know what comes next remains constant. 

While “Babouc’s Vision” doesn’t immediately seem like a book that would be deeply thought provoking, the ending gives plenty to think about in regards to humanity, diversity, and redemption. It makes the book worthy of a second reading in order to catch all the nuance that’s easily overlooked the first time through. The characters are all human beings, even when it seems like every ounce of it has been drained away. Babouc realizes that those qualities still exist within them, which means those qualities could still be expressed. The book also explores the question of intentions versus outcomes and the moral implications of both. It definitely provides more than meets the eye.

“Babouc’s Vision” was thoroughly enjoyable and difficult to put down, which is always a winning combination. Even the more despicable characters were engaging enough that you cared what happened to them and the ones who were more sympathetic had you actively cheering for their success. “Babouc’s Vision” is an intellectually stimulating science fiction story.

Pages: 248 | ISBN: 1587210118

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The Song of Kamaria Trilogy

T. A. Bruno
T.A. Bruno Author Interview

On the Winds of Quasars is the thrilling sequel to In the Orbit of Sirens. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book that was different from book one?

For Quasars, I wanted to explore the world of Kamaria on a more personal level. In the Orbit of Sirens was mostly about humans and why they came to Kamaria. Although the auk’nai were involved in that story, they had plenty of room for deeper observation. In Quasars, we see more of auk’nai society, and we discover that there is more than one mindset to the native Kamarians through the lens of the auk’gnell.

What scene in the book did you have the most fun writing?

Any scene involving L’Arn and Auden became my favorite to write. Auden is such a great character to explore, and I hope readers find him equally interesting to read about. The first scene L’Arn and Auden meet still gives me chills when I read over it.

What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

I wanted to represent a family dynamic much like my own growing up. My brothers and parents had to adjust to a lifestyle that accommodated my brother Danny, who was born non-verbal autistic. I wanted to have this shown through the Castus family, so I included Nella Castus, who was born Deaf. To do her justice, I reached out to people in the Deaf Community, and even brought on a Deaf Consultant to help ensure she was portrayed right. Nella instantly became another one of my favorite characters to write. She’s a ball of energy who doesn’t let anything hold her back, and she will fiercely defend those she loves. She’s an excellent addition to the cast, and I hope readers fall in love with her like I have.

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

I haven’t announced the final book’s name yet, but I expect to release it sometime in early 2022. It is far along in production, and it’s really shaping up to be an explosive conclusion to the Song of Kamaria trilogy.

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

The thrilling sequel to In the Orbit of Sirens
THE WORLD OF KAMARIA WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.
In the aftermath of the brutal slaying of a sacred auk’nai deity, Cade and Nella Castus are taken from their home and brought deep into the wilderness. They must make their way back to civilization, traversing dangerous landscapes as they are pursued relentlessly by their captor-a winged abomination.
As Denton and Eliana search for their missing children, they uncover something that will change life on Kamaria forever.

KARRIN: Warrior Child

KARRIN: Warrior Child: A Paranormal / Sci-Fi Adventure (Excalibur Saga Book 3) by [Sahara Foley]

Sahara Foley’s Karrin Warrior Child is an enchanting urban fantasy novel. It follows the life of Karrin, a young girl who was abandoned at a home for unwanted children. With little memory of her real family and where she is from, she still maintains her dignity and courage. At the home, she meets a terrible matron, guards, and girls. But despite the hardships of living in the home, she experiences kindness from the facility cook, aptly named “Cook”. Not only does Cook allow her to help in the kitchen, but she also ensures that she always has something to eat and a comfortable place to sleep. Over time, a beautiful relationship develops between them, climaxing in a series of sacrificial decisions. Eventually, we discover that Karrin is not your ordinary child. In fact, she is so extraordinary that she is being hunted down by those who see her as a threat.

As you read from page to page, it is hard not to root for Karrin and even learn to care for her because she’s captivating but also feels authentic. If there is one thing the author did well, it is maintaining the fast pace of the narrative. From the first to the last chapter, she captures our imagination with riveting prose and dialogue. This makes it easy to get a clear picture of what is happening at all times. Moreover, the author is adept at covering the perceptions of different characters throughout the narrative.

This is the first book in the epic Excalibur Saga series, but I think it can still be read as a stand only story. With an fascinating protagonist and a storyline infused with intrigue, science fiction fans will heartily enjoy this action-packed adventure novel. KARRIN: Warrior Child is a thrilling must read that will have you guessing to the very last page.

Pages: 189 | ASIN: B07JFNML14

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The Light Reapers

The Light Reapers: End of the World by [Gary Hickman]

Media about zombies always seem to fall between two categories. You have the slow-and-somber kind like Max Brooks’ World War Z and George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead, and then you have the guts-and-gore kind like the video game Dead Rising and Stuart Gordon’s Eaten Alive

Before opening this book, I didn’t know which category Gary Hickman’s The Light Reapers: End of the World falls under. I didn’t even know this was a zombie novel at all. But by the time I closed it I was glad it was the latter. From page one, blood and viscera start flying out of the page, and it hardly ever stops to give you a chance to catch your breath. 

It tells the story of the titular Light Reapers, a special operations unit with members that will annihilate anything that steps in their way. Everything goes south when they infiltrate a terrorist lab where a mysterious bioweapon is being created. Prior to the mission, they have little to no information about the lab or the weapon. The mission was supposed to be simple: “make it to the lab area, assess the situation, infiltrate the facility, secure the formula and any other intel, then exfil.” What they find is anything but. Now the virus is unleashed on the planet, driving the whole world into darkness and chaos. 

As crazy as the synopsis may sound, Hickman chose to ground the story in reality with references to real-world events. Still, that doesn’t make it any less imaginative and entertaining. The moments of extreme gore sometimes happen so suddenly with such detailed descriptions that they border on cartoonish. Still, like the obviously fake blood in early Romero films, that’s the beauty of it. The thought of the world’s population turning into a mindless undead horde is a tad depressing, so you got to have a ton of fun to balance it out. And by “fun,” I mean blowing-chunks-off-a-zombie’s-torso kind of fun. 

Now that you’re reading this review, it may be too late to say that the best way to experience The Light Reapers: End of the World is to go in blind. Walk in thinking you’re about to read a war novel, then come out with a new zombie book instead. But at the end of the day, it’s a bloody good time, and gorehounds will surely lap it up.

Pages: 303 | ASIN: B0945G5MMQ

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