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A Lot of Interesting Twists

Evan Oliver
Evan Oliver Author Interview

Karik’s First Battle follows a group of exiles who seek shelter and work in a small northern village, but they learn the village holds a dark and dangerous secret. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I’ve always been fascinated by dragons, from Fafnir to Smaug, and something that I’ve only seen hinted at is the idea that dragons would build a sort of network around themselves. Whether its to collect more treasure, to provide protection, or just to make life easier…why wouldn’t they? They’re always described as super intelligent, so I figured that it only made sense that a dragon would use those around them for their own benefit.

I’ve been playing with the tale of Vranr for a long time, and it has a lot of interesting twists that I’ve enjoyed exploring. I think knowing our history, where we come from, what it says about who we are is something that everyone has to grapple with to some degree,

The characters in the story were all interesting and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

There were two things that drive a lot of my character development, the first being the idea that everyone is looking for security in some way. Everyone wants to feel safe, not just for themselves, but for their loved ones, and when people don’t have that security, it drives them to take risks and make choices they otherwise wouldn’t. The second idea is that people can often have differing opinions and come into conflict without being bad people, and if handled improperly, those conflicts can distract from those who are actually causing harm and creating problems. Those two ideals drive a lot of the developments not just in Karik’s First Battle, but through the whole series.

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

There were three themes that I wanted to look at in Karik’s first battle, the first one being the idea that people can have different solutions to the same problem without being villains. It’s easy to argue with someone when you believe they are evil or a fool, its much more difficult when they are presenting a valid solution to the problem you are both facing.

The second thing that I felt was important to explore was the cost of challenging the status quo. There is a price to be paid when we change how we do things, and a lot of times the push back we face is based on this price. But there is also a price to maintaining the status quo, and often that price is even higher.

The final theme, and one that is woven through all the books, is the idea of anticipating consequences. Karik is smart enough to know that there is more than one possible outcome if he challenges the dragon but guessing what all the possible outcomes are and planning for them is something he’s going to have to grapple with as the series continues.

This is book one in The Legends of Karik series. What can readers expect in book two?

More! Ylmi’s Saga is both longer, and deeper, than Karik’s First Battle. Ylmi’s Saga will begin with Ylmi as a young child, tell a bit about her life before Karik’s arrival in her village, and then show her as she grows into a fearsome warrior. We’ll see some of the adventures that turned her into the young woman we’ve met, how she deals with Unhost now that the dragon is dead, and we’ll follow her and Karik as they continue to try to find a way through the Black Isles. We’ll meet the other rulers in Vrania and learn a little bit more about the mythical figure of Vranr. Ylmi has a number of challenges and battles that she’ll have to face, and together with Karik she’s got more than a few adventures in front of her.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

His friends and family are dying. Now the only way to help them is to brave the cold and dangers of the north…
Karik is sick of the hunger slowly killing his village. And after watching his brother die of starvation, he fears the icy winter will claim them all. So when the jarl declares they need to reduce the number of mouths to feed, the tormented young man bravely volunteers to leave.
With his small group of fellow exiles stumbling onto a tiny settlement, Karik gladly accepts an invitation to stay and work. But he isn’t there long before sensing the jarl is keeping deadly secrets… including dark dealings with a dragon.
Behind it all lurks the legends of Vranr, their mythical forefather
Can the desperate hero survive his formidable quest and live to see the spring?
Karik’s First Battle is the action-packed Book 1 in The Legends of Karik fantasy series. If you like courageous characters, treacherous journeys, and epic battles, then you’ll love Evan Oliver’s perilous adventure.

Karik’s First Battle

Karik's First Battle (The Legends of Karik Book 1) by [Evan Oliver]

After being exiled from a village unable to sustain him and his friends during the long and harsh winter, Karik embarks on a treacherous journey to find a place to stay. After multiple discussions, Karik convinces his stubborn friends to head north, where they might find shelter in one of the less populated villages. When they stumble upon a small settlement up north and are invited to stay, they reluctantly accept. However, they notice strange details around the village including its saggy construction and utter lack of population. They soon discover that many important events actually occur underground in an elaborate series of tunnels, including a strange pact with a dangerous dragon and dark secrets involving a mythological character. Karik must find a way to defeat this threat lurking in the shadows and keep his friends, and himself, alive until spring.

Kariks First Battle by Evan Oliver is a thrilling high-fantasy novella and is the first installment in the “Legends of Karik” series. However short, this first following an intriguing hero through an imaginative fantasy world that still feels grounded but deep. This reminds me of The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien in that it feels like an adventure that’s playing out in a world with a very deep backstory.

The characters are all compelling in their own way, barely riding the line of fantasy trope but bring enough unique characterization to make them feel fresh and alive on the page. The story feels like a reinvigoration of the type of fantasy story telling prevalent in the 80’s, but with a contemporary infusion of action and sense of adventure.

Kariks First Battle has a creative plot that is propelled by fascinating characters. I really feel like we’re just scratching the surface of something much grander in the Legends of Karik series. If you’re looking for an epic fantasy story where a host of striking characters set out on a dangerous adventure then you will find plenty to enjoy in this book.

Pages: 91 | ASIN: B08W73Q5D2

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A Real Awakening

David Joseph
David Joseph Author Interview

The Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories is a collection of impassioned short stories that follows various characters through their ordinary yet compelling lives. What were some sources of inspiration for you while writing these stories?

The primary source of inspiration was simply the experience I’ve had living in Spain, getting the opportunity to gain a sense of the history and culture and the people. Place provides such a powerful source of inspiration in general, and I think this only increased when I was immersed so completely in a culture different from the one I had been brought up in. It provided a real awakening of the senses, and I tried to be a keen observer as I worked to craft these stories.

Each of your characters were fascinating in their own way. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Thank you for your kind words. I am glad you found the characters in these stories interesting. If there is a driving ideal in these characters, I’d like to think that it’s rooted in their simplicity, their humanness, and the realistic nature of their personas. These characters aren’t superhuman or famous or overly powerful. In many ways, they are, well…somewhat ordinary. But they are also very much alive, which is extraordinary in its own right. They feel the weight of their own existence, and their relationships and interactions shape their own unique narratives, their own stories. I wanted to be able to explore the idea that stories don’t necessarily need an elaborate twist or a car chase or a bank robbery to be compelling. I suppose whether or not I’ve been successful in this regard is ultimately up to the reader. But it is my hope that the relationships the characters have with others (and with themselves) are moving, that their common interactions can be utterly revealing, and that the smallest moments can mean a great deal.

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

I would probably say the themes of loss and aging are probably most central to these stories. These things obviously have the potential to go together as we get older, and that is consistent with many of the characters in the book. But I think the theme of connection is also ever present in the book. The characters in this book seek connection—with their pasts, their futures, and, I think, with one another. Regardless of what they’ve lost, I’d like to think the stories maintain some degree of inspiration or hope.

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

The next book I am working on is a collection of stories entitled I Didn’t Know What To Say, So I Just Said Thanks, and I hope it will be out by the end of the year.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook

In this collection of stories on love and loss, hopes and dreams, and memory and regret, David Joseph’s prose resonates in an authentic and convincing manner.

His writing possesses an ability to convey real emotion through compelling, simple language, human interaction, and small moments. The collection, which is set in the Iberian Peninsula, carries the weight of the author’s sincerity throughout.

In an effort to bind us as humans, the characters in these stories experience extraordinary moments within the confines of ordinary lives.

Resistance, Revolution and Other Love Stories

Resistance, Revolution and Other Love Stories by [K.]

Resistance, Revolution & Other Love Stories by K is a compilation of twelve romantic short stories ranging from fiction to futuristic sci-fi.

This extraordinary collection of stories takes us into the worlds of character, each with a completely different perspective on what love is and how to demonstrate it. These characters offer glimpses of what love means to different cultures around the world, written in a way that allows you to really meditate about life on a greater scale, as well as ponder on the importance of stolen glances, sacred touches and the smallest of details.

Each plot is a masterpiece in its own, with such compelling storylines that you are forced to follow them until the end, and to uncover the secret message hidden within. Some feature happy endings, others vague cliffhangers that will leave you yearning for more. Each story is written in a different setting, from London to Yugoslavia to Iraq, there is a never ending range of possibilities that will never leave you unsatisfied.

One of my favorite stories was “Head Down”. It’s about a married man who goes off on a business trip to take a couple of seminars. He meets Shannon, who completely transforms his view on what love should feel like. He struggles between succumbing to this new feeling of love and familiarity of staying true to his sense of duty for his current family. In the end both characters make a choice that will most likely impact the rest of their lives, and the reader is left guessing what will happen next. This story, as do the others, depict the complexities of love; which isn’t black and white as many people would have us believe. It navigates the intricate human connections which have the power to limit or free a person, depending on the nature and dynamic of the relationship.

Resistance, Revolution & Other Love Stories contains a wonderful compilation of stories with beautifully written worlds, relatable and real characters, and descriptive narration.

Pages: 183 | ASIN: B08NV1BT2K

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The Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories

The Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories by [David Joseph]


The Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories by David Joseph is a collection of fourteen short fiction stories that are set in cities in Spain and Portugal. The stories feature a variety of people, old and young, tourists, natives, and immigrants and range from 6-20 pages in length. Although the stories are about everyday life, special or tragic moments the characters experience are the true focus of the narrative. Several themes are used in multiple stories including death and loss, older characters watching the lives of young people and remembering when they were that age themselves, and being alone but not felling lonely.

This book had an interesting variety of stories that I enjoyed reading. The short stories were quick to get through, which made the book a fast read overall. I liked that I could read several stories in one sitting. Although some of the stories had similar themes, they did not seem repetitive because the characters were so varied. While I enjoyed the stories I felt that some of them were character driven stories, focusing on the characters routines, interactions and relationships, where I wanted to see a bit more focus on plot development.

Some of the stories were told in the first person point of view, while others were in third person, and several stories featured unnamed characters, often the narrator. I enjoyed reading the details of the characters lives and the descriptions of Spanish and Portuguese cities, landmarks, and coastlines; which to me is an exotic culture. I liked that the first story and last story both had old men in boats, which created a kind of symmetry to the book as a whole, however I didn’t prefer the narrative jump back and forth between old men rowing boats and Picasso’s painting Guernica. This made it feel a bit disjointed and disrupted the overall smooth flow of the story. Many of the stories did not end happily or were focused on past tragedies such as death, suicide, and abortion. But I felt that this was true to life, where happy endings are not always normal, and this kept the stories grounded rather than fanciful.

The Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories is a thought-provoking collection of emotionally resonant stories that explore life in various seemingly prosaic moments that cumulatively have a profound impact on the reader.

Pages: 142 | ASIN:  B08T1Q4TPM

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In This Strange Universe

Konn Lavery
Konn Lavery Author Interview

Into the Macrocosm is a collection of dark and bizarre stories that follows a character that observes 22 unique deaths. Did you write these stories specifically for this collection, or did you write them over time?

I wrote these stories over time. In 2018, after the launch of my thriller novel, YEGman, a friend of mine suggested writing shorter fiction – lower investment and a chance to explore new writing styles. The short stories have lived on the blog as a monthly release for my existing readers and to entice new ones. Over time, enough of them accumulated to make a collection.

A few additional short stories snuck their way into this book, like Inspirer, Crusaders, and Mr. Super. The stories were revised before being brought into the collection, allowing me to clean them up and improve the ideas and styles.

The overarching storyline with Malpherities was added specifically for this collection to support the growing Macrocosm that encompasses all my stories. This storyline was written in the second person with the Nameless One as a tribute to my readers over the years, letting them – in a way – be in this strange universe. Malpherities also plays a crucial role in my dark fantasy series Mental Damnation, so it was fun to bring him back for this book.

This collection fits within the universe you’ve created with your other novels. What are some moments fans can look forward to in this collection that connect directly to your other novels?

Malpherities, the ghoul, has the most prominent appearance within Into the Macrocosm. He has always been inspired by the Cheshire Cat and is quite versatile from a writing perspective.

We also get a new look into The Kingdom of Zingalg, where Mental Damnation takes place. Malpherities comments on the mystical land as humanity shifts into the modern world, leaving the fantastic things lost in history.

A fun cameo is Allen Oil Site Solutions, which makes appearances in my horror novel, Seed Me, and my upcoming horror, Rave. The company has been in the background for a long time, but I’ve got sinister plans for it in the future.

I really enjoyed the different ideas explored throughout this collection. What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Death is a common theme in all of my writing. We’re alive for a tiny blip in the universe’s history and its future, which makes life such a precious gift. I ponder what defines being alive a lot, which unintentionally led to many of the shorts having characters either dying, contemplating death, transcending, or barely surviving it.

The overarching plot with Malpherities and the Nameless One was written about a year ago when the pandemic started. Our world entered a weird state of limbo with the lockdown in Canada. Naturally, I started to dive further into philosophical ideas, spiritual concepts, and where humanity is going in the long run – as we see with the SciFi shorts Harvesters and Scrappers.

The most essential theme in the book is living life. I hope readers feel a resurgence to live it and enjoy this short gift. Hence the “observer” concept with witnessing others’ lives. We’re too often passive with technology integrated into our day-to-day activities, and we forget to pause and be here now.

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

My next book is a horror novel titled Rave. It will be out in the spring of this year, most likely in June. Here’s a one-liner summary:

Seth, cursed by his cousin’s crime, love, and desire, has no sweet release at the Rave after he and his friends carelessly get their DNA on an unexplainable murder; the RCMP will believe that these drugged-out kids saw a horned man-beast decapitating people – right?

I am also continuing the monthly short stories. They have migrated from the blog and onto my new Patreon that launched in February 2021. Like on the blog, they are short stories found within the Macrocosm. The shorts include audio versions I narrate and high-rez downloadable covers for smartphone backgrounds.

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

Genetic Freaks. Celestial Beings. A Talking Goat Head.
Enter an obscure universe through the lives of 22 souls as the Nameless One and their ghoulish companion attempt to unlock the mysterious past of how they died. Yet, danger lurks even in the post-death realm, the Midway, and it is not keen on mortal visitors.
Award-winning author Konn Lavery’s short story collection explores his expanding macrocosm, sharing the same universe as his previous works such as the horror novel Seed Me, thriller YEGman, and the dark fantasy series Mental Damnation. These interconnected tales bring everything under one, strange, unsettling, cosmos.

Hampshire Stories: A Collection of Tales Set in 19th-Century England – Book Trailer

★★★★★ “Hampshire Stories: A Collection of Tales Set in 19th-Century England by Joe Giampaolo is a stellar collection of short stories!… These are stories of pure delight and feature a lovable cast of characters… Giampaolo’s writing is reminiscent of Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell” (Editorial Review by Literary Titan, 2020).

‘Hampshire Stories’ is an award-winning collection of short narratives set in nineteenth-century England. It has been ranked several times on the Top 100 Best Seller List on Amazon in the Victorian and Regency Historical Romance categories. This compilation was written with particular attention to historical accuracy and is recommended for teen and adult readers who enjoy charming love stories or poignant dramas of the Regency and Victorian periods. You will enjoy this journey back in time to nineteenth-century England.

AWARDS: GOLD MEDAL, LITERARY TITAN BOOK AWARD 2020
-Amazon.com (USA): Ranked #20 on the Top 100 Best Seller List in the Victorian Historical Romance category and #36 in the Regency Historical Romance category (February 2021).
-Amazon.ca (Canada): Ranked several times on the Top 100 Best Seller List in the Victorian Historical Romance and the Regency Historical Romance categories.

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Into the Macrocosm: Short Stories of the Dark Cosmic, Bizarre, and the Fantastic

Into the Macrocosm: Short Stories of the Dark Cosmic, Bizarre, and the Fantastic by [Konn Lavery, Robin Schroffel]

Into the Macrocosm by Konn Lavery is a collection of thought-provoking short stories about an unknown character who is the observer of 22 deaths. At the beginning of this intellectually invigorating collection readers are given intriguing theories on life after death. Konn Lavery addresses these theories in multiple ways, all of which are fictional in nature but spiritual at heart. Although the character is more of an observer in these stories, I like how I can still feel the personal connections while reading along. It was easy to get entangled in these insightful stories and there was a sense of adventure that was consistent throughout these stories. I also appreciated the subheadings in this collection because it helped me keep track of special events that lead to the plot twists.

Into The Macrocosm has so many fascinating stories that it will be impossible for readers to find at least one that speaks to them. None of the stories are overly horrifying, nor would I put these stories in the horror genre, there is just an ever-present ominous feeling that permeates these stories, enough to give you goosebumps rather than frighten you outright. This is a metaphysical exploration that leaves you with thoughts that are hard to shake. The way spiritual transformation is portrayed was enough for me to set the book down and ponder the implications for a bit. I loved that this collection used these dark stories to highlight the importance of self-awareness. I also loved how the author showed how much the darkness within us and around us can weigh us down.

Konn Lavery’s Into The Macrocosm is an exceptional short story collection that explores some provocative ideas through a darkly imaginative lens reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe or H.P. Lovecraft.

Pages: 420 | ASIN: B08SLM9DRX

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