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What can loneliness drive us to do?

Sheila English Author Interview

Adam Frankenstein: Search for a Soul is a collection of thought-provoking short stories. What were some sources that informed your writing?

First, I read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Or The Modern Prometheus. I knew the Universal Studios and Hammer films weren’t true to the book, as movies often aren’t, and I wanted my Frankenstein to be based off the book. In the book he is a sympathetic character, but becomes a murderer. He’s not given the chance to redeem himself and I wanted that opportunity for him.

Next, I read about Mary Shelley. It was important to me to get inside her head and understand her motivations. I watched the movie about her life and I read several books about her including Mary Shelley: Her Circle and Her Contemporaries and Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein. I read university papers about her life and spoke to professors and other experts.

I’ve always been a fan of horror. I love the classics. I’ve read and reread so many classic horror tales that I plan on tapping into as I write. I read modern horror as well. I want to be able to appeal to the modern reader while intriguing them with classic stories.

Adam is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

I’ve always felt especially drawn to two fictional characters in my life; Frankenstein’s monster and Jane Eyre. There’s something about a person who is all alone in the world trying to be better even when no one else might care about their life. I admit that Adam has some traits you may find in Mr. Rochester. Rochester warred with himself, justifying what he did even when he knew it was wrong. But, he had such passion the reader forgave him his past deeds and wanted to see him become the man Jane deserved.

In the novel, Frankenstein, the monster, who I’ve called Adam, is intelligent and realizes his own plight. He’s not the green-faced monster of the movies. His acceptance of the world’s rejection of him drives him to insist on a companion so he won’t be alone. I think we can all relate to feeling alone in the world at some point in our lives. What can loneliness drive us to do?

I knew immediately that the only way to keep Adam from becoming a true monster was to give him love and let him experience love for someone, or something else. A life totally devoid of love will certainly make anyone a monster. I gave him Bella, his little dog who also happens to be immortal. It wasn’t just the fact that dogs will love you no matter what you look like as long as you’re kind, but it was Adam’s experience of loving and of knowing he had the capacity to love that changed the trajectory of his life.

The Madame and the Madman is my favorite story from the collection. Do you have a favorite, or one that stands out from a writers perspective?

Although I admit to loving any story Victor Dracula shows up in, such as The Madame and the Madman, my personal favorite to date is Marked. It can be difficult to show character growth in short stories. And though I hope to show a little of that in each story, I felt Marked showed the greatest growth. Adam starts out a total brute willing to kill someone for kicking his dog. He’s calculating and unsympathetic to Seline at first. But, the little girl and her acceptance of him change things in Adam. Knowing that Sabine is not the girl’s mother, but is risking her life for the child change something in him. I love who he is at the end of this story.

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

I recently signed a contract with an amazing agent who is excited about Adam and the other stories surrounding Mary Shelley’s League of Supernatural Hunters. I’m doing the final edits of The Deadly Pieces, which is the first full Adam Frankenstein novel. It’s set in modern times and he has become a U.S. Marshal in Houston, TX. He’s secretly after a witch conducting unsanctioned experiments on the homeless population. So, there’s still the paranormal element though I do work with an actual U.S. Marshal to ensure any procedural parts of the book are correct.

I do have Adam Frankenstein comic books and am currently working on his origin story according to my own mythology. That should be out the first part of next year.

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

Adam Frankenstein believes he is immortal because he has no soul. As life gives him opportunities to prove his worth he finds that doing what’s right isn’t always made clear and that being a monster is sometimes the only way to survive. Marked – A woman, her face half covered by a golden mask, offers herself in exchange for Adam’s help. A mob has mistaken a child with special powers as a witch and look to kill her. Adam may have taken on more than he bargained for as the child marks him in ways that will change him forever.Last Man Standing – Adam is accused of murder and a group of men hunt him down until Adam is forced to become the monster he’s accused of being. But, sometimes the worst thing that can happen is to find yourself the last man standing.Freak Show – Adam looks to fulfill the dying wish of his business partner and goes to America to find Jericho Nivens, the man’s estranged son. The house where Jericho lives is made of magic and offers to make every dream come true. However, once the bargain is made, you can never leave. The house wants Adam and will give him everything his heart desires. As the cost becomes clear Adam tries to convince Jericho to leave with him… if they can.The Madame and the Madman – No one loves revenge like Victor Dracula. When Adam asks his vampire friend to help stop a brothel that abuses children Victor’s wrath extends to Adam. Adam is left with a terrible choice; take revenge or let revenge take him.”Creepy as hell!” – Karen Rose, New York Time and International Bestselling Author

And the Last Trump Shall Sound

And the Last Trump Shall Sound by [Harry Turtledove, James Morrow, Cat Rambo]

In the not-too-distant future, Mike Pence has ascended the ladder to the presidency, but the foundation that was laid during Donald Trump’s time in office still stands strong. The United States has become little more than a caricature of its former self as its people grow more and more extreme about almost literally every issue imaginable. Finally reaching a breaking point, the west coast declares its independence and comes Pacifica, prompting the northeast to consider following suit. As both nations adjust to the change, the stories that emerge range from terrifyingly feasible to laugh out loud absurd, with just a little of the bizarre thrown in for color.

And the Last Trump Shall Sound is a trilogy of novellas that explore a different aspect of the future of Trump’s America in the wake of Pacifica’s succession. Each entry is penned by a different author and as such, projects a drastically different voice. Although each story is connected and follows a linear timeline, using different authors helps to keep it fresh. 

“The Breaking of Nations” by Harry Turtledove illustrates the first days of Pacifica and the struggles faced by its leaders. Of the three, this one is easily the most frightening for its plausibility and passages that read more like non-fiction at times. Turtledove paints the picture of a future devoid of any semblance of morality or democracy and the people who want desperately to salvage what they can.

In contrast, “The Purloined Republic”, by James Morrow takes a more absurd approach to solidifying Pacifica’s status as an independent nation, a couple of years down the road. Taking a page out of classic spy and espionage novels, Morrow’s tone is much more tongue in cheek as our heroine Polly agrees to go undercover in the hopes of undermining Pence’s legitimacy, even among the most devoted Americans. What follows is a series of events that can only be described as both ridiculous and wildly entertaining. 

The final entry is “Because it is Bitter” by Cat Rambo, and this one gets weird. Set six years after the formation of Pacifica, it veers firmly into science fiction territory, and stops just short of portraying life in America as dystopian. It combines the implications of Trump’s future with a complete lack of privacy that raises plenty of questions about freedom and manipulation. It provides a fitting end to the trilogy as it leaves the door open for both hope and uncertainty.

For me, the opening story was the weakest of the three and made getting into the book a little slow, but it was nonetheless well written and a necessary read for the other two to make sense. I thoroughly enjoyed the differences in style and tone, and would love to read more from these writers in the future.

Pages: 257 | ASIN: B086Q1M8VQ

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Solomon Levi MacKeefer: A Gypsy with a Very Great Heart

Born into a Gypsy band, Solly’s early years are marked by tricks and misdeeds. However, he reaches a turning point and chooses to lead a better life. Now an adult, he’s bent on giving his wife and daughter a good life but tragedy strikes twice. With Solly all alone in a small town, he devotes himself to building a relationship with the youth and encouraging them to turn a new leaf. His service to his community ends in one final heroic act that comes at great cost. But this act coupled with all that Solly had taught the youth would go on to change the town of Bensons Corner forever.

Gordon Planedin’s Solomon Levi Mackeefer is a short story with a big impact. The language is simple and clear and the writing speeds you along a thought-provoking journey.

Set in North America, the book focuses on some of society’s most pressing issues. The central theme answers the question: “how do we make our world whole again?” Planedin suggests we look to the younger generation. Our only option is to help this group see the essence of life and hope that with a few exemplary adults inspiring them, they can gradually change the world.

The book’s relevant messages and the events Planedin used to deliver them kept me fairly engaged. For a short story, Solly’s character development was something that advanced quickly while remaining intricate and deep.

While I found the continuity a bit off in some areas, I don’t think this should affect your understanding of the plot. Solomon Levi Mackeefer is a small book you can get through in about thirty minutes, but the story will stay with you well after you have closed the book.

Pages: 60 | ASIN: B07GF6NK2H

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Adam Frankenstein: Search for a Soul

Adam Frankenstein: Search for a Soul: A Collection of Short Stories (Adam Frankenstein Short Stories Book 2) by [Sheila English]

A more modern and brutish man than one may expect, this monster embodies both of his namesakes rather well, the innocent first man of lore and the man-made of many. The monster we meet in the collection Adam Frankenstein: Search for a Soul by Sheila English is all at once stoic and terrifying—yet he counts Mary Shelley and Van Helsing among his friends here.

In this continuation of a story we thought we knew, meet the man-made man for hire, Adam Frankenstein. He is not without his charms, however hideously disfigured. Some characteristics we may remember do remain; he is a man of few words, gigantic in stature, and will kill in terms of black and white logic. Adam has an unsettling presence yet, is profoundly gentle.

Poetically, and by murky gaslight, Sheila English dazzles the reader with pressing adventures and a companion by our side. Adam travels with his loyal dog Bella, who he protects to the bitter end of all who cross them.

In the first novella, Marked, we meet the street-wise Sabine and her charge, the young Celeste, who require help though at a glance we know they must have tremendous problems as both are more than capable of defense and have made their way through dark city streets until now, however they could.

Then, a monster’s point of view short story Last Man Standing leads the reader through a terrifying nightmare as an angry mob hunts Adam. Written in first-person, the shift is not as jarring as expected. This story is at least a refreshing change of pace and being the shortest story does not overstay its welcome. We land again on the cobblestone streets of London in another tale where we meet a vampire ally in The Madame and the Madman. While this is another kind of Dracula all together, the weaving of cherished horror stories together always makes for an entertaining read, and here is it done with both flair and grit. The reality of the sooty and smelly 19th century is used to brilliant effect in describing not only the fast-paced and bloody action, but what scant leisure time Adam is afforded. Between the two, English gives the reader a glimpse into what our hero sees in mankind when looking out of a monster’s eye. A very thoughtful creature Adam Frankenstein is, and one that readers of historical fiction and horror alike will be glad to have met.

When we come to the modern world of 1976 in Freak Show, the stage is set since we now know Adam and his cut and dry way of reasoning. Considering the people he encounters, it is a balancing act in each story to decide which of the two sides are truly flawed – questions that good fiction raises in a reader reflecting on society, and our wants and needs as earthly inhabitants. While there is a bonus story in this collection, Doll Therapy, that fits in bleak outlook and poetic prose and is presented separately. Other stories by the same author feature the titular Adam Frankenstein and with luck, there will be a larger collection for them all someday. It would be an opportunity to update the cover art as it does not reflect the high-level character crafting and adventurous ideas here that lead to wanting to read more. Adam Frankenstein himself is all five stars of five in here and recommended for a highly entertaining read that puts a cavalier edge on this classic human monster.

Pages: 138 | ASIN: B07RG7JZ42

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Trauma and Tragedy

Janine Ellis-Fynn
Janine Ellis-Fynn Author Interview

Your characters were all well developed and interesting. Who was your favorite character to write for?

My favourite character was Diane as I can identify most with her having suffered some of the same traumatic events in my own life.

What were some themes you felt were important to capture in this story?

I wanted to write a book that many women from all walks of life could identify with. I have suffered much trauma and tragedy in my life so each character I have developed is modelled on my own experiences.

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

My next book is called ‘When the Sparrow Weeps’ and will be available towards the end of 2021.

Author Links: GoodReads| Twitter | Facebook | Blog

Five women are carrying dark secrets and wrestling with crippling heartbreak. Overwhelmed by the demons chasing them they are all drawn together through a women’s support group, ‘Apples of Gold.’ Here they find the help and comfort they are longing for.But one night, in the blink of an eye their lives are shaken to the core through one random act of blind fury. As the women wait to find out the consequences, they are drawn together through strong bonds of friendship and camaraderie.As each woman confronts her inner turmoil, hearts are healed, souls are soothed and lives are changed forever. The women make peace with their Creator and finally find the freedom that has eluded them most of their lives.

November 4th: Introduction

November 4th :introduction : By Otatade Okojie by [Otatade Okojie]

November the 4th: Introduction is a compelling first-person story. The story follows the narrator’s stream of consciousness through the events of her life, including her familial ties. The story quickly turns into a thriller, with suspicions of murder and a missing person. The narrator navigates a scary internal dialogue holding suspense.

I found this story to be attention-catching. At first, it was a little weird, and I was not sure which direction it was going or even what the book was going to be about. But it quickly became engaging and suspenseful. I would suggest that the book has some edits. There are times when the story has quotation marks where they do not belong. Additionally, it leaves out contractions or uses the incorrect word form, such as your versus you’re. Overall, I highly recommend this short book. It is a thriller that slowly built up via an unsuspecting turn of events. The author handles the suspense well, making me want more.

Pages: 28 | ASIN: B08BJX54HH

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Tribulations of the Marginalized

Richa Gupta Author Interview

Richa Gupta Author Interview

Slices of Life is a collection of stories that explore life from various perspectives. Where do you find your mind often wandering when writing?

When writing, my mind wanders to several places, people, events and incidents I have either witnessed or heard about, any of which may trigger my imagination to create a plausible scenario. Sometimes, an idea or an issue I feel passionately about acts as the trigger, and I develop the characters and events subsequently. Writing each of the 12 stories in the collection from October, 2018 to April, 2020 has been a distinct process usually based on contemporary incidents. While the initial episodes described in ‘The Young Visitor’ are inspired by my own experiences while searching for a suitable cook, ‘Dusk’, written in April, 2020, is based on the tribulations of migrant workers during the lockdown due to the pandemic in India. My mind also wanders to the different genres of fiction I have read. So, while ‘Future Love Story’, in the tradition of Sci-Fi, depicts a future dystopian society in the year 2090, ‘Knots’ is a whodunit, in the genre of detective fiction, in which the murderer’s identity is revealed at the end.

My favorite story from the collection was ‘The Incomplete Story’. Do you have a favorite story from the book?

It’s like asking a mother who is her favourite child. I am deeply invested in each story and want my readers now to tell me which story appeals to them most. Each reader gives me a different answer. So, I would like to believe that there’s something in it for everyone.

What were some themes you wanted to explore while creating your characters?

Some themes I wanted to explore include the suppression of a woman’s individuality (‘Mother and Daughter’ and ‘Watershed’), the aftermath of infidelity (‘Disclosure’ and ‘Knots’), a society based on eugenics and social distancing (‘Future Love Story’), tribulations of the marginalized section of society (‘Dusk’ and ‘The Theft’) and misguided priorities in life (The Choice). In a few other stories, the intention was to create authentic vignettes of life that evoke hilarity and social satire (‘The Young Visitor’ and ‘Bridal Wear’).

Are you continuing to write short stories? Will you be publishing another collection of stories in the future?

I love the process of writing short stories, which is a different experience from writing a novel. The gestation and maturation of a story is a shorter process, and I can write it on the go. I will definitely bring out another collection of stories in the future, but I am still deliberating on what will be my next publication.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Amazon.inFacebook

Slices of Life’ is a collection of short stories or vignettes that provide an immersive and entertaining experience of diverse scenarios of life in motion. They are slivers of existence with the ingredients of plot and characters, sprinkled with human emotion, pervaded by the aroma of human dilemmas and served in the platter of lucid language. Sometimes searing with agony and often pervaded with beauty and yearning in the midst of travails in a contemporary or futuristic reality, they explore relationships and the human struggle to find meaning amidst chaos. They describe the consequences of our choices and characters who are at the threshold of a discovery or have reached the zenith of tolerance. The universal themes and enduring images of commonplace individuals in the swirl of life are embedded in a mixed bag of genres ranging from bathos and futuristic SciFi to grim Realistic fiction and a suspenseful Whodunit.

Slices Of Life

Slices Of Life by [Richa Gupta]

Slices of Life holds a collection of riveting short stories that explore contemporary life from the perspective of compelling people living their life. Within every story we explore different themes through the varied challenges characters face. The drama is grounded, but the emotions are palpable. Richa Gupta is able to capture how life feels with stimulating language that evokes a range of emotions. It’s a sentimental collection of stories about life and the people in it.

What I liked most about this book was the way in which it portrayed people; they were always authentic and I could empathize with the characters in the story. Some stories explore how choices and shape our lives, while others probe the depths of passion and pain. I couldn’t nail down the genre of this book because its a combination of so many. Which is a perk for the reader as you are surely guaranteed to find a story that you like, a story that you will love, and a story that you can see yourself in.

Slices of Life can is perfect for reading on the go. You can get through a short story while waiting for the bus or waiting in line. Richa Gupta is able to achieve a high level of accessibility with her stories with simple language, short stories, and thought-provoking themes. Each story is vibrant, just like the book cover.

Richa Gupta has written a phenomenal piece of literature that holds something for everyone. This book reminds me of the documentary indie film Life in a Day by Kevin Macdonald and Loressa Clisby. A snapshot of intriguing people overcoming obstacles we can all relate to.

Pages: 184 | ASIN: B08CCB6J8M

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