The Battle of Barkow tells the tale of dark vs light, good vs evil, from a world where magic is not all bad, and religion is not all good. He takes readers into the mind of his characters and through them shows the good and bad of society. In the words of Paul Simmonds, “Two men will embark on a journey that will change their lives forever, if there is a forever at all. For in the world that they live it is not named nor is it entirely different from that of our own early world” (Simmonds: prologue). The characters are intricate and plagued by the same assemblage of emotions as any other person; kindness, compassion, greed, hate, bigotry and evil. This superb confluence leaves you wondering who is going to come out on top in this novel, the simple man of God, the magician, the girl that doesn’t speak, or the dark forces that are mounting?
The story starts out with a man, hidden in a cloak speaking with an elderly woman. No names are used, but it is clear the women is a sorceress and he is there for her assistance. He is angry, he feels he has been wronged by others and denied his rightful riches and power, this woman offers him the vengeance he so greatly desires, but warns the price he will pay will be high. While she does not disclose the price, it is implying that it will not be all together pleasant for the man, but he hesitantly agrees desiring his vengeance over all else. From here the story jumps 125 years later. We meet Bolan, a simple man of God. He takes no excessive pride in his status and simply ponders life as it comes, he does not dwell too much on the past or the future. He agrees to take on an assignment for the church delivering holy books to the neighboring towns. With him goes his longtime friend and magician in training Hogarth. Hogarth can do simple magic but longs to learn more, to become something great in world that will make a difference. It is on this journey that they meet Sterre, the young women that does not speak but communicates in a form of sign language and drawings. Sterre has the gift of visions and has predicted a great danger to the city of Barkow. Barkow is the capital of sorts for this world, it is where the Pope lives and where all their laws begin. Towns outside of Barkow are not as strict as in the holy city. Bolan, Hogarth and Sterre travel to the city of Barkow to warm them of the impending trouble that Sterre has foreseen. While they are traveling to the city, the dark forces are also headed there as well. They have no names to start, as readers we only see their evil and destruction, wiping towns out, stripping them of all life leaving no one alive to bear witness to what has happened.
The journey that these three take brings them in contact with many others, some are willing to help fully, others offer veiled advice. Some are strong war heroes that have their own battles to fight but ultimately must decide between their own personal gains or the greater good. We are left looking at a vast cross section of people whose characteristics could be anyone in modern society. In The Battle of Barkow Simmonds is able to show us that their may be darkness in us, but being good is a choice, and often times we fall somewhere in between.
Pages: 240 | ASIN: B06XK7YDBX
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Lord Athina is an interesting story about Jim, who’s killed in an accident, gets his soul sent back in time and placed into a sixteen year old girl. How did you come about this original idea and how did that develop into a story?
My story development path starts with a blank computer screen. I think up a situation and start writing. A lot of times I’ll write up to 5,000 words before a true idea comes to mind, if at all. If what I have written catches my attention I let my imagination run for while. By this time I’ve an idea concerning the main character. Who he or she is. In this case I wrote a bit about Jim and his hard luck life. It then came to mind what if he died and was reborn, which finally changed to being placed in the body of a girl. Most people have seen Freaky Friday, or a similar version. Once this came across as a possibility, I started looking into a starting point and began writing off the top of my head. That’s my style of writing. Off the cuff. Once I transferred Jim into Athina, the situations presented themselves.
Jim finds himself in the body of a sixteen year old girl. How did you go about writing what it would be like to be stuck in a girls body?
I’ve read many history books which gave me some insights into the daily lives of women back in olden times. I also asked my girlfriend and my editor of what I’d have to learn to take care of a girls body and what they go through to keep clean and healthy.
I found that the magic used in the novel was efficiently used to great effect. How did you approach using magic in your story so that it’s believable?
I’ve read a lot of fantasy stories and enjoyed them. A lot I noted used quite a bit of magic. As this is my first series, I wanted to keep magic at a minimum so I could pay more attention to the characters then what spell was used and how powerful can I make them. In addition, by limiting the spells, I didn’t have to come up with ways to try and counter the spells, their by making the effects believe able.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will that be published?
My next book is Lady Athina. This is the second book in a 4 part series. Lady Athina is currently on the market at Amazon.com.
Jim Sanders is the first-born son of a city planning official in New York. Brought up in the midst of street gangs, construction, and the greed of politicians, Jim learns to keep physically fit and watch his back. Tired of the stress, he moves to Los Angeles to build his own construction company. But the hard knocks of life seek him out even here—Jim becomes the center of several vicious wrongful death lawsuits, caused by third-rate materials he never ordered. Hospitalized for a mental breakdown, and slapped with a divorce, Jim is exonerated only after he’s lost everything.
Released from the hospital, Jim reapplies himself in an attempt to overturn his failing company, but then he’s killed in an auto accident. Relieved from his troubled life, his soul ascends skyward. But fate is not done with Jim, for instead of heaven, Jim awakes back on Earth in the past, sealed in the body of a sixteen-year-old girl named Athina, mother to a newborn baby and heir to a citadel. Due to a healing spell gone awry, Jim is now breasts-deep in a firestorm of medieval social plots. Like a newborn babe in this unfamiliar world, Jim must now cope with primitive political realities from the opposite gender with only his wits and a devoted nursemaid who was deceived of her true charge’s death.
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Lisen is not your average seventeen-year-old hermit in the mystical land of Garla. D. Hart St. Martin’s first book in the Lisen of Solsta series, Fractured, takes us on Lisen’s complicated journey of discovering her destiny in a land where people will pay a high price to obtain power. After spending seven years on Earth, Lisen is brought back to Garla to fulfill her fate: become the Empir, bring peace to Garla, and prevent her tyrannical brother from taking over the throne. With the aid of nobles, captains, and magical hermits, Lisen learns how to adapt to the pressures of her new life, embrace her destiny, and win the battle raging inside her head.
Fractured by D. Hart St. Martin is a captivating story of heroism, greed, and fulfilling one’s destiny; but what makes this novel so unique is how the characters, and the world itself, break gender stereotypes and social norms. Fractured is Book One in the Lisen of Solsta series, and this book focuses on the life of Lisen Holt, or rather, Lisen of Solsta. The novel begins with the kidnapping of seventeen-year-old Lisen on a beach in California. Once she comes to her senses, Lisen finds that she’s been taken to Garla, a world that resembles the magical-medieval world of Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. Astonished with every new discovery she makes, Lisen learns about her new “home” in Solsta, the land of hermits (people with mystical powers who are removed from society). Most interestingly of all, Lisen discovers that she used to live there as a child, but due to a prophetic vision, her guardians hid her away on Earth for seven years to ensure no harm came to her. Thus, when she returns to Garla and Solsta, Lisen feels both uncertainty and vague familiarity, and her memories (and necropathic skills) slowly return over time.
What I loved most about the novel is that it plays with the idea of who (or what) is truly in charge of shaping our “path” in life. It calls into question the idea of fate, and Lisen initially pushes against her destiny when she’s told that she’s the heir of Garla. Lisen also suffers from a memory lapse and must go through extensive training with Captain Rosarel and Holder Corday before she can take over as Empir (or ruler), in order to prevent her tyrannical brother from ruling Garla. I find this theme particularly interesting when combined with the “hero’s journey” plotline, as Lisen is much more complex than the archetypical “hero.” Throughout the novel, Lisen goes through stages of grief once she discovers she can no longer access her old life back on Earth, but several events throughout her journey prove what her life’s purpose truly is.
While some of the minor characters’ voices (such as Eloise and Nalin) were drowned out by the main characters, Lisen is truly brought to life through Hart St. Martin’s fluid and compelling writing style. I thought Lisen’s personality was fun and authentic; Hart St. Martin accurately captured the sassy attitude of a teenager who’s forced to learn a whole new way of living (I mean, who wouldn’t be sassy about that?). While she seems to have accepted her fate by the end of the novel, it’ll be interesting to see where Lisen’s “destiny” takes her next.
Pages: 317 | ASIN: B0098RN2KG
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The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana is book two in the Ialana series and picks up right where book the first one left off. What was your inspiration for the setup of this story and how did that help you create the ending?
In the setup for the second book, I wanted to bring in two very diverse, but related, elements to play off each other. The first one was the continuation of the training of the Six in elemental command, and the advanced use of crystals. The second was the power struggle for control of Ialana by the ruling classes.
I wanted to further illustrate how the forgotten laws of the universe, otherwise known as “magic”, can be used for opposite ends. When someone understands fully how the universe works, that actions always have consequences, and what those consequences may be, then they will not abuse this knowledge to gain personal power over others. To do this knowingly would feel insane to them. On the other hand, when someone learns only how to manipulate power for his or her own purposes, without understanding the consequences, then they will always suffer the inevitable consequences. This, I felt, produced a satisfactory ending, as the natural laws of the universe came into play.
The Six go through a thrilling and perilous journey to make it home while avoiding a shape shifting king. Is there any moral or idea that you hope readers take away from the story?
The perils the Six faced were the results, or consequences, of the misuse of power by others. It is the same in the real world, the one we inhabit. The monstrous creatures the Six encountered could be seen by us as disease, poverty, ignorance, and despair—the consequences of misunderstanding or ignorance of the laws of the universe. It is also known in this world as Karma. It doesn’t have to be personal to one to experience consequences of others’ actions and their misuse of power. It affects everyone at some point, but I also wanted to stress that when one is willing to learn, then one can find protection in knowledge, create a different reality for themselves, and avoid needless suffering.
Just like in book one, the characters are all well developed. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight the characters development?
The Buddhists believe that suffering produces growth. For me, it seems unnecessary when one understands how to use the laws of the universe correctly, but in many instances, suffering works, and the trials the Six went through all contributed to more understanding about themselves. For example, in the first book, it was difficult for them to work together as a team. They did not understand their goal, their past, or about the nature of reality. Once they went through different trials together, they learned how to work as a team, understanding what their common goal was.
Another thing that occurs to me, is that one appreciates knowledge so much more when it has not come easily, and, it does make the books so much more entertaining!
What is the next story that you’re writing and when will it be published?
The next one is already published. It is the third in the series, The Six and Anwyn of Ialana. This book continues with the adventures of the Six, only with some exciting new characters, and an old enemy that resurfaces, but in a more frightening form. The difficulties for the Six in this book ramp up in tandem with their abilities and responsibilities. With great power often comes even greater responsibility, and this book will not disappoint.
I am working on a fourth in the series, no title as yet, but this one promises to be the best one so far. I have learned much from the first three books, and I also wanted to take the Six in a new direction and bring in problems they had not faced before. This book has a whole new feel to it, but it does retain the elements of mystery and adventure that my readers have enjoyed, while keeping the characters intact, and introducing even more challenges for them.
While this book is still in the early stages, it should be published sometime in 2017. My website and Facebook page will keep readers updated.
The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana is now in the production stages of audio book narration by the same talented narrator, Jeff Hays, who narrated the first book. I intend to release all books of the series in audio, as well as ebook and print, in 2017.
In a seamless continuation of the first book in the series, “The Six and the Crystals of Ialana”, the six healers find themselves caught in the midst of a power struggle between the competing rulers of Ialana. Unable to complete their healing mission, to heal mutants who were genetically altered by crystal manipulation, they flee the Galonese warlord, Ortzi, and attempt a dangerous journey back to their homes in northern Ialana. Trapped by malevolent creatures, hunted by a monster who seeks them for reasons of its own, and on the run from a king and a conniving shape-shifter, there seems to be no place of safety for them. Will they find the mysterious abode of the Gardeners? Who are the Gardeners, and what is their purpose for the Six? Will The Six be able to find Queen Catrin, who sets off on a quest of her own, or will Catrin run afoul of her husband, King Brenin, before she can find The Six? In The Gardeners of Ialana, the Six explore the mysteries of healing, elemental command, and through many more trials, learn their true purpose in life.
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The Mansion’s Family follows Savannah and Ellie as they try to restore the magical balance of the world. What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story?
One of my major themes was the idea of good and evil inside each person, and how no one can be entirely one or the other. Ellie and Savannah are seen at first glance as pure and good, and in The Mansion’s Family, they must face their own darkness. The theme of family was of course another important one. I wanted to start a discussion about the different kinds of families, what makes a family, and the effects (both good and bad) your family can have on you.
Are you a fan of the fantasy genre? What books do you think most influenced your work?
I’ve always been a huge fan of the fantasy genre. Books like the Harry Potter series sparked my love of fantasy and magic. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials was a huge inspiration, mainly for the idea of other worlds. Inkheart is another. I love the concept of a book coming to life in the real world, an idea that has influenced my books later in the series.
What is one pivotal moment in the story that you think best defines Savannah and Ellie? Did any of the characters development occur organically through the story or was it planned?
I think a pivotal moment is when the girls discover the cause of the storm, and learn their part in preventing another one. The decision they have to make forces them to take a hard look at themselves, and come to terms with the fact that they can’t (and shouldn’t have to) always be the world’s perfect image of “The Senka Twins.” A great deal of the character development was organic. When I first started writing the series, I thought my main theme would be good vs evil, and have nothing really to do with families. When family themes began to emerge, I decided to just let them, and I’m glad I did.
Where does the story go in the next book and where do you see it going in the future?
I’m at the point where the story splits into several directions. I’ve recently published a prequel, Acapella Angels which tells the story of Ellie and Savannah’s parents. I have another prequel in the works, reaching further back, all the way to the world’s beginnings. Continuing the present timeline, Twisted Twins will pick up where The Mansion’s Family left off. This will reveal what’s in store for Eva, Jordan, and Dece. In the future, I want to keep the series moving between the magical world and our own world. Sent from a Dream will have the characters meeting their author, and from there on, these worlds will be forever connected.
The cause of the storm remains a mystery, and June fears there could be another. She enlists the help of the Senka twins, but the girls only grow frustrated after hitting dead ends. Ellie is far more curious about what she and Savannah might find on the other world, and eventually, June agrees to let them go. Exploring the other world, the twins discover far more than what they bargained for. Secrets of the past are revealed, both in the mansion, and beyond the shadow cave. Though Jerome remains bound in the forest, the trap grows weak, and a battle is coming. Ellie and Savannah are no warriors, but they still have an important part to play. This time their mission is not to rebuild, it is one of great sacrifice. They discover a secret of their magic, one that will allow them once again to keep the mansion’s people safe. But the price may be too high to pay.
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Soul Searcher takes place in a world where magic is as common as breathing, but a soul transfer goes terribly wrong. This is an intriguing setup to an epic fantasy novel. What was your moral goal when writing this novel and do you feel you’ve achieved it?
I wrote a good portion of Soul Searcher while I was working as an Adult Felony Probation Officer. Working in such a position gives a person the opportunity to experience many different views of why we are here, in this life. One such outlook was the need to obtain immediate gratification without forethought of the moral costs or consequences: addiction. Another outlook was the sometimes jaded, superior opinion many in the field get when working in that environment. Mordeth was addicted to the power of his position and the euphoria of the magical weave, and he felt he was justified in what he was doing. This addiction made him impatient, and his superiority caused him to other the criminals, to make them less than he. Mordeth’s straying from the moral code of society led to his downfall and to wasted years. He forgot he was supposed to serve instead of being served.
Rork is an intriguing character that knows little about his past. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight the characters development?
First and foremost, Rork felt he needed no one. That is false. No matter how strong or independent, we all need someone. Everyone has unique traits and skills, but no one person is perfect. We all have weaknesses, and Rork sure had his. In discovering friendship, Rork improved his place in the world and brightened his existence. Also, Rork lacked faith in a power higher. He needed to learn to believe and have faith; his ax, Retorter, could not hack its way through everything. In the end, that was his redemption.
How did you balance magic and its use throughout the story to keep it believable?
I wanted magic to be addictive, to siphon life with each usage. It may cost seconds, minutes, hours, days or years of life with the depth of the draw. A Mage-Lord could instantly light a torch with a wave of his hand and only lose seconds of his life–about the same amount of time it would have taken to physically light it– or she could wield destructive power and lose years of life. A mage would have to balance his or her current need with the cost and danger, because accepting the weave is addicting and dangerous.
What is the next book that you’re working on and when can your fans expect it out?
I am working on Shadow Court. Rork’s redemption is complete, but his atonement is ongoing. Rork has to face all he did as Mordeth, and that man’s sins are far reaching. Shadow Court will be out January 2017.
Soul Searcher: The Reckoning details the journey of one man, Rork, as he strives to find his past and answers to the strange memories and images which have plagued him for the past ten years. In making this journey, he will discover who he really is…and was. Along the way, Rork gathers to his side an enigmatic forester with ties to a long-forgotten race, that young man’s secret protector, and a boisterous islander with pride as large as the open canyon country. In the end, Rork finds himself torn between what he must do for himself and what he can do for others around him, for he learns of friendship and caring, and that it hard for a man with only half a soul. The past cannot be changed, and for some, the reality of that may prove too much to accept.
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Silverblood Demons follows Kylar as he is plagued by demonic dreams that have turned sexual and led him to father three children. What was the inspiration for this interesting and provocative idea?
Thank you so much for asking that question. Since I was Kylar’s age I have been having ‘exactly’ those experiences. Sometimes they would happen day after day, and at other times it would stop for a year or so. After countless nights of terror I began to realise (I’m British, hence the ‘s’ in realise) that despite the supernatural element to the sexual advances upon my body, I would find myself in a weird and wacky way not entirely ‘unhappy’. Part two of the answer is that after talking about this to a close friend that teaches acting classes at her college, (The character Kat in my novel was inspired by this friend) she suggested that I write a book about my experiences and that led to Silverblood Demons being born 🙂
In a whirlwind fashion Kylar is plunged into an unexpected quest to rescue the daughters he never knew he had. What were some influences for the relationship between Kylar and his daughters?
Wow, I never even asked myself that question. Hmm, I guess if I dig really deep, in a flashback kinda way, I’d have to say that the daughter’s my first wife and I lost during her miscarriages may have led to me bringing them back to life in a way that I could reconnect with them again…
There is a lot of well developed characters in Silverblood Demons. Which character was your favorite to write for and why?
Lol, I really can’t select just one without upsetting the rest of my novel’s sister’s and daughter’s etc. They are in many ways, different aspects of who I am in my imagination, or would like to be when faced with real life’s challenges. Sometimes when I’m dreaming I think they visit me (Yeah I know it sound like I’m really ‘out there’ and then again, maybe I am?) they seem to give me clues about which direction I should take in my life.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be published?
It’s going to be the 2nd book of the trilogy Daughters of Darkness and is going to be called
Silverblood Sister’s (Yup, that’s a Hungry Monster exclusive title reveal!!!)
It’s currently in progress and I’d like for my cast to hurry up and get their collective acts together by midsummer 2017 so that we can all find out what happened to…
Twenty three year old Kylar has finally had enough of the demonic nightmares that have been plaguing him since childhood. Deciding to learn why some of them have turned so sexual, he seeks answers at a close friend’s occult bookstore where she reveals to him that he has been used by demons to father three girls while in a semi-state of sleeping. Soon after, he also learns that he has two estranged sisters that have incredible powers and together they set out on a journey that takes them to literal Hell and back in an effort to rescue his daughters. While embarking on this quest, he struggles internally with an existing relationship with his current girlfriend. It becomes further complicated when an ex-girlfriend, Sin-dy, that has never given up on the idea that one day they would be together again, also joins him as they face off several times with the demon Ophelexa and her sidekicks. One of his daughters, a natural born warrior, fifteen year old Amber, becomes an integral part of the battle to take back home not just her siblings, but millions of other teenaged virgin girls held in a ‘Paradise’ in Hell that are destined to be used in a fiendish plot to give birth to more demons and ultimately control all of Earth’s inhabitants. Risking everything for everyone comes along with a heavy price that is paid by all that set out on this epic battle that has more beginnings than endings.
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In Stephen S. Arend’s Soul Searcher The Reckoning Part One the reader will find themselves on an incredible journey that will not only take them to the heart of battle but to the depths of the human soul. In a world where magic is as common as breathing, a soul transfer goes terribly wrong. The Mage-Lord Mordeth is attempting to complete a magic ritual where he can obtain a sliver of immortality. Thwarted and split in two the reader will meet the protagonist of Arend’s tale: Rork. A crafted man with half a soul and even less emotion, Rork prowls the world trying to deny the dreams he has which give small betrayals of his involvement with Mordeth. A large man who has been alive for only ten years Rork finds that he is missing much and is less than reluctant to find out where exactly he came from and how.
Arend does a wonderful job when it comes to emotion in his tale. Rork is full of rage and anger for a variety of reasons. He has been alive for a snippet of time. All he knows is battle and the haunting dreams that plague his sleep. Due to his firecracker temper which is liable to go off at the drop of a pin Rork finds himself saddled with an unexpected package: the scout Bregan. It seems like oil and water have met and are now expected to become friends. Rork immediately voices his disapproval over traveling with the young whip but what he will ultimately learn from his adventures with the scout. Both are more like boys in the beginning and Arend captures the metamorphosis into men quite well.
In a fantastically described world where magic is woven with intricacies even the smallest detail is given quite beautiful description. It is quite easy for the reader to picture the story in their minds as they read. You won’t be left guessing what expression the characters were wearing or what color the trees are when you read Soul Searcher.
For a first part Arend does masterfully in capturing the readers’ attention and lays out the ground work for subsequent tales. Information is freely given yet there is still more to be learned. These are key elements in any piece of work that is meant to go longer than the tome at hand.
With carefully crafted battle scenes and delicate explanations of magic Stephen Arend knows what his novel is about and is diligent in conveying the story to the reader. He takes the relationship between two unlikely friends and uses it to tell his tale. He doesn’t over embellish the tale which can be a major faux-pas for many fantasy writers. He uses his skills to convey the story in all it’s glory without diminishing the importance of the relationship between the two men. Other writers would gloss over the importance they play for each other and how they are essential to the development of each man’s personality,
Soul Searcher is a fantastical novel that is sure to delight those who read it. It’s not a fluffy piece where magic is used to make tarts and cakes. This is an involved and epic tale that is sure to keep your eyes glued to the words until the very end.
Pages: 222 | ASIN: B01IQP0QOU
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