The Infinity series follows star crossed lovers through the ages and combines fantasy and historical fiction to breathtaking effect. What served as your inspiration while writing this series?
Most authors will say that their books can be read in any order but they are lying through their teeth. You’ll pick up one book and read 75 spoilers for another. I really hate that. You’ll select a later book and be completely lost while reading as if you’re in a convoluted fog until you eventually give up. My goal with the Infinity series was to create a set of books that could truly stand alone. Every book takes place in an entirely different lifetime. Readers can choose the setting and plot that seems interesting and jump right in without having to work their way down a reading list. You can start the series where ever you want, read just one book or the whole set, and no story will ever spoil another.
Sarah is an amazing and strong character that continued to develop throughout the series. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?
The fantasy genre has a serious deficit of characters of color. Growing up, I was a huge Fear Street fan. I must have read at least forty of these young adult novels. I found one black character out of all the stories and she wasn’t even the main character. She was merely a side note featured in just one book. There were no black people in Middle Earth, no Hispanic archeologists raiding tombs like Indiana Jones, and there were no Asian teens living on Fear Street. I love a badass white man with a sword adventure as much as anyone else and I don’t mind reading my hundredth reluctant to marry white princess story. But there are no words to express how it feels to NEVER be able to read about a character who looks like you. This is especially important for children and young adults who are still unsure of themselves and not quite comfortable in their own skin. Authors should not be sending a message that white is the default setting (nor should we be sending the message that one body type is the default setting). I will never understand how the most imaginative of all the book genres could be so utterly closedminded in regard to the way characters look. Fantasy authors can envision elves, fairies, goblins, and orcs but characters of color are not in the realm of possibilities. I intend to change this with Sarah’s character and many others.
Although the settings changed in each book, you were still able to deliver some outstanding backdrops and characters. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing this series?
The main theme I wanted to express was that love is never easy. While doing research for my Civil War era series I stumbled upon the most stunning love stories I’d ever read and they were all true life events. The one that touched me most was about a former slave man, who I’ll call Jim. His wife and children were still slaves, though he was working tirelessly to earn the money to free them. The plantation master had gotten behind on his taxes and the government was going to seize his property (including slaves) and auction off everything (and everyone) to cover his debts. Jim’s wife wrote him letters in regard to this pending catastrophe. It soon became clear that no matter how hard Jim worked he would never have enough money in time to free them all. He would never see his wife again, they would never see their children again because being sold often meant sold separately. Jim did the only thing he could to save his family. He met with a group of abolitionists and they planned a rescue mission. The mission was foiled by a snitch and Jim died. They found his body with love letters from his wife still in his pocket. His story was no exception. There were many like it. Why are these tragedies relevant? Because love like this is rare in our day and age. Absentee parents have to be forced to pay child support, forced to even visit their kids, while Jim sacrificed everything for his kids. Couples divorce for trivial and absurd reasons, while Jim died with his wife’s letters in his pocket during a battle to the death to save her. I wanted to write a series that reminds my generation that love is never easy but people used to fight for it anyway. Why can’t we?
What is a Medium Adult novel?
Medium Adult Literature is a term I use for books that are more mature and complex than Young Adult novels but not as daunting as a 400-page Adult story. My Medium Adult books are written for people who’ve outgrown Harry Potter and Goosebumps but aren’t ready to dive into Stephen King and Game of Thrones. The romances in my medium adult series are more passionate and involved than a teen book but not as smutty as an adult romance. Sexuality, bad language, and graphic descriptions of violence are dialed back in my medium adult books without making the plot childish and unrelatable. I keep these books short and fun, usually 150-200 pages, an adventure that a busy college student can squeeze into his/her schedule without having to read a children’s book.
With that said… I must warn that the Infinity books are the only ones I’ve written with such restraint. My full adult novels are raw and uncensored beware.
What is one thing you felt the fantasy genre was missing that you wanted to introduce in your series?
PASSION!! I’ve always loved fantasy stories. I am swept off my feet by all the chivalry, action, and supernatural mystique. But the romance in fantasy books leaves me disappointed at worst and underwhelmed at best. The lead characters either can’t stand one another or completely ignore one another for over half the book. When they finally acknowledge their feelings you spend the entire second half of the book waiting for them to act. After reading 400 pages and wasting a week of your life you are rewarded with one measly kiss on the very last page. In traditional fantasy, the action moves fast but the romance moves sloooooooow. My desires for passion, drama, and love led me to historical romance. This turned out to be a mistake. While historical romance books were chock full of passion, drama, and love, I found the plots predictable, unimaginative, and incredibly slow moving. To this day I have never finished a traditional romance novel. I wrote the Infinity series as a hybrid of fantasy and historical romance so readers can enjoy the best of both worlds.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Infinity: Transylvania will be the next installment in print. Matthew and Sarah, are plunged into a world of darkness. Immortal beings with an insatiable hunger for blood rule the night. As a ruthless foreign army threatens to conquer Transylvania, Matthew is forced to choose between watching his kingdom fall, or joining forces with the vampires…
I hope to have it written and submitted for review in December. I can’t give an exact release date because the review process can take weeks or even months but I aim to have Transylvania available for purchase mid-March of 2019. Every book I create endures a rigorous screening process. Only books that receive EXCELLENT reviews from at least three different companies are marked as fit for readers. Novels are judged on many elements, such as plot, characters, dialogue, scenery and accuracy of setting. The purpose of all this reviewing is to provide high-quality stories for an enjoyable reading experience. For a complete list of five-star ratings refer to the Banner of Excellence on each cover.
Literary Titan is always my first stop on the road to a great novel because of the phenomenal work they do. I have trusted them with all my books and it’s been an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
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Undercurrents in Time follows Tabitha as she sets off on her own adventures to try and understand what will happen to her family in the future. What were some themes that you felt were important and wanted to explore in this novel?
I felt the theme of balancing family and personal identity were very important, as this is something that happens to may women. Hence, the focus and tone does become a little different in Undercurrents in Time. There is also a theme of love/romance, as one’s expectations of love sometimes experience drastic changes as life goes on. However, there is still some fun in this book. Tabitha is a little rebellious as she tries to deal with her perceived loss of personal identity. She is a stubborn, strong-willed woman just as she was in Detours in Time.
Tabitha is an interesting character that I enjoyed exploring. What served as your inspiration while you were creating her character?
They say to write what you know. Well, I sure don’t always do that, however, I have spent a lifetime of holding in my opinions and second guessing the things I have said. Maybe that is what turned me into a writer. I revisit and reinvent my responses to scenarios from my life. I made Tabitha a strong-willed, outspoken woman, as that is what I have been taught not to be all my life, yet, I have always been stubborn. I think she deals with it in a healthier way. She is also never a peace maker just for the sake of being a peace maker. Her experiences in this book go back to some of my experiences with marriage and motherhood. I imagined some of the things I really longed to do when I was at that point in my life. However, I wanted to make her heroic. So, she was based on a mix of myself, the person I wish I was, and the personality of Jodie Foster’s character in Contact. (If I had to choose an existing character).
What were some ideas you wanted to carry over from Detours in Time and what were some new ideas you wanted to expand on in this book?
I wanted to revisit the character of Sal and expand a little bit on the character of Louise as well as giving some story to their family. In between, we have Calais. I also wanted Sal to have more backstory in this timeline while giving more backstory to Tabitha’s brother, Jared, whose life is drastically different in this timeline.
Ideas I carried over were the differences between Milt and Tabitha’s personalities, and how Milt really does not try to change her. Another was the suffering we do for our family members, learning to love them while stepping back a little and balancing our concern for them with concern for ourselves. Another thing I wanted to expand on the reality of love, how the illusion of new love is never the same as what you have a few years later. Yet, there is hope. I am trying not to give away key plot points here….
Are you a fan of the science fiction genre? What are some of your favorite time travel movies or books?
I certainly am a fan of the science fiction genre! When I was younger, I’d read my mom’s Stephen King books and just loved how they warped my understanding of reality. I loved Planet of the Apes, Back to the Future, Dr. Who, and many futuristic dystopian books and movies. I loved reading Kings 11-22-63 and the Outlander series, though I am hard-pressed to read her recent 1,000 pages tomes. I also loved The Time Traveler’s Wife, which was a mix of time travel and romance. To be honest, I haven’t read that many time travel books, it is more the time travel shows that have impressed on me, that and historical fiction or dystopian fiction. I love to ponder how things would be different if we tweaked just one little facet of our lives.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
Malachi (from Undercurrents) is speaking to me. It’s funny, I also started a story last fall about Norrie from the Made for Me series, but I think Malachi will be next. However, that could change. Can you tell I don’t write full-time? Sometimes I write to shave off remnants of a bad day, or I catch a mood. I get inspired at times by the oddest things. I am sure this is why the tone in my novels is not always the same. At any rate, I write a lot in Nov. and Dec. when there is less daylight, then I send to beta-readers, ruminate on it, revise, etc. Summer is usually when I like to publish a book because I teach, and summer allows me time to devote to releasing a book. However, I have short story ideas that I may release in the fall or spring. Following my newsletter is a great way to get notice of my stories or new releases, as I sometimes send free short stories to those on my newsletter list. I have ideas for other characters from Undercurrents in Time as well as new ideas that may not get the attention they need until I retire. Please don’t ask when that is. I have got to play the lottery more often…For sure, I will have plenty to keep me busy!
Now it seems the very things that cemented their bond will also drive a wedge between them emotionally. Travel to the future, discovery of a long-lost, troubled family member, and an unplanned baby all have taken a toll. Tabitha struggles to accept her new identity as a mother while remaining a strong, independent woman. She longs for a getaway, even a short one, but that getaway puts her on a collision course with danger.
Milt is busy trying to prevent a horrible future disaster at the hands of an enemy he has not yet met. While concerned, Milt doesn’t even suspect Tabitha’s plans, the very plans that will have her facing Milt’s nemesis.
Tabitha risks it all on a brief escape. How will she handle the unforeseen dangers she faces and make her way back home? How far will Tabitha and Milt go to prevent tragedy?
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Book of Matthew Part I is a tale of forbidden love in rural Missouri in 1850 which was a tumultuous time in the U.S. What was the inspiration that inspired the setup to this intriguing novel?
It all began with a conversation. I had just started dating the man who is now my husband and we were still getting to know one another. He asked if I would vote in the upcoming election and I replied, “of course I will. My ancestors fought and died to give me the right to. Without their sacrifices I wouldn’t be able to vote, own property, read, let alone attend my university. I wouldn’t even be able to date you.” After that conversation I started to wonder how difficult it would have been to have an interracial relationship centuries ago and my first book was born.
I have always been a lover of suspense, mystery and horror so I decided to write in these genres. My goal was to create a Jack the Ripper sort of villain, while maintaining the drama, romance and personal conflicts that make characters relatable and memorable.
While growing up I noticed a double standard in regard to history. If you were white and you wanted to trace your lineage back to the Mayflower this was perfectly acceptable. People were intrigued to hear your family’s history and they encouraged and praised your vast knowledge of a bygone era… but if you were black you were often discouraged from learning anything about your ancestry. I was told things like, “Black people need to leave the plantation,” and “Black people live in the past and need to just forget things.” Yearning to educate myself about the past is not the same as living in it. I didn’t desire someone to blame or scapegoat, all I wanted was the same answers that other races of children were encouraged to seek out.
When I received correspondence from readers in England, France, Ireland and several countries in Africa they applauded my stories and said, “Wow! This was a fascinating look at American history.” Not Black history, nor African American history. Other countries acknowledge this topic as American history because that’s exactly what it is. When I am criticized for this subject matter my response remains the same,
I don’t write racist literature. Nor do I write black history. I write American history.
The book touches on sensitive social topics rarely discussed, slavery and the dynamic between master and slave. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this story?
The main theme I wanted to capture was that every form of this institution was morally reprehensible. When I grew up in school most of my teachers refused to teach this subject whatsoever. We would skip over huge chunks of our textbooks just to avoid it. The few who did teach about it romanticized the hell out of it, and made it seem acceptable because “most slaves were like part of the family” …I actually heard this more than once. What I desired to express in this story was that even if you were a house slave who was treated better than others and much like part of the family, merely being owned endangered your life because someone has diminished your social standing from that of a human being to that of a piece of property. This fact alone placed even the best treated of slaves at risk for kidnapping, rape and murder with no law enforcement to save them.
Second, I wanted to make it known that when some of us are slaves, we all are. Destitute white men, minorities and women of all colors were treated as second class citizens because of that system of inequality.
Third, I wanted to acknowledge all the people who were adamantly opposed to slavery and fought against it at every turn. 400 years of Americans are blamed and villainized for what some people did. Though slavery was socially acceptable, not everyone agrees with 100% of what is socially acceptable. Disagreeing with social norms is what makes us individuals. Fighting against corrupt social norms is what makes us heroes. The people who stood against these heinous acts are rarely recognized, but without them our society would’ve failed to evolve.
Sarah is a slave that is targeted by a serial killer that murders with impunity. What were the driving ideals behind Sarah’s character development?
The driving force behind Sarah’s character development was the total lack thereof I have witnessed in similar stories. In many of the plantation novels I have read the slaves are faceless one-dimensional victims who serve as little more than background for white main characters. The female slave characters were poorly developed and served as little more than objects of lust incapable of inspiring true feelings of love and affection. Reading a plantation novel with no black main characters is like reading Memoirs of a Geisha with no geisha. These stories failed to capture my attention and I found the characters unrealistic and totally unrelatable. When I wrote a book I was determined to make sure there were black main characters as well as white ones, and that ALL of my characters have depth and unique personalities. I wanted Sarah’s character to have hopes, dreams, ambitions, drama and romantic conflicts of her own. I yearned to put a human face on a slave character, an aspect rarely seen in books of this nature. Though there have been many forbidden lust stories in this genre I wanted to give Sarah an against all odds forbidden love story readers wouldn’t soon forget.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Revelations: The Colburn Curse is a prequel to Book of Matthew that traces the Colburn family back to their beginnings in New Orleans, Louisiana. In this story Matt Colburn Sr. is a young plantation heir who has been given the duty of protecting an aristocrat named, Arial. He falls madly in love with the elusive heiress, but she is hiding a deadly secret that has made her the target of the Louisiana Strangler, a secret that endangers everyone she holds dear, especially Matt. This book is already available for purchase on amazon.com.
The Infinity series is based on the many star crossed lifetimes of Sarah and Matthew. I wrote this series for readers who enjoy historical suspense but prefer a tale with less violence and adult content. Three of the ten books are already available on amazon.com.
Book of Matthew II: Ancient Evil will be released December 2018.
Women of color are not a priority of law enforcement in 1800’s Missouri. They are not even considered human. These social injustices allow a serial killer to run rampant. Sarah, a beautiful black slave, finds herself in the crosshairs of a monster who murders with impunity. The only one concerned with her plight is the master’s son. Will Matthew find the strength to rescue this slave girl, even if he lacks the courage to admit he’s in love with her…
It’s Jack the Ripper meets Roots in this pulse pounding historical thriller. House of Whispers packs the chills of a Stephen King book, the romance of a Nicholas Sparks novel and the in your face irony of an M. Night Shyamalan flic.
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As Dr Seuss said “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Reading opens up a vast world of knowledge, pleasure and fun. It also comes in many forms. What books do you love to read?
According to Global English Editing’s latest infographic, a few well-known, well-loved authors tend to top the charts. Writers like JK Rowling, John Grisham and Stephen King, who have published page-turner after page-turner, were among the highest paid authors of 2017.
But one reader’s trash is another’s treasure, and we don’t all want to read the same things. Every state in the country had its own favorite books and writers this year, from Hilary Clinton in Rhode Island to Dan Brown in Arkansas.
Reading has been framed as an old-fashioned pleasure, even a dying one. But the evidence shows that younger people are reading more than older people, and we’re all reading just about as much this year as we did last. The death of the book will be a long time coming.
Ready to read?
If it’s been a while since you picked up a book, that’s not surprising. We’re all constantly distracted by a world that throws information at us from every angle. Given that, it’s a surprise that books still mean so much to so many of us.
Then again, maybe it’s not. Can you imagine a world without books? Neither can we. Check out Global English Editing’s infographic below for all the fun facts about America’s reading habits in 2017.
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The Dead Don’t Always Rest in Peace
Jason Crandall, recently widowed, is left to raise his young daughter and rebellious teenage son on his own – and the old Victorian in Shadow Springs seems like the perfect place for them to start over. But the cracks in Jason’s new world begin to show when he meets Savannah Sturgess, a beautiful socialite who has half the men in town dancing on tangled strings.
When she goes missing, secrets begin to surface, and Jason becomes ensnared in a dangerous web that leads to murder. But who has the answers that will prove his innocence? The jealous husband who’s hell-bent on destroying him? The local sheriff with an incriminating secret? The blind old woman in the house next door who seems to watch him from the windows? Or perhaps the answers lie in the haunting visions and dreams that have recently begun to consume him.
Or maybe, Savannah herself is trying to tell him that things aren’t always as they seem – and that sometimes, the dead don’t rest in peace.
Alistair’s debut novel, The Crimson Corset, was an immediate bestseller, earning praise from such authors as Jay Bonansinga, author of The Walking Dead series, and vampire-lit veteran, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Alistair also writes with international bestseller, Tamara Thorne, and together they have released several bestsellers, including Mother, The Cliffhouse Haunting, and The Ghosts of Ravencrest.
Together, Thorne & Cross also host the popular radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, which has included such guests as Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novels; world-wide bestseller, V.C. Andrews (Andrew Neiderman); Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series, True Blood; Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels that inspired the hit television series; #1 New York Times bestseller, Kim Harrison; Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser: 2, 3, and 4; Mick Garris, film director of Hocus Pocus, Psycho IV: The Beginning, and Stephen King’s The Stand; and New York Times bestsellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, Jonathan Maberry, and Christopher Moore.
You can visit Alistair Cross’ website at www.alistaircross.com
About the Author
Alistair Cross’ debut novel, The Crimson Corset, a vampiric tale of terror and seduction, was an immediate bestseller earning praise from veteran vampire-lit author, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and New York Times bestseller, Jay Bonansinga, author of The Walking Dead series. In 2012, Alistair joined forces with international bestseller, Tamara Thorne, and as Thorne & Cross, they write – among other things – the successful Gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their debut collaboration, The Cliffhouse Haunting, reached the bestseller’s list in its first week of release. They are currently at work on their next solo novels and a new collaborative project.
In 2014, Alistair and Tamara began the radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, which has featured such guests as Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of HELLRAISER 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore.
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Across the Realm: When Two Tribes Go To War is the second book in the Across The Realm series that continues the overall story yet is able to stand on it’s own. What direction did you take in this novel that you felt was different from the first book?
In the first book I was introducing my story and how the war that my series is based on came to be. I was giving background information and introducing the main characters. I was also describing this Earth of the 27th century. I knew then that I would write the consequent books in the series based on each territory of the North. There is a book for each one coming.
When Two Tribes go to War is based on the war front of The Arab Territories. That gave me a chance to develop the Arab Territories, show my readers their way of life and their belief systems. I wanted that unique feel of the Middle East.
I created new characters and a new story for the North. I kept my Southern characters intact from book 1. I didn’t use all the Southern characters because I split them up. In each book in the series, four or five of my Southern characters will get center stage. The series gives me a chance to develop them so that the reader gets to know them better.
I would say that When Two tribes go to War goes straight into action and stays there. There is no need for background information because the first book, Across the Realm Life Always Finds a Way had already dealt with that. I could increase the pace of war without being encumbered with explanations. I loved that.
You have a fantastic ability to create three dimensional characters. What was your favorite character to write for and why?
I love all my characters. In fact, I am very protective of them all. But, Khadija stood out for me. She came to me very softly. (I totally believe my characters introduce themselves to me.) She was meek and didn’t have a story to tell for a while. And then she rose and shared with me her past, her present, her strengths and her weaknesses. I fell in love. She lives in a very masculine world and was a child bride whose husband raped her. But, she retained love and compassion despite her hardships and in the war she found her strength. She was a surprise to me. I had not expected her to develop that way.
What science fiction novels or writers do you feel most influenced you?
I am going to make you laugh at me and admit that I have never read a single scifi novel. Ever. I am however a trekkie to the day I die and I have all of Battlestar Galactica in every way that I could store it. I am a scifi movie or cartoon or comic junkie. Anything scifi and I am there.
My greatest influence in writing. Stephen King. He weaves a world and characters that blow my mind. I read everything he writes and I watch every Stephen King based movie. The shocker is that I don’t like horror stories. His books keep me awake at night, absolutely frightened out of my mind. And that is why I am a fan! That is amazing writing. When I grow up, I want to write like him.
Besides Stephen King, I will have to hand the baton to Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. That trilogy blew my mind. I like to think though that the authors who influenced me the most were British Author Enid Blyton of the Famous Five series and William Shakespeare.
Where does book 3 in the Across the Realm series take readers?
Book three, The Land of the Forefathers takes readers to the war front of Asia! The Asian territories get a spotlight. The themes are slavery, heredity and so much more. I must warn my readers that this is a dark story. It is very dark.
Isobel Mitton seamlessly weaves in love, humor, betrayal, loyalty and brutality in a new fantasy novel that stands uniquely on its own. This is one of her best new science fiction books. Across the Realm 2: When Two Tribes Go to War is a reflection from the future that hits close to home as the reader comes to realize that this future world is not so different from our own. There are many fiction books on sale. However this is one of the best science fiction books because it has action, adventure, fantasy, diversity, technology, and more.
One of the most exciting parts of this tale is its subtle exploration of larger current societal issues like racism; the fuzzy lines of ethics created by scientific advancement and the unwillingness to compromise with those we view as “different” in a futuristic landscape. This Science Fiction Space Adventure will not disappoint.
Across the Realm 2: When Two Tribes Go to War is a science fiction short story about complex relationships that endure trying times and experiences. Forbidden love, illegitimate pregnancy, strong childhood attachments, betrayal, abuse, and bastard kings reminiscent of the Game of Thrones, all complicated by the rules of a rigid society makes this latest instalment of the Across the Realm franchise difficult to put down.
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“The Taming of Adam“ follows a prickly teen named Adam. While he attends college studying black magic he goes out of control, gets arrested and is forced to face his shortcomings. What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story?
This might sound horrible (probably because it is), but I’ve always been kind of interested in the school-shooter phenomenon, especially the Columbine incident. I wonder what those two young men went through and why they decided to do what they did. Did life truly not seem worth living? Did counterculture somehow help them come to their decision?
By the time I wrote “The Taming of Adam,” I already did two novels, and I decided to try something unique and risky:
A story about a man who could become a school shooter.
It didn’t have to be an urban fantasy story, but fantasy is the genre I’m most interested in. Of course, Adam’s situation is very different from a typical real-world school shooting, but he is a very antisocial guy with sociopathic tendencies–someone who might think little of going on a carnage spree. The message of the book is that you can find friends even in unlikely places, and that it’s better to indulge in the love and care of friends and family than go at the world alone. It’s corny, yes, and I’m not sure it would reach a sociopath, but it might help more than hurt.
Are you a fan of the fantasy/paranormal genre? What books do you think most influenced your work?
I’ve read a lot of fantasy books over the last few years mostly thanks to my Kindle, which can get me obscure books right at home, but before I wrote ToA, I mostly read Stephen King books and a handful of fantasy books. The works of Stephen King were a great influence, as well as Harry Potter of course, but there’s also a bit of Star Trek in there, too. I love how fantasy and horror can make for very adventurous books that break the rules of reality to be fully realized. On the other hand, to be honest, I am a little disappointed to see so many fantasy stories rely on cliches such as “The Chosen One,” “The Great Holy Artifact,” and “The Prophecy That Gives Sufficient Motivation.” These cliches can more or less cheapen a story and rob characters the chance to be endearing and relatable.
Adam starts out as an unlikable character. He’s a jerk to everyone, even his friends. What is one pivotal moment in the story that you think best defines Adam? Did any of the characters development occur organically through the story?
Adam is a pretty sensitive guy who went bad due to a bit of a traumatic experience as a child. He wants to live in his own little world where nothing and no one can hurt him, and he keeps telling himself that not even his family is important to him. But when he makes his sister cry over a matter of his own making, he gives her a hug, realizing that he wouldn’t want to be treated as he had just treated her. Another pivotal moment is when he reveals his feelings about the opposite sex to Naomi. They’re feelings he’s always been aware of, yet this is the first time he’s put them into words to anyone. If Naomi simply got disgusted and called him names, Adam would have probably stayed the same and refused to open himself up any further. But just getting his feelings out and not getting a huge backlash gave him the opportunity to reconsider his position on life. I’m not sure if any of the other characters changed with the story, but I like to think Russell was pretty brave in talking to Adam, a guy who had just assaulted him, while other people would have advised against it.
This is part 1 of “The Taming of Adam” series. Where does the story go in the next book and where do you see it going in the future?
Parts 2 and 3 are now available for digital download. In Part 2, Adam attends a school in a new city. He gets serious with a woman named Amy who gradually makes him a better person without him knowing it. But there are some people behind the scenes with a sinister agenda, and they happen to have some connection with Adam’s past. There’s another character named Ricky whose unique perspective helps to clarify things.
Part 3 is the most ambitious and epic installment of the series, involving gods and time travel, and it puts a new spin on the title “The Taming of Adam.” Can’t say much more without going into spoiler territory!
Meet Adam Taylor. He is a black mage: a magic-wielder who draws power from the essence of shadows. He is also a loner who prefers only his own company and dreams of power simply to make a living with it. He shuns and pushes away others, making him an extremely rude and antisocial miscreant. On the inside, though, he is a sensitive soul who doesn’t quite know the meaning of love and friendship.
Gene London, meanwhile, is a famous attorney who has a knack for defending difficult cases. He is also a government lobbyist who speaks to lawmakers on behalf of corporations (a normally legal profession as long as he doesn’t give lawmakers luxurious gifts … which he regularly does). Lately, he’s been seeing a mysterious person whom he calls “the lady in the mirror.” This lady claims she is trapped in another dimension, and she says that if London finds a way to free her, she will be his forevermore.
Little did Adam know, on the day he did something foolish and horrific, that he was setting himself on a course to a meeting with the dastardly Gene London … and setting in motion a series of events that will change him for better or worse.
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There is madness in the world that few can ever understand. What drives a person to get out of bed in the morning or take a life in the evening is different for every person. Steven Pajak carefully crafts a story for us that involve mindless torture; endless agony and that special breed of mental instability psychological thrillers enjoy so much. While Wolves Among Sheep is meant to be a book introducing Jack Monroe, a United States Deputy Marshal, it really focuses on the relationship between Jack’s brother Michael and unstable, disgruntled former employee Robert Elliott Lang. As readers we are roped into a fascinating situation where a single man seeks to completely destroy the life of another for reasons only he could possibly understand. With heart in throat and eyes glued to the page readers will want to desperately know the why and crumble when it’s finally revealed.
Pajak knows his craft well and is very good at describing the slow, torturous break down between Robert and Michael. Michael has the things that Robert wants and is seen to be the one who has denied our antagonist all that could have been his. Robert desperately needs help and the signs pointing to his devolution have been visible for a long time. Perhaps it’s because he’s just another name in the email directory or because he’s that difficult, creepy guy that no one really wants to befriend but the fact remains that Robert does not get the help he needs. Instead, he gets a target: a person whose life he can work towards crumbling as carefully as possible. We know quite early on in the tale that Robert is a man who is not below putting dead rats in cars and forwarding incriminating emails in order to destroy a relationship. We know all of this but the hypnotic destruction pulls the attention and causes us to question what we read.
If there were to be any areas where Pajak could improve it would be simple editing. There are a few spelling mistakes and words that are potentially mistyped. This is not Pajak’s first time at the rodeo so he knows how to write a good story. That is what makes the minute, yet noticeable, editorial issues stand out even more. Unless you’re extremely particular about these sorts of things they will not ruin the story for you, but they will be obvious.
Wolves Among Sheep takes its readers on a dangerously slippery trail. There are aspects of Robert’s behavior that seem almost normal; those small little tics that are easily over looked. While Jack is instrumental in hunting down Robert after he has successfully destroyed any semblance of a ‘normal’ life for Michael, the story truly revolves around our protagonist and antagonist. The tale would not be the same if Jack were not in it, however, so it is important to note that his existence is necessary to reach the conclusion Pajak came to.
Readers who enjoy a good psychological thriller along the lines of Dean Koontz and Stephen King will not be disappointed with the creepy tale Steven Pajak offers for consumption.
Pages: 220 | ASIN: B01LYY5ZJ1
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The Hobbymen follows Geoff and Book who are Amateur Monster Biologists that are out to separate truth from fairytale no matter how bizarre it may be. Where did the idea for ‘Amateur Monster Biologists’ come from?
It was born out of boredom. After consuming media for over 25 years, I had become bored with the same stories popping up. I was bored with prophecies and characters destined to save the world. I was bored with all these rules about monsters that were in place for no reason other than tradition. I was bored with something as silly as a werewolf being treated with dignity and respect. So I thought, “What if all these myths were only half the story? What if the heroes were actually just some schmucks who had no idea what they were doing? Why don’t we take all the folklore to the stupidest conclusion we can find?” Because I don’t take myself too seriously and thought it was high time modern fantasy reflected that mindset. Also they’re biologists rather than hunters because hunting becomes a game of “find monster, kill monster” and having it be research is not only more fun, it opens a lot more possibility for exploring different aspects of the world they live in.
There is a lot of witty banter and sarcasm being thrown around by the characters. Did you have fun writing this novel?
I really did, sometimes more than I expected. Large portions of the book were sort of mentally written in my head as I was driving or just going throughout my day, but some scenes were completely unplanned and ended up being the most fun by just having the characters bounce off each other. The worst part was always coming up with a bit that got me really excited and it wouldn’t show up for another 3 chapters. I always had to slow myself down and make sure each chapter was worthwhile, even if I wasn’t as excited about it initially.
Liliana is a down-on-her-luck young nun who’s caught stealing a loaf of bread in a little town in Mexico. How did her character develop as you were writing?
Very slow and difficult. That’s what happens when the basis for your character started as “nun that beats things with a bat”. Having her be the audience surrogate in the beginning helped because it gave me a couple chapters for her to breathe before I really needed to know what she was about. I had a good handle on her about half way through the book, and made sure to go back and make sure she was consistent throughout. A lot of things for her sort of fell into place. Her cohorts were each at opposite ends of the spectrum, so she became a mixture of short-tempered and goofy to balance it out. She needed to be strong and independent, yet still function as a part of a team. My biggest focus was always to make sure her actions and dialogue came from herself as a character, and not as “the girl of the group” or “stock archetype #15”. I think a lot of the time she was the hardest to write just because she is somehow the least extreme in terms of her personality.
What were some books or movies that you think were your main sources of inspiration?
I tend to take inspiration from many places, which probably comes across as a cop out answer. The real answer is I grew up watching horror movies, reading Stephen King and Poe, and watching a little show called Mystery Science Theater 3000. The latter, for any unaware, essentially aired old B-movies and made fun of them. As a kid I loved the concept and my family ended up doing it on our own for any movie we watched. So unwittingly the concept for a book where monsters and myths are handled with a heaping dose of self-awareness and eye rolling was planted fairly early in my mind. But in terms of writing I tend to find inspiration through a lot of the classics. Like I think Catch-22 is an amazing tool in teaching about how to create the tone of a scene or how Dickens made sure to utilize his prose to make mundane events a joy to read.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
I am currently finishing up on a short story in the Hobbymen universe titled “Truth, Dare, Scissors” which is going to be released sometime before October. It’s the second short story I’ve written with these characters, the first being “Interview with a Vampire Named Bob” which acts as a prequel to the book. I am currently working on a sequel as well. What can I say, I enjoy these characters and I’m too lazy to come up with new ones for now. The next full novel is too far away to estimate, but I will definitely be finishing it.
Sister Liliana has not been having the best of days. Between running away from the convent and then being thrown into a desolate prison, she has started to lose hope of having a fun Wednesday. That is until she meets two strange men with a rather peculiar hobby: Amateur Monster Biology. From ancient monsters to urban legends, Geoff and Book are out to separate truth from fairytale, no matter how bizarre or ridiculous that truth may be. And as they have found, there is truth in everything. Soon Liliana is caught in a whirlwind of adventure as they show her a side of the world she never thought existed, filled with fantastic creatures hiding in plain sight. But just as it seems her life is finally turning around, the group get a foreboding message from an unexpected, sinister source. Are the three of them in over their heads this time? Yes…the answer is yes.
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This novel follows Chris, a drug addicted young man who is trying to find his way. After meeting Allie, a young lady who has her own set of problems, and getting her started on the needle herself, things go south quickly. He quickly finds himself on the wanted list of the police, his supplier, and Allie’s relatives. The plot quickens and keeps the reader entertained as Chris struggles to come to terms with his past and find a way out of the mess he has created.
The novel has a dedication to Stephen King at the beginning, which influenced my reading of the rest of the text. The descriptions of the characters and the gritty diction is King-esque. The author creates a believable world with characters that act just like one might expect when under the influence. While the world and characters are believable and relatable, they do fall flat in a couple of areas.
First, Allie and her naiveté lead to some questionable choices on her part. As an example, she chooses to trust and follow Chris on his downward spiral even though she had known him for less than a week and had never done anything more than marijuana before the events of the novel. The author provides her background, which some would indicate as an influence on her choices, but it is still too much self-destruction for this reader to find believable.
Second, the plot is just a little too predictable, and a little too gritty for my taste. Chris’ choices are too simplistic in the first third of the book, leaving the reader to easily decipher how those choices are going to play a role later in the story. This is especially true of Jesse James, a character who only appears for a couple of pages before the plot moves itself forward. The middle of the book gets violent and shows just how far Chris had fallen since the events of his past had derailed his life. This reader won’t post any spoilers, but Chris’ choices are extreme and the text is not for the faint of heart.
The final third, though, is fantastic. To see how the author deals with his characters and their pasts is just beautiful. I won’t say anything more, no spoilers!
Overall, the novel is more than entertaining. Once the reader sees the mess that Chris created for himself and starts to see how his past is affecting his current situation, it makes for a thrilling, heart-wrenching read. Watching Chris and Allie try to battle their pasts while dealing with an ever more dangerous present causes the pages to turn faster and faster through all of the poor choices and self destruction to the conclusion. Personally, it was heartbreaking to watch Chris and Allie cling to each other as they attempted to find a way out of all of the wrong choices they had both made. Any reader who gives this story the time will not be disappointed.
Pages: 297 | ASIN: B0147NL0UE
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