The Land of Ick and Eck follows Harlot’s strange encounters as she travels through a strange land. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
I’m fascinated by children’s stories that are strange and make you think, “Wait, What? Haha, did that just happen?!” Victorian literature for children, as well as older versions of fairy tales, are where I found inspiration for the setup up of this book; they so often make you take a step back, laugh, think, and then continue on with curiosity. These stories can sometimes be whimsically mature, exploring violence, sexuality, and/or morality in creative, imaginative ways. Not treating children like delicate sugar-flakes and allowing for such content adds so much depth to the meanings and understanding of the stories, something I have found difficult to come across in modern children’s literature.
So when I started writing, I wanted it to be something that that gave me similar feelings to when I read older, bizarre fairy tales. I wanted it to take place in a strange world, where things were non-sense, but also made sense if you had the knowledge to understand what was happening, especially when the reader becomes aware of the innuendos. Like many episodic folkloric tales, there is much more than what lies on the service, multiple understandings; that is what I really enjoy about such types of stories. This is one of them.
The world that you’ve built is enthralling and curious to say the least. What were some sources of inspiration for when creating this world?
Reading literature about/from the faerie, medieval, Georgian, and Victorian world was where some of my inspirations came from. I would often find myself reading, for example, faerie lore and tales, medieval fabliaux and chivalric romances, and strange episodic stories that involve children, such as Jerzy Kosiński’s The Painted Bird (a modern tale). I wanted to create something like Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Lewis Carol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but darker and with more macabre and questionable situations.
The realm of Ick and Eck needed to somewhere that made sense not necessarily for the human world but in the faerie world. It was to be a place that the mind of an imaginative child could easily follow and bring to life, but for adults, things might seem a little off (unless they still have the child within them). It needed to be absurd, but penetrable if you put yourself in a different sort of mind-set. To get this inspiration, I often found myself delving into the artworks of Brian Froud and other artists who have continued to add to the world of faeries and fantasy, also mixing them with some of my other interests.
One of those curiosities was religion. There are many religious characters in the book, ranging from the fat-Friar, empty moon creatures, Crowned-Alter-Fops, gluttonous monks, to name a few; I enjoy studying Abrahamic religious texts, traditions, as well as medieval stories of how clergy use power to control others. Several scenes in the book comment on these injustices, but they are mixed in with the faerie world to create a more folkloric feeling. Truth be told, no hesitation of satire was taken.
Another source of inspiration was the study of medieval and Victorian prostitution. As a reader would observe, the protagonist’s name is Harlot; yes, the story does indeed explore the ideas of a dark side of history, as well as a subject very much alive today. From the exploration of courtly love and the desperate knights in need of a doctor’s (i.e. a beautiful woman) cure to save them from love sickness, to the poetic grocery-list like booklets of women found in Harris’s List of the Covent Garden Ladies, these studies were an essential backbone and driving force of inspiration. The story is a critique of this behaviour. It is meant to bring light to a subject so many people want to hide.
The introduction of the book lays this out:
- Into a land of fantasy
- With haste we cast them all aside
- No tearing if you cannot see
- That is what we all make-believe
My list of inspiration could keep going on, so I will stop before I get carried away even more.
Harlot is a curious and innocent character that I found endearing. What were some driving ideals behind the character?
I wanted to create a character that constantly found interest in novel things, while at the same time never really learns much from their experiences. Even after Harlot is assaulted at the beginning of the book (i.e. her blue flower), deceived, used, and treated as inferior, she continues on. Some say this might be a weakness, others a strength, that is for the reader to decide.
I have found it quite funny though, how some people really like Harlot, while others really do not. Some like her curious and innocent perspective, while others think she is rude and inconsiderate, and do not want their children to read about her because she is a negative role model.
In any event, what drives Harlot is her curiosity, her unwavering innocence, and her ability to navigate such a strange place, the land of Ick and Eck. She is such a strong character, a feature I have seen in people who have been abused. I can never understand their strength. They are stronger than I could ever be.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently working on a couple projects, but I am a very slow writer. It took me eight years to be contempt enough to pursue publishing The Land of Ick and Eck: Harlot’s Encounters. But in any event, I am working on a continuation to The Land of Ick and Eck, per say, following a girl named Perfume, as well in another section about Harlot. Each are separate and different stories, written in different styles, but in a way they meet together through common characters, situations, and absurdities.
I am quite excited about it, though I do not know how long it will take to complete.
A much too trusting Harlot finds herself in the preyful Land of Ick and Eck, a place where she encounters peculiar creatures that have the most awful intensions of the carnal sort. By happenstance, she finds the company of a Ground Faerie, a Wood and Water Nymph, and a Butter-Maiden to assist her (sort of) along the way.
But Alas! How the outlandish figures are quite the handful, ranging from the likes of Spriggans, the-man-with-a-can-for-a-head, Jaw Skins, to Alter-Fops, a knight of courtly love, and a Nigwig (to name a few). Thankfully, there are moments of repose, such as those with the band of eunuchs with sacs on their heads, the beautiful Milk-Maidens, and the adventures within the Faerie Ring.
Though the bombardments continue to pursue her, Harlot’s innocent temperament, irrational faith, and devotion to feeding her curiosity provokes her forward, and thus her true strengths are revealed within the Land of Ick and Eck.
Posted in Interviews
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Lawrence Thornberry thinks he is ready for his year in Japan. However, nothing could have ever prepared him for the experience he is about to have. An experience he can never truly understand but astonishingly accepts. He discovers new elements everyday. Some of these strange things would deter anyone but not the Ichiban. A nickname he got because of the room he was assigned, room number one. This American English teacher teaches at the Slop Bucket. When he is not there he encounters strange things at the Happy House. Strange things that are brought on by the rain. Just a good old Japanese experience.
One of the strange but weirdly comfortable things is that this story is told by crow. A tale that slides seamlessly from first to third person and back. The crow has strange characteristics of its own. Note the overuse of the word strange. It is a recurring theme in Plum Rains on Happy House. The crow though not exactly living in Happy House is one of the many eclectic characters in the book. Michael Greco has done a good job of building otherworldly characters but still maintain a light touch. Another grumpy but delightfully humorous character is the Goat.
Oh the words. The author has a special gift. He weaves words into a beautifully crocheted poncho. A poncho that envelopes the reader in pure literary induced ecstasy. An example is that bit where Titty is introduced. It is so funny and accurate, I imagine. The reader cannot help but picture it. Speaking of which, the character development in this book is quite good. Not in a way that one can relate to them but in a way that makes the reader comfortable. The reader feels at home in a house that requires a symbiotic relationship between it and the resident. It is uncanny how that can be possible.
It is truly wonderful that despite the Ichiban noticing some peculiarity as he was trekking up to the house. He kept going. He continued to see the crooked house but it was like he saw something completely different. Like all the strange things were supposed to be part of the experience. It is good to take things in stride like that.
There are two issues with this book. While the language is well utilized, it still requires a bit of polishing. The plot is unique, but the story is confusing at times. Bits that arise abruptly and disrupt the flow of everything. Some people may like this as it brings a little unpredictability to the story.
This is an entertaining book with interesting characters and an imaginative creative plot. All of that and a whole lot of quirk.
Pages: 248 | ASIN: B07DWQ3R68
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Rosita and her son Bartolo had to leave their peaceful life in Houston to start from scratch in Wickliffe Kentucky far away from Rosita’s parents and Billy Hamilton, Bartolo’s father. Their economics status only allows them to rent an ancient wooden house far away from the town center. Mr Johnson, the owner of the house is very attentive and he is likely to help Bartolo and her mom with everything they need. Almost after moving, Bart and Rosita start to notice strange things happening in their new house. Bartolo’s bedroom is always cold and he hears strange voices at night. Eventually they learn that their house is haunted.
Juanita Sepulveda has successfully mixed paranormal and supernatural fiction in such a way that it becomes believably creepy. For those who don’t believe in the ghosts, she is able to make you think twice. She presents the ghost world as something normal in Bartolo’s life. He is not afraid of anything, he is a brave ten years old boy who always help his mom, who is also supportive of him. The strange occurrences begin slowly and turn into something more inexplicable. The families search for answers is often more intriguing then the mystery surrounding the house.
Bartolo, which is also the name of the protagonist, is set in a small and quiet place where life goes on without any interruption until Bartolo meets Jeffrey Mason, Mr Johnson’s servant who may not be as good as everybody has thought. However, they can count on the help of all the inhabitants in Wickliffe. The concepts of family and friendship are very important in the book and it’s something I admired in an otherwise dark novel.
I consider this book to be an easy read with a consistent pace that keeps you engaged. I found myself entertained until the end and discovered the mystery surrounding the plot at the same time as the protagonists did.
Pages: 186 | ASIN: 1450008259
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Ken Obi’s latest novel End It By The Gun features charismatic and determined Beck, who’s eagerness to get a top book deal and offer for a screen play, ruins his life. The book delves into Beck’s past, his relationships with women and writing and his latest novel. It is full of dynamic relationships with both women and men, family ordeals and political strife. There’s even a spattering of nature. The novel cannot be simply put into one genre as it ventures into fantasy, political thriller and drama, so there’s bound to be a part that everyone can enjoy.
The book can be split into two parts – the first half is about Beck and his life, his dream to become a famous writer and his relationships. The second half is his eleventh novel which features Abdoullah, Farouk, and Murktar and their deadly pathogen V1B6F3.
The first half is characterized by tumultuous relationships, between Beck and his family and women. It has a fast-paced style with a masculine tone and lots of underlying energy in the short chapters. There are twists and turns constantly occurring in the chapters that jump around different time periods in Beck’s life. He experiences strange meetings, fame and kidnapping. This style of writing is inviting and leaves the reader wanting more.
However, I felt that some parts the book were awkwardly written – “I read that to mean that he must have thought I had given up on dashing away”, and I thought that it could be overly descriptive for a book that means to move quickly. I also felt that there was a lack of sympathy for women in the book – Beck’s wife is made out to be crazy with no explanation, and his agent has no name for most of the narrative.
The second part of the book begins in a way reminiscent of a zombie apocalypse. This is the book that makes Beck famous. It has a science versus nature theme which ultimately turns political, alongside this runs the age-old battle between good and evil. The nature aspect of it focuses on an area called Shonga, which is untouched by humans. This part is the gem of the book and where the writing style really works. The vivid descriptions of the forest and way of life offer a rich picture which makes the reader long to be in nature with the characters, away from their urban lifestyles.
The characters in the second half of the book are presented in a linear fashion which evokes a level of understanding which is not present in the first half of the text. The characters in this part are all from different walks of life, which goes to show how many people can influence an event.
I thought that the tone of the book is inviting, quick and full of energy and I think many people would enjoy the interesting characters and fresh perspectives.
Pages: 228 | ASIN: B07DHK1PHF
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Expectations is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a mystery, suspense, and Christian fiction as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I started writing this novel with one idea that carried my story from start to finish. My focus and intention did not change as my writing evolved. On the contrary, my original idea is what permitted the story to grow and twist and turn as it did.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
My favorite character is Ace Cadman. He is the most intriguing of these characters because all eyes in this story are on him. At the end of the day, everyone will be turning to him for answers. Or those who are against him will want to see what he is really worth.
What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
The initial idea behind this story was to show that God is real, that He is powerful, that He is not a historical figure, and that He loves His creation. It was to show that a spiritual reality does exist behind the curtain of time and that God and His army of angels do exist. It was to show how they fight for family, for children, for humans constantly. This idea did not transform as I was writing, it expanded…then exploded.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
The next book I am working on is a sequel to the first novel. It will be called Expectations II: The Familiar Spirit. I am hoping to publish this novel by December 2019 or 2020.
A pastor is faced with a dilemma when his twin nephews, sons of his only brother, cry out to him for help. Faced with all kinds of strange happenings and unnatural events in their house due to their parents adherence with the occult; the childrens fears push them to break a pact of silence established by their father regarding the secrets of their household.
How can Ace help his nephews without letting the dark forces that torment their lives affect his own family? The more he struggles to help the twins, the more the Secret Society to which the boys parents belong rage their war of evil upon him. Only a living God could help Ace overcome this war and emerge victorious. But will he; Ace Cadman, have the courage to step into the supernatural realm beyond the curtain of time when his God calls him on the scene?
Posted in Interviews
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The BEST-SELLING collection in Occult Parapsychology!!
“Forget the world that you know. You are about to enter a dimension of the bizarre, where the strange and unusual will guide you down the path of imagination. True stories where the ordinary will be replaced with the fantastic! Explore legend, myth, and folklore These cases are based on theory and conjecture. The reader is invited to make their own conclusions on all the available information.
Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories of the Paranormal.”
Posted in book trailer
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Everybody has some habits that might be intriguing and even weird. No famous authors are exceptions. Custom-Writing.org put together 20 of them in their infographic. Find out who was a fan of rotten apples and whose way of better writing is hanging upside down.
Posted in Special Postings
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Two Polluted Black-Heart Romances follows the lives of a vampire, fairy and mummy as they try to escape the wrath of a paranormal group bent on revenge. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
This was a follow up to One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail. In that story, the main character is hunted for her wings. The otherworldly world I created, opens up and you get a glimpse inside. In this new novel, I wanted to show a much deeper look insider. And I wanted to show how complicated, strange, and fun, some of the lives of these otherworldly creatures can be. My initial idea was to have something very large for all of them to be afraid of. But then I wanted something even larger to be out there to make the original big thing look small. Imagine if you were afraid of Godzilla and then an alien that could swallow the planet showed up. Yeah, something like that. J
The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
I always enjoy writing Sabrina London, the female lead. She is constantly growing and learning from her mistakes….her many…many mistakes. I also enjoyed writing for Joe, the new guy. The sentient slime character. He’s fun and funny. He also provides good contrast to the other characters and otherworldly races.
What draws you to the fantasy genre? When you start writing is this where your stories go naturally, or do you have the intention of writing fantasy?
I am drawn to the fantasy world. Totally. I prefer writing in a realm where anything and everything is possible. But I think my writing is secretly fueled by things more…steamy. When I watch a fantasy show on TV and it is devoid of sex or sexuality, I tend to feel empty. But when you give me something like Game of Thrones or Spartacus, which are filled with all sorts of naughtiness…then I feel like the story is complete.
If Hollywood came knocking, who would you cast to play your characters?
I love to cast my books. I do so on all my blogs and on my FB pages. For Sabrina, I think of Joanna Krupa as being exactly what she looks like. But as an actor I would cast Beth Behrs from Two Broke Girls or Jessica Sipos from Ascension. I would pick Beth because she is pretty and statuesque and funny. AND she pretty much already knows how to play a spoiled rich girl who had a fall from grace. So it makes total sense. I would pick Jessica because she has the sex appeal to play Sabrina.
For Moselle there is only one choice: Priyanka Chopa, from the TV show Quantico. When writing the books, I imagined a Sofia Vergara type of woman. But I think Priyanka is an even better fit now, and could pull off looking like an ancient Egyptian in flashbacks.
Cade…well, I have a image of him in my head. Slight built. Looks out of time. Like one of those classic Hollywood guys; James Dean at his peak. I always say it would be hard not to pick Ian Somerhalder, but he has already done this role. Still, I like him as an actor and he is the right body type and look.
Hollywood rang my doorbell once. But I was not dressed, and by the time I got to the door they were gone…
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am writing book three in this series. THREE BURNING RED RUNAWAY BRIDES. It will be released in late 2018.
Welcome to Los Angeles—but not the LA you know. Here, humans coexist with vampires, mummies, fairies, and other nonhuman entities. Everyone’s just trying to get by for the most part—but some are having more difficulty than others.
A vampire named Cade, a fairy named Sabrina, and a mummy named Moselle are on the lam after exposing the existence of the Otherworldly Assembly, a shadowy organization of paranormal beings. The assembly has sent terrifying assassins called wraiths to exact revenge. The nonhuman trio is in for a real horror show, and they don’t know the half of it—another threat looms, and its destructive ambitions are vast.
Meanwhile, a human named Jackson is recovering from a near-death experience. Old memories and new loves flood his brain, and he’s having trouble finding an outlet for all these feelings—that’s when Sabrina the fairy catches his eye.
Two Polluted Black-Heart Romances, a fast-paced adventure filled with high stakes and unexpected twists, continues the action-packed saga that began with One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail. When unimaginable dangers threaten the planet they all share, humans and nonhumans find a common cause and must work together to prevent disaster.
Posted in Interviews
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Remember To Recycle explores a twisted state of dystopian society run rampant with political tension and censorship, as experienced through the eyes of a sordid slew of characters, each crafted to be as unique as they are controversial. Author Tantra Bensko unapologetically invites readers into the thick and gritty atmosphere of this nefarious nation on the brink of war. As seedy government organizations work through mass media to manipulate the opinions of the general public, three oddball outcasts must struggle to uncover their own personal truths, regardless of how dark and uncomfortable that truth may be.
There is an oddity and nuance to the style in which Bensko develops the story, weaving the intricate and disharmonious lives of the ragtag crew together. The characters are so individually strange, perplexing me at times to debate whose personal version of the truth I should put my stock into. What they lack in relatability, they more than make up for in personality. For instance, there is little for me to relate to in a neurotic homeless man suffering from a multiple personality disorder, but nevertheless, I found myself rushing to reach his chapters, drinking in the off-the-cuff humor and casual profanity of his perspective. Each character in the disjointed trio is unique and realized to the point of feeling authentic, boasting a well-rounded checklist of endearing qualities as well as anxieties and vices – certainly enough to make you love or hate them, respectively.
Although the modern literature lover in me appreciates the quirky and informal tone of Bensko’s writing, I do have to admit that I struggled a bit with the sporadic pace. The narrative voices are wildly different between each character, and on occasion, the sudden shift felt so abrupt that it confused me for just a moment. Bensko lovingly lingers in the details of certain interactions for quite some time, while briskly splicing other important moments into the middle of a quick paragraph. The revolving narrative among the trio is certainly a testament to Bensko’s strength in voices, but it didn’t make for the quickest read. Still a charming one though!
I felt a bit sheepish upon realizing that Remember to Recycle is actually the second installment in the Agents of the Nevermind series. Whoops! I suppose that’s always one tell of a good book though – if it can stand alone within a larger collection. Without knowing any of the events from the previous title, readers are still able to quickly grasp the tone and plot of this work, even within the steep setting of an economic fallout. Benkso poured such a generous amount of attention into the thoughts and motives of the characters, which served well to support this work standing on its own.
Overall, this was an undeniably interesting read, although the density of the political theme felt a bit heavy to me at times. I’d recommend it to readers with interests in the dystopian and psychological horror tropes, that also have an appreciation for quirky writing styles.
Pages: 285 | ASIN: B06XY4CF1S
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Limbo is a story of a man who accidentally becomes the Grim Reaper and is the most highly revered killer in Limbo. What was the inspiration for this original and fascinating idea?
I wanted to write something that Clive Barker might like. Only 50% joking. The other 50% started with a simple sentence that didn’t mean much: the Grim Reaper searches for a soulmate. Everything spun out of that. The name Grim the Reaper popped into my head eventually, which made him feel like a starting point for a character and led to a bunch of meaty questions:
“Well, what if the mythical figure of Death was just one of many?”
“What if Grim used to have a life? Yes, he was John Grim. What the hell happened to him?”
“Who or What made John Grim this way, why did It create this perverse society?”
One led to the next and it all just made me really curious. I wanted to answer those questions by telling myself the story because I’d always dreamed of writing a horror novel and it seemed like the kind that wouldn’t bore me into not finishing it. I wanted to write something that to me would be strange and different, poetic at times and gruesome at others, something that felt big and conceptual. The kind of story I’d want to read. So I crammed a ton of my inspirations in there. Nerds like me that have a keen eye will pick up the overt references or subtle nods to Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Candyman, Hellraiser, Preacher, Nightbreed/Cabal, Cabin in the Woods, John Dies at the End…there’s a bunch more. Just little treats for horror fans inspired by the same stuff as I am.
The TL;DR version — There’s a lot of autobiography in this book, and this excerpt of the still-living John Grim holding his first freshly completed manuscript sums it up:
What he recalled most vividly about that simple moment was the pride, the heft of the pages in his hands, heavy with the monster that lived and breathed inside of them. The buoyancy of seeing his insides spilled in black ink on white pages, dreaming of the story being passed lip to lip.
I felt that the tone of the novel was dark and I appreciated the grim consistency. Did you plan the tone and direction of the novel before writing or did it come out organically as you were writing?
Darkness in all its forms is just fascinating to me. It’s the same reason heavy metal pleases my ear and happy major key music grates on me. Happy, clean cut endings, perfect heroes that are morally incorruptible, all that kind of stuff bores me at best, irritates me at worst. But I still believe in a form of the lighter side of things. A big part of the overall concept of Limbo before I put pen to paper was balance. I wanted the emotional moments to matter because they were born out of darkness. So I tried to push both sides as far as I could go. I know the results aren’t for everyone, because there are some pretty messed up scenes in Limbo, but there’s also this tragic story of two people who truly loved each other and fell into this insane situation that I think has a satisfying, unconventionally beautiful ending. So, definitely intentional, but thankfully it all came together pretty organically, while eating mostly non-organic chips. Chips were a big part of writing Limbo.
Grim is not the only character in Limbo. There are also friends, strangers, and even deities. What was your favorite character to write for?
I’ll have to cheat. It’s a split between the Maker of Limbo and Dora, John Grim’s sarcastic and strong re-incarnated soulmate Dora. Spoiler alert, but Limbo’s physical landscape and the Maker of Limbo are one and the same, cobbled together with endless miles of dead flesh and filled with an insane, vast web of consciousness made up of countless distinct personalities. I pushed myself to make the different physical forms the Maker appears in surprising, sometimes shocking, sometimes funny or sad. Writing this single, incomprehensible entity/deity with this assortment of both coherent and incoherent voices was incredibly fun. Dora I loved just as much because I wanted her to be a real badass. Though Grim the Reaper is the titular character searching for her, Dora is the real hero of Limbo. Brave, unrelentingly honest and endearingly bitter, someone who does what needs to be done, no matter the consequences. It’s hard to say more about her without ruining the surprises she brings, but suffice to say I wish Dora was someone I knew in real life.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will that be published?
I’m splitting my time between two projects. One is a big collection of charcoal illustrations of monsters, demons, ghouls and oddities I wish I saw in my sleep. The other is a big collection of one sentence horror stories called Brief, Horrible Moments. Aiming for late 2016 or early 2017, but here’s three stories from the collection so far that are on the ‘lighter’ side of the spectrum:
It laid its hands on my shoulders, still staring at me from across the lake.
Pulling the long black hair out from the drain didn’t bother me until I realized it was attached to something.
My father was causing a scene as usual, slurring his words and attacking pew after pew of terrified mourners who had gathered for his funeral.
This is a story of a man who accidentally becomes Grim the Reaper, the most highly revered killer in Limbo. A place beyond time and space as we know it where psychopaths compete for perverse honour and status as they carry out their deathly duties. As Grim struggles to hold onto the memories of the life he’s lost, he discovers that the insane being who shaped him (and the course of existence itself) may have sinister plans for the one thing he values most. In Limbo, the end is only the beginning.
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