Murder at Macbeth begins when a young actress unwittingly stabs herself live onstage which casts suspicion on her castmates. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
I was actually inspired by a newspaper article about a London West End actor who was accidentally stabbed live on stage. That got me thinking; what if that had been intentional? What a dramatic way to murder someone and believe you could get away with it.
I’ve always been fascinated by the superstitions surrounding Macbeth about it being cursed and the fact the play itself is about corruption and deception provided an interesting parallel to the murder mystery. Plus, I found the concept of interviewing suspects who are also actors really interesting; they could so easily be playing a part to hide the truth.
I enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this story. Was the mystery planned or did it develop organically while writing?
A bit of both. I had the main story arc of who was the murderer planned out from the start, but the nuances of the story and how things were revealed throughout developed more organically. I enjoyed drip-feeding subtle clues along the way, including ones to throw people off. Ultimately, I wanted readers to be shocked by all the twists and turns, but with the benefit of hindsight would think, “yeah, that makes sense.”
The characters in your novel were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favourite character to write for?
I think one of the key elements of a great mystery is to have really compelling characters. In Murder at Macbeth, I put a lot of time into creating multidimensional characters who really drove the story as everybody had a legitimate motive that could drive them to murder. I think my favourite character to write was actually the victim, Nikki. She was initially presented as a lovable, charismatic golden girl who everyone adored, but I enjoyed writing the flashbacks to show her seemingly perfect life start to unravel as secrets are revealed to unveil a web of scandal, blackmail and deceit.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently working on a non-fiction book called Indie Writing Wisdom, which will come out this Winter. With the aim to inspire the next generation of writers, this book will provide an inspiring collection of practical advice on a wide range of subjects from crafting interesting characters, writing motivation and plotting to editing, cover design, book marketing and much more.
Eleven successful indie authors from all around the world will be sharing their expertise about their own self-publishing experiences and the useful approaches they took to ensure their books stood out effectively in a marketplace that has millions of books vying for attention.
A Dancer in Depth provides an in-depth look at one mans unique journey through life and the entertainment industry from Broadway to television. Readers are given a personal view into Stanley Howard Mazin’s life where he holds nothing back and treats readers to his many encounters with celebrities over the years, or just encounters with generally interesting people. Stanley Howard Mazin has lived a fascinating life, one that few people get to experience, but one that we can all now enjoy and be a part of thanks to this compelling biography.
The subtitle is ‘Paragraphs from a Theater Life’, which I think is apt as it is more of a collection of interesting anecdotes that range from heartwarming to funny. But each piece is succinct and rarely wanders, keeping focus on either Stanley or his interactions and varied relationships. I really got a feel for the hard work and dedication that Stanley put into his work. He makes it seem like anything is possible in 60’s showbiz. But contrast that with his struggle with sexuality during this time and we get a contrast of the light and dark sides of showbiz. This dichotomy is subtle in this riveting biography, but nevertheless it paints a fuller picture of that moment in history. Stanley Howard Mazin has done so many things in the entertainment industry, so numerous I stopped counting. Instead I allowed myself to be completely absorbed by his life, and the simple but alluring way in which he relays it.
This was a much more intense experience than I was expecting. The book cover is unassuming, a man dancing on the cover, but what it hides is a passionate pursuit through life, theater life, dancing, and how Stanley Howard Mazin put it all together to create a life all his own. Readers are treated to all of it with this enthralling biography.
Pages: 248 | ASIN: B07V39LX8R
Beguiled by Karma Kitaj is definitely a MUST read. One of the greatest things about Beguiled is it hooks you right from the start. Within reading the first two paragraphs I was hooked, I knew right away that this was going to be a book that I couldn’t put down until I had finished it.
The story of Beguiled starts out with a young woman leaving her husband. Upon leaving her husband with her young son this woman finds herself on her parent’s doorstep as she really has no other place to go. As the first chapter closes the reader is taken back in time to this young woman’s childhood. Beguiled isn’t just a romance story, it is a story about growing up and finding your own way in the world.
Beguiled follows the life and adventures of a young girl named Miriam and follows her story as she grows into a young lady. Miriam is a young Jewish girl with Russian immigrant parents who grew up during the 1920’s. The story goes into the hard childhood of Miriam and how no matter what she did she could never please her mother. Miriam’s father loved the theater and took Miriam to as many shows as he possibly could. The love of theater instilled a strong desire in young Miriam to become an actress, despite what her mother thought.
The story takes place during the 1920’s where women were not seen as equals to men. Beguiled does touch upon some political aspects, but the story is not overly political. Beguiled is filled with historical events and is written in a way that allows you to really connect with the characters. Women’s suffrage is touched upon in Beguiled and the author also tackles some other social situations.
As you progress deeper and deeper into Beguiled you will find yourself pleasantly surprised at the way the story is told. As you read one page and then another you can’t help but find yourself wanting to know what is going to happen next in Miss Miriam’s life. Beguiled isn’t a typical romance story filled with wanderlust and girls who are seeing stars; there is only the slightest suggestion of romance towards the very end of the book. The main story behind Beguiled is that of a young girl who grows up and finds out just who she really is and how she can actually make a difference in the world.
Although this story does go back in time, it doesn’t jump around from past to present as many other stories do. Something else that I really like about this book was how each chapter identified the year it was taking place in. If you know your history you can easily follow along with the events that were taking place and perhaps anticipate what was about to happen next.
Pages: 349 | ASIN: B079924GDK
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Historian Wrenn Grayson arrives at the Rosemont mansion expecting to receive payment for her services from the mansion’s new owner, Clay Addison. That expectation dies when she and Clay find Trey Rosemont murdered on the foyer floor. Across town, police officers race to Eastwood University. Priceless Egyptian artifacts were stolen from the history department safe. Wrenn’s longtime love, Eastwood professor Gideon Douglas, heads the department. Only recovery of the artifacts will save his career.
Life in Havens, Ohio, doesn’t stop for this crime spree. Wrenn works for Mayor K.C. Tallmadge. He wishes Wrenn would stop searching down clues ahead of the police and pacify temperamental playwright Barton Reed. Barton’s play is just days away from opening in the town’s historic Baxter Theater.
Amid murder, theft, or curtain calls, Wrenn’s instincts prove sharp. But it’s her stubborn one-woman approach that places her directly in the killer’s path.
Posted in book trailer
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Max Kristoff, a man in his thirties who is living in New York, is about to come face to face with his past. When he walks into a house in Brooklyn, trying to connect with a person from that very past, he is plunged into a haunting situation. This situation sets him on a journey that will reveal—not only his character—but what lies in his heart and soul.
Will Max find what he is searching for?
Will he ever find closure?
Will he find himself along this journey?
Or will he die without every knowing the answers he’s always been seeking?
Never a Choice but Always A Gift By Adam Que is a book about change. Que takes you on a journey of Max’s life. Max was born and raised in the Bronx and currently living life with no real thought of tomorrow. After receiving some surprisingly unsurprising news, his life is bound to change.
Trials and tribulations surround Max and his long time friend, Bibby. Love, sacrifice and pride are challenged throughout the story. Memories are always with us. Can these two forgive and forget, or will they live the remainder of their lives holding a grudge?
Que’s use of vocabulary helps the reader relate to the different characters and really help you feel the emotions. The reader is lead along an easy to follow narrative that is sure to stimulate emotional response. That being said, there are times where the vocabulary becomes redundant and phrases are repeated which disrupts an otherwise sentimental novel.
Max is a well developed character and the story is gripping, but I felt that his thoughts in the beginning of the novel were constantly interrupted by tangents, side stories and information dumps which caused the story to lose focus. But when Max meets his love interest Celeste the background information is given in a less dense format and the novel flows easily and keeps the readers attention.
This novel is one of the more unique one’s I’ve read in 2016. Story detail is revealed through the use of double narrative. Things that Max is not willing to tell the reader is revealed through Bibby’s perspective. The switch of perspectives results in a change of language and tone which truly captures the feel of a new narrator. Few books I have read with a similar method of perspective change have lacked that quality.
I recommend this book to people going through hardships. Hope and unconditional love are cornerstones in the characters relationship. Never a Choice but Always A Gift is about a journey, but not the kind where characters trek through exotic locales. It’s a journey through life, to find love.
Pages: 266 | ASIN: B01EYS4Z9U
Tags: adam que, adventure, amazon, amazon books, art, author, book, book review, books, bronx, contemporary, drama, ebook, ebooks, fantasy, fantasy book review, fiction, goodreads, interview, journey, kindle, life, literature, love, Never a Choice but Always A Gift, new york, novel, photography, play, publishing, reading, review, reviews, romance, stories, theater, urban fantasy, women, womens fiction, writing
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.
Posted in Interviews
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Sally Roger, in her recent book Stage Door Comedies, provides a cheeky glimpse into the quirky characters surrounding theater life. The book is composed of several short stories revolving around people in the theater industry. Roger obviously has a lot of experience working behind the curtain and she gives us a feel for day to day life of the actors, writers, producers, and stage hands who are always trying to keep their careers moving forward – sometimes through very strange, and comical, means.
The book is based in England and Paris, with each providing a unique backdrop that flavors the stories with each local’s unique atmosphere. Characters wander through the West End of London and ring up the Globe Theater, or walk down Boulevard St Michel and get coffee at Montparnasse. But the stories are, in essence, character studies of a wide variety of entertaining people who are almost always trying to push forward obsessively in their careers. With the stories set in these world-renown metropolises known for their arts, we get the feeling that this is the way it really is. This isn’t some little town trying to put on a stage play – this is the weird process a Parisian must go through to find the perfect actor for the main role. In one of the first short stories, an over-the-hill director, tired of being used as a stepping stone by strangers looking to make it big, tries to figure out the meaning behind a bizarre waiter’s rantings – does he want something from the director or is he just crazy – as well as his long-ago connection to a middle-aged actress who has invited herself into his home. In a later story, trying to find an English-language company that will produce her play in Paris, an observant young woman visits the unusual office of a local production company, where American expats seemingly revel in the Bohemian lifestyle of Paris.
Roger shows us the underbelly of the theater industry – all the weird happenings and intricacies of the individuals who call the shots, as well as those who want to ride their coattails. And for this, I give Sally Roger’s Stage Door Comedies a 4 out of 5 stars. As a collection of short stories around a singular theme, it works rather well. She obviously has quite a bit of hands-on experience in theater and therefore she is able to take a biting look at those who work in the industry. However, there’s no real continuity among the different stories, and with some being only a few pages long – I felt like she could’ve gone deeper into the mind, the actions, or pasts of the characters. With that aside though, her writing style is quite engaging and I found myself quickly starting the next story, enjoying the quirky characters and being able to peek into an industry and all its inhabitants that most of us only see from other side.
Pages: 108 | ASIN: B01CBR20WA
Tags: amazon books, art, author, book, book review, books, comedy, ebook, ebooks, england, fantasy, fantasy book review, fiction, funny, laugh, paris, producers, publishing, quirky, reading, review, reviews, sally roger, short stories, stage door comedies, stories, theater, urban fantasy, writers, writing