Explosions and mayhem make up the introduction to Lucas Sterling’s debut novel, Srepska, immediately throwing the reader into the after effects of a massive cyber attack in Kenya. Personal, business, and federal accounts have been digitally looted leading to a state of emergency. Fearing repeat on a larger scale, Agent Frederic Ulrich is tasked with seeking out those responsible, though the feared group ‘Srepska’ is immediately suspect. The scant bread crumb trail points to the U.S. as the next target, but a possible mole leaves Agent Ulrich unsure of friend or foe. With the aid of Lars Christopherson, he must find a way to inform and prevent the next attack.
Srepska is definitely deserving of it’s place in the action genre. Lucas Sterling brings to the table an adrenaline packed story that is made all the more intense by it’s relatability. Set in modern day, the Information Age as we like to call it, Srepska is a story you could very well see taking place in our own reality, the focus being a cyber attack. The suspense is therefore intensified given the fact that such attacks in the long scheme of things are still fairly new, meaning effective defenses are still being regularly updated and changed. This is felt throughout the book by many of the characters, with concern on how to combat such a threat that initially seems faceless.
We follow Frederic Ulrich and Lars Christopherson through the story as they team up to put a stop to things. Sterling presents us with two characters very strong in their trade. We are treated to an inside look to their jobs, but the characters themselves lack some dimension. This could be due to how fast paced the story is, moving from action to suspense and back again in quick succession, leaving little room for character development.
Following the bread crumb trail of clues is exciting given how so many countries have been after this group for so long. Things just seemed to fall in to place too easily in some respects. And I felt that there were some sections where settings were over explained, when all I wanted to do was to get back to what this novel does best, the action!
All in all, Lucas Sterling’s Srepska is quite the page turner. The fast pacing keeps the reader engaged and the highly relatable and believable content adds to the feeling of suspense, leaving the reader all the more eager to see the success of the main characters in their goals. A very exciting read!
Pages: 239 | ASIN: B075V8C8HL
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Miss Sally is a portrait of a young girl growing up in Texas in the 1930’s. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Primarily because I was living in Texas when I wrote it and my three daughters, though not yet in their teens, faced the hazards of adolescence, the coming of age which always is difficult and which Sally Halm, the protagonist of his novel, confronted in exaggerated form. I spent my boyhood in a small predominantly Protestant rural community and felt it important to portray what rural life was like for a contemporary audience.
The 1930’s are one of my favorite eras because of how much was going on across the country. Why did you choose this as the time period for your story?
My parents were severely affected by the “Great Depression”: they lost everything and had to start life anew in very changed circumstances. Texas was one of the states most affected by migration and the social changes that the Great Depression triggered. Mere survival became the primary preoccupation of millions of people. These are basic ingredients for the making of a novel.
Sally is a simple minded girl, she is not beautiful, and her family treats her this way. How did you set about capturing the thoughts and emotions of a young girl in the 1930’s?
I had a clear impression of Sally, who she was and what she was like, before I began and in the process of writing became Sally, at least to the extent of feeling what she felt, seeing the world as she experienced it, incorporating my own background of growing up in a socially restricted rural community where failed crops and tent revivals were a reality.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I’ve just completed a novella about how an incapacitating illness affects a marriage. It’s being considered by several editors. Also in the hands of editors is a recently compiled book of published short stories about Mexico. This fall I’m issuing as an ebook a nonfiction account of government repression of a teachers’ movement in Oaxaca, Mexico, which includes firsthand reporting. It’s to be called Kill the Teachers! And I’m beginning work on a freewheeling journalistic appraisal of the confused political and economic shenanigans involving the United States and Mexico.
This is the story of a young girl’s painful initiation into womanhood: the discovery of sex without hope of love, and grief without the release of tears. The setting is rural Texas in the 1930s, a rough and tumble environment in which the thirteen-year-old Sally Halm questions but tries to appease her authoritarian mother’s religiosity, appeasement that leads to misguided attempts to seek a salvation that her environment ruptures
Sally’s father has distanced himself not only from his wife but Sally and her two older brothers and two older sisters. The mother’s ally is the son who hopes to become an evangelical minister; the rebel is Sally’s oldest sister, who Sally and the middle sister Hill’ry discover in a lovemaking tryst with a neighbor boy. Hill’ry is the family’s child protégé who is given privileges that Sally is denied and who Sally both envies and admires, attributes which tumble her into misadventures than Hill’ry sidesteps.
As Sally struggles to reconcile the concepts of “sin” and “salvation” that seem to dominate her life she ricochets between hope and rejection. Inspired by the testimony of a woman evangelist who recounted rising from degradation to achieve happiness and prosperity thanks to accepting Jesus as her personal savior Sally tries to emulate her but realizes “everything I do I do backwards, I can’t even sin without people laughing at me.”
Sent to live with relatives in another part of central Texas, Sally becomes infatuated with an older cousin whom she helps to milk and to breed a mare. Though supportive he’s a man who seems to hate himself, a hard drinker who has no use for religion and prefers the company of prostitutes than that of “churchy people.” Again Sally does things backwards and alienates him as she’s alienated others. Her decision to run away from family, from the she’s leading and has led, thrusts her into even greater entanglements, entanglements that make her realize how difficult it is to have one’s immortal soul saved, even when that’s all that one has left.
A reviewer cautioned, “You’ll love Miss Sally, but she’ll break your heart.”
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Apples Don’t Sing–They Shine, by George Mardo, is a classic example of literary fiction. The story follows a family over generations from 1930 all the way to 1990. Some of the story does feel dated, but that might be because of historical events that frame the novel. In some ways, it is hard to simply summarize a novel that at its’ core deals with family drama of coming together in times of war and drifting apart after. Mainly it deals with Marie, a German immigrant and her struggles with her son and the family business.
Overall, Mardo does a great job with managing what would normally be an overly complicated or possibly self-indulgent topic to write on. The drama of an inter-generational story is more than enough for the reader to follow on and enjoy. The family does become expansive as it should through the decades, but remembering names and their relations can become cumbersome after a while. The conflict between the characters should be familiar to any reader who has a family and especially one that has first generation immigrants.
The story at times may seem U.S. centralized, but Mardo expands his scope by including a Ukrainian Monastery, family drama in England, and even venturing into South America. The global scale of his story enhances how far reaching and long the narrative is as we follow the rise and fall of family unity and how families change over the decades. As with any drama set over decades, the story can run the risk of being too brief or skimming over the details of the day to day. Mardo falls into this somewhat by giving us broad, quick snippets of events that happen. He sometimes jumps years ahead in the narrative to get to another point. He may have been able to do this with more skill to not create such choppy pacing, though it does lend to the novel’s biographical story of the families of the Nesbits and Reynolds.
In some ways, the main conflict involving the family’s business, Reynolds Enterprise, tends to become too central to what the novel is striving to be, an intimate tale of family and the relations that bind. The focus does seem to shift towards the end and recenter the novel, which is a saving grace.
This work is perfect for those that enjoy tales told over generations involving many different characters. A pure drama that is accessible to anyone of any age.
Pages: 204 | ASIN: B0190UKORY
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The Testimony of a Villain follows Manuel into the gritty alleys of the inner city as he seeks retribution. What was the inspiration that made you want to write such a thrilling novel?
Good question. My inspiration or should I say, “the book that inspired me to write” was The Adventurers by Harold Robbins. In his story, he wrote about a South American character named Dax who lost everything. The book was almost a thousand pages, it covered decades of history. It took me on a ride through time. I enjoyed it.
So, I was compelled to I start writing about Manuel Doggett a man who lost everything. I asked myself, how would it effect a black man here in the United States? So I pulled from the history of the African-American experience. Manuel is born on the tail-end of the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King is dead. Malcom X is dead. The Black Panthers and the original Nation of Islam had been dismantled.
Here comes Manuel Doggett. The future.
As a child, he shows great leadership abilities. He is smart, thoughtful, and a good speaker. Further, there’s nothing stopping him from being anything he wants to be. He has aspirations of being a judge or the first black president.
His family is murdered in front of him. His wealth is stripped. He is forced to live in the inner-city. This young man with so much potential is now faced with dangers from the same black people that his family talked about with so much pride. He realizes that he is a cub that has become prey to a jungle of hyenas.
Manuel had two choices. Try to rise above it or become part of it.
From the spirt of a leader, he took the third choice. He became it. He became the fear. He became the danger. He became the king of the concrete jungle.
He became the villain.
For me this was thrilling to write.
Manuel Doggett is a boy who lost everything and was formed by the streets and remade in its’ dark image. How did you set about creating such complicated characters?
A loaded question. I will try to answer it the best I can. The characters around Manuel are not complicated to a person who grew up in the inner-city. You see them all the time a car thief, a pick-pocket, or a drug dealer. You see the upset aunt or the concerned mother. Manuel, on the other hand, is a complicated character. He has physiological issues and is force into different environments, his higher intellect compelled him to rise up at any cost. Further, he had become a killer. Now, as an author, I had to navigate Manuel through the streets. I had to take on the mind of a madman. What would an intelligent madman do?
The original title of the book was “Product of Environment”. I named it Product of Environment because while I was writing I noticed how Manuel had to adapt and lead others into each new environment he faced. A leader will be a leader wherever he goes.
The title changed to Product of Environment: The Testimony of a Villain and was later changed again when I sat down with my project manager, Anthony Lindo.
Anthony was putting the book cover together on a computer and I was watching him. We were discussing colors and letter sizes, and then, all of a sudden, he deleted Product of Environment out of the title. After looking it over, it made sense.
Thus, we have The Testimony of a Villain.
I found myself enjoying the book because I found a lot of truth embedded in the story about life, justice and society. What themes did you try to capture while creating this story?
The themes that I tried to capture about social justice revolved around relevant issues: abortion, race, politics and crime. I think most readers found it interesting how “living the life of crime”, didn’t seem like a crime to the people living it.
It was simply a way of life.
To me, the the biggest social issue that the Testimony of a Villain brings to light is that there are people who live like the characters in the story every day. For them, it’s normal. They never had a job and they don’t plan on getting a job. They are just waiting to go to jail or get murdered or hustle another day.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book that I’m about to release is called: Wisdom of a Dying God. It’s a crime story about a crime fiction writer who is in prison, dying. He has books floating around the prison system. He is revered by his peers because of his knowledge of the criminal underworld. As the prisoners read his books, they find better ways to commit crimes.
The book should be available in the next 60 to 90 days.
Outsiders call Manuel a villain. After spending his youth entangled in inner city gang warfare, he’s lied, robbed, and murdered his way to the top of the brutal organized crime underworld. His path toward vengeance was set long ago when two killers massacred his family in front of him…
Manuel tracked down one of the murderers and exacted revenge, but his bloodlust grew for the killer who got away. When he got the chance to complete his vengeance, the city cowered beneath his thirst for retribution. As he continues to retrace his old scars, Manuel has one chance for vindication. To succeed, he’ll need to take a hard look at the street life he’s built upon the ashes of his childhood…
The Testimony of a Villain is a dark crime thriller set on the unforgiving streets of inner city Boston. If you like true crime stories, complex characters and an unapologetic look at urban reality, then you’ll love Aaron G. Harrell’s poignant psychological thriller.
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Pamela Schloesser Canepa’s novel, Detours in Time, is anything but your run of the mill science fiction novel. It follows Professor Milton Braddock, who has conveniently developed a time-traveling car, and his assistant turned traveling companion, Tabitha (cutely nicknamed “Pinky” by the professor). The pairing of the older and more experienced Milt with young, spunky Tabitha will feel comfortably familiar to Doctor Who fans, as the two travel through time, encountering futuristic adventures as they begin to feel a bit closer than just friends. Though their time travels begin as scientific examinations into both the past and the future, Milt and Pinky’s present and future lives begin to unravel when they break their golden rule of not disturbing the future.
Canepa’s novel excels by creating three distinct time periods that each feel relatable to readers: 1997 (the “present” for Milt and Pinky), 2018, and 2047 (where most of the novel occurs). By creating a recent past setting, a practically present setting, and a not too distant future setting, Canepa creates a science fiction novel that relies on her well-developed plot and inter-character relationships rather than the spaceships, aliens, and high-tech gadgets of many science fiction works.
Detours in Time begins mid-adventure in 2047, without skipping a beat. Though 2047 is certainly more futuristic than what readers in 2017 experience in their daily lives, it is not so high-tech as to be completely beyond belief. But perhaps most shocking to readers will be how the citizens of 2047 describe the war that tore apart the United States in 2019, with reasons for division painfully realistic: “how tax money was spent, which citizen’s rights could or could not be limited and for what reason, the role of the military, who was allowed to immigrate into the country…” Milt and Pinky are aghast at the country’s divide, but readers’ hearts in 2017 will ache at the accuracy of what Canepa describes.
But, thankfully for readers, Canepa does not spend too much time dwelling on the demise of the United States, but rather takes a closer look at the questions that time travel inevitably brings: What happens when you interfere? Could a single action reroute history entirely? Are you better off not knowing? The last question is one that Pinky and Milt find themselves asking after they look into their own futures and decide to take a bite of the forbidden fruit: trying to change the future.
A truly five-star novel, Detours in Time is a well-written and interesting story with characters who are developed independently and whose relationships are carefully crafted, not flung together as if forced. Detours never stalls or bores readers, but it invests enough time in explanations and detail that it feels thought out. Readers will find Milt and Pinky’s 90s naïveté charming (What’s a text? What does it mean to swipe? Why would anyone eat food out of a truck?) but also eye-opening: how long ago were we asking those same questions ourselves? Milt and Pinky’s present is just twenty years in our past, which begs the question, what wonders or terrors does twenty years in our future hold? Canepa brings Detours In Time to a natural close, but leaves the door wide open for a second novel in the series, hopefully one that readers will not have to travel too far into the future to experience.
Pages: 305 | ASIN: B0711ZW6XF
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Across the Realm: Life Always Finds A Way begins six centuries in the future where the northern and southern hemisphere have been locked in a bitter feud for centuries. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling science fiction novel?
The inspiration was my own country Canada and the United States, a country I also adore. Canada practices segregation of communities. The United States practices the melting pot philosophy. Basically, the North in Across the Realm is Canada and the South is the United States. I found it so fascinating that we are neighbors but have different living ideologies. For making the book scifi? I am a scifi junkie. My contribution to the world has to be more scifi!
The characters were very well developed, each one having their own personalities and quirks. How did you approach character development in this story?
I always say that my characters come to me. I imagine as if in a movie. All I am doing as a writer is sharing what I am experiencing with others. I live in my stories. And so, the characters introduce themselves to me. I get to know them and we become friends. They then tell their story. Weird I know. But it is what it is.
Naledi practically jumped in front of me. She had her name and background. I met a very strong young lady who knows her place in the world and her sense of purpose. Greg came right after her. I was stunned at his beauty and strength. He is the ultimate alpha. I fell in love. I am still in love.
The writing in this book is fantastic what is your experience as a writer and how has this book developed your writing?
This is the first scifi book I have ever written. It is also the first scifi story I ever dared to write. I have been writing ever since I could hold a pen. My mom told me that the day I was born, my dad put a pen in my hand and said I would be a writer and so I became.
I am published under other genres besides scifi. Pen names are great! But scifi is where my heart is. Before I wrote ATR, I actually went back to university to do another Master’s degree in writing so that I could be confident enough. I didn’t think I could do it.
I was also greatly discouraged from doing it by the industry because of my race. So, this book helped me cross boundaries, mentally, psychologically and factually. It freed me in every way.
In this book I found my authentic self.
Set over 600 years in the future, this is the first book in the Across the Realm series! Enter an Earth physically torn between the Northern Hemisphere and the South. Two worlds divided by a boiling sea and on a collision course as ideologies fight for survival in the face of a fate neither side can tackle alone.
Sweeping elegantly between Northern and Southern perspectives, we meet
阿斯卡里 (Askari) Naledi Choto and Colonel Gregory Douglas two people on opposing sides of the war and with whom the bond is instant. Isobel Mitton, seamlessly weaves in filial love, brutality, betrayal, forbidden romance and loyalty in a tale that stands uniquely on it’s own.
This tale is an exciting and subtle exploration of a reality where segregation and communal living have both become necessities for humanity’s survival and hence have been made to work! It is a tale that shows the truth of the human spirit when faced with adversity.
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Dining and Driving with Cats – Alice Unplugged by Pat Paterson tells the story of Patterson and his wife, Alice, driving from the Mexican border to Atlanta, Georgia, with their two cats, Munchie and Tuffy. Along the way they use the opportunity to sample as much as they can from their pre-researched food-stops. The book will take you on a journey as they try countless dishes, meet unexpected people and attempt to tame their two beloved cats – who, there is no doubt, are definitely in charge.
While reading the book, Pat and Alice’s Honda Fit feels somewhat like home – you can almost feel yourself squished into the back with the two cats roaming around, as the two of them drive to their next destination. The tone is always kept light, making this an easy read and giving the reader a sense of comfort. While there are many descriptions of the food they eat and the antics of their two cats, the real theme in this novel is storytelling.
Patterson’s goal is to use their long trek to Georgia to tell stories along the way. The stories of the people they meet are interesting to a point, but you do find yourself feeling slightly removed as there is no real tie to them.
The best stories told are the ones about Pat and Alice; how they met and eventually fell in love. Not only does this insight make the reader feel more connected to them, but the stories themselves are sweet and witty and good enough material to be made into a Hollywood romance.
The best thing about the whole book is definitely Alice. I almost want to call her a ‘character’ of the book because that’s what she feels like. Her smarts and determination, coupled with her calm composure and uncanny ability to cajole the cats to bend to her will, makes her seem almost too good to be true. She seems the type of person who, if you were married to them, you would want to write about.
The only down side to the novel is the actual travel aspects. While mildly interesting to start with, it becomes slightly mundane, and all the descriptions of the food they eat becomes repetitive – it can’t all be as delicious as described, surely? However, this may just be because the Alice and Pat stories are so good that it leaves you craving more. The food is unimportant; you just want to hear about Alice and Pat!
Overall this is an enjoyable read, and the way the stories of the couple are intertwined with them visiting familiar places, is expertly done. The cats are sweet and their antics add an entertaining element. This is a great book for storytelling and memories, and will leave you feeling sentimental and warm and fuzzy inside.
Pages: 260 | ASIN: B06XD7XGGH
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In Paracelsus we see the horrors of an ongoing war of subterfuge and nuclear weapons as it spans nearly fifty-years and encompasses the world. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
The idea came to mind when I read about Alexander Lebed, (who placed third in the 1996 Russian election and was also chairman of the National Security Council. Lebed led negotiations with the Chechen President, Aslan Maskadov, and signed agreements in the town of Khasavyurt in Dagestan which ended the first Chechen war.) He claimed that Russia had produced and lost track of suitcase sizes nuclear weapons whose primary purpose was sabotage. The Russian Federation rejected Lebed’s claims and stated that such weapons had never existed. Within six years he was dead, killed in a helicopter crash on April 28, 2002, after it collided with electric lines during foggy weather in the Sayan mountains.
Subsequently a GRU defector, Stanislav Lunev, confirmed that such nuclear devices existed and speculated that they had been deployed. He then worked as a GRU intelligence officer in Singapore in 1978, in China from 1980, and in the United States from 1988. He defected to U.S. authorities in 1992. Since then he has worked as a consultant to the FBI and the CIA. As of 2000, he remained in the FBI’s Witness protection programme. Lunev asserted that portable tactical nuclear weapons known as RA-115 “Suitcase bombs” had been prepared to assassinate US leaders in the event of war. Russian authorities denied the existence of such weapons and then announced that all Atomic demolition munitions “ADMs “were in the process of being unilaterally destroyed? This raised my interest somewhat.
It was then that Red Mercury started to appear in articles across all media types. It was widely dismissed by authorities as a hoax designed to snare would be terrorists who wished to purchase it for nefarious purposes. Nevertheless Samuel T Cohen, an American physicist who worked on building the atomic bomb who was also described as “The father of the neutron bomb “, claimed for some time that red mercury is a powerful explosive-like chemical known as a Ballotechnic. The energy released during its reaction is allegedly enough to directly compress the fissionable material in a thermonuclear weapon. He claimed that he learned that the Soviet scientists perfected the use of red mercury and used it to produce a number of softball -sized pure fission bombs weighing as little as 10 lb (4.5 kg), which he claimed were made in large numbers. Again the contradiction intrigued me and I set about pitching a nightmare scenario where one weapon is employed against the other.
As I have been employed in the refuelling of nuclear reactors for the last thirty two years the probability of further development in nuclear weapon systems over the last seventy years seemed inevitable to me. Neutron bombs are now feasible therefore other advancements in this very secretive field of science have no doubt developed unilaterally.
I felt that the characters were intriguing and well developed. What were the ideals that drove the characters development throughout the story?
The characters are all based upon real characters and as you surmised each event was based on an actual event right down to the munitions, ships and operations that they were actively engaged in at that particular point of time in the story. Paracelsus has in my opinion six protagonists and whichever the reader chooses to affiliate with depends upon their social, political or religious persuasions. (One person’s terrorist is another’s hero.) I tried to balance this between each and remain unbiased, expressing an understanding of each characters motive through some backgrounding of their earlier lives.
In Paracelsus corrupt businesses blur the line between government and industry while ideological extremism spreads. What the inspiration for these turn of events in your novel?
The collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of the oligarch including the clandestine energy deals brokered between Russia and its neighbouring states also included the circumventing of agreed sanction limits on the sale of Russian commodities to both known terrorist organisations and rouge states. This was occurring whilst Muslim extremism began to rise across much of the globe primarily in countries liberated from dictators by western forces. It occurred to me that these adversaries could be brought together and ultimately contest each other on many levels, allowing me the freedom to expand the narrative across almost fifty years and four continents.
What is the next book that you’re working on and when will it be available?
I hope to conclude the battle between Nasser and Colonel Ryan in the next book STRONTIA and stretch the story into true science fiction whilst utilising real scientific advancements – including Nano technology and the recent CRISPR 9 biological advancements to set the stage for the rise of a completely new anti-hero. I am not sure when STRONTIA will be available as Paracelsus took me years to research and write.
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This God, I, is a novel based around a group of teenagers turned Japanese superheroes as they band together in a battle against evil. Where did the inspiration for the thrilling action come from and how did it develop as you were writing?
I’ve always been a fan of comic books, anime and the action genre, so I’ve had ideas brewing in my head on how to construct a story full of car chases, paranormal battles and science fiction. For the scenes with domestic terrorists, I read about the history of nationalist extremism in the United States, such as Ruby Ridge, Waco and the Oklahoma City bombing, and tried to emulate what I learned. For super-powered fights, I had to come up with creative ways the heroes and villains could use their surroundings.
Japanese anime styled characters cross political extremists which sets the tone for this action packed adventure. What were some ideals you hoped would drive the narrative of the story?
Every character needs a believable motivation, and a political agenda can provide just that. Our cultural backgrounds and political views are a reflection of who we are as people, and I sought to create characters that would embody their various ideals and principles. While the extreme villains use their powers to force their ideas onto the world, the heroes have to be open-minded, consider all sides and work together to come to a reasonable conclusion. It was important for the heroes to put their values above the need to win at all costs, lest they end up just as bad as the people they’re fighting.
The superheroes come from a range of backgrounds and have a varied mix of super powers. How did you balance the characters powers to keep them interesting yet believable?
Every superpower has been thought of before, so it was important that my characters would utilize them in different ways, such as turning a roller coaster into a giant robot or controlling a crowd’s emotions to ignite a protest. It was also essential for every ability to serve a purpose, either to move the plot forward, reveal more information and create an action-packed spectacle.
This God, I is book 2 in the series. Where will book 3 take the characters?
In “The Genocide Gene,” Chikara and her friends travel to Africa to stop two demented brothers from starting a civil war and committing genocide. Along the way, they have to save hundreds of kidnapped schoolgirls and take on merciless rebel groups.
“Japanese superhero Chikara Kaminari has accepted her destiny: to save mankind from powerful political extremists. Joined by her friends, the empathic Renka and the shadow-controlling Gen, Chikara journeys to America to rescue her friend Michiko from the Ayn Rand- obsessed billionaire, Chillingworth.
As they search for their adversaries, Chikara and her friends encounter a murderous cell of homegrown terrorists called RAMPAGE (Revolutionary American Militant Patriots Against Government Enslavement). This militia of neo-nazis, white supremacists and anti-government extremists will stop at nothing to bring down the public sector, and only the three heroes can stop them before their war on the state claims innocent lives.
The future hangs in the balance as Chillingworth lures the world’s most powerful leaders to the United Nations. Using Michiko’s mind-controlling voice, he seeks to lead the Earth into a new era of selfishness and Anarchy. The heroes have to stop him, but the conservative Chikara and the socialist Gen have different definitions of the term “save the world.” While one wants to stop the plot, the other wants to control the politicians his own way. The three must put aside their disagreements and work together before America’s most extreme ideologues tear the world apart.”
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Themes of forgiveness, trust, honor, technology as a healer, and non-violence echo through the pages of The Beauty of the Fall. What was the inspiration for the themes you used throughout the novel?
When I started the novel three years ago, I was interested in writing about, as you say, technology as a healer, or as I like to say, technology as a community builder. There are many good novels out there about the evils of technology, but few, if any, about technology companies that bring about positive social change. The idea of using technology to enable true democracy, as opposed to the slew of representative democracies out in existence today, intrigued me. The events in the world this last year –– the rise of fake news, populism, racism, and sexism—confirmed that I was one the right track. However, as my protagonist, Dan Underlight, emerged, I realized I was actually writing a redemption story. Once I was clear on that point, the themes broadened out to include all the ones you mentioned, especially forgiveness and simplicity.
I felt this story was very well written and used beautifully soulful language to create unique characters living compelling bittersweet lives. What’s your experience as a writer?
Well, first thanks for the compliment. I spend a lot of time at the sentence level, so it’s nice to hear that the language resonates with you. I’ve been writing all of my adult life, but only full-time for the last six years. In college, I had a chance to be mentored by a novelist in residence, but I was broke and needed to make money for a time. So when I graduated, I did. Throughout those years, I kept writing––mostly songs and poetry––but I always knew I would come back to writing novels. Hopefully, I’ll get ten or so of them out into the world before I’m done. I tend to write on most days in the morning for five or six hours. I’m a big believer in writing in the morning and tend to do my best work first thing each day.
The characters in The Beauty of the Fall are complex. What is your process for creating such in-depth characters?
As a writer, I’m trying to go deeper and deeper into the soul of each of my characters, and so I focus a lot of my effort on their inner lives. In this novel, I spent most of my time on Dan and Willow, but I also spent a considerable amount of time on the other characters. On process, I write a character over and over until I feel I find his or her voice. That usually happens at the scene level, and once I understand a character’s voice in that scene, it generalizes to the rest of the book pretty easily. With Dan in particular, once I understood his grief at some deep non-verbal level, he came into focus.
What is the next book that you are working on and when can your fans expect it to be out?
I’m working on my fourth novel, The Latecomers, which is about aging in a world that in many ways devalues age. It’s about how a few folks try to build a community that values age and wisdom. I’m one-hundred-and-forty pages into that novel and hope to have it out in a couple of years.
Dan Underlight, a divorced, workaholic technology executive, suffers lingering grief over the death of his ten-year-old son, Zack. When Dan’s longtime friend and boss fires Dan from RadioRadio, the company that he helped create, he crashes and isolates himself.
Willow, a poet and domestic violence survivor, helps Dan regain his footing. With her support, Dan ventures on a pilgrimage of sorts, visiting Fortune 500 companies to flesh out a software start-up idea. He then recruits three former RadioRadio colleagues and starts Conversationworks, a company he believes will be at the vanguard of social change.
Guided by Dan’s leadership, Conversationworks enjoys some early successes, but its existence is soon threatened on multiple fronts. Will Dan survive the ensuing corporate battles and realize the potential of his company? Or will he be defeated by his enemies and consumed by his grief?
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