The Warrior Arises follows a young fairy who must survive a world suddenly turned on its head and face world-changing challenges. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
My story is allegorical. I was inspired by C.S. Lewis and John Bunyan for a genre. But I was also inspired by my four military children and our life as a family who serves our country. I wanted to create parable-like circumstances that the reader could relate to—showing real-life situations in a fairytale setting—raising awareness of our world problems, such as bullying, fear, drug addiction, or human trafficking. I intended to introduce the gospel subtly to those who may not know a loving father. Beathra represents Jesus, and the fire seed our connection to him. The Whisper is the Holy Spirit, and the Great Ghost warrior in the Sky is Father God.
I wanted to create a character similar to that of David and Esther, where others may have been overlooked and viewed as insignificant. Still, God hid great gifts in a very common or dismissed individuals.
Ruby is a unique and intriguing character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
Ruby is based on me and my childhood. Many of the stories are real, like the bullying, harassment, social anxiety, and even the cruel teacher and practical jokes. It took me years to understand my quirky personality and appreciate it as a gift. I wanted the reader to relate to Ruby’s struggles of academics and social settings. As Ruby faces challenges, she has learned to hear the voice of Beathra and The Whisper and follow their leading. This connection was to display that God is always trying to speak to us; we just need to learn to listen. As for Rubys development: I hoped to show her grow in confidence and self-acceptance. I wanted to show an imperfect hero who makes mistakes, struggles with anxiety or fear, and must grow into her identity and destiny. Many of us feel like a square peg or displaced. As Ruby grows in confidence and strength, hopefully, the readers are encouraged to do the same, and they are inspired to view themselves as rare, rather weird.
I enjoyed the world you’ve created in this book. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating your world?
As with most allegorical tales, I have hidden meanings throughout the story. Hope is the theme, and the enemy of hope is fear and despair. I show how the enemy targets our minds to focus on our biggest fears or insecurities, creating doubt or distrust in our Heavenly Father. The wild gidgies who live in the mountains are those who have run away from their call or fellowship with other believers. They lost heart and now hide from conflict, protecting themselves from future pain. Skawlterrin, of course, is the devil’s playground, luring the rejected, hopeless or desperate soul and offering false hope, a place to belong, and lying about acceptance. The Darphea wilderness is the journey those take running away. Havengothy is a land created to flourish, and for giddies to serve, love, and be loved. But Neeradima is bent on corrupting a world that is full of hope and purpose. The overall theme is to show that sometimes, what tries to destroy us, just might be where we are called to bring change. Ruby losing Sebastian propels her into her purpose, and Lewis and Trixie being tricked by the enemy catapulted them into their destiny.
This is book one in your Light Of Beathra series. What can readers expect in book two?
I actually wrote book two first but felt I need to give a back story to the characters. Book Two is where it really picks up. I want the reader to grow up with the characters. I was careful to keep too much horror from a young reader, but in book two, we will see more of Skawlterrin and evil. We will see a lot more of the liath, Stain. Billick will be a significant presence in Ruby’s life. We will follow Jo and Kody’s recovery from war, and watch Rubys struggle to join the Skyforce. There are character developments with Mr. Ryster, and we will also be introduced to the water gidgies. Kody gets married, and Jo changes careers due to his injuries he sustained. Ruby lives on her own and unknowingly begins to develop into a weapon for the King. We also see more of C.J and Callie and the Hyperion Lions and other marvelous and magical creatures.
Heroes rise from the most unlikely places. For, what others might view as unusual or irrelevant, just might be the surprising weapons needed to defeat an enemy.
If Ruby existed in today’s world, she would possibly be labeled with learning disabilities and perhaps a slight case of social anxiety. She is unusual in many ways. With radiant pink wings and unruly hair, Ruby stands out. But never in the way she wanted to. It is the peculiarity that draws attention to her; from her vivid imagination to her misunderstood sense of humor; Ruby is a rare fairy indeed.
But even in a mysterious world where all is strange and unusual, different isn’t always celebrated.
The story begins at the end of Ruby’s senior year and takes you through an eighteen-month journey. Ruby attends Havengothy Gardening University with her best friends, Sebastian and Ellie. It is during her years of school that Ruby develops a stubbornness to overcome. She was bullied for her poor grades and her wild hair. And if that wasn’t enough, she was a bit of a klutz. But Ruby never let the bullies get the best of her. With the help of her best friends, Ruby was able to pull off some epic pranks of retaliation, usually ending with detention, but the crime was always worth the punishment.
After finding a book in one of her professor’s offices, her real adventures begin. The book documented magical charms that were once used by the caretaker of the garden, Neeradima. Neeradima was a forest spirit that lived in Havengothy long ago. But envy darkened her heart. Exiled for betraying her land, Neeradima had one goal; To destroy the two ruling spirits of her former home. But the only way to hurt them was to wound or distort their beloved creation.
Her servants cunningly lure the victims away from their safe garden. Targeting the lonely, unhappy, or unusual; manipulating them to question their king and his goodness. And then, the evil servants would offer a solution to end the misery of their victims; a new life. They only needed to sacrifice one thing.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: adventure, author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, christian fiction, coming of age, ebook, fairy tale, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, Holly S Ruddock, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, religion, story, suspense, thriller, urban fantasy, writer, writing, young adult
Pushing Back by Jim Hartsell is an introspective coming-of-age novel that tackles the challenges of a broken family and growing up in the rural South through the eyes of its sympathetic protagonist, Boone Hammond. Though the central themes of the novel are heavy, Hartsell masterfully balances the sometimes-painful topics of the novel with poetically beautiful prose that will whisk you away to Boone’s world. Pushing Back is different from many of the top sellers you will see advertised in bookshops in that it embraces the slower pace of its plot, which is reflected in the drawling prose. Sometimes we all need a break from the unstoppable onslaught of reality and deserve an escape to a beautiful literary world, right? If you are looking for a thoughtful novel that will likely force you to consider your own prejudices and misconceptions, then I highly recommend Pushing Back.
Pushing Back is one of those beautiful, engrossing novels that sucks you in with the first page and, before you know it, you are several chapters in and it is way past your bedtime. The novel is told from the first-person perspective of Boone Hammond, whose namesake is humorously not the Daniel Boone of whom you’re thinking. A junior in high school, Boone lives in rural Tennessee with his parents and young sister, all of whom are dealing with the loss of his younger brother several years previously. Boone’s family is dealing with struggles that will be familiar to many readers, regardless of whether they hail from the American South or elsewhere: domestic abuse, poverty, alcohol dependency, and depression. Though he finds himself making his way through this formative time of his life largely on his own, Boone forms a deep relationship with his nearby elderly neighbor and charmingly begins to experience the heart-racing delights and pitfalls of teenage romance.
While some sections felt repetitive at times Hartsell writes in an incredibly elegant way, and the paragraphs often feel reminiscent of poetry. This is especially true in the passages where Boone is experiencing the natural beauties of Tennessee. I also enjoyed the raw emotion that Hartsell fills the novel with, in describing Boone’s emotions and those of his abusive father, as well as those Boone’s romantic interest, Nancy. The emotions of loss and love can sometimes be hard to read, especially as they come from the perspective of a young man who is growing up alone, but readers will undoubtedly appreciate the honesty and sensitivity with which Hartsell tackles these pains, as they think about their own experiences with change and pain.
In spite of the challenges facing Boone, Pushing Back is a hopeful novel: hopeful for the future awaiting Boone, acknowledging the room he has to grow to become a better person, and littered with charming moments that are bound to make you smile. The feelings coursing through the pages of Pushing Back are universal to humanity.
Pages: 328 | ASIN: B01FAVY0AY
Tags: author, book, book review, bookblogger, coming of age, contemporary fiction, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, Jim Hartsell, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, Pushing Back, read, reader, reading, story, teen fiction, urban fantasy, writer, writing, young adult
Mirrors of Life follows the story of a family struggling to overcome the social obstacles that confine them to a life of poverty. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
The inspiration came from life experiences and growth that includes 33 years of service to at-risk youth as a sports coach and mentor.
Derrick is a compelling and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
The ideals of Derrick’s character comes from the spirit within me. He is spiritually inclined and ambitious because I am.
This novel explores many social and economic issues people face today. What were some themes you felt were important to examine in this book?
This is book one in your Mirrors of Life series. What can readers expect in book two, The Fight for Political Power?
Set in today’s political climate, Derrick learns political power is needed to ensure the sustainability of his corporation and prevent the blockage of future projects.
Yvonne spearheads the grassroots voting initiative to change the leadership in congress.
Erich Hornsby, plots Derrick’s murder and manipulates the voters to elect his puppet, John Donaldson, president. In full control of the White House, Hornsby attempts to raise the Fourth Reich.
Mirrors of Life vividly explores contemporary experiences of black people in America through the emotional tale of a mother and her children. This compelling story of faith and perseverance leads to intrigue when her spiritually inclined and ambitious son, Derrick, attempts to build a civic-minded conglomerate that undercuts the retail and gas prices set by a group of avaricious businessmen led by the narcissistic and callous, Erich Hornsby. Surrounded by fierce opposition that includes people of his race, can Derrick prevail against the business powers that be? And if so, how?
This is a thought-provoking novel that uses compelling characters to bring to life the uniqueness of a familiar story. Mirrors of Life engages the reader with drama, family, faith, suspense, romance, and philosophy. If you are looking for an intriguing contemporary urban fiction story that addresses many societal issues in a heart-felt yet engaging way this novel is for you.
Mirrors of Life vividly explores contemporary experiences of black people in America through the emotional tale of a mother and her children. Yvonne is a single mother who is stuck between tragedy and poverty. She finds a release for her pain through her religion and focus on her children. Yvonne’s children are all motivated individuals, though each in their own direction. Each blaze their own path in life, but Derrick is the one that seeks economic equality for his community and finds opposition coming from surprising places. Can Derrick overcome these challenges and change the social and economic fabric of a community set in their ways?
What I found most striking about this novel was the unique way in which it broached sadly common economic and educational deficiencies in minority groups and their communities. Derrick seeks substantial change to address racial inequalities and social justice and does so through his own drive and faith. In a time where black men are killed regularly at the hands of law enforcement, and vigilantes, this novel speaks volumes in its ability to keep the conversation on these topics civil and focused on human experiences.
Derrick, I think, is the main focus of this story. He’s a character that was slow to build but was well developed and stirring. The challenges he faces, they are numerous and varied, and the way he handles them, propels this novel forward at a delightful pace. His mother, Yvonne, is an equally captivating character that I wanted to learn more about. She could have easily had her own novel.
This is a thought-provoking novel that uses compelling characters to bring life to an otherwise familiar story. Mirrors of Life explores themes of family, faith, and love while waxing philosophical, occasionally, on a few topics. If your looking for an intriguing contemporary urban fiction story that addresses many societal issues in a heart-felt yet engaging way then Neal Owens has a novel for you. Mirrors of Life: What is your life in the mirror? is an inspirational novel that made me smarter, if not more aware.
Pages: 304 | ASIN: B07VGLQKTS
Tags: african american, author, book, book review, bookblogger, contemporary, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, MIRRORS OF LIFE, neal owens, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, story, urban fantasy, What is your life in the mirror?, writer, writing
Thirst Trap follows four friends as they deal with sexuality, tragedy, substance abuse and wild friendships. What made you write a story about these topics? Anything pulled from your life experiences?
Honestly, the story came from some of my closest friends. I wrote a novel several years ago that was based on me coming out, and I wanted to write a novel as a follow up to it. It’s kind of like my autobiography but in my own way. I pulled from my brothers suicide, my friends abusive ex, my friends boyfriend suicide, and my friends marriage. Also, a lot of the back and forth with the witty comments are actual comments my friends have made to each other.
What kind of research did you do for this novel to ensure you captured the essence of the stories theme?
I did 4 years of research just watching my friends. I wanted to make sure that I did justice in that no matter what happens friends have each other’s backs. I think my theme in all of my books is to be open and honest or it will bite you in the butt down the road.
What character did you enjoy writing for? Was there one that was more challenging to write for?
I think in such a messed up way Ivan was my favorite to write. I loved him going from an abusive relationship to standing up for himself. The challenge with all of these characters was I didn’t want them to be too close to my actual friends. I made sure to change their appearance to make sure I could write right freely without worrying I’d they would get offended.
What is the next novel you have planned? Any involving the characters in the Thirst Trap?
I actually have another serious novel coming out in June called Silence Screams. Its my favorite novel that I’ve written. It’s my 50th novel, and it’s elements of all my books I’ve written. It’s about the aftermath of a school shooting. I’m also working on finishing the spin off trilogy to High School Queens. Sadly, Thirst Trap is a stand alone and those characters are done.
Tragedy comes in all forms, and you never know how you’ll deal with it. Four friends have all dealt with their fair share of struggles. Dillion, is an aspiring writer with writers block because of his brothers sudden death, Jesse the emotional stunted drink thanks to his boyfriend’s suicide, Ivan the abused victim just looking for a place to call home, and Leo the stubborn romantic trying to get his friends to open up, while keeping his issues close to his chest.
With these four friends, they avoid all their elephants in the room like a death card agreement between Dillion and Jesse, Ivan completely hoping his abusive lover with change or even Leo focusing on his friends problems instead of his own. Can these four friends learn to embrace and accept their own tragedy or will they be stuck in the past?
Thirst Trap is a humorous coming of age novel dealing with sexuality, tragedy, substance abuse, and the most beautiful.
A Fallen Hero follows Cato as he finds himself stranded, powerless and hunted by Shadow Guards desperate to recapture him. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling series?
This series has been in my head for a long time. Essentially, it’s the culmination of my favorite elements from books, movies, and television shows I consumed when I was young. I would often take existing characters and daydream my own storylines with them, and over time, my unique characters started to take shape, and then the world was rendered around them. I adore books with intricate world-building, found-families of misfit kids, tension that pulls you in and keeps you up all night, hunter-prey relationships, villains with justifiable motives, and antiheroes walking the line between right and wrong, so that’s the kind of story I wanted to tell.
Cato is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some ideas that guided his character development?
I put a lot of myself into Cato. I started writing this series when I was struggling to figure out my path in life. I’d just been forsaken by someone who had been my mentor, and I was pursuing a college degree in a major I knew wouldn’t suit me for the rest of my life. Writing this series was my therapy and escape; Cato and I were both searching for our places. I didn’t consciously plan this, but I came to realize that his dual powers were a perfect metaphor for the two types of depression that often plagued me during those years of my life—the numb, icy sadness, and the hot, tearful frustration that made me want to scream at the top of my lungs. Pouring myself into this story became a coping mechanism and way of exploring my internal conflicts. I wrote obsessively for several years.
I enjoyed the use of the abilities in this book, as they were well balanced and entertaining. How did you decide on each character’s ability, and how did you balance it to keep it believable?
My characters, in all honesty, took on a life of their own. They developed in tandem with their powers when this story was just a daydream to pass the time at a boring job. I found that the more time I spent with the characters, the more of their traits became apparent, especially in relation to their abilities. Jay’s power is particularly important in terms of symbolism; he has one of the weakest Divinities, and yet, he’s the leader. I wanted him to earn that title through his compassion, guidance, and wisdom, not because he’s the most powerful.
I put a lot of time and consideration into my world-building, and setting limits, even on the supernatural scale, helped to ground the story into the realm of believability. Unlimited power isn’t realistic or entertaining to me; the stakes aren’t as high. Your body shuts down if you overexert yourself, and the same principle applies to supernatural abilities. It makes the characters seem more human, even with inhuman traits.
This is book one in your War of the Realms series. What can readers expect in book two, Phantom’s Mask?
Phantom’s Mask has already been well received by beta readers and editors! The prologue picks up just a few days after A Fallen Hero’s ending. In Book I, most of the core group of characters didn’t have access to their powers, but now, the shackles have come off, and readers can expect a lot more action and fight scenes, complete with plenty of supernatural powers and new ghost-hunting gadgets. There’s deeper character development throughout the story. Azar was a menacing shadow behind the scenes in Book I, but he plays more of a direct role in Book II, and I have to say, he’s such a fun antagonist to write!
Originally, A Fallen Hero and Phantom’s Mask were written as one book, but due to the size, I split it in two. The ending of Phantom’s Mask, which had been planned as the ending of the first book in the series, packs a bit more of a climactic punch than A Fallen Hero did. It’s sure to be an intense ride!
The War of the Realms series will be seven books in total, and there will likely be a few standalone novels in the Chronicles of Avilésor that take place in the established fantasy world but don’t revolve around the stories of the Alpha fugitives. The journey is only just beginning.
Cato is the only true half-human, half-ghost hybrid in existence. He’s powerful and unique with two divine powers instead of one.
The United States government believes he is the key to developing a devastating weapon that will give humankind an advantage when war inevitably erupts between the Human Realm and Avilésor, the Ghost Realm.
After being an unwilling test subject in Project Alpha for two years, Cato and the rest of his “lab-family” survive a transport accident to find themselves stranded and powerless in the middle of the wilderness. Hunted every step of the way by ghostly Shadow Guards with supernatural abilities and human Agents desperate to recapture their prisoners, the eight young fugitives are drawn to Cato’s hometown where the Rip between Realms connects the worlds.
Cato wants nothing to do with his past, but as his enemies close in, he realizes he’s willing to do anything to protect his lab-family . . .
. . . even kidnap the daughter of a ghost hunter and make a dangerous deal to become a mercenary.
In Other News by Dale Robbins is a sensational fiction story following Marlon Woods, a college student who is the victim of a sexual assault at an off-campus party. The person accused of the crime is Parker Sullivan, the quarterback on the Pine State University football team and son of a former Washington governor. When video of the incident is posted on the internet, some people believe Marlon’s account, while others call him a liar. After being away for the summer, Marlon is back on campus surrounded by whispers and hostility from Parker’s friends. As the trial date approaches, will people believe the truth so that Marlon can receive justice? Or will he be victimized again?
Take a provocative story line and add Dale Robbins compelling writing style and you get a story that is absolutely enthralling. The story is told from Marlon’s point of view, allowing the reader to see everything he sees and experience the raw emotion that he feels as he tries to find a way to live with what happened to him. Although it is a fictional story, it portrays a grim reality. I admired the strength and courage Marlon showed, not only by returning to the university, but also by holding his head up and not allowing the stares and whispers and bullying to stop him from continuing to live his life. I loved the note Marlon wrote to his future self.
The characters in this book, love them or hate them, were exceptionally well developed. I liked Marlon’s friend, Anna. She stood by him when so many others turned their back on him or bullied him. Despite the book’s dark themes of sexual assault, suicide, and bullying, the humorous interactions between Anna and Marlon provided a bit of levity as a counterpoint. Anna’s loyalty to Marlon never wavered, in contrast to Quinn. I felt he could have been a much better friend to Marlon while he was trying to deal with the trauma he’d suffered. I understand why Quinn was upset, but he reacted pretty harshly, and I thought that he could’ve been more sympathetic toward what Marlon was going through and cut him some slack.
Although I enjoyed the book, I found the ending a bit confusing. It was not clear to me what will come next for Marlon, though it was apparent that he had specific plans in mind. Hopefully, all the lingering questions from this story will be answered in the next book, In Other Cases.
In Other News will make you think about the pain others have experienced–and the pain that will continue to claim new victims until there is a massive shift in thinking and much-needed changes to our justice system. In Other News is a thought-provoking novel that is consistently entertaining.
Pages: 324 | ASIN: B07S8KCVFC
Love and Happiness does an exceptional job of portraying a relateable relationship and the many obstacles that a relationship can face. What were some driving motivations for you while writing this book?
I did a lot of research with married couples (15) Interviewing 15 of them and at least 20 married women to help get the voice down for Karen. I asked them about their trials and tribulations with marriage and what would make them cheat. I also looked at my own relationship as motivation. Like Chris, I’m more of an “I’ll show you I love you more than I’ll tell you I love you” type of person. By listening to all of the interviews and writing both characters I felt I was able to learn and improve on my own relationship.
Chris and Karen are complex character that I was able to empathize with. What were some ideals you wanted to capture in your characters?
I wanted readers to see that neither Karen or Chris was innocent. Their actions had consequences to them. I wanted readers to see that if they are going through problems in their relationship that they are not alone. Every relationship has its trials and tribulations but communication is key.
Are you a fan of the urban fantasy genre? What books do you think most influenced your work?
For me, Eric Jerome Dickey is my favorite author. He talks to me in person, gives me advice and motivates me to keep writing. His books are what influenced my work. Cheaters, Milk in my coffee, Liars game, and the other woman to name a few.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
The book that I am currently working on is called “Mothers” and I hope to have it released early next year. Hopefully in time for Mother’s Day.
Karen has it all: a handsome husband, beautiful twin daughters, a lovely home, and a great job. She also has a secret: she’s cheating on her husband with not one man, but two. On the outside, her life seems perfect, but Karen feels neglected, bored, and unappreciated. Yearning for affection and excitement, she falls into the arms of first Raheem, and then Tyrell. Out of fear of losing her husband, Karen ends the affairs, but things don’t turn out how she planned. When Karen’s dirty secrets are revealed, she must fight to keep her family together.
Chris is doing all he can to hold his marriage together. He loves Karen, but she’s been growing more distant every day. When she starts coming home later and later, he suspects she is being unfaithful. When Chris accidentally takes her cell phone, what he finds changes their lives forever.
Tragedy strikes, and Karen must decide if she should sacrifice her happiness for her husband’s love, and Chris wonders if he should stay with Karen, because he still loves her despite her infidelity. If they do stay together, will they ever find love and happiness again?