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Good people are imperfect. Bad people aren’t.

Mark Sheehan Author Interview

The Smallest War follows a group of military operatives who go up against Russian operatives in a battle to control a new oil source. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I was a Cold War kid so thought it would be fun to pitch the old enemies into a battle. During research for The Smallest War, I came across the USA/USSR Maritime Boundary Agreement and realised I’d found the catalyst for the confrontation. The first draft of The Smallest War was a heavyweight, weighing in at a little over 140K words. It detailed the backstory of the United States buying Alaska from Russia and how the error in the alignment of the boundary across the Bering Sea came to be. Sadly, there was a “Kill your darlings” year during which I slimmed the novel down. That said, it is a better book for the cuts.

Did you create an outline for the characters in the story before you started writing or did the characters’ personalities grow organically as you were writing?

A bit of both. I wrote outlines for the characters detailing their looks, speech patterns, habits, heritages and dreams. I also wrote a plot which was around 17K words. As The Smallest War developed, so did the characters, but the more refined development came with the assistance of an editor. There was no particular guidance given, more just observations about the characters themselves. In the draft the editor read, the main characters were verging on superhuman, and the editor thought they could do with taking a toilet break (i.e. do those things that people do as a matter of course each day, such as being injured if they were involved in a car crash).

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I sweated over the epigraph “Good people are imperfect. Bad people aren’t.” It’s the main theme of The Smallest War, and I hope I’ve crafted the characters to fit the premise. We are all flawed, but overwhelmingly we are good. There are only a few of us that are perfectly malevolent, like Major Regina Volkov.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

In light of what I learnt writing The Smallest War, I’m re-writing the first novel I wrote. The first novel did the rounds with the agents in Australia and was put in the drawer while I wrote The Smallest War. It’s not a sequel or prequal, just another book I’d like to read. It will be published in 2023.

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“Shit, General,” Hank said, leaning forward. “US Armorers could put a gun in the hand of Jesus. Small War ain’t going to happen.”
Small War is the United Nations’ best kept secret: the end of conventional warfare. Acting in self-interest, the United States’ military buries it.
Oil—enough to build a superpower—is discovered by the United States, only for Russia to lay claim. The United States threatens war, but a resurgent Russia ruthlessly executes a play years in the making. Dominos fall: a fire the size of England, a bloody naval skirmish, breath-taking political manipulation. Small War will decide who exploits the oil.
Unprepared, the United States exhumes its Small War capability and staggers into a contest of hunter and prey: five relentless rounds of pursuit by any means necessary, winner takes all.
Press-ganged into the fray, Danny “The Beef” Wellington joins his two teammates, Kimimela Thunderhawk and Matt Balthazar, planning to do just enough to stay alive, but there’s a hitch. A traitor lurks, and only Danny can tip the balance to give the United States a fighting chance.
Full of unrelenting cat-and-mouse, rapid-fire action and characters pushed to their limits, this book is perfect for fans of I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes, Ice Station by Matthew Reilly and Inferno by Dan Brown.
If you can catch a breath, you’re not reading The Smallest War. Get it now!

The Smallest War

The Smallest War, by Mark Sheehan, is a rollicking action tale of political intrigue. The global balance of power is at stake when viral sabotage leads to an international incident in the Bering Sea, which happens to be home to a massive, newly discovered oil reserve. Calling upon a little-known process laid forth by the charter of the United Nations, the Russian Federation seeks to solve a potentially world-ending dispute with the United States of America through a “Small War.” Through a series of bizarre circumstances, the US team is made up of a ragtag group of individuals who were chosen not for their skills but for their failures.

The Smallest War is quite a ride. While the fantastical story is grounded in reality, the reader must embrace their suspension of disbelief to follow the events leading up to the “small war.” Impossible viral attacks, an absolute dereliction of duty by the US Department of Defense, the military-industrial complex pulling all the strings to guarantee nothing but massive warfare, while the Russian federation uses dirty tricks and a loose interpretation of international law to get their way…  on second thought that all seems incredibly feasible.

I had a good time reading The Smallest War, despite some shortcomings. It reads very much like a Hollywood blockbuster, with locations spanning the globe, giant action set pieces, and characters ranging from damaged, struggling anti-heroes to absolute villains who will do anything to accomplish their goals. The characters are tried and true tropes of the genre: the Americans feature greatest hits such as the strong dumb guy, the mouthy rich guy, and the level-headed woman who can pull the team together. Each has their own flaws that bring a bit more to the stereotype.

The Smallest War: an action-adventure thriller is a riveting military and war novel. Readers will encounter suspense and thrills in each chapter as they wait to find out how this small war will play out and who will end up with control over the oil.

Pages: 406 | ASIN : B0B7P4ZKMF

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Fiction Rooted In Reality

Jacob Paul Patchen Author Interview

No Pistol Tastes the Same follows a military veteran who is struggling with PTSD as he tries to repair his relationship his son, his wife amid earths impending doom. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

As a veteran who has battled the effects of PTSD and had friends who lost that battle, it was important for me to write a story that confronted the topic. I think PTSD is something worthy of a tale like this, fiction rooted in reality, to bring awareness, change, understanding, and maybe even hope to those affected by its symptoms.

Sergeant JP Grimm is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character’s development?

I think JP has a lot of myself in him. While a lot of my characters do, I think for JP, I really wanted the reader to see the mental struggle that plagues someone with PTSD. At the surface, he is a self-destructing character who is also destroying the one thing he cares so much about: his family. But on a deeper level, we can see the inner-workings of a tormented man, husband, and father that wants to fight his fight alone and his way, not passing his burden on to the ones he loves. But in his stubbornness to stand in the fire alone, ultimately, it’s his family that gets burned.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The mental struggle that comes with PTSD. The destructive phases that were prevalent in my own struggles with PTSD and alcoholism. The metaphor of PTSD being this slow-burn, apocalyptic disaster that if left unchecked can truly destroy the world you’re living in. Humanity. The bond and strength of family. The stigma that tough men often face when it comes to mental health and the barriers that get in the way of them seeking help.

What can readers expect in book two of your PTSD Disaster series?

Book 2 will see the characters trying to survive in their new apocalyptic world. We’ll see healing and hurting. PTSD still ravaging the Grimm family, but in ways the reader may not have expected. The reader will also see the darker side of PTSD (formed from my own thoughts and experiences) where JP and Sgt. Grimm will teeter on the edge of becoming this viscous beast bent on protecting his family at all costs and the loving, caring, funny, personable human being he once was before the war.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

JP’s pistol tastes like bourbon.

Sergeant JP Grimm didn’t pull the trigger. Now his Marine brothers are dead. All victims of a child in a suicide vest…a child that resembled Sgt. Grimm’s very own. But how are you supposed to take a child’s life? How can you kill someone that looks just like your own son?

Those same hazel eyes he saw in his scope continue to haunt him long after he left the desert death lands as he tries to reconnect with his son, Adin. JP battles another war at home against PTSD and the worthless, dejected thoughts that he is the reason his friends are dead. His wife, Lisa, struggles to let her stubborn husband work it out on his own terms. She does all she can to give him space, support, and strength—but her love can only go so far.

As the world shows signs of impending doom from a weakening magnetic field and flaring sun, JP, too, shows signs of his own impending doom. After pushing everyone away, JP must face his nightmares to restore his relationship with his son, save his marriage, and save himself before the modern world burns out in a fiery, electromagnetic disaster.

No Pistol Tastes the Same

Sgt. Grimm (J.P) opts to serve his country. Away from his family, he takes solace in the camaraderie of his fellow Marines, including Joey, his best friend. But it all goes wrong when Grimm loses his friend and other men he could have saved if he had acted faster. The patriotic soldier later returns from the war into the arms of his wife, son, and grandparents. But burdened by guilt and haunted by the bombs, blood, and deaths from the war, Grimm is not the same man he was when he left home. And his new demons threaten to tear apart everything and everyone he calls home. The question is, will he let them?

Although its curious title doesn’t give this away, No Pistol Tastes The Same is a gripping novel on post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans. It peels away the layers of unfamiliarity and reveals the deeply disturbing and lingering effects war has on the minds and lives of those who fight in it.

This story reminds me of why storytelling is a powerful tool to evoke empathy. Author Jacob Paul Patchen’s writing successfully transports readers into his main character’s reality, making an unfamiliar situation seem like a shared reality. Patchen is also great with imagery as he improves the reading experience with evocative descriptions of settings.

The story is delivered with the elegance and precision of a true wordsmith. Make no mistake, there aren’t flowery words or unclear metaphors. Instead, readers feel the total weight of a narrative cobbled with tools whose sophistication is in their cultured simplicity. The writing is so good that it strikes the heart where it matters in many places, ensuring that you feel the raw emotions being communicated. Altogether, the story is free-flowing, mainly punctuated by the moments of reflection and concern it triggers.

No Pistol Tastes the Same is a captivating war novel dealing with life after returning from war. The plot is pretty straightforward but excellently executed. The characters are relatable and make readers care about this remarkable story.

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Elysium Protocol 

Elysium Protocol by C.A. MacLean is the third book in the Architects of the Illusion science fiction series. Following a species-diverse team known as the “Fireseeds,” Elysium Protocol picks up the shattered pieces left over from the devastating war in book two, The Great Scourge. In a time of interstellar conflict, multiple factions, some seen, some working from the shadows, are vying for power, control, and sometimes, just plain survival. Set in a distant future, the last remnants of humanity are part of an intergalactic organization known as “The Convergence,” an alliance consisting of “quintillions” of citizens.

The Fireseeds are pitted against a vast alien force known as the “hiven,” an insect-like species bent on zealous destruction and domination. Several science fiction tropes appear here, but they are executed skillfully; which ensures longtime fans of science fiction will find something familiar yet still intriguing. There are multiple alien races present: humanoid bird-persons (Arkerians), crystal people (Altaran), bug people (hiven), and more. The story is rife with many planet names and systems, such as Everan, Serrona, Vraunlith-3, etc. I feel this might make it difficult to follow at times but adds to the depth of a world that seems full of possbilites and begs to be explored further. I would have loved to have seen a map of systems in the book to look back on because this story reaches epic fantasy levels where readers will be completely immersed in a large world.

This is a robust novel, almost as long as the two previous entries combined. There is a lot of action going on with all of the characters and races. Readers have to be fully engaged in this story to keep up with who is who and what species is what; reminding me of the breadth of George R.R. Martin novels. However, the author effectively handles the task of keeping things straight, with the central characters being well developed with strong individual personalities. The Arkerian Engami sisters, Eva and Ashy, the tragic Altaran, Caleb Braze, the modest human, Daniel Byre, and many more fill this impressive work with relatable characters and a compelling story. Despite some massive decisions, the memorable characters and gripping action bring a universe of primordial planets, advanced spacecraft, and futuristic cities to life.

Architects Of The Illusion, Part III: Elysium Protocol is an action-filled science fiction space opera with memorable characters and planets. Readers will be able to escape into the world that has been created and feel like they are in the action.

Pages: 777 | ASIN : B09NPPJL1Q

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The Right to Revenge

The Right to Revenge is a dystopian science fiction novel by author Veronica North. Set in a speculative future where gene editing experiments have split humanity into three categories. The “unstable” Alphas, the “normal” Betas, and the “enhanced” Gammas. This divide resulted in an ongoing genocide and civil war to stop it. In this world, we follow J, a Gamma rebel out to get revenge for the death of her sisters. This layered novel also explores her mental state and reactions to the violence around her as the story unfolds.

North’s style creates a vivid and distinct world for their characters to interact. One in which the sense of desolation caused by the war is apparent and where the motivations of each faction are understandable, if misguided. The author takes the reader on an intense emotional ride filled with action-packed scenes with quick, fluid, and exciting action.

The characters in this riveting novel are well developed and complex, drawing the reader in with their backstories and insightful dialogue. You love the good guys and have a love/hate relationship with the bad guys. The author has included some plot twists, so readers are hooked throughout the unpredictable story. J is such a strong and passionate character, and you immediately are drawn to her. However, I found it interesting that the plot and other characters in the story often influenced the main character’s actions and choices.

The science-fiction aspects of the story do not overwhelm the reader with scientific jargon but instead compliments the plot and help the story progress. In addition, the futuristic world and components add to the dystopian feel, which keeps readers on edge.

The Right to Revenge is an action-filled novel that opens with an NC-17 warning, often pulling from tropes and styles of Young Adult fiction but with some swears and steamy scenes are thrown in.

Pages: 299 | ASIN : B09MDSVRWN

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SECTOR 10

Delphi Corp. is only looking to build more advanced technology for humankind, but its new project unwittingly puts humanity in danger. The supercomputer the tech company is building affects the barrier between Earth and alternate realities, leading to various anomalies on earth and ultimately dragging humans into a war of survival between the Yhemlens and the Greys from alternate worlds. Faced with battles on two fronts, Ellis Bartram, owner of Delphi Corp., and his team of scientists must find a way to correct their mistakes and preserve humanity from total annihilation.

Author N. Matthias Moore’s action-packed novel Sector 10 is the prequel to his exciting debut novel, Cloud 9, and is a genuinely compelling read. Moore’s storytelling and character development skills place you in a believable mindset that holds your attention as the plot unfolds. In addition, this remarkable book highlights strong motivations for the characters’ actions and gripping internal and external conflicts.

I like how this through-provoking book explores interesting science fiction themes that will have your curiosity running wild all the way through. Topics like time travel, scientists uploading their consciousness into a supercomputer, spaceships, civilizations living in orbit between the Earth and the moon, and futuristic weapons will have readers wondering what will happen next. All these elements will have readers on edge, envisioning the world that Moore has created and eagerly following the multiple lines of conflict created through time-traveling.

Moore has an uncanny ability to paint lucid story elements with expertise. When describing time travel and odd races, authors need to deliver expressions and create an immersive experience for readers. Moore does a great job of presenting his ideas and seamlessly integrating smaller events into the storyline so readers can feel like they are part of the well-conceived story.

Sector 10 is a phenomenal new science fiction novel for adventurous readers. With high-tech science and innovation, the action keeps coming, and readers will be entertained in this highly original novel from start to finish.

Pages: 318 | ASIN : B09HL8WD15

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13 Months

In 1968, most people will remember that year as the year Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. Or the year Nixon got into the white house. Or Apollo 8 orbiting the moon. However you remember that year, there is always someone else who remembers it differently, how they were impacted by the significant events that transpired. Bruce A. Bastien recalls that year as a year of the war. A war-torn Vietnam where soldiers had to fight in the most brutal conditions; sickly, hot humidity during the day and fighting the cold in the rain at night. All-the-while trying to stay alive. Bastien takes us through the Vietnam War stories through his eyes and that of his friends from Kilo Company 3/5.

13 Months: In the Bush, in Vietnam, in 1968 is incredibly well-written. This introspective book is written in a clear voice and, structurally, built up to the significant events that transpired during Bastien’s time in the war, making it highly educational but also very sad to read. The author includes many pictures and descriptions to go along with the reading allowing readers to put a face to the names they see on the pages, deepening the experience. I believe if the pictures were incorporated into the chapters to coincide with the story, it would’ve been more engaging for the reader, as well as giving them a better understanding of who was who rather than providing them all at the end.

Bastien describes in great detail the functions of American military lingo, rank/command, and weaponry where necessary. For example, on page 21, Bastien gives “a bit of fluff explaining what a 6mm mortar can do.” As a civilian, I would have no clue what this weapon is or what it can do, so I appreciated the details. But, on the other hand, it may seem like a lot of unnecessary description for someone who understands all this. In addition, I feel that the book could have done better with the transition of time in between chapters. In some chapters, there are times when Bastien will jump from day to day or month to month, leaving readers to figure out how much time has passed.

13 Months: In the Bush, in Vietnam, in 1968 is an intriguing and engaging memoir. For readers who enjoy non-fiction, historical biographies, war history, and stories of the USMC, this account will be impactful and enlightening.

Page: 220 | ASIN : B08GJX19LP

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