The Genocide Gene is the third book in the thrilling Onryo Saga and continues the adventures of the teenage superheroes in their fight to save humanity. I felt this story was very well written. What is your experience as a writer?
In addition to term papers in grad school, I wrote fanfiction about my favorite shows growing up. It was great practice to hone my craft and experiment with my original concepts. As fun as that was, nothing beats creating original characters and guiding them on a hero’s journey.
One thing that stands out to me in The Genocide Gene is the creativity embedded in this world. What was your inspiration for creating such and imaginative world?
As I was researching Africa, I had to come up with ways to integrate what I had learned into a creative storyline. I read about the business of portable gas stoves, so I had a battle in a factory. I read about the African boda-boda drivers, so I envisioned a chase scene on their mopeds. Every time I read something interesting, I wondered how I can utilize it in an exciting way.
I also created my own African country so that I could integrate the culture, history and issues of other countries into it, such as civil wars and age-old divisions brought about by European colonization. That way, I could write about the political problems of places such as Uganda, the Congo, South Africa and others all at once.
The Genocide Gene has an intriguing setup to a novel that is high in social commentary. What was your moral goal when writing this novel and do you feel you’ve achieved it?
Bringing people together in harmony has always been my main goal, whether it be American liberals and conservatives or feuding African tribes. I wanted to present a war-torn nation keep impoverished and dysfunctional due to prejudice and hatred, but it was important to show people of other backgrounds getting along in spite of what their groups teach them. While the political extremists seek to tear their nation apart through fear, those who serve the cause of unity and understanding are the only ones who can bring peace to their people. While my conclusion can’t happen in real life, I can only keep the faith that the people of these lands find ways to bring about prosperity.
When will the fourth book in the Onryo saga be available and where will it take readers?
The Tree of Zaqqum will take readers to Israel/Palestine, and others Middle Eastern locations too. My heroes will have to stop a mysterious mastermind and his followers from destroying cities with stolen WMDs and quantum technology. Their friendship is further tested as Chikara gains a new ally that may become something more.
I’m still in the research phase at that moment, but the story is coming together piece by piece. I’m guess it may take two years to complete.
“It has been only a few months since Chikara Kaminari was given strange powers and a mission from her precognitive mother. Joined by her friends Renka and Gen, she traveled the world and stopped a band of super-powered extremists from imposing their will upon humanity. Now, a new menace has surfaced to threaten the lives of millions.
In the segregated African nation of Ghadhia, two fanatical brothers are scheming to ignite a new civil war and commit genocide against the tribes they have been raised to hate. The heroic trio must unite with new friends and old enemies to stop them, facing African terrorists, Afrikaner supremacists and enraged mobs along the way. But as Chikara and her friends journey further into the heart of darkness, their deepest fears and hidden feelings threaten to tear their friendship apart.”
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The Jinxed Pirate has a delightful cast of characters from the mercenary to the tragic warrior princess with a splash of other-worldly beings as well. How did you set about creating such a colorful cast of characters?
I enjoy playing with tropes and conventions usually found in genre stories, and I guess most of my characters came about from just asking questions. Not necessarily looking to deconstruct, but seeing what can happen if a story or character zigged where it might normally zag in a more traditional telling.
What happens if a hero, who’s been led to believe she is the Chosen One, ultimately discovers her destiny meant absolutely nothing? What if the proverbial “Hero’s Journey” ended, not with a great triumph or even a bang, but a fizzle? To exist in a world where there really is tangible, objective “pure evil” … for one thing, just how surreal would that be, but also how would people define their morality in the face of it? And in such a world, where demonic creatures just ARE evil, what if one somehow turned out to be a decent, kind-hearted person? We’ve seen plenty of roguish scoundrels who love a good fight … but wouldn’t something have to be severely wrong with such a person to get that much enjoyment from violence?
I also like mixing tropes or concepts from different genres and seeing how they gel or clash. For example, even though he doesn’t actually appear in The Jinxed Pirate, the Enforcer is essentially a slasher-movie villain thrown into a fantasy adventure. I like seeing what can happen when varying genres intermingle.
Once I start thinking about these question, several characters start to take shape, and then it’s a matter of throwing them all together and taking them to their logical—or absurd, or surreal, or horrific—conclusion.
Who was your favorite to write for?
I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise my three main leads—Katrina, Krutch, and Lily—are my favorites. I’m not sure I could pick one, especially as their arcs fluctuate with the story. Katrina is the most fun to write when she’s tormented about her past and trying to rein in her temper. Krutch is most fun when things get out of his control and he’s frantically trying to bluff or botch his way through trouble. And Lily when she’s conflicted about her own nature and trying to be a good person in spite of what she is.
I feel like the world you’ve created in The Jinxed Pirate is brimming with possibility. What was your inspiration for Graylands and how did it evolve as you wrote?
Most of my main protagonists were created separately, and I only had a vague notion they would exist in the same world. Since most of the archetypes and tropes I liked playing with—destiny, good & evil, etc.—were best suited to fantasy, I needed a sandbox for them. So Graylands began as a pretty stock Tolkien-esque world of medieval villages, knights, wizards, and demons.
When thinking about what I wanted my world to be, it occurred to me the standard fantasy setting is usually modeled after medieval Europe because that’s what Tolkien did. However, Tolkien based Middle-Earth on that for a specific reason. He wanted to create a distinctly European mythology that was based on Europe’s history and culture.
As an American, we don’t really have a medieval times in the United States. The closest we have is the frontier times and Wild West. So I decided to take the standard medieval country of knights, swords, and wizards and depict that through an American frontier/Wild West filter, and as a result, Graylands took shape as a land where people would flee their ‘old world’ for the new one—whether for freedom, escape, or to just disappear. A frontier with no kings or emperors and a loosely defined system of law, ideal for my cast of misfits, difters, and outlaws.
The pirate Krutch Leeroy is an intriguing character that is meticulously developed. What were some hurdles in the story that you felt were important to the characters development?
When I first began outlining the story, I thought Katrina would be the more active figure in Seba. I assumed she would pose as a mercenary and infiltrate Clock’s organization while trying to find Jagger, leaving Krutch as a more passive, almost comic relief character. Everyone would assume he was the mastermind behind everything, when in reality he’d be trying to mind his own business.
But after the first draft I realized that wasn’t going to work. Katrina didn’t reach Seba until the mid-point of the story, and our introduction to the city and its various players wound up through Krutch’s POV. He needed to be more engaged and active, otherwise we would’ve been left with a tedious series of scenes where Krutch meets someone, they talk at him, and he doesn’t react. It also created a question of why he doesn’t just leave if he doesn’t like these people bothering him.
So I needed Krutch to actually want to be in Seba and have a goal. It soon occurred to me that a logical question to address was, if everyone believes Krutch Leeroy is this dangerous bad-ass, why doesn’t he embrace it and enjoy himself? If his attempt at playing a hero in The Ghost Princess blew up in his face (literally), maybe he should try playing villain?
Audra and how he responded to her was also important. In the first draft, she was an unwanted companion tagging along against his wishes, and it was fairly obvious she might be trouble. So I adjusted her character to make her more appealing and have him more open to a relationship with her, which turned out fitting with the other protagonists being tempted by a seeming ally—Scifer for Katrina, and Dust for Lily.
Running with that, I was pleased to find Krutch developed a pretty solid arc through the story that fit thematically with the other characters’ efforts to find themselves and decide who they want to be—or, in Krutch’s case, what he isn’t.
The Jinxed Pirate seems like it’s ripe for series. Is there another book in the works?
Yes, definitely. As of right now, I’m debating whether to jump into the third book or to try something different, but the Graylands story will continue. We’ll see Vincent Dune and his army steamrolling around the country, which will lead to conflict with Trayze Kilnerova and war for control of Graylands.
Everyone’s going to get caught in the middle of this coming battle. Lily, by chance, finds herself a target of Trayze. Katrina and Krutch will both get caught up in this mess, and they will actually meet in the next book, finally. Lock is searching for Cassie, and as Dune was the one who kidnapped her, he’s going to end up going in that direction. Cassie, meanwhile, is trying to find her way home and along the way might find “help” from a certain scar-faced serial killer. And there’s the Elder Demon the Jackal unleashed flying around.
Within this unsettled country of drifters and outlaws is a city where the worst of the worst gather. A place of thieves, brigands, and murderers known as Seba. In Seba, law is an illusion and order is kept through cruelty and bloodshed.
On the run from Sentry Elite and bounty hunters, supposed pirate Krutch Leeroy finds himself in this bloody city where his infamous reputation garners him the attention of Seba’s various feuding powers. Despite his efforts to lay low, Krutch is soon caught in the center of backstabbing schemes and deadly plots.
Meanwhile, after the disaster on the Blind Cliffs, fallen princess Katrina Lamont finds herself nearing rock bottom. Her drinking and temper worse than ever, she sets out on a desperate quest to find what remains of her people. Her journey will also lead her to Seba, where she will tread the line between salvation and damnation.
Amidst this are the Synclaires–a family just moved to Graylands in the hope of a fresh start. However, chance of fate and rash decisions will draw the family into a sinister plot that threatens to bring tragedy and doom to their door
As Krutch, Katrina, and the Synclaires face threats from all sides, they will each unwittingly find themselves caught in a battle that may destroy the delicate balance keeping Seba from consuming itself in chaos.”
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Descendent Darkness: Book One: Stirrings, begins in 1982 in Clarkes Summit, Virginia, where an evil curse causes unimaginable horrors to the town’s favourite families. Fast forward 21 years later and three men are once again facing the terrors they thought they had diminished forever. Richard Gaston, Father Ryan Bennett and deputy sheriff Tom Campbell find themselves facing nightmares and tortured souls of evil that will pull them into the depths of their darkest days. This skin prickling adventure will bring your nightmares to reality as they face an evil, cold presence; guaranteed to chill you to your bones.
Descendent Darkness, Stirrings, written by A. J. Macready is a supernatural novel set with a dash of crime and drama. There are tortured souls, family bonds and mysterious servants of darkness in this edge of your seat vampire styled thriller. The story line follows several families as they face horrors and challenges that will threaten the relationships of everyone involved. Hold tight as you are thrown into an adventure where the characters fight evil even when they are in the shadows of exhaustion- in order to save the ones they love. The story will leave you hungry for more, as bullets race across the page and violent killers storm through the darkest of nights.
Unlike a typical demon styled novel, Stirrings storyline is complex and filled with clues and details that far surpass any other supernatural story I’ve read for some time. Forget the Twilight era, this novel is filled with the traditional scares and fight scenes fit for a warrior. I found myself unable to turn away as I dove deeper into the novel, growing attached to the characters and their unknown fate.
The characters in Stirrings are surprisingly relatable and the fear for what may be lurking in the dark is a feeling we have all experienced. The relationship between the siblings Holly and Mike Gaston is one to be marvelled as they battle odds together, sacrificing their bodies and souls to pursue a mission with the belief that nothing is more important than family. As well as being siblings, they have a beautiful friendship and you can feel how much they genuinely care for one another as they battle against the odds. However it seems their family are bound for tragedy and the reader will feel emotionally connected to each family member as they fight for what they believe to be right.
Macready’s marvellous way of using descriptive language will have you huddled up and feeling the chills on the back of your neck. I found myself peering around the corner wondering if the cool breeze was the wind or was actually evil materialising its face in the darkness. The narration flows easily and feels like a picture is painted on the page with how beautifully the story is presented.
This is a heart-stopping novel and would recommend this to anybody who loves supernatural stories mixed with crime, drama and friendship. I look forward to reading the other stories in the series!
Pages: 199 | ASIN: B016WLQTS2
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Return to Babylon is the fifth installment of the Orfeo saga and begins with Orfeo and Clarice returning from the New World and their battle with the Spartans to settle into a somewhat peaceful life in Pylos. However with the battles still fresh in their mind and the nightmares still haunting their sleep, Orfeo knew evil would eventually reappear- it was just a matter of when and where. An assassination attempt on Orfeo’s life leads him to leave with Clarice to venture to the city of Mesopotamia in hopes they will keep their beloved city of Pylos safe.
Meanwhile, kings begin to drop like flies with the kingdom of Mursillius the Hittite becoming the first to fall. Zinaida wants vengeance upon the coalition who put her on the throne and sends spies to find Zurga. What price will be paid for those who fight for justice and freedom?
Return to Babylon, written by Murray Lee Eiland Jr, continues the adventures of Orfeo who begins the heroic tale in the city of Pylos. Prepare for an action-packed story line that explores the dynamics between different kingdoms and the blood thirst for those who want to save the world.
Assassination attempts and secret spies lead the characters to question whether the events taking place are purely coincidental or is there a more sinister evil at work. As the reader explores the different kingdoms, you soon learn who is trustworthy and who hides behind closed doors, plotting their evil revenge. Networks of spies will reveal information that will mean our favourite characters will have to risk it all for the price of glory.
Murray Lee Eiland Jr. has an impeccable flair to paint the scenes of his story with such conviction that the reader will feel emotionally involved with the main characters and their harrowing tales. At times the novel has moments of historical accountability, giving readers a front row seat into the secrecy of life and lies within kingdoms. Once you add in the brave and fierce heroes, Return to Babylon, has an epic story line that will leave you on the edge of your seat and eager to read all installments. My favourite character was Cyrus, a young and eager apprentice who begins to learn the ins and outs of spy craft. I particularly enjoyed the character development and surprise turns that each character entails throughout the story.
This book in the series delves deeper into the world of mystery, intrigue and espionage. I particular like how Murray Lee Eiland Jr adds a light-hearted touch to scenes in order to create a memorable and powerful story line. It is a cool reminder that some of our biggest threats are being spun together behind the closed doors within the most powerful people in the city.
Return to Babylon is brilliantly written. I would recommend this novel for anyone who loves an action-packed novel filled with twists and turns that will leave you on the edge of your seat, and eager for more!
Pages: 217 | ASIN: B01KEDH2CG
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Another Tribe follows Julii, a strong female Native American that is forced to confront racism in the southern states of America during the civil war. Why did you pick 1860’s America to set your story in?
Another Tribe is the second book in a three book series which explores Self Esteem, Racism and War. Another Tribe, the book which deals with racism, is set amid the turmoil of 1860’s America because there has rarely been a time and place where skin color has so dominated the psyche of a nation. Viewing the American Civil War through the thoughts of a beautiful; deeply intelligent, yet persecuted Native American woman exposes the despicable personal suffering of a victim of racism.
This time in America is filled with lofty ideals but also cruelty. What were some things you felt were important to highlight in this story?
Another Tribe highlights the contradiction of The Northern States who claimed to be fighting for ‘racial equality’ while continuing to persecute the Tribes of their native population. The story also explores the brutal reality of humans being owned as property by the Southern States. By compelling a Confederate officer of high birth to fall deeply in love with a Native American woman I am forcing him to confront his own marrow deep racism.
Julii comes across a wounded Confederate Captain and this chance meeting sets off a series of historical events. What was the inspiration for the relationship between Julii and Robert?
In the three book series entitled ‘Our Eternal Cures’, Julii and Robert are reincarnated as the catalyst for radical change in three very different periods of history. In ‘Another Self’ their struggle with Self-Esteem brings the Ancient Roman Republic to its knees. In Another Tribe hatred of racism leads to defeat of the Southern states. In ‘Another War’ their meddling provokes events which cause World War One.
Why do you think the quote ‘“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” is perfect for your novel?
There is an underlying story which passes as a continuous thread of mystery through all thee books. At the end of Another War that mystery is revealed. Without spoiling the final twist I can say both characters are being reincarnated because their actions in a past life have condemned them to return and repeat them time after time.
Another Tribe and the first book Another Self are both exceptional pieces of fiction. What is your writing process and/or experience as a writer?
Everything I write comes from deep within my troubled soul. All of the drama experienced by my characters is influenced by the unique and traumatic experiences of my own life. Far too many words to write here but clicking on this link will take you to a full explanation of who I am and why I must write as I do: GoodReads.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” Julii, a beautiful, insecure and victimized Tennessee Indian is caught up in the white man’s world after saving the life of a Confederate captain wounded at the battle of Shiloh. Overcoming great disadvantage, cruel prejudice and bitter persecution, Julii harnesses her intrinsic genius to become the Confederate States’ most aggressive blockade-runner. Using conspiracy, manipulation and bribery to punish those who wronged her, Julii sets off a chain of events that leads to General Sherman burning down Atlanta, his infamous “March to the sea”, and a total Union victory, while condemning her to suffer for even more sins of her past.
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The Tenth Nail revolves around a homicide detective Nate and his new partner Manuel as they work together to solve the murder of a beautiful young woman. Where did the idea for this novel come from?
I spent several years in law enforcement both as a civilian and military. I carry a deep pride and love for the officers of today and respect what they have to survive. Much of that challenge is to survive the emotional impact of witnessing just how ugly and cruel people can be to each other, day after day. I don’t think the story of the true impact this has on officers has ever been told. Over my years in law enforcement I witnessed too many officers die emotionally. This death could be seen through sexual affairs, abusive drinking, physical violence, reckless behaviors, and even stealing. A quick tally to illustrate this is I knew five officers who died while “on the job.” Two of them died in the line of duty, and three of them died by their own hand. The Tenth Nail is an attempt to introduce the stress of being a cop to those who don’t know.
One of my primary goals when I write a story is to get the reader emotionally involved. Via, the victim of this book is introduced as a common street walking prostitute. A kind of victim that is easily forgotten relatively quickly in our society. In these days of limited budgets and overstretched manpower, she represents the kind of crime that is soon to be a cold crime if not solved in the first few days. Nate, the lead detective assigned to the case, shares a private moment with the dead girl and due to a shared injury promises her he will bring her killer to account for her death. This sets up conflict from many directions. The fact is, if it’s not another girl, who killed her, or her pimp, the odds of finding and convicting the killer of a prostitute is difficult, at best. The department wants Nate to shelve the case to free him to handle cases with a higher possibility of solvability. Manny, Nate’s new partner, and new to homicide, wonders if he should request another training officer. The more he is pushed to release the case, the more resistant Nate becomes. He refuses to break the promise he made to the dead girl.
The Tenth Nail is a edgy crime novel that throws readers right into the action with a murder in the first pages. How did you balance mystery with answers with crazy twists?
I grew up reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels and I was determined to solve the case before the “great detective.” My mother and I watched hours of Raymond Burr as Perry Mason and we discussed the cases as the show progressed. To balance the mystery without giving the story away to soon requires work. Truthfully, I hope I got the job done.
Detectives Nate and Manny are entertaining and intriguing characters that I felt were well developed. What was your inspiration for their characters and their relationship?
Nate and Manny are combinations of several police officers I have known over the years. I admit that both carry a little bit of me in them, as I have been in both positions as senior and junior partner. I wanted officers (in all cases) who represented more than just the stereotype of cops. I also expected the same from the other characters. One of my favorite scenes is when Manny arrives home after a day much too long and he is still adjusting to his first murder, his first victim, his first expose to Nate and all the rest. Selma, his heavily pregnant wife allows him to lay his head on her lap and stretch out on the sofa. When he kicks off his shoes, she scolds him for wearing socks with a hole in the toe. To me, that is the center of the Tenth Nail, trying to balance extreme violence with complete love.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
My next book is called Dead Men Walking and it is a continuation of the story of Nate and Clare. Several of the characters from The Tenth Nail will return though the are many new ones as well. The plan is to release the book by early summer.
“Nate knelt beside the dead girl. This wasn’t his first homicide, it wasn’t even the first dead prostitute he’d investigated. It wasn’t the first strangling death he’d been assigned to. But, this one bothered him.
Maybe it was her youth, she appeared to be in her early twenties. Maybe it was her looks, as death had yet to rob her of her beauty. Maybe she reminded him of his own daughter, Lizzie, who was only a few years younger. Maybe it was something else entirely.
The big detective looked over the body, careful not to touch or disturb her. He had one of the best crime scene technicians, Winston Rawls, and he did not want to make his job harder.”
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by Don Templeton
Here we are in the final stretch. Once you’ve done all your character work, you’ve got a lot of story synopses that tell the whole story from each character’s piece of the story. Now we roll it up into one blueprint, the 4-page treatment.
First, take you logline in step one and expand that into a paragraph made up of 5 and ONLY 5 sentences.
- Sentence one should cover your BEGINNING or the Inciting Incident as I refer to it.
- Sentence two will cover Act 1 to the first Plot Point.
- Sentence three covers Act 2 to the Mid-Point.
- Sentence four covers Act 2 after the Mid-Point to the second Plot Point.
- Sentence five covers Act 3, your climax.
Next, take your paragraph of five sentences and expand that into a clean one-page treatment. Expand your five sentences into five separate paragraphs. Each paragraph will describe exactly the same territory as each sentence did above. Therefore:
- Paragraph one covers the BEGINNING.
- Paragraph two fleshes out Act 1 to PP1.
- Paragraph three details Act 2 to the Mid-Point.
- Paragraph four covers the rest of Act 2 up to PP2.
- Paragraph five will detail Act 3 completely to the END.
What comes next is what Syd Field calls the “kick in the ass” assignment: the four page treatment. Note that this procedure is pretty much the same in both the Snowflake Method and in Syd Fields’ Screenwriter’s Workbook. Here’s how we break it out:
- Page one will cover all of Act 1.
- Page two will cover Act 2 up to the Mid-Point.
- Page three covers the second half of Act 2.
- Page four covers all of Act 3.
Notice that we’ve written this four page treatment according to the same space requirements we’ve described in step 2 by dividing your total word count into 4 equal chunks. Act 1 and 3 occupy one-fourth of the total length of the story and Act 2 is one half of the total. Work on this until you have a perfect four page treatment. Single space or double space? I single space it to get more info per page and can fit in all the character story lines into the final document.
The Snowflake Method gives you two extra steps in that you write up a complete scene list chapter by chapter and Syd Field does the same thing but uses index cards to make the scene list, one card for each scene.
I don’t do the scene lists. Once I have a tight four page treatment, I stop planning there and start the actual writing of the novel. For me, the four page treatment is all I need. At this point, I know EXACTLY what I’m writing. So I start writing.
Here’s why I don’t do scene lists: once I start writing, the characters will come to life and will ALWAYS take over the story with stuff you could have never seen coming in the planning stage. This is where the magic happens. In fact, what actually happens in Pretty Hate Machine is a perfect example. What happens in the novel as it reads today IS NOT what I thought was going to happen from the Mid-point on. What happens in the novel is solely the result of the characters taking over and showing me a much better series of events than I could have ever cooked up at the macro level of planning. It’s that great surprise I’ve eluded to but haven’t ruined with a spoiler. The first thing to go out the window for me is that scene list. It always changes for me once the characters take over driving the bus. So why waste time writing something that’s almost always going to change? The four page treatment is all the blueprint I need to start writing confidently.
Give your characters the freedom to come to life. Otherwise, you will run the risk of turning the characters into marionettes that are just moving around the story because the plot says they have to do this, whether they want to do that or not. Let them live, O Jedi Scribe!
They say there are two kinds of novelists: planners and pantsers (flying by the seat of your pants). Pantsers just start writing with little or no prior planning, thinking that by just writing, at some point, the characters will reveal the plot and the story will write itself. For the beginner, this is dangerous. You will probably write a lot of junk that has no business being in the story and you could end up in a dead end – not knowing what the hell to do next. I’m three-quarters planner and one quarter pantser. I only let the pantser come into play AFTER I know exactly what it is I’m writing, knowing in advance what the targets are I’m moving towards.
Only write scenes that either move the story forward or reveal something essential about character or necessary exposition like backstory. If the material doesn’t do one of those two things, CUT IT OUT. Ruthlessly. I don’t care how much you like it. If you’re not moving the story relentlessly forward, then it doesn’t belong. Literary-type writers often times lose their minds when confronted with advice like this. We’re not literary writers. We’re genre writers which means, ultimately, we’re writing to be read, by as many readers as we can attract. Literary writers seem to hold us genre writers up in something less than contempt. I feel the same way about them as they do about me.
The formula I’ve revealed here will work for ANY genre tale you want to tell. It’s not just for action-horror novels like I write. It works for any story that follows the eternal hardwired blueprint we call the 3-Act Structure. Deviate from this timeless structure at your own risk.
We’re done here. I hope you’ve gotten something out of this. Now go write your Great American Genre Novel. And when you do, let me know how this has worked out for you. I’d like to know.
The Planet’s Most Politically Incorrect Publisher of Extreme Genre Fiction.
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The Hungry Monster Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Books have the ability to entertain and inform us. They can make the impossible possible. They are vehicles of time travel and windows into perspectives. In books, authors are gods and imagination is their power. Transforming letters into words; words into characters and places; and these into emotions and worlds. Even if we never meet, we are connected by the stories we tell.
Posted in Hungry Monster Book Award
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The story begins in 2009, where an old woman is being interviewed to tell the story of her history as a fighter in the French resistance to the German army in the 1940’s. In the narrative told by Sarah Ashdown, the character that this history revolves around, readers are bounced seamlessly back and forth between the two eras, and listen as Sarah gives detail about the progression of her life. Simon Gandossi, the author of the story, allows readers peeks at Sarah’s life now as an elderly woman in a nursing home with friends and memories to pass the days with.
England marks the setting for the beginning of the story, but most of the events take place in France or other war zones. By following the reflective narrative of Sarah Ashcroft, an elderly woman being interviewed by a TV reporter about her actions in the war against the Nazis, you’ll learn about the horrific events that took place during the bombings and raids of World War II.
While the majority of the story focuses on Sarah, as she is the one re-telling it to those interested, you also get peeks into the lives of those of both in her past and present. A friendly nurse Patty makes a frequent appearance, and the disorganized reporter himself Daniel Warwick provides a sturdy companion to her as she gives him the story.
After leaving her English hometown and abandoning her family and friends after the disappearance of her husband and the loss of a dear friend, Sarah makes her way to France to help fight the German’s and do her part to end the war. Sarah is met with many difficulties, since she is a woman, but she is a beautiful character, full of strength and wit, and consistently her own worst critic.
Throughout the story, you get to see Sarah’s life in the present setting play out in her nursing home, and the toll of telling the gruesome tale of her war experiences is slowly made evident to the readers. Gandossi takes you on a thrilling, heart-wrenching ride of what life as a soldier in the 1940’s was like, and compels those to feel deeply for Sarah as she agonizes over her decisions.
This isn’t a cheerful story; as few stories about war are. In fact, it’s a heavy read, full of history and heroic deeds. I enjoyed it, but I’ve never liked stories that are sad even until the very end. It made me really think about how hard life was for those suffering through the war in the 1940’s, and it gave me unique insight I’ve never read before. The way Gandossi narrates the story through the voice of Sarah is inspiring and gives an intimate touch.
Pages: 435 | ASIN: B01N6JGBQK
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My Father’s Kingdom is a historical fiction novel centered around the religious strife during the American settlement at Plymoth in the late 1600’s. Why did you want to write a novel about this event and time?
I’m a big fan of historical fiction and I wanted to choose a topic the casual reader was not familiar with. King Philip’s War was one of the most tragic and devastating conflicts in American history, and too many of us have never even heard of it.
We have plenty of novelists focusing on topics like the Viking invasions of England, the Tudors, and the American Civil War…and that’s wonderful. These are almost always fantastic works. In my opinion, however, there are approximately 150 years of colonial American history (1620-1770) that are woefully neglected in fiction. There are certainly some great novels about this era, mostly about Salem, but I think the era as a whole deserves a lot more attention.
I find the Puritans and Separatists to be some of the most fascinating people in history. Their piety, courage and diligence were truly remarkable, but history is well aware of how they treated anyone alien to their political and religious worldview. The history of New England is also the history of incredible Native American nations like the Wampanoag and Narragansett, and their stories need to be told.
The narrative of this story is told from the perspective of native Americans and the pilgrims. Each offers a different opinion and set of beliefs on the alliance between the people. What kind of research did you do to ensure the story was as accurate as possible?
I’m not a historian but fortunately there is a wealth of historical research about this era, much of which I mention in my Author’s Notes. “Mayflower” by Nathaniel Philbrick is probably the first thing that comes to mind regarding this era. Sarah Vowell’s “Wordy Shipmates” is a fantastic read. Jay Moore and the Charles River Editors wrote “King Philip’s War: The History and Legacy” and it is a treasure of information. The online “Plymouth Colony Archive Project” by Patricia Scott Deetz, Christopher Fennell and J. Eric Deetz is an incredible resource for understanding how 17th Century New Englanders lived and worked.
Obviously, it was also critical to understand the Native American perspective of these events. Nativeamericannetroots.com was a valuable asset in that regard, among other sources.
As you can imagine, much of the history is crystal clear, but much is very murky. For example, we seem to have a very good idea what Metacomet told Deputy Governor John Easton when Easton tried to mediate the conflict. Conversely, there are numerous conflicting accounts of Wamsutta’s final days.
I felt that a consistent theme in the story was the importance of peace. What were some themes you felt were important to develop the story?
I’d say in addition to peace, some themes are the paradox of Puritan values and how they lived their Christian faith. The corollary theme would be how awesome yet baffling the English Christians must have seemed to the natives in 17th Century New England. A third theme would be no matter which community the characters hailed from (Puritan or Quaker, English or Wampanoag), they all looked to the divine, spiritual world to help guide them through what must have been astoundingly fearful times.
I found the characters to be very well developed and in depth. What were your inspirations for the characters?
Thank you for the compliment. I’d say one inspiration for Israel Brewster is the Chaplain Corps in the Armed Forces. Although I am certainly not a chaplain, during a recent deployment I had the opportunity to help review and grade annual award packages for the chaplains. It really helped to bring home the remarkable dedication and service they provide to the men and women they serve with. Sometimes I think we as a society are too quick to glom onto the scandals and shortcomings of the clergy, and are far too oblivious to the impact they are making in the lives of others.
Israel Brewster in 1671 is a model of certainty, whereas Linto represents all that is uncertain. He is a young man trying to find the meaning of his life in a world of sickness, hatred, and turmoil.
What is the next book you are working on and when will it be published?
Certainly, there will be a book two for “My Father’s Kingdom” and I hope it will ultimately be a trilogy. I’d like to publish book two this year. I’m also mapping out a novel about professional sports, because as much as I love my current topic, it will also be nice to write something light-hearted.
Author Links: GoodReads
“In 1620 more than one hundred devout men and women crossed the treacherous Atlantic Ocean and established a colony in the New World where they could build a righteous and Godly society. Without the fortuitous friendship of the Wampanoag people and their charismatic leader Massasoit, however, it is doubtful the holy experiment would have survived.
Fifty years later Plimoth Colony has not only survived, it has prospered, and more and more Englishmen are immigrating to New England. The blessed alliance with the Wampanoag, however, is in severe jeopardy. Massasoit has passed away along with most of the original settlers of Plimoth Colony, and their children and grandchildren have very different ideas about their historic friendship.
Thrust into the center of events is Reverend Israel Brewster, an idealistic young minister with a famous grandfather and a tragic past. Meanwhile, Massasoit’s son, known as “King Philip” by the English, is tormented by both the present and the past. He is watching the resources and culture of the Wampanoag nation fade away at the hands of the English and desperately wishes to restore hope and security to his people.
In a world of religious fervor, devastating sickness, and incessant greed, can the alliance of their forefathers survive? Or will New England feel the wrath of tragic, bloody war?”
Posted in Interviews
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