The Deaduction Agency follows a team of psychics, telepaths and remote viewers who investigate several cases of disappearances, murders, and missing persons. This is a thrilling paranormal mystery novel. What was the initial spark for this book and how did that develop as you were writing?
I empathize with psychics, whose skills gained credibility as I read about them in series such as Psychic Detectives. The willingness of the police and detectives to appear in the shows, often after retirement from the force, speaks volumes for their appreciation of the skills of the psychics they employed. What also emerged was the need of the program makers to pad out the stories of psychic detectives with endless repeats of the facts. This is because the crimes are resolved in such a straightforward manner that it makes regular policing look tedious – which it is.
The first case, of a complex divorce, took longer to resolve because it did not require psychic abilities. I used it to contrast the differences in time to describe regular, traditional policing and those cases that require the skills of a psychic.
To my regret, some reviewers failed to understand why this approach was taken.
The book covers several different cases which range from quick and easy to edge-of-your-seat thriller. My favorite was ‘Case of the Prodigal Son’. What was your favorite case?
The same ‘Prodigal Son’, plus ‘The Honey Trap’, where Richard’s possessive and devious nature is revealed to the full.
The psychics at this agency have skills and near-future technology that give them powers beyond what psychics can do now. What were the limitations you needed to keep them believable and what was something that you absolutely had to have for them to be interesting?
I accept psychic skills as they exist now, and have no patience with skeptics who try to fool around with their sensory perceptions, to prove they are frauds and have no special skills. However, in the book they had to be fully capable of reading minds, in order to be foolproof in their assessment of criminals. Even so, some reviewers failed to understand this, and judged the psychic teams to be behaving unacceptably in passing sentence on some criminals. Why, if they can read minds and know the vile nature of the people they are categorizing? It is hardly as if they are executing them! The aim is to re-incorporate them into society, with their souls purified.
This story is ripe with paranormal activity, remote viewing and the powers of the mind. Which power and character do you identify with?
Telepathy, having experimented with it in front of others, as a young teenager. I identify with Richard and Chuck and Joe, in different ways.
A final, general observation on the review itself. The opening scene is criticized for its excess of descriptive detail, That is almost a verbatim criticism made by another reviewer, Marta Cheng in 2015, who stated: In some places, such as near the beginning of the book, there is an inordinate amount of detailed explanation provided as to the set up of the agency’s offices – details that detract from the momentum of the story. In response, I cut down the detail to a mere 360 words, which is hardly inordinate! It also became apparent that Marta (who got fond of changing her surname to put me off the scent) had not read the book in its entirety and was intent on having a dig at another reviewer from the same stable as herself.
To emphasize why it was done, I then suffixed the description with the following sentences:
Richard, the most senior partner in the agency, was busying himself constantly re-arranging brochures on a side table in the waiting area in reception. It was a quirky habit of his that Honey found most annoying. It also reflected his fussy preoccupation with orderliness and exact measurements.
Naturally, he was the architect of the office layout, which Honey was often tempted to rearrange, solely to unsettle him.
Love scenes soon followed as well! Some of this preoccupation is revisited later, as part of Honey’s tangled love life. What more can an author do?
Witness at first-hand a group of specialist investigators, as they set up and run a new, innovative crime fighting agency. They are dedicated to the resolution of criminal cases using paranormal assistance. This will be a new, innovative and emerging brand of policing designed to protect the citizens of our country.
Read how they deal with the anti-social, disturbed behavior of a wayward, divorced husband, who is on the verge of destroying the lives of his ex-wife and their two young sons.
Read how they identify the members of a murderous ring of pedophiles from relatively few clues, and bring them to justice.
Read how they move from ineffectively resolving one case at a time, and onto tackling multiple cases with far more beneficial results to society.
Read thereafter how they clear the penitentiaries of criminals, starting with the most dangerous inmates, using novel means to cleanse their souls of sin, and equip them for new roles in life in special clearing centers. The objective is to reintegrate them into society, rendered capable of performing straightforward tasks and genuinely purified, via the novel process of atonement.
Read how they find one talented young man who was lost, presumed dead, and reunite him with his family. Thereafter, as agents of change, they help launch him on the path to stardom.
This is not a simple, gory, two dimensional book, but an exploration into the timely use of mediums in crime detection. It can pay dividends in assisting the fight against crime.
They use the latest techniques and technology in a future world that is not far removed from that which exists today.
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The Time Slipsters spans science fiction, travelogue, historical fiction and comedy while showing a vibrant world of the future and the past. What is the funnest part about imagining and writing the future?
The fun is in seeing things that are commonly regarded as Sci-Fi beginning to happen. I believe that research on the web reveals what a wonderful world we live in. If you look for articles on medical research, the motor industry and technology in general, it also indicates where the human race is heading.
We are already seeing Nano robots being used for keyhole surgery, drugs being tailored to combat and kill cancer cells, and the early diagnosis of dementia, to name but a few. Plus the whiff of flying cars and free power is in the air!
Imagine a world where the health service does not feel overwhelmed by an aging population, because old people are no longer suffering the ‘ravages of old age’. Why would that be? The answer is: treatment of their various sufferings is being mastered, until death they do part! By the way, I come into the latter category.
Envisage a world where travel is from home to destination, in minutes. No airports, no connecting flights or trains or buses or taxis. No squandering of natural resources, no electricity costs, no power stations needed, no pylons or towering wind vanes blotting the landscape. Much of what I describe has been available for over a century, if it were not for intervention of vested interests.
The characters end up traveling through time, and like many stories, their actions in the past affect the future. What was the most interesting part about writing a time travel story?
Getting into the heads of the characters on both sides of the experience of time travel. Drawing word pictures of the experience and conveying mental images to readers was fun too. It challenges my imagination to run riot. By the way, unlike Professor Hawking I do not believe that the death of an ancestor caused by a time traveler would have any impact whatsoever on his or her descendants.
The threat to Earth is revealed by uncovering the mystery of the aliens who have been living under the auspices of the Sombrella Syndicate. What was the inspiration for the Sombrella Syndicate?
I once worked for a Lloyds of London group of insurance syndicates, so am familiar with the concept. The deserted brickworks near where I live in Spain was an ideal undercover location for an alien base, but not big enough to house it, on the surface. Who better to man it, underground, than dwarfs, who have a reputation for mining and gold!
Time Slipsters is book three in the Dreadnought collective. Where does book 4 take the characters?
Book 4 takes the characters in an entirely new direction that totally engrossed me for a while. I took great interest in the feasibility of psychic involvement in crime detection. This added another dimension to the evolution of the Dreadnought Collective. The various characters in all the books are intertwined in book 5, the Sightseers Agency, which is now run under the auspices of the U.S. government, as is the entire collective. The individual agencies in the collective instantly become more effective as the two genres are mixed.
A group of friends who have drifted apart decide to reunite and take a trip together. It is the near future, and their intention is to travel on the latest type of transport, in order to visit the ancient sites in Turkey.
They want to do this in luxury, and the travel company they selected has done its best to accommodate their desires. They are lost for words when they first cast their eyes on the spectacular, gleaming new vehicle waiting for them. It is in fact alien in technology, and far more of a futuristic craft than a mere ground-hugging coach.
Unwittingly, they are entering a world where time travel is a reality and machines can cater for individuals as well as the masses.
Soon, they embarking on a sightseeing tour like no other they could have imagined, and meeting a time-travelling stranger who takes them under his wing.
More than one person has a hidden agenda, as they realise when reach a highly protected secret location. It contains hybrid creatures on which the Gods of mythology are based.
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The Nefarious, Noble and Nocturnal is a collection of short stories that follow three ghostly women and a vampire. How did this collection come together for you? Did you write them individually over time, or did you set out to write a compilation?
My short story compilation came together when I was getting my apartment organized one weekend this past summer and found some college ruled notebooks. From notations I had made in side margins, all four of them had been written years ago. Frankly, I had forgotten all about them. They appear in chronological order; “Another Helen’s Haircomb” was written in 2011 and is the oldest. The last short story, “There’s Always Another One,” was finished in 2014. As readers can see, even with all of them combined, the cumulative word total is less than 8,500 words, but I remembered that while I attended business college I had enjoyed various compilations and Reader’s Digest editions during breaks from classes. An idea of putting four of my own writing projects together grew more and more appealing to me, so I ran with it. Pun intended.
I really like the cover of the book. How did you decide on what cover to choose?
I appreciate what you wrote about the cover for my compilation, many people have had similar comments, for which I’m grateful. But credit doesn’t belong to me. The Chief Executive Officer of my publisher, Captive Quill Press, is also an author friend of mine, Kenya, and that attractive, haunting woman on “The Nefarious, Noble and Nocturnal” cover was Kenya’s idea. She said market research showed potential consumers react with more interest when a striking female model appears on a book, especially when it is in the paranormal fiction genre. I trust my friend’s savvy, so I approved her suggestion.
I consider this a thrilling paranormal romance collection. Do you read books in that genre? Are there any books in that genre that have influenced you over the years?
Yes, I do read paranormal romances. Perhaps that’s unusual for bachelors, but my reasoning is there’s more opportunity for the creative half of my brain to engage when I read stories with supernatural content, and I can immerse myself with the element of “what if” because it makes for great entertainment, a great escape from my work life which is compartmentalized, ordered. I see enough drab, plain stuff everyday.
I want my imagination to have adventures.
Stephen King’s “Bag of Bones” influenced me to write “Intervention” in particular.
I felt that the characters had a lot of depth. What ideas did you have about your characters when you started and how did that change as you were writing?
As I mentioned earlier, “Another Helen’s Haircomb” was written in 2011, so I can’t remember specific ideas about my characters as I wrote at the time, but the reason I thought it was so important to include within The Nefarious, Noble and Nocturnal is our basic human curiosity and awe when it comes to the vastness of eternity. However, what dove tails with that concept is simply no matter how many technological advances are made, we’re still much like my fictional character of Helen from ancient Athens, in that we grieve and love deeply. Furthermore, according to what I’ve read and heard over my life span, thirteen-year-old girls, especially those who have faced traumatic incidents (such as the loss of a parent), seem to be more apt to accept paranormal manifestations they witness. I took some liberty with a father “rolling with the punches” too, granted, but I thought it was reasonable if I demonstrated a dad and his daughter seeking to adapt as best they could together. Where my other three short stories are concerned, the characters remained as originally written, except for Moira in “There’s Always Another One.” When I did a final edit before I sent my file to you, I decided to make her a bit more complex. While I wanted her to keep a degree of seductiveness, it was vital for readers have a more pronounced idea that she’s no bubble-headed nymphomaniac who happens to be a vampire. She has an agenda, and she has every intention of carrying out her objective with a mercenary’s calculating, cold willfulness to succeed.
What is the next story that you are writing and when will that be published?
Currently, I’m in the process of writing a novel, still on its fifth chapter, which is a ghost story entitled “The Stein and the Studebaker: Book 1 of the Norseman Chronicles.” Another of Stephen King’s older works, “Christine,” is influencing me again, but there will be notable differences when my book is done this coming summer or autumn. For starters, King’s supernatural auto, a 1958 Plymouth Fury, is written as a homicidal, vengeful wraith on wheels. By contrast, the 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk in my story is motivated by a desire to see justice is brought to bear for a murder investigation that went cold in 1960. My intent is to have the story written sometime between June and October of 2017, but I have no idea how long it will take to get the book published after that. Oh, and it will be the first of a trilogy series.
Readers, prepare yourselves, and embark on a supernatural journey spanning the battlefield of Marathon in ancient Greece to the present day in America’s Pacific Northwest. Three long distance runners will encounter ghosts, one falls in love with a beautiful vampire who has an agenda, and all four will cross very different finish lines, whether they’re ready or not.
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REN: Awakened follows Ren as she is learning to control a power she never knew she had while being hunted by evil. What was the inspiration for you to start writing this novel and the journey that Ren goes on?
Ren’s story is actually a spin on my own, personal life story. As a kid and young adult, I struggled with anxiety and depression, only to come into my own personal power, just as Ren does. Her story is a play on both my life and the world we live in presently where humans fight good and evil everyday; those “evils” can ultimately destroy the world as we know it. I always believed energy affects every one of us, and if it can affect us as humans, why can’t it affect the earth adversely or positively? I think as a society, many of us struggle with anxiety and depression, as well, and as someone who healed from anxiety and depression through understanding the same things Ren learns, why not help others who can relate to her heal the same way? These two ideas fused together and shaped Ren’s journey. Fun fact – the road trip Ren, Kiki, and Gage take from CT to WY is based on the road trip I took with my friend (the real-life version of Kiki), where I literally wrote the shell of REN.
Ren is a fantastic character. How did you set about creating a character with such depth?
Thank you so much! Ren is definitely a complex character. One of the reasons I love her so much is because she’s so realistic; not just as a teen, but for any person who struggles with who they are. But if you remember being a teen, you know the battle that can go down between the thoughts in your mind. Ren faces loss, feelings of displacement, never truly finding “home,” and a lifetime of being told she’s basically insane. When you’ve been told one thing your entire life, you grow to accept it. Then wham!, here’s an entirely new idea for you to accept that says you’re not crazy, but in fact extraordinarily gifted and the worlds survival rests on your shoulders. It should be a relief, to know you’ve got these abilities and aren’t crazy, but it’s quite a load to bear. Ren doesn’t just flip the switch to “oh ok, I’m a hero now!” Readers get to grow with Ren as she steps into this new reality and fights the old thoughts of being “nothing.” In all honesty, creating Ren was easy because I’ve lived through it. I’ve battled the thoughts, I’ve worked hard to recreate my life and move from the “I’m worthless” thoughts to empowering ones. Much of Ren’s experiences were very much my own.
Ren is an Implement, which are beings from a different plane of existence that have ties to Earth’s time line. How did this idea develop as you were writing and were you able to cover everything you wanted?
It’s fun to look back at all of my notes and see how the story started out and what ended up unfolding. It was like watching a movie that played in my head and I just wrote it as it played, so much of the surprise twists and turns were a surprise to me; including the Implements. The Implements started out based on the idea of “Indigo Kids,” a spiritual notion that a group of humans exist today with heightened intuition and gifts meant to change the world. As I wrote, their gifts were tweaked and I wanted them to have more defined characteristics (i.e. Implements of Conception being able to manipulate energy in different ways), rather than just “heightened gifts in a group of people.” That seemed too broad for me. I don’t think, as a writer, you ever cover everything you want to. Ideas forever come to you after your manuscript is complete, so in a way, it’s never complete. But I’m a firm believer in everything happens as it’s supposed to, so the book went out the way it needed to. Much is expanded upon in the following books, though, so readers will learn a great deal more about the Implements and the individual characters lives.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be available?
REN: Reposed, the second in the series, is still undergoing some final touches. I’m also working on the third in the series. REN: Reposed is set to come out in Spring 2017. I’m so excited for that to be released, it’s my favorite!
Book Cover Reveal
Check out the new book cover!
Seventeen-year-old Ren Nagel knows that the strange things she’s seen are real–even if no one else believes her. But, when she’s locked up in a psychiatric hospital; she loses hope that anyone will ever truly be on her side.
Then everything changes. With the help of a new friend, Ren breaks out. It’s when she’s on the run that she learns who she really is.
Hunted by evil, Ren must learn to control a power she never knew she had, organize a coalition of people she never knew existed, and remind humanity why fighting the darkness is a big part of being human.
Sometimes, feeling different is much more than just a feeling. For Ren, it means the fate of the world.
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Oliver and Jumpy is book 4 in your children’s series that follows playful characters as they go on various adventures. Why was it important for you to create a children’s story that focused on kindness, friendship and helping others?
Many picture books have lessons to tell, but can be very obvious. Children don’t really like to be told what to do. A good example is always better and Oliver, although he is quite a character, shows that you can have fun and adventure, and at the same time do good.
The art in this book is wonderful. What was the collaboration like with the illustrators?
I thought a long time about which quality of illustrations I should pursue. I did not want to go cheap with dots for eyes figures. I would have loved to follow the very complex pictures of the fairy-tales books of 100 years ago. Unfortunately, being self-financed, this option would have been far too expensive. I grew up with Walt Disney and decided to follow that style, which is easy enough for most illustrators to create, but with facial expressions possible. I tried out six illustrators. The first one, Marvin Alonso, was outstanding. He did illustrations to about eleven of the stories before finding greener pastures. Then I found Maycee Ann Reyes who works together with her husband. The rest is history. This team was simply fabulous. They needed a minimum of supervision and created the scenes of the stories totally by themselves. I just provided the story and simple instructions. Maycee turned out a picture every 3-4 days. These series has about 500 illustrations. Oliver and Jumpy began 4 years ago and it was a herculean task which is now finished. This is a triumph of self-publishing. No run-of-the-mill publisher would have been able to produce such an elaborate work in that time.
My favorite story is Butterfly Trouble. What is your favorite story in this book and in the series?
I like the Dog story. I wrote this story because every time we have our daily walk through the neighborhood, there is a bored dog barking and my wife is saying that we should knock on the door and see if we can take him for a walk with us. My favorite story of the series is Story 18 called Moon Crystal. Oliver travels to the moon to bring healing crystals back to Sillandia. This book won the Readers Favorite Book Award Gold Medal.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be available?
I have been working and finished the Chinese and Spanish version of the series. I am now working on the German one and other languages will follow. My final goal will be to find a company who is willing to invest in a TV series. I would like to see children all around the world to benefit of the marvelous work of my illustrators.
Picture book: A cat series book for kids riddled with mystery and fantasy.
Oliver is an elegant tuxedo cat, who is full of himself. As a matter of fact he says: “I love myself!”, quite often. Naughty, isn’t he? But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that he has a soft heart and will always want to help others. The great thing is Jumpy’s pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in! He calls her his kangaroo taxi! These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids. A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words. These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value. Love you all! Meow! Story 10: Unhappy Dog – The friends help an unhappy dog to escape his boredom. Story 11: Kite High – Flying high is everybody’s dream, but how to get down? Story 12: Butterfly Trouble – Butterflies don’t like to be caught.
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Sicania Rising is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a fantasy, history, and adventure as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
My aim was to write a novel embracing events from an earlier time period that had not been explored. Drawing on the legendary battle of Camicus and the siege by the Minoan fleets provided the novel with a solid central theme to build upon. However, the novel during the adding of the campaigns drew on the beliefs of those involved giving the story a vibrancy that evolved during the conflicts that followed.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Thanks for the positive comments. It was challenging drawing together the character’s and rewarding when they developed their roles within the novel. Because of the historical background, Sancunthian he supported other figures such as Paiawon and Rhadys adding new layers to the novel.
I enjoyed the detail and historical accuracy of the novel. Did you do a lot of research to maintain accuracy of the subject?
Yes the book required a lot of research that involved all the figures within the novel covering books from my own library and the purchase of new books. Having visited Sicily and Crete several times it allowed me to build a clear picture of the islands when writing about the varied locations used within the novel.
JOURNEY BACK IN TIME AND FOLLOW THE CAMPAIGNS IN THE WESTERN SEAS FOR CONTROL OF THE ANCIENT SEA TRADE ROUTES AND THE POWER, RICHES AND CONTROL IT DELIVERS. PHAECIAN SEA CAPTAINS LED BY PAIAWON, AEACUS AND RHADYS BATTLE WITH ARIUKKI, KOKALUS, THESANIS, ENNA and CARAUSIUS. FOLLOWING THE PASSING OFF HAMMURABI THE ANCIENT WORLD SAW THE LEADING POWERS BATTLE TO CONTROL THEIR BORDERS AND LANDS AS THE CITY STATES IN THE EAST FOUGHT BITTER INTER- CITY STATE WARS PROTECTING THEIR VITAL TRADE ROUTES AND SECURING ALLIANCES. WITH THE WESTERN SEA TRADE ROUTES OFFERING NEW MARKETS AND RESOURCES THE RIVAL POWERS ALL LOOKED WEST AND THE ISLAND OF SICANIA WITH ENVIOUS EYES.
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“The Taming of Adam“ follows a prickly teen named Adam. While he attends college studying black magic he goes out of control, gets arrested and is forced to face his shortcomings. What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story?
This might sound horrible (probably because it is), but I’ve always been kind of interested in the school-shooter phenomenon, especially the Columbine incident. I wonder what those two young men went through and why they decided to do what they did. Did life truly not seem worth living? Did counterculture somehow help them come to their decision?
By the time I wrote “The Taming of Adam,” I already did two novels, and I decided to try something unique and risky:
A story about a man who could become a school shooter.
It didn’t have to be an urban fantasy story, but fantasy is the genre I’m most interested in. Of course, Adam’s situation is very different from a typical real-world school shooting, but he is a very antisocial guy with sociopathic tendencies–someone who might think little of going on a carnage spree. The message of the book is that you can find friends even in unlikely places, and that it’s better to indulge in the love and care of friends and family than go at the world alone. It’s corny, yes, and I’m not sure it would reach a sociopath, but it might help more than hurt.
Are you a fan of the fantasy/paranormal genre? What books do you think most influenced your work?
I’ve read a lot of fantasy books over the last few years mostly thanks to my Kindle, which can get me obscure books right at home, but before I wrote ToA, I mostly read Stephen King books and a handful of fantasy books. The works of Stephen King were a great influence, as well as Harry Potter of course, but there’s also a bit of Star Trek in there, too. I love how fantasy and horror can make for very adventurous books that break the rules of reality to be fully realized. On the other hand, to be honest, I am a little disappointed to see so many fantasy stories rely on cliches such as “The Chosen One,” “The Great Holy Artifact,” and “The Prophecy That Gives Sufficient Motivation.” These cliches can more or less cheapen a story and rob characters the chance to be endearing and relatable.
Adam starts out as an unlikable character. He’s a jerk to everyone, even his friends. What is one pivotal moment in the story that you think best defines Adam? Did any of the characters development occur organically through the story?
Adam is a pretty sensitive guy who went bad due to a bit of a traumatic experience as a child. He wants to live in his own little world where nothing and no one can hurt him, and he keeps telling himself that not even his family is important to him. But when he makes his sister cry over a matter of his own making, he gives her a hug, realizing that he wouldn’t want to be treated as he had just treated her. Another pivotal moment is when he reveals his feelings about the opposite sex to Naomi. They’re feelings he’s always been aware of, yet this is the first time he’s put them into words to anyone. If Naomi simply got disgusted and called him names, Adam would have probably stayed the same and refused to open himself up any further. But just getting his feelings out and not getting a huge backlash gave him the opportunity to reconsider his position on life. I’m not sure if any of the other characters changed with the story, but I like to think Russell was pretty brave in talking to Adam, a guy who had just assaulted him, while other people would have advised against it.
This is part 1 of “The Taming of Adam” series. Where does the story go in the next book and where do you see it going in the future?
Parts 2 and 3 are now available for digital download. In Part 2, Adam attends a school in a new city. He gets serious with a woman named Amy who gradually makes him a better person without him knowing it. But there are some people behind the scenes with a sinister agenda, and they happen to have some connection with Adam’s past. There’s another character named Ricky whose unique perspective helps to clarify things.
Part 3 is the most ambitious and epic installment of the series, involving gods and time travel, and it puts a new spin on the title “The Taming of Adam.” Can’t say much more without going into spoiler territory!
Meet Adam Taylor. He is a black mage: a magic-wielder who draws power from the essence of shadows. He is also a loner who prefers only his own company and dreams of power simply to make a living with it. He shuns and pushes away others, making him an extremely rude and antisocial miscreant. On the inside, though, he is a sensitive soul who doesn’t quite know the meaning of love and friendship.
Gene London, meanwhile, is a famous attorney who has a knack for defending difficult cases. He is also a government lobbyist who speaks to lawmakers on behalf of corporations (a normally legal profession as long as he doesn’t give lawmakers luxurious gifts … which he regularly does). Lately, he’s been seeing a mysterious person whom he calls “the lady in the mirror.” This lady claims she is trapped in another dimension, and she says that if London finds a way to free her, she will be his forevermore.
Little did Adam know, on the day he did something foolish and horrific, that he was setting himself on a course to a meeting with the dastardly Gene London … and setting in motion a series of events that will change him for better or worse.
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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?
Posted in Interviews
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Wyatt is an average kid with aspirations of serving in the Imperial Army when a strange dream leads him down a harrowing path that changes his life forever. What was the inspiration for the original and fascinating idea at the center of The Humming Blade?
The story is, in all honesty, the story I would’ve wanted to read in my youth. The Campbellian hero is relateable for a lot of reasons, and that blueprint is, in many ways, the blueprint for Wyatt’s journey. A dream or a prophesy are often found in those stories, and this is no different. Wyatt has to discover not only what it means to be a hero, but also what it means to truly have no say in the major life events that define the book.
I find the world you created in this novel brimming with possibilities. Where did the inspiration for the setting come from and how did it change as you were writing?
All of my ideas start out very small – a place, a specific thing, a person, etc. The Humming Blade was born of the idea of a world where the things everyday people see are built upon the bones of of something much older, greater, and harder to understand. It became necessary to make this setting familiar, because it had to feel easy to understand and subsequently easy to subvert. The idea that the familiar and the normal can be built upon the foundation of something completely alien is something that I love to think about our own world all the time. I think that dreamers like me will really find an easy home in this setting.
Wyatt is a well developed and intriguing character. What was the inspiration for his character traits and dialogue?
Wyatt is a little bit of every late-teens kid – smart, fast-learning, driven, and well-meaning. He’s bored of the only hand he feels is available to him and desperately wants to find a way out, which is certainly a feeling that I know a lot about. He’s something we’ve all been or all will be at some point in our lives. But he has a few bad traits of teenagers, too – he’s a bit mouthy, selfish, and stubborn. His motivation for most of this story is not to save the world or avert catastrophe; he just wants his mom back home where she belongs. He’s forced into making choices that he never wanted to make, and realizes that maybe the old and familiar life he lost wasn’t so bad after all.
I enjoyed the ending of the novel, although it left some things unanswered. What will book two cover and when will that be available?
The ending was definitely a deliberate choice on my part. Wyatt will begin the next book struggling with the ramifications of what happened, as well as a greater question: what place is there in the world for the “Chosen One” once he has fulfilled his destiny? What does he do now that he’s served his purpose? All throughout the first novel, the reader sees glimpses of things happening behind closed doors. Those scenes are like seeds – in book two, those seeds will grow and bear fruit. As far as when the book will be available, I hope to have it written soon. The first thirty-thousand or so words are already written, and the rest will come easily. I’m working on another project (some stories just have to be written!), but once that draft is complete and I’m off editing it, writing will resume on The Humming Blade’s sequel.
Wyatt Arden thinks he leads a pretty normal life. He lives on a boring, everyday farm outside of a sleepy little town called Ven, doing boring chores for his mom when he’s not in school. He yearns for a chance to enlist in the Imperial Army and bring some excitement to his life, but he’s sure that will never happen. Wyatt soon learns that it only takes one strange dream for everything normal about his life to change. In that dream, he envisions a beautiful, powerful sword, a blade linked to deep magic and even deeper mysteries. The dream precedes an unexpected series of events that lead Wyatt into a harrowing, life-altering struggle for the lives of his friends, his family, and the world as he knows it. Wyatt must face vicious killers, dark schemers, and beings of such great power that their existence was erased from history. His only weapon? The Humming Blade.
Posted in Interviews
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The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana is book two in the Ialana series and picks up right where book the first one left off. What was your inspiration for the setup of this story and how did that help you create the ending?
In the setup for the second book, I wanted to bring in two very diverse, but related, elements to play off each other. The first one was the continuation of the training of the Six in elemental command, and the advanced use of crystals. The second was the power struggle for control of Ialana by the ruling classes.
I wanted to further illustrate how the forgotten laws of the universe, otherwise known as “magic”, can be used for opposite ends. When someone understands fully how the universe works, that actions always have consequences, and what those consequences may be, then they will not abuse this knowledge to gain personal power over others. To do this knowingly would feel insane to them. On the other hand, when someone learns only how to manipulate power for his or her own purposes, without understanding the consequences, then they will always suffer the inevitable consequences. This, I felt, produced a satisfactory ending, as the natural laws of the universe came into play.
The Six go through a thrilling and perilous journey to make it home while avoiding a shape shifting king. Is there any moral or idea that you hope readers take away from the story?
The perils the Six faced were the results, or consequences, of the misuse of power by others. It is the same in the real world, the one we inhabit. The monstrous creatures the Six encountered could be seen by us as disease, poverty, ignorance, and despair—the consequences of misunderstanding or ignorance of the laws of the universe. It is also known in this world as Karma. It doesn’t have to be personal to one to experience consequences of others’ actions and their misuse of power. It affects everyone at some point, but I also wanted to stress that when one is willing to learn, then one can find protection in knowledge, create a different reality for themselves, and avoid needless suffering.
Just like in book one, the characters are all well developed. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight the characters development?
The Buddhists believe that suffering produces growth. For me, it seems unnecessary when one understands how to use the laws of the universe correctly, but in many instances, suffering works, and the trials the Six went through all contributed to more understanding about themselves. For example, in the first book, it was difficult for them to work together as a team. They did not understand their goal, their past, or about the nature of reality. Once they went through different trials together, they learned how to work as a team, understanding what their common goal was.
Another thing that occurs to me, is that one appreciates knowledge so much more when it has not come easily, and, it does make the books so much more entertaining!
What is the next story that you’re writing and when will it be published?
The next one is already published. It is the third in the series, The Six and Anwyn of Ialana. This book continues with the adventures of the Six, only with some exciting new characters, and an old enemy that resurfaces, but in a more frightening form. The difficulties for the Six in this book ramp up in tandem with their abilities and responsibilities. With great power often comes even greater responsibility, and this book will not disappoint.
I am working on a fourth in the series, no title as yet, but this one promises to be the best one so far. I have learned much from the first three books, and I also wanted to take the Six in a new direction and bring in problems they had not faced before. This book has a whole new feel to it, but it does retain the elements of mystery and adventure that my readers have enjoyed, while keeping the characters intact, and introducing even more challenges for them.
While this book is still in the early stages, it should be published sometime in 2017. My website and Facebook page will keep readers updated.
The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana is now in the production stages of audio book narration by the same talented narrator, Jeff Hays, who narrated the first book. I intend to release all books of the series in audio, as well as ebook and print, in 2017.
In a seamless continuation of the first book in the series, “The Six and the Crystals of Ialana”, the six healers find themselves caught in the midst of a power struggle between the competing rulers of Ialana. Unable to complete their healing mission, to heal mutants who were genetically altered by crystal manipulation, they flee the Galonese warlord, Ortzi, and attempt a dangerous journey back to their homes in northern Ialana. Trapped by malevolent creatures, hunted by a monster who seeks them for reasons of its own, and on the run from a king and a conniving shape-shifter, there seems to be no place of safety for them. Will they find the mysterious abode of the Gardeners? Who are the Gardeners, and what is their purpose for the Six? Will The Six be able to find Queen Catrin, who sets off on a quest of her own, or will Catrin run afoul of her husband, King Brenin, before she can find The Six? In The Gardeners of Ialana, the Six explore the mysteries of healing, elemental command, and through many more trials, learn their true purpose in life.
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