Author Interview – Cameron Johnson

In today’s author interview I chat with Cameron Johnson the author of the excellent Traitor God and other fantasy novels.


  • Hi Cameron Johnston tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hello, and thanks for having me. I’m a totally not-middle-aged (expecting 100+ years achieved via a combination of whisky and cybernetics) guy from Scotland who writes darker fantasy, loves archaeology, history and mythology and exploring ancient sites. I was a library kid and I guess I caught the storytelling bug from that, and it evolved from reading a whole lot to wanting to tell my own stories.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Part of it is revelling in the sheer imagination of it all, from floating castles to terrifying monsters, otherworldly places and fascinating characters landed in situations that suck you in. In a way, reading fantasy is like being an explorer of strange new worlds and as that sense of discovery is a wonderful thing.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

The Maleficent Seven will (probably) be out in August 2021, and let me tell you, writing seven (and a bit) villainous points of view is a pretty daunting prospect after writing two books with only a single point of view protagonist. In the end, I really enjoyed writing those characters and seeing them develop their own unique voices.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I like to vary characters so I don’t have a set type, other than perhaps one with a sharp tongue. One thing I do try to do write are characters that are never 100% good or 100% evil – a bad guy might be a good father or love and care for dogs for example. People are bewilderingly complex creatures. As for how much of myself I put in, probably very little – I’m thankfully much nicer than most of my characters.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Know that most authors are incredibly self-critical, and what you read has gone through several rounds of editing and rewrites. When you start out, the first draft of your first novel or short story will probably not be good, and that’s OK – many published novels started life on shaky feet. To write well you need to learn to write, and then you have to learn to edit your work so it makes sense and reads smoothly. Don’t despair at your first attempts and give up – you will learn from writing it, and then learn to edit it.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

Panic? Hot cups of tea? Perhaps the odd whisky? There are no tricks sadly, just sitting down, avoiding the internet and distractions and getting the words down. It’s easy to procrastinate with a million other things you could be doing, but you just need to resist and get to work.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

-Almost entirely a pantser. I like to know the start and the end of a story, and perhaps a few important points along the road to give it shape, but other than that the characters make their own decisions and write their own story.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

Oh, lots of plans. Too many, really. The only problem I have is what one I want to explore next. I have a few standalone fantasy novels I want to write so I will probably toss the dice to decide what one I start writing first.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I’ve noticed a slight preference for less grimdark fiction at the moment, turning to more popcorny adventuresome stories instead. I expect that’s trying to find an emotional balance with the relentless craptitude of 2020.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

-I’ll go with Lord of the Rings for this one. What a world! That said, I do love The Mandalorian.

Website: http://www.cameronjohnston.net

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CamJohnston

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cameronjohnston13


Follow me on Facebook,  and Instagram, oh and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.

Author Interview – PD Alleva

Joining me today is science fiction and horror author PD Alleva.


  • Hi PD Alleva tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I write primarily in the science fiction and horror genres, always mixing in a bit of fantasy, supernatural, metaphysical, thrills and chills into something I like to call alternative fiction. Honestly, the word multi-genre sounds like you’ve got marbles in your mouth so, being a child of the 90’s I prefer the term alternative fiction. I’m also a semi-retired hypnotist and behavioural therapist with a specialty treating trauma and addiction.

I’ve always been a writer. I wrote my first full-length novel in sixth grade and used to write fan fiction as far back as the memory will allow. Just the simple thought of creating a book is inspiration enough to put pen to paper and write a novel. I believe literature marks the time and I’m happy to contribute a voice to the literary community.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The ability to stretch the limits of the imagination. We can go anywhere we choose, do whatever we want. Build cathedrals in one chapter and burn them down in the next. Spiral across time or duel with a dragon or spiral across time while duelling with a dragon. I could go on and on.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

The Rose Vol. 1 has been a two-year long project that started as a short story, a prelude to a trilogy I was writing at the time titled The Indigo Trials. I was writing the short story with the purpose to introduce the superpower in the series, a superpower called ‘the rose,’ which is based on an alchemy meditation practice, although I amped up the superpower to include the ability to transform chemical structures, suspend gravity, and move objects with a thought. However, as I was writing (and having a great deal of fun doing so) it became apparent the story and the characters wanted more and refused to be put in a box as a simple short story.

The story begins after a World War 3 treaty has been signed and follows an unsuspecting American citizen, Sandy Cox, who has been living in a WW3 safety camp for the past few years. At this point in the story human beings are still unaware that aliens exist here on earth, and they are definitely unaware that their own government has conspired with these alien’s in an effort to turn the human population into easily controlled zombies in a diabolical plot to achieve planetary and interstellar domination. Sandy is one of the naïve until she is taken to an underground medical complex and discovers the existence of grey aliens and, even more sinister, a sophisticated species of what I refer to as Dracs, or, the alien vampires.

I had some very specific challenges when writing the book. First, I am a vampire fan, always have been, and introducing a new take on vampires was highly challenging. Not only did I need to satisfy fellow vampire lovers, I had to break open and pen an entirely different although familiar lore behind the Dracs. In addition to this challenge was the alien lore, theories, and conspiracies that I wanted to include in the story, most specifically the lore and mythology behind the Dracs and greys. Any ancient alien theorist will be able to pick up on the multiple theories presented in the story including concepts such as the 12th planet, hollow earth, and Robert Morningstar papers. So, the challenge was two fold, satisfy the vampire and alien lovers while remaining loyal to genre, mythology, and lore, and I tackled this challenge by presenting the dystopian science fiction story through the eyes of the casual observer discovering all the chaos and mayhem that exists behind the scenes. So, just as the unsuspecting heroine Sandy Cox is discovering all these alien vampires the reader is discovering them with her. I hope the end product is not only satisfactory on the intellectual and creative level, but also on the ‘just plain old fun,’ level.

The Rose Vol. 1 was published on October 7th and is currently available worldwide at all major retail stores.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I enjoy writing villains. There’s just something extraordinary about piecing together an iconic villain, delving into the dark mind and hearts of the truly depraved, insane, and chaotic. Yeah, I like my villains.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Write a good book. Great editing is a must and don’t forget that great stories are a collaboration so find an editor that challenges your writing style and remember its nothing personal, its just business. Write to market, and find what works best for you for marketing.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I rarely work under a deadline, as I don’t agree with pushing the creative process, usually things get lost in the shuffle and when you’re writing stories that require so much detail, lore, and backstory across multiple point of view I just need it to flow the right way and not concern myself with deadlines. Case in point is the horror thriller I’m currently writing, Jigglyspot and the Zero Intellect, which I’ve been writing for the past seven months and it’s close to 140,000 words that was originally going to be a novella (guess Jigglyspot refused to be a short blip on my radar). When I’m knee deep in a project it takes up my full attention, thankfully I’m not on any deadlines. I enjoy going with the flow and putting out a stellar product over meeting deadlines.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

Pantser mostly, although I do send myself little emails with thoughts on plot changes and character development.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I also write horror novels. I have a horror and dark fiction series titled Beyond the Chamber Door. The first two books are already published (Twisted Tales of Deceit, and Presenting the Marriage of Kelli Anne & Gerri Denemer), with two more in the pipeline (Golem and Jigglyspot and the Zero Intellect). I’m also about to start writing Vol. 2 for The Rose followed by completing the next part of The Rose series (The Indigo Trials trilogy). From there, two more horror novels followed by the third connected series in The Rose, an apocalyptic time travel series titled Winter.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

A darker approach as always. Every novel I’ve written has dark elements to it, kind of the yin and yang of the universe all wrapped into a neat little package. Plus there’s the whole reality that more often than not bad people win more often, I like to reflect this reality because its not always rainbows and sunshine that life has to throw at us.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

The original Star Wars, anything after that is up for debate.

Author Links:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pdalleva_author/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pdallevaauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/PdallevaAuthor

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/pdalleva

Website:  www.pdalleva.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7634126.P_D_Alleva

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/p-d-alleva

Newsletter Mailchimp: http://eepurl.com/gxKH7P


Follow me on Facebook,  and Instagram, oh and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.

Author Interview – Poppy Kuroki

Joining me around the campfire today is indie fantasy author Poppy Kuroki who has travelled all the way from the land of the rising sun, Japan!


  • Hi Poppy, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I’m a ghostwriter and editor living in Japan. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, and a lot of my inspirations have come from music and video games, as well as real-life feelings and tragedies.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

It’s limitless! I’m always amazed with the fantastic original worlds people can build from the genre. I write quite low fantasy, but I read a lot of high fantasy with magic systems and worlds so vastly different from ours.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

My latest fantasy is Oath: A Black Diamond novel. I wrote it a year or two ago and sat on it for ages, wondering if it was good enough. It’s coming out on November 1st and has had some great reviews so far! I was going through a rough time when I wrote it and a lot of that is reflected in Colette’s story.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I love characters who go through some kind of life-altering experience and grow with the bad things that have happened to them. I mostly write female characters as I can identify with them more.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

About writing, I’d say that there’s always room for improvement. Read a lot, especially in your genre, and be open to criticism. Study what makes good writing and identify and weed out your bad habits. For publishing, take up free courses and ebooks (there are tons of them out there) and watch out for scams; unfortunately there are many of those out there, too.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I set a word count goal for myself when writing the first draft. 1,000 words today, and it’s OK if they aren’t good, just get 1,000 words down! If I don’t feel motivated, I start with a goal of 200, then 500, and that’s usually enough to get me into it.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

Definitely a plotter. If I start writing without any idea of where it’s going, I won’t finish it. I had a lot of partly finished projects when I was younger before I learned that lesson. I respect pantsers though, if you can end up with a finished project without knowing where it was going to go, more power to you.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I’m currently writing a series of origin stories for the characters in Oath and how they became assassins. I’m also working on a steampunk novel. It’s my first time writing in this genre so it’s exciting!

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I’ve always loved dark or sad stories. If a book can make me cry, it’s an instant winner. I can enjoy happy tales too – I love Disney films just as much as anyone – but sad stories with deep, dark themes resonate the most.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Lord of the Rings! Where would we be without it?

Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/greatbookswithpoppygroup
Twitter: twitter.com/poppyinjapan
Instagram: instagram.com/poppyinjapanofficial/
Website: https://poppyinjapan.com

Poppy’s new book A Bard’s Lament is out now!


Follow me on Facebook,  and Instagram, oh and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.

Author Interview – Cassie Crow

Joining me around the campfire today is YA fantasy author Cassie Crow. Settle in and enjoy!


  • Hi Cas tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

    Hi. I am the author of The Wayward Haunt, the first novel in The Wayward Series, a YA dark fantasy which was released in June 2020. Since I was very young, I’ve been drawn to stories involving the supernatural. I would spend my lunch times at school creating scary stories for my friends to listen to. Barbie and my dolls would often end up some terrible, haunted, fantasy setting of some kind. I think what inspired me to write was that for a very long time, I couldn’t. I really struggled as a kid to read and write. I hated it. Eventually I was privately tutored by a teacher named Mrs Swann who recognised my love for storytelling. She taught me to see that reading and writing weren’t any different. With her guidance, I caught up to my peers in class. I think I chose to become a writer because I needed to prove that I could do it. Now I write because I love to be creative.
  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

    I love to read and write fantasy because it takes me into another world where anything can be possible. Fantasy is always growing and evolving. Every author brings something new to the genre, which keeps the stories entertaining and interesting. You never know exactly what you are going to get when you read fantasy, because rules are unbound by reality. The author’s imagination can be limitless. I write dark fantasy because I’ve always enjoyed chilling, ominous stories. The Wayward Series is set in a war-torn, dystopian world where magic is prevalent and ghosts exist, but the themes and events are very similar to what has occurred throughout our own history. I think fantasy allows authors to write about what is happening in our own world, by exploring it through fantasy.
  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together? (include release date etc here)

    My current project is the second instalment in The Wayward Series and is the sequel to The Wayward Haunt, titled The Four Revenants. It picks up directly where The Wayward Haunt finishes. I am halfway through the first draft, which I hope to have completed by April 2021, with the novel released early 2022 (fingers crossed). Just like the first book, it has come with its challenges. Time being the biggest. I feel like there are never enough hours in the day to complete everything I wish I could do with my writing. I work part time, have to organise marketing for the first book, and write a second novel. Sometimes it’s exhausting and I have to remind myself that I’m human and need to take a break. Sometimes it’s great fun and I enjoy every moment. Funny enough, that happens after I’ve taken a break.

    The second biggest obstacle is the fantasy-world building in my story. There is so much history and detail in the world that I’ve created, that it could easily become overly complicated. My biggest fear is that the reader won’t be able to follow it. How do I overcome that? Honestly, I ignore it as I write, even though its nagging away at me. I focus on getting the story completed. After a few weeks, I’ll return to the story and read it. If the world doesn’t make sense to me, I know there’s a huge problem. I’ll need to edit and rewrite. Once it makes sense to me and I think it’s ready, I wait to see what the beta readers say. Again, if it’s too complicated, it goes through another rewrite.

    I think the best thing about writing the second novel is that I learnt so much from the first book, that the challenges are less daunting. They’re still there, but now their easier to manage.
  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?


I enjoy writing all sorts of character types. The easiest characters to create are the ones that are similar to me, or have traits I wish I had. I like to explore both the positive and negative qualities in a character. My main character in The Wayward Series, Zaya Wayward, is strong, confident, and assertive, but she’s also impulsive, judgemental, and has trust issues. I have worked hard to make sure Zaya is always driving the story. Sometimes she makes the right decision. Sometimes she makes bad ones. Just like in real life, her mood dictates what she does. I also enjoy creating villains because… well, what writer doesn’t love creating a superbad guy… or girl. You can be entirely evil and get away with it. It’s great fun. But I do try to make sure my villains aren’t two dimensional. They have a backstory. They have a motive they believe is right, no matter what the cost or sacrifice. Even in a fantasy world, the emotions and thoughts of a character need to be real and relatable. That’s the part I love developing.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

    As a writer, I think the most useful thing I’ve learned is to manage time and be realistic with what I can accomplish. Writing is hard. It took me years to learn, and I’m still learning. I am a perfectionist (something I’m teaching myself not to be), and often I’d get frustrated at how little time I had to write. When I finally did have time to write my stories at the end of the day, I was too exhausted. My writing just didn’t flow. I had to learn time management and be realistic with what I could write in that allocated time. Everyone has commitments—family, work, relationships, sport, etc. For wannabe writers out there, I suggest finding a realistic schedule that works for you. Don’t tell yourself you are going to write for five hours a day if you know that in reality it’s impossible. If you can only write an hour a day, do it. If you can spare two hours on a Saturday afternoon, do it. Writing should be fun and enjoyable, not a chore. You will learn and accomplish far more when you are in the right frame of mind.
  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

    I set daily, weekly and monthly goals with my writing. I write and write and don’t care about editing. I just get the story into the computer. The editing comes later. I take a break when I need to, because if I don’t, I will drain myself and achieve nothing. I exercise. Ideas often drift into my head when I’m out on a jog. I take a notebook with me wherever I go. Inspiration can strike at the unlikeliest of places. Some of the dialogue in The Wayward Haunt is directly from conversations I have heard among friends and colleagues. I am realistic with what I can achieve in a day, or an hour.
  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I am definitely a plotter. Everything in my stories, beginning, middle, end, scenes, chapters, are plotted out and written down. I find that this helps me to keep focus and to meet deadlines. I know exactly where I’m going with the story. Sometimes, unexpected ideas jump in my head as I write. Strangely enough, they work for the scene or chapter that I’m writing. They are always nice surprises when they occur. So yes, I am a plotter, but I do not object to new ideas coming along halfway through my stories. It keeps things interesting.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

    The Wayward Series will be a set of four books, so book three and four are in the pipeline to be written and published. I have many ideas in my head for other novels that I haven’t given attention to at this stage, because my focus is on The Wayward Series, but eventually I will delve into those other stories. I want to write a cozy murder mystery, something along the lines of Agatha Christie. Knowing me, it will have an element of horror in it.
  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

    I enjoy both. Sometimes I’m in the mood for something a little darker, scarier, and tragic. Other times I want a happy feel good story, or a story where the hero faces dangerous obstacles, but ultimately triumphs. Life throws unexpected situations at us all the time. I like stories to do the same.
  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?


To watch, precisely in that order—Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars. To read, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings. I read Lord of the Rings when I was fourteen. It’s a wonderful story. Tolkien is amazing. But honestly, I don’t have the time or the strong mental energy it would require to read it again.

Author Website: www.casecrowe.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/casecroweauthor/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/casecroweauthor/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20457182.Cas_E_Crowe


Follow me on Facebook,  and Instagram, oh and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.

Another Sneak Peek at Voyage for the Sundered Crown

 Book 4 in the Sundered Crown Saga will be released on December 30th so I thought I’d share another sneaky peek at the book. This scene takes place early on in the book and introduces a new monster; The Devourer.

Enjoy!


Suddenly, one of the sandbanks exploded outwards and a monster the likes he’d never seen before came screeching from it. It was like a giant worm covered in thick bony armoured plates and vicious razor-sharp spikes. The head was nothing but a cavernous maw of deadly snapping teeth. The Rider cried out, only just guiding the Whale out of the reach of the Devourer. With a thunderous boom, the Devourer crashed back down beneath the dunes sending clouds of sand flying in all directions. The whale sped on through the dunes, the Devourer hot on its heels. Luxon glanced over his shoulder and instantly regretted doing so. All he could see, and gaining quickly was that cavernous teeth filled mouth. Ferran too was looking over his shoulder, but unlike himself, there was no fear on his face, instead, his brow was knotted in concentration. The master monster hunter was studying every detail of the creature, analyzing it for any visible weakness. The Rider spurred the Whale to veer sharply to the right causing the less nimble Devourer to speed on past. It let out a frustrated screech before arching around in an attempt to re-engage its prey. Luxon pushed himself up in his seat, his arms trembling against the forces trying to pin him down. Ahead was a rocky outcropping. The Devourer couldn’t travel through the stone.

 “Head toward the outcropping!” he shouted to the panicking rider.

With a crack of the rod, the Whale veered to the right and sped toward the rocks.

 “Get ready to jump!” Luxon shouted. He followed words with action and unsnapped the harness holding him into place. Ferran likewise detached himself. It was hard to move as the speed of the Sand Whale threatened to pin them into their seats. Luxon narrowed his eyes and channelled his magic to create a shield that enveloped him, Ferran and the rider. The G-forces immediately eased allowing them to move more freely. He grabbed the rider’s hand and Ferran gripped onto his cloak tightly. The outcropping approached and Luxon jumped. With masterful skill, he cast a levitation spell that launched them high into the air and off the terrified Whale’s back. They floated across the sand and onto the high rocky cliff. A solitary dead tree stood on the peak to offer some much-needed shelter from the blazing hot sun. Once they were safely on the rock the Whale dived beneath the sand desperate to escape the monster. Strangely, the Devourer allowed the Whale to go, its attention fixed on them.

 “I can’t be the only who thinks it strange that such a beast would be more interested in us than such a large potential meal,” Ferran remarked.

 Luxon crouched and watched the Devourer as it circled the outcropping. In its huge armoured head was a solitary red eye that was fixed on them. He closed his eyes and focused on the monster. There was a familiar presence emanating from it, one that he’d hoped they would not encounter so far from Delfinnia.

 “N’Gist magic,” he muttered. There was no mistaking it. The gnashing monster below was one made from the darkest sorcery.

 A shout came from below. Sir Beric and the other Bannerlords had arrived. Hastily they disembarked their Sand Whale and hurried toward the rocks. To Luxon’s surprise, the Devourer ignored them.

 “Er, it really seems to like you, Luxon,” Ferran said.

The Bannerlords clambered up the outcropping and joined them at the top.

 “There’s the hideous beast,” wheezed Beric. Despite the desert heat he and his companions were wearing their plate armour. On their backs in packs was an array of weaponry.

 The Devourer’s red eye stared unblinking at the outcropping it’s body eerily still.

 “I trust it didn’t do this when you first encountered it?” Ferran asked Beric.

 “No. When we faced it the beast attacked without mercy. It ate our horses first and then two of our squires. The poor sots didn’t stand a chance. Ah well-”

Beric said as he took a spear from one of his comrades “it’s still as a rock now. Let’s kill this thing.”

His squire handed him a spear. Creeping to the edge of the outcropping he drew back his arm and hurled the weapon with all his might. Just as the spear looked as though it would strike its intended target, the eye snapped shut. The spear struck armoured shell to spin wildly and harmlessly off its surface. Beric swore loudly.

 The eye opened again, it stared at Luxon.

“What’s up with this thing?” Beric grumbled taking another spear from his comrades. The four Bannerlords stepped to the edge and all hurled their spears. Again, the weapons bounced off its armoured shell.

 “Let me try something,” Ferran said as he conjured a fireball into existence. With a flick of the wrist, the magical projectile shot downwards to strike the Devourer. The flame engulfed the monster but instead of it retreating in pain as expected it began to vibrate.

 To their surprise, the creature absorbed the flames and with a sickening crack, the shell split and it began to grow in height. It grew so high that now it’s snapping jaws were just a few feet from the top of the outcropping.


Preorder Voyage for the Sundered Crown on Amazon and other retailers

Follow me on Facebook,  and Instagram, oh and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.

Author Interview – Paul Lavender

Today’s author interview is with my good mate and fellow fantasy author Paul Lavender the creator of Grimlark.


  • Hi Paul tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I live in Worcestershire in the UK, have a wife and son and I’m the wrong side of 50! My son is disabled so I don’t work (house husband instead), as I needed something to do I started writing. My books are based on characters from some old RPG games that I used to play (AD&D, Warhammer,etc).

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

You can just make stuff up!

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

I have 3 projects on the go! I currently have the follow up books to my original releases being written, and a new series which is basically Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe but with monsters added. It’s set in an alternate version of earth, so the biggest challenge has been world building for it (1 and a half years and counting). I’m hoping to release one book early next year and another near the end of 2021, then the next the start of 2022 (then cycle the books from there).

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I write books that I like to term ‘GrimLark’ which is basically a gore and sweary filled version of Terry Pratchett. I have a couple of human gods called Pock and Cock who I am particularly fond of (they work as bouncers at an inn). There’s a little bit of me in all of them!

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

If you’ve got it…spend it! Decent covers, editing etc can make a big difference.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I don’t…which probably explains a lot! I’m very late with my next release, but id rather write when I feel like it rather than churning out crap.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

Usually I’m a pantser, but on my new series I’m a plotter.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

As mentioned above…it’s both! A new series that’s historical fantasy rather than all out fantasy.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I haven’t read a lot of books recently (unless it was about the Napoleonic Wars), but I will read almost anything (except romance).

I am currently reading Harry Potter to my son at bedtime though.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Lord of the Rings.

Follow Paul via –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/p.s.lavender

Twitter    : @paullavender6

Website: https://pslavender.wixsite.com/the-orcslayers



Follow me on Facebook,  and Instagram, oh and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.

Author Interview – Aaron Hodges

The campfire crackles in the cold night and a shivering figure emerges from the forest. It’s Aaron Hodges, the epic fantasy author from New Zealand. Unlike his homeland that is now enjoying the fruits of spring, the camp is in the grip of winter. We pull up a stool next to the fire and chat.


  • Hi Aaron tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Well I’m a fantasy author from New Zealand and I have to say I’ve always been inspired to write. I think in a similar way I love to read fantasy, writing gives me ability to go off into my own world for a while. I really love having that ability to escape real life for a bit—and especially when I get to share it with others!

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I think that it can both give us an escape from real life, but also that it often mirrors the same struggles we have in the real world, albeit in a simpler way.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

Well my latest project is a series set in a fallen world, where humanity is at war with the inhuman Tangata, creatures with superhuman strength and speed, which are determined to destroy humanity. I’ve just about finished off the third book, Age of Gods, which is due to be published on the 8th November. In this book, the two main characters are completely separated, and their individual plots and discoveries about the past are both quite complicated. That’s made it really difficult to keep everything in line in my head, and I just hope I’ve managed to write it so that I bring the reader along!

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I love characters that are able to rise above their circumstances. I often have characters based in normal settings, without any particular special ability or skill, but who are determined to lift themselves up, to face the challenges of the enemy and save the world. I’m not sure how much of that they get from me though 😉

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

The value of time management. I really force myself to have fixed times that I go and write and work on my advertising etc. I’ve found without that strict schedule, I don’t get half as much done, and would never be able to keep on track with my releases! Equally, making sure I give myself time off is important too—something I got out of the habit of doing during the pandemic, since I got bored without my work!

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I know about how much time each phase/edit of my work takes, so I pencil in a release date when I first start a project—usually about 3 months from when I start. Then I just use the time management I used above to make sure I am working on it and keeping to schedule!

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

A bit of each, I generally write a general plot outline, then pants the bits in between as I go!

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I am considering dipping more into the scifi genre soon, after reading Skyward by Brandon Sanderson and really enjoying it (before I really had no interest in space ships!). I’m still brewing the story in my mind, but it would be based on a planet where humanity is enslaved by a technologically superior race of aliens!

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

Gotta enjoy the good triumphs over evil, but not without sacrifice. Nothing good in this world comes easy.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Harry potter!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/fantastic.adventures

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14713614.Aaron_Hodges

author@aaronhodges.co.nz

Latest series: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08653PM1L/

            (Book three is out now!)

Thanks for taking part!


Follow me on Facebook,  and Instagram, oh and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.

Ghosts of War Movie Review

I’ve not done a movie review since Rise of Skywalker way back in January thanks to Covid-19 shutting the cinemas, but last night I watched a movie that stunned me at just how shit it was. So much so that I felt compelled to write a review.

I’ll just get straight to the point. Ghosts of War is possibly one of the worst movies I have ever seen.

Promising Premise

As with most low budget horror movies (if you can call this horror, I don’t think the creators could decide on what it is) the premise is quite promising. Set in World War Two a group of US soldiers are assigned to protect a manor house in the French countryside.

This is also where we get our first glimpse at the terrible special effects when two US bombers fly overhead. They’re so laughably CGI it instantly takes you out of the scene.

The Nazis are on the run but are still a menace to the region. The manor house is located on a strategically important road which is why the US forces are so keen to prevent it from falling into enemy hands.

The movie begins by introducing our heroes. A rag tag bunch of men who do the usual poorly scripted military chat about their lives at home, hobbies etc… then as they’re walking across a field, they hear a car approaching. It’s full of those pesky Jerries. They set an ambush and promptly blow it up killing most of the occupants inside.

This film is a War Crime

This is when alarm bells began ringing for me. Our ‘brave’ heroes then promptly commit atrocities and outright murder the survivors with one of them challenging a surviving German officer to a bout of fisticuffs. The German gains the upper hand and then the US officer promptly shoots the guy in the head.

Did the writers of this movie realise that the outright murder of surrendered prisoners is a crime? Did they think this make the audience like the characters? If they did then they were massively mistaken. The US soldiers now just come across as thugs and murderers no better than the Nazis they are fighting. Great job guys!

The Manor of terribad sfx

They reach the suitably creepy manor and are greeted by another squad of US soldiers who were babysitting the place and who’d been waiting for relief. This new bunch act all sketchy and we immediately know something is off as they’ve all been sleeping in the main hall and not taken advantage of the manors many bedrooms. They don’t tell the new arrivals that anything is amiss and promptly depart leaving the new guys a bit confused.

As with every bad horror movie the team promptly split up and go their separate ways as they explore the mansion. Now this is where the film was actually ok. The scares were pretty good and suitably creepy. Figures in the background, strange noises, and shadows. It builds up the tension well. As time goes on more and more bizarre events occur and then the plot goes down the path to loony town.

WTF is happening?

So as the movie progresses we learn that the ghosts haunting the house are those of an Afghan family that was killed by Nazis for harbouring Jews (…this literally makes not a lick of sense, but don’t worry all is soon revealed)

One by one the ghosts start killing the team until it’s the turn of the lead character, who wait for it, wakes up in a hospital bed in the present day. Wait, what…

If you’ve ever played the Assassins Creed video games, it’s obvious that the writers based this whacko sci-fi twist on them. The captain wakes up, confused and Billy Zane tells him that he was in fact wounded in Afghanistan and that he was put into a WW2 simulation to keep the brain alive.

At this point me and the wife were laughing at just how bat shit the plot had become. Turns out the captain and his team were all in Afghanistan and were tasked with saving a family of informants from ISIS. They fail and ISIS kills said family in the same way the ghosts from WW2 were killed. A firefight ensues and then out of nowhere a random Afghan woman blows them all up. Despite the US soldiers being blown to pieces and barely alive, the woman is somehow able to cast a curse on them before she croaks it.

Now, this is where this film goes really batshit crazy. We jump back to the captain who is now explaining everything to the audience (seriously if you ever have to explain everything back to the audience you’ve done a piss poor job of writing). Except, somehow thanks to the curse the ghosts of the simulation break into the real world and start causing havoc. Then the movie just ends with a black screen. Quite possibly making it the dumbest ending to any movie ever.

Overall

Netflix movies are a bit of a running joke, but nothing could have prepared me for just how terrible this movie is. A promising start gives way to terrible special effects, a non-sensical hard left into bizarre science fiction territory and writing that is so bad I was left laughing hysterically for about an hour afterwards.

2/10

Author Interview – Cully Mack

Today’s author interview is with Cully Mack, author of epic fantasy and has a new book out now!

  • Hi Cully tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hi, I’m Cully.  I write epic fantasy.  Think epic battles with immortals and beasts of all kinds, throw in some elemental magic, huge plot twists, portals and unique worlds, and an ever-growing cast of characters trying to save their world. If you like character-driven epic fantasy, you’ll love my books.  I warn you now; I don’t go easy on them…

I’ve always loved reading fantasy, and I have a keen interest in myth texts from the Ancient Near East.  Mesopotamia was the birthplace of civilisation (think pre Egyptian, Greek and Roman etc). Yes, those titans, gods and mythical beings were known to older civilizations

I decided to merge fantasy and myth and created a series, which is filled with ancient myth, the kind that is buried in soul waiting to be reawakened. 

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The possibilities!   They are endless.  I love the ability to imagine and see the world through a different lens.  I prefer alternate worlds, new experiences, so I lean towards epic/high fantasy, but more importantly, I’m drawn to iconic character-driven fiction. 

As much as I love thrilling plots, amazing magic systems, and well-developed worlds, they mean nothing without real human emotion.  Fantasy has the ability to present humanity in extreme circumstances, to test the bonds of love, sacrifice, and endurance, etc.  It sees us at our worst or against terrible odds and shows us we can rise above and conquer.  It gives us hope.  That’s the beauty of the fantasy genre.   

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together? (include release date etc here)

My latest project is due for release on October 30th 2020.  It is the fourth book in the Voice that Thunders series and is called A Vow That Clashes.  This book has been the most challenging to write due to the complexity of its structure.  It has three plot arcs focussing on a destined one, a fire wielder and an apprentice Acquisitioner. 

Each of them has made a vow.  Their challenge is to either keep or break it,  but they soon realise the hardest battles often come from within.

A Vow That Clashes

When a vow demands sacrifice, who will pay the price?

Far behind Gabe is his innocence, destroyed when a Watcher slaughtered his clan.  Now considered a chosen one, Gabe strives to understand his magic and his calling.  He desires nothing more than to find his sister but is besieged by hybrid abominations intent on extinguishing mortal life, his most of all. 

His allies: a cunning thief, an Immortal, and a Fire Wielder stand fast with those seeking sanctuary underground.  It’s a trap.  The god of deep mines and solver of secrets is coming… A perilous maze of tunnels, their sole hope of escape.

As vows and destiny collide, Gabe faces a devastating choice: abandon the people and his allies or forsake his beloved sister.  

The fate of the world rests on his decision, for the Watchers know a greater adversary approaches, a possessor of flesh.  The clash between darkness and light has never been more dreadful.

You can find out more here: viewbook.at/AVowThatClashes

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

Conflicted ones.  I love adding layers.  I write characters who are passionate, living each day as though it may be their last.  They’re either running straight for or away from something.

I enjoy writing cocky, confident males, which is why I have a few of them.  Ammo is skilled at pretty much everything and a complete risk taker.  He often makes me laugh with his cocky attitude and flirty banter.   Tur is complex, comes across as aloof at first, but he is one hell of a man as his story develops.  Nothing and no one will move him from what he believes in and my god, I really test him. 

I enjoy writing strong female leads.  And what I mean by this is women who have something more than just kick-ass feistiness.  For me, it’s more about attitude.  In fantasy, I often find female characters’ femininity has been stripped away.  I like to write this back in, so even though my characters are capable of tearing you to shreds with their magic or lethal fighting skills, they’re just as capable of destroying you with their determination, wit and grace.

How much of myself do I put into my characters?  That’s tricky.  Sometimes, I write the total opposite of myself, other times not.  Do I know what it’s like to be naïve, think I understand love when I have no idea, or be betrayed?  Yes, I do, but did I respond the same way my characters do?  They each respond in different ways, so I guess not. 

I tend to write from the experience of others.  For many years, I’ve worked with a wide range of people, and learned what makes people tick.  So there is a psychological aspect underpinning my work. 

Although, saying this, in A Vow That Clashes, the arc with the twins is written from personal experience.  I tend to break writing rules, and this arc is a definite no, no, rule breaker (can’t say more – spoilers!).  I felt it was something I could write because I’ve kind of lived it.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Don’t quit!  It’s really hard sometimes.  Writing can be isolating, and sometimes you wonder if anyone even reads/enjoys your work.  Reviews help a lot.  A well-timed review has saved my sanity more than once when I’ve been second guessing myself.  

Hold on to your dreams!  Believe in yourself and stay true to your vision.  So much will come your way and try to shake you, hold on.  Quitters never make it.

If I was to start over, I’d start with a shorter book, a stand-a-lone or a prequel, and get myself known a little before plunging right into everything.  

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I can’t say I use writing tricks.  I write every day.  I’ve never had issues with motivation.  As far as writer’s block goes, I write through it.  

I often find a block is caused by not understanding my character’s goal or personality to the full extent.  I’ve written pure drivel trying to suss out what makes them tick.  If I’m trying to make them behave a certain way to move the plot forward, they sometimes refuse, and when they do, nothing works.  I’ve learned to go with it and write what the character wants. In the end, it comes, something clicks.  Without fail, I’ve gone with character and dismissed my original plan. 

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

Total Panster! I’m a discovery writer.  I tend to know certain plot points, for example, I knew Mirah needed to reach Hermonial because I wanted to write a character who was close to my antagonist. 

My start point was her on the ship.  As I wrote her journey, I added conflict along the way.  I love how characters grow and overcome the challenges they face.  Being a discovery writer, my characters often surprise me and lead me into territory I wasn’t expecting to go.

I love plot twists!

Most of my twists come from writing myself into a hole and then figuring out how to fix it.  There are quite a few big twists in my books, which my mind would never have imagined if I’d sat down and tried to think it up.  Some people might think this tactic is insane, but for me, it keeps my writing fresh. 

I remember my English Professor saying; I love how your writing is so unpredictable.  How do you do it?  I answered, it’s because I have no clue what’s going to happen until I write the words on the page.  

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I’m actually about to start writing a new series.  I’ve had my head in Mirah and Gabe’s world for four years now, and I want to explore some new characters and new worlds.  So my plan is to draft the first book in a new series before returning to book five in the Voice that Thunders series. 

I will be staying in the epic/high fantasy genre.  It’s where my heart is.  However, I’m keen to write about more familiar races such as Fae, dragon shifters, maybe even vamps with a twist. 

I have found that writing about a mythology which most people haven’t heard of is difficult to market.  If I mentioned Greek myth, people would conjure thoughts of Olympus, Zeus, Titans, etc.  Mention Mesopotamian myth and I get blank stares.  It’s a shame because Mesopotamian myth is an under used resource.  So my plan is to write something which is easier to market.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

Ultimately, I prefer good triumphing over evil, but this doesn’t mean the journey can’t be dark.  There are tropes I enjoy reading, e.g. dark, conflicted or misunderstood characters revealing underlying qualities which are good.  I tend to root for the underdog.

As for writing, it depends on the individual character and the context.  I’m always testing my characters and putting them in conflicting situations.  Tur could cope with anything I threw at him (and I do).  Will he triumph over evil?  Who knows, but he’ll give it his best shot.  Other characters would break, experiencing only a little of what he goes through.  So with this in mind, it shapes how I write my arcs. 

Does an antagonist even consider himself evil?  Maybe, but not always.  Regardless, they commit dark acts to achieve their goals.  Opposing worldviews makes for great conflict. 

My characters have experienced terrible evil, but they’ve also experienced the opposite, love, friendship, loyalty, etc.    

I always try to keep things balanced and realistic.  Does evil win?  Yes!  Does Good Triumph?  Yes!  Who wins in then end?  Not sure yet, I’m a Panster.  As my latest book blurb says, ‘The clash between darkness and light has never been more dreadful.’

  1. What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

I’ve never read Harry Potter or Star Wars (don’t shoot me), so it would unfair to compare the books.  As far as movies go, I prefer Lord of the Rings. 

I really enjoyed the magical and portal aspects of Harry Potter, but Harry and the gang are a tad too young, and middle grade is not something that keeps my interest.  I just can’t get on board with Star Wars, not sure why.  I think Darth is a great antagonist, and him being Luke’s father was a great twist.  I also liked Han and the droids, but the rest of the characters felt bland to me (sorry Star Wars fans). 

I love Lord of the rings.  The scale of Middle Earth is awesome.  The internal struggles and battles are epic.  The characters and races are diverse to the extreme.  The mythos behind LotR is vivid and somehow feels alive.

If I had to choose which world to live in, I’d pick Middle Earth without a doubt.

A Vow That Clashes (Voice that Thunders #4) is releasing this Friday! 30th October. viewbook.at/AVowThatClashes

Link to first book: http://viewbook.at/AVoiceThatThunders

Here are my social media links:

www.facebook.com/CullyMack https://www.instagram.com/cullymackauthor/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19033629.Cully_Mack

https://www.instagram.com/cullymackauthor/

Follow me on Facebook,  and Instagram, oh and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.

Author Interview – Chris Lodwig

Today I’m joined at the campfire by sci-fi author Chris Lodwig.

  • Hi Chris tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Well, I live in Seattle with my wife, daughter, and a pile of pets.

I have spent the last twenty-three years working for technology companies around Seattle. I coach soccer and fly fish in my spare time—when I’m not writing, of course.

I have degrees in both Comparative History of Ideas and Communications from the University of Washington in the United States.

As far as what inspires me to write, I love it when I have an image, or situation, or idea in my mind that I want to explain, and I have to struggle at it. I might try twenty different ways to get at the idea, and then, when I get it right, I go, “ah, that’s what I wanted to say.” I get this little shot of dopamine or oxytocin. It’s a bit addictive. And then, when I’m done and someone else reads it, and they get what I’m saying or see what I’m showing them, it’s the closest thing to telepathy I can imagine this side of the technologies I write about in my stories.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I read a fair amount of fantasy, but I don’t currently write it. I think that I like fantasy for the same reasons I like sci-fi. You’re allowed to bend the rules and write about the impossible and that allows you to stretch the boundaries of experience. Which gives you more room to speculate about what it means to be a human. What would you do if you could be all-powerful, or omniscient, or could have all your problems solved for you? What would you be willing to give up? What would that mean? I love those sorts of questions.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together? (include release date etc here)

In June I released my debut sci-fi novel, Systemic.

It sits somewhere between a eutopia and dystopia depending on who you ask. It takes place several generations in the future. We’ve created a massive AI and for years, it’s been solving all of society’s problems. Of course, now the issue becomes, what happens to us when we don’t have any problems left to solve?

The story itself focuses on three strangers who are each making a pilgrimage to a small town in the middle of the Sagelands called Prower. Maik is hoping to find the woman he loves, Eryn wants to return to her childhood home, and Lem is out for revenge against the AI hosted in the town’s data center.

Without giving too much away, no one knows the real reasons they’re headed to Prower, but it has something to do with solving the problem of us not having any more problems.

Writing Systemic was actually quite easy. It all just sort of fell out of by brain. I feel more like I watched myself write it. Which isn’t to say it wasn’t a ton of work, it certainly was. It took me about three years working in every spare moment to get it all down and edit it. I think I had four major editing passes, plus all my beta reader feedback, etc. But it wasn’t difficult or challenging. And that’s not normal for me. I just finished a thirteen-page short story, that I swear was harder to write than my 500+ page novel.

For me the most difficult thing has been promotion and sales. That’s a whole art and skill in and of itself and I’m not particularly good at it.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I like to write characters who are different from me. I like to put myself in their shoes and figure out why they do the things that they do. Writing for me is about discovery, and I know myself pretty well, so puzzling together other people’s reality is just more fun and interesting. 

As far as how I do that, I guess that requires me to put something of myself into them. So, for example, I might say, “This guy needs to do this really horrible/funny/selfish/dangerous thing. What would need to be true for me to do that thing?” So, I guess the thing I put in them is my assumptions about how I would come to that decision. In order for me to be a back-stabbing mob boss, I would need to have had a childhood that was so threatening to me that I would have needed to develop a me-verses-the-world mentality to survive.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

We’re all wannabe writers, or artists, or musicians, or fishermen, or gardeners.  The only difference is doing. 

So, if you want to be a writer, write.

I think the hardest thing about writing, aside from just making the time to do it, is writer’s block. I think writer’s block comes from a desire to write something amazing, but then the thing that falls out of our brains is just some quivering pink embryo of an idea and we’re a bit too grossed out or ashamed to commit it to paper. But writing is a lot like sculpting. You need to have a block of words so that you have something to carve away. Let yourself write crap, just make sure to write a lot of it. No one needs to see anything you’ve written until you decide to show them.

I used to play in bands. It was a lot of fun. I play guitar pretty well, but I used to play thirteen other instruments poorly. But I was the guy up on stage doing it and that technically made me a trumpet/accordion/euphonium/musical saw etc. player. There were a hundred people in the audience who were probably better than me, but I was the one having a great time.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I simply force myself to write every single day. If I have writer’s block I write anyway. Which basically means I don’t let myself get writer’s block. And if I’m having a particularly bad day, I edit. Luckily, I enjoy editing almost as much as I enjoy writing.

One thing I have found that is particularly useful to me, is that I write many different ways using lots of different tools. So, one day I might be writing by hand, another dictating, then writing on my phone. I find each of these tools and techniques produces different sorts of work. If I’m experiencing friction with one, I switch to the other. I wrote around 70% of the first draft of Systemic on the bus on my phone with my thumbs. I have a blog post about it. https://chrislodwigauthor.com/2020/08/08/different-tools-for-different-jobs/

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

While writing Systemic, I was definitely a pantser. The whole book just spilled out of me. I hadn’t written in so long that, I was driven more by my own curiosity about what I was writing than any idea that it was going to be a book. There is a major twist about two thirds the way through the book. Readers always tell me how surprising it was. Part of the reason it’s so shocking is because I didn’t know it was going to happen until about a paragraph before it did.

Now that I know the broader arc that Systemic fits into, I’ve become much more of a plotter. I worry sometimes that the much more ridged structure of the sequel will make it less organic. But I also think it will give the whole thing better bones to start with and might make the editing process much quicker. But who knows? I’m still learning, and I have to try new things. I’ll let you know how it all turns out when I’m done.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I’m about 300 pages into the sequel to Systemic. There are three main story lines, the first of which picks up Lem and Eryn’s story where Systemic left off. The other arcs deal with an outcast girl finding her purpose, and a band of professors, who have turned the Systemic writings into a psudo-religion and travel around like itinerant preachers teaching it to the masses. I’m starting to suspect it might actually be two books. So, it might be more accurate to say I’m 150 pages into the second and third books of the trilogy. I’ll have to see.

I’m currently finishing up a short story that has to do with transferring emotion and empathy to other people via a social network. It overlaps pretty heavily with the Systemic universe. It just came back from the editor and I need to start shopping it around.

A few months ago, I woke up with this paragraph in my head, and it keeps picking at my attention:

There is a long-standing debate about which of the world’s cities is the most magical. Some say Paris with its bright late nights and palpable romance, or London with its mists and fogs and blind alleys. Prague—which was never destroyed in the war—must be powerfully protected. Then there are Athens and Cairo whose labyrinthine streets have existed since humans began coming together to make their magic…

Maybe I have a fantasy story bouncing around in me. That would surprise and delight me.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

That’s tough. Thinking about the books I’ve read lately, it’s hard to tell from the evidence which I prefer.

I recently re-read 1984, and really loved it. Not just because it’s poignant social commentary, but I was also surprised to discover how excellent the writing was. I know that shouldn’t surprise me, it is a classic after all. But being forced to read it in high school, you don’t really appreciate it.  The one thing I came away after reading 1984 was that everyone is scared that book is our future, and I guarantee that both sides think the other one is who Mr. Orwell was warning us about.

I just read Neil Stephenson’s “Fall”, which had some really fun ideas about simulated reality, and some very dark social commentary.

But I’m also reading, “The Girl Who Drank The Moon,” which is charming and light—though with a few dark streaks. I can’t get enough of that book.  And “The Crane Wife” which is lovely and magical, but with threads of sorrow coursing through it.

The one book I am actively advising people against reading is “The Handmaid’s Tale.” That’s just asking for trouble and despair.

What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

This is not me punting, I promise. I really do feel this way. None of them are better. It’s like arguing over which color is best. Well, if I’m painting a rose, I’d say “red”, if it’s a sky we’re talking about I’d say “blue”.

So across which dimension of story are we talking about here? They are each nearly perfect platonic ideals of the mythical hero’s journey. But they all have such different qualities. 

Harry Potter feels like a well-told kid’s story, it’s clever and cute, but the magic feels a bit predictable. There are wands, and pseudo-Latin spells, and crystal balls and the like.  Which I get is part of the fun of the whole thing—the idea that all of those are real and are as common as protractors and #2 pencils for wizards. I imagine J.K. Rowling sitting upright in bed one morning as saying, “Get me a pen, I’ve had a great idea!”

Star Wars is a brilliant mash up of swashbuckling pirates, samurai movies, eastern mysticism, and sci-fi. So, it might win for genius if you measure genius by the ability to connect disparate things into a cohesive whole, which is one of my favourite definitions.

But if I had to choose, I would probably pick “Lord of the Rings” simply because it feels inevitable. Like it’s a true history scratched into a rock in some cave somewhere which was uncovered by archaeologists and translated from the dwarvish. That certainly comes from the fact that Tolkien put so much into the world and the depth of its history and mythology.

(Please include any social media links – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.)


Follow me on Facebook,  and Instagram, oh and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.