Review: David Baldacci – The Fix

The Fix (An Amos Decker Novel)
David Baldacci

Amos Decker is walking to work and is a firsthand witness to a crime that makes no sense. A seemingly straight businessman shoots dead a boring substitute teacher who has no connection to him, then kills himself. Transferred across to a new city, Decker must now learn to live with one of his team and with tenants with their own problems downstairs. And sometimes he wishes his perfect memory was not so perfect.

Decker reminds me of a male Kendra. But one that is less sensitive to other people’s needs, which is fine. I like a person who can get straight to the point. But of course, Brandon Sanderson has written some short stories of a man with a host of personalities/specialists inside his head, and that’s way better. Despite how interesting I find characters with Synethesia, this one just didn’t connect with me.

My only complaint is that despite the plot moving rapidly, or perhaps because of it, I found myself getting very lost. This just wasn’t a crime novel I could care too much about. American state secrets really don’t bother me, and I guess I’ve never had much of a soft spot for killings that involve characters I wasn’t even given a chance to connect to.

Decker has lost all his own family at some point in one of the two previous books (I assume). Irene’s protagonist loses his family, but he’s a much grittier and likeable bloke. The crime novels I seem to read are either excellent or poor, and I’m dumping this into the latter category with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, even if that opinion will get me ostracised in the book review community!

Pan Macmillan | 1st May 2017 | AU$29.99 | Paperback

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Review: Kendare Blake – One Dark Throne

One Dark Throne
Kendare Blake

Ascension Year has begun in earnest, and now the three sisters must stop showing off their strengths and get down to the business of killing one another. While MIrabella and Arsinoe have made some truces, it’s Queen Katherine that has started leading the race. Too bad that she could be corrupting the rest of the island.

This novel. Mmm. I once again had serious problems keeping the Queens and their abilities and all their hanger-ons straight as separate people. Yes, they had distinctly different names, but it didn’t actually help me much. I couldn’t work out the character transformations from one novel to the next either. What confused me was whether there are actually two poisoners now, or whether Katharine is just lying to herself? Theoretically the sets of talents only come in threes, right? Katharine is certainly changed, but I’m not sure if she is a true poisoner.

The plot felt like it didn’t move at all, and that the characters were never in real danger despite them apparently always organising to kill each other. I wouldn’t have felt that sad had any of them died. I was always waiting for more details, or more to happen. The plot felt thin. Perhaps if this wasn’t a trilogy (multi-part series even?), then the author could have been able to add more meat to the novel.

There are more exciting novels out there in this theme, unless you are super keen to see three sisters taking each other apart – with the permission and promotion of their families! Otherwise I feel that you could probably get away with reading another accession story where the wrong child (usually a cruel one) gets the throne.

I’ve already invested time into the series, and so it’s likely that when the next book comes out, if it is sent to me for review I will read it. But I won’t be buying the book for myself, which is why this is just receiving an average 3 stars.

Pan Macmillan | 26th September 2017 | AU $16.99 | paperback

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Review: E L Croucher – The Butterfly on Fire

The Butterfly on Fire
E L Croucher

A tragic, unchanging truth keeps three different lives twined to tell the same story. Eric realises he is different to everyone else, while Beam tried to balance everything in life. Finally, Queen Fabuki has had an innocent die at one of her shows – and she doesn’t know how to stop the mysterious intruder.

feel terrible about this novel. In fact, when I started writing a review for it (some months after I had started it), I started reviewing the wrong novel. I had read The Road to Transition one late night too, and somehow the two had merged into one. I had previously interviewed the author as well. 

I just couldn’t finish this novel. I actually started reading this novel when I couldn’t sleep one night and I sat with the fish tank light glowing on me. It added some nice atmosphere, and I did get a couple of chapters read. In the end though, it unfortunately served as a nice soporific to send me back to bed.

 

If you are desperate to read some more stories about transition, maybe this book could be for you. For me, because I couldn’t even bear finishing it, it’s getting 1 star. Maybe a second iteration would be ok, but I’m not willing to try again on this one.

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Guest Reviews from Kyria!

I have something amazingly exciting to share today! I had a guest stay with me for 11 days, and while she was here, she managed to read all these novels. I’d just sent my other novels away for photographing, so I didn’t have any guarenteeded good things to share. Nevertheless, she set off into the ‘eBay category’ (these are books that got < 3 stars from me) and found some that suited her 17 year old fantasy reader tastes.

Based on her reviews, I’m going to reconsider reading ‘Whisper to Me‘ (which I just couldn’t get past the first couple of pages for) and knock ‘The Book of Whispers’ and “Linting and the Pirate Queen’ from my TBR pile.

Whisper to Me

This was perhaps the first non-fantasy/sci-fi book that I actually loved. At first, I thought that it was going to be absolutely terrible; it started off very slow and boring, and the lists at the beginning really threw me off. However, as I got further and further into the book, I found myself really enjoying it. There were only two real issues that I had with the book: the first was that all of the swear words were replaced entirely by asterisks. This interrupted the continuity of the book, and I found myself counting asterisks numerous times to try and guess the word. That said, I can understand why it was done: as the book goes further, there are a few places with just entire sentences of asterisks. This shows, to me, that it’s not about the actual words they are replacing, but rather the feeling that the main character gets from it.

My other issue is that the entire story is essentially an email to someone, asking them to forgive the author. This sets up the entire story as a cliff-hanger as a ‘will he forgive me?’ At first this really annoyed me, but over time I was able to just enjoy the story. I was pretty annoyed at the end, when the entire book ended up being the email and we never ended up finding out if he forgave her, but once again I can understand why that was done; it would’ve interrupted the continuity of the book to suddenly jump from this email, which has essentially been the entire book so far, to a real life scenario. 4.5 stars

Ariadnis

In brief: the one with the two cities and the trees and stuff. Solid book. This is the sort of general fantasy book that I loved reading when I was younger. It has a nice feel to it, and while at times it got a little hard for me to keep track of the characters, it wasn’t too bad. 4 stars

 

 

 

They Both Die at the End

This book was pretty good. Somehow, even knowing that the characters were going to die, the book was written well enough that I couldn’t help getting attached, and still felt sad at the death of the character. The book is a very different style to the type of book that I usually read, and it took me a while to get into it, but once I did it was pretty enjoyable. The ending wasn’t as good as it could’ve been, although I can understand to an extent why it was written the way it was, and it wasn’t altogether unsatisfying. 3.5 stars

 

The Graces

Quite frankly, this book confused me for quite a while. I spent a majority of the book not being sure whether or not the book was even supposed to be fantasy. In terms of character progression, and the relationships between the characters, the budding relationships between the characters was written quite well, although I was a little confused as to why the main character was first invited out to the spell.

Apart from that, the book was written well, and I did enjoy it. However, the ending was extremely unsatisfying, and as a reader, I felt like I was being tossed back and forth regarding the main character’s relationship with the graces. 3 stars

Elegy

In brief: fantasy pretender. This book was destined to be a young adult novel, but desperately wanted to be classed as fantasy, so the author threw in whatever weak fantasy link they could find. The book was good, but the fantasy add-on felt misplaced, like it was there purely to class the book as fantasy, and not to add any extra meaning or enjoyment to the book. It started off a bit slow, but once it picked up I really enjoyed it. That said, the ending was unsatisfying and annoying, and brings up some weird questions about a young girl and an old man who both remember loving each other. 3 stars

The Song from Somewhere Else

In brief: dimensions and stuff. It took me a while to become accustomed to having the images alongside the book, but I found it really nice to have a visual explanation of some of the events that were occurring. This book felt like it was written more to get a good review from critics than to be enjoyed by the average person, and felt a bit pretentious to me. That said, it was easy to understand and follow. 3 stars

 

 

Safe from Harm

This book really confused me. In the beginning, there were a lot of flashbacks/flashforwards, and at times it was difficult for me to even keep track of what was happening. As the book progressed, it got easier to keep track, but there were still confusing moments when I just wasn’t quite sure what was happening.

The end of the book was also really dissatisfying, but in a way that is worse than the usual dissatisfying ending. Most times, I just dislike how the book ended, or how things turned out, but here I wasn’t certain what even happened, and the book was vague regarding what happened to the daughter. 2.5 stars

 

The Book of Whispers

Not overly memorable. I enjoyed the book, but it was very average: not amazing, but not bad either. I was also a little confused at times, when I couldn’t quite understand why the characters were doing what they were, or how it would affect anything. I found it very challenging to relate to the characters. 2.5 stars

Linting and the Pirate Queen

This book was a fairly average book. Events moved very slowly and not a lot happened. The writing and story was also very simple. To me, it felt like the kind of book I would read after I’ve spent hours reading other books and needed to give my brain a rest. Perhaps not a great book choice for (almost) adults, but I would recommend it for younger children, perhaps around the age of ten. 2 stars

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Cover Reveal – White Night

Better late than never – a cover reveal of White Night!

In keeping with the theme of other YA novels at the moment, the cover of White Night by Ellie Marney is quite abstract. Think Our Chemical Hearts and The Build-Up Season. It’s good, because it doesn’t give too much away about the story. Now I just have to remember not to look at the synopsis. This looks like a great addition to the YA stable.

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Review: Nick Lake – Whisper to Me

Whisper to Me
Nick Lake

Cass hears a voice. Just one, but that one tells her to hurt herself and not talk to other people, otherwise it will cause her dad to die. This causes her to hurt a boy she likes, so she writes him an incredibly long letter (email) in the form of this novel.

Sigh. I knew this novel wasn’t much chop from the very beginning. But a friend had said it was the best she had read while borrowing from my (limited) library. So I thought, ok, I’ll try it. It was the first couple of pages that put me off, honestly I’m not much of a list person, particularly in fiction novels. It better be useful, like in the start of me and you, but no, this one continued throughout the novel and it wasn’t useful.

There was no conclusion to that ending, and honestly, I was sick of it. I finished it, but that was it. Just a long email of apologising. Also, spoiler alert, no conclusion to the bad guys either. I’m not unwilling to read something else by this author, the writing style was engaging and I liked Cass’ characterisation well enough. But there was no resolution, and honestly the storyline was rambling (I know, I know, it’s the writing style of a teenager apologizing… over and over again).

I’m not even sure I can accept it for the mental illness content. Suggesting that ‘talk therapy’ can overcome hearing voices (even just the one voice Cass hears) is dangerous. As Cass finds out, when she stops taking her medication abruptly her self-preservation instincts go out the window. Honestly, I wouldn’t have been all that upset if she had died. Actually, that might have added some of the excitement I didn’t feel about Paris. Too much foreshadowing for so little actual action.

I do not recommend this novel. I wish I hadn’t wasted my time on it. I’d love to just give it 1 star, but I did at least finish it. So 2 stars it will have to be. I held out for hope of an ending, and nope, nothing there to redeem it.

Bloomsbury | 3rd May 2016 | paperback

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Spotlight with Simon J Morley

Please welcome Simon J Morley! His series, The Universe Wide Web, sounds like a worthy addition to sci-fi adventure fiction. Here’s a very quick Spotlight from him about his work.

I came up with the idea of The Universe Wide Web whilst idly playing with Google Maps. There I was, taking a virtual wander along Broadway in New York, from the comfort of my home in England, when the idea hit me…what if there was an internet for the whole universe? A way of connecting to other beings all over the universe. And what if this universe wide web let you not just see faraway places at the click of a button, but to travel there, instantaneously – an intergalactic internet.

A story started to form. The hero would have to be young, the young adopt technology so much better than adults; I decided it would be a thirteen-year-old schoolboy, like my own son. And the story, much like all the best children’s fiction – I was thinking of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – would give our hero access to a fantastical, magical world from the corner of his bedroom (isn’t that what games consoles and laptops do anyway). Sure, the Universe Wide Web isn’t magical, its technological – but, as with magic, with technology, anything can happen.

So where is the Universe Wide Web? Well, like the internet, it’s sort of everywhere, and who knows where. The internet is in the cloud isn’t it – sort of? The Universe Wide Web, on the other hand, is in the aether; up there somewhere in outer space. What a setting to grow my story in…an entire universe.

So, I have a setting, now for the characters. Once you’ve made the intergalactic step of logging on to the Universe Wide Web, who can you expect to meet out there? There’d be aliens, of course – so limitless character possibilities perhaps? But are intelligent online aliens really going to be that much different to us? Though, do you always know what type of person you’ve just encountered on the net? My guess is going on the Universe Wide Web would be much like going on to the internet here; you’d just meet ordinary, everyday beings – except, as we know, nobody is ordinary close-up. Beware!

The Universe Wide Web series has grown to become four fast paced adventure stories: 1. Getting Started, 2. Uploading, 3. Profile Settings, 4. Parental Guidance.

So, keep up with technology and log on to the Universe Wide Web; just one click and you can be with anyone, anywhere in the universe.

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Spotlight with Andrew Joyce

Please welcome back Andrew Joyce! I have worked with Andrew before to promote his novel Yellow Hair and interview him. His newest novel, Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups is sure to take the fancy of some readers! I know I love to read at bedtime.

Hello, my name is Andrew Joyce. I have a new book out entitled Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups. It came about because my editor hounded me for two years to put all my short stories into one collection. Actually, it was supposed to be a two-volume set because there was so much material. I fended her off for as long as possible. I didn’t want to do the work of editing all the stories. There were a lot of them. But she finally wore me down. Instead of two volumes, I put all the stories into a single book because I wanted to get the whole thing over with. I had other books to write.

Bedtime Stories is made up of fiction and nonfiction stories and some of ’em are about my criminal youth. I must tell you, I never thought any of these stories would see the light of day. I wrote them for myself and then forgot about them. By the way, there are all sorts of genres within its pages, from westerns to detective stories to love stories and just about anything else that you can imagine.

There are a whole lotta stories in the book—700 pages worth. Enough to keep you reading for the foreseeable future.

Anyway, here’s one of the shorter stories from the book.

Treasure

He stumbled upon the treasure quite by accident. He was exploring the vicinity when he happened upon it. His first thought was, This cannot be real. He cautiously approached it. Someone might be playing a trick on him. Maybe he was being observed. But no one sprung from a concealed location—no one yelled for him to halt his advance. It seemed safe to move forward. When he arrived at the treasure, he bent down to touch it, just to make sure it was real. After one touch, he fled to better-known and safer environs.

That night he could not sleep for thinking of what he had discovered. He thought and thought of ways he could explain it to members of his tribe. If he suddenly showed up with the treasure, anything he said would be suspect. One does not find treasure of this sort every day. No, he would have to think this through.

The next day he went back to where he had found the treasure, but dared not get too close. Instead, he peered at it from a distance. It was still there and untouched. But for how long would it stay undiscovered? A fire burned within him to possess it. If not for the taboo placed on matters of this sort by the Law Giver, he would claim the treasure as his own. But no, the Law Giver would never allow it.

As he tried to sleep on the second night after his discovery, he thought perhaps the Law Giver would understand. Perhaps he should approach her, and tell her of his find. No! If she forbade him from keeping the treasure, it would be lost forever. Conceivably, he could bring it to his village and hide it from the Law Giver. But … where could he hide it? The Law Giver was all-wise; she knew the secrets of his heart.

Quite unexpectedly, he overheard the Law Giver speaking of the place he had found the treasure. This is what he heard: “When they moved out, they told me they left a few things behind, and if we wanted anything, we were welcome to it. I’ve been too busy to go over there, but I think I’ll take a look this afternoon. Maybe there will be something Billy might like.”

 

Something I might like. Something I might like! Was she toying with him? Did she indeed know of the treasure? Later that afternoon, his mother called Billy to the front of the house. He was not allowed far from home because he was only five years old, so he appeared right away. His mother said, “Look what I found next door where the Simms used to live.” And there it was—the treasure!

His mother handed little Billy the bright red toy fire truck that had caused him to lose so much sleep. You see, Billy had been afraid his mother would think he had stolen it, even though it seemed to have been abandoned. And in his home, stealing was the one thing his mother, the Law Giver, would never tolerate.

Mr. Joyce sincerely hopes that you will enjoy his stories because, as he has stated, “It took a lot of living to come up with the material for some of them.”

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Interview with Sue Bentley

An Interview with Sue Bently, author of We Other

Tell me a bit about your writing history so far.

A personal favourite from my other published works – it’s difficult to choose a favourite as I also write sparkly books about magic animals for kids. Very different, to We Other! But if I had to choose a title – it would be A Summer Spell, the first title of this series of books for ages 5-9 years, also written as Sue Bentley.

My first novel – well there were a few turkeys! But I learned a lot from the mistakes made when writing them. I had high hopes for Mooncaste, an historical novel inspired by an iron-age, hill-fort close to where I live. I hand wrote it in three notebook. It was never published, but I did get an agent on the back of that book.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

I work best when writing to commission. A dead-line is wonderfully motivating. My children’s series were written in concentrated bursts of energy, but each book was quite short. I haven’t been commissioned by a publisher for a while. The publishing world has changed a lot. We Other was a much bigger undertaking. It’s a complex novel, aimed at an older readership. I did a lot of research before beginning to write, made notes about the main characters, and wrote a detailed plot outline. I find it works for me to live with characters for a while before diving in – maybe for a few months. But when the urge to write is too strong, I’ll begin. It would be easy to be seduced by doing research, which I love, but I have to force myself to call a halt. We Other probably took around 3 years to write, all told.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I’m lucky enough to have a room of my own, where most of the writing is done. I write directly onto my desktop. I scribble notes on bits of paper, which pile up on my desk. I also take notebooks and research books with me to cafes and sit writing in longhand, which I type up later. I like writing with a pencil. There’s something about the way ideas flow, but I couldn’t write entirely in long-hand. I’m a perfectionist and do a lot of re-writing as I go along, so any piece of paper would soon be unreadable with all the crossings-out and notes in the margins.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I have close writing friends who will read and comment on work in progress. I do the same for them. Over time I’ve developed a good instinct for when a passage is working. I also know when it isn’t right and will re-write as many times as I need to, before finishing a first draft. There are usually cuts and more edits to make before I finally show it to my agent or publisher. And then more to do when working with an editor.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I’ve always loved everything about books, their smell and feel. Opening a new book is such a pleasure – better than a box of chocolates. I enjoy browsing bookshops – especially small independents. Haye-on-Wye, a small town in Herefordshire, is my favourite place to go as it’s full of bookshops, cafes, and vintage shops. But I also enjoy browsing larger bookshops like Waterstones and Foyles. I buy books online too, and can’t resist looking at the shelves in charity shops. I’m also a regular user of my local public library. I’m never without a book in my bag.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from your different life stages?

Historical. I started with these, as I enjoy being lifted out of the every day. But I also like fantasy, magic-realism, gritty dark fairy fiction, gothic and dystopian fiction. I enjoy crime now and then. A good psychological thriller with a fantasy or historical setting can be good. From childhood, I enjoyed traditional fairy tales, some sword and sorcery stuff, anything unusual. The works of BB. A local author who wrote some fabulous books about the last gnomes left in England, rich with details of the natural world, made a huge impression on me as a child. As did Jane Gaskell and Michael Moorcock, when I was growing up. I’ve been inspired by Diana Norman, Tanith Lee and latterly Teri Windling, Holly Black, Stef Penney, Carol Birch, and so many others.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do?

Social Media is a mixed blessing. For authors it’s a great way of bringing your work to the attention of readers and it’s great to keep in touch with other writers and friends. Writing is a solitary craft, which is fine most of the time as I’m comfortable in my own company. I sometimes use social media for research, but it’s easy to become distracted, when you ought to be working. At the moment I manage my own profile, which can be very time consuming. I try to limit posting on FB, Twitter and Goodreads to the evenings, but don’t always succeed. Two or Three hours can go by without me noticing. I’m presently about to have a major overhaul of my website and I’ll then write a regular blog. I’m constantly learning how to make the best use of social media.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! I try to make my questions as interesting as possible, is there anything else you wished I had asked? And tell me honestly… Are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

This Q and A session – the questions were interesting and stimulating – thanks Rosemarie! Yes it takes a while to answer all of them. Makes you think hard – which is no bad thing. Was I tempted to recycle my answers from one interview to the next? Yes and no. Yes – because it would have been less work and some of my answers may have been of interest to readers. No – because it’s a privilege to be asked to contribute to a blog and I’m grateful for the opportunity and the time you’ve taken with this. The least I can do is try to be honest and provide full answers. I hope your readers will enjoy reading this interview. It’s been a pleasure.

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Interview with David Meredith

An Interview with David Meredith

I’m going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite? 

Actually I’d say my favorite is one I haven’t published yet. It was one I started WAY back in 2004 that is mostly complete.  It is a fantasy series based upon Japanese myth, legend, and folklore, rather than the European model that is so prevalent in fantasy literature today. Originally it was a 406,000 word behemoth, but I’ve edited it down to three volumes that are between 95,000 and 120,000 words each. It’s still kind of my baby, so I’ve been holding back on publishing, but I think that time is coming. I wrote most of it while I was living in Japan. It is based on many of my experiences there and borrows heavily from the mythology and folklore of Northern Japan where I spent the bulk of my time. It is probably the one thing I’ve written that is the most personal to me so I’ve been reluctant to release it until I’m sure it’s perfect.

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

Well, I definitely had several false starts, (I think I got 50+ pages into four separate novels before abandoning them for various reasons) and those are probably well and deservedly dead, but they were all extremely important in helping me develop as a writer, especially in terms of learning what didn’t work. However, the piece I mentioned before was the first novel that I actually finished.  It has gone through countless rewrites and now 13 years after starting it, I think I finally have the writing chops to realize my original vision in a way that other people will actually want to read and the knowledge as an Indy writer to promote it the way it deserves. It will definitely be published at some point. It’s just a question of when.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

I probably could, but I don’t think I’d be very happy with the final result. I easily take at least twice as long editing and revising my completed work as I do writing the initial draft. Maybe others are different, but I really need to see that complete final vision to truly understand where it’s working where it’s not and how to tighten it up. I don’t really let ideas percolate, per se. I do however, try to get new ideas down as soon and as quickly as I can, but I don’t like to release until I’m sure a piece is as solid and tight as it can possibly be.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

Especially since I just finished my doctorate degree, I’ve been pretty busy. I usually work on my laptop whenever and wherever I have a couple of free minutes. Home, office, coffee shop, kids’ sports practice, even parked in the car! I can’t afford to be fussy if I want to get anything done.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I impose often on talented friends and family. My wife is my first proof reader, and she offers a lot of valuable insight. Other friends also offer their two cents, but recently I’ve started doing Beta-Trades through Goodreads. I Beta-read theirs. They do mine, and that has been an enriching experience so far. I infinitely prefer Beta-Trades to review swaps, which I really don’t like doing. In trading reviews I always feel compelled to spin a book as positively as possible or risk hurting someone’s feelings. Telling someone their completed masterpiece is awful never feels good. With Beta-Trades on the other hand, I feel like I’m offering valuable constructive criticism that will hopefully make the final product better.  I have a great deal more freedom to be honest, and feel much better about myself in the end as well. Then of course, the feedback I receive is extremely valuable too.  It has been a great way to get a number of diverse perspectives on my work, and see things in a way I might otherwise not have.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

The smell of my dad’s office growing up is a foundational memory for me, so I understand what you mean. I do like physical books. Given the choice, I honestly prefer them, but as time has gone by I find myself reading more and more electronically. My favorite shop though is actually a used book store named McKay’s. They have several outlets here in Tennessee and are all opened in old warehouse buildings stacked floor to ceiling with used books. It definitely has the smell you’re talking about.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:

I read mostly fantasy for my own entertainment though I have branched out some in recent years. It’s still my strongest inclination and preference. In terms of my own writing, so far all of my fiction work has had some kind of fantastical element to it. I really enjoy the freedom that speculative fiction offers. Most of my reading lately has been required course material for my doctoral program, but some of my favorite authors are Tad Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Robin Hobb. I also like work by Robert Jordan, Liza Dolby, and James Clavell. I still reread Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn Trilogy every couple of years.

  1. childhood? Dr. Suess – Wacky Wednesday (I wore that book out) and the Winnie the Pooh stories by A.A. Milne. I also spent a lot of time at Number 32 Windsor Gardens J.
  2. adolescence? I read A LOT of Dragon Lance and Forgotten Realms novels.
  3. young adult? LOTR by J.R.R. Tolkien and the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn Trilogy by Tad Williams
  4. adult? I really liked Shogun by James Clavell and The Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby. They helped me make sense of the Japanese people and culture I found myself immersed in for nearly a decade. Both are great stories, but even better resources for getting into the nuts and bolts of the Japanese psyche in a way that is easy for westerners to understand.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do?

I was not a natural in terms of using social media to promote my writing. I still struggle with it honestly, but make regular use of Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads in particular. It is admittedly however, an area where I still have a lot of room to grow.

If you manage your own profile, please tell me as much as you are comfortable with in regards to your preferred platform and an estimate of time you spend doing it.

After a book is released I easily spent two or three hours or more a day sending review requests (I use Twitter heavily for finding book review sites), working on my Facebook writer page and monitoring sales and promotions. I easily spend as much time and effort on online promotion as I do actually writing the book if not more. I’ve gotten to where I have accepted it as a necessary evil, but I enjoy working on the promoted pieces themselves much more than their promotion.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! I try to make my questions as interesting as possible, is there anything else you wished I had asked? And tell me honestly… Are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

Maybe, “what do you want Aaru to accomplish? What do you want people to get out of it?”

Aaru is first and foremost an entertaining and emotional YA/NA SyFy/Fantasy novel. It is at its core a story about the love of two sisters, and how they struggle to cope as the paradigms of what they’ve always been taught is true and good is challenged and shifted in a monumental way. However, Aaru also explores a number of what I think are fundamentally human questions: What happens when religion and faith conflict with technology and science? Is there a way to reconcile the two? What constitutes a human being or human soul? What would happen to religion and faith if the fear of death was removed from society? How would that change the way individuals choose to live their lives? In a world where people in power can essentially choose who is and is not saved, how should that determination be made? Who should be saved? Is the act of choosing winners and losers, judging who is righteous and worthy vs. who is not in and of itself even moral at all? I suspected that the answers would be a lot messier and more complicated than the utopian realization of John Lennon’s Imagine lyrics and lead to a great deal of conflict as people try to hash it all out. In the end, Aaru doesn’t really answer any of these questions, nor is it intended to, but it does speculate on what the answers of different people from different circumstances and indeed society at large might be. What I want people to get out of Aaru is an intensely emotional experience that stimulates some productive introspection even as they enjoy it as a compelling story about the fierce love of two sisters that transcends even death.

And as to the other question… Sometimes… J

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