Character Interview: David from The Lodestar by Daniel Hagedorn

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring David, the lead characters from The Lodestar by Daniel Hagedorn, for our Character Interview feature.

About The Author

Daniel Hagedorn

Daniel Hagedorn lives in Seattle, Washington, where he was born and raised, with his wife and elderly dog. An alum of Pacific Lutheran University with a couple of humanities degrees, he now splits his time between writing and helping various businesses and entities do what they do. He has written a number of novels, poems, and countless other musings. The Lodestar is his first published novel.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author’s Website | Facebook


The Interview

Welcome to TRB! We are really excited to have you over. Please give our
readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.

My name is David Jones. I would tell you more about myself, but I am not entirely sure. I have bits and pieces of memories, experiences that I feel like I lived, but I have my doubts because I live in an age where reality and fantasy mix. Some of the time, I feel like I have two minds, that I am of two wits, and I can’t always reconcile which is which, and which is me. Who am I? I don’t always know.

What is your age and what do you do for a living?

I am probably in my thirties. Again, I don’t know for sure. I don’t feel any older or wiser, however old I am. As I live in a world that celebrates youth, everyone looks young. No one looks like their age. Even my sense of time, which is how we mark age, seems altered. It might be a strange thing not to know how old I am, but it’s not anything I think about it. There’s no fixation on age when everyone appears perpetually young. Retirement is not even a concept. We all have jobs, essential and important jobs. I am a systems analyst class 1A (A for Architect). I monitor and keep track of things, same as a lot of people, but what I keep track of is more important, yet my job isn’t any more important than another. This is a paradox I readily accept. Without everyone doing their job, our world would cease to function. Everyone has purpose and they know it.

How do you like to spend your free time?

I spend my free time much like everyone else. There is the SIM, the simulated, virtual world, a construct we use for both work and pleasure as the SIM can be shared with real people or representations of people, simulacra. I have memories of doing other things, reading and walking and traveling to new places, but I also have firmly in my mind, the SIM. I don’t know for sure if I went to those places or if it was merely an experience in the SIM. I have books, the great works of fiction and other ideas. I don’t remember reading them, but I know I have read them. Why? Because I have notebooks full of things I’ve written, my thoughts and recollections as well as ideas that could only have come from those books.

Please share some of your beliefs, principles, motivations and morals (can be social, religious or political or, etc.) Anything that will help us get to know you better.

It’s not that I don’t believe in God. I happen to be in a world where the concept of God no longer exists. You see, with the network, God remains unnecessary. We are beyond good and evil. I am not sure how I feel about that. I have a sense there is a God within us all, but I don’t know how to explain it because no one understands God. I believe strongly in quality over quantity, that certain things cannot be measured by a number, a metric, reduceable to a single value. In fact, I never believed the network could be programmed to understand the human condition. To me it has never been so much what something looks like, but what it actually is, what lies beneath, not the surface appeal but the underlining form. In the world I live in, seeing is believing and the world we see, like the people and places, is undeniably beautiful and perfect. Is there any need to go deeper?

Tell us something about your family and childhood.

I do not remember much about my family, even my childhood. Again, I have mere fragments that come to me, but I wonder whether they are real or just things I have experienced in the SIM. I have memories of childhood, we all do. The summer, being out of school, the seaside boardwalk with its carnival sounds and amusement park attractions. But how real are they? I wonder. When I visit my therapist in the SIM, she tries to get me to talk about my family, about my father, in particular, but I can never quite get there. It seems to me she knows more about that part of my life than I do. She says that I know, that I could know many things, yet I tell myself I don’t know, so it’s just a cycle I can’t break out of. I am not sure I believe her. I know my therapist is a product of the combined knowledge of psychotherapy, that she has a window into who I am, but if all that were really true, then why doesn’t she just tell me what I should say? Oh wait, that was before we were all connected. I don’t know if I’ve been in therapy since.

Tell us something about your dreams and aspirations? Were you able to achieve them or are you planning to?

Once I had dreams, real dreams, perhaps even hopes. It’s not fair to say I don’t have them anymore, rather I just know they are different. I once believed I could do great things, be accomplished because I had a purpose. I struggle to know that purpose now that I am not connected to the network. I know I have Marta, she’s my lodestar, and that somehow she is meant to guide me. Even Dante needed a guide. But I don’t know what we’ll find if we make it out of the network. What’s on the other side? And supposing we do get there, and it’s inhabitable, is there anything left of humanity? I am careful not to have too much hope, to believe too much in anything except Marta. I had my doubts at first, but I know she is real. So, for the moment, all I can believe in is Marta and I.

What is your biggest fear in life? 

I fear that I cannot change who I am, that I cannot alter what has been set in motion, and like Sisyphus, all my efforts will be doomed. I disconnected myself from the networked world for a reason. But why? And was that something I did or someone else? Either way, maybe I am meant to do something that I am unable to do? That thought paralyzes me. That I am simply not good enough. 

How would you describe your life in one sentence? 

Am I just a cog in the machine, or have I found there is no machine?

What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you?

The worst thing that happened to me must have been something in the childhood I can’t remember. Those were formative years. Whatever happened then, fixed itself in my head, imprinted its code upon my brain such that I have a distrust for systems, of unity, of groups of people making decisions for the common good. Ultimately, the brain constructs our reality, and without the network assistance, I have to rely on my instincts which tell me to question everything.

Did it change you for the better or the worse?

There is good and bad that comes from every experience. The very thing that at times is a great strength, is a great weakness too. Like kindness. It’s good to be kind. However, being too kind can result in being taken advantage of. In that sense, my skepticism is useful, but it is also the very thing that has driven me apart from people. At a certain point, I have to take a leap of faith and accept things, but more often than not, I am reluctant to make the jump. And yet, rather than even trying, I tend to want to plunge to the depths, so rather than ascend, I descend. I push people away, push them too far so that it takes an extraordinary effort and determination for them to remain. And yet, I found Marta. Or she found me. That must be something special.

What are your plans for the future? 

Love is the mystery of all mysteries. I find myself imagining a future with Marta, but where that is and what that entails, I don’t know. If we make it out of the network, I know we will look different. Maybe even we will seem different. Will we still love each other? Is our connection really that deep, beyond the mere appearance of our bodies? What will we be like left to our own devises? I don’t have the answers. All I have is Marta, my lodestar. 


The Lodestar

How do humans survive after a massive pandemic that has devastated the population? Rather than living amid continued chaos and panic, the surviving population enjoys a thriving life thanks to the assistance of the network, a vast system that connects everything and everyone. The network protects from the virus while allowing everyone to lead their best life. Every dream and desire can easily be attained.

14 years into this networked world, David, one of the creators, wakes up to find that he is no longer connected. Is he the only one? And why, for what purpose? David feels almost like waking from a dream only to discover a technologically advanced world, full of beautiful and spectacular things, but all may not be what it seems. What is the difference between a dream and reality? What is the nature of experience?

Follow David as he wanders through a vast maze, uncovering layer upon layer in his search for truth. Recalling his former life, he must choose between what he feels, his natural compulsion to question everything, and what is good for humanity. The Lodestar takes you on a deep look into philosophical questions surrounding technology and its role in humanity.

You can find The Lodestar here:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Daniel Hagedorn

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Daniel Hagedorn, author of The Lodestar, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Daniel Hagedorn

Daniel Hagedorn lives in Seattle, Washington, where he was born and raised, with his wife and elderly dog. An alum of Pacific Lutheran University with a couple of humanities degrees, he now splits his time between writing and helping various businesses and entities do what they do. He has written a number of novels, poems, and countless other musings. The Lodestar is his first published novel.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author’s Website | Facebook



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.

I work in finance. That might surprise some people as if they are incompatible forms that couldn’t co-exist. To me though, words and numbers have more affinity than it seems. Patterns. I see patterns in numbers just as I do in words. When I am not writing, I am often looking at spreadsheets. I started college as a math major. I finished as an English & Philosophy Major with an emphasis in creative writing and a minor in classics. But I still love numbers. Numbers and words are my life.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

The Lodestar can be looked at as an examination of the modern world, not just in terms of this futuristic place, but where we live now, of wanting to escape out of the curated world, whether it be social media or your custom news feed, into something of your own making. Where I live in Seattle, they knock down an old house and put in its place this box that looks exactly like a thousand other boxes in the city as if there is some master design guiding everything towards homogeneity. It’s not just a book about what is real, what is reality, but also being a human, being creative and interesting and unique, about finding a place in the world, an identity amidst the flood of images that dominate our existence.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

If there is a message in The Lodestar, it would be how we are complicit in handing over our lives to technology because we think it is making our lives better somehow when it may not be. It is not that technology is good or bad, per se, but how we use it or let it use us. I fear the transition to this visual society, where it no longer matters the power of our imagination because we’ve let the world be imagined for us. Why are books better than movies? Well, because in a book I can imagine the world the author has created, wherein a movie, it’s told for me. I almost always feel like I can imagine something more, something better than what’s being presented to me. And the world of video games is another interesting phenomena, this whole interactive experience that rewires our brains. How will this all change us? How will it make the move towards virtual worlds more seamless? 

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

The main character in The Lodestar is David, but my favorite character is in fact Marta. She’s mysterious. She knew before David that she didn’t want to be part of the network world. David is under this illusion that he created this so-called out that dispelled him from the network. He’ll learn later, not in this book, how that’s not true. And Marta is the key. He couldn’t have made it very far without Marta. And of course, David loves Marta, and love is the mystery of all mysteries, something not even the network could understand, so it did away with the concept.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

The Lodestar has been in my mind for about a decade and a half. I never thought I could do justice to the idea, so I resisted the notion to write. Sometimes things are more powerful in the mind, that to commit to paper, to lose that illusion of what it could be, was something I couldn’t give up. A few things, though, struck me. For one, the idea that machines did not become more like humans, but humans became more like machines. Instead of being unique, it seemed to me there was a sameness in things, in people, in the particular look of what makes someone attractive. I was reading a lot of dystopian fiction at the time too. It just seemed more efficient for some grand network controlling everyone as opposed to feeling down and taking a pill. As humans, we do not always know what we want or need, but a network, a system that was unbiased and really knew us, it would know. Of course, I am being sarcastic to a degree. There is a bias in everything.  

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

I spent about a year writing The Lodestar. Even then, when I had finished what I thought was my final draft, I wasn’t sure. I let it sit for about 6 months before I went back to the book, this time, with the help of an editor. During that cooling off period, I was still constantly thinking about the book and where it was going because I didn’t like the initial ending, although I thought the book itself was better than it was. In my head, I had created something amazing. However, when I went back and did the proper edit with an editor, that was an eye-opening experience, how incomplete sections were. In the end, The Lodestar took two years, but I am pretty sure I’ll think about the characters and the story for the rest of my life. 

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?

I have long felt that writing was a kind of breathing, and as long as I breathe, I hope. Whether or not I am successful as a writer does not matter that much. It’s just something I do, something I’ve always done. Obviously, I would love to make a living as a writer. In my mind, I am more successful than I am. That’s always been the thing. I would love to walk around, think about stuff, write, cut vegetables up at dinner time while listening to music and just allow myself to create. I kind of do that anyway, pretending so to speak, so I suppose it would be pretty cool if it was less dream than reality and I had more time to actually write.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I am always working on something. Just as I might be reading a couple of different books at once, I am writing several different things too. In a normal day, I might compose a poem, write a song or add some part to another novel, one not connected to The Lodestar trilogy. I have written a bunch of novels, close to a dozen probably, some in better states of completion than others. 

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I am not sure what genre The Lodestar is. Sci fi, I guess. There’s a lot of philosophy mixed in too. Maybe it could be considered speculative fiction, but some of my other stuff seems more speculative, though in a different way. In my mind, I always have this idea of the so-called great American novel. I know that is an overused term, but it has meaning to me. In my twenties, that was a driving force. Now, I am not sure. 

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

I’ve long thought of myself as a writer. In some ways, it is necessary to exist under that illusion, that I am writer because that allows me to write. If I didn’t think of myself as a writer, then it might not matter what I do, what I write. But by thinking of myself as a writer I have a sense of purpose, that I am capturing something essential. I’ve used that breathing metaphor. Writing is a kind of music too, that I hear. It’s in my mind. I am the kind of person that has an active imagination. In my early twenties, I worked in a bookstore. I loved being around books. I wrote a lot of stuff back then but felt undermined by my lack of success. That was hard. A writer friend of mine at the time told me it was all about perseverance, that as long as you kept writing, you would be successful. At some point, I kind of changed the equation and thought about success not in the publishing sense, but in terms of creating a body of work representative of the way I think and feel about the world. And when I write, that’s the song I am trying to replicate.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I prefer to write in the morning. I wake up early. Sometimes I think I write in my sleep because I wake up with solutions to things in my writing. Coffee and a walk help drive my thoughts, get them flowing. I don’t always have the time or opportunity in the morning, but I try to make time during the day to write something, anything. Sometimes, I can’t write what I want to write, but I can always make my daily emails more interesting or even a report I am preparing a better read. The fact is, we are always writing, even if it might something mundane. I’ll use any opportunity I can to try to be creative. 

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

When I was young, I wrote everything out with a blue pen in a small notebook. The second draft would be transferring the notebook to computer. I actually wrote a lot of The Lodestar out by hand as I was in the backseat of a car along the coast of Italy, Slovenia and Croatia because I didn’t bring my laptop along for the trip. Today, while I prefer my laptop, I accumulate scraps of paper, pages in notebooks, little tidbits here and there, depending when an idea comes to me. I love and hate it, when I am walking by the Canal, and something so good comes to me that I have to stop and write it down. Once I start writing something down on a walk, I’ve broken the cycle, so that whole walk will keep getting interrupted. 

What are your 5 favourite books?

Top 5 books. That’s a tough one. I go through phases and so I probably will discount some of my early favorites. I’ll always have Great Gatsby on my list. I love the opening and the close. Probably A Moveable Feast because I love the idea of being an ex-pat in Paris, hanging out in cafés, bars, surrounded by artists. Kerouac was a big inspiration on me, the feeling in his writing and though I was struck by a number of his works, I’ll probably go with The Subterraneans because of one line in that book that seemed so profound to me, about a light always on that one day won’t be on. Brave New World and We. Philip K Dick is one of my favorite authors, so I have to pick something by him. Ubik. I am not going to go with one of his more well-known pieces. And lastly, Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion. I love the voice in that piece, though I am not as fond as some of her other work. I read a lot of foreign authors. I particularly like Murakami and Roberto Bolano. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of Patrick Modiano too.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I don’t want to say I don’t get writer’s block. Maybe that would curse me. I tend to not have much trouble writing, though. It’s just what I do, akin to breathing. I can sit down at any time and write something, a few lines, just something. I don’t worry whether it’s good or bad. I just write. I’ve always thought, write a page or so a day, then after six months you practically have a novel. And I have kind of done that my whole writing life, three decades so to speak. And that has been amazing. Because I don’t remember half of the stuff I have written. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

If you want to be a writer, then write. There’s no special advice other than that. Read and write. I am constantly reading, and not just fiction, but philosophy, poetry, economics, science, whatever. I keep a notebook where I accumulate ideas, where I write little imaginary scenes based on some interesting thing I might have read. There’s no special club. If you want to be a writer, then you must write. You mustn’t get swayed by the daunting task it really is. 

Thank you, Daniel, for your frank and insightful answers!


About The Book

The Lodestar

How do humans survive after a massive pandemic that has devastated the population? Rather than living amid continued chaos and panic, the surviving population enjoys a thriving life thanks to the assistance of the network, a vast system that connects everything and everyone. The network protects from the virus while allowing everyone to lead their best life. Every dream and desire can easily be attained.

14 years into this networked world, David, one of the creators, wakes up to find that he is no longer connected. Is he the only one? And why, for what purpose? David feels almost like waking from a dream only to discover a technologically advanced world, full of beautiful and spectacular things, but all may not be what it seems. What is the difference between a dream and reality? What is the nature of experience?

Follow David as he wanders through a vast maze, uncovering layer upon layer in his search for truth. Recalling his former life, he must choose between what he feels, his natural compulsion to question everything, and what is good for humanity. The Lodestar takes you on a deep look into philosophical questions surrounding technology and its role in humanity.

You can find The Lodestar here:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Audiobook Narrator Interview: Eliza Harrison

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Eliza Harrison, author as well as narrator of The Mystery Of Martha, for our Narrator Interview feature.

About The Narrator

Eliza Harrison

Eliza has had a lifelong passion for exploring different spiritual pathways in the East and the West and has been a teacher of meditation all her adult life. Alongside her work as a spiritual mentor and guide, she is a photographer and author and has produced several books on the life and landscape of Northern England, including The Light Within – A Celebration of the Spiritual Path, and the story of her own: In Search of Freedom – One Woman’s Journey. Now, with her husband David, she runs Sacred Meditation from their home in Cumbria. 

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author Website | Facebook | Instagram



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! We are really excited to have you over. Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. Please feel free to share about your professional background. 

I have taught meditation all my adult life, so use my voice to take people in and out of meditation and explain how the practice works. When teaching it’s important to speak with clarity and calmness, but with gentleness too. Over the years I have been told that my voice is soothing and relaxing, so a friend suggested I make The Mystery of Martha into an Audiobook and narrate it myself. I was daunted by the idea at first, but then rose to the challenge and enjoyed it!

Do you do other voice over work as well?

I make meditation videos so use my voice to guide people through the teaching process. I also do voiceovers for short films I make for Sacred Meditation.

How was your experience recording this audiobook?

Powerful and moving, but I think this was owing to the subject matter as each character goes through intense emotional experiences. Each chapter has a drama of its own and I found it easy to identify with each character. So while narrating, their stories resonated and affected me deeply.

Who is your favourite character in this audiobook and why?

My answer in the author’s interview was that my favourite character was Martha of Bethania. But when narrating it, this became Yeshua. Every time I read a scene when he appeared, especially if it included Aramaic, it seemed as though that he was present in the room. And occasionally at the end of a chapter, my breath was held and I seemed to have shifted into an expanded state of consciousness. This is why I felt narrating the novel a huge privilege and I shall always be grateful for this opportunity.

How long did it take you to record this particular audiobook?

I recorded it during the lockdown in 2019 in my meditation room at home. It took about 3 months including the edits and re-records. I live in a remote place in the countryside so all was quiet, except for the occasional tractor or sheep passing by.

What vocal techniques did you have to develop and hone while narrating this audiobook?

I went to drama school in my late teens where I received voice training and learned a range of exercises. This experience has always remained with me and I made use of doing some warm-up exercises before recording.

What is the one thing you love most about being an audiobook narrator? 

I enjoyed feeling that I was reaching out to people all over the world through my voice, which felt intimate and profound. 

Are you working on any other audiobooks presently?

Not at the moment, but I am using my voice to make videos and I will definitely create an audio from any new novel or writing I do in the future.

As an audiobook narrator what are the techniques you use or practice to care for your voice and condition it?

My meditation practice keeps me healthy, fit and well. I never get colds, flu or suffer from sore throats, so this is definitely the practice I would recommend to others. It also enables me to remain calm and collected while narrating.

Who is your favourite audiobook narrator and why?

I’m fortunate to know Anton Lesser, a British actor who is widely known for his audiobook recordings. He was my inspiration and gave me some invaluable tips, which you can see in my response to the question below. 

What advice would you like to give to anyone who wants to become an audiobook narrator?

Anton told me it was important not to put too much expression or emotion into the reading, as this can colour the listeners’ experience and prevent them from engaging with their personal feelings and responses. So while I was reading, I tried not to act out the different parts, but read from my heart with calmness and clarity.

Thank you, Eliza, for your insightful answers!


About The Book

The Mystery Of Martha

Two timelines, one truth . . . 

Two women, two millennia apart with seemingly unconnected lives – one from the Lake District in England and the other from Bethany in Palestine. Both experience loss and betrayal, which engender feelings of fear and uncertainty about what their future holds.  

Martha from the Lake District faces challenge and change in 2000 AD as her deepest insecurities are exposed. But supported by her partner Ben, she discovers the mystical Aramaic teachings of Yeshua that offer her a pathway to Self-realisation and freedom.

In Brattleboro, Vermont, a long-forgotten doorway opens, to a land beyond living memory, where two lifelong enemies must journey as allies, to save two worlds, or destroy them.

In 30 AD Martha of Bethany has Yeshua as a friend and guide. From a place of tenderness and vulnerability, she witnesses the last three years of his life as he embodies the ultimate mystery and power of love, which inspires her own journey to awakening. 

These two stories weave together seamlessly until finally they converge in a hauntingly beautiful tale of revelation and redemption.

You can find The Mystery Of Martha here:

Website | Audible | Goodreads


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Guest Post: An appreciation of The Mystery of Martha by Eduardo Fernandez Lalanne

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Eliza Harrison, author of The Mystery Of Martha to share a guest post.

About The Author

Eliza Harrison

Eliza has had a lifelong passion for exploring different spiritual pathways in the East and the West and has been a teacher of meditation all her adult life. Alongside her work as a spiritual mentor and guide, she is a photographer and author and has produced several books on the life and landscape of Northern England, including The Light Within – A Celebration of the Spiritual Path, and the story of her own: In Search of Freedom – One Woman’s Journey. Now, with her husband David, she runs Sacred Meditation from their home in Cumbria. 

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author Website | Facebook | Instagram



An appreciation of The Mystery of Martha by Eduardo Fernandez Lalanne

For me this novel has been a guide and inspiration during intense and challenging personal times, offering profound insights into the meaning of love, truth and life. The stories take place in the Holy Land and the British Isles, two places that have a turbulent history but also a profound spiritual heritage.

The book is written in an exquisite way, in almost Biblical style, full of poetic touches, with compelling stories and profound teachings. While reading, one can travel through time, walk the different paths of each character, and be transported back 2000 years through evocative tastes, smells and visual images. Effortlessly one is able to engage with the trials and tribulations of the different characters, but also be inspired by their personal insights and realisations. It is a courageous move to bring a seemingly unimportant character of the Bible to the fore, but she becomes an inspiration for all those who feel marginalised today. And ultimately both Marthas find the truth of themselves by opening to the experience of compassion and unconditional love. 

The novel enabled me to feel close to Biblical characters for the first time, to sense the depth and truth of each personality: Yeshua, L´azar, Magdala, Maryam, Yehudah and of course Martha of Bethania herself. Despite my Catholic education, I’ve always found it difficult to understand the relevance of many of the Christian stories, but this novel offers a much deeper insight into their meaning. I now realise that the essence of Christian mysticism is rooted in unconditional love.

The stories of the two Marthas are reflections of the path we all walk in order to realise the unity of life – whether experienced within a family context, service to others, intimate relationship or direct spiritual experience. So I shall always be grateful for the precious gift of The Mystery of Martha.


About The Book

The Mystery Of Martha

Two timelines, one truth . . . 

Two women, two millennia apart with seemingly unconnected lives – one from the Lake District in England and the other from Bethany in Palestine. Both experience loss and betrayal, which engender feelings of fear and uncertainty about what their future holds.  

Martha from the Lake District faces challenge and change in 2000 AD as her deepest insecurities are exposed. But supported by her partner Ben, she discovers the mystical Aramaic teachings of Yeshua that offer her a pathway to Self-realisation and freedom.

In Brattleboro, Vermont, a long-forgotten doorway opens, to a land beyond living memory, where two lifelong enemies must journey as allies, to save two worlds, or destroy them.

In 30 AD Martha of Bethany has Yeshua as a friend and guide. From a place of tenderness and vulnerability, she witnesses the last three years of his life as he embodies the ultimate mystery and power of love, which inspires her own journey to awakening. 

These two stories weave together seamlessly until finally they converge in a hauntingly beautiful tale of revelation and redemption.

You can find The Mystery Of Martha here:

Website | Audible | Goodreads


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Audiobook Excerpt: The Mystery Of Martha by Eliza Harrison

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Eliza Harrison for sharing the audio excerpt from her latest release The Mystery Of Martha.

About The Book

The Mystery Of Martha

Two timelines, one truth . . . 

Two women, two millennia apart with seemingly unconnected lives – one from the Lake District in England and the other from Bethany in Palestine. Both experience loss and betrayal, which engender feelings of fear and uncertainty about what their future holds.  

Martha from the Lake District faces challenge and change in 2000 AD as her deepest insecurities are exposed. But supported by her partner Ben, she discovers the mystical Aramaic teachings of Yeshua that offer her a pathway to Self-realisation and freedom.

In Brattleboro, Vermont, a long-forgotten doorway opens, to a land beyond living memory, where two lifelong enemies must journey as allies, to save two worlds, or destroy them.

In 30 AD Martha of Bethany has Yeshua as a friend and guide. From a place of tenderness and vulnerability, she witnesses the last three years of his life as he embodies the ultimate mystery and power of love, which inspires her own journey to awakening. 

These two stories weave together seamlessly until finally they converge in a hauntingly beautiful tale of revelation and redemption.

You can find The Mystery Of Martha here:

Website | Audible | Goodreads


Audiobook Excerpt

In case if the player doesn’t work, listen to the Audiobook Excerpt here: https://heenarathorep.files.wordpress.com/2020/12/01-the-mystery-of-martha-sample-track.mp3


About The Author

Eliza Harrison

Eliza has had a lifelong passion for exploring different spiritual pathways in the East and the West and has been a teacher of meditation all her adult life. Alongside her work as a spiritual mentor and guide, she is a photographer and author and has produced several books on the life and landscape of Northern England, including The Light Within – A Celebration of the Spiritual Path, and the story of her own: In Search of Freedom – One Woman’s Journey. Now, with her husband David, she runs Sacred Meditation from their home in Cumbria. 

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author Website | Facebook | Instagram


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Eliza Harrison

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Eliza Harrison, author of The Mystery Of Martha, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Eliza Harrison

Eliza has had a lifelong passion for exploring different spiritual pathways in the East and the West and has been a teacher of meditation all her adult life. Alongside her work as a spiritual mentor and guide, she is a photographer and author and has produced several books on the life and landscape of Northern England, including The Light Within – A Celebration of the Spiritual Path, and the story of her own: In Search of Freedom – One Woman’s Journey. Now, with her husband David, she runs Sacred Meditation from their home in Cumbria. 

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author Website | Facebook | Instagram



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

The portrayal of the present-day Martha is partly autobiographical, the story of my own search for truth and love. My spiritual journey entailed me spending time with different teachers, which gave me the idea of portraying what it might have been like being around Yeshua. From one moment to the next, none of his close followers would have known what experiences he would take them through, teachings he would impart, nor the challenges they would have to face. I also wanted to bring to life people in the Bible, who now seem remote and stereotyped. Owing to the discovery of the Nag Hammadi texts and other recent research, I was able to tell some of the well known Biblical stories from a new perspective, which makes them more relevant to us today. 

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

That everyone has within them the capability of moving beyond their fears and insecurities and finding the truth of themselves and the truth of love.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

Martha of Bethania as I identify with her most closely. She feels inadequate and lacking, but has the courage to face her fears and determines to move beyond them. In this respect, she serves as inspiration for us all today. I also loved immersing myself in the imagery of Palestine 2000 years ago and painting a picture of Martha’s way of life as it would have been.  

What inspired you to write this book?

I first read about Martha of Bethany in a book called The Christ Blueprint, which spoke of two sides to her character – the shadow side, which described how she felt undeserving of love and so felt she had to earn it, and the higher aspect of herself as embodied by Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion and Mercy, who gives selflessly without needing anything in return. 


How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Three to four years, with a lot of re-writing and interludes when I researched and travelled to places where the two Marthas lived and spent their time. 

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?

Writing helps me find myself but before writing another novel, I shall wait until a new idea presents itself or I go through an experience that I want to relate.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

At the moment I am writing scripts for videos that we are making for Sacred Meditation to help people move beyond feelings of fear, which is so important in these challenging times.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

This is my first novel, but I imagine that it would be within the genre of inspirational/spiritual fiction that I am drawn to write again.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way? (feel free to give us your story, we love hearing to author stories!)

I have written since my early twenties – poetry, a novel that I scrapped, an autobiography that was published: In Search of Freedom – One Woman’s Journey, and a series of published photographic essays for which I also wrote the text. I was blessed with having income from meditation teaching while I wrote, so I just needed to commit to the project, but that can be a challenge in itself. 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I went through a period of getting up at 5am and writing for 3 hours before breakfast, as well as during the day. It was quiet, beautiful and peaceful in the early morning, but I realised I needed my sleep more, so changed to writing in the morning and afternoon instead.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I write on my laptop.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

The two novels that most inspired me to write The Mystery of Martha were Siddhartha by Herman Hesse and The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak. However, my book entailed quite a bit of research and one of the most illuminating books was Jesus – The Explosive Story of the 30 Lost Years by Tricia McCannon

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I never push myself if an idea or words are not flowing. I just walk away from my laptop and take a break. That could be for an hour, a day or even a month or more. I feel the creative process needs gestation time and it’s important not to push oneself when encountering a block.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Begin and never lose heart. It doesn’t matter if it is just a page or two, or if it’s thrown away a day later. It’s my experience that through writing we unleash our creative energy and subsequently find ourselves, which is one of the greatest gifts we ever could have.

Thank you, Eliza, for your enlightening and honest answers!


About The Book

The Mystery Of Martha

Two timelines, one truth . . . 

Two women, two millennia apart with seemingly unconnected lives – one from the Lake District in England and the other from Bethany in Palestine. Both experience loss and betrayal, which engender feelings of fear and uncertainty about what their future holds.  

Martha from the Lake District faces challenge and change in 2000 AD as her deepest insecurities are exposed. But supported by her partner Ben, she discovers the mystical Aramaic teachings of Yeshua that offer her a pathway to Self-realisation and freedom.

In Brattleboro, Vermont, a long-forgotten doorway opens, to a land beyond living memory, where two lifelong enemies must journey as allies, to save two worlds, or destroy them.

In 30 AD Martha of Bethany has Yeshua as a friend and guide. From a place of tenderness and vulnerability, she witnesses the last three years of his life as he embodies the ultimate mystery and power of love, which inspires her own journey to awakening. 

These two stories weave together seamlessly until finally they converge in a hauntingly beautiful tale of revelation and redemption.

You can find The Mystery Of Martha here:

Website | Audible | Goodreads


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Eliza Harrison

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Eliza Harrison, author of The Mystery Of Martha, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Eliza Harrison

Eliza has had a lifelong passion for exploring different spiritual pathways in the East and the West and has been a teacher of meditation all her adult life. Alongside her work as a spiritual mentor and guide, she is a photographer and author and has produced several books on the life and landscape of Northern England, including The Light Within – A Celebration of the Spiritual Path, and the story of her own: In Search of Freedom – One Woman’s Journey. Now, with her husband David, she runs Sacred Meditation from their home in Cumbria. 

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author Website | Facebook | Instagram



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

The portrayal of the present-day Martha is partly autobiographical, the story of my own search for truth and love. My spiritual journey entailed me spending time with different teachers, which gave me the idea of portraying what it might have been like being around Yeshua. From one moment to the next, none of his close followers would have known what experiences he would take them through, teachings he would impart, nor the challenges they would have to face. I also wanted to bring to life people in the Bible, who now seem remote and stereotyped. Owing to the discovery of the Nag Hammadi texts and other recent research, I was able to tell some of the well known Biblical stories from a new perspective, which makes them more relevant to us today. 

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

That everyone has within them the capability of moving beyond their fears and insecurities and finding the truth of themselves and the truth of love.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

Martha of Bethania as I identify with her most closely. She feels inadequate and lacking, but has the courage to face her fears and determines to move beyond them. In this respect, she serves as inspiration for us all today. I also loved immersing myself in the imagery of Palestine 2000 years ago and painting a picture of Martha’s way of life as it would have been.  

What inspired you to write this book?

I first read about Martha of Bethany in a book called The Christ Blueprint, which spoke of two sides to her character – the shadow side, which described how she felt undeserving of love and so felt she had to earn it, and the higher aspect of herself as embodied by Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion and Mercy, who gives selflessly without needing anything in return. 


How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Three to four years, with a lot of re-writing and interludes when I researched and travelled to places where the two Marthas lived and spent their time. 

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?

Writing helps me find myself but before writing another novel, I shall wait until a new idea presents itself or I go through an experience that I want to relate.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

At the moment I am writing scripts for videos that we are making for Sacred Meditation to help people move beyond feelings of fear, which is so important in these challenging times.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

This is my first novel, but I imagine that it would be within the genre of inspirational/spiritual fiction that I am drawn to write again.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way? (feel free to give us your story, we love hearing to author stories!)

I have written since my early twenties – poetry, a novel that I scrapped, an autobiography that was published: In Search of Freedom – One Woman’s Journey, and a series of published photographic essays for which I also wrote the text. I was blessed with having income from meditation teaching while I wrote, so I just needed to commit to the project, but that can be a challenge in itself. 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I went through a period of getting up at 5am and writing for 3 hours before breakfast, as well as during the day. It was quiet, beautiful and peaceful in the early morning, but I realised I needed my sleep more, so changed to writing in the morning and afternoon instead.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I write on my laptop.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

The two novels that most inspired me to write The Mystery of Martha were Siddhartha by Herman Hesse and The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak. However, my book entailed quite a bit of research and one of the most illuminating books was Jesus – The Explosive Story of the 30 Lost Years by Tricia McCannon

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I never push myself if an idea or words are not flowing. I just walk away from my laptop and take a break. That could be for an hour, a day or even a month or more. I feel the creative process needs gestation time and it’s important not to push oneself when encountering a block.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Begin and never lose heart. It doesn’t matter if it is just a page or two, or if it’s thrown away a day later. It’s my experience that through writing we unleash our creative energy and subsequently find ourselves, which is one of the greatest gifts we ever could have.

Thank you, Eliza, for your enlightening and honest answers!


About The Book

The Mystery Of Martha

Two timelines, one truth . . . 

Two women, two millennia apart with seemingly unconnected lives – one from the Lake District in England and the other from Bethany in Palestine. Both experience loss and betrayal, which engender feelings of fear and uncertainty about what their future holds.  

Martha from the Lake District faces challenge and change in 2000 AD as her deepest insecurities are exposed. But supported by her partner Ben, she discovers the mystical Aramaic teachings of Yeshua that offer her a pathway to Self-realisation and freedom.

In Brattleboro, Vermont, a long-forgotten doorway opens, to a land beyond living memory, where two lifelong enemies must journey as allies, to save two worlds, or destroy them.

In 30 AD Martha of Bethany has Yeshua as a friend and guide. From a place of tenderness and vulnerability, she witnesses the last three years of his life as he embodies the ultimate mystery and power of love, which inspires her own journey to awakening. 

These two stories weave together seamlessly until finally they converge in a hauntingly beautiful tale of revelation and redemption.

You can find The Mystery Of Martha here:

Website | Audible | Goodreads


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Spotlight: Eliza Harrison

Welcome to TRB Lounge, the part of TRB dedicated to Book Promotions. Today, we are featuring Eliza Harrison, author of The Mystery Of Martha, for the Author Spotlight feature.

About The Author

Eliza Harrison

Eliza has had a lifelong passion for exploring different spiritual pathways in the East and the West and has been a teacher of meditation all her adult life. Alongside her work as a spiritual mentor and guide, she is a photographer and author and has produced several books on the life and landscape of Northern England, including The Light Within – A Celebration of the Spiritual Path, and the story of her own: In Search of Freedom – One Woman’s Journey. Now, with her husband David, she runs Sacred Meditation from their home in Cumbria. 

You can find author Eliza here:

Author Website | Facebook | Instagram


About The Mystery of Martha Audiobook

The Mystery Of Martha

Two timelines, one truth . . . 

Two women, two millennia apart with seemingly unconnected lives – one from the Lake District in England and the other from Bethany in Palestine. Both experience loss and betrayal, which engender feelings of fear and uncertainty about what their future holds.  

Martha from the Lake District faces challenge and change in 2000 AD as her deepest insecurities are exposed. But supported by her partner Ben, she discovers the mystical Aramaic teachings of Yeshua that offer her a pathway to Self-realisation and freedom.

In 30 AD Martha of Bethany has Yeshua as a friend and guide. From a place of tenderness and vulnerability, she witnesses the last three years of his life as he embodies the ultimate mystery and power of love, which inspires her own journey to awakening. 

These two stories weave together seamlessly until finally they converge in a hauntingly beautiful tale of revelation and redemption.

You can find The Mystery Of Martha here:

Website | Audible | Goodreads


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author/book featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Audiobook Spotlight: The Mystery Of Martha by Eliza Harrison

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Eliza Harrison’s audiobook The Mystery of Martha.

The Mystery Of Martha


Name: The Mystery of Martha

Author: Eliza Harrison

Narrator: Eliza Harrison

Publisher: Authors’ Republic

Genre: Inspirational Fiction, Spiritual Fiction, Christian Fiction

Length of audiobook: 9 hours 13 minutes

Release date: 02.10.2020


Synopsis

Two timelines, one truth . . . 

Two women, two millennia apart with seemingly unconnected lives – one from the Lake District in England and the other from Bethany in Palestine. Both experience loss and betrayal, which engender feelings of fear and uncertainty about what their future holds.  

Martha from the Lake District faces challenge and change in 2000 AD as her deepest insecurities are exposed. But supported by her partner Ben, she discovers the mystical Aramaic teachings of Yeshua that offer her a pathway to Self-realisation and freedom.

In 30 AD Martha of Bethany has Yeshua as a friend and guide. From a place of tenderness and vulnerability, she witnesses the last three years of his life as he embodies the ultimate mystery and power of love, which inspires her own journey to awakening. 

These two stories weave together seamlessly until finally they converge in a hauntingly beautiful tale of revelation and redemption.

You can find The Mystery Of Martha here:

Website | Audible | Goodreads


About The Author

Eliza Harrison

Eliza has had a lifelong passion for exploring different spiritual pathways in the East and the West and has been a teacher of meditation all her adult life. Alongside her work as a spiritual mentor and guide, she is a photographer and author and has produced several books on the life and landscape of Northern England, including The Light Within – A Celebration of the Spiritual Path, and the story of her own: In Search of Freedom – One Woman’s Journey. Now, with her husband David, she runs Sacred Meditation from their home in Cumbria. 

You can find author Eliza here:

Author Website | Facebook | Instagram


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Cover Reveal: The Mystery Of Martha by Eliza Harrison

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Eliza Harrison, for the cover reveal of her upcoming audiobook The Mystery Of Martha.

Presenting the beautiful cover of The Mystery Of Martha by Eliza Harrison

Two timelines, one truth . . . 

Two women, two millennia apart with seemingly unconnected lives – one from the Lake District in England and the other from Bethany in Palestine. Both experience loss and betrayal, which engender feelings of fear and uncertainty about what their future holds.  

Martha from the Lake District faces challenge and change in 2000 AD as her deepest insecurities are exposed. But supported by her partner Ben, she discovers the mystical Aramaic teachings of Yeshua that offer her a pathway to Self-realisation and freedom.

In 30 AD Martha of Bethany has Yeshua as a friend and guide. From a place of tenderness and vulnerability, she witnesses the last three years of his life as he embodies the ultimate mystery and power of love, which inspires her own journey to awakening. 

These two stories weave together seamlessly until finally they converge in a hauntingly beautiful tale of revelation and redemption.

You can find The Mystery Of Martha here:

Website | Audible | Goodreads


About The Author

Eliza Harrison

Eliza has had a lifelong passion for exploring different spiritual pathways in the East and the West and has been a teacher of meditation all her adult life. Alongside her work as a spiritual mentor and guide, she is a photographer and author and has produced several books on the life and landscape of Northern England, including The Light Within – A Celebration of the Spiritual Path, and the story of her own: In Search of Freedom – One Woman’s Journey. Now, with her husband David, she runs Sacred Meditation from their home in Cumbria. 

Author Website | Facebook | Instagram


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at  thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Matt Spencer

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Matt Spencer, author of The Blazing Chief, the third book in the The Deschembine Trilogy, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Matt Spencer

Matt Spencer is the author of five novels, two collections, and numerous novellas and short stories. He’s been a journalist, New Orleans restaurant cook, factory worker, radio DJ, and a no-good ramblin’ bum. He’s also a song lyricist, playwright, actor, and martial artist. He currently lives in Vermont. 

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Website | Twitter | Facebook



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Well, my life has abruptly hit the reset button of late, to put it kindly, not under circumstances I’m happy about, but either way, here I am living on my own again for the first time in years, feeling kind of like a stranger to myself in some ways, like I’m catching up with this version of me. It’s been weird, especially in these Covid days, where getting out around people like I used to isn’t such a thing for the foreseeable future, but I’ve come to realize that ain’t such a bad thing either. I’ve been making the most of it in a lot of ways, eating/exercising/living healthier, to the point where the old saying “40 is the new 30” suddenly makes a lot more sense to me than I’d expected it to. I still work in a restaurant, which is only open to limited capacity, with reduced hours. I assist my best friend in teaching fencing, and we love to sword-fight and martial-arts spar. With a little luck and prudence, I’ll keep the positive things on track, continue to grow and change for the better, do what I can for other people, and keep writing crazy yarns that people get a kick out of reading.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

As the final book in a trilogy, it’s the one where everything boils to a head for a giant blow-out go-for-broke finale, y’know? I’m proud to be able to say that a lot of people have been asking me for years, “So when the hell is the next book coming out?” [more on that later] and now that it’s finally officially on the way, I’m both thrilled and nervous about how it’s going to be received. All of the major characters – Rob, Sally, Sheldon, Janie, Remelea, Jesse, Zane, Puttergong, among others – wind up where they’ve been headed this whole time. Many of them change drastically, some for better, some for worse, some, well, in-between. And yes, some of them die.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

I don’t typically write stories with didactic messages at the heart of my authorial intent/narrative. There are obviously themes I want to explore, regarding the human condition and my complicated feelings and opinions about where we’re all at, have been, and could go as a species. I find I explore those kinds of themes best when I discover them organically as I’m writing the story, through what the characters are going through and what they’re struggling with, which makes me more aware of what we’re all struggling with, so it sort of builds from there. Whenever I’ve tried to write a story with some thematic social-commentary axe to grind as my driving motive, the characters end up feeling like mouth-pieces for my argument or whatever, rather than living, breathing people, with their own perspectives and motivations that drive the story forward to its natural conclusion. If I lose sight of that, then the story starts to feel like a writing-exercise, and I’m too old for that shit, so it dies on me.

If there’s a “moral of the story” to The Blazing Chief, it’s probably “Hang onto your critical thinking skills, and don’t be a bootlicker.” There’s definitely a running theme throughout the entire series about the cycle of violence and cruelty self-perpetuates itself, and my perhaps naively idealistic belief that healing those cycles begins with small human connections of empathy and love, that can eventually snowball out and make a difference, with the ignorant growing and changing through self-education and better exposure. 

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

It’s a toss-up between Remelea and Balthazar, both of whom were characters who never honestly got their due in this book ’til the last couple drafts or so. In whipping this book into shape, they were the ones I really got to explore on the most fresh ground, so I pushed myself into new territory, and ultimately surprised myself, in ways that I think will make the overall tapestry of the larger narrative far richer and more rewarding to readers.

Remelea’s a character who’s introduced in the second book. She was a hit with a lot of readers. In a lot of ways, she’s the most morally gray character in a series full of morally gray characters. She starts out as this very formidable warrior woman, with a strong, brazen, irreverent sort of personality that readers get a kick out of, that I certainly got a kick out of writing. She likes to see herself as this outlaw rebel who plays by her own rules, except she ironically comes to realize that she’s always just been sort of going through the motions, living life according to how she’s been trained and conditioned, but hasn’t had a cause she’s felt truly passionate about fighting for, ’til she takes up with Rob, one of our central protagonists. She eventually hits a point where she’s forced to question whether this whole revolutionary rampage she’s gotten swept up into is what she really believes in, or if she’s been lying to herself because of her personal emotional connection to Rob. I think that’s a very relatable thing for a lot of people’s continuous journeys of self-discovery through life. A lot of us form deep emotional bonds with people with strong personalities that fire us up to their tune at the time, to where we fall in love more with the idea of them than who they actually are. Then we eventually come to realize later that the relationship was never a healthy one in the first place, and starting over from that place is scary and full of inner-conflict. Most of us aren’t, y’know, monstrous superhuman blade-wielding fighting-machines like Remelea, but still. In the third book, her path diverges from Rob’s, so she’s back to trying to figure out where she fits into this whole apocalyptic mess she’s caught in the middle of. By the end, she’s forced to make some painful decisions, with dire consequences for the big picture, that ultimately define who she truly is on a new, more solid level, as a truly rounded person. 

Then there’s Balthazar, who’s the new heavy-hitter villain who this book introduces. He’s one of the most broadly over-the-top major characters I’ve ever written, in ways that were a lot of fiendish fun to write. I treated him in earlier drafts like a sort of glorified red herring, but in the later drafts, I realized that I hadn’t explored him properly, or made the reader truly feel the threat he represents. In brainstorming from my editor Garrett Cooke’s suggestions, I found myself delving into Balthazar a lot deeper. He ultimately turned out to be a lot more psychologically interesting than I expected. On the one hand, he’s this grotesque, diabolical genetically crafted monstrosity, with superhuman abilities and a brain crammed since birth with all this strategic and tactical military prowess on how to use those powers to make him and those he commands a major threat to what’s left of civilization, yet he also has this childlike, naïve mentality about it all, because of the people who abused, twisted, and conditioned him from birth to be what he is. He’s sort of a pitiable Frankenstein-monster sort of figure in a way. There’s no redemption for him, and he has to be stopped, and he’s the center of some of the book’s most disgusting, nightmarish moments. Yet it’s ultimately not his fault that he is the way he is. The older I get, the more I’ve come to realize that a lot of the worst harm people are capable of doesn’t come from malice or what have you, but just from what people have been conditioned to see as normal behavior. With Balthazar I just took that to the most grotesque, deranged extreme I could think of within the context of these already extreme hypothetical circumstances. A lot of both Balthazar’s character-development and an up-close view of the destruction he’s causing and the threat he poses, comes from the point of view of this young human man who he’s tortured, mutilated, broken, and basically made his pet…who he now sees and treats with what he views as affection, like people raise livestock to eventually kill and eat, who they treat like a beloved pet right up to when they slit the animal’s throat, and don’t recognize the cognitive dissonance there. 

What inspired you to write this series?

At the time I started writing the first book, there were several ideas of books I wanted to write, then there was the book I started writing. I was playing around with all sorts of concepts, stumped on what to start next. My mind was a pretty big mess over a lot of recent trauma, including the death of a dear friend, and I wasn’t sure where to start processing that whenever I sat down at the keyboard. I felt like writing a straight-up horror novel, in the old-school Stephen King or Robert Bloch vein. I also wanted to write a giant epic adventure story, incorporating all the classical elements of heroic myth…all the intrigue, action, romance, friendship, betrayal, and epic stakes, like in all the great stories my dear departed friend and I used to geek out about…but to somehow make it all my own, to turn all those elements on their heads, say something about my own observations about life, so readers might not even realize that’s what they were reading at first, but by the end still feel something of that sublime rush that my buddy Dave had always gotten out of such tales at their best, hoping to honor his memory that way. I just didn’t know where to start, had to find some way in to make it my own, so I wouldn’t just regurgitate what had already been said in all those masterworks we’d read/watched/loved.

When I started writing The Night and the Land, that’s honestly not the story I thought I was getting myself into. I was more fascinated with the daily minutia of Brattleboro, Vermont, my adopted home town I was living in at the time and have since moved back to and settled in. I started tinkering with writing a quieter, semi-autobiographical magical-realism ensemble novel, about the various quirky characters in the community I was part of. Hell, if I’d continued in that vein, it may well have turned into something publishable under the label Literary Fiction, and wouldn’t that be a hoot? Then I wrote that scene in the bus station in Pittsburgh, where we meet Sally’s family while they’re looking for her, and the whole thing took on a life of its own from there. I sure as shit didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but here we are.

A lot of people these days in the speculative-fiction community will say that the trilogy is a played-out, over-used format. It’s one Tolkien pretty much accidentally invented when he wrote his giant War-and-Peace-sized epic which the publishers decided to split into three parts, but it’s a cool format, in my opinion. When it works, it works, particularly for a long, multibook story with a beginning, middle and end. I was never interested in writing one of those gargantuan 12-books-plus fantasy series that I saw cluttering the bookselves at the time, nor was I interested in making it feel like one continuous book split into three parts, or anything pretentious like that. Once I realized what I’d gotten myself into, it wasn’t long before I had an amorphous, general idea of where everything was headed, and a trilogy just felt like the story’s natural shape. The whole thing should tell a cohesive story, but I always approached each book as its own entity with its own beginning, middle, and end. The first book wound up being on some levels a small-town horror story in that aforementioned King/Bloch mode. There’s a love story driving the central narrative, but I wouldn’t call it a romance novel. The second one expands a great deal on the hidden-world mythos, through the perspective of a lot more characters in lots of different places all over North America. It’s probably the tightest and fasted-paced of the three, basically a chase/road-trip-through-hell story. Which brings us to the third and final book, which starts out like a post-apocalyptic story, then turns into a full-on psychedelic multi-dimensional fantasy tale, with hints of sci-fi, where certain characters, under circumstances I won’t spoil, actually travel through time and space to these other worlds and realities that through most of the series, we’ve only heard spoken of as vague lore and mythology among the people of this hidden society. 

What are your writing ambitions? 

Artistically, to keep stretching myself, to keep working with the various elements of storytelling that I love, keep making them my own in ways I haven’t even thought of yet, and overall to keep spinning good yarns driven by fascinating characters who hopefully more and more readers continue to discover and connect with. Professionally, I’m very proud to have beaten the odds to the point where my writing is legitimately a source of secondary income, so I figure if I keep my shit together and stay on track, five years from now I’d like to have made it my primary source of income…that’s all assuming, the way things are going in real life, that we’re not all fucked and living in a worse dystopian, apocalyptic nightmare than anything I could come up with. But hey, no one ever accomplished jack shit by succumbing to despair and futility, amIright?  

Are you working on any new projects presently? 


I’m in the process of re-writing a new novel set in the far future of the world of these stories, where the world is still in the process of rebuilding itself after an apocalypse or two, and many of the characters readers have come to know in the trilogy and the adjacent works have themselves become the stuff of distant, unreliable mythology. It’s been wild and challenging, in some ways like settling back on familiar ground, while at the same time in many ways building a whole new world, with its own new rules, from scratch, and dropping a whole new set of characters into the middle of it. I’ve also had a hankering of late to dive head-first back into contemporary horror, and I have several ideas kicking around about where I might go with that.  

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you work in multiple genre?

My first love, writing-wise, was really horror fiction, particularly the classic Gothic horror works from the likes of Poe, Stoker, Shelley, and Leroux. I really cut my teeth at a young age trying to emulate those styles, before maturing, reading more broadly, going through more life experiences, etc, and developing my own style. As an oddball, neurologically atypical misfit kid growing up, I was particularly drawn to the kinds of larger-than-life human-monsters who were really just misfit social outcasts at odds with mainstream society. I’ve also always been drawn to stories of high adventure, and there’s a fine line between a lot of the morally gray kinds of heroes from those kinds of stories (such as Indiana Jones, the Man With No Name, Conan the Barbarian, or Long John Silver) and Gothic horror villains/anti-heroes like Dracula, the Frankenstein monster, or the Phantom of the Opera. There’s also a very fine line, I think, between adventure stories and horror stories. Compelling fiction is driven by conflict, and both adventure and horror distill that to a primal level, where it’s about high stakes such as the struggle for survival – the stuff of a ripping good yarn that gets the reader’s blood pumping. I think what continues to fascinate me the most at this point, with those kinds of stories, is exploring the contrasting psychologies of different types of characters caught up in those kinds of situations, how different kinds of people will respond differently in any number of ways, depending on their background, temperament, etc, and how those kinds of experiences change people, for better, worse, or some combination of the two. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

When reading the kind of shit you want to write, take mental notes on what does/doesn’t work when perfecting your craft. Also, get out there and live a life that makes you feel alive. Take risks, make mistakes, get into trouble, get into adventures, whatever that means to you personally (if not on the scale of the kind of “adventure” yarns I write, well, that’s probably for the best 😉 ). Above all, follow your own inner creative voice. You never know where that’ll take you. You’re not so unique in your experiences and feelings as it often seems, but no one can write about it exactly like you can, and you never know whom your voice is exactly what they need. Shoot for the moon, you may or may not make it, but you’re still likely to hit something along the way that those who didn’t dare never would have dreamed of. 

Thank you, Matt, for all your insightful and fun answers!


About The Book

The Blazing Chief

For untold ages, the refugees from the land of Deschemb have lived secretly beneath the surface of human society. Now modern civilization crumbles as their ancient feud boils to the surface. As chaos and brutality engulf the world, strange alien forces reshape the lands for a new beginning…for whoever survives.

In the frozen Canadian wastes, the United Deschembines take shelter in an abandoned military base, under the leadership of Jesse Karn, Zane Rochester, and Sally Coscan.

In the Louisiana swamps, Rob and Remelea press towards the ruins of New Orleans, for a final confrontation with Talino.

In Brattleboro, Vermont, a long-forgotten doorway opens, to a land beyond living memory, where two lifelong enemies must journey as allies, to save two worlds, or destroy them.

You can find The Blazing Chief here:

Amazon | Goodreads


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Excerpt: The Blazing Chief by Matt Spencer

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author  Matt Spencer for sharing the excerpt from his latest release The Blazing Chief, the 3rd book in The Deschembine Trilogy.

About The Book

For untold ages, the refugees from the land of Deschemb have lived secretly beneath the surface of human society. Now modern civilization crumbles as their ancient feud boils to the surface. As chaos and brutality engulf the world, strange alien forces reshape the lands for a new beginning…for whoever survives.

In the frozen Canadian wastes, the United Deschembines take shelter in an abandoned military base, under the leadership of Jesse Karn, Zane Rochester, and Sally Coscan.

In the Louisiana swamps, Rob and Remelea press towards the ruins of New Orleans, for a final confrontation with Talino.

In Brattleboro, Vermont, a long-forgotten doorway opens, to a land beyond living memory, where two lifelong enemies must journey as allies, to save two worlds, or destroy them.

You can find The Blazing Chief here:

AmazonGoodreads


Excerpt

PROLOGUE:
THREE MONTHS AFTER THE SOLAR STORM

At nineteen, Ronald “Fishhook” Fairbanks figured he’d seen it all. Over the back end of Summer, he’d seen a whole lot more. For one thing, he’d never expected to see a dude get chopped in half with a Goddamn sword. By the end of the early Autumn day, that wouldn’t even be the weirdest thing he witnessed, or the worst.

That morning, he woke up in a ditch, under a blanket of leaves. He couldn’t remember his dreams, but he knew they’d been bad. He sat up, brushed most of the leaves out of his face and hair, blinked his eyes clear, and looked at the sky. He almost panicked, because it wasn’t the same sky anymore. So what if he should be used to it by now? It still freaked him out, whenever he woke up looking at it. It never had gone back to normal after the solar storm, never lost that weird, sickly, purple-orange tinge. 

Fishhook twisted the worst of the snap-crackle-pops out of his body, hoisted his bag over one shoulder, shuffled to the edge of the road, and stopped dead in his tracks. A little kid stood on the other side of the road, staring at him, four or five he guessed by the height, dressed even shabbier than himself, in plain brown shirt and britches with legs and sleeves falling to the knees and elbows, with dirty bare feet. No, wait, hold up. That wasn’t a kid. It was a fully grown, evenly proportioned adult, except only three or four feet tall. 

Fishhook blinked, made sure he was seeing this right. “Hello?” he shouted. “Hey, what’s up!”

The short fucker just kept staring, past Fishhook. When he looked around, another face peered out of the bushes, on the other side of the ditch. It was shaped like a human face, but it sure as shit wasn’t human. It wasn’t staring out of the bushes, either, but rather was made of them. Branches and leaves jutted and twined together, pressing against each other at just-so angles, so they formed a jaw, eyebrows and forehead. Knotty clumps formed the chin and cheeks, with the leaves from two parallel horizontal branches for lips, two budding pods that hung in twin hollows for eyes. The breeze drifted through the bush, fluttering the face so it moved, like it was talking to the short fucker across the road. When the air went still, so did the face.

Fishhook spun back around. The short fucker was gone. When he looked again, the bush still had a face. Plants could play tricks on the eyes at funny angles, sure, but such illusions usually faded once you looked closer. The more Fishhook looked at this one, though, the clearer he saw it. Its gleaming seed-pod eyes looked right back at him. 

He shivered, muttered, “Well, fuck you too, then, you freaky bitch,” turned, and hurried up the road, doing his best not to look off into the woods. He didn’t want to see more plants with faces, or something even freakier.

At sixteen, Fishhook’s birth-family had kicked him out of the house for being queer. Well, kicked out wasn’t technically accurate. More like he’d left on his own, because his piece-of-shit stepdad would have beaten him to death for it otherwise. Since then, he’d found his brothers and sisters of the road and the rails, and he’d been to plenty of their funerals; all in nice, neat funeral parlors, with open caskets displaying serene, well-dressed, made-up mannequin-like young corpses, of boys and girls who’d died of overdoses, stabbings, shootings, beatings, or exposure. Anyone who showed up who’d known the departed—really known them—might think they’d wandered into the wrong place. More than once, Fishhook had wondered, when his time came, how many of his real friends would show up and ask, Who the fuck is Ronald Fairbanks?

Fishhook hadn’t touched any drugs in months, yet ever since the solar storm, it seemed like the whole world had overdosed on bad acid. He hadn’t seen any of the others in a while; Shipwreck, Scags, Skunk, Stonewall, old Boxcar, Abby, any of them. He usually caught up with folks on the rails, and he’d been avoiding trains like the plague lately. Where the trains still ran, folks said, those railroad bulls had cracked down, gotten twice as diligent and four times as mean. They didn’t even bother to arrest you anymore, just beat you to death, lucky if they didn’t pull a train on your ass first, and that’s if the freaky people—the things—didn’t catch you first. 

Who the hell had Fishhook first heard about the things from? Skunk? Yeah, probably. Of course that crazy motherfucker would believe something like that. Except Skunk had never had that much of an imagination. The last time they’d ridden the rails together, though, he wouldn’t shut up about the people from another dimension who you had to watch out for now. Then as the weeks passed, Fishhook heard more folks spouting the same shit…the same strange words and names…

Schomite. Spirelight. Crimbone. And finally, High Natural.

Since the solar storm, cell phone service had come back in some places, but WiFi was a thing of the past. That threw a wrench in anyone keeping up with anyone. The last time Fishhook had seen Abby, she’d mentioned she’d be in Chattanooga in a few weeks, visiting some cousins. If he’d kept track of time right, she should be there by now. So that’s where he was headed.

When the solar storm happened, there’d been a lot of train wrecks, all at once, all over the country, along with plane crashes, prison riots, riots on the streets of major cities…Hell, some people claimed the military had turned on and eaten itself, which was why not even the National Guard had swooped in, to either save everyone or just fuck everything up worse. Nowadays, the back roads were the closest place left to safe. Chattanooga sounded too densely populated for Fishhook’s liking, but if he could just get there and find Abby, maybe he could get his bearings. She’d given him her cousins’ address. If he could just find her—find anyone he trusted who was left—then maybe…

Whenever he heard a vehicle whirring towards his back, he stepped a little further off to the side and stuck his thumb out. A few cars and trucks blasted past him. There were fewer of them these days, and hitching was always a crapshoot, more so in some parts of the country than others. Here in the middle of the damn Bible Belt, you got fewer motorists willing to take a chance on a dude with ratty dreadlocks, with ears and a face full of piercings, including a big septum ring, wearing a beat-up leather jacket covered in radical political buttons. To be fair, they had more reason than usual to be suspicious. Maybe they thought he was one of those others, never mind that he was five-five and weighed a hundred and forty pounds soaking wet, probably less by now.

Something big and clanking slowed to a stop behind him. He turned and saw a long, gray pickup with a rattling U-Haul trailer hooked to the back. Two people sat up front within the truck, which had a backseat in it, to Fishhook’s relief. The U-Haul had a dinosaur painted along the side, advertising some resort out in California that probably didn’t exist anymore. The truck pulled over onto the shoulder. Fishhook hurried up alongside it and yanked on the right rear passenger door. He found it locked. The front passenger window cranked down. 

“Just a moment, son,” crooned the driver. “Before we let you in…do a little dance for us. You know what I mean.”

Until a few months ago, Fishhook would have gone, You gotta be shittin’ me. A year or so back, he’d spent part of his winter on the streets of Manhattan. He was only half black, and usually passed for Caucasian. That hadn’t stopped the NYPD pigs from pulling over to harass him for a laugh, to make him do the chicken-dance. For all the stereotypes about the North and the South, the racist bullshit he’d encountered in Tennessee had nothing on what he’d gotten from the New York pigs. Except he’d heard the driver’s tone, and he knew that wasn’t the issue here. He still froze up.

The driver leaned over towards the glove box. A knob turned and it dropped open. Fishhook heard a pistol cock. “You know what I mean,” the driver repeated.

Fishhook’s extremities tightened. His heart pounded while the edges of his jaw quivered with deer-in-the-headlights dread. He wanted to tell the driver to fuck off, wait for the next ride, but lately, that might still be an invitation to get his head blown off. He let his pack slide off his stinging shoulders, then he hopped like a bunny, waving his arms around like some poor bastard in a stupid costume spinning a sign outside a tax-return office.

“Okay, that’s good enough. Well, go on now, Fran. Let the boy in.”

The front seat passenger twisted around, reached back, and pulled the lock up.

Fishhook hoisted his pack, opened the door, climbed in, and tossed the pack across the other side of the long back seat. It smelled like a thousand years of stale dust and wood chips in there. It reminded him of his dad’s truck when he was a little kid, before his mom had won the custody battle and hooked up with that right-wing scumbag who’d become his stepfather. Fishhook bit back on the urge to break down sobbing. His real dad had always been a kind man, fuck what his mom had told the judge. Would he have still been a kind man if he’d been around long enough to find out his son was a queer? Fishhook liked to think so.

He noticed another smell in here, like old rotten eggs. He fumbled around ’til he found the seatbelt strap, then buckled up. The driver up front looked absurdly small, almost a midget, coming up barely high enough to see over the dash. Fishhook remembered the other weird little fucker from earlier, but no, this guy was just a really short dude. He had big, pale, bespectacled bug eyes, with silky salt-and-pepper hair cascading from beneath a dark blue ball cap, around a narrow, weather-beaten, stubbly face. His jaw and cheeks had that sunken quality, from the bone-deterioration that happened after smoking too much meth. He wore a checkered green and white shirt, with sleeves that were too big around his gnarled, spidery hands. He put the pistol back in the glove box and returned both hands to the wheel. Next to him, there sat a woman with pasty, pillowy arms, beneath a sloping, wrinkly neck, supporting a wobbly head that looked too small for the rest of her, covered in pale, patchy, stringy hair. She smiled at Fishhook, showing off more black gaps and tortured red gums than teeth. Looking at the two of them side by side, Fishhook got the impression of an insomnia-crazed Kermit the Frog and a googly-eyed, lobotomized Miss Piggy.

The truck lurched back onto the lonely highway and sped off through this world that wasn’t the world anymore. Fishhook only just now noticed a tiny ceramic crucifix dangling from the windshield mirror. Great. Jesus freaks. Just my luck.

“Sorry I had to scare you like that, son. I had to make sure. You understand.”

“Make sure of what?” Fishhook got the gist, but he had to make sure too. There were a lot of versions of the story going around. Fishhook still didn’t know what to believe, but someone else’s ideas about it could mean the difference between life and death.

“That you’re a man. That the bones beneath your flesh move the way a man’s skeleton is supposed to move. That you don’t move like one of the abominations.”

“Yeah, I get it. A Crimbone, you mean.”

The old guy nodded, keeping his eyes on the road. “What’s your name, son?”

“Fishhook,” said Fishhook.

“No it ain’t,” hiccupped the old bastard. “That’s not your real name, is it?”

“That’s what everyone who knows me calls me.”

“But that’s not the name your loving parents gave you, is it? It’s okay. You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. My name’s Norm. This is my wife Fran.”

Fran looked back at Fishhook, gave him that infected, gappy smile again, and waved with a hand like a speckled, flesh-colored Mickey Mouse glove. “Hi!”

“Hi.” Fishhook waved back, even though her high-pitched voice made his skin crawl.

“You want some coffee?” said Norm. “You’re shivering like a leaf back there.” He pulled a thermos from a drink holder and held it back.

“Yeah, that’d be great. Man, thank you so much!” He grabbed the thermos and unscrewed the cap. Steam wafted out. The first gulp burned his tongue. He almost gagged, then tilted the thermos, blew on the liquid’s surface, and sipped slower. It tasted like shitty gas-station coffee, but he didn’t care. The warmth flooding his veins reminded him what true relaxation felt like.

“Where are you headed to, son?” said Norm.

“I’m trying to get to Chattanooga. I’ve got a friend waiting for me there. Or at least she said she would be, before…well…all this craziness.”

Norm nodded. “A girlfriend, then?”

Fishhook glanced at the cross dangling from the dashboard mirror. “Yeah.”

“Chattanooga is on our way. The place used to be a good, God-fearing city. These days, though…I still own land up in the north, son. That’s where we’re going, where we hear things are still good. You and your girlfriend could come with us…”

“Maybe. I’ll have to see what she wants to do.”

‘We’ll be stopping in Rock Spring soon. This highway takes us straight through the center of it. Have you been to Rock Spring, son?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Lovely little town. God-fearing people there. At least I hope that’s still the case. We’ll have to stop for gas there. If the Lord is on our side, there will still be a gas station open. Amazing that there are still gas stations open anywhere, when you think about it, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I guess it is.”

“That’s why people don’t realize the end times are already here. They all expected it to happen at once. After the sky let the fire loose on us, you’d think that would be that, but no, it’s still happening slowly. Lots of people still have electricity. They still go out to eat, would still go to the movies if there was anyone out in Hollywood still making them or shipping them to picture houses…act like this big old world keeps spinning on as always. But I take one look at you, boy, and see that you’ve seen it too.”

Fishhook sipped more coffee from the thermos. “Yeah. Yeah, no shit, right?”

“You know, further down south, there is the town where I grew up. I courted and married Fran there.” As if on cue, Fran looked back at Fishhook, smiled and nodded. Thankfully, she didn’t open her mouth this time. Maybe that meant there was a god. “Fran and I here used to have a program, on the local radio station, talking of the word of the Lord. When the Lord unleashed the wrath of the sun, he spared our radio station, so we might continue to preach our ministry to whoever was still out there listening, right when more people needed to hear it than ever. Except the people no longer liked to hear us tell what the good Lord had to say. I was forced off the airwaves, for speaking the truth of our Lord. Even now, while society falls apart, people still find ways to tell themselves that our civilization has not already abandoned us. Soon, only one civilization shall remain…that of our Lord’s making. That will be the Kingdom. It was censorship, plain and simple. People don’t want to give up the evils they think define them. You can’t be one of the drug-addicts, in the Kingdom. You can’t be a fornicator in the Kingdom. You can’t be one of the homosexuals, in the Kingdom.

Fuck, Fishhook couldn’t get out of this truck fast enough. The guy’s being nice. So is his wife. He doesn’t have to know who you are. No one’s making you suck their dick for a hit, or anything like that. Count your blessings. It’ll all be over soon enough.

Fishhook also noticed that he really needed to piss. Damn, he should have done that back on the roadside. He tried to will the contents of his bladder further up through his abdomen, away from his aching dick. “Yeah, I know, right? Say, how far are we from…wait, which town, man?”

“Rock Spring. Just another mile or so.”

Even with the windows up, the closer to Rock Spring they drove, the more something smelled like burning pork. It didn’t exactly cancel out the rotten egg smell, but it made Fishhook pay a lot less attention to it. The truck rounded a bend, and he saw all those little boxes made of ticky-tacky buildings of downtown Rock Spring, Tennessee, nestled in the shadow of the Smoky Mountain ranges. Half the town was on fire, including a red caboose in what used to be the yard of the local historical society.

“Norm?” squeaked Fran. “What’s going on? I don’t like this.”

“I don’t like it either, hon. Just sit tight. Now what in the world…”

“We should turn around.”

“We can’t. This is our route to where we’re going.”

“So we can find another route! Come on, honey, we can find one that doesn’t…”

“Doesn’t what? Make us to look in the eye what the Lord hath placed before us? No, my dear, many are those who would avert their eyes, and look where that’s gotten us.”

“Man, seriously,” said Fishhook, “listen to your wife. This is no good.”

“You’re speaking out of turn, young man. I don’t recall asking—”

The nearer the center of town drew, the louder the screams echoed. Fishhook twisted around against the seatbelt in rising agitation. “Dude, look, I know when I’m in a bad place that it’s time to get clear of, and this—”

“We will be clear of it soon enough. Now hush.” The truck sped up.

Far ahead, a soot-covered woman ran screaming out of a burning municipal building. She tripped, fell, got back up and shambled a little, then sprinted across a big, green common-area lawn. What she ran from came from every doorway, alleyway and corner, converging towards her…bodies that did move with superhuman speed and agility, like they didn’t have real human skeletons under their filthy, scarred skin. They weren’t dressed like Fishhook or any of his old train-hopper buddies. Some of them weren’t wearing clothes at all. They all looked like those others, some with the mottled, swirly skin folks now called Schomite or Crimbone or whatever, others with the gleaming, pearly, whiter-than-white elf-like builds of those called Spirelights. It didn’t matter anymore. Some new master had united them, under a banner of rape, murder and plunder. None of the safeguards of so-called modern civilization were left to do shit about it. 

The fleeing girl must have had a good thirty feet head-start. One of the Schomites stretched out its gnarly clawed hand and grabbed her, like time and space folded between them to close the distance. It tackled her to the ground, ripping her clothes off, its teeth tearing and worrying into the flesh beneath. 

Something hit the side of Norm’s truck. The whole world spun through the air…

~

Blood stung Fishhook’s eyes. When he wiped at it, his arm screamed.

Oh fuck, oh fuck, don’t let it be broken, don’t let it be broken…

Shattered glass blanketed him like sharp snowflakes. Some of it stuck in his face and hands. Someone kept screaming. At first, he thought it was him, then he realized it was Fran. His jaw felt like someone had popped it off and stuck it back on upside down. All that came out of his mouth were huffs and grunts. The whole world screamed, along with every nerve in his body.

One of his eyes still more or less worked. Except every time he opened or closed it, he saw something different. There was Fran up front, shrieking and gyrating. Next to her, Norm stared blankly, over the steering wheel embedded in his chest. Through Norm’s window, Fishhook could see the top of the police car that had broadsided them. The red and blue lights still spun and flashed while smoke rose from the mangled hood. One of the cops moved like a drunk toddler while he tried to pull his partner out of the wreckage. He was gray with ash, except where scarlet streamed from his scalp, down his side. The wrecked cop car wasn’t the only siren blaring. It sounded like there were a lot of them, for miles around.

~

A grumbling whoosh sounded somewhere. Flames licked out of the edges of the twisted hood of the truck, small and pale at first, then dark with smoke, puffing out thicker and thicker. They leaked past the border of the shattered windshield, into the truck. Norm didn’t appear to mind, probably because he was dead. Fran shrieked louder and thrashed furiously. Her seat rocked and banged against Fishhook’s knees.

Fishhook tried to bolt, but his seatbelt held him in place. He tried to unbuckle it, then shrieked because he’d just used his fucked-up arm. Yep, it was definitely broken. Shit! He took a few deep, rapid, whistling breaths to get himself under control. His good hand shook as it found the button. The belt snapped and slithered away. When he tried the door handle, it refused to budge. The whole rig was twisted around him. He rammed the door with his shoulder. Bigger flames were filling the front seat. Fran squalled like a bobcat caught in a trap. Parts of her face turned red, bubbling up with welts full of boiling white pus It smelled a lot worse than the rotting-egg scent from earlier. Fishhook drew up sideways across the seat and mule-kicked the door, once, twice, thrice…

The hinges gave, so the cold air spilled in on him…

~

Concrete pressed against his shoulder, shoving chips of broken glass through his coat so they bit into his arm. Every time he thought he’d gotten the pain under control, it seemed, another part of his body moved funny, so his whole being lit back up with grinding, shrieking raw nerves. He smelled more burning buildings, more burning flesh.

I have to move. I can’t, though. I don’t want to. Why am I even conscious? Can’t I just go back to sleep? Just let all this go away…

~

His eyes opened and closed, opened and closed…

Someone let out a furious howl. At first, Fishhook thought it was one of those things, closing in on him. Then a dark shadow passed overhead. He shifted sideways and tried to crawl under the truck, but the rising fumes sent him scuttling back the other way.

His eyes opened and closed, opened and closed…

~

Everything blurred in and out of focus. His fucked-up arm felt just as bad as before, but it seemed further away now. He got a grip on the next overturned car and pulled himself to his feet.

An echoing clash shook the earth, of metal striking metal…with a chime that reverberated through the concrete, beneath his feet, a sound that pulsed through his whole being. At first, he assumed it was another car accident, but that was wishful thinking. No, it was the clash of otherworldly matter against otherworldly matter…something that shouldn’t even exist in this world, yet there it was.

When his eyes snapped back open, he saw the center of the town lawn. Two of those freaks had just slammed into each other, howling with elemental bloodlust. What the hell was Fishhook watching? This was nuts! It looked almost like a kung-fu fight in some Jet Li movie on TV, but the more his vision cleared, the more it looked like two wild animals ripping each other apart, quicker than the human eye could follow…both of them swinging long, curved blades of black metal, ’til one deflected the other’s downward chop and sidestepped him with a diagonal slice. A meaty crunch sounded. The loser split open and hung in two directions like a blooming flower, his insides gleaming and gushing…because another man had just chopped him in half like a head of cabbage, with a fucking sword. A sword made of unearthly black metal. Fuck!

The winner righted himself, let out a joyous growl, then looked at the split-open body, which was somehow still standing. He gave it a boot to the ass so it fell over, spilling its insides across the grass. That’s when Fishhook noticed the whole lawn alive with a melee from some other reality, an even weirder one than the last few months. Fishhook couldn’t even tell who was on whose side…until the swooping shape descended…

Fishhook’s eyes opened and closed, opened and closed…

~

More meaty crunches sounded, as blades cleaved through bones and organs, everywhere. From where he leaned, Fishhook still heard Fran shrieking. The burning truck wasn’t that far away, still somewhere to his left. He was no badass, that was for sure—and now that he saw all those otherworldly mutant freaks hacking the shit out of each other in the distance, he realized he didn’t want to be—but there was no way was gonna leave someone to burn to death like that, not if he could help it. He lurched, righted himself, hobbled halfway over to the truck. Then the heat of the blaze pulsed in his face, repelling him like a wall of pure, hot energy. Fran stopped screaming. Fishhook’s guts turned to liquid and tried to fall out of his asshole. 

Plenty of other folks kept screaming, people who lived around here, while the otherworldly marauders dragged them out of their homes and jobs, while they laid waste to the infrastructure. Big, greasy rednecks came out brandishing shotguns, pistols, semi-automatics, automatics, you name it. At first, they looked happy as pigs in shit to finally get a chance to act like the local militia against the invaders…until they started shooting, and it didn’t do a squirt of piss worth of good, except to get the things’ attention. Fishhook couldn’t tell if the creatures moved fast enough to dodge bullets, or if the bullets just didn’t hurt them. Either way, they swarmed in on the gunmen. Before Fishhook knew it, the shooting had stopped, replaced by more blood, guts, hair, teeth and eyeballs flying all over the place.

Out on the lawn, a strange sort of circle had formed. Somewhere in the middle of all this, Fishhook had gotten a sense of the two sides fighting each other. The ones who’d attacked the town were made up of both those dirty, animalistic freaks and those…pale, gleaming, whiter-than-white elf-like fuckers…Spirelights; that was the word for them, right? Except weren’t those two sides supposed to be fighting each other? What the hell were they doing, ganging up on this town together? The ones who’d come to fight them all seemed to be the other kind, the beastly ones…Crimbone? It was like they’d swarmed in out of the hills, as though to defend the place…baited into a trap, apparently, one which must have worked, given how few of the latter were left, and by the way the leader strutted back and forth like a rooster in a henhouse.

Fishhook couldn’t make sense of the leader’s appearance. It looked like a cartoon animal version of Axl Rose or Kid Rock or one of those assholes, the cap of its head tied up in a dirty red bandana, but with a jutting, deformed snout like a dog’s face, with big dragon wings fanning out on either side. And it was dripping in blood, from head to toe…blood, and who knew what other fluids.

“Okay,” the creature’s voice boomed, while it rubbed at its crotch, “this is where the Daddy told me to git shit rollin’. Can’t tell why just yet. Place looks like a shithole to me. Still, I gots ta say, not a bad Goddamn start at all. Ain’t that right, bitches? Why, just look at all these bitchass so-called Crimbone we got here to start replenishin’ our ranks with.” The creature cast an eye around, at the last of the gnarly defenders who’d been herded into the circle. “Why, it’s almost like they all swam right up to our fishhook, ain’t it?”

In that moment, it might have been Fishhook’s imagination, but he swore the monster peered across the expanse and looked him right in the eye. That’s when he quit pretending not to be a coward, when he booked it, quick as he could, back behind the nearest wrecked vehicle that wasn’t on fire.

“Not as big a haul as we’d hoped for, but that’s okay. Shit, this won’t do at all. No, wait, let me check.” A crunch split the air, followed by another shriek, along with a wet, ripping noise. “Gah, peh, these here Earth-line bastards an’ bitches get more rancid every stop! Oh well, catch as catch can. Nah, nah, nah, boys, you take ’er easy with the good folks of this cute little town. The meat tastes better when you get it off the bones alive.”


About The Author

Matt Spenser

Matt Spencer is the author of five novels, two collections, and numerous novellas and short stories. He’s been a journalist, New Orleans restaurant cook, factory worker, radio DJ, and a no-good ramblin’ bum. He’s also a song lyricist, playwright, actor, and martial artist. He currently lives in Vermont. 

You can find author Matt here:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Spotlight: The Blazing Chief by Matt Spencer

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Matt Spencer novel The Blazing Chief, the 3rd book in the The Deschembine Trilogy.

The Blazing Chief


Synopsis

For untold ages, the refugees from the land of Deschemb have lived secretly beneath the surface of human society. Now modern civilization crumbles as their ancient feud boils to the surface. As chaos and brutality engulf the world, strange alien forces reshape the lands for a new beginning…for whoever survives.

In the frozen Canadian wastes, the United Deschembines take shelter in an abandoned military base, under the leadership of Jesse Karn, Zane Rochester, and Sally Coscan.

In the Louisiana swamps, Rob and Remelea press towards the ruins of New Orleans, for a final confrontation with Talino.

In Brattleboro, Vermont, a long-forgotten doorway opens, to a land beyond living memory, where two lifelong enemies must journey as allies, to save two worlds, or destroy them.

You can find The Blazing Chief here:

AmazonGoodreads


About The Author

Matt Spenser

Matt Spencer is the author of five novels, two collections, and numerous novellas and short stories. He’s been a journalist, New Orleans restaurant cook, factory worker, radio DJ, and a no-good ramblin’ bum. He’s also a song lyricist, playwright, actor, and martial artist. He currently lives in Vermont. 

You can find author Matt here:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Morgan Cole

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Morgan Cole , author of Marilia, the Warlord, the first book in the Chrysathamere Trilogy, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Morgan Cole

Bureaucrat by day, fantasy author by night, I began my writing career with several highly questionable life choices, such as a major in history and creative writing that was meant to lead to a glorious career as a fantasy author but instead led to the world of unpaid internships, minimum wage jobs, and a dingy, lightless apartment in small-town Ohio.

I suppose I took all those motivational posters about shooting for the moon and landing among the stars far too seriously. After a rocky relationship with a literary agent that didn’t quite work out, I decided to pursue an alternative career path (that actually allows me to pay rent) and to write my books on the side.

Growing up, my father instilled in me a passion for ancient Greek and Roman history (especially all the battles!), while my brother helped immerse me in the imaginative worlds of Morrowind and Middle Earth. All those influences are very much present in my writing.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author Website  | Goodreads | Instagram



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I grew up in the American Midwest with my brother, where I spent most of my time pretending I was either in space battling stormtroopers or in some fantasy world battling orcs or demons or whatever the monster of the day happened to be. I was the quintessential quiet, shy, anxious kid—I hated school because it involved social interaction and even CROWDS, a more fearsome foe than any demon. All that self-doubt, fear, alienation—I tend to pour it into my characters. It’s a cathartic process. 

I made a number of poor life choices in the intervening years. One winner has to be signing a contract with a literary agent while in a particularly intensive school program. I soon learned that I had absolutely no time, while studying, to make the edits she sought in order to transform the book from an adult fantasy into the more marketable YA genre. I stalled, and the relationship fizzled out. Afterwards, I decided to go it alone, as I kind of preferred the book as an adult fantasy anyway!

Morgan Cole is my pen name. Why the secret identity? I wish it was because I was some kind of secret celebrity, but the truth is that a buried part of me hasn’t totally given up on trying to get “traditionally” published some day when I have more time to devote to agent-hunting (and a book that better fits the market). And I’ve heard it’s easier to do that if the powers that be don’t realize you’ve published books on your own—an act of rebellion many in Big Publishing seem to frown on.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Though Marilia, the Warlord is a fantasy, it’s written in the structural style of a historical biographical novel, following the protagonist over the course of many years. I love to explore how childhood shapes who we are, so I couldn’t just not have scenes of the characters as children! It’s also possibly one of the only fantasy books I’ve read without any magic. Sure, there’s some weird creatures here and there, and crystal swords and the like, but no powers or spells. I have nothing against magic in principle, though I do truly hate it when the final showdown comes down to a character using some newly-discovered magical ability to just up and destroy the villain (you hear me, Letter for the King on Netflix??). I’ll take a good old-fashioned sword duel any day.

Finally, each book in this series explores a different theme, and one of my main goals with the first novel was to examine the notion of the “strong female character.” For some reason, the media often seems to assume that it’s empowering when a female character beats people up or kills them. Why? Isn’t it interesting that violence—stereotypically a masculine pursuit—is considered strong, while being less martially gifted is considered weak? Marilia swings a sword around, but that’s not what makes her a strong character. 

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

Well, that kind of spoils the ending. But one thing I can say—despite this book being about a badass woman warrior, I did not want it to be about the generic kind of tough girl I see in a lot of recent Hollywood movies and bad novels—saucy, witty, always ready with a quip, always the most composed and unflappable person in the room, and strong by the virtue that she beats up/kills men. In fact, that was one of the very notions that I set out to question—that being a strong female character means engaging in the traditionally masculine, and kind of terrible pursuits of violently killing or beating people up. Why is that what is most respected by our society? How far have we really come if being a strong female hero means entirely rejecting traditionally feminine things in favor of violence? 

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

I feel like that’s an easy one. Marilia, of course—the protagonist. She’s the most developed character in the story. She’s also probably the character who changed the most from draft-to-draft, going from a religious zealot who actually believed she heard the voices of the gods to the more grounded, level-headed heroine she is today. I also have a soft spot for several side characters who are loosely inspired by real people I know…but to say who or why would spoil the sequels. 

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else? 

The Chrysathamere Trilogy was inspired by a conversation I had with my brother where we discussed the unrealized potential of the three Star Wars prequels (I was a shamelessly obsessed Star wars fan growing up; I had the Jedi hair going and everything) and how they were ripe for a remake with better dialogue. The story shifted and changed over time, and now only very loosely resembles its Clone Wars-in-fantasy-land origins.

There are certainly a lot of other influences. A song of Ice and Fire, obviously (I liked Game of Thrones before it was cool!), but also some lesser-known books and movies like Searching for Bobby Fischer, a rather excellent movie about chess and the harmful effects jealousy and cutthroat competition can have on children. When it comes to battle scenes and tactics, I tend to steal a bit here and there from real history. In this book, it was Alexander the Great’s epic battle at Gaugamela. 

How long did it take you to write this particular book? 

While I’m happy to finally have this book finished, it was a real struggle to get there! I began brainstorming and outlining this novel back when I was scarcely older than Marilia herself. The writing and re-writing took ten long years! At one point, a literary agent advised me to cut the book (which at that time had two protagonists) in half and focus only on Marilia. I did, and the story was stronger for it. 

What are your writing ambitions? Are you working on any new projects presently? 

When it comes to my writing goals, I’m just going to take things one step at a time. I’ll finish editing and fine-tuning the 4 books (The Chrysathamere Trilogy + 1 other adventure novel) I’ve been working on, and then we’ll see…if people respond to them, like them, I’ll probably feel the urge to make more!

As for the good ‘ol “where do you see yourself in 5 years” question…I don’t think I’ve given an accurate answer to that question thus far in my life. Especially with COVID-19 roiling the globe and political turmoil roiling my home city of Washington, DC, I find it best not to plan too far ahead. In 5 years I could be a victim of the coming apocalypse, who knows? I don’t want to jinx it.

Are you working on any new projects presently?

I’m still working on the third book in this trilogy. It’s the longest and the three, and the bloodiest, so it’s quite a bit of work. I ended up re-writing the last 150 pages from scratch because I wasn’t a fan of the climax. I wanted to be sure to get it right—I might have been inspired by A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones but I definitely wanted to make the same mistakes that series did when it came to (not) wrapping things up. After that, I have another nearly-finished project that’s sort of like if The Last of Us met the Princess Bride. 

Why have you chosen this genre? 

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with harrowing sword duels and magical worlds. Together, my brother and I killed many imaginary orcs. So it always felt natural to explore that in my writing. Plus, I’d always wanted to read more fantasy books where there was no magic and the main character was just a regular person, so I figured why not write one? 

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way? 

I probably decided to “become a writer” around the time I was ten. I wrote my first novel in high school. It wasn’t totally terrible, but it certainly was pretentious, especially the scene where the villain stopped mid-fight to monologue to the hero for four pages straight about how charity and altruism is for the weak because we live in a society and something something laissez faire capitalism. Just as unnecessarily edgy as you’d expect an emo high schooler’s first novel to be, really. 

It wasn’t easy at all. In pursuing the dream of being a writer, I ended up making some foolish choices in college that cost me dearly when it came time to get a job. I feel, in retrospect, that it’s far better to major in something practical like computer science that allows you flexibility in employment (so as to have time to write on the side) then majoring in creative writing itself. For one thing, none of those classes teach you a whit about how to actually write and sell a novel, and the short story market isn’t exactly robust. I also sacrificed a lot of time I could have spent with friends—still a bit sad about that. 

Because I screwed college up so badly, I ended up struggling for a whole to find a long-term job. Eventually, an immigration lawyer was kind enough to take me in as an assistant after we met in the middle-of-nowhere Texas in a family detention center where we were both volunteering—him as a free lawyer for refugees seeking political asylum, me as an interpreter. Because of my experience working with him, I ended up going to law school, which is funny, because I never saw myself as any kind of lawyer (I always hated public speaking). Life takes you in strange directions, I guess!

I labored for a long time under the delusion that writing could pay my bills. It really doesn’t—the cost of a professional editor alone will easily be more than the yearly earnings of most self-published authors. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t value or beauty in the act of writing. 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it? 

I have no real ritual. I like to do a lot of planning first—sometimes two months of brainstorming before I ever sit down to write. Even then, the story never goes 100% the way I planned. I write when I have time, which is usually on the weekends. Some of my favorite scenes got down on vacation, though. 

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Certainly on a laptop. I tend to hold my pencil with a death-grip and my handwriting is terrible. I’m convinced I was born left-handed and raised right-handed by mistake. I tend to do a lot of editing as I go, so the laptop tends to make that easier. 

Your 5 favourite books?

A tough question, as they tend to change as I grow older. But they might be: Dark Age, by Pierce Brown; Circe by Madeline Miller; The Land Beyond the Sea by Sharon Kay Penman; Best Served Cold, by Joe Abercrombie; and Horns, by Joe Hill (what is it with Joes?) But I also like Gillian Flynn’s books a lot, and there’s this one book by Nick Cutter called the Troop that gave me nightmares and still gives me the shivers when I think about it, if you’re into that sort of thing…I guess maybe a part of me is still the edgy student I was in high school.  

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

By feverishly trying to brainstorm my way around a problem until I fail miserably, then talking to someone else—a friend, or a relative—until finally clarity strikes. Usually the answer to my plot hole is outside the box. For example, I once spent three weeks agonizing about how Marilia could break into a castle and assassinate a certain character. After devising twelve plans, each more preposterous than the last, I jettisoned the assassination plotline completely and completely re-did the ending of that book. But I really struggle with writer’s block sometimes. For reasons unknown to me, so many of my problems seem to revolve around boats/ships. That naval battle in Marilia, the Warlord? An absolute nightmare. Once this series is over, if I keep writing, I’m going to only write books set in landlocked countries. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

They always say to read in your genre, but I feel like I grew as much, if not more, reading outside it, finding new ideas, and then dragging them back into the fantasy genre. “Literary” fiction, historical fiction, horror—I tend to read those the most. Also, don’t do what I did—major in creative writing in college. They taught me nothing about the marketing side of being an author, and, while my professors gave me some useful teachings regarding writing short stories, I gained almost next to no information about writing novels, which are a very different beast. I wish I’d chosen a major that would have made it easier to get a day job to leave lots of time for writing—I learned best through constant practice. 

Thank you, Morgan, for all your honest and helpful (especially to new writers) answers!


About The Book

Marilia: The Warlord

Born the bastard daughter of a painted lady, Marilia was told she would live out her days within the walls of her mother’s brothel, a companion for the rich men of Tyrace. But after a terrible betrayal, Marilia’s world turns upside down. With the help of her twin brother, Annuweth, she flees the only home she’s ever known in search of the one man who can offer her a chance at a better life: one of her deceased father’s friends, the Emperor of Navessea’s greatest general. 

What follows is a journey spanning years, from the streets of the desert city of Tyracium to the splendor of the emperor’s keep and the wind-swept, wild island of Svartennos. Along the way, Marilia discovers, for the first time, the gift she has for strategy and warfare—a world that is forbidden to girls like her.

When the empire is threatened by a foreign invasion, the defense of Navessea is left in the hands of a cruel and arrogant general no match for the empire’s foes. With the fate of her new home and her family hanging in the balance, Marilia swears to use all her courage and cunning to help repel the enemy…if she can convince anyone to follow her.

The struggle that follows will test her to her core and lead her back to the past she thought she had escaped. Facing treachery within her own ranks as well as a devious enemy commander, Marilia will need all the help she can get, even if it means doing something her brother may never forgive—making a pact with the man who murdered her father. 

Inspired by The Song of Achilles and Ender’s GameMarilia, the Warlord is a blend of the epic and the personal, a story of war, romance, envy, the rivalry between brother and sister, and a young woman’s fight to find her place in the world. 

Get your copy of Marilia here:
Amazon | Kobo | B&N | Smashwords | iBooks


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Guest Post: The Four Secret Ingredients of a Successful Indie Author by Debarshi Kanjilal

Today, at TRB Lounge, we are hosting Debarshi Kanjilal, author of SuperBu: Homecoming, to share some secrets of being a successful independent author.

Note: Read author Debarshi Kanjilal’s interview with TRB here

The Four Secret Ingredients of a Successful Indie Author

I wanted to be a writer since the age of eight but didn’t know the path to becoming one.  At the time, my idea of being an author was being published by Penguin Random House or Bloomsbury. Indie publishing had too much stigma around it.

Years later, when I did end up choosing the path of indie publishing, I was still fighting against similar stigma. But several books, blogs, forums, and courses later, I now know the reason for that stigma as well as the way to avoid it.

A traditionally published author enjoys a few unfair advantages because they’re backed by a big money business. But the unfair advantages created by that money can be offset by the additional effort and time put in by an indie author. So, what are these unfair advantages?

Editing

People often jump to the conclusion that big publishing houses sell more because they have a bigger marketing budget. While not untrue, they don’t just put money into marketing. They invest heavily in their editorial team – professional proofreaders, copy editors, substantial editors, they make sure that every book is editorially perfect. An indie author doesn’t always have the budget for all of that, but most rookie indie authors make the mistake of publishing without any editing whatsoever. I have been there and I still have some books out in the market that suffer due to editorial inferiority. But having learnt from those errors, I now have a formula that works – I try to work with at least three beta readers and at least one copy editor and implement their feedback before publishing anything. This ensures that my books have minimal editorial issues without shooting a hole through my pocket.

Typesetting and Formatting

Books are for readers – a very finite market segment. The truth is not many people who are not readers will buy and read your book. And readers are conditioned to expect a certain way of typesetting and formatting books. A good book will just not capture a reader’s imagination if it is formatted or typeset in a way that distracts them. The good news is that the bulk of indie publishing happens on Amazon, and Amazon has a product called Kindle Create that makes it easier to properly format and typeset both print books and e-books. It is important to utilize these resources efficiently.

Mailing List

While big publishers have access to a vast group of readers who are already waiting for their next book, indie authors do not have such a vast pre-existing audience. They need to cultivate that audience and regularly engage with them. A mailing list is the most effective tool to this end. Yes, you can also cultivate your audience via social media, but email is still the most effective way to connect with them on a personal level. A person who receives an email from you will care more about you and your book than someone who stumbles upon your post about your own book on social media. Social media works best when other people start talking about you and your book.

Digital Marketing

Lastly, big publishers have access to thousands of physical bookstores to display their books and therefore putting their books in front of innumerable eyes. As an indie author, you and I may not have this luxury. However, if your book cannot get any eyeballs then your book isn’t going to sell any copies. This is where digital marketing helps. Amazon ads, Google ads, Facebook ads, etc. democratize advertising to the extent possible. Even an indie author can set aside a small budget to test an online ad, see how it performs, optimize it further, and get in front of thousands of eyeballs. This is an opportunity you wouldn’t want to pass.

Being an indie author can be a rewarding as well as a fulfilling journey. But make no mistake, an indie author needs to work harder and keep toiling alone much longer in order to achieve success. That said, a good story supported by these four secret ingredients can make your journey absolutely worthwhile.

About the author:

Debarshi Kanjilal

Debarshi Kanjilal (DK) is an urban fiction writer based out of Bangalore, India. His debut novella, Based on Lies, was touted as a gripping psychological thriller by several reputable reviewers.

His latest novella, SuperBu: Homecoming is an emotional journey of a family and their dog. Debarshi ran the ‘God of Absurdity’ blog from 2012 to 2015, which published humorous anecdotes and reflection pieces.

He is also an accomplished learning experience design professional who has helped shape adult learning strategy for some of the most well-known organizations globally.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author Website  | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


ABOUT THE BOOK:

SuperBu: Homecoming

This is not a children’s book or a fairy tale. This novella is not all about fun, or that fuzzy feeling you get from stories about dogs. It is a dramatic story of a family who brought home a dog. If you are looking for a book that’ll keep you continuously smiling through the antics of an adorable puppy, this is perhaps not the book for you.

So, now that you know what not to expect, let’s talk about what you can expect from this book. Have you or someone you know ever felt like something is missing in your life and getting a dog could help you fill a void? Did you, or an acquaintance of yours, end up actually getting that dog? Did you and your dog figure out how to navigate through life together?

This is the story of that dog, or a dog like that one. But more importantly, this is the story of that version of you, or that acquaintance of yours, who decided to act and bring home that dog, or of people like you who went through similar experiences in life.

You can find SuperBu: Homecoming here:

Amazon | Goodreads


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author’s guest post on TRB, then please get in touch through email at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Debarshi Kanjilal

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring Debarshi Kanjilal, author of SuperBu: Homecoming, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Debarshi Kanjilal

Debarshi Kanjilal (DK) is an urban fiction writer based out of Bangalore, India. His debut novella, Based on Lies, was touted as a gripping psychological thriller by several reputable reviewers.

His latest novella, SuperBu: Homecoming is an emotional journey of a family and their dog. Debarshi ran the ‘God of Absurdity’ blog from 2012 to 2015, which published humorous anecdotes and reflection pieces.

He is also an accomplished learning experience design professional who has helped shape adult learning strategy for some of the most well-known organizations globally.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author Website  | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Hello to the readers of TRB! I am an urban fiction author based out of Bangalore, India. I published my first novella, Based on Lies, in 2017 and now I have a new story to share with the world. When I am not writing, you will find me lecturing people about the way adults learn, spending time with dogs, fiddling with my phone, or begrudgingly cooking a meal in the kitchen. Before the pandemic hit, you’d also have found me planning weekend road trips around the city.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

I don’t think it will come as a surprise, but the story of SUPERBU is inspired by the life of Buzo, who was a part of our family until recently. When I had first started planning the story, it was meant to be a fantasy about a four-legged superhero. But with time, I realized that every dog is already a superhero for its family; I didn’t need to give Bully, the dog who this book is about, any additional superpowers to tell the story I wanted to tell.

As for Buzo, she will always be my superhero. And if this book does well, she will, hopefully, become a superhero for some other dogs. I plan to use most of the proceeds from this book to fund the Buzoland project, which will provide a real home for a few stray dogs. Being able to get the Buzoland project off the ground will mean much more to me than any accolades this book may or may not earn.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

In its essence, SUPERBU Homecoming is the story of a flawed family. I care deeply about each character in that family. Homecoming is the first novella in the SUPERBU series and it focuses heavily on Bully a.k.a. Bu, who the novella is named after and Barnali, the lady of the family. Homecoming is as much Barnali’s story as it is Bully’s.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else? 

I think I kind of answered this question earlier. I wanted to write a book to commemorate my dog, Buzo, who we lost a couple of years ago. This is, among other things, my attempt to do some good in her name.

How long did it take you to write this particular book? 

Homecoming is the first of three novellas in the SUPERBU series. The idea to write a book like this came to me a couple of years ago, conceptualization happened a year ago, the actual writing took a month, perhaps, and editing took another month and a half. I work with a few amazing beta readers in my network who really help me refine my work after the first draft is done. 

What are your writing ambitions? Are you working on any new projects presently? 

I think the goal is to transition into being a full-time writer but right now I just want as many people to read the stories of SUPERBU as possible. I have a few too many projects in the pipeline, to be honest. The immediate focus will be on two of them:

  • The next novella in the SUPERBU series – Becoming
  • And a novelette I have in the works called Government

Why have you chosen this genre? 

I find genres quite limiting. I tell people that I write urban fiction because it allows me to explore a variety of themes within an urban setting. I wrote SUPERBU because I love dogs and to commemorate my dog.

When did you decide to become a writer? 

When I was eight, and every couple of years after that. But I think I have been serious about it for the past couple of years. I like the idea of being an indie author. I feel that it liberates me to write about the things I want to write about and in the manner that I want to write about them. I truly believe that novellas and novelettes are the future of books and yet traditional publishers often push these formats to the sidelines. If we are to capture the imagination of a new generation of readers, we cannot expect them to spend days or even months reading one book. As an indie author, I can cater to that modern reader who is reading on electronic devices and hopping from one interest to another every couple of days.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it? 

A lot of ideation without any actual writing for weeks, followed by panic and a few weeks of 3 or 4-hour writing sprints, and then editing like a madman. Personally, working with chapter outlines or scenes hasn’t really worked out for me. I like to write my stories in sequence. 

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I write on my laptop but I am getting more savvy with mobile word processors. In time and with the advent of superior technology, I won’t mind writing books on my cellphone.

Your 5 favourite books?

I love answering this question, thanks.

  1. The book that got me interested in reading as a kid was Moby Dick. 
  2. A favorite of mine in contemporary Indian literature – Ghachar Ghochar. 
  3. Third, I’d say Lord of the Rings. I’d recommend anyone to pick LOTR over Harry Potter books, if you had to choose. 
  4. Four, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. Not many people have read this but it is such a fantastic, whimsical book.
  5. Lastly, The Story of My Experiments with Truth. I loved learning about a different side of Mahatma Gandhi.

If I may take the liberty of adding one more to the list, Maneaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett is a blast of a read.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

By procrastinating until an idea hits me. 😊

No, but seriously, the answer is often care. If I care about a story, I am more likely to be able to write about it than if I don’t. I have realized that writer’s block often comes from an attempt to be inauthentic. I often found myself not being able to write something that I have not experienced in any way, shape, or form. Having had those experiences, I try to only tell stories that I can relate with on some level. Also, switching off for a bit of time helps – music, movies, a long drive, they all seem to work for me.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Getting your work published is easier than ever now. But that also means that competition is stiffer than ever, post publication. Take your time. Invest in professional editing. Know that writing is 20% of the work but the good news is, no one’s stopping you from acing the other 80% either. Persevere and you will succeed.

Thank you, Debarshi, for all your insightful answers!


About The Book

Superbu: Homecoming

This is not a children’s book or a fairy tale. This novella is not all about fun, or that fuzzy feeling you get from stories about dogs. It is a dramatic story of a family who brought home a dog. If you are looking for a book that’ll keep you continuously smiling through the antics of an adorable puppy, this is perhaps not the book for you.

So, now that you know what not to expect, let’s talk about what you can expect from this book. Have you or someone you know ever felt like something is missing in your life and getting a dog could help you fill a void? Did you, or an acquaintance of yours, end up actually getting that dog? Did you and your dog figure out how to navigate through life together?

This is the story of that dog, or a dog like that one. But more importantly, this is the story of that version of you, or that acquaintance of yours, who decided to act and bring home that dog, or of people like you who went through similar experiences in life.

You can find SuperBu: Homecoming here:

Amazon | Goodreads


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Cover Reveal: SuperBu: Homecoming by Debarshi Kanjilal

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Debarshi Kanjilal, for the cover reveal of his upcoming book SuperBu: Homecoming.

Presenting the beautiful cover of SuperBu: Homecoming by Debarshi Kanjilal

This is not a children’s book or a fairy tale. This novella is not all about fun, or that fuzzy feeling you get from stories about dogs. It is a dramatic story of a family who brought home a dog. If you are looking for a book that’ll keep you continuously smiling through the antics of an adorable puppy, this is perhaps not the book for you.

So, now that you know what not to expect, let’s talk about what you can expect from this book. Have you or someone you know ever felt like something is missing in your life and getting a dog could help you fill a void? Did you, or an acquaintance of yours, end up actually getting that dog? Did you and your dog figure out how to navigate through life together?

This is the story of that dog, or a dog like that one. But more importantly, this is the story of that version of you, or that acquaintance of yours, who decided to act and bring home that dog, or of people like you who went through similar experiences in life.

You can find SuperBu: Homecoming here:

Amazon | Goodreads


About The Author

Debarshi Kanjilal

Debarshi Kanjilal (DK) is an urban fiction writer based out of Bangalore, India. His debut novella, Based on Lies, was touted as a gripping psychological thriller by several reputable reviewers.

His latest novella, SuperBu: Homecoming is an emotional journey of a family and their dog. Debarshi ran the ‘God of Absurdity’ blog from 2012 to 2015, which published humorous anecdotes and reflection pieces.

He is also an accomplished learning experience design professional who has helped shape adult learning strategy for some of the most well-known organizations globally.

Author Website  | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at  thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Abby Arthur

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring Abby Arthur, author of Twins of Shadow, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Abby Arthur

Abby Arthur writes young adult fantasy in a fascinating modern world full of magic and adventure that lingers even after the last page. With over 20 years of writing experience, she loves giving readers an escape from reality and is constantly creating new stories. Her magic portal is located in small town Iowa, protected by herself, her husband, and their son. Her first book is Twins of Shadow.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Website | Twitter  | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook | YouTube | Goodreads



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Hi beautiful readers! I’m Abby Arthur, a young adult fantasy author. I strive to take you on an adventure in a magical land you can never forget with characters and experiences that linger even after the last page. 

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

TWINS OF SHADOW is the first book I’ve published in a world of magic that’s been living inside me since I was 8 years old. Tarrek and Albree (the twins and the narrators) are some of the first characters I created. They have been with me for almost twenty years. The twins have, therefore, woven themselves into many more books to come. 

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

My first reaction: Albree! Because he’s tall, dark, and handsome … (Wait, so is Tarrek. They’re identical!) 

My second reaction: Ok, let’s be serious now … Looking back. Tarrek used to be my favorite (When I was, like, 12) because he was so sensible. However, a friend of mine mentioned how she loved Albree and his “bad-boyness”. She said he had more depth to him because of his rebellious behavior, and something inside me just agreed with her. He’s been my favorite ever since. 

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else? 

I was inspired to write TWINS OF SHADOW for a few reasons:

  1. I wanted people to start falling in love with the characters I’ve lived with for years. 
  2. Books can break through all kinds of barriers. Books reach across the world, helping people connect with each other. (I think of LORD OF THE RINGS and HARRY POTTER when I say this.)
  3. I dream of creating a reason for people to connect, to form a fantasy loving family around the books I write. TWINS OF SHADOW is my first step towards that goal.  

How long did it take you to write this particular book? 

A week. 

I was on fire. The story idea rushed me like a raging river and sucked me under time and time again. I would lay down for bed and jump back up to write more. Then I’d wake up early and start at it again. I wrote around 5,000 words a day. 

What are your writing ambitions? Are you working on any new projects presently? 

My ambitions are to write until my soul is called home. Stories run thicker than blood in my veins. I’m addicted to writing and can’t imagine life without it.

I’m always working on new projects. I want to see my books spread across the world in multiple languages so the fantasy family can grow. 

Just in the last 6 months, I’ve written 3 novels and finished a short story collection. (It’s faster to write than publish :)) All of the stories I’ve finished take place in the same world as TWINS OF SHADOW, and in many of the stories I completed, the twins make multiple appearances. 

One of the novels I wrote is told by Sheva, Tarrek and Albree’s crazy younger sister. (She makes an appearance in the second half of TWINS OF SHADOW.) Her novel shows us why she’s crazy (and freakishly powerful). It also follows what she was up to while the twins were on their mission in ToS. Sheva’s story also has a mysterious heart throb and his rival, Albree’s best friend. 

Why have you chosen this genre? 

I first chose fantasy as a child around the time HARRY POTTER came out. I’ve never read the books myself. (Dramatic gasp). My parents were a part of the “Anti-Harry Potter fan club” when I was young. But I watched the movies at a friend’s house—the most rebellious thing I ever did, I promise.

That said, the book that got me into fantasy was SHADOWMANCER by G.P. Taylor. Followed by the LORD OF THE RINGS movies. 

My books were originally inspired by Tolkien’s world and featured a 13-year-old boy as the star. (I was 8 and 13 seemed like such an old age to me!) My characters grew up with me, gained technology, and eventually got stuck in their teens. What a way to be, right? 

When did you decide to become a writer? 

When I was 8 and my sister read young adult books to me at night. I thought the stories were awesome and just thought, I can do that! So I started writing, and I’ve never stopped.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it? 

I get to my computer, open my current story, and set to it. 

My writing time has changed over the years as I’ve grown up, moved around, and gained my own family. I now tend to wake up at 5:30 AM to write for a few hours before everyone else is up. My son takes a nap at 9, and I write again. 

I go to work at 12pm and get off at 5pm, so if my husband is home at night, I write some more. I’m obsessed, and my husband feeds the obsession by reading what I write. He’s always up to speed on my character’s lives.

If my husband isn’t home at night, I read books and watch TV shows to feed the stories inside me.

I also always have a notebook with me to brainstorm ideas on the go and during downtime at work. 

Making time to keep my body healthy is crucial as well. If my body isn’t in good health, my writing lags. Therefore, I always tend to do something physical in the 8’oclock hour. Yoga has been my go-to for months! My exact writing formula is to break my stories into 4 parts, brainstorm the overall goals of the book, then write all my scenes in order. I can go on, but I explain more on my writing style in my YouTube videos. The one titled “Short Story Writing Tips for Fantasy| 4 EASY STEPS” is actually the formula I use for everything I write, not just short stories.

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Computer!

I tried a pen and paper when I was 16. My hand cramped so bad! And I still had to move what I wrote to a computer… I ain’t got time for that!

Your 5 favourite books?

Number one is easy. Cassandra Clare is my idol! So of course CITY OF BONES is number one. Sabaa Tahir has a way of making me shake to the core with her un-conventional plot twists, so her AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is number two. THRONE OF GLASS was just so good, and though I’m not in love with every Sarah J. Maas story, I LOVED that one. Four is the POISON EATERS AND OTHER STORIES by Holly Black, because her short story, COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN, is burned to my mind! The fifth is harder to choose, because there’s a lot of good books I’ve read… but right now I’d say KISS OF DECEPTION by Mary E. Pearson.

  1. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. 
  2. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  4. The Poison Eaters and Other Stories by Holly Black
  5. Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Ooo, the notorious question! There’s not too often I run into writers block these days, as the muscles in my mind related to book stuff seem to be on overdrive! BUT, in the last year I remember one moment where I stood before the computer unsure as what to write, like my inner writer fell asleep! (How dare she!)

After about a minute of contemplating the little curser blinking at me, I took a step back, grabbed a notebook and pen, and implemented something I learned from the author of WRITING BETTER LYRICS, Pat Pattison. 

Shameless plug* 

WRITING BETTER LYRICS is about the craft of writing itself as much as it is about writing songs. It is the single book I credit to GREATLY improving my writing style, so I highly recommend it!

Anyway… Pat teaches something called Object Writing, where you pick one thing to write about (a phone, paper, etc) and ramble about it. However, the rambles are to use all your senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste). This naturally causes me to write with metaphors and similes. I do this exercise quite often (for about 5-10 minutes) in the mornings before I write. It has turned out to be an INSTANT writer’s block conqueror for me.

So that one day when writer’s block thought it could claim me, it was instantly conquered by a 5 minute Object Writing session. My inner writer woke up and my story came rushing to me. The blank page disappeared, and I had 1000 words to show for it!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read books in your genera. Read a lot! But also read how-to-write books from people who’ve gone before you. It will accelerate your writing skills and make your books better faster. 

If writing is your dream, and all you can think about is being a writer, you can do it! You will learn to brush off rejection, improve your skills, and never give up. Because you can’t ever give up, even when your fingers cramp from writing 5000 words for three days straight, and you’re rejected too many times to count. 

As in the words of Lisa Nichols, “Quitters never win, and winners never quit.” 

Thank you for sharing your time with me!

-Abby Arthur

Thank you, Abby, for all your enthusiastic and insightful answers! I personally love doing prompt-writing too and object writing sounds fun! Will definitely give it a try.


About The Book

Twins Of Shadow

A crown prince and his twin brother are secretly skilled assassins…

…killing for a cause they both despise.

A crown prince and his twin brother are secretly skilled assassins…

…killing for a cause they both despise.

Bound to a dragon by a powerful spell, Tarrek and Albree are sent on their deadliest mission yet: Overcome an archangel, capture an innocent snake whisperer and smuggle him across foreign soil, alive. If they fail to comply with the spell’s demand, it will drive them to insanity. Yet a deadlier force commands their attention when an ice-wielding slave trader freezes several civilians in a local village, ensnaring Albree’s love interest in the process. Will the twins choose to complete their near-suicide mission or fight insanity to save innocent lives?

All eBook formats Free at https://abbyarthur.com/
Get the physical copy here: Amazon



To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Guest Post: The Power of Metaphors and Similes by Abby Arthur PLUS A Mega 17 YA Fantasy Book Giveaway

Today, at TRB Lounge, we are hosting Abby Arthur, YA Fantasy author of TWINS OF SHADOW, to share some insights into her process of writing.

Note: Details on the giveaway running for the month of August 2020 are at the end of the post*

The Power of Metaphors and Similes

Ever read a book that sucks you in, describing the setting like a whirlwind of mystery wrapped in the snuggly arms of a wild grizzly bear? 

Or have you found yourself so deep in the thick of a battle scene, you could feel the blood gush from your own arm?

I have experienced this, my friend. And I’ve come to analyze these stories to understand why I was so captivated. 

To give you real-life examples of stories that have sucked me in, there are:

  • CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE by Tomi Adeyemi 
  • SORCERY OF THORNS by Margret Rogerson.

From the very start, the books above use words that paint pictures, pictures that make you feel what the character is feeling.

To do this, the authors use METAPHORS and SIMILES.

What is a Metaphor? 

According to author Pat Pattison in his amazing book, WRITING BETTER LYRICS: 

“In its most basic form, a metaphor is a collision between ideas that don’t belong together.”

Here’s an example: The princess is a delicate lily.

With using a metaphor to describe the character, you can’t see the princess without seeing a delicate lily, and therefore, you instantly know the princess is beautiful and fragile. 

Try this: The princess is a vicious wolf.

In this example, you don’t think of a flower or fragileness. You see a powerful woman with strength, determination, and a dangerous drive to survive. 

What is a Simile?

A simile is a lot like a metaphor, but it differentiates by the connecting word “like” or “as”. A metaphor says the subject IS the descriptor (the princess IS a delicate lily). But a simile merely compares the two (the princess is LIKE a delicate lily). 

I’ve noticed more similes in stories than direct metaphors. Both are beautiful, but I feel saying “the princess IS a vicious wolf” has a more substantial impact on the story verses she is LIKE a vicious wolf. The “IS” transforms her before your very eyes. Don’t you agree?

So How Do You Make Great Metaphors and Similes?

Practice. Take 5-10 minutes a day before you start writing your stories and create metaphors and similes. You can describe your characters, your settings, your cup of coffee, your dinner, your dog… 

The more you practice, the faster your brain will be able to call upon them when you’re writing. 

I promise, it works! 

Try the practice exercise for 7 consecutive days and you will be AMAZED at your progress in such a short time!

Implement Metaphors and Similes in Your Story

When you write, start to watch for moments you can implement a metaphor or simile. 

Just knowing to keep your eyes open will bring forth the opportunity to add them. 

For example, maybe you’re writing something like, “The princess was tall and thin.” Now that you know to watch for a chance to insert a metaphor or simile, you will realize you can say instead, “She was tall and thin, a towering tree overlooking the kingdom like a noble guard.” 

The more you implement metaphors and similes, the more your story will come to life and transport your readers into your magical world (fantasy or not)!

The Major 17 YA Fantasy Book Giveaway

Now for the moment you’ve been waiting for!

For the month of August 2020, Abby Arthur is giving away a total of 17 YA Fantasy novels and a new eReader from Amazon – the Kindle Fire 7, over the course of the next 4 weeks.

YOU GET 4 CHANCES TO WIN A PRIZE!

The details are as follows, and the link to enter is here: https://abbyarthur.com/giveaways/august2020  

Upon entry, every contestant will also receive a FREE eCopy of Abby’s book, TWINS OF SHADOW.

On August 7

Abby is drawing a winner for the current books in Sabaa Tahir’s AN EMBER IN THE ASHES series, which includes:

  • AN EMBER IN THE ASHES
  • A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT
  • A REAPER AT THE GATES

These will be HARDCOVER COPIES! With a total value of $60 US Dollars.

On August 14th

Abby is drawing a winner for 3 books from New York Times Best Selling Authors.

  • CHAINS OF GOLD by Cassandra Clare
  • A BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES by Suzanne Collins
  • HOUSE OF EARTH AND BLOOD by Sarah J Maas

These will be HARDCOVER COPIES! With a total value of $80 US Dollars.

On August 16th
I’m drawing a mid-giveaway bonus winner for Starr Z. Davies’ YA Dystopian duology: ORDINARY. 

  • ORDINARY
  • UNIQUE

These will be AUTOGRAPHED TRADE PAPERBACKS! With a total value of $25 US Dollars. 

On August 21st

Abby is drawing a winner for Holly Black’s series: FOLK OF THE AIR.

  • THE CRUEL PRINCE
  • THE WICKED KING
  • THE QUEEN OF NOTHING

These will be HARDCOVER COPIES! With a total value of $80 US Dollars.

On August 28th

Abby is giving away the grand prize, which includes the eReader and 8 eBooks at a $150 value:

Kindle Fire 7

  • 1 A SONG OF WRATHS AND RUIN by Roseanne A Brown
  • 2 THE KINGDOM OF BACK by Marie Lu
  • 3 WICKED SAINTS by Emily A. Duncan
  • 4 THE GUINEVERE DECEPTION by Kiersten White
  • 5 CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE by Tomi Adeyemi
  • 6 THE CURSED CHILD by J.K Rowling
  • 7 SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo
  • 8 SORCERY OF THORNS by Margaret Rogerson

Enter NOW for your chance to WIN!

Click here => https://abbyarthur.com/giveaways/august2020

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Go to the link above
  2. Enter your email address
  3. Follow Abby on her social platforms (Gives you 50X more chances to win!)
  4. Share your lucky URL (extra 20X chances to win per friend to enter)

Good Luck, my friend!

About the author:

Abby Arthur

Abby Arthur writes young adult fantasy in a fascinating modern world full of magic and adventure that lingers even after the last page. With over 20 years of writing experience, she loves giving readers an escape from reality and is constantly creating new stories. Her magic portal is located in small town Iowa, protected by herself, her husband, and their son. Her first book is Twins of Shadow.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Website | Twitter  | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook | YouTube | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Twins Of Shadow

A crown prince and his twin brother are secretly skilled assassins…

…killing for a cause they both despise.

A crown prince and his twin brother are secretly skilled assassins…

…killing for a cause they both despise.

Bound to a dragon by a powerful spell, Tarrek and Albree are sent on their deadliest mission yet: Overcome an archangel, capture an innocent snake whisperer and smuggle him across foreign soil, alive. If they fail to comply with the spell’s demand, it will drive them to insanity. Yet a deadlier force commands their attention when an ice-wielding slave trader freezes several civilians in a local village, ensnaring Albree’s love interest in the process. Will the twins choose to complete their near-suicide mission or fight insanity to save innocent lives?

All eBook formats Free at https://abbyarthur.com/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Twins-Shadow-Abby-Arthur/dp/1712078585/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author’s guest post on TRB, then please get in touch through email at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Roland Sato Page

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring Roland Sato Page, author of Eating The Forbidden Fruit, for our feature, Author Interview.

About The Author

Roland Sato Page

Eating the Forbidden Fruit is a gritty fiction novel loosely based on true events in author Roland Sato Page’s life. The newcomer author delivers a personal journey into his rise and demise as a St. Louis City Police Officer. He takes the readers on a roller coaster ride of good ole family memories to the nightmarish reality of being a police officer indicted on federal charges. During his trial, he wrote memoirs as a testimonial of redemption. Roland’s case stems from the conflict of his childhood affiliation and his oath to uphold the law. What is certain is one can’t run from sin for karma is much faster.
Roland Sato Page was born in Brooklyn New York in a military household with a mother from Osaka Japan and a combat trainer father with three war tours under his belt. He grew up in a well-disciplined home with five other siblings. As he got older his family relocated to St. Louis where the author planted his roots and also pursued a military life in the Army Reserves.
Roland married his high school sweetheart and started a family of four. Roland joined the St. Louis police department were his career was cut short when he was convicted of federal crimes due to his childhood affiliation.
After enduring his demise he rebounded becoming a famed a tattoo artist opening Pearl Gallery Tattoos in downtown St. Louis Mo. The company grew into a family business yet another unfortunate incident tested his fate. He was diagnosed with Lupus which halted his body art career. However, with tragedy comes blessings. Roland’s sons took over the business and propelled the shop to a higher level. Roland consumed with depression began writing to occupy the time. With a newfound passion, he traded visual art for literary art.

You can connect with the author here:

Author Website  | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram



The Interview

 

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.

My name is Roland Sato Page hailing from St. Louis Mo. I am a husband, father of 4, a person with too many past occupations, and I’ve been cursed and blessed during my journey.

 

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Eating the Forbidden Fruit a urban fiction loosely based on true events form my past as a St. Louis police officer convicted of federal crimes because my childhood affiliation. A roller coaster ride of emotions drama, humor, and love. I put my heart and soul into this book. March 30, 2020 is the official launch date. Pre-orders available mid February.

 

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

My wife because the many times when people said we would never make it and here we are three decades later. Strong as ever.

 

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

Well I was a quite fortunate tattoo business owner years back. I was diagnosed with Lupus, which halted my body art career. To make matters worse my mother passed away therefore I descended into a deep depression. My wife and kids encouraged me to find another hobby to distract me from my woes. I started writing discovering I had a passion for the literary realm. Quite therapeutic.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

I would say seven months or more. The beginning was slow but once I open my heart the words flowed onto the paper. Now I have insomnia so I started on another novel titled “Skin Deep”. It’s based the temptations and desires in the body Art industry.

What are your writing ambitions? Are you working on any new projects presently?

It’s not about the fame or money. I write to maintain my sanity. Now I have insomnia so I started on another novel titled “Skin Deep”. It’s based the temptations and desires in the body Art industry.

Why have you chosen this genre?

I choose fiction to maintain the respect and privacy of characters in my storyline. I prefer to narrate life experiences that I have endured. So much easier to translate onto paper.

 

When did you decide to become a writer?

Once I discovered being a author requires a artistic mind it was natural. I traded visual art (tattooing) for literary art. I manage my depression so much better now.

 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

In the privacy of my own home. Actually in my mom’s old rocking chair sipping on some maca green tea.

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

It varies mostly on my laptop however sometimes I do a outline on a notepad. If I’m out and a moment pops in my head I will grab whatever is available.

Your 5 favourite books?

S.E. Hinton “The Outsiders”, Andrew Walker ‘Se7en”, Stephen King “Shawshank Redemption”, Alice Walker “Color Purple”, James Haskins “The Cotton Club”.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I’ll take a drive with my wife even late night trips. We talk a bit suddenly unblock. Sometimes you got to back off not to rush it.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write from the heart and stay humble. You have to keep a open minded to criticism and feedback. I’m still learning myself so I can gain knowledge and alliances.

Thank you, Roland, for all the interesting answers!


About The Book

Eating The Forbidden Fruit

A gritty fictional novel based on true events in author Roland Sato Page life as a St. Louis police officer convicted of federal crimes. A tale of karma, confession, and redemption. The author takes you on a roller coaster ride of his journey searching for the answer “Where did he go wrong?”

You can find Eating The Forbidden Fruit, here:

AmazonGoodreads | Website

 


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Spotlight: Roland Sato Page

Welcome to TRB Lounge, the section of TRB dedicated to Book Promotions. Today, we are featuring Roland Sato Page, author of Eating The Forbidden Fruit, for the Author Spotlight feature.

About The Author

Roland Sato Page

Eating the Forbidden Fruit is a gritty fiction novel loosely based on true events in author Roland Sato Page’s life. The newcomer author delivers a personal journey into his rise and demise as a St. Louis City Police Officer. He takes the readers on a roller coaster ride of good ole family memories to the nightmarish reality of being a police officer indicted on federal charges. During his trial, he wrote memoirs as a testimonial of redemption. Roland’s case stems from the conflict of his childhood affiliation and his oath to uphold the law. What is certain is one can’t run from sin for karma is much faster.
Roland Sato Page was born in Brooklyn New York in a military household with a mother from Osaka Japan and a combat trainer father with three war tours under his belt. He grew up in a well-disciplined home with five other siblings. As he got older his family relocated to St. Louis where the author planted his roots and also pursued a military life in the Army Reserves.
Roland married his high school sweetheart and started a family of four. Roland joined the St. Louis police department were his career was cut short when he was convicted of federal crimes due to his childhood affiliation.
After enduring his demise he rebounded becoming a famed a tattoo artist opening Pearl Gallery Tattoos in downtown St. Louis Mo. The company grew into a family business yet another unfortunate incident tested his fate. He was diagnosed with Lupus which halted his body art career. However, with tragedy comes blessings. Roland’s sons took over the business and propelled the shop to a higher level. Roland consumed with depression began writing to occupy the time. With a newfound passion, he traded visual art for literary art.

You can connect with the author here:

Author Website  | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


About The Book

Eating The Forbidden Fruit

A gritty fictional novel based on true events in author Roland Sato Page life as a St. Louis police officer convicted of federal crimes. A tale of karma, confession, and redemption. The author takes you on a roller coaster ride of his journey searching for the answer “Where did he go wrong?”

You can find Eating The Forbidden Fruit, here:

AmazonGoodreads | Website


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author/book featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Spotlight: Eating The Forbidden Fruit by Roland Sato Page

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Roland Sato Page novel Eating The Forbidden Fruit.

Presenting… Eating The Forbidden Fruit

Book Name: Eating The Forbidden Fruit
Author: Roland Sato Page
Series:
Publisher: Pearl Publishing
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Page Count: –
Release date: 30th March 2020

 


Synopsis

A gritty fictional novel based on true events in author Roland Sato Page life as a St. Louis police officer convicted of federal crimes. A tale of karma, confession, and redemption. The author takes you on a roller coaster ride of his journey searching for the answer “Where did he go wrong?”

You can find Eating The Forbidden Fruit here:

AmazonGoodreads | Website


About The Author

 

Roland Sato Page

Eating the Forbidden Fruit is a gritty fiction novel loosely based on true events in author Roland Sato Page’s life. The newcomer author delivers a personal journey into his rise and demise as a St. Louis City Police Officer. He takes the readers on a roller coaster ride of good ole family memories to the nightmarish reality of being a police officer indicted on federal charges. During his trial, he wrote memoirs as a testimonial of redemption. Roland’s case stems from the conflict of his childhood affiliation and his oath to uphold the law. What is certain is one can’t run from sin for karma is much faster.
Roland Sato Page was born in Brooklyn New York in a military household with a mother from Osaka Japan and a combat trainer father with three war tours under his belt. He grew up in a well-disciplined home with five other siblings. As he got older his family relocated to St. Louis where the author planted his roots and also pursued a military life in the Army Reserves.
Roland married his high school sweetheart and started a family of four. Roland joined the St. Louis police department were his career was cut short when he was convicted of federal crimes due to his childhood affiliation.
After enduring his demise he rebounded becoming a famed a tattoo artist opening Pearl Gallery Tattoos in downtown St. Louis Mo. The company grew into a family business yet another unfortunate incident tested his fate. He was diagnosed with Lupus which halted his body art career. However, with tragedy comes blessings. Roland’s sons took over the business and propelled the shop to a higher level. Roland consumed with depression began writing to occupy the time. With a newfound passion, he traded visual art for literary art.

You can connect with the author here:

Author Website  | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Cover Reveal: Eating The Forbidden Fruit by Roland Sato Page

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Roland Sato Page, for the cover reveal of his upcoming book Eating The Forbidden Fruit.

Presenting the intriguing cover of Eating The Forbidden Fruit by Roland Sato Page

 

A gritty fictional novel based on true events in author Roland Sato Page life as a St. Louis police officer convicted of federal crimes. A tale of karma, confession, and redemption. The author takes you on a roller coaster ride of his journey searching for the answer “Where did he go wrong?”

You can find Requiem, Changing Times here:

AmazonGoodreads | Website


About The Author

Roland Sato Page

Eating the Forbidden Fruit is a gritty fiction novel loosely based on true events in author Roland Sato Page’s life. The newcomer author delivers a personal journey into his rise and demise as a St. Louis City Police Officer. He takes the readers on a roller coaster ride of good ole family memories to the nightmarish reality of being a police officer indicted on federal charges. During his trial, he wrote memoirs as a testimonial of redemption. Roland’s case stems from the conflict of his childhood affiliation and his oath to uphold the law. What is certain is one can’t run from sin for karma is much faster.
Roland Sato Page was born in Brooklyn New York in a military household with a mother from Osaka Japan and a combat trainer father with three war tours under his belt. He grew up in a well-disciplined home with five other siblings. As he got older his family relocated to St. Louis where the author planted his roots and also pursued a military life in the Army Reserves.
Roland married his high school sweetheart and started a family of four. Roland joined the St. Louis police department were his career was cut short when he was convicted of federal crimes due to his childhood affiliation.
After enduring his demise he rebounded becoming a famed a tattoo artist opening Pearl Gallery Tattoos in downtown St. Louis Mo. The company grew into a family business yet another unfortunate incident tested his fate. He was diagnosed with Lupus which halted his body art career. However, with tragedy comes blessings. Roland’s sons took over the business and propelled the shop to a higher level. Roland consumed with depression began writing to occupy the time. With a newfound passion, he traded visual art for literary art.

Author Website  | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at  thereadingbud@gmail.com

Excerpt Reveal: The Latecomers by Rich Marcello

Welcome to TRB-Lounge, the section of TRB dedicated to book promotions. Today, I’d like to welcome author Rich Marcello, for sharing an excerpt from his latest release The Latecomers.

Read on to get a sneak-peek into this amazing new read!

About The Book

 

AN AGING COUPLE AND THEIR CLOSEST FRIENDS PIECE TOGETHER A LIFE-CHANGING PLAN FROM AN OTHERWORLDLY TEXT.

Maggie and Charlie Latecomer, at the beginning of the last third of their lives, love each other but are conflicted over what it means to age well in a youth-oriented society. Forced into early retirement and with grown children in distant cities, they’ve settled into a curbed routine, leaving Charlie restless and longing for more

When the Latecomers and their friends discover a mystical book of indecipherable logographs, the corporeal world and preternatural world intertwine. They set off on a restorative journey to uncover the secrets of the book that pits them against a potent corporate foe in a struggle for the hearts and minds of woman and men the world over.

A treatise on aging, health, wisdom, and love couched in an adventure, The Latecomers will make readers question the nature of deep relationships and the fabric of modern society.

You can find the book here:
AmazonGoodreads | Facebook


Book Excerpt

***

About The Author

Rich Marcello

Rich is the author of four novels, The Color of Home, The Big Wide Calm, and The Beauty of the Fall, The Latecomers, and the poetry collection, The Long Body That Connects Us All. He also teaches creative writing at Seven Bridges’ Writer Collaborative. Previously, he enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.

The Color of Home was published in 2013. Author Myron Rogers says the novel “sings an achingly joyful blues tune, a tune we’ve all sung, but seldom with such poetry and depth.” The Big Wide Calmwas published in 2014. The US Review of Books stated, “Marcello’s novel has a lot going for it. Well-written, thought-provoking, and filled with flawed characters, it meets all of the basic requirements of best-of-show in the literary fiction category.” The Beauty of the Fall was published in 2016. The Midwest Review of Books called it “a deftly crafted novel by a master of the storytelling arts” and “a consistently compelling read from cover to cover.” The Long Body That Connects Us All was published in 2018. Publishers Daily said, “Fathers and sons have always shared a powerful and sometimes difficult bond. Rich Marcello, in a marvelous new collection of extraordinary verse, drinks deeply from this well as he channels the thoughts and feelings of every father for his son.”

As anyone who has read Rich’s work can tell you, his books deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, aging, self-discovery. His novels are rich with characters and ideas, crafted by a natural storyteller, with the eye and the ear of a poet. For Rich, writing and art making is about connection, or as he says, about making a difference to a least one other person in the world, something he has clearly achieved many times over, both as an artist, a mentor, and a teacher.

Rich lives in Massachusetts with his family. He is currently working on his fifth and sixth novels, Cenotaphs and In the Seat of the Eddas.

YOU CAN CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR HERE
Website | Email  | Goodreads

Character Interview: Maggie Latecomer from The Latecomers by Rich Marcello

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the section of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring Maggie Latecomer, one of the lead characters in author Rich Marcello’s The Latecomers, for a Character Interview.

About The Author

Rich Marcello

Rich is the author of four novels, The Color of Home, The Big Wide Calm, and The Beauty of the Fall, The Latecomers, and the poetry collection, The Long Body That Connects Us All. He also teaches creative writing at Seven Bridges’ Writer Collaborative. Previously, he enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.

The Color of Home was published in 2013. Author Myron Rogers says the novel “sings an achingly joyful blues tune, a tune we’ve all sung, but seldom with such poetry and depth.” The Big Wide Calmwas published in 2014. The US Review of Books stated, “Marcello’s novel has a lot going for it. Well-written, thought-provoking, and filled with flawed characters, it meets all of the basic requirements of best-of-show in the literary fiction category.” The Beauty of the Fall was published in 2016. The Midwest Review of Books called it “a deftly crafted novel by a master of the storytelling arts” and “a consistently compelling read from cover to cover.” The Long Body That Connects Us All was published in 2018. Publishers Daily said, “Fathers and sons have always shared a powerful and sometimes difficult bond. Rich Marcello, in a marvelous new collection of extraordinary verse, drinks deeply from this well as he channels the thoughts and feelings of every father for his son.”

As anyone who has read Rich’s work can tell you, his books deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, aging, self-discovery. His novels are rich with characters and ideas, crafted by a natural storyteller, with the eye and the ear of a poet. For Rich, writing and art making is about connection, or as he says, about making a difference to a least one other person in the world, something he has clearly achieved many times over, both as an artist, a mentor, and a teacher.

Rich lives in Massachusetts with his family. He is currently working on his fifth and sixth novels, Cenotaphs and In the Seat of the Eddas.

YOU CAN CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR HERE

Website | Email  | Goodreads



The Interview

 

Welcome to TRB! We are really excited to have you over. Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.

I’m Maggie Latecomer. I live in Northampton, Massachusetts with my husband, Charlie. We’ve been together for twenty years now, and I’m looking forward to a long and prosperous retirement with him.

What is your age and what do you do for a living?

I’m fifty-five years old, and I’m retired, not by choice. I was told I lost my job as an executive at a big pharmaceutical company because of the economy, though I think it has more to do with ageism.

What are your hobbies?

I love to paint, and I’m good at it. Mostly abstract stuff done in oil, and lately, Charlie is a subject in all of them.

Please share some of your beliefs (can be religious or political or anything really that will help you get to know you better), morals and principles that you like to adhere to. Do you have any theories regarding things around you?

I’m a big believer in moais,  an Okinawan word defined as a circle of people who purposely meet up and look out for each other.  Mine consists of Charlie and me though I often think about adding some of our close friends. Maybe this is the year.

 

Tell us something about your family and childhood.

Our marriage a second marriage for both of us. I have two sons from my first marriage, twins, and Charlie has a daughter from his first marriage. We don’t see them as much as I would like because we all live far from each other.

When I was young, I loved to protest for just causes like the Equal Rights Amendment and the climate crisis. I was idealistic, full of passion, and still believed I could change the world.

 

Tell us something about your dreams and aspirations? Were you able to achieve your dreams or are you planning to?

For me, our Northampton life in our moai exemplifies life at its best, a life filled with love, with self-expression, with presence, with friends, with the community. Isn’t that everyone’s dream of gracefully growing old?

 

What is your biggest fear in life?

Losing all that we’ve worked so hard to build.

 

How would you like to describe your life at present?

It’s good.  Though Charlie has been a little restless this last year.

 

What is the worst thing that has happened to you?

My divorce from my first husband was hard, especially given the age of my boys at the time. But we got through it. Also, I didn’t much like losing my job a few years back. I was so committed to my company.

 

Did it change you for the better or the worse?

I would say, over time, it changed me for the better and led me to what’s been a good and generative life in Northampton.

 

What are you planning for the future?

More of the same. I hope Charlie and I have another thirty years or so in front of us. I hope we spend all of it in Northampton.

 

Thank you, Maggie, for all your answers. It was an absolute pleasure to have you with us!


About The Book

The Latecomers

AN AGING COUPLE AND THEIR CLOSEST FRIENDS PIECE TOGETHER A LIFE-CHANGING PLAN FROM AN OTHERWORLDLY TEXT.

Maggie and Charlie Latecomer, at the beginning of the last third of their lives, love each other but are conflicted over what it means to age well in a youth-oriented society. Forced into early retirement and with grown children in distant cities, they’ve settled into a curbed routine, leaving Charlie restless and longing for more

When the Latecomers and their friends discover a mystical book of indecipherable logographs, the corporeal world and preternatural world intertwine. They set off on a restorative journey to uncover the secrets of the book that pits them against a potent corporate foe in a struggle for the hearts and minds of woman and men the world over.

A treatise on aging, health, wisdom, and love couched in an adventure, The Latecomers will make readers question the nature of deep relationships and the fabric of modern society.

You can find the book here:

AmazonGoodreads | Facebook

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed yourself or have your character interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Spotlight: Requiem, Changing Times by R.J. Parker

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author RJ Parker’s novel Requiem, Changing Times.

Presenting… Requiem, Changing Times

Book Name: Requiem, Changing Times
Author: R.J. Parker
Series:
Publisher: Olympia Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Page Count: 462
Release date: 26th September 2019

 


Synopsis

Clint and Corbin are having a weird day. Best friends for life, things are getting a little strange around their town, and at school. When they’re followed by a strange man looking for Clint and later attacked by an imp, it makes sense to retreat to the safety of home. But when strangers from another world, Banks and O’Neil, arrive with their medley of allies, things get even weirder. Why are they here? What do they want? And what is The Requiem that everyone keeps talking about? As Clint and his friends and family are drawn deeper into a thrilling adventure, only one thing is for sure. They may not be getting out alive. And class with Mrs Christenson will seem like a walk in the park after this.

You can find Requiem, Changing Times here:

Amazon | Goodreads | Olympia Publishers


About The Author

R.J. Parker

Russell Parker was born in Bountiful, Utah. As his father was a safety manager he had to move around until his senior year of high school, when he came to Cache Valley, Utah to stay. He married the most wonderful woman in the world and they are the parents of four fantastic kids, with one crazy dog. Russell played all kinds of sports and was an outdoorsman until an accident brought him to writing. A writer since high school, encouragement brout his stories to life.

You can connect with the author here:

Author WebsitePublisher Website  | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Guest Post – My Writing Journey by R.J. Parker

Today, at TRB Lounge, we are hosting R.J. Parker, author of Requiem, Changing Times, to share some insight about his writing journey and his writing process through a short guest post.

My Writing Journey

It is great to do a guest post on, “The Reading Bud!” I am RJ Parker, author of Requiem Changing Times. I still do not think of my self as an author. I wrote some stories by my teachers’ invitation in Junior High. I even won some awards. But I never gave it another thought as I started into sports, music and dating. Popularity went straight to my head and I couldn’t get enough of the limelight. That started to change when my mother and sister were in a car accident. My sister passed away and my mother was in a coma. When she came out, she was completely different. Life went on with the most wonderful wife, four kids and a promising career. Then everything changed.

I had back pain all my life, but it was getting worse. I had to keep working to take care of my family and worked with the doctors. What turned out to be just an inconvenience became serious within a few months.

I was first diagnosed with lower back deterioration. That wasn’t so bad. Through all my physical activity, sports, and hard work. I had crushed my lower back. That wasn’t so bad. I herniated some of my spinel disks into my nervous system. That wasn’t so bad. It wasn’t until the disks had rubbed so much against the nerves in by spine that I said it was bad. I started to lose feeling and mobility in my leg and begin the wonderful opportunity for doctors to really work on me. I have had several surgeries and procedures. In the time I had of being flat on my back, I read. In reading I was wished I could change the stories I read. So I started to lay the foundation of what I liked to read and what I wish someone would write.

To keep what little sanity I had I begin the story. I found inspiration all around me. I had difficulty writing fast enough before the next story would hit. When I finished, I went back and worked on it repeatedly. I kept at it until I got it to the point it is today. From that time on, I loved to write stories. I have finished four with three more on the way and two more being printed. It has been a humbling journey. I wouldn’t wish what I have been through on anyone, but I wouldn’t change the lessons I have learned for anything.

– R.J. Parker


About the author

R.J. Parker

Russell Parker was born in Bountiful, Utah. As his father was a safety manager he had to move around until his senior year of high school, when he came to Cache Valley, Utah to stay. He married the most wonderful woman in the world and they are the parents of four fantastic kids, with one crazy dog. Russell played all kinds of sports and was an outdoorsman until an accident brought him to writing. A writer since high school, encouragement brout his stories to life.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author WebsitePublisher Website  | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook


ABOUT THE BOOK

Requiem, Changing Times

Clint and Corbin are having a weird day. Best friends for life, things are getting a little strange around their town, and at school. When they’re followed by a strange man looking for Clint and later attacked by an imp, it makes sense to retreat to the safety of home. But when strangers from another world, Banks and O’Neil, arrive with their medley of allies, things get even weirder. Why are they here? What do they want? And what is The Requiem that everyone keeps talking about? As Clint and his friends and family are drawn deeper into a thrilling adventure, only one thing is for sure. They may not be getting out alive. And class with Mrs Christenson will seem like a walk in the park after this.

You can find Requiem, Changing Times here:

Amazon | Goodreads | Olympia Publishers


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author’s guest post on TRB, then please get in touch through email at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: R.J. Parker

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring R.J. Parker, author of Requiem, Changing Times, for our feature, Author Interview.

About The Author

R.J. Parker

Russell Parker was born in Bountiful, Utah. As his father was a safety manager he had to move around until his senior year of high school, when he came to Cache Valley, Utah to stay. He married the most wonderful woman in the world and they are the parents of four fantastic kids, with one crazy dog. Russell played all kinds of sports and was an outdoorsman until an accident brought him to writing. A writer since high school, encouragement brout his stories to life.

YOU CAN CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR HERE

Author WebsitePublisher Website  | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook



The Interview

 

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Requiem is set in two different places and times. I wanted to write something that would bring fantasy to our world. Something that you could see happening when you open the door or look out your window. To do this there had to be spy’s, science, elves, trolls, goblins, imps, spellbinders, dwarfs, magic and the group that has the most fantasy streaming through it…. the government.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

There are two for me that I couldn’t get enough of. The first is Corbin. He has had a very difficult family live and is the guy who has not been picked for any sports team. So he deals with it with humor. The next is O’Neil. He is a carefree character who can see the fun in anything. He doesn’t care what others think and gets the job done. He is a dwarf making the best of both worlds, literally.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I had some health issues which left me on my back for months. I read a lot of books and I got to a point where I wished I could change them just a little. In some cases, a lot. Before I lost what little sanity I had, (some would say to late) I begin writing my own novel. I wanted to write one that I wished I could read. I researched as much as I could in the things I wished to put in a book and couldn’t stop writing it.

 

How long did it take you to write it?

It didn’t take me long to write at all. When I was finished it was great except for one thing. It stunk. I poured over it changing and tuning it again and again. Until I got it to the point that it is today. All that time was about a year.

 

Are you working on any other project(s) right now? If yes, what are they?

I have finished the sequel to, “Changing Times” and it will be out some time next year. I have also finished the first of another series that will be coming out in two to three months. That one is called, “Crystal Shadows, Gripping New Blood.” I am currently working on the sequel in that series and started on a western adventure.

 

Why have you chosen this genre?

I have always been a fan of Urban fantasy. It is a realm that I think we can all symbolize with and see something that only you can see. It has our reality woven with our dreams.

 

When did you decide to become a writer?

I am still making the decision. I don’t consider myself a write as I do a storyteller.

 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

To be honest I just do it. I began to think of every part of the story within the story and map it out. Now it just works itself out that way.

 

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

My computer is my best friend when it comes to writing and spell check is my best friend. I tend to write so fast that I would if I didn’t have that, we would need a team of translators just to get past the heading.

 

Your 5 favorite books?

The first would be canonical books. Religion is very important to me. The next four would be a tie, Harry Potter series, Lord of the Rings series, George Lucas books, Shannara series, and Green Eggs and Ham to top it off.

 

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I don’t really get it. There is inspiration all around. The hard part is deciding which is the best way the story should turn for me.

 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Get as much education and advice as you can. Find out what works for you and keep at. There have been some who I have meet that plan every little thing in their books, down to what food their characters eat. Even when that has nothing to do with the book. Then there are some who just write and then go with it and let the story unfold.

There are so many ways to do it, find what works for you and have at it, keep at it and enjoy it.

 

Thank you, R.J. Parker, for all the interesting answers!


About The Book

Requiem, Changing Times

Clint and Corbin are having a weird day. Best friends for life, things are getting a little strange around their town, and at school. When they’re followed by a strange man looking for Clint and later attacked by an imp, it makes sense to retreat to the safety of home. But when strangers from another world, Banks and O’Neil, arrive with their medley of allies, things get even weirder. Why are they here? What do they want? And what is The Requiem that everyone keeps talking about? As Clint and his friends and family are drawn deeper into a thrilling adventure, only one thing is for sure. They may not be getting out alive. And class with Mrs Christenson will seem like a walk in the park after this.

Amazon | Goodreads | Olympia Publishers


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Rich Marcello

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring Rich Marcello, author of The Latecomers, for our feature, Author Interview.

About The Author

Rich Marcello

Rich is the author of four novels, The Color of Home, The Big Wide Calm, and The Beauty of the Fall, The Latecomers, and the poetry collection, The Long Body That Connects Us All. He also teaches creative writing at Seven Bridges’ Writer Collaborative. Previously, he enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.

The Color of Home was published in 2013. Author Myron Rogers says the novel “sings an achingly joyful blues tune, a tune we’ve all sung, but seldom with such poetry and depth.” The Big Wide Calmwas published in 2014. The US Review of Books stated, “Marcello’s novel has a lot going for it. Well-written, thought-provoking, and filled with flawed characters, it meets all of the basic requirements of best-of-show in the literary fiction category.” The Beauty of the Fall was published in 2016. The Midwest Review of Books called it “a deftly crafted novel by a master of the storytelling arts” and “a consistently compelling read from cover to cover.” The Long Body That Connects Us All was published in 2018. Publishers Daily said, “Fathers and sons have always shared a powerful and sometimes difficult bond. Rich Marcello, in a marvelous new collection of extraordinary verse, drinks deeply from this well as he channels the thoughts and feelings of every father for his son.”

As anyone who has read Rich’s work can tell you, his books deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, aging, self-discovery. His novels are rich with characters and ideas, crafted by a natural storyteller, with the eye and the ear of a poet. For Rich, writing and art making is about connection, or as he says, about making a difference to a least one other person in the world, something he has clearly achieved many times over, both as an artist, a mentor, and a teacher.

Rich lives in Massachusetts with his family. He is currently working on his fifth and sixth novels, Cenotaphs and In the Seat of the Eddas.

YOU CAN CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR HERE

Website | Email  | Goodreads



The Interview

 

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.

My name is Rich Marcello.  I’ve been writing full time now for almost nine years and have been fortunate to have four of my novels published along with my first collection of poetry.  Before I became a professional writer, I ran several multi-billion dollar hi-tech businesses. Today, I’m going to discuss my fourth novel, The Latecomers.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

The Latecomers is the first of what I hope will be four Latecomers novels.

 

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

My favorite character is Maggie Latecomer.  What I love most about her is her strength, her resilience, and ultimately, her decision to embrace her destiny. When the novel starts, she believes the last third of her life is securely headed in one direction, with Charlie at her side, and when things don’t go as planned, it was wonderful to witness her grow in such an unexpected way.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I wanted to write a book about older characters in the last third of their lives who do something extraordinary. There aren’t many stories like this out there, and I think it’s a real issue with contemporary fiction. In many ways, our society devalues its elders, so I wanted to show how fifty- and sixty-something characters might evolve, do hero-like things normally reserved for the young, and become wiser as a result.  I believe we’ve lost the notion of the importance of wisdom in our society; I wanted to tell a story of how at least a few people might find their wisdom.

 

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Three years.

 

What are your writing ambitions? Are you working on any new projects presently?

I’m currently working on two novels. Cenotaphs is almost complete and will be out next year. In the Seat of the Eddas is the second book in The Latecomers’ series.

 

Why have you chosen this genre?

I was interested in writing a novel that crossed genres.  I wanted to tell a story that combined the best character-related aspects of literary fiction with a bit of magical realism.  I was interested in going deep into Maggie and Charlie’s approach to life, and, at the same time, sending them on an unexpected mystical adventure.

 

When did you decide to become a writer?

I’ve written all of my life, but I decided to become a professional writer about nine years ago.

 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I write every morning in my writing studio for about five hours. I rarely take a day off.  I live on a lake in Massachusetts, so my studio is an ideal place to create.

 

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Initially, I write out each scene by hand. Then I enter it into the computer, print out a copy of my work, and edit it by hand.  I find the process of putting pen to paper works better when it comes to getting all of the emotion into a scene.

 

Your 5 favourite books?

  1. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.
  2. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy.
  3. Underworld by Don DeLillo
  4. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  5. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

 

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I haven’t experienced it.  I have so many ideas for books, so I’m hopeful I’ll have time to get all of them down on paper! I think I haven’t had a problem with writer’s block because this my second career and I’m more than thankful I’ve found my voice.

 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Find a routine that works for you and stick to it. Great writers have some innate ability, yes, but most work extremely hard at their craft in a disciplined way.

 

Thank you, Rich, for all the insightful answers!


About The Book

The Latecomers

AN AGING COUPLE AND THEIR CLOSEST FRIENDS PIECE TOGETHER A LIFE-CHANGING PLAN FROM AN OTHERWORLDLY TEXT.

Maggie and Charlie Latecomer, at the beginning of the last third of their lives, love each other but are conflicted over what it means to age well in a youth-oriented society. Forced into early retirement and with grown children in distant cities, they’ve settled into a curbed routine, leaving Charlie restless and longing for more

When the Latecomers and their friends discover a mystical book of indecipherable logographs, the corporeal world and preternatural world intertwine. They set off on a restorative journey to uncover the secrets of the book that pits them against a potent corporate foe in a struggle for the hearts and minds of woman and men the world over.

A treatise on aging, health, wisdom, and love couched in an adventure, The Latecomers will make readers question the nature of deep relationships and the fabric of modern society.

You can find the book here:

AmazonGoodreads | Facebook


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Excerpt Reveal: Requiem, Changing Times by R.J. Parker

Welcome to TRB-Lounge, the section of TRB dedicated to book promotions. Today, I’d like to welcome author R.J. Parker, for sharing an excerpt from his latest release Requiem, Changing Times.

Read on to get a sneak-peek into this amazing new read!

About The Book

Clint and Corbin are having a weird day. Best friends for life, things are getting a little strange around their town, and at school. When they’re followed by a strange man looking for Clint and later attacked by an imp, it makes sense to retreat to the safety of home. But when strangers from another world, Banks and O’Neil, arrive with their medley of allies, things get even weirder. Why are they here? What do they want? And what is The Requiem that everyone keeps talking about? As Clint and his friends and family are drawn deeper into a thrilling adventure, only one thing is for sure. They may not be getting out alive. And class with Mrs Christenson will seem like a walk in the park after this.

You can find Requiem, Changing Times here:

Amazon | Goodreads | Olympia Publishers


Book Excerpt

Clint looked through his venetian blind at Tamara’s door move as if something was leaning on it from the outside. The only source of light was from Tamara’s window that shown brighter than his from the street lap outside. Also, a single nightlight that was by her bed shimmered, reflecting on the rest of her room which was black down to the carpet.

Clint was looking for anything that he could use for a weapon that was around the room, like one of the lamps by Tamara’s bed, or one of her gothic figurines, when the doorknob shook then started to turn.

With a slight moan the door opened revealing a dark hallway beyond. It was like the storm had cut all power and most of the light through the house as the shadow of a tall image stood in her doorway. Whatever it was Clint couldn’t even see its entire head as it was taller than the door frame at least to the ceiling. There was a flash of lightning again from outside, illuminating it for in instant. Clint saw a large green hand damp from the rain that looked big enough to grip around a basketball and crush it easily. In its other hand it gripped what looked like a giant, crude wooden club, balancing it on one shoulder.

It waited in the hallway, facing the door frame. Clint heard it sniffing the air and the drops of water falling from it hitting the floor. As it stood in the dark hallway Tamara and Clint didn’t move, they didn’t even breathe. Whatever it was in the hallway took one gigantic step inside Tamara’s room, ducking down to bring its head in. Tamara started to take sharper, panicked breaths. She pulled a sleeve of a shirt that was hanging up and bit it, holding it in her mouth to muffle her sound. As it moved deeper into the room Clint watched in awe in the dim light penetrating through the stormy window. Clint saw one of its wet feet was bare and must have been at least a meter long, dark hair covering its skin in small patches on top of the foot. It took another step as it reared its large head searching around for them, still sniffing.

Its muscular frame moved slowly in with its huge club raised, scratching the ceiling. It quickly checked the other side of Tamara’s bed ready to strike if something was there. It had almost no coverings over its skin, just some odd bits of cloth around its waist. It had what looked like tattoos on its arms, chest and back. It also had a thick neck that it stretched to see around the bed and then around Tamara’s chairs, chest of drawers, and other furniture, taking an occasional sniff in the air.

Clint finally saw its face as it turned toward the closet when a lightning bolt struck, illuminating the room. It was sniffing faster now, moving excitedly towards them. Its face was also green with two large teeth growing out of its bottom jaw, it had an upturned nose and prominent overlapping bottom jaw like a barracuda. Its eyes were small and deep set with large bushy eyebrows. Thick black hair was pulled back in dreadlocks. It came closer and closer to them with each heavy step making things in the room shake. It reached out with its club-free hand and touched the far-left closet door.

Tamara and Clint moved as far down as they could to the other side of the closet without making any noise. Clint felt the fear and amazement coursing through him. Tamara started shaking as her breath became unsteady and separated as a large green hand hit the door again. This time the closet door on her end sprang open slightly. Past all the clothes that Clint had pulled on top of himself he could see its fingers open the door the rest of the way. It sniffed some more and reached in toward them. It stopped just short of Clint’s arm and grabbed one of Tamara’s undershirts. It pulled on it, breaking the hanger it was on with remarkable ease and brought it up to its nose, taking one long sniff. It opened its large mouth and laughed softly, threw the undershirt over its club-free shoulder and started to turn to the door where it had come in the room.

Clint moved just his head to keep the intruder visible through his small window space past the clothes and spy the opening in the closet door. The thing moved heavily but gingerly toward the door and when it was out it checked both ways down the hall and stepped out into the hallway.

Suddenly a song cracked through the air from somewhere in the room. It was from Tamara’s cell phone. Tamara shot bolt upright in panic to see her phone on her bed ringing.

“It’s Bill!” she whimpered in terror so low that Clint could barely hear her.

Wham! The intruder had leapt from the doorway across the room and slammed his club over Tamara’s bed, shattering it into pieces. Tamara screamed as the creature lifted its heavy club and turned those small eyes toward the closet. It let out a war cry that sounded like a lion charging to kill. It shifted its weight onto its back foot and started to charge right at the closet door, club held high once more, mouth open yelling, coming right at Clint and Tamara.

Slam! Banks shot from the open door, connecting with the creature that was only a foot away from breaking through the closet door. Banks bared his shoulder into the massive green intruder and with legs pumping drove him to the far side of the room. With both of their strength moving them they were out of control as they whirled toward the window.

With an almighty cry from both of them they shattered the window and plummeted down one story as they clung to one other fighting and punching, until they hit the moist earth with a squelching noise like a plunger in a plugged drain. Their cries of war stopped as Banks hit the ground first, the green man landing right next to him. Clint flung the closet door open and hurried to the broken window, looking down as the rain water poured off the roof on top of his head and down to Banks and the intruder who were sprawled on his front lawn.

Clint watched as Banks rolled over on his back, unsheathing a long sword and holding it up in a defensive stance, while the intruder adjusted his grip on the club to hold it on the very end and swung it along the ground while not getting to its feet. The blow hit Banks’s feet causing him to fall sideways back onto the ground, splashing mud and water everywhere as he moaned in pain. The green intruder swung the club high in the air as it got to its knees and, like a hammer meant to drive a man into the ground it came down right at Banks’ head. Banks pushed with his legs sliding down the sloping hill of their front yard, causing the club to miss him by inches and the force of the blow driving the weapon down into the grass.

O’Neil was suddenly by Clint’s side watching Banks and the intruder both get to their feet and face one another.

“Orc!” O’Neil shouted as he pulled out a short metal handle, and as he brought it to the ready a blue axe blade composed of flames erupted from it. The Orc howled again, giving Banks a taunting swing with the club and held its arms wide showing its bare chest. Banks stood firm and for some reason held out a hand as if he was telling the Orc that he wanted a timeout. In that moment there was a sharp sound of a bow shooting. A glowing fire arrow hit the Orc in the right thigh causing it to fall to one knee. Just then O’Neil dove off the roof, planning to land on the Orc but the Orc with only one good leg started to slide down the slippery slope causing O’Neil to miss and fall face first in the mud.


About The Author

R.J. Parker

Russell Parker was born in Bountiful, Utah. As his father was a safety manager he had to move around until his senior year of high school, when he came to Cache Valley, Utah to stay. He married the most wonderful woman in the world and they are the parents of four fantastic kids, with one crazy dog. Russell played all kinds of sports and was an outdoorsman until an accident brought him to writing. A writer since high school, encouragement brout his stories to life.

Author WebsitePublisher Website  | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook