It’s Launch Day!! Sentinals Recovery

Sentinals Recovery: Book 3.5 of the Sentinal series, is now live!!!!

I am so thrilled to share my latest book with you, especially as I never planned to write Sentinals Recovery. But I couldn’t physically fit Birlerion returning to Greenswatch in Sentinals Justice, and I had to write about Birlerion and his Darian, it was the least I could do for the poor man!

5 Star Goodreads are already being posted!!

“Unputdownable.”

“I’m glad that Helen could not fit this in to Sentinals Justice as this story dedicated to Birlerion was exactly what I needed.”

“…ensnared, and lost in the world of Remargaren from the very first paragraph. A beautiful read.”

Sentinals Recovery is a novella set in the world of Remargaren. It occurs immediately after the battle at Oprimere. Although this is a complete story, the reader would benefit from reading the first three books in the series.

Birlerion is recovering from the near fatal injuries he received in his second, epic battle with the Ascendants. He returns home to Greenswatch to recuperate and finally meet his Darian stallion, Kin’arol, who has been waiting, somewhat impatiently, to bond with him.

Only Kin’arol is not there. Someone has stolen him. For such a distinctive horse, he has vanished into thin air.

Though not fully recovered, and still hampered by his injuries, Birlerion sets off, accompanied by his brother Versillion, to recover his horse. Not even Assassins, belligerent Terolians or the harsh Terolian desert will stop him from bonding with Kin’arol, though his failing body might.

Purchase Sentinals Recovery here:

Thank you!

The Sentinal Series

Novella o.5: Sentinals Stirring (Free novella if you sign up to my newsletter.)

Book One: Sentinals Awaken

Book Two: Sentinals Rising

Book Three: Sentinals Justice

Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery (Novella)

Author Interview – R&C Christiansen

Author of theTainted Love Trilogy

Today we meet contemporary romance author husband and wife team, R & C Christiansen, who write tough love, emotionally powerful novels, not always with a happy ending.

Helen: I am so excited to chat with you about your Tainted Love series. You have been sharing such great snippets of your books on instagram recently that I can’t wait to dive in. I haven’t read them yet, I’ve been holding off, knowing these are going to be an emotional rollercoaster, which I’m not sure I am quite ready for but well worth the read. Tell us about your series.

R & C Christiansen: My latest release, Hush, is part of a five book collection called the Tainted Love Series. The first three books were originally a trilogy that is now rolled into one book with three parts titled Tainted Love: The Complete Trilogy. It’s dark romance, friends to lovers, and the storyline gets deeper and darker with each book eventually ending with a HEA. 

Then there is Whisper: A Tainted Love Story which is a tragic non-HEA love story that’s set around two side characters from the original series. It depicts a couple who struggle to come to terms with their past as they push forward in a world they don’t seem to belong in. 

Last, I wrote Hush: The Final Tainted Story, about the younger brother of the MC in Whisper. He is a mute man who can’t read or write, and his story ends tragically also as we learn that he is in love with his brother’s wife and has no way to express nor act on it. Again, it is non-HEA and is bound to cause a variety of emotions as Cliff’s struggles are heart-breaking. I do have a trigger warning across the entire series because the subject matter demands it, but in truth, I wrote each book delicately knowing there is a thin line between dark romance and outright darkness. 

Helen: This series is about tough love in tough situations. What made you write it?

R & C Christiansen: In the beginning, I had wanted to create a realistic dark romance that centered around real everyday issues people face. I wanted to show that love isn’t always perfect. It can be messy, painful, unpredictable even, but it’s something worth fighting for if two people are meant to be together. The trilogy itself represents all that and more. It’s the story of a couple (Whiskey & Vixen) who battle each other’s demons together and for each other, yet they both come from opposite sides of the spectrum. In the end, it was my fans that asked me to write the other side of the story when it came to the side characters who had no way out of the ‘darkness’ and that is how both Whisper and Hush came about.

Helen: You have such powerful characters in your series, who was your favourite character to write?

R & C Christiansen: That’s a hard question to answer because each character is so unique and strong in their own right. I’d have to go with Ken from Whisper, only because he’s more villain than hero, yet his love for his wife and brother is unparalleled when it comes to the other characters.

Helen: Tell us about your writing process. Do you listen to music or do you prefer silence when you are writing?

R & C Christiansen: Hell yes! I find music is a huge part of writing, it can inspire the feelings I need to harness in order to create the emotion I’m aiming for. Each of my books have playlists in Spotify, and both Whisper and Hush have a playlist included in the book. My current inspirations have been In This Moment, Creed, Palaye Royale, and Linkin Park. My favorite of the bands has to be In This Moment because my God, Maria Brink’s voice is out of this world. If I could compare her to one of my characters, she’d be Vixen from The Tainted Love Trilogy. She’s absolutely incredible. 

Helen: I must admit I have certain albums I listen to when writing. And then of course, afterwards I always think of the charcters when I hear the songs. Do you find it easier to plan what you write, or are you a pantser, and let the book go where it will?

R & C Christiansen: I’m a pantser all the way. My novels are mainly written in first person, present tense, so I have the ability to jump inside my character’s minds and act out their scenes on paper. I let them take the lead and tell me where the story is going. My husband and co-writer says the characters are my alternate personalities and sometimes I think he’s right. 

Helen: I must adnmit I am the same. I don’t write first person, but I do get into my characters heads to see what they see. I love the immersive aspect. Most writers are great readers; who is your favourite author?

R & C Christiansen: If we are talking traditionally published, I’d have to go with Tara Sue Me. Her Submissive series was phenomenal and I own every one of her books in paperback. If we are talking about my favorite Indie author, I’d have to go with two. One being Janet Olson who is a YA romance author and her series, New Beginnings is incredible. The second I would mention is Monique Edenwood, her Black Oak dark romance series has it all and I’ve read all of her books to date and am in awe.

Helen: Thank you so much for joining me today, just to close us out can you share some of your favourite books?

R & C Christiansen: Oof! That’s a long list. But to keep it short, I’d have to go with Jayne Lockwood’s Closer Than Blood series and Nicci Harris’s Our Thing/Cosa Nostra/ Her Way series. Both series are dark romance, the first being slightly taboo and the other leaning into the mafia world. 

About the Author:

R&C Christiansen is a proud Canadian husband and wife team, although Mrs. Christiansen does the majority of the authoring and Mr. C does the mentoring & proofreading. Together they write dark/erotic romance novels and enjoy reading the same genres when they have time. When the Mrs., is not busy authoring, mothering, or wife-ing, she likes to indulge in a glass of wine, kick back, and think dirty thoughts hoping to inspire the next story within.

You can find more via:

Amazon Author Page

Instagram

You can purchase Tainted Love from Amazon:

UK: eBook | Paperback | Hardcover

USA: eBook | Paperback | Hardcover

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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Author Interview – Ally Aldridge

Author of Ocean Heart

Today we meet British fantasy author Ally Aldridge, who released her debut novel Ocean Heart in December 2020.

Helen: Welcome Ally. Congratulations on the release of your first novel Ocean Heart. Why don’t you start by telling us a little about it.

Ally: Ocean Heart is my debut novel.  It’s a YA Fantasy novel about a teen discovering she’s a mermaid with uncontrollable powers, set in my hometown.  

Ocean Heart is book one in the Soul Heart series.  I’ve drafted Sky Heart, book two, and working on a prequel to the The Soul Heart series. 

The Soul Heart Series will feature a different shifter type in each book enabling readers to discover them all.  

Helen: I love that you’ve based your books in Suffolk where you live. It adds a local element which readers love. How did you come up with the cover design?

Ally: As Ocean Heart is set in the modern world I wanted the cover to have a magic feel but not be mistaken for high fantasy.  Mariah doesn’t fully shift until way into the story so I didn’t want her to be depicted as a mermaid.

I wanted it to be clear the MC’s a young girl.  The red dress underwater is from a very important kissing scene in the book.  

I gave all my ideas to my designers, and she asked me a ton of questions to make sure she knew what my book is about and things I like.  I have a thing for silhouettes so she incorporated into the design. 

The end design blew me away. I was in love with it, and it was everything I dreamed of and more. 

Helen: Covers are so special, and the process of clarifing what you want the cover to depict is so important. Like you, every time I’m blown away with what my designer comes up with. There are so many elements to writing a book, what made you first start writing?

Ally: I started writing at a young age. I fell in love with the characters in the book and didn’t want their stories to end.  So, I wrote them more adventures. And, more adventures.  Then, I made my own characters, worlds, and never stopped. 

Helen: That is so wonderful. Books are so inspiring and when you find characters you love, you never want the stories to end. What is your favourite book?

Ally: I really love the werecat shifter series by Rachel Vincent.  It was the first low fantasy series I read and it sucked me in.  I loved having fantasy in the real world.  It inspired my Soul Heart series. 

Helen: I have a feeling I know the answer to this question! But which do you prefer? Writing or editing?

Ally: I prefer writing, and wish I had more time to invest in it.  I usually write in the evening once my kids are asleep.  This isn’t ideal, as sometimes I need this time to do other things, or I’m too tired at all. 

I loathe editing.  I go over & over my writing, picking holes, second guessing myself.  My editor is worth her weight in gold. She gets what I want to achieve, calls me out on mistakes in a way that makes me laugh, and helps me pull my words together.  

Helen: It is difficult to write after a full and busy day. I try and slip in 30 minutes at lunch or before work, doesn’t always work though! When you write are you a pantser or a planner? Do you know what you intend to write?

Ally: I try hard to be planner because I hate the mess at the end, but I never manage much more than a brief outline.  I then discover the characters and details as a write.  

I sometimes have to stop writing to research.  For example, when my character visited a city hospital I needed to use Google Maps to explore the location.  I also needed to look up oil lamps, and other random things.  Even researched things that have probably put me on a watch list.  

Helen: Ah, yes. What we writers have to research can be quite an interesting list. Talking about lists, I have ideas bubbling for new stories all the time. What about you? How do you come up with ideas for your books?

Ally: I get inspired all the time. Sometimes I’ll be inspired by a phrase, or another story.  Songs and art inspires me too.  I’m always thinking “What if?” And noting down ideas for future stories in my plot bunny vault.

Helen: Thank you so much for joining me today, but before you leave, Ally, I’m sure your readers want to know. What’s next? Is there a new book on the horizon from Ally Adridge?

Ally: Yes, book two is called Sky Heart. It follows Kiely getting over a breakup. She makes some bad choices, gets attacked by a werewolf, joins the reapers, and learns to forgive and move on. It’s darker than Ocean Heart but still YA. Sky Heart is fully written, and just finished the first round on Betas. It needs a few professional edits before it is released into the world but it will be releasing in 2022.

I am also currently working on New Moon, which is a prequel to The Soul Heart Series.  This book follows one of the mums in the series, but throws back to her teens in the late 90s to early 00s.  It will have some magic and romance, which is a common theme in my stories.  

About the Author:


Ally was born in London, but grew up in Suffolk which is where most of her YA Fantasy novels are based.

She is happily married to her high school sweetheart, and together they are raising two  cats, their son and daughter.

When Ally is not writing (or at her day job), she loves spending time with her family at the local beach, in the forest or watching way too much Netflix.

Ally loves a cup of tea and has been known to order one on a night out.

You can find more about Ally via:

Author website

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

You can purchase Ally’s books from Amazon:

Ocean Heart

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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Author Interview – Amey Ziegler

Author of The Swiss Mishap

Today we meet contemporary romance author Amey Ziegler, the author of The Swiss Mishap and the companion novel Swiss Mistletoe and Macaroons which releases in December.

Helen: Welcome Amey. It is such a pleasure to chat with you. Tell us about what you ahve been working on. You have a few books coming out, don’t you?

Amey: I have a bunch of WIP and books coming out soon! My first book coming out comes out this December. Swiss Mistletoe and Macarons is a companion novel to my award-winning rom-com The Swiss Mishap. Then I have Wylder Bride coming Feb 28th. This is a Cyrano de Bergerac meets Mail-order bride meets the Wild West. It’s part of a Wylder West series with multiple author series across many genres.

Helen: You have been very busy! Tell us about the cover of your new book.

Amey: Swiss Mistletoe and Macarons has Jean-Marc on the cover in his chef uninformed. He’s a pastry chef who is used to having his own way. I’ve enclosed an easy recipe for macarons that anyone can make.

Wylder Bride has a barn burning and a train on the cover because it’s an action adventure western romance. Maisie comes west but her train is robbed. She must meet the man writing the letter to the man she loves but she doesn’t know she’s fallen in love with the wrong guy.

Helen: Writing different genres must be such fun, and I am sure there is plenty of romance in there. What made you start writing?

Amey: I started out as a reader. I spent many hours of my childhood curled up with a book. I loved reading Nancy Drew. I wanted to create other stories. When I was in my early 30s I decided to peruse writing seriously.

Helen: Reading is so important to inspire new writers, the more you read, the more your imagination goes wild. Where do you find the ideas for your books?

Amey: Ideas are all around us. I find mine my through personal experience. I’m working on a trio of billionaire romances. I just finished book 2. It was inspired by my undergrad degree in Communication. The two main characters are working on a relationship study at the University of Arizona.

Helen: They do say write what you know about. What is the most useful peice of writing advice you’ve received?

Amey: I read a book early in my study that said hard work is more important than talent. That was encouraging because when I first started out I wasn’t sure if I was talented. You know the saying in order to master a skill you must do it for 10k hours. That’s so true for writing. I wrote every day for two-four hours for eight years before I found a publisher for my first book.

Helen: Do you find you plan out your writing, or do you let it take you where it will? Are you a Planner or Pantser?

Amey: I consider myself a plantser which is a mix of the two. I do figure out a few key items about my character. I have major turning points plotted but in between I discovery write. It’s my process and it’s working for me 😀 every writer does it differently ans that’s okay.nd non-fiction ever since.

Helen: As a writer, do you have time to enjoy other hobbies/activities to get your creative juices going?

Amey: Being a mom is a full time job so it’s hard to find time for hobbies. However because I treat writing as a career I do try to find ways to do things with my kids. One thing I do is  see charity quilts with my kids. They help me pick out colors and help me iron.

Helen: Most writers also read. What is your favourite book?

Amey: I love the Princess Bride. It’s got humor, action, intrigue and love.

Helen: Thank you so much for joining me today, Amey. Just one last question, what advice would you give to new writers just starting out.

Amey: Write. A lot of people want to talk about their cool ideas. Write them. Also study the craft. Get better.

About the Author:

Amey Zeigler loves writing clean and steamy-clean romance with adventure and comedy. 

She enjoys working out, yoga, being a mom of three kids, sewing and making movies.

The Swiss Mishap won the 2019 Swoony for Best New Adult Romance and third place in 2020 OCCRWA Book Buyer’s Best Contest.

Amey lives near Austin, TX. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @ameyzeigler and sign up for her newsletter at http://www.ameyzeigler.com

You can find more about Amey via:

Author website

Twitter

Instagram

You can purchase Amey’s books from Amazon:

The Swiss Mishap

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

Author Interview – Kelly Evans

Author of The Beggar Queen

I am so happy to chat with historical fiction author Kelly Evans, today. I’ve read Kelly’s gothic horror novella The Strange Tale of Miss Victoria Frank and you can find my review here, but today we are talking about Kelly’s latest novel The Beggar Queen which released on August 6th. Welcome Kelly. Let’s start with you introducing your latest novel.

Kelly: My current novel is The Beggar Queen, recently released! It takes place in Seventh Century France and tells the story of Bathilde, kidnapped from England and sold into slavery to a powerful mayor. She thinks her life is over but when the king notices her, everything changes. He marries her but when, in the fashion of Merovingian kings, he dies early, she rules on behalf of her young son. By the end of her life Bathilde had changed the face of France forever.

Helen: This sounds really interesting, sometimes real history is more exciting than fiction! What can you tell us about the cover? I am assuming this Bathilde?

Kelly:The cover for The Beggar Queen shows the main character, Bathilde, in the chemise she chose to wear when she retired to a monastery. The chemise is based on her actual clothing, still kept in the monastery she founded in Chelles, France. When she gave up the riches of her life, she had a jewelled cross embroidered on the front to remind her of the life she once led.

Helen: She sounds like an extraordinary woman who lived an extradorinary life. What made you choose to write her story?

Kelly: I like bringing little known women in history out of the footnotes of the (mostly) men and telling their stories. There are so many amazing women whose stories need to be told, it’s difficult to chose. Bathilde’s story is my third about obscure women. The first is about Aelfgifu, the first wife of Canute the Great. The second is about Edith of Wessex, the wife of Edward the Confessor.

Helen: They all sound equally amazing. As they say, ‘behind every successful man is a strong woman’, I think they didn’t have any choice but to be strong. There was never anyone standing behind them. Which genre to write? This is Historical fiction, isn’t it?

Kelly: Historical fiction (with a side in historical horror!). I’ve always been interested in history; my first degree is in English Lit and History. When I moved to England there was no way NOT to be fascinated, particularly the medieval period, with so many still-standing buildings to visit. Re the horror, I’ve been a horror fan from childhood, I used to watch old monster movies with my dad on Sunday afternoons. It made sense for me to combine history and horror, so I wrote a book that takes place during the black death and added a little undead goodness. As much research went into that book (and the second one in the series) as my straight up historical fiction.

Helen: I would imagine there is a lot of research, as you have to get your historical facts spot on when writing about real people, even if you are putting your own spin on it. How much research did you have to do?

Kelly: I’m a huge proponent of being as accurate as I can in my novels. It can sometimes take months of research before I even start writing, and then I’ll do additional research as I go along. My job is to make scenes in my novels as realistic and immersive as possible without sounding like a high school history paper. I extend this idea to the free articles on my website, including the series of articles I’ve written by the fictional medieval manor owner, Lady Matilda. She offers advice about everything from running your manor to beauty tips to entertaining during the black death. Despite the tongue-in-cheek delivery, the same amount of research goes into those articles as any book I write.

Helen: Sounds like there is as much work, if not more in the resarch than in the book. I am glad you get other uses out of the information you learn. It must be fascinating. Lady Matilda sounds like she knows a thing or too! What made you start writing?

Kelly: This is kind of a cop out answer but I don’t really know. In high school I used to write a short story (as part of a series) in my last class of the day and leave it in my friend’s locker for her to read the next morning. She began reading them to her homeroom class and, after a while, I discovered I had a bit of a following. It was fun so I guess that’s where I really ‘caught’ the writing bug. I’ve been writing both fiction and non-fiction ever since.

Helen: As you have to do so much research do you plan your novels, or do you still find that you are a bit of a panster?

Kelly: Absolutely a planner! It’s difficult to be a pantser when you write historical fiction, you really need to stick to the historical timeline accurately. I also find being a planner means there’s less major editing to do once the story is done because you’ve already worked out all the major plot lines and issues. I also worked as a project manager for trade software platforms before I retired to write full time so my brain kind of works in that logical manner anyway.

Helen: You are fortunate to be able to write full time, I am so jealous! Do you have a set space set up for writing?

Kelly: I have an office in my back room with a window facing the deck and yard. Every so often I’ll look up and just stare out the window for a moment to give my eyes a break. I also have everything I need to hand, including three shelves full of history books!

Helen: Tell us about your current work in progress; who are you writing about?

Kelly: I’m currently researching Seventeenth Century Bologna and Baroque art for my, as yet unnamed, novel about the artist Elisabetta Sirani. She trained under her father and when he fell ill was responsible for looking after her entire family with her art. She started her own art school for women and her art was desired in Bologna by the rich and famous. Sadly, she died young due to the stress of supporting her family.

Photo by Camila Camacho on Unsplash

Helen: With so much research needed for your own books, do you ever have time to read novels for pleasure?

Kelly: I’m currently reading The Conjurer by Luanne G Smith. It’s the third part of a trilogy about a vine witch and the further stories of her two associates. I love the idea of a winery having a dedicated vine witch to help the grapes (the first book), and the follow-on tales of her friends are an easy, entertaining, supernatural read. Perfect at the end of a day of heavy research.

Helen: I loved the Vine Witch, and I have the second book on my kindle tbr pile. I will get to it soon! Tell us something random, or anecdotal about yourself.

Kelly: I’m able to play music by ear ie I can pick up any instrument and, after a few minutes, play it. I took clarinet in school and still actively play tenor recorder (the big, deep-sounding one – I play mostly medieval music), oboe, guitar, and I recently took up the ukulele.

I’ve led a somewhat charmed life. I’ve been inside the Great Pyramid of Giza, been on Austrian television, flown an airplane, worked in one of the world’s greatest museums, and so much more. I try to try as much as I can!

Helen: Thank you so much for joining me today, Kelly. It’s been lovely meeting you. It is so interesting to find out more about these hidden women of history. I am glad you are bringing them out into light. Just to close us out, what advice would you give to new writers just starting out.

Kelly: Try to write every day, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t – life gets in the way and you have to be flexible. Be wary of adjectives (and adverbs too!). Never stop trying to perfect your craft – you’re never too good or too experienced to stop learning.

About the Author:

Born in Canada of Scottish extraction, Kelly Evans graduated in History and English from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. After graduation, she moved to the UK where she worked in the financial sector. While in London Kelly continued her studies in history, focussing on Medieval England. 

Kelly is now back in Ontario with her husband Max and two rescue cats. Her books include The Confessor’s Wife, The Northern Queen, The Mortecarni, and Revelation (all set in Medieval Europe), Elizabeth: Path to the Throne (Tudor England), and The Strange Tale of Miss Victoria Frank (gothic novella). 

When not writing, Kelly loves reading, music (she plays a pretty mean ukulele and some wicked medieval recorder), and watching really bad old horror and science fiction movies. Preferably ones with large insects or lizards. And with a LOT of popcorn. Really a lot.

You can find more about Kelly via:

Author website

Twitter

Amazon Author page

You can purchase Kelly’s books from Amazon:

The Beggar Queen

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

Author Interview – Rachel Hobbs

Author of The Stones of Power series

I am so happy to be chatting to fantasy author Rachel Hobbs today. Her second fantasy novel Soul Strung launches on November 2nd, and if you haven’t read Shadow Stained yet, you should! Welcome Rachel. Let’s start with you introducing your new novel.

Rachel: The book I’m working on right now is Soul-Strung, the second book in the Stones of Power series. Soul-Strung is the direct sequel to Shadow-Stained, my debut adult dark fantasywhich launched last year. In Soul-Strung, we pick up the story around a month after the events of book one. Ruby is living Callien city, where she’s been trying to build a new life for herself in the wake of past catastrophes. Always the opposite, Drayvex is leaving trails of devastation. Saydor, having narrowly escaped with his life, is back in the power game, and boy does he know how to play it. As we know, Drayvex now has one very clear, very human weakness. And it’s only a matter of time before Saydor discovers that she survived. But despite Drayvex’s dogged attempts to hunt the demon down, Saydor has been one step ahead. So Soul-Strung starts with Drayvex turning up on Ruby’s doorstep out of the blue, armed with this devastating confession and a crazy plan – secure the stone of time and kill Saydor in the past. It’s the first time she’s seen him since Shadow-Stained, and his presence is the equivalence of a demonic hurricane ripping through her new city life. Buckle up, this is going to be a bumpy ride!

Helen: I am so excited to read Soul Strung, as you well know I love Drayvex, even though he is a terrible demon lord, he does have a soft, well a softening centre! What about the cover? What can you tell us about how you came up with the design?

Rachel:Both Shadow-Stained and Soul-Strung have my demon-human duo, Ruby and Drayvex, on the covers. Ruby and Drayvex have a complicated relationship, and it just gets more tangled and polarizing as the books go on. I wanted to reflect that on the cover of Soul-Strung. The biggest difference in the two covers, though, lie with Ruby. This is a deliberate reflection of her personal journey, of the changes she undergoes between the first and second books. On Shadow-Stained’s cover, our heroine has her back to Drayvex and the threat he poses to her. On Soul-Strung, she’s facing Drayvex head on and ultimately, the darkness he represents. She’s not the victim she once was. She’s a little stronger, a little wiser, and she’s no longer scared of the big bad Demon Lord. The question is though, is she facing down his darkness, or is she inviting it in? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Helen: Sounds amazing! I hope she is inviting him in. He needs some of his sharp edges smoothing! How did you come up with the title of the book?

Rachel: I wanted something suggestive of being trapped. Strung is a great word, as it evokes visions of being tied to someone or something against your will. A loss of control and freedom that’s forced upon you, but at the same time, not entirely torturous. With these vibes in mind for book two, Ruby and Drayvex are living with the consequences of that impulsive decision at the end of book one. Consequences that just seem to unfold and unfold. Yes, he saved her life. But not even Drayvex could know what the price of this would be, as no demon before him has ever put a piece of their soul inside a living, breathing human. At least, they didn’t leave an instruction manual!! Does he come to regret going to such lengths? Now isn’t that the question.

Helen: With such strong characters in your book, who did you prefer writing? Ruby or Drayvex?

Rachel: I’ve always gravitated more towards the villains than the heroes in stories. Give me a character with grey morals and a big personality, and I’m yours. I’m a sucker for a good anti-hero, and I think this is a big part of why I find Drayvex so much fun to write. It’s just so much more interesting when the protagonist is a terrible person! I must admit, I feel like I do sometimes really push those anti-hero boundaries with Drayvex. He’s a villain masquerading as an anti-hero. He’s unapologetically demon in all the worst ways, and yet somehow, he manages to get away with murder time and time again. I was told pretty early on that Drayvex’s one redeeming quality is his affection for Ruby. This made me laugh, as when you put it like that, it sounds pretty bad! But I couldn’t agree more. When I first released Shadow-Stained into the world, I wasn’t sure how well he was going to be received. But it seems like the sly devil is doing pretty well for himself. Everyone loves a rogue.

Helen: I think part of it his struggle to understand what is happening. We sympathise as he attempts to understand human emotions, emotions he shouldn’t be experiencing! Which part of the writing process do you prefer? Editing or writing?

Rachel: I used to think I preferred editing to writing. I’m one of those writers who favour having written the book to the act of writing itself. Writing has never been easy for me, and when I’m in a bad cycle, I struggle day after day, after day and I don’t enjoy it. But on those good days, writing from scratch feels like flying. There’s nothing more freeing than taking that tangle of thoughts and words and emotion inside your head, and shaping it into something entirely new that has a life of its own. Having now taken two books from initial concept to a living, breathing story, I’ve come to realise that when I’m writing, I prefer editing. When I’m editing, I’m dreaming of writing. So now I see the pattern, I’m trying to teach myself to enjoy the process as a whole. Both writing and editing have their place. They’re both part of the journey, so I may as well try to enjoy the whole ride!

Helen: It’s been lovely chatting iht you, good luck wiht the launch of Soul Strung. Just to close us out, tell us something random about yourself.

Rachel: I played clarinet in my school orchestra in my teen years. We travelled the world, played in Prague and Barcelona, and Lake Garda. From carparks to grand halls, we did it all. Music was one of my chosen escapes back then, and it was so easy to lose myself in these big booming pieces that blew me away. Being part of a bigger whole kept me whole. Well, that and stories. I was quite young when I first joined, so some of my memories of these beautiful places are stronger than others. But I’d like to back one day with my partner and see them again with fresh eyes.

You can find my book review of Rachel’s first book Shadow Stained here.

About the Author:

Rachel Hobbs lives in South West Wales, where she hibernates with with her bearded dragon and her husband. By day she is a dental nurse at a small local practice. By night, she writes.

​Her debut novel SHADOW-STAINED is the first in a dark fantasy series for adults, inspired by her dark and peculiar experiences with narcolepsy and parasomnia. She’s since subjugated her demons, and writes under the tenuous guise that they work for her.

​Fuelled by an unhealthy amount of coffee, she writes about hard-boiled monsters with soft centres and things that go bump in the night. ​

You can find more about Rachel via:

Author website

Twitter

Instagram

You can purchase Rachel’s books from Amazon:

Shadow Stained

UK: eBook | Paperback | Hardback

USA: eBook | Paperback | Hardback

Soul Strung Pre-order until Nov 2nd 2021 (Pre-order the paperback and a claim a free piece of character artwork.)

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

Author Interview – Forest Wells

Author of the Blood of an Alpha

Blood of an Alpha, by Forest Wells releases today, October 10th, and I am excited to be chatting with the author about his books and all things writing. Welcome Forest. Let’s start with you introducing your new novel.

Forest: My new release is a novella called “Blood of an Alpha”. In this one, Toltan’s pack faces serious trials when they lose their alpha, and the new one is an arrogant fool. As things get worse, Toltan will find himself facing hard choices that could decide the fate of the entire pack. This one is actually a prequel to my first novel, “Luna, The Lone Wolf”, and has two other short stories that dig deeper into events we hear about, but never get much detail on. I had hoped to have it out by June or sooner, but it took a little longer than expected.

I am also working on a sci-fi called “Fog of War” that follows the one human and two holdren (alien foxes basically) crew of a Scorn heavy starfighter. If it helps, think of it as a fighter bomber with better weapons and armor. Anyway, just as 40 years of war with the alien nation of Marcalla looks to be ending, a new threat that may not be new at all looms over the horizon. The crew of Gold 1 will charge back into the flames of war as they always have to defend their homes and loved ones, but they may not come out unscathed this time. That one I didn’t expect to have out before September, and that was if things went perfectly. FYI; things NEVER go perfectly for me.

Helen: That was one of the lessons I learnt when publishing my first book. Things always take a lot longer than you expect, and you should give yourself plenty of time to get everything done. Setting unrealistic deadlines just puts unnecessary pressure on yourself. Congratulations on publishing your book, you did it! Was there a special meaning behind the title you chose?

Forest: Not really. In the first novel, Toltan talks to Luna about “Your blood. My blood. The blood of all wolves. The blood of an alpha.” When I look at the three journeys we follow, that theme felt central to all three. The characters all have “the blood of an alpha”, and their journeys touch that blood in different ways. As for the sci-fi, it just feels right, though it took me a while to find it. There’s a fair amount of doubt, or “fog” if you will,  hanging around the characters. The title tells people that combat is a part of the story, but there’s more to it than just war and space battles, which is why despite what it looks like, it’s actually not a military sci-fi.

Helen: Who is your favourite character from your novels so far?

Forest: That would be the holdren Sundale from the sci-fi, but I still don’t know why. I only know that I love spending time with him any time I can. Especially when I get to dig deep into his mentality and emotions. I don’t know what else to say about that really.

Helen: You have two books out now, which genre do you prefer to write?

Forest: I tend toward sci-fi and fantasy because… I enjoy it? I’m not sure what else to say. I’ve always enjoyed Star Trek, Babylon 5, Starcraft, Narnia, Dragon Age, Dragon Heart, and so it’s fun for me to create my own worlds. I will say that I have an eaiser time creating worlds rather than playing in the real one, so that too is a factor. I get to set my own rules, and then play within them to tell the story I want to tell.

Helen: Creating new worlds is what I love about writing fantasy. Have you always wanted to write?

Forest: I was always writing, even as a kid in elementary school, but I didn’t realize what it was. Then 9/11 happened, the muse woke up, and I’ve been writing ever since. The stories won’t leave me alone, so I write them as best I can.

Helen: Strong emotional reactions tend to be a catalyst for many writers. Having awoken the need to write, how did you come up with the ideas for your books?

Forest: In the case of “Blood of an Alpha”, the two side stories are, well, side stories that couldn’t be told in the original novel because they weren’t part of Luna’s journey. One of them was in an original draft of “Luna” actually, but I realized that because it left Luna’s perspective, it damaged the story too much so it had to go. Similarly, the original draft showed us how Luna’s pack came to be where they are before he was born, but it was too slow and took too much time to develop before he ever got to meet Luna, much less begin his journey. But I didn’t want to just shelve those pages never to use them again. So I expanded those set-up page into its own story that is now “Blood of an Alpha.” But the last half or third of it is actually the original start of “Luna, The Lone Wolf”.

In general though, my ideas mostly come from random thoughts or feelings. My sci-fi was born because I was tired of the “heroes” we were getting. They were always misfits, downtrodded, broken (one way or another), worn-down, unrespected, unlikable, arrogant, or straight up criminals. I wanted a hero like that line from the original “Duck Tales” TV show; “Real heroes just do their job.” I couldn’t find one, so I set out to make one. Not sure if he stayed true to that as he evolved, but that’s how it started.

But it tends to be purely random. A writing contest makes me think of a different angle on werewolves, my desire to see wolves protected gave birth to a story about a wolf who learned how to face and evade hunters (it evolved into what became “Luna, The Lone Wolf”, but that’s how it started), looking at dusty Zoid models made me think of some long forgotten weapon depot that someone finds, things like that. My personal is how a line from Shrek gave me an idea. “You’re a GIRL dragon. I mean… of COURSE you’re a girl dragon.” Suddenly, the old fairy tales of a princess locked in castle guarded by a dragon made sense. From that came a story about a dragon with her own journey to take. And that’s all you’re getting on that one for now. Sorry. 😉

Photo by Andrew Ly on Unsplash

Helen: I love that you are interested in wolves for themselves and that interest drove you to write the book, and of course, any book with dragons has to be good! How does writing fit into your daily life?

Forest: I write when I can, think when I can, and be perfectly fine with not doing a thing for a protracted period of time. Experience has taught me that I do worse when I force things, not better. So I’ve learned to use distractions to center myself so I can write at will more often, but I’ve also learned to let things be. Thus far, sooner or later, the words come back to me.

Helen: Are you a writer who prefers back ground noise or silence? Do you have a playlist you use when writing?

Forest: Heh heh, that’s a VERY long list. But sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Music can help me get into a scene better sometimes, and other times I need the silence to really process the, “okay, how does this NEED to go?” thoughts that make it all work. As for the music itself, it’s a long mish-mash of tunes, soundtracks from games/movies/TV shows, and other instramentals that fit the feeling I need to conjure at any given moment. Whether it’s League of Legends, Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, Ace Combat, Rambo, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Fox Amoore, or Two Steps From Hell, if it fits a mood I need, it will be played at some point.

Helen: How much research do you need to do for your books?

Forest: As much as I need. That sound like a cop-out, but it really isn’t. Mostly because I’m not sure how to exactly quantify it. I look up what I need for the needs of the story. My first novel just needed some research into wolves, most of which I knew because wolves have always been a passion of mine. The sci-fi… whew. That thing has sent me digging into technology, science, and tactics like nothing else. But I never dug more than I needed, and I think it’s served me pretty well so far. I have enough to tell the story and build the world enough for the reader to enjoy. Now for “Luna”, my written notes were pretty minimal. For the sci-fi, I have 30 pages of notes JUST about my alien foxes. So it depends on the needs of the story a bit too.

Helen: That’s not a cop out at all, each book is different. The trick is not to get lost in the research, but it sounds like you have that under control. Talking of control, do you find yourself planning your books, or letting them evolve as they will?

Forest: Oh total panster. There is no plan. I have at most a general idea of how a story will end (though that doesn’t always remain in tact) and a few highlights along the way, but zero idea how I’ll get there. So in many ways, it’s more like I’m reading my work that writing it. It can be fun in that way, but also annoying when it’s clear the story knew things but didn’t bother to tell me. The story knew the real back-bone to “Luna, The Lone Wolf”, I could see it in the evolution of the story, but it didn’t let me see it until a few months before publication. Similarly, the uniforms for my sci-fi military always had a sash sewn into them. For years I thought it was purely decorative. Then the story finally admitted that it’s also an emergencty air supply. May not last long, but even five minutes can be enough to get to an air tank or be rescued. It always knew, but it didn’t tell me. Panster.

Helen: What is your favourite book and why do you like it so much?

Forest: It’s not so much one as a series. Jane Lindskold’s Firekeeper series really got me energized about writing canine characters, as well as fantasy in general. But the main thing is that she is an expert at weaving intricate and detailed plot lines that are totally separate, only to have them crash together for the climax. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do that, but that doesn’t keep me from enjoying the read.

Helen: If you didn’t write in sci-fi or fantasy, then which genre would you like to try and write in next?

Forest: Oddly enough, I actually have an idea for a murder mystery. I’ve loved shows like NCIS, The Rookie, Columbo, and others, and I wouldn’t mind giving it a try someday. No idea if I ever will, but still. It would be a fun challenge to write.

Helen: That sounds intriguing, I hope you get the chance to write it. We’re nearing the end of our chat now, tell us something anecdotal about yourself..

Forest: I got the chance to do a reading at a VERY small bookstore up in Joshua tree. There weren’t many people there, and I only sold one book, bit it still felt like a worthwhile trip. To this day I don’t know why, but I do know that it was one of the first times I really felt like a published author. Kind of like being on the other side of the signature table. It’s also been a reminder for me to not be too proud about my appearences. Especially as a new author, but even if I ever do “make it big”, I hope I never get so proud as to say no to such a venue. After all, it’s where I came from. I hope I never forget that.

Helen: I bet that was the best feeling ever! Thank you so much for joining me today. Just to close us out, what advice would you give to new writers?

Forest: Well that could take an hour. Lol. You’re going to hear A LOT of “do this, don’t do that” as you develop. At least 50% of it won’t apply to you or your story. But as you get better, you’ll learn which ones to heed and which to ignore. Like the popular GIF says, “The code is what you call guidelines than actual rules.” Until then, be a sponge. Absorb any little tib-bit and fragment you can into your ball of clay that you use to create. Don’t be afraid to stash freelancers and other resources for future reference. I’ve sat on a few for years until it was time to call on them. It was worth the stash. Also; you DO NOT have to write every day, but I recommend you try it first. Even if you turn out to be one of the many who can’t write like that (despite what you’ll hear, there are plenty of highly successful writers who don’t), the attempt will help you develop your own tricks and ways to help your write more often than you normally would. Writer’s block IS a thing for some, but it can also be an excuse for others, so be wary of which it is for you. There is no such thing as an “aspiring author”. You write. You’re an author/writer. Own it. The terms are inerchangable and do not need a quantified beyond, at most, “published or unpublished”. And finally; I don’t care how Steven King or any author you name writes. You will NEVER be them, and they will NEVER be you. Write like YOU, and you’ll be fine.

About the Author:

Forest Wells is an author with dysgraphia, but those things don’t go together, which is why he did it anyway. He specializes in stories that focus on the emotions and personal journeys characters face regardless of the genre he’s writing. All of which is fueled by his deep passions for all things wild canine, sci-fi and fantasy, and really any well told story. When he’s not writing, or helping with his parent’s Girl Scout troops, you’ll find him watching his favorite NFL and NHL teams, watching E-sports, or gaming himself. Assuming he’s not caught up in the biggest of all procrastinating tools: Twitter. His first novel Luna, The lone Wolf was released in April of 2019, but he had a few short stories and poems published in anthologies before that. He currently lives in his home town of Thermal, California.

You can find more about Forest via:

Author website

Twitter

You can purchase Forest’s books from Amazon and other vendors:

Blood of an Alpha

UK: paperback

USA: Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

Author Interview – Adam Perry

Author of the All Posssible Orbits

Today I have the pleasure of meeting Adam Perry, who released his latest novel All Possible Orbits yesterday. Welcome Adam! Tell us about your new book.

Adam: Of all the books I’ve had rattling around in my head over the years, ALL POSSIBLE ORBITS is the one I’ve always wanted to write. A lot of people have dysfunctional families, but I’ve always noticed the surprise and laughter from telling close friends about mine. Theirs is that sort of laughter that floats just above their underlying shock and horror that these people really exist. From telling stories about my family for most of my life, I knew the good bits, so to speak. What I needed was a framework. Luckily, it fell onto the page one day while I was stuck in another story. I thought about my cousin who my relatives, for a moment, thought had tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the shoulder with a rifle.

As it turned out, he had been cleaning the gun, gotten into a fight with his girlfriend who snatched the gun away from him, and accidentally fired a round through his right shoulder. As terrible as that was, what struck me is that the lie was concocted on the spot and that anyone in their right mind would believe someone would shoot themselves in the shoulder with a rifle as a means of committing suicide. Just the sheer mechanics of pulling it off versus the better than average chance of survival make this a ridiculous idea.

While I was thinking about this, the first sentences of the first draft hit the page. Once they did, the flood gate opened and all the stories I had wanted to tell seemed to pour out and create their own framework around the suicide of the protagonist’s brother. He did not choose to shoot himself in the shoulder as he was 100% committed to not surviving the act.

The novel is very personal for me. Even though the characters are only partially based on some real people, I found it very cathartic to write the piece. It was great, remarkably cheap therapy.

Helen: It is amazing where ideas come from. The art is recognizing the story within the spark and being able to capture it on paper. I love the colour combination used on your cover, tell us how you came up with the design.

Adam: My cover art was created by Mississippi artist, Drew McKercher, who also designed my website. We’ve known each other a while having played in lots of bands around the same handful of venues in town. A painting of Miles Davis that he put on his Instagram really caught my eye and I asked him to create the cover. The four elements I asked for were the camouflage shotgun, the skinning tree, the skinning rack, and a bucket with either a deer hoof or antler sticking out.

In the story, this tree is where the protagonists brother commits suicide which is the act that sets the story in motion. Its also representative of a traumatic moment in the protagonist’s childhood where he shoots and kills his first deer. In my own life, the camouflage shotgun belongs to my father and the skinning tree is behind is house in Roxie, Mississippi.

Helen: The frame hanging from the tree is quite a desolate image, suggesting this story is addressing some deep emotional issues. How does the title fit with the book?

Adam: The title inspired the work. I was taking a nap one afternoon and had the tv on low playing some Discovery show on Black Holes. I was sort of floating in and out of consciousness and heard Physicist, Michio Kaku, say the words “All Possible Orbits.” It turned over in my brain a couple of times and I liked the way it flowed. I wrote down the title on a piece of paper and went back to sleep. A few days later, the germ of the story started coming together and I wrote the first three chapters very quickly. After that, I knew I was onto something.

Helen: I often hear song lyrics which spark ideas. What made you write this book? It sounds like it wasn’t an easy story to write.

Adam: Like most artists, I created it as way to channel pain and trauma. My childhood was not that great and like the protagonist, Tucker Merril, I was sort of the odd man out. I didn’t like to hunt or fish. I didn’t particularly care for sports. I wanted to be good at something but none of the things I found interesting were valued by my father. Luckily, I had a supportive mother and stepfather who encouraged me to do what made me happy. Over the years, my father and I had our ups and downs but we’ve ben in a good place for the last several years. When I started writing ALL POSSIBLE ORBITS, I was writing it with the idea of what that relationship might have devolved into had we not put in some work to right the ship.

Helen: I’m so glad you were able to resolve your differences. Any relationship worthwhile takes effort and time. Who was your favourite character to write?

Adam: Tucker’s Aunt Puddin’ is my favourite. She has not one redeemable quality which makes her a lot of fun to write.

Helen: She sounds like one formidable lady! What genre would you classify your book as?

Adam: Well, it seems that I work in Literary Fiction which, as I understand it, is the same as Commercial Fiction without the high sales figures. I prefer to classify my work as “Southern Gonzo Fiction.” Southern because that’s the world I’m most familiar with. Fiction because I feel called to work in the field of escapism. And, finally, there’s Gonzo. Obviously, the link to Hunter S. Thompson is undeniable. Certainly, the drugs, guns, and violence figure prominently in my work. What I love most about Hunter’s work and, what I try to bring to mine, is that feeling of speed. Reading Thompson gives me a rush and I want to give my reader that feeling of a near out-of-control downhill run where any grain of sand might send you skidding over the rail to a terrible death.

Helen: This is your third novel. What made you first start writing?

Adam: Reading. Simple as that. Some of my earliest memories are being read to by my grandmother. I loved that feeling of having words create a world inside my mind.

Helen: I couldn’t agree more. Who or what inspired you to start writing?

Adam: I’ve read so many great authors but the stories that inspired me first were Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Those were my first adventures. They spawned a need to create adventures for my toys so that it gave them a purpose.

Helen: They were both amazing movies for their time. It is quite sad that they seem so dated now, but when you think how old they are, much has changed since they first graced the big screen. How do you get new ideas for your books?

Adam: They come to me in all different ways. However, one of my closest friends is convinced that I have to get angry about something and let it stir up my brain before I get down to work. There’s probably some truth to that.

Helen: Emotions are important in being creative, so I’m not surprised. Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you plan you books, or let them evolve as they will?

Adam: I’m a pantser when I start a project. I tried to write to an outline once and it made my writing feel the way a paint-by-numbers painting looks. That being said, once I’ve finished my first draft, I build a loose outline just to keep my thoughts in order.

Helen: Do you prefer writing or editing?

Adam: I love writing. That free- flowing feeling doesn’t always happen but when it does it’s just the best. It feels the same as group improvisation in music where everyone is keyed into the same channel; an open conduit to something outside of ourselves. Editing is a whole different animal. I enjoy it as well because it allows me to indulge myself in rounding out all those rough edges. I spend a lot of time in the editorial process. Some people find it tedious but I’m a tinkerer by nature, so I sort of perversely enjoy it.

Helen: Tell us about a typical day of writing. Do you find it hard to fit it in your daily life?

Adam: I schedule myself a few hours in the morning to write before work. I’m lucky that my job is flexible, so I have a lot of room to get my words in for the day. I don’t write on the weekends or on vacation. Those are times for living and recharging.

Helen: It is nice you can separate the two, sometimes writing can just take over. Do you have a special writing nook which helps the creativity flow?

Adam: I have an office, but I rarely write there. Most of my writing is done at a coffee table in the living room. It’s closest to the tv so I have access to You Tube if music becomes necessary.

Helen: Do you find music helps you write or do you prefer silence?

Adam: I only listen to jazz while I’m writing, if I listen to anything. I prefer the fifties and sixties Blue Note stuff. I love lots of different styles of music but, if there are lyrics, I’ll get pulled into that instead of writing.

Helen: I must admit I have a similar problem, I can’t listen to the radio, because all the talking, the adverts or news are distracting. Most writers read, do you have a favorite book?

Adam: That’s always a tricky question and it changes all the time. Probably the most influential book for me was Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser. It’s still one of my all-time favourites. The novel revolves around Harry Flashman who I would nominate as the top anti-hero in the English language. I was made to read this book as punishment while grounded in ninth grade for throwing a party. The grounding worked out about as well as the “reading as punishment” idea.

Helen: What a great punishment! Having embraced books from an early age, what was the last book you read?

Adam: I’ve been reading Joe Hill lately. I fell in love with his novel, Horns. When I read it, I called a friend and told him I’d run across the next Stephen King which is when he informed me that Joe Hill was King’s son. That apple certainly did not fall far from the tree. His book, 20th Century Ghosts, is on my nightstand right now and has been a lot of fun so far. Also, I’d recommend another book of his short stories called, Strange Weather.

Helen: I didn’t know he was Stephen King’s son either! Who is your favourite author?

Adam: Hunter S. Thompson. Hands down.

Helen: If you didn’t write literary fiction, what genre would you like to try?

Adam: I’d love to take a swing at writing a real horror novel. My novella, SALIGIA, was sort of horror but more dark comedy. I think it would be a real challenge to feel like I broke any new ground in that genre, but if I did, I’d be as pleasantly surprised as anyone.

Helen: I have had such fun chatting with you. It has been great meeting you. As we draw to a close tell us something random about about yourself.

Adam: One of the best jobs I ever had was working as a repairman for Gibson Guitars Warranty Repair Division in Nashville. I did everything from simple adjustments to major restorations. During that time, I restored a Les Paul for myself that was going to be scrapped. Down the road, I had to sell it when I owed money to the IRS. Ten years later, my wife and I located the guitar in South Florida. She managed to talk the gentleman into selling it to her and she gave it back to me as a Christmas present. Needless to say, it’s here to stay.

Photo by Gabriel Barletta on Unsplash

Helen: What a lovely story. Thank you so much for joining me today. Just to close us out, what is the best piece of writing advice you’ve received and what would say to new writers?

Adam: Elmore Leonard said it best when he said, “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” Sage words.

My advice would be: Write as often as you can. Read as much as you can. Enjoy the process and don’t get consumed by the tasks of handling all the other bits and pieces of making writing your life. Certainly, all those moving parts and pieces are important, but your main job is to write. Do that with joy and enthusiasm because that’s really the pay off.

About the Author:

Born in 1974, Adam Perry is an American novelist who describes his work as ‘Southern Gonzo Fiction.” He was raised in the rural south and became the first member of his family to graduate from college with a Bachelor’s Degree in History in 1998. While attending college, he worked as a professional musician performing across the Southeast. He moved to Nashville in 2001 where he was a luthier for Gibson Guitars Warranty Repair Division. Since 2010, he has written in his spare time self-publishing the novel, BOXING GORILLAS and a novella entitled, SALIGIA. His latest work, ALL POSSIBLE ORBITS, is set for release on October 4, 2021. He lives in Brandon, Mississippi, with his wife, Rebecca, and can be found most days arguing plot points with his bearded dragon, Gonzo.

You can find more about Adam via:

Author website

Goodreads

Instagram

You can purchase Adam’s books from Amazon:

All Possible Orbits

UK: eBook

USA: eBook

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

Author Interview – R.L McIntyre

Author of the Warrior of the Isles series

Today I have the pleasure of meeting R.L McIntyre, the author of the recently released Curse of the Gods; the first book in her new YA historical fantasy series. Welcome Rachel! Tell us about your new series.

Rachel: My latest book is a YA historical Fantasy that releases September 21st, 2021. This series spurred out of me researching my heritage. As you can guess from the last name McIntyre my family is American Irish. I wanted to learn more about Irish culture and the history of the land. This spurred many late nights reading various myths and eventually I fell in love with the myth of Cu Chulainn. He was like an Irish Hercules in a lot of ways. My research led me to seeing the history of the time which is where the legendary warrior Calagus was pulled from. He was another warrior that led this grand battle against Romans in Scotland. Reading all this spurred the premise for Curse of the Gods.

         Curse of the Gods is a genderbent retelling of Cu Chulainn mixed with real history of Scotland and Ireland at the time historians believe Cu Chulainn would’ve lived if he was real. My story follows Seanait, my Cu Chulainn, and her journey to return to Ulster before her prophecy to save the land starts during her seventeenth year. With her best friend Eion at her side, she fights Romans, Gods, and meets a mysterious fae Prince who changes her world.

Cillian, my fae prince, is modelled after Cu Chulainn’s fae lover. Cillian is the seventh Prince in the first Kingdom of the Faelands, Amanthia. As a member of the Royal family he is supposed to fight for the crown against his siblings, but he has other plans. He dissents and disappears into the human realm where he meets Seanait. But as the title suggests both characters have destinies ‘cursed’ on them by the Gods. This first book in the series explores the beginning of their tales leading into the next book Echoes of Destiny which should release November/December 2021. Echoes of Destiny follows even closer to the myth of Cu Chulainn so there is even more coming in this mythical world of ancient Scotland and Ireland.

Helen: Sounds like an exciting adventure with plenty going on. You never know what is going to happen when the gods have their fingers in the pie! Tell us about your cover, it is very striking.

Rachel: I have two covers! One is for my paperback version on Amazon and the second is for my hardback version on Barnes & Nobles. My paperback cover came first. It was inspired by Seanait herself. She is by far one of my favorite characters and it’s not just me. My beta readers and editor also loved her. So, she had to be the focus of the cover. This cover is Seanait with her power, a riastrad, activated. Her hair is ablaze, and she has her Gae Bolg (spear like weapon) in hand ready to fight the world and the Gods. I love this cover because it brings to life Seanait in all her powerful glory. She is a warrior and I really wanted that to come across but even more than just being a fighter, she is also feminine. I love mixing the feminine and masculine in characters because we’re all a mix of both.

My second cover follows the same flow and idea as the first, but it has a more artistic flare to it which I love. I love black covers. It makes the images pop off the page and I wanted to emulate that idea. This cover still features Seanait and her Gae Bolg but it also shows a detached version of her. You only see her red hair.

Helen: Curse of the Gods in the first in your YA historical fantasy series, but you have written other books, are they all fantasy?

Rachel: I write mostly fantasy. It’s what I loved to read as a kid and I still read the genre today. Anything with magic, dragons, prophecies always pulls me in. I’m also partial to anything in medieval or ancient times so I often write a lot in this time period. Although, I’ve dabbled in some more modern-age fantasy. I was and am still a huge fan of Lord of the Rings and Tolkien. He probably inspired me the most and helped me fall in love with the genre. I’m also a big believer that reading should be a form of escapism. It always has been for me and fantasy worlds help me to escape so I enjoy being able to create my own worlds and share them with readers.

Helen: I agree, I love new worlds, and the sheer escapism of fantasy and how you can let your imagination run riot. Speaking of ideas, how do you come up with new ideas for your books?

Rachel: It depends. Some ideas have come from dreams while others have come from history or what if ideas. There are other ideas that come from music. There are tons of songs that I’ve listened to and wondered what the story of the characters would be. It often leads me to some free writing of ideas. Some of them get turned into full length books while others are just fun pieces I work on from time to time.

Helen: What are you currently working on?

Rachel: My current WIP is the second book to Curse of the Gods. I’m hoping to finish it soon so I can start the revision process and beta reading. However, I also tend to hop between WIPs when I write. The world of Curse of the Gods is going to widen in book two and the spin-off series that come after. So, I’m currently jumping between these books at the moment. But my main focus is still book two.

Book two takes Seanait on the journey to fulfil her destiny. This book follows more closely to the well-known parts of the Cu Chulainn myth so there is epic battles, more faeland politics, and of course Seanait and Cillian need to reconcile. There’s a lot that is going to happen so I’m super excited to share it with the world. The two spin-off series will follow Cillian in the aftermath of the second book and the second series will catch up with Evander, the Roman with powers similar to Seanait. I’m super excited for both but they both have a long way to go.

Helen: That sounds amazing, and I’m sure your readers will love the fact there are more spin-off series to come. You have some rich and powerful characters in your books. Do you prefer to write heroes or villains?

Rachel: I love morally grey characters! They could be villains or heroes, but these characters always speak to me. The world isn’t black or white, so I enjoy characters that imbue that sense of reality. Although, if I had to choose it might be villains. Understanding why people might do something terrible is fulfilling. I like having those answers. Also, I have a background in psychology so I enjoy being able to use that to really understand my villains.

Helen: With all the history and rearch you had to do for Curse of Gods, did you find yourself sticking to a plan, or did your characters try and take over?

Rachel: Oh I am a plantser. I generally have a rough idea of some scenes and the order I want them in but how characters get there and the events in-between come to me when I write. I’ve tried writing intricate outlines and always end up tossing out half of it. For me it stifles my creativity so I like having a rough idea of the plot but the rest comes as I go. It makes it a surprise for even me and allows my characters to write themselves.

Helen: When not writing about your amazing characters, what hobbies do you have? That is if you have time!

Rachel: I’m a huge fan of volleyball. I used to play and now I get the awesome job of coaching high schoolers. The fall season is definitely a highlight of my year.

Helen: Thank you so much Rachel, for joining me to chat about your books. It has been lovely meeting you. Just to finish, one more question: If you didn’t write fantasy, what genre would you like to write?

Rachel: I write mostly fantasy with romance subplots. I’ve never considered myself a romance writer, but I’ve been considering Paranormal Romance recently. Not sure when I’ll give it a try as I have a couple of other projects I want to get done first. But I’ve gotten great feedback from my editor that makes me think I can write romance better than I think. It’s something I’ll like to try at some point.

About the Author:

R. L. McIntyre is a fantasy writer of books for teens and adults. She was born outside of Philadelphia and lived there for most of her life. When not writing she spends most of her time coaching volleyball or playing with her adorable writing buddies four rambunctious cats. You can find out more about her and her cats on her website rlmcintyreauthor.com.

You can find more about Rachel via:

Author website

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You can purchase Rachel’s books from Amazon:

Curse of the Gods – Book One of the Magelands Eternal Siege

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

Author Interview – Jonathan Taylor

Author of Heir to the Empire: The Next Generation

Today I am talking with author Jonathan Taylor about his new release. Welcome Jonathan, Congratulations on your new release! Please tell us about your new uban fantasy novel which released on September 15th, 2021.

Jonathan: My current book is called Heir To The Empire: The Next Generation. There are two potential lawsuits I am risking with this title, which I hope I can counter with countersuits and then an out-of-court settlement that allows me to still use that name. I introduce it as an urban fantasy coming-of-age action-adventure story. The protagonists are officer cadets enrolled in the best military university on the continent. They have to learn to work together and with others while dealing with their curriculum, as well as facing against a terrorist threat.

Helen: Lets’s hope artistic license is approved! Is there a specific meaning behind your cover design?

Jonathan: My cover is meant to seem dangerous and inviting at the same time. It depicts a mountain range in the background with dark building outlines in the foreground. It alludes to where two of the most consequential and meaningful scenes of the book take place, where main and supporting characters come up against and deal with the ultimate obstacle, the threat of death.

Helen: The colours are beautiful, so rich and vibrant. What made you begin writing, and then to write this specific story?

Jonathan: I wanted to be a writer for a long time, but it took me a long while to come up with a concept I could trust and believe in that would make for an interesting story. I had a few in mind ever since I finished high school, and I’ve been refining and expanding upon them for years until I found the one for my current book. I loved just how versatile it could be, all the stories that it allowed me to tell. I’ve been turning it in my mind for a while, and then, two years ago, I was satisfied enough with how it was shaping up that I wanted to have it written down.

Helen: Congratulations on completing your book, and then publishing it as well. Did you find you had to do a lot of research to write your book?

Jonathan: My approach to research is a bit more abstract than that of most authors. I actually do a lot of research or learning in private, not connected to any other activity, depending on whether or not I find out about anything that arouses my interest, and my interest can be aroused by a whole slew of sometimes bizarre curiosities and happenings. Consequently, I have a wide array of interests and a substantial database in my brain. When it comes to using information for my book, the question often isn’t “What do I need to find out?”, it’s “What can I already say about this?”, or “What part of what I already know can I use to flesh this particular aspect of the story out?” When I do in fact research specifically for my book, it’s usually very brief, and on something very specific, like the symbolism behind names.

Helen: A head full of ecletic information and trivia is a must for authors! Who knows where the next idea will come from. When you wrote your book did you have the story all planned out, or did you find the plot going places you never expected?

Jonathan: I’m definitely a planner, I need to find a framework for my ideas before I let them flourish. Within that framework, however, there is plenty of room for improvisation. My process starts from a short description of what I want the book to be about. That description could be a sentence or a paragraph long. From that point forward I go into cycles of expanding and dividing. From the initial paragraph, I get a phrase that describes each act, then expand upon each act, then divide it into story beats, then expand each beat before dividing them into chapters. I’ll usually have three main points or sentences per chapter, and that is where I allow myself to go free form, expanding those points until they reach a chapter in length.

Helen: Heir to the Empire is an urban Fantasy coming of age novel, if you didn’t write fantasy, what genre would you like to write?

Jonathan: I’ve been single for (much) longer than I’m willing to admit, and in the mean time I’ve turned to erotic roleplay to spice up my private life. When you think about it, erotic roleplay is collaborative erotic fiction, a field where you get instant feedback on almost anything you try. Through experimentation, trial and error, I’ve become quite good at captivating my audience, and received my fair share of compliments, and I think writing erotica would suit me. If I find another author and we were to write collaboratively, say a chapter at a time or a page at a time, I think that would make for some fun books.

Helen: I’ve always thought collaboration on a book must be far more difficult than writing it on your own. You’ll have to let us know how you get on if you choose to collborate. What about when you are not writing. How do you fill your time?

Jonathan: Whenever I do have time for hobbies, it’s usually through external circumstances, i.e. something else is preventing me from spending as much time as I would need to take care of the writing process. Whenever that happens and I have anywhere between ten minutes and an hour and a half to burn, I’ll usually pull out my phone and indulge in a fighting game, or spend some time on YouTube. What I watch on YouTube varies quite dramatically, depending on what recommendations I get. It could be a review, could be a video essay, could be something educational (I grew up on documentaries and stuff that is even similar to that still hooks me), could be a gameplay video, could be humour, could be memes, could be some combination of the above, or something entirely different. I also try to schedule time to work out, whatever form that may take, but my success in that field is a bit more mixed.

Helen: There is access to so many different types of media nowadays, all at your fingertips. With so much choice, do you still find time to sit down and read?

Jonathan: I don’t think you define recently as “the last 12 months”, but that is how far back I want to go for my answer. The books that stood out for me in that time are A Sea Of Pearls and Leaves, by Rosalyn Briar, the as-of-yet-incomplete Outcrossed series, by River J Hopkins, and The Witcher saga, by Andrzej Sapkowski. I also did reviews of each of these books, and a few others, on my YouTube channel, and those contain my thoughts on these books in more detail. In short, Rosalyn has an amazingly fluid and immersive writing style, which, coupled with sympathetic and relatable characters, makes for a very engaging read, River is exquisitely adept at blending pop culture and mythology and various other interests she holds dear into creating a rich setting with layered plots and immersive storylines, and Sapkowski managed to create a varied and rich world that comes to life in almost every way such a world can come to life, while also reasoning how those who have to exist within that setting manage to do so. If you like your time and money, there are few ways to spend them better than reading these books.

Helen: Finding time to read can be challenging, but I think it is important for writers, and aspiring writers to read as much as they can. To understand and experience the craft and to see what works and what doesn’t work for them.

I appreciate you spending time with me today, congratulations again on your book launch. Just to end with, what piece of writing advice have you received that you would like to share with other aspiring writers?

Jonathan: Around the time I started writing, text-to-speech videos of various AskReddit questions and answers became very popular on YouTube, and they were a guilty pleasure of mine. One of those videos, about useful pieces of advice, gave new writers the advice that they should write 200 words a day, at least. You can and are welcome to write a lot more, but when you write, ideally every day, you should set your floor at 200 words. Doesn’t seem like much, but it’s enough to build a habit, and eventually 2000 words a week will just be a breeze to you. That is also the advice I give to new writers, set yourself a minimum, and then dare to raise it whenever you need to.

About the Author:

The boy who would become Jonathan Taylor was born in Bucharest, Romania, to white-collar parents from blue-collar backgrounds. Growing up, his up-bringing was mostly formal, he stuck to what his parents set out for him and generally at least tried to stay out of trouble. He did well enough in school to be able to attend a leading technical university in Germany, but his creative drive, stirred in his youth by the works of Jules Verne, HG Wells, and Isaac Asimov, remained as active and eager as ever, and after graduating, he has become quite a bit more capable of indulging it. He now writes in order to allow his constantly stirring mind to settle.

You can find more about Jonathan via:

Twitter

Instagram

Youtube

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Youtube channel (2nd)

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You can purchase Jonathan’s book from Amazon:

Heir to the Empire

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.