Archive for October, 2018

Forsaken Genesis

M. J. Marinescu

The world has changed in more ways than one. Most humans live in the safety of the hive cities, massive industrial complexes walled off to the outside world. Yet, the dangers of the wilds are no longer limited to the outskirts. Rumours abound of strange things in the night. Sightings of subhumans and citizens being abducted, whisked off by men in vans or worse. The Department of Control keeps a close eye on the citizens of Avalon but who are they protecting?
Melissa thought the world outside the facility would be safe. Free from the pain and the incessant tests of the men in white coats but what she finds is a world unknown. Fleeting memories call to her like a siren song pleading for her to remember. Can she figure out her strange dreams and the shadowed figure who hounds her in her sleep? She must discover who she is and come to terms with the truth that may have been kept from her for good reason if she hopes to survive in this strange new world.


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
I love creating deep characters and worlds and sharing them with people. Being able to share my imagination with other people is the best feeling in the world.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
That’s a hard one because all of my characters have a special place in my heart. If I had to pick only one… I have to go with my MC Melissa. I think she represents all of us at times. She has doubts and fears and often doesn’t know herself, but she digs her heels in and soldiers on.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
I am not a morning person, so my good friend caffeine is always by my side. Coffee, tea or energy drink (Rockstar Supersours all the way!)

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
I can sometimes get distracted by social media while working. I try to keep distractions to a minimum, but I’m also trying to improve my online presence, so it’s a fine line.

How do you research your books?
I draw from old folklore and mythology for much of my inspiration. For the world of Forsaken Genesis, I have taken from and mixed together much cultural lore on “monsters” and legends. Everything from the Agarthan Webway (aka Yggdrasil) to ghouls, vampires, ouroboros etc.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a bit of both. My main method is pantsing but I do have a clear goal in mind when I write. For example when I started Forsaken Genesis I knew where I wanted the story to start and where it would end. Once I have those two points in mind I fill in any other important things that I need to happen and then start writing. This lets me keep track of all the character arcs and important plot details but keep the story flexible enough that if a character jumps out at me or does something I didn’t expect at first to go with the flow instead of saying “NO!” and just following through a strict guideline.

To maybe shed some light on this in relation to the book (don’t worry no spoilers) pertains to two characters. Aoife, and Eldridge. Both had somewhat small parts in my original outline idea but as I started to write the characters demanded more attention and I was able to change the story and I think it’s better for it.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
Well not that I’m biased or anything but I would love to live in the world my book takes place in. Magic, monsters, androids and high-tech gizmo’s what’s not to love. If I had to choose a different world from another author I would pick the world from Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels series. It is a frighteningly beautiful world where three realms are connected (much like my own world) and it is filled with magic and political conflicts.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Dracula hands down. I just imagine he would throw the best parties. I’ve had a love of old gothic architecture since I was young and who better than Dracula to show you around all the old castles and landscapes of Europe.

Publisher: Tellwell Talent
Publication Date: October 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 266
Genre: Cyberpunk Fantasy
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Olga’s Egg

Sophie Law

When Fabergé specialist Assia Wynfield learns of the discovery of a long-lost Fabergé egg made for the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, daughter of the last Tsar of Russia, she appears to be the only person with misgivings. On travelling to St. Petersburg to see the egg, Assia moves among Russia’s new rich but finds herself pulled back into a family past she would rather forget. With news that a friend is missing, Assia starts to dig deeper. But does she really want the answers to the questions she is asking? Set in today’s glamorous world of Russian art with glimpses into the lives of the last Romanovs as their empire crumbled in the wake of the Russian Revolution, Olga’s Egg is an enthralling tale of love, family secrets and the artistic treasures that conceal them.


Why did you decide to write a book about the Fabergé eggs?
In 2014, a long-lost Fabergé egg was discovered in America. It had been bought by a scrap metal dealer who had tried to sell the egg for scrap but had been turned down no less than seven times. One night he started Googling Fabergé eggs and began to realise what he had sitting on his kitchen counter. He has since sold the egg for a sum believed to be around £20 million. I was so inspired by this story and by the fact that there are still seven missing Imperial Fabergé eggs that I started to write immediately.

How did you research this book?
I researched the history of the Fabergé eggs very carefully. The story of what happened to them after the Russian Revolution is completely fascinating and reads like a potted history of the 20th century. I also read a lot about the last Tsar and his family – I have been passionate about the Romanovs for as long as I can remember.

What was your favourite thing about writing this book?
I adored writing about the creations of Fabergé – translating the visual beauty of the items onto the page was something that gave me great pleasure.

Where in the world do you wish you could live?
In a turreted, towered castle in Scotland. I spent a lot of my childhood in Galloway with my grandmother and I adore the purple hills and lumpy gorse-filled fields with the coast beyond.

What is your favourite book at the moment?
It has to be The Siege by Helen Dunmore which I re-read again recently, having adored it the first time. I was so saddened to learn of her death last year. She is the most poetic of writers and her books live on in my head long after I have finished them. I think that it the best tribute to her – to keep her books alive in our hearts even though she is no longer with us.

How often do you write?
Whenever my daughter is at nursery. Having a child has made me incredibly good at managing my time. Like anything which is a precious commodity, you learn how to use it best. I tend to fire-up my computer before dropping off my daughter so that it is ready for me to get going when I come back to the house.

What do you do when you don’t write?
I work as a Russian art specialist at Bonhams Auctioneers, valuing Russian art and researching it for our Russian Art auctions.

Do you have any other writing projects on at the moment? (If you’re allowed to say!)
I would like to write more about Fabergé’s creations and their history following the Russian Revolution. I am very interested in the lives of the Russian upper-classes and how they fled the Revolution and coped with life without money and privilege. It must have been incredibly difficult starting over again.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: October 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 314
Genre: Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Off-Island

Marlene Hauser

Krista Bourne has always been surrounded by the strength, love and wealth of her family and their homes in New York City and Martha’s Vineyard. She has never had to think for herself. Living with boyfriend Michael and her elderly grandfather, she can also summon up the comforting ghosts of her beloved father and grandmother. In vivid dreams she flies with her pilot father, and when awake remembers idyllic childhood holidays spent with her bohemian grandmother.
When Krista impulsively walks out on her career as a professional dancer, it is the beginning of a new chapter in her life. She feels unsettled and excited by the sense of imminent change around her.
This feeling turns to panic, then fear when she realises that she is pregnant and is uncertain whether or not she wants to keep the baby, bringing her and Michael to a crossroads in their relationship. Adamant that she alone must deal with the situation, Krista rejects all offers of support from him, isolating her at a time when she most needs help.
Krista’s journey and emotional upheaval take her back to her summer home on Martha’s Vineyard, where she is surprised to find out that she does not know her family history quite as well as she imagined.


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
Hands down, it is the fun I have participating in the story as it unfolds—never what I original expected. I love meeting the characters, one by one, who originate as an idea and go on to become 3D. I enjoy working with editors that spin a character or a plot line in an entirely different direction, forcing me to reweave the tale. I love the surprise, the adventure.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Very tough question, but in the final analysis, in Off-Island—I would have to say Krista because she comes of age through the unexpectedly difficult and emotionally painful experience of abortion. I do equally enjoy her grandmother Ilsa.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Tea, tea & more tea. English breakfast with lemon slices, jasmine green with lemon slices, hojika, kukicha, rooibos, earl grey, white… The list is endless. Gunpowder.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
I write first thing in the morning, before anything else, in PJs, crossed-legged on my bed with my laptop propped up on a pedestal of pillows with both my Jack Russell (Leche) and Bengal (Presto) curled up beside me.

How do you research your books?
Research comes from first hand experiences, the life experience of close friends and acquaintances, reading extensively on a subject that intrigues me, watching documentaries and of course the ever ready Google. I also ask more knowledgeable readers than myself to review my work and make suggestions.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I usually have an idea, rough outline—loose beginning, middle & end—Act I, II & III, and then I get going and the story does its own thing. Afterwards, with an editor stirring the pot, mystery abounds and all outlines go out the window. So a bit of both, plotter and pantser.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
Does New Zealand count? Just kidding. Beautiful country. I tend to live in the fictional world that I am creating at any one moment, the book I am working on at the time. I like to revisit places where I’ve actually lived and loved.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
I would befriend some of Shakespeare’s romantic/tragic women, particularly Juliet and Ophelia. I would say “No. Stop, don’t do it.” And then they would go on to triumph and live amazing lives.

Publisher: Troubador Publishing
Publication Date: September 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages:
Genre: Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Jackson Saves an Owl

Darren Garwood and Carl Osborne

Jackson Superhero might not be a real name, but it is a story about a real boy, and as the name suggests, Jackson is far from ordinary. By day, a rare disease limits his ability to move freely, but at night he is far from grounded. When the sleeping hours come around, and weightlessness takes over, Jackson takes to the skies. He knows what it means to need the support of others, which is why when he hears a call for help, he is quickly there to lend a hand.


Darren Questions (author)

What is your favourite thing about writing books?
These stories are so personal to me and my son, but I want these stories to be bigger than us, and so when I hear from readers, and parents talking about how Jackson Saves an Owl is the new favourite book in their house, that is amazing. So my favourite part about writing really is the joy it can bring to readers.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
I have plenty of bad habits, but I do try to keep them away from the writing.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? (I guess this means do you plan or just let the story flow out)
I usually have a rough idea of a story and I play with the plot in my head for quite a while, but then when I feel like I have the plot in place I just let the story flow off the cuff

Aside from your own, what is your favourite children’s book and why?
Peace at last – Jill Murphy as its Jackson’s favourite. He laughs at the ending

With your own book, what has been your proudest book moment so far?
Well this all started with Jackson and with me wanting to help him dream. He loves being read to and he loves books. He knew the Jackson Saves an Owl Story as I had been telling it to him for ages, but getting the real hardcopy in my hand felt really big and it was amazing to read the actual book to him. I do still read him his other favourites, of course, but I love reaching for the Jackson Saves an Owl book for him, and he loves it too.

Jackson Superhero is obviously written for your own little boy who is terminally ill, in what ways is he like a real superhero?
When Jackson was diagnosed he was given a life expectancy of two years and he is now four, so he is defying all the odds on a daily basis. But more than that, he is caring, he loves the nature and the earth. But he really loves a cuddle, and what superhero don’t like a cuddle?

Who or what will Jackson Superhero save next?
He saves a desert island and the local animal residents from pollution

If Jackson was to team up with any other superhero who would it be and why?
It would have to be banana man, as Jackson loves bananas

Carl Questions (illustrator)

What’s the best thing about illustrating a superhero?
The best thing about illustrating a superhero is that I can turn any kid into whoever he wants to be. With Jackson there was no limit to the powers he can have.

Aside from a cape, what is the thing every superhero needs in his costume?
Every superhero needs an identity and a signature piece that separates him from the rest. In Jackson’s case, it’s the ‘J’ on his chest.

How did you go about choosing the costumes colour schemes?
The costume colours came from Jackson’s favourite PJs, and the socks are based on his favourite teddy, a puppet called Melvin.

You open the story with an illustration of Jackson in his bean bag, which due to his illness is pretty much as he is in real life. What was behind that decision?
Well, I have known Darren for years and I know Jackson and I just didn’t feel I could ignore the reality, to be honest. It sounds stupid when I say it, but I don’t think there’s always enough reality in children’s books. Many, many kids grow up in tough lives and books are a way to help with that. They are a way to say, you are not alone. Look at this little boy or girl and look how well they do. Roald Dhal did it well, not reality, or course, but more than once he killed off the parents on the first page.

How was it illustrating a real boy, did Jackson’s family have a lot of feedback?
There was a little bit of pressure, to be honest, but I presented Darren and his wife with a few different versions of how Jackson Superhero could look, and they took bits from this one and that one. But they helped with all kinds of things that I didn’t know about, choosing colours based on Jackson’s favourite teddy bear, also his hair. I needed some pointers on his hair style.

Publisher: Untold Books
Publication Date: September 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages:
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Childrens
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Apotheosis

Brian Paul Bach

Butterbugs is somebody now. He has arrived – at the top. In fact, he’s much higher than that. Ultrastardom, they call it! As the world’s first ultrastar – and trillionaire – he is still compelled to act for acting’s sake alone. Taking the lead in the most ambitious film ever, he will need all his gathered resources for the staggering job ahead.
Butterbugs is a phenomenon for billions. His own depth of character and the diversity of creatures around him constitute a power and influence far surpassing any strolling player’s entertainments. However, not everyone on Earth is so dazzled. Well below his stratospheric plane, undercurrents coil in unholy pools.
The screen upon which APOTHEOSIS shines is gigantic, as befitting the story that commands it. FORWARD TO GLORY is nothing less than an epic-noir-satire. The momentum built by TEMPERING and EXPOSITION does not let up for a second. By its very name, APOTHEOSIS propels the reader toward its merciless climax with determination and grandeur.
Butterbugs is truly blessed with friends and associates who share his triumphs: Saskia and Justy – closer than ever; Sonny Projector – agent and champion; Edna Tzu – favorite director and facilitator; Hyman Goth – studio mogul with a dreaded knowledge; Mayella – stabilizing lover; Egaz – transcendent director and artistic equal; Keenah – the mate Butterbugs has waited for… possibly; The Seven Muses – who inspire the ultrastar in his most challenging role; Marshall – the disabled vet who changes the course of the nation; and Heatherette – always a force for good, who reappears at the perfect time.


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
I have always enjoyed the basic fact that writing books allows for complete freedom. Freedom to invent, describe, and choose how to put it all together. Whole worlds can be created, but you have to be decisive and totally committed to defining and developing them. These freedoms are certainly enjoyable, but the writer has to be responsible for them, and that I’m happy to do. Similarly, writing that’s meant for a specific purpose, such as nonfiction or reportage, can and should be approached with some sense of creative style. Currently, readers tend to want just basic informational writing. But I think a bit of individualistic style is appreciated. Writing a book is also an ideal way of just being myself. And sometimes, for all of us, that takes some doing!

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
I like Heatherette quite a lot. She’s an ongoing character throughout all four volumes of the Quartet, a bit elusive at times, but absolutely vital in the full spectrum of Butterbugs’ development as the main character. In effect, she provides a sort of framework in which he acts and reacts. She might be branded as ‘eccentric’ because she lives alone in a huge mansion full of ancient and arcane cinematic relics, and her ambience is mysterious and stylish, but her personality is profound, and her passions sincere. Her character finds complete fulfilment in vol. 3: APOTHEOSIS.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Plain, boring water serves as my main hydration while the keyboard is touched. Occasional bubble-juice, but never coffee. I know I’m an oddball in this respect, but I’m just not a caffeine hound. When reviewing the day’s digital scribblings or adding a few choice bits after dining, I take wine. A nipperkin of Fernet or Calvados or brandy or even – dare I say – Absente, serve as day’s end rewards. But booze offers no creative stamina for me. On late Sunday afternoons, whether writing or not, my wife Sandy and I take Champagne in the company of our two pups, Hudson and Bucky.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Nothing too terrible, because shirking doesn’t occur when I’m writing, only before!

How do you research your books?
Even though I initially thought the old line, ‘write about what you know’ too confining, I guess that’s what I’ve done. My books on travels in the Indian subcontinent and Calcutta architecture were based on firsthand experiences on the spot. Everything was then augmented by any materials I could get my hands on, and this was in pre-internet times, too. In vol. 4 of the present FORWARD TO GLORY Quartet, I’ve included an extensive concluding essay, ‘Notes On Sources’, that discusses all the experiences and influences, atmospheric as well as authentic, I gathered over the years to make my saga, set in the world of the cinema. Also, valuable research came in the form of a lifetime watching movies themselves.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I tend to start out as a bit of a plotter, but the pantser instinct takes over a few paragraphs later! The ‘fun factor’ is pretty important in my approach to writing. A plotline is certainly a secure notion that can always be played with, but moving forward, whether its while staggering or gliding, works the best for me. It’s the most enjoyable route to take, and the most rewarding, too. Besides, pantser material can be captured, tamed (but not too much), and adapted for any plotting requirements that will inevitably pop up.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
After I read Tolkien in my middle school years, I used to say I’d give anything to wake up one day in Middle Earth. It was an attractive notion. However, the intense realities seen in Peter Jackson’s definitive filmization of ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ causes me to wake up every morning, relieved that I’m not in that compelling but totally hazardous environment! These days, I’d be happy settling down in the charming and quirky world of Rowland Emett’s delightful children’s tale, ‘New World For Nellie’. It begins with: ‘Tucked away in a forgotten corner of England, where the main lines never go, was a railroad that had seen better days. There was only one rusty old engine called Nellie, and two coaches…’

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
In earlier years, it might’ve been Milo in Norton Juster’s ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’. He was kind of a dull kid, but his adventures were amazing, and I’m sure I could’ve talked him into letting me drive his toy car for at least part of the way. It would’ve been cramped with Tock the Watchdog along, but totally worth it. These days, it’d be intriguing hanging out with Pierre Bezukhov in Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’. As a witness to grand historical events, and with a thoughtful and questing mind, he’d be an awesome brain to pick. I’m so glad he ended up with Natasha. After so much war, there was peace.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: October 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages:
Genre: Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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