Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Big Book/Ebook Giveaway

Over at Cookie's Book Club, from December 21st-30th, there's going to a giveaway for a variety of different book bundles in several different genres. If you like free books, you should probably check it out.

There's a preview post up today that features some of the books that will be given away, but authors are still contributing, so even more to come over the next few days.




Sunday, November 3, 2013

Herding Historical Author Cats: An Interview with the Founder of the English Historical Fiction Authors Blog Debra Brown

1) Please tell us a bit what the English Historical Fictions Authors blog is all about. What sort of content is present on the blog?

The blog has a daily British history post written by one of many historical fiction authors. The eras and topics range widely from Roman Britain to World War II, and from warfare and weapons to tea, food, and dance.

2) What sort of other web presence does the group have other than the blog?
As a group we have a public Facebook page, English Historical Fiction Authors, where we chat on history and historical fiction with other authors, reviewers, and readers. Each member has their own web presence as well, book sites, blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, etc. We interact frequently everywhere.

3) What motivated you to start the blog?

I was making an effort to market my first book and felt fairly alone in the jungle. I wanted to blog about England, but had very little background in history and had to do an overwhelming amount of research. I felt that there must be other people like myself who wanted to learn more about British history in small bites, and that we could have a steady stream of information if we had enough people to produce one daily post, so I invited people who had obviously done their homework to share what they had learned.

4) What's your goal with this group?

I hope we will continue as we have been for over two years now with a daily post and friendly conversations on Facebook. I believe it has been informative, fun, and helpful to us all.

5) What originally made you interested in English history?

As a child, I had a seven volume set of books called My Book House. They were captivating, with bits from great writers such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Keats. They also had detailed drawings and paintings that introduced me to castles, cliffs, land divided by hedgerows, fashions from past eras, and many things that I hardly understood from old English culture. I loved it, and over the decades to come I picked up information and began to better understand what I had seen.


6) A recent collection of essays from the blog came out, Castles, Customs, and Kings came out. Please tell us about that.

After we celebrated the first anniversary of the blog, one of our authors, Deborah Swift, suggested we put together a book from some of the first year's posts. After a year of sorting, editing, and proofreading, we have, with the help of Madison Street Publishing, released Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors—a large, thick book of topics just a few pages long. The subjects are organized chronologically so the book flows nicely over the passing of centuries. A person can pick it up and start at any point, however, and have a satisfying read during a coffee break. It would be a good waiting room book or a nice gift for someone who loves Britain or history. We also kept the price below $20 USD, so hopefully everyone who wanted a copy in print could have it.




7) Please tell us a bit about your work.


My first novel is The Companion of Lady Holmeshire, the early Victorian story of a former servant girl who receives a rude reception in polite society. It is an Austen type of story with surprising twists and turns. I have also started a Victorian novel I call For the Skylark, the story of adult twins who were raised isolated on an estate by their wealthy, reclusive mother. Evangeline cannot cope when she “loses” Dante, her brother and only friend, to love.








8) There is a lot of content on the blog. Please tell us about a few of your favorite entries.

I especially enjoy Richard Denning's post, Old English—The Language of the Anglo Saxons, in which he has a YouTube video of the Lord's Prayer read in the old tongue to eerie music. Though there are countless other fascinating topics, there have been a few by different authors on the Bayeaux Tapestry that stand out in my mind. It is a story of the Norman conquest of England told in complex, coded needlework on a long stretch of linen that has lasted for nearly a thousand years. The age of it alone is awe-inspiring, but I love the explanations given for the symbols sewn in above and below the actual stitched story itself.

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Thanks, Debra.

The books mentioned are available at the following links:

Castles, Customs, and Kings:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
Kobo







Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Man Torn Between the Sea and a Woman: An interview with Chrystalla Thoma Azure, a paranormal new adult romance

Although I'm mostly out of the interview game, today I wanted to give a chance to my friend Chrystalla Thoma to talk about her new paranormal new adult romance Azure as part of her current blog tour:


A terrible mistake haunts college student Olivia Spencer. To escape the past, she travels to the Mediterranean island of Crete, hoping for the courage to start anew.

By the sea, she meets sexy and enigmatic Kai. But there’s more to Kai than meets the eye — and nobody wants to talk about it. The locals shun him, accusing him of magic. Kai, apparently, belongs to the sea, no matter how crazy that sounds.

Kai isn’t free to be with her or live his own life, and this is how he will stay, unless Olivia can break his curse and save him — in doing so atoning for those she failed in the past.

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1) Tell us a bit about your story overall. What makes it unique?

Hi, thank you for hosting me. And let me tell you about Azure.

Azure is contemporary romance but with a couple of twists. First of all, although my protagonists are college students, the story doesn’t take place in college but on the Mediterranean island of Crete. Each is there for different reasons, although both are running from their past. But that’s not all that’s unusual about Azure.

I mention in the book description that it’s contemporary romance with a smidge of paranormal, and the paranormal in it is not the typical kind. No vampires, zombies or werewolves were used in the making of this story. Instead I drew on local legends and Greek folklore for the magic of the story. Hint: it has to do with the sea...

2) Tell us about your male lead. What separates him from other male leads out there in New Adult books?

As far as I’m able to tell, male leads in New Adult books are usually bad boys, with tattoos and an attitude, running from a traumatic event in their past. Although Kai is running from his past, he isn’t your typical bad boy. He isn’t sleeping around and drinking himself stupid when Olivia meets him. But he’s a recluse, someone who has forgotten how to live, how to feel, how to laugh or cry, and Olivia is determined to break his shell and bring him back to life.

3) Tell us about your female lead. What separates her from other female leads out there in New Adult books?

Well, there is a huge variety of New adult romances, so such questions are tricky – but compared to most of the New Adult romances I have read, I’d say Olivia is stronger. She has her own demons and is struggling to regain balance and be happy, but she is determined to help Kai, no matter the cost to her own heart or her beliefs. She will go as far as believe in magic if it can aid him.

4) Crete isn't a setting you see in a lot of romance books. Why did you decide to set your book there?

I love Crete. I’ve visited the island a number of times – it’s not far from Cyprus where I live. It’s a stunning place, with its rugged mountains and fantastic beaches, the archaeological sites and the great food! It’s a magical place, and I’ve always wanted to set a story there, especially since my last trip in May. Every village, every hamlet has an ancient shrine, a cave where an ancient god or goddess was worshipped, a legend. I wouldn’t be able to imagine this story set anywhere but there.

5) Lot of possibilities in the Mediterranean. Will you be revisiting the area in the future? If so, can you give us any sneak peeks into any of your ideas?

Oh sure! Since I moved back here to Cyprus, my world setting has been more and more influenced by the area. I am planning a series about a cloned angel set in Italy and Greece, and a steampunk series based right here in Cyprus. I’m very excited about them both.

6) What was your favorite part of writing this book?

Part of it was reliving my Cretan experience – remembering the food, the atmosphere, the towns, the mountains, the people. Another part was writing about supernatural in connection to the sea. I love the sea and I’m happy when I find a way to give it a role in my stories. Finally I was excited about my heroes. I like them both, I like how they both struggle to keep afloat but need each other to make it through.

7) The "New Adult" genre/demographic/category/whatever-you-want-to-call-it to explode it has exploded in the last year or so. Why do you think all the sudden interest in this particular type of books?


I’m not sure. I’ve heard say Twilight started it, with its young but not-too-young heroes. Others say it’s because Young Adult became so popular and New Adult is its erotica counterpart... I bet there are many factors at play here. I feel that the age of the protagonists (18-25) is ideal for dealing with coming-of-age questions while being able to include adult themes, so maybe that’s where the appeal comes from.

8) Please tell us briefly about some of your other published works.


I have an urban fantasy/paranormal romance series called “Boreal and John Grey” – Season 1 is now out in complete If you like elves and mechanical creatures, then I think you’ll love this one. I also write dystopian science fiction, so if you like the genre check out my series “Elei’s Chronicles”.

9) Please tell us about your writing plans for the future. 

I have so many... Can barely keep track! I am finishing my dystopian series this month, and will be working on Season 2 of my urban fantasy. I have the series mentioned set in the Mediterranean mentioned further up, and loads of other books bouncing around in my head... Wish me luck!

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Thanks, Chrystalla.

You can find more from her here, and enter a drawing for a copy of Azure here

Azure can be purchased from Amazon.

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About Chrystalla Thoma:

Chrystalla is Greek Cypriot (hence the strange name) and likes writing about bratty, angsty boys and spunky girls in fantasy and science-fiction worlds. She writes mainly for a young adult public but not only (heed the warnings!) 

She's currently preparing a non-fiction book about dragons, because the truth must out, and is juggling two series ("Elei's Chronicles" and "Boreal and John Grey").








Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Genocidal Cult, A Capricious Empress, and a Naive Magical Scholar: Mind Crafter



To be a crafter is to control the essences of the world. To be a crafter of House Lran is to control the very essence of being, the mind. Feared by others for their ability to read and alter minds, the Lrani are known across the Larangian Empire for both their powers and mental discipline.

Shala, a talented young Lrani scholar, is obsessed with her research and has little concern for the mundane banalities of the outside world. A chance trip to a market rips the woman out of her isolated life after she chooses to use her crafting to stop a massacre. When the eccentric Empress Tua Van orders Shala to investigate the involvement of the mysterious Cult of the Cleansing Gods, the scholar doesn't know if she’s looking into a centuries-old conspiracy or just the paranoid delusions of an unstable woman.

With an unpredictable empress, suspicious palace officials, and strange nightmares all wearing her down, Shala is determined to find the truth before she ends up disgraced or killed.

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Mind Crafter is now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords.

It will soon also be available at Apple/iBookStore and Sony.

Monday, September 23, 2013

From Rome to Napoleon: Portchester Castle and the Castles, Customs, and Kings Blog Hop



As many of you know, I occasionally pen historical essays over at the EFHA blog.

In an effort to provide an interesting not-so-little book of bits of English history, the powers that be from that blog (particularly Debra Brown and M.M. Bennetts) gathered up and edited a collection of the essays from the blog and did a bang up of organizing them by period. The result is a nice collection of English history from well, before there was an England all the way to modern times:

 

As part of celebration of the release of the book, there's a blog hop going on focused on castles (though, just to be clear, the book subject matters covers a lot of different aspects of English history, even beyond just the customs and kings of the title). There are many fine people discussing many fine bits (and giving things away as well), and you can find their blogs here:

For my part, I decided to discuss Portchester Castle, a castle that links the ancient past of England with the perhaps more familiar to many medieval and later period.

Our fine defensive fortification tale begins before there even was an England, in the 3rd century AD. At that time, the Romans, those ancient masters of defensive positions themselves, established a fort at the location of modern day Portchester, in Hampshire along the southern England coast. The area's access to the sea allowed the Romans to use the fort as a naval base, in particular in their attempts to deal with local pirates.

Once the Romans mostly withdrew from the area, the prime location of the fort still made it useful for later groups to use for similar reasons, such as the Saxons dealing with Viking pirates. The Saxons added some additional buildings and towers in the area, and the evidence suggests continual occupation from the 4th century on, even after the departure of the Romans.

Of course, 1066 and all that brought Norman domination of England. In the 11th and 12th century, Norman lords controlled and helped fortify the area even more by adding such features as additional defensive ditches, timber palisades, and additional towers.



The castle would move from mere nobles to royalty by the end of the 12th century. Three different England kings (John, Edward II, and Richard II) would occupy that castle at various points between the 12th and 15th century, and Henry V spent some time in the castle in 1415. Every new occupant brought new fortification, expansions (e.g., royal apartments), and remodeling of the area. Other important royal leaders from English history, including Queen Elizabeth I, would also grace its halls.

Ownership shifted back from royals to "mere" aristocracy in 1632, when one Sir William Uvedale (his descendants the Thistlethwaites still retain ownership of the castle) purchased the castle from Charles I. The shift from royalty also resulted in a shift from focus, as the castle was often used as a prison for prisoners of war in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries. During this time, although the defensive fortifications of the castle were not strongly upgraded compared to earlier periods, many additional wooden houses were built to house prisoners.



Coalition victories in the Napoleonic Wars would lead to less necessity for military prison in the early 19th century, with the last prisoners of the war gone from the location by 1814. The military itself would leave in 1819.

Though I am not personally one who is inclined to believe in ghosts, the long history of the castle, combined with things like the deaths of prisoners there, may have contributed to Portchester Castle's reputation as one of England's more haunted castles.

Thanks for stopping by. I encourage you to stop by and visit the various other blog hop participants listed above.

In addition, as part of the celebration,  I'm giving away an eBook copy (available in Kindle/Mobi, ePub, and PDF) of my Regency paranormal romance, A Woman of Proper Accomplishments, which doesn't feature any castles, but does reference the Napoleonic War. If you're interested, just leave a comment with a contact e-mail, and I'll pick someone next week at random.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mind Crafter Delay

There's been a bit of a delay due to some scheduling issues with my proofreader. Mind Crafter will be delayed a few days. Alas.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Schedule for Mind Crafter and The Eternal City

So, just wanted to drop a few schedule notes.

My next book, Mind Crafter, which is a conspiracy-driven fantasy tale, will b released on June 1st.

The sequel to The Emerald City, The Eternal City, will be released on August 31st.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Shattered Lives, Forgiveness, and Restoration: An Interview with Inspirational Romance Author Lucie Ulrich

1) Please tell us about Broken Vessels. 

Broken Vessels is set in Colorado Springs, Colorado, one of my favorite places. It’s a story of shattered lives, forgiveness and restoration, revolving around a man and women, once childhood friends, who have each suffered great loss. They meet again after being apart for ten years, and rekindle their friendship. There is plenty of family dynamic, with a good dose of love/hate relationships, secrets and betrayals. Though the story is faith-based, it’s far from sweet and sappy. I won’t deny that my beliefs run throughout, but I worked very hard not to sound preachy.

2) Please tell us about your main characters.

Emma Brody is a former fashion model who bears not only emotional scars, but physical ones as well. Her struggles to make a new life for herself as a potter are impeded by a lack of self-esteem, an overbearing mother, and a brother whose main goal in life is to restore peace between Emma and their mother, Louise. Sadly, Louise can’t forgive her only daughter for what she considers “the sins of her past.” Emma is one who not only keeps secrets she’s one to run when things go wrong. And it terrifies her that Luke is getting too close.

Luke Connors has spent two years in therapy dealing with the loss of his wife and two young sons. He’s traded in his life as a high school counselor to take over his father’s landscaping business. He’s not looking for love, but his life changes when Emma moves back to their hometown. It doesn’t take long for them to become friends again. Like Emma’s brother, Jimmy, Luke is a fixer. His desire for Emma to see beyond her scars causes friction, and threatens to derail the unexpected feelings he’s feeling for her.

3) One of the main themes of your novel seems to be forgiveness. Why did you choose that as one of your main points of thematic focus?
About fifteen years ago I read a book by John Bevere called The Bait of Satan, which speaks of the effects of holding onto a grudge, or offence. It changed my mind-set, and made me realize how important forgiveness is for spirit, soul and body. I wanted Broken Vessels to reflect that by showing different degrees of conflict, and allowing the characters to make their own choices where forgiveness is concerned, and to live through the consequences of their decisions.

4) What, to you, fundamentally defines a romance book?

Great question! For me, a great romance is a story of love and commitment. It doesn’t matter if the couple is already married, or finding each other for the first time. A friend and fellow writer once said that for her, romance had to include sex. I don’t necessarily agree with that assessment. I do believe there needs to be sexual tension, however. I suppose the degree to which it’s shown depends on whether a book is classified secular or inspirational.

Strong characters are a must for me. I can’t stand wimpy women who wait for their hero to ride in on a white horse and save the day. That isn’t to say there shouldn’t be emotional conflict or angst. That’s vital to a good romance. A typical romance is a story of love – loss – love again. A happy ending is preferable, but not necessary. Nicholas Sparks has certainly proved that happy endings are not mandatory.

5) Do you have any links to any excerpts you'd like to share? 

There are sample chapters on my website

6) Where can readers find out more about you?

 On the above mentioned website, and on Twitter  @LucieUlrich 

7) Where can readers purchase your book? 

 My book is available at Amazon, Vyrso, B&N, ibooks, and Google Play.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Blood, Love, and War in the Reign of Charlemagne: An Interview with Historical Fiction Author Kim Rendfeld


1) Please tell us about The Cross and the Dragon. 

The Cross and the Dragon is a tale of love amid the wars and blood feuds of Charlemagne’s reign. Here is the blurb:

Francia, 778: Alda has never forgotten Ganelon’s vow of vengeance when she married his rival, Hruodland. Yet the jilted suitor’s malice is nothing compared to Alda’s premonition of disaster for her beloved, battle-scarred husband.

Although the army invading Hispania is the largest ever and King Charles has never lost a war, Alda cannot shake her anxiety. Determined to keep Hruodland from harm, even if it exposes her to danger, Alda gives him a charmed dragon amulet.

Is its magic enough to keep Alda’s worst fears from coming true—and protect her from Ganelon?

2) What inspired this book? 

The inspiration came to me during a family vacation in Germany, when we encountered the legend behind the Rhineland ruins of Rolandsbogen. What follows is a spoiler and readers who would like to avoid it should skip to the next paragraph. The legend is that Roland (Hruodland in The Cross and the Dragon) built a castle for his bride and went off to war in Spain. His bride received false news that he was killed, took a vow of chastity, and joined the convent on Nonnenwerth, a nearly island in the Rhine. Roland returned too late and spent the rest of his days at his window, just trying to catch a glimpse of her as she went to and from prayers. I found out later that the legend was not true and that the historic Roland died in the ambush at the Pass of Roncevaux in the Pyrenees in 778.

However, the legend of Rolandsbogen refused to leave me alone. It followed me home on the plane and would not rest until I sat down at my computer and began to type, even though I knew little about the Middle Ages, let alone the Carolingians.

3) Please tell us a bit more about your main characters. 
There is a lot to like about my heroine, Alda, a young Frankish noblewoman. She’s strong-willed, intelligent, wise, and compassionate, but what I admire most about her is her courage. Her love for Hruodland is so strong that she is willing to make herself vulnerable to physical danger. Giving him her most precious possession, the dragon amulet mentioned in the blurb, is just one example. Later, she will take a great risk for her husband’s sake.

Hruodland loves Alda’s strong will and cleverness, even though he’s been taught the ideal wife is submissive. But he is also a medieval man, and medieval men did not completely trust their wives, which is why is he is subject to bouts of jealousy. Still, he will defend Alda against any enemy and is even willing to die in the attempt.

Hruodland and Ganelon, my villain, already dislike each other at the start of the novel, but the fact they both want Alda as a wife deepens their animosity. Ganelon is a good-looking guy. Unfortunately, his looks are the only thing to like about him. Reviewers have rightly pointed out how loathsome he is. Alda describes his heart as black and twisted as a piece of burnt wood.

4) Please tell us how you approached the balance of fact and fiction, especially given that your basis is a historical legend that in of itself has some fictionalized details of the events and people it is about. 
Any portrayal of Roland is going to be fictitious. All we know about the man is where and when he died and that he governed the March of Brittany.

The Cross and the Dragon borrows from the story of Rolandsbogen and the Old French epic The Song of Roland, both light on historical and heavy on fiction, yet historical events are woven into its narrative. The wars in my novel are real, and I’ve done my best to stay true to Frankish politics, culture, and customs. For example, I’d never have a girl refuse to marry a guy because she was apathetic to him.

As much as I cherish accuracy—to point of researching whether bishops wore miters then—the story must come first. The key word in historical fiction is “fiction”; I am a novelist, not a scholar. But I include historical notes at the end of my novels where I confess to the liberties I’ve taken. I owe it to the readers.

5) The period your book covers seems less popular than later, and for that matter, earlier periods of European history. Why do you think that is?

This is pure speculation, but I wonder if the answer lies in the fact that this period is little known to a general audience, at least here in the States. When I started writing this novel, I’d heard of Charlemagne and knew it meant Charles the Great, but that was about it. I don’t think I’m alone in that assessment, and that’s a pity. There is so much more to this era than that.

The family drama alone could rival a soap opera, and it led to a war and an attempted coup. There is not enough space here to discuss everything, but let me give you a little taste. At the start of my story in 773, Charles is in his mid-20s, twice divorced, married to wife No. 3, and about to go to war with his ex-father-in-law who is threatening Rome. This is all true. As a storyteller, how can I resist?

6) Do you see historical fiction as an educational tool or merely an entertainment tool? If the former, what advantages do you think it has in that regard? 

My first responsibility as a novelist is to keep readers interested all the way to the end, but if I’ve done my job right, the reader will learn something new about the history. As an educational tool, historical fiction can show that the past was populated by people, not cardboard cutouts. Too often, we’re taught history as a list of events, who did what where, an approach that turns off many students. In historical fiction, we can understand people of the past saw the world differently, but they worried, grieved, loved, and felt great anger and great joy as we do today.

7) Are there any other early medieval period legends you are interested in revisiting?
My muse instead decided to bring me the heroine of The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar, Leova, a peasant Saxon mother determined to protect her children. Charlemagne fought bitter wars against the pagan Saxon peoples on and off for more than 30 years, something I could only touch on in The Cross and the Dragon. The Saxons, who did not have a written language as we know it, are history’s losers, and I wanted to give them a voice, even a small one.

Legends and folk tales still play a part, though. I used folk tales as one way to imagine what the Continental Saxons might be believed—their religion is mostly lost to us. And I’ve included a story about Saxon leader Widukind, a historical character, having different colored eyes.

8) Where can reads find out more about you? 



You can find out more about me on my website www.kimrendfeld.com and my blog www.kimrendfeld.wordpress.com. If you’re into social media, you can also connect with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/authorkimrendfeld), Goodreads (www.goodreads.com/Kim_Rendfeld), or Twitter (@kimrendfeld)

9) Where can readers find your book? 

The Cross and the Dragon is available in e-book and print from many outlets including:

Amazon U.S.
Amazon Canada
Amazon U.K.
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

You can find readers’ reviews and even more vendor links at The Cross and the Dragon’s Goodreads page. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Man, Dogs, and Evil: An Interview with thriller writer C.K. Raggio

1) Please tell us about Heron Park.

Heron Park is a crime thriller with a horror/psychological twist to it. A small town detective and an FBI agent team up to stop a sadist, who uses highly trained dogs to terrorize and torture his female victims. I tell the story from both sides. The cops searching for clues and chasing a monster, and the monster searching for prey while evading the cops. The dogs have a huge part in the story, and I think this is where Heron Park differs from other serial killer/cop novels.

2) Please tell us about your main characters.

Detective Cassie Logan is a woman who grew up on Long Island's Great South Bay. She's a fisherman's daughter, a tomboy who doesn't look the part. She's confident, hard working and loyal. But her toughness is tested time and again throughout the book. Sometimes she cracks, but she never breaks, and she only grows stronger as the story progresses.

FBI Agent Rick Sanders is a bit of a womanizer. He's good looking and he knows it, but he's also really good at his job. He studied to become a profiler but changed his mind once he realized that meant he wouldn't be leaving the office much. This training comes in huge with the case. Think along the lines of Criminal Minds. He also finds himself quite attracted to a certain Detective Logan.

Timmy. Timmy is a sadistic, twisted killer. You don't find out his real name until about half way through the book. His violence and corrupted imagination lead to some very disturbing scenes. I've been told from some unflappable readers that they were definitely reacting during his murders. Some nausea, some cringes, and a bunch of flinching. I won't say much more about him besides he was one hell of a character to write.

3) What inspired this story?

I'm a dog trainer, and I was working with a small terrier in a nearby park. It was a bit late, the sun almost going down so the park was empty. Or so I thought. As I came around a sharp corner there was a man in a hooded sweatshirt with a golden retriever who obviously didn't like small dogs. It ripped free from it's owner and charged us. I scooped my pup up just in time and yelled at the dog to stay (in my most masculine of voices). It slowed, but didn't stop. I was able to turn my body and stomp down on his leash as he continued to try and rip the small dog from my arms.

The owner finally got control of his dog. After some very disapproving words from me, which I can't say here, I strode in the opposite direction. This got me thinking. What if that dog had been too big for me to control? He could've killed the dog I was walking. Hmm, then - What if he'd been trained to attack, so that while I was focused on my dog being ripped apart the owner could grab me from behind? Jackpot!

And so Heron Park was born.

4) Why do you think so many readers have such interest in such terrible crimes?

That's a tough one. I'd guess that most of these people have a sort of curiosity to violence and death. Maybe a part of them likes to see, read and experience a controlled type of fear. It's the same reason that some people enjoy horror movies. It gets your adrenaline pumping. Turns on the fight or flight mode. Do you read it, or do you skip through to the next scene? Do you watch it, or do you cover your eyes? I think it all depends on a person's ability to separate themselves from the brutality. Kind of like a doctor working in an emergency room, or a detective working on a homicide case.

I don't like to hurt any living thing. I release spiders outside, save earthworms from drowning in puddles after rain storms. Yes, seriously. You'd probably never think that after reading my book. But anyway, I think it's more of a wonderment for me. Why and what made this, or these persons, act that way? I like to try and figure people out. I always have.

5) Does delving into the darkness as part of the writing process ever cause you any distress?

I love this question.

I've been reading horror and true crime stories since I was in high school. I began delving even deeper when I started writing Heron Park three years ago. To say that this research has made me cautious is an understatement.

I had no problem walking by myself at night in the woods a few years ago. Now I wouldn't even consider it. I've woken up in the middle of the night, okay so I wake up most every night to the smallest sound. And I'd be lying if I said I hadn't tiptoed around, bat in hand, looking for an intruder and double checking all the locks.

I'm a little worried I'm going to start sounding like a paranoid loon, but I'll tell you anyhow. I almost broke my husband's nose with an elbow when he snuck up behind me one day. Yeah, not good. He hasn't snuck up on me since though, so I guess that's a good thing.

All in all, it has caused me distress, but I think in a good way. The world isn't all ice cream cake and unicorns. That feeling of being watched, when your hair stands up, and that chill crawls up your back like a giant hairy spider, is usually right. While before I would've ignored it, shook it off, now I take notice and let my instincts decide what I should do next.

6) Do you have any links to any particular excerpts you'd like to share?

My first chapter is available on TG Davis' website - http://tgdavis0.blogspot.com/p/heron-park-by-ck-raggio.html?m=1

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Return to Meryton: An interview with Maria Grace

1) Please tell us about All the Appearance of Goodness (or pray tell, if you would).

All the Appearance of Goodness is the third part of the Given Good Principles series. The first two parts set the backstory for the hero and heroine, this book is the story of their meeting. It works as a standalone, although many prefer reading the full series.

Here’s a brief story blurb:

What is a young woman to do? One handsome young man has all the goodness, while the other the appearance of it. How is she to separate the gentleman from the cad?

When Darcy joins his friend, Bingley on a trip to Meryton, the last thing on his mind is finding a wife. Meeting Elizabeth Bennet changes all that, but a rival for his affections appears from a most unlikely quarter. He must overcome his naturally reticent disposition if he is to have a chance of winning her favor.

Elizabeth’s thoughts turn to love and marriage after her sister Mary’s engagement. In a few short weeks, she goes from knowing no eligible young men, to being courted by two. Both are handsome gentleman, but one conceals secrets and the other conceals his regard. Will she determine which is which before she commits to the wrong one?

2) What got you interested in revisiting Pride and Prejudice?

It was one of those things that just happened. At the time, I was a college professor and in the course of some research I was doing, I happened across several Jane Austen Fan Fiction communities and got hooked. I ‘lurked’ a lot and never had any intentions of writing anything of my own. Reading the stories posted there was a welcome break from the intense academic reading I was doing at the time. Little did I know, my creative juices were getting a fresh kick start in the process.

3) Unlike many works that revisit Austen's characters and settings, this book doesn't explore Pride and Prejudice from a different POV or give us a sequel, it's more a retelling of the story with rather different takes on some of the characters and their interactions. Why did you choose this approach?

The Given Good Principles series is more of a ‘what if’ story than a retelling or a sequel. My academic background is in sociology, economics and psychology, so I find myself drawn to understanding why characters behave and react as they do. This naturally leads to wondering how a situation might be different if key components were different.

About this same time, I experienced a personal situation in which two influential individuals I was associated with did not behave in line with the beliefs they espoused. The end results were extremely painful for me. In the process of dealing with the fallout from the situation, I recalled the line from near the end of Pride and Prejudice where Darcy notes that he was given good principles as a child, but left to follow them in vanity and conceit.

I got to wondering how the people in my own life, and the character Darcy could have been taught to follow their ‘good principles’ effectively and what difference that might have made. Though real life doesn’t find solutions so easily, I was able to conceive of a believable way Darcy might have been different, through the introduction of Mr. Bradley, curate of the Kympton living mentioned as being part of the Pemberley estate. Mr. Bradley is a wise sage who all but refuses to give advice. Instead he prefers to challenge people, especially Darcy wrangle with difficult issue and come to conclusions that they do not always like. In truth, he is the sort of person I hope to be some day.

4) Historical writing, even in a already defined setting, requires knowledge of the period. Please tell us a bit about the research that goes into your writing process.


It is a good thing that graduate school left me with a love of research! Even more important, after two years researching a master’s thesis and four spend researching my doctoral dissertation, if there was one thing I knew how to do, it was research.

Using MS One Note (which is part of most MS Office packages and people don’t even know they have!) I have extensive electronic notebooks for my research collection. For printed matter, I have either scanned it in or typed the relevant passages in. On-line materials I have links to the original sites and relevant segments and pictures copied into my files. I have sections of everything from food, etiquette, language ad expressions, transportation, taxes, military, money, legal system, medicine, mourning…I could go on and one. Each entry is tagged with words I might use to search for the topic so I can find it when I need it.

Early on it felt like I spent and equal amount of time researching as I did writing. It has gotten a little better now, but I am reluctant to try to write in any other historical period now since I would have to start the whole process over again.

5) What do you find particularly interesting and appealing about the late Georgian period vs. other periods of English history?
The Georgian/Regency era is a period of major social upheaval. It is a transition period leading up to the industrial revolution which changed everything forever. People during this era were trying to make sense of a rapidly changing world and cope with a rewriting of the society as they knew it. Needless to say I find it fascinating.

6) Please tell us briefly about your other works.
The first two of the Given Good Principles series, Darcy’s Decision and The Future Mrs. Darcy, tell the story of the main characters coming to grips with their character flaws before they meet in the third book.

7) Where can readers find out more about you?


My website, Random Bits of Fascination is my online home (AuthorMariaGrace.com). I’d love readers to stop by and pay a virtual visit.

You can also catch up with me on Facebook (facebook.com/AuthorMariaGrace), Twitter (@WriteMariaGrace), English Historical Fiction Authors (EnglshHistoryAuthors.blogspot.com), and Austen Authors (AustenAuthors.net).

8) Where can readers find your books?

My author’s page on Amazon lists all my books on that site: amazon.com/author/mariagrace

The Future Mrs. Darcy and All the Appearance of Goodness are also available on Nook at Barnes and Noble.

IndieBound.org and BooksAMillion.com carry my paperbacks.


Friday, April 12, 2013

A Tangled Web of Intrigue and Corruption in Jamaica: An interview with thriller author J.P. Lane

1) Please tell us about your book. 

It’s a complex story, which is why I called it The Tangled Web. I’ve noticed that a few reviewers seem to agree. There have been several comments like “truly a tangled web,” “drugs, violence, politics and love all wrapped up in this tangled web,” “indeed an intriguing international tangled web.” There are two main plots, and sub plots, that interweave, but don’t come together until the end. It’s a Historical Thriller in a sense, because there are events in it that actually took place. I can’t go into great detail on the actual story without throwing out spoilers. Simply put, The Tangled Web is about a group of people who get together to prevent their country from becoming a drug state and use extraordinary means to do so. To quote one of my promotional tweets, black and white become a murky shade of gray when tough decisions have to be made.

2) Please tell us about your main characters. 

I’ll start with Lauren Andersen. Lauren is in her early thirties. She’s beautiful, independent, an aggressive investigative reporter, and a woman with a mind of her own. She’s also well connected. Her aunt is a minister of government. By and large, I show my characters the way other characters see them rather than describing them through the narrative voice, so I’ll quote what a few of them have to say about her. But before I do, I should mention that Lauren is digging up dirt on a lot of people, so the first two characters are on the defensive.

“She’s a shark, Logan. Watch out. Beautiful woman though, drop-dead gorgeous.”

“Just don’t forget there’s a piranha lurking in that pretty package, Gordon.”

And here’s Lauren having a meeting with her Aunt, which I think gives a little more insight into her character.

Margaret rolled the edge of her napkin contemplatively. “I can’t tell you how much I’ve agonized over asking you to do this, but I can think of no one else. There are certain things you’ve never come out and said in so many words, but I can read between the lines of your columns. I have to confess as a minister of the very government you criticize so vehemently, sometimes what you write makes me cringe with embarrassment.”

Lauren’s eyes narrowed on her aunt. What exactly was Margaret attempting to rope her into? Whatever it was, she was now reasonably sure it had something to do with the government. She helped herself to a slice of pineapple upside down cake to buy time to think.

Logan Armstrong is the other main character. He happens to be my favorite of the two, I suppose because he’s like me in some ways. He’s a bit of a recluse who guards his privacy like a pit bull, he’s camera shy, and he loves the country of his birth passionately. Also like me, he hasn’t lived there since he was in his twenties, but maintains close ties.

Logan is a wealthy man by his own making although he’s by no means from a humble background. He’s a member of the island elite, from a family who have been big sugar plantation owners for generations. His base is New York from which he runs an entertainment and media empire which he built from scratch. He’s a brilliant businessman and there’s a slightly ruthless side to him, but there’s also an almost tender side which shows in his interactions with his family. Logan is a man who will stop at nothing to help his country, and he does – though in the most surprising way.

3) What inspired this story?

If anything inspired the story, it was completely subconscious. I have no idea where it came from. It just came out of nowhere.

4) What are the primary themes your story explores?


Greed, crime, corruption and the effects of them - not only on individuals, but on entire societies. Although it’s said that we in the U.S. are the largest users of illegal drugs in the world, the effects aren’t nearly as visible as in Third World countries ravaged by the cocaine industry – which is the main focus of The Tangled Web. I use Jamaica as the setting for the story, but it could be about any Latin American or Caribbean country. Drug trafficking is a problem that was endemic to the region until very recently. It’s still a huge problem in Mexico. You’ve seen the news. It’s horrifying.

5) How did your background growing up in Jamaica influence your setting and character choices for this book?

Well, obviously I’m comfortable writing about Jamaica because I know it so well. They say write about what you know. But I’m not alone in using Jamaica as the setting for a novel. Ian Fleming’s novels Dr. No, Live and Let Die, The Man With the Golden Gun and his short story Octopussy were set in Jamaica, either largely or in part. One of Robert Ludlum’s earlier novels, The Cry of the Halidon, was also set in Jamaica. I read The Cry of the Halidon and I will say that although Ludlum’s descriptions of Jamaica were good, they weren’t quite as eloquent as mine, or I should say weren’t infused with the same passion. And that’s probably because I’m Jamaican and he wasn’t. I think my love for Jamaica shows in my writing. It goes without saying that the character choices were influenced by half a lifetime in Jamaica. Nobody who hasn’t lived in Jamaica for some length of time could create those characters, or write the dialect they speak. Though there are characters in the book from other countries. Maria is from Colombia. Pavel is from Prague, or at least that’s where he hangs out. I’ve traveled from an early age and that has also influenced my writing. The Tangled Web trots around the globe and so does the book I’m writing now. But somehow I always return to Jamaica.

6) What do you think people most often misunderstand about Jamaica?

I think there’s a general misconception that Jamaica is about rastas and reggae and everyone there smokes pot. Lord knows Jamaicans are laid back enough without the whole population being stoned. The reality is few Jamaicans smoke the herb as it’s popularly known there – the h in herb not pronounced. Jamaica is culturally diverse and I think I do a good job of showing that diversity in The Tangled Web. I certainly show a side of Jamaica few visitors ever see.

7) You have a somewhat complex web of plotting in this book. When you wrote the book, what sort of organizational techniques did you use to keep everything straight?


I wish I could tell you I had some brilliant organizational technique, but that wasn’t the case. The book was pretty much written in a piecemeal fashion. I wrote scenes or chapters as they came to me. For example, chapter thirty-three was written before chapter one. While I was writing, I had a general idea of how it was all going to come together, but until it did, it was a bit chaotic. The only thing vaguely resembling organization was having two files – one with finished chapters in sequential order and the other with unfinished chapters.

8) Do you have any links to excerpts you'd like to share?

I don’t have excerpts on my website or blog, so if you don’t mind me sharing one here, I will. It’s a scene with Pavel in Prague, which I visited a few months before I started writing The Tangled Web.

Across the Atlantic in the Czech Republic, Pavel slid his mobile phone back into his pocket and lit a cigarette. It seemed things were finally coming together on the island. Now he needed to book his flight to London, but breakfast would have to come first. He went into the kitchen and rummaged through the refrigerator not surprised to find virtually nothing but a few cans of Plzen, his favorite Czech beer. The last thing he wanted to do was go out, but he had little choice this morning if he wanted to eat. He locked his front door carefully then skipped down four flights of old stone stairs to the ground floor. As an added precaution, he locked the heavy wooden door that opened onto Navratilova, one of the well-trod historic thoroughfares of Prague. Within short walking distance, there was a small restaurant that had become his mainstay for a good, basic meal at any hour.

It was only mid-October, but winter had already begun to show its frosty face in a chilling drizzle that transformed the dull of the old cobblestone street to a smooth sheen. As he walked towards the restaurant thinking about his upcoming meeting with the woman from the island, Pavel hunched against the cold, which showed little respect for his expensive outer jacket. The leaves on the trees in the park across the street were in their final death throes, signaling the end of a season. Even nature can’t escape death. He smiled darkly.

9) Where can readers find out more about you?

Readers can find out more about me at my website www.jp-lane.com. I can also be e-mailed from the contact page on my website.

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The tangled web is available for purchase at Amazon.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Womanizing Cop Meets His Match: An interview with romantic suspense author Chantel Rondeau

1) Please tell us about Crime and Passion.

It's a romantic mystery/suspense about a womanizing cop who has finally met his match in a sarcastic, sassy woman who is new to town. They are having plenty of problems getting together, because Madeline found a body on the beach, and Donovan is the prime suspect. Madeline believes in his innocence, but the murderer is threatening her life for cooperating with the police. Also, the other officers believe Donovan is the killer. Proving his innocence and catching the true culprit could be a problem for the pair. 

2) Please tell us about your main characters.

Donovan Andrews is a decorated police officer, having been on the force for twenty-one years. He takes exception to men who don't treat their wives and children properly, and this is what causes all of his troubles. Madeline Scott is a grade school teacher who's currently working as a dog walker until she finds a teaching position. She moved to the California coast a few months earlier to heal from the trauma of calling off her wedding after finding her fiance in bed with her maid of honor. The last thing she needs is a new man in her life, especially one with a reputation for the ladies that Donovan has.

3) What was behind your choice of professions for your main characters?

Donovan being a police officer is integral to the plot, since you don't often see a twenty-one year veteran of the force accused for murder, but in this case, the mounting evidence against him is hard to refute. Madeline's job was more one of pure fun. I love the interactions surrounding her job throughout the book and also, I'm an animal lover.

4) What sort of challenges do mixing romance and suspense pose?

Sometimes it is hard to get the characters together like I want too when writing suspense. Of course, the romance is important too, but it's not always simple to be like, "Hey, bad people, back off a bit so my characters can fall in love." However, it is a fun challenge that I really do enjoy. For me, the romance is the most satisfying part of any story, so it is important to me that the suspense doesn't take over too much.

5) What aspects of the combination heighten the intensity the respective elements?

I think having characters who are desperately in love makes everything more intense. Donovan knows that Madeline is next on the killers list, Madeline knows the killer is trying to frame Donovan for the crimes. Because they are also falling in love (with Madeline trying hard to not like Donovan) that compounds the problems. It makes it more than a simple witness to a crime dealing with the responding officer. The stakes are much higher than they would be otherwise.

6) Do you any links to any particular excerpts you'd like to share?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Scotland, Colonial Virginia, and a Modern Woman: An interview with historical fiction author Anna Belfrage

1) Please tell us about Like Chaff In the Wind. 

Like Chaff in the Wind is the story of a man who is abducted and carried overseas to the Colony of Virginia, where he is sold as indentured labour. Fortunately, Matthew has a formidable wife who sets off on a perilous quest to find him and bring him home. The underlying theme is the love between Alex and Matthew, a love so strong it carries Matthew through his unbearable existence in Virginia, a love so powerful Alex never hesitates to set off in search of her husband, no matter how hazardous this might be. Not that she has any choice; life without Matthew is the equivalent of a living death. As the novel progresses it offers insights into the life of indentured servants in Virginia, it highlights the constant enmity between Catholics and Protestants, and it gives the reader a glimpse of Sir William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia (a real person, however fictitious his acquaintance with Alex).

2) Please tell us about your main characters.

How long do I have? I could probably write a book just about them. However, in a somewhat briefer format here goes:

Matthew is a devout Presbyterian who spent the formative years of his youth fighting in the Commonwealth armies. An intuitive horseman, he quickly became an excellent swordsman – no choice, had he not learnt to wield the blade he’d have been dead well before his twentieth birthday – and is quite the marksman as well. Due to the treacherous actions of his brother and first wife, Matthew has also spent a number of years in gaol, emerging a stronger but scarred man. In many ways, Alex is a godsend to him. This strange, half-heathen woman makes him laugh again, and never has he felt as cherished as when she holds him in her arms.

Alex is a modern woman raised on scientific thinking and rational thought. Until that very unexpected – and initially most unwelcome – plunge through time, she has at most been an agnostic, but she quickly realises expressing any doubts regarding the existence of God is a major no-no in her new life. Alex has scars of her own, and in many ways being transported three centuries backwards in time gives her the opportunity to start life anew – with Matthew. While Alex has days when she longs for the comforts of her previous life, there is no doubt in her mind that she belongs with him, her man, no matter what fate might throw in their way.

3) Why did you choose to write a time slip story instead of a more straight-forward historical narrative? In what ways did this complicate the narrative? In what ways did it enhance the narrative?

I’m not sure there was any choice. I’d had this idea of a woman falling back in time for years, mainly because I was fascinated by the concept of time travelling as such. To have a modern protagonist allows you a certain freedom of speech so to say, as Alex can react to those aspects of her new life most modern people would find confusing. Ultimately, Alex has no choice but to adapt, but throughout the series she retains the capacity to comment rather wryly on the more incomprehensible characteristics of her seventeenth century existence.

As to complicating the narrative, I found the inherent conflict between “modern woman meets old-fashioned man” inspiring rather than complicating. The challenge was rather to describe the time travelling aspects in such a way as to make them logical (!) and not entirely unfeasible. One of my male readers, an engineer who regards life through very sceptical eyes, told me I must have done quite a good job, as not once did he question the fact that Alex (and others) had been yanked out of time.

4) This is the second book in the Graham saga. How accessible is it to readers who have yet to read the first?
I have attempted to give enough back story in book 2 so as to make it stand alone. From some of the reviews I’ve gotten, it seems I’ve done a fairly good job of this. Does reading book one enhance book 2? Probably yes. Do you need to read book one to enjoy book two? Probably no.

5) A Rip in the Veil had your action primarily taking place in Scotland, whereas this book moves to the ocean and colonial America. Was the setting transition difficult in terms of writing at all?

No, not at all. I have a fascination with colonial life – and a deep admiration for the colonists who set off from all over the world to build new lives in the Americas, Australia, New Zealand or wherever they ended up. The history of Virginia is a colourful one that has always drawn my attention, starting with the Roanoke debacle. In Like Chaff in the Wind, we see a more established Virginia, a colony where tobacco is a cash crop and the people owning plantations are fast becoming very, very rich. As yet, white indentured labour hasn’t been replaced by African slaves, but in a decade or so most of the backs bent over the endless rows of tobacco will be black, not white, and so the Virginia plantation owners will enrich themselves even further.

6) Was there any aspect of the time period that you found particularly difficult to pin down or explore during your research?

I get stuck on the ridiculous details; had the fork made it down to the common people by the 1660’s? How realistic is it that Alex could get hold of tea? By studying paintings and reading tons, I’ve concluded that while the fork was a known eating utensil in southern Europe by the 15th century (the educated well-off traveller would bring his own fork and knife with him), it did not make it down to the common classes until late 17th century. As to tea, the Portuguese had been trading it and drinking it for some decades, so I decided to put Alex into contact with a man who’d lived in Portugal. I must say I find this part of the research very rewarding, even if it ends up somewhere very different to where I started out. (You know; I begin by researching forks and end up reading a fascinating article about pewter tableware in the 18th century…I guess as a fellow writer you recognise that, don’t you?)

7) Do you have links to any excerpts you'd like to share?

My website offers extracts and bonus material. One rather descriptive passage is called “A day in Matthew’s life” and can be found here.

8) Please tell us about some of your other projects.

At present, I’m very much stuck in the Graham Saga – there are a number of books to come, detailing Alex’ and Matthew’s rather exciting lives. (“Too exciting,” Alex mutters, “how about giving us a nice quiet life by the beach somewhere?”)

Further to this I am presently researching for my new project which at present has the working title “All is not gold that glitters”. Set in 17th century Sweden – and England – it tells the story of Sofia Carolina, raised with Queen Christina, and Jonathan Darrow, disinherited royalist who is living in exile. Accused of stealing a fortune in jewels (which she has done), Sofia Carolina is forced to flee the country. In England she is accused of being a witch, and things look quite dark for a while… I’ve written close to 10,000 words already, but need continuity and peace and quiet to really sink my teeth into it.

And then I have a little trilogy with a strong fantasy element that I now and then bring out and tweak. Not sure if I’ll even attempt publishing it – at least not in its present form – but the storyline is quite good, combining reincarnation, magically gifted people, an action packed story set in today’s England and Turkey, and a final scene on an ancient hilltop just outside of Trabzon by the Black Sea. Boy have I had fun researching those books, let me tell you! 



Sunday, March 31, 2013

Voodoo, the KKK, time travel, and redemption: An interview with historical fiction/paranormal author Lane Heymont

1) Please tell us about your book.

 

The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff set in Reconstruction-era Louisiana, and blends the boundaries between science fiction, fantasy, and as you can imagine, American history.

In 1871, the United States government has nearly eradicated the Ku Klux Klan, afraid their fanaticism will inspire other Southern whites to rise up against the Union. A very real threat.

The Klan’s remaining forces have retreated to Louisiana – as Deep South as you can get – in order to escape justice and regroup.

Jeb, a former slave, rescues his brother-in-law Crispus from the Ku Klux Klan, pulling him into a world of Creole Voodoo, hatred, time travel, and redemption. The two brothers-in-law set out to stop Verdiss and his Klan followers from using the Pharaoh’s Staff, a magical artifact from ancient Egypt. Soon, Jeb and Crispus learn Verdiss’ diabolical plan and discover that he serves an evil far more insidious than himself. In the end, Jeb and Crispus must stop an entire people from eradication and each find redemption for his own past sins.

2) What inspired this book?


It originally began as a short story I wrote for an African-American literature class I took in undergrad. During the class, I fell in love with the slave narratives, so I expanded the short story. Ironically, I ended up switching the two main protagonists’ roles.

About the same time I was reading about Nazi occultism, in particular, Hitler and the Occult by Ken Anderson. It detailed Hitler’s bizarre obsession with the supernatural. He was convinced he could conquer the world by possessing all these magical/religious items. The Spear of Longinus, the Holy Grail, and spent considerable resources on discovering time travel, super soldiers, Atlantis, and Norse runes.

The two ideas – slave narratives and Hitler’s twisted desires – blended together and The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff was born.


3) Tell us about your main characters.


There are several main characters – I like stories where you experience the same events through a wide spectrum of perspectives.

Jebidiah Johnson, a former slave and now freedman, is a hardened soldier who fought during the Civil War. He’s haunted by the horrific violence he witnessed, and is determined to live a life with his family. He’s the perfect soldier, but doesn’t want to cause any trouble, or get dragged into any.

Crispus Moorfield, Jeb’s brother-in-law, is as opposite as they come. A naïve activist, he has never truly experienced any horrors that come with racism. This has led to a complete lack of fear of repercussions for his actions. He’s reckless, and more dangerous to his beliefs than he thinks.

There are two other main characters: Verdiss, and Fallon, but their journeys change who they are, so I’ll leave that for reader to discover.

4) What primary themes does your book explore?



The power of unity, the depth of damage racism can cause, and redemption.

5) Though your story touches on some very powerful and real
 historical injustices, you have a heavy fantasy/paranormal component.
How does the use of such elements enhance historical narratives? Did
it even make the process of writing the book and the thematic work
more difficult?



Great question. I think using fantasy elements in historical settings is such a great experience, both to write and read. If we stop to think – at most points in history various cultures already considered what we call fantasy facts of life. Humankind pursued witches, mythical sea beasts, and up until Europeans fully explored Africa, gorillas were considered mythical creatures – half man, half monkey.

Weaving fantasy and science fiction elements into The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff, a story set in Reconstruction Louisiana, had its difficult moments. I really had to follow a set of laws governing what fantasy elements I would allow, what science fiction would be entertained, and how normal people of the time would react to those events.

Voodoo was, and is, still very much alive in Louisiana. Especially in the bayous. So, that flowed smoothly through the story. Also, I did not want fireballs and lightning bolts shooting through the skies like some Lord of the Rings movie. Voodoo magic is subdued, as magic goes, and having real practices to base mine on, proved that much easier.

What I found most difficult it was intertwining the science fiction aspects of the story in a way that felt believable. We don’t ever see a time machine or hear science jargon or even learn the logic behind it. The focus is on how our modern, aka 1870’s, characters would respond to any technology they witness.

6) Your academic background is partially in history. Were the eras of
your books eras you've previously spent a lot of time studying?



Yes and no. I was always more of a medieval, poetry/philosophy person. Being Jewish, I have a deep and painful connection to World War II. Also, my grandfather oversaw the largest Jewish DP camp in Europe after the war – horror stories…and photos frequented my youth.

I did have an interest in the Civil War, because it was, and still is, such a powerful moment in our history. Almost a domestic holocaust. Just as World War II was a conflict for the soul of us as a race, the Civil War was a battle for the soul of our country. It defined who we are as Americans – would we choose tyranny over freedom? Righteousness over sadism?

If either war had been lost to evil…humanity would have fallen.

7) Please tell us about your general research process and resources.



At the time I was writing The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff I was in school full-time for my undergraduate degree. I spent every minute in between classes at the school library, doing research. There, I used a lot of online resources – the most difficult part was sifting through crummy information sites and finding the real, great ones.

Researching Voodoo was a lot of fun. Several of my friends are from Haiti, or their parents are, so I got to interview them. Besides having great conversations with great people, the subtle nuance in the information they gave was amazing.

At home, stacks of books surrounded my computer. There’s too many to count, but some included:

· Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk About Their Personal Experiences of Slavery and Freedom
· Hitler’s Occult War by Michael Fitzgerald
· Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 by Eric Foner
· Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon
· Degrees of Freedom: Louisiana and Cuba after Slavery by Rebecca J. Scott

8) What other projects do you have planned for the future?



Right now I’m working on a screenplay with my writing partner Michael Klein of The MAK Company out in L.A., which is exciting! I also have a few books on the side burner. So, stay tuned!

9) Where can readers find out more about you?

You can find me on Twitter (@LaneHeymont), on Facebook, Goodreads, and on my website http://laneheymont.com.

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Thanks, Lane.

The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff is available in paperback and for the Nook and Kindle.