Author Interview – David Meredith

Hi everyone!!

Yesterday I shared with you all my review of Aaru, written by David Meredith. Today, I am pleased to be bringing you an interview with the author about the book:-

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First and foremost, please tell us a little about yourself

I’m a writer and educator originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. I received both my Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City, Tennessee. I also recently received my Doctorate in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee. On and off, I spent nearly a decade, from 1999-2010 teaching English in Northern Japan, but I currently live with my wife and three children in the Nashville Area where I continue to write and teach English.

 

What inspired you to create Aaru?

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

 

Given the issues brought up in the book, do you think a system like Aaru would be a benefit or a hindrance to society?

That is the question, isn’t it? And I don’t think it really gets answered – At least not in the first book. This is to a certain extent intentional. By not tacking out a particular attitude about whether Aaru is the savior of mankind or its destroyer, I try to invite the reader to think a little more deeply about the idea and make their own determination.

 

What has been the most difficult part of publishing the book?

The fact that there are only 24 hours in a day mostly. But seriously, promotion takes A LOT of time. I would much rather be working on volume two than hunting book review blogs and sending out hundreds of book review requests, but it has to be done if you ever want anyone to read your work. The trick I think, is striking a balance among creating new material, promotion, and the hundreds of other things that also have to get done for work and family.

 

What other books have you written? Can you tell us a bit about them?

I have one other book currently available on Amazon: The Reflections of Queen Snow White

What happens when “happily ever after” has come and gone?

On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven’s wedding, an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven’s fiancé, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White’s own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing:

The king is dead.

The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old.

It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what “happily ever after” really means?

Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White.

https://www.amazon.com/Reflections-Queen-Snow-White/dp/0991031113/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510891939&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=the+refctions+of+queen+snow+white

I also have a mostly finished series I hope to start releasing soon based upon Japanese myth and legend called The Sankei Chronicles:

On the happiest day of the year, Taro’s world ends. His people and his family are slaughtered. His lands are brutally laid to waste by merciless, imperial forces. Taro is certain that neither he nor the ghosts of his lost loved ones can rest until he has visited the same devastation tenfold upon the heads of the vile collaborators. Consumed with grief for the fallen and guilt at his own survival, he gathers his scattered people and solemnly vows bloody revenge on the allies of the Tenshuu in the neighboring barony.

At the same time, young Naomi, cherished daughter of the doting Lord of Numanodai, is blissfully unaware of the chaotic world spinning out of control all around her. She fervently studies the arts of dance, music, and poetry as she dreams of being accepted into the distant imperial court. However, when disaster visits her very doorstep and she loses everything that she holds dear, Naomi must learn what it truly means to be a woman and a ruler. She must come to grips with her own gnawing grief and paralyzing doubt if she is to have any chance of saving her beaten and bedraggled people from Taro’s unreasoning fury.

In the process, both she and her pursuer discover a magical world of vengeful akuma demons, fierce kitsune fox-people, droll tanuki badger-folk, and the mysterious, arcane power of the ikioi. Taro and Naomi must decide whether to use this power for healing or destruction, revenge or redemption. They must choose whether to react to their pain and loss with wrath or with love. In the end, both must come to understand that the only thing that really makes them different is the choices they make and what they are willing to sacrifice in attaining that which they desire.

Finally, of course, I’m about 95,000 words into the Aaru sequal – Aaru: Halls of Hel. I hope to release it some time in 2018.

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Thank you to David for his time! If you haven’t checked out my review of the book and would like to do so, you can find it here!

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Author Interview: Zach Baynes

Today, I am pleased to introduce you to Zach Baynes. He very kindly approached me with a request to review his book, My Life As Steve Keller, in exchange for a free copy. You too could get your hands on a copy – tune in to tomorrow’s review for details!!

My Life as Steve Keller

Goodreads

Ahead of my review of his book,  Zach took the time to answer a few questions about what inspired him to write about the life of Steve, a man finding his place in an ever-changing and advancing world:-

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First and foremost, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Thank you for having me Rebecca, appreciate the offer and taking the time to have a conversation with me.

I studied Political Science for 5 years, founded a think-tank with some colleagues and had some fun with that for a few years. I then started working with technology and that’s where I am now. I work in Digital Transformation, working with companies to assess the state of their IT Infrastructure, or Digitization maturity level, and how they can improve it to gain competitive advantages.

I love reading books, in almost any genres, although for the past years I focused a lot more on non-fiction books. In particular, non-fiction novels – books that have a storytelling side to them. Besides that, I’m passionate about geopolitics, I like to stay on top of what is happening in the world. This also helps when building stories that are grounded in reality, driven by a chronic curiosity about anything. I love travelling, getting in touch with other cultures and people.

 

Just who is Steve Keller, and what inspired you to write about his life?

The book is written from his perspective, so I had to imagine how his life would be, while taking into account my own experiences. I guess it makes him an alter ego of sorts. But in many ways Steve Keller is a placeholder.

He lives his life in very similar ways to most of the people in the Western world. The book focuses on his view on the world and his relationships with the people around him. I love stories with morally gray areas, I’m not a big fan of clear cut storytelling with a hero and anti-hero. I feel that the reader should decide for himself if some questions are worth asking and if the answers that comes along are important. I don’t think it’s up to the writer to tell the reader what to think. Steve sometimes is morally ambiguous because he is supposed to be a normal person, most importantly, he reflects and doubts his own actions. The infamous “What if?” that keeps people awake at night.

 

Steve travels to a number of countries throughout the book, including HK, Paris, Argentina. Are Steve’s experiences linked to your own? If so, how?

Many of those locations are places I enjoyed in the past. I wanted the scenes to have a unique identity of their own and giving them a different setting helps with that.

Sometimes they add a lot in terms of world building; sometimes they tie pieces of Steve’s stories together. They aren’t different for the sake of being different. They are part of the scenes, they either build the dialogue or they bring into focus some other topics that might have felt random without a specific setting. As a literary device, it shaped the future into a coherent timeline, while providing the reader with a positive escape from some of the world building elements that might be overwhelming.

The locations change in each chapter because I like travelling and exploring new places. It was also a chance to imagine how those places might be different in the future – it was too irresistible of an opportunity.

I am a generally a visual person, I enjoy colors, art, nature and looking at things. Writing a specific location made it easier to imagine how certain elements of technology and climate change will blend together.

 

One of the intriguing things about the book is the time frame. Did you have any particular purpose in setting a larger portion of this book in the future?

I think when looking at the past century, each generation had its own self-induced paranoia about particular topics – most of them shaped by world events that people in those decades felt were tremendously impactful on them.

Our generation has its own challenges that shape the dialogue for this particular period. Climate change, with all the perils it might have; employment and its relation to automation; robotics and so on. We have CEOs telling us they will let go of 20%, 30% or even 50% of their employees in the next decade or so. And last, but not least, our relationship with the environment, which at times feels very impersonal. Specifically to ecosystems — animals and plants that are in a fragile state with each year.

I always enjoyed books or movies that have an element of time within them – how it impacts the relationships between people, how people change, the missed encounters, how people adapt to different stress factors in their life and so on.

I wanted to imagine what a person today would look like in 2025. Then in 2030 and 2040. We know how the world would look like, more or less. We have projections on how the weather will change, what cities will be impacted. We know when elephants will become extinct in the wild based on analysis of changes in their numbers; we know when the ice caps will melt. We know that we will be out of a job in 15 years. Soon we’ll have driverless cars, maybe robots walking around.

But what will my life be in that scenario? I would still have the same family around me, the same friends. Hopefully I will be able to fulfill my dreams, my dreams will surely change over time, but will I be happy? What challenges will I face on a personal level, while at the same time trying to cope with the ever changing nature of the world around me.

This feeling of inevitability, time marches forward kind of vibe, and everything that comes with it makes it in a way a character in itself. Time doesn’t care about the characters in the book, about the drama they go through, about what keeps them awake at night.

This quote always stayed with me while writing the book: “It’s funny how day by day, nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different.” I think the book has a similar feel to it.

 

What is the most important thing you would like a reader to take away from reading “My Life as Steve Keller”?

I think the book is a neutral journey into the future, a “what if” introspection and invitation for the reader to feel free to think about whatever he/she wants. It offers the possibility of drawing whichever conclusion fits the reader’s values, without forcing any explanation or justification onto them. Reading a book is a personal journey. So are our impressions of the story. I wanted the book to be exactly like this.

 

Having spoken with you I know that you continue to write. What can we expect the next book; can you give us any hints?

I have more ideas than I have time to write them. But given that I’m a pretty methodical person usually, I have a pipeline of books and plan to get with them one at a time.

The next book I plan to write is The Mermaid from Bastille. It is about an unexpected duo that stumble upon an industry-wide cover up in the fishing business. I want it to be a bit tongue in cheek, it’s a mystery book, and like any other of the kind, the pacing, characters and setting are sometimes more important than the actual mystery itself.

I also enjoy reading about the environment, it wasn’t until recently that I found out there isn’t any wild salmon left in Europe, only farmed. Then I wondered – what else did we lose? The world that I know is now is much different to even my parents’ generation. So I read some books around the topic, about how people are working to revolutionize cuisine in the Old Continent, farm to table kind of stuff. They experiment with cheese, with free-range animals, self-sufficient fish farms and so on. I feel the topic can be dry, but I also know it is extremely important.

Who wants to wake up one day and all you can find on the shelves of a supermarket is powder? I still care about having healthy, fresh ingredients available. So the book is a mystery book, but the overall theme is – there’s a lot more to this industry than we know, a lot of amazing things happening and it’s good if we take a break sometime and entertain the thought of having everything on our plate coming from sustainable, waste free, healthy sources. It will be a humorous and exciting read, while at a same time having a serious undertone about a pretty interesting topic.

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Thank you to Zach for taking the time to talk to us about his book!

If you’re interested in my view of the book, please check out my review, being posted tomorrow. As I mentioned above, there will be a chance to get your hands on a copy… so stay tuned for the details and maybe you could be a winner!

Rebecca mono

 

Author Interview: J. M. Robison

As announced in my Sunday Summary post yesterday, today I am sharing with you an interview with J. M. Robison about her first traditionally published book, The War Queen. I was kindly approached by her with a free ARC copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.

The War Queen

GoodReads       Amazon

Before we get to that review, I was given the opportunity to ask our author a few questions about both herself and The War Queen:-

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Tell us all a little about yourself

I’ve been an avid writer and reader (after all, you should never trust a writer who does not also read) of the fantasy genre since I was 15. To date I’ve completed 8 novels with one traditionally published with Tirgearr. I hold a full-time job as a deputy sheriff in my local county jail. I’m also a reservist in the army which has caused me to travel Afghanistan, Romania, Bulgaria, Kuwait, and too many U.S. states to list. Having had so much experience with people and cultures, I’ve used this in my world building for all my stories which adds unique flavor which I am proud of. My dream is to stay home and make money writing books. I also home make my shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant, laundry soap, and lotion.

 

For anyone who is yet to read The War Queen please can you give a brief summary of the book.

Altarn is used to tolerating the biases of men. It comes with being the first female to secure the political State Head of Blindvar. But Kaelin, the State Head of Ruidenthall, crosses the line when he proposes a merger of their two states. Altarn has reason to believe this is Kaelin’s attempt to make himself king of both. Believing it’s her responsibility to “dethrone” him, she rides to her last ally to ask for aid.

While on the road, she’s kidnapped and taken to Ruidenthall. She wakes from a drug-induced sleep to hear about a foreign army marching upon Blindvar, and Kaelin capitalizing on her kidnap to make himself king. He threatens her life if she tells anyone, but she will suffer tyranny under a king if she does not.

When the final battle forces her hand, she has but one choice: to save Kaelin’s life or let him die. She never expected to dethrone his heart instead.

 

What inspired you to write the book?

I had just finished writing a 5 book fantasy series, and I was hankering for something else to write. I was living in Pocatello, ID at the time, right above ISU campus. In the mood for a midnight walk, I walked up the hill right above campus, to the 4 Grecian pillars at the top. 3 of the 4 pillars are connected, while the 4th is not. In my mind, I saw this as being “broken” and I started devising up a story about how it came to be broken. Eventually that idea developed into a god falling on them and breaking them, and the story about why he fell.

This idea actually is only 10% of The War Queen but, because I’m a pantster, it spawned into much more. (Author confession: I was only 20 pages into the story when I stopped writing, out of ideas. I sat on it for 7 years before a simple prompt kick-started me to complete it and publish it.)

 

What was the most challenging thing, writing the book, getting published etc?

This book came easy to me. After that 7 year hiatus, ideas flowed through my brain so within the space of 3 hours I had exact dialogue, scenes, and characters fleshed out in my head. And I love editing because I get to experience the story all over again. The hardest was publishing, and fighting through the grind of “is my query good enough? Is the first 3 chapters good enough? Was my beta reader honest enough?” because after 47 rejections you start to doubt.

 

Do you have any fellow authors you look up to? If so, why?

Megan Spooner and Amy Kaufman for convincing me to re-write a book in 1st POV present tense (best thing I ever did for a story). Margret Weis and Tracy Hickman for teaching me how to write fantasy and for giving me my love of fantasy. Susan D. Kalior because Warriors In The Mist is the best book I’ve ever read.

 

Any plans for another book?

Yes. I always must be writing something. Next planned is a religious fantasy about a demon and angel who switch places and then collude to overturn the religion that corrupted them both. No title yet.

 

What’s the next book you plan to publish?

It’s in the hands of my publisher now for consideration. It’s an historical fantasy based on Victorian Era England, called The Last Wizard. I already have a book trailer for it: https://www.jmrobison.com/the-last-wizard-2 

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One of my favourite parts of doing these interviews is learning about the people behind the books. It’s easy to idolise authors for their works but very often not appreciate their backgrounds (and ultimately their inspirations).

This also happens to be a very special week, as there is a live event which has been set up especially on Facebook to celebrate the books first birthday! During the event, you will be able to ask any questions and interact with JM. If you would like to join in on the Facebook Event I have provided the link to do so. I hope to see you there!

If you would like to find out more about The War Queen, please see the below links:-

Website    Facebook     Twitter     Amazon     Goodreads     Pinterest

I look forward to writing my review tomorrow and hope you take the time to check it out!

A huge thank you to JM for taking the time to contribute to this post!

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Author Interview: Daniel Curry

I am very excited to be bringing a special post to you today! Anyone who checked out my reading list for this month will have seen that my first read of the month was The Kitsune in the Lantern, written by Daniel Curry. Daniel has very kindly offered me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Amazon      GoodReads

I read this book on the 1st October and my review is being published tomorrow, so please stay tuned for that! In the meantime though, here is an opportunity to get to know a little bit about Daniel and his debut book:-

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First of all Daniel, could you tell us all a little bit about yourself?

I’m 29 years old (almost 30, yikes!) and live in the North East of England in a town called Billingham. I am a Scientist in my day job, and write in my spare time. I enjoy writing a variety of genres and styles, including Children’s Fiction, Teen (Middle Grade in the US I suppose) and YA. I have also wrote a number of stories for adults. The Kitsune in the Lantern is my first experiment with Kindle Publishing, and I have a number of Rhyming, and story picture books out to secure an agent.

For anyone who is yet to read The Kitsune in the Lantern, please can you give a brief summary of the book.

The Kitsune in the Lantern is the story of Argus Todd and his friends, who find an old lamp in an abandoned building. Released from the lamp, an age old being named Yako grants powers to Argus, but is not the mentor that he needs when it falls to Argus and his friends to save our world from the darkness.

What inspired you to write?

I have always written, since being a child. I love to tell stories, and to create characters and worlds for people to lose themselves in. Since having my first child (Jacob, who has just turned 1) I have been inspired to work towards a better life for all of us. I would love to be able to take up a career with my writing, that would allow me more time with my family. He also inspires me to write, so that I have something personal, created by me to pass on to him. One of my children’s picture books, “Doggy Daisies” is all about him and his dog Ollie. I just love the thought of giving him something that he can treasure, and pass along to his own children.

If you could go back in time to the point where you were writing the book, is there anything you would tell your past self to change?

The book is the first in a trilogy, and originally started out as one book. I realised that the story felt too rushed, and the characters didn’t have the time to come to life. I suppose going back, I would do this split from the start, and save myself from the struggle of cutting, and re-adding. Writing is the fun part, editing is the work!

Do you have any authors you look up to? If so, why?

I love Robert Westall. His stories are the books I remember from my childhood. My favourite of his is The Machine Gunners. I love that it is simply a group of kids, having their own adventure. The backdrop to this is World War 2, and he stark contrast between the innocence of the children, and the horrors of war really struck me as a young boy. I think Stephen King is the greatest story teller, and his book 11.22.63 is probably my favourite book (if I had to pick one!) I think that it is massively underrated, and more people should read it so that I can talk about it with them!

Any plans for another book?

There will be two sequels in the Kitsune series, the second of which is well underway. The Fallen Kitsune will again be available via Kindle Direct Publishing, aiming to release in Spring 2018. Hopefully I hear back from an agent or publisher regarding my picture books, so watch this space. I am also working on an exciting YA project, which is around 80% complete. This is the story of a girl called Kavi, who lives in a post apocalyptic world. Kavi is excited from her tribe, with a group of boys and left to explore and survive the Deadlands. In Kavi’s world, women are superior to men in the tribe hierarchy, but this will be challenged. I can’t say too much, as I am hoping to approach traditional publishers with this one so keep an eye on my Twitter for more information.

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If you wish to find out more or purchase a copy of the book I have provided links above to the GoodReads and Amazon sites. If you would also like to follow Daniel and keep up to date with future releases, (as I am), you can follow him at @DCurryAuthor.

As stated above, my review will be available tomorrow!

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