Interview: Kamil Gruca, Author of Gentlemen of Pitchfork

KamilGrucaEveryone, please welcome Kamil Gruca. He is here as part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tour. Check out the full schedule of his stops HERE.

1) Your book has a variety of weapons and armor. What kind of research did you do to keep them true to the time period and location of the story?

My research was mostly empirical. I’m a historical reenactor since I was 14, that gave me plenty of time to swing some steel and wood. I’m mainly focused on one-handed sword, but tried other weapons like polearms and bastard swords. I did some traditional archery as well but it’s not something I like nearly as much sword fighting. I have quite broad experience with armour as well. I fought wearing padded jackets, brigandine, chainmail and full plate. Very often I train with almost no armour on at all (just some basic elements) – this way the fights may last much longer. Outside personal experience I’ve read considerable number of books about arms and armour.

2) Why did you center your story around the Pitchfork Men? What about them drew you to them so much so that you wrote a whole book about them?

I believe it’s good to point out that all three gentlemen of Pitchfork are purely fictional characters. I don’t believe there is a place called Pitchfork anywhere in England. The heraldry of the three characters is also bogus (with one exception – the Neville family was actually a prominent family at the time and their coat of arms consisted of silver (white in heraldry) Saint Andrew’s cross in the red field). But gentlemen of Pitchfork are not completely made up. Sir Ralph is based on certain friend of mine, sir Robert is also mostly after a living person. Baron Arthur is different, I don’t know anyone who would be like him, but that’s probably because he is the closest to being a perfect knight.

3) Your book, Gentlemen of Pitchfork, has several poems contained within the storyline. Are these poems you composed yourself or are they historical poems?

I wouldn’t dare to write poems in my mother tongue, let alone French. The poems and songs are all historical. But they’re not entirely historically accurate. There are a few which are later than the times in which the action takes place. Most of them, however, are accurate and are an actual French and English medieval poetry.

4) Why your fascination with King Henry and the early 1400s?

I consider the beginning of XVth the time when Middle Ages were at their peak. All the ideas were already ripe (some maybe a bit rotten even – like scholasticism). The medieval art of war was also quite mature. The new technology for armour production has changed the battlefield, the armour has almost developed it’s full potential. The campaign of Henry Vth seemed like a great background for a story. With a turning point at Agincourt – one of the most interesting battles of Middle Ages. The battle itself was outstanding in many ways: the huge disproportion of armies, the most triumphant usage of the longbow, the grim massacre of captives. The battle itself could be a mirror of the epoch – full of inconsistencies and intriguing. At first I wanted to write something about much bigger battle of Grunwald which happened in Poland, but I decided that I’m not ready for handling the history of my own nation.

5) Will there be any further stories about the Pitchfork Men?

There is actually. The polish title Baron i Łotr could be translated as The Baron and the Villain. The book is a continuation of Gentlemen of Pitchfork. I would gladly put it in the hands of English speaking audience, but for that to happen the readers would have to show interest in the Gentlemen of Pitchfork.

6) When developing this story, did you travel to the places described? What was most interesting about researching these places?

I didn’t travel to most of the places described in the book. But I lived in Paris for almost a year and the Gentlemen of Pitchfork were written there. Paris has many faces. For me it was a heart of medieval France. My apartment was 5 minutes walk from the Notre Dame cathedral, so I could look at it often and sometimes, just sometimes you could contemplate it without a crowd of tourists all around you. I went to the place where Louis of Orleans has been murdered by his uncle’s assassins. I went to see most of the houses of the great French lords who took part in the events described in my book. Mostly the places differ from what they used to be in XVth century (progress I guess), but the city center has preserved a lot of it’s medieval beauty.

GrucaGentlemenOfPitchforkHere is the Goodreads blurb on Gentlemen of Pitchfork

The year is 1415. France is weakened by the recently ended Civil War between the factions of Burgundians and Armagnacs. The young and belligerent King Henry V Lancaster decides to pay the French a neighbourly visit. With him – the flower of the English knighthood.

Among them – Sir Arthur, the Baron of Pitchfork, an ideal of all chivalric virtues – his uncle, Sir Ralph, a veteran soldier with a taste for women and bitter humour – and his cousin, Sir Robert, a young and romantic would-be scholar who will have his first taste of war, sieges, duels, betrayal and intrigue but also love and practical philosophy.

Together they ride as secret envoys of their King to meet Burgundian emissaries. But the Armagnacs’ spies keep their eyes open for any sign of treason on the part of their political opponents and three powerful French armies are gathering to cross King Henry’s way.

More About The Author

Kamil Gruca is a Polish writer born in 1982 in Warsaw. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Philosophy at the Warsaw University.

Kamil is also an active knight who confirmed his battle prowess by winning the Polish National Knights League in 2006 under the alias of Sir Robert Neville. He has studied medieval swordsmanship for over 15 years hence his novels are full of dynamic and realistic swordplay.

Being an avid re-enactor and a passionate history geek Kamil moved to France for two years to study documents unavailable in other countries that would add to the feel and realism of the book on multiple levels.

His first novel “Panowie z Pitchfork” was published in 2009 by a major publishing house Rebis. Receiving a warm welcome from Polish critics, readers and fellow writers, the first part of the adventures of the young and keen Sir Robert was soon followed by a sequel “Baron i Łotr”, published by another publishing house Znak, bringing closure to the major plot.

Currently Kamil lives in Warsaw with his family and is working on another series of historical novels focused around one of Poland’s most famous knights – Zawisza Czarny – and his not so famous yet equally interesting brothers.

For more information about the book please visit http://gentlemenofpitchfork.blogspot.com or http://facebook.com/gentlemenofpitchfork. You can contact Kamil at Gruca.Kamil@gmail.com.

If you want to learn more about how Kamil trains medieval swordsmanship please visit HAM-Historyczna-Akademia-Miecza on Facebook (Site in Polish), as well as http://draby.pl (Site in Polish).

Gentlemen of Pitchfork Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 8
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, December 9
Spotlight at Literary Chanteuse
Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Friday, December 12
Review at Bookramblings

Saturday, December 13
Review at Book Nerd

Monday, December 15
Review at Dab of Darkness

Tuesday, December 16
Excerpt at The Never-Ending Book

Wednesday, December 17
Review at Boom Baby Reviews
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, December 18
Interview at Dab of Darkness
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Friday, December 19
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

The Eighth Day by Michael O’Neal

O'NealTheEighthDayWhere I Got It: Review copy via the author (thanks!).

Publisher: Self-published (2014)

Narrator: Robert Martinez

Length: 9 hours 42 minutes

Author’s Page

In a small town in Iowa, life turns messy for highschool senior Jay Anderson. He is accused of a drug crime he didn’t commit. Luckily, his friend Kathy sways the jury and gets him acquitted. But more than that is going on in this small town. Pretty soon Rachel, Ryan, and Jeff are pulled into the mystery as well. It seems some sort of sickness is spreading through out their town, making people irritable and paranoid. Men in suits with an unusually large armament show up. Pretty soon, the 5 friends have to leave the town or end up in a bad way.

In this action flick, the teens take on fantastic abilities while trying to save their friends and family, and perhaps the entire nation. It’s a mix of genres, with some gene splicing going on, alien life, conspiracy theories, and a touch of Christian morals lacing through it all. Jay and Kathy get the most page time and have the most character growth in the book. Ryan and Jeff play important second fiddles as the 5 travel the USA, then to Russia, and finally the Caribbean. Rachel often became non-existent in the narrative as she had so few lines; in fact, I had completely forgotten that she had traveled with the guys until her voice reappeared near the end.

The story starts off strong, with it’s mystery asteroid, the men in suits, and Jay prosecuted on false drug charges. The plot started to drift a bit after that, the various threads spreading so thinly that I wasn’t sure where the story was going. But during the final quarter of the book, the author brings it all back home and does a good job of wrapping it up. So if you started this book and felt that you were getting a bit lost, keep going – it all makes sense at the end.

Through out the tale, the kids do some fantastical things. Granted, two of them have some unusual biological abilities, but that doesn’t give them the ability to win trials or parachute jump successfully or fly airplanes (all on the first try). So I felt certain scenes were definitely stretching my ability to part with sensible reality. I wanted to root for the kids, but I also felt they weren’t truly equipped to do some of the things they accomplished in this book. Plus, many of the adults were written as simple obstacles meant to be pushed over by these young heroes. They didn’t have to struggle too much against the social norms or government system. There you have my one real criticism about this book. So, if you have a great ability to suspend disbelief, then check this book out.

Through out the book were touches of Christian morals and beliefs. I am not Christian, and for the most part, these didn’t bother me, until the last little bit of the book. There, I felt that the author was borderline preachy at points. By that point, I was invested in the book and wanted to see how it all turned out more than I was annoyed by the Christian moral advice. If you are into Christian fiction, then you would probably enjoy this little addition to the storyline.

I felt that Kathy did a good job of rescuing one of the guys as often as she needed rescuing. I would have liked to see more female characters. We have Kathy, her friend Rachel, someone’s mom, and much later in the book a female Navy or military officer. There is a plethora of male characters.

Over all it was an entertaining listen once I suspended by disbelieve and became attached to the two main characters. I also liked the addition of a dolphin later in the story.

Narration: Robert Martinez did a really good job with this story. He had a good range in voices and accents, making it easy to keep track of characters. Also, the characters were often thinking to themselves, so Martinez made the extra effort to put those lines into an internal dialogue sound. There was also a fighter pilot scene and he made it sound like the dialogue was coming over a radio. Very good performance!

What I Liked:  Fun, fast-paced action flick; Kathy makes a great female lead; plenty of plot lines that the author does a good job of tying together at the end. 

What I Disliked: The kids accomplish great feats that defy my ability to suspend my disbelief; there are few female characters.

Hetaera by Suzanne Tyrpak

TyrpakHetaeraWhere I Got It: Review copy via the author (thanks!).

Publisher: Adytum (2014)

Narrator: Laura Jennings

Length: 7 hours 42 minutes

Series: Book 1 Agathon’s Daughter

Author’s Page

Set in ancient Athens, this is a mix of mystery and romance. Hestia was born a bastard and has lived a life of servitude as a house slave. Her master, Agathon, reveals certain secrets upon his deathbed. Agathon’s widow, Melaina, sells Hestia to a local slaver. She in turn is bought by a wealthy man, Lycurgus, who was Agathon’s best friend. Toss in a love interest between Hestia and Diodorus, and you have an entertaining Greek soap opera.

I very much enjoyed this book even with its flaws. While the characters and the plot were a bit predictable, it was also easy to get attached to the main characters. Hestia has an intuition about people and is often blunt enough to speak her observations. Some praise her for this and others curse her. While a slave, she doesn’t simply allow life to happen to her. She makes choices throughout the book, some of which put her in danger. She does, at times, seem a bit too innocent. She has been a house slave all her life, but that doesn’t mean that she was kept locked in doors. She could go to the market, chat with other slaves from other households, etc. Despite this tendency towards obliviousness, she was an engaging character.

Diodorus is also a person who makes choices, though he is under a heavy, life-long manipulation by his mother Melaina. She is the villain of this story and I have to say, there are times where she steals the scene. She was an excellent villain to hate! Lycurgus comes off as a secondary character, though he plays a few crucial cards to keep the storyline moving forward. There were a few times that I felt certain events were contrived, were a little too convenient in popping up when they did. There were 2 chance meetings that I felt were unlikely to have happened without the author’s pen pushing them forward. Still, even with that, it was a fun listen.

The setting was a lot of fun too. I definitely felt like the characters were in ancient Athens. There were plenty of references to clothing, social customs, government policies, and food from that time period. The setting itself was so well done it was a character itself. Over all, I very much enjoyed this book. If Suzanne Tyrpak is this good today, imagine how refined and entertaining her stories will be in the future.

Narration: Laura Jennings was an excellent pick for this story. She made Hestia come to life. I have to say that her performances as Melania were excellent too. She also had a range of male voices which made it easy for the listener to keep all the characters separate.

What I Liked:  The setting; the main character (Hestia); Melania was an excellent villain; the ending (definitely ready for a second installment!). 

What I Disliked: There were a few points where the plot felt contrived; Hestia was occasionally too innocent; I don’t dislike the cover, but I don’t feel that it encompasses all the awesomeness of this book.

What Others Think:

Broken Teepee

My Book Chatter

Pirates of Mars by Chris Gerrib

GerribPiratesOfMarsWhere I Got It: Review copy via the author (thanks!).

Publisher: Hadley Rille Books (2014)

Narrator: Gary McKenzie

Length: 7 hours 50 minutes

Author’s Page

This not-so-far-future scifi story has humans settled on Mars and up to nefarious deeds. The pirates of Mars are quite a mixed crew (which was entertaining) who end up kidnapping a volunteer space rescue man (Peter). But his agency doesn’t have the funds to ransom him. Luckily, he has friends who improvise a rescue. Over all, the book had a Wild West feel to it, kind of a nod to the TV series Firefly.

Once the characters were set, there wasn’t much growth. But that was OK as this was a fast-paced action flick. I really liked that none of the women were wall flowers or simply there for pretty scenery. There was a lesbian sex scene which could be a bonus or a distraction depending on your view on sex in books. For me, the sex scene was OK, bringing a slight heat to my cheeks but nothing beyond that.

There’s plenty of fun tech in ships and weapons and protective gear. I don’t need it all to be true to life functional for me to enjoy the story. I was a bit skeptical of the human race being capable of having Mars settled and infested with pirates by 2074. But that was easy to set aside and simply pretend it was 2274 instead.

The storyline was predictable but for a quick action flick, I wasn’t looking for any deep mystery or great twists and turns. Over all, I would give this book a solid 3 out of 5 stars. My biggest issue was with the narration.

Narration: I hate being negative in my reviews, but I have to be honest and say that this was a pretty rough narration. McKenzie had a limited range in voice, so many of the characters blended together. His feminine voice was almost non-existent (which was an issue as about half the cast were ladies). Also, I could occasionally hear the pages being turned as he narrated. There were some words that were pronounced oddly and I had to stop and puzzle out what he meant. Also, his words were not always clear. For example, one of the characters is named Jack. So several times there is this phrased, ‘Jack asked….’. Well, the ‘asked’ part was not enunciated so it often sounded like ‘jackass’ and I thought the characters were joking with each other or insulting each other, when in fact Jack was being inquisitive. I felt that the story was being announced, like in some sports announcer voice, for much of the book. With such a narration, I have to rate the audiobook lower than 3 stars.

What I Liked:  Fun story line; Wild West feel; plenty of ladies who are active members of the story. 

What I Disliked: The narration; storyline was predictable.

What Others Think:

Windy City Reviews

Gentlemen of Pitchfork by Kamil Gruca

GrucaGentlemenOfPitchforkWhere I Got It: Review copy via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours (thanks!).

Publisher: Self-published (2014)

Length: 258 pages

Author’s Page

Set during the time of King Henry V (1400s), this novel follows many, many people, among them, the Pitchfork Men. Sir Ralph has a taste for women and battle while his nephew, the Baron of Pitchfork, Sir Arthur chases after the ideal of chivalry. Sir Robert Neville, a cousin to the Pitchfork Men, follows King Henry on campaign in northern France.

This tale had plenty of action with lots of weapons and organized chaos. I liked that the weapons appeared historically accurate in use – the individual rich and the government military had weapons and most everyone else didn’t (or they were lucky to have a bow or a knife). There was plenty of history in this book and the reader was plopped down into the middle of it. So if you aren’t familiar with the setting or the time period, you might want to skim a Wikipedia article on King Henry V before you dive in.

There were many, many characters in this book. I do well with a plethora of characters as long as I get to spend quality time with them. The point of view shifted often and among many of the characters in the book (few got to sit on the sidelines) and I had a hard time connecting with the characters and keeping them straight. I think if I had gotten a solid 10-20 pages with each point of view initially, then I could have hopped around quickly towards the end of the book. As it was, quickly flashing from one character to the next, I was a bit frustrated at not being able to keep them straight. Adding to this, many of the characters have an every day name and then some royal title. So a close family member will refer to Sir Ralph as ‘Ralph’, whereas those who serve him will call him ‘Baron of Pitchfork’. This is a simple example, but toss in 10-20 characters at the beginning with titles, full Christian names, and familiar friendly names, coupled with quickly flashing among points of views, and you get some confusion to muddle through.

The ladies aren’t shrinking violets in this book, though there are far fewer female characters than male characters. Lady Mary Rambures stands out among them and has the most page time, being the center of the love interest and (at times) the center of the action. In fact, the book leaves us on a bit of a cliffhanger concerning her storyline. So, I hope there is a planned sequel, though I haven’t seen any mention of one on the author’s page

I read the Kindle edition which has some extras, such as a nice image of an armored knight with all the bits labeled. I especially liked the use of all these bits of armor in the storyline. Several short poems in French are used throughout the book and the English translations are at the end of the book. I prefer it when novels do this so that the translations don’t interrupt the flow of the story (and for those versed in the alternate language, they can feel like a multilingual smarty pants for getting some or all of the translation correct).

And that brings me to my biggest criticism of the book: the translation. This book was originally written in Polish and was translated to English by Pawel Brzosko. The book is peppered with small errors that gave me mental stutters (though the translation does become more fine-tuned and exact as the book goes on). Sometimes sentences were missing articles (a, an, the) and sometimes the incorrect verb tense was employed. A few times a not-quite right word was used or the incorrect word. At one point some soldiers were ‘larded’ down with halberds. Well, you only lard something in cooking (like using goose fat to soften a tough cut of meat in the cooking process) or perhaps you can fill up the lard (the food storage area). Couple this with quickly shifting point of views going on, and I had a tough time getting into this book. But I am glad I stuck with it, gave it a chance, and kept on reading. The book had its moments of excitement and glimpses into the depths of human nature. This author bears watching.

What I Liked: The cover; history in action; proper use of armor and weapons; poems; the women aren’t a silly bunch of window dressing.

What I Disliked: Quickly flashes from point of view to point of view, for a lot of characters; the Polish-to-English translation could have used another edit

What Others Think:

 Check out the blog tour!

Towers of Midnight, Part IV

JordanTowersOfMidnightBannerWelcome everyone to Book 13 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to Towers of Midnight over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers is your host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments. Make sure to swing by Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia  for cool fan art.

This week, we covered the Chapters 21-25. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Morgase discovers that she was manipulated by one of the Forsaken. Do you think that her discovery will finally alter her attitude towards Tallanvor, or will the poor lad have to go off and die in the Last Battle all unrequited and depressed? Does this information make it more likely that she will reveal her true identity to Perrin and Faile?

I think she will eventually admit her feelings for Tallanvor and give the lad a real chance. I’ll be very surprised if it doesn’t happen.

Morgase has probably wondered for a while now if she temporarily lost her wits when she was with Gabril/Ravin. Finding out that he was a Forsaken in disguise must be somewhat of a relief (hooray! I wasn’t crazy!) and also terrifying at the same time (shit! I was under the influence of the Forsaken!). So I expect she has some feelings to work out.

I really think Morgase will have to reveal herself sooner or later – either to prevent Perrin and Galad from killing one another or to prevent Gawyn and Rand from killing one another. I am just not sure how it will play out.

2) Phew! Maradon has finally opened its gates for Ituralde and his troops. Personally I could have kissed Yoeli at first, but do you think that he will really refuse to continue fighting Shadowspawn in order to submit to execution for his actions? What did you make of Lord Torkumen: Darkfriend or idiot?

I think Yoeli (and his would be executioners) will see the sense in living to continue the fight against the Shadowspawn. Also, I think Ituralde’s force would be mightily pissed if Yoeli was executed. Who in their right mind wants Ituralde pissed at them?

I think Lord Torkumen is an idiot. But by calling him a Darkfriend, Ituralde is pointing out that it would be that easy to turn his own troops against him. Hopefully his slow wit will come to the conclusion that it is better to ally with Ituralde rather than declare war on him.

3) Speaking of idiots . . . yet again Gawyn rushes in and ruins Egwene’s plans. Do you feel any sympathy for the poor lad, with his love-addled brain, or are you getting frustrated with his inability to let Egwene take care of herself? Any more thoughts on the identity of the assassin and Egwene’s assumption that it is Mesaana? Will Gawyn be any more sensible once he returns to Caemlyn?

In this specific case, I did have sympathy for Gawyn. After all, he had made the active decision to leave her be when he saw something strange, and that strange through a knife at his heart. What else could the lad do at that point? So I think that Egwene is being a little harsh (seems to be her modus operandi all the time now) as Gawyn had to do something. I would have done something and I think anything at that point would have scared off the assassin.

Again, I believe we have a few (many?) Seanchan assassins running around the Tower. Egwene is foolish to dismiss Gawyn’s gut feelings about the assassin(s).

I think Brynn gave Gawyn some good advice – He needs to figure what he wants, and go do that. Then he will have a better idea of how Egwene would fit into his life and Egwene will have a better idea on if she wants to fit into this life. Egwene has already figured out what she wants to do with her life (be an integral part of the Aes Sedai culture/society) and I think she is still figuring out how/if she wants Gawyn in her life.

4) So, Birgitte entered the Tower of Ghenjei, wandered around it for a few weeks and then died. Can we expect a better outcome for Mat, Thom, and Noal? Obviously they are going to survive, but apart from Mat’s luck, do they have any other advantage that you can think of that Birgitte was lacking?

I too expect that they will survive, thought they might come out maimed or changed in some way.

Mat’s luck alone is a huge advantage. But, yes, I think they have more info than many adventurers who are crazy dumb enough to enter the Tower of Ghenjei on purpose. Also, Mat has his medallion, which the inhabitants may recognize. Noal is a kind of unknown, as we have all guessed he is some unique person spun out into the thread by the Wheel to do something incredible at this time. Thom of course is wicked awesome as he can walk right up to a myrdraal, kick it in the balls, and live to tell about it.

5) What is it about idiot Trakands this week?!!??! So, just for a change of pace, Elayne dashes off and places herself in terrible danger and then somehow manages to survive by the skin of her teeth. I doubt that any of us were surprised by her rashness, but what did you think of her disguise: effective or not? Was anyone at all surprised to discover that the secretary/torturer was a Darkfriend? How much do you want to see Mellor with a knife through his eye?

I thought her disguise very clever. Why haven’t the Aes Sedai in general tried this kind of trickery? And I think she was getting somewhere before she was so rudely interrupted.

I wasn’t surprised the torturer was a Dark Friend. After all, if you take some deep, repeatable pleasure in torturing people, then you probably lack the fuzzy warm lining to your soul that makes most people palatable to one another. I was surprised that the jailbreak for the Black Ajah/Darkfriends was happening that night.

Oh yes, I definitely want to see Mellor with a few too many body piercings gone awry! I hope Elayne gets to kill him, but considering how ridiculously easy she is to trick and capture, it will probably be Brigitte who gets to kill him.

6) It seems that Perrin may be coming to terms with his inner Wolf. Do you think that this will happen in time for the battle with the Whitecloaks, or will he need a few more ‘training sessions’ with Slayer before he can take that final step?

I am still hoping the battle with the Whitecloaks will not happen, because Morgase reveals herself and talks sense into Galad. But if she doesn’t step forward, then they will fight and I don’t think Perrin is ready to unleash his inner wolf in that battle. I do expect he will be ready for the Last Battle. Maybe he has to unleash on the Whitecloaks in order to learn how to reign himself in.

7) Lan’s little army is growing steadily and he is thoroughly annoyed by it! How funny is this? I was disappointed that we did not get to experience the swapping of his Bond to Nynaeve in this section: am I just impatient, or are you looking forward to that scene as well?

I too was waiting for that moment when he notices a bond to Nynaeve. So, maybe it hasn’t happened yet for him on the timeline. Something to enjoy in next week’s reading?

Lan needs to get over his one-man suicide run. He can’t hold the tide by himself and if they don’t hold back the flood of Trollocs, etc. then more people will die. So, either these brave men sacrifice themselves (I expect most of them to die) or they stay home and die with all their friends and family. Both options suck; it’s just one has a smaller body count. If Lan could set aside his pride for second, then his brain would have the power to do that math and see the reason of taking an army.

Squatch having a snack

Squatch having a snack

Other Tidbits:

Is anyone else disturbed by the thought of Trollocs using human speech? If they can chitchat, can they be reasoned with? Is it possible to have tea with them and get them better wages so that maybe, just maybe, they would stop warring on humans and eating them?

I LOVED Brigitte’s comment about sticking a sign on all those portals that lead to the Tower of Ghenjei to warn folks. She made it sound like someone had left the warning sign off of a broken elevator, or such.

So where was Rand when Elayne was being attacked? Or even Aviendha? Both can make Gateways. I understand both are busy doing Important Things, but this was an emergency!

 

Interview & Giveaway: Prashant Pinge, Author of Sceadu

Prashant PingeEveryone, please welcome Prashant Pinge to the blog today! We chat about fantastical creatures and great hero duos! If you want to check out the awesome giveaway (ebooks & gift card!) scroll to the bottom for all the info. Enjoy!

Given the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs? Would you take a selfie with the beastie?

I think Griffins are magnificent beasts, and given an opportunity, meeting one in the wild would be a dream come true. It’s actually quite difficult to pick a single terrifying mythical creature given all the ones I have encountered in literature and films. But if I had to pick one, it would probably be the Minotaur. A selfie with the Griffin would be fantastic. With the Minotaur, perhaps if heavily sedated.

With the modern popularity to ebooks, a book is no longer limited to a specific genre shelf. It is now quite easy to label place an ebook in multiple genres (i.e. YA, Fantasy, Horror). How do you see this affecting readers? Have you been inadvertently lured outside your reading comfort zone? 

I would say that labeling e-books in multiple genres provides readers with an opportunity to explore books that otherwise would fall beyond their defined range of interests. I would look at this as a positive trend to move readers beyond narrow niches as long as authors don’t simply add genres to increase their reach. Personally, I always read the blurb before making a decision.

Who are some of your favorite book villains? Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages? 

Some of my favourite book villains would be Professor Moriarty, The White Witch and Lord Voldemort. My favourite hero duo would be Frodo and Sam.

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you? 

While I certainly enjoy reading classics, my exposure to any retellings has only been through cinema. Some of the reboots I have liked are Clueless, Easy A and From Prada to Nada. War of the Worlds did not work for me.

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

A. A. Milne (a pot of honey), Somerset Maugham (khow suey), Erle Stanley Gardner (filet mignon and baked potatoes), William Shakespeare (wine, bread, cheese), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (would share the food ordered by the others)

Cover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. What cover art has caught your eye that you found stood above other books? 

The Spiderwick Chronicles, without a doubt. The quality of artwork, the imagination, the detailing – everything is superlative.

What do you do when you are not writing?

When I am not writing, I enjoy collecting old coins, reading fiction, travelling to exotic destinations, watching movies, and listening to music. Occasionally, I indulge my creativity as well. For instance, I recently wrote and produced a short film titled Freedom of Expression. I am also keenly interested in the subjects of psychology, mythology and ancient history.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

Fountain of youth or potion of immortality? The topic of a recent (and rather lengthy) discussion I had with a friend. The jury is still out on this one.

Info on Prashant’s latest book, Sceadu

Genre: YA fantasy fiction

Publisher: Prashant Pinge (self published)

Date of publication: Nov 10, 2014

ASIN: B00NVCV0I0

Number of pages: 246 (in 6” x 9” PDF)

Word count: About 70,000

Book trailer: http://youtu.be/BIQHTbekS8Y

Purchase link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NVCV0I0/

Blurb/book description:

All this while, Matilda’s shadow had been growing larger and larger. Suddenly, it lunged out of the ground and swallowed her, like a python does its unsuspecting prey.

Nine year old Matilda ends up with a century old book through a series of strange coincidences. And disappears. Her brother and cousins are forced to suspend their hostilities and pursue her to Sceadu, a land inside the human shadow. Once there, the reluctant visitors find themselves chased by the vicious Hefigans, creatures of Sceadu. However, everything changes with the revelation of an ancient prophecy that foretells the doom of the world they left behind.

With the stakes suddenly raised, the children must now navigate the dangerous terrain, overcome grave challenges, and unlock the secrets of the shadow. But can they do it in time to thwart the plans of the treacherous Hefigans? Or will they succumb to the guile of a ruthless enemy who is equally determined to destroy mankind?

Sceadu is a fast-paced adventure which blurs the boundary between the physical and the psychological, the real and the mythical.

lders relaxed; he was in control, at least for the time being. There would be challenges ahead, grave ones. The boy had probably complicated things. But he could deal with all that later.

Author bio:

Prashant Pinge is a published author of short stories and books in the genres of children’s fiction and young adult fantasy fiction. He also writes historical fiction and romantic comedies. His book, Raja & the Giant Donut, was shortlisted for the Economist Crossword Book Awards in the Children’s Writing category in 2011.

Prashant lives in Mumbai, India, with his wife, Avantika, and son, Arjun.

Author web links:

Book website – http://sceadu.net

Author website – http://prashantpinge.com

Author Facebook page – http://facebook.com/PrashantPingeAuthor

Sceadu Facebook page – http://facebook.com/SceaduTheBook

Twitter page – http://twitter.com/prashantpinge

LinkedIn page – http://in.linkedin.com/in/prashantpinge

Google+ page – http://plus.google.com/+PrashantPinge

Goodreads page – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8393378.Prashant_Pinge

GIVEAWAY!

The giveaway includes 10 Amazon Gift Cards ($10 each) and 15 e-copies of Sceadu (available in EPUB, MOBI and PDF formats). Just click on the Rafflecopter link below. Giveaway runs from Dec. 1- 21, 2014. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway