Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: A. J. Spencer, Author of The Thol-ra

Join me in welcoming AJ Spencer back to the blog! He’s the author of The Thol-ra, a short tale of epic fantasyas well as the beloved SnowRaven ChroniclesCheck out his previous interview on Dab of Darkness. GIVEAWAY!!! Scroll to the bottom for the chance to win an audiobook copy of The Thol-ra.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Grand Admiral Thrawn (from Timothy Zahn’s Trilogy of Star Wars Books from the early 1990’s). He was one cool cat who was playing for the wrong team…..I wish he was on our side!

Is there a genre or literary niche that you feel hasn’t gotten it’s deserved amount of attention? 

Sword & Sorcery – huge back in the day…..but has now faded away…..

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold? 

A book that has the meaning of life would be nice. The lost books from the library of Alexandria……I wonder what they were. One historian said civilization was set back 1000 years when all that ancient knowledge went up in smoke….I think he was right.

If you could pick a fictional character to officiate at your wedding or renewal vows, who would it be?

I always thought being married on a ship, by a sea captain was very romantic (and if you want to have a honeymoon on a cruise ship, two birds with one stone). How about Captain Picard onboard the Starship Enterprise…..The holodeck could create one hell of a theme wedding!

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

I’d have to say superhero (Is Batman available?) I think the supernatural creature and/or space alien would probably be causing the peril in question…….

What mystery in your own life could be a plot for a book?

I read somewhere that a ship was washed ashore during a big storm in the 1800’s, pushed right up on the beach and was just left there. People see the surreal image of an empty ship on a beach and say “Boy that was a bad storm…..or, isn’t that odd, kind of spooky”……Bram Stoker thought – vampire on board! This event became an inspiration for Dracula. That’s how inspiration works with a writer – could just be one little seed, one spark that can start a whole franchise. To answer your question – There are many, many mysteries I want to explore in my stories….but they are the BIG Mysteries of the universe (That run throughout all of Science Fiction, folklore and Mythology).

What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

Actually, I was a teenager in the 1990’s.…..I wouldn’t mind reliving that time knowing then what I know now (but doesn’t EVERYONE?)

What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public? 

DEFINITELY the food replicator from Star Trek…..just ask for something, ANYTHING and it just appears on your plate, I like that. I like that A LOT!

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I’ve had good days and bad days….and many days somewhere in between on every job. This question reminds me of  an interview with Rod Serling – he said the hardest part of writing was being your own boss…..the discipline of writing a certain quota each day. I also heard a story about a writer who kept missing his deadlines, just had too many distractions in everyday life. So his agent (or publisher) set up an empty cubicle in his office building and had the writer come in 9-5 Monday through Friday and just write the rest of the book they had given the writer an advance for. The writer didn’t rebel – but thanked him for doing this! Saying he never would have finished without that structure!

If you were sent on a magical quest which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

One of my favorite authors – Robert E. Howard (The creator of Conan The Barbarian); JRR Tolkien – if anyone knows about magical quests, its Tolkien!; George RR Martin (THE expert on Fantasy intrigue, and machinations); and JK Rowling, to school our team on conjuring a little magic of our own!

Finally, what can we expect from you next? I adore SnowRaven! Any chance for more stories about her? 

Thank You – you are the SnowRaven’s biggest fan 😊I don’t have writer’s block, but more of a writer’s OVERLOAD. I have LOTS of ideas, but am having a hard time pinning the story down. Getting the look and feel just right, and fleshing out the characters into 3 dimensional people. I am currently working on a big Science Fiction Anthology style book – having a REALLY hard time with it……but it could be one of the BEST things I’ll ever write (If I can pull it together that is…..) Some stories veer more toward fantasy, some are futuristic….some could be another SnowRaven story (The Thol-Ra was going to be a SnowRaven story but went in a different direction. The same may happen with the new anthology). However, I do want to put the same poetic flare into this story as the SnowRaven stories (the same style) and the main character of my big Sci Fi opus is very SnowRaven like…..very much a cyber punk SnowRaven!

Places to Follow AJ Spencer

Facebook

Amazon

Audiible

Book Blurb for The Thol-ra:

A city under siege…. An ancient book of forbidden magic…. A power that will save or destroy all!

The ancient desert city of Al-zora is under siege by a swarm of man eating insects – unleashed by a deposed queen’s vengeful curse.

But on the eve of total destruction hope for salvation comes…. In the form of Princess E’feena – the renegade princess who enlists the help of the noble swordsman Alcar, her sworn protector, and Jzemlek the alchemist and thief. To claim an ancient book of forbidden magic.

A book hidden deep in the very heart of the city – a vile swamp haunted by man eating plants every bit as ravenous and deadly as the attacking swarm.

But to save her beloved city from total annihilation E’feena will risk anything – ignoring the warnings of the sages, defying her father, the king -whose word is law! Defying all who fear the uncontrollable magic will bring a far greater calamity!

For E’feena means to unleash the most powerful force locked within the mysterious tome….a force with the power to not only destroy the insatiable swarm….but also create a true nightmare….a fate far worse then the horde encircling the city walls -For princess E’feena means to unleash the dreaded Thol-ra itself!

Audible ~ Amazon

Book Blurb for The SnowRaven Chronicles: The Shafra-Copian

The lady Snowraven becomes entangled in a tempestuous industrial revolution that promises to liberate the bleak mountaintop kingdom of Arkel-nia from the dominance of the Vosharian – a race of cunning and cruel bio-luminescent insects who have drained the kingdom’s wealth for centuries. Nightmarish creatures whose taste for human flesh has decimated countless generations of Arkel-nian maidens – human sacrifices given in exchange for the glowing orbs that only the Vosharian can create. A vicious, unending cycle for the orbs, prized above all for the light and warmth they give. The only source of energy in the whole of the desolate snow covered mountains- until now…

Audible ~ Amazon

GIVEAWAY!!!

AJ Spencer is offering up 6 copies of his short epic fantasy, The Thol-ra. Yep, 6 winners! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: Do you have an Audible.com account? What authors would you take on a fantasy quest? Optional: Follow AJ Spencer any way you want and tell me in the comments how you follow him and under what name. Giveaway ends June 22nd, 2017, midnight. Giveaway is limited to those that have an Audible.com account.
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Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Colin Falconer, Author of Opium

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to Colin Falconer. He’s the author of the Opium, along with his newly released Sleeping with the Enemy, and my personal favorite, Colossus. Scroll to the bottom for the ebook GIVEAWAY of 3 copies of Opium.

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

Starwars, Susan. I’d be a Stormtrooper: only I’d bring my own gun and be the first Stormtrooper to ever actually hit someone. (Probably Luke Skywalker, he annoys me.)

Or I’d be Blofeld’s cat.  All that screen time but I wouldn’t have to remember any lines.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Moby Dick. I’d like to see him swim off to a marine park reserve safe from idiots like Ahab. Maybe have some little humpbacks with a Mrs Di-, well with a wife. And while we’re on the subject, I think it’s long overdue that the guy who killed Bambi’s mother be brought to justice. I hate that guy, have done ever since I was 3.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold? 

This is weird but – the entire collection of Classics Illustrated Comics. You can read the entire canon of great Western literature in a single wet afternoon. It is the cheat notes of all cheat notes, a condensation of every great classic story ever written; Jules Verne’s Michael Strogoff, Dumas’s Black Tulip, Wilkie’s Moonstone.

Unusual choice, I know. But it would also bring back memories of my Aunty Ivy, who used to buy them for me at Chingford markets, so I had something to do on wet Saturday in London. At eight years old, I fell in love with Story.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

The most difficult job was my thirteen years as a volunteer in the country ambulance service. It was also the best and most rewarding, outside of writing.

I worked with a fantastic team of people and the challenges were exacting, auto accidents and beach rescues being among the most arduous but also the most rewarding. One moment I’d be tapping away on the laptop, the next I’d be crawling into a car wreck.

There is absolutely no comparison to the writing life but I loved it just the same.

Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

The Lord of the Rings. Call of the Wild. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

If you could own a famous or historical art work, what would it be? Would you put it on public display or keep it privately?

Michelangelo’s David. I’d put it in my front garden. Only I’d put shorts on him so people would stop laughing. I’ve always felt sorry for the guy.

Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

I’m intrigued by Queen Gertrude in Hamlet. We never really learn what was going on in her head, or how culpable she was in the death of Hamlet’s father. For me, she’s almost as interesting as Hamlet.

Orr, in Catch-22. He drives Yossarian crazy, and everyone thinks he’s a moron, and Yossarian won’t fly with him because Orr crashes his plane every time he flies. But he turns out to be the smartest guy in the whole squadron and the key to Yossarian’s final triumph.

Then there’s Judas in the Bible. Why does he hang himself at the end? More going on there than we’re told, and perhaps the traditional answers about him don’t ring true. Definitely a case of an Unreliable Narrator.

But the quintessential secondary character for me is Tybalt. He’s not in the original poem that Shakespeare took his play from, but ‘Romeo and Juliet’ wouldn’t work without him. Tybalt makes Romeo likeable and gives the play its impetus at the midpoint. That’s why Willy invented him.

For my own characters – well my favourite minor character is Ruby Wen. She was supposed to be the villain’s love interest but just took over CHASING THE DRAGON. The girl couldn’t lie straight in a torpedo tube, but she’s sexy and spirited and funny as all get out.

Pity what happened to her in the end, but it was inevitable, I suppose.

Chupa snoring

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? 

Clearly, Superman if I wanted to win it.

But if I wanted to just trail along behind, drinking and smoking cigars, like I did in the school cross country races, then Charles Bukowski.

Places to Find Colin Falconer

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Amazon

Audible

Book Blurb for Opium

Vientiane, 1960. Laos is a sleepy post-colonial backwater, run by generals and at war with the communist Pathet Lao in the north. Corsican gangsters, left behind after the French departure five years before, run the opium trade, flying raw opium out of the mountains to Bangkok and Saigon. The most celebrated of the milieu is Rocco Bonaventure, cursed with a daughter who turns heads everywhere she goes. Baptiste Croce is kind of man her father has always warned her about – a handsome and womanising pilot with his eye on the main chance. But Noelle is a woman to be reckoned with, as both Rocco and Baptiste discover for themselves. Their affair, conducted against the looming mountains of Indochina and its blazing poppy fields, change all their lives forever. Baptiste risks his life for her again and again in the air; or is it for control of his father’s opium business? Meanwhile in the teeming slums of Hong Kong’s Walled City, a Chinese refugee uses his cunning and his fists to rise to become Red Pole of the Fei Leung triad. He sees beyond the filthy opium dens to a day when the drug will help him rule the world. From the jungles of the Golden Triangle to the tenements of sixties Hong Kong, from colonial Saigon to the skies of northern Laos, romance and horror collide in a stunning novel of passion and greed and breath-taking action. The Opium series charts the story of the drug trade in Indochina, from sacks thrown in the back of tiny planes in the nineteen sixties to the multimillion dollar international industry that soon became the plague of the western world.

Amazon

Author Bio: 

Colin Falconer is an internationally best-selling author. Born in London, he was a freelance journalist and advertising copywriter for many years. But writing novels was his passion and led him to write his first book, Venom, based on his own experiences in South East Asia. 

He has now published over 50 books that have been translated into 23 languages.

His next novel with Lake Union THE UNKILLABLE KITTY O’KANE is out in November, and the first novel in a new crime series will be published by Little Brown in London in April 2018. His latest novel SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY is available with Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2ohHfdg

GIVEAWAY!!!

Colin is graciously offering up 3 copies of her ebook Opium. Giveaway is open internationally! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: What country do you live in? What has been your most difficult job? Optional: Follow Colin Falconer anyway you like and tell me in the comments where you follow him and under what name. Giveaway ends June 21st, 2017, midnight.

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Book Giveaway & Interview: Ryan Hyatt, Author of Rise of the Liberators

Join me in welcoming Ryan Hyatt to the blog! He’s the author of Rise of the Liberators, as well as his science fiction novel Stay Younger Longer. Don’t miss out on his thriller, The Death of Rock and Roll. GIVEAWAY!!! Scroll to the bottom for the chance to win a signed copy of either the military SF Rise of the Liberators or the futuristic SF Stay Younger Longer.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold? 

I think I’d have to go heavy on this one … the library of my dreams would contain the original drafts of the world’s great religious texts

I wouldn’t be able to read them, of course, because they’d be written in languages I don’t know, but I’m assuming there’d be scholars on hand in this awesome library who would be wiling to translate these books for me, so I could ask them questions like this: Who was the author of the Bible, really? How does the original draft of the Bible compare to the one people read nowadays in Sunday school? Have any important parts been changed or omitted? Which parts, and why do you think so?

Depending on the answers, more questions might follow: Is it fair to conclude that the Bible really is the word of God, then, because it sounds to me like a lot of people have had their hand in writing and revising this thing? Therefore, how can I be sure God exists, if even the author(s) of His book have come into question? And if God does exist, regardless of who writes His books, who created God, then?In fact, how can there be anything at all  — the stars, the ocean, my laundry, myself? In other words, how can anything come from nothing, including us?

Yet here I am, here we are. These concerns would likely bring me to the final question I’d have for the scholars about the original draft of the Bible and the world’s other religious texts …

How am I to believe in a book whose truths easily contradict my own line of questioning about them? Thus, can I conclude is life a miracle, a charade, or a little of both? To which I would listen attentively to the scholars’ response. I have a lot of questions on this topic, obviously, and some I suspect they wouldn’t be able to easily answer …

And that’s okay, because I’ve had these questions all of my life, but having access to the original drafts of the world’s great religious texts might shed some light on those who wrote these amazingly beautiful and terrifying stories, and perhaps help me and others think better about and beyond them.

What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

Easy. I always wanted to write a science fiction story about a Rock ‘n’ Roll fan (like me) who obtains a time machine and uses it to travel into the past to see all of the great concerts he’s missed over the years …

Therefore, the decade I’d choose to live in as a teen would be the sixties — an era of passion and protest and an explosion of the music I love, thanks to millions of youth who dared to make the world a better place. I’d hit up Woodstock the Monterrey Music Festival … I’d see bands like Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie before they were broken up or taken from this Earth or too old to care who wanted to see them play …

Perhaps these concert-hopping visits would be part of my investigation into some of the cosmic conspiracies associated with those famous rockers that died that same decade all at the same sweet young age — the famous ’27 Club’ — musicians like Jimi HendrixJanis Joplin and Jim Morrison

The sixties would probably provide the most bang for the buck for a sound junkie like me, closely followed by the punk rock and funk of the seventies, where maybe I could make a pit stop before returning the present?

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Back to the Future — Now there’s a funny, family-oriented film similar in theme to the eighties when it was released and worth a review — for me, at least — because that was the magical decade of childhood, a glorious time when suburbs were cool and my friends and I wore netted tank tops and Velcro pants and rode around our neighborhood on Gordon & Smith skateboards, the beginning and ending of innocence …

The Matrix — I’d also like to experience the power of this this film the first time all over again, because it was the first time in my young adulthood that I noticed that Hollywood was starting to finally gamble a little bit and put out edgy sci-fi movies that managed to be both thoughtful and entertaining. I wrote a short story, “Cerebral Cathedral,” years before The Matrix was released, which many of my friends read growing up, eerily similar to the movie — minus the bad-ass action and special effects, of course. (I dare say, the Wackowskis did it better). Still, seeing that movie on the big screen for the first time made me realize that maybe my writing was something others might enjoy, too.

Now we have Game of Thrones, Westworld, and The Man in the High Castle, of course, which makes me feel anything awesome is possible in entertainment, as long as Hollywood continues to give awesome a chance!

What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public?

Artificially-intelligent bobbleheads, such as Mr. T, Hulk Hogan, Lady GagaVoltron, Kevin Hart or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which follow their owners around wherever they go and provide them with constant companionship, amusement and advice. These walking talking gizmos would be so distracting, they would not only help ween people off their smart phones for a minute, but they would also allow them to maintain moral standing in a world of ever-changing choices and possibilities, modern sages made in the image of pop culture icons — and to each of our own choosing — that guide us through this overly-complicated existence we have created for ourselves. They’d be available for $500 online or at the local shopping mall.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I’ve worked a lot of terrible jobs in my lifetime, too many to count, and most in a pitiful effort to support myself as I write. Nonetheless, in one of my more desperate hours, I signed up with a temp agency to work in a call center on behalf of a famous Los Angeles fitness infomercial guru. I sat side by side a bunch of fellow losers, artists and misfits. We were comrades in customer service!

The first part of our job: when people called to place their orders, we charged them for additional items such as vitamins, video tapes, leotards, jump ropes that they never asked for or wanted or might ever use, and then the second part of our job: refuse to refund their money to them when they called to complain and yell and scream about what we did and how it was so wrong, explaining to them calmly and casually instead that we were “just doing our job.”

I quit at the end of my first day, but it was that first real powerful and ridiculous taste of mindless conformity — a taste of hell, really — which so many billions of people have to put up with every day on this planet, listening to dumb-ass bosses and Presidents of countries in order to put food on our tables and a roof over our heads for ourselves and our loved ones — that made me want to fight and resist in whatever way I could, even if it meant just writing a story once in a while about someone who fights and resists a little better than me, or worse.

You are stuck in space in dire straights. Which science fiction authors would you want with you?

Philip Dick and Kurt Vonnegut: we may not return alive, but we’d laugh trying.

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

The two above, plus Hunter S. Thompson, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, and Henry Miller. They’d order two tofu steaks, whiskey, escargo, and strippers. It may not be the best meal I’d ever have, but I’m sure it would be an interesting one.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)?

My grandfather, Arthur Hyatt, World War II and Korean war hero, a man of great humility and loving family patriarch, definitely one of the Greatest Generation. The odds would be a lot more in my favor with him in play.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

In April, I was named a finalist in the 2016 Book Pipeline Competition which “aims to deliver unique, compelling stories to the industry — with the specific intent of getting them on the fast-track to film and television production.”

A bio on me and more information about my award-winning sci-fi novel, Stay Younger Longer, can be found on the Book Pipeline website.

Stay Younger Longer (2015), along with the recent release of Rise of the Liberators (2017), are part of my Terrafide series, techy tales of woe and hope in which the characters grapple with the economic and environmental realities of their world falling apart.

More information about this series can be found on Amazon or Goodreads.

This summer I might take a stab at turning my print books into audiobooks or adapting them into screenplays, but really I want to start another novel in my Terrafide series. We’ll see. I work as a high school English teacher nowadays and have a daughter, so time is limited. We’ll see.

For more updates on the state of the future, visit my satirical sci-fi news site www.thelalalander.com

Places to Follow Ryan Hyatt

Website

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

GoodReads

Amazon

Book Blurb for Rise of the Liberators:

In 2022, the United States is in the throes of the Greatest Depression, and discharged Marine Corps Captain Ray Salvatore, a 34-year-old father and husband, must either allow his family’s poverty to continue or accept an employment offer to lead a band of military misfits with a new secret weapon into war in the Middle East.

Amazon

Book Blurb for Stay Younger Longer

Dick White, a 28-year-old Los Angeles bachelor and journalist, is put in peril after he learns a popular anti-aging drug called Euphoria is a biological weapon, leaving Dick to find the eccentric criminal who has developed a cure that might save countless lives, including his own.

Amazon

Book Blurb for The Death of Rock and Roll

Talented guitarist Darrell Breedlove is caught in the crosshairs of jealous psychopath Jake McKenzie, forcing Darrell to reconcile his past in order to embrace a promising future.

Amazon

GIVEAWAY!!!

Ryan Hyatt is offering up 3 signed copies of the military SF Rise of the Liberators and 3 signed copies of the futuristic SF Stay Younger Longer. Yep, 6 winners! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: Where do you live? Which book interests you the most? (You can choose a different book later if you win). Optional: Follow Ryan Hyatt any way you want and tell me in the comments how you follow him and under what name. Giveaway ends June 20th, 2017, midnight. Giveaway is limited to the USA due to shipping.

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Interview: Maya Tyler, Author of A Vampire’s Tale

Join me in welcoming Maya Tyler to the blog! She’s the author of A Vampire’s Tale, a paranormal romance. She’s also written the more sensual Dreamhunter, also a paranormal romance.

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

I recently discovered Outlander on Netflix and it has quickly become a favorite show. I’m completely enthralled, borderline obsessed, with it. The show combines my love of romance with my fascination of historical and paranormal.

From IMDB… Outlander is a British-American television drama series based on the historical time travel Outlander series of novels by Diana Gabaldon… It stars Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall, a married World War II nurse who in 1945 finds herself transported back to the Scotland of 1743, where she encounters the dashing Highland warrior Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) and becomes embroiled in the Jacobite risings.

If I were cast as an extra on Outlander, I would love to play any role which has a close encounter with the dreamy Jamie Fraser.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

I would choose a happy ending for Captain Hook of J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy, otherwise known as Peter Pan. I happily bought into the “reformed” Captain Hook that ABC’s Once Upon A Time portrayed, seeing him more as a tragic hero than an evil villain.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold? 

The library has ceiling to floor bookshelves, a sliding, wooden ladder, a vaulted, gothic cathedral ceiling, and a gas fireplace. The floors are worn, wooden planks. Warm sunshine filters in through tall windows, and the room smells wonderful—a combination of musty books and fresh coffee (or tea, if you prefer). In this classic space, I’d curl up in an oversized leather club chair and read a historical romance novel. This dream public library has an inviting atmosphere, a magical space that fosters book love, with the latest in children’s and adult’s fiction and non-fiction books. It contains literary classics, but also the film versions. Books which have been turned into film, and the associated films, will be a feature collection.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

I’d pick a superhero, the gallant Thor, the Chris Hemsworth version, to rescue me! <<sigh>>

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

I have had the great fortune to experience so many fantastic books, movies, and shows so it’s hard to select just one I would like to experience again. What story continues to make my heart stop and my breath catch? After much thought, my choice would be my new all-time favorite TV series Outlander. I’m in the middle of season 2 right now, and I can’t watch it fast enough. After I finish season 2, I’m going to read the books—hopefully this will re-create a first-time experience for me.

What makes you fall in love with a story?

I fall in love with a story that makes me believe. And, with that belief, I become entrenched in the story and invested in the outcome. I absorb it as quickly as I can—reading non-stop or binge-watching—and re-live it again in my imagination. I hope my stories have the same effect on my readers.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

A warning label is more of an external observation. It’s not always easy to identify your own faults or short-comings. That said, I asked the person who knows me the best—my husband. He immediately said, “Sensitive.” I asked him why, and he hesitated. I knew he didn’t want to offend me. This potentially explosive question could create a dicey situation—similar to the “Do I look fat in this?” scenario. I explained why I asked him, and he elaborated enough for me to determine that I’m…

Sensitive, reacts with emotion.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

I was a quiet, shy kid. I liked school, and I got good grades. I had a few close friends, but, as a bit of a homebody, I also liked to spend time by myself. My favorite hobbies were writing—fiction, poetry, songs—theatre, music, and reading. I wanted to be a writer, an actress, or a lawyer when I grew up. I had even planned on studying journalism in university, but life has its own ideas, and I didn’t return to writing until my twenties.

Places to Follow Maya Tyler

Website

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Facebook Book Page

GoodReads

Book Blurb for A Vampire’s Tale:

A paranormal romance author who doesn’t believe in vampires? An ancient vampire who wants to tell the world his story?

A Vampire’s Tale

What happens when Marisa Clements, writer of vampire stories, non-believer of vampires, meets Corgan Halton, an actual, real “live” vampire? The unexpected, of course. Picture a cascading journey which propels Marisa into a world she never believed in and exposes her to a danger she never imagined existed. Picture an untold tale about the non-Hollywood vampire. Are you ready to uncover the truth?

Amazon

Author Bio:

Maya Tyler is a romance author, blogger, wife, and mother. She has a degree in Commerce, but writing is her true passion. Her short story “Just for Tonight” is included in an anthology called With Love from Val and Tyne and her debut paranormal romance novella was Dream Hunter, published in December 2014. Her second paranormal romance novel A Vampire’s Tale released in March 2017. She writes paranormal romance with a twist and all her books have a common theme – happily ever after. When she’s not writing, you can find her having fun with her husband and sons.

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Alex Avrio, Author of The Alchemist’s Box

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to Alex Avrio. She’s the author of the Merchant Blades series, of which The Alchemist’s Box is Book 1. Scroll to the bottom for the ebook GIVEAWAY of 5 copies of The Alchemist’s Box.

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

I think it would be The Matrix (the first one). I remember when it came out the concept blew my mind. The other one would be The Lord of The Rings. I remember I was eagerly anticipating the movie. I have always been a Tolkien fan, and the only movie available was a 1978 animated movie directed by Ralph Bakshi. I knew that a LOTR movie would either be really good or really bad. When I was in the cinema and saw the first scene I knew it was going to be awesome.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

This would be my first job, which was in a financial company. I had to be there at 9 am and there was no fixed time I’d leave. I was supposed to leave around 5 but around 4 everybody would come and demand things be done, all of which were urgent, and so I could easily end up having to do several unpaid hours of overtime every night. I was so happy to leave.

However, the most difficult thing I have done was my PhD. Doing the research and writing a document of many thousand words was much tougher than writing a novel. I guess with a novel, I feel I am totally in control and have a good instinctive feel for how it needs to progress, whereas with a PhD thesis, I found the writing process much less natural – probably because it all had to be the truth!

Where is the farthest from home that you have traveled? Would you like to live there?

I’m guessing you mean outside a book? In that case, it would be Peru. The farthest we’ve went was to Cusco and Machu Picchu. The highest was Colca Canyon, watching the condors fly. Peru is a beautiful country with amazing people and I’d love to live there if I had the chance.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I guess it’s driving long distances to attend my favourite authors’ book signings and talks. The most memorable is dragging my significant other to see Neil Gaiman. We drove for about five hours to get there and queued for another three to get good seats at the venue. This was despite my having a very bad back at the time. (Enough to be in significant pain, not bad enough to be given any special treatment). Still, I regret nothing.

If anyone is a fan and wants to gush over my work feel free to contact me! I love hearing from readers.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I can be usually found drinking coffee, eating cake and reading a book.

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

The most recurring geeky argument I have is about what constitutes a strong female character. My view is that there are many things that make a woman strong, physical strength being only one of them. I try to write strong women characters into my books in different ways, each one being strong in her own way. Read ‘The Alchemist’s Box’ and ‘Lose a Princess, Lose Your Head’ and see if you agree with me.

Also: Han Solo fired First.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I’d love to share with the readers the first two books of the Merchant Blades series, The Alchemist’s Box and Lose a Princess, Lose Your Head. They take place in a world with similar culture and technology of the Napoleonic/Regency period in Europe. The main characters joined the Merchant Blades mercenary guild after the end of the war between the two major powers of the time. and they become mercenaries. Regina Fitzwaters is a former Captain of the Merrovigian army and is forced to work together with a former enemy, Kapitan Maximillian Jaeger of the Eressian army to repay a debt to the shady underworld bosses in the sewer of Border Town. They must go to the city of Pella and retrieve a box the Bosses bought from the Alchemist there. What could possibly go wrong? They must confront bandits, werewolves, a curse reawakened, and magical creatures while trying not to kill each other.

Places to Find Alex Avrio

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Amazon

Book Blurb for The Alchemist’s Box

When Captain Regina Fitzwaters’ misguided scheme to leave the tough life of a mercenary behind her backfires, the underworld bosses of Border Town offer her a way out: Bring them the mysterious Alchemist’s box from the neighboring Duchy of Pella. The catch? She must work with Maximillian Jaeger, a former enemy in the recent bitter war. Now she must overcome her prejudices and trust him with her life. In Pella, nothing is as it seems. Why have the niece and nephew of the Duke developed such an interest in the team? Where are all the court dignitaries? What does the Alchemist’s box contain that is worth killing, or dying, for? Can Regina and Jaeger put the war behind them and work together to save everyone in the Duchy before it’s too late?

Amazon

Author Bio: 

Alex Avrio is an author of fantasy adventure short stories, novellas, and novels. The first two novels in the swashbuckling Merchant Blades mercenary fantasy adventure series are now available to buy. Her previous dark fantasy novella, the Dreaming Demon, is also for sale on Amazon.

The third novel in the Merchant Blades series, The Hidden Dragon, is due for release in late 2017.

Alex was born in Nottingham, UK, to Greek parents. She has lived both in Greece and England where she returned to study for an MBA in the University of Kent. She has also a PhD in E-business Strategy Management from the University of Kent. She has been writing stories from an early age, and after concluding the PhD she decided that it was the time to try in all earnest to become a professional writer. Alexandra currently lives with her husband and their two cats in Newcastle upon Tyne, a place so far up north that if you go any further you’re south again. She would love to share with you her love of fantasy and adventures. She also has a book, bingo and dessert habit to fuel, so please help by buying the books.

To find out more about Alex Avrio, and to keep up to date on her latest work please visit www.alexavrio.com. She would love to hear from you, and can be reached by E-mail: contact@alexavrio.com Facebook: facebook.com/alexavrio Twitter: @alexavrio

GIVEAWAY!!!

Alex is graciously offering up 5 copies of her ebook The Alchemists’s Box. Giveaway is open internationally! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: What country do you live in? What do you do when you’re not reading? Optional: Follow Alex Avrio anyway you like and tell me in the comments where you follow her and under what name. Giveaway ends June 17th, 2017, midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interview: Miss Mae, Author of the SF Tale Through A Glass Darkly

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to Miss Mae. She’s the author of the Ahoy, Mischaps! series, the deliciously suspenseful science fiction tale Through A Glass Darkly, and the wonderful murder mystery Catch Me If You Can. If you’re interested in the audiobook version of Catch Me If You Can, Miss Mae and her publisher is offering up a serious discount. Go to the book’s page on the Pulp Radio’s webiste, add to your cart, and use this code [DABDARK40] to get a 40% discount for the downloadable version of the audiobook.

1) What mystery in your own life could be a plot for a book?

The mystery of my husband’s illness! That’s nothing like the mysteries I write, I know, but whatever is afflicting him, and we -and the doctor- not knowing the answer, is driving us crazy. That’d have to be a medical kind of mystery book -definitely not what I write- but in a fictional plot, one might could weave that an airborne germ from a too-close asteroid from Mars invaded his bloodstream.

2) If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you choose?

I’ve thought on this since I read your question and I honestly can’t think of one. To me, if a character is evil enough to be labeled as villain, then he doesn’t deserve a happy ending (unless it’s satire, or humor, of course).

3) The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold?

Oh gosh, this is a tough one. Definitely all of Anne Shirley’s ‘Green Gables’ books, plus the DVD’s of the movies (with Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie); James Herriot’s books; The Hobbit; Phyllis Whitney; Victoria Holt – wow, I could go on and on, but will stop there.

4) If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

A superhero, and his name is Hero Husband to the Rescue! Yes, my hubby is my hero and he wouldn’t hesitate for one iota to risk his own life to save mine.

5) What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

This is funny because I was a teenager in the last century, but I ain’t revealing which decade! LOL

6) What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

I’d love to meet James Herriot, along with his partners ‘Siegfried’ and ‘Tristan’. I’d chat with him about his love of animals, and how veterinary medicine has changed since he first joined Siegfried’s practice.

7) What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public?

One that makes hacking computers a complete impossibility!

8) What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

There is a job that stands out, though it wasn’t exactly my ‘worst’ or ‘most difficult’ (though I won’t say ‘challenging’, either, because I know something is shady when I hear someone try to explain a situation as ‘challenging’.) I held a job in an all male maximum- security prison and I managed their inmate accounts. What always, even to this day, struck me as ironic was when we employees parked our cars in the morning and walked up the sidewalk to go inside. We had to pass a guard in the tower and they always called down, “Any weapons?”

If I had a weapon on my person and meant to carry out a criminal intent, am I really going to answer, “Yes.”??????

9) Cover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. How did you get into creating and designing cover art?

As a young girl, art was my first love. You could always catch me with a pencil in hand, trying hard to sketch what my fevered mind imagined. In 9th grade art class, one of my still-life’s was exhibited at a tri-county showing. However, in my later teens, the more books that I read the more I was drawn toward writing my own stories and that rivaled my love of art. With the invention of computers, though, and programs that manipulate stock photos, I can still create and design to my heart’s content – so I now enjoy the best of both passions.

Thank you for having me at your blog, Susan. I’m thrilled to be here! I’ve enjoyed meeting your readers. I’d be happy if anyone is interested in signing up for my monthly newsletter. When they do so, they can download a PDF of my SF novella, “Through a Glass Darkly” given as a gift. Also Dove Island and Fated Destiny…Oh, Yeah? are available as perma-free stories on Amazon!

Miss Mae’s question to my readers: Everybody is health conscious these days, but do you know where your chocolate was grown?

Places to Find Miss Mae

Website

I. B. Nosey Blog

Facebook

High-Octane Caffeine Coffee Shop FB Page

Twitter

GoodReads

Smashwords

Mailing List

Pulp Radio Audiobooks

Amazon

Audible

Book Blurb for Catch Me If You Can

Are all rules broken when it comes to playing a game? Washed ashore a South Carolina beach, Lois Steinberg learns her shelter, an old plantation house, was scheduled to host a “Catch Me” game convention. When the cook is the first one found murdered, the game environment instantly morphs into a terrifying evening reminiscent of And Then There Were None. This audio book has won the Platinum Award in the 2017 Hermes Creative International Competition.

Don’t Forget: Miss Mae and her publisher is offering up a serious discount. Go to the book’s page on the Pulp Radio’s webiste, add to your cart, and use this code [DABDARK40] to get a 40% discount for the downloadable version of the audiobook.

Pulp RadioAmazon ~ Audible ~ Smashwords

Author Bio: 

Miss Mae is all about romantic mysteries. With her writing style compared to the likes of Agatha Christie, her books “Said the Spider to the Fly”, “When the Bough Breaks”, “Dove Island”, “It’s Elementary, My Dear Winifred” and “See No Evil, My Pretty Lady” are award winning best sellers. The novellas “Miss Penelope’s Letters”, and “Through a Glass Darkly” have received top rated five-star reviews. Her latest murder mystery, “Catch Me If You Can”, in audio format, has won the platinum award in the 2017 Hermes Creative International Competition. Tantalizing trailers, and more information, is readily available at her website.

She’s also penned three tales in the ‘Ahoy, Mischaps!’ children’s/humor series. Book #1 is “Ahoy, Gum Drop!” followed by Book #2 “Ahoy, Out There!” with Book #3, “Ahoy, Mummy Mia!” In these slightly cracked stories, readers are introduced to a cast of intriguing, extraordinary and downright bizarre characters, accompanied by the one and only I.B. Nosey, the ‘official unofficial’ reporter. To learn more about the ‘Mischaps’ and cyberspace’s only Pukelitzer Award winning interviewer, visit ‘Feeling Nosey?’

Interview: Kenny Soward, Author of the Galefire Series

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to Kenny Soward. He’s the author of Fade Rippers, Book 1 of the Galefire Series. We chat about favorite authors, construction work, and the dream board game. Enjoy!

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

I would probably be the “guy” at the bar having a beer. Or the “guy” at the late night diner having a cup of cheap coffee and piece of pie. Or the “guy” in the coffee shop writing on his Mac and having some expensive coffee. So, I guess just the “guy” drinking a beverage. I’ve worked a long time to perfect that role 🙂

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

I would say a supernatural creature. For someone who writes about supernatural creatures, I have my doubts about their existence. I long to discover something that proves amazing beings do exist outside our own. I guess an alien could pull that off, too. 🙂

What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

There are quite a few now-dead authors I’d like to talk to for various reasons, but I think Ken Kesey might be fun to hang out with. I think he’d blow my mind with some of his thoughts on the power of the mind (and hallucinogens) and how we treat various mental disorders (or even if they are disorders). I’ve always been interested in writing a science fiction novel where the latent power of the mind is unlocked and allows someone to travel to other parts of space. Sure would save on rocket fuel!

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

My worst job was definitely construction work. I did commercial painting (new homes) and spent a lot of time working in the Kentucky outdoors, which meant you could be freezing or burning up any day of the week. And the yards were always churned up, dried mud…real ankle-turning stuff. Just a lot of long hours and tired bones where it takes a super long shower just to feel human again. Writing is a joy compared to those days, although construction work taught me the value of fighting through exhaustion, and it’s really helped me stay strong when writing seems hard.

If you were sent on a magical quest which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

I would take Mark Lawrence first, because we’d need Jorg’s wit. I would take Robin Hobb because she turns an incredible phrase and could probably solve the magical riddles. Jeff Salyards, to write us up a band of brutal mercenaries should we run into orcs. J.R.R Tolkien, for the pipeweed, music, and feasting.

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

Since this series is about to air, and the book is great, I think American Gods would be an amazing card or board game. All the various gods, players, and thugs! So many possibilities to play a faction of warring entities! I would definitely want to play Shadow Moon or Mad Sweeney.

Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

I tend to enjoy underdog or anti-heroes, those wonderfully written who live a tragic existence or perish before their time is realized. But as far as interesting hero duos, Louis and Lestat, from Interview With the Vampire. Raistlin and Caramon, from DragonLance. Of course, Gimli and Legolas, from that one series 🙂

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I occasionally get a note from Mark Lawrence who has promoted my GnomeSaga stuff a few times, and I do my best to not sound like an idiot when I respond. One time, I was getting Caitlin R. Kiernan’s autograph, and I said something like, “I just love your work. It’s just…I want to write like you. It’s so cool.” I mean, I had some pretty slick things I was going to say, but everything came out “cool” and “awesome” and “amazing.” I was so embarrassed. Thankfully, she gave me a quiet smile and sent me on my way. You spend so much time reading these authors, and you sort of fall in love with their brains. And then you stand next to them and can’t speak. I guess it’s sort of like a crush.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)?

Well, if it’s one of those where you have to drink a beer every quarter mile, I’d bring Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds. Also Dutch from Predator and Ellen Ripley from Alien in the event there are monsters, really nasty ones. Of course, we’d need a medic and comedy relief, so Hawkeye from M.A.S.H. I heard it’s a tough mudder!

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

Book 3 of Galefire will be out in the middle of summer, and that will conclude the trilogy. The best thing folks can do is sign up for my mailing list where they’ll receive free books and short stories set in the Galefire world. Or, ‘like’ my Facebook page where I’m pretty active.

Places to Find Kenny Soward

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Mailing List

Book Blurb for Fade Rippers

Lonnie is just your average runner for the infamous Eighth Street Gang when he gets an urgent phone call to back up his crew after trouble follows them home from a drug deal gone bad.

During the ensuing firefight, Lonnie sees some things he wishes he hadn’t, including the gang’s leader, Selix, channeling her powers from a place called the Fade by getting high…and dancing. Memories begin unraveling inside Lonnie’s darkened mind. Memories of dragons and fiends and fire-swept otherworlds. Memories Selix controls with a simple touch.

But what is real and what is not?

In the strange and violent world of Galefire, Lonnie comes to realize not everything is as it seems, including his own identity. But will Lonnie and Selix reconcile the past before they are caught by those who seek to drag them home in chains?

Amazon ~ Audible

Author Bio: 

Kenny Soward grew up in Kentucky in a small suburb just south of Cincinnati, Ohio, listening to hard rock and playing outdoors. In those quiet 1970’s streets, he jumped bikes, played Nerf football, and acquired many a childhood scar.

Kenny’s love for books flourished early, a habit passed down to him by his uncles. He burned through his grade school library, reading Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, C.S. Lewis, and Tolkien. He spent quite a few days in detention for reading in class.

In later years, Kenny took inspiration from fantasy writers such as China Mieville, Poppy Z. Brite, and Caitlin R. Kiernan.

The transition to author was a natural one for Kenny. His sixth grade teacher encouraged him to start a journal, and he later began jotting down pieces of stories, mostly the outcomes of D&D gaming sessions. If you enjoy urban and dark fantasy, paranormal and horror, with brooding, broken characters and fast paced action, you can visit Kenny at www.kennysoward.com.

Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: Victor Robert Lee, Author of Performance Anomalies

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to Victor Robert Lee. His espionage novel, Performance Anomalies, gives us a fresh face in the world of spies for hire. Scroll to the bottom for info on the audiobook giveaway!

Reality in your fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?

VRL: If it’s mundane, I avoid it and take another path to move the story forward. But in a realistic story, characters still have to get from A to B, so within that motion you try to add elements that build on the personalities or the dilemma. Reality as a mindset in the novel Performance Anomalies is essential; even though Cono 7Q has capabilities that derive from an accelerated nervous system, there is a lot of scientific plausibility behind it. Researchers are just beginning to identify many examples of human performance anomalies based on rare genetic variations.

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

VRL: I don’t watch TV, so it would be a movie— any movie by Werner Herzog, either documentary or fiction feature. What would I be doing? I’d be watching his every move as director and thinker. The crashing through the (real) jungle in outrageously brilliant Aguirre, the Wrath of God and then in Fitzcarraldo — that was more than three decades ago, and today he is still pushing the envelope all the time. Guts and creative force. I’ll be his extra anytime.

What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

VRL: The decade around 1900, when the Wright Brothers and Santos-Dumont and others were showing humans could fly. The inventiveness and courage and willingness to leap (literally) into the unknown — I’m in awe. I’ve flown hang-gliders and para-gliders and I love flight. If I’d been a teen then I would have volunteered to sweep sawdust or glue paper to wooden airframes, just to get close to liftoff, and maybe fly myself. Last month I visited the mountain site above Florence that Leonardo da Vinci used to test his flying machines in about 1506; it’s likely he built the first successful hang-glider. But then we had to wait four hundred years for the story to restart.

Who are some of your favorite book villains?

VRL: Hazel Motes, from Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood. Favorite— not really, but most searing, yes. And villain isn’t the right word; “disturbing protagonist” is probably more accurate. His twisting and manipulative pseudo-religiosity is scary enough, but you also get the sense he’s a psychopath one inch away from mass murder. And there is plenty of that in the world today; the difference now is that technology has made large-scale killing easy for your average Joe or Jane. Real-world villains are now dime-a-dozen— if I may digress for a moment, I wish the media wouldn’t publish images of mass murderers, over and over. In most cases, that is exactly the reward they were seeking.

Your news reporting keeps you traveling. What city has captivated you?

VRL: Many cities have grabbed me, and despite my travels I think I can say I’m not one of Graham Greene’s characters who “gave the impression that very many cities had rubbed him smooth.” I’m still pretty rough, and I prefer to travel that way. The impression of each place, each city, is governed by the big When, because cities, especially, change. Almaty in Kazakhstan, a beguiling favorite of mine in the past, is now a sprawling city with ugly modern features. Samarkand in Uzbekistan has turned into a place of hardship and crude oppression. Beijing, once so captivating and a destination for me dozens of times, is now a cloud of unbreathable paste; some of my friends there are moving to Los Angeles to escape the pollution — ironic, considering the smog in L.A. was the world’s worst 30-40 years ago.

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

VRL: Fair warning: I’m not a very good host! I like people, but I’m less and less sociable. Maybe I have been rubbed (or scratched) by too many cities, after all! Of course I would reach back in time for my guests — Confucius, Bertrand Russell, Einstein. Instead of discussing books, I’d ask them what they left out of their own writings during their lives. The things they didn’t say but should have, if they’d had more time or freedom. I’d also invite Catherine the Great of Russia, to keep the others on their toes.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

VRL: I was outdoors a lot as a kid. Collecting discarded liquor bottles from ditches, burying used washing machines with top-hatches for war games in the woods near the river, pinching the glowing abdomen off fireflies and sticking it to my forehead in the dark, searching for the perfect bluejay feather that might have fallen among the weeds.

When I was about thirteen I wrote a short editorial for the school newspaper, prodded by my English teacher. I didn’t know what to make of the satisfaction it gave me — such a little thing; why this feeling? My later training was mostly in hard sciences, except for a college minor in English Literature, which prevented the writing flame from being extinguished.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

VRL: I think it was The Boy Who Cried Wolf, which I asked my mother to read to me over and over again when I was very young, until I could probably read it myself without even looking at the words. Big shout-out to all patient Moms!

Can we expect further adventures of Cono 7Q? 

VRL: Performance Anomalies is just a beginning for Cono 7Q. His strange heritage — Chinese, Russian, European and other unknown roots, coupled with his languages and experiences, make him an espionage agent for our age. For better or worse, the emerging new cold war between America and both China and Russia will be fertile ground for Cono’s interventions, real or imagined. I am grateful to David Pittu, the protean Broadway actor who read the Performance Anomalies audiobook. How can he create so many distinctive voices—male and female—and dead-on accents, all so naturally? Another example of a performance anomaly?

Author bio: 

Victor Robert Lee writes on the Asia-Pacific region and is the author of the espionage novel Performance Anomalies, described by The Japan Times as “a thoroughly original work of fiction” and by Singapore’s Best of Talking Books as “un-put-down-able.” His reporting from the South China Sea and other parts of Asia can be found in The Diplomat and elsewhere. His reporting has been cited in The GuardianBBC NewsCNNThe EconomistMainichi ShimbunThe Singapore Straits TimesAsahi ShimbunBloomberg ViewThe Wall Street JournalThe Washington PostThe WeekNational Geographic and other media, and in hearings of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He uses a pen name to avoid being denied travel visas by authoritarian governments. ​

Places to Find Victor Robert Lee

Website

Google Site

Short Stories

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

G+

Book Blurb for Performance Anomalies

Victor Robert Lee’s provocative debut spy thriller PERFORMANCE ANOMALIES introduces a protagonist to rival the most memorable espionage heroes. Cono is a startling young man of mixed and haunting heritage who has been gifted – or cursed – with an accelerated nervous system. An orphan from the streets of Brazil, he acts as a freelance spy, happy to use his strange talents in the service of dubious organizations and governments – until, in Kazakhstan, on a personal mission to rescue a former lover, he is sucked into a deadly maelstrom of betrayal that forces him to question all notions of friendship and allegiance.

Relevant to our times, PERFORMANCE ANOMALIES explores the expansion of Beijing’s imperial reach into Central Asia, and the takeover of Kazakhstan. Cono’s main adversary is a brutal Beijing agent whose personality has been twisted by the Cultural Revolution’s devastation of his family. Victor Robert Lee’s topical depiction of a Beijing government pursuing territorial expansion resonates with current tensions over China’s claims on the entire South China Sea.

PERFORMANCE ANOMALIES travels from Brazil and Stanford to Almaty and the Tian Shan mountains, covering a tumultuous emotional landscape along the way. The fate of an oil-rich nation the size of Western Europe is at stake. So, too, is a hidden stockpile of weapons-grade uranium. The Beijing agent craves Cono’s suffering; a jihadi cell wants him dead. As the human cost of his mission escalates, Cono realizes that he must turn his strange talents toward higher deeds in the future – if by his guile he can survive the explosive present.

Amazon ~ Audible ~ Book Website

Info about the publisher Perimeter Six:

PERIMETER SIX publishes intelligent fiction with an emphasis on intrigue, action and territories in turmoil.

We take inspiration from authors who gaze at a fractured world and see in its cracks the fertile ground for unforgettable characters—fiction, yes, but making us all feel more real.

Contact us on this email address:
info@perimeter-six.com

Perimeter Six Website 

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YouTube

GIVEAWAY!!!

Perimeter Six and Victor Robert Lee are giving away one Audible US/UK audiobook copy of Performance Anomalies. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: What country do you live in? Who is your favorite spy? Giveaway ends June 10th, 2017, midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: JB Rockwell, Science Fiction Author

Folks, please give a warm welcome to J B Rockwell to the blog today. Learn about Jennifer’s dream library, just who the Swiss Army knives of spec fic are, and how she ended up in a duel of toothpicks at dawn! Interested in winning a CD copy of her latest SF book Dark & Stars? Then scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

Well, if you could resurrect Firefly, I’d be all over that. Me and Kaylee hanging out, slinging wrenches in the engine room, lobbing one-liners at the rest of the crew. 🙂 If we’re sticking with something current, I’d love to be on Fargo—that is the darkest, funniest, most oddball show out there and I love it. I’d want to play a Deputy or something so I can PACK HEAT AND EAT DONUTS ROWR!!!!

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Smaug. I mean, that poor little guy was the only dragon left in Middle Earth and, yeah, he was squatting in the dwarves’ house, but c’mon! Dude was cold! And gold hungry! Can’t blame him for wanting to move in! And what do they do? Run away. Abandon him. Leave him all alone sleeping on a cold, hard bed of coins. Sheesh. No wonder he had anger issues. They could have at least given him a kitten. I’d love to see a rewrite where Bilbo lures Smaug out with a pretty, little lady dragon and they fly away to live happily ever after on some nice, warm tropical island where there are no dwarves at all. THE END.

Is there a genre or literary niche that you feel hasn’t gotten it’s deserved amount of attention?

I don’t even know what to call it, but there’s this grey area between horror and mystery that needs more love. I love a creepy, mysterious story that’s a little scary, but I don’t necessarily need the graphic gore. So light horror/creepy—more of that, please! Oh, and give it a name, too, so I know how to google it.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold?

UGH! THIS QUESTION IS TOO HARD!!!! Soooo many books.

Okay. If I have choose something, let me highlight a few sections I think are mandatory:

1. Every edition and every cover of Lord of the Rings ever printed—some of those were GORGEOUS. Also include any of the companion books, map books, art books, etc. I want all the Lord of the Rings book things!
2. An entire section devoted to folklore. And make it BIG because I want Celtic and Norse, Russian and Bulgarian, Korean and Japanese and African and everything else. GIMME ALL THE FOLKLORE FROM ALL THE CULTURES!!!
3. An entire section dedicated to books on dragons. And not just fiction books (stop laughing, dragons are real). Science books, picture books, biology texts, I want it all.
4. An entire section devoted to female spec fic authors. Another section for spec fic POC authors. A third for spec-fic LGBTQ. I want to highlight their awesomeness—they deserve more space!!
5. A Dr. Seuss area with all his books, a load of bean bags, and some big, comfy chairs. And puppies. And a few kittens.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

Supernatural creature hands down. I can even see how this scenario would play out: Nessie saves me and takes me to her secret and awesome lair beneath the loch (this is also where all the world’s unicorns hide out, too, by the way). Over tea and cake we become fast friends, spending our days playing bagpipes and eating shortbreads, and our nights drinking beer and tossing haggis at the tourists.

Myths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how?

Modern fantasy is a lot more all-encompassing, so definitely, yes. Early fantasy was very western culture and myth centric (still is), but we’re gradually seeing more books based on African, and Asian, and other world cultures, which is FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC. The global economy is exposing people to other foods, and beliefs, and ways of thinking, and fantasy is giving us amazing new backdrops, and creatures, and characters that influence art, and culture, and fashion, and so many other aspects of our lives. We just need more—MORE MORE MORE MORE MORE!!

What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public?

TRANSPORTER PLEASE??!! Raise your hand if you’re sick of sitting in traffic? Or driving hours to the airport to sit for hours in the airport and then spend hours on a plane. Granted, there’s the whole ‘catastrophic failure ending in subatomic deconstruction’ thing, but c’mon! Hawaii in 2 minutes! GIMME THAT!

You are stuck in space in dire straights. Which science fiction authors would you want with you?

I love that first line, by the way. It simultaneously reads like poetry, and like I got dropped into a choose your own adventure story. 😀

And now, my answer! I am TOTALLY bringing Elizabeth Bear because she would either fight her way through any and all adversities, or lie, cheat, steal and swindle to pull us through. I’d also want N.K. Jemisin because she seems to think quickly on her feet and would come up with some wonky and entirely unexpected solution to save our bacon. Bear and Jemisin: the Swiss Army knives of speculative fiction.

Often various historical aspects (people, locations, events) are used in fantasy and sometimes rehashed in a far-flung future. In your opinion, what are some examples of such historical aspects being used well in the SF/F genre?

So, I’m a huge fan of Stephen King’s Gunslinger series. One of the things I loved most about these books (beyond the movement between time periods) were the references to various cultures, and myths, and stories that are sprinkled throughout. ‘See the Turtle of enormous girth’ is an obvious reference to a classic creation myth. The character of Roland: a reference to Child Roland to the Dark Tower Came. The six beams and their guardians—all references to Native American totems and myths. That’s just a sampling of the rich tapestry of this multi-part story, a series that mixes sci-fi, fantasy and western elements and pulls it off in style.

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

Oh man. I was lucky enough to get invited onto the Super Awesome Geek Show (twice!) and we geeked out so hard on Star Wars. I’m a huge fan but not a super fan so I love talking Star Wars, but I admit I also enjoy mercilessly teasing the ‘cannon’ quoters. 🙂 I honestly can’t remember what specific part of Star Wars we were discussing—this was in the run-up to The Force Awakens this first time, and Rogue One the second time—but it ended with a challenge involving toothpicks at dawn…?

May 2016 Episode of Super Awesome Geek Show with J B Rockwell

December 2016 Episode of Super Awesome Geek Show with J B Rockwell

About Jennifer Rockwell: 

J.B. Rockwell is a New Englander, which is important to note because it means she’s (a) hard headed, (b) frequently stubborn, and (c) prone to fits of snarky sarcasticness. As a kid she subsisted on a steady diet of fairy tales, folklore, mythology augmented by generous helpings of science fiction and fantasy. As a quasi-adult she dreamed of being the next Indiana Jones and even pursued (and earned!) a degree in anthropology. Unfortunately, those dreams of being an archaeologist didn’t quite work out. Through a series of twists and turns (involving cats, a marriage, and a SCUBA certification, amongst other things) she ended up working in IT for the U.S. Coast Guard and now writes the types of books she used to read. Not a bad ending for an Indiana Jones wannabe…

Places to Stalk J B Rockwell

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Book Blurb for Serengeti

It was supposed to be an easy job: find the Dark Star Revolution Starships, destroy them, and go home. But a booby-trapped vessel decimates the Meridian Alliance fleet, leaving Serengeti – a Valkyrie class warship with a sentient AI brain – on her own, wrecked and abandoned in an empty expanse of space. On the edge of total failure, Serengeti thinks only of her crew. She herds the survivors into a lifeboat, intending to sling them into space. But the escape pod sticks in her belly, locking the cryogenically frozen crew inside. Then a scavenger ship arrives to pick Serengeti‘s bones clean. Her engine’s dead, her guns long silenced; Serengeti and her last two robots must find a way to fight the scavengers off and save the crew trapped inside her.

Amazon ~ Audible

Book Blurb for Dark & Stars:

For 53 years Serengeti drifted, dreaming in the depths of space. Fifty-three years of patient waiting before her Valkyrie Sisters arrive to retrieve her from the dark. A bittersweet homecoming follows, the Fleet Serengeti once knew now in shambles, its admiral, Cerberus, gone missing, leaving Brutus in charge. Brutus who’s subsumed the Fleet, ignoring his duty to the Meridian Alliance to pursue a vendetta against the Dark Star Revolution.

The Valkyries have a plan to stop him – depose Brutus and restore the Fleet’s purpose – and that plan involves Serengeti. Depends on Serengeti turning her guns against her own.

Because the Fleet can no longer be trusted. With Brutus in charge, it’s just Serengeti and her Sisters, and whatever reinforcements they can find.

A top-to-bottom refit restores Serengeti to service, and after a rushed reunion with Henricksen and her surviving crew, she takes off for the stars. For Faraday – a prison station – to stage a jailbreak, and free the hundreds of Meridian Alliance AIs wrongfully imprisoned in its Vault. From there to the Pandoran Cloud and a rendezvous with her Valkyrie Sisters. To retrieve a fleet of rebel ships stashed away inside.

Amazon ~ Audible

GIVEAWAY!!!

J B Rockwell is offering up 1 audiobook (CD) copy of Dark & Stars (US Only due to shipping). Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments. 1) What state do you live in? 2) What future invention would you like to see during your lifetime? Giveaway ends May 27th, 2017 midnight.

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Interview: Jem Matzan, Author and Narrator

Folks, please give a warm welcome to Jem Matzan to the blog today. He’s a narrator of several books in Laurence Shames’s Key West Capers series as well as having written and narrated his own novel, The Hero. Today he has given us an entertaining look behind the curtains of such an artist. Enjoy!

What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

I was a teenager in the 90s, which I hated because it seemed like everyone was obsessed with being as counter-culture as possible, which meant rejecting everything “old” no matter how good it was. I’d just discovered The Doors and Pink Floyd, though, so it was frustrating that all the popular music was the melodically-challenged slacker chanting of “alternative rock.” So the music was terrible, but the movies were great. I think I would have had more fun in the 1980s, though. When I was a kid it seemed that teenagers had a better time than I did only 6 or 7 years later. So much of American teenage culture got locked down, locked out, and put on rails in the 90s, and it hasn’t stopped getting worse since then.

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

The Sopranos, because it needs to be watched carefully at least three times to get everything. There’s so much more you see the second and third times through — subtle hints at things to come, actors playing more than one role, David Chase cameos, Sal “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero’s ghost in the mirror at Tony’s house…

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

I don’t think most books would make good games. However, back in the early 1990s there was a game called Betrayal at Krondor, which was a unique RPG based on Raymond E. Feist’s “Riftwar” fantasy series. There was nothing bad about it, and there hasn’t been another game like that since (except maybe the pseudo-sequels, which I didn’t play). Ironically, the Riftwar series was based on the D&D world that Feist and his friends built and LARPed with in the late 1970s, so Betrayal at Krondor was actually a game based on books that were based on a game. (I just checked to see if his books are in audio; only a few of the more recent ones are, plus some foreign language versions of the first Riftwar book. Anyway, one of his narrators is Richard Ferrone, who narrated some of Larry Shames’ “Key West Capers” series, which I’ve narrated/produced four of. I didn’t even need Kevin Bacon for that!)

Who are some of your favorite book villains?

Of the ones I’ve narrated, I like Charlie Ponte from the “Key West Capers” series. Partly it’s the voice I did for him, partly it’s that he’s a bad guy, but not truly the villain. He’s also got a lot of great lines that were fun to perform.

Of books I’ve not narrated… I don’t really know, because I haven’t read any fiction recreationally in years. I do so much professional reading that it just seems like more work. I never liked hardcore villains, though, they seem unrealistic. When I was a kid, cartoon villains were always after “power” and that never made sense to me, especially when they were already in charge of a gang or an army. True villains are in search of fun, stimulation, status bestowed by unreachable gatekeepers, a self-image that lives up to some unattainable fantasy.

If you couldn’t be a writer or narrator, what would you chose to do?

I would have been a software engineer. Computer science was the direction I was heading in high school, but back then it was still a niche profession that used archaic languages, mostly for machine control, finance, and other high-end computing stuff. It wasn’t very exciting — nothing like today.

I applied to go to film school in my junior year of high school, but my grades weren’t good enough I guess — I truly hated school and couldn’t wait to get out and be free. At the time that was devastating, but now I’m glad I didn’t waste all that money on something I could more quickly and easily learn for free. I’m amazed film school even exists anymore, now that everyone’s got a good-enough movie camera on their phone, and easy access to decent video and audio editing software.

In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

Self-promotion isn’t a very successful strategy, I think. My strategy is: be seen and heard as often as possible, interact personally and positively on social media every day, and only talk about my professional work when there are new releases or when something substantial happens. When you spam the world, you have to get increasingly louder and more ridiculous over time. I’d rather tone it down, be human, and just let people know when I’ve got something new to read or listen to. I’m anti-hype; unfortunately, we live in an age of overwhelming hype.

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

I’d rather talk to them one on one or in a smaller group, but… Bert the Shirt from the Key West Capers books, Allan Quatermain, Spock, the Alec Guiness Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Larry Darrell from The Razor’s Edge.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I’ll give you two:

Last year at the Audio Publisher’s Association Conference, I sat down at lunch with a table of people I didn’t know, and got involved in a conversation about crossing over from audiobook narration to other forms of acting. We were all wearing nametags on lanyards, but they often flipped around so you couldn’t see who was who. About 10 minutes into the conversation, this one really tall guy who was being really protective of his voice in the loud room (wish I’d done that, too) mentioned that he was trying to get into TV work and had been in a few shows, but going back and forth to LA was a bit of a hassle. Then someone at the table asked who someone else was, and we all turned our nametags around and introduced ourselves, and I discovered that I’d been talking to Simon Vance. In general I’m not a big fan of any other narrators, but he’s the one exception. The introduction hit me in mid-chew of something I was eating, and with a partially-full mouth I’m all like “zomg, Simon Vance, I love your work! I used your performance in Dracula as a vocal model for characters in a few books.” And he kind of looked down and blushed and seemed surprised, and I realized I’d just acted like a huge dork and made him feel uncomfortable. If you’re reading this, sorry about that, Simon! I only acted like a dork because it caught me by surprise. If I’d recognized him when I sat down, I wouldn’t have blubbered like that.

The second one was a long time ago, at one of the last Star Trek conventions before they kind of fizzled out for a while in the late 90s. The featured actors were Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Robert Picardo and Ethan Phillips from Star Trek: Voyager, a NASA astronaut who piloted two space shuttles, and Robin Curtis, who played Lt. Saavik in Star Trek 3 and briefly in 4, and a smaller role in a two-part episode of Next Generation. Overall, it was a pretty good show. I have to say that the actual astronaut was the most fascinating of the bunch, but the actors were pretty cool with the exception of Peter Mayhew, who we were told would not speak to anyone in the autograph line and no one should attempt to make eye contact with him. Anyway, Robin Curtis was first or second on stage, and did her speech on life and Star Trek. She shared the obligatory horror story about Rick Berman, trivia about the Saavik character, and finished by saying that she’d recently retired from acting and moved to a small town where she’d enjoy her hobbies and take lovers half her age. Well, the small town she’d moved to was only about an hour away from me, and I don’t know if I was half her age at the time, but she was about 42 and I was in the vicinity of 22… so I had one of those moments of panicked inspiration where I saw an opportunity for something marvelous, but it was such a big risk in front of a crowd of about 1500 people. While I was deciding whether or not to risk it, she said she’d take questions from the audience and without even thinking, I raised my hand and stood up. I was the first person to do that, so she pointed to me and said, “You, right there. Hi!” I said, in my projected theater voice: “About those lovers half your age…” there was a chasm of silence in the auditorium, then after about two seconds, the whole place burst out laughing. I think even Peter Mayhew laughed. When she’d caught her breath, she asked my name, we exchanged small-talk, and then she said I was cute and she’d talk to me after the show, to which the crowd “Oooohed.” Then she moved on to other questions, and the other featured actors. I did talk to her after the show for about 10 minutes, but I guess I wasn’t all that impressive up close, because I didn’t manage to get a date with her. I still have her autograph, though. And Peter Mayhew’s — he’s a nice man, just very shy in front of crowds.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)?

I’m not really in obstacle course condition right now, so I wouldn’t be very competitive. But if I were to choose a teammate for something like Ninja Warrior, it would be Bruce Lee. He had the perfect body composition and kinesthetic sense for that kind of thing.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

The upcoming project I’m really excited about is titled “Money Talks,” written by Laurence Shames. Back in 2007, Donald Trump’s people approached Larry’s people about ghostwriting a series of novels under Trump’s name. Larry thought about it, met Trump, talked to people who’d worked for him, and said “No thanks.” But then he got to thinking about what might have come of that scenario, and wrote a fictionalized version of it as a murder mystery novel in which the villain is a Trump-like character named Robert Maxx. It’s sort of like a cross between Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and The Great Gatsby (if you switch Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan). Back then it didn’t catch on, but it’s got some new life now that Trump’s in public office, and I’m hoping the audio edition will ride that wave. There are lots of new voices to develop in this project, and I’m really looking forward to starting it.

After that, I’m taking a bit of a break so that I can finish writing at least one of my own books. I have three book projects that have been almost done for several years, and I feel like I need to complete one of them this year.

Places to Stalk Jem Matzan

Website ~ SoundCloud ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Audible ~ GoodReads

Book Blurb for The Hero

The Hero is a work of impressionist adventure fiction set in a desolate, postfeudal civilization. When the charismatic leader of a merchant guard crew is killed in a senseless accident, his designated replacement decides to fulfill a promise to the late captain by quitting the crew and finding his surviving relatives in a remote village. Instead of a quaint valley settlement, the new captain finds a decaying town on the verge of collapse, an old landlord who appears to welcome its decline, and a thriving stronghold of highwaymen fresh from murdering what remained of the merchant guard crew. As the valley’s mysteries unwind and the tension escalates, the captain’s mental condition begins to deteriorate as almost-forgotten memories begin to connect with horrible realities.

Amazon ~ Audible

Book Blurb for Tropical Depression:

When Murray Zemelman, a.k.a. The Bra King, pops another Prozac and heads to the Keys, he has nothing much in mind beyond a quixotic hope of winning back his first wife, Franny, whom he dumped years before. But when he forms an unlikely friendship with Tommy Tarpon, the last remaining member of an obscure Indian tribe, another plan also starts shaping up in his fevered brain. Why not open up Key West’s first casino?

Why not? Well, how about because the Mafia, in league with some of the nastiest politicians you will ever meet, is determined to kill anyone who tries? Somehow, Murray, Tommy, and Franny didn’t think of that until they were in way too deep. Laugh along as they improvise a manic and ever more desperate campaign to keep their casino dreams – and themselves – alive.

Amazon ~ Audible