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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Book Giveaway & Interview: Josh Gagnier, Author of The Demon Within

Everyone, please welcome Josh Gagnier to the blog today! If you want to find out about the GIVEAWAY, then scroll to the bottom.

Connect with the author: Amazon ~ TwitterFacebook ~ GoodReads

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

The Big Bang Theory!

As far as what I would do…The show How I Met Your Mother has a background scene that goes through a couple meeting, to having a child graduate college, to one of them dying. I think it was to hyperbolize how long the group was making Canada jokes over the years.

Having a scene like that behind a Sheldon Cooper monologue would be funny.

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?

Absolutely.

One word answers are great, aren’t they 🙂

Seriously though, modern fantasy fiction is a multicultural, multiplatform community. When I was younger, “fantasy nerds/geeks” weren’t often popular and were perhaps a little outcast. Now cos-playing is an amazing adventure in which the people who don’t dress up are the new “outcasts”.

I think a major driving force with this shift would be those people are now game developers. The ones who played D&D and other d20 games on pencil/paper hours at a time are now creating video game versions of those same games.

Somewhere along the line, “nerd/geek” became a badge of honor. I think modern fiction and those writing it helped bring this change.

Many who are now driving forces in our entertainment were D&D players at one time (and/or currently) – Ranging from Vin Diesel and Dwayne the Rock Johnson to Kevin Smith and Felicia Day. Even as far to NBA’s Tim Duncan.

Fantasy fiction pulls on our imagination, and imagination has no limits.

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?

My answer is a little unfair as my favorite book series actually started as a D&D module – Dragonlance.

One of my favorite RPG video games is Wizardry 8. It has a 6 person party. I’ve played through several times with portions of the Dragonlance party as my in-game group.

I’m actually running a single character game with Fistandantalis – the most powerful wizard to have lived in the Dragonlance series. I used a game editor (Cosmic Forge) to make weapons from the books too.

Who are some of your favorite book villains?

My favorite villains would be one of two categories:
Those that redeem themselves before death – Darth Vader, Raistlin

Then there’s “villains” that aren’t really villains:
Jimbo from Summer of the Monkeys. To Jay, the 14-year-old protagonist, Jimbo is a formidable foe; from outsmarting his traps, to getting him drunk on whiskey. In the end, they were able to parley so to speak.

The Phantom Toll Booth – it’s a while since I’ve read it, but I remember two kings (one of words and one of numbers) who could not get along “because it was impossible” and they couldn’t agree on anything. Milo was able to “unite the clans” because:

“So each one of you agrees to disagree with whatever the other one agrees with, but if you both disagree with the same thing, aren’t you really in agreement?”

I actually used some of this type of perspective in my storyline. Sometimes what we see as good or evil isn’t as they appear; and more often than not things are a shade of grey rather than black or white.

Do you have any superstitions?

My superstitions are paradoxical in that they don’t exist if I believe in them and they do exist if I don’t believe in them.

For example – I won’t study within three days of an exam because I don’t want to unlearn the material. That’s nonsense, but I’ve psyched myself out on tests based on the “final reviews” that were within three days of the exam. I don’t suffer from test anxiety except for when I’ve studied within three days of the exam. Not to mention, if I don’t know it by then, it won’t stick with me anyway.

In writing your antagonists, do you want the reader to enjoy hating on him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?

The antagonist, Altha Galen, is more of a rumor and whisper for the majority of the book. The story leans toward boosting her reputation until the final battle when many perceptions are made clear while others are shattered.

The names of every character were chosen based on their meaning.

For example: Altha means “healer”; Galen means “tranquil” in Greek; it means “mad” in Swedish.

All parts of the character are held within their names.

A character we meet in chapter 1 is named Belath, named from Demonology Beleth (replaced the second ‘e’ with an ‘a’ or Alpha, aka ‘the beginning’). Beleth gives all the love of men and women. When appearing he looks very fierce to frighten the conjurer or to see if he is courageous. (The “alpha” makes sense after understanding the character’s purpose with the protagonist).

That said, I would recommend readers make absolutely no assumptions of protagonist vs antagonist. Remember, while we are the protagonist of our own story, we may be the antagonist in somebody else’s.

“The difference between religion and mythology is the audiences perspective.” Perspective, even an objective one, is still subjective.

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

Not to be cliché but Shakespeare would definitely be one of them. I mean, he invented nearly 2000 words. Imagine writing and thinking “what word am I looking for here?” not finding one, then inventing one to suit your purpose.

Dale Carnegie – I would love to be able to drink from the tap of all that experience and research into how to influence people and public speaking.

Sun Tzu – I have friends who own their own companies that have said The Art of War helped them with business strategy. I finally bought it and have added it to the list.

Einstein because, considering his accolades, he preferred imagination over knowledge.

Ernest Vincent Wright gets an invite because he wrote Gadsby without a single ‘e’. I wrote a poem without the letter e and struggled every step of the way.

We’d be required to eat before arriving. It would be a night of imbibing, most likely Leadslingers Whiskey and Rum. Imagine the stories that could come from a night like that! (of course assuming the language barriers weren’t present).

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

Batman VS Iron Man

Who would win? Most I’ve talked to say “Bruce vs Tony” Bruce would win because he has extensive martial arts training but “Batman vs Iron Man” Iron man would win because he outguns Batman.

Then again, Batman was able to defeat Superman through planning and tactics – so Iron Man shouldn’t be a problem, right?

My argument is Tony Stark also trains martial arts and with the creation of the Bleeding Edge suit, he is never without one. Bleeding Edge is a suit made of nano-machines which are stored in his own body. Not only that, the suit connects to Tony on a neurological level – it’s no longer a suit, but an extension of his own body.

While they are both billionaires catalyzed into herodom – and it could be argued they are the same character with different window dressings – Iron Man would win vs Batman.
Unless it’s Batman from the series in which he has the Green Lantern ring. Giving Bruce Wayne a power based on intelligence, willpower, and imagination is a cheat code.
(Let the internet hate begin! J )

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

Summer of the Monkeys, The Secret Garden, and Dragonlance Chronicles are the first books I read around 10 or 11 years old.

My copies of Summer of the Monkeys and The Secret Garden had very specific smells to them. So much so, that when I get other books with similar smells, I am reminded of those two stories. They are a major reason I understand why a lot of readers prefer hard-copy over digital copies.

Connect with the author: Amazon ~ TwitterFacebook ~ GoodReads

Synopsis of The Demon Within:

Joe grew up listening to the voice in his head. It helped him through school, helped him gain wealth in his career.

The final temptation of power was too much. He hadn’t considered the cost.

Now he must find a way to defeat The Demon Within.

Little does he know, his every move is being recorded. Every misstep is being judged by a Great Council. As he gets ever closer to winning over his demon, heavenly eyes watch from above. Some root for his success while others hope he’ll fail.

While Joe fights his demon on the battlefront, the angel Michael fights for his Soul in the court of the Great Council.

Will Joe win out?

Will Michael be able to save Joe’s soul?

 

Buy the Book:  Amazon

GIVEAWAY!!!

Win a signed copy of The Demon Within (US only) or an ebook version (international). There will be 2 of each, making 4 winners! Just click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway or answer these questions in the comments: 1) Ebook or paperbook? What country do you live in? 2) What now dead author would you like to dine with? Giveaway ends April 8th, midnight, 2017.

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The Caped Crusade by Glen Weldon

WeldonTheCapedCrusadeWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Glen Weldon

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (2016)

Length: 9 hours 25 minutes

Author’s Page

Batman has been around for a long time, longer than I was aware of before giving this book a listen. I knew he had been a comic book hero before the Adam West Batman series, but I hadn’t realized how many versions of him had graced the comic book scene. Now I do. This book is a treasure trove of Batman info that entertained this Batman fan.

The book is laid out in a mostly linear timeline, though once the movies come on scene the author did focus on a movie at a time (including production time and stuff that leaked to the internet) interspersed with what was going on elsewhere in Batmania world (cartoons, comics, etc.). I didn’t know the original Batman started off toting a gun and several of his earliest comic escapades were lightly veneered copies of Dick  Tracy or The Shadow storylines. I think this might have irritated The Shadow fans of the time, just as knock offs of Tolkien’s works irritate Tolkienheads today. So I’m glad that Batman eventually grew into his own.

I found it very interesting that Batman cycled throughout the decades from dark crime fighting vigilante, without a side kick, to a kind of campy, more kid friendly version and back again…..  and again….. and again. For me, I have always gravitated more towards the darker versions. I am surprised that Batman did not start off with an origin story, but leaped on to the pages of a comic strip doing what he does as a full grown man with his own objectives. Later, he ditches the gun and gains a cape, a sidekick, and an origin story. I’m a bit undecided as to whether or not the trade actually assisted Batman in solving crime.

So let’s talk about the underlying gayness (or not) of Batman and Robin. My first thought is, who cares? Whether or not Batman and Robin have had an intimate friendship doesn’t stop them from fighting crime, having torn up psyches, or looking buff in tights. I hadn’t realized this was such a big point for Batman fans until I read this book. If Robin and Batman came out of the closet, I would still be a fan. Their sexual orientations don’t detract from them being interesting characters. Batman has had many, many adventures, in the future and the past, in other worlds, magic and science fiction colliding, being a good guy and a bad guy, so I don’t see why there isn’t some alternate universe out there where Batman is gay. Anyway, it was interesting to see all the fan comments on the movies, cartoons, and comics concerning Batman’s personal relationship with Robin.

This audiobook comes with a downloadable PDF that features examples of Batman art & comics throughout the ages. Each image has the related text from the book making it a great addition to the audiobook. I had fun reading through it and seeing how Batman changed throughout the ages. Over all, this was a very entertaining and enlightening book and now I’m inspired to go out there and track down some Batman goodness that I haven’t seen or read before.

I received a copy at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Glen Weldon does a great job narrating his own book. He’s a true nerd with a passion for this topic and that comes through clearly in his narration. I really appreciate him using silly voices for quotes by other Batman fans, fanatics, and experts throughout his book. His humor is on display, though I like that he delivers it succinctly without laughing at his own jokes. 

What I Liked: Plenty of Bat-facts; the cover art; PDF of images to accompany the audiobook; great narration; Batman’s image has cycled through the ages; commentary from fans and experts; the author’s own enjoyment of the subject.

What I Disliked: Nothing – it’s a very interesting book!

What Others Think:

Smart Bitches Trashy Books

Comic Book Herald

Comicsverse

The Three R’s Blog

Giveaway & Interview: Elizabeth Jeannel, Author of The Travelers

JeannelTheTravelersFolks, please give a warm welcome to Elizabeth Jeannel, author of The Travelers, to the blog today.

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?

As a child, I definitely would have chosen a space alien because superheros were real to me, actively saving the world, I just hadn’t met them yet. As an adult, I’ve somewhat grown up. I currently think superheros just live among us waiting for their time to shine. I’d have to say Batman would be my chosen hero because, lets face it, there’s enough billionaires out there that someone could realistically step up and do the job. Until then, my life will not be complete. So, someone who knows a billionaire needs to tell them its Batman time; we are all waiting.

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 definitely affects human cultures today. People are constantly stepping up as they prepare for the zombie apocalypse (which is inevitable, might I add), some are even claiming to be vampires, others are searching for vampires, whether it be lover or hunter, people still look for Big Foot, and the age old Loch Ness, and we all know that the idea of time travel is secretly on the mind of everyone who can comprehend the idea. We want to believe what isn’t real because if the imaginary stay imaginary, life is just too normal.

Conventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?

I think my favorite aspect about the self-pro process so far is that I’ve really had full control. I decide where to go, what to talk about, who to talk to, and why. No one tells me where I have to go or what I have to do. Ultimately, its up to me.

My least favorite part is that I’m alone. Everything I do is sort of in my hands, and its a learn as I go experience. Most of the steps I’ve taken so far have really come from reading the experiences of others, and trying my best to learn from them. The writing world is so vast, and unless you make the right friends, you aren’t really going anywhere. I’m still trying to make friends in general, but those that I have are amazingly supportive.

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

When I read this question, I imagined that each of us would have the ability to use our writing freely. I.e. we could magically create things and change things just like we do in the word world. So, that being said, I would definitely bring J.R.R Tolkien back from the dead because who doesn’t love classic, by his side C.S. Lewis would be kicking it, I’d definitely add Jim Butcher along for the ride, and finally I’d add one more female to this group of manly men with Lauren Kate. I feel like I’d definitely be the weakest link with this group of literary geniuses, but I still think we would take that magical quest by the horns.

What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

Sadly, I do most of my writing at my day job. Between caring for my spoiled cat, spending time with my disabled girlfriend, and doing that real work thing, I just don’t have a lot of spare time, except when work is slow. However, I typically leave an earthquake wherever I go, so if I had a Writer’s Den, it would most likely be a beautiful disaster. In all honesty, I’ve written at work between 911 calls, the park, school, the library, Starbucks (because I am a typical white girl and I don’t care), and even in the car at one point, BUT I prefer to be curled up with a blanket, munchies, and my favorite drink by a rainy window. I think that’s when I have my best creating juices flowing.

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 can actually honestly share two of these moments because both are equally worth it.

Since my first book has not been released, and a recent accident forced me to put it off, I’ve had some of my friends and family in full suspense waiting for the release since the spring of this year. Well, about a month ago, I bumped into an old high school friend at our local mall, and she had to stop me and beg me to release my book soon. She even said she checked my facebook page regularly to see if I had posted any tidbits about the book. It was the first time that I realized that other people actually do care about my work, and I can’t get over that day.

My second story flashes back to the dark days before my self publishing adventure began. These were dark times, Susan, very dark times. I was doing the unthinkable and querying like crazy, when I stumbled upon the agent of one of my favorite authors (who shall remain nameless for lack of ridicule from the general public). I literally squealed, scaring my cat, my girlfriend at the time, and my in laws. Quickly, I began forming a query letter, without explaining my outburst, and clicked send. Of course, I never received a response, and it just so happens now that I’m glad about it, but at the time, the idea of having the same agent as one of my favorite authors was something beyond my wildest dreams.

Thank you for the interview, and I hope you have an amazing day!

JeannelTheTravelersBook Blurb for The Travelers:

The town Alex calls home has always felt safe to her, until three girls her age are found dead. When Alex’s father forces her mother to skip town with him, possibly for good, they leave Alex behind to fend for herself and unfold years of lies they have built her life upon. Jaze, who has been invisible by her side for months, appears just in time to eliminate any normality that remained in her life. He’s tall, dark and terrifying, though that wasn’t his intent. Just as Jaze is earning Alex’s trust, the Council, a feared and powerful group of leaders from his world, orders him to protect her with his life.

Jaze quickly becomes torn between his duty and his love for Alex. When her real memories of her childhood return, Alex tumbles head first into Jaze’s strange world and into his arms. While Jaze soon finds that Alex may not be the ordinary girl he had originally assumed her to be. Together the two of them discover that sometimes love and simplicity aren’t always options in life.

Places to Find Elizabeth

Twitter

Facebook

Amazon

GoodReads

GIVEAWAY!!!

Elizabeth Jeannel is offering up 2 ebook copies of her book The Travelers. This giveaway is open International! To Enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer the following in the comments: 1) Do you think fantasy fiction affects modern society? 2) Leave a way to contact you! Giveaway ends December 7th, 2015, midnight.

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Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Alex Hurst, Author of D. N. A.

HurstD.N.A.1Everyone, please welcome Alex Hurst, author of D. N. A.: Alta, a most entertaining illustrated novella. WE chat about comics, TV series, artist influences, and plenty more! Also, there is a sweet giveaway – check out the last question in the interview for that.

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?

Oh, definitely a superhero. The idea that there could definitely be the promise of super powers in the human race is an amazing concept for me. While aliens would be interesting, I’ve always considered them an inevitability (just look at how big this universe is!) and the likelihood that I would be able to communicate with my savior would be quite slim… same goes for any mythical creature. But a superhero would be like me, like you, like all of us –– just with something a little extra.

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

If I could interview any dead author, it would be Edgar Allan Poe. A couple of years ago, I took it on myself to read everything he’d ever penned: short stories, poems, essays, and his one and only novel. I had so many questions by the end. He seemed to have a wicked sense of humor (he had a habit of writing fake news stories that ended up on the first pages of respectable papers) and a really interesting philosophy about art and life. I feel like being able to interview him would make for some fascinating reading, and I’d really be curious to know how he would feel about his cult icon status in the world these days.

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

I’d love to experience the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes TV series with Jeremy Brett. While I’m also a fan of Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, Brett’s will always be my favorite. I’ve watched the episodes so many times that I can’t get the same thrill from them that I used to. I’m hoping if I wait to watch the series again for another ten years, it really will feel like experiencing them again for the first time! I suppose a close second would be A&E’s Horatio Hornblower adaption.

HurstHeroes&VillainsOver the years, are the changes in society reflected in today’s villains and heroes?

This question is a little harder for me to answer, as my benchmark only begins with the 80s comics of Marvel and DC, but I would say so. The prevalence of superhero films and TV dramas has brought the world of comics into grit (especially with DC, as seen with the Arrow and Dark Knight series), which we see most obviously in cinematic adaptations. Heroes are getting darker, more antihero than hero, and villains are getting dirtier and scarier. The Joker from the 80s is not the Joker of 2015’s Suicide Squad movie trailer.

While in some cases, I have liked the industry’s tilt into further character development and psychological meanderings, I’m still undecided as to whether those things automatically need to be explored via gratuitous violence. The range of human emotions is broad, and I do not think they are being explored to their full potential on either side of the equation.

More and more we see fiction being multimedia – a book, a TV show, a PC game, a graphic novel. How do you see the publishing industry evolving to handle this trend? Any plans to take your works in the multimedia realm?

I would love if D.N.A. were to get adapted into a fully-illustrated comic or graphic novel, and of course the nature of Alta’s universe, I think, would make for some excellent animation of film adaptations. But for now, the important thing for me is to deliver the strongest story I can for readers, one that uses the superhero world as a foil to explore the weaker parts of the human and cultural psyche.

As for the publishing industry, I think it will always find a way to adapt. As the technology becomes more available and more stable, I think we will see more stories making the multimedia jump from one platform to several. With books, we saw this with audiobooks and then ebooks, which are now industry norms, but I imagine it will continue with the development of illustrated editions to full-on graphic novels, animated features, and so on. Motion Books (a 3D comic platform) will likely continue to gain steam, as well, as soon as their technology becomes available on more than one platform.

HurstDarklyNeverAfterWho are your non-writer influences?

Artists and musicians. My favorite artist to contemplate a story to is Lightwave, a new age, lyricless artist. I often pop in their song Uraniborg when I’m trying to work my way through a scene. I have a lot of artistic influences, as well, including Frida Kahlo, Jim Lee, Helena Nelson Reed, and Alphonse Mucha. I was so happy when my artist, Kevin Nichols, agreed to take on the D.N.A. project because it meant a marriage between my two favorite art styles: Golden Age and comics.

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in super hero/ super villain literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

I’m more of a Marvel fan, so my list might be a bit biased, but there are a few comic arches that would have to be required reading for character study:

  1. Magneto, the independent comic series by Marvel currently exploring the psychology of one of their more fascinating hero-turned-villain-turned-hero characters.
  2. Batman: The Killing Joke and Batman: Year One, because as a hero, Batman straddles the line between the limits of a normal human going “super,” and all of the trials those limitations place on him.
  3. X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga, because it is one of the most important arcs for the characters of that universe, and it was also written at the height of X-Men’s popularity before the movies.
  4. X-Men: Mutant Massacre, because this is the critical arc for my favorite X-Men character, Gambit (yes, I told you this was going to be biased!). The arc deals with the ramifications of a mutant-led mutant massacre, and Gambit’s struggles to define himself as hero or pawn to villainy.

I admit, my comic reading has not been as extensive as it used to be –– I poured over my brothers’ collections as I never had the money to purchase my own, but in recent years I have started reading in the genre again, and I am finding myself really in love with Storm’s standalone comics, as well as Dr. Mirage and She-Hulk. There are so many comics to read and explore I’m having a hard time catching up!

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

I would like your readers to know I am more than happy to give away 3 copies of D.N.A. Tell me in the comments what you would do if you could adopt the genetic code of any animal to fight crime (or perpetrate it!) and I’ll pick my favorites to send a book to. Or do the Rafflecopter thing (right below this paragraph) for extra entries. Giveaway ends August 31st, 2015 midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

HurstD.N.A.1D. N. A. #1 book blurb:

D.N.A. is an illustrated, serial novel written by Alex Hurst. The story chronicles the adventures of Alta Williams, a woman of a future where genetics dictate quality of life and scientific discovery advances at an inconceivable rate. Alta is known to the media as the Human Doll, the first successful case of a full nanoCell organ transplant.

Alta appreciates the technology around her: without it, a chemical fire would have killed her in her early twenties. Though the fire destroyed her extracellular matrix, scientists from the medical behemoth nanoTech were able to replace her ruined skin with their patented nanoCell material, giving her a second lease on life.

However, with nanotechnology now advanced enough to alter the human genome, and a company determined to capitalize – and control – the endeavor, it is up to Alta to expose their plans.

And she’s not alone.

Helping her every step of the way is D.N.A., the Digital Nanocell Accelerator, a self-learning computer program charged with telling synthetic cells which tissue they should build. D.N.A. fuses with Alta’s fully-synthetic skin and convinces her to fight against those who would otherwise oppress society as she knows it.

Of course, it helps that D.N.A. can change the genetic makeup of Alta’s skin at will, gifting her with the characteristics of any living recorded in the Genome Project. With the world’s genetic code at her whim, Alta has the power to overcome anything…

…but at what cost to her humanity?

**Please note that this is a novella with illustrations, not a comic or full-length novel**

About Alex Hurst:

Alex Hurst writes primarily character-driven fantasy, in such sub-genres as urban, Gothic, uncanny, and regional fantasy. Sometimes, she dapples in science fiction, horror, and LGBT literature.

She was raised in the wilds of the south. Lightning storms and hurricanes created the playpens of her youth, and in the summers, she used to spend all of her time dodging horseflies in a golden river, catching fish and snakes with her bare hands, swinging from vines, and falling out of magnolia trees.

In the dawn of her adolescence, her family took her on a journey across the United States, from the white sands of Pensacola, FL, to the razor’s edge of the Hell’s Backbone in Utah. They finally landed in Marin, CA, where lotus eaters tried to make city folk out of them (but miserably failed.) She currently lives in Kyoto, Japan, working as a writer and dream-smith.

She also freelances as an editor for the Writers’ Anarchy anthology series, designs book interiors at Country Mouse Design, and admins on the Fiction Writers community on Facebook, assisting emerging writers.

Places to Stalk Alex Hurst

D. N. A. website

Hurst’s Blog

Facebook

Twitter

 GIVEAWAY!

Alex is giving away 3 copies of D.N.A. Tell me in the comments what you would do if you could adopt the genetic code of any animal to fight crime (or perpetrate it!) OR do the Rafflecopter thing (right below this paragraph) for extra entries. Giveaway ends August 31st, 2015 midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interview & Giveaway: Drew Avera, Author of 2103, Act I

AveraReichHello Dabbers, please welcome Drew Avera to the blog today. I have been enjoying his audiobooks and it is time that others have the opportunity to do so as well. Drew is offering a giveaway of his audiobooks 2103 Act I and Reich. Just scroll to the bottom for details on how to enter. Otherwise, please enjoy the interview where we chat about villains, Falling Skies, dragons versus snakes, comics, and more.

Have you utilized your Navy experience in building your characters and worlds? If so, in what ways?

It’s hard not to take from life experiences and put them into your writing. Typically I will see personality traits from people I’ve met and use some of them in the characters I write. Honestly, some of the biggest a-holes I’ve met have been in the Navy and it helps draw inspiration for antagonists.

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

That’s a tough one because I don’t usually watch anything more than twice. I’m tempted to say Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, but now I’m second guessing myself. On TV Breaking Bad was awesome, but then again I really like shows like Continuum and Falling Skies. I’m also an avid comic book fan and shows like Arrow are fun. Maybe I should pick a book…sorry I can’t pick just one, but I will say that What Savage Beast written by Peter David was the first novel I read that made me love reading. It’s a book featuring The Incredible Hulk. Maybe reliving that experience would be nice.

Avera2103ActIGiven the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs?

The answer to both is a dragon. After seeing How to Train Your Dragon I would be tempted to try and ride one, but I’m also very afraid of snakes (we have a lot of poisonous snakes where I grew up in Mississippi) and a dragon is like a big snake.

More and more we see fiction being multimedia – a book, a TV show, a PC game, a graphic novel. How do you see the publishing industry evolving to handle this trend? Any plans to take your works in the multimedia realm?

What I think would be cool is a mix between an audiobook and film. It would be hard to pull off for long novels, but I have some science fiction short stories that are being professionally narrated that I plan to create a video for. It would last about 20-30 minutes and have images of characters or maybe even video footage of the character. I could even score music for it and make it as close to a “movie” as possible. Unfortunately I haven’t found the time to put it all together yet to test my theory, but I think it would be fun to watch.

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 am horrible at video games and I’m not really into things like Magic: The Gathering so I’m not really sure. I would say live action role playing The Hunger Games would be kind of fun though…unless you’re the first one to die.

AveraDeadPlanetexodusIn my experience, some of the best fiction is based on facts and history. How do you build your research into your fictional works?

Everything I write is founded on a fear. I don’t think it is paranoia, but that’s probably what every paranoid person would say. Anyways, if you look at the story Reich, it is about a German society that lives in a utopian state. They live under the pretense that Hitler won the war and he is now a god-like figure. That’s not reality, but what if people drank the Kool-Aid and believed in that Aryan superiority? I also have a non-existent relationship with my mother which finds its way into creating the character Jenna. I tried to justify her actions with my abandonment issues with my own mother. It wasn’t intentional, but I can see it now that the book is done.

Other books like Dead Planet: Exodus, 2103: The Fall of America, and a new one I’m working on called The Banished are all dystopian books about government corruption. Everyone is potentially a villain in most of my books. There’s that string of paranoia again, but I bet no one thought Rome would fall did they? Seriously though, I’m not a conspiracy theorist or anything like that. I just fall prey to answering the “what if” question. And like I said, the foundation is always based on fear.

In writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating on him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?

I think a good villain has to believe they are the hero. They are fighting for something worthwhile, but maybe the other people are just too ignorant to see it his/her way. I use that method for development most of the time, but sometimes I write crazy serial killers with no legitimate rhyme or reason to their methods. Those people scare me J.

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

Batman, Wolverine,  Pope (from Falling Skies),  Captain Weaver (Falling Skies), and Jesse (from Breaking Bad) because everyone needs someone to poke fun at lol.

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?

Jesse from Breaking Bad was great. He could lighten any serious moment with just one word…”B****!” hahaha.  As far as my characters go I use them just to support the main character in some way. Sometimes they are almost an extension of the main character’s development. It’s kind of hard to explain, but essentially I want all of my characters to grow and I want them to influence each other like real people influence each other. It’s not just experience, but also relationships that shape a personality. I try to keep that in mind when my characters react.

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

I am always working on the next book. I’m moving into different genres now with a set of books that will be more crime thriller based. I’m working on the first Nathan Fox novel called Born to Die and I will follow it up with another called Dead Eye. All of my books are short, action packed, and fast paced. I jokingly say that my books are written for people with ADHD. You can finish my book before something shiny grabs your attention! Growing up with ADHD I struggled with sitting down to read. That’s why comic books were a big part of my life until I discovered books about the very things I was passionate about. Now as an adult I can focus more, but I understand not wanting to be tied down to a five hundred page book.

If anyone is interested in checking out my work you can find my books at www.amazon.com/author/drewavera  and on facebook at www.facebook.com/authordrewavera  I’m active on twitter at www.twitter.com/drewavera and I have a blog where I feature other authors at www.drewavera.wordpress.com  I have many authors on there so there’s a little something for everyone.

Also I have a few free stories here: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/drewavera if anyone is interested.

Thank you for having me on your blog! I really appreciate it.

Giveaway!!!

Drew is giving away 1 audiobook copy of Reich and 1 audiobook copy of 2103 Act I. You must be able to download via Audible.com. To enter the giveaway, comment below with 1) a way to contact you should you win (email, twitter handle, etc.), 2) Are you able to download Audible.com audiobooks? Yes or no, and 3) Answer this question: What little facet from history would you like to see projected into a future utopian/dystopian story?

The giveaway will run through October 8th, 2014. Good luck everyone!

Places to Stalk Drew Avera

Website

Goodreads

Amazon

Twitter

Facebook

Smashwords

Interview: T. Jackson King, Author of the Vigilante Series

T. Jackson King AuthorEveryone, please welcome T. Jackson King, an author I have had the pleasure of listening to at Bubonicon 45 (Albuquerque’s yearly scifi convention). Today we chat about some classics (The Odyssey, Kipling’s Kim, Dr. Jekyll, etc.), the dangers of unicorns, comics, and Wicca beliefs. Plus a whole lot more. So sit back and be entertained!

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

Star Trek the Original of course! I loved its first TV run. I spent the decade of the 60s following the US space program of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, with the landing on the Moon, and was truly hoping that by –now-, 50 years later, we would have bases on the Moon and a full size colony on Mars with ships exploring Jupiter, Saturn and even distant Pluto. Which I still count as a planet! In books, I would love to re-read as “new” the KIM novel of Rudyard Kipling, which I first read in junior high school. It introduced me to the idea of a Land with multiple cultures, peoples and beliefs, a theme I have pursued in my Alien-dominated galactic adventure novels!

Given the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs?

The ancient Viking beast Beowulf, who struck me as the essence of the Outsider, the Loner, the person Too Different to be tolerated by everyone else. Since I’ve felt like an outsider most of my life, yup, Beowulf would be fun to meet in the wild as we toasted rabbits over hot coals. As for avoiding a fantastic beast, well, I think it would be the Unicorn. Seems to me a horse with a pointed horn that long is meant to do one thing only—impale. I object to being impaled by something painful.

KingAnarchateVigilanteConventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?

Self-promotion is how we devoted writers meet New Readers and reward Loyal Readers. That includes in person book autographing, meeting folks at conventions, and chatting with them online on one of the Amazon threads that I spend too much time on! I most enjoy going to sci-fi conventions and doing book signings. I have yet to start a blog cause . . . it does not appeal. But I love the hunt for great artwork to use as cover art for my Indy published science fiction novels! Since I’ve read sci-fi since fourth grade, I love it and know what kind of artwork appeals to most SF readers. And there are fine pieces of original art with space themes that a writer/publisher can now license to use for cover art, at a very low cost. The cover art for my newest novel, ANARCHATE VIGILANTE, was done by a Spanish artist living in Madrid. I give his artwork credit on the copyright page.

As for least popular parts of self-promotion, it is the assumption by a few online people that folks who produce their own ebook novels for sale on Amazon are ‘not pros’ or are ‘all miserable amateurs’. Not me. I’ve been writing professionally for 26 years since 1988, when Warner Books issued my first novel RETREAD SHOP. I’ve been writing short stories and novels ever since. While there are plenty of amateur ebooks out there, as a reader I know that other readers will leave Reviews that alert browsing readers to an ebook’s deficiencies. And will compliment an author on a well done novel.

KingRetreadShopWhat 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?

Well, I would love to see a board game with that comic book magician guy Dr. Strange. I read lots of issues with him as the lead character and loved how he related magical and mystical stuff to the real world. His casting of spells was just great! Since then I’ve learned more about true ‘magical events’ by studying Wiccan beliefs. It is the Wiccan belief in Mother Earth having an internal ‘energy’ force that is the basis for the contemporary magic that I use in my post-apocalyptic novel THE GAEAN ENCHANTMENT. Gaean Earth Magic is a big deal in that novel. And I loved writing it.

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

Well, I have not read the ODYSSEY by Homer. Did read the ILLIAD. Both books are long shaman-like retellings of the adventures of gods, goddesses and mortals. Ancient Greek mythology, along with some Japanese, Chinese and Hindu mythology, have informed my use of such characters in some of my short stories and novels. My epic novel GALACTIC AVATAR is a mix of hard scifi with mythic archetypes that melds together Joseph Campbell-like gods and goddesses with the last 16 human survivors of Earth’s destruction as the humans realize they are also the “avatars” of those ancient gods and goddesses “in the flesh”. Had great fun writing that novel. Another ancient book that I have in my library, but not yet read, is the first Japanese novel by a courtesan lady of the imperial court. I gotta read it before the end of the year!

KingGalacticAvatarWith 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 think it allows readers to do what people always do—hunt around for stuff that rewards their effort in reading! And yes, while most of my novels are science fiction, I think several of them fit the Action Adventure and Spy Thriller categories, albeit set in the far future. As for my reading zones, they have indeed been expanded. I like reading about dragons in fantasy, like JD Hallowell’s novel DRAGON FATE. I also enjoy some horror, like a very short story I read recently titled “Feeding” by Elizabeth VanZwoll. She penned a very fine story that is under 1,000 words. But ancient history reading and sci-fi reading are my two primary zones of reading enjoyment!

Who are some of your favorite book villains?

Well, the Hyde side of the split personality Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is pretty awesome. He is a very very misunderstood villain. In my opinion! And Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a fine novella staring the two of them!

Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

Well, Superman in his various comic book incarnations has been a long favorite of mine. Read the original novel from the 1930s that gave rise to him and liked it. Batman and Robin are pretty decent superhero duos, tho most of their actions are well within the realm of normal physics.

CrispinKingAncestor'sWorldOften various historical aspects (people, locations, events) are used in fantasy and sometimes rehashed in a far-flung future. Are there examples of such historical aspects being used well in the SF/F genres? Examples of what didn’t work for you?

Well, yes, I myself have used ancient Egypt’s River Nile as the basis of a story in my novel ANCESTOR’S WORLD, while other writers past and present have done the same. I really like author Steve White’s use of ancient Mycenae and Crete, along with the real conflict between the Minoans and the Myceneans, in several Baen Books sci-fi adventures. As for poorly used examples, I would cite the use of Atlantis as culture and location in many “popular adventure” novels set in the present day, all of which paint a too simplistic picture of Bronze Age culture and humans. IMO.

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

Ah, a hard question! Well, I would invite Dr. Strange, Ironman, Odysseus himself, Beowulf the critter and Charon the Ancient who conveys dead people along the River Styx to their final abode in the Underworld. Bet Charon would have loads of neat stories to share! Course, I would have to have bowls for the weak Greek wine, pitchers of honey mead and high dose caffeine for other folks to enjoy as we spent a few hours outdoors under the spreading limbs of an ancient oak tree.

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?

Have not had any fanperson moments yet. I guess my brief chat with Robert Silverberg 15 years ago at a SFWA members-only event during a con might qualify for me feeling geekish and gushing.

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

I will be attending two science fiction conventions this year. They are Balticon 48 in Baltimore, Maryland, from May 23-26, and Bubonicon 46 from August 1-3 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Love to meet readers of all genres!

Places to Stalk T. Jackson King

Amazon

Website / Blog

Facebook

Goodreads

Twitter