Tuesday, July 30, 2013

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Carol J. Hansen

ImageMrs. Hansen.ImageThe cover for the novel.ImageDS musician, Matt Lande.ImageThe novel and EP, which you can purchase via links below!

 

Carol J. Hansen is a salon owner, family-woman and amazing urban-fantasy author, based out of rural Utah, where much of her debut novel DarkStar is set.

Mrs. Hansen made an amazingly stunning debut, and recently the novel has been released with new edits. She has just finished Wizard, the next installment in the DarkStar trilogy.

While we wait (impatiently) for the novel's release, please enjoy the interview I conducted with Mrs. Hansen. I am so glad she found the time to talk to me!

Enjoy! <3 KSR

 

1. Your first novel, DarkStar, was published in 2012 and was made a semi-finalist in the Reviewers Indie Books of 2012. How did it feel to not only be published for the first time but to have such an honor?

It was amazing! When you write a novel the characters become very personal to you. You can’t wait to share them with others so they can learn to love (or hate) them also. The day UPS brought my first copy of DarkStar, they just sat it in my garage and I was so excited that I took a picture of it lying on the ground…lol. Writing and publishing a book is great experience. You learn so much about yourself and it’s crazy how far you can stretch your mind to create characters and the worlds they live in. I was excited when DarkStar was chosen as a semi-finalist because I didn’t expect such a reception for my book. DarkStar has fans around the world and that is humbling. I’m very grateful to all the fans for being so wonderfulJ

2. At what age did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I know it probably sounds weird, but I never really wanted to be a writer even though I knew I could write. I loved keeping a journal and writing poetry in high school, but it wasn’t until I was writing scripts for plays at girl’s camp that I realized that I was pretty good at dialogue and could probably write a book. When I decided to write DarkStar, I was actually planning on writing book called, Girls Camp 101 since I had been camp director for eleven years. I would still like to write that book.
It wasn’t until my kids were raised, and I was setting new goals that I decided to write DarkStar. J

3. You juggle owning your own salon, being a mom and grandmother and also your writing career. Is it difficult to be so many things to so many different people at once?

It is difficult! That’s why time management and prioritizing is so important. My family is the most important thing to me so they definitely come first. I recently simplified my life by selling the large building my salon occupied and built a smaller one. I work individually now but I still have one of my stylists working with me and I am apprenticing my daughter-in-law to get her cosmetologist license. By down scaling my business, it is giving me more time to write and do some of the things I love to do. Life is so busy and it’s so hard to have time for everything. That’s why it has taken me so long to write the second book in my series. I’m happy to say that Wizard is with my editor though.

4. What authors did you enjoy reading growing up? What authors do you enjoy reading today?

I have always been an avid reader and enjoyed many different genres. I grew up a long time ago and I can’t remember author’s names, but the books Caddy Woodlawn, Where the Red Fern Grows, Death Be Not Proud and The Illustrated Man stand out in my mind. In high school my favorite author was Victoria Holt. I loved her books because they took place on the mysterious moors of England. Her stories inspired the English setting for DarkStar.
Today I enjoy many authors. I try to branch off from main stream authors because there are so many other awesome books that have been written by talented unknown authors. I do like Suzanne Collin, Michelle Paige Holmes, James Dashner and Scott Westerfield. My faith is LDS and I love reading books written by LDS authors also. Tristi Pinkston is one of my favorites (I’m excited to have her as my editor,) and I also enjoy Chris Stewart and Gerald Lund.

5. DarkStar is refreshing as an urban fantasy/romance novel because it is "nice". You didn't need to put in excessive foul language or sex to make it interesting: the story speaks for itself. I would say it is for ages 15 and up or so, would you agree?

I know of people between the ages of 10 and 93 who have read DarkStar and enjoyed it, but I think 10 is too young. My novel is geared toward teens and tweens so I think 13 is a good age to start.
It is a sad reality that the entertainment world, whether books, television, internet, movies, games, etc., use sex, violence and foul language to sell their products. People have become so desensitized to what is right, wrong and moral that things that would have never been read, broadcast or viewed in the past, they are now considered normal. In my writing, I want to show that stories can be clean, and as you said, “nice” but still entice the reader to engage their own imagination by getting the point across without the use of foul language and sex and violence. I’m pleased that so many readers comment and enjoy that DarkStar is a clean read.

6. There are very deep emotions between Alec and Amrie: longing, love, hope and intrigue and the emotions all feel very real when reading the novel. Were the characters or the situation based on anyone/anything in real life, because they do seem quite real as you read about them?

I had fun coming up with different situations that Alec dealt with when receiving Mysticryss power and many were based on things that happened to me. I just added the magicJ Take for instance, a few years ago I was at Second Dam and there were thousands of tiny caterpillars everywhere and they were eating the trees. It was crazy. So when I was creating scenes where Alec was receiving different powers, but didn’t know what they were yet, I used that experience and made it magical. I hiked to the Wind Caves and spent a day writing there because I wanted my readers to be able to visualize what I was seeing.
There are definitely some underlying messages in DarkStar and they are known only to the people involved.


7. You are writing a trilogy, not stand-alone novels. Why and how did you decide to make it so and not expand and/or diminish the series?

If you read the first page of DarkStar, it says: “I cherish the precious memories of my friends from the past, for without them…there would be no DarkStar.”
Let me explain that quote. When I was a teenager, I ran with a group of friends and we all gave each other silly nicknames. A special friend gave me the name, DarkStar. We also had a symbol to go with our name and mine was the moon and star.
I’ve always thought that DarkStar would be a great name for a novel and a movie. A few years ago, I was going through a challenging time in my life and one night I couldn’t sleep. I got up and was sitting in my dark front room wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life. My kids were raised and married and it was time for me to set some new goals.
As I stated before, I was toying with the idea of writing a Girls Camp book, but that night I received the strong impression that I needed to write my DarkStar novel. It was the perfect time because of the popularity of the fantasy genre and its massive fan base. I knew that with a name like, DarkStar, it had to be a fantasy and there was no question what the story would be about because the friend who gave me my unique nickname -- his name was Wizard. That’s where it began.
As the story line progressed and plot ideas surfaced, I realized that there was definitely room for a second book and I wanted it to be called, Wizard. Two books can’t be called a series so I knew I needed to make it, at least, a trilogy. The final book will be named after the Warshaw wizardry, The Mysticryss. I’m fairly sure that the 3rd book will be the last in the DarkStar series, but there are some awesome characters that have the potential of having a series of their own -- we shall see what happens. ;)


8. Magic and wizards are not typical in popular novels today as main characters, and you explained on your website [links will be below at the end of the interview] why you chose a wizard and the name DarkStar, but did you ever consider writing about something different?

As I stated in the last question, DarkStar was destined to be about a wizard. I just wasn’t sure how it would all play out. I am very happy with the outcome though and I’m excited to get the next two books finished and published. The ending is awesome! It’s amazing how, when you begin writing, idea’s pop into your head and the story writes itself. And yes, I do have other books in my head, but not necessarily fantasy’s.

9. You have an alternative/acoustic EP that accompanies the novel, [DarkStar, written, produced and performed by the amazing musician Matt Lande; his links will also be below for the readers who might be interested.] which is also a bit unusual. Why did you decide to have music accompany your book?

Writing a book is the easy part. Wondering how to market it is overwhelming. When I was writing, I knew I needed a niche, something unique for marketing my novel. I love music and decided one way I could promote DarkStar was to have a song written for my story and to have a music video made for that song. I was fortunate to connect with musician Matt Lande and he agreed to read DarkStar. The intention was to have him write one song but, as he read it, he was inspired to write three! Matt is very intense when he puts him mind to writing lyrics and music. He amazes me with what he comes up with. I think the DarkStar EP helps readers relate with Alec and Amrie’s emotional bond.

10. How did you and Matt decide on making the EP and the music videos that spawned from two of the three songs?


I wanted a song and video that I could use as a trailer on my website, but after Matt wrote the 3 DarkStar songs, we decided to make an actual hard copy 3 song EP which could be marketed with my novel. Matt was working on his “Welcome Home the Child” album at the time so he recorded and produced my DS music as he did his. We realized that we have a unique project – an author and a musician coming together, so we set some goals. We were accepted on the website Kickstarter and were able to get backers to help with the financing of making our music and videos a reality. We received some awesome support from great people! I chose the scenes for the videos but they were developed by me, Matt and our awesome cinematographer, Daniel Webster. I actually took Daniel to the sites we filmed at prior to Matt’s arrival. That way he knew the area he would be filming. It was an awesome experience and I hope everyone will want to go to my website and watch them.

11. The novel is set in Central Utah, where you live, and that was also where the two music videos Matt Lande did for you were shot. Why did you choose where you live and England as the settings, as opposed to somewhere else?

The setting of DarkStar is actually in northern Utah, about 4 hours north of where I live. I wanted a magical, mystical setting and the high mountain Cache Valley is exactly that. My brother lives there and my daughter attended college there for four years. I’ve spent a lot of time in Logan and knew it was the perfect location. I chose England because, even though I’ve never been there, I love it. Victoria Holt books took me there and I have ancestors who lived there.

12. Your next novel, Wizard, is still in the process of being ready for publication. What can readers expect in Alec and Amrie's continued adventures? Also, will Matt be making more music for the new novel?

Alec and Amrie met in the modern world, but their connection is through the magical world of wizardry. They just don’t know what bonds them yet. Wizard will explore the mystery and their relationship further as Alec struggles with his responsibility in the unseen world. The story begins in Logan, Utah, but takes us to England where more unthinkable events happen. New characters are introduced as the plot thickens. I think readers will be intrigued as they are sucked deeper into my DarkStar worldJ

Yes, Matt and I will be doing more music for the DarkStar series. Our goal is to eventually make the DarkStar EP into a full production album. Matt has graciously agreed to let me help write some of the songs. As soon as Wizard is released, we will be doing more book and music signings along with DarkStar concerts where Matt will perform and share his magicJ

13. DarkStar has recently been republished with new edits. You did explain fully in your blog why that was, but can you give readers a quick explanation here?

When I wrote DarkStar, I didn’t have the money to hire a professional editor so I had some awesome friends help edit it. They did a great job, but of course they are not editors. I was anxious to have my book published and even though I knew it should have an edit, I went ahead and published. What I didn’t expect was for it to be received as well as it was. DarkStar became popular, not only through myself and my marketing, book signings and such, but through Matt Lande and his fan base. When they saw him reading it, many of his fans read it too. I’m very grateful to Matt for thatJ As my fan base grew, I knew I needed to get a professional editor, not only for myself but the my readers. DarkStar now has a clean professional edit and is republished and available. My editor is working on Wizard as we speakJJJ

14. What do you hope the readers will take away from your novels once they have finished reading?

I hope that readers will love my DarkStar world as much as I do. I want them to grasp the world I have created and love my characters. I want them to know that books can have romance, mystery and intrigue and still be a clean read.

15. Thank you very much for doing this interview! Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?

You are very welcome Kelly. Thank you for interviewing me and for your continued support for both Matt and I. You’re awesome!

Three things about me…

1) I come from a very large family. My mom is #8 of 16 brothers and sisters. My dad is the baby of 12 brother and sisters…and yes…the kids in both families are all from the same mom and dad! No his, hers and theirs. My grandparents were strong people!! My mom & dad only had 5 kids. I’m second to the oldestJ
2) I was a cheerleader adviser.
3) I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis 20 years ago, but found that you can overcome barriers and do and be anything you want to. I believe everything happens for a reason so you take the trials in life and make them as positive as possible. I Your attitude defines youJ

 

Find Carol at the following places online:

Website: www.mydarkstarworld.com [Novels, EP and even DarkStar-inspired jewelry can all be purchased here!]

Facebook: www.facebook.com/darkstardreamer

Facebook LIKE Page: www.facebook.com/MyDarkStarWorld

Twitter: www.twitter.com/DarkStarDreamer

 

Find DS Musician Matt Lande at the following places online:

Website: www.mattlande.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/matt.lande

Facebook LIKE Page: www.facebook.com/mattlandeofficial

Twitter: www.twitter.com/mattlande

Thursday, July 25, 2013

INTERVIEW: Jess Sturman-Coombs (Day 3 of 3)

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Jess Sturman-Coombs is a British writer who has published three novels: the law-infused crime thriller Poker Face and its sequel The Puppet Master (find reviews for both books in my blog archives), also the new ebook-only romance novel Unconventional.

I am excited to bring you an exclusive interview with Mrs. Sturman-Coombs, here on KSR!

 

1. Your background is in law, and that factors a lot into your novels. Why did you choose law?

When I was eighteen I started a job as a receptionist in a law firm. I then moved into a role as a legal secretary and later I went to university and completed a law degree. I then took some solicitor exams but I didn’t complete the course and changed my mind on a career in law. I always regretted not having used my qualifications and so, when I was thinking up a new thriller series, I was over the moon to come up with the idea of incorporating some of my legal experiences into it.

2. In Poker Face and The Puppet Master you introduce the Mafia. Why did you choose organized crime?

As part of my degree I opted to study Transnational Crime, which was a fascinating subject that mainly concentrated on organised crime and the cartels that exist that fuel the underworld. I’ve watched the Godfather films and many other mafia themed films and I always found them gripping, so when it came to my own thriller...in they went!

3. Ruby Palmer is a very young girl with whom readers, I think, of all ages can relate to. Also, she is not a "typical" leading lady. Is she based on you or someone you know?

Ruby is a combination really of nobody in particular and a figment of my imagination, aspects of myself (or what I would like myself to be more like) and feisty, strong female characters that I have enjoyed discovering in books and films in the past.

4. You talk about a lot of serious issues in Ruby's story, including parental abandonment, physical abuse, sexual harassment and drug addiction. Why make your books about such things? Were any of them a part of your life growing up? [If this question is too personal please feel free to say that you don't want to answer it!]

I write whatever comes to me which some people love and some...not so much :-) I write about things that have either featured in my lifetime, and have impacted on me in some significant way, or things I am scared enough of or interested enough in to enable me to talk about them realistically. Some of the things that Ruby experiences are things I have either experienced myself, or have experienced second hand through others, and the rest is just complete exaggeration and fantasy. My parents separated when I was two and my mum moved abroad when I was ten so I can relate to Ruby’s isolation, confusion and insecurities in that respect. Role models are so important and the breakdown of a family can be incredibly distressing, that’s why I wanted Ruby to find herself love and protection in the end - even if it is an unusual kind of love and protection!

5. Dependency also plays a role--dependency on sex, alcohol, drugs, etc.. That theme is uncommon in novels yet quite common in "real life". Why do you think it is written about so little?

I think it is written about so little because (1) perhaps people don’t always want to read about these things and (2) they are uncomfortable issues that could potentially completely ruin a novel, either by being too depressing or graphic or by not being written about authentically enough. It can become a balance struggle. I was unsure what would be considered ‘too much’ or ‘too far’ but I also wanted the plot to be as realistic as possible and not shirk around the issues in hand. I believe if you are going to cover them you should do so to the best of your ability and not get too caught up in glossing over things. Most people know of these issues, have had experience with these issues and I can say, at least over here, they make prime television every week night and Sunday in the form of the much loved ‘Eastenders’! Issues that I’ve worried about highlighting and talking about in my work have all appeared before the 9pm watershed in the form of programmes such as Hollyoakes and Coronation Street. I’ve been told to stop worrying :-D

6. Danny Glover, Alessi and Johnny Giavanni are all very connected. Why make them so close [writing enigmatic so that I don't give the readers any spoilers!] as opposed to being what they are originally introduced to be?

I thought it would be fun to have these characters appear to have some pretty mega divides and a hierarchy of influence and power between them. That also made them appear to be completely unconnected in any personal way, which in turn made the twists and turns all the more shocking.

7. You recently released a story (Unconventional) which is currently only available as an ebook. What is it about the romantic side of life (which you talk about with Ruby and Danny in your previous novels) that makes you enjoy penning it?

Love is a serious part of life and is something that probably every member of society is in pursuit of or is trying to keep hold of. It makes the world go round and it also makes it stop and turn upside down, which makes it a great subject to work with. Of course, this is me writing a romance, so this story also deals with some important issues that are of great importance to me. Unconventional is a story about moving on from teenage relationship abuse and manipulation. The story also features some wonderful gentleman who help the jaded Summer to come to terms with what has happened in her past and help her to find a way to move on to a safer kind of love. Wow I’m a bit serious aren’t I!

8. You said on your Facebook [link below] that you are working on a fantasy series you started writing four years ago. Can you give us some insights on what that will be about?

The story was originally entitled Voidling and it is about creatures that live in the spaces between your walls and under your floors. It is also a story about parents suddenly going missing from houses that are locked from the inside and the mysterious Keelhaul Children’s Home where these abandoned children ultimately end up. It’s a massive story that needs some real work because I confused myself for a while. It’s been years since I’ve worked on it and I’ve recently picked it back up again. I hope it will play ball and behave itself because it’s a story I’d love to share with fantasy lovers and find out if I’ve done the genre justice.

9. Why change from the grit of real life to fantasy? And will you continue to write fantasy in the future?

I found fantasy an exciting genre to work with because you can pretty much do anything with it and nobody says ‘You can’t do that!’ I really do hope to continue writing fantasy and I have already written a historical style novel set in a fantasy land, which I need to get back to. I will definitely keep working with the genre if people enjoy reading it.

10. What authors did you enjoy when you were younger? What authors do you read today?

I read pretty much everything. I don’t always have a chance to read and that’s mainly because when I get into a book, if I can’t pick it up and read it as often as I’d like, I get really frustrated and start to resent the things I have to do. For that reason I tend to read when the pressure is off a little. I read a lot in one go and then the reading goes quiet again for a little while. I suppose you could call me a binge reader! I loved Road Dahl as a child and Enid Blyton. I enjoyed getting my hands on factual works as soon as I possibly could and that was my preferred genre as a teen. I didn’t really get into fantasy until I was an adult! I absolutely love the work of David Nicholls because he has a fantastic sense of humour that comes through in his writing and he uses a lot of dialogue too, which makes me feel slightly less guilty about doing it!

11. You do work with the On A Roll Project, getting kids to get more involved in reading. Can you tell the reader about this project and why you decided to help out?

The On-a-Roll Project was an initiative I set up to take reading, writing, creative activities and drama into schools. Imagination often tends to come from experience and sadly many children don’t have the opportunity to gain those valuable experiences. Where I live, we are about 2.5 hours away from the sea so when I recently asked a class of children who had ever been to the seaside only three put their hands up, many had never even left the country or their county for that matter. As part of that session I took the children’s imaginations to the seaside, we then played beach volleyball in the school hall to the soundtrack of the seaside and created an expanse of water out of blue wool. We sunbathed, played a river game to direct water towards the sea and at the end children created their own ‘wish you were here’ postcards to send home. They wrote about their experiences and then illustrated it to with pictures of ice creams, birds, boats and water. Now the whole class has been to the seaside! We have also been to the moon and the Amazon Rainforest too! Ha ha!

12. Where do you see yourself and your career in ten years?

I really hope to continue writing and seeing the Poker Face series go from strength to strength. I would like to have released some other stories in paperback and successfully managed to move between genres and not find myself typecast in any way. I also hope the On-a-Roll project will go from strength to strength and that many children will have the chance to enjoy creating and transporting their imaginations all over the world. I also want the project to see teen volunteers enrolled on performing arts courses to be involved with building sessions, running activities and helping out, to provide positive young role models for children and also to gain valuable experience for their CVs.

13. As you have very real characters, what do you hope for them in the future?

I would love to see my characters become really popular and my books travel the world on my behalf (I’m scared of flying!) Ultimately I would love to see them on the big screen! What writer wouldn’t eh? :-D

14. Is there any genre you haven't written yet and would like to some day?

Although much of my work has humour in it, and I can’t help but be sarcastic, I absolutely love to make people laugh and make people happy. I love comedy and I would really like to write comedy. I would love one day to write a comedy script for television but this is something I would need much training on. I haven’t a clue about script writing, although I have heard that with all the dialogue I tend to use I might be well suited to it. Who knows!

15. Thank you so much for doing the interview! Can you leave the reader with three things that may surprise them about you?

I once got pulled over by the police wearing only a night dress/slip and a full length coat! Don’t ask! I am a tad agoraphobic and I really struggle to leave the house sometimes, but I do it because I have to and...erm...number three...suddenly I feel really boring...I can’t drink alcohol because I seem to be completely intolerant to it! Now I really do sound boring! It’s not good for you anyway :-D
Thanks ever so much for having me, for your most wonderful reviews and for taking a chance on the Poker Face series! It’s an absolute pleasure to be on your wonderful blog and you write beautifully. Thanks so very much and take care :-)

 

Find Mrs. Sturman-Coombs at the following places online:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JessSturmanCoombs

Twitter: www.twitter.com/JessSturman

Blog: www.jesssturman.wordpress.com

Purchase her novels on Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=jess+sturman-coombs

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: "The Puppet Master" by Jess Sturman-Coombs

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The Puppet Master picks up almost exactly where Poker Face leaves off: with office assistant Ruby Palmer living in her boss, Mr. Alessi's, mansion in England and having her and her boyfriend (lawyer Danny Glover, also Alessi's son) unable to do much of anything until the day she turns eighteen.

Ruby, fed up with being a charity case, seen as a pet and under pressure that, when Alessi and Danny's "amusement" with her has worn out, she might be put out on the street. She has nowhere to go since Alessi shot her alcoholic, abusive father.

But, after a vicious row with Danny, she does leave, to where they do not know for weeks. When they do get word of her whereabouts, it is to be invited to her new home, with Marlon, a notorious criminal with ties to the police and the drug cartel.

When Danny and Alessi see Ruby again, she is not the same feisty gal they knew: she is demure, shy and very anxious. She speaks only when spoken to or asked to...almost as if Marlon is pulling her strings like a puppet master.

Danny is invited (solo) up to her room, where the reader quickly finds out that Ruby has orders to seduce him for the cameras set up in her room, and that is when Danny notices that there is a large bruise on her upper thigh in back, where her thighs connect with her buttocks. What is that? Is she being abused?

When Danny and Alessi go home, they tell their right hand man and security about what they say and he knows immediately what is wrong: Marlon hooked Ruby on Paradise, a drug that causes total dependency on the dealer: to make sure the one addicted has enough. If one dose is missed, the "victim" gets very ill. If two doses are missed, the victim dies of a massive coronary.

Danny and Alessi are determined to take Ruby back and get her off the drug a little at a time, but that may be harder to do than they think it is. They have no idea what kind of monster Paradise turns the beloved Ruby into.

Meanwhile, Danny has to deal with the new office assistant, Faye, and her unwanted attentions. And to top it all off, who is this mysteriously beautiful woman (Tabitha) that Alessi has hired as his assistant? Just how does she fit into the story? And...what is Ruby's old antagonist, Matthew, doing at their firm?

The Puppet Master is a fast read, this is true, but it is only so because Mrs. Sturman-Coombs's writing is masterful and makes you want to keep going...even when you should have put the book down hours ago and gone to bed! With characters as lovable as the patient Danny, as confusing and likable as Ruby and as infuriating as Marlon, you will want to read this one over and over again, for the thrill never gets old...just like that of Paradise, huh?

Happy reading!

 

Purchase The Puppet Master on Amazon in paperback and for Kindle: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Puppet-Master-Poker-Face/dp/0957101228

Purchase The Puppet Master on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/extreader/read/266207/1/the-puppet-master

Follow Jess Sturman-Coombs on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JessSturman

LIKE Jess Sturman-Coombs on Facebook: www.facebook.com/JessSturmanCoombs

BOOK REVIEW: "The Puppet Master" by Jess Sturman-Coombs (Day 2 of 3)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: "Poker Face" by Jessica Sturman-Coombs (Day 1 of 3)

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Hello, everyone, and welcome to my three day event for Jess Sturman-Coombs! I'm starting today with a review of her first novel, Poker Face, and the event will continue through Thursday with a review of Puppet Master and then an interview with Mrs. Sturman-Coombs! I am very excited about this!

Hearing via Twitter that the British writer Jess Sturman-Coombs agreed to do an interview with me, I was excited. I had heard nothing but good things about her two novels, Poker Face and The Puppet Master, but I knew that, before I ventured to interview her, I must educate myself on her work, which she sent to me to read and evaluate before the interview takes place.
This is my review for her first novel, Poker Face.

Opening scenes should either attract you or confuse you in order to keep you reading...at least, that is my opinion when I open the first page of Poker Face to find her heroine, Ruby Palmer, being beaten up by her drunken father when he has come home late at night and she had done nothing but lock the doors to their house and go to sleep.


In the first few chapters you get to know Ruby--high school senior, strong and a girl who is not afraid to stand up for herself.

She is "dared" to get a job by her classmate Matthew (also, she is on his "Hit List" to sleep with her, which means she now wants absolutely nothing to do with him whatsoever), and also to avoid spending every day of the summer at home, alone, with her drunken, unemployed and abusive father. She tells Matthew a lie: she already has a job at a law firm in town.

Where did that come from and how is she going to pull off this lie once summer commences...the very next day?

The bus she takes everyday gets stuck in traffic and she sees, for the first time, the ornate building that is discreetly labeled that it is a law firm. She hops off--though it is not her regular stop--and goes inside, where she deals with a dragon of a receptionist to see Mrs. Hughes, the woman in charge of employment. Miraculously, she gets a job as an office junior...which means making endless copies, endless cups of tea and coffee and dealing with the utterly annoying (though heartbreakingly gorgeous) Danny Glover and their brooding boss, Mr. Alessi.

It is then that she is dragged into a Mafia nightmare involving corrupt police officers, hitmen, bus hijackings and drug trafficking...not to mention dead cats in delivery boxes!

All she wanted was a summer job!


This novel is a combination of The Godfather and Law And Order, but featuring a lovely and relatable main character. Ruby is a fighter and a badass in the simplest way I can put it. She isn't afraid to lie, but she is also not afraid to tell the truth and stand up for herself when the situation calls for it. She is only seventeen throughout most of the novel, but she is more mature than many adult characters I have read about in the past.

Danny and Alessi are also characters you will like, even while you are disliking them for their arrogance and general bad attitudes.

The story is not purely a thriller, a crime novel or even a combination of both. It is those things, but it is also a story of a young lady growing up and trying to better herself. It is a story full of danger, yes, but it is also full of love and hate. While reading about Ruby dodging death and trying to deal with her alcoholic father, you will also read about her journey into falling in love and trying to keep her self-respect intact.

I high recommend Poker Face for anyone who doesn't mind a bit of danger in their novel and who will want to be completely charmed by a cast of characters and feel as though they are friends (as I said, especially Ruby) as the novel makes its unforeseen twists and turns through the streets of an English town.

I enjoy a novel that keeps the reader on his/her toes and this one certainly does that. I can say that I gasped aloud more than once while reading!

Mrs. Sturman-Coombs is a brilliant writer and I cannot wait to get started on The Puppet Master, the sequel to Poker Face!


Visit Jess on Facebook: www.facebook.com/JessSturmanCoombs

Purchase "Poker Face" on Kindle from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Poker-Face-ebook/dp/B00655U9XC

Purchase "Poker Face" on Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/245732

Follow Jess on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JessSturman

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"Under The Dome" Ep. 4 Recap via @DarkMediaOnline

My Under The Dome Ep. 4 Recap

A little late in reposting this, buthere us my latest recap of Under The Dome on CBS from the people at DarkMediaOnline.com!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: YA Fantasy/Adventure Author Paul Cude

 

ImagePaul Cude is the author or the popular YA fantasy/adventure crossover novel Bentwhistle The Dragon In A Threat From The Past, which I reviewed just yesterday.

I was able to interview Mr. Cude about dragons, writing and hockey...three truly interesting things on their own, but when combined...well, read on and see! If you like what you read, see the end of the post for all social media contact with Mr. Cude and where/how to purchase Bentwhistle!

 

1. What/who got you started in wanting to be a writer?

Oddly it just happened. Sounds a bit crazy really, but one night, when my elder daughter was just a baby (she's not far off 11 now) I had the single most realistic dream I've ever had. I didn't remember it until the following day, but when I did, I swear it was just like watching a movie in my head.....so graphic, so intense, so.....mesmerising. Anyhow, I told my wife, who was gobsmacked to say the least. And so was what she said to me, "You have to write it, you just have to." At the time I just laughed her idea off, bearing in mind that at the time I could only type with two fingers. But over a period of I suppose months, I kept getting more dreams, flashbacks into the story.......sometimes little details, sometimes insights into the characters, sometimes twists and turns to do with the plot. In the end I suppose looking back it was inevitable that I would write it. First I taught myself to type properly.....3 months, and then, well...........I began. At first I needed complete silence to be able to write, something there wasn't a lot of bearing in mind I was taking care of one young child, with another on the way. But over time I've learned to filter it all out and can now write with the kids playing around me if I need to, but I still think I do work more efficiently in total silence. It has taken a long time, and I was surprised how hard and crucial the editing process was. But in the end it was most definitely worth it.

2. Who are your favorite authors today and who were your favorite authors when you were younger?

When in my late teens, I mistakenly ordered a Tom Clancy book.....Debt of Honour. I was too lazy to return it, so it sat on my bedside table for weeks. Until one evening, when I picked it up and started to read it. Many hours later I put it down, only because I needed a few hours sleep before I went to work. I was hooked. After finishing that, I went out and bought all the other Tom Clancy books I could find. It was also about that time that the Star Wars expanded universe books started to appear. I caught sight of the first one while working in a book shop in my role of service engineer. I can remember it clearly: Star Wars Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn. It had a striking blue cover with some of the Star Wars characters on it, and I had to buy it there and then, in the middle of doing my job, much to the amusement of the owner of the bookshop. My love of the expanded universe has continued ever since, and as soon as the next book comes out..............I have to have it.
It seems my love of books goes in phases. If I have nothing to read, I wander around a bookshop until I find something I like the look of and then read it. If I get hooked, I go back and find other books by that author. Examples of this for me are Terry Goodkind and Christopher Paolini............I love all of their books. The detail, the plot......the characters....are just all amazing. I can only dream of writing as well as they do. Other authors I've found and loved this way include Robin Hobb, J.V. Jones, David Gemmell and Trudi Canavan, to name but a few. I love the way they use their imaginations and the worlds that they create on the pages of the book. They're all very easy to visualize.
My favorite author of all though, is the wonderful Terry Pratchett. If you haven't read one of his books you really should. While I love pretty much all the books he's written, the ones about the guards of Ankh-Morpork, Captain Carrot, Sam Vimes, Corporal Nobbs, Angua and of course the Lord Vetinari, are easily my favourites. The characters themselves are described in magnificent detail, all with their own funny little ways. The plots twist and turn like a raging river, and the humour..........well, let's just say that is exactly on my wavelength. I've cried with laughter on many occasions reading some of Terry Pratchett's books, and I can't recall doing that for any other author I've read. If you're a reading fan, you really must try one of his books.


3. What would you be doing if you weren't writing gripping dragon tales (pardon the pun!)?

Well, writing dragon tales is just one of three jobs I have on the go. The first is I look after my children. I've done this since they were both born, because I was made redundant from my job as a service engineer at exactly the same time. Both are now at school, but I drop them off, pick them up and look after them in the holidays. While they're at school, I work as a teaching assistant at another school. So I drop my kids off and then shoot off to work. As well as that, I try to do most of the housework, cooking, etc. My wife likes her job, works incredibly hard at it, and I think together we make a pretty good team.......in my mind, the basis of a good marriage, and a solid family base.

4. In Bentwhistle The Dragon you write about dragons obtaining human form. How did you come up with that idea as it is not exactly common?

Most of it comes to me while I'm asleep in the form of dreams as I've previously mentioned. I think a lot of the influences are just based around my life.......all the crazy things that zip in and out of my head. I have a love of gaming, when I have time. I've played some online games in the past........again, most have dragons and those kind of figures in them. As well, on occasion, the writing, or the words, who knows which one, just suddenly take over. It's happened on a few occasions, I've sat down to start to write, and the words just flow out. You think half an hour's passed, and you look up to see that it's been nearly three, you've written three or four times what you'd hoped, and the story has either gone off at a tangent, or gone briefly in a different direction all together. As for dragons being able to take human form, I suppose originally it was all a twist on the 'George and the Dragon' story. I can remember being told the story as a child, and whenever I see a dragon, whether it's a toy one, or in a game, or book, (there's one made up of plants, about eight foot high in Salisbury city centre that I pass regularly that has his own twitter account) that's what has always sprung to mind in the past. Turning the tale back on itself so that things weren't quite one sided really appealed to me. So in my book, the real story of 'George and the Dragon' is recounted, from the dragon perspective. It makes me smile just thinking about it.


5. You put quite a lot of contact sports in your work. Were you or are you a hockey/lacrosse/rugby player?

Hockey plays a big part in the story, and the plot, and has probably been the biggest influence on my life. I started playing when I was eleven years old (old by today's standards, but young back then). I'm hesitant to tell you how long ago that actually was. But through that sport I have met some of the most amazing people, most of whom I can count as friends, and had the best time on and off the field.
I feel that playing hockey has also taught me valuable life lessons. Playing a team sport shows you how to work as part of a team. How you can accomplish more together than on your own, how to pick people up around you, how to inspire and be inspired. These are valuable lessons that can be picked up from any team sport.
As for the lacrosse and rugby, one of my best friends was England ladies lacrosse captain for some time. I once had the honour to go and watch her play for England at the lacrosse world cup when it was based here. The pace and skill needed to play the game in general and particularly at that level astounded me at the time, and still amazes me to this very day when I think back. I should also mention that the person in question is an amazing hockey player, and I have played alongside her in a touring team many times. And she was always one of the best players. Choosing rugby wasn't hard. I only ever played at school, but when I watch it on the television, I admire the strength, power, commitment and passion with which it is played. The players are all so professional, not least towards the referee, which is much the same in hockey and is as it should be. It wasn't difficult to want to add it as a sport to my book. As for the hockey, I still play when I can, despite being more than a little long in the tooth, and I'm proud to say both of my children play. I help coach them every Sunday during the hockey season.


6. Why dragons? Out of all the mythical creatures why did you choose them?

I don't think I chose them, I think they chose me.

7. In many novels, dragons are portrayed as killers who are either indifferent or hate humankind, but you make them into creatures who took a vow to protect them. Why did you stray from the norm in that aspect?

I'm not really sure it is the norm. In a lot of the books I've read, and I suppose my imagination, I always think of dragons as a friendly race. When you think of the Eragon series of books by Christopher Paolini, the dragons are a fabulous race, revered by all, and the most powerful of species. Terry Goodkind paints this kind of picture, albeit a little darker than the Eragon series. Other little pointers in this direction include the Harry Potter books and the television series Merlin. As for why it was this way with me, I think again I wanted a little twist on a story.....as you've mentioned mostly they are portrayed as killers, but twisting things round and making them protectors of human kind appeals to my sense of humour, as well I think for making a great and unusual story. As for how, and why, they are the protecting the humans........you'll have to wait for all to be revealed in the later books.

8. The dragon friends become "addicted" to their human lives and human sports. What is it, do you think, that draws us humans so much towards sports (I myself am an avid hockey fan!)?

I think it's probably the friendship. When you think of all the solo sports..........golf, tennis, squash, etc, playing in a team is very different. In some way it makes the achievements of all the golfers, tennis players all the more impressive. It's their mental strength alone that sees them through. For me, playing in a team means friendship, camaraderie and all the banter that goes along with it. First and foremost it has to be fun, and if it's fun, you'll try harder, and therefore be better at it. But as well, when things aren't going your way, you can turn around on a windswept rainy day, look at all of your soaking team mates and give that little bit extra, not for you, but for them. And how good is it to be able to give encouragement, put an arm around a shoulder and support one of your friends if they've made a mistake, and for them to do it to you if you've lost the ball. Aside from all of that, there's the excitement of balls and sticks flying in everywhere during a hockey match, the physical contact and danger sending your adrenaline sky high. What's not to like? Playing in a team is the best thing, and if you haven't tried it, you really should. It could change your life just like it's changed mine.

9. You created an entire world full of dragons. How hard was it to come up with the varying details or did it flow on the page as you wrote?

I can remember having a distinct passion for writing around the age of nine or ten. I used to be glued to comic books, and let my love and imagination for the Star Wars universe, then quite new, run away with me. But it was at about that time that I found my love of hockey, and so from then onwards all I ever wanted to do was chase the stupid ball about with the stick as part of a team. Much as I still do now, despite my age. My very active and vivid imagination has never really left me. I think it may have been suppressed for a few years, but has come back with a vengeance since I started writing.....thank goodness.


10. Your characters vary in personality and looks. Did you base them on anyone you know in "real life" or are they purely imaginary?

The main character, Peter Bentwhistle, is loosely based around me. The lacrosse playing dragon called Richie Rump is based on one of my best friends who was captain of the England lacrosse team and is also a fantastic hockey player. A dragon shopkeeper who sells the best mantras in the world shares the same name with one of my best friends. An important human businessman who is duped, is also named for one of my best friends. Other more minor references feature other friends and acquaintances. When looking for some of the character names I used references from everything around me at the time, while sitting working at my desk. There's a dragon called Axus....his name was gained from my Canon camera at the time, with just a tiny amendment. Also one of the bad characters is a combination of one of my favourite author's first names and surnames combined. I now have a long list of dragon names tucked away in my computer somewhere, that I can use whenever I need.


11. One of the characters you simply call "Old Man". Was that intentional to throw off the reader to his true purpose in the novel?

Ahhhh.......yes, the 'old man'. It was kind of to throw you off the scent, but you do discover who the 'old man' is, right at the end of the book, and I think it all fits into the plot seamlessly, and hopefully surprises as well as entertains.

12. The book is labeled as "Young Adult" but I find that a lot of your readers are over the age of 18. What do you think it is that gives it such crossover appeal?

I think it's probably the humour. While I'm not sure you'll need a surgeon to stitch up your sides, I do hope there's enough of my warped sense of humour in there to make you smile occasionally as well as keep you entertained. I'd like to think that the twists and turns of the plot keep readers of all ages on the edge of their seats, not knowing which way things are going. Also, the dragons are leading young adult human lives, albeit in a very naive sort of way. I think pretty much most of us can relate to that at some time during our lives - perhaps that has something to do with it.

13. The story has a lot to do with DNA. Is science and/or biology of an interest to you?

Where possible I have tried to be factually accurate. For instance, in the opening chapter I had to work out the route dragons would fly from England to Antarctica underground. Not only did I have to work out which way they'd go, but at what speed they would fly, and how long it would take them. Never thought I'd be calculating how fast a dragon could fly. Then there's the dragon transworld monorail network. How far it stretches, which cities it reaches out to, the routes, the stations. For the second book, 'Bentwhistle The Dragon In A Chilling Revelation', I've had to study up on Antarctica, and part of Australia, to mention but a couple of things. A combination of fact and fiction. But I've learned an awful lot about science in the process of writing these books!

14. Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I'd really love to say earning a living from my writing. I don't mean rich and famous, just earning a good enough living to look after my wife and kids comfortably, doing something I really love would be tremendous. If not that, then I'd like to be working with kids in some sort of environment. I love working as a teaching assistant. It is easily the most rewarding job I've ever had. Oh..........and living by the sea somewhere.

15. Thank you so much for the interview! Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?

  1. I don't drink alcohol. That's why my blog is called thesoberhockeyplayer..........it sums me up perfectly. I'm the only sober hockey player I've ever met....and I've met loads, on tours, playing alongside and against. It makes me unique and is something I'm very proud of. I'm not against people drinking by the way......it's just not for me. As well, I think this is up there with my sense of humour as one of my best character traits.
  2. I once got the words pottery, and hockey mixed up.................and in that instant, it totally changed my life, forever.
  3. I always endeavour to treat people how I would hope to be treated, but more than you would expect, find myself let down.

Visit Mr. Cude at the following websites:

Blog: http://www.thesoberhockeyplayer.co.uk/

Bentwhistle Official Site: http://www.bentwhistlethedragon.co.uk/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/paul_cude

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paul.cude.3?fref=ts

Purchase Bentwhistle as a hard copy on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bentwhistle-Dragon-A-Threat-Past/dp/0755206789

Purchase Bentwhistle as an ebook for Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Bentwhistle-Dragon-Threat-Past-ebook/dp/B006CQUIQC

Download Bentwhistle FREE on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/286035

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: "Bentwhistle The Dragon In A Threat From The Past" by Paul Cude

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You've read his enigmatic tweets, maybe have even read an interview he hosted on his blog with another author, now discover Paul Cude and his debut novel, Bentwhistle The Dragon In A Threat From The Past!

Beginning with the true story of George and the Dragon as it is told to young dragons in their nursery ring, the reader is introduced into a world where dragons can change shape (mutatio) and turn into humans. In their dragon form they appear as the storybooks told: large (well...most of them), fast, high-flying and able to spit fire harsh enough to crisp a small village if they wished. But when they transform the only difference between them and a normal human is their aura and their green blood.

After the students hear about the dragon story--when George had to help his dragon king trap an evil dragon and his cohorts in the depths of an underground cavern--the reader is introduced to Peter Bentwhistle, this story's main character. Peter teaches the reader the basics of an everyday dragon lifestyle, from birth to the nursery ring (which is a dragon's way of educating their young to survive in the dragon world and the human one as well), and how mantras and magic play a key role in everything a dragon does.

Peter mentions seeing an Old Man (which is how the book refers to the gentleman the whole way through and even in his character bio on Mr. Cude's website [link will be below]) always near the nursery ring while Peter was attending classes. Once he graduated, he never saw the man again, but he still thought about him, even into his adulthood.

The story takes up where Peter is an adult, running the security of a prestigious company called Cropptech that mines Laminium, a precious metal to dragons and very valuable as it is so rare. His boss, Al Garret, is a jovial human man who treats his employees as if they were friends and the atmosphere at the workplace is wonderful...until Garret makes a change.

Peter is called into Garret's office to meet a new associate, Major Manson (Remember the tweets? "Who is this Major and why is he a disappointment?" read the book and you'll see exactly why!). Manson is an affiliate with the company Darktech and seems to have much influence over Garret, which drastically changes the mood in Peter's department.

No dragons work at his company, that he can sense, except for himself and his friend, the beautiful Richie Rump, though this is a company that mines a dragon-coveted metal. But as soon as Peter meets Manson, his senses are alerted...though there is no dragon aura about him. But it still makes him suspicious and he brings it up with Richie who had not gotten a single bad vibe off of him whatsoever!

The novel centers around Peter, Richie and their friend Tank, as they get pulled into a war between dragons that is centuries old, involving an old dragon (the 500-plus Gee Tee, Tank's boss who runs what was once the largest mantra shoppe in the world, and now is struggling to stay on its feet in London), Laminium and secrets. I do wish I could reveal more, but read on to see my key points that vary from the main plot and then the purchase links, because this book must be read!

Featuring a lot of geographical information, sports statistics and an in-depth look at a dragon world from Mr. Cude's mind, the reader must pay attention to what is written on the page before them, but the end result is worth it.

I loved how sports played a key role in dragon lore, from the characters in their human forms playing hockey, lacrosse and rugby (respectively) and there being a made-up dragon sport (Laminium Ball) that is the equivalent of human football. Rarely do the novels I read include much sports and, as a lifelong tomboy, my heart was satisfied at the action, adventure and fantasy having an element of sportsmanship added to the story.

Dragons in this novel are "clean": they don't drink, smoke, do drugs or even take pharmaceuticals and they have trie for centuries to keep humans pure as well, even since an old rogue group of dragons introduced humans to tobacco in the 1500s and tried to corrupt them.

Another great thing that variates from the plot a bit is Peter's endless attraction to his friend Richie. While this novel is far from romantic, the subplot is nice to read and I think many readers can feel a kinship with Peter: being in love with a friend but unable to show it because of the fear of losing that friend forever.

This book, deep down, is about teamwork, respect and love--love of each other, life and, yes, a love of sports!

To sum it up, this is a dragon tale (excuse the pun) of pure fantasy and adventure and every reader who has ever liked a fast-paced fantasy epic with a lot of amazing detail should pick this novel up!

Mr. Cude has a big imagination, which he lent to make this YA novel one of the best of this generation!

5/5, great work!

Purchase Bentwhistle as a physical copy on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bentwhistle-Dragon-Threat-Past-Paul/dp/0755206789/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1323614549&sr=1-2

Purchase Bentwhistle as a download for Kindle: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bentwhistle-Dragon-Threat-Past-ebook/dp/B006CQUIQC/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1323614549&sr=1-2

Or you can download a free copy at Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/286035

Be sure to visit Paul Cude on the following places online:

Website: http://www.thesoberhockeyplayer.co.uk/

Bentwhistle Official Site: http://www.bentwhistlethedragon.co.uk/index.html

Twitter: www.twitter.com/paul_cude

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paul.cude.3

 

Happy reading!

 

 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

"Moonlight" by Lisa Kessler is Out Now!

Purchase Moonlight on Amazon!

Purchase Moonlight from Barnes And Noble (NOOK)

The long-awaited day has arrived: you can now purchase the first book in Lisa Kessler's Moon Series: "Moonlight"!
I have reviewed this novel (look in my archives) & can testify that it us a truly magnificent piece of work (and, let's be honest: I am not a fan of werewolves, but Mrs. Kessler made Adam Sloan more than appealing!)
It also includes a dash of danger, death & is a subtle commentary on bigotry in America (think racism & LGBTQA social issues).
I rated it 5 out of 5...I think you'll do the same, reader!

Movie Review: "Interview With The Vampire" via The Vampire Source

http://www.thevampiresource.com/beyond-good-and-evil-a-review-of-neil-jordans-interview-with-the-vampire/

My latest project is with www.thevampiresource.com : writing articles & reviews. This is my first post for them, for the darkly beautiful film adaptation of Anne Rice's novel Interview With The Vampire.
Give it a read & see what I thought of the film!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Vampire Source Is Now Up & Running!

The Vampire Source Is Now Up & Running!

Hello, everyone!
Many of you know that I have been a frequent contributor to a website called Dark Media Online and I have been supporting them since their launch because they promote all the things that I adore: the supernatural, the creepy and just about everything that makes many humans cringe.
Their affiliate, The Vampire Source, is now up and running and it is exactly what the name implies: a site for anything and everything vampiric! The Undead are never going to be unpopular because we keep them "alive", so to speak.
I will have movie reviews and an article on the evolution of vampire literature posted there very soon, so keep your eyes peeled for those!
I am very grateful to have been asked to contribute to this website! I hope you all enjoy it!
As one of my fellow contributors just said, this site is "fangtastic"!
Happy reading!

<3 KSR :)=

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"DarkStar" by Carol J. Hansen Review via Books Make Me Happy

"DarkStar" by Carol J. Hansen Review via Books Make Me Happy

I loved this novel, Mrs. Hansen's debut, so much. I am glad she re-released it and hope that you, readers, will enjoy it as much as I did, along with its accompanying EP by the brilliant musician Matt Lande!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Interview With Paranormal/Fantasy Author Terri Garey


"Come to the dark side...we have cookies."

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Terri Garey burst onto the paranormal romance scene back in 2007 with her ghostly debut novel Dead Girls Are Easy (published by Avon Romance), based on the story of a woman who has a near death experience and wakes up to find out she can now see and hear the spirits of the dead.

The series spans through right until today with books narrated by Mrs. Garey's heroine, Nicki Styx (The Nicki Styx Series), and also into books about her most lustable villain, Sammy Divine (The Devil's Bargain Series).

ImageThe Nicki Styx Series

She was also featured in the Avon Romance collection Weddings From Hell with a short story based on Nicki titled Ghoul's Night Out.

Currently, she is working on a new novel based on Nicki and I had the pleasure of being able to interview her about her past novels, her future novels and her views on the paranormal and mythology. Enjoy! If you like what you read, links are provided below to purchase her novels and interact with her online!

1. You started out as a computer analyst and then decided to quit and write full-time. For people reading this who are unfamiliar with your background, can you tell us why that was?




 

I loved working in the computer field, but computer analysis is a very logical, linear job.  If a program isn’t working, you fix it. If software or hardware needs to be installed, you install it. Great for the left side of my brain (logical, analytical), but the right side of my brain (creativity, expression) had no outlet.  I was lucky enough to have a husband who encouraged me to do what made me creatively happy, which included writing, and blessed enough to be financially able enough to leave one career field to begin an entirely new one.

 




2. As opposed to "typical" romance/erotica, you chose to go darker with the paranormal. What made you make that decision?




 

I’ve always been fascinated with the spooky stuff.  Not horror so much – no slasher films for me, thank you very much – but the spooky stuff that raises the hair on the back of your neck, and makes you look over your shoulder for fear that something might be hiding in the shadows. As a child, I slept with a glow-in-the-dark cross above my bed to keep away vampires, read Edgar Allen Poe, loved and adored old monster movies like Creatures from the Black Lagoon and Bride of Frankenstein, and was addicted to shows like Dark Shadows and the Twilight Zone.  Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, and still is, because it combines “spooky” with “fun” – I consider that a perfect combination!

 




3. Vampires and werewolves are usually what people write romance novels about, but you choose to use ghosts and the Devil. Why did you choose that route?




 

Because unlike vampires and werewolves, I believe in the possibility that ghosts and the Devil may actually exist!  At any rate, I find them far more interesting to write about. Ghosts and demons/devils speak to the concept of good vs. evil, and how the choices we make affect the course of our lives, and perhaps even the course of our afterlife.  Of course, nobody knows for sure, but given that I write fiction, I’m allowed a lot of creative license with both concepts!  :)

 




4. Sammy was inspired a bit by rock star Billy Idol. Were any of your other characters inspired by real people?

 

I guess you could say that Nicki Styx is my “alter ego”, in that her thoughts, emotions and reactions are mine.  Her personal style (fun, funky, adventurous with her hair and clothing) is one I would’ve like to have, if I hadn’t gone the more conservative route of wife, mother and extremely logical computer analyst.  :)  Her romantic partner, Joe Bascombe, is very similar in many ways to my own husband: handsome, smart and extremely supportive, comfortable enough in his own masculinity that he doesn’t need to prove it by dominating the woman in his life.

 

The character of Finn Payne in DEVIL WITHOUT A CAUSE was inspired by Finnish goth rocker Jyrki Linnankavi of The 69 Eyes, a lovely man with a complex personality and a kind heart. Various other characters like Evan, Butch, Caprice, Bijou Boudreaux, Granny Julep, Kelly Bascombe and Spider are really just amalgams of the many different people I’ve met in my life.  I grew up in the South, where there are no shortage of colorful characters to draw upon!




 




5. Instead of the typical femme fatale, you chose to make your heroine Nicki Styx a Goth/vintage bad gal. While your fans adore her I have to ask what made you decide to sway from the norm with her?




 

I wanted Nicki to come across as a real person, not just a character on the page.  I personally don’t know any women who are half-vampire or half-werewolf and can kick a super villain’s ass while wearing high heeled boots and a corset, do you?  :)  I wanted a character who’d experienced a life-changing moment of a paranormal nature, and then had to learn how to deal with it, vs. a woman who was born with “special powers” or had to hide her secret identity from mere mortals.  I wanted a real woman who’d been thrust into extraordinary circumstances, and became a better person in the end because of it.

 




6. Nicki and Evan Owenby own a vintage, upscale fashion boutique and you have a lot of fashion commentary in your novels. Are you interested in the world of fashion yourself?




 




As the youngest of four sisters, I grew up wearing a lot of hand-me-downs, very few of which were actually ME, if you know what I mean.  :)  I do pay attention to fashion, but I am not a slave to it, by any means, as I believe that it’s far more important to find and wear clothes that are flattering to the individual.  Something that might look great on a 5’10” model who weighs 100 lbs. soaking wet is not going to necessarily look good on on a 5.4” woman with hips!  I think fit and personal flair are a very important part of fashion, so in that way, yes, I’m interested in it, and choose my clothes carefully – I tend to go for a “casual elegance” look when it comes to style.  Well-fitting jeans with a great top, cute shoes and interesting jewelry, that’s my idea of everyday wear.  Whatever I wear, it has to look good on ME, the person, with an emphasis on color, style and fit.

 

7. The 69 Eyes made your debut novel Dead GIrls Are Easy popular in the music/Goth scene when they recorded their single of the same title. Are there any other musicians you might hope to do a collaboration of sorts with in the future?

 




That was not a collaboration, that was an Amazing Cosmic Coincidence! I became a fan of The 69 Eyes after seeing one of their live performances on YouTube, knowing nothing about the song, which had already been written but not yet recorded.  The lead singer emailed me to tell me he had a surprise in store for me, having found my book in a bookstore in Sweden.  Hearing the song for the first time, knowing that both the title as well as the lyrics were based on my novel was super cool, as was actually meeting the band in person!  Smokin’ hot rockers from Finland (who also happen to be soft-spoken gentlemen) don’t show up out of the blue every day!

 

As to future musical collaborations, if Billy Idol ever emails me with the same type of news, I would not be disappointed.  :)

 




8. What authors did you enjoy when you were younger? What authors do you enjoy today?

 

Now, as I did when I was younger, I read a wide variety of fiction by a wide variety of authors.  As a kid, I loved Poe and Dickens, but basically read anything I could get my hands on.  As an adult, some of the best books I’ve read in the last few years are SILENT IN THE GRAVE by Deanna Raybourne, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor, and GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn.




 




9. Why Satan? There were many possibilities you could've gone with for a sexual villain in Nicki's life. Why choose the Devil?

 

Good vs. evil, Light vs. Darkness… it seemed pretty clear that Nicki was going to need a whole LOT of temptation to deal with, so I went with the biggest Tempter of them all!




 




10. In Silent Night, Haunted Night you use a lot of mythology with the Moirai (AKA the Norns/the Three Fates for those reading who may not know), the Night Hag and Selene, the Moon Goddess. Is mythology of interest to you personally or did you just study it to enhance the novel? (Either way, I loved it!)

 

Thank you!  I absolutely love, love, love mythology, so weaving it into each and every one of my novels is just plain fun.  Taking stories that have been around for centuries and putting a new twist on them is one of the best parts about my job!




 




11. Instead of focusing more on the romance between Nicki and Dr. Joe Bascombe, you write equally about that, Nicki's family dynamics and also the ghosts that surround her. is it difficult writing about the main story plus the numerous subplots?

 

Yes, it’s difficult, but that’s what makes a story – and life itself – interesting.  Everyone has their own story, but every story is surrounded by subplots, some of which help us and some which hurt us as we grow and change throughout our lives.  Life is not a straight line from start to finish, and neither are my novels.




 




12. You branched out from having Nicki as the narrator to stories in the third person about Sammy. Why did you decide to do that?

 

He’s an extremely complex character, who had his own story to tell.  When my editor suggested I tell it, I jumped at the chance!




 




13. You said that you were currently writing another Nicki Styx novel. Can you give us any inside secrets or is it all still too far under wraps?

 

What I can tell you is that it’s centered around Nicki and Joe’s wedding, and that ghosts and moral choices abound.  :)  Oh, and I absolutely LOVE the cover far more than any other cover I’d had to date, but I’m forbidden to show it until closer to the time of publication.




 




14. If you weren't writing chilling paranormal romance for Avon Books, what would you be doing?

 

Writing chilling paranormal romance for someone else.  :)




 




15. Thank you again for doing this interview with me. It was a pleasure having you respond to these questions that I, personally, have wondered about! Can you leave the readers with three things about yourself that may surprise them?

 

Hmmm… I like collecting things in miniature because I don’t like clutter (I have small curio cases for each collection: perfume bottles, opal carvings), I’m not a big meat eater, and I have a major weakness for extremely tart frozen yogurt.  Gee, what a wild woman I am!  :)

 

Thanks for having me, Kelly, and I hope that some of your questions have now been answered!

Interact with paranormal author Terri Garey at the following Websites:

www.tgarey.com

www.twitter.com/TerriGarey

www.facebook.com/terrigarey

Her novels are available for purchase at your local Barnes And Noble/Nook store (also at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/terri-garey?store=book&keyword=terri+garey ), on Amazon and Kindle ( http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_11?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=terri%20garey&sprefix=terri+garey%2Caps%2C259 )!

"Under The Dome Recap" Ep. 3 for DarkMedia

"Under The Dome Recap" Ep. 3 for DarkMedia

Please read my recap for the TV series Under The Dome (airs on CBS Mondays at 10pm/9c and is based on the novel by Stephen King) episode 3 "Manhunt", written exclusively for DarkMedia!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

"Moonlight" by Lisa Kessler Book Review

My book review for Moonlight by Lisa Kessler is now live on DarkMedia! Check out my review & then purchase this awesome, epic novel on July 15th! http://www.darkmediaonline.com/book-review/moonlight-the-moon-series/

"Moonlight" by Lisa Kessler Book Review

My book review for Moonlight by Lisa Kessler is now live on DarkMedia! Check out my review & then purchase this awesome, epic novel on July 15th!http://www.darkmediaonline.com/book-review/moonlight-the-moon-series/

"Moonlight" by Lisa Kessler Book Review

My book review for Moonlight by Lisa Kessler is now live on DarkMedia! Check out my review & then purchase this awesome, epic novel on July 15th!http://www.darkmediaonline.com/book-review/moonlight-the-moon-series/

Lisa Kessler's Moonlight Blog Tour!

Lisa Kessler's Moonlight Blog Tour!

Hello, everyone! Just posting an update to tell you all that KSR will be a stop on LIsa Kessler's blog tour for her upcoming novel "Moonlight" on August 7th, 2013!
The novel, which I called a 5 star read, will be available on July 15th, 2013, via Nook, Barnes And Noble, and Kobo!
Be sure to check back here on 8/7/13 for my exclusive interview with Mrs. Kessler and a repost of my review!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Author Interview: SM Reine

 

ImageImage1. You say you wanted to be a writer your whole life. What made you make that decision and what would you be if you weren't an author?
I just loved to read books so much as a child that I knew I needed to make my own. Since everyone in my family writes (my mom, my sibling, my great-grandma), it was a natural leap. My main backup plan was to become a velociraptor, though, which would have really been forging a new path for my family.
 
2. Did your childhood moving around being an army brat and living overseas influence your writing at all?
Getting to experience other cultures at a young age definitely made me see the world differently. When you have early exposure to somewhere like Japan, which is fairly different from America, your eyes get opened to all the wonderful diversity of peoples and cultures. But I also learned that people are the same at their core - no matter where we come from or how we look, we all want the same things: love, shelter, security...
 
3. You penned your first manuscript at age twelve, a big feat for one so young. Was that ever or will it ever be published?
Oh man. That was Journey to Utopia, which was a high fantasy book about girls who could control the four elements, and were using it to influence wars between nations. Except it was a lot more Sailor Moon than it sounds. Ha! I don't think that book will ever see the light of day.
 
4. When did your fascination with paranormal/urban fantasy themes begin or have you been interested in the culture of the supernatural your whole life?
I've loved paranormal/UF my entire life. I grew up on TV shows like Gargoyles, read a lot of Robert Jordan and Tamora Pierce as a kid, and then got into Buffy and Christopher Pike as a teen. It's never occurred to me to write anything else.
 
5. You have already written twenty books, and you have another coming out around August of this year! That's quite a lot for anyone, but especially a mom. How do you juggle being a mother, wife and writer?
It helps to forget gender roles. I don't cook or clean. Running the house is my husband's job. He also does most of the day-to-day work of taking care of a toddler, like bath time, educational activities, and tickling him until he barfs. It frees up my time to do nothing but write - if I hadn't written twenty books by now, it would be pretty pathetic!
 
 
6. Out of your many books, do you have a favorite one and a favorite character?
I think Of Wings and Wolves is my favorite, even though it's a book not many people have read. It's a new adult paranormal romance, and it introduced my favorite character: Sir Lumpy, a fat black cat with a squashed face. I'm owned by three kitties in reality, so writing a cat companion is awesome.
 
7. How did you feel when your first novel was published and is that feeling still apparent within you even after book 20?
I felt terrified, and that terror never abates. But it was initially fear that nobody would ever read my books. Now it's fear that everyone will hate them.
 
8. The Descent series is set in Nevada, where you live. Why did you choose there instead of one of the other numerous places you resided growing up?
The desert in Nevada is beautiful and stark. Since I write urban fantasy mysteries, kind of like detective noir, the gritty background was perfect for a gritty investigation. Also, I hadn't read any other books that took place in Reno, so I thought readers might find it interesting. (Although I've since discovered "Viral Nation" by Shaunta Grimes, which also takes place in Reno.)
 
9. You write about many paranormal creatures, do you have a particular favorite?
Werewolves! Who wouldn't want to be part of the pack?
 
10. What authors influenced you growing up? What authors do you love today?
Growing up, I loved Christopher Pike, Tamora Pierce, and KA Applegate. Now I'm more into Chloe Neill (Chicagoland Vampires) and Karen Marie Moning (Fever series). 
 
11. Do you have any hobbies you like to partake in when you are taking a break from writing amazing books?
Hobbies? What are hobbies? KIDDING! Kidding. I'm actually a huge gamer. I love violent video games - shooting things is very cathartic when I'm crabby. I also love movies.
 
12. Seasons Of The Moon and The Cain Chronicles series blend into each other, and you say that readers do not need to read the former to enjoy the latter. Were these moves strategic or did they come about accidentally?
"Strategic" implies some kind of organization. I just have lots of stories in my head, and that's how they come out. If I was smart, I would have made all my books one big series.
 
13. What made you change from demons and angels (The Descent) to werewolves (Seasons Of The Moon)?
I loved the idea of writing a teenage girl becoming a werewolf - someone utterly normal, already dealing with the craphood of being a teenager, who gets super powers shoved on her. Elise, in The Descent Series, is prepared her whole life to be a hero. Rylie's just some kid. It's very different and very fun.
 
14. Where do you see yourself and your career in ten years?
On a beach, getting fanned by muscular guys all slathered up in baby oil, while Bob Marley plays in the background. And, um, hopefully still writing books.
 
15. Thank you, again, for doing this interview! Can you leave readers with three surprising facts about yourself?

1.) Everything I've written this year has been done on a treadmill desk, walking at two miles per hour.
2.) I one day aspire to own a black cat plantation, where hundreds of kitties will live forevah. (My husband, who changes the litter box, is very distressed by this aspiration.)

3.) I WILL marry Ian Somerhalder someday, as soon as polyandry becomes legal, and he realizes that I exist.
 
Thanks for having me!!

 
-- 
Sara (SM Reine)
Author of Six Moon Summer and Death's Hand, and professional shenanigans-maker

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"Under The Dome" TV Recap

"Under The Dome" TV Recap

Hey, everyone, DarkMedia has posted my official recap of this week's episode of Under The Dome on CBS, "Fire". Please read and share if you enjoy it!

<3 KSR

Silly questions...

Silly questions...

Just a little something for all you book lovers out there! This may top the list of silly questions!

(via Simon & Schuster on Facebook)

Monday, July 1, 2013

"The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys" Issue #1 Review Reposted From DarkMedia

"The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys" Issue #1 Review Reposted From DarkMedia

My favorite comic book to date, it shows a whole new Earth with entirely different superheroes and villains than you have come to know!

Thanks to the folks at DarkMedia for reposting this on their great website!