GET READY FOR YOUR NEXT OBSESSION: EXPLORE MUST-READ BOOKS OF THE MONTH THAT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND!
Updated: Jul 16
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN VORAKA | ISSUE: MAY 2023
Article Published on: 20 MAY 2023 | www.vorakamagazine.com
Hello book lovers! We bring you the latest updates and revelations from the ever-evolving world of books. We are thrilled to have you join us on this exhilarating journey as we unveil a carefully curated selection of this month's must-read books. Be prepared to embark on an extraordinary voyage of the mind and soul, where the written word will transport you to realms both familiar and uncharted. We have meticulously handpicked a collection of literary gems that are destined to ignite your imagination and captivate your senses. Each book in our selection has been chosen with the utmost care and consideration, ensuring that you will be taken on a transformative literary adventure.
Our mission does not end with simply introducing you to remarkable books. We aim to foster a community of passionate readers who can engage in spirited discussions, share their thoughts, and celebrate the joy of reading together. So, we invite you to join us on this quest for literary enlightenment. Together, we will explore the limitless possibilities that lie within the written word and discover the magic that lies within the pages of our chosen books.
1. 'MECHANIEK: DRUMS OF THE GODS' by AUTHOR JC COMPTON
It is the third and final book in the Mechaniek science-fiction series. In a world destroyed by the Great Toxic War and ravaged by toxic storms, mechanics are the new kings. Citizens jealously guard access to their protective domes, and the others are left to fend for themselves.
The first book follows the story of Taliesin, a peaceful fisherman living a simple life on his island, who gets caught up in a toxic storm and saved by the renegade mechanic Merrick, who has deserted the Toweren army and become a pirate. But the king’s first lieutenant, Rufus Doreabris, and his son Goram plan to take over the throne. After Merrick is arrested, Taliesin makes a heartbreaking deal with Rufus to save his love, but he finds out that he may actually be the lost son of King Viryankar, who was kidnapped and brainwashed into believing he was an islander from the isle of Ethia.
In the second book, Nex Denisov, the king’s nephew, and friend of Merrick and Taliesin, has taken over the throne through a coup and imposed his authoritarian rule on Toweren, and is racing to create a race of hybrids like his rival, King Byryam of Tartessos. Goram, who has fallen in disgrace after the change of power and his father’s arrest, is now a simple teacher at the Royal School of Mechanics. A young genius mechanic from a remote village, Arnau, transfers to his class for the last semester before graduating. Facing rejection for his talent and his sexuality, he finds solace in his friendship with Goram, but, after being rejected by him, he decides to join the army where he becomes Nex’s secret weapon against his enemy.
In the final book, fifteen years have passed. Arnau and Goram are married and have adopted a son, Ari, now nineteen. Without any specific talent like his father's, Ari faces the cruelty of a society that looks down upon ‘useless’ individuals like him until one night he meets a moody drummer from Yamato-koku named Masaru. As he finds out that his father was one of the soldiers killed by Arnau during genetic engineering experiments, Ari runs away with Masaru and discovers the world. But the leader of the religious Uryashani parti, Royman Lombardi, has his own plans to take over Toweren by awakening the four children of an ancient civilization found in life pods and making them pretend to be the four gods. But the Earth is watching and has finally had enough of humanity. What happens to a civilization relying entirely on electricity to protect them when the power goes out and swarms of giant hybrid creatures are attacking?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JC Compton is the French-American nonbinary author of LGBTQIA+ fiction, from historical romance to fantasy and science-fiction. Having grown up in France and being passionate about foreign languages and cultures, they have a background in literature as well as history and East-Asian studies and are fluent in several languages. Much of their experiences traveling and forming friendships with people all around the world are reflected in the multiculturality of their novels, as well as vivid and emotional descriptions of the beauty of this world and the human relationship to nature. An avid reader of French and English classics since childhood, they were inspired by great authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Brontë, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll, as well as Victor Hugo, Balzac, and Leo Tolstoy, or fantasy and science-fiction authors such as Isaac Asimov, George Orwell, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Anne Rice. They are also a reader of philosophers like Kant, Rousseau, Aristotle, and Plato, and political theory. After graduating from the Literary and Languages curriculum in high school in France with honors, they went on to study East-Asian Studies and History in Canada, before moving back to France and eventually to the USA. JC started writing short stories as a child, which later became graphic novels, and eventually novels. They wrote their first (unpublished) series at the age of 25, but it was a very long fantasy series not suited for a first publication, so they started writing story ideas as they came, and in 2012 they wrote the introduction to their future Undertakers Inc. series, which they self-published in 2021. It all begins with a young man interviewing for a job with a peculiar undertaker business in Victorian London. The book was an instant success, but JC had already written a sequel, which was also a success, like the other books in the series. They then submitted a new book, Mechaniek: Lost Paradise, to a publisher, Spectrum Books, and were immediately signed, and they have since been working with them.
JC’s friends describe them as a brave and warm-hearted writer exploring cultural similarities. Their books represent and entertain the LGBTQIA+ community and attract readers from diverse backgrounds. When not writing, JC enjoys listening to Japanese music, cooking, traveling, and bodybuilding with their spouse.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JC COMPTON
Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing LGBTQIA+ fiction.
Growing up in the 80s and 90s, there was almost zero LGBTQIA+ representation in books, movies, or music (many LGBT musicians and actors remained closeted). It was like walking through an entire world from which I was excluded. So, I decided I would write those missing books, and create the content for people like me.
Your novels often have a multicultural element to them. How do your personal background and experiences influence your writing?
Growing up in a bilingual, bicultural home with an American father and a French mother led me to crave diverse cultures. I have international friends from Senegal, Togo, India, China, Japan, and more. The characters in my stories reflect this diversity.
How have your readings in classic literature and philosophy influenced the themes and writing styles in your novels?
My novels incorporate philosophical themes like the pursuit of happiness and social hierarchies. For instance, I use parables to question unjust power dynamics, such as the master-servant relationship between vampires, reflecting the legal inequality between men and women until recently. In the Mechaniek series, I explore the impact of wealth and power on happiness and politics. I prefer classic literature's slow pace, detailed descriptions, and emotional build-up for vivid imagery.
What was your inspiration behind your Undertakers Inc. series?
Losing my parents suddenly in 2010 and 2011 left me feeling orphaned, isolated, and unhappy. For about a year and a half, I was emotionally numb and just going through the motions until I could move somewhere else. Seeing a counselor didn't help as I was told it was just normal grief. In a moment of inspiration after a session, I created Undertakers Inc. as a way to cope. Tim's character reflects my own feelings of darkness and loss. Although my life is now fairly normal, the experience has changed me forever.
Your first series was unpublished, how did you keep motivated to continue writing and eventually self-publish your successful Undertakers Inc. series?
I always tell myself that to be a writer I must be able to write one more book and one more. Like giving birth, the first book is often the most difficult, the next ones come easier because you know the pattern of your stories. The difficult part is introducing new characters and not repeating situations.
How has the response been to your novels from both the LGBTQIA+ community and readers from different backgrounds?
Overall, the LGBTQIA+ community has really liked my stories, as well as book reviewers from different backgrounds. Most say they were really moved by my characters, feeling for them and crying with them. My books are not “niche” novels focused on a certain genre and can reach many different readers.
Your novels range from historical romance to science-fiction and fantasy. Do you have a favorite genre to write in?
My favorite genre is anything but contemporary! I’ve always felt like I was born in the wrong time and place and have preferred to think about the past or the future. I collect a lot of items from the 60s and 70s and books from the Victorian era, but I am interested in all history and sci-fi.
What challenges have you faced as a nonbinary author in the publishing industry?
Agents only wanted transgender memoirs, so my LGBTQIA+ books were rejected. I found an LGBTQIA+ publisher and gained social media followers quickly until conservative bloggers started attacking nonbinary individuals like me for using different pronouns. Strangers spread lies about me, accusing me of surgeries I've never had and labeling me with random things like "Marxist" or "cannibal." It's sad, but I won't stop using my preferred pronouns, They/Them, which I've used for 22 years.
How important do you think it is for LGBTQIA+ representation in literature, and do you have any advice for aspiring LGBTQIA+ writers?
LGBTQIA+ representation is extremely important. Despite what some people say, the vast majority of literature is catered to straight, cisgender people. When a group of people is systematically erased and suppressed from society, no one is free. I hope to see more representation, not only LGBTQIA+ but also black, Latino, indigenous, Asian-American, Jewish… My advice to aspiring LGBTQIA+ authors is to stick to your dream. Don’t try to be someone else to fit what the industry wants, because it is your unique voice that the readers want.
What can readers expect from you in the future? Are there any upcoming projects you're excited to share?
My new series, TransCrypted, launches in October, featuring all transgender, nonbinary, intersex, and genderfluid characters in a world of vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, and demons. It's a dark storyline with fast-paced action and plot twists to keep readers hooked.
2. 'SPIRITS OF THE ICE FOREST ' by AUTHOR MAX DAVINE
The novel "Spirits of the Ice Forest" not only explores the clash between two cultures but also delves deeper into the motivations and emotions of its characters. Freydis Eiriksdottir, for example, is depicted as a fierce and determined leader, but also as a complex character with her own personal demons and struggles. Her desire to conquer new lands is driven by a deep-seated need to prove herself to her father and assert her own power and authority.
The three native characters, Shanawdithit, Madawaak, and Demasduit, are also complex and multifaceted. They are not portrayed as one-dimensional stereotypes but as individuals with their own unique personalities, desires, and beliefs. Through their eyes, readers get a glimpse into the culture and traditions of the indigenous peoples of Newfoundland and the importance they placed on living in harmony with the natural world.
The novel also explores themes of colonialism, imperialism, and the impact of these forces on the people and the land. The Vikings, who were themselves colonized by the Roman Empire, sought to expand their influence and control over new territories, often at the expense of the native populations. The novel highlights the destructive effects of this kind of imperialism and how it can lead to the exploitation and displacement of indigenous peoples.
According to its historical and cultural themes, "Spirits of the Ice Forest" is also a gripping adventure story full of action, suspense, and unexpected twists and turns. It is a tale of survival and resilience, of the enduring power of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming odds. Overall, the novel offers a fascinating glimpse into a little-known chapter of history and invites readers to reflect on the timeless themes of power, identity, and the relationship between humans and the natural world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Max Davine is a multi-talented author who has made a name for himself in the literary world through his engaging and well-written novels. He began his writing career with the release of his debut novel, "Terra Domina," in 2012. Before that, he had already gained a wealth of experience in the entertainment industry, having worked as an actor, screenwriter, editor, and critic. In the years that followed, Max Davine released several more novels that showcased his skill as a writer. In 2013, he published "Angel Valence," which was followed by its sequel, "The Red Legion," later that same year. In 2014, he released "Off The Map," which was well-received by readers and critics alike. However, after the release of his 2015 novel "Dino Hunt," Davine took a hiatus from publishing to focus on his studies and further hone his writing abilities.
During this time, Davine pursued a Master of Literature degree, which helped him develop his craft and refine his writing skills. He also continued to pursue his interests outside of writing, including his work as an educator, volunteer firefighter, and Coast Guard volunteer. Additionally, he continued to conduct extensive research on a wide range of topics, which would later become an integral part of his writing process. In 2018, Davine made his return to publishing with the release of "Mighty Mary," a novel that won several awards, including the Golden Ebook Award. The book, which tells the story of a young girl who discovers a dangerous secret in the town where she lives, is a testament to Davine's storytelling abilities and his commitment to crafting compelling narratives. He is also an accomplished educator who has helped countless students develop their writing skills and pursue their own creative endeavors. He has also volunteered as a firefighter, using his skills and experience to help protect his community and train new recruits. Max has volunteered with the Coast Guard, demonstrating his commitment to serving his country and making a positive difference in the world. Davine's career is a testament to his talent, hard work, and dedication to his craft. Through his writing, teaching, and volunteer work, he has made a significant impact on the lives of countless individuals and has cemented his place as one of the most talented and versatile writers of his generation.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR MAX DAVINE
Please tell us about your journey as an author. How did you transition from being an actor, screenwriter, editor, and critic to becoming a published author?
I’d always written prose, but then I got into acting and screenwriting while studying at Melbourne Actor's Lab. Although I went to Los Angeles to learn how to write scripts, the film industry was more of an unexpected detour in my writing career. It was there that I met Chris Jackson, a small-press publisher who was looking for manuscripts to publish, and that's how I got my start in publishing.
Your first novel "Terra Domina" was released in 2012. Can you describe your experience of publishing your first book? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
As a 22-23-year-old writer working with a small press, there were many things I wasn't prepared for, both emotionally and skill-wise. I experienced anxiety when sending proofs back to editors because I knew I wasn't yet a strong enough writer. Looking back, I regret publishing Terra Domina and wouldn't do it again.
You took a hiatus from writing after the release of "Dino Hunt" to pursue a Master of Literature. How did your studies inform your writing when you returned to it?
universities in Australia are diseased with mediocrity, especially in literary studies. Every lecturer seems to have gotten their Ph.D. by focusing on the same few subjects, resulting in a cascade of narrow-minded study. And the creative writing courses are a joke! Not one of my teachers had published fiction, and they were all PhDs in feminist, gender, or queer theory. I was consistently the most experienced fiction writer in the room, including the teacher. It's not like NYU or London or Paris here in Melbourne, where known authors teach creative writing. Literary studies are like archaeology for the human heart and mind, and it deserves so much more than what Melbourne contributes to it. Don't get me wrong, feminist, gender, and queer studies are important, but to have every single Master's or Ph.D. candidate in the room doing those three things is sad. Luckily, I found an old ex-plumber who was no-nonsense and didn't want a bar of Foucault or Derrida, just like me. But it took me a year and a few supervisors to find him. He taught me a lot and even instilled my hatred of commas. A few years later, I took his job teaching at the prison, so there was a nice congeniality there.
In addition to being an author, you're also an educator, volunteer firefighter, and the Coast Guard. How do you balance your multiple roles?
No kids. It’s still not easy. Your house still needs cleaning, your car still needs servicing. I recently finished up as an educator I was teaching literacy and creative writing in a prison – a woman’s prison – and that was the kind of work that made me feel proud and there was no problem finding time for that.
As an avid researcher, can you talk about your research process for your books? How do you approach research for fiction vs non-fiction?
I prefer peer-reviewed articles, but Wikipedia can be a great source if you follow the sources at the bottom of the page. I did a lot of research for Spirits of the Ice Forest and took extensive notes. Sometimes I'll even write a day in the life of a character just to get a sense of the world.
Your book "Off The Map" was released in 2014. Looking back on it now, how do you feel about that book and how it fits into your body of work?
Off The Map is special to me. It was a flop. Total. Nobody bought it when it was released. But I love it. I had it in some form or another since I was 13 – ten years’ work – and it’s not grim or overly violent or overly sexual like my other work, so it’s still got that innocence of a 13-year-old’s worldview. A jaded 13-year-old maybe, I was always a very cynical kid, but for me, it’s a memory or a simpler time in my own head.
You've won several awards for your writing. How important are awards to you, and how do you stay motivated to keep writing even when you don't win?
Awards are nice. It’s a pat on the back, I suppose, nobody out there really cares if you say you’re an “award-winning author” – there are so many awards out there, it’s like film festivals, you submit to enough and you’re bound to win one no matter what garbage you’re peddling. It strokes the ego but they don't change me or my approach to writing. Winning or losing doesn't matter as much as focusing on improving my work. I hope I'm still improving and have the insight to know when I'm not.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers who are looking to publish their first book?
I received a lot of great advice, but I want to share the one bad piece of advice I got; someone told me “It’s all about persistence”. Yes, it is, Doesn’t matter how good your work is, you’ve got to be persistent to get someone to take notice of it. Persistence is important in getting your work noticed, but it's also about persistently improving your writing. It's essential to recognize when your work isn't measuring up and when you need to keep learning. Take courses and keep reading to develop your skills. With online courses, you have no excuse not to learn from great writers like Margaret Atwood, even if you live far away.
3. 'SECRETS OF EDENFIELD' by AUTHOR LONI HOOTS
For decades the world of mental health and institutions has tried to shelter the rest of the world from the horrendous acts that once took place, but now, everything is being brought to light. Secrets of Edenfield dives into the world of mental institutions, more so with the fictional institution, Edenfield, and highlights what has been happening behind closed doors. Much of the public has never known exactly what goes on once the doors to an institution such as Edenfield have been closed, but with the help of author Loni Hoots, the grim reality is now being pushed forth and presented to the public in a way never done before, making it the first of its kind.
Divided into three parts, Secrets of Edenfield finds itself at the very beginning being introduced to a set of fictional characters who were influenced by redacted case files that the author had come across. The characters fully show themselves, exposing their past and how they came to the institution involuntarily; this prompts the readers to be able to put themselves in the shoes of the patients, showing that every real person to have ever graced any mental institution was just like everyone else, a human. The second part is where everything goes insane, and the world as we know it becomes educated on the system that had been hiding atrocious acts for their own guilty pleasures. The third part is a bit somber, but as with most realities it dives into how life can lead down one path if others were to ignore history.
"Secrets of Edenfield" is a gripping novel that keeps readers engaged and on the edge of their seats with every chapter. The story follows the main characters as they navigate their way through a difficult and dangerous situation in an institution that challenges their survival. The intense action and suspense in each chapter leave readers wondering what will happen next and if the characters will make it out alive.
The novel also has a deeper message that it seeks to convey. It highlights the importance of educating oneself and being aware of the past in order to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. The story urges readers to take responsibility and learn from the mistakes of the past so that history does not repeat itself. However, the question remains whether the world is ready to acknowledge the dark parts of its past and accept responsibility for them. Will people be willing to learn from the mistakes of the past and take necessary steps to ensure that similar incidents do not occur again? The novel poses this question, leaving readers to ponder and reflect on the importance of taking responsibility and learning from history in order to create a better future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Loni Hoots is a poet, author, and writer who has made a significant impact in the literary world. Her journey started in 2015 when she published her first book, "The Nymph of the Unknown Forest," which was a collection of raw and emotional poetry that resonated with readers. It was not long before she gained a following and decided to explore other genres, leading her to publish her first novella, "Petals and Nails," followed by "If You're Gonna Be There," and an entire children's book series, "The Little Bird Series." As her career progressed, Loni continued to write poetry, delving into the world of mental health illness, a recurring theme in her work. Her dedication to shedding light on this topic has earned her a place in multiple literary magazines, newspapers, and health journals, where she has shared her experiences and education. In 2023, Loni released her much-anticipated debut novel, "Secrets of Edenfield," which gained traction with the release of a second edition. Her ability to create gripping narratives and explore challenging themes has solidified her place as a talented author, and she continues to push boundaries with her writing.
Despite her success, Loni remains humble and grounded, never forgetting her roots as a poet and her passion for writing. Her commitment to her craft is evident in her future plans, where she plans to release a new children's series, and a volume of poems, and embark on a new journey that promises to be the biggest yet. The literary world eagerly anticipates Loni's future work, and it is clear that she has a promising career ahead of her, with her unique voice and signature stamp on the literary world.
Loni's impact on the literary world goes beyond her writing. She has become an advocate for mental health awareness, using her platform to bring attention to the importance of taking care of one's mental health. She has also been involved in various charity and community work, including volunteering at local schools and libraries, donating books to underprivileged children, and supporting mental health organizations. Loni's works reflect her kind-hearted nature and belief in the power of literature to make a positive impact on people's lives.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR LONI HOOTS
What inspired you to become a writer, and how did you make your way into the literary world?
As a lover of literature and an avid reader, I've always been fascinated by the power of words to transport us to different worlds and evoke powerful emotions. The desire to create my own stories and share them with others inspired me to become a writer. I began my journey in the literary world by starting out as a poet with The Nymph of the Unknown Forest in 2015. From there, I gradually transitioned into writing novellas and children's books, exploring different genres and styles along the way.
You started out as a poet with The Nymph of the Unknown Forest in 2015. How did you make the transition from poetry to writing novellas and a children's book series?
Making the transition from poetry to prose was a natural evolution for me as a writer. As I explored different forms of storytelling, I found myself drawn to the challenge of crafting more complex narratives and developing multi-dimensional characters. The process of writing a novel or a children's book is very different from writing a poem, but I found that the skills I honed as a poet, such as attention to detail and the ability to convey emotions through language, were invaluable in my later work.
Can you share your experience of publishing your first book, Petals and Nails?
Publishing my first book, Petals, and Nails, was an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. I spent months revising and refining the manuscript, working with an editor to ensure that the story was as strong as possible. When the book was finally released, I was thrilled to see it out in the world, but also felt a sense of vulnerability as readers began to engage with the characters and themes I had created.
What was the inspiration behind the story of your second novella, If You're Gonna Be There and how you developed the characters?
The inspiration behind If You're Gonna Be There came from my own experiences of loss and grief, as well as my fascination with how people cope with difficult situations. I developed the characters by drawing on my observations of the people around me, as well as my own emotions and experiences. I wanted to create a story that was emotionally resonant and thought-provoking, while also being entertaining and engaging for readers.
Please tell us about the concept behind your children's book series, The Little Bird Series, and what messages you hope to convey to young readers through your stories.
The Little Bird Series is a collection of children's books that aim to convey important messages about kindness, empathy, and the power of imagination. Through stories featuring a cast of lovable animal characters, I hope to encourage young readers to embrace their own creativity and to see the world through a lens of compassion and understanding.
You have a background in mental health education and your work often dives into the world of mental health illness. Can you discuss the importance of addressing mental health in your writing and how it impacts your creative process?
Addressing mental health in my writing is important to me because I believe that literature can be a powerful tool for increasing understanding and reducing stigma around mental illness. Drawing on my background in mental health education, I strive to create characters and stories that are authentic and nuanced, while also being accessible and engaging for readers.
Being featured in multiple literary magazines, newspapers, and health journals is a significant achievement. How has this recognition impacted your writing and career?
Being featured in literary magazines and other publications has been an incredible honor and has helped to raise my profile as a writer. It's also been a validation of the hard work and dedication I've put into my work and has motivated me to keep pushing myself to new heights in my writing.
What were your thoughts on your recent interview with Dr. Ardain Isma regarding the promotion of Secrets of Edenfield and what messages you aimed to convey to the readers through the book?
I had a great experience speaking with Dr. Ardain Isma about Secrets of Edenfield. In the interview, I aimed to convey the message that the book is about more than just a murder mystery - it's about family, community, and the power of secrets to shape our lives.
You have a new children's series beginning and a volume of poems releasing in 2023. Can you give us a sneak peek into what readers can expect from these upcoming projects?
I find great joy in developing series and poems, and I am eagerly anticipating the release of my upcoming works. Readers can anticipate captivating and inspiring stories in my forthcoming children's series and poetry collection. My passion for exploring the world and forging connections with readers of all ages continues to fuel my creative process.
4. 'STUMBLE AND FALL: A LEGACY OF SILENCE' by AWARD WINNING AUTHOR AMY RIVERS
It is a riveting tale of family, tragedy, and danger. In this sequel to Complicit, readers follow the struggles of Kate and Tilly as they face new challenges and navigate their own personal demons.
The story opens with Kate, who is still reeling from the loss of her father. She is working on renovating her desert home, which serves as a sanctuary for her. Kate has started a psychological counseling practice that provides her with the needed income and also offers her an opportunity to find out whom she can trust by working from the inside. However, as she searches for answers, she finds herself in danger, and the cost of learning the truth may be more than she can bear.
As Kate deals with her own challenges, her sister Tilly has moved back to New Mexico. The two sisters have always had a complicated relationship, but Tilly's return brings them closer together. However, family tragedy strikes, throwing Tilly into a cycle of self-sabotage that nearly gets her killed. Tilly's reckless behavior threatens to destroy everything she has worked for, and it's up to Kate to try to save her sister before it's too late.
Throughout the novel, both Kate and Tilly struggle with fear and self-doubt. They are haunted by their pasts and find it difficult to move forward. As they try to help the victims they are working with, they are forced to confront their own demons. Kate's determination to save the victims puts her in danger, and Tilly's reckless pursuit of justice almost gets her killed.
Rivers masterfully weaves together the various threads of the story, building tension and keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. The characters are well-developed and relatable, and the plot is both engaging and thought-provoking. The themes of family, loss, and redemption are explored with sensitivity and depth. One of the standout features of Stumble and Fall is the portrayal of the victims of sexual assault. Rivers treats these characters with dignity and respect, giving voice to their experiences and emotions. She shows the devastating impact that sexual assault can have on a person's life and the challenges they face in trying to heal and move forward. Stumble and Fall: A Legacy of Silence is a powerful novel that will leave readers thinking long after they have finished reading it. It is a story of resilience, hope, and the power of love and family. Rivers' writing is both engaging and insightful, and her characters are memorable and relatable. This is a must-read for fans of suspense, drama, and psychological thrillers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amy Rivers is a talented and accomplished novelist who has gained recognition for her insightful and thought-provoking writing. She was the Director of Writing Heights Writers Association, which provides a platform for writers to connect and collaborate with each other. Her work has been widely praised for its ability to incorporate important social issues with a focus on the complexities of human behavior. She is an award-winning novelist whose work has been praised for its ability to address important social issues and explore the complexities of human behavior. Through her writing, she seeks to create a greater understanding of the world around us and to shed light on the challenges that we all face. In 2021, Rivers was named Indie Author of the Year by the Indie Author Project, which is a prestigious award that recognizes excellence in independent publishing. Her writing has been hailed as a "gripping and intense exploration of the human psyche" and has been compared to the works of Gillian Flynn and Tana French.
Amy's novels are known for their ability to tackle difficult and challenging social issues in a sensitive and nuanced way. Her recent novel, STUMBLE & FALL, which is the second book in the A Legacy of Silence series, deals with issues such as sexual assault, trauma, and family dynamics. Through her writing, Rivers aims to shed light on these important issues and create greater awareness and understanding of them. Amy's background and upbringing have had a significant impact on her writing. She was raised in New Mexico, which has a rich cultural heritage and a diverse population. This upbringing has given her a unique perspective on the world and has informed her writing in many ways. Her novels often draw on the landscape and culture of the Southwest, and she incorporates elements of New Mexican history and culture into her work.
Currently, Rivers lives in Colorado with her husband and children. She draws inspiration from her surroundings, and the natural beauty of the state often finds its way into her writing. In addition to her work as a writer, she is also an advocate for social justice and is involved in several community organizations that work to promote equality and justice for all.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR AMY RIVERS
How did you first become interested in writing, and what inspired you to pursue a career in this field?
I was very lucky to be raised in a family and community that valued writing and creativity. I wrote my first book in third grade–an eight-year-old take on romance and never stopped writing. Though my focus has changed over the years, I’ve always wanted writing to be a part of my professional life. After moving to Colorado, I had the opportunity to write more actively and focus on fiction. I haven’t looked back.
Can you tell us a bit more about the Writing Heights Writers Association and your role as its Director?
Writing Heights (formerly NCW) was the first writing organization I belonged to in Colorado, and it occupies a big place in my heart. It led me to my first writing group and has been with me at every step of my writing journey. When the opportunity to lead arose, I was so honored to fill that role. Despite leading the organization through a global pandemic, which was a challenge, I hope this group is always a place where authors at all stages can find fellowship and a safe space to grow in their own journeys.
What impact do you think winning the 2021 Indie Author of the Year award has on your career, and how has this recognition affected you personally?
Despite the growth in self-publishing over the years, being an indie author presents many challenges, including the problem of discoverability. Award programs like the Indie Author Project create opportunities for indie authors to reach a wider audience. That particular program also supports getting indie books onto library shelves. Winning Indie Author of the Year was not only recognition of the work that I’d been doing, but it also helped to put my books into the hands of more readers. I am incredibly grateful for every moment of that experience.
What factors influence your selection of social issues to tackle in your writing, and what steps do you take to handle them appropriately in your stories?
I worked as the director of a sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) program for several years and then focused my graduate education on the impact of interpersonal violence on communities. At that time, I was working full-time, studying at night, and raising two kids on my own, so women’s issues and the theme of resilience were on my mind constantly. I was sick of seeing women in fiction portrayed as incapable or weak, and the use of gratuitous violence as a literary device, so I made a point of creating situations and characters that reflect real life. That often means educating myself on complex psychological and social issues through a variety of methods.
How do you approach blending complex social issues with your psychological suspense plots, and what message do you hope readers come away with after reading your novels?
When I started writing, I knew that I wanted to focus on women and how they handle societal expectations amidst larger social issues like motherhood, work-life balance, complex relationships, and trauma. I also strongly believe that reading shapes the way we look at the world, so I chose to confront topics like sexual assault, human trafficking, and addiction through a fictional lens. I hope that readers will gain perspective that might help them be more informed or empathetic about some of the issues taking place right before their eyes.
Please tell us a bit more about your recent novel, STUMBLE & FALL, and what inspired you to write it.
STUMBLE & FALL is the second book in a three-part series, A Legacy of Silence. The series follows sisters Kate and Tilly as they grapple with the complexities and unexpected hurdles of family and personal relationships, all while exposing a domestic trafficking operation in their hometown. I am fascinated by human behavior, especially when those humans are in a relationship with one another, so taking a closer look at this sister duo in action was very rewarding, even if sometimes heartbreaking. In this second
installment, the sisters are trying to rebuild their lives after the loss of their father and the threat of violence that is a constant in their lives, both because of their chosen careers and their pursuits for justice.
How do you balance the creative aspects of writing with the more technical aspects, such as editing and revisions?
In order to keep my creative juices flowing, everything I write starts as a sort of verbal dump. I do a little bit of planning, but mostly I let the characters and the stories take me in whatever direction feels right.It’s a process that works for me. This results in longer revision and editing times. Attempts to introduce more structure have hindered my creativity and motivation.
Can you share any details about what you're currently working on, or what we can expect from you in the future?
The third and final book in my current series is coming out this fall. Its title is RIPPLE EFFECT. Though I’m excited about the resolution that will come with this book, it’s always
a little sad to say goodbye to characters you’ve been living with for many years. That being said, I have a new book nagging me to be written, and a whole list of short stories and essays I’d like to publish, so there’s a lot on the horizon.
5. 'A VICTORY SONG: BENEATH THE VEIL' by AUTHOR SARAH DICKENS
"A Victory Song: Beneath the Veil," is a memoir written by Sarah Dickens about her life. The book covers her experiences, ranging from her early childhood up to her twenty-eighth year. Throughout the book, Sarah talks about three main topics, including her life as a child of God diagnosed with bipolar disorder and the difficulties that accompany her mental health diagnosis. Sarah's mother is a significant influence on her faith walk with Jesus, and she shares some of her experiences from her early childhood, such as being led to believe in Jesus as her Lord and Savior, going to church as a child, and attending Middle School Bible camp.
Sarah also talks about the experiences associated with her ex-boyfriend, which were divinely orchestrated by God for her to meet her seasonal friendships from college. Her seasonal friends drew her back to Jesus by inviting her to Bible study, attending church with them, and participating in other church and campus ministry-related activities. These events eventually led to Sarah's ex-boyfriend breaking up with her as he saw that she was growing closer to God and away from him. As a result, Sarah became very devout in her faith in Jesus Christ due to the divine impact that her seasonal friendships from college had on her faith. Sarah also briefly mentions why she calls her friendships from college seasonal friendships. In the book, there is an event that becomes a turning point in Sarah's life and walk with God, causing her friendships to become seasonal friendships. God divinely orchestrated for her friendships with her friends from college not to last for a lifetime but instead for a season, which was her time and experiences in college and shortly after she graduated.
The final section of the memoir centers around Sarah's faith journey and experiences with Christian counseling. The author's experiences with bipolar disorder had a significant impact on their faith journey, but it was ultimately through seeking Christian counseling that the author found healing. The author's honesty and vulnerability about their mental health struggles will resonate with readers who have faced similar challenges.
Throughout "A Victory Song: Beneath the Veil," the author's faith journey is a central theme. The memoir is a testament to the transformative power of faith and the way that God works in mysterious ways to bring about healing and restoration. Through their stories, the author invites readers to reflect on their faith journey and to trust in God's plan for their lives. "A Victory Song: Beneath the Veil" is a must-read for anyone who has struggled with mental health or who is seeking to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Dickens is a multi-talented writer and artist who is always pushing herself to explore new creative avenues. In addition to her memoir "A Victory Song: Beneath the Veil," she is currently working on a second memoir which she hopes to release by 2024. This memoir is part of a series, although the title of the second book has not been revealed yet.
Apart from her work in memoirs, Sarah is also working on a children's illustrated book, which she both wrote and illustrated. The release date for this book is unknown at this time, but it is eagerly anticipated by her fans. Sarah's talent for art is evident in her illustrations, which are both whimsical and beautiful. She often shares her drawings and paintings on her social media pages and enjoys giving them unique titles. Sarah's literary achievements are noteworthy, as her memoir has been selected as one of the "12 Must-Read Books For This Winter". Also, she has been recognized as one of the "Top 10 Authors To Look Out For in 2023", which is a testament to her dedication to writing. Sarah's work has also been acknowledged with the Book Honour Award from Writers Official and a nomination for the "Book Promotion Video Contest" for the ebook design contest. She has been interviewed on the Christian broadcast network WATC-TV Channel 57, where she shared her faith journey and writing process. These achievements demonstrate Sarah's commitment to her craft and her growing reputation as an accomplished author. When she is not writing or illustrating, Sarah enjoys spending her free time exploring her other hobbies. She is an avid collector of coffee mugs and enjoys taking walks in nature. But her true passion lies in drawing and painting. Sarah is a gifted artist who believes that her creativity comes from God. She only creates when she feels inspired or divinely inspired by God, and she believes that her talents are a gift from Him.
Sarah's life is anchored in her faith, and her favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13, which states, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." She draws inspiration from her relationship with Jesus Christ, and it is clear that her faith plays a significant role in her life and work. Overall, Sarah Dickens is a talented writer, artist, and creative spirit who continues to inspire others with her work.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR SARAH DICKENS
What inspired you to pursue a career in writing, and how did your personal background shape your writing journey?
I've loved writing since kindergarten when I wrote an illustrated book and continued writing essays in fifth grade that received compliments from my teacher and classmates. Although I never imagined becoming an author, my passion for writing became more evident during my Mass Communication degree. After serving as news editor for a Christian news outlet, the Holy Spirit revealed that writing books was my ultimate calling. I resigned as news editor and published my first book, "A Victory Song: Beneath the Veil," in 2022.
What motivated you to write "A Victory Song: Beneath the Veil" and can you describe the process of writing the memoir?
At a women's conference in 2018, I declared my life goal to write a book and met my book coach. She helped me write, "A Victory Song: Beneath the Veil," my memoir series about living with bipolar disorder and pointing readers to Jesus. With her guidance and feedback from trusted friends, my book was successfully published in 2022.
How do you balance writing multiple projects at once, such as your memoir series and your children's illustrated book?
I only write when divinely inspired by God, for both my memoir series and children's illustrated book. I create an outline for my memoirs and follow my ideas and inspiration while obeying and following the leading of the Holy Spirit of God. Similarly, for my children's book, I am led by divine inspiration to write and illustrate.
Can you share with us your experience being interviewed on the Christian broadcast network, WATC-TV Channel 57?
Being interviewed on WATC-TV Channel 57 was phenomenal! I discussed why I named certain chapters of my book, "A Victory Song: Beneath the Veil," such as "The Scarlet Footprints" and "The Scarlet Letters." I shared how my mission experiences in Lebanon and Japan were rewarding and how the Holy Spirit led me to go on these trips despite my mother's disapproval.
How did it feel to receive the Book Honour Award and to be nominated as the winner of the "Book Promotion Video Contest"?
I received the Book Honour Award in 2022, a humbling confirmation of my calling as an author. Winning the Book Promotion Video Contest in 2023 was exciting and unexpected. All thanks and glory to God.
How do you approach the creative process of drawing and painting, and what techniques or methods do you use to bring your artwork to life?
I approach drawing and painting with guidance from the Holy Spirit. I create with pens, colored pencils, and paints, using bright colors to communicate the joy of the Lord, especially to children, while pointing them to Jesus.
How do you decide what to draw or paint and what inspires you?
My relationship with God is what inspires me to draw and paint. I also have to be in a creative mood and feel divinely inspired by God and led by His Holy Spirit to draw or paint whenever a thought or idea comes to me. Whatever I am thinking and feeling at that moment, I draw or paint the given image and post it on social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, for my followers (children are the target audience for my artworks) to view.
How do you balance the creative aspects of writing with the more technical aspects, such as editing and revisions?
In order to keep my creative juices flowing, everything I write starts as a sort of verbal dump. I do a little bit of planning, but mostly I let the characters and the stories take me in whatever direction feels right. It’s a process that works for me. This results in longer revision and editing times. Attempts to introduce more structure have hindered my creativity and motivation.
How has your faith influenced your writing and creative endeavors?
As a Christian, my faith in Jesus inspires me to be a shining light through my artwork and honest in my memoirs. I strive to keep my artworks pure and innocent for children and be realistic in my writing to point my readers to Jesus.
What can readers expect from your memoir series thematically? Any sneak peek?
I can't reveal the title yet, but my second memoir (coming in 2024) is centered around the theme of peace and how it's manifested in my life as a child of God with bipolar disorder. It's divided into twelve chapters, each one exploring different aspects of peace, and how it's possible to experience it even amidst life's struggles. I'm excited to share this message of hope and encouragement with my readers.
6. 'FINDING THEON: THE TRAVELER BOOK ONE' by AUTHOR JORDAN KELLEY
It is a gripping tale of adventure, betrayal, and self-discovery. Set in a medieval era, the story follows a prince and his companions as they journey north to find a missing king and restore stability to their realm. Along the way, they are joined by an agent known only as The Traveler, who is tasked with protecting the prince and keeping her true identity a secret. The book opens with the southern kingdom on the brink of war. Rumors have been spreading of an impending attack from the north, and tensions are high as the prince struggles to maintain peace. In an effort to prevent war, the prince and his companions set out on a dangerous journey to find the missing king, who is rumored to have the power to unite the realm and stave off the northern threat.
The Traveler is a mysterious figure who has been sent across time and space to protect the prince. She is skilled in combat and has a keen sense of observation, making her an invaluable asset to the group. However, her true identity is shrouded in secrecy, and the other members of the group are wary of her. As the group makes their way north, they encounter numerous obstacles and challenges. They are attacked by bandits, face harsh weather conditions, and are forced to navigate treacherous terrain. Along the way, The Traveler earns the trust of the group and becomes increasingly attached to the prince. However, she finds herself drawn to the one man who is distrusted the most, a rogue who is constantly at odds with the rest of the group. As they approach their destination, it becomes clear that things are not as they seem. The missing king is nowhere to be found, and the group is forced to confront the possibility that he may have been kidnapped or killed. As tensions rise, The Traveler must use all of her skills to protect the prince and prevent war from breaking out.
Throughout the book, Kelley skillfully weaves together themes of loyalty, trust, and sacrifice. The characters are complex and multi-dimensional, and their relationships with one another are constantly evolving. The prince is torn between his duty to his people and his desire for adventure and self-discovery. The rogue is haunted by his past and struggles to trust the other members of the group. And The Traveler is forced to confront her own past and come to terms with her true identity.
"Finding Theon" is a must-read for fans of fantasy and adventure novels. Kelley's skillful storytelling and compelling characters make this book a standout in the genre. It is a well-written and captivating story that will keep readers engaged from beginning to end.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jordan Kelley is a Texas-born author who has always had a love for adventure and travel. This passion for exploration is evident in her writing, which features fast-paced action and thrilling journeys that transport readers to magical, medieval-inspired realms. Kelley's experiences in sports, including horseback riding, archery, and fencing, also influence her writing and help her to create vivid and exciting scenes.
Kelley began her creative writing journey at an early age, infusing her adventures with compelling characters to create her first novel, "Finding Theon: The Traveler Book One." She also maintains a travel blog and podcast, sharing her experiences and adventures with her readers and listeners. Her travel blog features a mix of humor and haphazard adventures, providing a glimpse into the life of a writer and adventurer. She writes about her experiences traveling around the world, from backpacking trips through Europe to exploring the jungles of South America. Kelley's newest traveling companion, a husky puppy named Atticus, steals the spotlight with his quirky attitude and lovable antics.
Kelley's passion for writing and travel is also evident in her upcoming book, "Journey of the Lost Healer." This book continues the epic tale begun in "Finding Theon," taking readers on another thrilling adventure through a magical realm. The story follows a healer who has lost her powers as she embarks on a perilous journey to regain them and save her people. As with her first book, Kelley's skillful storytelling and compelling characters are sure to keep readers engaged from beginning to end.
Jordan Kelley is a talented author who infuses her writing with a love of adventure and travel. Her experiences in sports and her travels around the world provide inspiration for her writing, resulting in fast-paced and thrilling stories that transport readers to magical realms. With "Finding Theon" which is a gripping tale in a medieval era, and her upcoming book "Journey of the Lost Healer," Kelley is quickly establishing herself as a standout author in the fantasy and adventure genres. Her travel blog and podcast also provide a unique glimpse into the life of a writer and adventurer, making her a truly multifaceted and intriguing individual. Her passion for storytelling and adventure continues to inspire her work and capture the hearts of readers around the world.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JORDAN KELLEY
What sparked your interest in creative writing at a young age, and how did you hone your skills over time?
I always loved listening to stories and how a good storyteller could pull you in and connect people through humor and shared experiences. I discovered I could do the same through creative writing and developed that skill through classes, workshops, and networking with other authors.
Can you share the story behind your novel, Finding Theon The Traveler Book One, and the writing process for it?
It took me several years and many rewrites to finish book one. I pulled from a lot of my travels, people I have met on trips, and a love of fantasy stories. Often I would take a new journey and come up with new ideas for the plot. The story grew up along with me, you could say.
How has your passion for travel and adventure influenced your writing, and which places have been particularly inspiring to you?
Traveling, especially hiking trips, greatly influences my stories since the characters are always on the move. One of my favorite trips was hiking down into the Grand Canyon. It was the middle of summer, and I felt like I was being baked, but the views were amazing. I love including woods or mountains in my stories, even though some of my characters are unfamiliar with that terrain.
You're also a sports enthusiast, can you tell us about your experience with horseback riding, archery, and fencing, and how they play a role in your fantasy novels?
Sports have always been a passion of mine, and I learned something different from each one I tried. Horseback riding was my favorite. There's just this sense of pure freedom you have racing through the trails and across fields. I also learned patience and strategy from archery and fencing. Those traits show through in many of my characters in different ways.
Your travel blog and podcast are popular with readers. Can you tell us about some of your most unforgettable travel experiences, and how they have impacted your writing?
The most unforgettable trip was hiking in Zion Park and missing the last bus back into town. I had to walk through the desert in freezing temperatures and hitchhike back to town. That experience of figuring out how to get back safely influenced the struggle my characters sometimes face.
We've heard that you have a husky puppy named Atticus. How has he become a part of your writing journey, and what is your experience with pets in general?
I've raised many animals, but dogs have always been my favorite companion. Atticus is happy to keep me company while I write or jump in the car for a spontaneous road trip.
Can you give us a sneak peek into your upcoming book, Journey of the Lost Healer, and what readers can expect from it thematically?
Journey of the Lost Healer will be very different because it's a stand-alone novel, and the main character Jayde is much more relatable. Jayde is a bookstore manager that gets pulled into one of her favorite books. She's thrust into a magical world and discovers an ability of her own. It's a fun lighter hearted story that I think readers will enjoy.
How do you balance your creative writing pursuits with your travel blog and podcast, and what are some of your time management strategies?
Keeping a good balance can be very difficult, and my saving grace has been a law of attraction planner. I will absolutely swear by how helpful it has been to manage writing novels, podcasting, and blogging. It's also excellent at helping you figure out your vision and plan or just daily to-do lists.
What is your editing process like for your novels, and what tips or advice would you offer to aspiring writers?
I usually like to get input from a few fellow readers to check for any blind spots I might have. If there's nothing major, I'll make a few changes and then send the manuscript off for professional editing. It's tough to be objective about your work, so it helps to get an outside perspective.
Over the years, how has your writing style evolved, and what have been some of the most crucial lessons you've learned along the way?
I've learned the most from reading novels in my genre. It taught me to slow down and lay out more of the scene so the reader felt engaged in the story. It's easy to get caught up in the storytelling and forget the reader can't necessarily see the same idea that I do as the writer.
What other writing projects are you working on besides Journey of the Lost Healer, and what can readers expect from you in the future?
I have several exciting projects in the works. I'm very excited about a crime thriller that is currently in progress, and there's an outline for more of the Traveler books to come. Later on, I plan to do a paranormal series that will be a lot of fun to write. Readers can expect many more books, mainly in the fantasy genre, to come.
7. 'THE SPACE TRAVELLER'S LOVER' by AUTHOR OMARA WILLIAMS
In a future Earth on the brink of ecological collapse, a bright young student encounters an alien soldier who might rebuild or destroy the world.
Rom-Ghenshar is the alien race who has come to take over planet Earth. Stronger, invincible, immortal, and with a technical superiority beyond comprehension, the aliens are fuelled by a zest for revenge while plundering Earth’s remaining resources. However, a slight deviation from their plan occurs when a ruthless alien soldier, ‘Rothwen’, becomes infatuated with a human, ‘Erin’, a bright young student with a mysterious past. He takes her to his planet even though it will jeopardize the plan of occupying Earth. Once Erin is with the aliens, she discovers their immense destructive powers. While the aliens promise the Humans they have come peacefully, Erin suspects that not all is as it seems. Rothwen and Erin are undeniably drawn to each other, with a wild romantic chemistry they cannot control, even though they have key character traits that should fight against each other. Rothwen has a domineering presence and is used to always getting what he wants. However, he finds himself immensely attracted to Erin’s passionate yet strong-willed and defiant personality — all the aspects that make her human. In Rothwen’s company, Erin meets other members of his race, eventually forming a close bond with them. She is given the new name of ‘Shaillah’, and as she accepts her unique ancestry, she finally understands why she has always felt different from those around her. She is wooed on two sides—by the all-powerful yet pleasing Rothwen and by the attraction to her unique heritage, journeying to the Rom-Ghenshar home world as her body is transformed to bring out her full powers. She becomes one of them, even admired by the fearsome supreme commander ‘Kuzhma-Or’. Still, she cares for the humans and their plight. Shaillah’s future and that of planet Earth depend on her next actions. She often wonders where her loyalty lies. Even though she has been transformed into the alien race, her feelings and memories are still human, “and that’s what makes you special,” Rothwen tells her.
Shaillah’s competing desires to be with Rothwen and to protect the planet she has called home all these years have a profound effect on her. There are also other things complicating her life, such as her loyalty to her best friend, ‘Sam’, and the uncertainty about her intoxicating lover’s intentions. Will she stay with her best friend from childhood, who loves her deeply? Or will she stay with the ruthless alien soldier who shows no mercy? Will she be able to overturn the aliens’ destructive plans?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Omara Williams, a software manager, and award-winning professional, has always had a passion for science, technology, and writing. As a child, she would spend hours imagining characters and situations, drawing inspiration from the world around her. Her favorite genres were fiction and adventure, and she admired authors such as Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, and Alexander Dumas.
At the age of 17, Omara completed her first handwritten book, a collection of children's stories that her friends and family enjoyed. However, she didn't see writing as a viable career option and instead pursued her university degree, her passion for software programming, and her astronomy projects. Despite her interest in writing, it became a pastime and not a priority in her life.
Years later, Omara began to wonder what could have happened if she had pursued writing more seriously. She believed that it was never too late to chase her dreams, so she started writing again while working full-time. Writing brought her joy and satisfaction, and she soon found herself dedicating her evenings and weekends to the craft. As she progressed, she set targets and goals, taking her writing seriously and pushing herself to improve.
After five years of dedication, Omara's book "The Space Traveller's Lover" was published. She hopes that her readers will find the story as fascinating as she does.
Omara's academic and professional background is impressive. She holds a BSc Honours degree in Nuclear Engineering from Havana University and several Information Technology diplomas from Leeds University. As an award-winning software manager, she has established herself as a successful professional in her field.
When she isn't working, Omara enjoys watching the night sky, investigating ancient alien theories, and chasing total solar eclipses. She lives in Cambridge, United Kingdom, with her husband and daughter.
Omara's story is a reminder that it's never too late to pursue your passions and achieve your goals. With hard work, dedication, and a bit of inspiration, anything is possible. Her journey is a testament to the fact that even the most seemingly disparate interests can come together to create something unique and wonderful.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR OMARA WILLIAMS
What inspired you to pursue a career in science and technology, and how has this influenced your writing?
From an early age, I was curious and intrigued by everything in nature. I asked my parents so many questions and read so many books. Science was my favorite subject; I loved learning the facts and wondering about the mysteries. That is why I found myself drawn to science-fiction and adventure books where I could let my imagination run wild. My zest for reading and writing about all things science-related only grew, so it was natural for me to pursue a career in science and technology and eventually be determined to write a book where I delve into these fascinating topics.
Can you tell us about your early experiences with writing and how you developed your skills over time?
I loved reading and writing since school. At 17, I wrote a book. But I didn't pursue writing and focused on my degree and passion for software and astronomy. I still enjoyed writing technical reports and short stories. My passion for reading and writing remained despite being busy with work and family.
Which authors have had the most significant impact on your writing style and why?
I have read many books and have so many favorite authors that it’s hard to make a shortlist. I would include Jules Verne, Alexander Dumas, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke as my biggest heroes. Reading their books, full of vibrant descriptions of exotic places, made me think I was
there. If it makes you feel like you are there, then the book narrative serves its purpose. I also learned that the storyline must have a fast pace, suspense, intense emotions, and dramatic revelations to make for a thrilling read. And all of that is what I endeavored to achieve in my book “The Space Traveller’s Lover”.
How did your university degree and passion for software programming and astronomy shape your writing process?
Many concepts I learned from my university degree, my work as a software programmer, and my travels during various astronomy projects are reflected in the story and characters of my book. In my novel “The Space Traveller’s Lover”, I delve into the most fundamental questions of our times: are we alone in the Universe? What is the meaning of life? Can the brain create and ultimately control any technology? Can we live forever while traveling to any part of the Universe? Can we harness an infinite source of energy?
What motivated you to start taking your writings seriously after years of viewing it as a pastime?
I love science and technology and also enjoy writing love stories. My ideas kept growing, and soon I wrote "The Space Traveller's Lover". Writing was so satisfying that I set goals and wrote every evening, and it was published five years later.
What was the inspiration behind your book “The Space Traveller’s Lover,” and what themes do you explore in it?
I wrote "The Space Traveller's Lover" to pay homage to my favorite authors, explore scientific mysteries, and examine the impact of climate change. The book showcases the power of love and the beauty of the human spirit.
Can you share any writing routines or habits that have helped you stay productive and achieve your writing goals?
Writing is very important to me. I immensely enjoy the creation process and the challenges that come with it. I find time to work on my books after dinner, and on the weekends, I always try to stop at a crucial point in the story to make me come back to it with even more enthusiasm. It’s so rewarding to see the characters overcome their struggles and confront their desires when I put them in dire situations. The drama and suspense always keep me going back to my writing, and I celebrate every chapter I finish.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers who may feel discouraged about pursuing their passion?
Don’t give up. Write everything that comes to your mind, and turn your ideas into words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and sections. Let your imagination flow as you write, and enjoy every moment. Then you can work on the storyline structure, and dialogue, and refine the characters. Set your goals and celebrate every milestone that you achieve.
How do you balance your busy career as a software manager with your writing and other hobbies?
Despite a full-time job as a software engineer and manager, I prioritize hobbies such as astronomy and traveling. I follow a strict schedule, including time for reading and writing, and celebrate milestones.
What topics or themes do you hope to explore in your future writing projects?
I am working on the second part of “The Space Traveller’s Lover”. Many storylines await exploring and developing further from my first book. I am gathering all these ideas and doing a scrapbook with pictures and texts, which I intend to put together for the sequel.
8. 'THE REPROBATES' by AUTHOR BENJAMIN GROSE
For those who remember what it is like to be lost, and suffering from a death of the soul — this is a black comedy that turns a tainted mirror onto some of the most accepted and corrosive problems in our society.
Welcome to Munks, home to the lost, the lonely, and those in perpetual limbo. The ceiling is sweating, the floor is sodden and sticky with booze and vomit, the music is screaming through the speakers, the air is thick and heavy with sweat, the latest up-and-coming band are escaping the stage following their last song, the bouncers stand on the sidelines, watching, numb to the noise, and the wild bunch, the reprobates, throng to the bar to slake an endless thirst. They will drink and dance and chew each other’s faces off until the well is as dry and as black as their souls, and the manager is closing all the fire exits as the new dawn fades.
But the glory days cannot go on forever. Cracks are starting to show. Everyone in town says that Munks is not like it used to be. New owners with wayward ideas are determined to clean up this place of historic moral bankruptcy and bring the ‘big’ bands back to have their breakthrough moment on a dying dance floor.
Amongst the rot, the decay, the crime, and the hedonism — a young man tries to save the club from ruin, instead of saving both himself and everyone in it.
Both a brilliant social commentary, and a rip-roaring page-turner that will have you wondering just what insane event will occur next, 'The Reprobates' is a transgressive, award-nominated novel that examines those dark spaces we hide in, concealing ourselves within plain sight, a subject where very few novels have gone before.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Benjamin was standing outside the real 'Munks' one day in early 2010 having a cigarette and talking to one of the bouncers, who said "The stuff you see in this place, someone should write a book about it..." A few days later, Benjamin wrote the first line of ‘The Reprobates’. He was 20 years old, wore a trilby hat most of the time, and was halfway through racking up a sizeable student loan for a degree in Creative Writing.
That first line of ‘The Reprobates’ never changed throughout the revisions to come. In fact, a lot of the material stayed very true to the first draft that he hammered out in about two frenetic weeks, following several months of research. He interviewed a lot of the 'characters' in the novel to bring Munks to life, with all its blotted and booze-stained history. This story is as much theirs as it is his. 99% of what happens in this novel is true. Whether it happened to Benjamin or not is another question entirely.
13 years later, in December 2022, Benjamin finally published ‘The Reprobates’, which is garnering a reputation as one of the must-read indie books of 2023 and has been nominated for the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards.
But ‘The Reprobates’ was not the beginning of Benjamin’s journey as a writer. He started writing at an early age, first putting words down when he was just 13 in a fantasy trilogy inspired by Phillip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’. A year later, he won the Waterstones Short Story Prize for his story ‘Bullying is a Game of Death’.
Since then, he has written an array of fiction, including eight novels, and a novella. His work is known for its gritty realism, razor-sharp dialogue and characterization, and searing insight into some of the most unspoken, transgressive issues we face in society today.
‘The Reprobates’ is Benjamin's first novel to make it out into the world, but it won’t be the last as it's just the beginning of what promises to be a prolific writing career. With an eye for intricate plot twists and vivid character development, Benjamin's writing is sure to captivate readers and leave them wanting more.
Benjamin currently lives in Wiltshire with his wife and their family. He is an alumnus of the Bath Spa Creative Writing program.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR BENJAMIN GROSE
Please tell us about the inspiration behind ‘The Reprobates’ and how you came up with the idea for the novel.
If I’d not got a job at the real ‘Munks’ in my 2nd year of uni, this novel would probably never have been written. The inspiration came from the club itself, the grimy walls, the sticky floors, the sweating ceilings. And of course the eclectic assortment of characters who came through the doors in the 4 years I worked there.
What was the research process like for ‘The Reprobates’? Did you encounter any challenges or surprises while interviewing the characters in the book?
Some books lend themselves well to being written 'in situ' — I wrote most of the scenes in 'The Reprobates' whilst working behind the bar, or sitting in the manager's office or cloakroom, in an old battered black Moleskine. It even has beer stains on the pages and still smells faintly of Sambuca after one of the customers spilt a shot on it once. The biggest surprise was how many stories I managed to compile in such a short space of time. The hard work then came in piecing it together into a ‘whole’.
Can you describe your writing process, from idea to finished manuscript?
First for me is always the soundtrack, which I create before I start to write each novel. Then usually comes a few scribbled sentences where the essence of the novel starts to manifest. It could be a few seconds of a scene in my head, snapshots of dialogue, or some broken sentences that I like the rhythm of. I then print out the first draft in all its rawness, and then take some time to read it, scrawl all over it, and pick it apart, before starting the redrafting and editing process. I’ll repeat this quite a few times over the course of writing the novel. I’ll also give it to my wife to read first when it’s ready.
You started writing at a young age and won a short story prize when you were just 14. How did winning that prize impact your writing and your confidence as a writer?
I think it made me believe. Of course, my parents and family were very supportive when I first started writing, but winning that prize, which was judged by Michael Morpurgo, really made me think — OK, maybe I might be quite good at this.
Your work is known for its gritty realism and for tackling transgressive issues. How do you approach writing about such difficult topics and maintaining authenticity in your characters and their experiences?
It’s all about finding an angle, the right tone, and a suitable vehicle for the story to be told. I'm fascinated by outcasts, transgressive normalization in our society, people stuck in places, and places stuck to people — I think there is so much to say about these things and my aim is to put words down that rhythm, chutzpah, and simplicity. If I can do that, I'm happy.
‘The Reprobates’ has been nominated for the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards. How does it feel to receive such recognition for your work?
Incredible. After years of rejection and missing out on various writing competitions, to check the list of finalists and see ‘The Reprobates’ there was a moment I’ll never forget.
Can you tell us about your experience studying Creative Writing at university? How did it shape your writing style and process?
I studied Creative Writing for 4 years, staying on to do the Masters after the BA. I wrote a lot during that period, and although I didn’t feel it at the time, looking back now it really helped to shape me as a writer and to find a style and process that worked for me. A course like that also forces you to read a lot and to write a lot, which in my opinion are absolutely integral to being an author.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers who are struggling to find their voice or breakthrough in the industry?
Don't think too much about planning everything out in advance, just get the words down. If you can immerse yourself fully in that world (which admittedly, is the difficult part) you can reach that state where the novel starts to write itself. But it's a hard state to reach. Once you get to the end of that first draft, there's still plenty of work to do of course, but you've done the hardest part.
What’s next for you as a writer? Are there any upcoming projects or plans that you’re excited to share?
I have several projects in various stages of completion — one is a ‘rewriting’ of my own family history, set across three generations, a lyrical blurring of fact and fiction. The other is a short novel about a different type of demon (not drink, nor drugs) that plagues the human race, and what lengths we will go to to help our friends. My next novel, ‘The Flesh Machine’ is also in the final stages of completion.
What do you hope readers take away from ‘The Reprobates’ and your other works?
My hope is that it makes people laugh, and reminisce on lost years, but also consider the impact of living in a dystopia on those who cannot escape.
9. 'HALE: THE RISE OF THE GRIFFINS' by AUTHOR JK NOBLE
It is a captivating fantasy novel that follows the journey of sixteen-year-old Hale, who is suddenly thrust into a brutal world of magic after a desperate escape from his kidnapper. His sister had tried to shield him from this world, but fate had other plans for him. As Hale tries to make sense of his new reality, he discovers that he is anything but normal. In fact, he is a griffin with incredible talents that he has yet to fully realize.
Set in the Land of Griffins, readers are introduced to a richly diverse fantasy world that is made up of four distinct nations, each with its own unique cultures and customs. The world-building is impressive, and readers will find themselves fully immersed in this fantastical realm. The novel is broken down into short stories, each following a different character, which adds to the overall enjoyment of the book. As the reader journeys through the Land of Griffins, they will encounter fun adventures in every chapter, each one building on the last.
What makes Hale: The Rise of the Griffins stand out from other fantasy novels is its unique magic system. It is unlike anything that has been seen in fantasy literature to date. The way the magic is used and the limitations that come with it are well thought out and cleverly executed. This adds to the overall intrigue of the story and keeps the reader engaged.
At the heart of the novel is the relationship between Hale and the Griffin Leader, Bayo. As Hale grows closer to Bayo, he can feel a connection between them that he can't quite explain. However, as the story progresses, Hale becomes aware of the dark plans that Bayo has in store for him. The tension between the two characters is palpable and adds to the overall suspense of the book. It is an anti-chosen-one story that explores themes of loss, manipulation, good and bad family relationships, finding one's path, and dealing with one's mistakes. The novel does an excellent job of addressing these themes in a way that is relatable to readers of all ages. The characters are well-developed, and readers will find themselves invested in their stories.
Hale: The Rise of the Griffins is a must-read for fans of fantasy literature. Its unique magic system, which is unlike anything seen before in the genre, adds a layer of excitement and intrigue to the story. The diverse world-building is equally impressive, with four distinct nations and cultures that are fully realized and immersive. The characters are well-developed and engaging, drawing readers in and making them care about their fates. It is a well-crafted and captivating novel that is sure to leave readers satisfied and wanting more.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JK Noble is a young and talented author, artist, and philanthropist who has made a significant impact on the literary world and beyond. She was born in 1996 in the United States and grew up in New York City. As a child, she was drawn to creative pursuits, particularly writing, and drawing, and she honed her skills through practice and study.
At the age of 26, JK Noble has already made a name for herself in the literary world with her debut novel, "HALE: The Rise of the Griffins." This fantasy adventure story follows the journey of a young orphan named Hale, who discovers that he possesses special powers and must embark on a quest to save his kingdom. The book has received critical acclaim, winning the Literary Titan Silver Medal Award and being named a finalist in the Gertrude Warner Book Awards for Middle-Grade Fiction.
JK Noble is also an accomplished artist and illustrator. She often creates her own artwork to accompany her stories, and she has a particular talent for capturing the vivid imagery and fantastical creatures of the HALE series. She shares her love of art and writing through her blog, videos, and podcast, where she provides writing and drawing tips and advice to aspiring creators. She is also a passionate philanthropist, using her creative talents to support causes close to her heart. She created the "Llama Me Baby" NFT collections, a series of digital art pieces that she sells through various platforms, with the proceeds going to support different charities. The LMB Universal piece named Ukraine was donated to UNICEF for Ukraine war support, and the Llama Me Baby clothing line will be released in May 2023 through llamamebaby.com.
JK Noble has ambitious plans for her creative work and her philanthropy. She aims to continue expanding the HALE series, with new books and artwork that explore the rich mythology and world-building of her fantasy universe. She also plans to create artwork inspired by other beloved franchises like superheroes and characters from LOTR, and to collaborate with other artists and creators. She remains dedicated to using her creative talents to make a positive impact on the world. Whether through her writing, her artwork, or her philanthropic endeavors, she strives to inspire others and make a difference in the lives of those in need.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR J.K. NOBLE
Congratulations on the success of your debut novel, “HALE: The Rise of the Griffins.” Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the story and what led you to write it?
I started writing "HALE: The Rise of the Griffins" at 16, inspired by complex characters. I wanted to rebel against conventional fantasy by creating a conflicted, anti-chosen shape-shifting griffin as the lead.
How did it feel to win the Literary Titan Silver Medal Award and be a finalist in the Gertrude Warner Book Awards for Middle-Grade Fiction?
I struggled for 8 years to get published. At times, being a published author felt like an impossible fantasy. I eventually gave up writing and pursued a "practical" life in Computer Science, which I also loved. But I hit rock bottom and yearned to work on my writing and art again. When my publishers finally accepted my work, I couldn't believe it. It felt like a dream come true when I held my book for the first time. Despite my fear of rejection, I submitted my work and received awards, including being a finalist for the CIBA's Gertrude Warner 2022 contest. It's still surreal to think about.
Please tell us more about your teaching approach and what students should expect from your writing and drawing classes on your blog, videos, and podcast.
I believe in the power of storytelling through art and literature to create unity. My blog, podcast, and drawing videos aim to inspire people to write and create art, providing a safe and fun space for growth, learning, and sharing our journeys together.
You are also the creator of “Llama Me Baby,” a series of NFT collections supporting charities. Can you tell us more about this project and how it supports philanthropic causes?
Llama Me Baby showcases the importance of global unity through art. My collections, such as "Universal" and "Mickey de Llama", illustrate how we are all one and all matter. I support charities by donating proceeds from certain pieces, including offering aid to children in Ukraine and Turkey and Syria after their earthquake. I also founded Encourage Literacy, which donates free books to public schools, with the goal of expanding globally to eradicate illiteracy.
You founded “Encourage Literacy,” a foundation that provides free books to young students globally. Can you tell us more about this foundation and how it supports literacy efforts?
Despite the steady rise in global literacy rates in the past fifty years, there is still a staggering amount of illiterate adults around the world, most of whom are women. Illiteracy is highest in low and middle-income countries. Millions of children worldwide lack basic reading and math skills, but illiteracy in children has declined since the pandemic. Literacy can end poverty, promote gender equality, improve the economy, and support mental health. Ultimately, it can contribute to world peace.
What inspired you to use creative arts to help others through nonprofit work and philanthropy?
NFTs' transactions add to carbon emissions, causing environmental concerns. However, NFTs can be used for charity and investment purposes, allowing artists to reach a broad audience. Fortunately, NFT platforms are working to reduce their environmental impact.
How do you balance your writing, art, and philanthropy work? Do you find one aspect of your work to be more challenging than the others?
Balance does not come easy when I must do work that is separate from my passions. The tedious tasks of editing, book sales, and social media are more challenging for me. I feel most happy when write, make art, or animate. Thank God, I am blessed to be able to do what I love.
What do you hope readers take away from “HALE: The Rise of the Griffins” and your other works?
In the fantasy genre, authors often use fantasy themes as a symbolic representation of the conundrums we find ourselves in in the waking world. For my readers, I hope that my work is a pleasurable escape into a unique and vast realm. It is my hope my characters are timeless, and readers of any era may relate to them, laugh and cry with them, root for them, and grow stronger with them.
You mentioned that you plan to expand your artwork to cover beloved franchises while growing your HALE series. Can you give us a sneak peek into any upcoming projects or plans?
Keep your eyes peeled! A sequel — Hale: Prophet’s Journal is coming out very soon! Find me at book signing events! A Llama Me Baby apparel store will be launched in May! Check it out at llamamebaby.com! The Llama Me Baby NFT collections will expand to unite humankind through beloved characters like superheroes and my favorites from LOTR.
What message do you have for readers who want to support your philanthropy work and creative projects?
Thank you to everyone who has bought, read, or engaged with my work. Your support helps me expand my reach and helps me fulfill my dreams of helping others. I can only do this with your help.
10. 'AWAKEN IN SEASCAPE' by POET HARRY MATTHEWS
Awaken in Seascape is Harry Matthews’ 8th poetry collection, in which an awakening occurs to the English poet for whom Beauty in poetry reminds one of what is worthwhile: sea, beach, mountains, wild swimming. The beauty of the seascape is captured in his varied range of poems. They embody honesty, vision, and inspiration, evoking a fresh sea breeze and spiritual breakthrough for the reader.
An attentive reading of this volume, Awaken in Seascape, reveals that these poems are filled with the same essential sensibility, artistry, and vision, as his prior published work. The work at hand however is more varied and acute: these poems continue to delight and provoke. The poet inscribes himself with conviction and startling freshness. The opening voice of the poems brings the first rush of composition (“the melody gust inspires”), and begins in rugged terrain, “mountain echoes”, then follows a vivid river course to the sea, “with an unabashed spirit/ confidence in feeling”). The poet speaks of “transcribed melody” to emphasize the lyric in his initial dedication, before relating a sequence of “poems of the ocean”. The poems explore artistic isolation, fleeting meaning, and flashes of light from a solitary lighthouse. And there are profound moments: There is insight in these poems for the reader, and they are embodied in these poems in their linguistic structure. Several are free verse, while others appear to follow a Tanka variation in long form. This allows the poet to evoke ephemeral moments with concision and musicality. The Most Revered Mountain, speaks of “the purgation of grief at the height, /shrunk to the green memories of futural light”, to address death. It is followed by Stag’s Head which transports us beside a loch in Scotland, where a stag flees like “a nimble dancer across the glen”.
Delphinius is a rare poetry fantasy verse play about talking dolphins with a plot that mirrors the real world. It also addresses environmental irresponsibility in subsequent poems, including 'Awaken in Seascape,' which serves as a powerful ekphrasis on the poet's painting:
“I marred the shadows with bright colors, and from
the sea grew lawlessness…I had the tides captured
for a short while, colored by living dawns.”
That last sentence powerfully evokes the cover painting (‘Ragnarök), which sumptuously colors the glossed book covers. Matthews maintains his faith in language as the signature of vision and releases emotional energy through inquiry, awakening our own connection to nature with his well-crafted poems.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Harry Matthews is a contemporary English poet known for his prophetic and lyrical works. He was born in Staffordshire, England, and currently resides in Shropshire. Matthews is a lover of contrasts, and his poetry often explores the strange and familiar aspects of life. He is an accomplished artist and often illustrates his book covers with his paintings.
Since December 2020, Matthews has prolifically published eight collections of poetry. His poetry is marked by a sense of transfiguration, as he draws inspiration from everything within the reach of his experience. Despite his relatively young age, Matthews has quickly emerged as an engaging eccentric in the world of poetry. He is unafraid to experiment with surreal imagery and unusual poetic forms, and his work displays a keen sense of humor and playfulness.
Harry's poetry is of extraordinary interest to readers. His work is mysteriously allusive, and his poems are imbued with layers of meaning that reward careful exploration. Indeed, opening one of Matthews' poems is a pleasurable experience in and of itself, as readers are drawn into a world of complex ideas and rich imagery. His poetry is an exploration of reality. He is fascinated by the complexities of life, and his poetry seeks to capture the richness and the nuance of human experience. Matthews is a true visionary, and his work is infused with a sense of inspiration and wonder.
Harry Matthews is a poet of exceptional talent and insight. His poetry is prophetic and lyrical, and his ability to evoke complex emotions and ideas through his words is truly remarkable. Whether you are a lover of poetry or simply looking for a new voice to explore, He is a poet well worth discovering. In a world that often feels chaotic and uncertain, his poetry offers a rare sense of clarity and meaning and invites reflection on life's complexities. His poems are a testament to the power of language to convey the profound truths of human experience. Whether you are seeking inspiration, solace, or simply a new perspective on the world, his poetry is an essential read for anyone who loves the beauty and power of language.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR HARRY MATTHEWS
Please tell us a little about your background, growing up in Staffordshire and now living in Shropshire.
Growing up in Staffordshire and Shropshire wasn't easy, but it shaped me into a poet and artist breaking free from restrictions. Through an imaginary world and a unique language, I found solace. Dark times taught valuable lessons, and embracing my late autism diagnosis brought clarity. Now, I appreciate the countryside and see familiarity in a new light. As T.S. Eliot wrote, "And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."
Your book covers are illustrated with your paintings. Can you speak to the connection between your visual art and your poetry?
I will begin writing a new collection and while I am doing so, I will see that one of the paintings from my past will symbolize it. Poetry strikes like a force, an inner necessity. Like a pendulum, I shifted from painting to writing. Both mediums capture states of mind and heart. My art represents the eternal within us all.
How do you incorporate contrasts and elements of the strange and familiar into your poetry, and what effect do you hope to achieve through these techniques?
I am interested in ambiguity and embrace aporias in my work, exploring the presence of opposites like good and evil, light and darkness. I aim to challenge perceptions and share my unique perspective as a neuro-divergent individual. Disruption is my method; formal yet informal, serious yet comic. By presenting opposing arguments, I emphasize the importance of balance and humility. The true creators understand ambiguity and their role as channels for a gift, acknowledging the possibility of being wrong.
You've published 8 collections of poetry since December 2020. What motivates you to write at such a prolific pace, and how do you maintain the quality of your work?
It can take a year or a month to arrive at the form, but the result is often work I’ve done for many years.
Years of practice led me to write at my current quality, though I slowed down to one poetry collection last year. The first six were brewing, waiting for a trigger, and in 2021, the seventh emerged, followed by the eighth this year. Prolific due to hyperfocus, it serves as my mindfulness, helping me process the world and navigate alexithymia's emotional challenges.
Your poetry has been described as transfigurative. Can you elaborate on what this means to you as a poet and how it influences the themes and imagery in your work?
I mean transfigurative in the literary sense as a complete change of form or appearance into something more beautiful or spiritual.
Some have described your writing as engagingly eccentric. How do you respond to this characterization?
Being a transfigurative poet means transcending accepted norms and establishing new conventions. Engagingly unconventional, I provoke the self-satisfied and rigid defenders of dogma. The paradox lies in being conventionally unconventional, a poetic agent for change. The best English poets have always stood alone, refusing drab prose poetry.
Can you tell us about a particular poem or collection that holds special significance to you?
Hyperion…which is self-explanatory, once you’ve read it. It is significant because it was written after a time of intense grief. Sometimes the thing I’m trying to say, the subject matter, may be difficult, but it seems to me that I’m saying it more simply.
How do you approach capturing the richness and complexity of reality in your poetry?
I am always transfiguring reality through my poetry. Poetry is my sanctuary. Poetry is the eye of my heart. Reality is my reference point. I try to express it as plainly, simply, and lyrically as I can, with my mind, with my imagination, and with my love of language through my heart, mind, and pen. I use it to transmit the epiphanies and realizations I have. It is rather like reporting back, between speech and song, from the growing edge on the far frontiers of consciousness.
How has your scholarly background informed your use of surrealism and experimentation with language and form in your writing?
My scholarly background shapes my language use, but surrealism comes from self-teaching. Academic research focuses on pre-Modern poetry analysis. Surrealism is a way to embrace reality's bewildering nature and find truth in humor and quirkiness. Manipulating a poet's context for personal gain is disingenuous.
What advice would you give to aspiring poets who are looking to find their own voice and style in their writing?
Persistence, constraint, prosody, and reading poems are crucial in finding your voice. Learn rules, embrace discipline, and consider apprenticing with an older poet. Persevere and let your evolving character shape your style and connection to the world.
11. 'INTERPRETING DREAMS' by AUTHOR AMR SALEM
Dreams, nightmares, memories… They all hold hidden meanings that we do not fully understand because we never bother to interpret them. This is a loss story… A story about holding on to the past. It is a story about the importance of letting go and moving forward, and it is a wild and mysterious journey through a man’s subconscious. A man who is lost in life and can only find his way back through reliving his dreams, nightmares, and memories. Stuck in a dream state, trapped in his subconscious, Noah Taylor has only one way out… Interpreting Dreams.
Everyone has problems and issues with life… it’s just how it is, but many of us carry these issues with us from the past and keep on holding on to the burden and pain. These burdens could come from relationship problems, financial problems, or career issues, it could involve parents, friends, or co-workers, but what’s troublesome is the fact that these obstacles can all occur simultaneously. The main character of this novel is a regular middle-class young man, Noah Taylor, the central protagonist of this novel, epitomizes the predicament faced by countless individuals. As an ordinary young man hailing from a middle-class background, Noah has perpetually felt adrift, lacking a clear sense of purpose and direction. His existence is punctuated by a persistent feeling of incompleteness, as though an integral piece of the puzzle is missing. Unbeknownst to him, Noah has been unwittingly holding onto the remnants of his past, entangled in a complex web of unresolved conflicts involving those closest to him.
It is within the realm of dreams that Noah's extraordinary journey begins to unfold. Trapped in a dream state, he encounters his Dream Entity, an enigmatic being endowed with the power to guide him through the intricate landscapes of his dreams, nightmares, and memories. This ethereal companion serves as Noah's steadfast ally, accompanying him on a treacherous expedition deep into the recesses of his subconscious.
The path that lies ahead is fraught with challenges, perplexing, and even life-threatening at times. Noah must confront the shadows of his past, reliving painful moments and facing the daunting complexities of his own psyche. Through this tumultuous odyssey, he strives to unearth the answers he so desperately seeks — the key to a happier, more fulfilling life that has eluded him for far too long.
Noah's journey of self-discovery and redemption through the depths of his mind unveils the transformative power of self-reflection. Confronting fears, he unlocks hidden potential for a fulfilling life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amr Salem is a comic book creator/writer and author born and raised in Cairo, Egypt in 1998. He began writing when he was sixteen years old. The CW’s Arrow was the first TV show to introduce Amr to the world of superheroes and was what initially inspired him to create his own. He started his path by creating a comic book series as a hobby and would spend his free time working on countless scripts and stories. By the time Amr turned 19, he had thought about turning his hobby into a career. For some time, Amr began reading anything he could get his hands on and expanded his readings to novels and screenplays, not only comics. Which got him to dig deeper and work on other forms of writing. During that year, Amr was able to reach out and connect to editor Harvey Richards, who had taken Amr’s skills to a professional level. By the age of 20, Amr had written and created over three comic book series, a novel, and a screenplay. Interpreting Dreams was Amr’s first published work and was released in October 2022 by Austin Macauley Publishers. Since then, Amr has completed his second novel, Nimue, which will be coming out soon, and has been writing his third novel, Music is My Passion, currently a working title. To tell you more about his upcoming comic book work, Amr has created and written Mass Media and Intergalactic Outlaws, both graphic novels, as well as Gods Never Die, The Devil May Care, and Awe & Ecstacy (working title) which are all comic book mini-series. Amr's unwavering dedication to his ongoing comic book series, Wolfman, has become his top priority. Over the span of seven years, he has poured his creativity and passion into its creation, setting him on a path toward becoming a writer. The majority of Amr's days are spent immersed in the world of writing, as there is nothing he would rather do with his time.
From an early age, Amr developed a profound admiration for films, TV shows, comic books, and eventually novels. He recognized and cherished the ability of these storytelling mediums to evoke a myriad of emotions from their audience. They possessed the power to captivate and engage, allowing people to connect with the narrative and glean valuable lessons from it. This profound impact left an indelible mark on Amr, fueling his desire to contribute his creations to the world. For him, storytelling is not just a job, but a lifelong passion.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR AMR SALEM
Please tell us about your background and what inspired you to become a writer and creator of comic books and novels.
I was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt. Watching Arrow ignited my love for films, TV shows, comics, and novels. Wolfman became my hobby, inspired by Arrow. Networking led me to Harvey Richards, who improved the story. Writing consumed me, fueled by my passion for the craft.
How has the TV show Arrow influenced your work and the creation of your own superheroes, and what sets your characters apart from others in the genre?
One night during my time in high school, I randomly started watching the TV show Arrow. The superhero genre wasn't my thing, but something about it intrigued me. I soon discovered the Flash and delved into a superhero obsession. Inspired by their creators, I began reading comics, leading me to develop my own superhero, Wolfman. Andy Sherman, seeking revenge, uncovers his interconnectedness with a parallel dimension, his powers, and his arch-nemesis. As Wolfman, he fights crime and embraces his curse.
What's the process of creating a comic book series, and how does it differ from writing a novel or screenplay?
After forming a strong idea, I jot down character concepts and random events on paper. Building around these, I create an outline for the story. Writing from a first-person perspective helps me immerse myself in the protagonist's shoes. For comics, I delve deeper into characters, emotional arcs, and separate documents before writing the script. Comics are challenging due to their brevity and need for visual storytelling alongside dialogue.
Your first published work, Interpreting Dreams, has received critical acclaim. Can you share with us the inspiration behind the story and what readers can expect from the book?
Inspired by Cassandra Clare's quote, I wrote a novel about a man trapped in his dreams, battling his way out through reliving nightmares and memories. Reading John Green, Paulo Coehlo, and Tahereh Mafi further confirmed my choice to write in the first person, creating a richer story.
Can you give us a sneak peek into Nimue's story and what readers can expect from it?
In the '70s, on a California farm called Wilder Farms, young farmer Nash Wilder discovers a miraculous pond. It becomes the source of fresh fruits and the best fish in California. Years later, Nash stumbles upon his own miracle named Nimue.
Nimue is a beautiful, exciting, and engaging romance/fantasy novel that is inspired by a lot of real moments. It’ll be available on Amazon in the first week of May. Coming from two different worlds, Nimue and Nash discuss a lot of the beauty that is found here in our world through topics like love, music, friendship, family, and much more.
Music is My Passion is the novel you are currently writing. What inspired you to write this story, and what themes do you plan to explore?
Music is My Passion, a project close to my heart, that reflects my struggles as a writer. Just as I faced challenges in Egypt, where English is a second language, the main character wrestles with pursuing a music career. Like music, this novel truly inspires me.
Mass Media is a graphic novel you've created. Can you tell us about the story and what inspired it?
I worked on Mass Media with Harvey Richards and artist, Mattia Monaco. Inspired by Arab Media History, I brainstormed during an exam and created a futuristic conspiracy story set in 2199. A journalist uncovers the Editor-in-Chief's plans to control the world, risking everything to expose the truth. It's complex, intriguing, and action-packed, with engaging dialogue.
Wolfman is an ongoing comic book series you've been working on for about seven years now. What inspired this story, and what can readers expect from it?
Over the past seven years, Wolfman has been inspired by various sources, especially Arrow. It's a never-ending list of characters, events, and real stories that influenced it. Wolfman is a thrilling, emotional journey, with intriguing villains and escalating stakes that keep you hooked.
I’ve been working on a website for the project for the last couple of months. It launches on the 2nd of May with the first issue in the series, WOLFMAN #1. The website will serve as a crowdfunding campaign for the project, besides releasing the first issue we’ll be offering other Wolfman material as well as services offered from the creatives on the team to the fans. Around 75% of all funds collected from the website will be put into production for further Wolfman issues to keep the series going!
For aspiring comic book creators and writers who are looking to turn their hobby into a career, what advice would you give them?
Stay determined despite fierce competition. Write, brainstorm, read, watch, listen. Keep a positive mindset, seize every moment to write, and maintain momentum by moving on to the next project.
12. 'STICKS AND STONES' by AUTHOR CHELSEA DEVRIES
In her captivating book, "Sticks and Stones," author Chelsea DeVries skillfully weaves a tapestry of words, painting a vivid and poetic picture of the human experience. This collection of poems transcends the boundaries of ordinary storytelling and explores profound themes of resilience, love, loss, and the indomitable strength of the human spirit.
DeVries takes the reader on a transformative journey, guiding them through the depths of toxicity and the darkness of heartbreak. With each carefully crafted verse, she illuminates the path toward healing, growth, and self-discovery. Through her words, the reader finds solace and a renewed sense of hope, as DeVries fearlessly delves into the intricate nuances of emotional pain.
One of the book's core themes revolves around the power of love—both found and lost. DeVries eloquently captures the euphoria of falling in love, the intoxicating moments of connection and vulnerability. However, she doesn't shy away from exploring the rawness of heartbreak, shining a light on the shattered pieces left in its wake. With a deft hand, she explores the depths of these experiences, offering solace and understanding to those who have walked similar paths.
Central to "Sticks and Stones" is the notion of finding strength within oneself. DeVries embraces the belief that even when faced with adversity, the human spirit can rise above. Through her evocative poems, she encourages the reader to reclaim their power and rebuild their hearts from the wreckage left behind. Like a phoenix emerging from the ashes, DeVries beautifully illustrates the process of transforming pain into art and turning wounds into wisdom. The book offers readers an enhanced experience, with the addition of stunning full-color photographs that complement the poetic journey. These visual elements serve as a captivating backdrop, further immersing the reader in the emotional landscapes depicted in DeVries' verses. Additionally, the inclusion of 41 new poems ensures that the reader can delve deeper into the author's introspective world, discovering new layers of insight and self-reflection.
In "Sticks and Stones," Chelsea DeVries presents an exquisite collection that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit. Through her artistry, she inspires readers to embrace vulnerability, find strength in scars, and overcome life's challenges. DeVries invites us to uncover the beauty within our souls' darkest corners, reminding us that hope, healing, and the power of poetry can thrive even in the face of adversity.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chelsea DeVries is a passionate writer and advocate for justice, and has been nurturing her literary aspirations since the tender age of 7. From the moment she picked up a pen, she knew that her purpose in life was to weave words together and create stories that would captivate and inspire readers.
DeVries's journey as a published author began when she was just 14 years old. Her first taste of success came with the inclusion of one of her poems in a student anthology. This early accomplishment served as a catalyst for her creative spirit, fueling her determination to pursue writing as a lifelong endeavor. Throughout her high school years, while juggling the demanding International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, DeVries never ceased to pour her heart and soul into her writing. She wrote ceaselessly, effortlessly marrying her academic pursuits with her passion for storytelling. It was during this period that she penned two young adult (YA) novels, a remarkable feat for any teenager. Though these works were published at the time, DeVries, now over a decade later, has taken the initiative to revisit and rework them into new adult (NA) romance novels, which she plans to release in the near future.
What sets DeVries apart as a writer is her unwavering commitment to giving voice to the marginalized, the peculiar, and the underdogs of society. Her words act as a vehicle of liberation, freeing those who have been shackled by the chains of societal norms and prejudices. Her writing carries a sense of empathy and understanding, resonating deeply with readers who long to be seen and heard.
Author DeVries supports fellow authors through her brand, The Smart Cookie Philes. Utilizing her PR skills and love for running, she helps them reach wider audiences and achieve artistic goals. DeVries has become a trusted ally and advocate, fostering a community of like-minded individuals who uplift and empower each other. While DeVries may be a Florida native, her heart holds a special place for New Jersey, which flows through her veins. Currently residing in Port Richey, Florida, she draws inspiration from her loyal squad of three dogs. In October 2020, She was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (a form of Autism). She now advocates for individuals on the autism spectrum, fostering empowerment.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR CHELSEA DEVRIES
Please tell us about your journey to becoming a writer, and what inspired you to pursue writing at such a young age.
Despite feeling unheard growing up, I discovered my passion for writing at the age of 7. It wasn't until I was 14 that I pursued it as a career. I faced challenges, including a teacher who didn't appreciate my talent and played favorites. However, writing brought me joy and I believed my books could inspire non-readers to develop a love for reading.
What inspired you to write your first poem at such a young age of 14, and how did it feel to have it published in a student anthology?
Nothing in particular inspired Love Me For Me that I remembered I just had this weird sensation of butterflies in my chest and the words spilled out on paper. When I shared it with some classmates nearby they were floored by its simple message that true love loves you for exactly who you are.
How did you manage to balance your writing while completing the IB program in high school?
I managed to do it because I am high functioning autistic person. Needing constant stimulation comes with being on the spectrum so I thrived having the same people in all my classes who enjoyed intelligent discourse and having a ton of homework. I needed a creative outlet being in the program so I wrote two novels and published them.
You wrote two YA novels while still in high school. Can you tell us more about those books and what inspired you to write them?
I was actually inspired to write them after realizing that guys always talked about video games in my age group and so I wanted them to have more of a love and respect for books so I set out to write novels that appealed to non-readers instead of readers. They have a quicker plot pace, shorter chapters, and easy-to-identify characters and character development.
Can you share more about the changes you made to your YA novels when you rewrote them as NA romance, and what motivated you to take that direction with your writing?
Long story short, although my novels and efforts to become a young author were applauded my novels were snubbed by avid readers as being shallow, one-dimensional, and lacking more detail for settings and location. I rewrote them using a plot line from another novel that I drafted in high school which was a murder mystery inspired by the show Medium. Adding that to the books allowed for the books to read better for both avid readers and non-readers alike.
You often write about justice and freedom for marginalized groups. What drives you to use your words in this way?
The whole reason I became a writer is that growing up autistic but not knowing I was autistic meant I related to other marginalized groups. I use my words to help free people in these groups from the chains that bind them and to help create a catalyst for real change within these groups. I believe it is my sole purpose for being gifted with words and to be on this planet.
Can you tell us about your brand, The Smart Cookie Philes, and how you got started in PR for authors and musicians?
The Smart Cookie Philes originated from my own feeling of being stuck as a writer and a recent college graduate struggling to find a job. Moving back to my childhood home intensified this sense of being physically stuck. To create a community where people could freely express themselves, I established The Smart Cookie Philes. The PR aspect emerged from my desire to assist indie authors and musicians, like myself, in gaining confidence and believing in the success of their work and art.
You were recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. How has that impacted your writing process and perspective?
I believe it actually makes me such a great writer and also provides the steam I need to see a project through to completion. Being on the spectrum only means my brain has many strengths even in the face of where I struggle with mechanics and coordination.
Congratulations on being named a finalist in the Art Show International Figurative Art contest and winning the prize for your piece, “Drowning in an Ocean of No Tomorrows.” Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind that piece?
This piece Drowning in an Ocean of No Tomorrows is solely just an illustration of falling in love with someone who doesn't feel the same; the ultimate pain and pleasure mixed with unrequited love. How it's euphoric at first until you realize you can't breathe being this invested in someone who doesn't feel the same for you.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers who are just starting out on their own writing journeys?
Write, research, & seek guidance from experienced writers. Stephen King's memoir inspired my journey as a writer.
13. 'STALKED' by AUTHOR MICHAEL OWINO
Stalked is a book that partly deals with love, but also with people who have somehow ended up being obsessed with something they cannot control. The book also deals with the difficulties of being a black woman in a position of power and the jealousy it can bring if a black woman has married a wealthy white man. The family that the book is about consists of Gabriella and her husband Oliver, and their two children, Lea, who is five, and little Galvin, who is three. Gabriella is the CEO of one of the world's largest pharmaceutical company's Danish division, and her husband Oliver is a renowned shipping agent. At first, everything is harmonious, and we get an insight into how love blooms in an almost-perfect family. But one early morning, when the family is on their way to work, luck turns. A hit-and-run driver hits the protagonist Gabriella's car and nearly kills her and the children. Afterward, several disturbing events follow, and we find out that a crazy stalker is stalking and harassing Gabriella.
"After the big introduction party where we get to know the different members of the tennis club, the book takes off. A few days later, Gabriella is confronted with a terrifying letter that has been placed on her car windshield, which is racist and offensive. At first, Gabriella doesn't want to tell Oliver anything about the incident, but the security chief of the medical company persuades her to inform Oliver and the police about the incident. From there, the book becomes a regular thriller as the hunt for the stalker begins, while the family becomes more and more aware that something is seriously wrong and that there may be one or more people who want Gabriella dead. With STALKED, you are guaranteed excitement and drama until the last page, while at the same time, The book will surely give you something to think about."
The book is about love in two different ways. The love that we all can immediately recognize, which is about family. Love for parents, spouse, and children. This is the love that most people see as fundamental. On the other hand, the book's Willian is obsessed with an unattainable love. His dreams have not been fulfilled, and the woman he loved has left him.
At the beginning of the book, a disillusioned character faces the weight of parental expectations, sacrificing his own dreams. This leads to a failed marriage and the loss of his youthful aspirations. The narrative explores the profound impact of stifled ambitions, leaving readers to reflect on the consequences that such circumstances can have on a person's life and sense of fulfillment. This book is a must-read that explores shattered dreams and parental expectations.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The author, Michael Owino, has conducted extensive research throughout his life on the subjects that are present in his works. Through his connections and knowledge, he has managed to deliver vivid pictures of everything from the frontlines of World War II to the upper echelons of CEO life in companies. His knowledge of everything from crime has formed the foundation for his books. Hailing from Copenhagen, Danish author Michael Owino has a deep understanding of Scandinavian life in the Danish capital. But his travels around the globe, especially in Europe, and Asia have also given him a wealth of knowledge about art, design, and history. Moreover, his work and education in helping people with autism disorder have given him a unique perspective on the world.
The first trilogy, consisting of the books "Caught in Time", "The Attack on the Ferris Wheel", and "Milk" (released in 2022), has already been published in both Danish and English. "Milk" has already been shortlisted for the LitFest Award 2023. Michael is now presenting his new ten-book series, "The Tennis Club", with the first book titled "Stalked". In this series, Michael writes about the challenges women face in the corporate world, including issues of sexism and racism. The book is written with Michael's signature blend of good humor and thrilling plotlines.
Driven by an unwavering belief in the inherent goodness of humanity, Michael's work centers on the marginalized and disenfranchised. In his trilogy "Raw Milk," he deviates from the typical focus on top Nazi figures during World War II, instead portraying the lives of ordinary Germans. By basing his characters on real people he has encountered or historical figures, Michael ensures authenticity and a genuine connection with readers. His strong social engagement and work with vulnerable individuals have shaped his perspective, leading him to seek understanding even in the actions of the most malicious. In "The Attack on the Ferris Wheel," a pivotal character named Janokowic, a troubled 16-year-old, commits a heinous crime that shatters his own life and others, eliciting sympathy from readers despite his actions. The new series profoundly explores jealousy, greed, infidelity, suicide, love, and the sport of tennis.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR CHELSEA DEVRIES
Please tell us about your new book series, "The Tennis Club".
"The Tennis Club" is an enticing book series set in Denmark's affluent suburb, revealing the mysteries and social dynamics of an exclusive tennis facility. Unveiling the lives of the wealthy and privileged, this thrilling series explores their secrets both on and off the court.
How has your extensive research on various topics influenced your writing?
Research fuels my eternal pursuit, immersing me in real locations for authentic storytelling. In my "real fiction," every scene is grounded in places I've personally experienced, capturing the essence of reality. Through meticulous observation, I infuse painterly dimensions into my books, recreating details like light, sounds, and street scenes. Research breathes life into my writing, transforming seemingly dull places into exciting backdrops. All significant locations are firsthand encounters, shaping my unique perspective on the world.
Can you share with us your experience living in Copenhagen and how it has impacted your writing?
Copenhagen, my birthplace, teems with art and waterside charm. Its preserved historic sites fuel imagination. Culinary delights, festivals, and family-friendly vibes abound. The lively ambiance, filled with joyous voices, inspires. From international races to the famous Jazz Festival, cultural events thrive. Snowy winters and vibrant summers grace this ever-inspiring city.
Can you discuss the themes of love that are explored in the "The Tennis Club" series?
"Stalked," the first book in the Tennis Club series, explores the profound love between Gabriella and her husband. It showcases their enviable bond, sustaining them through life's trials. As readers witness their journey, they are prompted to reflect on their own relationships, celebrating love's beauty amidst its challenges.
How does your work and education in helping people with autism disorder inform your writing?
Working with individuals on the autism spectrum has given me profound insights into the challenges of hidden disabilities. It fuels my problem-solving skills, inspires creativity in my writing, and fosters an appreciation for diversity. Through my stories, I aim to promote acceptance and understanding while authentically engaging readers.
What is your creative process when it comes to writing?
As a systematic writer, I meticulously plan my stories, outlining characters and locations. Research involves immersive travel experiences, capturing notes and photos. Back in Copenhagen, I write non-stop until completion. Editing refines authenticity. Through my writing, I aim to bring places, cultures, and people to life, sharing the beauty and complexity of our world.
How do you ensure authenticity in your characters and events, as they are based on real people and events?
Creating authentic characters is my strength as a writer. I observe people, study individuals, and stay updated on character creation. I immerse myself in story locations and have attention to detail. Empathy towards characters creates engaging stories. Extensive research ensures authenticity.
What motivates you to take the side of underdogs and society's outcasts in your writing?
Writers should illuminate the experiences of society's vulnerable. I prioritize underdogs, considering their pain and addressing root causes. With my platform, I aim to humanize and give a voice to marginalized individuals, fostering empathy and positive change.
Can you talk about Janokowic, a character from your previous trilogy, and his role as an individual from the bottom rungs of society?
Janokovic is a captivating character, his complex personality, and mysterious past adding depth to the story. As the underdog facing challenges and battling alcoholism, he resonates with readers. His flaws and political intrigue make him relatable and beloved, showcasing the writer's skill and creativity.
How do topics such as jealousy, greed, infidelity, and suicide play a role in your writing?
In my novels, I delve into universal themes often seen as negative, such as jealousy and greed. Through exploring these darker aspects of human nature, I aim to create compelling and thought-provoking stories that resonate with readers and encourage self-reflection.
How do you balance your writing with other aspects of your life?
My life revolves around my work as a writer and advocate for autistic individuals. There is no clear balance; I dedicate myself to writing and solving tasks related to autism whenever inspiration strikes. I research and write throughout the year, and in spring, I edit in my apartment in southern France. While I may lack a set routine, I prioritize my passion, supported by my understanding family, while also nurturing relationships and caring for my well-being.