The Spring (Isaac the Fortunate) by A. Ka – Book Review

The Spring - AkAI rather enjoyed A. Ka’s first instalmentThe Winter. It was an intriguing little novella that merged 16th century history with fantasy, and was successful too. I was really interested to see where the author would take us with this follow on, and to see if the great personality and Voice the author has built up would continue with a new character.

The Spring, still told by Isaac’s narrative, follows the ordeal of Eostre, a nun who has suffered too much already in her young life. Her father was a drunkard, and thanks to him falling into a lake and getting himself killed, Eostre is forced to life the cloistered life in poverty. She finds the spiritual life a little too dull for her, but as talk of a nasty plague known as the ‘Delirium’ ravages her convent, Eostre begins to struggle with what is reality and what is the effects of the plague.

A. Ka’s The Spring is a great little novella. Although the second in the series, you can read it without knowing too much of the first book, however, I fully recommend reading The Winter first as all the little nods to Beltran (the farmer from The Winter) is a nice touch. It reads as a sort of prequel story, but with a timeline paradox. It all sounds complicated, but is masterly told.

I found Eostre an interesting central character, one who is a little ahead of the times. For many in the 16th century, religion would have been a major part in everyone’s life. Eostre on the other hand, questions the role of God and what impact the religion has on the world. I couldn’t help but feel that this was part of the author’s own voice coming through. Skepticism, however, is integral to the plot, as Eostre soon finds the reality too confusing to live in. “People keep dying one moment, then pretending to be alive and well the next’ is from the blurb of this book, and it couldn’t ring more true.

Eostre is so different from Beltran though. You don’t sympathise with her as much. I feel though that the constant flipping of realities are a fascinating feature that will have you guessing as to what really is going on. It’s a little puzzle for the reader to work out on their own. The final third of The Spring really grabs hold of you, especially as Eostre is forced to undergo such brutal experiences. I really wouldn’t have liked to have been in her situation.

The first book was told in a humble way. The Spring is different. It tells the story of how the Delirium manages to disrupt an entire community. It is less about the community’s people though, and more about the fantasy side to the story. I particularly enjoyed the reference to the Hippocrene – a lake of Greek myth, which really adds flavour here. And A. Ka really starts to weave her own mythology creation into her story, and it is a delicious treat let me tell you.

A. Ka has an uncanny gift with being able to tell a story that makes you feel akaghostthe wonders inside. Her voice is authentic, not forced, and her writing has such an exact crispness to it, it reads and flows so well. I felt that the flipping and changing of realities much more easy to follow here. Unlike Eostre, if you have read The Winter, you can start to pick up on little details, little threads that hold the two books together. and for such short novellas, they are incredibly clever.

I’m still not sure how Isaac fits into everything. He is featured in the both books’ first chapter – always recalling events that have passed. His name links the books together – Isaac the Fortunate series, and yet he hardly features. I find it mysterious as to how he fits into the grand scheme of the series – a series that will be told across 6 novellas. I’m already looking forward to the next instalment, The Summer.

The Spring is an addictive little novel, one with hooks in abundance. Eostre is a spunky character, which makes this novel her definitive story, and yet you know she has a bigger part to play in the series as a whole. A. Ka’s impressive imagination really shines with the fantastical moments here, and her enthralling weaving of the storyline back and forth is just superb. I may miss Beltran, but this isn’t about him. The only constant is the Delirium and the part it plays in destroying whole communities. The sarcasm that shines through Eostre in regards to religion is amusing too, although I may have imagined that.

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The Failing Highstreet

Waterstones picIn my opinion, the UK highstreet is failing, and failing with such force. Before we know it, our leading bookshops will have disintegrated to mere ash. I’m not sure where they have gone wrong. Sure, it has a lot to do with the economy and Amazon plays a huge part too, but with many shops now offering eBook downloads as part of their set up, surely they should be on the up?

I’m no business expert, I’m just a lowly GCSE student who only managed to scrape a C. There are probably a lot of unseen and technical issues only business savvy people understand.

I’m not going to offer a solution, for 1) I can’t change the world ;) , and 2) My ideas wouldn’t work properly with my level of understanding. I’m positive though that a lot of it is down to profit and consumer demand.

All I’m going to do is tell you two stories. Both are 100% true and hopefully somewhere along the line, people may contribute their own stories to the comments. Then I’ll send this off in an envelope to the headquarters of the book chains, and maybe, just maybe, the upper echelons may see fit to respond.

The first story that I’m going to tell you about happened nearly two weeks ago. One of my favourite authors, Marcus Sedgwick, was releasing his first adult novel. A Love Like Blood has been one of my most anticipated books to read since hearing about it. So a few days before publication date, being up on social media and all (go me!) I tweeted Waterstones Lincoln (my nearest shop) to see if they were going to stock the book. I received a mighty YES and my day was made.

WaterstonesQuery

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I don’t actually live in Lincoln; I live about 17 miles away in a semi-rural town called Gainsborough. I needed to nip into my bank coincidentally on A Love Like Blood‘s publication day and thought: “Hey, I’ve got a WH Smith in my town, I might as well pop in and see if they have it.” I came out an unhappy boy. After speaking to the lady behind the counter, all i received in way of a response was a disinterested “Try a bigger store.”

I wasn’t too disheartened though as I knew Waterstones would be stocking it and so I tumbled into my car and drove off to Lincoln. I walked into the shop with all smiles, ready to smell and cuddle and devour A Love Like Blood, but alas, it wasn’t to be. They hadn’t got it in stock. They hadn’t sold out, I hear you asking, but never got the book in in the first place. It just so happens, for some strange and bizarre reasons unknown to man, Lincoln has a second Waterstones literally 3 minutes away. Again, not in stock.

By this point I was fuming. Not only had I been lied to (*ahem on twitter) but I wanted my book. A copy had my name on it somewhere, surely.

But guess what! Aha! I thought. Lincoln has a huge WH Smith’s. They must have it. Instead of laboriously searching all over, I just went to the checkout and asked the lady if they had it in stock. Can you guess what her response was?

No. Try a bigger store.

TRY A BIGGER STORE! HOW MUCH BIGGER DO YOU BLOODY NEED TO BE TO STOCK A DAMN BOOK!

OK, calm. Sadly, I went home empty handed. I ordered the book off The Book Depository and waited the 5 odd days before it arrived nicely on my doorstep. I’m currently reading it and loving every bit of it – but that can wait for my review.

The sad thing is, Marcus Sedgwick is an award winning author, a big name let’s say, and yet four of my closest shops failed to stock his new book. After looking on Waterstones.com reserve and collect feature, the nearest of their shops to stock it to me was in Ipswich, which was 157 miles away.

Now of course, these bookshops stock plenty of newly released titles, but I had a demand, and those shops failed to meet my consumer demand. I had to go online to seek it out, which is obviously what a lot of other people are doing. I’ve heard sales are down, again, apart from cookery books and celebrity autobiographies. If I have to hear another line about Sir Alex Fergu.. blah blah blah again. I wonder how much the ghost writer got paid?

The second story I want to share with you happened last year during my Caseworker's Front Re-Issuelibrary tour. I was travelling from library to library, promoting my newly released adult novel The Caseworker’s Memoirs. After much practice and discovering what worked and what didn’t, I attended Caistor Library. During which, a lady said to me that although she wasn’t technically savvy with a computer, every month, on her pay day, or shortly after, she takes her two grandchildren into Waterstones and tells them they can have one book each.

Now, apart from being a really sweet gesture and helping her grandchildren get into reading, she also said something that stuck with me. And that is what I’m going to leave you with. It may not be word for word, but have a think about it, and get in touch to let me know your thoughts.

Amazon are taking over. Yeah in the bookshops it may cost a couple of pounds extra, but we all need to support the actual bookshop. I feel happy that I’m doing my bit by taking my grandchildren into the shop to buy a couple of books, rather than ordering online. I just wish a few more people would do that, too.

*Top picture taken from Wikipedia

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Not of our Sky by Sharon Sant – Book Review

not of our skyI’ve had this book since Christmas and I couldn’t wait to get stuck into the final instalment of The Sky Song trilogy. I was almost savouring it as it was the final Sharon Sant novel I’d had left to read, but having loved her previous novels, I knew I couldn’t leave it alone for too long. Especially with its wonderful, attractive cover, which in my opinion, is the best cover out of the entire trilogy.

Over the course of the other two novels, Sharon Sant introduces us to Jacob, a teenager who discovers his true identity as Watcher to the people of Astrae – another planet. The Watcher is almost a god-like figure to the people of Astrae, yet Jacob has his own problems to deal with. His evil uncle, Makesh, has tried to overthrow him and steal his inherited power, but as Jacob starts to uncover a prophecy about a twin sibling, he starts to mess with the nature and balance of the world, leaving devastating consequences around him and his family.

Not of our Sky begins with Jacob in a coma, and Ellen is struggling to cope with everyday life. She is torn between her own domestic issues, her love for Jacob and toying with the decision to reveal Jacob’s real identity to his parents. Weird and crazy things seem to be happening and the reoccurring nightmare Ellen suffers from each night has her worried. She knows it’s a prophecy, but is it depicting Jacob’s final moments before his death?

The first thing that struck me about this final book is that it is mostly told from Ellen’s point of view, which was absolutely fantastic news for me, as she’s really been my favourite character from the trilogy. She’s such a likeable character, one who suffers for the greater good, always trying to keep her family happy, as well as making sure both Luca and Jacob are sorted too. She’s a motherly figure way too early in her life, but it is respectable as well as heart-wrenching. But saying that, I also grew to like Jacob. I’m not sure when it happened, but I finally realised he isn’t the moaning teenager we saw in Sky Song, he’s matured and learnt to be himself.

The chemistry between the characters is just superb. Whether it is the lustful chemistry between Ellen and Jacob, the motherly humility between Ellen and Maggie or even the gut-wrenching and hilarious banter between Ellen and Luca. It is especially the latter that had me in stitches and reaching for a tissue to wipe the tears of laughter. In fact, during the epilogue or sorts, there is a particular line that Luca says that will probably stay with me forever – I’m storing that one up for when I’m having a particularly bad day.

What really makes this instalment stand out between the other two novels, is the inclusion of Alex’s side story as well as getting to see more of the evil uncle. It holds the narrative together, and the switching points of view are handled expertly, giving the reader an insight at every angle. All the characters have their own agenda, their own hopes and Sharon Sant brings everything together right at the close of the book. It adds this wonderful tension as you read along, knowing that somewhere along the line, everything is going to come to a head.

One of my criticisms (for want of a better word) in the previous books, was Sharon Sant2the lacking Astraen world and the details surrounding the fantasy element of this urban-fantasy stroke SciFi series. Not of our Sky fulfills my every question, and I relished the parts where we follow Trego, a junior council member upon Astrae who is desperately trying to solve the riddle of the prophecy. This adds a further layer of depth to the book, one I didn’t see coming, and was better off for it.

The Young Moon was a great sequel to Sky Song, and I particularly loved how Sharon Sant managed to write emotion seemingly effortlessly. Not of our Sky is no different, and yet it seems so powerful and gripping. Sympathy to Ellen’s situation, empathy for what Jacob feels he must to do in order to save the ones he loves, understanding of why Alex has turned out the lost, vulnerable soul that she is. Sharon Sant is a master of emotion. And yet, her writing style and voice is so subtle, precise and crisp that you read sentence after sentence with such addiction, you just have to know what happens next.

I devoured this book. It is the standout novel of the trilogy. As the reader, you really do get the feeling that everything has come full circle, which is one of the themes of the book actually. You can see how each of our trio of main characters have grown, independently as well as a group. The subtle writing style doesn’t need flowery descriptions and explosive action; it works more by pulling at your emotions and getting you into the very centre of the drama that unfolds. This urban-fantasy adds the exact details necessary to elevate it above the previous instalments. I saw Jacob and Ellen’s situation as a sort of modern day Romeo and Juliet, only with addved verve and perspective. If you love young adult dramas, this series will stay with you for such a long time. If the author ever compiles the three books into one volume, be sure to grab it!

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Love and Equality #SameSexMarriage

Sometimes, I think it is absolutely necessary to stand up and speak your mind. It is important to have a voice and I’m lucky enough to have been born and live in a place where freedom of speech is legal. If some of you didn’t know, then I’m from England, or perhaps more often known in some parts of the world as the UK. I’m going to start off this piece by sharing a tweet from a writer friend of mine. You can visit Jack Croxall’s website here.

JackTweet

It was from this tweet that I suddenly came up with the idea to write this post. As a writer/author/blogger, I forget sometimes that I can actually have an influence on the people that visit my website as well as read my books. And it is because of this influence that also compelled me to write this post.

Many countries are currently going through Same-Sex marriage debates, namely America, Australia and the UK. The other day, it officially became legal in the UK for same-sex couples to marry. Now this has caused some disgraceful and distasteful arguments in magazines, blog posts and during television interviews. I have to say that I find this sort of vocal exercise just awful.

Why shouldn’t same-sex couples be allowed to sanctify and add meaning to their relationship by marrying? I’m a very liberal person and I’m all for equality, whether than means sexuality, race, religious involvement etc, as long as it doesn’t harm anybody else. In today’s world, we are just so mean to other people, and can we honestly stand in front of the mirror and admit that we are perfect ourselves? Who are we to stand in the way of two people loving each other and expressing that love with the oldest of traditions?

Now, of course you are going to get people who disagree with me. And you know what, that is their entitlement. But please don’t hurt others with your views. If you are against same-sex marriages, I would really like it if you could watch this video. I was shown this by another writer friend of mine Holly MartinAs Holly pointed out, this short video from the Australian parliament sums up the whole debate in my eyes.


Caseworker's Front Re-IssueAs a writer, I also feel like it is my responsibility to show both sides of the argument, or at least give a vivid picture of what could happen if people disagree. In my adult novel The Caseworker’s Memoirs, there is a story inside of where the seemingly perfect man, ends up by the end of the story being the baddie. Homophobia is sometimes ingrained within people, often through their upbringing, and I use this as a base for Chapter 9: Mark’s Last Christmas. Now I know this sounds like a rather cheeky plug for one of my books, but if this is a subject that interests you, then please check out my book. This particular chapter shows the extreme consequences of a person who isn’t open to the idea of same-sex relationships. Mark isn’t the person everyone believes him to be and I had to dig deep to get into the mindset of Mark and show why he reacts and does what he does.

The Caseworker’s Memoirs is available in both ebook and paperback, starting from just 77p/$1.28

All I ask, is that you go away and ask yourself why you feel so uncomfortable about this rather raw subject? That’s if you do. If you are all for same-sex marriages, then I give you permission to give yourself a congratulatory slap on the back. Only through teaching our children about acceptance and equality can the next generation lose the hate. #SameSexmarriage There is no ‘Gay Marriage’ just ‘Marriage’.

Last year, after I had already written The Caseworker’s Memoirs, I thought to myself: ‘Have I actually read a book where the main character is gay?’ And I had to admit to myself that I hadn’t. Now, this wasn’t through choice, just that the market is incredibly limited. There is quite a lot of erotica out there, but that’s not my thing. Not because it is same-sex erotica, I just don’t normally read erotica as a genre itself.

I think it takes a brave author to be different and write a novel that fits in Voyage Embarkation coverwith this line of thinking. And recently, in my opinion, one such brave author is Zachary Bonelli. I read and reviewed his debut Voyage: Embarkation last year and Kal, his protagonist, is in fact homosexual. It’s a young adult novel with tons of science fiction as well as elements of fantasy and it is incredibly successful.

Voyage Embarkation is the first novel I’ve read that features it central character being gay. It isn’t something you pick up on at first, but the little clues dotted among the pages do make you think. I do think this is a great part to the story, and why shouldn’t great book have gay protagonists? Zachary Bonelli writes with such conviction and confidence in kal, that only adds to his endearment.

Have you read any books lately with gay protagonists? If not, ask yourself why not? Go on, be different – make it your challenge to read one book this year and pass it on to other readers.

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New Trailer for Dianne Gray’s The Everything Theory

The Everything TheoryI had a completely different blog post planned for today, but after seeing this this morning, I felt it was definitely worth a mention.

I can’t believe that it was in October of 2012 that I read and reviewed the most original and adventurous novel I’d had the pleasure of reading in such a long time. Dianne Gray’s The Everything Theory simply blew me away. Extremely well written and totally believable, it is the kind of novel that really gets you thinking about the way the world works. I remember listing it as a YA thriller come adventure.

Imagine a theory; a theory that actually we aren’t the first advanced civilisation who has lived upon Earth. For centuries before us, the ancients knew how to fly, how to create advanced weaponry and how to map out the solar system. However, the world’s wealthiest governments don’t want this information to be leaked to the public and Luke, Seira and co are in a race against time. Not only are they being chased for the information they possess, but as each day ends, the tenth planet moves ever closer and what does that mean for civilisation as we know it?

Well, despite reading it, I was so excited to learn that Dianne has released a new video trailer for the book. It is fantastic, with music that drums up the excitement.

 

Brilliant isn’t it? If you are interested in reading my review of The Everything Theory then you can do so here. Dianne has also updated her cover too. I absolutely urge everyone to give this book a go. You never know, you may be surprised. After reading this book, it instantly made its way onto my all time favourite books.

everything theory 2

 

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From the Embers by Candace Knoebel – Book Review

From the Embers CoverYoung-adult fantasy novels are a difficult market to enter. It’s an area inundated with thousands of news books published each year. Despite this, American author Candace Knoebel’s final instalment in her Born in Flames trilogy was one book high up on my 2014 wishlist. I couldn’t wait to see where the author’s creative imagination would take us as she leads her army into the battle foretold in her debut.

If you are new to Candace Knoebel’s world, then you won’t have read about Aurora’s struggles as she comes to terms of her origins and her ordeal at being deemed ‘The Progeny’. Aurora held within her a secret dragon form, capable of mastering the fire element to conquer the evil hoards of Zordon, a man she was bound to since birth. Zordon has worked his way up the ranks and hellbent on ruling both the magical realm and the human realm; introducing a newly formed world of hell under his control. Thankfully, we have followed Aurora and her gang of followers already in two books, watched her grow stronger and mature into the warrior she was born to become. From the Embers brings to a close the battle of all battles. Will Aurora become triumphant and free herself of Zordon’s tainted darkness, or will the realms crumble under the evil he controls?

What strikes you most I’ve found is how grown-up Aurora has become. She is eager to become her own woman and make her own way in this looming war. She desperately wants to make her own decisions, not succumb to her elders’ opinions. Of course, Aurora has no choice but to do what her gut tells her – not in a teenage rebellious streak, but truly for what she knows to be right. Aurora is no longer the naive and whiny young adult from Born in Flames, oh no. Aurora is a fighter, a strong spirit who is ready to fulfill her destiny and usher in an era of peace for the ones she loves.

One of the highlights for me in the second instalment, Embracing the Flames, was Knoebel’s transformation from urban fantasy to epic fantasy. She used a lot of mythical lore to create her own fantastical world, and successfully too. From the Embers follows that tradition superbly and brings to life Cyclopes’, Nymphs, Sirens and Necromancers. This is especially exhilarating in her battle sequences, where magic and spells and brute force clash in a deliciously satisfying explosion. All of these ancient and otherworldly beings help bring to life this magnificent outing, which really cements Candace Knoebel’s name in the fantasy hall of fame. She really knows her stuff and what works extremely well. When combined with healing priests and flame-throwing dragons, what is not to love? This is a fantasy lover’s bible.

Pace is a tricky thing to judge, especially in a final novel, where the author needs to wrap every loose end up, as well as put to rest any questions left unanswered. I mean, even from the early pages in Born in Flames, we knew an intense and final battle was on the cards, and drumming up the tension until its very occurrence can be difficult. From the Embers is Aurora’s final journey in rounding up any support she can to take into battle with her. And to be fair, the book does seem slow at times, especially in the beginning. You’re not quite sure where it is going to go. It is heavy on the dialogue in the first chapters, and the action doesn’t pick up until the final third. This doesn’t ruin the novel, certainly, and this is because we’ve already become accustomed to Knoebel’s storytelling in the first two novels.

It is through her superb understanding of characterisation that helps the novel move forward. There are a wide range of characters that can grab your attention. I have my favourites! I love the cold Lexi – her sarcastic responses are timeless and makes the scenes come alive. Everything isn’t as rosy as Aurora wants it to be.

I think it has to be said that Candace Knoebel understands her audience Candace Knoebelcompletely. It can appeal to both sexes, but undeniably its romantic ambiance and loved-up dialogue especially is there to hook its female readership. The love triangle between Aurora, Fenn and Zane comes to head here and it’s dramatic and addictive. Everyone’s mind should be on the demise of their world, but as we all know, love is never far away in people’s minds. Aurora really has a lot on her plate. Themes of honesty, truth and lust are just some that are pulled and exposed to their very limits.

It has been such an exhausting ride following Aurora on her hardships, but one that has been such a delight. Life is actually not fluffy and easy, yet despite the struggles, despite the death and pain, Aurora manages to capture your heart. From the Embers is a modern fairytale that has you smiling and gasping and shrieking with its many shocks and surprises. Once upon a time has never been so magical. As a fantasy writer myself, I can’t recommend this juicy series as a whole enough to get your teeth into. It may have captured your attention in Born in Flames, gave you goosebumps in the even better Embracing the Flames, but believe me, From the Embers comes to an end by knocking you off your feet.

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Author Interview: Shannon A Thompson

I had the chance to interview American author, Shannon A Thompson last year, where she talked about her exciting and original young adult series. During the interview, we talked about writing in two perspectives and fitting in writing whilst still at college. Since then, Shannon has gone on to being an Amazon bestselling author, graduating and joining the ranks among AEC Stellar publishing. All of that in the space of one year! I’m sure I speak for my readers when I say, CONGRATULATIONS!

Her sequel to last year’s Minutes Before Sunset is just days away, and you may remember that I took part in Shannon’s cover reveal running up to this release. I thought it was probably about time that we sat down and had another chat about what’s in store for lovers of paranormal novels.

At sixteen years old, Shannon A. Thompson became the published Shannon Thompsonauthor of “November Snow.” At twenty-one, she was featured in “Poems: a collection of works by twelve young Kansas poets.” On May 1st, her paranormal romance, “Minutes Before Sunset” was released by AEC Stellar Publishing. In July, it was awarded Goodreads Book of the Month. It’s the first novel in The Timely Death Trilogy. Her first short story, “Sean’s Bullet,” released in an anthology in October, 2013, and her upcoming novel, “Seconds Before Sunrise,” is expected to release March 27, 2014.
She’s lived in five states and moved over fifteen times, which she uses as inspiration for writing. Shannon dedicates all of her published works to lost loved ones, and she encourages everyone to find their passion.
Shannon recently graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing. She also works as a Social Media Marketing Manager for AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc.

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  • With your sequel to Minutes Before Sunset just days away, fill us in on what’s in store in Seconds Before Sunrise.

Since the first novel revolved around the Dark, Seconds Before Sunrise reveals the human side to a paranormal world. But don’t worry – there’s still plenty of action and romance. Also, Eric’s 18th birthday might be in this book…

Minutes Before Sunset

  • What do you think sequels need to do within a book series; do you think it is OK to have follow ons, or do sequels need to be their own novel too?

I think it’s okay either way. For instance, Nancy Drew is a perfect “stand alone” series, but The Mortal Instruments are not stand alones. My trilogy is definitely not designed as three standalone novels, and I love it that way. I think many strengths can take place in either instance, but keeping them separate – for my trilogy – allowed me to explore three different psychologies (the Dark, humans, and the Light) as well as deepen a storyline as it travels through all of them.

  • In Minutes Before Sunset, you introduced us to creatures of the Dark and the Light. Will there be more emphasis on their origins and mythology in the sequel?

Oh, yes! And the third novel will definitely answer the questions many reviewers have had, especially about the Light and their recollection of past events. My favorite part of the second novel is how we get to see more of the side characters and their backgrounds, especially Jonathon, Luthicer, and Camille.

  • It seems that the The Timely Death Trilogy is an urban fantasy series that accepts paranormal elements hidden within a realistic setting. Do you think there are unknown powers out there in our reality that we still don’t know exist?

What a great question! This might seem extreme for many, but I truly believe there are too many questions to positively say there is nothing out there. I believe in a paranormal world that isn’t even “paranormal.” It’s reality. In fact, I’m currently studying famous people who claimed in their personal journals to have familiars – and no, they were not always seen as these evil, “witch” spirits in the occult. They were spirit guides and showed up in many cultures around the world. Those instances fascinate me. In my novels, I strive to blend paranormal worlds with our realities around us.

  • YA literature often have coming of age heroes/heroines in them, and with important, easy-to-relate-to themes for its (often) teenage audience. What do you think your readers could take from Seconds Before Sunrise, apart from a great story that is?

I like to believe that my characters break stereotypes. For instance, Crystal dresses like a punk, but clothes shouldn’t define you. She strives to be a great journalist one day, she loves glitter, and she enjoys school events like prom. I also try to deal with real life issues in a respectable but honest manner. In Seconds Before Sunrise, I wrote about the repercussions of reckless driving and underage drinking. I don’t want to glorify those dangers, but I also don’t want to smother readers with a “life lesson” that any decision is a bad one. The lesson is up for them to decide.

  • You write from two perspectives in your series, from both Seconds Before SunriseEric’s and Jessica’s point of view. I’m intrigued to read how you structure your work. Do you write all of Eric’s story first, or swap between the two? Do you have a personal favourite? And, is it difficult for you to get inside the head of a male character, being female I mean?
  • I’ve noticed that you like to write about themes beyond our control: destiny and fate, for instance, and how they intertwine with human desires such as love and choice. Are you a spiritual person, and what is it about the above that drives your stories forward?

I mainly write from two perspectives in my paranormal romance because I don’t think males get a voice in that genre. They are often type-casted as these mysterious, cold-hearted guys that show rare moments of true love. I want to show what he’s thinking and feeling, too. Ironically, I find writing from a male perspective to be much easier than my female leads. I let the characters speak when they want to, which is why Eric tells more of the story in Minutes Before Sunset while Jessica tells more in Seconds Before Sunrise. I consider myself a very spiritual and open-minded individual, which is what I think ultimately allows me to let the characters consume every bit of me. They take over. They push it forward. I’m just the messenger, so to speak.

  • The wider writing community are a friendly bunch – I’ve certainly made many friends along my journey. What have you learnt following the release of your three full-length novels, in your own journey and what advice would you give to a newbie writer who are looking to take that big leap into writing?

I love how supportive the writing community has become! When I first published November Snow in 2007, the self-published world was really looked down upon – it was so much more negative if not completely negative. My current novels are with a small publisher, but I encourage all kinds of publishing. To an aspiring writer, I would tell them to truly embrace their love for their craft. Once you have made the decision that your passion will push you forward, no amount of negativity will shake you. But you must believe in yourself.  There’s no reason to doubt your dream. It’s your life, and you’re on this world to live it, so live it how you want to.

  • I often find dialogue a tricky form of writing to master. In YA novels such as yours, how do you write dialogue and do you think it differs from adult novels?

Dialogue is the first thing I write. I have a very unusual writing process, which I didn’t even realize until I shared it on my blog. I basically write a screenplay first, and then I add the prose later, building into the novel. Dialogue can definitely change from genre to genre, but it should always depend on who is speaking. That being said, I have censored many of my characters. For instance, many teenagers curse – and they curse a lot – but I don’t want my novel to be filled with curse words. In my opinion, I personally don’t have anything against cursing, but I know cursing can make readers very uncomfortable, so I edit that out in this sense: “Write for yourself; edit for your reader.” In a funnier instance, I had a character who ALWAYS said, “you know what I mean?” after everything. Safe to say we had an argument about that.

  • What was the last thing that surprised you?

In life: a leaf rolled out in front of my car. It was such a small instance, but the moment – beneath the full moon – left me feeling like I had driven through a midnight poem. In writing: my characters always surprise me. Mainly when they do very reckless things when I am screaming, “You’re better than that!” but – alas – people will make mistakes.

  • Tell us a secret.

At one point, I did give up on publishing. I completely dreaded my work. I thought I was done. But I kept writing for myself. And one day I gave into the publishing bug again, and I had a contract three months later. I look back on it like this: I took a detour off my life path – but as long as you get back on, it’s okay. It can even be energizing.

  • Let’s say that you discover what fate has in store for you. Would you gladly allow events to fall into place, or would you rebel and fight fate’s decisions.

I suppose that depends on what my fate would be. I think it would be natural to fight any kind of fate that you knew about, even a nice fate, because we want to be in charge of our lives. With my triple A personality, I am beyond a fighter. I’m a person who finds excitement in a challenge.

 

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Seconds Before Sunrise will be released on March 27th 2014 and will be available from:the_book_depository_logo

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