Categories
audiobooks Science Fiction

Goodbye to the Sun by Jonathan Nevair (Book Review)

I tried to focus on indie books during Sci-Fi month this year and then fell off the reading boat. I hope you guys enjoy the few reviews I’ve managed to post!

I did manage to finally finish Goodbye to the Sun by Jonathan Nevair. I hear so much about the Wind Tide series and have had it on my TBR since it was released.  So then #1 popped up on Chirp with an audiobook sale and I said OH PERFECT, IT’S TIME!

Overall there were some really good aspects, and others missed the mark by five miles for me, so let’s look at the book then dig into my thoughts


Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Goodbye to the Sun
  • Series: Wind Tide #1
  • Author: Jonathan Nevair
  • Publisher & Release: Self, 2021
  • Length: 348 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: all thoughts on the audiobook (DNF) aside, I’m rounding up to ⭐⭐⭐ for the book itself

Here’s the synopsis from Am*zon:

A nonstop thrill ride across an unstable galaxy, combining moral struggle with character-driven adventure…

Tucked away in the blue sands of Kol 2, the Motes are on the brink of cultural collapse. Razor, a bold and daring pilot, leads a last-ditch gambit against their local oppressors, the Targitians. The plan – abduct visiting Ambassador Keen Draden and use him as a bargaining chip to restore her people’s independence in the Sagittarius Arm. But when the operation unravels, Razor is forced to renegotiate terms with the arrogant diplomat.

Light years away on Heroon a radical resistance blossoms. The alluring rainforest planet haunts Keen. All his problems started there during the Patent War, but it’s where Razor’s troubles may find a solution. The moral tide ebbs, exposing an impossible choice that links their futures together more tragically than they ever thought possible.

Goodbye to the Sun: a space opera inspired by the Greek tragedy, Antigone.


My Thoughts

A quick note on the audio: I just strongly dislike the production and couldn’t finish it. The narrator barely varies his voice or brings excitement. I don’t know if it was the voice or the recording but a lot of words, regardless of playback speed, sounded fuzzy and I kept hearing words incorrectly and became confused. The audio was a DNF after maybe one hour of playtime

So I ended up reading the Kindle version because honestly, the story wasn’t that bad once I took a break and forgot the audio.  There’s a story of a rebel trying to save her people, an ex soldier turned diplomat who is carrying PTSD and war trauma, and a bunch of other interesting characters.  I loved the characters and you never know what you’re going to get from their arcs.

One of my favorite tropes and one that Nevair did execute well, was bringing a place into play as a character itself.  Heroon is a tropical rainforest planet in danger, with beautiful insects and trees and a true spirit of its own. In a way, Kol-2, the other main setting, also had a life of its own with blue sands and wind tides used for energy production.

I also liked the family vs honor vs loyalty vs duty themes.  Who is deluded, who is willing to make what level of sacrifice, what motivates these characters at the end  … All of these things play into the plot and add depth.  As far as the science itself, I needed a little more about how the wind was used in these monopolies, is it stored, shared, transferred, how is the energy even stolen during raids? There was plenty of sci-fi though!

I did think there were too many planets and people and names thrown out at first, some of the politics were lost on me but at the end most of it came together.  I think scope wise it’s a fairly solid space opera.

So now we are at the point where I talk about the things that drove me nuts. I hate feeling lectured by books, and there’s no way around the fact that the book spends an inordinate amount of time lecturing about gender politics. In the middle of a terse situation. It’s not normalizing something if there are multiple lectures involved and I think it went beyond a normal amount of topic exploration. Even in the middle of a heated exchange of rifle fire these characters are hand signing their genders to each other.  I’m all for normalizing but not if it comes at the cost of a lecture.  Also I had a hard time with the points of view – Razor was used in the present tense to summarize the action and give more insight into Keen, who then covered the “action” chapters that occured in the past.  I think I wanted Razor to have a little more agency in the past tense chapters because she would have been interesting on her own, not just as a frame for Keen and other challenges of morality.

In closing, I can’t recommend the audio.  I did absolutely love the settings and plot and moral conflicts. Nevair also nailed the action scenes when he didn’t slow them down with lecture or diatribe, which is just a huge pet peeve of mine.  I think if you like sci-fi with a strong ethical base and plenty of twists, turns, and betrayal, check this one out!


Thanks for checking out my book review of Goodbye to the Sun by Jonathan Nevair! The book was purchased by me and read for my own enjoyment. As always, all opinions are my own ♥️

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: featuring A.C. Cross!

Hellloooo everyone, Happy Easter! The Sunday Brunch Series is finally back after it’s ridiculously long hiatus.

Episode 20 features author A.C. Cross as part of the Escapist Book Tours (tour) for his newish book! Where Blood Runs Gold is a “weird western” – part Wild West, part Walking Dead, a very entertaining and quick read overall.

This was an especially impressive interview because I sent these questions to AC at approximately 0020 one night, and by 0045 I had this entire thing back in my email, zero edits required, good to go! He is a smart writer and I fully recommend reading tbe book

There is a giveaway happening during the book tour, so check that out in the links after the interview!!


🥞Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! Can you tell everyone an interesting fact about yourself that isn’t in your author bio?

🎤I fell off a building and slashed my leg open in college while trying to impress a girl. It sort of worked, but the scar and the story are the best things to come out of that.

🥞 We are all adults here, pitch us your book in #AITA format!

🎤’I (50sM, sheriff) rescued a girl (13F) from an abusive living situation, but my job is violent and I’m not emotionally available to take care of her. AITA?’

🥞What is your favorite Brunch food?

🎤 Can I say mimosas? Because if so, definitely mimosas. If not those, I am a sucker for both steak and eggs – steak medium rare, eggs over easy, white toast, and a beer – and Eggs Benedict, but that’s usually only if I expect that it’s going to be a heavy day. 

🥞 Seeing as this is an Easter Sunday interview, do you have any Easter plans?

🎤 This year is going to be a little different than years past. We would usually cook a turkey and full meal, go to church in the morning, hunt for Easter Eggs, and just relax. However, with my dad passing recently, it’s probably going to be a more subdued affair. That’s okay, though! New times need new traditions. Maybe I can find some rabbit to roast. The irony there would be funny, at least to me. 

🥞 Want to talk about your use of religion / fanaticism / cult appeal in the novel?

🎤 Sure! One of the things I’m kind of a sucker for in media – books, movies, games, etc. – is a cult or fanatics as villains. There’s just something so fascinating about how someone can twist and warp people and utilize them for his or her own purposes. The idea of charisma being so overwhelming that it drives sense from a person just digs into my brain like a splinter, in a way. What’s so fun about writing those kinds of groups is the amount of freedom you have in creating them! There’s no set form for how to write them. You can create entire universes in service of fleshing out those organizations. I mean, if you’re ever stuck in a story and don’t quite know where to go, throw in a cult side plot and watch things go off the rails in the best way possible.

🥞 What’s your favorite slang phrase that you used in WBRG?

🎤 I believe that ‘shit-kicking horsefuck’ , used by Merle in the first chapter, is my favorite. It’s so gloriously obscene. 

🥞 One of my favorite archetypes is the morally gray character, so I loved ErrolWhat do you think makes a good morally gray character (and what makes Thorpe a good one)?

🎤 I think that the best morally gray characters are ones that operate from a place of wanting to do good for the world. They truly want to make things better or help people. It’s just that, for whatever reasons, they have found or decided that the ends justify the means and that the end goal is more important than how it’s accomplished. Hanging a man from a beam in order to stop him from butchering families? Justified. Beating a child predator near to death? Justified. For the best morally gray characters, they see the world from a broader perspective than a typical hero. It doesn’t matter how they get the job done. If it’s done, it’s a success. Errol definitely has that mentality, at least in my mind. 

🥞 Care to explain your Twitter handle?

🎤 This one takes some explaining. When I was back in undergrad (2009 or thereabouts…I’m old, shut up), my group of friends had a guy named Dan in it. He’s an incredibly nice, sweet, giving guy and was great fun to tease lovingly because he would get flustered. One day, a few of us went out to lunch at a local Mexican place and the conversation somehow got around to how Dan needed to stick up for himself because he would, basically, do anything to be liked. He was there and protested, to which one of us (I think me) mentioned that we could probably get him to even eat cat food. This sparked an intense, hilarious discussion over the next fifteen minutes. We were winding down when Dan spoke up and said, and I quote “Okay…when I do this…” and nothing else he said mattered because he made a fatal mistake. See, he didn’t say ‘if’ he were to eat cat food, implying that there was a negotiation. He said ‘when‘, which basically flat out said he would be doing so.

From there, it was a long-running gag that, eventually, I turned into my first website. For a few years, I would write comedy articles and things like that on the site before life got in the way. I’ve locked the website down now because a lot of the content is more juvenile and mean-spirited than I would like now, but Dan Eats Cat Food became the Twitter handle and, at this point, I feel so attached to it that changing anything about it seems wrong. 

🥞 I believe we were promised an exclusive meme, related to your brand!

exclusivecrabmeme

You asked for this

{{Yes, yes I did 😂}}

🥞 What part of the WBRG idea came first? As in Western, horror, exploding corpses … What was the book’s backbone?

🎤 It’s kind of tough to say, to be honest! After playing through Red Dead Redemption 2, I was enamoured with the character of Arthur Morgan. He danced over the ‘gray hero’ line and back so many times. That gruff, violent man with a good heart? It spoke to me and I wanted to make someone like that. Once I had that, I wanted to do something different. Darker. I really love cosmic horror and unexplained stuff like that, so what if there was a world where things like that existed and it was just normal? Flesh-eating Dust, golden blood, monstrous things lurking in the wild? I love all of it. And the best part about that? There is a LOT more to the state of San Dios than is covered in WBRG. Part of why I love the Dishonored games is just how invested they are in building a world that exists outside the context of the story. The little snippets of information that you can learn that inform you about a world far bigger than you are experiencing in the game…delicious. I kinda love world-building, if you couldn’t tell!

🥞 What’s next for you?

🎤 That’s another good question. Technically speaking, I have over 50 ideas and counting waiting in my WIP pile. Realistically speaking, I have three. The first is a sequel to WBRG with a different character and it’s a reinterpretation of the Twelve Labors of Hercules. I am really excited about it. The second is a dark, bleak noir-style book that is violent and twisted and I love it. The third, and the one I’ve done the least with, starts as kind of an epistolary exploration of grief and loss before descending into, as always, an apocalyptic cult organization harvesting grief to feed a mountain god. 

I don’t write normal things, do I?

{{Normal is boring}}

🥞 What is the most valuable (or entertaining) feedback you’ve gotten so far for WBRG?

🎤 My favorite feedback was from my editor, Sarah, at a certain part in the book. She simply put in the comments: “You asshole.” I take that as a win.

🥞 Here is the rapid-fire round of bookish questions:  Favorite author? A book or series that you always recommend? Favorite literary character?

🎤 I don’t know that I have one! I have so many books and know so many authors that it’s a tough question to even start with.

It’s not as well known as his Lot Lands series, but Jonathan French’s Autumn’s Fall series is absolutely fantastic. There’s also another series by a friend of mine named Ashley Wrigley called Mesopotamia//Tiamat that I just devour about once a year

This will sound strange, but Dwight from Sin City. He’s complicated, heroic, smart and dumb at the same time, and chivalrous. He just speaks to me.

🥞 Thank you for joining Sunday Brunch! If there’s anything else you want to add or say about anything at all, please do so here!

🎤 I’m so glad to be able to have this conversation! I love answering questions and letting people know more about me. Anyone and everyone is free to add me @daneatscatfood on Twitter or check out my website www.aaronccross.com for news and a few free short stories to peruse!

{{Once again, I shit you all not, he typed that in about 25 minutes with no prep}}


I hope you are all convinced by now to enter the giveaway!

Prize:  A Signed Paperback Copy of Where Blood Runs Gold!
Starts: April 14th, 2022 at 12:00am EST
Ends: April 20th, 2022 at 11:59pm EST

Enter here


Meet the Author!

A.C. Cross is a doctor, but not the kind that you want treating you for kidney stones or pneumonia or anything. That’d likely make your situation much worse.

He (currently) lives in the Great White North of the United States as a bearded, single man.

He’s a lover of words, many of which you have just read in this very book.

He’s an admitted scotch whisky and beer snob and his liver would not argue with him.

He has written four books now, including this one, but the other three (in the Roboverse) are funny and not nearly as sweary or violent.

You can find more about him as well as some neat little free stories at www.aaronccross.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/daneatscatfood
Author Site: http://www.aaronccross.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/22062732.A_C_Cross

Categories
Fantasy

Dark Oak (Book Tour) by Jacob Sannox

Thank you so much to Storytellers On Tour and the author for having me on the Book tour for Dark Oak! This is a dark ish fantasy that takes place after the end of a great war, where the evil has been vanquished and a time of peace is beginning.

Or… Well it should be, anyway.  Unfortunately once the prime evil is gone and unity is no longer necessary, humans tend to create new enemies and now war is brewing in the territories again as the lands and Lords revert back to their pre-war dispositions.  This right here was probably my favorite theme from the book.

Despite my 3 star rating and various struggles: I want to say up front that the ending of this book is EVERYTHING.  Once you learn what “Dark Oak” refers to and things start getting dark, it’s just… Really something else.

Screenshot_20211124-164300

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Dark Oak
  • Series: The Dark Oak Chronicles, #1
  • Author: Jacob Sannox
  • Publisher & Release: self, April 2017
  • Length: 313
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐for dark fantasy fans, maybe military fantasy 

Here is the synopsis:

Humanity has finally defeated the Dark Lord, but Morrick fought on the wrong side.

Though he was a slave, he is branded a traitor and must earn the trust of new lords in order to return to his family – if they are still alive.

Now that their common enemy is dead, the nobles begin to forget old loyalties, and Queen Cathryn’s realm looks set to plunge into war once more. But there are older and more terrible powers dwelling within the forest, and when they are awakened, Morrick will decide who lives or dies.

The starting point of this book was an interesting choice, as it started at the end of a war.  It was hard for me to wrap my head around who and what was relevant at first, even though right at the start of the book it disclaims that it is NOT the story of the dark lord!

Dark Oak has a LOT going on, and a few different points of view to be aware of.  Morrick is the main character, and probably the most interesting one as we watch his moral struggles.  There is a lot of humanity in the book as various tragedies are met and death with, including post war trauma and death of family, seen mostly through the eyes of Morrick.  Cathryn, the queen, and the various lords also have points of view.

I thought his wife, Rowan, was important too but she was mostly entirely brushed over. For example, she went through all this trouble to consider starting a rebellion with some people who showed up, then we hear nothing except that it was over and went badly.  That was probably the hardest part of the book for me – to decide what was relevant. I also struggled with  what parts the author chose to brush over vs. expand on.

I thought jt was pretty real that most of the Lords, including the queen, really just wanted to kick up their feet and essentially retire after the war but there’s always that *one* problem child.

As far as the magic- the Dryads were definitely the best part of the whole book for me.  The supernatural things were dumped into the book kind of suddenly, but once I learned that a main focus going forward was angry Dryads having their home and trees destroyed, things made a lot more sense.  I really loved the descriptions of the tree and water folk, and how their magic worked.

The worldbuilding was high in setting, scenery, and geography, decent in history, but kind of mish mash on the micro level.  I had a good idea of the history and politics of the realm and the forest, but not so much the cities and moods, weather and foods, etc.  There were some interesting cultural pockets like the “whores” in the Whoreswood.  I originally felt like the world lacked any kind of cohesion, but that plays a role since although the humans united under the name “The Combined People”, they didn’t necessarily have anything in common except the enemy.

Here is a preview of the map, which helped SO much to visualize the book

Screenshot_20211125-201848

I think the magic is definitely the strongest aspect.  I liked the political maneuvering by the Lords and watching the kingdom dissolve into mayhem.  The book definitely had both strong and weak points, and it *lived* for the final quarter.  I do plan on ordering book 2 so i can see what happens, and how he grew as a writer going forward.

Definitely check out the tour page and see what others had to say about the book!!

Book Tour: Dark Oak by Jacob Sannox


Meet the author

Jacob Sannox is a 37 year old writer from the sunny climes of Bedfordshire, England. In his spare time he is generally writing, thinking about writing or berating himself for not writing.

He loves to play the acoustic guitar, but wishes he was better at it, and he has recently taken up Dungeons & Dragons. This is dangerous, as he has a propensity for disappearing into fantasy worlds. Nobody saw Jacob Sannox between 2000 and 2010, during which time he was LARPing.

Do not judge him.

Author & Book Links

Website:http://www.jacobsannox.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jacobsannox

Facebook: http://www.twitter.com/jacobsannox

Instagram:http://www.instagram.com/jacobsannoxwriter

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55810045-dark-oak

Purchase Link: https://books2read.com/u/mVQZ65 

Categories
Adventure Science Fiction Thrillers

Moon Rising (Book Review) by Daniel Weisbeck

I am thrilled to be joining Storytellers On Tour for the Moon Rising book blitz!  I had never heard of Bio Punk as a defined genre before but since AI and ethics is my favorite sci-fi theme I jumped on this one!

A thriller about what happens when AI & biologic creations get out of handler control? Yes please.  Moon Rising is the first in a series and a shorter, quick read that I devoured in two sittings! 

Here is the tour link!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Moon Rising
  • Series: The Upsilon Series #1
  • Author: Daniel Weisbeck 
  • Publisher & Release: DJW Books, 11/1/21
  • Length: 222 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤 for a quick and entertaining read about a topic i enjoy

Here is the book blurb:

Trapped in a cellar, a young girl pretends to be someone her captor once loved to stay alive. When her plan falls apart, she must find the strength to fight back or die.

With the help of an unexpected saviour, Doctor Bobby Houndstooth, Silon makes an escape. However, her freedom uncovers a darker truth about her life. She is not who she thinks she is.

On the run from a ruthless corporation who would rather see her dead than learn about her past, Silon must discover her true capabilities before it is too late.

A Sci-Fi Biopunk Thriller for fans of Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell, Hanna, and the Murderbot Diaries

I think the hardest thing about this exciting book is that it’s nearly impossible to review it without giving away a spoiler if I talk about the characters.

Can one read the synopsis and probably figure out what’s going on? Sure. Does that knowledge take away from all the twists and turns and shocking surprises? Back no

In a futuristic world, let’s just say that technology and AI has taken on a whole new role in human society. I absolutely love books where androids are integrated into regular life and of course, what do we do if they become sentient? If they go haywire?

With all good things there is also great potential for disaster, as Dr Bobby Houndstooth doscovers. I really liked her strength and quick thinking in difficult situations. Silon is certainly a fascinating character as well. With those two main characters comes an eclectic scientist and his even more “out-there” android, evil scientists, and government conspirators.

Overall this is a definite must read if you love sci-fi and thrillers!

Here is a cool image of the cover art coming together!

Meet the author and find the book online!

Daniel Weisbeck is the award-winning author of the bestselling series Children of the Miracle, a dystopian adventure. Daniel is a native US citizen but has lived in the UK for over twenty years working in the technology and software fields, bringing a unique and authentic voice to his speculative science fiction. Daniel is an openly gay author who has been happily married to his partner for over twenty years. When not writing about androids and hybrid humans in the future, you will find him taking care of his three dogs, two rescue racehorses, and thirty rescue sheep who all live in the South Downs of England.

Website: http://www.danielweisbeckbooks.com/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/djwbooks 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/children_of_the_miracle  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/danielweisbeckauthor/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59083226-moon-rising 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Moon-Rising-Upsilon-Daniel-Weisbeck-ebook/dp/B09H63RPB2/ 

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Fantasy Horror

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: Featuring Nicolas Samuel Lietzau

Welcome back to GrimDarkTober month on the Sunday Brunch Series! Episode 11 is a super special feature featuring German author Nicolas Samuel Lietzau! 

Most people recognize him as the writer of Enderal: The Forgotten stories – a Skyrim mod that has a huge following.  I fell off the gaming planet years ago and therefore am so glad and grateful that he reached out about his debut novel: Dreams of the Dying.  Obviously I am equally, if not more grateful that he agreed to join for an SBS interview!

While DotD is a book set in the Enderal world, I can promise that you don’t need the game to love the book, and certainly not to enjoy reading this amazing interview!  Read on to learn a bit about the book and the author, as well as a great discussion on world building, mental health, comically short relationships,  and much much more!

Enough from me – here he is!


🖤Welcome to the SBaiS! Tell us a random interesting fact about yourself!
 
🎤I’m a bit of a health nut. Also, I recently started a band, Neochrome. If I hadn’t become a writer, I would have tried my luck as a musician.
 
🖤 Can you tell me something off the beaten path that has intrigued you recently? That’s my favorite line from the author bio
 
🎤 There were several rather tragic things, but I’ll stick to something positive: I recently moved to a mountain village near Barcelona and went for a run in the nearby national park, where I got lost and suddenly found a broken-down car in the middle of the woods. No idea how it got there, but it certainly intrigued me.
 
{{In the spirit of GrimDarkTober, I wonder if something tragic happened to the vehicle’s owner! How curious}}
 
🖤 So your Enderal books are a prequel to the video game – is it challenging to write within a world with predefined boundaries?  Would it be easier or harder to create your own brand new world (and is that a plan in the future)?
 
🎤It’s definitely challenging, but I already took an important step by separating the novel canon from the game canon (while remaining faithful to the game best as I can). There are a lot of undefined areas in the Vyn universe – such as the dystopian dark age between the end of the Pyrayans and the advent of the Lightborn – which I plan to flesh out in the next two books. Even so, I’m looking forward to creating a brand-new story world in the future – in fact, I already have some ideas floating around in my mind.
 
🖤The world building in DotD was pretty intense, and equally so was the character build. Did you try to lean more towards a world or character driven story, or was the mix always there?
 
🎤I’d say characters – or rather, tragedies – always come first. A recent review criticized that the “world is the protagonist in Dreams of the Dying,” which frankly surprised me. I do enjoy world building, but to me, a well-realized and coherent world is simply due diligence. Just like I do my research when writing about experiences that weren’t my own by reading autobiographies and collaborating with people, I do my research on mythology, geography, linguistics, et cetera.
 
🖤Because you travel quite a bit – do you see a relationship between people who like to travel and are passionate about culture, and their level of world-building interest?  I would love to poll people who travel vs people who don’t, about their reading interests
 
🎤That’s an interesting question. Honestly, I haven’t noticed a trend here, but most of my author friends are German, so I’m not sure how representative they are. I do, however, feel that there tends to be a type of writer who is thirsty for experience and would certainly count myself as one of them. There are many approaches to writing great fiction, but for me, exploring life in all its facets is essential. I hope that doesn’t sound pretentious
 
{{I don’t think it does! As a travel nurse, it would sound even more pretentious if I disagreed 😂 and I love using work as an excuse to immerse myself somewhere new for a few weeks or months!}}
 
🖤Speaking of culture – you mentioned the gratuitous swearing, is that a German thing? Were there any other cultural easter eggs that you put into your story?
 
🎤I love this question. Yes, I’d say that Bavarians (Southern Germans), in particular, love to swear. It has even become an art form of sorts called Granteln. In essence, zu granteln means to humorously rant about something using imaginative insults. It’s important to note that this has nothing to do with popular rant videos on the internet, which are often mean-spirited. The hallmark of good a good grantler is that he or she is not really insulting a person offensive per se and rather lets off steam at “god and the world.” Besides grantling, Bavarian service providers have a reputation for being rude. That’s not the case, in my opinion – they’re simply allowed to talk back when a customer goes off at them. Which, in my opinion, is a wonderful thing.
 
I don’t think I put any more easter eggs into the story, at least not consciously, but you can certainly tell my cultural signature, so to speak. The focus on philosophy and politics, which some readers and others loathed or perceived as contrived, is simply a part of German fiction. As are the deeply personal conversations characters have. It’s something many Germans just do
 
{{Darn – I’ve been trying to decide where to travel to this spring if the world is open, maybe I should go to Germany and see if anyone wants to tour the area and debate life for a while! A friend said there are some lovely castles and stuff too}
 
🖤There are some correlations in your Enderal storyline and in DotD with harder and rough sounding events that have happened in your life, can we talk about using storytelling as a coping mechanism?
 
🎤Yes, my creative work definitely helped and continues to help me cope with and process some of the things that happened to me. Even these days, my first response to when something bad happens is to somehow translate it into my books or music. I think this is something any artist can relate to. For me, there’s also a phoenix element to this mechanism: yes, I lived through some traumatic events, but that also gave me access to a pool of experiences that I can now weave into my stories. Before this gets taken out of context, I’m not saying that trauma is a good thing, and I wouldn’t wish it upon anybody. But for me, using it this way is empowering. I hate to see myself as a victim.
 
🖤DotD had a significant running theme of mental health and digging oneself out of their own personal hell. For anyone that hasn’t read the last few chapters and afterword, are you willing to share any advice for people who might be struggling?
 
🎤Oh boy, that’s a big question. The first step should naturally always be to get help. It’s common to avoid therapy out of pride or dread of a diagnosis (god knows I’ve done it), but it won’t get you anywhere. Besides that, I found a lot of solace in Agaam’s words: You won’t find out if you give up. This is actually from what a close friend of mine told me during a difficult time. If you’re currently in a bad place, for all you know, tomorrow might be the day things finally turn around. It’s important to make yourself aware of this, as the mind often tends to catastrophize and imagine the dreariest outcome possible. Again, I’m speaking from experience.
 
{{I love big questions! Seriously though this is great advice. Mental healthcare in America is a disaster and getting help can be extremely intimidating. I tell people that there’s no shame in seeking help and no one is here to judge.  I wish the stigma wasn’t there.  There are many things to try before medication as well and I 100% wholeheartedly endorse getting help from a trained professional before things get to the catastrophe point. Recognizing and diverting that worst case scenario cycle of thinking alone can go a long way}}
 
🖤Alright, enough heavy questions! Is brunch a thing in Germany? If so, do you have a favorite brunch food?
 
🎤Oh, yes, we love brunch. I do intermittent fasting, so I actually get to brunch every day. Personally, I love German dark bread and obatzda, a Bavarian cheese made from three different sorts of soft cheese, herbs, and spices. That said, I was recently diagnosed with lactose intolerance, so no obatzda for me in the near future.
 
🖤Do you have any terribly unpopular opinions?
 
🎤In light of the upcoming new movie: I actually loved Matrix: Reloaded and MatrixRevolutions. It wasn’t as accessible as the amazing first part, but once you wrap your head around it, it’s fascinating.
 
🖤Jespar and Lysia literally had the shortest exclusive relationship ever, has that ever actually happened to you?
 
🎤Oh, for sure – my teenage relationships were very much of the straw fire variety. Especially in the LGBT community, relationships can be absurdly short-lived. At least that’s my experience.
 
{{I promise the hetero community is doing this too, dating in your 30s is a disaster by itself }}
 
🖤I don’t see a ton of German authors in fantasy; can you recommend any that have been translated?  
 
I’d say that the English-speaking publishing houses hardly translate anything, which strikes me as odd considering the industry’s current focus on spotlighting diverse voices. It’s a shame because I think people are missing out. There are countless fantastic international writers – not only German – who never find the success they deserve. As far as German fantasy authors go, I loved Ralf Isau’s books as a kid, but it’s been so long. There is a Quebecois horror author whom I adore, Patrick Senecal. No one ever translated his works (only a couple) for some strange reason, even though he is absurdly popular in Quebec.
 
🖤Who’s your favorite book character of all time?
 
🎤Tyrion Lannister. The run-of-the-mill answer, I  know, but his moral ambiguity is incredibly intriguing

I made this a separate section, which I am naming “Nicolas’ Amusing and Insightful Rant About Modern Language in Fantasy”.  I think he should expand and turn it into an essay of his own!

My only real criticism of DotD was how jarring the modern day slang came across in an otherwise immersive story … … so, what led you down that path vs creating slang in the language native to the characters?
 
This has come up a few times, so I’m glad you asked. I’ll do my best to explain my choice, but forgive me for going on a bit of a tangent first. I’ve often read fantasy readers describe colloquialism, slang, and vulgarity as unrealistic. While I get the sentiment, I believe that this is a misconception.
 
First, unless you’re writing historical fiction set in an English-speaking country, the narrator’s English is always only a translation of what people really speak in those fictional worlds; in the Enderal novels, for example, this lingua franca is Inâl, which is also what Jespar or The Man in the novel speak. However, since nobody in the real world speaks Inâl, the narration translates it into English. The bottom line: barring the usage of modern words that simply couldn’t exist given the technology level of a culture (such as “rocket science” or internet jargon), there is no such thing as “realistic” English in high fantasy. It’s always a stylistic decision of the author.
 
Second, most people know this, but the English we read in fantasy, and even historical fiction isn’t at all faithful to the English people actually spoke in the Middle Ages, Middle English. You could probably understand what’s being said, but it would be a chore. What’s more, all we know about language during these times is based on documents that were exclusively written by the small, educated minority that wasn’t dyslexic. Imagine aliens using formal business emails to deduce what 21st-century humans spoke like; even books or plays these days used a stylized English that didn’t necessarily reflect how people spoke on a day-to-day basis. In conclusion, it is very likely, if not certain, that the English spoken by the real people was full of colloquialisms and vulgarity. Why wouldn’t it? If anything, etymology suggests that they swore like sailors, including the dreaded c-word. “Fuck” arrived a little later, but it’s safe to assume something with a similar meaning was around to describe the same thing.
 
 
All this is a long way of me saying that the English we are used to in fantasy fiction is ultimately a convention established to create a certain feeling. It’s an entirely subjective and stylistic choice and doesn’t indicate bad worldbuilding or poor command of the English language.
 
Now, why did I decide to use modern language in dialogue? It’s not because I dislike the convention – I grew up reading German fantasy books, which use very formal and “olden-days” language much like what you see in English fantasy staples, and I still love them. For me, it’s mostly about relatability. I want my characters to feel as real and relatable as possible. I also have a background in video game writing, where I work with voice actors on a regular basis and came to realize that a lot of dialogue that reads well in a book translates poorly into a voiced script; consequently, I made a habit of rewriting any “bookish” dialogue I wrote for a script to make it as “organic” as possible.
 
All that said, looking back, I believe that I sometimes overshot and accidentally crossed the line between relatability and anachronism. It’s something I will improve in the next novel.


Once again, thank you endlessly to Nicolas Samuel Lietzau for taking the time out of his busy schedule to give such an amazing interview! Here are the links to find him online and social media: 

I’m not good at link lists but you can find Nicolas online at:

WEBSITE: WWW.NICOLASLIETZAU.COM

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/niseam_stories/

https://mobile.twitter.com/Niseamtao

And many others, go find the links through his site!

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Fantasy Young Adult

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: Featuring V. Romas Burton!

Hi everyone! Thank you so much for tuning in to the 5th episode of the SBAIS! I screwed up and am posting this as a super late edition because I miiiiight have thought that today was Saturday.  I swear I am getting way too old for these night shifts.

Today I’m here with a very special guest, the author of the YA epic fantasy series Heartmender! I found her books through the Monster Ivy Publishing Instagram page, and was really honored to read two out of three of her books as ARCs!! The last novel in the trilogy, Heartrender, releases on September 7th and you can find all of my reviews here on the blog for those books!

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Without further ado, here is V. Romas Burton!!

1) Welcome to the SBAIS! Tell everyone a little about yourself and your books!

Thank you so much for having me! My name is Vanessa and I write under the pen name V. Romas Burton. I write YA Fantasy for Monster Ivy Publishing. The third book in my debut series, Heartrender, comes out this fall! I’m so excited for this series to be complete!


2)What was your publishing journey like? Do you have any advice for hopeful authors trying to write or publish a book? 

I actually spent a while searching for a publisher/agent the traditional way: through querying. However, one day I heard about a Twitter pitch party named Faith Pitch. I decided to participate for fun and ended up with a contract with my publisher

3) The Heartmender books are YA epic fantasy with a strong allegorical theme. What main takeaways would you like Christian youth, vs non Christian youth to take away from the series?

I would like all youth to understand the same message: there will always be trials and temptations in life. But through  your perseverance and God’s guidance, you will get through the hard times.

4) Is there a character that you wrote yourself into more than the others?  I won’t ask who your favorite is 😅

Although there’s a little of me in each character, I would definitely say I’m a lot more like Claire than any of the others. ☺️


5) Content has been a huge debate recently, especially in YA novels. What content and themes do you think are important to present to young readers? I try really hard to spotlight “clean reads” whenever possible, and your books definitely fall into that category

I definitely think YA books should focus more on standing up for what’s right and including good morals. Now, I enjoy a good love story and an epic battle. But sometimes the scenes in YA books, I believe, are extremely erotic or gorey for young readers. I believe it’s possible to write an exciting story without adding all those extra things.

6) I found the video on your Instagram where you mentioned the Verse that sparked the idea for the series! Essentially the thought was: what would it be like if people physically traded their heart to the creator, vs only doing so in spirit? What would you have traded your heart for at the Heart Reign?

Oh I probably would’ve traded it for power or unlimited clothes 😁


7) I can’t imagine how busy you’ve been with the two boys and a book coming out soon!  What do you do for fun/relaxation/selfcare?

Life is definitely busy right now! I’m so thankful that I have had my family’s help! Most nights I’m just ready to crash into bed 🤣 But when I have a little more energy, I love reading webtoons at night to decompress from the day.


8) Here is the easy round of rapid fire bookish questions! Do you have a favorite book or series that you always recommend? Favorite literary character? Any wonderful or strange bookish habits?

I always recommend The Lunar Chronicles to anyone interested in YA. It’s one of my favorite series and was the series that got me hooked on YA Fantasy.

I love the March sisters from Little Women. I enjoyed reading the series as a child, teenager, and adult and was able to identify with a different one at each stage in my life.

I love to binge read genres. If I read a fairytale retelling I love then I will proceed to read all the fairytale retellings! Then, once I’m tired of that, I’ll move on to something else like dystopian and then read all the dystopian! 

{{I’m just adding here that on her website, she has a list of books that she recommends and it’s organized by genre and age group! We have really similar tastes! I was psyched to see Ted Dekker on someone’s recommendation list, and I definitely bookmarked that incase I ever need more book recs!}} 

9  Thank you so much for taking the time to interview! If there’s anything else you’d like to say about anything at all, please do so here!

Thank you so much for having me! I’ve enjoyed the fun questions! Heartrender, the epic conclusion to the Heartmender trilogy releases Sept. 7! Be sure to read books 1 & 2 before it comes out!


Meet the Author!

V. Romas Burton grew up bouncing up and down the East Coast where she wrote her first story about magical ponies at age seven. Years later, after studying government and earning an M.A. in Theological Studies, V. Romas Burton realized something even bigger was calling out to her–stories that contained great adventures and encouraging messages. Her debut novel, Heartmender, has won several awards including: First Place in Young Adult for the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Second Place in Juvenile/ Young Adult for the 2021 Illumination Book Awards and tied for Third Place for Young Adult Fiction- Fantasy/ Sci- Fi in the 2020 Moonbeam Children’s Awards.


Find Vanessa and the Heartmender series online!

On facebook: https://m.facebook.com/vromasburton/

On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vromasburton/

Author Website: https://vromasburton.com/

Purchase the Heartmender books on Amazon:

Categories
Fantasy Horror

Dreams of the Dying (book review) by Nicolas Lietzau

Happy September! I am feeling the fall vibes, pumpkin spice, wearing of long sleeves, and books that contain corpses and nightmares …. Hey!

Today I am endlessly grateful to self published author Nicolas Lietzau (pronounced Lee-tsow) for the stunning hardcover of his novel Dreams of the Dying.  The naked cover mirrors the dust jacket and makes the book an excellent Halloween/shelf decoration as well as a memorable read, so definitely put this on your radar to read while he’s working on book two!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Dreams of the Dying
  • Series: Enderal #1
  • Author: Nicolas Lietzau
  • Publisher & Release: Self, December 2020
  • Length: 826 pages (hardcover)
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 yes to those with any interest in fantasy, horror elements, mental health rep

Here is the book blurb from GoodReads:

If your mind is the enemy, where do you run?

Years after a harrowing war experience, ex-mercenary Jespar Dal’Varek has taken to drifting. It’s a lonely existence, but, barring the occasional bout of melancholia, he has found the closest thing to peace a man like him deserves. Life is “all right.”

Or so he believes. Hoping to turn the page, Jespar accepts a mysterious invitation into the beautiful but dangerous archipelago of Kilay-and everything changes.

Plagued by explosive social tensions and terrorism, the tropical empire is edging ever closer to civil war. Kilay’s merchant king is the only person able to prevent this catastrophe, but he has fallen into a preternatural coma-and it’s Jespar’s task to figure out what or who caused it. As the investigation takes him across the archipelago and into the king’s nightmares, unexpected events not only tie Jespar’s own life to the mystery but also unearth inner demons he believed to be long exorcised.

Battling old trauma while fighting for his life, his sanity, and the fate of Kilay, the line between dream and reality blurs until only one question remains: If your mind is the enemy, where do you run?

Described as “Inception in a Polynesian fantasy setting,” Dreams of the Dying is a slow-burning, haunting blend of fantasy, mystery, and psychological horror, that explores mental illness, morality, and the dark corners of our minds.

This is a pretty difficult book to unpack! I know a lot of my followers have played Skyrim – if you played the Enderal mod you may be familiar with the author of this book, or at least his writing! (I admit that I entirely stopped gaming around 2016, it wasn’t compatible with travel nursing, but knowledge of the Enderal story is not required to enjoy the book!)

 The Worldbuilding: I thought the best part about the hardcover was all of the extras in the appendix.  This is a clearly lovingly crafted world that had an insane amount of planning involved, both on a macro and micro level.  There is plenty of world building in the book including local foods, customs and culture, architecture, a religious synopsis, weather, and the feel of the populace…

Then the book is over and the appendix is there! The micro world-building is just ..  it’s just something that only an indie author can do and it’s perfect.  Pages on and drawings of animals, even their named skeletons, local fashions, drawings, more about the Gods and Goddesses, and just an incredible breakdown of the language that was created for the Makehu people.

Take this example of how the language and lingual barriers feed overall immersion – it integrates into the story and creates comic relief at times!

‘kaia ‘ō kā teteie e māu kū.’ Do you know it?”

“‘Look out for … the emotional fish?’”

Kawu snorted. “Not quite.

I just love how much local culture and lore was included without being burdensome to the story.  I was going to share another quote about the tension/feel of the city but it contains a typo … The sentiment is there though. (Mostly the editing is extremely well done).

  • The only issue I had with the world is – the heck is up with the seasons? The 6th moon of dry season only has 5 days … but the rainy season month has 33 days? 
  • Also as far as immersion ..  Lietzau probably wrote one of the most creative languages I’ve ever seen in a low fantasy, including such slang gems as “by the excretions of the sacred donkey.” Yet with nothing else modern about the world, he throws in modern slang.  I got used to it … (yes yes even though it’s a Bavarian cultural thing) … but it threw off an otherwise near perfect immersion.  I’m sure the Makehu swear too 😂

The Characters: ah gosh this book was so perfectly tailored to people who are struggling through their 30s.  Jespar has PTSD, anxiety, and guilt, and the representation is just so real that reading his journey through it was a bit jarring at times.   Lysia is a physician that runs a slum clinic even though her debts are piling up, and Kawu is an innocent, selfless little thing that had way too much trauma thrown at him at once.  Neither of them were particularly good people but they seemed real and I think anyone with struggling mental health will be able to relate to someone in the novel.

The point of view is mostly Jespar’s, but there is another that is referred to as “The Man”.  This POV brings out a whole spectrum of one’s own personal hell, confronting past demons, and learning a thing or two about what exactly it means to be a monster.

Between the monster, the swamp, and the court of corpses, the analogies are spot on.

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The Content: this seems like a good time to mention that September is suicide awareness month: I don’t need to give you guys the lecture but PLEASE reach out to a professional if you ever feel like you’ re losing the will to keep going. https://www.nami.org/get-involved/awareness-events/suicide-prevention-awareness-month

Alright the book is heavy content wise: briefly there is anxiety, crippling guilt, parental death, fairly graphic suicide description involving a knife, a drowning attempt, a not too scary corpse, other corpses, kind of descriptive (maybe R rated) m/f and m/m intercourse, smoking and alcohol use, and some really cute fluffy animals.

Tae ite nū’iwilo, tae hūnā ‘o. ‘You won’t find out if you give up.’ Because that is what it comes down to with melancholia and despair: just as other people lie when they tell you things always get better, your mind lies when it tells you that it doesn’t. The only way to know is to stay and find out … as hard as it might be.”

That quote hit me HARD, and it felt like something extremely personal that the author left in the text. When he recapped it in the afterword and talked about his own mental health struggles; I am just glad to see people speaking openly of this.  My mental health is total trash as a critical care nurse right now and I’ll openly admit that I had to clam up on this review for a bit.

The Magic: alright let’s perk this back up.  The magic system ranges from dream-walking to necromancy, healing, mind control, and seems to work as a mental and physical drain.  There are quite a few abilities and it’s pretty interesting overall.  Y’all know me, throw in necromancy and I’m there. There’s a lot of cause and effect related to the magic, and a professorial lecture in the appendix if you are still curious!

Closing thoughts : it’s a long book but nothing is extra, and the plot keeps moving forward without much drag at all.  This is a more intellectual breed of fantasy that I would push towards fans of Gene Wolfe or NK Jemisin rather than those expecting pure escapism.

To break the book down into a one sentence synopsis:

A comatose magnate, insurgent terrorists, furious commoners.

With a side theme of mental health, and….

If you fight injustice with injustice, no matter how deserved it may feel, you’ll always end up as just another turn of the wheel.”

I do strongly encourage everyone with an even casual interest in fantasy to check this one out.  It won’t be for everyone with some of the strong themes but I definitely think it’s worth consideration!

Again thank you so much to the author for my review copy, all opinions are my own 🖤


Find Nicolas and Dreams of the Dying online:

instagram.com/niseam_stories goodreads.com/nicolaslietzau facebook.com/nicolaslietzau patreon.com/niseam discord.com/invite/zdJyuHV (“The Enderal Novels” Section) niseamstories.tumblr.com reddit.com/r/enderal

 


Now that no one is still reading, a quick bookish note and SBAIS update:  I am endlessly grateful to ALL of the Indie authors that have been reaching out to me with their novels this year!  There are thousands of reviewers out there and it’s an honor! Everyone stay tuned this Sunday because I’ve got Heartmender series author V Romas Burton on and I can’t wait to share that with you all!

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Science Fiction

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: featuring T.A. Bruno!!

Thank you so much everyone for supporting the Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series!!  In this third installment I am lucky enough to feature DreamWorks artist + Sci-fi author T.A. Bruno!

I read his first novel In the Orbit of Sirens and was impressed by both the scope of the plot and the intricate, detailed world building.  The sequel comes out next month and I can’t wait for that one either.

Alright without further ado, here he is!

1) Welcome to the SBAIS! Tell everyone a little about yourself and your writing!

Thanks for having me! I’m happy to be featured. For those who don’t know me, I grew up in Chicago and moved to LA to work in the film industry. I’ve worked on a lot of fun projects, including some Marvel films. I currently work for DreamWorks Animation as a Layout Artist. My career has been all about telling stories through film, and it gave me the confidence to put a story down on paper. In the Orbit of Sirens was my debut novel, and I have written two sequels during quarantine. It’s been a blast, and it allowed me to meet some great people!  

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2) I think based on that, you’re going to have to tell us what a layout artist does! It’s super cool that you work for DreamWorks!!

Thanks! I love telling people about my day job. Layout—or Previz as it’s also known—is one of the best-kept secrets in Hollywood if you ask me. We wear many hats. In live-action (So Marvel movies and other big-budget VFX films), we create a computer-animated sequence for the film that will be visual effects heavy. By making these sequences, we get accurate camera data. We can explore the best ways to film the upcoming sequence before the entire production gets to it. It saves production a lot of time to plan ahead like this, and often we have the Director over our shoulder directing us. After we finish our job, production takes our Previz and films it, mimicking the cameras we made and sticking close to the action we planned out with the Director. The actors even get to look at it for reference. For Dreamworks, it’s the same idea, but we do the entire film. We are cinematographers, and our cameras get finalized. The animators use our work as a foundation to build upon and draw out more personality. It’s a super fun job, and not many people know about it. I’m happy I stumbled into it after College.

3) Feeding off of that, does that experience help you envision the scenery and world building for The Song of Kamaria so far? I definitely thought the visual imagery was one of the first book’s strong points

I’m glad you liked the imagery! Yes, by nature, I tried to escort the reader through the world of Kamaria with a cinematic eye. I treated each sentence as a shot and drew out the details as I would in a camera composition. My career has taught me how to express lots of detail without taking up too much time. I do my best to show and not tell. 

4) I was impressed because I had some obscure world building questions about In The Orbit of Sirens, and you were READY with a response! You had said that it was originally in the book but got edited out and I felt like I could see the holes where the information was before – how do you (or the editor) decide what makes the final cut in the book?  How much did the finished product change would you say from the original?

I have all the answers! I had planned to begin In the Orbit of Sirens very differently. Originally, Eliana and John Veston were on the Telemachus at the same time as Denton. I cut it and started it with Eliana on Kamaria with the forward scout team because it was honestly very dull the other way. Lots of explaining how they made it there and what they needed to accomplish. One of my beta readers actually suggested Eliana should just be on Kamaria in the beginning because Kamaria is where the meat of the story takes place. So before the change, I had written out the first scouting mission and how it all worked {{the techie info}}.  There is a whole chapter I wrote about that. It might make it into a prequel novella, but I will revisit that idea after publishing book 3. 

5) How do you feel about brunch? I think I have to start asking authors their favorite brunch item!

Second breakfast?! I’ll admit, mainly thanks to work from home, my eating schedule is all over the place. I don’t formally recognize any meal anymore, haha. But if I had to sit and consider brunch, I’d probably enjoy a sandwich wrap or some sort. Loves my wraps.

{{Here I will tell readers that in the Northeast, brunch is considered a combo of breakfast and lunch, usually with alcohol, or in some cases refers to breakfast for lunch.  Now I know what L.A. does 😂}}

6) What was your publishing journey like? Do you have any advice for hopeful authors trying to write or publish a book?

I think publishing in 2021 is an interesting field. Initially, I attempted to get traditionally published, but after many rejections, I reevaluated my priorities. What did I want? What did I want my future to look like? And most importantly, how much longer did I want to sit on In the Orbit of Sirens? For the record, the final version of In the Orbit of Sirens is very different from the one I queried. I don’t blame those agents for rejecting me.  When I realized that I enjoy my day job, and that the only story I really wanted to tell was the Song of Kamaria, and that the validation of a committee of publishers didn’t mean anything to me, I realized I’d be better suited to self-publish. I’m very glad I did too! I have total control over the story I’m putting out. I got to pool together all my resources and friendships and pump my entire body and soul into these books. I got to meet so many great people, including you! I also got to bring in my friend Jason Hall to do the illustrations in my book. I always loved his art style!

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At the end of the day, I can say The Song of Kamaria is ME. The cover, the illustrations, and the words all spawned from my resources, connections, and skillset. I’m so happy with how it’s being received as well. It just makes me more proud of being self-published and taking the risk of being my own boss.

7) Kamaria runs the entire spectrum of scifi, from interstellar war to space ships, futuristic technology, first contact… which idea came first? Do you remember what idea or theme you built the book around?

I knew I wanted to do something I hadn’t seen before, and most of my decisions sprang from “what haven’t I seen yet?” I wanted to write a story about starting over and making new choices. So a desperate escape to a new planet with limited resources felt like the best way to do that. I wanted to make Kamaria something unique. The native Kamarians are nothing like anything from Earth, so they are not based on Earth life. They are technologically advanced, but in a way that nurtures a peaceful life that utilizes the land around them. I also wanted to explore the parts of human nature that involve lying and truths. Readers might have noticed that you can’t lie to the auk’nai (mainly because it’s said between characters often) but that the Undriel are huge liars. Humans are in the middle, sometimes deceiving each other and sometimes being painfully truthful. I had not seen that before, and I felt it was worth writing about. I know this answer is a little scatterbrained, but I’ll conclude it by saying I had MANY brainstorms about what this trilogy should be before starting. 

8)  Here is the easy round of rapid fire bookish questions – do you have a favorite book or series you always recommend? Favorite literary character? Any wonderful or strange bookish habit?

I am loving Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep trilogy (I’ll admit I haven’t finished it yet, but the first two books are some of my favorite Sci-fi). But I always recommend Dan Simmon’s Hyperion Cantos to everyone. Vinge’s series can be a little bit of a slow burn that I specifically loved, but Hyperion is just excellent sci-fi that anyone could love. Favorite literary character Piranesi from the book of the same name. He was just fantastic, and I did the audiobook, voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who made him even more charming. And my weird bookish quirk is often buying multiple versions of the same book. It’s not unusual for me to have an e-book, physical copy, and an audiobook of the same book sometimes. Typically if I do audiobook and enjoy it enough, I will buy a physical copy for my shelf. And if I’m leaving a review on Amazon, I’ll buy an e-book with my author account instead of my personal one so that my review shows up as a “verified purchase.” Plus, it helps support my self-published friends.

9) Thank you so much for taking the time to interview! If there’s anything else you’d like to say about anything, please do so here!

Thank you for the interview! I really enjoyed these questions. For those looking to jump into the world of Kamaria, now is a great time! The second book, On the Winds of Quasars, releases September 20th, 2021. Currently, the e-book is available to preorder, but softcovers and hardcovers will also be available on the 20th. I hope you enjoy your time on Kamaria!


Meet the author!

T. A. BRUNO grew up in Chicago and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the film industry. Since then, he has brought stories to life for over a decade as a previsualization artist. At home, he is a proud father of two boys and a husband to a wonderful wife. IN THE ORBIT OF SIRENS is his debut science fiction novel.

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Links:

Twitter:

https://mobile.twitter.com/TABrunoAuthor

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/tabrunoauthor/

The Song of Kamaria series Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09B4YVKGT?binding=kindle_edition&ref=dbs_dp_rwt_sb_tukn

Author website: TABruno.com

In the Orbit of Sirens audiobook link: https://www.audible.com/pd/In-the-Orbit-of-Sirens-Audiobook/B08X5XVW8Q?qid=1614184804&sr=1-1&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=83218cca-c308-412f-bfcf-90198b687a2f&pf_rd_r=BFGSJEZSWAPDEDGY62HQ

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20726865.T_A_Bruno

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: with Rachel Hobbs!

Hi everyone! Welcome to the inaugural Sunday Brunch Author Interview, I hope this will become a long standing series! Shadow Stained author Rachel Hobbs was nice enough to take the leap with me, so read on!

She talks about her publishing journey, morally gray characters, social media, and more!

1. Thank you for taking the time to chat! Tell everyone a little about yourself and your novel!

My name’s Rachel Hobbs and I’m the author of the dark fantasy novel Shadow-Stained. Love and hate, good and evil, I write about morally grey monsters and opposites that both attract and violently polarize. I’m a dental nurse for a small local practice, and when I’m not working with teeth, I’m summoning demons at my keyboard.

My characters don’t always deserve your affection, but just maybe they’ll steal your heart anyway.

2. What was the Indie publishing journey like for you? Do you have any tips for fellow indie authors trying to publish a book?

I actually queried Shadow-Stained for a good nine months before making the decision to self-publish. I had this dream of seeing my book on the shelves of a physical book store, and having done my research on both avenues of publishing, I knew that you could fall back on self publishing after querying, but not the other way around. I went into the querying trenches with realistic expectations and came out on the other side with the kind of thick skin and determination only one hundred plus agent rejections could get you! When I made the decision to go it alone and publish Shadow-Stained anyway, I was nervous of getting it wrong. In hindsight, self-publishing my debut novel was the best decision I could have made. I was in full control of every aspect of my launch – final content, cover design, marketing – and my books still made it into my local indie book shop. I couldn’t be happier with the way things panned out.

If I had one tip, it would be don’t skimp on the cost of your cover. A good cover will sell your book time and time again, so a good cover designer is an investment that you won’t be sorry you made. There are so many amazing book covers out there already. Why set yourself at a disadvantage from the get go?

3. How do you feel about social media? I am seeing a lot of love towards indie authors these days and it’s amazing

I know some authors tend to find social media a chore. Personally, I’ve been made to feel very welcome on Twitter, especially in the writing community. I’ve made a lot of solid friends on that platform and in some ways, it’s almost like having one big online family! Everyone is so supportive of each other and cheering for your success. In a similar way, social media is a goldmine of undiscovered gems. I’ve found a few of my current favourite reads this way, books by extremely talented indie authors that deserve all the love and attention. I don’t enjoy Facebook, but maintain one anyway. It really is each to their own, when it comes to social media.

4. There is also a lot of “noise” out there and I have seen authors on Twitter lamenting about ratings and having their work seen, has that been a challenge?

Ratings are everything when you’re first starting out. When your name means nothing to anyone, a reader is relying solely on existing reviews, the book blurb, the cover. It can be disheartening to put yourself so wholly out there and get very little back, but writing is marathon, not a sprint. There isn’t really such a thing as an overnight success, because the chances are, that successful person worked really hard in the shadows for a long time before being discovered. All you can do is show up and put the work in. It can be a challenge to get your work in front of the right eyeballs, especially when there are so many amazing books already out there. But it’s important to remember that the other authors are not your competitors, they are your community. And the chances are that by supporting and lifting others, you yourself will eventually be lifted in kind.

    5. One of the main characters in Shadow Stained is a morally gray, “destruction and mayhem vs saving a girl” kind of guy. What do you think makes up a good “Gray” character?

Morally grey characters are so deliciously complex. Thorny and often only looking out for number one, one of the best things about a good ‘grey’ character is that they’re unpredictable. One moment they’re saving your life, the next you’re facing off as enemies. They have the potential to be both the hero and the villain at any given moment, depending on what most suits their needs at any given time. They’re not boxed into any one category, and because of this, you never quite know which way they’re going to turn.

With Drayvex, my morally grey Demon Lord from Shadow-Stained, I know I really pushed the boundaries of grey. He’s about as wicked as a character can be without actually being the villain! But to me, this makes it all the more compelling when he finds himself stumbling towards the hero side of antihero, clueless as to how he even got there, but fully committed for his own personal reasons. I think another thing that can have us so attached to a great morally grey character is their unflinching drive, their tunnel vision commitment to what they consider to be the only rational way forward. We don’t always agree with them, but by damn we want them to win.

    6. In your bio you wrote that narcolepsy and parasomnia inspired some of your writing, are you comfortable elaborating on that?

When I was in my early teens, I had a hard time staying awake. Sometimes it felt like I was dragging a physical weight around with me all day long, and I would fall asleep at inconvenient moments at school. What I didn’t know at the time was that this was a neurological condition called narcolepsy, but it was the parasomnia at night on top of this that really pushed me to the edge. To summarize, we’re talking sleepwalking, hallucinations and periods of paralysis upon waking and falling asleep, so I really had my hands full! As a sort of coping mechanism, and a way to explain what I didn’t understand, I made each of these conditions into a demon that was personally responsible for my suffering. It’s for this reason that demons feature so heavily in Shadow-Stained. Turning to creative therapy, when I eventually started to pour my demons onto the blank page, it sparked a wildfire idea for the darkest little monster story. That creative fire has been burning ever since.

    7. What else inspires your writing?

I’ve always thought of ideas as being like sand. Inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere; the secret smile of a stranger, a snippet of conversation you overheard on the train, a vivid memory, a really good film. By themselves, they’re just grains of sand. But meld them all together and they become something else entirely. I suppose that’s quite vague, but I know that a lot of my inspiration is subconscious. It’s a really strange feeling when you read back something you’ve wrote, and only after you’ve wrote it and it’s on the page do you start to pinpoint the origins of such an idea. When I’m looking for inspiration, I can turn to a good book, a curated playlist, or even Pinterest.

    8. Alright let’s end this with some easy rapid fire general bookish questions:  Do you have a favorite book that you always recommend? Favorite literary character? What genre do you usually read? Do you have any strange and wonderful bookish habits?

One of my favourite authors is Darren Shan. He has quite the extensive back catalogue at this point,  and I often change my mind on which of his books is my favourite. But Lady of the Shades is a cracker, and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes a dark twisty thriller that will keep you on your toes. If I had to pick a favourite literary character, I’d have to go with August Flynn from V E Schwab’s Monsters of Verity duology. August is effectively the one monster with a conscience in an entire city of savages. His heart and his melancholy, along with this chink of light inside him that makes him want to show up and fight his true nature again and again, is what makes him such an interesting character. I like dark, gritty fantasy, and love to read the kind of things I love to write. Monsters and rogues, enemies to lovers, villains that are the heroes of their own story. I’m sure by now you’re seeing a pattern forming! I don’t really have any strange and wonderful bookish habits that I know of, but maybe it’s time I adopted one. 😉

    9. Thank you so much again for offering to interview! If there is anything else you want to say about yourself, your novels, your life, or anything at all, please do so here!

I get overly attached to book characters. I’ve lost count of how many times over the space of a book or a series that I’ve made a character the latest object of my obsession –ahem, I mean affection– and then had my heart ripped out when there are no more pages left. I love it, I dread it. It’s like losing a friend. And then of course, there’s the void to fill in their absence. But the best characters stay with you, and some even live on in little pieces of my own characters. All in all, the book hangovers are a small price to pay. We really are suckers for punishment!


Meet the author (from Google Books)

​Rachel Hobbs lives in soggy South West Wales, where she hibernates with with her bearded dragon and her husband. By day she is a dental nurse at a small local practice. By night, she writes. ​ Her debut novel SHADOW-STAINED is the first in a dark fantasy series for adults, inspired by her dark and peculiar experiences with narcolepsy and parasomnia. She’s since subjugated her demons, and writes under the tenuous guise that they work for her. ​Fuelled by an unhealthy amount of coffee, she writes about hard-boiled monsters with soft centres and things that go bump in the night

Here are Rachel’s author links and links to view and purchase the book!

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

Twitter http://www.twitter.com/rhobbsauthor

Instagram http://www.instagram.com/authorrachelhobbs

Amazon Shadow-Stained (Stones of Power Book 1) eBook : Hobbs, Rachel: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

Barnes and Shadow-Stained by Rachel Hobbs, Paperback | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

Book Depository https://www.bookdepository.com/Shadow-Stained-Rachel-Hobbs/9781527257962