Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nazis, Love, and World-wide Magical Adventure: An interview with young adult contemporary fantasy author Matt Posner


Today I'm talking with author Matt Posner about the latest in his School of the Ages series, a young adult contemporary fantasy series.

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1) Please tell us about your book.

The War Against Love continues the story of teen magicians attending a magic school in New York. In this adventure, the heroes gets into a life-and-death struggle with a gang of Nazi wizards from Europe who have a long-standing grudge against the school and are willing to make it very personal. They attack Simon's house in the first chapter and they attack his partner Goldberry in the street shortly thereafter. From this point, the conflict is all-out, and only blood can follow. But in the middle of this, Simon falls in love with the Arch-Mage's daughter, whom he feels is so perfect for him that it hurts to be near her. And she's not the easiest person in the world to deal with, and he doesn't know if he can win her heart, and even if he can, there's still the magical war going on in the background. 

It's the darkest book of the series, in the way the middle of any series must be. The closest parallel I would say is The Empire Strikes Back, the middle movie of the first Star Wars trilogy. The enemies do damage that maybe can't be healed.

2) This is the third in your School of the Ages series. You're working on  a fourth. That's certainty a lot of writing time invested. What inspired you to start on this particular series?

I've been writing about magic and coming of age since I began my first fantasy novel at age 14. In this case, my original idea was to write about one wizard and about three teen apprentices travelling the world, but at the time I was working in a yeshiva high school, and I decided it would be more cool to use what I was learning there, so I switched to a magic school concept. I also got the villain of The Ghost in the Crystal from something I read in the yeshiva. With this basis, I began to draw in other elements of my life and knowledge. My wife is Hindu Indian, so I added in this cultural background, and I was then new to New York and wanted to use the city also. And I have a lot of knowledge of the paranormal and Hermetic magic. So it all came together well.

I started this series in early 2002. So I've been working on it for ten years, and it will be a total of twelve years by the time it's done. I'm writing other things also, but honestly, I'd like to get it over with, and start something else. However, the story isn't done yet, and I don't have any choice now -- I have a traditional publisher who is expecting five books. And there is so much cool stuff still coming that writing the rest will still be fun.

3) Please tell us a bit about the cultural background underlying your story.

The magic system in this series is an eclectic combination of paranormal studies (like you can see on TV ghost shows); and Hermetic occultism, the European magical tradition with its methods of divination and astrology and mainstream magic theory; and Asian traditions such as meditation and mantras; and Cabala, Jewish mysticism and magic.  I combine these with a variety of histories and cultures, adding new ones with each book. In book 3, I used my knowledge of learning disability to create a teen magician with Asperger's syndrome. In the present book, I use my travels in Europe to provide some intriguing settings for the kids to adventure in. So they are meeting and dealing with their allies and enemies in real places in Europe, just as I used real places in New York for The Ghost in the Crystal.

4) What sort of challenges does Simon face in this book that he hasn't faced before?

He faces adult magicians who want to kill him, including one who is a serial killer, and there are also really deadly spirit opponents. He has to face down an arch-mage, and he has to deal with wild, passionate love for a girl he's not sure likes him. But worst is really the challenge of dealing with his own rage and corresponding potential for violence. In book one, Simon was an innocent child. In book two, he was a wounded child. In book three, he learns that he has the power and the capacity to kill. In book four, he will deal with remorse.

5) A lot of people die in this book. Do you have any concerns that readers will be off-put by some of their favorite characters dying?

Well, I didn't like it when Ben Kenobi died in the original Star Wars. I was only seven when I saw that in 1977. I guess it had a strong effect on me to see a character die that I liked so very much. For most contemporary readers, it's the death of Sirius or of Dumbledore that hurts the most. However, if it makes you feel any better, remember that my books are full of ghosts. Being dead doesn't mean the characters won't appear anymore.

6) With all the darkness in this book, did you find it difficult to integrate the romantic elements?

I think I had a sense fairly early on that the story arc of the book was going to damage Simon, Goldberry, and the rest of the cast on the emotional level, showing the cost of war. It is the war against love -- which Simon describes early on as the conflict that would deny him peace. So the whole shape, including the romance, was in my mind throughout the writing process.

One event that made a difference is worth reporting. I work two jobs on most days. Back in 2009, I drove to my second job and had 45 minutes to unwind before beginning work, so I lay down on the sofa and listened to my iPod. The song "Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica came on just as I was starting to fall asleep, and in my half-asleep state, the emotional impact of the song triggered my creative process, and I realized the climax of this novel for the first time.  So music helped me a little with the integration, I must say. But music always helps.

7) You've engaged in a bit more stylistic experimentation in this book. What motivated those writing choices?

I suppose you mean the scene that is told as a screenplay. I wrote it that way because I conceived the events of the story as the sequence of a film, and I just wanted to put them on paper that way. Those events can be told best in montage form not as a straight narrative. Also, because this book is heavily designed around dramatic irony, I intend for the readers to know things Simon doesn't know, and accordingly to feel sorry for him as he makes mistakes.  It's a tragedy, really. I love tragedy as a literary form. I have since reading Oedipus Rex back in middle school.

I also have an extended sequence in which the Jonathan twins beat up Simon by throwing at him fantasy novels that were popular in the 1980s. They make a variety of remarks about the books and the authors, some complimentary, some not.  (I'll bet my publisher in India takes this part out…)  This is based on Chapter VI of Don Quixote, in which a priest and a barber go through Quixote's library of romances and judge them one by one as either good, or suitable only for burning. I'll leave it to the reader to decide which of the Jonathans' opinions are mine.

8) How many more books are planned for this series?

There are two more books planned. Book IV has had a name change and is now called Simon Myth. It brings back time travel and has a heavy focus on India and Indian mythology. It also has a lot more of Goldberry, who gets entire chapters on her own. I have written more than half of this book, but my progress is very slow. Book V, which has not been written but is just partly planned, is called The Wonderful Carol and will employ Arabian and Persian mythology as well as some cool popular culture tropes.

Jeremy, I appreciate the chance to appear on your blog to talk about The War Against Love. My next book, possibly for the end of September, will be How to Write Dialogue, to which you are also contributing. So I'm going to get to work on that, and please, more of your series too, ASAP!

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Thanks, Matt. If you'd like to see more from Matt please check out his site at http://schooloftheages.webs.com/.

The War Against Love can be purchased at:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/School-Ages-Against-Series-ebook/dp/B008VXUI0K/ref=sr_1_26?ie=UTF8&qid=1344683973&sr=8-26&keywords=matt+posner
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/​School-Ages-Against-Series-eboo​k/dp/B008VXUI0K/​ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=13446841​50&sr=8-8
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/school-of-the-ages-matt-posner/1112451675?ean=2940014860512

Monday, August 27, 2012

Shape-shifting Foxes: An interview with historical fiction author Laura V. Baugh

Today I'm talking with Laura V. Baugh about her novella of mystical investigation in ancient Japan, Kitsune-Tsuki.

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1) Tell us about your story.


Tsurugu no Kiyomori is an onmyoji hired to find a kitsune alleged to be in the area, to protect the daimyou's new bride. The problem is, how does one find a shape-shifter -- and what if that shape-shifter may not even exist? So Tsurugu and Shishio Hitoshi, assigned to assist him, must evaluate whether events are supernatural or human-caused, and whether suspicious persons are really kitsune in disguise or merely suspicious humans.

2) What inspired you to write this story?

I actually wrote this story on demand, so to speak, for an Asian fantasy anthology. The publisher ended up shelving the project for some years, though, and after my contract finally expired, I decided to self-publish, just to get Kitsune-Tsuki out there!

I'd been bumping into a number of references to Abe no Seimei, a famous historical onmyouji with a lot of legend now attached to him. One of the stories about him alleged his mother was a kitsune, and that supernatural element granted him extra ability. So I wanted to do something with onmyoudou and kitsune.

3) Your story revolves an onmyoji and his investigation into potential kitsune afflicting an area. Please tell us a bit about omnyoji and kitsune.

Onmydo is, in a nutshell summary for Westerners, a sort of astrological nature magic. Onmyouji (practitioners of onmyoudou) held court positions in Japanese history, much as a European court often had a particular bishop or cardinal, or the typical fantasy kingdom its court wizard.

Kitsune are one of the most popular Japanese youkai, fox spirits with one to nine tails, depending on age and power. They are wise and clever, usually pranksters, and can also be benevolent or malicious. They can change form into nearly anything, including a human you might know, but they have limitations as well. They might also sometimes possess a human and cause him to act a certain way, and this state is called kitsune-tsuki.

What's fascinating to me is how these traditions have influenced even modern life. A typical Japanese telephone greeting is, "Moshi, moshi" -- a sound a kitsune could not make, and a way to verify that one is speaking to the true individual and not a shape-shifter.

4) What got you interested in ancient Japan?

Oh, I'm interested in everything! But this era is pretty intriguing. Kitsune-Tsuki is set during the Heian/Kamakura transition, when the glittering hyper-stylized court life of The Tale of Genji is slipping into the feudal state and the warrior is gaining status on the poet. This gave me a chance to play with both the Heian conventions -- moon-gazing parties, poetry contests, the necessary obscuring of Kaede-dono's face -- and the setting of a warlord's household as he's trying to consolidate power and security.

5) Is there a particular aspect of ancient Japanese culture you find particularly fascinating?

The multi-layered stylization of Heian court life is really fascinating -- where one never says what one means, but instead writes a poem with subtext, and everything from the color and grade of paper to the quality of one's handwriting influenced the meaning of the poem and one's social standing. I don't think I'd fare well there, myself, but it's a really interesting world to consider.

6) Do you have any sequels to this novella planned?

I do! I'm finishing a novel now, following Tsurugu and others from Kitsune-Tsuki. Without giving anything away, I think the ending of this novella sets up some questions which will be fun to answer. Also, the sequel novel gives me room to introduce more youkai, so watch for kappa, oni, tengu, and more!

7) Please share with us about any of your other works in progress.

I'm shopping a fantasy series right now -- I can't say anything definite yet, but I'm feeling pretty good about it at the moment. It's set in a more typical Western world, but there are a lot of Eastern influences on the culture and particularly in the "other race."

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Thanks, Laura.

If you'd like to learn more about Laura, you can find her at:


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Lucifer, the original anti-hero? An interview with Christopher C. Starr

Today as part of a blog tour organized by Making Connections on Goodreads, I'm interviewing Christopher Starr about his retelling of Lucifer's rebellion in Heaven, The Road to Hell: The Book of Lucifer.

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1) Tell us about your book.

The Road to Hell is the story of the war in Heaven, the war between the angels, the fall of Lucifer and the dawn of man told through the words of the angels themselves—Lucifer, Michael, Raphael and Gabriel. It’s a story that predates humanity; it explores the relationship of the angels to God and to one another, and examines what could have led to their rebellion. More than anything, the book tackles Lucifer’s descent into evil, into becoming Satan, and explores his emotional arc as he falls.

2) You're following in the footsteps of some greats, such as Milton, in choosing to write about The Fall from the perspective of the Devil. What inspired you to write this kind of story?

Yeah, I know, Milton’s got big shoes to fill. But I’m not really trying to. Where Paradise Lost is epic, I’m trying to tell the story in much more intimate strokes. There’s something much bigger in Milton—“justifying the ways of God to Man”—than what I’m doing here. I wanted to make it personal, have the reader feel the actions, choices and consequences as they are happening.

As far as inspiration goes, it was like a perfect storm for me: my first marriage was breaking down, I was in the beginnings of my 30s and having some sort of mid-life crisis, and I was having a crisis of faith. So I started looking for answers. That leads me to other characters who also had questions of faith. The Bible is full of people who had the same questions but the storyteller in me said, “What would happen if an angel had a crisis of faith? What would the consequences of that be?” And here we are.

3) What sort of thought process went into your decisions about what details to "fill in" while writing this story?

The story had to make sense to me and every version I’d ever read simply didn’t. Most accounts assume there were warrior angels—why? Before the Fall, what happened in Heaven that required soldiers? But the biggest question to me was how Lucifer could persuade a third of the angels to challenge God and fall with him? I couldn’t ever reconcile this idea given the way we usually think of Heaven.

So that’s where I focused.

To me, there was free will already, right? If not, how did Lucifer choose to challenge God? He made a choice. We generally hear these portrayals of Heaven where the angels want to do nothing more than sing and dance and worship God and tell Him how awesome He is. But that doesn’t jive with the angel who’s in charge of leading the worship deciding he’s had it. More than that, what kind of argument could Lucifer have made that would resonate with such a significant portion of the population? This is war we’re talking about, war against God. I felt that there must have been some sort of unrest, some level of discord that Lucifer could have both felt and capitalized on.

So I built a version of Heaven that wasn’t pie in the sky, song and dance. It was darker, grittier, and doubt was a real, tangible thing. I wanted to create a class system among the angels, one that would spawn unrest and envy and hate.

In the end, it was about motivation and rationale. I never intended anyone to agree with Lucifer’s actions. I just wanted the rationale to make sense; I wanted my readers to understand how he might have gotten to where he did.

4) Whatever name you want to give him, your main character is a central figure in the religious beliefs of several world religions and billions of people. Are you concerned that you might offend religious sensibilities with your book?

Heh. Yeah. I’ve already been moderately successful at pissing some people off. I’m ok with that. Whether it’s my portrayal of Lucifer or the number of curse words in the book (a whopping 11), or that it’s not strictly creationist, there will always be detractors. And I know from an author’s standpoint, it’s always good when people are discussing your work, good or bad. At least you know you touched them, right? But my intent has never been to offend or alienate.

I am a Christian. But I think my relationship with God won’t be the same as someone else’s. And I don’t think it’s supposed to be. It’s such an intensely personal idea that I would be remiss for trying to foist my beliefs on someone else. In the end, I’m a storyteller and this story—this foundationally human story—was too good to resist. The characters, mainly Lucifer, go through emotional arcs that shake them to their core, force them to reaffirm their beliefs, and make them stand up and fight for what they believe in.

I love Lucifer as a character; he’s a lot of fun to write. The biggest fear I had was that people would interpret my words as sympathy for the Devil. I just wanted to see the world through his eyes, how it might have seemed to him. Hear his justifications for his own actions. I thought it was cool and a good story. My job as a writer is not to give you what you’ve been given but to push the conversation forward. To look at it from another perspective. I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do.

5) Were there any particular writing challenges that you found in writing this type of story?

The first time I wrote this story, I wrote it from Michael’s point of view. I wanted to explore what it must have felt like to have to put Lucifer out, to wage war in Heaven, to hear Lucifer’s arguments and choose to stand with God. I wondered if he had a crisis of faith in those moments and I wanted to explore them.

But it was boring. I wrote it 3rd person, Michael was clich├ęd, and his motivations were built solely around losing his lover in the war. It didn’t have enough oomph to really carry the story. But I loved writing Lucifer, loved hearing his take on everything, loved his wicked banter. I remember writing a piece from his perspective (didn’t make it into the book) that was just him ranting about Heaven, about Earth, about us. It’s where I got the line “My name is Lucifer and I was first.” 

6) This is the first in a series. Please tell us a bit about the series.
Heaven Falls is a 4-book series that chronicles God’s relationship with His angels as He builds His relationship with man, told from the perspective of the angels. It is our story through their eyes. It begins with the war in Heaven and the creation of the earth in The Road to Hell. The second book in the series, Come Hell or High Water, is due out December 2012 and covers the temptation in the Garden of Eden up to the Great Flood.

7) Please tell us about some of your other projects.

Let’s see: I have a werewolf-themed horror project in the works, a semi-autobiographical novel I’ve planned out, and am working with a couple younger authors to get their works published. And when I’m not writing, I’m trying to make sure my son graduates middle school, ensure my daughter doesn’t burn down her elementary school, and give my wife as much Disney as she can handle.

Thanks so much for having me!

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The Road to Hell can be purchased at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

You can find more from Christopher at:


Friday, August 24, 2012

Black and Tans: An interview with historical fiction author David Lawlor

Today I'm talking with David Lawlor. He is an Associate Editor with the Evening Herald newspaper in Ireland and has been writing features, reviews and working as a produciton journalist in national newspapers for 22 years.

He's come to Unnecessary Musings to talk about his book on the Irish War of Independence, Tan.


1) Please tell us about your book.

Tan is set during the Irish War of Independence, which ran from 1919-1921. It tells the tale of Liam Mannion, who returns to his home town as a Black and Tan - he must wrestle with his duty to the Tans and his loyalty to his childhood friends, who are now fighting the Crown forces.

The Black and Tans was the nickname given to ex-servicemen from the First World War who were recruited as Temporary Constables to try to restore order in Ireland. They soon became notorious for their brutality and ill-discipline.

To this day the Tans hold a special place in the Irish psyche. They have been demonised (justly) for their actions yet quite a lot of them were actually Irish themselves. I thought it would be interesting to write a story from the perspective of someone who joined this body of men out of desperation and soon was faced with the reality of their actions against his very own people.

2) What inspired you to write a book about the Irish War of Independence?

My own family history is full of fascinating stories from this time. My grandfather was very active during the War of Independence and the Civil War which followed, so I think that that had a part in drawing me to this era. Also, as a fictional topic, this era has only been lightly touched upon. It is a time in our history that is revered but also one which is quite raw, especially in terms of what each side did to one another during the Civil War. For those reasons I have always been fascinated by it.

3) When writing historical fiction, it's often easy to find information about the major events and personages of a period. A quick trip to the library will give you a timeline for instance. What's more difficult is getting a good feel for the small details that can bring historical fiction to life. Can you share a bit about what sort of research you had to do when trying to get a handle on such details?

You're right, J.A. it's the little details that can make all the difference. With regards to Tan, I spent quite a bit of time researching weaponry - from 'Smellies' (the nickname soldiers gave to the Short Magazine Lee Enfield - SMLE - rifles) to Mills bombs (early hand grenades). I also checked up on uniforms and clothing (particularly what women wore in 1920), and on the type so f tobacco poeple smoked and the papers they read.

Part of the story is set in Manchester, so I had to consult some old maps to find a specific setting there that suited my main character, Liam. He works in a cotton mill for part of the story, so I had to learn the manufacturing process of mills in order to describe it (hopefully) convincingly. For all of the above I found enough information on the internet to help my story.

My other concern was that I was writing about a specific event in Irish history - the destruction of Balbriggan, so I had to do some homework on the map of the town in those days and the names of the streets. I went to Balbriggan and walked its streets, chatting with some of the locals about the burning of the town...that helped, too. Having said that, though, I never wanted to slavishly follow every detail of that event, I just wanted it as a backdrop to the rest of the story.

4) Please tell us a bit about your main characters.

My main character Liam was unjustly accused of rape by a senior police officer and had to flee his home town before enlisting in the First World War. He has been scarred by the war and must reconcile himself to it and to the fact that his own family and friends are fighting the very soldiers he is now serving with. He is very atached to his father, Dan, but is at odds with his more uptight brother, EoIn, a bank manager who is in league with the British forces.

Frank Clery is Liam's childhoood friend and now a senior IRA commander . He is a fairly dashing sort but one imbued with a soft side, too. It is he who sets up local resistance to the British forces and thus finds himself on a collission path with his old pal, Liam

Kate Hanrahan is the local beauty and Liam's love interest. She is fiercly republican and operates a spy ring in the town

Webber is the bad guy, the RIC District Inspector who framed Liam for a rape in order to cover up his own infidlity.He is ruthless, self-obsessed and extremely ambitious.

5) The situation in Ireland and Northern Ireland has evolved over the decades. What are your thoughts on the current state of affairs as they relate to the legacy of the Irish War of Independence?

That's a very big question and one which both historians and politicians wrestle with to this day. The Civil War was a terrible tragedy in our history - many huge talents lost their lives in that conflict. Had they lived their influence would certainly have changed the type of nation that we evolved into. Michael Collins, the charismatic leader of the Free State forces, was killed 90 years ago this week. Had he survived he would most certainly have made the country a more liberal state. It was Collins who negotiated the truce that ended the War of Independence, he would surely have found a better way to work with the British in those early years. He was just 31 when he died so he would have had a long time as the country's leader to make things work politically. I think that his influence could quite possibly have made the later Troubles avoidable. Alas, we'll never know...

6) Is there anything you feel people misunderstand about the Irish War of Independence?

I think people see it in a very black and white way. The notion that a sizeable chunk of the notorious occupying force was made up of their fellow Irishmen is an uncomfortable truth for some to deal with, even to this day. I also feel that there were very many dark deeds done in the subsequent Civil War, which have yet to be aired, People like their history to be straightforward, but when you get cases of brother figthing against brother - as happened then - well the word 'straightforward' doesn't apply, especially with the families concerned.

7) Are there any authors who have influenced you?

Lots. I like all sorts of writers from Jack London to John Connolly. I love Connolly's style...he is a beautiful writer - economical with his words but poetic, too. He's my favourite modern thriller writer - and an all-round decent bloke, too!

8) Please tell us about your future projects.


I've two other novels under my belt - an historical fiction set during the Irish Famine, which involves an American Indian (yep, you read correctly - the Choctaw indians were very good to the Irish people during the famine). The other is a modern crime novel set in Dublin, which involves a stalker and his five victims. Currently, I'm two-thirds of the way through a sequel to Tan, which is set in the battlefields around Ypres, in the aftermath of the First World War. It incorporates a collection of very ordinary veterans (Liam Mannion among them) from the war, who still carry its scars both mentally and physically, and who decide to return to France to retrieve something precious left behind in the heat of battle. The journey resurrects their wartime memories, and they must cope with this and a few other obstacles that reveal themselves. After that, I've plans for a third book in this series, set around Michael Collins' truce talks with the British in 1921.

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Thanks, David.

Tan is available for purchase at Amazon.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl: An interview with memoirist Carol Bodensteiner

Today I'm talking with Carol Bodensteiner about her memoir of rural Iowa farm life,  Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl.
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1) Tell us about your book.

Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl is a memoir that captures my childhood on our family-owned dairy farm in the middle of America, in the middle of the 20th Century. Each chapter gives a peek into some aspect of rural life. If you grew up in rural America, these stories will trigger your memories and your own stories. If the rural Midwest is foreign territory to you, my stories invite you into a fascinating and disappearing world.

2) What inspired you to write this memoir?

My mother was my greatest inspiration. She was always after me to write our family stories, so I started writing about her and Dad - the jobs they had during the Depression, Dad's time in WWII, Mom's years teaching country school. But the more I wrote about them, the more I remembered my own childhood.

3) In the process of writing this memoir, did you have to do any research? For example, did you spend any time interviewing your family?

I constantly checked my memory against the memories my mom and sisters had. This experience just taught me just how personal memory is. They didn't remember most of the things I did. But there were a few important things they did confirm: we kids started carrying milk when we were 10 years old; we did sell our 4-H radishes to neighbors, and we did use a white sheet to pick mulberries one day. Wonder why we remember that! ;)

4) Is there anything that came up when writing this memoir that you'd forgotten about in the intervening decades?

Not necessarily forgotten but perhaps didn't remember as strongly. Remembering brought back (vividly!) the feel of fingers smashed in a door jam, the devastation of losing money at a carnival, the smell of new mown hay, the powerful connection to the land. I write with a lot of sensory detail, hoping readers will experience the farm as I did.

5) The world and the United States have changed a lot since the 50s and 60s. What do you think the most positive change has been?

That's a difficult question to answer because I see pluses and minuses in most everything. My world on the farm was both narrow and insulated. As a result, there was the possibility of seeing everything as very black and white, which of course it isn't. I like the openness children have today to see and appreciate different lifestyles, cultures, careers.

6) What do you think the most negative change has been?

Because everything is so wide open today, children lose their innocence so quickly. The pressure is on to "be" and "do" from such a young age. I wish children could just be children a little longer.

7) Are their lessons in your childhood experiences that you think could be helpful for people in modern times who grew up in a different sort of environment?

Though I didn't set out to do this, each chapter in my memoir includes some value my growing up experience instilled in me. Values like hospitality, honesty, the importance (and rewards) of hard work, and the the treasure of strong parent/child relationships. These values seem important regardless of the growing up environment, but sometimes they get lost since few children today have the very close family relationship we did on the farm.

8) Please tell us about any other projects you have in the works.

I'm working on my first novel, historical fiction set in Iowa prior to and during WWI. I anticipate publishing in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of that world event.

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Thanks, Carol.

If you would like to see more from Carol please check out her out at:

www.carolbodensteiner.com
Twitter @CABodensteiner
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CarolBodensteinerAuthor

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cyberpunk in a Fedora: An interview with Suzanne Van Rooyen

Today I'm talking with Suzanne Van Rooyen about her dystopian tech-noir, Dragon's Teeth.

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1) Tell us about your book.

Well, in a nutshell Dragon's Teeth could be classified as dystopian tech-noir. Decoding the genre tags, what that means is that the world has suffered an apocalyptic event that leaves pockets of humanity run by a variety of governments. My story concentrates on two: the cybernetic playground of New Arcadia and the theocratic nameless city. Although the tie between these two cities across a divide of almost half a century isn't immediately apparent, the individual characters from each era are in fact tied closely together. You can expect genetic engineering, cybernetics, indoctrinated soldiers, a seedy city underbelly, government conspiracies and an ever so suave detective, replete in fedora and trench-coat, who ties the whole story together.

2) How did you approach your world-building process?

This really happened in two stages. First, the bleak Scandinavian setting for the nameless city and then the over-the-top playground like setting for New Arcadia. I tried to make the two polar opposites of each other. For New Arcadia, I just let my imagination run wild, conjuring setting according to my character. I definitely tried to build the individual worlds around my main characters - what would they want, need, love and despise in the world? And so the scenes were born. I had a better idea of what my nameless city would be like from before I started writing. New Arcadia, however, developed along with my characters.

3) Tell us about your lead, Cyrus.

Cyrus is complex in that what you see is definitely not what you get. He's got a dark and violent past that he tries to bury, tries to hide beneath his 1940s veneer. He's not the typical hero and certainly doesn't play by the rules, but he has integrity and lives by his own honour code.

4) What made you decide to combine a somewhat classic detective archetype with a cyberpunk setting?

This happened entirely by accident. I was taking a literature course at the time and we had just started analysing noir works. I fell in love with J. M Cain and Raymond Chandler and so Cyrus was born. The main idea for the novel had always been cyberpunk in the same vein as films like Equilibrium and shows like Dark Angel. The hardboiled element just seemed to fit and Cyrus, once he appeared in my thoughts, demanded the limelight in my story, and so he got it.

5) Do you think the spread of the Singularity concept and its ideal of  transcendent technology will influence people's desire to read things like cyberpunk that draw more firmly from our current interface with  technology?

Hm, that's a really difficult question to answer. I've read articles about how 'boring' the singularity concept has become because of its ubiquity, although many still aren't even aware of the singularity concept or what it really is. As for influencing readers, I'm not sure. Some may avoid cyberpunk because they've had enough of the theme. However, given the current technological climate, I think cyberpunk still has a place in science fiction despite its ageing moniker. Looking at the slew of new releases particularly in the YA category, the human relationship with technology is definitely still a leading theme so cyberpunk is holding its own as a subgenre. Whether that's directly influenced by the singularity concept, I honestly couldn't say.

6) Are there any authors who have influenced your work?
Sure. The two big ones are Neil Gaiman and David Mitchell - not so much in terms of content but rather in how they create their worlds and use language to paint their stories. My main science fiction influence is Philip K Dick, primarily because I saw many of the film adaptations of his work before I read his stories. I've been more influenced by film in the science fiction genre than literature to be honest.

7) Can you tell us about any of your future projects?

My next project is Obscura Burning, a YA science fiction novel about quantum entanglement. That's due for release in December from Etopia Press. I've also just signed with an agent for a YA cyberpunk novel tentatively titled Daughter of the Nether, which I'm hoping will find a home with a publisher in the next couple of months. There are a couple of other works in progress at the moment, all science fiction and tending towards cyberpunk.

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Thanks, Suzanne.

If you'd like to see more from her, check her at:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Treachery, Trust, and Myth: An interview with YA fantasy author Jennifer Donohoe

Today I'm talking with Jennifer Donohoe about her new YA fantasy.

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1) Please tell us about your book.

The Legend of the Travelers: Willow's Journey is a Young Adult Fantasy book written for most ages. Willow is brutally attacked and her mother is missing. She has no memory of her past and those around her want to help her or kill her. She doesn't know who to trust and relies on information given by those she doesn't even remember. Saille is Willow's guardian fairy, who gets her into more trouble than she should. Saille has her own issues, but never tells anyone of her past and why she is reduced to attending to a human girl. Ryuu is of Japanese decent and warns Willow of her treachery prior to her attack. He loves her, but cannot bring himself to trust her. Tecumseh is of Native American descent and believes Willow killed his parents. He befriends her and leads her into a snare. After the most brutal deception, Willow is faced with more than she can deal with, but she has to make a choice no matter the consequences.

2) Tell us about your lead, Willow.

Willow is not the usual fantasy heroine. She is disillusioned. She has no concept of her past and must rely on those around her to help her find her true path. She finds out along the way that her family are Travelers and she's the last. The Travelers have hidden the Four Jewels of Legend (borrowed from Celtic legend) from the enemy. Willow fights the truth of her past and does not believe she has turned against everyone she has loved in order to save someone who doesn't want to be saved. Her character comes from the truth of today's youth and how they must feel foraging their way in a world that has almost forgotten them.

3) Your book combines a number of different mythologies. What motivated you to tackle so many different myths and legends in your story?

I wanted a departure from the usual werewolf, vampire, and angel fantasies that have saturated the fantasy genre. In using these different legends and myths, I hope to inform the reader some about these colorful and wonderful tales that have been almost forgotten. I feel it adds more dimension and allows different cultures to find something they may be able to relate to. The Celtic myths fill the first book heavily. However, the reader is also introduced to the Japanese legends of their dragons and the Native American folklore of their shapeshifters.

4) What are the main themes your book explores?

This first book challenges the readers to understand that choices - no matter who they are - affect us all and the consequences can vary. In making a choice in an individual's life, we always must choose wisely and understand the ramifications of those choices.

5) As someone who has worked as a counselor for juvenile offenders, you've definitely seen the darker side of youth. Did this influence your writing at all?

It influences this book some. Especially, the theme of choices. I've seen many youth who have made poor choices and have to come to the realization that these choices affect more than themselves. Helping people understand this basic concept creates more thought in everyday life and can assist them when things get tough for them once more.

6) Do you have any sequels planned?

There are four more books to this series. The Dragon King will be available in late Fall of 2013. Here the Japanese legends will be tackled more readily. The Sky Fathers (Native American influenced), The Three Queens (Celtic Influenced), and The Final Journey (all combined again) will follow.

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If you'd like to see more fro Jennifer, please visit:


Website: http://jenniferdonohoe.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jenniferdonohoeauthor
Twitter: @donohoejennifer

The Legend of the Travelers can be purchased at Amazon.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Classic Tale of Good against Evil (and dragons): An interview with fantasy author A.D. Trosper

Today I'm talking with fantasy author A.D. Trosper about her novel Embers at Galdrilene.

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1) Tell us about your book.

Embers at Galdrilene is your classic tale of good against evil, woven together with magic and dragons. However, you won't find a host of other races in Embers. There are no orcs, elves, dwarves, etc.

2) What inspired this book?

Actually, my husband's persistence that I should write my own book. Everything I looked up about writing a novel said to write what you love. I love dragons. If I could, I would have a real live dragon in my backyard right now.

3) Tell us about your lead, Vaddoc.

Vaddoc is one of several leads. There are quite a few POV characters. Chapter one begins with Vaddoc. He is a border guard in the nation of Shadereen when he realizes he can use magic. Due to a war between dragons five hundred years before that devastated the nations, a war that left everyone thinking dragons were extinct, the ability to use magic is punishable by death.

4) The concept of dragons has fascinated different cultures for thousands of years. Please tell us a bit about your take on dragons and how it draws on (or differs) from previous depictions of dragons.

The dragons in Embers are European-style dragons. They do the typical things like breathe fire and fly. In order live in the world of my characters, they must bond with a human when they hatch into order to anchor their souls to the plane. They will not hatch until they find their rider, however long that may take. When they have located their rider, they begin to sing to them from within the egg. The person destined to hatch the egg hears the song in their mind and finds them self drawn to it.

5) The popularity of epic fantasy has waxed and waned throughout the decades, but seems to be on an upswing. Any thoughts about why the genre is growing in popularity in recent years?

I think Harry Potter probably kicked off the current love of fantasy. The making of the Lord of the Rings movies gave it another boost. Other than that, who really knows the workings of the human mind and why we suddenly find things so fascinating. Perhaps it has to do with the legends and tales deeply rooted in every culture and when something like Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings movies comes along, it sparks some buried longing to hear those stories again.

6) This is the first in the series. How many books are there in the series? In addition, will they focus on the same characters?
There are three books in the series. They will focus on the same characters. Other characters will come and others will go, but the focus will always be on the first seven.

7) Do you have any other projects in the works?

I am currently working on Tears of War, the second book in this series. It will be out in fall of 2013. I have two other stories, unrelated to the Dragon's Call series, waiting in the wings to be written.

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If you'd like to see more from A.D., please check out her Facebook page.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hard Boiled MANfiction: An interview with mystery author Robert Downs


Today I'm talking with Robert Downs about his hard boiled mystery Falling Immortality.

1) Tell us about Falling Immorality.

It’s what Stephen King in an Entertainment Weekly article has referred to as MANfiction. Casey Holden, former cop, current PI in Virginia Beach, VA, screens his clients the way he screens his women, based on whichever drop-dead gorgeous woman happens to waltz through his door first and manages to hold his attention. So when Felicity Farren, widow-at-large, struts into his office asking him to solve the two-year-old murder of her husband Artis, she intrigues him. When Casey starts digging, he learns the murder isn’t what it seems to be and he doesn’t have a big enough shovel to unearth the truth. And to top it all off, his former rival at the police department, Greg Gilman, is determined to disrupt his investigation. Casey's challenge is to learn what really happened to Artis, and why Gilman can’t seem to remove his head from his butt. And he’ll need all of his wits to complete the task.

2) Although your book is hard-boiled mystery, you've also described it as MANfiction. Please explain your definition of MANfiction.

Well, a book needs plenty of action, with fistfights and gunfights galore, since the whole point is escapist entertainment geared toward men, and oftentimes women come along for the ride as well. I’d like to add muscle cars into the picture, since every strong male needs a strong automobile. In Casey’s case, he drives a 2005 Dodge Viper SRT-10.

3) Give us some insight into your protagonist, Casey Holden.

Sure, he’s a former cop, current PI, wise-cracking smartass, who never takes himself too seriously. His trust fund allows him to take the cases that really intrigue him, so he can turn away all the riffraff. He loves danger, adventure, and good-looking women. He’s never far from a cup of coffee, and he’s always prepared to do battle in the bedroom, on rooftops, or on street corners.

4) What do you feel are the primary ingredients in a good hard-boiled mystery?

Like MANfiction, I’d say you want a strong male lead, plenty of action, and a first-person mystery. And it’s important not to shy away from fights and blood when the situation warrants it. A few wisecracks and smart aleck comments never hurt anyone either.

5) Time marches on, along with technology. This has complicated writing for some mystery authors because advances such as the internet and cell phones have made it more difficult in certain situations to maintain dramatic tension and suspense. Was this an issue you had to deal with at all?

Not really. When I write, I try to use technology to my advantage, just as I do in my daily life. Characters, like readers, have information constantly thrown at them. Like you said, I’m sure that changes the makeup of dramatic tension and suspense, but I didn’t write much other than song lyrics before the Internet revolution. For me, though, it’s all about the characters, especially my main character, and the stories he finds himself in the middle of.

6) Are there any authors who have influenced your style?

At the time I discovered Casey, or he discovered me, I was reading a lot of Robert B. Parker and Lawrence Sanders. I’d also devoured quite a bit of James Patterson and John Grisham. I pop open mystery and thriller novels the way one might consume green vegetables, so my wife and I are never short of good books around. I also work as a budget analyst for the government, so I have an overly analytical mind, to my detriment in some cases, so it’s probably safe to say that about every writer I’ve ever read and enjoyed has influenced me in some form or fashion, even if he or she doesn’t make it all the way onto the page.

7) Do you have any sequels planned?

The next two novels in the series are currently with my publisher. Graceful Immortality, the sequel to Falling Immortality, involves the murder of a female dancer from the Virginia Dance Company. Kathryn Gable, another dancer in the company, comes to Casey, and asks him to solve Jessica Mason’s murder. Like in the first novel, things aren’t quite what they seem, and before he even realizes it, he’s in over his head again.

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Thanks, Robert.



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

An Alchemist Challenges A Conspiracy: An interview with science fiction/fantasy author Jeffrey Zweig II

Today I'm talking with Jeffrey Zweig II about his science fiction fantasy book The End Begins: The Nine.

Warning: There are some minor spoilers in Mr. Zweig's answers.


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1) Please tell us about your book.

My Book is called The End Begins: The Nine. It follows an alchemist, Cassarah Telmar, after she discovered her academy was subject to scientific experiments by the military group called the Coalition. She vows to bring them down with the help of a resistance group called White Rose and fights to survive in a world she doesn't know. Cass will find, however, she will have to make a choice between continuing to live for them or destroy everything she has known to gain freedom. It's an epic science fiction/urban fantasy book - the first in a trilogy dubbed The Trinity Trilogy.

2) What was your inspiration for this book?

It originally started as a writing club adventure series I was part of in high school for three years. That was much more craziness going on but was fueled by the raw emotion high schoolers have in those days. For a long time I wanted to turn what we had into a screenplay or a book but never got much farther than concept and rough drafts for many reasons. But in 2009 I got laid off and moved back to Indianapolis. Without a job and a lot of time on my hands, I reignited this project finally as a novel inspired by reading Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. I borrowed the skeleton and a couple characters of the journey from the club's story, but a lot of the sub plots and back story were inspired by video games like Final Fantasy 7 or the Metal Gear Solid series.

3) Your book has a bit of alternative history element. Why did you choose to go that route?

I decided on alternate history because people can draw from original history and, while finding the deviations, won't have to construct a whole new world in their mind. There's so much going on in the plot that I wanted to make conceptualizing the setting as easy as possible. Secondly, I could pull from existing history, such as the group White Rose which was an actual resistance group during WW II (See here and also here), and put my own twist on it. I do this kind of thing with the whole USA, the outcome of the Native American relocation situation, even down to having motorcars still puttering around.

4) Your book involves both wizardry and alchemy. Can you tell us a bit about the underpinnings of the magic system in your world?

The world itself is not really magic driven as it's based on the real world more or less. There are byproducts of the alien systems around them that get dumped into this world and change it so it's a melting pot, for lack of a better analogy.

The Mylon crystal technology uses the raw power source to replace Nuclear energy and ammunition for weaponry, is derived from the Nine - harvested from the students’ bodies. But someone with certain training can do more with them. These gems have the ability to access magic power. Caleb uses the crystals this way to power a small pistol that in turn gives him something like unlimited ammunition.

The Nine is a race naturally gifted with magic power (the alchemy part of them). They were natural architects able to construct vast cities out of the Earth. But they need to be augmented by technology to further their abilities (the wizardry portion). From using technology they gain a much wider set of abilities, like focusing that energy through a filter kind of like a materia system (see final fantasy reference here). Of you could also think of it, as Cass goes through her journey, as a hierarchical system of gaining more complex abilities the more you use a certain ability. I could go into more detail in the specifics trees on where powers start and end but for a novel I didn't really get into the super technical stuff as it wasn't essential. It wouldn't be unless you're making a video game (which would be super cool).

The third type of outside magical system that appears I'll touch on briefly. It's James Kesumare and his Gate Keeper abilities. He's like a Green Lantern but able to learn how something works and adapt it to his own powers. Being a dimensional traveler, learning certain abilities could save his life. You'll get to learn more about that in the next book.

5) Your books also involves some science fiction elements. Did you find it difficult to combine the fantasy and science elements?

There's definitely a balance you have to strike when creating a world that has both. I wanted to try to modernize the concept of wizards/alchemists like you see in current anime like Full Metal Alchemist. And again, having been a really big fan of games like FF7, Xenogears, and those kinds of franchises - I have a lot of exposure to that and have a sense of what's working and what's not.

When creating a world like this you have to ask yourself questions like "Is what I'm doing making sense given the expectations I've set forth in the foundation I've created?" As I said before the world the journey really takes place in is a melting pot because of the external influences that have pressed upon it. It's about establishing expectations from the get go. For example the beginning of the book establishes The Nine with the Coalition, then James and his ties to them, then to Caleb and his ties and each facet twists them together so when they come together all in one place - it's not such a jarring shift.

6) Dystopian books have grown in popularity a lot in recent years. Why do you think people like reading stories in depressing settings? 

I'm going to get a little dark in my speculation here. I feel we as human beings have a primal urge to see/read/hear things like that can be worse than their current state "Hey I may have it bad but these people have it much worse!" Example: Mira Grant's Newsflesh Trilogy (Feed-Deadline-Blackout) is a good example of a society locked under several hard and fast rules so that anyone can spontaneously-combust into zombies and start eating people. They have to undergo constant blood tests and decontamination just to get around. They are constricted by nature to live very sheltered/oppressed lives thanks to the regulations the CDC and the government put in place.

A variety of factors play into the rise and fall of genre popularity and I try not to follow the tide, just write what I like and know that things do come in waves. Things like the Mayan calendar, recent political/governmental climate the world has going on, you can name a number of things but I think there's an allure to that kind of thing because in a perverted way we want to see the suffering - it's part of human nature. But - of course - we want to see a hero rise up and beat the system and obtain glory.

7) You deal with both religion and existential issues in this book. Are there particular major themes you were trying to explore?

Not at first, although the degree of religious implication has varied from draft to draft. The "His Plan" train of thought didn't start coming in until the drafts I had in early 2008. The original Mac Guffin from the club story was an ambiguous scroll that could manipulate the multi-verse. So regardless it was going to be something epic - a game changer for all sides involved. When you start getting into big things like traversing parallel worlds, religious and existential questions are going to come up.
At this point I hadn't wanted to get too deep into that kind of thing because 1. I don't want to come off as preachy because as far as religion goes I'm not that at all. 2. I have no idea, no one really does, as to what is on the other side if there is another side. I know I've tread into dangerous water in some ways but at the time I'm not trying to bring that kind of stuff too heavy into it because that's not what this story is about. What we do know coming at the end of the story is that messing with the workings of the universe is a dangerous game. Maybe exciting. But dangerous. I think I'll be exploring it more, but indirectly, as the series progresses. I think the biggest theme, on a personal/relatable level, is Cass finding her sense of worth in in the grand scope of the universe, that right now she could change things, take control of her life - fighting for what she believes in matters.

8) You have a background in screenwriting. How did that influence the writing in your book? 

I wouldn't say screenwriting itself influences my writing - but that training was great when I shifted from script to novel because the essential stuff still applies. How to execute a story. Act structures. Dos and don'ts, etc. That base experience translates into novel writing easier than you might think. What you have to realize is that with a novel you have a lot more room to explore the intricacies of your world and its people. A screenplay is more like a guideline for what will become a visual product, so you need only what's important/essential to each scene to make that script. With a book you will not, so, like radio, you have to rely on the theater of the mind to create the world of the book.

9) Do you have any plans for a sequel?

Yes. The Nine is the first book in what I have dubbed the Trinity Trilogy. The second book is called The End Begins: The Rise of the Gate Keepers. Taking place six months after The Nine, James will have to rediscover his heritage as a Gate Keeper to protect the world while Eden's Gate recovers from the damaged it sustained in The Nine. Everyone is dealing with the aftermath of the Coalition's occupation and the little spurts of rebellion that keep cropping up and the unexpected surprises the Eden's Gate is going to bring to their doorstep. I've slated it for an early 2013 release date but I'll be posting more about it toward the end of this year.

10) Please tell us a bit about your other future projects.

Right now I am working on two short stories that fall between The Nine and The Rise. They focus on some of the supporting characters you'll meet in the Rise. They're more of an appetizer for those waiting for the sequel. Outside of my self-publishing endeavors I'm working on a couple more shorts and splitting my time revising two novelette works I hope to start shopping those around to agents/publishers by the fall. I'd like to get some screenwriting projects sent out too but we'll see about that. My plate is already full with extra stuff, haha.

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Thank, Jeff.

Finding Jeff on the Web:

To purchase his book, please visit one of the following links:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Darkness and Light during the Depression and World War II: An interview with historical fiction author Joyce Shaughnessy

Today I am talking with Joyce Shaughnessy about her historical fiction novels focusing on the Great Depression and World War II.

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1) Tell me about your books. 

 I self-published two books with Xlibris. As part of a series of three books, A Healing Place takes the reader on a journey from the Dustbowl of the Great Depression to their healing place, an oil camp, Texon, Texas. They encounter dangerous oil camps, only to find a place where their family can heal from the devastation of the Depression. I lived in Texon as a child and it was a wonderful community. Then, Jed, their son-in-law, joins the Army and finds himself in the Philippines during WWII. He lives through the starvations and diseases in the battle of Bataan, but when the Americans surrender seventy-six thousand starving, sickly soldiers to the Japanese, they have no idea what a terrible fate awaits them. They are forced to walk the infamous Death March. The Japanese murder over 12,000 men, only to deliver them to cruelty. While in a prison camp, Jed finds his healing place in the power of prayer. The Millers never stop believing in each other, the strength of family, and the healing power of prayer.

My second book in the series is Blessed Are the Merciful, Our Forgotten Soldiers. Elton, a soldier and Susan, a nurse, both stationed in the Philippines, fall in love before WWII. Nine hours after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attack the Philippine Islands. Because General MacArthur is caught by surprise, the Filipino and American soldiers must retreat to Corregidor and Bataan. They fight desperately for six months, the nurses rendering aid at their sides, even living and working close to the front lines. Bataan and Corregidor aren’t stocked with enough food or medicine for the amount of troops they have, and they are all forced into combat while on starvation rations. Susan is interred at Santo Tomas where the civilian captives are also starved, and works in the hospital and the Filipino Underground.

2) What inspired these books?

 I watched a History Channel episode about the Dustbowl of the Great Depression, and it impressed upon me the devastation caused by it. The people caught in the Dust Bowl not only lacked any crops or food, they fought the dust that penetrated their lungs and choked their livestock and children. These people were literally fighting for their lives and those of their children. Then I started reading the about The Death March during WWII in the Philippines and couldn’t stop the research. The atrocities committed by the Japanese against civilians as well as soldiers was horrifying, and the more I read, the more I found. There were also a lot of instances of tremendous courage, which inspired me. There seems to be no end to the reading.

3) What sort of research did you do to prepare to write these books?

 I read about 20 non-fiction books before starting each book. They were about the cause and effects of the Depression and the cause and effects of WWII in the Pacific. I also did research on the internet while writing. I wanted to get all the facts, dates, and personal information correct. My husband is a WWII buff and has a library filled with books about it. I read those and added many more to the collection.

4) You're an American writing from the American perspective. Is there anything you think a lot of Americans misunderstand or have forgotten about this chapter of World War II?

 Many Americans, especially young ones, have no concept of how the war started and especially about the Japanese war in the Pacific. I had one young woman read A Healing Place and comment that she wasn’t even aware that the U.S. fought Japan in WWII. That amazed me. A lot of men and women were involved in that part of the war and many died because at that time, Japan treated all POWs with extreme cruelty. They told them that “they did not deserve to live and that their families would be ashamed of them for 10,000 years.” Many men died trying to retake the Pacific theatre, plus China, Burma, and India.

5) Find anything that surprised you during your research?

I was taken by surprise when I read that the Japanese were very outspoken regarding their aggressive intentions to conquer people who “were non-Japanese.” They even signed an Anti-Comintern Pact with Hitler in 1936. The American Ambassador to Japan, Joseph Grew, warned the U.S. that Japan had announced that they could “take any Western occupied territory and that they “can do anything we want.” The U.S. didn’t heed the warning and was taken by surprise by the Pearl Harbor attack, even though they had also tracked an enormous buildup of Japanese ships in the Pacific theatre in 1939. The Philippines (a U.S. property at the time), was attacked only nine hours after Pearl Harbor, yet General MacArthur didn’t react after hearing about Pearl Harbor. His planes remained sitting ducks for the Japanese.

6) The Depression, World War II, and Imperial Japanese abuse of POWs aren't exactly the most uplifting topics. That being said, your books also deal with overcoming some of that darkness. Can you discuss some of the "rays of light" you may have found during your research?

The rays of light during the Depression were the many families who struggled to stay together to overcome the terrible times. One example of someone who helped them find a place to work and live in harmony was the philanthropists Joe Trees and M.L. Benedum, who hired Levi Smith to form the oil camp in Texon, Texas. What resulted was mind boggling considering the other oil camps at that time that didn’t even provide tents, much less homes like were in Texon.

I found rays of hope in the nurses who served beside the soldiers on the front lines and risked their own lives to save others. They continued to work in the internment hospital although they were living on starvation rations. That is where I first conceived the name Blessed Are the Merciful. Also, there were many men caught as POWs who tried to save other lives, such as the ones who worked as doctors in the camps and spiritual advisors. There were Filipinos who gave their lives trying to feed the men on the Death March.

7) What do you hope people get out of your books?

I hope they become more aware of some important eras in U.S. history. I also hope they feel inspired by the courage of not only our fighting soldiers but also the ones who aided them. I also hope they are inspired by the Miller family who stayed together no matter the hardships, believed in and loved each other. It also cost a tremendous amount of money during that time to build Texon, and it saved lives and families for years to come.

8) Please tell us about your future works.

I am writing my third book in this series, The Unsurrendered, A Search for Jacob. It is a much more substantial work. I make Jacob a secret agent in pre-war Tokyo when he tries to warn the U.S. about the impending threat. Also my heroine, Carla, who is Filipina and a college professor, goes to Tokyo in 1936 to study the culture and language in Japan. She discovers very quickly that she is unwanted there and has to escape with her life. They both eventually fall in love and marry and become part of the partisan group (250,000 men and women) fighting behind the lines in the Philippines during WWII. Jacob is captured by the Japanese and Carla must save him! 

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Thanks, Joyce.

If you'd like to read more from Joyce, please check out http://blessedarethemerciful.net/.

Her books can be purchased at Amazon.

  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Mr. Beard's Regency Tour Day 20: A Shocking Catalogue of Human Depravity: Patrick Colquhoun's cataloging of London Crime

This is part of my continuing series on Regency England and Georgian England. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, please check out my archive here.

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Preventive policing and crime statistics seem obvious tools to us today, but in the final years of the 18th-century, Patrick Colquhoun helped introduce the concepts into the discussions of early police reform efforts in London.

Over at the English Historical Fiction Authors Blog, I discuss Colquhoun and his treatise on crime that he declared a "shocking catalogue of human depravity."