Posted in Author Q&A

Q&A with E.L. Croucher

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About E.L. Croucher:

E.L. Croucher is a young author, living in London. She started writing over two years,
with her first novel The Butterfly on Fire, which she published on Amazon. Alongside
her career as a writer, she works as a Japanese translator and interpreter for a well-
known Japanese gaming company, after studying Japanese at university and living
in Tokyo, Japan.

Her latest novel, Horned Winged Blessed is an ironic look into a world in which
gender roles are swapped, and minorities are forced into labels that they did not
choose. With a mix of feminist views and a pro-LGBTQ+ stance, E.L. Croucher writes
to further her dream of a world free from prejudice, hate crimes, and bullying.

 

  1. How has the LGBT+ community affected your life?

I would put this down to two stages. Stage one was when I tried to live as a gay man in the world, so we can call that the “G” phase. It was never right for me though. Everyone, including myself, worked that out over time. My heart was never happy. Still, I learned a lot about minorities and what it means to fit in whilst in the “G” phase – so I don’t regret a single second of it. I made some wonderful friends along the way.

Then eventually, at around 21 years old, I admitted to myself that I wanted to change my body to match my mind. I entered the “T” phase and embraced my life as a woman. Wow, what can I say? It was like living in monochrome all my life until suddenly waking up to color. I’d never felt so happy. Today, I am happier and happier with every new tick that I cross off my transition-goals-list.

And the LGBT+ community has been there to support me in its different forms the entire way. I’m so grateful and feel so blessed to be as lucky as I am.

 

  1. Do you think LGBT+ will no longer be a niche subgenre in the next 5-10 years?

It looks to me that the sub-minorities within what was already a minority are started to come out of the closet, now that people are finally learning more about the world and questioning themselves. Next, I would like to see the normalization and acceptance of straight cis men that find transwoman attractive and visa-versa. In general, the movement of sexual orientation exploration, non-binary people and their different genders is only just starting.

Unfortunately, I fear that the entire group won’t always fall within the giant LGBTQ+ bubble. I hope it does. In a world like ours, we should try and stick together! Ls should love Ts. Gs should love Ls. That is what love and acceptance are all about, right?

So to answer the question, I think that there is every chance that LGBT+ will no longer fall under the term “niche subgenre” as it grows and expands. But I hope that with whatever form it takes, we can still stick together. Power in numbers.

 

  1. What inspired you to write this novel?

I wanted to make a social commentary about how gender plays an important role in our lives, and how we cannot assume to label or group together people that do not want that. The main theme of Horned Winged Blessed is that the government in the novel has attempted to make it fairer for all genders by classing them as a ‘third’ one. This, however, is flawed because when forcing it upon the subcategories within the LGBTQ+ community those minorities are in fact having their freedom stolen from them.

My main motive was to give non-binary and transgender people a voice without making the story a huge trope about the journey we go on. (That was perhaps the mistake I made with my first book…)

 

  1. What do you wish people outside of the LGBT+ community knew about the movement?

It’s not our choice. And it has nothing to do with anyone else other than us what we do.
What I mean by that is that my identity and gender has nothing to do with the men that catcall me whilst I walk to work in the morning. When I get chatted-up in a bar, I’m not attempting to “trap” anyone. How self-centered of them to assume that! I’m simply just living my life as I want to and as I always should have. The lines that this blurs between gender and sexual orientation are a secondary issue that modern society has to awaken to and solve in itself.

That is literally what paving the way means to me.

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  1. Who inspires you? LGBT+ figure? Author? Someone close to you?

I can’t chisel this down to a single person, but I am truly inspired by allies to the LGBTQ+ movement that have no direct link to it. So for example, a perfectly happy straight cis person who in no way relates to the LGBTQ+ minorities that are 100% supportive and understanding of our cause. That’s an ally. That kind of pure acceptance and benevolence is inspiring. I think that the voice of an ally will resound a thousand times louder than any LGBTQ+ member. When I see or meet someone like that, it makes me want to fight even harder for equality.

 

  1. How has the writing community supported/helped you with your writing(s)?

There is a great pool of resources out there for any indie writer. I often asked opinions of my cover art, of which editor to go for and whether or not I was making the right decisions. It was always so fantastic to gain such proactive and honest support when those close to me were often too blind with love to tell me the truth.

 

  1. What advice would you give to other writers in the LGBT+ community?

I honestly mean this when I say that: if I can do it, so can you. My English is a native level, but it’s not perfect. My story had plot holes until my editor tore it apart and rebuilt it back up. It’s a long process, but anyone can write a book if they put their minds to it and are motivated enough.

 

  1. What is your favorite childhood book/series?

As a kid, it was, of course, Harry Potter. I always aspired to be as hardworking and focused as Hermione, and wished that my muggle parents would eventually tell me that I was off to Hogwarts next year at school.

I’m still waiting on my owl… should be here any day now!

~~

Thanks, Ms. Croucher for taking the time to answer my questions! I had a lot of fun learning more about the LGBT+ community!

Learn More about E.L. Croucher’s Works

E.L. Croucher’s Website

Follow her on Instagram @emi13230

Posted in Author Q&A

Author Q&A with Lee Gabel

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In honor of Mr. Gabel’s upcoming novel, Arachnid 2.0, I’ve reached out to Mr. Gabel for a little interview. I have been following Mr. Gabel for awhile now, and I try to be a part of his community on Twitter.

From Mr. Gabel’s website:

Lee has spent most of his life living on an island in the Pacific Northwest. A certified movie junkie, he has channeled his love for good stories to the printed (and electronic) page.

Why does Lee write? In his own words: “Writing is magic. I’ll never understand how it works the way it does, but I do know if I put energy into it, it rewards me in strange and wonderful ways. Even if I know where I’m going in a story, often I’ll end up being pulled in directions by my characters that I least expect. What ends up on the page never ceases to surprise me, and that’s super cool. Writing continues to be one of the most difficult and most rewarding aspects of my life.”

Lee has worked within the visual and dramatic arts landscape as a graphic designer, illustrator, visual effects artist, animator, screenwriter and author.

Elisha’s Books: Where did the ideas of Vermin 2.0 and Arachnid 2.0 come from?

Mr. Gabel: The genesis of the idea came from having to become a rodent exterminator on my own property in 2008. In the space of a few months, I caught more rats than I care to admit. A few properties down from me, a dirty, run-down house stood vacant and had been that way for years. It was the neighborhood eyesore and affected property values of the surrounding homes. The owner of the property was given an ultimatum: clean up and renovate the place, or demolish it. The owner chose to raze the house, but before that could be done, the community’s health authority needed to inspect the home’s interior for asbestos, lead, and anything else harmful to the environment. That’s when the colony of rats was discovered. Hundreds of them. The air was so bad inside the house that inspectors had to go in wearing hazmat suits and breathing apparatuses. They didn’t use electricity to kill the rats, but in the end, the colony was decimated, and the house was bulldozed soon after. I didn’t see many rats on my property after that, but the idea of a rat-infested living area stuck with me. Since I had hands-on experience as an exterminator, the ideas and images were forefronts in my mind. I wrote a screenplay first (which placed highly in a couple of competitions), then used the screenplay as the basis of the novel.

As for Arachnid 2.0, I had seen a lot of interest in Vermin 2.0, and even though I didn’t intend it to be a series, it moved in that direction organically. A reader sent me an article about a giant spider in Australia, and I’ve got a healthy respect for spiders (they can startle me), I continued the story from there. Most of my ideas come while I’m actually writing, so as I come up with an outline I’m happy with, more ideas pop up. When I write the first draft, more ideas pop up and sometimes I have to adjust the outline a bit for it all to make sense.

Elisha’s Books: I saw that you participating in writers’ workshops, do you find meeting other authors helps you with your writing?

Mr. Gabel: Absolutely. I value all opinions, even though I may not agree with all of them. And that’s okay. I’ll incorporate ideas and suggestions into a story that I feel belong and throw away the rest. Writers that I trust can add a different spin on a subject or story element. If enough people say the same thing, then that’s the time to listen. It’s also just cool to hear what other writers are working on and what is going on in their lives.

Elisha’s Books: On Twitter, you have several posts involving NASA and space in general. What about space inspires you the most?

Mr. Gabel: To me, space and the cosmos offer limitless possibilities, just like the blank page one of a story. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to travel to different planets, but we are limited by our technology and time. In fact, one of my favorite movies is Contact, written by the late, great Carl Sagan. A private industry like SpaceX are making serious progress but we have a long way to go. With my interest in space, many would think that I’m a fan of science fiction, but that’s one genre that I have rarely read and currently have no sci-fi projects on my schedule, except ones that are more contemporary in nature. Perhaps that will change in time.

Elisha’s Books: What was your favorite book or series when you were growing up?

Mr. Gabel: I didn’t read a lot when I was growing up. Perhaps that’s because I read slowly. It’s only been in the last 30 years or so that I’ve made a concerted effort to read more. Recently I’ve started to broaden my interests, reading almost anything contemporary. But my favorite book, and in this case a novella, is Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King. The novella was included in King’s 1982 collection Different Seasons. Some more recent favorites include Eleanor & Park (Rainbow Rowell), The Outsider & Elevation (Stephen King), Dark Matter (Blake Crouch), The Woman in Cabin 10 (Ruth Ware), I am Pilgrim (Terry Hayes), and Gone Girl & Sharp Objects (Gillian Flynn). Yeah, my genres are all over the place.

Elisha’s Books: Have you ever considered writing a nonfiction title? If so, what would it be about?

Mr. Gabel: Have I thought about it? Yes. Have I seriously thought about it? No. My interests and skills are varied but I don’t think I know enough about one thing to fill a book. I know that’s what research is for, but I’m having too much fun making it all up as I go along. I love dialog and interaction between characters, peril, and twists. Making it non-fiction would hold me back too much. But if the right subject presented itself, who knows! Never say never.

Thanks, Mr. Gabel for answering my questions!

You can get Vermin 2.0 by Lee Gabel here.

You can follow Lee Gabel on Twitter
Facebook
Instagram
And BookBub

Posted in Author Q&A

Q&A with Sarah J. Harris

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From Simon and Schuster Author Profile:

Sarah J. Harris is an author and freelance education journalist who regularly writes for national British newspapers. She is the author of the young adult series Jessica Cole: Model Spy, written under her pen name, Sarah Sky. She lives in London with her husband and two young children. The Color of Bee Larkham’s Murder is her first adult novel.

After I reviewed her latest novel, The Color of Bee Larkham’s Murder she was so kind enough to answer some of my questions about her writings.

What got you so interested in synesthesia and face blindness?

Ms. Harris: I’ve been interested in synaesthesia for many years, after first coming across the condition during my work as an education journalist. I’d written a feature about childhood synaesthesia following new research at Edinburgh University, which highlighted a lack of awareness about the condition in UK primary schools. I found the subject fascinating and it made me wonder what life must be like for a child when people struggle to understand their day to day experiences – or simply don’t want to know. Over the years, I’ve kept cuttings from newspapers and magazines about synaesthesia and also avidly read up on another condition that fascinated me – developmental prosopagnosia or face blindness.

I knew that at some point I wanted to write a novel involving both conditions and ideas bubbled away in the background as life, in general, took over – I was raising my two young sons with my husband, working as a freelance education journalist and I went on to write three Young Adult books about a girl spy. When I finished my last YA book, I was no longer under contract with a publisher and I felt a sense of freedom – I could write whatever I wanted and I returned to my initial interests.

I started to research synaesthesia and face blindness more intensively and both conditions played on my mind a lot. The central idea for the book eventually came to me in a dream: I saw a terrified young boy running across a suburban street at night, terror etched on his face. When I woke up, I realized that a particular color could have traumatized the boy. Perhaps he had face blindness and identified people by the color of their voices. What if the voice color of someone he knew well had transformed toa horrific shade as they screamed? What if he had seen the color of murder? The book grew from there and I wrote the first draft in about nine months, continuing to carry out research as I worked.

Is Autism Awareness something important to you?

Ms. Harris: Yes, it is very important to me. Jasper’s father finds it difficult to accept his son’s differences but by the end of the book, he accepts him for who he is and stops trying to change him. They finally reconcile and have a shot of happiness in the future. Hopefully, the message from my book that resonates with readers is that we all perceive the world differently and that diversity is a wonderful thing. It’s OK to be different and to accept others for who they are.

I wanted to make my portrayal of Jasper as accurate as possible and had help from the National Autistic Society. The response from the autistic community following the publication of my book has been fantastic.

In what way do you relate to Jasper?

Ms. Harris: I was bullied at primary school and used to run home to get away from the boy who used to wait for me at the gates, just as Jasper does.

What was the hardest scene to write?

Ms. Harris: Probably the painting scenes – I painted each picture with a local artist to enable me to describe them accurately, which took time. I had to know the exact colors Jasper created when he mixed voice colors together, for example, his dad’s and Bee’s voice colors merge to make “dirty sap circles”.

Since it’s #IndieApril, What is your favorite independently published novel?

Ms. Harris: Still Alice by Lisa Genova. My father-in-law had an early onset of Alzheimer’s in his fifties and eventually died from the disease, so I’ve always felt a personal connection with this book.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!

Read My Review of “The Color Of Bee Larkham’s Murder” HERE

Posted in Author Q&A

Q&A with Ed Duncan

*No Spoilers for The Last Straw*

1. Your novel discusses how some kids leave street life behind as Mr. Elliot did, and how some kids never escape it. Was this something you witnessed yourself growing up?

Mr. Duncan: Yes, I did witness this.  I grew up in Gary, Indiana in the 1950s and 1960s.  At that time it was a booming steel town and was home to one of the largest steel mills in the country.  I lived in a lower middle-class neighborhood.  However, despite an abundance of jobs in the steel mills, there were nevertheless stubborn pockets of poverty within my neighborhood and on its edges.  Most of the boys who got into to trouble with the law and who, in those days were called “juvenile delinquents,” lived in the poverty-stricken areas of the city, and some of them were my friends, schoolmates, and neighbors.  Too young and stupid to know better, I occasionally joined them in some of their less serious infractions.  Fortunately, as we grew older, our paths diverged.  While I (and others) concentrated on school, some boys I considered to be friends graduated to more serious crimes.  A handful ended up in prison for varying lengths of time, up to and including life, and a few even died in street violence.  Maturity and parental guidance were part of the reason I escaped their fate, but another part was luck.

2. Do you feel like you connect more with Mr. Elliott or more with Rico?

Mr. Duncan: Paul Elliott was always meant to be the hero of the novel because he is a highly idealized version of me!  Like me, he comes from a working-class family, he did well in school, and he became the first black partner in a large majority law firm.  However, the more I developed Rico’s character, the more he fought to become the central focus of the narrative.  The more I tried to rein him in, the more he resisted.  Although I didn’t surrender, I like to think we fought to a draw.  By that, I mean that Paul is at least arguably on par with Rico as the driving force in the novel.  So the answer to your question is that, while I understand that readers will feel that Rico is the more riveting character (as do I), I actually connect more with Paul.

3. Are you part of a writing community?  If so, how do they help you to become a better writer?

Mr. Duncan: No, I’m not a part of a writing community. However, I regularly attend writing conferences.

4. What is your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Mr. Duncan: I would have to say that How Green Was My Valley is my favorite in that category.  I believe I’m correct that it’s underappreciated today.  Although it was adapted into an academy award winning movie in the late 1930s or early 1940s, I don’t hear much about it today.  It is exquisitely written and the coming of age story is achingly beautiful.

5. Do you want The Last Straw to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a series?  I honestly felt like The Last Straw could be its own standalone novel, or it could be part of a series.

Mr. Duncan: I’m happy that most people think the novel works well as a standalone.  However, it is the second in a trilogy.  The first is Pigeon-Blood Red, which was originally published in 2015 and was later published by my current publisher Creativia in 2017.  I’m currently working (too slowly!) on the third in the trilogy, Rico Stays.  Incidentally, I’ve also written screenplays for all three novels (I completed the one for Rico Stays before writing the novel), and I hope one day to be lucky enough to have them produced.  It’s a long shot but I have my fingers crossed!

Well, Thanks Mr. Duncan for taking the time to answer my questions as well as introducing me to your novel!

Read My Review of “The Last Straw” Here!

Buy “The Last Straw” by Ed Duncan Here!

Posted in Author Q&A

Q&A with Jessie Cal

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Jessie Cal is the author of the Disarray series as well as Looking After You: A Clean Romance. Her friend reached out to me and asked me if I’d review Ms. Cal’s novel. After reading Disarray I naturally had some questions for her!

Q: Have you had experience with amnesia before? If so, what was it like?

Ms. Cal: I have never suffered from amnesia, but I have for years wondered what it would feel like. I find the idea of starting from scratch both scary and fascinating at the same time. Sad, I know. My mind goes off the rails at times.

Q: How much research do you put into your writing overall?

Ms. Cal: It depends on how much knowledge I already have on the subject. I knew nothing about amnesia, however, my character didn’t really have “regular” amnesia, so that gave me the freedom to write whatever I wanted and still be true. Now, I wrote a short fiction where she was a surgeon who believed in bloodless surgeries. I had to research a lot on that topic–took me days.

Q: Are you inspired by literary trends?

Ms. Cal: Although I enjoy reading them, I can’t say my writing is influenced by them. I tend to write based on my dreams, and odds are, you won’t find that in the bestseller section.

Q: What is your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Ms. Cal: Oh, it’s so hard to pick just one. They are all different genres, and I love them for different reasons. But one I just recently read was entitled If I Was a Rich Girl. Very cute. Also, Soaked. Adorable. And many more!

Q: What did you want to be when you grew up:

Ms. Cal: I went through several phases, but writing stories have been a phase that always came back. Until I finally decided to sit and write my own [short stories and novels].

Posted in Author Q&A

Q&A with Mark Tullius

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Mark Tullius is the author of Ain’t No Messiah along with other popular novels such as 25 Perfect Days and Brightside. He has a talent for writing dark fiction. When I requested to read his novel, Ain’t No Messiah I asked him if he’d be interested in doing an interview with me.

Q: What about religious cults inspired you to write a novel based on one?

Mr. Tullius: I’ve always been interested in religious beliefs, but it wasn’t until David Koresh and the Branch Davidians made headlines in 1993 that I took more of an interest in cults. It amazed me that people could bow down and worship individuals like Koresh and Jim Jones, but the more I looked at religion, the more I understood there often isn’t much of a difference between cults and the religions they splinter off from.

Q: Why do you think cults base their beliefs or Christianity?

Mr. Tullius: It makes sense for cults to take a little spin on stories already told. Many leaders probably believed a good deal of whatever religion they were part of but worked it into something that better fit their vision and benefitted them. By doing so it’s also much easier for them to find members that are already familiar with their overall belief and have a track record of devoting time and money to a cause based solely on faith

Q: What other authors are you friends with and how do they help you in the writing or publishing process?

Mr. Tullius: I have not taken advantage of becoming friends with other authors. I am a member of the Horror Writers Association and have met some great people through there, but I’m not very active in the group. It would be nice to have friends that I could talk about the process and turn to for advice, but I’ve been stubborn and determined to figure this thing on my own.

Q: What is your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Mr. Tullius: One of my favorite books is 1984 by George Orwell. Although that book has seen a resurgence over the last decade thanks to society’s move towards dystopia, I believe it is still under-appreciated. Orwell was a genius and the book is incredibly powerful and relevant 70 years after it was written.

Q: What was the hardest scene to write?

Mr. Tullius: As a recovering Catholic who was taught sex was sinful outside of marriage, I’ve always struggled writing love scenes. With violence, I have a good sense of how much is too much, but with sex scenes, it is a bit harder to gauge. Those scenes were even harder with Messiah because the main character’s sexuality has been repressed through religion and then heavily influenced by pornography. Trying to capture the emotions while staying true to his character made for some uncomfortable situations, but overall I was happy with how the scenes turned out.

Q: What did you enjoy reading growing up?

Mr. Tullius: As a kid, I loved to read the Choose Your Own Adventure stories. Those books were awesome because you got to steer the story and see different outcomes. Prior to those books, I believed that stories were set in stone, but that series opened an entirely new way of looking at literature and wondering what would happen if the character had made a different choice. My Try Not to Die series wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for the COYA influence. Another big influence in grade school was military fiction. My favorite was The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins, a book I read at least three times in the fifth grade. After that, I was turned on to Stephen King and devoured everything that he and Dean Koontz wrote.

Q: Do you have an interesting writing quirk?

Mr. Tullius: I don’t feel like I have any interesting quirks but if someone were watching me write they would probably say otherwise. I talk to myself quite a bit, especially when trying out dialogue, and I often act out motions. So if you ever see some weirdo sitting by himself, spouting random nonsense and waving his hands around, be sure to stop by and say hi.

Q: What did you want to be when you were a kid?

Mr. Tullius: As a kid, I wanted to become a police officer or join the military. From a very young age, I was obsessed with violence and power and knew I needed some sort of danger in my life. Fortunately, I discovered I could satisfy that craving through writing.

QAin’t No Messiah is set in modern day, why did you choose this?

Mr. Tullius: This novel is set in modern day for a few reasons. The main reason is that I like to write what I know and to point out things that bother and concern me. I wanted the narrator to have some of the same experiences I did and I had to fit this novel into the 5-book Tales of the Blessed and Broken series which I’d begun writing prior to coming up with this novel. The other books in the series are all set modern day so I didn’t have much of a choice if I wanted to include this one.

Q: Do you have a favorite quote? Either from this novel or in general?

Mr. Tullius: “Remember: Matter. How tiny your share of it. Time. How brief and fleeting your allotment of it. Fate. How small a role you play in it.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Thanks so much, Mr. Tullius for giving me the opportunity to read your upcoming novel!

Read My Review of “Ain’t No Messiah” HERE

Posted in Author Q&A

Q&A with G.A.M. Morris

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G.A.M Morris is the author of Miao-Shan: The Awakening. I thought I’d ask him some questions I had while reviewing his novel.

Question: What was it about Chinese culture that inspired you to write a novel?

Mr. Morris: I have been passionate about both Japanese and Chinese culture since I was about four years old. I first saw it on television while I was living in Scotland, and since then I have fallen in love with the history, art, weapons, martial arts, food, and general culture of both nations. I collect both Chinese and Japanese art and weapons. I also have quite a few books on the subject.

Question: Are you friend with any other authors and how do they help you become a better writer?

Mr. Morris: Yes, I am friends with other authors, but it doesn’t change the way I write at all. I don’t discuss actual writing styles or techniques much with them. The main assistance we give each other is the promotion of our books.

Question: What’s your favorite underrated novel?

Mr. Morris: The Ninja by Eric Van Lustbader.

Question: What was the most difficult scene to write?

Mr. Morris: It’s a toss-up between the two. The beginning where I had to depict the gruesome death of Lei’s parents, the emotional aftermath, and how Lei’s grandmother dealt with it.
Another difficult thing was describing how Lei was able to use “The Void”. In martial arts “The Void” is a crucial technique that all Masters must learn, no matter what martial art. In Kung Fu, Karate, Mu Thai, it’s all the same. I had to depict Lei learning how to use it in a way the general public would understand. To the best of my knowledge, no other author before me has attempted to depict the actual learning of using “The Void”. I didn’t depict it quite in the way I learned it, but I did use the teaching techniques my own Master used when teaching me how to use it.

Question: What is your favorite childhood book?

Mr. Morris: That’s a very difficult question! I began reading fluently when I was 6 years old. My first loves were comic books. Spider-Man and Superman being my favorites. As I grew up I learned to love the darkness of Batman.
Of course, I love Dr. Seuss, one of my aunts introduced me to the Suess stories. My dad wanted me to read the classics, he was afraid comic books were going to rot my brain. I received the box set of The Lord of the Rings trilogy as a gift, and I gave my son the set when he turned 10. All my life books have been a huge part of growing up and being able to pass the love of reading on to my own kids makes life very fulfilling to me.

Thanks so much, Mr. Morris for taking your time and chatting with me!

Read My Review of Miao-Shan: The Awakening HERE

Buy Miao-Shan: The Awakening HERE