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