Sunday, May 1, 2016
Saturday, April 30, 2016
Friday, April 29, 2016
A Spark of Hope
Last night we watched Lucy in lieu of another film, Snowpiercer. I was mildly disappointed as we turned on the movie, since I’ve been dying to see Tilda Swinton’s hokey performance in Snowpiercer.
But the vote was for Lucy, democracy decided, and that’s what we watched. Have you seen this movie? If not, a brief synopsis: young party-girl/ student, living in the East, gets conned by her sketchy boyfriend (of like a week) into making a “delivery” to a Korean drug Czar.
Hmm…probably a bad idea. It gets worse! It turns out that she’s not delivering meth or any other ‘normal’ illicit substance. Rather, she’s delivering a psychotropic/ geneomorphic pharmaceutical that can stimulate previously untapped areas of the human brain. (Why the Korean drug Czar is trafficking in this, one cannot say, #plothole) And so begins a dark chain of events for our Lucy. I’m a fan of when bad things happen to strong women and they cope with their shit, instead of rocking in a corner and losing all ability to function, which only breeds a victim persona. Lucy is still quite human, quite terrified and distraught, but she endures, she’s a survivor. Starting off the “bad things that happen to Lucy” list, first she’s knocked out and surgically turned in a mule: the drugs are sewn inside of flap of skin in her lower abdomen. Later, Lucy is assaulted, a couple times, but most viciously at one point by a man whose sexual advances she refuses. It’s the second incident that breaks the plastic-kangaroo-pouch carrying the mysterious drug inside of her. The drugs then leak out into her bloodstream, and thus begins the process of awakening neurons, pathways and supernatural abilities in Lucy’s mind. In exchange for these incredible powers and perception, she starts to lose a bit of her personality, her humanity; her sense of self.
A fair amount of the movie is spent on action sequences. However, there’s just as much camera time dedicated to panoramas of nature, or scenes where nothing is said at all. Overall, the movie is gorgeously filmed and peppered with lavish imagery. I found it a treat to watch. Writer and Director Luc Besson—Fifth Element, The Messenger: Joan of Arc—has created a power fantasy here, although it’s nice to see a woman in the driving seat. To be clear: it wasn’t a particularly feminist movie, by the many, debatable definitions of that term. However, it wasn’t misogynistic either. In fact, Lucy’s sex was not the determining factor in the power fantasy or the narrative. She could have been a man named Luke, instead (at the risk of indulging in Besson’s vanity). The story wasn’t about sex, or sexism, but humanity. And I found that focus and narrative refreshing. The story was about our sameness, not our differences.
Lucy, once she gets past her trauma, her “human” and irrational fears, and accepts what has happened to her, manages any number of incredulous feats. When she realizes that her time in her “human” body—filling with incalculable energy, ready to burn out of its flesh—is finite, her goal becomes to seed her vast, cosmic wisdom for future generations. It’s a pleasant and tight narrative, with a soft morality that doesn’t force one dogma or religion upon the viewer. In fact, it’s all very scientific: that cells exist to reproduce, that our only enemy in life is time and the fear of accepting our unity, our fundamental atomic similarity. Lucy, who sees plainly past the fear-of-being as she ascends, represents a mothering, messianic figure for all mankind. (Luc Besson often “saints” his female characters, after a gauntlet of trials.)
Anyway, in order to leave her legacy, Lucy contacts Morgan Freeman, who—gasp—isn’t playing the Almighty for once, but instead a speculative biologist (or something), whose work, coincidentally, speaks to Lucy’s metamorphosis. I honestly can’t remember the name of Morgan’s character. I was calling him “Morgan” the entire time; he’s just too iconic of an actor to not be himself. The drug Czar from whom Lucy escaped continues to chase the ascendant heroine throughout the movie; he wants his drugs back from this super-powered woman that levitates and kicks the shit out of his cronies, because #reasons, #malepride, #wtf, #plothole. Ultimately, his foil nicely encapsulates the terror and desperation of man; a weakness that Lucy has left behind. SPOILER. Even at the climax, where the Korean drug Czar has a gun pressed to Lucy’s head, she still does not fear him. She is unflappable in what she is to do: to leave the legacy of her wisdom for humanity.
It was a great movie. Sure there were a plot holes, bits I found unnecessary, and sometimes Besson can become a victim of his own cinematic grandeur. In movies like this, there is a delicate, delicate balance to find between pomposity and philosophy. Also, in a film spectacle, the message can get lost in the explosions, or be ham-fisted in its rushed delivery. I found that the film worked best when it was quiet, rather than loud. I wanted the movie to be longer. Perhaps more length would have answered the questions with which I was left. Although, padding the script could have come with the risk of philosophical rhapsodizing. And a bit of mystery is necessary in a story trying to express a message of this scope. Not every question needs to be answered in a story. I’d say some of the best stories leave the important questions for us to ask ourselves.
Excusing the movies faults—since sometimes we have to put aside our inner critic and just embrace childlike wonder—I ask myself: what was the message? Well, we fight against time. We fight to be different; to define our individuality. A useless battle, for we are all energy, all thought, all connected in ways unfathomable to our fear-clouded minds. As for Lucy, well, she “ascended” into something of the divine. Heretical? I don’t think so, since she became something very basic, very small. The atom, the spark of life and inspiration. Energy. I like that fantasy: that beneath all of our complexities, we are all united, simple, beautiful sparks. At least that’s what I chose to take away from the movie.
I think that the spiritual side of Lucy—her calm separation, her sense of belonging and refusing classification by society and fear—is inside each of us. I encourage you to find her.
Feast of Dreams
Four Feasts Till Darkness
Christian A. Brown
Genre: Fantasy Romance
As King Brutus licks his wounds and gathers new strength, two rival queens vow to destroy each other’s nations.
Lila of Eod, sliding into madness, risks everything in the search for a powerful relic, while Queen Gloriatrix threatens Eod with military might—including three monstrous technomagikal warships.
Far from this clash of queens, Morigan and the Wolf scour Alabion, hunting for the mad king’s hidden weakness. Their quest brings them face to face with their own pasts, their dark futures…and the Sisters Three themselves.
Unbeknownst to all, a third thread in Geadhain’s tapestry begins to move in the wastes of Mor’Khul. There, a father and son scavenge to survive as they travel south toward a new chapter in Geadhain history.
Available at Amazon Kindle and Paperback
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/rURqUni_lco
“Fine playing,” said Maggie.
The Silk Purse’s proprietor sat down at the table where the night’s entertainment fiddled with his lute’s strings. The bard glanced up and smiled at her with his eyes, although he kept on tinkering and tuning to the pitch of his voice. Maggie watched him for a spell. The man was mystifying. He was as distant as a dream one forgot and so far into himself, his music, or some secret obsession that she might as well have been elsewhere. He was certainly handsome, though, and in their short conversations today, he’d proven a capable and witty talker. She wanted a bit more of his talk.
“Will you be staying on another night?” she asked. “Before heading back to…”
She realized that in all their discussions, the man had never told her where he had come from—or where he was headed. Or much about himself at all. Even stranger, she couldn’t pin down how she’d made his acquaintance. Had he come knocking at the tavern door yesterday? Had he smiled a dashing hello with a lute over his back and a promise to play for coin? That seemed right.
“Would you like me to stay?” he asked suddenly.
He grinned from ear to ear and displayed his offer of companionship as confidently as the fox he reminded her of strutting around the henhouse and picking its prey. She could see him evaluating her body—her full breasts, strong hips, thick, wind-tossed hair, and comely face. She was as chipped and beautiful as a sculptor’s favorite piece. She wore her hardship plainly, but it had not dulled her beauty, and he seemed to appreciate her weathered self. As for the fox’s proposal, Maggie was a sensible self-made woman without need for a man. Once or maybe twice a year, she took one to her bed, but she never asked him to stay or even to break a morning fast with her. Whatever her hesitations, when the fox smiled—fiery and daring—she lit up and felt as warm as a woman sinking into a bath. A decision was made. A little outside of herself, she slid his hand over hers. She reinforced her agreement by standing up from the table and leading him past her tired staff as they cleaned up the night’s mess and rolled the drunks outside. The trip up the stairs and into her chambers was fuzzy. Suddenly, they were alone and kissing in the dark. He whispered of her beauty. “Like a cameo of Diasora,” he declared.
She wondered who Diasora was while he plucked his fingers upon and within her as though she were his lute. They tumbled into chairs, onto the carpet, and onto the bed. She wasn’t sure where they were half the time. She swallowed his hardness just as he ate and kissed the mouth between her thighs. Together they rolled and tumbled about in the dark and moaned in ecstasy. She rode him against the wall and swallowed his gasps as he spilled himself inside her. It was careless, and she should have known better. Apologetically and with a perverted grin, he cleaned out with his tongue what he had done, and passion carried her mind away again. Through the haze of their sex, she would remember his handsome smell—vanilla, subtle incense, and sweeter herbs such as marjoram. Sometimes he sang to her ears while playing the instrument of her body. She would most remember this—his passion and musicality.
When they finished, dawn had come. It cast its hard rays though the curtains and into their humid nest of sin. Maggie should have felt embarrassed or shamed even, but instead she snuggled into her lover’s taut flesh while he continued caressing her breasts. Milk drops, the bard called them, for their pendulous whiteness and succulence. She chuckled as he said it. She would have slapped any other man who made nicknames for portions of her anatomy.
“Where will you go?” she asked.
She knew this was a fleeting encounter. Men as artistic at loving as he were called to greater passions than women.
Alastair kissed her breast. “Well, I shall stay in Taroch’s Arm a while longer. I have another task to which I must attend. One more meeting after this.” He sighed and looked off with his multicolored stare to count the ceiling’s lines.
Maggie snuggled into him further until she realized what he’d admitted. “Wait! Meeting? Is that what this is? What is your aim?”
She leaped from the bed. Alastair went after her and backed her into a corner. He appeared stricken and white from regret. Rather brazenly, he kissed her so deeply she lost her breath. Although Maggie allowed it, she slapped him as soon as their lips parted. He grinned and rubbed his cheek. “What fire you have!” he said, adding sadly, “How much you remind me of a woman I once knew. Do understand. This is not how I had planned our parley. I am not ungrateful, though, for this turn of events. I would stay for a thousand kisses more if I could. However, my master is most demanding of my time.”
“Master?” she exclaimed.
“You are fortunate, Maggie. Most serve masters and destinies from which we cannot break. You have made so much of yourself without the hands of others. Despairingly, I must ask this of you. It’s a task you cannot refuse.”
I can, and I shall, she thought. No man, not even a roguish wanderer, could boss her around. Then the fox whispered a secret and those familiar names to her: Thackery, Caenith, Rowena, and Galivad. By the time he was done, she had no resolve to argue. She had only an unwanted urgency to pack, make quick arrangements for the Silk Purse’s managerial duties, and leave. She had no choice—not with so many lives at stake. While she busied herself about her apartment, the bard came to kiss her a final time, and they fell onto the bed. For all their grinding, they did not make love. Soon he stopped, studied her, and soaked in her beauty. Maggie closed her eyes. She would not watch him leave. When she was certain he had gone, she pulled her sturdiest boots from under her bed and put them on.
Four Feasts Till Darkness
Christian A. Brown
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Date of Publication: September 9, 2014
Number of pages: 540
Word Count: 212K
"Love is what binds us in brotherhood, blinds us from hate, and makes us soar with desire.”
Morigan lives a quiet life as the handmaiden to a fatherly old sorcerer named Thackery. But when she crosses paths with Caenith, a not wholly mortal man, her world changes forever. Their meeting sparks long buried magical powers deep within Morigan. As she attempts to understand her newfound abilities, unbidden visions begin to plague her--visions that show a devastating madness descending on one of the Immortal Kings who rules the land.
With Morigan growing more powerful each day, the leaders of the realm soon realize that this young woman could hold the key to their destruction. Suddenly, Morigan finds herself beset by enemies, and she must master her mysterious gifts if she is to survive.
Feast of Fates, Excerpt #2 (533 Words)
Morigan took the bracelet.
“I accept your offering.” The Wolf’s face lit and she thought that he would leap at her. “Yet first, I have a request.”
“Anything, my Fawn.”
“I would like to see…what you are. The second body that shares your soul. Show me your fangs and claws,” she commanded.
Perhaps it was the steadiness of her voice, how she ordered him to bare himself as if he belonged to her, that made the Wolf’s heart roar to comply. He did not shed his skin but for the whitest moons of the year, and even then, so far from the city and never in front of another. In a sense, he was as much a virgin as she. With an unaccustomed shyness, he found himself undressing before the Fawn, confused for a speck as to who was the hunter. The flare of her nostrils, the intensity of her stare that ate at him for once.
I have chosen well for a mate. She is as much a Wolf as I, he thought, kicking off his boots and then shimmying his pants down to join the rest of his clothing. No bashful maiden was Morigan, and she did not look away from his nakedness, but appreciated what she saw: every rough, hairy, huge bit of him.
He howled and fell to all fours. Bones shifted and snapped, rearranging under his skin like skeletal gears. From his head, chest and loins, the soft black hair thickened and spread over his twisting flesh. His heaving became guttural and sloppy, and when he tossed his head up in a throe of agony or pleasure, his beard had coated his face, and she noticed nothing but white daggers of teeth. Wondrously Morigan witnessed the transformation, watched him swell with twice the muscle he had possessed as a man, saw his hands and feet shag over with fur and split the soil with black claws. Another howl and a final gristle-crunching shudder (his hindquarters snapping into place, she thought) signified the end of the change.
Her dreams did not do Caenith justice. Here was a beast twice the size of a mare with jaws that could swallow her to the waist. Here was a monster that had stalked and ruled the Untamed. A lord of fang and claw. The birds and weaker animals vanished, knowing a deadly might was near. Around her, the Wolf paced; making the ground tremble with power; ravishing her with his cold gray gaze; huffing and blasting her with his forceful breaths. While the scent of his musk was choking, it was undeniably Caenith’s, if rawer and unwashed.
Morigan was not afraid, and was flushed with heat and shaking as she slipped the bracelet on and knelt. She did not flinch as the Wolf lay behind and about her like a great snuffling rug and placed his boulder of a head in her lap. No, she stroked his long ears and his wrinkled snout. A maiden and her Wolf. Soon the birds returned, sensing this peace and chirping in praise of it. And neither Morigan nor the Wolf could recall a time—if ever there was one—where they had felt so complete.
Bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Feast of Fates, Christian A. Brown received a Kirkus star in 2014 for the first novel in his genre-changing Four Feasts Till Darkness series. He has appeared on Newstalk 1010, AM640, Daytime Rogers, and Get Bold Today with LeGrande Green. He actively writes a blog about his mother’s journey with cancer and on gender issues in the media. A lover of the weird and wonderful, Brown considers himself an eccentric with a talent for cat-whispering.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Witch’s Cursed Cabin
Coon Hollow Coven Tales
Marsha A. Moore
Genre: Paranormal romance
Date of Publication: 4-27-16
Number of pages: 380
Word Count: 111,000
Cover Artist: Marsha A. Moore
Eager to be on her own away from home, twenty-year-old Aggie Anders accepts a relative’s invitation to live in Coon Hollow Coven. Although she’s a witch from a different coven, what locals say about the Hollow confuses her. How can witchcraft there live and breathe through souls of the dead?
Aggie’s new residence in this strange southern Indiana world is a deserted homestead cabin. The property’s carriage house serves as the coven’s haunted Halloween fundraiser. It’s a great opportunity for her to make new friends, especially with the coven’s sexy new High Priest Logan.
But living in the homestead also brings Aggie enemies. Outsiders aren’t welcome. A cantankerous, old neighbor tries to frighten her off by warning her that the homestead is cursed. Local witches who practice black magic attempt to use their evil to drive Aggie away and rid their coven of her unusual powers as a sun witch.
Determined to stay and fit in, Aggie discovers not only that the cabin is cursed, but she alone is destined to break the curse before moonrise on Samhain. If she fails, neither the living nor the dead will be safe.
About the Coon Hollow Coven Tales Series
The series is about a coven of witches in a fictitious southern Indiana community, south of Bloomington, the neck of the woods where I spent my favorite childhood years surrounded by the love of a big family. The books are rich with a warm Hoosier down-home feel. There are interesting interactions between coven members and locals from the nearby small town of Bentbone. If magic wasn’t enough of a difference between the two groups, the coven folk adhere to the 1930s lifestyle that existed when the coven formed.
Excerpt from Chapter One: The Homestead
A shove of my shoulder pried the rusty hinges on the heavy log cabin door loose. I flung my blond braid to my back and peered inside. Beings and critters, alive and furry as well as undead and translucent, flew, crawled, or slithered across dark recesses of the hallway, sitting room, and stairwell.
“You weren’t kidding. This place is haunted.” I shuddered and looked over my shoulder at Cerise. She looked perky as always with her dark bobbed hair and lively brown eyes beneath horn-rimmed eyeglasses. “Were those things relations or varmints?” I took a cautious step over the threshold to escape the blustery weather and unbuttoned my corduroy jacket.
“Oh, both, Aggie. Ghosts of witch kin and their talking animal familiars,” she said and moved past me to lift sheets off the sitting room furniture.
I raised a brow, curious about what talking familiars were but was too afraid to ask. She didn’t seem to think they were bad, and I needed a place to stay.
Cerise dropped the sheets in a pile and wiped her dusty hands on her skirt. “Those sorts of ghosts are in all the homes here in Coon Hollow Coven. Maybe some animal spirits, too, from the surrounding woods. This property has at least fifty acres of forest. The ghosts are harmless, part of the family. At least no neighbors have complained, that I’ve heard.”
Eyeing corners of the parlor and the length of the hall, I wondered if I could ever get used to living with ghosts of people who’d lived here before. In New Wish, Indiana, where I’d spent my entire twenty years, we only had an occasional ghost. Usually lost souls who, for some reason, hadn’t found their peace before death took them. Most times, those folks had been tormented by darkness and experimented with black magic while they’d lived. Or so Mom told me, but I always thought that was just her way of keeping me in line.
I pushed those thoughts out of my head. I wanted a place of my own more than anything else, and not in the tiny town of New Wish where everyone knew me…or thought they did. They all said I was the spitting image of my Aunt Faye, with the same light blond straight hair, deep blue eyes, dark brows, and quiet personality. Everyone thought I’d grow up to be like her with a houseful of kids, seven or more. Fact was, they didn’t know me. I wasn’t sure I even knew myself. There was so much I wanted to learn and do that wouldn’t happen if I stayed at my parents’ home.
Cerise struggled to open the stuck window. “Aggie, can you help me here? Some fresh air might tempt a few spirits outside. This place has been vacant since my mother passed in 2009. We might find just about anything in here after five years.”
About the Author:
Marsha A. Moore loves to write fantasy and paranormal romance. Much of her life feeds the creative flow she uses to weave highly imaginative tales.
The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing, as well as other pursuits of watercolor painting and drawing. She’s been a yoga enthusiast for over a decade and is a registered yoga teacher. Her practice helps weave the mystical into her writing. After a move from Toledo to Tampa in 2008, she’s happily transformed into a Floridian, in love with the outdoors where she’s always on the lookout for portals to other worlds. Marsha is crazy about cycling. She lives with her husband on a large saltwater lagoon, where taking her kayak out is a real treat. She never has enough days spent at the beach, usually scribbling away at stories with toes wiggling in the sand. Every day at the beach is magical!
Google +: http://google.com/+MarshaAMoore
Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/author/marshaamoore
Goodreads author page http://www.goodreads.com/marshaamoore
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
End of Church Street
Gregory L. Hall
Publisher: Fiery Seas Publishing
Genre: YA Dark Fantasy/Horror
Release Date: October 2016
Homeless and with nowhere to turn, Rebecca De Rosa finds a family of lost souls just like her—the vampires of Orlando. Reborn, she revels in her new lifestyle of 'no rules'. Love whoever you want. Seek whatever high you wish. Live forever young. Every night's an adventure—hunting down tourists, challenging local police, screaming to the world vampires really do exist! It's Neverland and every dream Rebecca has comes true.
Until the first murder.
Someone else lurks in the shadows. Goths are found beheaded, with wooden stakes pounded into their chests. The hunters have become the hunted. As the bodies pile up, Rebecca and the Family are forced to ask who can you trust when the only person who believes you're an actual vampire is a vampire killer?
About the Author:
Gregory L Hall has a long history in comedy, theatre and improv. He is a national Telly Award winner and creator of the Baltimore Comedy Fest, which supported Autism Awareness. Many fans know Greg best as the host/producer of the popular live radio show The Funky Werepig.
As a writer his work has appeared over the decade in various publications, anthologies and a short story collection. His novels rarely stick to one genre, ranging from comedy and romance to intense thrillers and horror. His biggest claim to fame is he was once hugged by Pat Morita, Mr. Miyagi of The Karate Kid. We should pause an extra moment to realize how awesome that is.
Thank you so much for having me on your blog today to talk about my latest book, Whereafter! I’m really excited to be here!
Please share with readers a little about Whereafter.
Whereafter (Afterlife #3) is the third book (of six) in my Afterlife series. The series tells the story of Irene Dunphy, a thirty-six year old party girl, who dies and is stuck on earth as a ghost. She eventually figures out how to cross over to the other side, and she has to learn how to navigate the afterlife and figure out how to spend eternity.
It’s also the story of the friendship that springs up between her and a fourteen-year-old boy named Jonah Johnson. Jonah is alive, but he can see dead people—thanks to a meditation he learned from a book he found in his school library. Jonah, in many ways, is older than Irene (he’s certainly more mature), and he knows a lot more about the afterlife (it’s his obsession) so he becomes the rock Irene leans on during her journey.
Whereafter is the book I’ve been dying to write ever since I wrote the first book in the series, Hereafter. Everyone who has read Hereafter wonders why Jonah stays friends with Irene—she’s rude, snarky, and has a major drinking problem. Some people felt the relationship was somewhat abusive, and many readers didn’t understand why Jonah put up with Irene. In Whereafter, for the first time, Jonah is a Point-of-View character, and we get to see his side of the story. I think readers are going to be happy to find get inside his head and see what’s going on there.
Have you ever based your book or characters on actual events or people from your own life?
There’s so much real life stuff in my books! Irene’s recollection of her death by drowning is actually my memory of the experience. I nearly drowned when I was six and I’ve never forgotten it. Jonah depression is taken from my own experiences and my own struggles as a teenager of feeling like a misfit and being a lonely, nerdy outsider. In Whereafter, Jonah has a very emotional scene where he tries to describe why he’s suicidal and why he’s so desperate to find Irene, who he’s kind of pinned all his hopes of not being so lonely on, and all of that is taken from my own feelings and memories from that age.
In addition, many of my characters are drawn from actual history. All of Andras’s background and history is taken from historical research. Even though he is a fictional character, his family is real, the religious order he belonged to is real, the holding of Ucles is real, and the history of the battle of Alarcos in 1195 is all real. In Book #2 (Thereafter), Ian’s history and background are all real, though he himself is fiction. The Chinese philosopher Irene and Ian meet was a real person. There are actually a lot of hidden, real life people in the series. I do a lot of research and try to find real life people that match the characters I need/want for particular scenes. And in those cases where I don’t use a real person, I invent a person but I make all of their life circumstances as realistic as possible—such as Amy in Hereafter. She is not a real person, but her profession, where she lived (a boarding house in Boston’s South End), the way she dressed, the way she speaks, her social and political views, her slang/vocabulary, and even the names of streets she references are all historically accurate for the time period in which she would have lived. LOL—sometimes I feel like my Afterlife series is historical fiction masquerading as fantasy!
Is there a theme or message in your work that you would like readers to connect to?
LOL—there is but I’m not going to tell you what it is. I want readers to discover it for themselves. If I’ve done my job as a writer, then readers will grasp the message in the book.
I can tell you that this series is very close to my heart; there’s so many things I wanted to write about, and they are all in this series. I wanted to write a story about a woman that saves herself (rather than have a man or a romantic relationship/finding love be the solution to her problems). I wanted to write a love story that wasn’t a romance or about romantic or sexual love. I wanted to write about depression. Whereafter is particularly special to me because Jonah, the fourteen-year-old boy that befriends Irene in the first book, finally becomes a Point-of-View character in this book, and readers can finally get his side of the story. I’m excited to hear what readers think.
What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?
That I’m paralyzingly shy. Most people think I’m an extrovert—I’m not. I’m a very, very high introvert and I’m very shy/nervous when I meet someone for the first time. However, I do love meeting new people, and I love it when people message me on Facebook or Twitter (I do respond!). I go to quite a few conventions around New England (Arisia, Boskone, Pi-Con, and Readercon), so please do say hi to me if you see me there.
When you’re not writing what do you do? Do you have any hobbies or guilty pleasures?
I love horseback riding, quilting, crocheting, reading, hiking, cooking, baking…LOL! Too many hobbies, not enough time! It’s unfortunate that I have to work full-time—it makes finding the time for hobbies very hard. I’m still fairly new to writing as a profession, rather than a hobby, so I haven’t quite found that work-life balance around working, writing (which is now basically a second full-time job), and hobbies/fun. I’m trying to keep writing to M-F, like a job, and keep my weekends free for hobbies, but it’s all a work in progress.
Is there a genre(s) that you’d like to write that you haven’t tackled yet?
I’ve had a historical fiction banging around in the back of my head for a while, but haven’t had the courage to attempt it. You have to get all the details right with historical fiction and I don’t know if I’m that exact a writer. The same goes for hard sci-fi—I don’t know if I have the chops, or the patience, to write with the required level of accuracy. This is why most of my writing tends to be general sci-fi and fantasy that combines a lot of historical research—I can pull in the elements I like but then fudge the other details. :)
Of all the characters you’ve ever written, who is your favorite and why?
This is a really tough question because I always like something about every character—if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to stick with them for the year or more it takes me to write a novel. Jonah might be the closest to my heart—he has the most “me” in him, and he was only supposed to be a bit-player. He was just supposed to have two lines in which he told Irene she was dead and then that was it. Instead, he refused to leave the story and grew into one of the main characters. I have a soft spot for Jonah because of his combination of vulnerability and determination. Irene, on the other hand, makes me laugh. I love her snarkiness. She’s so much fun to write. Andras I have the least in common with because I am not at all religious, but I admire him—I admire the strength of his convictions and his consistency.
I’m working on an unrelated (to the Afterlife series) science-noir story at the moment and that character is actually really unlikeable and his head space is hard to spend time in because it’s very dark and kind of hateful, but, at the same time, I like the character because writing him challenges me and I love, stylistically, how he speaks and thinks (which are highly stylized and also very metaphorical—whenever he talks about one thing he’s really talking about something else). So, really, from every character I write, I learn something and I love them all in different ways. Except Ian (from Thereafter)—that guy was just a jerk. I hated him from the beginning. :)
If this book is part of a series…what is the next book? Any details you can share?
The next book will be titled, “Whenafter.” There is no release date set yet, but I have already started working on it. Whenafter will feature the return of a character from Hereafter, and finally, readers will get some answers to some long-standing, unanswered questions!
In The Afterlife, Nothing Is As It Seems…
Just as she’s found the doorway from the Great Beyond back to the land of the living, Irene Dunphy’s plan to return home as a guardian angel is derailed by a surprise attack from an old enemy.
Swept into the afterlife plane inhabited by the Nephilim, Irene is forced to call in a favor from the mysterious Samyel—the Nephilim who used her to bring him to the afterlife and then promptly abandoned her. He’s her only hope of survival and escape—if he can be trusted to deliver on past promises. But will Samyel help her—or betray her?
What is next for you? Do you have any scheduled upcoming releases or works in progress?
As always, I have a bunch of things in the works. There is, of course, the next book in the Afterlife series—Whenafter—and the Whereafter launch party in April/May (check my website for date and location), I’m working on editing a “Blade Runner meets The Usual Suspects” science noir story that I’ll be shopping to publishers soon, and I’m working on a science fiction novel that started out as a space-opera “sci-fi western” and is morphing into a much more sobering, almost hard sci-fi, mortality tale about a group of space miners trying to survive on an abandoned mining outpost in deep space.
In addition, during the month of April I will be participating in the “A to Z Blogging Challenge” and every day I will be posting a video blog (on my blog at http://www.terribruce.net) in which I reveal all of the hidden references to afterlife mythology and “easter eggs” hidden in the series. I encourage everyone to stop by each day and check out the videos—you’ll have a chance to see just how much research went into this series and hopefully everyone will find the videos interesting as well as fun!
Those interested in keeping up to date with all my news can sign up for my newsletter at http://www.terribruce.net.
What is in your to read pile?
My TBR pile is 294 book long! Eek! For 2016, one of my resolutions is to do a better job making time for reading. That has really gone by the wayside since I became a published author, and I’m trying to set aside dedicated time for reading. I received a whole bag of books at World Fantasy Con in November, and I vowed to at least try each book I received, even if I didn’t think it would be to my taste. I’ve ended up liking several of them very much and discovering some new series this way—Scott Lynch’s “Gentleman Bastards” series (which reminds me a bit of Terry Pratchett’s writing, which I adore) and Chuck Wendig’s “Miriam Black” series, in particular. I’ve received the first book of each series at WFC and have read them, and now reading the rest of the books in the series is high on my list.
At the moment, I’m reading “It’s Come to Our Attention,” an anthology that just came out in February that features on of my short stories and “Life on the Edge: The Coming Age of Quantum Biology” by Johnjoe McFadden. After that, I’m going to be reading the second book in Scott Lynch’s “Gentleman Bastards” series and Lev Grossman’s “The Magicians.”
Thank you for letting me stop by and chat about Whereafter. And thank you to all everyone stopping by! Please be sure to check out all of the other stops on the Whereafter release tour and don’t forget to enter the giveaway! I love interacting with readers, so please feel free to email me or connect with me on Twitter! Readers can also sign up for my newsletter on my website to stay up to date with all my latest news. In addition, I love interacting with people, so please feel free to email me or connect with me on Twitter!
Genre: Contemporary fantasy/paranormal
Publisher: Mictlan Press
Date of Publication: March 15, 2016
Number of pages: 345
Word Count: 100,000
Paperback and all ebook formats
Cover Artist: Shelby Robinson – artwork
Jennifer Stolzer – layout and design
How Far Would You Go To Get Your Life Back?
Stuck in the afterlife on an island encircled by fire and hunted by shadows bent on trapping them there forever, Irene and Andras struggle to hold onto the last vestiges of their physical selves, without which they can never return to the land of the living. But it’s not just external forces they’ll have to fight as the pair grow to realize they have different goals. Irene still clings to the hope that she can somehow return to her old life—the one she had before she died—while Andras would be only too glad to embrace oblivion.
Meanwhile, Jonah desperately searches for a way to cross over to the other side, even if doing so means his death. His crossing over, however, is the one thing that could destroy Irene’s chances of returning home.
Too many obstacles, too many people to save, and the thing Irene most desperately wants—to return to her old life—seems farther away than ever. Only one thing is clear: moving on will require making a terrible sacrifice.
Irene could hear voices. She shushed Andras and cocked her head. “I think there are people up ahead,” she said. The land, transitioning from black sand to short black grass, sloped upwards as it moved away from the shore, the white trees growing more plentiful until they turned into densely-packed forest.
Irene started forward with Andras behind her and followed the sound. The black grass crunched softly under foot as they mounted the gentle slope and approached the edge of the wood. Irene stopped to touch a tree—though it was knobby and gnarled, the surface was smooth as silk, without texture. Irene wasn’t sure what that meant, except she was pretty sure it wasn’t actually a tree.
At the top of the rise they stopped short in surprise as they came upon a scene straight out of a medieval tapestry. In a clearing amongst the gleaming white trees—these with dense clusters of bright pink leaves—stood a massive oaken dining table, large enough to seat thirty or more. Around this table, seated upon massive, hand-carved chairs like mini-thrones, were richly dressed men and women, resplendent in long and lavish flowing robes and gowns of velvet and damask in shades of vermilion, plum, garnet, hunter, and the like, all edged with embroidery, lace, and fur. The women wore Renaissance style hats of one or two peaks from which trailed gauzy veils, and the men wore large, floppy, velvet and ermine hats.
The table was heaped with luscious fruits and roasted meats and goblets of jewel-colored liquids, possibly wine, though the platters were covered over by a layer of fallen pink leaves, which fell lazily from the trees like tinkling musical notes, giving the impression that the platters hadn’t been touched for years. Bird-song permeated the grove, sweet and gentle, filling Irene with a sense of peace and tranquility.
Irene had a strange yearning to join the party at the table—to sit down with them, to drink from one of the cups, and to sample the food on the table. Her stomach rumbled—not with hunger so much as longing—and Irene put a hand to it, as if she could quiet it with the gesture.
The men and women around the table had been talking languorously, though Irene couldn’t make out their words—she thought they might have been speaking a foreign language—but as they became aware of Irene’s and Andras’s presence, the conversation slowly trailed off and then died.
“Uh, hello?” Irene said, cautiously, stepping forward. There was no trace of friendliness from the people. In fact, the atmosphere of the entire area seemed to be growing less friendly by the second. Even the bird-song had stopped.
Thirty pairs of eyes slowly swiveled to face Irene and Andras.
Irene gasped and stepped back. Now that they diners faced her, she could see what she hadn’t been able to see before: each person had the head of an animal—a goat, an ox, a horse, a fox, a cat, a crocodile…
A horse-headed woman in an apricot-colored robe rose to her feet. “You don’t belong here,” she said harshly, her frigid tone turning Irene’s blood to ice.
“I’m sorry… we got lost…” Irene said, clutching her bag tighter as alarm snaked through her.
“This place is not for you,” said a jaguar-headed man in carnelian robes, also rising to his feet.
Irene took a step back. The naked hostility was apparent now.
“I think we should go—” she said in an undertone to Andras.
There was a movement at the table, and then something whistled through the air, striking Irene on the shoulder hard.
“Ow!” she cried, as the projectile dropped to the ground—a rock. “Hey!” she cried angrily, rubbing the bruise, but then another rock hit her, this time thudding dully against the side of her head. Andras grunted and flinched as he, too, was hit.
“You don’t belong here,” the men and women at the table said, each rising one by one. More rocks followed. Irene backed away hastily.
“Alright! Alright! We’re going!”
The diners were all standing now, intoning “you don’t belong here” in unison as rocks rained down on Irene and Andras.
“Come on!” Andras shouted.
Following his lead, Irene turned and ran, rocks pelting her head, her shoulders, her back, her legs as she fled.
About the Author:
Terri Bruce has been making up adventure stories for as long as she can remember and won her first writing award when she was twelve. Like Anne Shirley, she prefers to make people cry rather than laugh, but is happy if she can do either. She produces fantasy and adventure stories from a haunted house in New England where she lives with her husband and three cats. She is the author of the Afterlife Series, which includes Hereafter (Afterlife #1) and Thereafter (Afterlife #2) and several short stories including “Welcome to OASIS” (“Dear Robot” anthology, Kelly Jacobson publisher) and “The Well” (“Scratching the Surface” anthology, Third Flatiron Press).