Friday, June 28, 2013

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Historical Thriller Author Carl R. Brush

Carl R. Brush, Author

Carl R. Brush writes historical thrillers set in the San Francisco area – a location I truly appreciate. (My own books are set in the modern-day San Francisco area). He has just published THE MAXWELL VENDETTA, a prequel to THE SECONDVENDETTA, one of my favorite historical thrillers. We fans enjoy his really bad villain, reluctant hero, characters drawn from real historical figures, and themes still relevant in today’s world, like bigotry, corruption, and large companies exploiting little guys.

Carl is a retired English/Drama teacher and school administrator who rediscovered his alto saxophone and has been playing in a senior jazz ensemble they’ve named the geezer band.  He is working on his third historical thriller in the series set in the San Francisco area in the mid-nineteenth century. 

This is Carl’s second contribution to this blog. You can read his earlier guest post “Turning Real People into Characters” here

Q: Why did you decide to publish a prequel, THE MAXWELL VENDETTA to THE SECOND VENDETTA?

Carl R. Brush: Sounds kind of backward, doesn’t it, to publish the prequel after the sequel? That’s how my life often goes. I wrote THE MAXWELL VENDETTA first, started shopping it around, and garnered a nice collection of “So sorry,” notices. In the meantime, I tried a couple of other projects which generated little enthusiasm either at home or abroad, so I went ahead with the sequel, which I’d planned to do “sometime.” That became THE SECOND VENDETTA. When Solstice Publishing accepted it, I reworked THE MAXWELL VENDETTA, applying suggestions that Solstice Editor-in-Chief, Nik Morton, had made regarding THE SECOND VENDETTA, which brings us up to today. Not the way I designed the process, but I guess someone else in the great somewhere redesigns the original design, and not always intelligently, if you ask me. But she doesn’t ask.

Q: How do you make events from the early 20th century relevant to today’s world?

Carl R. Brush: Easy. All the central conflicts in both THE MAXWELL VENDETTA and THE SECOND VENDETTA could be ripped right from today’s headlines—Individual and institutional racism; corporations brutalizing us commoners; political corruption; media manipulation; romance, requited and un-. Sound familiar? The thing is, you set these issues down in a historical context, and they suddenly look different and somehow fresh. Many of my readers have commented about how interesting and surprising it was to think that folks in long skirts and high collars struggled with our same uglies. Interesting, yes. And both discouraging and exhilarating to think how little we’ve solved or changed.

Q:  I admit I’m biased. I enjoy exploring history through characters and their experiences. How do you build your characters in an historical setting so that they appeal to readers?  Are they based on real people?

Carl R. Brush: I think the process of building characters is pretty much the same for any genre of fiction. For your main people, you imagine folks who interest you, set them down in nasty situations, and see how they react. Do they turn tail and run? Attempt to fight their way out? If so, do they fight fair? Do they succeed or fail? How do they handle the results either way?

One of the best pieces of writing advice I ever got (Credit: author Les Edgerton) was to put your characters, especially your protagonists, in fixes from which you have no idea how to extricate them. You learn a lot about both the characters and about yourself working through those. To me, writing your way in and out of these crises, is much more valuable than an outline for deciding how the story goes. And a lot more fun. I know one great example from a book you might recognize, Joyce, called ON MESSAGE, in which a certain lady finds herself in big trouble and makes ingenious use of an undergarment. I won’t give anything else away, because if they haven’t already, I advise your readers to dive right into that terrific novel and find out what she does with what.

As for the idea of basing characters on real people, some of my characters, especially in THE SECOND VENDETTA, are not only based on real people, but were actual historical figures. Ambrose Bierce, for example, really was a prominent writer of the period. Hiram Johnson did win the 1910 CA governorship. However, I admit I made only a moderate effort to research and recreate their personalities. This is fiction, after all, not biography.

I make no conscious attempt to base my fictional characters on real people. After the fact, however, I see resemblances between my protagonist, Andy Maxwell, and myself; and there are strong parallels between his mother, Carolyn Maxwell, and my own mother: Strong, decisive, often narrow and opinionated, compassionate when it counts.

Q: One of your reviewers described Yellow Squirrel as “one of the most delicious villains I've seen in a long time.” I concur. They don’t come any “badder.” How did you create such a villain?

Carl R. Brush: I wanted a guy who had a strong and believable motive for getting even and who wouldn’t give up on it. As I wrote, though, I realized I needed another dimension if the notion that this guy would keep his resentment alive for decades was to be believable. After all, other people in his family had suffered the same injustice he had, but had moved on. I dove into his psyche and realized that he is someone who lives to intimidate and destroy. It’s his fulfillment in life. Whether it’s as inconsequential as forcing people off a sidewalk on a downtown stroll or as felonious as slaughtering a whole family, domination and destruction are his raison d’etre.

That idea of fulfillment through annihilation, I think, gives a positive (in his mind) base to his evil actions and makes him more interesting than your melodramatic mustache-twirling villain who’s bad just because. On a more philosophical level, I see Yellow Squirrel as a personification of evil itself. Many folks have said of Milton’s Paradise Lost that the Devil is the most interesting character. Where would storytelling be, after all, if we had only angels to talk about?

Q: How important is the concept of a villain to creating suspense and, for that matter, to defining a hero?

Carl R. Brush: As I’ve said elsewhere, there are many wonderful novels that have no central bad guy. Wendell Berry’s fine works have no such characters as far as I know. Kate Atkinson’s latest, Life After Life, is the most recent example I can point to. As for me, though, I need my bad guys front and center.

Yellow Squirrel (I hope) creates dramatic tension in both my Maxwell novels whether he’s in a particular scene or not. I give him his own chapters, but even outside them, his threatening and intimidating interactions with characters other than those he intends to destroy mean that those characters carry his presence with them everywhere. Thus, danger, in the seen or unseen presence of Yellow Squirrel, lurks behind every page the reader turns. At least that’s what I intended.

As to Yellow Squirrel’s effect on our hero, he’s the foil, the forge, the crucible that defines Andy. Andy’s a reluctant hero, drawn into a role for which he considers himself unfit, but a role no one else can fill. And it’s a role crucial to the survival of his family and many others besides. The story is about how he learns to build and develop a part of himself he didn’t know existed. Without Yellow Squirrel, he’d have never discovered that element of his character at all.

Q: Did you write these novels to entertain or to enlighten readers about the history of the period?

Carl R. Brush: Both. Sam Johnson said literature should edify and delight. That impulse comes from being a teacher all those years, I guess. Or maybe becoming a teacher came from the desire to edify and delight.  I do hope readers will pick up some of my love of the time and place as well as some knowledge about it. It’s why I love reading historical fiction myself.

Q: How did you become interested in San Francisco/California history?

Carl R. Brush: That seems to be just part of my DNA. My great grandparents came to Northern CA via 1864 wagon train. My natural inclinations and abilities were always literary and verbal rather than mathematical and scientific. When I was growing up in a rural part of the Sacramento Valley, San Francisco was my city on the hill, my escape goal from small-town monotony. My interest has never flagged, so here I am.

Q: What’s next?

Carl R. Brush: I’ve just finished drafting a third novel in this group. The working title is Bonita, and I’m working backwards again. It’s set in a San Francisco of the even more distant past, a time when the town was still called Yerba Buena.  Unlike the other two, this covers a dozen years (1842-54) instead of a couple of months. The Maxwell part of it comes in the form of a cameo appearance by the patriarch of the other two books, Carter Maxwell, who’s referred to but never actually comes to life in either work. The working title for this one is BONITA, which is the name of the heroine, a 12-year-old (when the book opens) who discovers that she’s not, after all, the niece of her guardian uncle, a prominent figure in the area, but a waif he’s treated as nearly a daughter since she was an infant. It’s quite a switch of protagonists for me, and it’s a wonderful adventure. My beta people think she’s a neat character, so I’m encouraged. I believe BONITA is even better than the Vendetta’s, but I also believe you should believe that your best creation is the one you’re working on now.

Q: Tell us something about Carl Brush. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Carl R. Brush: I’m a lucky guy. A retired English/Drama teacher and school administrator, I live in Oakland, across the bay from San Francisco, with my wife, Susanne, who blessed me with three stepchildren, who, in turn, blessed us with six grandchildren. Four of them live within a mile of us, ranging from 3-14 in age, so we do a lot of taxiing and babysitting.

I had a rural upbringing by a dad who was raised on a small farm, and an uncle who was a foreman on a couple of ranches. The family spent many vacations hiking and fishing around the Sierra. Thus, though I can make no claims to some of the skills my characters possess, I have some acquaintance and experience with those who do. On the other hand who among us has personal experience with the centuries past about which we choose to write?

A few years ago I picked up my long-neglected alto sax and joined a senior jazz ensemble we call the geezer band.

Susanne and I do a fair amount of traveling, and we plan to keep at it as long as our health allows us to endure airports and long plane rides. We’re headed for the UK next month.

Publishing my own novels was a lifelong goal, so holding that first paperback in my hands was and is a super thrill, and I’m grateful to you for this opportunity to talk about how it got there. Thanks for the insightful individualized questions.

About Carl R. Brush

Carl Brush has been writing since he could write, which is quite a long time now. He grew up and lives in Northern California, close to the roots of the people and action of his historical thrillers, the recently-released The Maxwell Vendetta, and its sequel, The Second Vendetta. A third volume of the trilogy, set in pre-gold-rush San Francisco is nearing completion. Its working title: Bonita.

You can find Carl living with his wife in Oakland, California, where he enjoys the blessings of nearby children and grandchildren.

Journals in which his work has appeared include The Summerset Review, Right Hand Pointing, Blazevox, Storyglossia, Feathertale, and The Kiss Machine.  He has participated in the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Tin House Writers’ Workshop.

Early California, 1908. Andy Maxwell sets out to solve the mystery surrounding the stabbing death of his younger brother outside a San Francisco bar.  He’s certain the murder is part of a vendetta against his family, but frustration and suspense mount as he fails to convince authorities that the killing is anything more than the sad consequence of a brawl between a pair of drunks. The police, the U.S. Army, even his mother refuse to entertain the possibility that the killer, Michael Yellow Squirrel, is one of a clan who intends to wipe out the Maxwells and their California Sierra Nevada ranch.

Andy’s quest for the motives and perpetrators behind the scheme carries him from California to Wyoming and deep into his family’s pioneer past and psyche, where he unearths disturbing secrets about, among other matters, his own racial heritage. It also plunges him into a romantic dilemma involving a blonde debutante and an Arapaho princess. Although Andy’s initial purpose is to foil a conspiracy against his family, his journey eventually leads him to question not only his own values, but also those of the frontier that spawned and nourished them.

This historical thriller, the prequel to another gripping historical novel, THE SECOND VENDETTA, is set nearly one hundred years in the past, yet THE MAXWELL VENDETTA embodies themes as contemporary as racism, political corruption, and sexual exploitation. In short, contemporary America mirrored in a novel of early California.

Not again.

It’s taken Andy Maxwell two years—1908-1910—to help his family recover from the vendetta that nearly killed his mother, burned their Sierra Nevada ranch house, and exhumed some long-buried family secrets—including the fact that his father was black. At last, Andy thinks, he can return to University of California and pursue his history doctorate in peace.

Not so.

First of all, it turns out they don’t want a miscegenated mongrel in the Ph.D. program. Just when he’s enlisted the eminent San Francisco journalist, Ambrose Bierce, to help him attack that problem, it turns out that marauder who started all the trouble in the first place didn’t stay Shanghaied. Michael Yellow Squirrel is back for another try at eliminating every last Maxwell on earth. So much for school.

And then there’s the election.

Reform gubernatorial candidate Hiram Johnson wants him to run for the California legislature and help foil the railroad barons.

And then there are the women.

The debutante beauty and the Arapaho princess.

So, how is Andy Maxwell, going to deal with all these quandaries? The Second Vendetta answers that question and many more with a tale-telling style that pulls readers into the book and doesn’t let them go till they’ve turned the last page, wishing there were more yet to turn.


Book Links
Available in e-book and paperback at, (, and other outlets

from Solstice Publishing available on Amazon and at Solstice Publishing

Author Links
Twitter:  Carl R Brush @carlrbrush

Monday, June 24, 2013

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Author Annamaria Bazzi---Book Tour Introducing White Swans REVELATIONS

Annamaria Bazzi, Author
The White Swan Series

Annamaria Bazzi brings us The White Swans series of YA, fantasy short stories. The newest member is REVELATIONS, targeted at teens who prefer short stories. Annamaria uses “simplicity” to create the mysticism of her fantasy world. But beware: she "loves mixing genres."  Reviewers say, “the plot lines are twisting nicely” in this third story of the series.

When not busy writing, Annamaria enjoys painting, walking and spending time with her family.

This interview is part of Introducing The White Swans: Revelations Book Tour. 

Q:  How would you describe your new story White Swans: REVELATIONS to your readers? Fantasy? YA? Science fiction? Romance?

Annamaria Bazzi: The White Swans is a series of YA, Fantasy, short stories created for all teens who won’t read because novels are just too long. In the midst of the Fantasy, I throw in some Science Fiction. I love mixing genres.

Q:  Reviewers of the first story in the White Swans series described it as “Alice in Wonderland gone bad” and “mystical.” How do you create that sense of mysticism?

Annamaria Bazzi: I don’t try to be mystical or mysterious, because, in the past, when I would try to inject those qualities or feelings into the story, I’d fail miserably and critics would slash me for it. I was beaten too many times before it sunk in that all I need to do is show the story as my mind’s eye sees it, no more no less. Simplicity is the best way of showing a story. Through simplicity, the mysticism or mystery will become apparent on its own. 

Q: How do you make a make-believe world believable? Characters? Back-story?

Annamaria Bazzi: First, I have to believe in this world, because if I don’t believe in it neither will the reader. A make believe world has to have elements that the reader can identify with, elements that come from the real world that the reader will be familiar with.

The characters need to have personalities the reader can identify with, they should be someone that could be living next door.

Q: What do you do to make us care about your characters, particularly your protagonist Kendíka?

Annamaria Bazzi: All I really do is try to make her as real as possible. She is a young woman modeled after the personalities of a couple of my girls. Kendíka must be someone teens can identify with.

Q: Are you in control of your characters, or do they intrude and make you write things you haven’t thought of yet?

Annamaria Bazzi: I always   believe I’m in control, until the characters slap my hands and move in a totally different direction than I wanted to go in. That’s what happened in book two when this unknown girl, Jillian, popped in and is now sharing the story with Kendíka.

Q: What makes a good villain? Can you name the villain in White Swans: REVELATIONS?

Annamaria Bazzi: I have two villains in the series, and in this book it starts to be apparent who they are, Harry, the Count of Paddington and his owner Brodrik.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Hobbies? Events? Favorites?

Annamaria Bazzi: I love to read and paint, and sometimes I enjoy drawing. I also enjoy going for walks.

About Annamaria Bazzi

Although born in the United States, Annamaria Bazzi spent a great deal of her childhood in Sicily, Italy, in a town called Sciacca. Italian was the language spoken at home. Therefore, she had no problems when she found herself growing up in a strange country.

Upon returning to the States, she promised herself she would speak without an accent.
She attended Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Computers with a minor in Spanish.

Annamaria spent twenty years programming systems for large corporations, creating innovative solutions, and addressing customer problems. During those years, she raised four daughters and one husband. Annamaria lives in Richmond Virginia with her small family where she now dedicates a good part of her day writing.


After attempting to accept her fate in the strange fishbowl world, Kendíka decides it’s impossible. Call her a pet, will they? Determination revived, she tempts her “master’s” fury by trying to make life better for the people of Deverow’s Duchy. She will bring technology to the Regency era or end up a swan trying.

Still longing for a higher station in her new existence, Jillian sets her sights on Harry, the Count of Paddington. The only problem? Getting the man to take notice of her. Perhaps discovering some common ground—besides their rabbit-like features—will do the trick.


Visit annamaria at:

Twitter: @AMBazzi
You can write to annamaria at:

Links to annamaria’s books:

White Swans: Revelations

White Swans: The New Girl in Town

White Swans: A Regency Era

A Simple Matter of Justice

Revelations of Abaddon

Thursday, June 20, 2013

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Author Emma Faragher

Emma Faragher, Author
The Trix SinClara Series

British author Emma Faragher created Trix SinClara, a spaceshifter who needs to protect those around her. THE HOUSE is the first book in this urban fantasy series, where, Growing magic and rogue vampires turn Trix's life upside down.”

Currently studying at Sheffield University, Faragher balances her writing with her studies and hobbies. She has been writing for pleasure for many years. THE HOUSE is her first published work.

Don’t miss the excerpt at the end of the interview.

Q: How would you describe THE HOUSE to your readers? Supernatural? Fantasy? Romance? Suspense? Why should they read it?

Emma Faragher: It’s an urban fantasy set in the future. It’s a new take on the supernatural community with characters I feel readers will really be able to relate to.

Q:  Tell us about Trix SinClara.  Who is she? Is she based on a real person?  How did you create her?

Emma Faragher: She’s not based on a real person. In real life a person is made from the genetics of two people and a whole lot of environmental influences. So I put her together as a basic person in my mind, allowing her to pretty much form herself. Then I added in her life story to the genetics. The death of her parents, a controlling grandfather, rebellious teen years, the teasing at school from the witches for not being enough like them etc. Other traits just sort of formed as I went along, like the great need she has to protect those around her. That’s actually one of her main driving forces throughout the series, a need to keep others safe. It felt more like I was getting to know her than making her up.

Q:  You tell your story from the first person perspective of your protagonist. What are the advantages of using the first person?

Emma Faragher: I feel that using the first person allows the reader to really get inside the head of the protagonist. They are intimately involved in the story as they follow Trix’s closest thoughts and secrets. They see the world through her eyes rather than as an outsider.

Q:  Do you write for entertainment and/or are you delivering a message?  Educating?

Emma Faragher: I write because I have to. I have a story inside my head and I need to get it out or it will drive me crazy. I don’t deliberately put a message into my books. It’s more that the issues just come up occasionally. Trix is different, the witches don’t like her because of her abilities and the humans don’t like her because she’s supernatural. She always has to hide parts of who and what she is to function in the world. I think that’s how a lot of 22-year-olds feel. It’s not a message but it’s something I know a lot of people will relate to. The out-of-control feeling you have as you’re just starting to find yourself as an adult and realizing that life isn’t quite as long as you thought.

Of course I think that if you look hard enough there is a message in almost all published works. I dissected enough of them at school in English not to want to do it as an adult. Reading is an escape for me and I want my readers to be absorbed into the world I have created rather than always dissecting the word choice to infer a message. Of course if anyone wants to do that for Trix’s story I wish them all the best. I’m sure they’ll find something.

Q:  In a world of shifters and vampires, how important is credibility? What do you do to help readers buy into your supernatural world?

Emma Faragher: Credibility is very important to me in a fantasy book. I have a background in science so I like to be able to explain as much as I can. The magic has to have rules and restrictions. As well as side effects. Trix is a telepath, she could do incredible or terrible things with that power, but it might just drive her insane along the way. But there has to be limits.

In the world I created, magic is more of a different type of energy, like heat or electricity. The witches have done plenty of scientific experiments over the years. The vampires for instance, aren’t dead and they aren’t immortal. They simply survive off of magical instead of chemical energy. When the magic runs out, they die. Then since the sun interacts with the magic the vampires have, they are more powerful at night. Because I had to keep some of the folklore intact.

Of course the rest of the world has to make sense too. Water and food has to come from somewhere. Government and leadership have to be established. A social order. The how and why of everyday events need to make sense or the rest will just flow into chaos.

Q:  Do villains and heroes play a part in your story?  What are characteristics of heroes and villains in the supernatural?

Emma Faragher: There aren’t so much villains and heroes in my books. I feel that a villain knows that what they are doing is bad. They do it to hurt people. The “bad guys” in my world are doing what they think is best for the people around them. There are a lot of long games played by some of the characters that will come out as the series progresses. And some politics that requires compromises Trix never thought she’d have to make. There are of course a few very selfish characters who are purely out for personal gain, so they might be counted as villains. Trix isn’t really a hero as she doesn’t see herself that way. She’s just someone who is trying to survive a changing world and to keep those around her safe. She’s not out to save the world, just keep her little corner of it from sinking.

Q: What inspired you to write about a supernatural world?

Emma Faragher: Mostly, it’s what I read. I get very absorbed into my reading and writing. I’ve read non-fantasy books and some of them didn’t affect me very well. I was angry for days after reading Martin Cole’s The Take, because the characters were angry and violent. That doesn’t happen so much with fantasy and supernatural books, as they are further removed from the real world. I’m not crazy though, I promise. So I read and write fantasy, I like the freedom of it too, the escapism of entering a completely different world and being able to make up the rules. A fascination with ancient mythology probably helped my along that path a little bit too.

Q: How do you help readers care about your characters?

Emma Faragher: My characters all have back stories, like real people. They have heartbreak and great achievements. I try to really bring my characters to life so that readers feel that they could almost interact with them. Many of my characters would make really fantastic friends to have and I’ve tried to put that across. The loyalty and the fact that they keep trying is what many people are drawn to in a person and in a character. Not for everyone of course, but it’s impossible to do anything that pleases everyone.

Q:  What’s next?

Emma Faragher: I’m writing book 2 “The Solstice” and I’ve a few short stories up my sleeve. There’s an anthology of indie published authors I’m writing something for at the moment. Which will hopefully be out (for free) some time in August or September.

I’ve also started editing my first novel, the prologue is up on my blog if anyone is interested and I’m debating a way to get it up chapter by chapter. It’ll be published eventually but for now I’m focusing on Trix and her story, because there is still a lot more to say.

Q:  Tell us about Emma Faragher. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Emma Faragher: I like to do lots of things. I love my university course, so I actually enjoy studying. Especially since I live with such a great group of people, just being around the house is fantastic.

I’m a fair weather outdoors person, in other words, I love to go walking in the woods or on the beach in the sunshine. (Of course with the British weather I always take a coat anyway). I’ve always been one of those people with too much curiosity and not enough “stop that might be dangerous”. I’m fond of high places; trees, cliffs, climbing frames. Which I’ve recently learn scared my mother half to death when I was younger!

I also do some crafty things. A bit of sewing, since I prefer my clothes to fit properly, some scrapbooking and card making. I took up knitting last Christmas and made some great prezzies for my family. And I’m also fond of baking, funnily enough, my housemates are also fond of my baking. With all that it’s a miracle I even have time for writing! But I don’t do everything all at once.

About Emma Faragher

Born in the UK, Emma grew up with a love of books. She always looked forwards to her school's weekly trips to the library from the age of 5. Then progressed to exploring bookshops, before finding Amazon and getting a Kindle.

She started writing night time stories for family friends when they were on holiday together and never stopped, moving on to writing books aimed at adults as she became one herself. Her first full novel was started at age 16 and finished age 18. It has yet to see the light of day but ignited further a passion for writing that could not be denied.

Currently studying at Sheffield University she is the author of the "Trix SinClara" series. An urban fantasy set in the future and following a shapeshifter as she is thrust into responsibility she never imagined she'd have. The first book in the series, THE HOUSE is currently published and available, with others coming soon.

Emma balances writing with studying and her other hobbies. Always busy she sometimes finds time to sit and read a book as well. Escaping into other worlds.


Shifters are going missing.

Growing magic and rogue vampire turn Trix's life up side down. Then shifters start to disappear without a trace. Leaving Trix in charge of the House, where wayward shifters go for comfort and control. But to help, Trix needs to get control of herself and her magic. Her shifting has always been natural to her. But her magic is growing and telepathy is not something easy to deal with. It might just drive her mad, and take everyone else with her.

The witches won't help and rules are changing. There is more at stake than any of them realize. The House may just become the centre of the biggest disaster the supernatural community has ever seen. Can Trix pull everyone together before it's too late?


Excerpt (Chapter 2)

“What do you want?” my voice didn’t crack and I managed to slow my heart down to an acceptable level, yet fear crawled through my insides making them feel like lead. I was fairly sure what they wanted, unfortunately for us we probably wouldn’t want to give it to them. Vampyre most often wanted two things, both of which they could and would take from us. Companionship, and when you’re over five hundred companionship means more than just a friendly chat, and blood. They craved blood, needed blood mostly, unless they were very closely tied to their “master”. They were going to struggle with the latter since I was fairly sure that shifter blood would do more damage than good, not that we’d be in much shape to appreciate it by that stage.
“You my sweet, I, we, want you.” The vampyre in front of me spoke, his voice was clear and menacing but I’d heard worse. I could probably do worse, just not right at that moment in time. I was having enough trouble keeping my voice even at all.
“Sorry but we’re not currently available, have to get home, meet our curfew.” I said absently, I sounded like I was discussing the weather, because that’s the only way I could not sound terrified. “So if you’ll kindly step out of the way we’ll be going now.” I finished and I felt Stripes’ hand in mine, hot and moist with her pulse strong and fast. It didn’t help me relax and I felt my own pulse speed in time with hers. It felt like my heart was trying to beat it’s way out of my chest.
“Oh but there’s nobody else here for you to go with. Two young women out alone at night, you should know better.” It seemed the one in front of me was the leader; he was the oldest and so far the only one to have spoken at all.
“We aren’t defenceless.” I said, much more confidently than I felt. It was true; we weren’t defenceless. It just happened our defences would likely do little to deter them unless we could shred them, or at least a few of them, into pieces. Which was highly unlikely considering that vampires are almost as fast as we are.
“I don’t see anyone here to protect you and there is nowhere in your very, charming, outfit for you to hide a weapon.” He sneered and I faltered. They had no idea what we were, which made no sense. I debated telling them, but then again that would take away our chance of surprising them. Yet, I might hold enough clout to get them to think twice, at least long enough to get away. I dithered to and fro for a matter of moments before choosing, I just had to pray it was the right choice.

Purchase Links

Author Links

Saturday, June 15, 2013

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Fantasy Author Andi O’Connor

Andi O'Connor, Author

Fantasy author Andi O’Connor offers readers a new world, Dragonath, which she created in her first novel in the Dragonath Chronicles series – THE LOST HEIR. One reviewer says, “The Lost Heir is a uniquely engaging story that drives the reader through the story at a steady pace, but still takes the time to slow down and allow for the characters to internalize and develop.”

Andi writes to entertain her readers and to attract those who otherwise might not read. She also strives to deliver a message regarding the empowerment of women. Andi is a member of several writing organizations, is working on the second novel for the Dragonath Chronicle series, and has completed a novel for her second fantasy series. She is also a ballet dancer.

Q: Why did you choose to write fantasy—the Dragonath Chronicles—with THE LOST HEIR as the first book?

Andi O’Connor: Fantasy is one of my favorite genres to read, so when I decided to write it just seemed natural. I cannot give an actual reason for why I chose to write THE LOST HEIR other than the idea intrigued me.  I enjoyed writing short stories as a child, and I thought tackling a novel would be something fun to do. I never really expected that writing would turn into my career.

Q: One of the reviewers of THE LOST HEIR says, “The characters within The Lost Heir are readily relatable and can be empathized with easily.” How do you make your characters engaging to your readers?

Andi O’Connor: This is a great question, and one to which I don’t really know how to answer. I would imagine that my writing process is quite unconventional. I don’t plan, outline, or make any form of character sheets. When I begin a novel, I have enough of an idea to get the words to flow, and I just start writing. The plot and characters develop as I go along, and I really have no idea what will happen in the next paragraph, let alone at the end of the book.

So, to answer your question, there isn’t any form of ‘scientific’ way I go about creating my characters. Just like in real life, their personalities grow and develop as the novel progresses, based on the situation they experience. There are times when I try to put myself in their shoes and think of how I would react, but most of the time I let them tell me.

Q: Can you explain the significance of your cover? What are the hands holding?

Andi O’Connor: It is called a kraylock and is what allows people to wield méno (magic). I don’t want to give too much away, so you’ll have to check out THE LOST HEIR ;-)

Q: Why do you like elves? Why do you wish they were real?

Andi O’Connor: Another difficult question! I suppose it is because elves are quite similar to humans, yet generally don’t have the faults typical of the human race. They have an aloofness and air of superiority that I find admirable and intriguing. They possess an unwavering sense of dedication and loyalty to their purpose and their people and act with dignity and respect. There are of course exceptions to the rule. Not all elves in the fantasy world fit into this description, but these are the elves I am totally enamored with. In a way, I find them to be a depiction of what humans were supposed to be.

Q: How do you make your fantasy world credible? Is credibility important in the world of fantasy?

Andi O’Connor: There are many things that are different about the world of Dragonath, but there are also many aspects that are the same, or similar enough to be relatable to the reader, which I think is extremely important. When creating a fantasy world, it will be credible as long as it ‘works’. By that, I mean that whatever makes up the world is explained and consistent, and that the characters react properly to the characteristics and cultural societies of that world.

To me, credibility is what makes the fantasy genre so alluring. Fictional worlds that are believable, with characters that are relatable, draw us into the world. We can immerse ourselves in the story and are able to convince a tiny part of our minds that the world could be real. That maybe, just maybe, it exists. And I think that is the true magic of fantasy.

Q:  Do you write largely for entertainment, or do you also try to deliver a message? To educate or inform?

Andi O’Connor: I have never believed that books were or should be mutually exclusive when it comes to entertainment and education. Everything I write has a message or something for the readers to consider and learn from. I am a big proponent of female equality and the empowerment of women, and much of my writing deals with that specific issue.

Dragonath is a society in which women are equal to men. They are not viewed as property, and it is tradition to keep their surname in marriage and pass it on to their daughter(s). They are not restricted to stereotypical female jobs, and can do anything they want as long as they display the appropriate qualifications. As an example, Andillrian is the first woman chosen for the palace guard. She is an exceptionally gifted warrior who earns her rank and standing because of her abilities, not because of her sex.

Of course, people are people. Not everyone shares the same opinion of female equality. In THE LOST HEIR, there is such a conflict that develops between Mionee and Garenth, and I use Mionee’s experiences to hopefully help women realize that such treatment is not right and that they do not have to sit quietly and accept it.

Q:  Do you include villains and heroes in THE LOST HEIR? What are the characteristics of each?

Andi O’Connor: Yes, both villains and heroes are included in THE LOST HEIR. Again, I don’t want to give away too much, but the characteristics are broad and are meant to show that both heroes and villains come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes the smallest and humblest of deeds can make all the difference in another’s life. Nothing should be downplayed because it may seem insignificant. Just because someone starts as one, doesn’t mean they can’t become the other.

Q: Who are your targeted readers? Is your novel largely for youth? Adults?

Andi O’Connor:  THE LOST HEIR was originally intended for adults, but I have had a great deal of interest from young adults. I would say it is mostly suitable for ages 15-plus.

Q:  What’s next?

Andi O’Connor: I am currently working on Awakening, which is the next book in The Dragonath Chronicles, and plan to self-publish that by 2015.  My second fantasy series is under works, and I have finished the first book titled Silevethiel. I hope to get that traditionally published, but we’ll see!

Q:  Tell us something about Andi O’Connor. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Favorite movie? Favorite author? 

Andi O’Connor: I’m a ballet dancer and go to class as many times a week as my schedule allows. I also play Lord of the Rings Online and read.

About Andi O’Connor

THE LOST HEIR is Andi O'Connor's debut novel.  She is a member of the International Women’s Writing Guild, the National Writers Association, The Association of Writers & Writing Programs, and the Boston Chapter of the Women's National Book Association. In her writing, Andi aims to bring the gift of reading to those who might have otherwise turned it aside, and she hopes her readers will embark on the most inspiring and exciting journey imaginable.

Always a meticulous planner, Darrak Hunter leads a dull life until his dreams become plagued with visions of a peculiar and distant world.  Waking up to a brilliant purple sun looming ominously in the sky, Darrak is met by a mysterious violet-eyed sorcerer who whisks him away from the struggling Earth.

Thrown into the clutches of a foreign world where magic is reality and not all is as it seems, Darrak embarks on a journey where he is forced to come to terms with his past and do what he can to shape the future.  Accompanied by a talented swordswoman, a prince, and a beautiful young sorceress, he must overcome cunning plots of treachery and betrayal to discover the strength to stand against a destructive black magic and an enemy who is a master at deception.
Purchase Links

Author Links