31 October, 2015

#Interview with Alan Joshua, #Author of The Shiva Syndrome

About the Author:
A native Philadelphian, Alan Joshua (pen name) is a Clinical Psychologist with a background in Forensic Psychology and Parapsychology.
Joshua has published many nonfiction journal articles.
The Shiva syndrome, his debut fiction novel, is a science fiction/paranormal mystery and thriller.
Always curious about the unknowns of human experience, he is fascinated with creativity and paranormal abilities. This led to his involvement with Psychology and research into Parapsychology while attending Temple and Saybrook Universities.
He has explored paranormal abilities, including alleged reincarnation, using hypnosis and in-depth interviewing of a wide range of “psychic” practitioners. Among his prized possessions are a shriveled, mummified banana (a product of one healer’s biopsychokinesis) and a small Austrian teaspoon curled by a German “psychic” healer while six people sat around him to observe. 
Joshua believes that what looks “paranormal” is a bias given by those in “ordinary” consciousness. Further, he claims that the so-called paranormal is an extension of human consciousness common to all humans and has had evolutionary value in the past and the potential to shape humanity’s future.
The Shiva Syndrome incorporates his knowledge of Parapsychology and experiences with healers, intuitives, “psychic” sensitives, etc.
Unsurprisingly, he is a science fiction fan and has been influenced by such writers as Asimov, Bradbury, Crichton, Heinlein, Serling, and the extraordinary genius of Phillip Dick.
As an avid Star Trek fan, he is fond of contradicting Gene Roddenberry, believing that human consciousness and its potentials are “the final frontier.”
If you have questions for me, I would be glad to answer them–time permitting. I’d like to hear from you if you’ve had any paranormal experiences.

An Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
Although it was never a formal decision, I guess since I could hold a pen; elementary school to be exact. I was/am in love with film and drew poster ads for exciting films—Destination Moon, for example–adding exciting text. Later, school compositions gave me the chance to exercise my imagination and share it. In art college, I studied creative writing under the poet, Gerry Stern. As a way of clinging to reality in a maddening situation, I wrote my first (unpublished) novel while working in a mental institution. The environment was as surreal as the book. Since then, my writing has been non-fiction articles and research.

What inspires you to write?
In part, the thrill of taking what is into the domain of what could be, whether sci-fi, paranormal, or extraordinary abilities—for creation and destruction—we have as humans.
Also, a grievous dissatisfaction with what we have done with our resources: our governments, our planet, ourselves. And what we could do to reverse, or at least halt, those processes.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
From my doctoral research into the mental processes of “psychic” or spiritual healers. I decided to write a screenplay, but it morphed into a book. From almost all reviewers’ comments, it still has a cinematic quality.
As to motive, I’ve been exposed to parapsychological research and even conducted a published study. The SHIVA Syndrome is fact-based fiction. I extrapolated from parapsychological research and set it in a mythological framework. I wanted to entice readers to investigate real psi research: the facts are as strange as fiction. Stanley Krippner, an internationally known psychologist and parapsychologist said, “In The SHIVA Syndrome, the author (a clinical psychologist) skillfully and ingeniously interweaves altered states of consciousness and parapsychology with genetics, paleontology, mythology, and religion to produce a frightening, brisk, and film-worthy story building to an intense climax. The story challenges conventional notions of reality, ultimately concluding that human consciousness extends well beyond the flesh–and offers enormous potential for both creation and destruction.”
It seems the story is so realistic that one Amazon reader captioned his review with “None of This Is Real! Really! I Hope!” This made me chuckle with satisfaction.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
That would be a spoiler. Let me say it’s a climactic chapter that is literally (or literarily) out of this world.  It was unplanned and came to me much like a vision. I was swept up by the images and characters and just went with the flow almost as an observer.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Certainly. I can identify many of my “hang-ups” in just about all characters. I think that applies to most writers. Those I found more difficult, I had a storehouse of (past and present) therapy  clients I could use.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
That’s really asking what’s interesting to me.
Learning how to surrender. In writing reports for courts or attorneys, it was self-controlled, compulsive, fully conscious and rational.
SHIVA drew on letting go, quite the opposite. Characters led me along and developed their own stories and dialogue.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I read, but love audiobooks as well. I guess that hearkens back to childhood and being read to while I could close my eyes and travel with the author’s words.
As to authors, virtually all major sci-fi writers. Although a playwright, I would add Paddy Chayefsky for his only novel, Altered States. They all were part of the foundation, but I wanted to take Chayefsky’s noble attempt further than he could.
Finally, I must add Shakespeare. From the comedic to tragedy to the paranormal. He was the master.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
My wife, a complete work of all spiritual readings, and the survival manual I could find.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
I was a prankster as a child.
I love surprising a people.
I fought a career counselor in college, refusing her fervent suggestion that I become a psychologist. Seven years later, still against my will, I became a psychologist. Ultimately, I surrendered. You can’t fight karma.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
A possible sequel or prequel to The SHIVA Syndrome or a paranormal homicide with a most unlikely victim and murderer.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
Only that I hope they’ll get as much enjoyment from reading SHIVA as I had in writing it. Because it’s based on real sciences, I also enjoy feedback and answering any questions they may have.
Thank you for having me as a guest, Debdatta.

About the Book:
Power from the past; danger in the future.
Science opens the door for humans to reach God-like powers of creation and destruction. 
A secret Russian mind research laboratory erupts, annihilating thousands and leaving a monstrous, one-mile deep crater in its wake. Beau Walker, a psychologist and reluctant empath, is coerced into joining a research project, code-named SHIVA, to investigate the catastrophe. An ordinary scientific investigation leads Walker and the research team into alternate realities. 
Walker struggles against political and military deceptions, deadly superhuman adversaries, and personal demons to unlock the riddle of the SHIVA syndrome, risking his life and the very existence of humankind. 
The SHIVA Syndrome offers a dizzying ride into extraordinary human abilities. Prepare to alter what you believed was reality.

30 October, 2015

#BookReview :: Seeing Evil by Jason Parent

Fate in plain sight.

Major Crimes Detective Samantha Reilly prefers to work alone—she’s seen as a maverick, and she still struggles privately with the death of her partner. The only person who ever sees her softer side is Michael Turcotte, a teenager she’s known since she rescued him eleven years ago from the aftermath of his parents’ murder-suicide.

In foster care since his parents’ death, Michael is a loner who tries to fly under the bullies’ radar, but a violent assault triggers a disturbing ability to view people’s dark futures. No one believes his first vision means anything, though—not even Sam Reilly. When reality mimics his prediction, however, Sam isn’t the only one to take notice. A strange girl named Tessa Masterson asks Michael about her future, and what he sees sends him back to Sam—is Tessa victim or perpetrator?

Tessa’s tangled secrets draw Michael and Sam inexorably into a deadly conflict. Sam relies on Michael, but his only advantage is the visions he never asked for. As they track a cold and calculating killer, one misstep could turn the hunters into prey.

The blurb of the book did catch my attention; however it didn’t really prepare me for the book itself.

Michael having witnessed his parents’ murder as a young child has grown up in the foster care system. He is a loner who tries his best to keep out of trouble. But then tone day trouble finds him and decides to stick with him. After experiencing a violent bullying episode, something within Michael stirs to life – an ability to see people’s future. At first people do not believe him but then his prediction comes true putting him under the spotlight. With all eyes on him, he is approached by Tessa to see her future. He can only trust and depend on Major Crimes Detective Samantha Reilly, the officer who had rescued him on the night of his parents’ murder and is the only person he has a connection with. The turn of events send Michael and Sam in pursuit of the killer. But the question is, will they catch the perpetrator before it is too late?

I loved the plot! It is really-really good. What starts as a simple story soon takes turns that will put a reader on the edge of their seats. The plot is complimented by the characters to its full potential. Michael is a kid with a sad past and as such he is easy to like. For most part his character remains true to his age. Samantha Reilly is a cop I loved as a reader. She is all business and professional until she is with Michael – that’s when we see her softer side making her more human. And then there is Tessa – a girl with a very dark secret. I found her intriguing from the very beginning. If I had to crib about anything in this book, it would be about Tessa – I wanted to know more about her.

The author has a very interesting narration style where small details make the narration even more interesting. The horrifying and gruesome scenes felt more so because of the way he has described them with great care. The visions that Michael had were different experiences on their own. I also particularly liked the way he has portrayed his characters – flawed but mostly with hope. He has covered the very important aspect of bullying – the physical and psychological effect it can have on the victims. There is ample action and drama with a fast pace to keep the readers engaged.

To round it up, I would like to say that I will watch out for more from this author and in the meantime, I would like you guys to give this book a try.

Review Copy received from the Author

#Interview with Anna Santos, #Author of Soul-Mate

    Meet the Author: Anna Santos   

Anna Santos is an up-and-coming New Adult author with an impressive number of followers who builds worlds of undeniable beauty, with witty and enchanting characters.
Anna always keeps her readers on their toes with her adrenaline-fueled adventures, suspense-filled cliffhangers, and steamy love scenes.
When she isn't writing, Anna is considering plot twists for her next novel or delving into the world of her favorite authors.

    Interview with the Author   

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
Since I can remember, actually. I always knew that I wanted to write, even before I could write. So when it was time to go to school and learn the basics, I couldn’t be more thrilled. I was always a good student and I would read any book that I could put my hands on. My dad had a small library with the classics and I would read them as if they voraciously. The best gift I had when I was a children was a book that my godmother offered me. But I remember that I was a bit sad after because it had a lot of pictures and few written pages, so I finished it in a blink an eye. 
I started writing short stories about gods and princesses when I was ten. When I was fourteen I wrote my first novel and at the age of eighteen, I had already a series of three fantasy stories, and four novels. I have them in notebooks, stored in a drawer, and it was only when I started to write in English that I was fortunate enough to find supporting readers who believed in my talent and encouraged me to publish my books. 

What inspires you to write?
The stories just unfold in my head. I’m a daydreamer. I don’t look for inspiration, inspiration follows me, and sometimes it can be hard to function on the real world because I can only find some peace when I’m writing and I put to paper an idea that’s been fighting to get out and be written. 

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
I had been spending three months writing short stories about paranormal creatures. I was also reading a lot of books with paranormal creatures. I’ve always devoured every book that Anne Rice wrote, and then I found other amazing writers when the vampire frenzy started. But I didn’t write about vampires. I had my own worlds, gods, heroes from my high-fantasy books. But I said to myself: why not? So ideas began to take shape and I can honestly say that the idea for this book was based in a name: Shane and what a werewolf would do if he found his soul-mate, but she was a secretive hunter with a dark past who had never thought that she could be someone else’s soul-mate because of being a hybrid. The plot between them was really easy. The chemistry was over the roof. The first draft was the easiest thing to write and then when it was time to share my work, it became a bigger story that became even bigger when I began to edit after already have the next three books in the series taking shape. 

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Of course, several ones that I really love, but I’m too lazy to type it to a computer and finish them. Besides, there are some stories that I feel the urge to write more than others. I hope that someday I can give those stories my attention. Plus, I rather write using a pen and paper, so if I can’t find time to type them, they won’t get to see the light of day, unless I go all reminiscent on them and I began to read old ideas, and half-written books.  

Tell us about your writing process.
I’m really organized, but everything happens inside my head. I have my chapters all in order and I know what will happen next. I scribble a lot on paper, then I type it on a computer, but sometimes everything I wrote becomes something else. I have a lot of notebooks with chapters from several stories. I use them when I get the urge to write, so I write it down on paper so I don’t forget and so I can type it to a computer when I have time.  

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I have a lot of favourite authors, but I’m just going to name a few: Anne Rice, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Juliet Marillier, Nalini Singh, Carmen Martin Gaite, and Karen Marie Moning.
My favourite writers influenced the genre what I write these days. Unconsciously, maybe they influenced me. However, we live in a world where there aren’t new ideas. Those authors were inspired by someone else. What makes authors different is that they try to give soul and depth to their story and characters. 

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Writing is a calling. So if you are really set in sharing your gift with the world, you need to share your work with readers, protect your copyrights because there are a lot of people stealing other people’s work, and have realistic expectations. Only a few can live from writing. Reach out for small publishers to have honest feedback. Write, write, write, and don’t even think about publish a book without proper editing if you are planning to publish on your own. There are a lot of people with talent that aren’t able to sell books even after publish them. You need to spend as much energy promoting your work as writing. 

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
This story started to be shared on Wattpad. The website allows us to choose a cast. Soul-Mate was first shared in 2013. Since then the dream cast has been: Shane – Jamie Dornan; Annabel – Emilia Clarke. 

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
I would probably starve to death because all I wanted was pens, paper as much as possible, and books. 

What do you have in store next for your readers?
I have a new book coming out in November. It’s another paranormal book, but with a few twists. It’s also a book to empower women and to show that bad boys don’t miraculously change into good guys. I’m currently working on the third book of the Immortal Love Series (Soul-Mate is book 1), and I’m waiting to have time to start editing book 2 so I can also publish it next year.  

✰ ✰ About the Book ✰ ✰

In a world where Vampires and Werewolves don’t get along. Hybrids are chased and killed. Two unlikely souls find out they are meant to be.
Annabel is a bad-ass hybrid hunter, seeking revenge from the vampire who killed her parents and put her brother in a coma. Arriving in a new town with an undercover identity to protect and the mission to find a pureblood vampire to save her brother’s life, the last thing Annabel needs is to fall in love with the sexy, persistent werewolf who thinks she’s a helpless human in need of a knight in shining armor.
Shane is a dominant werewolf who also happens to be the local sheriff. He has almost lost hope of finding his better half. So when his beautiful soul-mate shows up and rogue vampires try to kill her, he does what any smart wolf would do: he saves her and takes her home, hoping to convince her that they belong together.
When sparks fly between them, Annabel has to decide if she tells him who she really is or runs the other way to protect her secrets.

✰ ✰✰ Soul-Mate Excerpt ✰ ✰

Chapter One


She was a vision: black leather suit; long, straight dark hair; and a rosy-red button mouth. Her big blue eyes were simply dazzling! She had a doll-like face and sexy body, and she moved with the grace and prowess of a feline. As she walked toward the counter and took a seat on a stool, all eyes followed her, both female and male. She gently stroked her hair away from her face so her skin gave off a gentle glow, looking softer than silk.
I couldn’t help but feel drawn to her like a June bug to a porch light. Could she be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen? Is it possible? I’d lived for more than two mortal lives. Never in that time had I ever reacted so strongly to a woman. It was like she had a magnetic pull, an ability to make me forget about all around me. Everything but her turned into an annoying buzz, a blur; she had my undivided attention. It has been ages, literally, since I wanted to meet a woman as badly as I wanted to meet this one. I wanted to talk to her and be next to her.
I wasn’t the only one dazzled by her: other dangerous, lustful eyes were targeting her. Like them, I was fixated on her, enchanted by her beauty. The pull I felt served as a reason to approach her, so I walked to the counter with no control over my body and sat next to her, flashing my sexiest smile.
God! Her scent was addiction, if not intoxicating. She smelled like a bouquet of roses, orchids, poppies, Heaven, vanilla, and candy. What a feast to my senses! She was the personification of lust, temptation, and dreams come true. I couldn’t believe it; I had long since lost faith in finding her, but there she was, after all this time: my soul-mate.
“I’m not interested,” she replied to my smile before I’d even opened my mouth. “You’re not my type,” she added as an afterthought, completely catching me off guard.
What was that supposed to mean?
Stupidly, I asked, “And what is your type?” I’m not normally that pathetic with words, but I’m not often rejected, either. Come to think of it, I’ve never been rejected before. Awkward!
The downside of your soul-mate being a human—she doesn’t recognize you as hers.
She didn’t answer my stupid question, thankfully. She just took a good look at me as if I was a piece of meat, and then simply ignored me and called for a drink from the bartender. He had a smile on his face before looking over and giving me a mocking look, as if calling me a loser. Sam was probably gloating at the fact that I’d been rejected, but he didn’t know that I wasn’t going to give up on her that easily. After all, she was my other half.
She was dressed to kill but was more likely to be killed by the gang of predators that lurked in a dark corner of the bar. Their eyes were riveted on her. I could sense their noses turning to the air, smelling it, trying to catch her intoxicating scent.
She was too irresistible to be true! I was completely dazzled by her. I couldn’t believe that I was staring at her, finally, after all this time. It was like a dream, and if it truly was one, I dearly hoped that I never woke up.
“Can I buy you a drink?” I asked, trying to make conversation, wanting to stay next to her.
“Could you just leave?” she asked in a soft tone but not impolitely—far from it. She had a sexy, girly voice, and I swear I could detect a hint of concern. Like being far away from her was the best option for me.
The problem was that she was mine. At least, I would do anything to make her mine. And to leave her there to be a vampire’s snack was out of the question. Actually, it was out of the question before I smelled her; now it was a death sentence to anyone who dared to touch her.
“Are you new in town?” I asked. I was curious and wouldn’t be driven away anytime soon.
“Yes,” she answered, throwing back more of her drink. I noticed that the girl was looking at the mirrors on the wall and clearly didn’t want to talk. I followed her eyes with curiosity. What could possibly be more interesting than me?
She was watching the dark figures not far from us. I almost sighed with impatience. Humans had an inclination to get themselves into danger. They were drawn to evil creatures like moths to flames. She couldn’t possibly be serious. That dark “Emo” look attracted her? They weren’t even the best-looking specimens of their race. They were newborn, pale, and skinny. They had arrived an hour ago, and I had only seen them two or three times before. They weren’t from my town, but they knew who I was, and they hadn’t caused any trouble―yet. Even if they looked hungry, in a bar filled with werewolves and shape shifters, they wouldn’t get lucky. If they knew what was good for them, they would leave and stop staring at the girl, at my soul-mate.
Moments after, as if they had read my thoughts, the vampires got up and glided out of the bar. My eyes followed them, my hand ready on the gun resting at my hip so they would get the message. She was under my protection, and if they dared to make her an unwilling blood donor, they would feel my wrath. I was the law in this forsaken town, and they would do well to remember it.
But as the vamps left, she got up, paid for her drink, and walked toward the exit. For a moment, I have to confess that I was hooked on her luxurious curves, until I realized that she was leaving. I didn’t even know her name or her phone number. Also, those vampires were outside and would smell her arrival in the dark of the night.
I grabbed my coat and ran outside, only to encounter my enticing soul-mate zipping up a leather jacket and sitting on a killer-looking bike that would make true any biker’s dreams, such as my own.
For a few moments, I thought I was dreaming or even hallucinating because it was really farfetched that my dream girl would have such an impeccable taste for bikes, as well as would ride one. That was so damn hot!
She put a backpack on her back and was reaching for the helmet when they came out of the dark and passed her, joking and pushing each other as if drunk. I knew better. The temptation was too much for them to resist. Even the possibility of dealing with me wasn’t enough deterrent for the vamps to back off.
The girl must have sensed that something was amiss, because she put her helmet down and took her backpack off, looking from me to them as if intrigued. They were closer to her, and they were incredibly fast when they needed or wanted to be. I’m also fast at shooting, and I’m strong and deadly when I have to be. No blood-sucking monster would lay a hand on her precious head; especially not when she was meant to be mine!
The vampires seemed to reconsider when they saw my eyes burning with the promise of retribution and my hand falling to the revolver that would shoot special wooden and silver bullets. I was prepared, and they knew that. I had killed others who didn’t respect the laws of this town. I would kill again without hesitation, and they knew that as well. So they had to have known that it would be smarter to back off and leave, but I guess they were still feeling foolish, because two sped over to attack me and one jumped at her.
She screamed something, but before she could do much more, the vampires were already exploding in ashes while my revolver smoked from the three precise and quick bullets I’d shot. After checking that there weren’t any more vampires in sight to harm my soul-mate, I re-holstered my gun.
When I looked at her, she stood blinking in amazement at the falling ashes, surely confused by the disappearance of the three supposed men. Her eyes were wide, trying to comprehend what had happened. Humans naturally assume they’re hallucinating and just try to forget all things supernatural, as they are too impossible to be true. Vampires vanishing into wisps of ash happens only in movies.
I wanted to say something to reassure her, but before I could open my mouth, she was slumped to the ground. I rushed to her in time to stop her from hitting the dusty pavement. She fainted into my arms.
“Miss.” I felt stupid calling her that, but I didn’t know her name. I caught her against my chest, and her scent hit me. She smelled amazing! No wonder those bloodsuckers wanted a taste. She felt right in my arms; we were made for each other, and I didn’t know if it was the mate bond acting out, but everything about her seemed perfect. I found myself closing my eyes and prolonging the blissful feeling that assaulted me in waves of hot and cold.
No one came outside. They knew better than to come outside; except for Sam. He came to see if I was still alive and woke me up to reality.
“Problem solved?” he asked, not making a fuss about it. Nothing that hadn’t happened before.
“Yeah,” I grumbled in reply, more concentrated on the human than on him. “Take care of her bike, will you?” I shouted over my shoulder.
“Right,” he answered, giving me a thumbs up in reassurance.
I carried her to my car then sat her on the front seat and drove home—my home. It was a waste of time to take her to see a doctor. She would eventually wake up, and a cup of tea would be enough to calm her down. Besides, once she awoke up and properly thanked me for saving her life, I was hoping that I could convince her to stay and give me a chance. We were meant to be together.
I needed to know who she was and why she was travelling with just a backpack. She looked young and fragile. It could have been my protective instinct kicking in, but I wanted to take care of her. Not to mention that I wanted to know everything about her.
While I was driving, it was hard to concentrate on the road. The woman was lovely. Even though my heart had almost stopped beating with the possibility of losing her minutes after finding her, now that the danger was gone, her scent relaxed me, and her presence ignited a sparkle of hope in my heart for being happy.
Her mouth was enticing. Just thinking about a kiss from those lips had me trembling. The sexual attraction was overwhelming. I wondered how it would be to have her husky voice in my ear, begging me for more kisses and sighing into my mouth with desire and pleasure…
I was losing it, and I should probably have stopped having those fantasies, given the growing tightness in my crotch. It would have looked really bad if I’d had a raging hard-on when she woke up in my home.
I needed to control my urges, even if she was a gorgeous temptation all wrapped up in leather. My sex fantasies were out of the question for the time being. I was more interested in taking care of her and making sure she was okay. She was not just some hot woman to spend a good time with. She was going to be my whole world. And I was hell-bent on making her realize that she couldn’t live without me, either.  



#Interview with Richard Risemberg, #Author The Dust Will Answer

About the Author:

Richard Risemberg was dragged to Los Angeles as a child, and has been working there in a number of vernacular occupations since his teens while writing poetry, articles, essays, and fiction, editing online 'zines, sneaking around with a camera trying to steal people's souls, and making a general nuisance of himself, which is his forte. He's survived long enough to become either a respected elder or a tedious old fart, depending on your point of view, and is still at it. It hasn't been easy for any of us.

Interview with Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
It was in my last year of high school. I had been concentrating on science—my father was an engineer, and that was what I had grown up with. I was also an avid reader of anything, from encyclopedias to fiction, but I never considered writing till my twelfth grade English class. The original teacher was a drunk, who fell down her steps at home and broke her leg; the substitute was a young, pretty woman with waist-length red hair—I remember her name was Alice Nye. She once rather casually gave us an assignment to write a descriptive paragraph, something no previous teacher had done. Mine was a bit overwritten but good enough to elicit Miss Nye's praises. I reread it critically, and realized that I could write as well as read. I'd never even considered it before.
I was seventeen. By the second term of college I'd changed my major to English.

What inspires you to write?
In general, a love of words, story, and character. For each story specifically, I really can't say. Sometimes it's nothing more than a snippet that comes to mind of someone reacting to a situation—real or imagined—and a desire to see what happens. I follow them around through my mind and just write down what they do and say.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
I had in mind a scene by the Los Angeles River at night, in the abandoned warehouse district. I wondered what would lead who otherwise had no business there to end up in a rough and dangerous place in the middle of the night. Eventually I realized that the character would be tracking down an ex-girlfriend who was not too careful about the men she chose and where they might take her. I was very familiar with the river and its homeless camps, whose denizens I used to interview and photograph for a local paper, and whose lives were much rougher even than most people imagined. Those people inspired some of the characters in my current book, "The Dust Will Answer."

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Yes, but they have never seen the light of day for very good reasons, and I hope they never do!

Tell us about your writing process.
I start with a scene, usually a tranquil one, in which the character is comfortable. Then something happens to take him out of that place and into a realm where he must confront not only other people's selfishness but his own, and reconcile himself to it while still trying to bring about a resolution that is fair to all. Of course this is impossible—especially when others are actively working against you.
What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
That changes day by day, but at present my favorite scene in "The Dust Will Answer" is the one in the hospital, when the protagonist, Lenny Strasser, finally realizes that Kate, his ex, is passionately attached to a worldview that is incompatible with his. He accepts that this means emotional freedom for him, but that it also means abandoning Kate to the dismal future she has chosen.
There is also an intense scene, a flashback, in which Lenny finds his way to the dingy apartment where Kate is entertaining her current lover, a manipulative small-time drug dealer. It is a bit painful to read sometimes….

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Lenny, of course, though not too many. He does things I would never do, and he avoids doing things I would do (and have done). There's a secondary character, Dave Larrabee, to whom I have given my more annoying traits.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I refuse to read anything at all before working on my fiction in the morning. This is a holdover from the days when, if I did so, whatever I wrote would sound like whatever I had just read. That doesn't happen anymore (I occasionally have worked in the afternoon, though I don’t prefer to), but I still hold to the practice. If nothing else, it removes one distraction. I like to finish the hard work of fiction early, before the house and the city become noisy. Journalism I write at any hour.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I read constantly and widely. Among my current favorites are Walter Mosley and Ross McDonald (both of whom have influenced "The Dust Will Answer"), Susan Straight, Haruki Murakami, Georges Simenon and Camus (in French), Hemingway, Chekhov, and many, many others. Each one has, of course, influenced a different aspect of my own work. MacDonald, though not a top-line writer, focuses on character, complexity, and each persons' inevitable internal conflicts in a highly-compassionate way that makes the often-violent resolutions of his stories emotionally affecting as well as stirring. It's more than just tying up loose ends—there's a bit of existential angst in everything he writes.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
Treat it like a job. Show up everyday and work, and the story will get done.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
The same as above, with this detail: choose a specific time of day when you will write, and write five to six days a week, without fail. (Okay, you can take a vacation now and then.)
Take it seriously. I am paid to write for two local blogs, once a week each. Three years ago I had a small stroke—and I never missed a deadline.

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
There is no one currently working in Hollywood who could play my characters the way I see them. Maybe Nicholas Cage for the protagonist, but he's too old now. The attractive women are both short brunettes, and one is a bit plump—not Hollywood types.
Then again, if someone offered to buy the movie rights, I'd sell in an instant—but I wouldn't watch the film.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
A cast-iron cookpot and a long-handled spoon. I'm half Italian; I gotta eat! That and a big hunting knife. With a good knife you can get most of everything else you need. I know how to make my own paper and ink, so I could carve a quill pen from a feather and keep writing stories for someone to find by my bones years thence.

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
Either walking around the neighborhood or bicycling around the vast city of Los Angeles. The Pacific Ocean is twelve miles away, and I often go there. Eating with friends in cheap bistros. Listening to free concerts at the museum nearby. And, of course, reading.

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
Return to Paris, where I lived briefly in the Eighties. I used to say "Live in San Francisco," but the techno-yuppies have made it into rather a bog of overpriced self-regard in recent years.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
For nearly a decade, I practically lived on a big black motorcycle. (Yes, it shows up in the story.)
I went through the Seventies without even once trying marijuana. No one believes me.
I was once asked to be…well, sorry, I promised not to tell, and organization has a long memory.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
I have nearly finished the first draft of a sequel to "The Dust Will Answer," this one set mostly in a semi-rural area filled with hippies, old desert rats, and trailer-trash outlaw types. Not to mention a gay motorcycle gang. The usual stuff…. No spoilers here, so I'll leave it at that. Working title is "Dreaming of the Fight."

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
The truth is, I don't know where most of my characters come from. The best ones have no reference to people I've actually known. They just appear, and I follow them around. They constantly surprise the hell out of me, yet everything they do is natural and coherent, for them if not for me. At least, I hope not for me!

About the Book:
1978: The wave of gentrification has yet to break over downtown Los Angeles, and vast swathes of the warehouse district lie nearly abandoned next to the sterile trench of the city's concrete-clad river.
Lenny Strasser, a straight-arrow type with a taste for shady places, plunges into that world to discover that sometimes the only distance between two points is a very crooked line. When Lenny's friend Dave Larrabee nags him into helping him track down a missing girlfriend, Lenny suspects that the girl doesn't want to be found. He knows her all too well: she was his before she was Dave's, and she'd gone gleefully missing from his life one time too many. Worse, he's not entirely sure he's over his feelings for the theatrical and self-centered Kate.
But this time it wasn't one of her ordinary infidelities--she may have fallen, again, into the hands of the charismatic Nighthawk, who could lead her into territories where the danger is real and role-playing no protection from harm.
The quest takes them into hobo jungles and punk squats by the LA River--and into an after-midnight darkness of moral ambiguity that changes Lenny's life in ways he'd never dreamed of. 

29 October, 2015

#GuestPost :: What Inspires Me to Write by Louis Alan Swartz

About the Author:

Louis Alan Swartz has dedicated his life to helping others find their ability as immortal spiritual beings. He has traveled extensively in Africa, India, Europe, and the Middle East. He lives in Los Angeles with Connie, his wife of twenty-eight years. 

What Inspires Me to Write

It is my firm belief that there is a terrific beauty inherent in each individual person. The motivating force behind everything I write is the intention to draw this beauty out, to help him to see his personal magnificence. It is my viewpoint that when a man is able to fully recognize himself as an immortal spiritual being, there are two other things with which he will gain touch.

One is the depth of his own personal aesthetic. This is his ability to create, perceive, and appreciate beauty. It is the special beauty unique to him. This is his own aesthetic. It is available with him and him only. The communication of this aesthetic to others so that they understand it, is probably the senior elation of life.

The other is gaining touch with his own personal divinity. In my viewpoint, his ability to recognize
The Divine begins with him gaining touch with the divinity within him. In my experience, gaining touch with these three aspects elicits an enormous well being, confidence and joy in being alive.

Below are two poems born of the viewpoint expressed here.

On the Day I Gained Certainty That I was a Spirit

On the day I gained certainty that I was
A spirit, the subway went up
Lexington Avenue as it had always done.

Down on Seventh Avenue the
Men still pushed their carts
With bolts of cotton and silk.
The cross town bus still did its
Route on 42nd Street. 

The mannequins
In Macy’s window nearby still stood
Stiffly still as they had always done.

The train to Boston pulled out
Of Grand Central Station. Several
Couples fell in love that day in Central Park. 

 A twelve year old boy found out
About Walt Whitman in the main
Public library at Fifth Avenue
And 42nd Street.

 Big ocean liners were docked
 In the harbor on the West Side
A young man sweetly played
His violin on the corner 
Of 42nd and 8th Avenue. 

The Staten Island Ferry moved
Away from the dock. The diamond
Dealer intently eyed a gem
Through his glass on 47th Street
As he had done for generations.

Uptown on West 86th Street
Near Broadway a sweet old
Woman sighed deeply
And smiled and breathed
Her last breath. A boy child
Was born in Brooklyn.

The taxi drivers weaved
Between the lanes.
Somebody ordered a large
Coffee regular, hold the sugar.

Three teenage boys sang
A cappella* at the corner
Of Willis Avenue and
143rd Street in the South
Bronx .A crowd gathered,
They were magnificent.

In my world all
Was still. Everything
Around me was pervaded
With a calm I do not
Remember ever having experienced.

I felt a love for everyone I
Saw no matter who they were.
I was astounded by
Beauty all around me
Though it was the same
32nd Street, the same
Broadway on which I had
Always walked. 

 I felt a kindness,
A compassion,
A tolerance, an openness,
A hope, a confidence unlike
Anything I had ever known.
And I knew that everything
Was going to be alright, that
All would be well, that
I was ok and that I
Would continue to be ok.
On the day that I gained
Certainty that I was
A Spirit.

* A cappella Without instrumental accompaniment
(Webster's New World College Dictionary)


The actual spirit is neither gossamer* 
nor ethereal* by nature, 
though could be as it wished.
A spirit can be thunderous
as solid and muscular as a Sumo Wrestler 
or as sweet and soft as baby skin,
the wash of dew upon an autumnal meadow 
at dawn.

A spirit can be utterly robust and
in your face.
Belly laughter and drunken
passion, brawling, boisterous 
and strong of lung
in one minute 
and deer silent, delicately quiet
and alert in the next.
Give me an actual spirit
and I’ll give you the world.

He is all that is thrilling on this earth or anywhere
in this universe. He is protest and dissonance
as well as celestial choir harmony and the
songs of angels.

Mule stubborn, gymnast supple, an acrobat, an
eternal clown.

He is first blush.
He is love’s rush.
He’s caring about someone so very much.
He is fresh orchid above young breast
On her lovely prom dress.
He is puppy love and first love
and eternal love.

He is fisherman in a terrible storm
strapped to the mast and hanging on.
He is making steel
with calloused hands.
He is out in the fields
working and sweating and singing song.

He is sudden summer storm,
and sun coming through
and rainbow too.

He is grace of form
and time worn courtesy.
An old, wooden dining table
laden with breakfast’s creation,
early dawn before a hard working day.

He is justice and admiration and keeping
your cool.
He is passion and patience and the first
day of school.

He is piano and cymbal and violin
and marvelously always gets
to come back again.

He is believing what he believes.
He is rainbow colors of autumn leaves.
He is New England winter
with frost on your breath.
He knows only forever,
he doesn’t know death.

*Gossamer—light, thin and filmy. Ethereal very light, airy.
(Webster's New World College Dictionary)

About the Book:

What would life be like if you knew you were an immortal spiritual being? "It is my viewpoint that each man has his own unique magnificence regardless of race, religion, nation, tribe, station in life, customs and beliefs...," so writes poet, Louis Alan Swartz. Constructed of Magic and Other Poems on the Immortality of the Human Spirit is a refreshing collection of poems that explore the beauty of who we are as spiritual beings. Our ability to love, dream, create futures, even die with dignity are all part of who we are and why we are here. These poems don't pretend to give final answers to any of the big questions about life, but they do help us to look and come to our own understanding.

28 October, 2015

#Interview with Ian Brennan, #Author of Sister Maple Syrup Eyes

About the Author:
Ian Brennan is a GRAMMY-winning record producer and has produced three GRAMMY-nominated records.
He has worked with artists as diverse as country-great Merle Haggard, filmmaker John Waters, Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Fugazi, Green Day, Tinariwen, Kyp Malone & Tunde Adebimpe (TV on the Radio), the Blind Boys of Alabama, Nels Cline (Wilco), and the Vienna Boys Choir, and has repeatedly travelled the world in search of music. Amongst others, he has discovered and produced groups who went onto be the first international releases in the indigenous languages of their respective countries, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Malawi. 
During his leanest years, he supported himself by day working as a counselor in the locked emergency-psychiatric unit for Oakland, California. This led to his becoming a violence prevention “expert”, lecturing on the topic over 100 times annually since 1993, at such organizations as the Betty Ford Center, Bellevue Hospital (NYC), UC Berkeley, and the National Accademia of Science (Rome), as well as on various continents— Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North America.
He was a published poet by age 19 and has written about music regularly for Zero Magazine and Guitar Player. He is the author of four published books. The Boston Phoenix called his lyrics,”a model of economical, unpretentious, narrative songwriting,” and the Readers+Writers journal praised his novella, Sister Maple Syrup Eyes as, “A beautiful book. Achingly beautiful.”

Check out the Author's WEBSITE

Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I used alternative narratives as a way of coping with personal pain growing up. I lost or spent (depending on what spin one puts on it), gazing out car and classroom windows, and dreaming up relationships and settings— like any stereotypical introvert, I suppose.

What inspires you to write?
Art at it’s best is an empathy-building device and can help break down boundaries between people and regions. There have been many well-crafted lines of poetry that I’ve stumbled on over the years, and through them been instantly been reminded what a miracle it is to be alive.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Though it is a work of literary fiction, the novella Sister Maple Syrup Eyes was inspired by the life-altering experience of my longtime, first girlfriend being beaten horrifically and raped in her own apartment by a family-friend.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I do read pretty voraciously. I used to just raid the public library and literally walk out carrying stacks of poetry books when I was a teenager and young adult. This was back in the days before they limited how many books you could check-out at any one time. These days, I still read on average about a book or more a week, but I go through binges of one a day. And since the early 1990’s I have read almost exclusively non-fiction related to psychology and sociology.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
When rewriting, read everything out loud to yourself, to hear how it sounds. The weaker structures have a way of exposing themselves when spoken.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Be specific and show, don’t tell. Paint with words. Also join a workshop and beg people to be mean and not nice. We tend to often learn most from the harshest critics. Though, understandably it is not a pleasant process, it is worth it in the long run.

How do you spend your free time? 
I have almost none and never really have. But I like it that way, so it’s of my own doing. For me, reading is free time.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
In February 2016, my book will be published about the need for greater attention to be given to international music. It is titled How Music Dies (or Lives): field-recording & the battle for democracy in the arts and is being published by Skyhorse from New York City.

About the Book:

Sister Maple Syrup Eyes is one of the first books published from the historically under-reported perspective on rape: from that of the lesser and oft-forgotten other victim, the individual's partner. With terse lyricism, this novella radiates the anguish of attempting to repair a love and life shattered by violence. Through a series of deliberately concise and untitled chapters, the story erupts in a before/after chasm, culminating with the main character's facing a tentative peace with his past.


Some Reviews:

"I have read no better description than Sister Maple Syrup Eyes of how a rapist humiliates and owns his/her victim, not only during the attack but long afterwards. Everyone should read this moving and poetic book, but especially those who discount the seriousness of rape."
Jody Raphael 
Rape is Rape: How Denial, Distortion, and Victim Blaming Are Fueling a 
Hidden Acquaintance Rape Crisis 

"Ian Brennan has written a novella that will help make serious concerns around the issue of rape and domination, come to light. It is an intimate, honest and important cri de coeur (‘cry from the heart’)."
Magnus Toren 
Executive Director, 
Henry Miller Memorial Library 

"Ian Brennan hits a major grief head-on: the rape and abuse that is epidemic."
Professor Diane Glancy, 
The Reason for Crows and Stone Heart 

"Rape doesn’t just affect the victim. In this poignant, usually untold account, Ian Brennan deals with the long-term impact of rape on a relationship. His stark, vivid narrative mines the pain of love and the spiraling contamination of rape’s aftermath, as he acknowledges his own feelings of guilt-by-association. This is a brave and honest story of loss, and the urge to find redemption."
Afric McGlinchey, 
The Lucky Star of Hidden Things