Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Interview with MCA Hogarth

The Worth of a ShellMy novel, The Five Elements, is part of StoryBundle’s current Fantasy Bundle. Much like the fantasy genre itself, the bundle features a wonderfully diverse group of authors and books. One of those authors is M.C.A. Hogarth, author of The Worth of a Shell. The bundle’s curator, Blair MacGregor, had this to say about M.C.A and her novel:

I became acquainted with Maggie through her strong and well-thought-out advocacy of indie writers and diverse publishing options, and soon discovered her fabulous talent as a writer and an artist. The first novel of hers I read pulled me into a non-human world alive with distinct cultures, sensory depth, and the harsh consequences of daring to want life outside society's limitations. That novel, The Worth of A Shell, is in this bundle so you can make that the same discovery I did. – Blair MacGregor

I had the opportunity to interview M.C.A. Here are her thoughts.

1. Tell us a little about The Worth of a Shell. What was the motivation behind the story and characters?

I've always liked stories about aliens, and am forever making them; they're an eternal lens into questions about the human condition, and give people a way to look at those questions without bringing along the baggage of society and culture that we all drag around everywhere. If I try to write about gender with human characters, I engage all the reader's history with gender in their own life. If I give them a horse-tailed, dinosaur-browed, jack-legged neuter creature, they can leave all that at home. Or at least, that's the hope. When I'm writing about things that are especially fraught for us, I often turn to aliens to explore repercussions that would hit too close to home if written about humans.

The Jokka of the Shell universe are a lens to examine multiple issues--not just gender, which is the obvious one, but also questions about dementia and loss.

Also, I write aliens because it's fun.

2. Your body of work has a definite anthropomorphic quality. Where does that come from?

I think the anthropomorphic quality is literal. I find human qualities in things that are not human, so that we can look at what being human means. My interest is catholic: I like robots, talking spaceships, sentient tree people, were-creatures, aliens, the whole kit and caboodle. If you put it forth believably, I will be entertained! I am fascinated by diversity in experience and outlook. Science fiction/fantasy is a fantastic place to roll around in all that. As a genre, we have a long history of loving our anthropomorphic characters, from Anne McCaffrey's dragons to Asimov's robots to the million talking cat stories (from Niven's Kzinti to Diane Duane's feline wizards to Cherryh's kif from the Chanur novels). We love our non-humanoids!

3. It looks like you waited almost a decade to write Book 2 and 3 of this trilogy. What happened there?

Wow, well, all right--so I set up this big problem in Shell, knowing that I would have to resolve it somehow. And according to the rules of epic fantasy, huge societal problems can't be resolved quietly or slowly. It's gotta be nuclear, usually in the form of enormous wars. You have an unjust society, it needs to be overthrown and replaced with something more fair, right? That's how it works, how I grew up thinking it should work, and how, once I started writing, I thought I would have to make it work if I didn't want my readers to feel cheated. There should be banners and cavalry and carpets of armies facing off beneath a cloudy sky, with cold winds blowing everyone's mane heroically from their brows! There should be bloodshed and sacrifice and monuments at the end!
And... I couldn't do that with this universe. My first problem being that I'm writing a marginal society: it has so few people surviving in it that a war on the scale of something out of epic fantasy would wipe away the unjust society by rendering the species extinct. Talk about babies thrown out with bathwater! You begin to think of war as a luxury of societies with a lot of either manpower or technology, neither situation of which obtains to the Jokka.

My second problem was that I got fixated on having to follow the Chosen One through the entire narrative. It took me a long time to figure out that there was no chosen one, not really... and that the story had to be carried through other people's voices in the subsequent books, because that's where the action was. I'd been wanting to cling to Thenet all the way to the end of the trilogy, but it's not Thenet who gets us through the next important events.

Once I let go of those two things, I was shocked how quickly Books 2 and 3 came together. But I'm also glad I waited, because I think the resulting story is a lot stronger--and more unexpected--than the one I would have written had I been bludgeoning myself into writing to the imaginary rules of epic fantasy.

4. What's next? Any current projects or upcoming releases you'd like to share?

I just released a high fantasy romance novel, Thief of Songs, which is getting enough good feedback that I think I'll write a second book in that universe. It shares some commonalities with Shell, in that there are multiple genders (in this case, human ones: hermaphrodite and neuter as well as male and female), but it's a much more pastoral setting. In addition, I'm finishing up an epic fantasy trilogy wherein I once again fail to follow the epic fantasy rules--unavoidably, maybe, since I've made a cluster of philosophy students the main characters, and now they want to talk, research, and discuss their way into solutions of problems rather than do the epic stirring battle thing.

I hope I eventually do get to write an epic stirring battle! But that year is apparently not this year!

Make sure to check out the full selection of StoryBundle Fantasy Author Interviews!

Author Interview: Trystan Viker

I'm winding down these interviews, with only a couple more to go after this one. They've been fun and educational, but all good things must come to an end. That's just how it is.

But, for this week, we Trystan Viker, author of Devotion. Let's check out what she has to say.


1. Please tell us about yourself.

I'm an ex-fashion and lifestyle writer changing my career to write Dark Fiction and Paranormal stories. I live in Canada, where most of my writing takes place. I studied English Literature at the University of Regina where I devoured classical Gothic literature whenever I could.

2. What's the name of your newest or latest book and what's it about?

My latest release is called DEVOTION. It's about Alice, a strange young woman as she breaks away from the violent, fanatic cult she was raised in after the death of her brother. Desperate to save the only human family she had, she risks discovery by the cult and other paranormal monsters in order to find some way to rescue her brother from death.

It's also about Dorian, a 200 year old man who might be going through a mid-death crisis. As he struggles with a cloying restlessness about himself, he finds himself trapped in the plans of the despairing Alice as she sees some possible cure for death in his veins.

3. Is this book part of a series or standalone?

Devotion is the first in a series of books called Wonderland that takes place in the dark and paranormal worlds of Saskatchewan, Canada. The second book is slated for release in July/August of 2013.

4. How long have you been writing?

I've been writing for publication for over a decade now.

5. From where or whom do you draw inspiration?

My writing form is likely most inspired from classical Gothic/Victorian era literature. Writers like Le Fanu, Rossetti, Faulkner and Shelley are really pivotal to my form and concept development I think

As for material inspiration, much of the topics I deal with are reactionary pieces to various real life situations. It could come from watching the news, people I meet, etc. There is usually something in my work that is meant to criticize society on a larger scale. It's our flaws as a people that help me create the monsters in my books.

6. What advice would you give new or aspiring writers?

Find a different career. That doesn't mean “don't be a writer”, that means you shouldn't let your one professional goal be “writer”. For starters, it's nearly impossible to guarantee any sort of living wage right off the bat.

But I think the most important reason for that advice is that the experiences you obtain in the “non-writing” portion of your life will give you the experience you need to write. Don't live in a vacuum. It's easy to make your life all about writing and reading, but your writing will suck if you don't have some outside experiences to shape your words. You don't have to write about your day job, but everything you encounter in life is something you can use and transform in your work. And writing is much easier when your bills are paid and you can afford the freedom to explore life for new fodder in your writing.

I encountered more than a few English students who expect to simply become writers. They hopped from part time job to part time job, never worrying about making a primary career. Now ten or more years later, they're still saddled with student debt, working jobs they're over qualified for and under paid at, and still not making anything as writers. So even if writing is your dream job, don't bank your entire future on -just- that. Writing will always be an option.

7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?

I honestly have no idea. It always surprises me when I let someone read a book and I think at the start “You're not going to like this. There's too much creepy/violence/sex/darkness.” only to find out that they did in fact enjoy the whole thing. I'm a horrible judge of who might enjoy my work. So I simply don't know who my ideal reader is.

I guess if I had to speculate, my ideal reader would be someone who appreciates a less glamourous take on the supernatural and paranormal. My books are for people who look beyond the action on the paper and look for the meaning behind the literature. I write about monsters both in human form and not, so my characters are very flawed and complex creatures which might better appeal to someone who is reading the book for the characters instead of simply the plot.

I like to think it's a piece for more literary readers than someone who is looking for a “guilty pleasure”.

8. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner or outliner?

I'm both a detailed planner and a “seat of the pants” writer. I like to plan, but I often abandon the whole process once the story takes off. When you compare the early planning of Devotion to what it is now it's a completely different story.

9. Some book reviewers won't accept independently authored books for review. What are your thoughts on that? Are they missing out?

I think it's unfortunate, but I also understand why. In indie publishing there isn't the same gatekeeper system as with the traditional form. When I was a journalist I would get countless “review my book please!” emails. I would give them a read and most of them were really bad. It was a huge waste of my time to open them. That's not to say that indie publishing is mostly garbage; it's important to note that I was a fashion and lifestyle journalist so I wasn't a book reviewer at all. Most of these requests came from newbie writers who hadn't bothered to look up what my areas of work even were. I think there was an obvious correlation between “bad writers” and spamming the wrong type of journalist with their work. I know there is good work out there, but there are also a lot of bad writers screaming at the top of their lungs for attention as well. It would be overwhelming to have such a quantity pouring in.

So I sympathize with book reviewers stuck in such a position.

10. Some people feel indie authored books are of lesser quality than those that go through the traditional publishers. Do you agree with them? If so, how can independent authors raise the bar and remove this stigmatism?

I think that used to be the case. Vanity presses constantly preyed on individuals who were submitting sub-par work and made the whole thing a huge black smear on publishing as a whole. However, now that we have authentic self publishing services that aren't predatory, we can see more writers avoiding the hassles of the traditional model and going direct. That doesn't mean the traditional model is flawed in any way, it simply means were have a new avenue of fresh writing to explore.

I will argue though that it will often lack the “polish” of the traditional publishing models process. Indie publishing will have less editors involved, less changes made to the story to make it more “marketable” and much, much less marketing hype than we used to see. But I think that's wonderful. I think we will see people much more invested in an organic method of writing in exchange for the diversity and quality of story that comes with it.

11. R.S. Guthrie wrote a hard-hitting post on reviewers and the veil of anonymity some of them hide behind. Your thoughts on this subject?

I think it's silly to even give it a second thought. It's like we're taught in school when someone is teasing you, they're only a brief moment of agitation and it's best to move on. It turns me off from a writer a great deal when I see them harping about “unfair reviews”. Yes, there's trolls out there. Yes, there's jerks who might just be sour people looking to be a nuisance. Everyone must know that by now. If I see glowing reviews for a book peppered by a bunch of “This book stinks for no real explored reason at all”, then I know it's someone being a jerk.

I am also smart enough to know that not everyone will have the same tastes. One person's dislike might be something I'm keen about. I think most readers can judge for themselves and when writers get publicly distressed over these negative responses it's an insult to their fans and it shows a very unattractive insecurity in the author to even react to them.

I fully expect a few bad reviews of my own. My books are simply not to everyone's tastes. I'm okay with that. When the day comes that someone says “This writing is garbage! 1 star is too much for this!” I will survive it. I will put on my “big boy pants” and keep writing.

12. Which retailers or others sites can readers find your work at?

Kobo is my primary e-retailer.

13. Where can readers find out more about you?

I have a website and I can also be found on GoodReads

I'm an ex-fashion and lifestyle journalist taking a kick at being a fiction writer. I like monsters, 19th C Gothic lit and Hello Kitty. Oh, and Bats. I love bats.

I also lie to my parents about my career choices so they think I’m a responsible adult.

Author Interview: Stacey Marie Brown

This week's interview is with Stacey Marie Brown, author of Darkness of Light . Check out the synopsis for the book and the interview with Stacey right after.

Freak. Witch. Crazy. Schizo.

Ember Brycin has been called them all. She’s always known she’s different. No one has ever called her normal, even under the best circumstances. Bizarre and inexplicable things continually happen to her, and having two different colored eyes, strange hair, and an unusual tattoo only contributes to the gossip about her.

When the latest school explosion lands her in a facility for trouble teens, she meets Eli Dragen, who’s hot as hell and darkly mysterious. Their connection is full of passion, danger, and secrets. Secrets that will not only change her life, but what and who she is—leading her down a path she never imagined possible.

Between Light and Dark, Ember finds a world where truth and knowledge are power and no one can be trusted. But her survival depends on finding out the truth about herself. In her pursuit, she is forced between love and destiny and good and evil, even when the differences between them aren’t always clear. At worst, she will incite a war that could destroy both worlds. At best, she will not only lose her heart but her life and everyone she loves. Once the truth is out, however, there will be no going back. And she’ll definitely wish she could.

1. Please tell us about yourself.

I was born and raised in Northern California. I did some acting in Los Angeles for a time. After that I lived and traveled abroad for over 6 years. During my time abroad I fell in love with Design and Architecture. That brought me back to San Francisco where I got my degree in Interior Design. Now, I work by day as an Interior/Set Designer and by night a writer. During those years I never stopped writing. It took me until recently to really realize that is was what I want to do with my life. It’s my true passion. When I’m not writing I’m with friends, hiking, going to concerts, and just enjoying San Francisco.

2. What's the name of your newest or latest book and what's it about?

My book is called Darkness of Light. It is a paranormal romance/ contemporary fantasy. It is about 18-year-old Ember Brycin, who has always had strange things happen to her. After the latest school explosion lands her in a facility for trouble teens, she discovers a secret that changes not only her life, but what and who she is. Love, lies, deceit, and betrayal lead her down a path to the Otherworld, into another realm where she will probably not survive.

3. Is this book part of a series or standalone?

Although you can read Darkness of Light as a standalone, it is meant to be Book One in the Darkness Series. As of right now, there are 3, possibly 4, books in this series. I am hoping to get Book 2 out by August 2013. It is a continuation of Ember’s journey. It is much more raw and grown up. She has a lot of things to deal with:  her own powers, the betrayals, sex, love, death. There are many secrets and twists ahead for her.

4. How long have you been writing?

I have been writing and creating stories from a very early age. It was the way I expressed myself and escaped into a world of make-believe. It was always something I did. It makes me happy and I would do it no matter if one person read my stuff or thousands.

5. From where or whom do you draw inspiration?

Reading, reading . . . and reading more. I also get inspiration from watching people, nature, art, and movies.

6. What advice would you give new or aspiring writers?

Seek therapy it’s quicker and cheaper…

Kidding! My advice is, if you enjoy doing it for fun or want to do it as your job, don’t give up. It is a LONG, grueling process. There is a lot of rejection and times you want to give up, but push through and keep writing. You also have to learn that not every word you write is worth keeping. You have to get thick skin and know people’s critiques are to better your book and you as a writer.

7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?

My books are more in the “New Adult” genre (17+). The first one could be in the YA, but just like in life my main character grows and matures as do the books. My characters are also real. There is sex, swearing, alcohol, and not always does the main character make the right choice. I am older and write for women who still love to read YA type books but want them a little more relatable and real life.

8. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner or outliner?

I’m trying to become more structured with my process, but it doesn’t always end up going that way. I like having a general outline on where I’m going; but when I write, my characters take over and sometimes a scene will come out completely different from what I thought. Keeping it loose seems to work for me and gives me the freedom and creativity to follow my characters when they take over my head!

9. Are you a "write every day of the week" sort of writer or do you take days off?

I wish I was disciplined enough to write every day. Life gets in the way and sometimes there are days that not one creative thought enters my brain! But, I do something involving my writing every day, even if it’s editing or focusing on my marketing. I try not to go more than two days without writing a scene.

10. Some book reviewers won't accept independently authored books for review. What are your thoughts on that? Are they missing out?

I understand why some do it; but, yes, I think they are missing out on some incredible writers. Agents aren’t taking on new clients most of the time, so it’s really hard for us “up and coming” to break out. Many choose to go the self-publishing route; but we have to fight the stigma of being “not as good” as published authors, and that is not true at all. I’ve read some horrendous books that were published by a big name and some incredible books that were self-published.

11. Some people feel indie authored books are of lesser quality than those that go through the traditional publishers. Do you agree with them? If so, how can independent authors raise the bar and remove this stigmatism?

Because the publishing world is changing and there are a lot more people self-publishing instead of going through an agent or publisher, I am hoping this stigma will fade some over time. The trouble is there are a lot of people out there that self-publish who don’t get professional help with editing and formatting. Their product is less than par. Unfortunately with no regulations on self-publishing, some really poor quality work is being put out there. Because of this I feel it will be impossible to lose this stigma completely.

12. Any pets? If so, tell us what role they play in your writing, if any.

Living in the city I’m not able to have any pets, but I grew up on a farm—rabbits, ponies, puppies, kitties and even bottle feeding lambs. All my life I’ve been surrounded by animals. I’d say they definitely influence me in some way. I actually want to write a kid’s book called “The Adventures of Pete” based on a true story about my dad’s old dog that got in a stranger’s truck and disappeared for two years before coming back. I want to write about what he saw and did in those two years.

13. Which retailers or others sites can readers find your work at?

My book is on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. All links can be found on my website.

14. Where can readers find out more about you?

My website . Don’t ask any of my friends about me . . . they lie!

imageStacey Marie Brown by day is an Interior/Set Designer, by night a writer of Paranormal Fantasy, Adventure, and Literary Fiction. She grew up in Northern California, where she ran around on her family’s farm, raising animals, riding horses, playing flashlight tag, and turning hay bales into cool forts. Even before she could write, she was creating stories and making up intricate fantasies. Writing came as easy as breathing.  She later turned that passion into acting, living and traveling abroad, and designing. Though she had never stopped writing, moving back to San Francisco seemed to have brought it back to the forefront and this time it would not be ignored.

When she’s not writing she’s out hiking, spending time with friends, traveling, listening to music, or designing.

Author Interview: Antonello Fiore

This week I've got Antonello Fiore, author of Killer Rumors, sitting down for an interview. Let's see what he has to say.

1. Please tell us about yourself.

Well first off, I have been married since last May to my beautiful wife, Sandy. She is my everything.

I am currently a Nurse’s Aide, working in a Home Care Agency. I graduated from Concordia University with a Bachelor’s Degree majoring in Theological Studies and a minor in Religion. I also completed the Canadian Certificate Youth Ministry Studies held at the Archdiocese of Montreal.

I am very active with my Church. I have been teaching the Faith First Catechism Program for over ten years, played guitar and sang with the choir, and have played the part as Jesus for their annual Good Friday play.

I am a huge sports fan. My favorite sport to play and watch is soccer. The leagues which I follow include the Italian league (Serie A) and Major League Soccer (MLS). My favorite teams are Juventus and the Montreal Impact, respectively. Other sports that I enjoy watching include wrestling and hockey.

Rock music has always been a major passion of mine. That is why I have been playing the guitar for many years. A combination of my passion for music and my love for Church was the reason why I decided to join the choir. You would always see me attending a concert whenever one of my favorite rock bands would roll into town.

2. What's the name of your newest or latest book and what's it about?

My latest novel is called Killer Rumors. Here is a synopsis of my novel:

Father D’Angelo and Bakeman, two devoted priests were brutally murdered while going on one of their nightly walks. Detective Frank Rinelli is called to the case- not only due to his close friendship with the priests, but with his expertise of tracking psychotic killers. Rinelli suddenly discovers these murders were based on a scandal that occurred several years ago at the same Church where the two murdered priests preached. And it doesn’t stop there. The list of people being murdered in connection with the scandal continues to grow until the killer has his ultimate vengeance- and the truth released.

Join Detective Rinelli on the fearful streets of Philadelphia as he chases a madman who has nothing to lose and everything to gain- destroying the face of the Catholic Church. Rinelli discovers a hidden secret while confronting the killer that is way beyond betrayal and begins to question his faith. Could this betrayal be the killer’s momentum of not only killing Rinelli, but to complete his master plan which will affect the lives of every citizen?

3. Is this book part of a series or standalone?

Killer Rumors is part of the Frank Rinelli series. I currently have ideas for the next two sequels. The second book will be available next year. Recent news will always be updated on my sites.

4. How long have you been writing?

I began writing about four years ago. I have written a number of articles for The Catholic Times, Montreal’s Catholic newspaper. My articles included interviews with priests and recaps of religious events that occurred in the city.

5. From where or whom do you draw inspiration?

My inspiration behind my novel belongs to my favorite author, James Patterson. For over ten years, I have been reading all his novels. What I admire most about James Patterson’s novels is that he always keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat from the first to the very last page. In addition, his short chapters make his novels a fast and easy read to follow and enjoy. I find that shorter-length chapters are easier to read compared to longer chapters. The reason to this is that you would want to read more and possibly to the end since you are already on the drive of reading.

6. What advice would you give new or aspiring writers?

My advice to new or aspiring writers is that a writer is someone who writes. That being said, I encourage them to write at all times. Writing should be a flowing and dedicated practice. Just like in any other profession, practice makes perfect.

Always carry a pen and paper with you at all times. You might get a great idea for your story during the day and you don’t want to forget about your ideas. In addition, I recommend new writers to write a sub-plot on a small card so that they can see the flow and organization to their story.

7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?

Since my novel, Killer Rumors, is a mystery and thriller novel, I have no doubt that readers of that genre will enjoy my novel. I could easily picture my novel next to great mystery authors such as James Patterson, Michael Connelly, and Dean Koontz.

In addition, I believe readers of Dan Brown will also enjoy my novel. Killer Rumors. My novel has a combination of Christian / Church references along with a heavy dose of thriller and suspense. If you are a fan of mystery and thriller novels, then I have no doubt that you will enjoy Killer Rumors.

8. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner or outliner?

I am actually both a planner and outliner. Thanks to the latest technology of the Internet and search engine tools, finding research based on my novel does not take too much time. If there is something that I need to help support my plot, I simply do a Google search and get what I need.

In addition, I am always prepared with all the resources I need before writing a story. For example, since Killer Rumors takes place in Philadelphia, I purchased a city-guide booklet of Philadelphia. In the booklet includes a street map and major attractions of the city. That is exactly what I need so that I can make my story much more realistic.

As previously mentioned, I encouraged new and inspiring writers to write sub-plots on small cards so that their storyline can flow in order and be more organized. As a result, I take my own advice. Writing sub-plots and numbering them so we remember the order of the story truly helps. It is a form of an outline that will be easily placed as a story. Once the important sub-plots are included, we just need to “fill in the blanks.”

9. Are you a "write every day of the week" sort of writer or do you take days off?

I always write everyday. I have so much passion and fun when writing that it is a part of me. Most of my writing would take place at night. That way, the entire day is behind me, leaving me with a clear mind when working on my novel.

I used my laptop when working on my novel. I always carry it with me when on the road. Whenever, I had free time such as my lunch breaks, I would write a number of chapters. My laptop is not the only tool I use when working on my novel. I always have my notebook and pen right beside me. Just like my laptop, my notebook and pen are always with me. Therefore, when I think of an idea for my book, I jot it down immediately so it won’t be forgotten.

10. What are your thoughts on writers paying for reviews as John Locke is reported to have done?

I get disappointed when I hear writers paying for reviews. I view it simply as cheating. The review is not honest. It is no secret that authors would love to get great reviews. But an honest review will always be more beneficial. An honest review will analyze both your positive and negative spots. That way, writers will challenge themselves to do better in the future.

11. Where can readers find your work?

Readers can find my novel, both hardcover and ebook through my distributor, Lulu.



12. Where can readers find out more about you?

Antonello Fiore is a current Nurse's Aide, working in a Home Care Agency. He graduated from Concordia University with a Bachelor's Degree majoring in Theological Studies and a minor in Religion. He also completed the Canadian Certificate Youth Ministry Studies held at the Archdiocese of Montreal.

Antonello is very active with his Church. He has been teaching the Faith First Catechism Program for over ten years, played guitar and sang with the Choir, and has played the part as Jesus for their annual Good Friday play.

Lastly, Antonello has been a writer for Montreal's Catholic newspaper, The Catholic Times, writing various articles relating to the city's Catholic faith.

Antonello will begin writing on his second novel, The Right Reason, right after the Christmas holidays.

Author Interview: Angella Graff

It's that time again. Time to sit down for another author interview. This time Angella Graff, author of The Judas Curse, answers a few questions. Let's see what she has to say.

1. Please tell us about yourself.

My name is Angella Graff, I’m 31, a Theology grad from the University of Arizona. I live in Tucson with my husband Joshua and three kids, Christian (12) Isabella (10) and Adia (5). Aside from writing, I also do editing for other authors, and when I’m not doing that, I’m either doing yoga, hiking, or geeking out on the BBC, or playing Mario on our Nintendo system. That’s pretty much all there is to my life, as mundane as it sounds haha.

2. What's the name of your newest or latest book and what's it about?

My latest book is called The Judas Kiss. It’s book two in an urban fantasy series called The Judas Curse. It directly follows the events of The Awakening, where a hard-headed homicide detective, Ben Stanford, has to face the supernatural and come to grips with ancient mythos as a reality.

In this sequel, Mark and Judas are kidnapped by Nike, the angry goddess trying to wield their power, and Ben teams up with some unlikely forces from the Norse pantheon to try and rescue them before she can accomplish her mission.

You get a really decent look at the inner workings of Ben’s mind now that he’s starting to accept a little more of the paranormal side of things, and you get to delve into the history of Mark and Judas, how they came into their immortality and powers two-thousand years ago.

3. Is this book part of a series or standalone?

This is book two of an anticipated twelve book series.

4. How long have you been writing?

Cliché, but I’ve been writing since I could write. I penned my first novel, this 700 page Dragon-y Fantasy epic when I was about sixteen years old. Fortunately for the masses, I never attempted to have that published, but it was then I realized that I could and would be a writer some day.

5. From where or whom do you draw inspiration?

That’s a tough one, because it depends on what I’m working on. For the series, I’m inspired by my theology studies—not just religion or the bible, or even mythos, but the psychology behind it, and the old legends surrounding the more popular stories. I spend a lot of time reading different books about religious history.

Other times I’m inspired by life’s events, in my own life or the lives of others. I feel like everyone has a story that should be, in some capacity, told.

6. What advice would you give new or aspiring writers?

Make sure it’s what you really want to do. You have to be willing to accept the entire thing that goes with the world of being a published author. If you want to write, but you don’t want to hear the bad things about what you’ve done, this job is not for you. I remember when I got my first bad review, and I was broken hearted. I thought, how could someone be so mean and so awful. Do they not realize how hard I worked on this?

I came to realize that part of this world of being a published writer is having your work out there for critique. By anyone. They can be someone who has a Ph.D. in classical literature, or they could be the person who never finished 8th grade, but everyone will have their say if they want to, and you have to learn to take something away from every critique, whether it hurts or not.

If you can’t stand to have people say negative things about your work, this is not the career for you.

7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?

Someone who is able to take entertainment out of different ideas on religion. People who are sensitive about their beliefs are not going to like what I write. You need to be fairly open-minded to enjoy it. I’m not saying that you can’t be a Christian, because I’ve had plenty of Christians who are able to see the book for what it is—fiction—but if you’re overly sensitive about the beliefs, I’d say this book is not for you.

8. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner or outliner?

Um, I’m a vague planner. I have a constant flow of ideas going through my mind, and sometimes someone will say something and it’ll spark an entirely new plot-point or scene in my book that I never thought about before. I know my characters intimately, which means I know how they’ll react to any given situation, but I like my writing to flow organically.

9. What are your thoughts on writers paying for reviews as John Locke is reported to have done?

I hadn’t heard about that before and I just looked it up. I guess I’m still fairly uninformed, but I find that a little depressing considering the rest of us self-pub'ed authors who try and stick to the official rules when having our books reviewed. I would never do that myself, but in all honesty, it’s his shame to carry, not mine. I plan to stick it out, and even if I’m never well known, at least I’ll always be able to hold my head high and say that I never bought my own popularity.

10. Some book reviewers won't accept independently authored books for review. What are your thoughts on that? Are they missing out?

I think from time to time, yes, they are. I’m of mixed views on this because while I find it frustrating when my book is refused due to it being self-pub'ed, by the same token I also run a book review blog and understand the frustration that some of these bloggers must feel.

The tough part of self-publishing is, even though amazon tries to adhere to strict rules and even offers readers the option of reporting errors in kindle books, prior to having the errors reported, anyone can have their book published. There is a significant portion of books that are simply terrible. Poor grammar, poor spelling, poor formatting and structure. Undeveloped characters, weak plots, etc. You name it, it’s out there. Asking someone to spend the amount of time it takes to read a book, only to have the book poorly put together can leave a lot of readers jaded against the industry.

However are they missing out? Yes, they can be, very much. I’ve read some real and true literary gems that are not only self-published, but far surpass the quality of some of the most popular traditionally published authors. That’s why, no matter how often I have to turn a book away, I won’t stop accepting indie authors, because more often than not, my time is rewarded.

11. Some people feel indie authored books are of lesser quality than those that go through the traditional publishers. Do you agree with them? If so, how do we collectively raise the bar and remove this stigmatism?

Indie authored books can be of lesser quality because indie authors often don’t have the resources available to them to pay professionals for quality work. Often times indie authors rely on their MS word program and a quick read-through as their editors. I’ve seen authors use MS paint and Photoshop with a copy pasted SIMS character for a book cover. Believe me, I’ve seen the “lesser quality” work out there.

Honestly, if there were editors and book cover artists more willing to offer services that were affordable to indie authors, I think we’d see an influx of better quality writing and covers hitting the indie market.

Not to market myself because that’s not the point of this, but I actually do that. The affordable editing bit, anyway. When I started researching editors for my first book, I was repeatedly quoted prices of hundreds or even thousands of dollars for an editing job. I thought to myself, yes it’s work, but should it really cost so much? Most indie authors couldn’t hope to cover that cost alone in books sales, so to ask someone to come up with that kind of money up front just seems unreasonable.

I’m lucky to live with someone with a heavy creative writing and English background who, despite my horrible nagging attitude during “editing time” is happy to edit for me. I also found an amazing cover artist who does hand-drawn cover art for my books for an amazing price. I thought, the least I could do for the community of indie writers is give back—and so I went back to my old editing for thesis papers state of mind from University and have been able to help quite a few authors out. And that feels really good!

I realize I’ve just been long-winded, but I wanted to make a point that if indie authors had affordable services, I think it would make a huge difference in the quality we see coming into the market.

12. R.S. Guthrie wrote a hard-hitting post ( on reviewers and the veil of anonymity some of them hide behind. Your thoughts on this subject?

I hadn’t read this article before this interview and it actually caused me to stop filling out the answers and take some time to process what he said. Truthfully, I think every single author can relate to this. Every single one. Sure there are authors out there who surround themselves with a network of people who will only leave positive reviews, but for those who throw themselves to the reading wolves, we’ve all experienced that. I’ve had reviews insulting me as a person because I didn’t write what the reviewer wanted to read. I’ve had people take swings at me and my family because they didn’t share my same points of view. There have been reviewers who simply wanted to be mean, and Guthrie is right. Those reviewers are simply stupid.

The moment we get an honest review, it cuts. It bleeds. It burns. It’s like having someone point out every single thing you’re insecure about in your own life and writing, and having it on display for the rest of the world to see. It isn’t fun. However, it means the world to me because someone took time out of their lives to tell me where I could improve.

I remember one reviewer in particular took some heavy swings at me, but there was meat to the review. There was honest criticism. I took the comments privately, and I responded with a simple thank you, and a request that, if he would like to, to give the rest of my series a try. The response I got? He said based on my response to him, he was already a fan of mine, even if he didn’t like my writing.

I think writers need to take more time drawing as much from the negative reviews as we can. It’s the only way to grow and improve. Even if the reviewer is trying to be mean, no other reasons but to be deliberately cruel, I try and take something away from it that I can use. And yes, I think it will always hurt like a son-of-a-bitch, but that’s the good kind of pain in my opinion. The kind that I can grow and learn from.

13. Where can readers find your work?

They can find my book purchase links on my Facebook page on the Read My Book App

And of course there’s my Amazon author page which has all of my publish works listed there.

14. Where can readers find out more about you?

All of my info is available at my website .


Angella Graff was born and raised in the desert city of Tucson, Arizona. She married and became a mother very young, and after getting started with her family, began her University studies where she found her passion for creative writing, history and theology.

She now resides in Tucson with her husband Joshua, three children, Christian, Isabella and Adia, and their three cats, Archive (Ivy), Lasciel and Fix. She prefers to spend her days writing, gardening, and reading non-fiction theology theory books. Angella is also an avid, if not fanatic fan of Doctor Who and BBC Sherlock, which tend to dominate her dry, sarcastic humor, a lot of which is apparent in her writing.