Soldier of Rome – Blog Tour and Guest Post – James Mace #Historical Fiction

Soldier of Rome: Empire of the North

The Artorian Dynasty Book 1

by James Mace

Genre: Historical Fiction

Battle for the Highlands

It’s been forty years since the Roman conquest of southern Britannia. The hostile western regions are at last subdued and twenty years have passed since the cataclysmic Iceni Rebellion in the east. With tribal kingdoms assimilating into Roman culture and the province at relative peace, Imperial Governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola turns his attention north. The once-allied, now hostile Kingdom of Brigantes is divided between factions loyal to Rome and those of the usurper king, Venutius. Following a series of raids, and compelled to flee from imperial retribution, Venutius seeks the aid of a Caledonian chieftain named Calgacus. Calgacus hopes to use a conflict with the Empire to seal his claim as high king of the northern highlands.

In the southern coastal city of Portus Adurni, Gaius Artorius Armiger’s term as governor-mayor is coming to an end. Ten years have passed since Gaius’ last campaign during the Siege of Jerusalem. Ever the soldier, a summons to Londinium leaves him with an intriguing proposition. Knowing his reputation as a military leader, Governor Agricola offers Gaius a return to active service with command of the legendary cavalry regiment Indus’ Horse. Despite trepidation about leaving his wife and children and the lingering effects of old battle injuries, Gaius Artorius dons his armour once more as a soldier of Rome.

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James Mace is a life-long historian and the author of twenty-seven books, including ten Ancient History best-sellers, and five South African History best-sellers. He penned the initial draft of his first novel, “Soldier of Rome: The Legionary”, as a cathartic means of escapism while serving in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. His works span numerous eras, from Ancient Rome to the British Empire.

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Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

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What inspired you to write this book?

I took a hiatus from Ancient Rome following my works on the Great Jewish Revolt to focus on the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. Upon completion, I decided to return to the Roman Empire with a new series. My intent is to follow multiple generations of the same family as before, the Artorians. Honestly, had I been better at forward thinking, I would have made all my Roman works into one series, instead of splitting it up amongst multiple.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Soldier of Rome: Empire of the North?

The main protagonist, Gaius Artorius Armiger, was originally in my two series, The Great Jewish Revolt and Year of the Four Emperors. He is the grandson of the original Artorius from my early works, who we first meet when he’s in his early twenties.

The events in Empire of the North take place from 81 to 83 A.D., when Gaius is around forty. More than a decade has passed since we last saw him at the end of The Fall of Jerusalem. He is now married with two daughters and a son. As a member of Rome’s lesser-noble social class, the equites, he’s spent the interim years in civil, rather than military postings, mostly in Britannia. Though still in his late thirties at the start of the story, he has no desire to return to active service, haunted as he is by nightmares from many horrific experiences. There are also lingering effects of nerve damage to his right arm, following a fearful injury during the civil war between Vespasian and Vitellius in 69 A.D.

When we join him in Empire of the North, Gaius is the mayor of Portus Adurni, modern-day Portsmouth Harbour. It is with great surprise that he receives his appointment to command the renowned cavalry regiment, Indus’ Horse. He accepts, albeit with great reluctance, out of a sense of duty. To Gaius, it is the obligation of all Artorians to serve as soldiers of Rome; however, his son, Tiberius, is only a boy of eleven. Little does Gaius know; he is destined to continue wearing the ‘armour of the Caesars’ far longer than the standard three to four-year term of an auxilia regimental commander. But that is for another story…

Who designed your book covers?

Since 2016, Rado Javor has designed my book covers. He is a Slovakian artist who works for the British video game company, Creative Assembly. If you’ve played any of their popular Total War real-time strategy series, you’ve seen his artwork. I first discovered him while trying to find an artist for the final book of my Great Jewish Revolt series, Soldier of Rome: The Fall of Jerusalem. I discovered a fantastic painting depicting a Roman siege in a Middle Eastern setting, which Rado had created for the Rome: Total War series. We’ve since become good friends.

Whenever I have an upcoming project, I’ll reach out to him, usually over something we can converse in real-time like Facebook Messenger. I’ll give him my initial ideas, along with any images that might assist. He’ll send me some sketch ideas, which we’ll then discuss before he moves forward. Because he does his painting digitally, he can make edits as he sends me drafts. There are occasions when he’ll come up with an idea that never crossed my mind. Unless there is a detail that is historically inaccurate, I tend to trust his judgement and artistic vision. Rado has been a pleasure to work with, and I cannot wait to start the next project with him.

How did you come up with name of this book?

Aside from the periodic stand-alone novella, all the main books in my Roman series’ begin with ‘Soldier of Rome: ______’. Sort of like how all the Harry Potter books begin with, ‘Harry Potter and the________’. This story takes place during the Roman invasion of what is now Scotland; an area we often referred to as Caledonia, though they were but one tribal kingdom among many in the highlands. King Calgacus formed the Caledonian Confederation, with the sole purpose of battling the Romans. Britannia also marked the northernmost limits of the Roman Empire, and they attempted to conquer all the way to Caithness and Sutherland, I thought Empire of the North had a nice ring to it. It is often said that the Romans never conquered Scotland. While technically true, Empire of the North tells the far more complex story. I’ll give a hint: It wasn’t force of arms which kept Rome from laying claim to the highlands.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

Both. The Roman governor, Gnaeus Julius Agricola, was a real person, as was his Caledonian adversary, Calgacus. We know quite a bit about Agricola, whose son-in-law was the famous Roman historian, Tacitus. Unfortunately, we do not have detailed biographies of most people from that time period who weren’t related to a renowned scholar. Sometimes we only have their names, and I have to invent their entire back-history and personality. Though Calgacus is still celebrated in Scotland for having stood against the might of the Roman Empire, very little is known about him personally. Tacitus gives a rather lengthy speech attributed to Calgacus just prior to the Battle of Mons Graupius in 83 A.D. However, this is likely a complete fabrication. The imperial soldiers across the valley would be hard-pressed to hear any of his words, while few, if any, could speak the Caledonian language.

Gaius Artorius is a fictional character, as are most of the Roman soldiers and indigenous tribesmen. When writing novels about events from almost 2,000 years ago, one must create most of the protagonists from scratch. I’ve spent decades studying the ancient world, the various cultures, and likely character traits based on social class. There has to be a lot of room for individualism, so as not to make all characters carbon copies of each other. However, one fatal flaw in so many historical novels is inserting present-day morality into a time period where it simply did not exist. The key, I have found, is striking a balance between creating characters the reader can relate to, or at least show empathy, while not plucking them straight out of 21st century society.

Woven – Blog Tour and Giveaway #RomanticSuspense – Stephania Thompson

Woven

Charm City Threads Book 1

by Stephania Thompson

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Bound by a devastating secret, childhood friends David, Josh, and Kate take on home renovation as a means of healing from a dark, shared past.
Their only promise? Friendship first—no hookups.
Only several months after moving into their Baltimore fixer, the aptly nicknamed Canton Catastrophe, walls are crumbling, sparks are flying, and promises are getting ignored.
Josh, a paramedic, is plagued with panic attacks, haunted by the past, and sharing a room with David, who he is definitely not attracted to. And then there’s Kate. She’s having a job crisis, popping pills, and pretending she doesn’t notice how distant the boys have grown. And David? The eternally calm, blue-eyed beauty’s health is deteriorating and he’s mysteriously blacking out.
But when they learn someone may have discovered their darkest secret and is now stalking them–and blackmailing Josh’s father, a conservative media personality with secrets of his own, renovation and relationship woes take a back seat. Suddenly, their past is unraveling, and the shocking truths unearthed will have them questioning everything from family ties and friendships to love, loss, and the lengths they’re willing to go for each other.

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Amazon * Orange Blossom Books * Author’s Site

Stephania Thompson is the author of Woven (Orange Blossom Publishing 2022). As a poet and multi-genre author, her work has appeared in a variety of online publications as well as several print anthologies.

Formerly a CPA in the corporate world, Stephania now writes from the comfort of a modern day crumbling castle alongside her very own knight in shining armor. Together they have four valiant offspring, a brave aussiedoodle, and one not-so-fire-breathing dragon.

When not writing, working, or waiting in a carpool line, she can be found running local trails and escaping in a book at her favorite café, iced latte in hand. She is a sucker for quirky romance, is addicted to audiobooks, and finds herself hopelessly drawn to flawed characters, raw honesty, and life’s cringiest moments.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

$20 Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Woven – Blog Tour & Giveaway #RomanticSuspense

Woven

Charm City Threads Book 1

by Stephania Thompson

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Bound by a devastating secret, childhood friends David, Josh, and Kate take on home renovation as a means of healing from a dark, shared past.
Their only promise? Friendship first—no hookups.
Only several months after moving into their Baltimore fixer, the aptly nicknamed Canton Catastrophe, walls are crumbling, sparks are flying, and promises are getting ignored.
Josh, a paramedic, is plagued with panic attacks, haunted by the past, and sharing a room with David, who he is definitely not attracted to. And then there’s Kate. She’s having a job crisis, popping pills, and pretending she doesn’t notice how distant the boys have grown. And David? The eternally calm, blue-eyed beauty’s health is deteriorating and he’s mysteriously blacking out.
But when they learn someone may have discovered their darkest secret and is now stalking them–and blackmailing Josh’s father, a conservative media personality with secrets of his own, renovation and relationship woes take a back seat. Suddenly, their past is unraveling, and the shocking truths unearthed will have them questioning everything from family ties and friendships to love, loss, and the lengths they’re willing to go for each other.

Add to Goodreads

Amazon * Orange Blossom Books * Author’s Site

Stephania Thompson is the author of Woven (Orange Blossom Publishing 2022). As a poet and multi-genre author, her work has appeared in a variety of online publications as well as several print anthologies.

Formerly a CPA in the corporate world, Stephania now writes from the comfort of a modern day crumbling castle alongside her very own knight in shining armor. Together they have four valiant offspring, a brave aussiedoodle, and one not-so-fire-breathing dragon.

When not writing, working, or waiting in a carpool line, she can be found running local trails and escaping in a book at her favorite café, iced latte in hand. She is a sucker for quirky romance, is addicted to audiobooks, and finds herself hopelessly drawn to flawed characters, raw honesty, and life’s cringiest moments.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

$20 Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Swift Six Author Interview – T. Norman #EpicFantasy

Name: T. Norman

Please introduce yourself (250 words or so): I am a self-published author from Southeastern Wisconsin. I started writing my first novel in 2014, and since then have published 5 within the Ascent Archives. I love spending time outdoors hiking or canoeing. One of my favorite things to do in writing is experiencing as much as I can in real life to what I’m writing about. I picked up archery to better write about it. I have been an avid horse lover for years, using my experience working with horses in my books. I also spent some time sailing on a Schooner in college and used that when writing about different ships and crews. I find it’s the easiest to help readers connect to my writing when it comes from personal experience.

Tell us about your book(s) – title, genre etc (short): I have written five books in the Ascent Archives. Blood-Stained Heir, Dead King’s War, Primordial Judge, and Brother’s Promise are books 1-4 and comprise the main series. They follow a wide cast of charaters as two nations are at war with one another. Book 5, Lost Lore of Draxos, is a collection of short stories following charactesr from the main series. Many of them are backstories and histories that are hinted at. All the stories are Epic Fantasy as a broad genre, but specifically NobleDark. (Noblebright/GrimDark combined). There is darkness in the world as a whole, but they’re stories about heroes and good people fighting against evil.

When did you start your writing adventure? What was the inspiration for it? I started writing this series in 2014. The inspiration actually came from my childhood. When I was young, my brother and I would play with toy figurines together and we would create these in depth stories and characters. It was during that time that I started creating some of these characters, the world, and the conflict.

What writing plans do you have for the future? I am currently writing a spinoff series. It follows some familiar characters on a new adventure. It is looking to be a trilogy, and I can’t give away too much yet but the plans are to release it in Spring 2023.

What do you like to read? I love reading epic fantasy, specifically grimdark and noblebright. I try to read books similar to mine, because that’s what I enjoy but also to see what other authors are writing. I love finding stories with unique magic systems and worlds that I haven’t seen before. The more unique, the better.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you’d started your writing adventure? The biggest thing I wish I knew was that no two writing journeys are the same. I struggled right away in writing when I followed others authors who started at the same time, and they published books faster than I ever could. I tried to rush my publishing to keep up, but couldn’t sustain it. I had to take a pause, and look at what worked for me. I’ve come up with a plan that fits my author career, and I’ve stopped trying to compare my journey to those of other authors.

Author bio

T. Norman, self-published author of the Ascent Archives, grew up in small town Minnesota where his passion for reading and immersing himself in to the fantasy worlds of his childhood grew in to creating and writing his own stories. T. Norman’s series, the Ascent Archives, was first formed during his childhood playing toys with his brother, and now it is set to become a four part series. With experience in a variety of fields, writing has become his passion. T. Norman currently lives with his wife, two children, and dog in southeast Wisconsin.

and book synopsis

After the sudden death of his beloved wife, Rysh Trell struggles to keep his life together and devotes everything to raising their son. When the King of Ansaroth seeks vengeance for the murder of his father, Rysh is forced to defend his home and family again.

As an army pursues him across Ansaroth, Rysh fights to honor a promise he made to a dying friend. With little hope of survival, he searches deep inside to find the soldier he spent years burying away.

Will Rysh keep his promise, or will evil forces stop him from reaching his goal?

Links/Social media

https://www.facebook.com/t.norman.author/

https://www.instagram.com/t_norman_author/

http://jntpress.com/

Check out the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles for a sizzling sorcery adventure

Looking for an audiobook or awesome read? Check out The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book I

In a dark world where magic is illegal, and elves are enslaved a young elven sorceress runs for her life from the house of her evil Keeper. Pursued by his men and the corrupt Order of Witch-Hunters she must find sanctuary. As the slavers roll across the lands stealing elves from what remains of their ancestral home the Witch-Hunters turn a blind eye to the tragedy and a story of power, love and a terrible revenge unfolds.

18 rated (for adult content).

Available Amazon, Audible, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Google Play, Scribd, Angus and Robertson, and more on the link below – hardback, paperback, ebook and large print editions.

#Fantasy or #FantasyRomance #Darkfantasy #Sexnsorcery Universal Link
https://www.books2read.com/Lightbeyondstorm1

New Release – The Laughbox – Julia Kent

OUT NOW—The Laughbox by Julia Kent (@jkentauthor)

Release date:  June 21, 2022

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Contemporary Romance

Cover Designer:  Angela Jenks

Tropes/Themes:  Billionaires, Small Towns, Rock Stars, Office Romance, Secret Bosses, Second Chances, First Crushes, Enemies-To-Lovers, Friends-To-Lovers

SPECIAL RELEASE PRICE: 2.99 until 6/26 when price goes up to 9.99!

Retailer Description:

The Laughbox contains SIX full-length novels so you can start all of New York Times bestselling romantic comedy author Julia Kent’s series, plus get an ALL NEW NOVELLA you can’t find anywhere else. 

Get a taste of billionaires, small towns, rock stars, office romance, secret bosses, second chances, first crushes, enemies-to-lovers, friends-to-lovers, and so much more.

Each series is wildly different from the others, with varying heat levels, different hijinks, but always, always – a heartwarming world you want to live in, with heroes who make you swoon and heroines who make you laugh – and cheer on in their quests for happily-ever-after endings.

This boxed set includes:

Shopping for a Billionaire (a New York Times bestseller)

Fluffy (a USA Today bestseller)

Love You Wrong

Random Acts of Crazy (a New York Times bestseller) 

In Your Dreams 

Maliciously Obedient (a USA Today bestseller)

and an ALL NEW novella, Shopping for a Billionaire’s Anniversary, featuring Declan and Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, as they celebrate their anniversary with affection, heat, and a hilarious set of awkward mishaps that still manage to be conquered by love.

Sink into seven fun stories that leave you with all the feels, loads of laughs, and strange looks from people around you as you read, giggle, and fall in love.

Note: each of these are series starters. Some are standalones (Fluffy), others end with the main characters together but with more books in the series as I follow their relationship (Shopping for a Billionaire, Random Acts of Crazy), others are prequels (Love You Wrong, In Your Dreams), while Maliciously Obedient has a cliffhanger. Full, up-front transparency for readers.

Buy Links: 

Amazon US:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B2ZFL3BT

Amazon UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0B2ZFL3BT/

Amazon AU:  https://www.amazon.com.au/Laughbox-Julia-Kent-ebook/dp/B0B2ZFL3BT/

Amazon CA:  https://www.amazon.ca/Laughbox-Julia-Kent-ebook/dp/B0B2ZFL3BT/

Apple Books:  https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-laughbox/id6442916942

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-laughbox

Nook:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-laughbox-julia-kent/1141587903?ean=2940186582540

Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Julia_Kent_The_Laughbox?id=h4pyEAAAQBAJ&hl=en

Website:  https://jkentauthor.com/books/book-bundles/

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/the-laughbox-by-julia-kent

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61227788-the-laughbox

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. Since 2013, she has sold more than 2 million books, with 4 New York Times bestsellers and more than 21 appearances on the USA Today bestseller list. Her books have been translated into French, German, and Italian, with more titles releasing in the future.

From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men’s room toilet (and he isn’t a billionaire she met in a romantic comedy).

She lives in New England with her husband and three children where she is the only person in the household with the gene required to change empty toilet paper rolls.

She loves to hear from her readers by email at julia@jkentauthor.com, on Twitter @jkentauthor, on Facebook at @jkentauthor, and on Instagram @jkentauthor. Visit her at http://jkentauthor.com

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://jkentauthor.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jkentauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jkentauthor

Newsletter:  http://bit.ly/2PIBi9n

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/jkentauthor/

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-kent

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3238619.Julia_Kent

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Julia-Kent/e/B00A99V268/

Excerpts from all-new Shopping for a Billionaire novella, SHOPPING FOR A BILLIONAIRE’S ANNIVERSARY (PLEASE CHOOSE ONLY ONE TO USE WITH YOUR POST)

#1

Declan

Here.” My executive assistant, Dave, shoves a perfectly wrapped present at me, with a card and a small envelope. We’re in my office, the sun shining on this beautiful spring day, and I am finishing up work before taking a vacation.

Yes–vacation. It’s for one night, but it counts.

“What’s this?”

“Your anniversary gift for Shannon.”

The note card is blank.

He notices me noticing this and his face sours, the corners of his mouth dropping in scorn, pulling his beard down so he looks like an angry leprechaun.

“I draw the line at writing sweet nothings to your wife and signing your name, even if my rendition of your signature is far superior to your own,” he says dryly, reaching down to square a pile of papers on my desk.

“My signature is my signature. No one can best it, Dave.”

He just snorts.

I shake the box lightly. “What’s in here?”

“Leather.”

Leather?

“Ninth-year anniversary gift. Leather is flexible and represents durability.”

“I am well aware of what leather represents. What does it have to do with my marriage?”

He snorts again.

I frown and ask, “Just leather? What is it, a wallet?”

“No! Of course not. The traditional gemstone for ninth anniversaries is lapis. I had a jewelry artist set chunks of lapis in gold, then stitch them onto a leather cuff bracelet.” Dave holds his phone up to me, showing a picture of the piece.

“That’s incredible.”

A short sigh of contentment, then a clipped, “You’re welcome” is how Dave takes a compliment. He doesn’t feed off praise.

He feeds off his own hypercompetence. If efficiency were a drug, Dave would be Al Pacino on Scarface, covered in the fine white powder of his own brutal excellence.

“The lighthouse is reserved for the evening?” I inquire, reaching for my briefcase.

“Yes. Your suit’s in the car already.” Dave eyes me. “Where will you change?”

I’m wearing jeans, hiking boots, and a Lacoste polo shirt, all Shannon’s favorites. The dark green shirt is a nod to my eyes, which she has spent almost a decade raving about.

Author Interview Stand Together Anthology – Victoria Zigler

Author name:

Victoria Zigler.

How did you become involved with this project?

I saw a post about it on Facebook, and thought it was an excellent idea, and a great way to potentially help those suffering in the Ukraine.  I wanted to help, but I can’t – and would prefer not to – fight, and I’m not in a position to take in refugees, but I can write.  It’s not much, but at least it was something I could do to try and help.

Tell us a little about your work in this book?

I wasn’t sure at first what I would write for this anthology.  I mean, I write for children for the most part.  But I got to thinking about how the young children must be feeling in all of this.  So I wrote a poem about it.

Please tell us about your other publications/work.

I’m a poet and children’s author.  To date I’ve published 11 poetry collections and 48 children’s stories.  I’ve also now contributed to three anthologies, counting this one.

My stories are mostly animal stories, fairy tales, and fantasy stories, but I have dabbled in a couple of other genres too, including writing a series of five books about a little boy named Toby’s adjustments to sight loss, which are based on my own experiences with adjusting after losing the last of my own sight.

Do you think the written word (or art) bring power and freedom?

Absolutely! Words have power.  There’s no doubt about that.  And the right words at the right moment can make a huge difference in producing a positive outcome in any situation.  Unfortunately, the wrong words at the wrong moment can just as easily shift things in the other direction.

If you could have dinner with any literary character or author who would you choose, and what would you eat.

There are too many to pick from for either catagory, so I can’t decide.  And what I’d eat would depend where we went and what vegan-friendly options they had on the menu that I liked the sound of.

How influential is storytelling/poetry to our culture?

Words in any form are very influential.  Stories and poems have shaped mankind’s history, and will shape our future too.

If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why?

Either a gryphon, because I love lions and like the idea of being able to fly, or a mermaid, because then I could live under the sea.  Which I like the sound of most differs depending on my mood.

Which authors/books have influenced you the most?

Everything I’ve ever read has influenced me in sme shape or form, whether I’m aware of it or not.  As for those I know definitely have – well, there are too many to name, so I’ll just stick with my original answer of all of the ones I’ve read.

What’s your next writing adventure?

Whichever of the many works in progress I have I end up finishing first.  Beyond that, I can’t really tell you at this point.  Even if progress is slow, I’m always working on something, so there’s bound to be something in the not-too-distant future.  Half the time even I’m not sure, so you’ll have to just watch my blog and social media to find out what I end up publishing next.

What is your greatest success?

Well, counting the anthologies I’ve contributed to I’ve got more than 60 titles to my name (I believe it currently stands at 62).  I’d say that counts as a pretty great success.

What’s your favourite quote, who said it and why?

“In a universe so full of wonders, how is it that humans have created boredom?”

It’s a quote from Terry Pratchett’s “Hogfather” which was said by the character of Death.  And I love the quote because it’s an excellent reminder of all the wonderful things there are to enjoy and appreciate in the world.

Tell us a silly fact about yourself.

Even though my favourite colour has always been purple, and my favourite scent is lavender, my favourite flower isn’t a purple one.  My favourite flower is a yellow rose.

What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’?

I’m not entirely sure I did completely grow up yet.  And maybe I won’t even bother, since it seems pretty dull.  But when I was little I wanted to be a vet with a large family who wrote and published books in her spare time.  Where exactly I was supposed to get all this spare time with being a vet and having a large family I’m not entirely certain, but there you go.  The chance for the vet and large family to happen has passed, and they’re no longer options.  But I got to be an author anyhow, and one out of three isn’t bad.

*~*

Victoria Zigler is a blind vegan poet and children’s author.  Born and raised in the shadow of the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, she moved away from Wales three times: once to spend six months living in Alberta, Canada, the other times to spend a few years living near Hastings on the South-East coast of England, UK, each time returning to Wales.  Now she lives in Wales again, along with a West Highland White Terrier named Lilie, a Cavapoo named Logan, a Hermann’s Tortoise named Artemis, and her Canadian husband, Kelly.

Despite spending far too much time in hospital, and eventually losing her sight to Congenital Glaucoma, Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, with no plans to stop any time soon.  She has a long list of publications to her name, including several poetry collections, a whole load of children’s stories, a story in the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II, three poems in the Poetry Treasures anthology, and a poem in the Stand Together charity anthology.  Plus, Tori’s Hermann’s Tortoise, Artemis, was featured in both the Magnificent Pets Coloring Book For Children and the Magnificent Pets Mandala Coloring Book For Adults.

Vegan due to both a love for animals and dairy allergy, as well as an Eclectic Pagan, Tori describes herself as a combination of Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books: Hermione’s thirst for knowledge and love of books, combined with Luna’s wandering mind and alternative way of looking at the world.  She has a wide variety of interests, designed to exercise both the creative and logical sides of her brain, which she dabbles in at random depending on what she feels like doing at any given time, and is most likely to be found playing with her petkids, involved in calls with the ACB, curled up somewhere with a cup of tea and a book, working on some kind of craft project, or trying to keep one step ahead of those pesky typo fairies while writing her own books.

Links:

Website: http://www.zigler.co.uk

Blog: https://ziglernews.blogspot.co.uk

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/toriz

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Zigler/424999294215717

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/victoriazigler

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCakYxH7BNyc2Lxr1g1nbP9w

Find Tori’s books on…

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/toriz

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Victoria-Zigler/e/B00BHS9DQ6/

…Along with a variety of other retailers, such as Audible, iTunes, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.

Swift Six Author Interview

Name: Thomas Kast

Please introduce yourself (250 words or so):

Hello, I’m Thomas Kast, and I write absurdist philosophical science fiction. I’m also the author and illustrator of Bablah’s Odyssey — an upcoming comic book series.

Tell us about your book(s) – title, genre etc (short)

The Great Convergence: science fiction and social satire. Two competing academics living ten million years in the future travel back in time to 2022, wrecking reality in the course of their investigation into a mysterious event — the Great Convergence.

When did you start your writing adventure? What was the inspiration for it?

Frankly, I don’t even remember how did it start. The Great Convergence took me about ten years to complete until I was happy enough with it to release it into the wild. It went through several editors and iterations.

I wanted to create a book that can be enjoyed, read and re-read and could give the reader a memorable experience. I’ve noticed that most contemporary sci-fi often ventures into the strictly commercial territory. Not entirely happy with this trend, I wanted to use science fiction as a vehicle to highlight many social and philosophical problems, but with a healthy dose of humour.

There are several recurring themes in my book, which result from observing and analysing the world around me. One of those inspirations would be stupidity. It’s a subject that has always fascinated me. All of my characters make inexplicably unwise and shortsighted decisions despite being exceptionally smart (some of them). Superheroes are great but, often being no more than mere archetypes, they often lack humanity. It’s the crazy ones who provide all the fun.

Another recurring theme in my book inspired by real-world observation is miscommunication. My characters are all stuck in uncomfortable situations. Constantly missing the point, they don’t understand each other’s motives, and they’re unable put themselves in someone else’s shoes. They oscillate between being inordinately overconfident or hopelessly insecure but can never think on two feet. Above and beyond, they’re blinded by their personal goals they consider of great consequence and which are insignificant and trivial. As irony would have it, they all have a profoundly important part to play on the universe’s stage — something they’re never to discover.

What writing plans do you have for the future?

Currently, I’m working on the humorous and philosophical comic book series Bablah’s Odyssey, which is scheduled for release in August 2022. Bablah’s Odyssey features a mad scientist, lord Bablah as he traverses the universe, mansplaining the ‘wonders of progress and civilisation’ to his unassertive yet perceptive mutant sidekick, the Pet-Thing. It’s colourful, psychedelic and contains a lot of irony and dark humour. I’m both a writer and illustrator.

I’m also working on another sci-fi mystery: Apoptosis. But this will take me another year to complete.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you’d started your writing adventure?

Someone asked me once: ’Is there a market for what you write?’ To which, I replied: ‘I hope there isn’t’. I believe the writer should create demand rather than try to fit into an existing trend. This is what all successful writers do. The unsuccessful ones will advise you to ‘write for the market’. There’s a strong need for original content that breaks the rules instead of following them. Write a good book, get your tea-box out and yell about it.

Bio:

Thomas Kast is an award-winning independent photojournalist and illustrator based in Zurich, Switzerland and has published a number of photography art books. Thomas spent a big part of his life in Israel, where he taught design, photography and illustration at the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design and other Israeli colleges.

A long time in the making, his debut novel — a philosophical science fiction piece, the Great Convergence — evokes many of the author’s real-life experiences fused with his unhinged fantasies.

Synopsis:

10.000.002 A.D. A cantankerous scholar slipping into obscurity is out for revenge. He time-travels to the year 2022 to stop his nemesis, Scott — a successful scientist at a competing university — from thwarting his research into the origin of a mysterious phenomenon, the Great Convergence. Cunning and ruthless, Scott will stop at nothing to defend his tenure track. The feud quickly spins out of control, and the damage to reality grows unchecked.

Caught in the crosshairs are three characters responsible for triggering the Great Convergence: an art-hating professional art critic who, unbeknownst to him, spontaneously switches between universes wreaking havoc as he goes; a talentless artist whose sculptures act as trans-universal portals; and a schizophrenic astrophysicist trying to avert the invasion of alternate versions of himself from different realities. As their paths converge, the apocalyptic event takes place, and the inescapable tragedy of human existence unfolds. 

Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B099Z5KH33

Personal website: https://thomaskast.com

Writings: https://thomaskast.space

Comic Books: https://thomaskast.space/bablahs-odyssey

FB: https://www.facebook.com/Swift.Bromba

Swift Six Character Interview – The Unnamed #ScienceFiction

Character Name:

My name isn’t mentioned anywhere.

Which book/world do you live in?

I live in the year 10.000.002 in a small house we share with my wife Trudy and our pet frog Rupert. Like everyone else, I keep a battered time machine in our garage. Since I’m constantly busy with work, we don’t travel much.

The university I work at is run as a for-profit corporation, where science and progress are just side-effects of a cut-throat fight for personal advancement and prestige. At the university, there’s a lab where scientists grow universes to experiment upon. There’s an old, baroque-like fountain spewing streams of time instead of water in the university’s courtyard. There is also a site with portals connecting different universes, much like the Four Corners Monument in the US. It’s frequented by tourists taking selfies with a hand in one universe and a leg in another. Everybody keeps a time machine in a garage.

I relate the time travel history in one of the appendixes.

Tell us about yourself:

My name is not important. Neither is what I do — I’m an investigative ontology researcher. It’s a field you’ve probably never heard of, at a comparatively undistinguished university you’ve definitely never heard of.

In my line of work, I periodically declare scholarly pronouncements in the form of scientific articles no one has any interest in, except my fellow academics who cursorily thumb through and subsequently evaluate my work based on their ever-fluctuating level of pettiness and professional jealousy.

Long story short, I’m an alcoholic …

What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

I’m persistent, I’m an idealist, and, despite all evidence pointing to the contrary — I’m exceptionally good at what I do. You’ll have to take my word for it. As for weaknesses, I’ve none. I do have a nemesis, though — Scott — my ex-PhD fellow student, currently a quantum semantics investigator at the Bauer-Richter Academy of Speculative Sciences — our direct competitors.

Here’s Scott’s short bio. Not long ago, Scott bursts out of an abyss of ignorance and joins the ranks of our university as a PhD student. He spends his time doing absolutely nothing apart from toadying to our supervising professor. All the while, he turns my life into an unendurable Gehenna. The reason? No reason at all. Eventually, Scott defects to Bauer-Richter, taking with him many collectively developed ideas, which he then claims as his own.

Now I’m left to fight for the scientific truth, which I will, whatever it takes.

Name three important people/creatures/institutions in your world (such as lovers, pets, government institutions, leaders, gods etc).

Here are the three characters living in 2022 who caused the Great Convergence.

Larry: a highly-regarded professional art critic who projects his frustrations onto the artworks he doesn’t even bother to see. Unbeknownst to him, Larry is a singular. A singular denotes an object or a person that can only inhabit a single universe at a given moment. In other words, only one version of Larry exists in the whole multiverse. Larry often switches between several universes wreaking havoc as he goes. Larry’s spontaneous flings between different realities are exacerbated by the crude creations produced by a tormented sculptor — Geoffrey.

Geoffrey: an aspiring — yet essentially talentless artist living in denial. Geoffrey’s sculptures, he cranks out to impress a girl he fancies, act as interdimensional portals, swapping things and people between realities. All of this happens without Geoffrey’s knowledge. A series of seemingly-random occurrences culminate in creating a perfect inter-dimensional portal connecting all the universes in existence. Geoffrey’s perfect portal brings about the most dramatic transformation of the multiverse — the Great Convergence.

Timothy: a genius astrophysicist suffering from severe schizophrenia. Timothy fights a host of his versions from alternate realities — who want to take over his universe. It remains unclear whether Timothy’s versions are real or exist in his imagination. One way or another, Timothy’s actions bring about a real-life catastrophe no one could have prevented.

What does ‘heroism’ mean to you?

Perseverance in the face of adversity. I’m not afraid of hard work, however daunting the task at hand. I believe in the triumph of science and that it’s possible to learn the principles governing the Great Convergence. To master the quintessence of existence. Unearth the building blocks of nature. Look into the eyes of the beast. Hypnotise it. Discover … everything!

What do you think of your ‘creator’?

What creator? I’m not a character in a book. Unlike fictional characters, I control the reality around me. Everything I do has a real impact on the real world.

Give us your favourite piece of advice:

Keep fighting the good fight. You’re always right, and everyone else is wrong. If you do, the truth will prevail!

Links to the book:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B099Z5KH33

*****

Book Spotlight – The Great Convergence – Thomas Kast #Sci-fi #Satire

Title: The Great Convergence

Author: Thomas Kast

Genre: Science fiction, satire

Main character description (short):

The unnamed narrator lives ten million years in the future. Stuck in a dead-end academic position, he time-travels to the year 2022 to find proof validating his research, but mainly to prevail over Scott — his arch-nemesis and a researcher at a competing university. The rivalry between the scientists quickly spins out of control. The Narrator and Scott remain focused on being right, even if this means endangering the universe’s fate.
Through the narrator’s flashbacks, the reader gets a glimpse of the world ten million years from now. It’s a world in which technology is indistinguishable from magic. It is also a world ruled by stupidity, jealousy, pettiness and shortsighted spite — much like our own.

Synopsis:

10.000.002 A.D. A cantankerous scholar slipping into obscurity is out for revenge. He time-travels to the year 2022 to stop his nemesis, Scott — a successful scientist at a competing university — from thwarting his research into the origin of a mysterious phenomenon, the Great Convergence. Cunning and ruthless, Scott will stop at nothing to defend his tenure track. The feud quickly spins out of control, and the damage to reality grows unchecked.

Caught in the crosshairs are three characters responsible for triggering the Great Convergence: an art-hating professional art critic who, unbeknownst to him, spontaneously switches between universes wreaking havoc as he goes; a talentless artist whose sculptures act as trans-universal portals; and a schizophrenic astrophysicist trying to avert the invasion of alternate versions of himself from different realities. As their paths converge, the apocalyptic event takes place, and the inescapable tragedy of human existence unfolds. 

Brief Excerpt 250 words:

There is an old legend which originated in the Lacerta Cantus Nebula. It explains how most universes got their shape. It goes like this:

A long time ago, there was a school for young Gods. At the beginning of each learning season, each God would get his universe to study and play with under the keen eye of the instructor. On balance, the universes were sturdy pieces of work. They could take a lot of damage, often reversible, but not always. And there was a lot of damaging going on, because not all the Gods treated their universes well.

The school programme was brief and much to the point. Gods graduated quickly and moved onto different matters with far-reaching consequences. They’d leave their universes behind, to be studied and played with by the next generation of deities. This would go on and on until the universes would become altogether unusable. What would happen to the battered, pass-me-down universe nobody wanted anymore? The legend doesn’t say.

Why should readers buy this book (50 words max)?

A subversive philosophical science fiction and social satire, the Great Convergence will take you out of your comfort zone, exposing the absurdity of many ethical and intellectual ideals. If you like the wry humour of Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams or the philosophical insights of Stanislaw Lem, you’ll enjoy it too.

Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B099Z5KH33

Personal website: https://thomaskast.com

Writings: https://thomaskast.space

Comic Books: https://thomaskast.space/bablahs-odyssey

FB: https://www.facebook.com/Swift.Bromba