Book Spotlight – I, The Sun – Janet Morris – Historical/Memoir

I, the Sun by Janet Morris. “Masterpiece” – Dr. Jerry Pournelle. The novelized annals of the Hittites’ greatest king, his conquests, his dynasty, his life and loves.

Suppiluliumas I and the Amarna pharaohs: Biographical novel of the greatest Hittite king. From palace coups in the lost city of Hattusas to treachery in the Egyptian court of Tutankhamun, I, the Sun, the saga of the Hittite King Suppiluliumas, rings with authenticity and the passion of a world that existed fourteen hundred years before the birth of Christ. They called him Great King, Favorite of the Storm God, the Valiant. He conquered more than forty nations and brought fear and war to the very doorstep of Eighteenth Dynasty Egypt, but he could not conquer the one woman he truly loved.

Amazon UK – ebook

Amazon UK Audio Audio

Author Page for Janet Morris

For more about this book check out these links:


Author Interview 123 – Linda Acaster


Welcome to Linda Acaster

Where are you from and where do you live now? My formative years were in Kingston-upon-Hull – 2017 City of Culture, no less – and I now live 20 miles away on the Yorkshire coast, a gentle five minute stroll from a quiet promenade and views over Bridlington Bay to the white chalk cliffs of Flamborough Head. Aah, breathe in the salt air and re-laaax.

Please tell us a little about your writing. I’m a multi-genre writer, always have been. I started my career writing short fiction for any magazine that would have my work, from the national women’s magazines that paid me money to the Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Crime outlets that paid in printed copies. Although I now write mostly longer works, the multi-genre aspect has carried through, first to mainstream published historical novels and then to my indie-published trilogy and novellas. I like the scope.

Where do you find inspiration? Everywhere. Since childhood I’ve been interested in the day-to-day lives of the Native North Americans of the upper plains, and for several years was part of a living-history group. Beneath The Shining Mountains came from that experience, that and around 400 research books. The Paintings came from a single line in an email exchange with an artist friend.

Are your characters based on real people? Never. Mostly they are based on aspects of myself, which to a reader will sound highly egotistical, but that isn’t how it works. I write very close in to my story via the viewpoint character’s senses. I become them via an emotional bridge – and lots of pre-planning of character motivation and fears.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off?I’ve met a person I didn’t like – maybe because overtly and very loudly she ridiculed my accent. Oooh, I can be nasty in print. Not that I hold grudges, you understand. Who, me?

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? I need masses, and of different types for different books. Research for The Paintings was 17 open tabs on my internet browser as I wrote. The Torc of Moonlight trilogy meant poring over history books and Ordnance Survey maps, then visiting the chosen locales to get a physical feel for them, knitting the place + history into the fictional premise, and then writing. The books are accurate enough to be used as walking guides to the modern locales, with the history hovering overhead. And no, I do not intend to take on such a complicated project again!

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? Most of my fiction has a theme, but I believe that every novel, and most short fiction, should convey some sort of information that often the reader isn’t aware of, alongside a pacy story. No one wants to be preached to. It’s one of those things that should rise quietly to the surface but stay once the reading is over. If it doesn’t I’ve failed to connect.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…)

Joint 1st: great characters & world-building – one simply can’t exist without the other or the entire edifice is out of balance and cracks will appear.

Joint 2nd: solid plot & technically ‘perfect’ because it is a symbiotic relationship, even if perfection is in the eye of the beholder. A plot can be as solid as granite, but if it is conveyed with the finesse of shovelling pig-muck, no amount of world-building or fully-formed characters are going to render the story readable.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? All my titles are available as ebooks via the major online retailers, and e-readers take care of large print. Beneath The Shining Mountains, my writers’ guide Reading A Writers’ Mind – Exploring Short Fiction, and the first two books in the Torc of Moonlight trilogy are also available in print. I’m still working on the third, but it won’t be long in following. Audio is a whole new world I still have to get to grips with.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I do self-edit, but I’ve been a reader for a London literary agency so feel I have some background experience. I continuously edit throughout the writing process (there is no quick & dirty draft), and again as a whole when it’s completed. Then the text goes through the automated Pro-Writing Aid which lists how many times x word has been used, queries sentence structure, punctuation, etc. Most of the items it flags I’ve specified for a purpose, but it does catch me out and I’m grateful for that. Then it goes to beta readers who are other writers, who look at the typescript with a critical human eye. I believe there is no such thing as a novel that falls direct from mind to page as publishable with any degree of integrity. A genius need not apply.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Most readers, and just about all digital readers, don’t care. I read lots of indie published fiction and have only wasted my time twice in the last year, which is about the same percentage as with mainstream published paperbacks. Readers expect a “good read” in a format in which they can immerse themselves. I don’t touch fiction using spaced block paragraphing. White space is important to the ebb and flow of a work’s rhythm. Having it inserted wrecks the pacing.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Reviews are very important, and I always check on a handful when contemplating purchasing a book by an author I haven’t previously read. Then I ‘Read Inside’, and I make my decision. It isn’t usually the cost in money that is being weighed, but the cost in time. Who wants to get halfway through a novel and find the story has turned into limp lettuce? I’ve had my Native American novel lambasted because it was a novel and not a non-fiction book. Er, pardon? It annoys me that the particular review pulled down my ratings, but I’d never comment as I consider such troll-bait.

What are your views on authors reviewing other authors? Oh for goodness sake, it’s been done since books were bound. Amazon got itself into a pickle over this, but how can an author avoid it? Never review? Should hairdressers not review hair products? That’s ridiculous. I read, full-stop. Most authors are prolific readers, that’s why they’re writers.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?

* Learn your craft.

* Pay for editing of a polished work at least once, and learn from it.

* Don’t indie publish everything you write, and never throw anything away. It will come in useful, even if for inspiration, further along your career.

Thanks for asking me along, I’ve enjoyed the challenge. If anyone wants to ask questions I’ll be lurking around the Comments list. See you there!


Book links, website/blog and author links:

Amazon (worldwide):






Twitter:   @Linda Acaster



Magic in the Middle Ages – Course Review

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#Coursera #Fantasy #Medieval

3.5 stars out of 5.

I’d been looking at this particular Coursera Course for a while, as it looked pretty interesting and good research for the books.

Here’s the summary from the Cousera website About this course: Magical thought has always attracted human imagination. In this course we will introduce you to the Middle Ages through a wide conception of magic. Students will have an approach to medieval culture, beliefs and practices from the perspective of History and History of Science. Popular magic, as well as learned magic (alchemy, geomancy and necromancy) will be addressed. Moreover, we will also deal with how eastern practices and texts influenced western culture. In July 2016, the course will contain a brand-new module devoted to astrology. Magic in the Middle Ages offers a captivating overview of medieval society and promotes reflection about certain stereotypes associated with this period.’

So did it fulfil this? Yes and no.

Let’s start with the ‘yes’. There was a lot of information to be learned in only 5 weeks – personally I would have liked another week or so. That said I was actually doing another, totally unrelated course at the same time and probably didn’t do this justice. The lectures were taught via video (and I’ll cover that later), with transcripts available, plus some selected reading, tests and two short assignments.

Each week covered a slightly different topic:

Unit 1 – Introduction to Medieval Magic

Unit 2 – Magic and Heresy

Unit 3 – From Magic to Witchcraft

Unit 4 – Magic in Islam

Unit 5 – Astrology and Geomancy

Of these the first three were the most interesting, although it was also interesting to see how Islam viewed magic – as opposed to the far more negative view of the Western Christian views. This particular module was probably the trickiest (not least because of the more unfamiliar names and terms) and I think more time could have been spent comparing the different cultural and religious outlooks, had the course been longer.

Magic permeated the Middle Ages, be it ‘healing’ magic, natural magic, or the more sinister type. In many ways it ran alongside religion, although it goes without saying that the religions of the day weren’t happy about it.  To us, in the modern world, much of it seems really odd, and for many secular societies or individual the whole concept of magic and religion is very outdated. Yet it was important to those who dwelt in a world not ordered by science and technology, where seasonal changes, illness, and belief could literally be a matter of life and death.  Magic was a way of trying to control what was often uncontrollable, to even the odds in a dangerous world. Religion and magic shared many aspects and Christianity itself (and Islam) hold many magical elements – including miracles, foresight and much more.

The topics were certainly engaging and thought provoking – especially the fact that many suffered imprisonment, torture and death for ‘heresy’ simply because of malice, ignorance or wishing to maintain older beliefs.  If the ‘magic’ wasn’t of the right sort, then people suffered. It was interesting to see the differing types of magic, and practitioners – from the wealthy intellectual court astronomers and magicians to the simple ‘cunning folk’. This builds on past study, at least for me. I’d agree it’s a good foundation for further research.

Was it useful  for writing fantasy? Yes, I think so as it gave a broad outline of medieval magical ideas to build on, and the prejudice surrounding them.

So the ‘no’.

The sound quality was bloody awful. The mix of tutors were all heavily accented and the recordings were of poor quality, with echoes, background noises, random volume changes and at one point a random question about King Arthur popped up on screen and froze the vid until it was answered. I found it far easier to just read the transcripts, but even then they were a little choppy.

As you’ve probably guessed I feel that the course should have been a bit longer – everything was a bit rushed. To be fair I didn’t utilise the discussion forum much.

The second assignment was a bit confusing – the grading questions were different to the points asked for discussion.

Overall a 3.5 for this – mostly because of the awful technical issues. Clean up the sound quality and this would be an engaging course.


A Week with the Dragon Eaters – Bruce Durham

Here’s the last interview (for now) with the authors and characters featured in Heroika: Dragon Eaters. Today I welcome Bruce Durham.

Character questions (choose from):

*Who are you? I’m Mackenzie Secord, though my friends call me Mac. I captain an ice-clipper and hunt food.

Why are you embarking on this quest? Quest? I wouldn’t call what I do a quest. We hunt to survive.

Where are you from? (Tell us about it) I’m originally from Newmarket, near Toronto, but that’s a lifetime ago. Now what few of us remain live in an abandoned military base in the Arctic. It’s a good location, some natural defences, and the wyrms aren’t near as abundant as they are in the warmer climes. At least, for now.

*Tell us about dragons in your world. We call them wyrms. They don’t fly, just crawl and burrow. Tough as all hell, too. They only have one real weak spot.

What is the political system of your world? These days? Chaos. I have no idea how many of us are left on this world. Sometimes we make contact with other settlements via shortwave. But that’s just sometimes. Doesn’t usually last long.

Do you have a family? Not any more. Next question.

Do you see yourself as a hero? What is a hero? Haven’t got a clue. I’m a survivor. I look after my crew and pray I can get them home safely. If that makes me a hero, then so be it.

What is the technology level of your world? I don’t right know anymore, though we’re probably a generation away from barbarism, if we live that long.

Where do dragons come from? Apparently through a series of portals. Scientists theorized it was some kind of alternate dimensional thing. Frankly, it’s above my pay grade.

Are there other such monsters in your world? God, I hope not!

Author questions (choose from):

*Who are you? Bruce Durham. Author of some thirty plus short stories. Sometime artist. Now currently semi-retired from the working world.

Why did you choose this world/era to write in? I’ve always had a fascination with the Arctic. This theme allowed me to explore an idea of mine, how remnants of mankind would chance settling in some remote, seemingly inhospitable part of the planet just to prevent their extinction.

Give us a couple of lines about your characters. All of my characters are survivors. Mackenzie captains the crew of an ice-clipper in search of food for her settlement. Before that she was in the army, and when the wyrms arrived, become one of the first females to pilot a Mühle, a construct designed to fight the invaders.

How much research did you need for your story? I did a fair amount on the Arctic, primarily the abandoned DEW line bases and some of the geography in northern Canada.

Have you written for anthologies before? How does it differ from writing a novel? I’ve been involved with several anthologies over the years. I enjoy writing short stories. Themed anthologies can be especially fun, though challenging, but worth it when a story is accepted.  Unlike novels, short stories force you to get right down to business and (hopefully) hook the reader from the get-go.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? I’m definitely a plotter, though the pantser takes over while doing the actual writing. It’s a trade-off, so long as I stick to the story I’ve outlined.

What other novels/short stories have you written? No novels yet, but I’ve appeared in several publications and anthologies over the years. My very first sale, The Marsh God, was published in ‘Flashing Swords’. It placed first in the annual Preditors & Editors poll that year for best SF&F in the short story category. It was subsequently adapted into a graphic novel. Some anthologies I’ve appeared in are:  Valley of Bones in ‘Return of the Sword’, Yaggoth-Voor in ‘Rage of the Behemoth’, Deathstalk in ‘Sha’Daa: Last Call’, Plains of Hell in ‘Lawyers in Hell’, Colony in ‘Rogues in Hell’ and Hell-hounds in ‘Poets in Hell’. Anezka appeared in ‘Paradox: The Magazine of Historical & Speculative Fiction’ and I have a couple of stories in the ‘Lovecraft eZine’: The Crane Horror and The Case of the Galloway Eidolon. The latter was a Sherlock Holmes/Lovecraft crossover with a serious shout-out to The Dark Man by Robert E. Howard.

What book(s) are you currently reading? The Invasion Year by Dewey Lambdin and Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia.

Tell us one unusual fact about yourself. I walked away from a plane crash back in the early 70s.

Author website/blog:

Twitter: @BJDurham



Amazon page:

A Week with the Dragon Eaters – Janet Morris

As today is a special day – the release of the anthology itself I’d like to welcome back Janet Morris.

Over to you, Janet…

Character questions :

*Who are you? I am Penthesilea, queen of the Azzi lands, what you would call an Amazon.  I have two breasts, by the way, as do my sisters.

Why are you embarking on this quest? This dragon hunt is meant to rid Paeonia of this plague of dragons, and that feat, if successful, will keep them from overrunning Azzi-Hayasa, where I rule. But I am here not for dragon claws to wear around my neck, or for the glory of beating these self-proclaimed dragon eaters at their own game,  but because when hunting I killed my beloved sister, Hippolyta. Therefore,  my quest is for honorable death in battle, not scaly trophies.  I can find what I seek here, if the gods allow. If not, I’ll find it on the beach at Ilion, where I’ve been invited to join in the defense of Troy against the Danaans.

*Tell us about dragons in your lands. Dragons are fearsome legged serpents, pestilential, destroyers of flocks and crops.

What is the political system of your land?  I am now queen of the Azzi lands, ruled by women since Aegaea’s time.  I am daughter of Ares and Otrera, and with my sisters we rule and defend our people – mostly women; we keep only the best of men as breeding slaves; when we bear male children, we send them to their fathers or expose them on hilltops. Homer and his ilk call us Antianeirai (‘those who fight like men’). We tamed the first horses and invented the use of cavalry forces.

Do you have a family? My sisters born were Hippolyta, Antiope and Melanippe, all of us daughters of the god of war and Otrera.  We Azzi warrior women are dwindling in numbers. Soon we will be gone. Some say I am the bravest queen and warrior ever among us, even , but now I am the most bereft.

What is the best way to kill a dragon? The best way to kill a dragon is band together to stab him in the eyes or through the throat. Since I’ve come here I’ve slain a dozen, along with the other dragon eaters gathered for this competition.

Do you see yourself as a hero? What is a hero? A hero is one who so distinguishes herself in battle that she dies honorably, or lives while she destroys a mighty enemy for the pleasure of the gods and the safety of weaker mortals.

Author questions: Heroika: The Dragon Eaters is a dark heroic fantasy – as all heroic fantasy was by definition dark until recent times.  The heroic model fascinates me:  moderns call it species altruism, but heroic models and heroic ethos have been with us since the earliest days of humanity. In writing heroic fiction and heroic fantasy, I am delving into the commonality of humans at their best – and sometimes at their worst. Many great heroes of literature and history have been deeply flawed, yet their heroism made them role-models to generations.

How much research did you need for your story? I always research everything I write; even if I am writing alternate history or science fiction, or a book that is primarily allegorical, I am human.  I can only write about what humans know about. And what humans know best is the testing that defines them and makes them unique.  Our human condition, which always ends in death, is the song we all must sing. Learning about how others perceive life and death, eschatology, if you like, is a study I find endlessly fascinating. And, as a writer, I take the paths that other writers have taken – research historical models on which to build fantastical characters, or recount the stories of human history in my own way. The more I learn, the more I realize that history and fantasy are two sides of the same coin; for me, heroic fiction is the edge of that same coin.

Have you written for anthologies before? How does it differ from writing a novel? I enjoy conceiving and writing for anthologies that have a defined nature and/or objective.  The limitations of short fiction then become its greatest strengths – the writer as hero answers the call to duty:  to tell a story that might well be true, or might once have been true, or might someday be true.

What other novels/short stories have you written?  I have written books and stories about heroes who are historical, mythological, legendary, and fantasies of my own creation. These include the Sacred Band of Stepsons series, the heroes in Hell series, the biographical novel of Suppiluliumas 1 of Hatti, I, the Sun, the Silistra Quartet, Outpassage, as well as stories for Thieves’ world, the iconic fantasy shared-universe into which I brought legendary and historical characters.

What are you reading? King Lear, by William Shakespeare; The Western Canon by Harold Bloom.

How important is the fantasy genre to our society? The fantasy genre goes back as far as the legend of Gilgamesh and comes with us on our journey of mental and spiritual evolution. Every great writer has written fantasy or prose with fantasy elements, which help us explore our humanity.

Tell us one unusual fact about yourself: I like music, literature and horses better than people.

Tidbit: Both the stories written by Janet Morris and Chris Morris for Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters are historically/mythically based.  The First Dragon Eater is a synthesis of the various versions of the Hittite and Hurrian Illuyankas myth rendered in story form – and arguably the earliest myth about dragons (with the possible exception of references in Gilgamesh, which were not actual separate myths). The second story, “Bring Your Rage” is based on Rhesos of Thrace and Penthesilea as they appear in Homer’s Iliad, and closely related to the authors’ novel in progress, Rhesos of Thrace.  Rhesos himself is closest related to the ancient hero cult, Heros equitans, and the various early carvings in what was once Thrace.

Author website/blog:

Twitter: @uvmchristine



Amazon page:


heroika revised 1








Character Interview Number Twenty Six – Lex Fox – Sci-fi/historical

Tell Us About Yourself

Name (s)

Lexington Fox – but everyone calls me Lex.


Please tell us a little about yourself.

I was a first lieutenant with 1st Platoon, 5th Company, 2nd Mounted Rifles Cavalry, under the command of Captain James Houston. Originally from Boston in Massachusetts, I enlisted on my twentieth birthday, July 3rd 1855.

I must admit, I enjoyed serving as an army officer, and the only thing that blighted my life were the circumstances leading up to my death in 1860…on earth, anyways.

Our unit was selected to complete a special mission on behalf of Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln. Little did we know at the time that our commanding officer’s cousin–Governor Sam Houston of Texas–had arranged the entire thing to support his conspiracy among a number other southern state governors to form their own breakaway confederacy.

Anyway, our supposed task was to escort Princess Inuck-Shen, daughter of Chief Blooded Chin of the Blackfoot tribe, into the Bitterroot Mountain range in Kalispell, Montana. Once there, we were to hand her into the safe custody of her husband-to-be, Snow Blizzard, self-styled Chief of all Cree nations.

It was doomed to failure, for if the wedding went ahead and peace between the plains peoples was forged, it would have strengthened Lincoln’s position in the House, especially against those dissidents who didn’t like the way the war of attrition with the native American peoples was developing.

As it turns out, Snow Blizzard was in on the plot too, and together with a number of other tribes–AND Captain Houston and his ever present lapdogs–he set about hunting us down in an attempt to wipe us out. Of course, the blame would have been put squarely on those tribes sympathetic to Lincoln’s agenda.

It looks like Houston got his way, and I often wonder if our great nation ever split as he intended.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less.

A cross between Brad Pitt and Jude Law.
Would you die for those you love?

I didn’t get much choice. Although I died doing the job I loved. My father was a colonel in the 2nd Company 1st Mounted Rifles, and like him, I have a strong sense of duty. Dying for what you believe in is the greatest way you can honor those you serve with, and the great nation we strive to protect. In my case, I’ve been given a chance to do that all over again on Arden.

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strength lies in the fact that I have a strong sense of honor and duty. Give me a task to accomplish, and I’ll always strive to complete it to the best of my ability.
As to my weaknesses? Perhaps, it’s trusting others to have the same high standards I do. My presence here on Arden proves there are too many dishonorable backstabbers hiding behind a uniform…and that’s not right.

Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Why

Hey, I’m only twenty-five and I’m in the saddle for most of the time. But now we’re on Arden? Who knows, there are a surprising number of women here. They’re tough. Strong. That’s because they’ve had to learn to adapt and survive. I can’t think of a better kind of person to settle down with. So we’ll see… J

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? How do you think it influences you?

Yes I can. I was nine at the time, and my own father was on leave from the army. We went to visit his brother, Uncle George, out at Fort Smith in Arkansas. While we were there, a huge group of Plains Indians came into town to trade. It was the first time I’d ever seen any of the Native American people up close, and I found them fascinating, and much friendlier than I was led to believe they’d be.
As a treat, my family went to watch them hunt horses. I saw some of their braves chase after a colt on foot. They kept running and running. It was incredible. I thought, one day, I’ll get to work with people like this and hopefully learn something of their traditions. They were so free, and in harmony with their surroundings, it made me appreciate how much we could learn from them.

Do you have any phobias?

Men without honor. I won’t have them in my company.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself.

I can bend my thumb back until it touches my wrist. An absolutely useless skill if ever there was one. Oh, and I can lasso a fly at twenty paces.

Tell Us About Your World

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live.

As I’m sure some of the other guys have already said, Arden is a beautiful. It’s like earth in many respects. Vast sweeping grasslands. Mountain ranges. Forests. But the colors…how can I say this. They’re off. Just when you start to relax, this place reminds you it’s not really home, especially when some of the critters jump out to say hello. They’re not used to humans, so they’re not afraid of us.
Only last week, my patrol were taking a break and enjoying a coffee, when this woodpecker type bird swooped down, perched on the rim of my cup, gave me a “who do you think you’re staring at?” look, and then proceeded to wash himself in my beverage!
I couldn’t believe it. Even when I tried to shake him off, he just kept at it until he was good and ready. Then he jumped down, took his good time preening his feathers, and flew away without even saying thank you. That’s Arden! Shame the Horde spoil it!

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where?

As you can imagine, travel is difficult because of the Horde. Thankfully, we’ve got a large supply of bullets to keep them at bay. I love riding out into the Sengennon plains. It reminds me so much of Oklahoma

Name and describe a food from your world.

This is probably getting quite boring for you, as I know you asked some of the other guys this question. But, everyone – and I mean everyone – loves the rhobexi. God, what a taste. However, I also enjoy provat. It looks very similar to our sheep, and tastes like pork mixed with beef.

What form of politics is dominant in your world? (Democracy, Theocracy, Meritocracy, Monarchy, Kakistocracy etc.)

There’s no real politics here. We’re all survivors, and most of us are from one form of military service or another. That’s spilled over into our everyday way of life. It’s strange really…there’s a disciplined aspect to the way things are done, but, everyone is entrusted with the responsibility to fulfill their respective duty. So in one regard, everything is quite relaxed. I like it. If it wasn’t for that idiot, Houston, I think everybody would be happy.

What is the technology level for your world/place of residence? What item would you not be able to live without?

I come from the nineteenth century. From what I’m told, I lived at a time leading up to a technological explosion on earth…but I guess I’ll never know now. Anyhow, as you can imagine, coming here is like living in a dream. We stick to our own group and methods, especially when we’re out on patrol, but once were back in Arden, wow! It’s like the best of both worlds…My particular favorites are the food dispensers that can serve multiple meals all at the same time, and the sickbay. Life in the saddle can be quite hard, and it’s a refreshing change to be able to heal the niggling injuries we pick up in a matter of minutes. Awesome in fact. J

Anyway, thanks for asking me about my life. You must come and visit once we’ve got the Horde under control. Things will be much more relaxed then and perhaps I can show you around?


Bye for now,



Author notes:


Book(s) in which this character appears plus links


The IX


Author name:

Andrew P. Weston

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.


Amazon Author Page:


Author Interview Number Eighty-Three – Sharon Kae Reamer – Spec Fic

Welcome to Sharon Kae Reamer

Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born in Philadelphia, PA and am now an expat American living in Cologne, Germany.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I’m a speculative fiction writer, writing in both the fantasy and science fiction subgenres. I’ve dabbled a little with writing horror short stories and plan on doing a historical mystery in the near future. My first fantasy series, The Schattenreich, is a cross-genre work combining science and fantasy with suspense and a strong love story. It’s a curious mix of seismology, Celtic mythology, and German aristocracy.

It started out as a standalone with a sequel and then grew to five books. So the whole thing wasn’t planned. I’m not sure I’d do a series that way again, but then again, it made for a much more organic process than if I’d planned each book and the whole series. I’m a pantser, so it’s easier for me to write that way.

Where do you find inspiration? Everywhere. Seriously. A man’s face. A TV documentary. A small wooden cat was the inspiration for my current series. Odd phrases that run through my head. Looking out the window or lying in bed on my day off and just letting my thoughts wander – I do that a lot. I believe the technical term is goofing off. I prefer the term daydreaming.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? I like most all of my characters. At times, I will think more about a certain character than another, mainly when I’m writing certain parts of the story that heavily feature that character. I even like my bad guys. It was fun keeping them evil but also giving them motivations and background.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? Yes, but I’m not going to tell you why or who. It would be unfair to that character. And it would hurt their feelings.

Are your characters based on real people? Not directly. There are people who serve as models for my characters, either visually or the way they talk or walk. Sometimes it’s not a conscious thing. I just get a vision of a character and I don’t know where it comes from.

Some characters are an amalgam of people I’ve met or observed. I have a couple of cameos in the series featuring real people (with changed names), but not without their permission. There are a few characters that aren’t reality-based, like the Celtic and Germanic deities and some of the other supernatural creatures.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? Yes, which is why I was so evasive above.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources?  love research and have done a whole bunch of it for The Schattenreich series. I knew relatively little about Celtic and Germanic mythology when I started out, really nothing about druids or the history of the Celts. I read a bunch of books to educate myself, books about the Celts, about their mythology, about whether or not the druids really existed, about the demise of the Celtic culture.

I recently tackled the Germanic mythology and history, including the rune language. I’ve done a fair amount of reading on modern Paganism and a bit on the history of witchcraft and Satanism.

I do some reading on the Internet, but my favourite resource so far has been books. Luckily, I love to read non-fiction including history and mythology, so it was a labor of love.

For the science fiction novel I’m writing now, I have read a lot about quantum physics, string theory, extreme biology and the evolution of plate tectonics on our planet. I am a geophysicist in real life, so the last two subjects were also fun to research and gave me an excuse to buy a few books that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to justify.

Since I live in a non-English-speaking country, I have to buy most of my reference materials. I do read some German reference books, but it’s much easier for me to read in English if I can.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? I don’t write to theme, but themes do sometimes emerge during writing. I just try to tell a story. I don’t mind reading books with a message, but if it’s heavy-handed or if the story is just there to illustrate a certain political stance, then I’m usually not keen on it.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) Your order is pretty good. I’d probably put solid plot ahead of world-building in some cases, but it depends on the genre and the type of story – is it a fast-paced thriller or a deeply complex world with lots of interacting characters? Each has different demands. But great characters are always at the top of my list as a reader and therefore, that’s my first consideration as a writer. Figure out who the characters are, what their motivations are, and write the story around them.

I don’t believe technical perfection is something I ever worry about when I read. I doubt I will ever be able to achieve technical perfection in my own writing. I just try to write the best book I know how to with my current skills. That’s all any writer can do, really.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? My Schattenreich series books are available in print and ebook formats and in a variety of places. I’m not exclusive to any one vendor. I would like to do audio books now that I’ve finished the last book in the series, but currently the Audible/ACX option is only available to U.S. residents. I’m researching other audio options.

I plan on releasing a few short stories in the near future, and will do ebook format exclusively on those at first. If I get some requests for print, then I’ll consider it.

I’d love to have my books translated into German, but it’s financially beyond my reach at present.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I have all my writing professionally edited. My very wonderful editor, John Kenny, is as much The Schattenreich series as I am. He’s helped me shape the series, and I can’t imagine having gotten this far without him. I hope he will continue to edit my books in the future. I feel like I won the lottery finding him right away. I’ve learned so much from having him edit my books. It’s money well spent.

I do a lot of self-editing as well both before and after sending my manuscripts to my editor. There are different types of editing for different phases of writing, and I’m still learning how and when to use them.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Yes.

Because self-published works are not considered to have been ‘curated’ for the most part. It’s true. But many readers don’t seem to mind that.

Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes. I don’t really pay attention to publishers any more. I look at the cover, at the subject matter, at the description. If it’s something I think I will like, and the price is right, I’ll try it. I read on a Paperwhite as well as in print (but increasingly more ebooks all the time) and find that many trad-pubbed ebooks are too expensive for my budget. I read a lot (my Goodreads goal is 100 books this year – I probably won’t make it, but I wanted to try). Generally, I’ll take a chance on any author for under 5 bucks. I will not pay more than 10 bucks for an ebook unless it is a non-fiction book that I can’t do without.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Good question. I think reviews are important but perhaps not in a direct monetary sense. I do not comment on them. I once contacted a reviewer because they made a statement about one of my books that was factually wrong, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. If I know the reviewer, then I might say something to them personally about my choices, but never criticizing their review and my policy is to not make comments as a public statement. The only comment I allow myself to make to any reviewer, in public, is ‘thank you’.

But I would be lying if I said a bad review doesn’t bother me. I do try to take it for what it’s worth and then just move on.

When buying a book do you read the reviews? Yes. But I don’t always take them seriously.

What are your views on authors reviewing other authors? It’s okay. We do it. It’s not always optimal. I review books on GR – mostly from authors I don’t know and less often from authors I do know. If someone I know asks me to review their book, if it’s a genre I read a lot in, I will usually say yes. I mostly use GR as a reader and so I think that reviewing books there is a thing I can do as a reader without having to feel bad about it. As a rule, I don’t review on Amazon any more.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? Books are better for getting inside a character’s head, for expressing complicated emotions, for allowing the reader to absorb content at their own pace. Movies are watched usually all at once. In a video game, the pace can be controlled to a certain extent, but books are better.

Movies and video games are also visually oriented. So if a writer is doing his or her job, they can provide the reader with a complete sensory perception of a world, and this is especially important in the speculative genres. You can get that to a certain extent with movies and video games, but books are waaaaaay better. I much prefer to read sex scenes rather than watch them (with certain exceptions). I can control what I visualize and how I visualize it.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?

  1. Write as much as you can.
  2. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
  3. Don’t give up.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I just recently finished The Martian, by Andy Weir. I did enjoy it, which surprised me. It was our book club selection for February (four women who read SFF – yes it definitely counts as a book club) and probably is not something I would have picked up otherwise.

Do you have a favourite movie? Impossible to name just one!!

The Raiders of the Lost Ark is at or near the top of the list.

The Hunt for Red October

Gone with the Wind

Star Wars – IV-VI

Groundhog Day

Music and Lyrics

Any Cary Grant movie, even the bad ones – I’ll watch them anytime.

Do you have any pets? My European shorthair, Ramses, 17 years old

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I’m easily startled. Earthworms and grubs used to terrify me. But I’ve learned to get over that. I scream like a girl on roller coasters and in the movies when a scary part comes and in traffic when my husband is driving and I get spooked by another car making a sudden move. Makes him angry. I don’t blame him.

Book links, website/blog and author links:


Books 1-4 of The Schattenreich:

Primary Fault

Shaky Ground

Double Couple

Shadow Zone




Author Interview Number Sixty-Three – James G Pearson

Welcome to James G Pearson

Where are you from and where do you live now? I’m a UK based author residing in the beach-side town of Brighton.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I’m a fantasy author that’s currently writing a series called The Kingmaker Saga. I suppose most people would call them fantasy with a mix of thriller. I like to keep readers on their toes.

Where do you find inspiration? I take particular inspiration from the Norse and Viking mythology and their ways. But generally I find inspiration in the codes and warriors of many different nations and incorporate several of them into my story.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? I have several favourite characters, but if I had to pick one it would be a man called Carrick Belhound. I won’t spoil it, but he’s a villain and incredibly fun to write.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? I do have a character I disliked. I just couldn’t find a true purpose for him and something just fell flat. In the end I used him as cannon fodder. But his death wasn’t in vain.

Are your characters based on real people? I have one or two that are based on real people. But I like to exaggerate certain traits to make them come to life.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? Research has been key to some of my settings and even down to names. I spend probably a quarter of my writing time preparing my research so I can be authentic enough when I need to describe something. The power of Google is what helps me find everything I need from ship sections to castle names, translations of Old High Germanic and Old Norse.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? Currently my books are in paperback through Createspace and also on Kindle. I have thought about moving to audio books but I have to look into it.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Self-published authors are viewed completely differently. It’s hard for an indie author to make a name for themselves these days without a significant amount of luck and hard work. I think this is because we, as indie authors, haven’t got the budgets to push our names out there and get the reviews with the big newspapers. Which is why we do blog tours to try and get our names out there.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I’ve nearly finished Blood Song by Anthony Ryan, another fantasy author based in the UK. He was an indie author who got picked up with a traditional publisher after a series of fortunate events. I’m looking forward to reading the next one in his series as it hooked me from the beginning.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

Amazon UK Kindle book:

Amazon US Kindle book:

Author Website





Historical Fiction: Learning the Genre

No Wasted Ink

Women on Ship (1800s)Historical Fiction is a genre that intrigues me. I was drawn to Regency and Victorian era historical fiction by my love of Jane Austen and her novels. In turn, this interest moved me into the science fiction crossover of Steampunk, a type of alternate history. The creation of a historical world is similar to the creation of a science fiction or fantasy one. Many times authors will use a past civilization to be the fuel for their own fantastical creation.

To get you started in the genre, I have listed a few sites that I have found helpful in learning the foundation of historical fiction. Let your curiosity move you through time and space and experience more of the human condition than what we live in present day. By learning of the past, perhaps we will see more of our future.

Historical Novel Society
This is an organization devoted to…

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Author Interview Number Thirty-three – Andrea Downing – Western Historical Fiction

lawlesslove_w7876_300 loveland_w6692_300

Welcome to Andrea Downing

Please tell us a little about yourself.   I’ve spent most of my life in the UK, only returning to NYC, the city of my birth, in 2008.  While living abroad, most of my family vacations were taken out west on ranches.  I love the west and now trade, as often as possible, the city canyons for the wide open spaces of the American West. Somehow or other I’ve managed to set all my writing thus far out there as well–Texas, Wyoming, Colorado…   Love it!

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etcLoveland, a western historical romance, has been out since August, 2012, and I have another story, Lawless Love, which came out in Sept 2013–also a Western historical.  In addition to that I have a contemporary women’s lit. novel, Dances of the Heart,  currently awaiting edits –set in Texas and New York and a few other places, as well as a western historical novella, Dearest Darling.  That’s part of The Wild Rose Press Love Letters series and is also awaiting edits.  I love writing love stories and I love writing about what makes people tick.

Where can readers find your book?  At my publisher, The Wild Rose Press ( and Amazon ( and Barnes and Noble ( and a few other places on line.

How long have you been writing and what, if anything, made you choose the genre in which you write? I didn’t choose the genre, the genre chose me!  I’ve been writing since I was a child and it seems I always end up with a romance–a love story.  I like happy endings!  As for the western side, this just came naturally to me after spending so much time out west and being totally immersed in the whole culture.  When I came back from the UK I discovered that the British owned most of the large cattle companies that came into existence after the Civil War.  It all just fell into place for Loveland.

Who or what are your inspirations/influences?  When I’m out west I feel a certain energy I don’t get from being in New York.  You see all that sky and space and you just feel like you could conquer the world. And then there are the mountains…who could not be inspired by all that?

Can you name a positive experience from your writing and a negative one?  Well, there are lots of positive experiences.  One is that I’ve made a huge bunch of new and fascinating acquaintances and friends with similar interests to my own.  They energize me and inspire me and keep the grey matter going.  The other positive experience is that I have a bit more self-confidence.  It took me ages to get the nerve to send my work out to a publisher and now it’s not only published but has had some great reviews.  As for the negative, I now have to be involved in doing things like promotion that I really don’t care to do.   I see it as a time-suck from the writing.  I hate it.

With the rise of e-books do you still publish in print as well? Is this medium important and why? Loveland is out in  both print and digital.  There has been a lot in the press recently that the purchase of ebooks is peaking and that there will always be a place for print books, and I agree with that.  For traveling, nothing beats an e-reader these days with so many restrictions on baggage etc.  I used to travel with about 9 books in my case; can’t do that anymore!  But I still prefer reading a paper book with which I can easily glance back at previous pages and strum through.  Yup, paper is still important.

Do you listen to music or watch TV whilst you write?  Absolutely not.  I give my full attention to the world I’m creating and can’t have any distractions from that.

Books are important, why is this the case? What can a book provide that say a video game cannot? I’ve never played video games other than, perhaps, Tetris.  I think books provide escapism along with education that video games perhaps do not.  And there’s a peace to curling up with a good book, a sense of losing yourself for a while, while video games churn you up more.  That’s my take…

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself?  I’m thinking hard about this one, Alexandra.  My daughter tells me I AM silly but there’s no one fact…

Thanks so much for having me here today!